SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; Summer Television Briefs Including Extant, Under The Dome,The Last Ship, Mr. Robot, Humans

HANNIBAL -- "Contorno" Episode 305 -- Pictured: (l-r) Fortunato Cerlino as Inspector Pazzi, Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter -- (Photo by: Sophie Giraud/NBC)

This week’s episode of Hannibal, Contorno, has finally moved past set-up and it finally feels like the real action for the season has begun. Generally, when someone thinks they have the upper hand against Hannibal, in reality Hannibal is already several steps ahead of them.

Pazzi decided to seek a bounty for capturing Hannibal rather than have the authorities arrest him in a conventional manner. He wound up getting in touch with Mason Verger, who wanted a fingerprint to establish his identity. Alana predicted that Hannibal would kill Pazzi, and of course she was right.

Hannibal killed Pazzi in a gruesome manner, and let him hang out the window. By coincidence, Jack happened to come along at the same time, and for once Hannibal did not have the upper hand. He did show an amazing ability to remain alive and walk away regardless of the beating. The big question is whether next week’s episode will consist of Jack chasing after him.

In developments elsewhere, Will’s train ride with Chiyo to seek Hannibal did not turn out as Will expected. He will be delayed in joining the action, and I don’t know what Chiyo will do when she reaches Hannibal.

It remains to be seen whether Hannibal will be returning on another network now that it has been cancelled by NBC, but it was not a favorable sign that the cast has now been released from their contracts.

Hannibal is not the only genre show to make a major change this season. Extant started the second season with major changes. It remains to be seen whether an alien hunter storyline will be an improvement. I still have not had a chance to watch Under the Dome this season, but in contrast to the other shows I get the impression from what I have heard that they retconned last season’s finale and returned to a situation comparable to the previous season.

The Last Ship is more an action/adventure show despite the genre premise, but they are doing a good job if you are just looking for a summer escape show. I was glad last season when they found the cure, rather than dragging this out forever. The two-hour season premiere did a good job of resolving the cliff hanger from the first season. The next episode appears to have set up the situation for this season.

Mr. Robot got off to a terrific start in the pilot. My one concern in watching was whether the premise could be sustained for an entire series, with the show already renewed for a second season. The second episode was not as good as the pilot, but I still have hopes for the series. Some critics have praised the show for having an accurate view of hacker society (even if the story is taken to a higher level). I was also impressed by how it portrayed the dog, which looks like a cairn terrier. In most television shows, people don’t have to be bothered by mundane tasks like taking their dogs out for a walk, unless the walk is an excuse to get a character outside. This dog acted like a true cairn when its needs were not satisfied.

I have watched Humans through the third episode, and continue to recommend this show.

SciFi Weekend: Hannibal Canceled By NBC; Humans Premieres; Catastrophe And Other Summer Television Choices; Death Of An Avenger; Another Superhero Crossover; Heroes Reborn

Hannibal Aperitivo

This season forth episode of Hannibal, Aperitivo, dealt more with aftermath of the second season finale.  The biggest surprise was that Dr. Chilton is alive, and out for revenge against Hannibal. It even turned out that many of the lines initially shown to occur between Will and Abigail earlier in the season actually happened when Chilton visited Will in the hospital. Chilton also compared notes with Mason Verger on making up their face–if you show yours I’ll show you mine. Jack and Alana are also both alive. Will confessed to Jack that he had called Hannibal hoping he would flee. Alana met with Verger, warned by Margot,  “If my brother offers you chocolate, politely refuse.” Hannibal was not seen in the episode, but the the set up has now been completed to have each of these characters come after him.

This week NBC announced plans to cancel Hannibal after this season and there is a scramble to find a replacement network. There has been talk about both Netflix and Amazon but it does not sound likely that Netflix is much of a possibility due to the deal with Amazon to stream previous seasons. Hopefully Amazon will be interested in picking up the show. If not, The Food Network sounds like a good match.

Even if Hannibal is renewed, Bryan Fuller will have a reduced role due to becoming show runner of American Gods.

Humans

Humans premiers in the United States on AMC tonight but the first three episodes have already been shown on Channel 4 in the U.K. After downloading episodes I highly recommend it. Unlike far too much science fiction on television, this show is not satisfied with a clever idea. It handles both characters and plot well, and as a result is likely to be enjoyed even by people who do not normally watch science fiction. This review avoids major spoilers but those who want to be entirely surprised in watching the show might not want to read this before watching the first episode as some minor events are mentioned.

Humans looks at the implications of something which could really happen in the not so distant future. The premise is that synthetic humans, known as Synths, start doing our mundane work, both in industry and the homes. This leads to issues such as a wife, played by Katherine Parkinson, whose many television roles included Jen from the IT Crowd. I see a certain irony in her having played Jen, the computer-ignorant woman placed in charge of the IT Department, to now play a woman who is skeptical about the Synths. Her daughter questions the point in studying if Synths could do anything. A man with Alzheimer’s uses his Synth to help him remember the past. The twist is that his Synth is a first generation one, slated for replacement, which has memory problems of its own.

Naturally the sexual implications are also explored, including Synths used as prostitutes. In one scene Parkinson’s husband looked at the directions which came with their beautiful Synth for those 21+ , and in another scene his son received a warning about inappropriate touching.

Besides looking at the sociological ramifications of the Synths, the show is also a thriller. Some of the Synths are secretly self-aware and communicating with each other. Also, while most of the Synths act in a characteristic way, don’t be so certain that everyone who appears human really is.

Catastrophe

Incidentally, besides Humans, another recent show from Channel 4 has become available in the United States. Catastrophe recently became available on Amazon. Think of it as if Welcome to Sweden took place in the U.K. and was written by the people who wrote You’re The Worst. While not genre, it did include one genre reference. In one scene a character is wearing a shirt saying, “Where is Jessica Hyde,” referring to a genre show on Channel 4, Utopia. I have also watched Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell from the BBC beyond what has been available in the United States and recommend this miniseries based upon the book.

In other summer television news, Extant returns this week, reportedly with major changes from the first season. Under the Dome returned last week, but I have not had time to watch the two-hour season premiere. I also have not had time to watch Mr. Robot yet. Apparently Humans is about robots, but Mr. Robot only has humans and no robots. I have held off on watching True Detective following poor reviews. The first season was only worth watching, despite a weak plot, due to the excellent work by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

Over on Syfy, Defiance is much better in its third season. I still couldn’t call it a must-watch show for science fiction fans, but if anyone has seen the first two seasons was undecided about watching the third I would say to go ahead. It is much better having eliminated some of the characters and bringing in a new big-bad for the season. I have not watched their other Friday night show, Dark Matter, after hearing from several people that it is awful.

Avengers BBC

The “original Avenger” has died. Patrick Macnee of the 1960’s British spy series, The Avengers, has died at 93. Initially the show is well known for the role played by Diana Rigg.

Marvel Studios and Warner Brothers might not be the only ones with a superhero universe including crossovers from other characters. Marvel Studios has The Avengers (obviously different from The Avengers  pictured above. Warner has separate universes of DC superheroes both on television, and in with Justice League of America.   20th Century Fox, which owns the rights to X-Men and Fantastic Four, is rumored to be doing a crossover of these two franchises.

Emma Watson and Tom Hanks will be staring in the movie adaptation of The Circle, an excellent novel about current trends in social media going too far.

The Guardian looks inside Amy Schumer.

Joel McHale has been interviewed by Esquire, including about Community and his upcoming appearance on The X-Files. He has been predicting a Community movie but not a seventh season. #sixseasonsandamovie

A trailer has been released for Heroes Reborn: