SciFi Weekend: Hannibal, Jessica Jones, Humans Renewed, Defiance, Mr Robot, Under The Dome, Continuum Trailer, Utopia, Xena Reboot

Hannibal And Women Clothed With Sun

The Hannibal episode this week, And The Woman Clothed With The Sun…, continued with the Red Dragon storyline, and like last week, family was important. The family was the extended family which the main characters of the series have become, even including a Verger baby.

The episode included the “family reunion” between Will and Hannibal. When he surrendered, Hannibal made sure that he would always be where Will could find him. For Will the reunion was about getting Hannibal’s input into the Tooth Fairy. “I’m more comfortable the less personal we are,” said Will. Hannibal got more personal:  “You came here to have a look at me, to get that old scent again. Why don’t you just smell yourself?” Before Will left he added,  “You’re family.”

The episode also included flashbacks to the events leading to the season finale, filling in the gaps as to what happened with Abigail. Even this considered family:

Abigail: “How would you have killed me?”

Hannibal: “I would have cut your throat. Like your father did.”

Abigail was complicit in Hannibal making it appear she was killed, even asking, “Can I push the button?” I couldn’t help but wonder if Dexter Morgan would have been fooled by the spray of blood used to fake her death.

Hannibal is now following Red Dragon fairly faithfully, meaning that the structure of the series has changed, with each episode being more a piece of a book. This might leave less to say after each episode, but does not mean the show is any weaker.

jessica-jones_0

The success of Daredevil has many Marvel fans anxiously awaiting Jessica Jones. Executive Melissa Rosenberg told Entertainment Weekly that Jessica Jones will be different from Daredevil:

“Jessica Jones is a very, very different show than Daredevil,” Rosenberg said. “We exist in a cinematic universe, [and] the mythology of the universe is connected, but they look very different, tonally they’re very different… That was my one concern coming in: Am I going to have to fit into Daredevil or what’s come before? And the answer is no.”

But the contrasts don’t stop with tone. “My show’s called Jessica Jones,” Rosenberg said, noting that Cox may get a break during stunts. “There is no mask. Krysten Ritter is the hardest working woman in show biz.”

Jessica Jones is expected to be released in the fourth quarter. Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos discussed the plans for releasing the Marvel-based shows:

“I think ideally there will be a rhythm of about every six months you’ll get a new season or a new series from the Defenders group. And then they’ll crossover into a combined [Defenders] season once we’ve launched the first season of each of the four characters.”

He also said, “Some will selectively have multiple seasons as they come out of the gate. So they’ll probably be two launches a year.” It was previously announced that Daredevil has been renewed for a second season.

Episode 2.L-R Anita (Gemma Chan) and Toby Hawkins (Theo Stevenson)

Humans completed the first season in the U.K. tonight and is a couple of weeks behind in the U.S. I am holding off until I complete this post to watch the finale, but the show remained strong through the penultimate episode which I downloaded last Sunday. Channel 4 has announced that they are renewing the series for a second season, and AMC plans to once again show it in the United States.

I am also waiting to watch Friday’s episode of Defiance, but must note that last week’s episode, My Name Is Datak Tarr and I Have Come to Kill You, ended one storyline on a very strong point. At first I was a little disappointed in how they suddenly came up with a relatively easy way to destroy General Tahk’s camp, even if it probably involved a suicide mission for one character. I then became willing to overlook this in light of how well this tied into Datak’s story. I was really wondering what would happen as they showed flashbacks of Datak as a child. This often foreshadows a character’s death on television. Instead of killing him, or have him betray the plan to save himself, Datak managed to find a way, even if extreme, to both carry out the plan and save himself. I am now wondering if the loss of his arm will be a serious problem, or something easily replaced. Regardless, it was an unforgeable scene.

Mr. Robot had one of the stronger episodes of the season on Wednesday. The episode also had real consequences, and at the end spent quite a long time showing Elliot’s reaction.

Under the Dome continues to have serious flaws, but somehow remains interesting. Lately they have shifted into an Invasion of the Body Snatchers storyline, and appear to have shown the destruction of the world outside of the dome in an attempt to make it look like the random bits from the first season, like talk of pink stars falling, were actually part of a grand plan. Earlier in the season they hit a big resit switch, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this is done again. The statement from “Junior” about  the “destruction of our homeworld” does confirm alien involvement, but does not exclude the possibility that what we see outside the dome is either a trick, or not necessarily characteristic of what is happening in the rest of the world.

The final season of Continuum starts September 11 on Syfy and one week earlier on Space (which like so many foreign-made shows, will complicate covering it here.) The above trailer has been released.

Deadline reports that the planned remake of Utopia on HBO might not make it due to budget issues. I remain unclear as to why it is necessary to remake shows recently shown in the U.K. as opposed to running the originals here.

A Xena reboot might be coming, but without Lucy Lawless.

SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; Mr. Robot; Humans; Jonathan Strange; Sense8

hannibal-the-great-red-69441_big

The third season of Hannibal was initially to be about Hannibal Lecter as a fugitive in Europe, mirroring the Hannibal novel. With Bryan Fuller realizing that this would probably be the final season of Hannibal on NBC, with its future after that still unknown, he reduced this to about half the season so he could move on to Red Dragon. That has probably worked out for the better as the first half of this season was the weakest in the show’s run, and I don’t know if they could have stretched this out for an entire season.

The Great Red Dragon skips ahead three years, and doesn’t have a recipe as its title. Hannibal is locked up in the  psychiatric hospital, which is seen as a sort of victory for him as, at least in the mythology of the show, Hannibal Lecter is not insane. He is a monster who operates under his own moral code. He is shown to be living in his mind-palace, continuing to share meals with those visiting him. He is even allowed to make desserts, although presumably without human ingredients. He is open about the meals he previously served, as in this exchange after Hannibal asked Alana if she still drinks beer.

Alana: “I stopped drinking been when I found out what you were putting in mine.”

Hannibal “Who.”

Hannibal “Who.”

Will now has a family, which is important as it was the manner in which the Tooth Fairy kills regular families, as Will now has, which led to Will rejoining the FBI. (And yes, I’m sure that Hannibal is right that he does not like to be called the Tooth Fairy). Once Will is back investigating the Tooth Fairy’s murders, the series feels much more like the first season, even with Hannibal having surrendered, and no longer fooling anyone.

HANNIBAL -- "The Great Red Dragon" Episode 308 -- Pictured: Richard Armitage as Francis Dolarhyde -- (Photo by: Brooke Palmer/NBC)

Richard Armitage was introduced as the Tooth Fairy, or Red Dragon. Unlike so many characters who were notable for their intellectual banter, the Tooth Fairy is capable of saying very little. Richard Armitage discussed the role with TV Line:

TVLINE | The first impression we get of Francis is someone who is completely tortured and conflicted. Even in the moment where he’s exiting the crime scene covered in blood, the horror in his own eyes is palpable. How did you come to play him in that way?
It was an organic process. We always had the novel to refer to, so everything that I found really came from Thomas Harris’ books, Bryan [Fuller] and my own interpretation. One of the things in my first episode that I found so interesting is that this man is so alone in the world, so isolated. There was a rejection in his childhood because of his disfigurement and because his character was orphaned; he was raised by his grandmother and abused by step-siblings.

But when we find him in this world, he works in a very isolated environment in the film-processing laboratory, and he lives alone. Thomas Harris describes him as having only set foot in two other people’s houses in his entire life — and certainly no one has ever come into his world. But for someone that is so alone, his mind is so busy and full of things. He has the subject matter of the films that he’s studying. He has voices in his head. He’s haunted by so many different things, like his mind is so far from silent, and that to me was something which was fascinating.

TVLINE | Your first episode is essentially wordless — which means much of what we learn about Dolarhyde is in the initial sequence of him doing physical exercises and contorting his body. There’s a sense he’s transforming into something else in that moment. Walk me through all that.
Yes, it’s really interesting the way it takes a long time before you hear Francis speak. He’s a man who is so uncomfortable in his skin, who is somehow at odds with his outer body and is almost outgrowing his physical form. So you see that conversation happening physically before you hear it verbally. And actually, for someone that has such trouble speaking and forming words, the first time we hear him speak is in Episode 9, and it’s a struggle. It’s really like baby steps when he speaks. And as an audience, we see him before we hear him, so we have a real sense of who he is or who he’s becoming and what it is that he’s pressing against or running away from.

TVLINE | What did you have to do to transform your own physique and your own way of moving your body to get in touch with the character?
Obviously, I read the book, and he’s described as a bodybuilder. So, before I got up to Toronto, I was in the gym doing intense workout sessions, since we needed to fill him out in the way that Harris wanted. But I also found something in the book where he’s described as moving in a very stylized way. Harris describes him as a Balinese dancer, so when he’s committing his crimes, I understood to be something of a performance for himself, that he’s trying to somehow be theatrical in his approach.

I couldn’t work out what that was, but then I stumbled on a Japanese form of a physical expression, an artistic art form called Butoh, which is sometimes called the Dance of Death. It’s a biological observation of the body in extremis, which I thought was perfect for this scenario. And so I used a lot of that. I also used some stress positions that I’d been working with previously on The Crucible, because I felt like the character was putting himself through something rather than changing himself for vanity sake. He’s wanting to torture his own body.

What you see in the opening exercise sequence, though, I put a metronome on in the room and just worked for 20 to 30 minutes, distorting my body and doing these exercises, and the crew just kept on filming.

TVLINE | In this episode, we get to see Dolarhyde after his second murder, out in the snow, covered in blood splatter. And there’s also that twisted but sort of artful scene where your character gets wrapped up in a film reel and is in this intense state of panic. How much of those moments were actually filmed organically versus post-production manipulation?
The filming in the snow was actually one of my first shots in the entire series, and it was about 17 below outside, a very cold night shoot. Very little of that is post-production. They used a sugar blood that stains black and thankfully, they heated it beforehand.

The scene with the celluloid wrapped around Dolarhyde’s head is a combination of digital work and some practical stuff. They did create a fake head. And they also wrapped celluloid around my head and we filmed it again. It was a bit of an exploration of literally, physically getting tangled up in his world of celluloid. It’s Bryan’s imagination at work in the best way, you know.

TVLINE | Looking forward to the coming weeks, how freaky-scary should we expect this arc to get? And knowing Francis is about to embark on a romance of sorts with a character played by True Blood’s Rutina Wesley, how will that work? What can you tease?
You know what, we really do honor the book, and so you see the full extent of that tragic love story. To me, really, the crimes aside — and remember, I never actually had to portray any of the crimes, so I suppose I compartmentalized them — Dolarhyde and Reba represent a tragic, romantic love story, which really doesn’t end well and escalates into a Shakespearian opera of the proportions that Thomas Harris really explores in the novel.

MR. ROBOT -- "Pilot" Episode 101 -- Pictured: (l-r) Rami Malek as Elliot, Christian Slater as Mr. Robot -- (Photo by: David Giesbrecht/USA Network)

In other summer genre shows, Mr. Robot was better this week after its one-episode slide when it spent far too much time on Elliot’s drug trips last week. Remember, Mr. Robot is the show which has no robots–its entire cast is human. The other top new genre show of the summer, Humans, is about robots. This is by far has been the best of the genre shows of the summer (although Hannibal might compete now that it is moving onto the Red Dragon storyline).

Humans is highly recommended but I am not writing about the episodes to avoid any risk of spoiling the story. I am watching by downloading the episodes from the U.K. where the show is ahead of the US episodes. So much is revealed every week and I do not want to discuss episodes airing in the US with my knowledge of what is revealed in subsequent episodes.

Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is in the same situation as I completed the series a couple of weeks ago from downloading UK episodes. It is also recommended.

Sense8

The same issue is present for shows on Netflex, which different people watch at different times. I held off on starting Sense8 due to variable reviews of the early episodes, but I did begin to watch after reliable sources advised that the first couple of episodes start slowly to introduce the characters, but the show becomes much more interesting once you get into it. I am quite intrigued by the story, which reminds me of the early episodes of Orphan Black, when viewers initially did not know what was going on at all. As I still have several episodes to go, I still wonder if they will satisfactorily explain what is happening.

The show was created and written by The Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski. Both have created excellent work with the first Matrix movie and Babylon 5. However after the initial setup, the two sequels to The Matrix were awful, and the explanation behind Babylon 5 was not entirely satisfactory. Complicating matters further, the show has a planned five year arc, and it is not known if Netflix will continue the show that long. At least there is a far better chance that Netflix will continue the show as long as there is interest than a network would.

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: