SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Knock Knock; American Gods; Sense8; The Flash; Ranking The Rolling Stones Songs

Knock Knock had some good moments but did not really work. Possibly the problem was timing. It attempted to be a plot-driven episode of Doctor Who and depended less on the interplay between the Doctor and Bill, but in doing so partially lost the strongest aspect of the season so far, while still having a plot which was rushed to the point of making little sense.

The story jumped too quickly from students looking for an affordable place to live to the first death. While the general premise of housing being too expensive was realistic, why did Bill suddenly need to find somewhere new to live, and why with these six people she barely knew? I’m sure students don’t read their housing contracts that closely, but I wonder if even a cursory reading might have tipped them off to what they were agreeing to. It is less plausible that not a single student would have looked into cell or internet access before quickly moving in. While I did like how they went from one student joking around to really being killed, it all felt too rushed. The student who hit on Bill this quickly was also acting in too much of a rushed manner.

There were some good scenes, but overall the threat from the bugs and the wood made little sense. Why did they keep Eliza alive, eat some students, and incorporate others into the woodwork? Things just happened without any real answers, or anyone figuring out much. While they did figure out that the Landlord must Eliza’s son and not father, this was not all that tremendous, and had little bearing on the outcome. Suddenly Eliza intervened to help, was able to control the bugs, and opened the shutters in time for the fire works. I was waiting to hear When You Wish Upon A Star as if it was the Magic Kingdom. Everyone turned out to be alive, but why did the insects release them? Presumably those eaten in previous years were too far gone, but it might have been an amusing scene to have groups of students from the past suddenly appear if they were going to show any victims come back to life.

Perhaps more time on the plot could have solved some of these problems, but that would have taken away even more time from Bill and the Doctor. The Doctor did mention regeneration, foreshadowing what we know will come later this season. He also mentioned the Time Lords. It was amusing to see the Doctor use the TARDIS to help Bill move in, but I don’t understand why Bill seemed to be embarrassed to let the others know about her relationship with the Doctor. She did claim he was her Grandfather. Is this somehow related to the pictures of Susan on the Doctor’s desk?

I’m surprised that they did not bring up the inability of the sonic screwdriver to work on wood, or make more use of its sonic abilities considering the importance of sound in controlling the bugs. Of course I don’t blame the Doctor for not being clear as to how that worked as I’m not too clear on it either after watching the episode.

At least the show sort of gets the history right, including Harriet Jones among the Prime Ministers of Great Britain.

This season we have seen a reflection and failing to smile become things to fear, and I wonder if the intent was to do the same with knocking, considering the title. If so, it didn’t work. Of course the classic example of Doctor Who creating fear is Blink, and this episode was filmed on the same property, but in a different house, as where Blink was filmed.

The episode concluded with the Doctor going inside to visit the person in the vault. The interaction we did hear has strengthened suspicion that it is The Master (very likely as Missy) inside. For that matter, is the vault the Master’s TARDIS and how big will it be on the inside?

In other Doctor Who universe news, there is a new design for K-9. There will also be a series five of Torchwood, taking place after Miracle Day, but it will be released as an audio series.

American Gods premiered last week. I wonder if this is the right format. The show is apparently very faithful to the book, while expanding on situations and characters. One review said that the entire first season covers only the first one hundred pages of the book. The show is basically set up for at least the first four episodes, making me wonder if television viewers who aren’t familiar with the book will understand what is going on and stick it out. This could be a situation in which it might not be best to be so faithful to the book. Otherwise it might be better to release this Netflix style and have it available all at once, so people can go through it more like reading a book, as opposed to watching the first episode, being confused, and possibly not returning. At very least it might have been better to release the first few episodes at once, as Hulu did with The Handmaid’s Tale.

Whether or not they understand what is going on, fans of  Bryan Fuller’s work will feel right at home with the visual. The lynching scene at the end felt like something right out of Hannibal. Fuller discussed the scene with TV Guide.

Neil Gaiman explained what the book and series is all about in an interview with Recode:

Many of you who are listening to this know what “American Gods” is because it’s a very popular book. Some of you have not read the book, so Neil, tell us what the book and the show are about.

The book — which was written in 1999, 2000 and 2001, and published in June 2001 — and the show, which is coming up, are both about America. They’re both about a man named Shadow, who is in prison for a crime that he didn’t commit and has been looking forward to getting out and getting back together with his wife, Laura, who he loves very, very much. In a one-two sucker punch, he learns that he’s being let out a few days early, and he is being let out a few days early because his wife was killed in a car crash. He’s on his way back to his wife’s funeral when he meets a peculiar old grifter on a plane, who offers him a job.

The job, which he winds up taking, throws Shadow into the middle of a battle, an oncoming battle, between all of the old gods, all of the things that people who have come to America over the years have brought with them and abandoned, whether it’s leprechauns, or the Golem, or things that people have believed in, come to America, as all of the people who are in America are the descendants of people who came here, or are people who came here, and also the new gods. The new gods are the things that demand our attention, that we give our time and our love and our attention to, whether it be the gods of podcast, or of those small glass and metal and plastic objects that we all stare at in rapt devotion…

This is a book you started writing in the late ’90s. You started making the TV show a couple of years ago, it comes out now, and it is about immigration, in large part?

Yeah.

Race is forefront. There is a lynching scene at the end of the first episode. The beginning of the second episode, it starts off on a slave ship, so obviously there is some timely stuff going on here. Do you figure that would’ve been timely no matter what?

The weird thing for me is that when I wrote the book, I did not see any of this stuff as controversial. When I wrote the book, I thought, okay, this is an immigrant country. Some of the people came here, their ancestors came here 20,000 years ago from Siberia, crossing the Bering Straights and stuff. Some people came here 400 years ago, and some people wanted to come here, and some people were sent as prisoners, sent as slaves …

Right, there’s no question mark at the end of it, it’s a full stop.

That one’s a full stop. This is an immigrant country, and furthermore, I don’t think it’s contentious or controversial to be pro Statue of Liberty, and the poem thereon. You’re going, “I think that is part of the American psyche, the American dream,” nor did it think it was, in any way, controversial or laudable to go, “I am writing a novel about immigration in America, therefore I am going to have a lot of people in my book of different races because there are a lot of different races in America. I will make a mixed-race hero, A) for plot reasons and B) because he embodies America.” That all seemed to me to be very …

Table stakes.

Yeah. It’s not controversial, and I don’t think we thought it was controversial when we were writing the scripts, and I don’t think anybody thought it was really controversial when we were shooting it.

Cut to 2017.

Suddenly, I’m describing the show … There was a point where I was describing the show to … I was on the Empire Film Awards red carpet and somebody put a microphone in my face, and I told them a little bit about the show, and I said, “You know, things have changed. We did not think this stuff was controversial, but now we seem to be occupying political territory. We’re willing to take that, but we didn’t choose it to be.” The headline, when it was published was, “Neil Gaiman, author of ‘American Gods,’ slams Donald Trump.”

I thought, “I didn’t slam Donald Trump.” If I wanted to slam Donald Trump and talk about what a peculiar, narcissistic, ineffectual joke he is, I could’ve done, but I didn’t. I don’t even think I mentioned the poor man’s name.

Empire On Line discussed the making of the show with Bryan Fuller and Michael Green:

So, what’s the story here? Do you guys go out of your way to just get weird with this stuff? Bryan, you did Hannibal, obviously, and that had its own surreal quality to it. It almost seems like you sit there saying, “How can we fuck with the audience’s mind?”

Fuller: No, not really [laughs]. I think our imaginations are fairly vivid and when we’re reading something that is as inspiring as Neil’s novel, it’s hard not to grab the baton and run. If anything, we’ve checked each other a couple of times where it’s, like, “Uh, that may be too big and too weird,” and for us to say that to each other, you know it’s big and weird.

Is this just the way your minds work?

Green: It’s more where we live and we have the opportunity to do it, but it’s also why we were drawn to Neil’s writing and specifically this book is that it allowed us to bring imagination to life, even if it was going to be lavish, difficult, expensive.

Michael, is that something that you’re naturally drawn to, that type of storytelling?

Green: Bryan and I share a lot of taste and style, but I will say as a fan of Hannibal and of Bryan’s in the intervening years when we weren’t working together, I would often get together with him and just ask him, “How do you accomplish these things?” Bryan as a producer has an incredible and enviable track record of taking the ideas in his mind and being able to share them with other people by actualizing them. That is as good a definition of producing as I can muster, where it’s one thing as a writer to take an idea in your head and get it on the page clearly so other people can experience that idea. It’s another thing to be able to do that with visual images.

There were images on the show, sequences on the show, that Bryan described to me when we were in the writing phases and I could imagine very vividly, but the process of being able to actually put that on the screen takes an incredible amount of work, dedication, clarity of purpose. Every idea can continue to get better as more time goes on. I’ve been very much enjoying working with Bryan and learning how he manages to extract from his own mind the best idea and extract from the talented artists we work with the visual representation of those ideas.

Fuller: One of the things that we’ve learned on the show is we needed a long runway, because a lot of these ideas that we’re working on required a certain amount of experimentation to get right, and there were alleys that we went down regarding some visual effects. When we got to the end, we’re, like, “This doesn’t work. We need to back up and try something else, because it’s not holding up to the standards that we have.” Or it was an ambitious idea that we thought we could pull off, but we couldn’t quite, so we had to do something that we could achieve. A lot of our conversations with the visual effects team are about, “What can we pull off? What’s too big for us to achieve in our time and budget?”

The interview went on to discuss several of the characters.

Netflix released season two of Sense8. (Technically the Christmas episode was the first episode of the season). I have a few episodes to go, which might affect my opinion, and I don’t want to say very much to avoid spoilers as this has only been available for a couple of days. Now that the first season established the back story, the plot so far does seem more coherent than in the first season, but that doesn’t matter all that much. I’d enjoy the show even if there was no real plot and we were just seeing that world for several hours. My suspicion is that the Wachowskis come up with great scenes and then J. Michael Straczynski figures out how they can be fit together into a fairly coherent plot. (Maybe the Wachowskis should have brought someone like JMS in to give a better storyline for the Matrix sequels). Like with American Gods and Hannibal, the imagery is important–with a totally different type of imagery here.

Again, avoiding spoilers, the conspiracy element reminds me a bit of Orphan Black. There is the return of Mr. Whispers, and the BPO (Biologic Preservation Organization), with more layers than in the first season, similar to how the conspiracy expanded on Orphan Black. There is more of a biological background given, and there are other clusters. While new characters are introduced, the story does continue to concentrate on the cluster seen in the first season, with their individual stories, both alone and when connected with others, continuing to be the strength of the show.

In other entertainment news, it was announced that both The Handmaid’s Tale and 13 Reasons Why have both been renewed for a second season.

Comicbook.com explains how the reveal of Savatar’s identity on last week’s episode of The Flash plays into the 2056 warning from the Flash previously played on Legends of Tomorrow. They are going to have to do a lot more to convince me that it is plausible to have a future Barry come back in time and kill Iris.

In a really ambitious project, Vulture ranked all 373 songs by the Rolling Stones. Number one is You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Lawyers, Guns & Money wants to argue over it. Vulture did point out some areas of potential controversy beyond the ranking of the songs:

The Rolling Stones have multiple songs that are lyrically reprehensible to women and people of color — often both at the same time. If I were questioned about this topic at the Pearly Gates, I’d suggest that the Stones’ offensive attitudes had more to do with a craven desire to be provocative than any fundamental malignant worldview, but maybe I’m a fool. Whatever the true motivation behind them, a handful of the band’s songs have been tarred by Jagger and Richards’s sex and race insensitivity. There’s no getting around it. Then there’s the matter of appropriation. Excepting perhaps Elvis, there is no rock act that benefited more from drawing on black music than the Rolling Stones, who have repeatedly talked with respect and deference about how much they’ve taken from their musical idols. I do think that once the band took flight, its music represents a synthesis of their influences, rather than mere mimicry or theft. That said, I don’t know what you do with all these issues other than acknowledge that they’re a problem.

SciFi Weekend: Homeland Finale; Doctor Who; Sherlock; Victoria; Orphan Black; Sense8; Star Wars The Last Jedi; The Magicians; Supergirl; The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel; Big Little Lies

While not as good as the first season (a very high bar), Homeland finally figured out how to reinvent itself and become an excellent show again this season. When the series had a female president-elect, there was no question that they were playing on the thought that Hillary Clinton would have been elected last November. While the used the idea of a female president, she clearly was not Hillary Clinton. For most of the season it appeared that this was a far better choice for the first female present. Rather than being a warmonger and strong proponent the surveillance state like Clinton, President-elect Keane supported seeking peace in the middle east and was no fan of the Patriot Act. The series also dealt heavily with fake news and influencing public opinion.

The finale had an all too realistic warning. (Spoilers ahead). Shocked by an assassination attempt involving portions of the deep state, Keane snapped (as Dick Cheney may have when carried down to safety during the 9/11 attack). Like Donald Trump, President Keane went to war with her intelligence community, but to a far greater degree. She was no longer the anti-Clinton, expanding the Patriot Act and rounding up innocent people based upon metadata from NSA surveillance, including Saul Berenson. A right wing talk show host spoke of how President Keane broke her promises–somewhat like how real right wing talk shows are now talking about how Donald Trump has broken his promises to them. The name of the episode: America First.

Variety discussed the series with showrunner Alex Gansa. The interview was done before the finale and therefore does not include the surprising conclusion, but does discuss how the season was relevant to real world events:

“Homeland” storylines usually reflect real-world headlines in some way. What surprised you this year about how your show dovetailed with real events?

The most surprising and alarming coincidence was that the very thing we had posited a year ago in February — that is a President-elect in an adversarial relationship with her own intelligence community – actually came to the fore after President Trump got elected was just a coincidence of epic proportions. Frankly that was the biggest surprise second only to the fact that Donald Trump got elected in the first place. That dynamic – a newly elected President at war with her intelligence community was really the fulcrum that the entire season hinged on. The fact that it played out in the real world on the national stage was shocking to witness. There were some other (developments) that made us go back into some episodes to retrofit them.

Can you give an example?

The whole idea of fake news and propaganda – that seemed to take on a much more prominent role as we moved into our story. The one major thing we went back in and changed was introducing our Brett O’Keefe character much earlier than we intended. He was originally scheduled to be introduced in episode eight. But we went back in and did some reshoots and new scenes to introduce him in episode two…

You were clear all along in the lead-up to season six that “Homeland’s” female President-elect was not meant to be a thinly veiled Hillary Clinton. But were you concerned about that choice after Trump pulled off his upset win?

Absolutely. There was a moment we all just slapped our foreheads and wondered if the show was going to be irrelevant from that point forward. However, the story of the President-elect in an adversarial situation with her own intelligence community, that certainly wouldn’t have been Hillary Clinton. She was an establishment candidate. She was front and center of American foreign policy for years. …In a crazy way, the show would have been more irrelevant if Hillary would have been elected. The fact that Donald Trump and his team were in such a contentious relationship made the show feel current and contemporaneous. We lost on the gender but we certainly gained on the dynamic.

There has been a lot of news going into the season premiere of Doctor Who. As it has been sixteen months since a regular episode, Yahoo TV has the above catch-up guide.

Peter Capaldi has already filmed his regeneration scene. Steven Moffat has discussed the regeneration:

“With Matt I had a sort of idea that his entire run should be in the pre-math of a battle he’s having at the end of his life,” Moffat told RadioTimes.com exclusively at the BFI and Radio Times Television Festival this weekend (see video below). “But with Peter I wasn’t quite sure. I wasn’t sure for a long time whether I’d be writing him out or whether he’d be carrying on with [new showrunner] Chris Chibnall.

“That fits his Doctor, though,” the screenwriter went on, before hinting that this less mapped-out path would be echoed in Capaldi’s regeneration.

“His Doctor feels sort of impulsive and in the moment and would do something reckless that you wouldn’t expect. That suits me.

“And I mean, you can overstate the difficulty of planning a finale for a Doctor. In the end, any Doctor Who story has such catastrophe going on in it, that he could be the one that gets the rock on his head.

“But I think I’m really happy with what we’re doing for his finale. I’m just working on it now. It’s quite early. I should be further through it, but there you go.”

Moffat has also said he will be working on another show with Mark Gatiss.

Normally when Doctor Who is on, the lead item of SciFi Weekend is quite frequently a review of the current episode. Because of the holiday weekend, I have moved up this week’s post to Saturday, before this season’s premiere episode has been shown. I still might add a full review as a separate post rather than waiting until next week, depending upon both available time and how much the episode warrants it.

The Telegraph ran a story entitled, Steven Moffat talks the future of Sherlock and possible recasting. Of course, while scheduling Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman might be difficult, the show would never be the same with a different cast. Fortunately Moffat agreed:

Speaking at London’s BFI and Radio Times Television Festival, Moffat revealed: “Neither Benedict, Mark or Martin are against doing more Sherlocks. We have a great time making them, it’s a very, very nice bunch of people and we enjoy our reunions very much… [but] we’d never want to do it if we didn’t think we could do it as well as we used to.

“It also means, we’ll come back to it when we feel we’ve got the right idea. It could be off the earth quite a long while now. But I would be surprised, as I’ve said before, if we never made any more Sherlocks.”

Along with concerns over future stories, Moffat and Gatiss also have the busy schedules of their two stars to contend with: both men entrenched in the Marvel universe, as well as their multitudes of additional projects. It lead to Moffat being asked whether he would ever consider a recast.

“Absolutely not,” he was quick to reply. “You can admire great cinematography, a great score, great writing, great direction, great production. You can admire all those things, but you only fall in love with people. And the people you fall in love with are Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman.

“You cannot replace them. They are the magic, they are the show.”

Speaking of recasting, while The Crown plans to recast Claire Foy and Matt Smith after the second season as their characters age, Victoria will be moving more slowly through the 1840’s. Therefore there are no plans yet to recast Jenna Coleman.

BBC America has released a longer trailer for the fifth and final season of Orphan Black, which returns on June 10.

Netflix has released the above trailer for season 2 of Sense8, which will become available on May 5. The description:

From renowned creative geniuses Lana Wachowski, Grant Hill (“The Matrix,” “Cloud Atlas”) and J. Michael Straczynski (Clint Eastwood’s “Changeling,’ “World War Z”), Sense8 is centered around eight characters, from different parts of the world, who experience a violent vision, and soon find themselves mentally connected by the experience. They become connected, able to see and talk to each other as though they were in the same place, with access to each other’s deepest secrets. Not only must the eight adapt to this new ability and to each other, they must figure out why their lives are now in jeopardy. In Season 2, dark forces continue to track the cluster of eight connected characters. The sensates will learn more about BPO, the secret organization searching for their cluster and others like them, and will work to protect themselves from this organization that is out to hunt and kill them.

The above teaser has been released for Star Wars: The Last Jedi which will be released December 15. More at Entertainment Weekly.

Syfy has finally announced that The Magicians will be renewed for a third season. Grace and Frankie has also been renewed by Netflix.

Calista Flockhart will be returning for the final two episodes of Supergirl this season. She was written out of the show after two episodes as a consequence of the show moving production to Vancouver. Tyler Hoechlin will also return as Superman.

Manu Bennett (Slade Wilson/Deathstroke) will be returning for the season finale of Arrow.

Gotham plans to “introduce the idea of Harley Quinn” in the Season 3 finale.

The pilot for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel has received excellent reviews, so it is no surprise that Amazon has picked up this series from Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino. The only surprise is that Amazon has already picked it up for two seasons, which could keep Amy Sherman-Palladino busy if the rumors come true of a second season for Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life. The summary for her new series:

The series, written and directed by Sherman-Palladino, stars Rachel Brosnahan (House of Cards) as Miriam “Midge” Maisel, a 1958 New York City woman who has everything she’s ever wanted—the perfect husband, two kids, and an elegant Upper West Side apartment perfect for hosting Yom Kippur dinner. But her perfect life suddenly takes an unexpected turn and Midge discovers a previously unknown talent—one that changes her life forever. She charts a course that takes her from her comfortable life on Riverside Drive, through the basket houses and nightclubs of Greenwich Village as she storms the world of stand-up comedy…a course that will ultimately lead her to a spot on Johnny Carson’s couch.

In addition to House of Cards, Rachel Brosnahan also appeared as Abby Isaacs in the WGN series Manhattan.

Big Little Lies completed the events of  novel it was based on in its first season, but that might not keep it from getting a second season. It certainly is plausible–and there is precedent for this. The Leftovers was better in its second season, after its first season completed the novel it was based on, and early reviews suggest the third season might be even better. HBO was certainly not going to stop filming Game of Thrones when it caught up to the published novels.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Beyond & Star Trek Discovery; Sherlock & Doctor Who News; Adrianne Palacki Cast On Seth MacFarlane SF Show; Gilmore Girls Trailer; Sense8

Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond is the third installment since J.J. Abrams took over Star Trek. Like the first two movies, it is fun to watch, and in this one there is more of an effort (only partially successful) to make this movie actually be Star Trek. There will be some spoilers here, but not to the point of giving away anything which isn’t becoming obvious in the first half of the movie.

The movie has a lot of action, but also makes an effort to get a feel for the characters early in the movie. The Enterprise is now on the third year of its mission in deep space which began at the end of Star Trek Into Darkness. This work mean that, although James Kirk took over the Enterprise at an earlier point in his life, that they have been in deep space for approximately as long as the crew on the original show. (The original series ended in its third season, but they had already been on their five year mission for some time when the show began). In this universe, we also know that they have encountered Tribbles and Khan earlier.

Whatever they have experienced, Kirk now feels that “things have started to feel episodic” and is contemplating a desk job. It should be no spoiler to say that he doesn’t go through with it. There was a reference to the original when he complained that his shirt got torn on an away mission. There was also time for Kirk and the rest of the crew to take  break when they traveled to a space station. Again, it should be no spoiler that something happened there which pulled the Enterprise into an adventure.

Before going off to fight another villain, and meet another memorable character, Spock also had to deal with both romantic problems with Uhura and learning of the death of Ambassador Spock, his future self from the origianl Star Trek universe. That is obviously an homage to the death of Leonard Nimoy. The ending of the movie also had a tribute to the death of Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov. While a fourth movie has already been approved, a decision has been made to not replace Yelchin. Chris Hemsworth will reprise his role as Kirk’s father in the fourth movie, despite having died in the first movie. No word whether that will involve time travel, a revelation that he somehow survived, or some other means.

Spock contemplated leaving Star Fleet to continue Ambassador Spock’s work and his people following the destruction of Vulcan. This provided no more drama than Kirk contemplating taking a desk job. While at this star base we also learned that a ship even bigger and more powerful than the Enterprise was being built. Do I need to label it a spoiler to say that this guaranteed the repeat of what didn’t occur to the Enterprise in the prime universe until its third movie?

While no longer directed by J.J. Abrams, his influence was seen. I have some of the same nit picks as I did with Star Trek Into Darkness. Everything must be bigger, including getting yet a bigger and better version of the Enterprise and the incredible size of the space station out in deep space (which seemed partially modeled on Epcot). Once again, distance did not seem to matter. The Enterprise has gone where no one has gone before, but is not far from a station of this magnitude, and right around the corner from an almost unexplored nebula.

The most important thing about the Star Trek movies is that they have kept Star Trek around in some form. Star Trek has always worked better as a television show than movie series, and it will return to television early in 2017. Bryan Fuller announced at Comic Con that the next series will be named Star Trek Discovery, (referred to as DSC rather than the initials STD). The series will premiere on CBS television but subsequently be shown on CBS All Access, a paid streaming service. Episodes will also be available internationally on Netflix within twenty-hours making me wonder if it will be accessible in the US if using a VPN. With such limited availability, I bet it will also be heavily pirated.

Star Trek Discovery will tell a single story in thirteen chapters, with episodes released weekly. The series will take place in the prime timeline, but it has not been announced when. There has been speculation that the registry number of NCC-1031 for the Starship Discovery suggests it could take place before the original show, but that is far from definitive.

The above trailer for Sherlock season 4 was presented at San Diego Comic Con.

That naturally leads to recent news related to that other show run by Steven Moffat. Moffat predicts that Peter Capaldi will be remaining with the show after he leaves as show runner in 2017.

Karen Gillan has been cast as the female lead in All Creatures Here Below, an indie drama written by and starring David Dastmalchian. (I just thought of Amy Pond earlier today when I was walking by a house with a small angel on its lawn. I did not blink).

Jenna Coleman will be playing Queen Victoria for ITV. She has not ruled out returning to Doctor Who some day, but told Collider she will probably not return “for a good while”  if she ever does.

Adrianne-Palicki

Adrianne Palacki has been cast in Seth MacFarlane’s upcoming show for Fox:

Set 300 years in the future, the untitled show — MacFarlane’s first live-action TV series — follows the adventures of the Orville, a not-so-top-of-the-line exploratory ship in Earth’s interstellar fleet. Facing cosmic challenges from without and within, this motley crew of space explorers will boldly go where no comedic drama has gone before.

MacFarlane plays Ed, captain of Orville. Palicki plays Kelly Grayson, Ed’s ex-wife and the newly appointed First Officer of the Orville. Grimes plays Gordon, Ed’s best friend whom he hires to pilot the Orville.

This should answer the question as to whether Palacki will return to Agents of SHIELD after ABC decided against picking up the proposed spin-0ff which she was to star in. While she was written out of SHIELD, the manner in which it was done did not make it too difficult to have her return.

The Last Ship has been renewed by TNT for a fourth season. It has taken a different approach for the third season, reminding me of previous post-apocalyptic shows such as Jericho and Revolution. It is like rebuilding society in Revolution, with a recent plague being far more plausible than the loss of electricity on Revolution.

There is no question I will be binging on Gilmore Girls Thanksgiving weekend until I hear the four final words which Amy Sherman-Palladino has always planned to end the series with. She had hoped to have the show released in individual episodes to avoid spoiling the ending, but Netflix insisted on releasing all four episodes on November 25. I can’t think of any better place than Stars Hollow to spend Thanksgiving weekend. Trailer above. John Oliver did respond to Lorelei’s question while appearing on Stephen Colbert’s show:

Then on Christmas we can get more of Sense8 as opposed to watching it for the eighth time. ONTD has these items from the J. Michael Straczynsk’s panel at Comic Con:

– He confirms they’re filming in more cities because the Sense8 will be meeting more Sensates and some of them might be evil.
– There’s a lot more action than in Season 1.
– They’re gonna dig a lot deeper into the company searching for Sensates.
– Kala/Wolfgang storyline evolves a lot from S1.
– He confirms Sun gets out of jail ‘but not in the way you’d expect’.
– They’re working more like a group and having more scenes together.
– Netflix revealed that most Netflix shows are re-watched once at most. Sense8’s rewatchability index is off the charts. People rewatch Sense8 up to 7 times in average (end to end).
– Season2 is more ‘hopeful’ about LGTB people, privacy and relationships
– Riley’s gonna be the one leading the agenda to meet more sensates and she uses her DJ concerts to do so.
– Christmas movie airs on Christmas Day and the rest of the season shortly after in 2017.

SciFi Weekend: Continuum Series Finale; Doctor Who; Fargo & Manhattan Return; Defiance Canceled

Continuum Finale 2

Continuum had both a happy and sad ending but, even more remarkably, ended with a surprise which was totally consistent with what we have seen. With all the  questions among fans, and even some characters on the show, as to whether Kiera could return home, nobody I’m aware of predicted the ending. She was successful and returned home to a better world where the Corporate Congress never took control, and old Alec was much more like young Alec than a futuristic version of the evil cigarette smoking man. However, as in this future there was never a reason for her to be sent back in time, the future included another Kiera who was the mother to Sam. Kiera could see that her son would have a better future, but would not personally be a part of it. Plus Sam grew up with different versions of his parents and in a different culture and might not be anything like the Sam she left. She also has no real role in this timeline with another Kiera being there.

In retrospect, the ending was obvious. We already saw that when Alec went back in time to save Emily there were two Alecs. When Kiera crossed into the other timeline, there were two Kieras, even if one had been killed. If Kiera never went back in time in this timeline, of course there would be another Kiera there. This all assumes that the same people would be born. It is actually more likely that if the timeline was radically changed, there would not be the exact same people born in the future. This, like having all the action taking place in Vancouver, are just things we have to accept for the show.

In this future timeline, Alec grew older and remained good. Kagame was alive, and his role primarily served as a means to momentarily make Kiera think that the future was worse than it actually was. There would presumably be versions of other members of Liber8 who never went back in time, possibly with both an old and a young Garza since she remained in the past.

It was no surprise that the Time Marines were lying about their goals, and their plans failed. Kiera had a mixed ending. The ending was not so good for Kellogg. He killed Vasquez with a corkscrew (fitting for Kellogg) but learned while she was dying that she was his daughter, and not the lover of his future self as assumed. He was momentarily safer, if not for the legal penalties he faced, when the current timeline was tethered to the timeline of the Time Marines. Now if anything happened to him, such as having both kidneys removed, his older self would undergo a 12 Monkeys style fate (movie version). Kellogg tried to go back in time to when everyone first came back to get rid of them (presumably including another version of himself) to try to make things turn out as he wanted, including taking control of that kid in the garage (Alec). Instead Alec outsmarted him, sending him to prehistoric times. I’m not sure if Kellogg will get killed, or manage to be treated as a god. Maybe he does have a happy ending.

Continuum Finale

The condensed six-episode season did wrap up the series well, but compromises had to be made. It was necessary to quickly have Kiera want to remain in the present at the end of last season and then want to go home this season. Kiera’s husband was totally ignored for the final season.

Presumably there were plans to do far more with The Traveler, but his story had to be wrapped up very quickly. Once Kellogg went back in time, the future with the Time Marines, along with a future with evil Alec and the Corporate Congress, never took place and The Traveler’s future was again present, allowing him to return home.

The flash-forwards of previous seasons were no longer used and until the finale we only saw old Alec in Zero Hour. I still have so many questions which will never be answered. The episode confirmed that Alec sent Liber8 back to prevent the future he created, and that Kiera was assigned to be at the fake execution because young Alec mentioned her name. However, young Alec never told old Alec that Kiera arrived with no idea what was going on. Knowing the little he did know, I would think that old Alec would have instead briefed Kiera and sent her back with a more concrete mission. If there was more time in future scenes, it might have convincingly be shown that Alec considered this but, in recognizing her views at the time, decided it was better to send her back without such a briefing.

It is also unfortunate that there was little time to get into the politics of the show in this condensed final season, especially with the series ending this year. Given more time, Continuum could have been partially a weekly promotion for the views of Bernie Sanders. Maybe there is a timeline where Bernie Sanders gets elected to prevent the corporate excesses shown on the show.

Simon Berry had said he envisioned the final scene from the beginning. This led to the show making more sense than shows which drifted like Lost and The X-Files. However, the other examples which come to mind of a television writer having the end in mind have not worked out as planned. J. Michael Straczynski got the ending he intended for Babylon 5, and then wound up having an extra year to kill. Amy Sherman-Palladino never got to end Gilmore Girls as she planned as she did not remain for the final season. The ending for How I Met Your Mother might have been clever at the time, but no longer was the best ending by the time the story was told.

Doctor Who The Girl Who Died2

The Girl Who Died was on one level a light episode of Doctor Who with Vikings versus aliens, but it also included a lot of references to the mythology of the show, and presumably leads into however the season ends. The Doctor was caught by Vikings and tried to pretend to be Odin. That did not work as there was already another alien pretending to be Odin. Plus it was the nearest thing we will probably see to Doctor Who meeting Game of Thrones.

The Doctor helped the Viking village defeat The Mire with clever but improbable strategy including electric eels, mind tricks to make the invaders think they were under attack by a giant serpent, and threats to ruin their reputation with a video of the events. Along the way there were references to previous Doctors along with some seen in videos. The Doctor used the phrase attributed to the third Doctor, even if not really used all that often: “I’m reversing the polarity of the neutron flow. I bet that means something, it sounds great.” The seventh Doctor was also recalled with “Time will tell – it always does.”

There was an explanation for the current Doctor looking so much like Marcus Aurelius from The Fires of Pompeii (beyond both being played by Peter Capaldi). Seeing this face was a reminder that he can sometimes change what might be fixed points in time.  In the episode, Donna Noble convinced the Doctor into saving a the volcano which destroyed Pompeii. This tells him: “I’m the Doctor and I save people!” (Will we later get an explanation for Peter Capaldi’s appearance in Torchwood: Children of Earth, or is it just better to pretend that one never existed?)

It is never clear what the rules of time are. Will they necessarily lead to problems, or are they just rules of the Time Lords which can be ignored when they are not around? We received a little guidance: “It’s OK to make ripples, but not tidal waves.”

This all mattered first to get the Doctor to save the village. It was saved but Maise Williams’ character, Ashildre, died during the battle. The Doctor not only made her “functionally immortal,” but also gave her a second dose of the revive-chip for “whoever she wants” so she will not be alone. It is strange that the Doctor did this for her, but never considered it for many other people he saw die, or to make sure he is never alone. I wonder if there will be tragic consequences of this violation of the rules to provide reason for him to never consider it again.

The Doctor did realize that he turned Ashildre into a hybrid. We heard mention of a hybrid earlier in the season in The Witch’s Familiar, but it sounded like a cross between a Time Lord and a Dalek. We will have to wait and see if this is all connected.

Another event of the season was to have the Doctor lose his sonic screwdriver and replace it with the sonic sunglasses. The Vikings broke them, but they also appear in a preview so presumably are returning.

The episode had the second suggestion that Clara might be bisexual when she spoke of fighting the Doctor for Ashildre. In The Magician’s Apprentice she mentioned that Jane Austen is “a brilliant writer and, strictly between ourselves, a phenomenal kisser.”

A couple other memorable lines from the episode:

Doctor: “I’m not actually the police, that’s just what it says on the box.”

Clara: “The universe is full of testosterone. Trust me, it’s unbearable.”

Behind the scenes videos with Maisie Williams can be seen here.

fargo-season-2-header

Syfy has canceled Defiance after three seasons. I thought the third season was much better, but not enough people were watching.

Fargo and Manhattan returned for their second seasons. Fargo looks fantastic. I have not seen Manhattan yet but I hear it was also excellent. I would highly recommend watching the first season of each of these shows. Fargo is a different story with slight overlap in characters, and I doubt it will be necessary to have seen the first season to enjoy the second. It would be better to watch the first season of Manhattan before trying to jump in.

Fresh Off The Boat, also in its second season, has been picked up for a full twenty-two episodes.

Syfy has canceled Defiance after three seasons. I thought the third season was much better, but not enough people were watching. Please do not  let Manhattan suffer this fate–it is an excellent show despite being seen by so few people as it is only on WGN.

SciFi Weekend: Mr. Robot; Hannibal; The Flash; Sense8

Mr Robot Angela

Mr. Robot began with a flashback showing how Elliot first met the character who was killed last week, but overall the episode concentrated more on the other characters. (The initial scene did have me puzzled for a moment until I realized it was a flashback.) Angela is proceeding with her plan, but now must face the fact that it will put her friends out of work. Tyrell is increasingly looking like he is a far more warped character than Elliot, as one more character, although a minor one who was only introduced recently, has been  violently removed from the cast.

Earlier in the season there was a fan theory, suggested in the pilot, that Mr. Robot is an imaginary character, present only in Elliot’s head. Some have suggested that nobody was interacting with him other than Elliot, but more recent scenes have cast doubt on that theory. Another theory is that he is “real” but another manifestation of Elliot. For example, Alan Sepenwall noted:

Both of Mr. Robot’s scenes take place independently of Elliot, which can be read as a clear sign that he’s meant to be an independent character, or just more examples where we’re seeing Mr. Robot as an Elliot stand-in. And when Darlene and Trenton discuss what motivates the other members of the group, they don’t mention either Elliot or Mr. Robot, which makes more sense if they’re meant to be the same person — and the group’s leader — than if Elliot is just another guy recruited to fulfill Mr. Robot’s anarchic vision.

Hannibal Will and Hannibal

Hannibal continues the Red Dragon storyline, and returned Bedelia (Gillian Anderson) to the mix. During …And the Woman Clothed in the Sun, Will met with both her and Hannibal, and even had a chance encounter with Dolarhyde. While the Tooth Fairy doesn’t eat people as Hannibal does, he did show a strange appetite of his own. Hannibal is still locked up, but this is not enough to keep him with interacting with the outside world. Bedalia also was shown with a former patient of Dr. Lecter, played by Zachary Quinto, showing us the true story of the patient who died under her care. Plus there was a tiger–and we saw inside its mouth.

>The-Flash-Season-two

The Flash‘s new costume was displayed at Comic Com, and there is further news about the second season. Both Wally West and Jay Garrick have been cast, with Jay Garrick’s Flash foreshadowed in the first season finale. Entertainment Weekly also reports that we will not only see the Earth 2 Flash, but also see glimpses of the alternate Earth:

Well, it sounds like that singularity leads to a pretty familiar place. In speaking about the great care they took with making their version of time travel both easy to digest and complex enough to be exciting for the diehard fans in season 1, executive producer Andrew Kreisberg says, “We’re trying to do the same thing this year with Earth 2 and the concept of the multiverse and the concept of dopplegangers. We’ve been having a lot of fun with that and getting glimpses of Earth 2 probably sooner than people would’ve thought.”

Sense 8 Finale

Netflix finally announced that they are renewing Sense8 for a second season last week, which provides a good excuse to write a bit about the show. I’ll try to avoid significant spoilers, but those who want to go into the show without knowing anything about it might look away.

The story does develop slowly, with the first few episodes primarily being devoted to introducing the characters and setting matters up. The story centers around eight people from different part of the world: Nomi (Jamie Clayton) a transgender character played by the transgender actress, Will, a Chicago cop (Brian J. Smith), Lito, a telenovela star who is secretly gay (Miguel Ángel Silvestre),  Icelandic DJ Riley, who started out the series living in London (Tuppence Middleton), Korean business executive Sun (Bae Doona), Indian pharmacist Kala (Tina Desai) who is engaged to her boss, German safecracker Wolfgang (Max Riemelt), and Nairobi bus driver Capheus (Aml Ameen).

What is remarkable about the series is that each character has a life of their own, with supporting cast, and their scenes are actually filmed where they are said to occur. This includes former Doctor Who companion Freema Agyeman in rather explicit lesbian love scenes with Jamie Clayton, and a rather fun threesome in Mexico City. Plus there is ultimately an orgy involving most of the cast. Did I forget to mention that this is an R-rated series?

The combination of all these characters gets even more complicated as the characters find they are tied to each other and can interact with other Sensates in other parts of the world. A character involved in a fight might be helped out by another who is a better fighter, along with taking advantage of other skills processed by others. After watching the final episode it is worth watching the show on Netflix as to how the series was filmed. (I watched this immediately after watching the final episode as I was not ready to leave this world or these characters.) Rather than filming the show chronologically, the entire cast traveled together around the world.When a scene involved a connection between characters in two (or more ) parts of the world, the scene was filmed at separate times in each location and later put together as viewed.

The plotline might be simplified to a group of people with a special power who wind up being chased by an evil group. While this has done many times before, it has never been done like this. The show goes far beyond this concept in the development of each character and location. Instead of superpowers, the characters have normal abilities, other than their ability to connect with other Sensates. While sometimes slow, I found this to be definitely worth watching. If anyone is tempted to give up midway through because of some episodes which deal more with explanation than action,  the action does pick up tremendously in the last few episodes.

Sense8 Will and Riley

Just prior to the renewal news, J. Michael Straczynski was interviewed about plans for the second season, and working with the Wachowski brothers:

On whether the characters will take on each other’s abilities…

J. Michael Straczynski:
Yeah, we’re looking at expanding that as far as logic goes. What’s kind of fun about the characters is that what they’re sharing are not necessarily superpowers. They have ordinary abilities, and we’re trying to say that there is value and merit and power whether you’re an actor or you are a martial arts person or a bus driver. You have something to contribute. Some of the hardest parts of making that process work visually was in choreographing this entire thing. So, for instance, in the scenes with Sun, we had to stage her fights both in Korea and in Nairobi twice. She would literally start a punch in Korea and then finish that punch in Nairobi. That process of really making that work visually was very involved, very detailed, but sells the illusion of it…

On whether, if they are renewed for another season, there is a five-year plan for the show…

JMS: The way that the Wachowskis and I tend to work, as we created the show together, wrote it together, we are long-game kind of people. We look down the road to say, “Okay. We’re setting this up now. Where is this going to go?” That doesn’t guarantee we’re going to go five seasons, but for ourselves, for the writing process, we need to, kind of, know where we’re going, where this all pays off, what this means. So season 1 is like the origin story. Season 2 has its own particular arc. And we’ve figured it out from there. But to spoil that here would not be in the best interest of the surprises we have in mind.

On collaborating with the Wachowskis…

JMS: If they have their strengths, first it’s action and character, then plot and structure. I think they would agree that’s kind of their dynamic. I’m a structure demon, so I’m really focused on keeping the story going from here to here to here so it all makes sense in the end. Light on action, decent on plot. So the good thing is that you lay our two skills over one another, and it’s a perfect fit. So the collaboration process was a great deal of fun for all of us. We learned from each other’s strengths and compensated for each other’s weaknesses.

The full post includes also questions for some of the cast members.

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

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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: Babylon 5 and Blake’s 7 Reboots; Doctor Who; Captain America; Agent Carter; Agents of SHIELD; Defiance; Big Bang Theory; Google Maps Adds The Moon and Mars

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J. Michael Straczynski has announced plans to reboot Babylon 5 as a movie. One reason for doing it his way is that Warner owns the television rights but Straczsynki retained the feature film rights:

Speaking at San Diego Comic Con last week, Straczsynki announced that he would soon be sitting down to write a Babylon 5 feature film, which is envisioned as a reboot of the iconic sci-fi series. JMS said that he plans to get the script locked down by the end of 2015 and the film would then enter production the following year in 2016.

Next to nothing is known about the plot for this Babylon 5 feature film, beyond the fact that it is a reboot of the concept seen in the series. That said, J. Michael Straczynski has stated that he would like to use cast members from the series, such as Bruce Boxleitner and Mira Furlan, in new roles in the feature film. “I’d love to see Bruce as the President of the Earth Alliance”, he said.

The hope is that Warner Bros, who produced the Babylon 5 television series, would step up and green-light a “big budget” feature film once the script has been completed. But owing to the nature of the deal that Straczysnki inked with the studio to produce Babylon 5 in the early 1990s, he, rather than Warner Bros, owns the feature film rights to the show. Should Warner Bros. choose not to greenlight a B5 movie, Straczynski would still proceed with the feature, which would then be funded and produced through his Studio JMS banner on a budget of $80 – $100 million.

Although Syfy passed on the show, there is still some hope for a remake of Blake’s 7.

The BBC has renewed Doctor Who for an eighth season since the show returned, again staring Peter Capaldi, with the shows to be presented in a continuous run. Steven Moffat said recently that there are no plans for either the return of the Master or for a tenth anniversary show (which would seem strange after doing a 50th).  Moffat has also expressed a willingness to do a Doctor Who/Sherlock cross over, but others involved are not interested. Would it look something like the video above, except with Peter Capaldi instead of Matt Smith?

Above is, perhaps, how Captain America: The Winter Soldier should have ended. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo discussed their upcoming projects, Agent Carter and the third Captain America movie:

Before turning their attention to the next feature, the Russos are directing several episodes of the spin-off TV series Agent Carter, debuting on ABC in January 2015. The miniseries follows the solo adventures of Peggy Carter, the love of Captain America’s life and founder of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the 1940s. From there, the brothers will tackle the third film, which picks up “a couple years” after Winter Soldier left off. Although the heart of the movie will be Steve Rogers’ complicated relationship with his childhood friend Bucky Barnes, the themes of politics and power will still be in play. “The character was invented for an explicitly political purpose. So it’s hard to get away from that nature,” Anthony tells Yahoo. It’s also important to the directors that Captain America doesn’t become another disillusioned antihero. As Joe sees it, “his morality is part of his superpower.”

While they’re not leaking any major details from the 2016 film, the Russo brothers promise that they’re “bringing some new elements to the table that will give us a twist on Winter Soldier.” Does this mean that Steve Rogers will pass the Captain America shield to Bucky Barnes (aka the Winter Soldier) or Sam Wilson (aka the Falcon), both of whom have donned the stars-and-stripes in the comics? With actor Chris Evans shifting his focus to directing, and Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie already in place as the Winter Soldier and the Falcon respectively, the next film could allow a new hero to step in.

Elsewhere in the Marvel universe, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Twin Peaks) will be meeting SHIELD. Kyle MacLachlan  has been cast to play Skye’s father on Agents of SHIELD. Chloe Bennet said at Comic-Con that next season will also involve more hair. Skye will have bangs and Brett Dalton will do the evil-Spock thing of the mirror universe and have a beard as the evil Grant Ward.

Defiance Cast

Defiance has done a good job of creating a world with numerous well-developed characters and alien races, but often while watching I wonder if there is any point to it all. It lacks the big story ideas of a Babylon 5 or Battlestar Galactica. The showrunner, Kevin Murphy, did work on BSG and I am glad that he got away from the idea of doing the show as a “science-fiction crime of the week.”

AX: How did DEFIANCE started and how did it change when you came onto the project during its development?

KEVIN MURPHY: The original version was a little more of a closed-ended procedural, it was kind of more of a science-fiction crime of the week, and we were in the process of changing that when CULT got picked up and [original DEFIANCE co-creator/show runner] Rockne O’Bannon left. I then had a choice that I wasn’t sure that the show was going to work in the incarnation that it currently was in, and I didn’t want to have responsibility for something that didn’t work. So I gave Syfy a choice. I said, “I’ll transition you into your next show runner, and I’ll make sure that casting continues and produce the pilot, but I’m not going to stay on for the series unless I believe in the show.” And they were like, “Well, what would you want to do to it?” And it was basically, “Well, it involves getting rid of pretty much all the scripts, and let me give you my pitch.”

So I did the pitch, worked it out with the writing staff, and at this point, it was Rockne’s last day, and he was helping us to kind of reconceive it, and Scott Stewart, the director, was very involved in the process, and so was Michael Taylor, who had worked on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and was a member of staff under me. And we pitched the whole thing to [then-Syfy Channel president] Mark Stern while he was driving in his car on vacation with his family in Palm Springs. And he had his wife and kid in the vehicle with him, and the pitch lasted about ninety minutes, because we pitched the entire story from beginning to end, every single beat, and by the time he pulled into the hotel in Palm Springs, we had finished our pitch and he was like, “Okay, I love it. Go write it.”

AX: Did you make major changes to the characters?

MURPHY: The PAPER MOON thing I added, the idea that Nolan [the town’s new law officer, played by Grant Bowler] came in from the outside and that he was a con man and a drifter and a huckster and a criminal. That was all stuff that I added. The idea that Amanda has only been mayor for six weeks and she’s the former mayor’s assistant and no one takes her seriously, that was an addition; the idea that Irisa [Nolan’s adopted Irathient daughter, played by Stephanie Leonidas] uses knives and Irisa being sort of the feral badass was an invention of mine. And Michael. When I say “me,” I’m including Michael Taylor, who was definitely my partner in crime. We would not have gotten that script in the shape it needed to be in without Michael at my side.

The Werewolf Transformation

In follow-up of an item from last week, the cast of The Big Bang Theory did settle on a new contract. The top three stars, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco, will each  earn $1 million per episode for the planned upcoming three seasons, and there is talk of potentially adding an eleventh season.

Google Maps has added maps of the moon and Mars. I imagine that going off the earth was inevitable once they added the TARDIS to their maps.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sherlock (Rat, Wedding, Bow); Merlin; Blake’s 7; Person of Interest; New Show From JMS; Neil Armstrong; Batman Played By Cookie Monster

Doctor Who returns with Asylum of the Daleks on September 1, trailer above. While waiting there will be a daily web series starting on Monday showing what the Ponds have been up to between seasons.

The Guardian discussed the new season with Steven Moffat:

Moffat, the BBC1 show’s executive producer and head writer, said the new series which returns on Saturday 3 September with Asylum of the Daleks, would be a season of “blockbuster” episodes.

Asked about his budget for the Saturday teatime show, Moffat said: “I”m never going to say I’ve got enough. That’s like asking would you like to be more happy, of course I’m going to say yes I want more money.

“They don’t starve us, Doctor Who is incredibly well looked after by the BBC. I truly believe it could be a show that outlives everybody in this room, it doesn’t just make money now it could make money forever,” Moffat told the MediaGuardian Edinburgh International Television Festival on Saturday morning.

He said the new series would be a “blockbuster every single week, let’s not have a cheap episode, let’s make them all huge”.

“Last year we did an arc [storyline] next year we will do something else, every year we have to go in a particular direction. It shouldn’t feel like good old cosy Doctor Who.”

On the long-mooted possibility of a film version of Doctor Who, Moffat said: “There’s often been talk about a movie, I’m sure we should do one. What I keep saying is it can’t ever be allowed to interfere with the television show, that’s the mothership, that’s the thing that will go on forever.

Moffat also kept open the possibility of a female Doctor:

“It is a part of Time Lord lore, it can happen. I don’t know, who knows? The more often it’s talked about, the more likely it’s going to happen.”

Moffat answers more questions here.


Steven Moffat is again teasing the upcoming season of Sherlock. Woman/Hound/Fall were the keywords for Season 2, and their meaning is now obvious. The keywords for the upcoming season are revealed in the above video–an interview with Steven Moffat,  Mark Gatiss, and Moriarty actor Andrew Scott. The keywords for the third series are:  Rat/Wedding/Bow. The season is filming in January but will not air until fall 2013. There is speculation as to the meaning of these three words at Den of Geek and Screen Rant.  They speculate that Bow refers to His Last Bow, after which Sherlock Holmes retired. Considering that Sherlock was only shown as dead for two minutes after the Fall, there is no reason that Moffat might not make Sherlock’s retirement very brief. Reportedly Moriarty is really dead, but I’m not convinced he will remain dead.

More information on Merlin Season 5 here. In a show centered around magic, it is not all that surprising that Uther will return for one episode:

“Uther returns in a very unexpected way.  He returns at a point in Arthur’s life where he’s absolutely missing his father — at a moment when Arthur is having a wobble as king and needs some advice – and at a moment of weakness is some how able to contact Uther.”

There are now negotiation in progress to both add a sixth season and to have a movie trilogy filling in gaps from earlier in the story.

There is speculation that SyFy’s planned rebooting of Blake’s 7 will be darker than the original. The rights were initially purchased with plans to do a continuation of the original. Now that so much time has passed it does make more sense to start over with a reboot, but I sure would have like to see how they would have continued the original after the main characters were killed in the original series finale.

Trailer for Person of Interest above.

ABC is working on a show produced J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5 about a pandemic. “The untitled project is described as a high-octane pandemic thriller that combines closed-ended procedural and serialized elements.”

Neil Armstrong died yesterday. Above is a BBC interview with Armstrong from 1970 months after he landed on the moon.

What if Batman was played by Cookie Monster? See the video above.

SciFi Weekend: Torchwood: The New Earth; Doctor Who; Two New Versions of Superman; Wil Wheaton & Lesbian Sex on Big Bang Theory; Lost

IGN has interviewed Russell T. Davies and Julie Gardner about the upcoming Torchwood Series, The New World. The discussion also included questions about future cross over episodes of Torchwood and Doctor Who now that they no  longer have the same show runner.  Here is a portion of the interview:

IGN: We’ve heard this new CIA character, Rex, is somewhat the entry point of The New World. Will we get to Jack and Gwen pretty quickly?

Davies: Too soon to say, but I’m very aware of that. I will enjoy playing with that and I can see already that a slight myth is going to build up of sorts, saying that Rex is our only entry point. When we first see Gwen, you will see what it essentially was in the series [before]. There are no super powers, there’s no credits, no money, no special privileges. You’ll see an ordinary woman whose life is about to take an extraordinary turn. So there will be an awful lot of new viewers where if you’ve never seen Gwen Cooper in your life, you will see a woman with a husband, a baby, thrown into a threat and you’ll latch onto her immediately. Even the way that Captain Jack is introduced is written so that you’ll latch onto that as well.

IGN: What is the dynamic with Rex and the other new character, Ester? What kind of sensibilities do they bring to Torchwood?

Davies: I don’t want to give away too much. Rex certainly brings dynamism and energy and hostility towards Torchwood. He wants to know who the hell they are and why the hell they’re so important and they can get out of his way… at first. There’s a great, fun, sparky, sexy sort of antagonism to the whole thing. Ester is much calmer, but through the course of the story, she suffers some great, powerful, emotional stories as it goes on. In some ways, she’s a bit of an innocent abroad and soon learns not to be. And that plays off Gwen’s experience with these things. The fact that Gwen still is the most ordinary woman in the world, and Jack’s huge perspective of things, having lived for thousands of years… Just telling Rex that he can’t die is a hilarious scene. There’s a lot of fresh material there that we’ll mine, but again the new story will always move us forward.

IGN: Are you looking at this as Series 4 or Season 4 of Torchwood? Or is it a new project with characters we know?

Russell T. Davies: It’s funny, you can’t deny it’s Series 4. There’s a whole fan base and a whole legacy and a whole mythology that I would hate to contradict. Fortunately I have sort of done this before with Doctor Who, when I re-launched that in 2005. It was absolutely imperative to keep everyone who loved Doctor Who on board and to bring in a new audience – it was an even bigger task than this, to be honest. And frankly, I think that went very successfully. I’m an old hand at this. I do know how to do it.

I think these subtitles help, because we don’t actually refer to it as series 4. And we didn’t actually refer to Children of Earth as Series 3. We referred to it as Children of Earth. Now this is The New World, so that takes the curse off of it sounding old. Obviously, you know your stuff – you know your television and I imagine your readership knows their stuff, so we can freely talk about the past. If this was an interview with, say, a more general and generic site, I would avoid talking about the past. So you [move] in-between those points. Because there’s nothing worse than reading an interview and thinking, “Well, I won’t watch that, because it’s on Series 4.”

Gardner: Also, if you look at the history of Torchwood in the UK, it’s moved three channels in three years. It started on the digital channel BBC3 and moved to BBC2 and finally Children of Earth moved to BBC1 which is like the UK’s network channel. Each time, particularly with Children of Earth, Russell reinvented it for a new audience. We didn’t go into Children of Earth thinking that everyone had seen what had gone on before, but very much with that title, it would reward the audience that was there before. There would be references and nuances that they would pick up on that a new audience wouldn’t, but it was done very very much to welcome in people.

Davies: Frankly, it’s gotten bigger and better with every series, and if we ever get to a Series 10, mankind would have to live on the moon to make room for it. So it’s a good plan. [Laughs]

IGN: Now that Doctor Who has done its latest big reinvention with Matt Smith, do you think the two series have completely split off at this point, or do you think another crossover is possible?

Davies: Steven [Moffat] knows the plot of The New World. As a courtesy, I sent him a synopsis and said, “Is that going to clash with anything you’re doing?” We both have enough awareness of each other’s worlds to avoid that. And I still executive produce The Sarah Jane Adventures in Britain. I’m still working on that, and that works in synch with Doctor Who. So we are still very much aware of each plans, without spoiling each other’s news. We’re very careful to make sure that we behave within the Doctor Who world, while still being completely free to tell our own stories.

IGN: I think the curiosity fans have is how Jack would react to this Doctor, since he had a specific relationship with the previous one.

Davies: Well, Steven said he’d love to see Jack in Doctor Who. So if Steven says that, Steven will make it happen, I would think. That’s not inside information, but I bet one day it will happen. I’d love to see it. It would be marvelous.

New York Magazine had a recent interview with Steven Moffat on topics including sex in the Tardis following the selection of a bad girl like Amy Pond to be the current companion. Moffat also reports he will be revealing more about River Song’s identity. He is currently working on an episode in which The Doctor finds out who she is. I previously posted excerpts from the interview here.

Deadline has some casting news, including that Arlene Tur of Crash will join the cast as as a surgeon named Vera Juarez (picture above).

The title for this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special has been announced: A Christmas Carol.

There are a couple of new interpretations of Superman. J. Michael Straczynski is giving up regular writing for the Superman and Wonder Woman comic books to concentrate on graphic novels following the success of his recent Superman graphic novel. I09 has a review of Straczynski’s version of Superman:

Every time the Superman franchise jumps to a new media, we inevitably get some iteration of his origin story (i.e. baby Kryptonian crash-lands on the Kent farm, is raised to be a homespun demigod). Given that it’s a modern update of the Superman story, Superman: Earth One doesn’t stray wildly from this formula. When artwork of the hoodie-clad Clark Kent hit the internet, there was chatter that the picture (top) portended a gritty or emo Superman. Luckily, the Earth One Clark Kent is a good guy, and the book makes a strong case that the Kents are the reason he doesn’t grow up to be like that creepy god-child from The Twilight Zone.

How does the origin story in Superman: Earth One diverge from traditional portrayals of the hero? First off, Clark’s powers manifest the minute he crawls out of his escape pod. The Kents also hide Clark to protect themselves. They discover his downed spaceship while camping and hightail it once black helicopters begin investigating the vessel. This book is the diametric opposite of Straczynski’s 2003 Marvel series Supreme Power, which starred an alien infant pressganged into superheroics by the US government. The Kents encourage their son to be an übermensch, but he’s raised without any knowledge of Kryptonian heritage — he knows he’s an alien, but being human is all he’s got.

Straczynski’s emphasis on Clark’s alienness is the book’s strongest point, and artist Shane Davis rightly gives the book a photorealistic look to drive home that this is more science fiction than superhero romp. There are no pastels, other heroes, undulating bosoms, or juiced deltoids. Clark is a lithe guy in a gray and brown world, and he only dons the S as an emergency. There’s a certain amount of disbelief that must be suspended here (a.k.a. Clark’s a humanoid), but this is a Superman story — he’s not going to look like a space walrus or lion

Zack Snyder also plans for some changes in his upcoming Superman movie. Digital Spy reports:

Zack Snyder has promised that his Superman movie will be “different” from previous Man of Steel incarnations, yet stay true to tradition.

In an interview with Empire, the Watchmen director said that David Goyer’s script doesn’t alter the DC Comics “canon”.

“It’s a different story,” Snyder said. “I won’t say there’s a break from the canon or anything like that, but there is definitely an approach that makes you go, ‘Okay, that’s a way to get at it.'”

He continued: “David is very respectful of the canon and stuff like that. It has its roots in the canon and again, like I say, it has a point of view about who he is. I’m being cryptic, I know, but it’s the best I can do.”

Asked if his movie will track the Man of Steel’s early years, Snyder replied: “I think it’s early to say. I don’t know.”

The director also described rumors of the comic book hero facing General Zod as “just wrong”, adding that “the internet has no idea what’s going on”.

Wil Wheaton returned to The Big Bang Theory this week (clip above). Big Bang Theory also almost matched the recent oil fight between Britta and Annie on Community. While the guys were trying to get into a showing of Indiana Jones, the girls were having a slumber party as Kaley Cuoco, Melissa Raunch, and Mayim Bialik  had a pillow fight, and Mayim Bialik decided to experiment with lesbian sex.

In its worst decision since running the awful remake of The Prisoner, AMC has decided not to renew Rubicon. I was looking forward to a second season to see the aftermath of the unraveling of the conspiracy. There were many loose ends, such as whether Spangler would commit suicide after receiving the clover, or whether he would survive to fight both those who were exposing him and his former associates.

Apparently Spangler is still alive and tweeting about API being shut down from the screen grab above. Several other characters from the show also are on Twitter.

Gregg Sutter has an interview with Carlton Cruse of Lost. Here’s a portion:

Gregg: For you personally, what was LOST about?

Carlton: On the surface, LOST was a show about a group of people who survive a plane crash and find themselves lost on a mysterious island. But much more importantly, it was a show about how these people were metaphorically lost in their lives and searching for redemption. Viewers talked a lot about the mythology but for us making the show, it was always first and foremost about the characters.

Gregg: Early on, did you feel like you were doing something special, something that had never been done before?

Carlton: Absolutely. Internally we all thought we were onto something cool. We were shattering a lot of the commonly held beliefs about what you could or couldn’t do on TV and that was an exciting feeling. Of course at that point, no one else believed the show would work as a series, so we talked a lot about how if the show did bomb after the 12 episode initial order, it would hopefully become a cool classic like Twin Peaks, which ran for 30 episodes — or The Prisoner, which ran for 17. We hoped, worse case scenario, that LOST would be the kind of show that gets passed around from geek to geek with people saying, “Hey, have you ever seen this show LOST?”

So with the idea that failure was okay, Damon and I asked ourselves one fundamental question to start: If someone handed us the DVD of the 12 episodes of LOST what would we want it to look like? We decided we’d make a show that the two of us thought would be cool.

Gregg: And you ended up breaking a lot of the traditional rules of narrative in TV.

Carlton: Yes. We did. We showed that it was possible on network TV to tell a highly complex, serialized narrative with intentional ambiguity — leaving the audiences room to debate and discuss the meaning and intentions of the narrative – and still find a large audience. This made it a game-changer, in my opinion.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek; The End of Time; Forbidden Planet; And Howard Wolowitz’s Bath With Kattee Sackhoff

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Movieweb has interviewed J.J. Abrams about his Star Trek movie and the upcoming sequel:

“I think that the challenge, the advantage and the opportunity of this world is just how unlimited it is in terms of what we can do,” continued Abrams. “Having said that, I think the first movie was very much just about the characters meeting, so you can only go so far in terms of the depth of experience and it’s all pretty urgent. Now that they’ve gotten to be together for a period of time, whether it be a day, weeks, months, or years, that next chapter feels sort of like there are some roots that have grown. So it won’t be meeting new people as you go it will be going on this adventure with this pre-established family. So that just means a different set of challenges. So I’m very excited to play that out,” he concluded

One aspect of the film that surprised new and old fans alike was the love triangle between Kirk, Spock and Uhura, something that had never been explored before in any of the previous films or TV series. “I think it was that Kirk was so clearly the romantic lead and the fun of it was to play with the expectations of where it was going to go,” said Abrams. “I think now that we’ve done that you can’t play that same joke again so it’s got to be about what is their relationship and who are these people? That’s why I think the next one, hopefully while still having the sense of fun and adventure, can go a little deeper in terms of the story,” he added regarding the love triangle appearing in future films.

The Blu-ray version of the Abrams Star Trek movie was released. SciFi Squad offers a review, including a listing of the special features included.

endoftime

The BBC has released the synopsis of the two part Doctor Who special, The End of Time which will air on Christmas and New Year’s.

It’s the Tenth Doctor’s final journey – but his psychotic nemesis the Master has been reborn, on Christmas Eve. With both determined to cheat death, the battle ranges from the wastelands of London to the mysterious Immortality Gate, while the alien Ood warn of an even greater danger approaching, as a terrible shadow falls across the entire Universe.

Part Two:

The Doctor faces the end of his life as the Master’s plans hurtle out of control. With the sound of drums growing louder, and an ancient trap closing around the Earth, the Doctor and Wilf must fight alone. But sacrifices must be made, and the deadly prophecy warns: “He will knock four times.”

\<i\>Babylon 5\<\/i\> creator reboots a sci-fi classic ... and a sequel?

J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5, discussed his upcoming rebooting of Forbidden Planet with Sci Fi Wire:

The 1956 original, which was loosely based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest, is famous for its Oscar-nominated and groundbreaking visual effects, as well as for the introduction of Robby the Robot, and told the story of a shuttle crew (led by a then-serious Leslie Nielsen) that lands on the planet Altair IV to investigate a missing colony that landed there decades earlier.

“We’ve actually decided to show more of the first ship when it first arrived 20 years earlier to sort of counterpoint what’s happening in the present story,” Straczynski said in a group interview Saturday in Hollywood. “If you’re a fan of the original, as I am, and have always been, I think it’s very faithful to that.” Warner Brothers owns the rights.

The biggest worry about the Forbidden Planet remake could be that the studio would turn it into a straight-up action movie. The original was carried by dialogue as Dr. Edward Morbius (Walter Pidgeon), one of the planet’s two survivors, explained scientific theory to the visiting astronauts. Tension between the astronauts and Dr. Morbius’ daughter, Altaira (Anne Francis), filled in the rest.

Straczynski says not to worry. “There’s a little more action, but it’s still a strong character piece, because it’s based on The Tempest and the idea of a father whose daughter is being courted by, in the original play, sailors that are washed up on shore,” Straczynski said. “You need to have that dynamic still in place to respect the original and the source material. So there’s a fair amount of talking, but there’s some really cool action pieces in it as well.”

It is possible Warner has eyes for more Forbidden Planet adventures beyond one remake, said Straczynski. “Warners is very excited about it, thinks it’s a big franchise for them and a huge budget, so they’re very much oriented toward getting it done.”

THE BIG BANG THEORY

TV Guide has interviewed Simon Helberg, who plays Howard Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory, following his bath tub scene with Kattee Sackhoff:

TVGuide.com: Katee is your dream sci-fi woman and she gives you some relationship advice in your fantasy.
Simon Helberg:
Yeah, she’s almost like my conscience. She’s much prettier than Jiminy Crickett. She just basically says, “C’mon, you’re not going to get me! You have this great girl and you’re dropping her for a fantasy.” I get disillusioned and I know what’s the wrong thing to do.

TVGuide.com: Since Katee is your conscience, that means she can come back, right?
Helberg:
There’s definitely a possibility that she could continue to be his conscience. I don’t know how much they plan for, say, the entire arc of the season. Who knows? Maybe next time they’ll be in a Jacuzzi, maybe even the shower. I don’t know if I have to be wet and naked. Maybe he always has to be in a compromising position. It is his fantasy!