SciFi Weekend: Sherlock; The Man In The High Castle; CW Network News; Doctor Who News; The Crown

Sherlock began the season in The Six Thatchers with a plot twist which was in some ways both shocking and predictable. Major spoilers ahead for those who have not seen the episode yet. Steven Moffat explained the decision to kill of a major character in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Just so fans don’t misinterpret that ending … Mary’s really dead right?
Steven Moffat: Yes, we’re not playing games. She’s dead.

What made you decide to get rid of Mary? She died in Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, but the cause of death was never even mentioned…
The truth is it’s never established that she died in the stories. We just assume she died because Watson refers to his “sad loss” which is probably a death but not necessarily. The reality of this, of course, is that Sherlock Holmes is about Sherlock and Dr. Watson and it’s always going to come back to that — always always always. They had fun making it a trio but it doesn’t work long term. Mary was always going to go and we were always going to get back to the two blokes. That’s the format. [Sherlock writer-producer-actor] Mark Gatiss and I do not have the delusion that we know better than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. That’s how the show works and always will. We reset to the most traditional and famous version of the format…

What made Mary decide to take a bullet for Sherlock?
Well, she saved her friend. There wasn’t a lot of time to do anything about it. Throughout the episode, she’s really quite protective of them. She’s actually better at all this than they are. She regards them as a couple of talented amateurs. She doesn’t make a huge decision about it, she does what she can with no time to think.

Her postmortem message said “Save John,” meaning protect him from being lost without her?
Yes, you can assume we’re going to elaborate on that next week.

Watson made such an agonizing wail during that scene, and of course, Freeman and Abbington were partners in real life (and recently announced they’re separating). What was it like to shoot that? 
It was emotional, but at the same time, we did that scene a million times. There was a sense this was a hugely important moment in a show we’ve been making all this time and it was Amanda’s exit from a show that she’s been part of for a few years. So it was a big deal.

You said this will “reset” the relationship between Sherlock and Watson, but this seems like a rift that can never fully heal. 
We take that rift head-on in the remainder of the [season]. We don’t ignore it. We don’t have John come back and say, “Well I’ve thought about it and it’s all fine.” If anything, the rift gets worse. We decided if we were doing this we’re doing grief properly. We were doing the consequences properly. We tried to have people go through what they’d actually go through in this circumstance which, of course, is hellish. And as emotionally reticent as Sherlock Holmes is, it doesn’t take a 12-year-old to figure out he’s a profoundly emotional man. We don’t skirt around it. We don’t just get on with the story of the week — although there is a story of the week. There’s a big villain to fight. But front and center are the consequence of Mary’s death and Sherlock’s culpability. He could have done better, it’s his lifestyle that killed her in the end.

It was interesting because very clearly that whole situation could have been wrapped up without bloodshed had Sherlock not kept egging her on in that moment. 
We spent a long time trying to work out what his culpability was. Obviously, it wasn’t his fault. Mary tried to save his life. But having Sherlock unable to stop himself from showing off and that’s what riles her up to take the shot, I think it adds another layer. We were determined to make it as difficult for us as possible [as writers] to take on the following things: We will do grief in a big way, we will have the rift between them, and it will be real and will never completely go away — because you’ll always think about that, however imperishable that friendship is. At the same time, we’ve got to be a proper detective show with proper action, proper villains, proper mystery solving. We really went for it. There was a big debate about whether to kill her in episode 1, instead of more traditionally in episode 3 at the end of the [season]. But let’s not give ourselves that two years to forget how mad they are at each other. Let’s do it in a circumstance where we have to come back in a week and make this show work again. I think it does. Obviously, I’m not the person who makes the judgment. All the consequences are believable and painfully in place with a Sherlock Holmes plot and with some kind of resolution to it all that makes continuing possible. If we do pull that off that will be great.

It is understandable that the series is about Holmes and Watson, but if that is the case I cannot help but question the decision to have Watson marry Mary in major episodes if they were only going to make her this disposable and kill her off so quickly.

Beyond the incidents leading to Mary’s death, the episode just played with a more classic title, substituting busts of Margret Thatcher for Napoleon in the original story. The show has changed from early episodes to tell more of a continuing story, differing from the original stories where everything was generally reset at the start of the next. Sherlock’s detective skills were shown more in brief snippets as opposed to making this a coherent story based upon detective work. In may ways it did feel more like Bond that Holmes, raising objections from some critics. Mark Gattis responded to this criticism in rhyme:

Here is a critic who says with low blow
Sherlock’s no brain-box but become double-O.
Says the Baker St boy is no man of action –
whilst ignoring the stories that could have put him in traction.

The Solitary Cyclist sees boxing on show,
The Gloria Scott and The Sign of the Fo’
The Empty House too sees a mention, in time, of Mathews,
who knocked out poor Sherlock’s canine.

in the misspelled wrestle Doyle called baritsu.
In hurling Moriarty over the torrent
did Sherlock find violence strange and abhorrent?

In shooting down pygmies and Hounds from hell
Did Sherlock on Victorian niceties dwell?
When Gruner’s men got him was Holmes quite compliant
Or did he give good account for The Illustrious Client?

There’s no need to invoke in yarns that still thrill,
Her Majesty’s Secret Servant with licence to kill
From Rathbone through Brett to Cumberbatch dandy
With his fists Mr Holmes has always been handy.

Mark Gatiss
London

The second season of The Man In The High Castle tied up most of the loose ends from the first season. (Spoilers ahead). The ending could serve as the end of the story, but leaves things open for additional seasons in this universe. People who otherwise might be seen as villains did turn out to be heroes, at least in stopping a war between Germany and Japan which could have been devastating for America.

There was a brief flashback to John Smith witnessing the destruction of Washington, D.C., confirming that he was an American who happened to be away from the capital at the time. This raised questions as to how he rose to his rank in the first two season. It has been announced that the show has been renewed for a third season, with at least a part being a flashback which addresses these questions. SciFi Now reports:

Intertestingly, it looks like the show is going through a number of changes. For a start, it will at least in part be a prequel, more specifically during the invasion of the US when Washington DC is nuked, with John Smith (Rufus Sewell) and his wife Helen (Chelah Horsdal) in the vicinity. At this time Smith was an officer in the US army, so it will be interesting to see how he became one of the Reich’s highest-ranking – and most ruthless – officers.

Also confirmed is that Eric Overmyer will be serving as showrunner for the new season (there wasn’t one in Season 2 after Frank Spotnitz’s departure at the end of Season 1), with Ridley Scott, David W Zucker, Richard Heus, Isa Dick Hackett and Daniel Percival all on board as executive producers.

Speaking of the new appointment, Joe Lewis, Amazon Studios’ Head of Comedy and Drama, had this to say:

“As timely as ever, the exploration of characters at a dark point for humanity has provided incredible stories for two seasons. Eric and his team are doing an incredible job crafting stories about the inner lives of those who struggle to do good in a world that is not. We couldn’t be more excited to bring season three to customers in 2017.”

Cast members for Season 2 included Alexa Davalos, Rupert Evans, Luke Kleintank, Rufus Sewell, Joel de la Fuente, Brennan Brown, Bella Heathcote, Callum Ke ith Rennie, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and DJ Qualls, with the majority of these expected to return for Season 3.

The CW Network has announced early renewals of Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl,  Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jane the Virgin and Supernatural. No word yet on iZombie and The 100, which have not started their seasons yet. Frequency and No Tomorrow are not expect to be renewed. There are plans to wrap up the stories in a digital format to be posted on the website if cancelled.

Arrow has some hints on Laurel’s return, and Felicity might take a darker turn.

On The Flash, it appears that Barry has learned nothing about the dangers of meddling with time. Of course he must try to save Iris.

Legends of Tomorrow has the return of Rip Hunter and a young George Lucas.

Constantine is returning as an animated series.

Entertainment Weekly has a first look at the upcoming season of The 100.

The CW also plans a reboot of Charmed set in 1976.

In Doctor Who news, following The Return of Doctor Mystero, Titan comics is planning a spinoff comic of The Ghost.

Matt Smith will be regenerating into a different actor once again, this time on The Crown as the lead characters age. Claire Foy, who is working on the second season, has revealed that there will be a change in cast after the second season:

Producers plan to cast new actors for the third series of the Royal saga. A total of six series are planned.

Competition is already heating up for stars to play the Queen for the years 1965 to 1985, with Emily Watson, Rachel Weisz and Kate Beckinsale among those tipped for the role.

Presumably this means they will also cast someone older to play Prince Philip. Perhaps Peter Capaldi could replace Matt Smith once again.

 

SciFi Weekend: Orphan Black Season Finale; Mr. Robot; Batman v. Donald Trump; Doctor Who Emmy Nominations; CW Network Announces Fall Premiere Dates; Star Trek Actor Killed In Auto Accident

orphan-black-4x10-krystal-sarah

Orphan Black concluded its fourth season and has been renewed for one final season. The finale did feel like the midst of a two season arc, with cliff hangers for multiple characters, along with the end for Evie. The simplification of the season (at least by the standards of previous seasons) did work, with this season a big improvement over the third season. While they continued with the overall mythology of the show, including showing much more about Beth, there were far fewer organizations to keep straight.

Previously we went through what could have been a never-ending sequence of having a season deal with one shadowy organization, only to find that there was another one behind it. Ending next season probably means that the Neolutionists will be the final one we have to deal with, and P.T. Westmoreland just might actually be the person behind it. For now we know he built Rachel’s eye and is “the man behind the curtain. The man who wrote the book over a century ago.” Of course, as Mrs. S explained to Sarah, “There’s always a bloody board.” There was little talk of Proletheans, Topside or Dyad this season, and we were down to just one Castor clone.

There was an increase in Leda clones. with a lot of Beth being seen in flashbacks, the introduction of MK, and an expanded role for Krystal Goderitch. In the finale, Tatiana Maslany even played Sarah impersonating Krystal, impersonating a reporter for  TMZ. Krystal both understands little and has figured out key points during her independent investigations. She is oblivious to being a clone, even denying that Sarah looks the same as her: “Even if you could drag a comb through that hair, she’s like a seven on a good day and I’ve been told I’m a 10.”

Krystal’s theory of the conspiracy is surprisingly close to the truth, if not for her confused view that it involves the cosmetics industry: “Hold on tight, cause this is very confusing. This is about human experiments and two factions fighting to control them. So we have Estee Lauder, okay, and then we have this Swedish company called Neolution.” She had the important information that Delphine is alive and that Van Lier was involved:

So, Dr. Van Lier is absolutely Neolution because he, like, showed up out nowhere with all this medical gear right after that French doctor was shot, okay, and then they, like, took her off in a van. So Van Lier, like knew my name, which was super freaky and I will never forget his face because he was so pissed at me for being there. And because he definitely had teenage acne. I could tell. No question.

Other highlights of the later episodes in the season was Helena returning in time to rescue Alison and Donnie, shooting their captor in the neck with an arrow. Rachel has once again become purely evil, plotting to take over everything, but did take a break with Ferdinand. Ira, the sole Castor clone of the season, got a good line:

Ira: Who is this?
Ferdinand: Hello.
Rachel: He’s just a toy.
Ira: He has his socks on.
Rachel: What do you want, Ira?

Plus the season ended with Cosima appearing to finally having the cure.

orphan-black-4x10-rachel-psycho

TV line discussed the finale with executive producer Graeme Manson. Here is a portion:

TVLINE | This felt like one of the show’s darkest and most twisted episodes to date. Was that the intention going into the finale?
It was probably our darkest season, certainly since the first. Obviously, we had Krystal. We’re never all dark. But what Sarah was going through this year was a dark journey. We thought it really had to pay off, and we knew it wasn’t going to be a pleasant climax to the season – but is it ever?

TVLINE | What note do you hope the finale leaves viewers on heading into Season 5, then?
We love a nice note of, “WTF?” with a smattering of, “How the hell are we going to get out of that?” We’ve thrown open this door of P.T. Westmoreland, and we’ve spent some time on this island. We’re very excited to explore that world. Sarah and all the clones, including Rachel, they’ve really done a lot to climb that pyramid. Now, what are we going to find at the top?

TVLINE | Quite a few characters were left in jeopardy at the end of the finale: Cosima, Sarah, Susan Duncan, even Mrs. S and Kira. Who should we be most worried about?
We have to be worried about everyone equally. But Sarah’s got two main issues: She came to the island to rescue Cosima, and now Kira is a hostage back with Mrs. S. So Sarah’s got two huge concerns, not to mention she’s pretty beat up and bleeding.

TVLINE | That confrontation between Sarah and Rachel was so intense, almost like a horror-movie thriller with the monster getting loose.
[Co-creator/director] John [Fawcett] and myself – particularly John – really love the horror and the visceral horror. It’s part of what we do. We love mashups on the show. We love mixing tones. That horror element that you’re talking about is really one that we can pull off well with everything that Tatiana [Maslany] does. Sarah vs. Rachel, too, is bringing us back to our earlier seasons, where Rachel came out of the woodwork and was Sarah’s real nemesis. Moving forward, we have narrowed it back down to clone vs. clone. I’m very interested in exploring that nemesis relationship.

TVLINE | Rachel has never been the warmest or sanest person. But it really felt like she cracked in this episode. What sent her over the edge?
On a deep psychological level, her hatred of Sarah is because Sarah has had so many of the things that Rachel has not had. Sarah has freedom, whereas Rachel has been ordained to be who she is more than any of the other clones. Sarah has perhaps a slightly dysfunctional but certainly a nurturing family, a chosen family. And Sarah has the love of her sisters. This is the root of Rachel’s jealousy and bitterness and true hatred. It’s a self-hatred at its core.

mrrobot_s2_keyart_press1

Mr. Robot, the surprise hit from last summer, returns on July 13. If I wasn’t behind on so many other shows, this is one series which I would really like to re-watch before going into the second season. Definitely watch it if you haven’t. It is now available for streaming on Amazon Prime and with the USA Network app.

Collider interviewed the stars. Here is the start of the interview, with major spoilers present (which will probably not sound very coherent) for those who have not seen the first season:

Collider: Christian, now that everybody is in on what’s going on . . .

CHRISTIAN SLATER: I love that you think that.

. . . at least as far as who your character is, does that chance your approach to things?

SLATER: I always looked at it as though I was as real as Elliot imagined me to be, and that was pretty real. I am there as his partner, as his protector, and as his enemy. I’m there sometimes for the right reasons and sometimes for the wrong reasons. It’s a continual struggle between the two of us. It turns into a real psychological journey for Elliot.

Rami, things must be a bit different in Season 2, now that Elliot is more aware of what’s actually going on in his life. Does it feel different for you, as an actor?

RAMI MALEK: It changes him, entirely. It gave me heart palpitations because when you do something that people respond to, and then you start altering the blueprint for what worked, it’s pretty fear-inducing. But sometimes, you have to do that, in order to push the boundaries. For this character and story to be as provocative as it was in the first season, we can’t rest on our laurels. You really have to just take some more risks and chances that I don’t think are for the sake of just taking risks and being different. They’re grounded in the story that Sam [Esmail] has created, with the trajectory and arc of all of these characters. I happened to know where he was headed this season, so I took some big changes and I think the audience will be rewarded by them. Maybe they’ll end up on the editing floor, but that remains to be seen.

As an actor who’s been in this business a long time, and had ups and downs, what’s it like to get such great scripts, every week?

SLATER: It’s great, getting the scripts and working with somebody like Sam Esmail, who is such a great leader. He’s just so prepared and there’s so much attention to detail. And then, you add Rami Malek to the mix, and Carly Chaikin and Portia Doubleday. And in Season 2, we have Joey Badass and Craig Robinson, who are amazing. To get to play a character like this, there’s so much freedom and fun with it that it’s very exciting.

You’ve known what the twists and turns were with this, from the very beginning. Were you ever bummed that you were in on it?

SLATER: No, I liked being in on it. I felt in on it, from the get-go. When I read the pilot, there was something so mysterious about the guy that it made me very suspicious. And then, when I went and met with Sam and asked him about it, he asked me if I really wanted to know. I said, “Yes,” so he told me. And then, he told me more details and revealed the relationship that I have with Elliot. I think that helped to add a deeper layer, across the board, throughout the whole season. So, it was great to know.

Gotham Enigma

The 2016 presidential election already looks like it should be an unusual one, with the Republicans likely to nominate a racist and xenophobic reality host star with shocking lack of understanding of the issues, and the Democrats breaking pattern in probably nominating a candidate who is both ultra-hawkish and quite conservative on First Amendment issues. It might get even weirder, with Cory Michael Smith who plays Edward Nigma, on Gotham, saying next season will parallel the election:

Gotham, like many superhero stories, is a parallel of today’s society, of what happens every day. And in the third season, in the fall, when the United States will stand preparing to face one of the most important presidential elections in their history, even Gotham will address in parallel the issue.

I certainly could see Donald Trump as a super-villain. Sample trailer above. If only we had Batman, or at least Jim Gordon, to save us from the real candidates.

Doctor Who now qualifies to be nominated for Emmy Award now that BBC America has joined the BBC as a co-producer. Variety reports:

BBC America’s “Doctor Who” has been submitted for Emmy consideration for the first time ever. Now that the American cabler has come aboard as a co-producer, the venerable Brit series is finally eligible for consideration. Although it was not submitted as a drama series, star Peter Capaldi is on the lead actor ballot, showrunner Steven Moffat and director Rachel Talalay are on the writing and directing ballots for the episode “Heaven Sent” and the series is a possible nominee for costumes, production design, prosthetic makeup, and visual effects.

The show has not been nominated in the best dramatic series category, where it would be up against quite strong competition in a category where genre shows do not do well.

The CW network has released the premier dates for their shows, which continues to be dominated by genre next fall:

October 4 (Tuesday)
The Flash
No Tomorrow

October 5 (Wednesday)
Arrow
Frequency

October 10 (Monday)
Supergirl

October 13 (Thursday)
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
Supernatural

October 17 (Monday)
Jane the Virgin

October 21 (Friday)
The Vampire Diaries
Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

The 100 and iZombie will be starting in the winter.

Yelchin

Anton Yelchin, who played Chekov in the new Star Trek movies, was killed in a freak auto accident today. The New York Times reports:

Anton Yelchin, a charismatic actor best known for playing Chekov in the new “Star Trek” films, died early on Sunday in a car accident in Los Angeles. He was 27.

His death was confirmed by his publicist, Jennifer Allen.

Mr. Yelchin was struck by his own car as it rolled backward down his driveway in Studio City, the police said. The car pinned Mr. Yelchin against a brick mailbox pillar and a security fence.

He had left the car momentarily, but the police did not say why he was behind it when it started rolling.

He was on his way to meet friends for a rehearsal, the police said. When he didn’t show up, the group came to his home and found him dead.

Mr. Yelchin began his career as a child with roles in independent films and on television before breaking out in films like the crime thriller “Alpha Dog” and the teenage comedy “Charlie Bartlett.” His biggest role had been as Pavel Chekov, navigator of the Starship Enterprise, in the rebooted “Star Trek” films, the third of which, “Star Trek Beyond,” is to be released in July.

More at TMZ , which also linked to this video of the Best of Chekov:

SciFi Weekend: Person of Interest; The Flash and Other CW Shows; Agent Carter; Agents of SHIELD; The Returned; Mad Men; Star Talk; Neil Gaiman; Robert Crumb on Charlie Hedbo

Person of Interest Simulations

Often middle episodes of a trilogy can be weak, containing neither the set up or conclusion, but Person of Interest had no difficulty with the second part of their current trilogy. A show which deals with showing different versions of the same scenario might also be risky, but they certainly pulled that off well with If-Then-Else. Many viewers were aware that the episode might deal with the death of a character and they played with viewers in showing Finch get killed early in the episode. While the series has had one major character get killed in the past, it is a safe bet that Finch and Reese are safe, so it was no surprise that Harold’s death (along with a later sequence showing Reese get killed) were only a computer simulation as the Machine looked at every possible strategy.

I particularly enjoyed one way they kept the showing of different scenarios from seeming redundant or boring–the use of generic responses to speed up the dialog:

Reese: “Coolly delivered sadistic warning.”

Fusco: “Self-deprecating inquiry into the time necessary to infiltrate system.”

Root: “Funny, yet insightful retort.”

Finch: “Mildly agitated declaration of mission completion.”

Once the scenarios were evaluated, we had the “real” version of events, with a couple of  surprises. While one simulation had Root kiss Fusco, as it was just a simulation, the real version showed a progression in the relationship between Shaw and Root. It was not entirely clear to what degree Shaw kissed root out of romantic interest versus to startle her so that she could sacrifice herself to get the elevator rising.

Person of Interest Shaw Kiss Root

It is notable that the when the final shot was heard we did not see Shaw’s body, and we know that in the absence of a dead body we should never assume a character has really been killed. The previews suggest that at very least Team Machine believes Shaw is alive. Interviews with the producers and cast reveal some spoilers as to whether Shaw is really dead. From TV Guide:

While debate rages about whether or not Shaw is actually dead, she certainly won’t be appearing on POI in the near future. In fact, this entire storyline was crafted after Shahi informed the show’s producers she was expecting twins.

“Our fans think we’re sadists who like killing off our characters. In this case, we had no choice,” executive producer Jonathan Nolan tells TVGuide.com. “Our hands were tied. The circumstances of Shaw’s character and what she does — being a lethal operative who goes around the world and exterminates people and often puts her life in peril — kind of makes her irresponsible as a maternal figure on the show. Sarah was the first person to say, “There’s no way we can write this into the character,” and we agreed.”

So, is Shaw really dead? “You have to stay tuned,” executive producer Greg Plageman says. “The great part of doing a serialized show is that you have people waiting to find out what happens. We’d hate to spoil that for the audience, but there is a little bit of ambiguity about what happens after those elevator doors close.” As for how long that ambiguity will last, Nolan quips, “What’s the earliest you can put two twins on an airplane?”

Regardless of Shaw’s fate, the producers did give fans a huge moment between Shaw and Root (Amy Acker), as the much-‘shipped duo finally locked lips before Shaw’s heroics kicked in. “I directed their first scene together on the show, and it was abundantly clear to me that there was a great deal of chemistry between those two characters,” Nolan says. “So from the beginning, for me, that tension has always been there. We felt like the fans were invested in that relationship. You don’t feel like you can walk away from something like that without giving some kind of consummation.”

Person of Interest Root Elevator

Initially stories I read about Sarah Shahi leaving the show reported an expected two year absence, but Shahi left this more open in an interview with Entertainment Weekly where she talked about her pregnancy and the kiss with Root:

How did you break the news to the producers?
I just kept hitting them, like one after another. At first it was, “Guys, I’m pregnant,” and they were like, “Woah, okay, this is great, how far along are you?” And then: “Hey guys, just went to the doctor, I’m having twins.” “Woah! What! Oh shit!” So the whammies just kept coming for them. They’ve been wonderful about it, and they’re all fathers themselves so they understand what blessings children are, but it did take some adjusting. As far as the show goes, I do 99 percent of my own stunts all the time, so it took a little re-wiring in terms of what was safe for me to do, what was not safe for me to do. There are things that on paper didn’t seem like a stunt. When you’re carrying two human beings inside your belly, sometimes just walking or standing is a stunt.

Was there any conversation about writing the pregnancy into the show?
There were. Even through creatively I didn’t have anything to do with how Shaw goes, I just kept stressing that I wanted to honor her in every way that I could, and I didn’t want them to write me behind a desk. I didn’t want them to lessen Shaw’s abilities in any way because of my physical inabilities. I just kept stressing to them, please please please let’s honor her the right way. I still want to go balls out. Don’t hold back just because I’m pregnant.

What is the right way to honor her?
Her going out the way she did is pretty perfect for her. I always viewed this character as somebody who had a death wish on her. She’s such an adrenaline junkie and she’s got an appetite for violence. She will definitely put herself in that situation. It’s fun for her. If she doesn’t do that, she’s not living. She looked death squarely in the eye. She had a hint of a smile in her eyes. And then it just went to black. I think for her, that was the perfect ending. If Shaw could pick anyway to go, that’s the way she would want to go.

Tell me about that big kiss between Root and Shaw. Was that purely for the fans?
It’s funny because that was Amy’s first girl-on-girl kiss, whereas I’m incredibly experienced because of The L Word. I’m a veteran at the girl-on-girl! And Amy was kind of getting kissed all over that episode, between me and Fusco. Although I think she’d rather me than Fusco.

But yeah, to be honest, I felt like it was more for the fans. The one thing that the producers and I did kind of disagree on was they felt like Shaw knew she was going to die. She’s against ten Samaritan operatives, there’s no way she’s getting out of this alive, and that kiss was a goodbye kiss. Whereas I didn’t see it like that. I don’t think Shaw goes into any situation going, okay, I’m going to die today. I feel like the stronger choice is to struggle to live, and so I felt like that kiss was just like, “Oh, shut the f–k up already, Root!” I felt like it was more trying to calm down a pestering child, if anything. “Okay, fine, I’ll give you what you want, now be quiet.” Just one of those moments. But again, I also felt like it was more for the fans than anything….

So, the million dollar question once more: Is Shaw gone for good?
This episode is the second episode in a three-part series, and that is going to be the question moving on. That is what the team is going to have to figure out. Is she alive? Did Samaritan capture her? Where is she? The rule in TV is if you don’t see a body, then they’re not dead.

If hypothetically you did return and Shaw wasn’t dead, do you have an idea of your own timeline?
As far as my own timeline, it’s one of those things where you say that you’re having twins and you automatically see the fear of God in people’s eyes. Most people know what it’s like to handle one baby. There’s not a lot of sleep that involves just one baby. Then you add another baby to that equation and it’s just like doomsday. It’s going to be me for the next, like, two years. So to be honest, I have no idea. I’m trying not to think about stuff like that. But there’s no way—I’ve never had experience in this department before, so I can’t say at all, no clue.

SpoilerTV has a spoiler-free advance look at part three in this trilogy, Control-Alt-Delete, which does include the return of Camryn Manheim as Control.

Flash-TV-Reverse-Flash-Theories

There have been a number of teasers on Arrow and The Flash coming out of the Television Critics Association winter press tour. Among items of interest, it does appear that Tom Cavenagh’s character is the Reverse-Flash, as was suggested before the holiday hiatus, but he might not be the only Reverse-Flash:

Executive producer Andrew Kreisberg hinted that another person may be involved in the Reverse Flash mythology — namely Eddie Thawne (Rick Cosnett). Fans have speculated that Eddie (whose name resembles Eobard Thawne, one of the aliases of Reverse-Flash in the comic books on which the series is based) will emerge as Reverse Flash in the series.

“His name is not an accident,” Kreisberg said Sunday. “Eddie’s connection to the Reverse Flash lore is going to pay off big time in the back half of the year.”

The DC universe will also be growing on CW. This includes another spin-off based on The Atom and there are plans for an animated series about Vixen taking place in the same universe.

The DC v. Marvel rivalry didn’t interfere with this discussion between writers and producers of both the DC and Marvel based television shows in this interview at The Hollywood Reporter. It was confirmed in this interview that a crossover between Supergirl (on CBS) with the CW shows is a distinct possibility.

CW has announced the renewal of multiple shows including Arrow, The Flash, The 100, and Jane the Virgin.

While the DC cinematic universe will be kept separate from the television universe, there will be overlap in characters between the movies. Viola Davis is rumored to have been offered the part of Amanda Waller in the Suicide Squad movie, with her character to also appear in other DC movies.  There are also rumors (and a denial) that Batman V. Superman will be split into two parts.

Agent Carter Poster

Agent Carter started out much stronger than Agents of SHIELD, hopefully indicating that Marvel has learned its lesson and will be doing a better job with its future television shows. Although set in the 1940’s, there were plenty of references to the Marvel universe. Besides frequently mentioning Captain America and including Tony Stark’s father, there were multiple other references. What Culture provides a list of 10 Easter Eggs.

Edward James Olmos of Battlestar Galactica will be appearing in a major role on Agents of SHIELD. Reportedly his character will have “massive repercussions” for SHIELD.

A date has finally been announced for the next Marvel television show. Netflix will be releasing Daredevil on April 10. The other planned Marvel shows on Netflix will be released approximately one year apart, with Jessica Jones, staring Krysten Ritter,  next in 2016.

Carlton Cuse is busy working with A&E, although not on original ideas.  One of his shows, Bates Motel, starts its third season on March 9. In addition he has a second show premiering with the network on the same day. He is doing an American adaptation of the French series, The Returned. This has the same basic premise as ABC’s Resurrection with people returning from the dead, but it is a totally different story. The American adaptation will also diverge from the French version after the sixth episode, and the second season will be entirely new as the French version only ran for a single season.

When Amazon included a show from Chris Carter, The After, in their pilots, there was mixed reaction. Some were excited, hoping for great things from the creator of The X-Files, while others remain wary of Carter after the way The X-Files deteriorated over the years. We will not find out whether he learned from his past mistakes on this series as Amazon has decided not to pick it up.

Mad Men Bar

AMC announced that the final episodes of Mad Men will start on April 5. Matthew Weiner has discussed the finale saying, “The last seven episodes, I would say each one of them feels like a finale in the show.”

Following an era filled with very polarizing finales, from Lost to How I Met Your Mother, Weiner says he is very cognizant of finding a balance between giving the audience what they want and best serving the overall story. “I’m extremely interested in what the audience thinks, so much so that I’m trying not to confound them, not frustrate and irritate them,” Weiner said. “I don’t want them to walk away angry. But I don’t want to pander to them. This sounds patronizing, but as the person telling the story, sometimes people have to be protected from what they want to see happen and the story has to have its own organic thing. You can’t just give them everything that they want. That said, part of entertainment can be catharsis. Bad things happening are considered a good thing in entertainment.”

Tonight Girls returns and there is the debut of a new comedy on HBO entitled Togetherness. The advance hype for the show has been making a big deal out of Amanda Peet appearing topless considering she is 42 years old. Personally I find seeing Amanda Peet topless, regardless of her age, to be far more desirable than to see more nudity from Lena Dunham.

Neil deGrasse Tyson will be returning to television in a weekly late night talk show entitled Star Talk.

neil-gaiman-trigger-warning

Neil Gaiman has a new book coming out entitled Trigger Warning which includes a Doctor Who short story. It is not clear if this is the same story which was previously only available in an ebook collection for the 50th anniversary.

Speaking of books and ebooks, Time and Financial Times are reporting that ebooks are going “out of fashion” but, even if they are correct, I question how they came to this conclusion. First they cite declining sales for ebook readers like the Amazon Kindle and Barnes & Noble Nook. I see three flaws in using sales of these devices to be a meaningful measure of reading ebooks. First of all, while some might upgrade to the newest versions, many people might still be using an ebook reader which was purchased over a year ago and have no reason to buy a new ebook reader. Secondly, tablets have come down in price so much that many people might be using tablets as opposed to dedicated ebook readers. Thirdly, as screens on cell phones have increased in size and screen resolution has increased, cell phones have become much better for reading ebooks. Personally I find myself using my phone more than ebook readers since upgrading to an LG G3.

Their second argument is an increase in sales of physical books, but increased sales of physical books could just as likely mean more people are getting ebooks as mean less are. It could be a sign of an overall increase in reading and book sales, with different people buying more of one or the other along with some of us who buy both. Generally when I read a book I’ll obtain both a hard cover copy for my library and to read when at home along with an ebook copy to have it available for either when away from home or to read on my phone or tablet in night mode should I awaken in the middle of the night and decide to read for a little while.

American cartoonist Robert Crumb gives a

The New York Observer interviewed American cartoonist Robert Crumb, who moved to France in 1991, about the recent killings at Charlie Hebdo:

Charlie Hebdo, they print so many insulting cartoons about Muslim extremists, you know, geez, they just kept at it, you know…but that wasn’t the only people they insulted, they insulted everybody. The Pope, the President of the country, everybody! They were merciless, to everybody. It was a really funny magazine. They just didn’t hold back towards anybody. You know, they didn’t let anybody off the hook, which was good.

What was your reaction inside when you first heard about it?

I had the same reaction I had when 9/11 happened.  I thought, “Jesus Christ, things are really going to turn ugly now.” That kind of thing, just like 9/11, it gives the government the excuse to crack down, to become very much more, like, you know, “Homeland Security” oriented.  And the right wing gets like this kind of like fodder for its arguments. The right wing here is very down on the Arabs. And France has an Arab population that’s like, 5 Million, something like that – huge population of Muslims in this country, most of whom just want to mind their own business and don’t want to be bothered. Those kinds of extremists are a very small minority. We have friends here who are from that background, you know, Moroccan or Algerian. And they just don’t want any trouble, and their kids are mostly even more moderate than they are.

Is there anything in the US in our history that comes anywhere near this tradition – the Hedbo tradition? If so, what would it be?

Underground comics, back in the 70s.  But today, I don’t think there’s anything like that now in the US. The thing about Charlie Hebdo is that it started in 1969. The gang of guys that worked for that magazine, they just kept at that for decades. Those guys are fairly old, you know, older guys most of them. There wasn’t a whole lot of, you know, 20- somethings or 30-somethings in that group. The cartoonists are mostly older guys. There is lots of critique of the left also. They say the left is hypocritical, bullshitters and opportunists, and all that. But generally I would say there’s a leftish sympathy in Charlie Hebdo. But they just came out with that every week. Every week. And people would just look at it and laugh, “Oh, you know those guys, those crazy guys.  They’re outrageous.”

SciFi Weekend Part 2: The Best of 2014

Part 1 of SciFi Weekend looked at shows from the past week, including Last Christmas, this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special. Part II lists some of the top and most improved shows of the year. The point is not really to rank them so much as to highlight shows worth watching. Really, how do you compare Cosmos to Penny Dreadful? I am at a disadvantage compared to professional television critics as I have neither the professional obligation nor time to watch nearly everything. Therefore this is limited to the shows I have actually watched, and I will address this after the first list.

Rather than list the overall best shows, as most sites are doing, my first list will be limited to shows which premiered in 2014. Lists of all the best shows drive out most of the new shows, and I’m sure you are aware of Game of Thrones by now. I have limited this to shows available in the United States, including a couple which were primarily British shows but available here on cable or streaming. This list is not limited to genre but is biased by my preferences.Therefore Jane the Virgin (CW), listed by many television critics among the best of the year, did not make the list as, regardless of its quality, I still stopped watching after a few weeks due to the large number of quality shows which I’m more interested in.

Top 15 New Shows Of 2014

About A Boy

15.  About A Boy (NBC)

Family friendly sitcoms (or actually sitcoms of any nature) have not done very well on the networks recently. For that matter, relatively few network shows made this list at all. About A Boy, the second attempt to adapt the Nick Hornby novel, finally gets it right, also being a rare case of the television version being better than the movie version. The shows combines saccharin and snark, and can be highly entertaining in episodes where it gets the right percentage of each. Besides an excellent regular cast, Adrianne Palicki of Friday Night Lights and Agents of SHIELD has had a recurring role.

14. The Knick (Cinemax)
Think of this Steven Soderbergh show as being like ER, except set early in the 20th century. I don’t know if they got all the facts right, but it is an authentic look at medicine of the era.

13. Black-ish (ABC)
Another of the rare successful sitcoms premiering recently. It came along at just the right time, when Bill Cosby is no longer on his pedestal

12. Penny Dreadful (Showtime)
Imagine if the main characters of classic horror novels all lived in the same city and interacted with each other. I am  hopeful of an even better second season now that the main characters and situations were introduced.

11. Silicon Valley (HBO)
Comedy is doing much better on cable than network television these days. Silicon Valley does a great job of mocking the tech industry.

The Honorable Woman

10. The Honorable Woman (BBC Two/Sundance)
The original story has the feeling of what it might be like if John le Carré were to write a spy novel on the middle east directly for television.

9. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (Fox)
Neil deGrasse Tyson was inspired by Carl Sagan as a student. Now he tries to cure some of the scientific-illiteracy which has become a serious problem in this country.

8. True Detective (HBO)
The story had moments of brilliance, and moments when it dragged, but the performance by Matthew McConaughey earned it a spot on most top ten lists.

Transparent

7. Transparent (Amazon Prime)
Jeffrey Tambor leads an excellent cast in a story about an already dysfunctional Jewish family which now must deal with the father coming out as trans-gender. This is the story which Jill Soloway has been wanting to do since Six Feet Under, and she does an excellent job.

6 .Last Week Tonight (HBO)
This new comedy take on the news came along at the right time, with Saturday Night Live’s Weekend Update being awful with the loss of Seth Meyers and Stephen Colbert ending his show. John Oliver has done a better job than many others who have attempted to satirize the news with in-depth segments which are likely influence opinions.

5. The Flash (CW)
The best of this year’s attempts to enter the superhero genre. Lighter than Arrow but so far this season more compelling with its ongoing story line.

4. Happy Valley (BBC One/Netflix)
This British crime mystery does a far better job than most of the American counterparts, being far more successful than most other attempts at combining  the personal story of the main character with the mystery.

3. The Affair (Showtime)
Showing the events before the murder from the perspective of two people involved in an affair is a gimmick which works well for the story. When their stories differ are we seeing failings in memory, one or both characters lying, or even the plot of one of the protagonist’s novels?

Youre-The-Worst-690

2. You’re The Worst (FX)
The best new comedy in ages, with an often hilarious look at a couple of flawed individuals, frequently skewering millennials. The show is especially impressive in both gradually developing the supporting characters and telling a story over the course of the season. The season can easily be watched in one or two sittings as one of the best romantic comedies to come along in years, even by those who normally don’t like romantic comedies. It might also be worth rewatching this time of the year as a reminder of how good television can also be educational, showing why it is not a good idea to plug a vibrator into a string of Christmas lights. The more you know.

Billy Bob Thornton stars as Lorne Malvo in the Emmy award-winning series Fargo

1. Fargo (FX)
A dark comedy and crime drama which does justice to the movie which inspired it, and easily stands on its own. There is both outstanding writing and an excellent cast led by Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, and Colin Hanks.

Honorable Mention:
Among shows which did not make this list, and which aren’t mentioned elsewhere in this post, there are a some other good shows with a genre element: Gotham (Fox), Outlander (Starz),  How To Get Away With Murder (ABC), The Last Ship (TNT), Leftovers (HBO) (which has made many lists of both best and worst of the year), and Resurrection (ABC).

Some of the new genre shows which were left off this list were intentionally omitted.  Extant (CBS) might have made at least honorable mention if they stuck to the story of the AI child and stayed away from the ludicrous alien plot. Some shows couldn’t be ranked as I have not seen them, but reliable sources have recommended others to me which very well deserve to be highly ranked, and which I will hopefully catch up on later. These include The 100 (CW) and Manhattan (WGN). There are also two limited run shows which I have recorded and have heard excellent things about but have not seen yet: Olive Kitteridge (HBO)  and The Roosevelts: An Intimate History (PBS).

Most Improved Shows Of 2014

Some shows do better in their first year, often due to first raising a situation, but are not able to sustain the quality for a second season. Sleepy Hollow (Fox) has not been able to maintain the quality of the first season, but perhaps it will improve now that they appear ready to move on to a  new storyline. Orphan Black (BBC America) also couldn’t maintain the quality of the first season, when everything was still a mystery, but still remains better than most shows on television. House of Cards (Netflix) also did not have as great a second season as first but remains worth watching.

There are six shows which many consider better in their second season, or at very least did not deteriorate a bit going into their second season, listed in alphabetical order:

Agents of SHIELD (ABC)
The show was mediocre until Captain America: The Winter Soldier was released. It became much better late in the first season as it mirrored the movie developments, and has become even better this season as it is now ahead of planned Marvel releases.

the-americans-fx

The Americans (FX)
This was one of the best television shows of 2013 when it premiered, and was even better in its second season. The season was successful for both its season-long mystery and for how it combined the personal and professional lives of the main characters. It did one thing far better than other shows such as Homeland: making good use of a teen-aged daughter.

Arrow (CW)
The second season of Arrow started in 2013 but extended into 2014, allowing the show onto this list.  The second season surpassed the second season. The third season, starting in fall 2014, isn’t as good, but I’m still hoping it will return to the level of the second season.

Hannibal (NBC)
It is just amazing that a show of this quality can be shown on network television.

Masters of Sex (Showtime)
Actually a close call between the first and second season, with both worth watching.

Orange Is The New Black (Netflix)
Another example of a great show becoming even better in its second year, as the show successfully went beyond Piper to tell major stories with other characters.

Once again this list is limited to shows I have actually watched. Based upon recommendations from others, I hear that Rectify (Sundance) was another show with an excellent first season and an even better second season in 2014.

There are a couple shows which might not make a list of the best of the year, but these two shows which improved tremendously from their pilots in 2014:

Selfie Karen Gillan John Cho

Selfie (ABC)
The pilot was awful and the show never recovered, but it has gotten much better over the course of the season. Unfortunately this wasn’t soon enough as the show was canceled. The remaining episodes are being shown on Hulu and, with one left to go, have been worth watching.

Married (FX)
This show initially received more hype than You’re The Worst which followed it, but it was soon apparent that this was by far the weaker of the two. Still Married did manage to improve after a weak pilot and, being on cable during the summer when low ratings were expected, was able to survive to get renewed for a second season.

While I concentrated on second season shows in order to provide more coverage to relatively new shows in the list above, there are a few longer-running shows which have improved this season which are worth noting, also in alphabetical order:

Homeland (Showtime)
The show was at its best with the Brody storyline of the first season and they managed to stretch it out through a second season. The third season was just too much, and they finally let it go. The fourth season was mixed as they tried to reestablish the show with only a cameo from Damian Lewis in a hallucination. Some episodes dragged, including the season finale, but there were also some excellent moments during the season. Homeland not only must contend with the loss of Brody. Now it being criticized by Pakistani officials who are furious about how their country was portrayed.

New Girl (Fox)
I had stopped watching around the time that Nick and Jess were getting together, but heard it is much better with the two broken up but saying dumb things to each other, and I have resumed watching.

Person of Interest (CBS)
This was a good show from the start but every season gets better as the show has successfully transitioned from a procedural mystery of the week with a genre gimmick to a true genre show, which is also topical with current controversies over surveillance.

I added the networks to the show listings after I compiled these lists and find it notable that FX has the top two new shows along with one of the best shows of 2013. As expected, HBO and Showtime are well represented, with CW also doing quite well. Amazon has joined Netflix as a valuable streaming service with original shows. The broadcast networks are represented, partially due to having some successes among the larger quantity of original programing than any other source, but are frequently being beaten in quality by cable and streaming sources, which in some cases are owned by the broadcast networks. Showtime and CW now have better shows than CBS as FX has better shows than Fox.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Lex Luthor; Agent Carter; Constantine; Aaron Paul on Breaking Bad Toys; The Fall; Revolution; Person of Interest; Arrow; The Flash

Doctor Who In The Forest Of The Night

With In The Forest of the Night, I feel that Doctor Who has gone overboard with preposterous solutions to problems this season. We had the golden arrow in Robot of Sherwood and then the mass of the moon growing because the moon is an egg in Kill The Moon. At least Robot of Sherwood was more a comedy, so I didn’t mind the ending as much.  Kill The Moon did at least address the question of what would happen after the egg hatched, when they knew the moon still existed. In The Forest of the Night made bad science was made even worse with such a weak attempt to explain away what happened.

Once we found out that a solar flare was threatening to destroy earth it became predictable that the trees were acting to save us, not attack humans. Although the Doctor also figured this out, are we to really believe that government agencies working on attempts to clear out paths through the trees would stop based upon a child’s text message? We got an indication of how unlikely this was earlier in the episode when we learned how a child was ignored, and medicated, rather than be listened to.

It is implausible enough that the trees could quickly cover the earth, including the oceans based upon the pictures shown of the entire planet. It also implausible that the trees would be impervious to fire, and would be able to save the earth from the solar flare. However if this is possible, any chance that they removed the excess carbon dioxide from the planet and reversed global warming?

The worst aspect of all of this was to have something so major, which clearly everyone would remember and be talking about for a long time, be dismissed as something which humans will quickly forget about. If Torchwood was still around, perhaps they could have been called to Retcon the planet.

The episode did touch on other themes, and was actually enjoyable to watch despite being so implausible. There was self-mocking by the Doctor (“I am Doctor Idiot”) and sort of an acknowledgment that the Doctor solves far too many problems with his sonic screwdriver (“Not everything can be fixed with a screwdriver. It’s not a magic wand.”). Peter Capaldi had a good line when he first ran into a young girl looking for him: “Do you have an appointment? You need an appointment to see the Doctor.” There was also more on Clara’s relationship with Danny and the Doctor, and the Doctor’s relationship with the planet earth. Plus there was another appearance from Missy, who  plays a major role in the two part season finale starting next week (with a Christmas episode to also follow). The synopsis for the finale, Death in Heaven, written by Steven Moffat:

With Cybermen on the streets of London, old friends unite against old enemies and the Doctor takes to the air in a startling new role. Can the mighty UNIT contain Missy? As the Doctor faces his greatest challenge, sacrifices must be made before the day is won.

The Doctor Who Extra is above.

Jesse Eisenberg, who plays Lex Luthor in Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, might also play the same villain in the Suicide Squad movie.

The Marvel television and movie universe has already had appearances by Cobie Smulders of How I Met Your Mother. Now another cast member (even if rarely seen) joins the cast of Agent Carter. Lyndsy Fonseca, who played Ted Mosby’s daughter, will play Angie Martinelli, an aspiring actress who befriends Peggy (Hayley Atwell)

The TV Addict interviewed Neil Marshall, who has directed for Game of Thrones, and now directs Constantine, which premiered on Friday night.

Aaron Paul has responded to the decision of Toys R Us to not carry Breaking Bad toys.

We finally have an air date for second season of The Fall, an excellent mystery staring Gillian Anderson. It will air on an Irish television channel starting on November 9 and on BBC2 at approximately that time. Netflix released the entire first season on in the United States when it started to air internationally, and hopefully this will be the case with the second season.

Revolution creator Eric Kripke is still talking about continuing the story in some form and has discussed what he had planned for season three before it was canceled:

While he ruled out the show’s return to television, Kripke provided some insight into what a Revolution Season 3 would have looked like, “It was going to be great. It was gonna be this kind of treasure story where they were going to hear a legend of a very mythic treasure. It wasn’t gonna be gold, it was gonna be supplies.”
“It was gonna be this incredible stockpile of supplies. All the good guys and all the bad guys in the show were going to fight for this gold mine of material and supplies. It was going to be fun. It wasn’t going to be a war season. It was going to be a treasure hunt season, which would have fun and mixed up the show in a really interesting way. But, alas…”

Reading this does not have me very interested in seeing the story continue and still has me thinking that NBC was right in canceling the show.

Person of Interest had another episode dealing with Samaritan and artificial intelligence last week, showing Samaritan get involved in politics. I hope we see more of this.

Arrow Laurel and Sara

Now that the Black Canary has been killed in the season premier of Arrow, everyone is convinced that Laurel will take on the role as in the comics. Katie Cassidy even discussed this:

“It’s so sad when somebody leaves,” Cassidy told reporters on the “Arrow” set in Vancouver last week. “Caity and I were really close, and she is a great actress, and we loved having her. It’s always sad when somebody leaves, but exactly like Colin Donnell, it’s like he took one for the team, because something drastic needed to happen, and he is an amazing an actor as well. It’s always tough when you lose an actor, but she seemed to be very supportive, and yes, of course I was excited to continue to see what was going to develop for Laurel and her journey, and hopefully one day becoming the Black Canary.”

The Flash Things You Can't Outrun

The Flash, along with Jane the Virgin, have received full season orders from CW. Last week’s episode of The Flash, Things You Can’t Outrun, included flashbacks to the night of the particle accelerator launch, ending with a scene clearly showing that Harrison Wells knew what would happen to Barry Allen to turn him into The Flash. When he started the accelerator he said, “I feel like I’ve waiting for this day for centuries.” He clearly has knowledge of the future. Is he also a time traveler, and how long has he really been around for?

Time travel is clearly going to play a role in this series. I heard one reviewer (sorry, I don’t recall which), state that in the flash backs to the night of Barry’s mother’s death there are both yellow and red streaks present, speculating that the red streak was The Flash. It certainly is possible that Barry Allen at some point goes back in time to try to save his mother. I would go on from there to speculate that a rescue form his future self could be how young Barry suddenly appeared far from the murder scene.

There is a lot of speculation about where the series is going from those who have been following the comics. For example, Giant Freakin Robot speculates on another time traveling super hero who might wind up on the show.

Before this happens, Felicity (Emily Bret Richards) visits in a cross-over episode from Arrow, going on an awkward double date between Felicity/Barry and Iris/Eddie, and they confront Captain Cold.