SciFi Weekend: New and Returning Shows For 2016, And Other Genre News

There has been a reduced television schedule so far this year, (giving me time to watch the second seasons of Catastrophe, Mozart In the Jungle, and Tranparent), but many shows are starting or coming back soon. Blastr has a list of nine science fiction shows premiering in January. I have already discussed Legends of Tomorrow and the revival of  X-Files several times in the past. The trailer for Legends of Tomorrow,which premieres on CW on Januray 21 is above.  ScreenRant discussed Sara  Lance’s mental state on the new series with Caity Lotz.

As for the three shows I mentioned watching above, Catastrophe‘s second season was broadcast in the U.K. on Channel 4 late last year but is not availably yet on Amazon, while the second seasons of the other two shows recently became available. The first season of Catastrophe, which I ranked as the best new comedy of 2015, is available on Amazon.

Getting back to the science fiction shows premiering this month, I have heard some favorable buzz for The Shannara Chronicles which began on January 5 on MTV. Nerdist interviewed the executive producer, Miles Millar. Other shows on the list which have received the most interest so far have been The Magicians (with Syfy streaming the pilot early) and Colony (with initial reviews being better for the first). Initial buzz has been negative for Second Chance, and there are questions as to whether Lucifer can make it on a major network.

There will be many additional genre shows premiering later in the year, along with the return of other shows. What Culture has a list of original shows appearing on Netflix this year, including Daredevil, which returns on March 18 (trailer above).

Supergirl returned last week, resolving the cliff hanger of Cat figuring out her secret identity just as I predicted last Sunday.

Sherlock returned for a single episode,The Abominable Bride, on New Year’s day. Those of us expecting a self-contained story in Victorian times were surprised by what was actually done with the episode and how it actually played into last  season’s cliffhanger.

ABC has ordered a pilot for the Agents of SHIELD spinoff, Marvel’s Most Wanted. The series will center on Bobbi Morse (Adrianne Palicki) and Lance Hunter (Nick Blood).

Among the shows I’m most interested in seeing, 11.22.63 premiers on Hulu on February 15, with new episodes being released weekly as opposed to all episodes being released at the same time as on Netflix and Amazon. (Trailer above.) There will be some changes from the Stephen King novel. More here and here, plus J.J. Abrams also addressed the controversy over the female lead in Star Wars: The Force Awakens (reviewed here) being left out of the Star Wars themed Monopoly game.

In my review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens I noted how the novelization has filled in some plot holes. Mashable has more from the novelization. In addition, the script has been released which also provides further explanation of some plot points.

"YHWH" -- Finch (Michael Emerson, left) and Root (Amy Acker, right) race to save The Machine, which has been located by the rival AI, Samaritan, while Reese is caught in the middle of the final showdown between rival crime bosses Elias and Dominic, on the fourth season finale of PERSON OF INTEREST, Tuesday, May 5 (10:01-11:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Photo: Giovanni Rufino/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2015 WBEI. All rights reserved.

J.J. Abrams also says that Person of Interest will probably end after this season, which is no surprise considering how it is receiving a reduced thirteen episode run and has not made the schedule for this season yet. As long as it ends well this season, that is fine with me. The show gradually changed over time from primarily a procedural show to a true science fiction show, and it is better to have it end well as a great genre show as opposed to continuing indefinitely as a typical CBS procedural.

Like Person of Interest reinvented itself this year, Blacklist has also been considerably different from how it began. It was also off to an excellent start in this week’s episode. Unfortunately I don’t know  how much longer they can continue this storyline for.

The trailer above shows how the second season of Outlander will be much different from the first when it returns in April.

While not genre, another show of interest, Love, from Judd Apatow and staring Gillian Jacobs of Community will be released by Netflix on February 19.

HBO has renewed Girls for a sixth and final season. The fifth season begins on February 21.

Sundance has renewed Rectify for a fourth and final season.

Better Call Saul returns for its second season on February 15. Trailer above.

12 Monkeys will return on April 18 on Syfy.

Besides all the speculation as to the fate of Felicity, there have been rumors that Stephen Amell would leave Arrow, presumably ending the series, in the next year or two. Amell responded by saying his contract runs through 2019 (which doesn’t guarantee that CW will continue the show that long).

Laura Dern has been added to the cast of Showtime’s revival of Twin Peaks. While her role has not been announced, there have been rumors that she might play Special Agent Dale Cooper’s previously unseen secretary, Diane. The cast also includes Kyle MacLachlan, Sheryl Lee, Sherilyn Fenn,  Jennifer Jason Leigh, Robert Knepper, Balthazar Getty and Amanda Seyfried. The first three were from the original cast.

Coal Hill School

Class, the Doctor Who spinoff from BBC Three taking place at Coal Hill School, will also be available on BBC America sometime in 2016, but no date has been set yet.

Doctor Who has made the short list for the National Television Awards in the Drama category. It is up against Downton Abbey, Broadchurch, and a show I am not familiar with named Casualty. Humans is among the nominees for New Drama. Downton Abbey has completed its run in the U.K. (doing a good job of concluding the series) and has resumed in the United States.

BBC America is also working on a new television adaptation of Douglas Adams’ Dirk Gently series.

There is now hope that Parenthood will return in some form, with Jason Katims being inspired by the movie Boyhood to return to the lives of the major characters over time. (Review of the finale here). It is interesting that two of the shows which might return in such a manner both star Lauren Graham, with a revival of Gilmore Girls now being filmed. Katims made it sound unlikely that the rumored follow up of his other show, Friday Night Lights, will return.

Yahoo Screen has been discontinued, making it even less likely that Community will ever return.

Sylvester Stallone discussed running for office and Donald Trump with Variety.

Update: News came in overnight that David Bowie died of cancer. The New York Times reports:

David Bowie, the infinitely changeable, fiercely forward-looking songwriter who taught generations of musicians about the power of drama, images and personas, died on Sunday, two days after his 69th birthday.

Mr. Bowie’s death was confirmed by his publicist, Steve Martin, on Monday morning.

He died after having cancer for 18 months, according to a statement on Mr. Bowie’s social-media accounts.

“David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family,” a post on his Facebook page read.

His last album, “Blackstar,” a collaboration with a jazz quartet that was typically enigmatic and exploratory, was released on Friday — his birthday. He was to be honored with a concert at Carnegie Hall on March 31 featuring the Roots, Cyndi Lauper and the Mountain Goats.

Following is a video of David Bowie’s Space Oddity, recorded by Commander Chris Hadfield on board the International Space Station in 2014:

SciFi Weekend: Star Wars, The Force Awakens; Doctor Who, The Husbands of River Song

Star Wars Force Awkens Rey BB-8

The Force Awakens was the sequel to Star Wars we were looking for after the original trilogy. While J.J. Abrams has never understood Star Trek, he is a perfect fit for a franchise such as Star Wars which centers more on action and mythology than the type of ideas which characterize Star Trek when done well.  Rather than rejecting parts of of the original as with Star Trek, J.J. Abrams made a sequel to Star Wars which was a true homage to Star Wars: A New Hope. The movie has many parallels to the original, but does introduce a new generation of characters and mix things up enough to keep it fresh.  It avoided the mistakes of the second trilogy. There was no Jar Jar Banks, and it presented a cuter version of R2-D2 for a new generation. This review contains major spoilers, along with looking at some of the questions left unanswered in the movie.

In many ways, The Force Awakens was a retelling of the original story for a new generation. Both The Force Awakens and A New Hope have much of the early action on a desert planet with a droid carrying important information playing a major part. Therefore it did not came as a surprise that the escape was on The Millennium Falcon. Having it sitting there unused for years but all fueled up and ready to fly is just one of many plot holes which are easily ignored. Nor was it a surprise that Han Solo showed up. Many of the scenes on The Millennium Falcon felt quite familiar. Rather than repeating one classic scene, Harrison Ford did provide another reference to the original when asking about a garage chute.

The biggest surprise of the movie was that Rey turned out to be the character with the Force. We saw this when Rey found Luke’s lightsaber at Maz’s watering hole (reminiscent of the Cantina scene), with no explanation of why it was there. The producers did an excellent job of keeping this secret, such as showing the rare scenes in which Finn held the lightsaber in previews and posters.The experience would have been quite different if the previews showed the battle between Rey and Kylo Ren, or showed Rey holding out the lightsaber for Luke at the end.

Once we learned that Rey was really the main character with the Force, her path in the movie became clear. She would fight the movie’s villain, be tempted by and resist the dark side, and ultimately find Luke–after this movie’s version of the Death Star was destroyed (including flights through the trenches).

Once we saw the bridge in this part of the universe where hand rails have never been invented, it was also obvious that Han Solo would reprise Obi Wan Kenobe’s death scene. J.J. Abrams explained that this was also done to establish how evil  Kylo Ren was so that he could be at the level of a Darth Vader. Of course moments later in the movie R2-D2 woke up, so that viewers wouldn’t be sad for too long.

star-wars-force-awakens-images-poe-dameron-oscar-isaac

The movie introduced other characters. One of the new characters, Poe, was intended to die but instead he turned up later in the movie. This isn’t the first time that Abrams planned to kill a character who seemed like a major character and later changed his mind. The original plan was to for Jack to be killed on Lost. While it might have been a surprise to see him later in the movie, most genre fans know that if you don’t see the body, the character most likely isn’t dead. I would have preferred it if there were brief scenes of Poe surviving but getting separated, and showing how he escaped from the planet.

Abrams also repeated an error he made in Star Trek in ignoring how big space is. The Enterprise seemed to travel from Vulcan to Earth in minutes, and in the alternate universe it is possible to beam by transwarp onto a starship traveling at many times the speed of light. The hyperlight weapon in The Force Awakens seems implausible, undoubtedly as a result of a desire to have a weapon even more powerful that the Death Star. The weapon was capable of destroying four distant planets as if they were nearby, with the four planets also appearing to be very close to each other.

The politics of the movie was also puzzling. It looked like we had a civil war between the Republic and the First Order. If that was the case, why weren’t the forces under Leia’s command the military for the Republic, as opposed to a rebel group? While I’ve seen explanations on line such as a peace treaty between the Republic and the First Order which made it necessary for the Republic to hide their actions against the First Order, the meta reason is most likely to be reminiscent of the rebel forces in the original trilogy. I suspect that having had its capital and a few other planets destroyed, we won’t see much more of the Republic, except possibly at the conclusion.

If a big moment in the second movie of the first trilogy was Darth Vader telling Luke that he was his father, I wonder if the second movie of this trilogy will be Luke saying the same to Rey. While I think that this is the most likely reason for Rey having the force, there are other possibilities. Maybe Leia is her mother, making Ren her brother, but this would require an explanation for Leia giving no indication of knowing about a daughter. Possibly Rey is descended from Obi Wan Kenobe. This could also explain the connection with the lightsabre as Luke’s lightsaber previously belonged to Obi Wan.

Another theory is that Ren’s parents are not from the characters we know. In The Empire Strikes Back, after Luke completed his training under Yoda, Obi Wan said , “This boy is our last hope.” Yoda replied, “No, there is another.” It was assumed he was referring to Leia, but she was never trained in the Force. Perhaps Yoda was referring to someone else that we do not yet know about.

star-wars-force-awakens_fire

There are many other questions raised, some of which will probably be answered in subsequent movies. Others might be plot holes which there is no good reason for, but the movie was so much fun that most viewers won’t care. Some elements of the movie were taken from plot points in the expanded universe which was invented after the movies, which should give fans a lot to speculate on. The novelization for The Force Awakens also fills in some points.

The Daily Dot listed ten things learned from the novelization. Among the most interesting are the description of Kylo Ren’s feelings about killing his father:

In the movie, it isn’t clear what’s going through Kylo’s mind after he stabs his father through the chest with his lightsaber. The scene quickly shifts gears, and Kylo, wounded by a shot from an enraged Chewbacca, snarls up at Finn and Rey from a crouched position before the two heroes flee.

In the novelization, Kylo feels “stunned by his own action.”

“Following through on the act,” the narration says, “ought to have made him stronger, a part of him believed. Instead, he found himself weakened.”

Foster wrote the novelization based on a version of the script that later underwent significant revisions. It’s possible that the discrepancy between page and screen here is not a casual inconsistency but a deliberate choice—that J.J. Abrams and company didn’t want to suggest that Kylo felt conflicted after the fact. Of course, given how difficult it is to visually convey an internal monologue, it’s also possible that this moment wasn’t so much deliberate struck as overlooked for simplicity’s sake.

Rey’s battle with the dark side was more obvious in the novelization than the movie:

Rey’s triumph over Kylo in their lightsaber duel is widely considered one of the film’s greatest moments. But what you don’t fully see on-screen is that, standing over a defeated Kylo, Rey faces a final challenge. The novelization portrays it thusly:

Kill him, a voice inside her head said. It was amorphous, unidentifiable, raw. Pure vengeful emotion. So easy, she told herself. So quick.
Instead of killing Kylo, Rey “recoil[s]” from the feeling, which the narration describes as the pull of the dark side.

This is a very significant moment. Every Force-strong Star Wars hero faces this kind of challenge. When the narration refers to “pure vengeful emotion,” it’s important to remember that part of what drove Rey was seeing Kylo brutally defeat her new friend Finn. She had just seen Kylo deal Finn what might have been a killing blow. She was no doubt furious in that moment—the perfect target for the lure of the dark side.

This is, in essence, the dark side’s modus operandi. It’s how Anakin Skywalker began his fall in Attack of the Clones, when he slaughtered a village full of Tusken Raiders after they kidnapped his mother, who died in his arms.

But Rey, like Luke, is stronger than Anakin. She resists the urge to deliver her own killing blow. In the movie, a chasm quickly opens up between her and her vanquished foe, appearing to foreclose the possibility of her killing him. In the novelization, she makes her choice before that happens. She runs to Finn, to her friend, instead of yielding to her rage. In refusing the dark side, she has just taken the biggest step of her life.

I will be looking forward to seeing where they go with the next installment. It might be difficult to top the Starkiller base, and I hope they are not tempted to come up with a more implausible threat.  The answer might be to concentrate more on the characters now that The Force Awakens has made them important to the viewers. Will Luke have a more significant role? Presumably we will learn more about Ren’s back story, and possibly more about Snoke, assuming he remains a factor.

Doctor Who Husbands of River Song

Christmas also meant the annual specials from British television. This year’s specials included Doctor Who, Call the Midwife, and Downton Abbey. The Downton Abbey special was also the series finale, and therefore I will not give any spoilers for those who are waiting for the US showing of the final season. I wills say that they ended the series quite well.

The Doctor Who Christmas Special, the Husbands of River Song, was a very fun episode. The actual story hardly mattered. What was important was that it set up the situation where the Doctor met River Song with a different face that she knew, with River not recognizing the Doctor at first. This provided the Doctor a chance to act like those who see the inside of the TARDIS for the first time, and Peter Capaldi really hammed it up:

River: Oh, before you come in, you’d better prepare yourself for a shock. It’s not as… snug as it looks.
The Doctor:Finally… It’s my go. Oh… my… God! It’s bigger!

River: Well, yes.

The Doctor: On the inside!
River: We need to concentrate.
The Doctor: Than it is!
River: I know where you’re going with this, but I need you to calm down.
The Doctor: On the outside!
River: You’ve certainly grasped the essentials.
The Doctor: My entire understanding of physical space has been transformed! Three-dimensional Euclidean geometry has been torn up, thrown in the air and snogged to death! My grasp of the universal constants of physical reality has been changed… forever. Sorry. I’ve always wanted to see that done properly.
River: Would you like a drink? Aldebaran brandy. Help yourself, but don’t tell Dad.
This also allowed River to describe her relationship with the Doctor, more than once. First, someone looking for the Doctor questioned River, having identified her as “the woman who loves the Doctor.”
River: Yes, I am. I’ve never denied it. But whoever said he loved me back? He’s the Doctor, he doesn’t go around falling in love with people. And if you think he’s anything that small or that ordinary, then you haven’t the first idea of what you’re dealing with.
Doctor Who Husbands of River Song2
River discussed their relationship once again, when they were in danger, just before the Doctor revealed his identity:
River: When you love the Doctor, it’s like loving the stars themselves. You don’t expect a sunset to admire you back. And if I happen to find myself in danger, let me tell you, the Doctor is not stupid enough, or sentimental enough, and he is certainly not in love enough to find himself standing in it with me!
The Doctor: Hello, sweetie.
Another of my favorite exchanges between the two when in danger:
River: Does sarcasm help?
The Doctor: Wouldn’t it be a great universe if it did?
The dangers in this episode were handled, but we know there are other dangers ahead for River Song. She had a feeling for this when she saw how little room was left in her diary and noted, “The man who gave me this was the sort of man who would know exactly how long a diary you were going to need.”

The Singing Towers of Darillium was established as the location for their last night together when in 2008 in Forest of the Dead. However things were not as bad as they looked, even if this is truly their last night together before River met a younger Doctor in the library:

River: So… assuming tonight is all we have left…
The Doctor: I didn’t say that.
River: .. how long… is a night on Darillium?
The Doctor: 24 years.
River: ( gasps ) I hate you.
The Doctor: No, you don’t.

Doctor Who Extra videos can be seen here.

SciFi Weekend: Arrow; Legends of Tomorrow; Jessica Jones; Luke Cage; The Man In The High Castle; The Expanse; Childhood’s End; 11.22.63; Minority Report; House of Cards; Fargo; Doctor Who; Ted Cruz Christmas Infomercial

Arrow -- "The Magician" -- Image AR304a_0155b -- Pictured (L-R): Katrina Law as Nyssa al Ghul and Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen -- Photo: Ed Araquel/The CW -- © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Matt Nable will be reprising his role of Ra’s al Ghul from Arrow in the ninth episode of Legends of Tomorrow. Considering that much of the cast is made up of people who either died or appeared to die on Arrow, this doesn’t really come as a surprise. Damian Dark will also be making an appearance on Legends of Tomorrow. On Arrow, Nyssa will also continue to fight Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) for her dead father’s title.

I really liked Daredevil, and liked what they did with Jessica Jones even more. Jessica Jones also has me looking forward to Luke Cage. Collider had an interview with Mike Colter, who plays Luke Cage. The discussion included how Luke Cage will differ from Daredevil and Jessica Jones.

Man In The High Castle

I was happy to hear that Amazon has renewed The Man In The High Castle, as expected, for a second season. The entire series was enjoyable, but that ending has me really wondering where the show is headed. I read the book many, many years ago and don’t remember how it ended. Plus there are already major changes from the book so that might not matter.

I’ve  been far too busy around the holidays to keep up with everything on television. I thought I was doing well completing both Jessica Jones and The Man In The High Castle. (My original plan was to review these two series this week, but holiday plans have prevented it.) I haven’t had time to start The Expanse, but I hear that if some time opens up it is possible to stream the first four episodes, and get ahead of what has been shown on television.

I have recorded Childhood’s End with hopes of watching it sometime later over the holidays. Meanwhile this article, which I haven’t read to avoid spoilers, looks like the type of article with a show’s producer on the ending which I would be quoting from if I had seen the show.

Yet another new genre show I haven’t had time to watch–The Magicians. IO9 has a review here.

Hulu is releasing teaser trailers of 11.22.63, produced by J.J. Abrams and based upon the Stephen King novel. Abrams also has something else major out this weekend.

I also haven’t had a chance to watch the movie version of The Martian yet, but did enjoy the book last year. Nerdist has news on Andy Weir’s next book, to take place on the moon and feature a female lead.

With so much to watch on television, I didn’t watch Minority Report after some poor reviews of the first episode, followed by news that production was cut to ten episodes. The final episode aired recently and I have heard some buzz that the series ended well. This is a positive sign of how television has changed. In the past a network needed at least a few years of a series to make money in syndication. If it looked weak after a few episodes, they would be tempted to just pull the plug.

These days a series can still bring in episodes with even a short run. By giving the producers a cut off date, they were able to make a series which stood on its own with ten episodes, or expand into subsequent seasons if it did build an audience. It is still possible to sell a self-contained ten episode series as a Blu ray or DVD set, as well as have it on one or more streaming networks. The networks have reason to continue a show with a small audience for at least a short time, current viewers get a conclusion as opposed to having a show they like abruptly pulled, and genre fans have one more thing available to watch when desired in the future. Plus maybe a show will even be brought back by another outlet.

Netflix ran the trailer for the fourth season of House of Cards during last week’s Republican debate. The show returns on March 4. “America, I am only getting started” sounds sort of scary.

The third season of Fargo won’t be filming until next winter, and therefore won’t be seen until sometime in 2017. It will take place in 2010, four years after the first season. We got an unexpected view of some of the characters from the first season in the second season finale, but reportedly the regulars from the first season will not be the major characters for the third season. Some could appear briefly.

Doctor Who TV has an advance review of this year’s Christmas special, The Husbands of River Song.

ABC will be airing a one hour special, Captain America’s 75th Anniversary, on January 19th, just prior to the season premiere of Agent Carter. It will be opposite the return of The Flash on CW, but that is why we have Hulu, and modern DVR’s which record more than one show at a time.

Vox looks at Tina Fey’s response to some of the internet outrage over Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for having  the blonde, Polish actress Jane Krakowski playeding a Native American woman who was hiding her true ethnicity.

Ted Cruz has paid for a Christmas-themed parody infomercial to air during Saturday Night Live tonight. Steve M. has a review, and finds Cruz to be scary. I agree.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Face the Raven; Jessica Jones; Arrow Flash Crossover; 11/22/63; Lost In Space; New Show From Bays and Thomas

Doctor Who Face the Raven

Only four companions had previously died in the long history of Doctor Who, with none in the new series. This changed on Face the Raven with the death of Clara Oswald.  The episode took place on Trap Street, a hidden street in London like something out of Harry Potter, except in this case Maise Williams’ immortal character returned as mayor, providing sanctuary for aliens. Clara’s friend Rigsy (previously seen in Flatline, when Clara was acting as the Doctor) was sentenced to die, with a Chronolock tattooed on his neck, counting down the minutes until his death. The Doctor tried, unsuccessfully, to turn to his index cards to express his condolences, but Clara pushed him to try to save him.

Unfortunately it turned out to be Clara who saved him by transferring the Chronolock from Rigsy to herself. Maise Williams’ character, Me,  had already guaranteed Clara’s safety on Trap Street, so she thought this would buy them time. What Clara did not know is that Me never really intended for Rigsy to die. However, once the Chronlock was transferred from Rigsy to Clara, the terms of Me’s deal with the quantum shade, which controlled the execution, were changed and Me could not save her.

Clara assumed the Doctor could save her once again, but he could not, and the two said their dramatic farewells. It did seem  questionable that the Doctor couldn’t at least try to save her. After all, it was already established that there was a stasis machine nearby. If that couldn’t work, there was also a teleport bracelet, not to mention the TARDIS, which might take Clara to safety.

Clara’s death was actually guaranteed by the decision for Jenna Coleman to leave the series. Steven Moffat discussed writing Clara out in an interview with Blogtor Who:

“What we’re gonna do with Clara’s departure was ‘Plan A’. This is what I wanted to with Clara from very, very early on in Clara’s run but Jenna said that she wanted to leave at the end of Series 8. And I sort of knew she didn’t really want to leave, I think she just felt she ought to leave at the end of Series 8, despite my various attempts to tell her what she was thinking – which never goes down well I find with human beings! [Laughs]

She decided to leave so I wrote her out of the end of Death In Heaven, that was her last episode. I was halfway through Christmas [Last Christmas] without Jenna and she said, ‘Actually, I’d like to be in Christmas,’ so I discreetly threw away the script I was writing and started again. [Laughs] Never told her that – should’ve.

I wrote her out of the end of Christmas but this time I sniffed a wind and wrote two endings; one version where she actually is the old lady and we last see her going up the spiral staircase. At the read through we did the big heart-rending departure and she changed her mind.

Peter and I did perform every form of emotional manipulation known to people on the world tour, badly and ineptly I might add. I like to think in the sheer ineptitude of out apparent subterfuge we were charming.

But what we’re doing now is the right way for her to go, in my view.”

Doctor Who Face The Raven Clara

There might theoretically be a way in which Clara did not die and could return for some of the final episodes of the season, but now that Jenna Coleman had her big exit scene it would be better to leave her character dead. That does not mean that Jenna Coleman might not show up again. A form of Clara has been involved with all Doctors we have seen so far, and the way in which she was fragmented should mean that she will also be involved with future Doctors, although that does not mean that either the Doctor or the audience will see her

The Doctor has met Clara in different forms. He met Oswin Oswald, the soufflé girl, in Asylum of the Daleks, and met the Victorian barmaid and governess Clara Oswin Oswald  in The Snowmen.  He also came close to meeting Clara as a child but did not recognize her.

There are still questions left from Face the Raven. The Doctor was teleported off, and is on his own, leading into the final episodes of the season (which will be extended length). Will he return to face Me, after warning her “You’ll find that it’s a very small universe when I’m angry with you”? Who was Me working with? It was apparently someone who knew about the Confession Dial, which might mean Davros, or Missy. Incidentally, it was Missy who put Clara in touch with the Doctor in The Bells of St. John, so it might be fitting that she was also indirectly involved in her death. (Incidentally Michelle Gomez, who plays Missy, also appeared on Gotham last week).

The portion of the season prior to the Christmas episode will end with another two-parter. Heaven Sent will air on November 28th and run fifty-five minutes.  Hell Bent will air on December 5th and run sixty-five minutes.

Behind the scenes videos of Face the Raven can be seen here.

Marvel's Jessica Jones

It was a tough decision with both Jessica Jones and The Man in The High Castle both becoming available for streaming on Friday night. Ultimately a show staring Krystin Ritter, David Tennant, and Carrie-Ann Moss won out. In addition to these three, Rachel Taylor does an excellent job as  Trish Walker and Mike Colter is excellent as Luke Cage. Besides appearing in Jessica Jones prior to appearing in his own show, Luke Cage has been teased in a trailer for the second season of Daredevil.

While I have not finished the series yet, I have seen enough to say that this is excellent. It is possibly the best superhero show ever on television, and possibly the best television show or movie with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Vulture has a collection of excerpts from the many excellent reviews of the series. I will have no spoilers of the individual episodes in discussing the series.

Jessica Jones has started out even stronger than Daredevil. While set in the same Hell’s Kitchen background, it is not entirely as dark and gritty, with more of New York City seen. There are brief mentions of other events in the Marvel universe, but it is not necessary to have seen any as long as you are just aware that New York City was under attack in The Avengers movie.

Krystin Ritter is excellent as the damaged superhero. She plays a strong female lead, but the tone of the show is entirely different from the other superhero series with a female lead, Supergirl. Ritter’s dramatic acting abilities were clear in Breaking Bad, and she showed she could handle being the lead for a show in Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. She further shows her acting talent as the lead in this complex dramatic role in which her character underwent a traumatic experience in the past, leading to the season-long arc with the big-bad Killgrave, played by David Tennant.

Jessica Jones Trish Walker

Krystin Ritter discussed playing Jessica Jones at Speakeasy:

Unlike a lot of superhero shows, she doesn’t seem to rely on her superpowers that often.

That’s how I always approach the character. Just a woman and a girl first, with her feet on the ground and with real issues. Her struggle is so personal and so relatable and so grounded. I just focused on that and the superpower thing second. I just felt like it was an extension of who she is – because internally, she’s so strong.

What unique issues are being explored in “Jessica Jones”?

I felt like it was groundbreaking material in how it handles some of the darker stuff that happens to her. We never actually see, literally, [her] history with [villain] Kilgrave. But we see the effects of it. Ultimately, this is a story about coming to terms with something internally with yourself. I also enjoyed that she wasn’t sexualized. She’s never putting on high heels and the tight skirt to seduce somebody like your typical P.I. So there were all these things in there that felt a lot bigger. I felt like it was a great conversation starter. It has the potential to be an iconic character.

The Los Angeles Times spoke with Kristin Ritter and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg, who was also head writer on early seasons of Dexter:

“[For Jessica] the superpowers are just a matter of fact. She doesn’t advertise them, but she doesn’t deny them. She doesn’t hide them,” show runner Melissa Rosenberg explains. “What I love about this character is she’s so unapologetically who she is. She’s unapologetic about her sexuality, about her powers, about her drinking, about just about anything. She is who she is.”

Her sexuality, and drinking, along with other aspects of Jessica Jones, are certainly not hidden. While there is no nudity, this is not a superhero series for children.

I have also been bookmarking material on The Man In The High Castle but will wait until I have hopefully had time to start the series.

An extended promo has been released for this season’s crossover episodes of The Flash and Arrow, starting December  1 (video above).

The season finale of The Flash is part of the crossover event with Arrow and introduces Wally West. There has been speculation this season that when Iris’s mother turned up and there was mention of another child, this would be Wally West. The following synopsis has been released.

“Running to Stand Still” — MARK HAMILL, WENTWORTH MILLER AND LIAM MCINTYRE RETURN; KEIYNAN LONSDALE JOINS THE CAST AS WALLY WEST — When Mark Mardon AKA The Weather Wizard (guest star Liam McIntyre) returns to break Leonard Snart AKA Captain Cold (guest star Wentworth Miller) and James Jesse AKA The Trickster (guest star Mark Hamill) out of Iron Heights, Barry (Grant Gustin) must stop these rogues from taking over Central City during Christmas. Meanwhile, Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Iris (Candice Patton) meet Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale). Kevin Tancharoen directed the episode written by Andrew Kreisberg (#209). Original airdate 12/8/2015.

We have already seen the first glimpses of Hawkgirl on The Flash, as the various characters for Legends of Tomorrow have been put place on Arrow and The Flash. Legends of Tomorrow will debut on Thursday, January 21. In addition to bringing back old characters on Arrow in preparation for this, Roy will be returning to Arrow in episode 412.

The above teaser has been released from 11/22/63 from J.J. Abrams, based upon the book by Stephen King. It is to be released on Hulu on Presidents Day, 2016.

Danger Will Robinson: Netflix is planning a reboot of Lost in Space.

CBS has signed a deal with Carter Bays and Craig Thomas to produce another comedy set in New York. Deadline reports that the show, named New York Mythological, “centers on a Midwestern girl who moves to Manhattan and experiences firsthand the magic of New York.” It sound like quite a few other shows done over the years but it is the execution which matters. There have also been a lot of shows about friends in New York City, but few did them as well as Bays and Thomas did with How I Met Your Mother.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Jessica Jones; Supergirl; Limitless; Star Wars; Blindspot; Childhood’s End

Doctor Who Sleep No More

I don’t want to spend too much time on an episode of Doctor Who which I really did not like very much.  Sleep No More did not have the usual intro sequence to the show but did start with a character giving this warning: “You must not watch this! I’m warning you. You can never unsee it.” Viewers should take his advice and apply it to the episode.

It is hard to say exactly what to make out of an episode where the Doctor says he’s confused and that it doesn’t make sense. Perhaps this was written to lead into future events of the season. We know Jenna Coleman is leaving, and we are told that the Morpheus process has already begun in Clara. I hope that this is not the episode which leads into Clara’s departure, especially if it means she dies. A major character deserves to go out better than this. This could be the worst exit for a character (even if not the final episode for her) since Tasha Yar’s death on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Mark Gattiss warns that a sequel is planned. He should not be judged primarily on this episode after all the great writing he has done. Fans might be more interested in this interview with Tor, released earlier this week

Doctor Who Extra videos can be seen here. (I have not watched them–I have no further interest in this episode).

Doctor Who Magazine Clara

While the show itself was weak, presumably it inspired the great cover for Doctor Who Magazine. More on the contents of the issue here.

Next week Fear the Raven features the return of Maisie Williams.

The BBC has released the synopsis for the Hell Bent, the final episode of Doctor Who before the Christmas episode:

If you took everything from him, betrayed him, trapped him, and broke both his hearts…how far might the Doctor go?

Returning to Gallifrey, the Doctor faces the Time Lords in a struggle that will take him to the end of time itself. Who is the Hybrid? And what is the Doctor’s confession?

These trailers for Jessica Jones continue to create considerable interest in the show, premiering November 20 on Netflix.

CBS has pulled episodes of Supergirl and NCIS scheduled for Monday following the terrorism in Paris as they deal with terrorist attacks. The episode planned for next week has been moved up.

I09 reports that Georgina Haig of Fringe will have a recurring role on Limitless:

Georgina Haig is set for a recurring role as Piper. Per the producers, Piper was once like Brian, naive and sheltered—then she lost everything. Now, self-trained in many forms of combat, she has a mission to stop the man who took it from her—with Brian as either her ally or her enemy.

This TV spot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has also been released.

J.J. Abrams has some comments on Luke Skywalker.

NBC has renewed Blindspot for a second season. That is good news, but also means there is no hope for an explanation this year.

The above featurette was released on Syfy’s upcoming adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End.

Julian McMahon and Charles Dance, who star in Syfy’s new Childhood’s End talk about what it means to be a part of a utopian society. Childhood’s end looks at a peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious “Overlords.” The group’s arrival begins decades of apparent utopia under indirect alien rule…but at the cost of human identity and culture.

Vincent Margera has died. TMZ reports:

Vincent Margera — the uncle of Bam Margera who appeared in “Jackass” — has died … TMZ has learned.

Vincent became famous for pranks he pulled off with Bam on the TV show and later the “Jackass” movies as well as “Viva La Bam”.

It’s a double blow for Bam, who lost his best friend and co-star Ryan Dunn, who was killed in a car crash.

Vincent has been struggling with kidney and liver failure for several years. He fell into a coma last month and has been in bad shape ever since.

Bam’s mom tells us, Vincent passed away Sunday at 6:45 AM.

Vincent was 59.  RIP.

SciFi Weekend: The X-Files To Return; Huge Twist on 12 Monkeys; Werewolf Don Draper 2043; Another Unforgettable Scene on The Americans; Jason Katims and Craig T. Nelson Returning To Television

X Files

Fox has officially decided to go ahead with a six episode revival of The X-Files. Here is what we know from various web reports, including an interview with Chris Carter at XFilesNews.com.  Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny will be back and Carter is looking into the availability of others, including William B. Davis and Mitch Pileggi.

Chris Carter mentions that there will be a nice mix of mythology and stand alone episodes, but what is the set up after all is said and done? Will this be the final ride or are we keeping the door open?

“It’s a good question,” he snickers. “I don’t want to answer it exactly because I wanna keep people guessing.” If the man of mystery and I were in the same room, I’m betting that statement would have come with a wink.

The reality is that it’s been seven years since the last movie, and we always wonder what would be the storyline to tackle? How would time affect these characters, and how would time shift the way in which these stories would be told? After all, the world has changed, and so has TV and you would expect that time has also shown face in Mulder and Scully’s universe.

But Carter is firm in his response, “I don’t think it will actually change anything, of course, with the new technology we’ll certainly see Mulder and Scully carrying different cell phones.”

…Still, he assures me that time won’t influence the stories, per se. “We’re going to tell X-Files the way that we’ve always told them; we will of course set them in the time and place that they exist. We’re telling contemporary stories about contemporary situations, true to Mulder and Scully’s characters and their relationship and the passage of time.”

“But where do we land? Are we going to have a time jump? Are we going to address the 2012 deadline? And what about William?” I ask.

“I’ve thought about that,” he says referring to the colonization date. “I don’t know exactly how I’m going to address it, in a big way, a mild way, a modern way, a mention or a plot point.” Then he adds, “And of course you can’t avoid to deal with the William (arc) in some way or another.”

More at Entertainment Weekly

12 Monkeys Shonin

12 Monkeys finally showed why 1987 was so important in Shonin’, and it was sure a surprise. Going into the episode we knew that Cole was in 1987 and this is possibly the last time jump he can take. Ramse went to the same year, wanting to preserve the current timeline so that his son would be born. I’m sure everyone expected there would be a fight between Cole and Ramse, but not how it would turn out. Ramse spent several years in prison after apparently killing Cole, but was ultimately freed from prison and brought to the United States by Olivia, where he winds up at an estate with The Pallid Man.

Ramse, thinking that Cole is dead, thought he only had to prevent any changes in order for his timeline to come about. Ramse and Olivia are working behind the scenes to make sure things occur as we have seen them during the season, and making sure that Cole’s plans inevitably failed. The plan would probably work if Jones didn’t come up with a great idea. Possibly only having one time jump left, she splintered him to Cassie’s apartment in 2015 rather than bringing him back to her present. Presumably Cassie will arrange for medical treatment for Cole’s knife wounds, and now they both realize what Ramse has been doing. This sets up for quite a confrontation for the end of the first season. The show has already been renewed for a second season.

Shield Second Shield

Kirk Acevedo, who plays Ramse, also appeared on Agents of SHIELD last week as a deputy for Robert Gonzales, the head of the “other SHIELD” played by Edward James Olmos. In other comic-based television shows, all over at The CW, The Flash reversed the shocking events of the previous week thanks to time travel, but viewers now know far more. There are promotional pictures floating around of Stephen Amell in League of Assassins attire but Marc Guggenheim won’t comment as to what that means. iZombie has gotten off to a good start.

Among unconfirmed rumors flying around this week, ABC might be ready to renew Agent Carter next week and CBS might be thinking of going ahead with another Star Trek television series.  Matt Weiner is swearing television critics to secrecy on four points regarding the final episodes of Mad Men, including what year it takes place in. The top rumors on Twitter are that it takes place in 2043 and that we learn that Don Draper is a Space Werewolf. I hope the rumors regarding the first two shows are true, and it would be absolutely awesome if the third was true (not).

the-americans-do-mail-robots-dream-of-electric-sheep_article_story_large

The Americans is primarily a cerebral spy show which critics and its small base of viewers love, but some hate for its slow pace. That hasn’t kept it from having four unforgettable scenes this season: packing Annelise‘s body in a suitcase, home dental work, death by fire, and perhaps its most chilling death scene last week. It was probably not possible to top the incineration scene last week with violence which would be acceptable on television. Instead they topped it in yet a different way, in an episode which also had the greatest name: in an homage to Philip K. Dick: Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?

On what seemed like a simple mission to plant  bug on the FBI’s mail robot while in for repairs,Elizabeth and Phillip found that Betty, played by Lois Smith,  had picked “a bad time” to do paperwork at night when she didn’t expect interruptions. In cases like this, the witness is frequently killed, but sometimes they do find ways to spare them. There was a battle of wits between Elizabeth and Betty. Their conversation was fascinating, with obvious comparisons to Elizabeth’s feelings for her own mother, and to a lesser degree to the relationship between Philip and Martha.

For a while the drama was enhanced by not knowing if Betty would live or die. Then everything changed when Elizabeth mentioned her mother, Betty asked where she lives, and Elizabeth answered honestly that she was in Russia.

Betty: “You aren’t going to let me leave. Are you?”
Elizabeth: “It’s not possible, no.
Betty: “This is not how I expected it to end—the story.

At least Betty rationalized this is a better ending than dying drunk in the street, alone in front of the television, or withering away in a hospital. Elizabeth forced her to overdose on her heart medicine, and the two continued their conversation as long as possible while Betty took the pills one by one. Just before dying, Betty asked Elizabeth why she was doing what she was doing and Elizabeth, always the good Russian, said it was to make the world a better place:

Betty: “Do you think doing this to me will make the world a better place?”
Elizabeth: “I’m sorry, but it will.”
Betty: “That’s what evil people tell themselves when they do evil things.”

Of course on The Americans the world is far grayer than this.

Much more happened on the episode. Hans was so much cruder in killing Tod.  After the discussion with Phillip, Gabriel might have to find someone else to play Scrabble with. Martha is strangely going along with her fantasy marriage, but at some point this must end. Stan and Oleg are great working together and fighting against each other. Maybe they should get their own spin-off. Curing a headache is done with aspirin and a beer chaser: “It works better if you take it with beer. It’s not supposed to, but it does.” With two mail robots in the robot repair shop, are we going to see an alternate history in which they reproduce and the world is overrun with mail robots? Is this the rise of the machines?

Parenthood Zeek

If you miss both Parenthood-like storytelling and Zeek, both will be back in some form. While NBC has ended both Parenthood and About A Boy, Jason Katims will have a ten episode series next year and, like most of the talented people who previously did shows for NBC, it will be seen elsewhere. Instead of airing on NBC this show, which was part of a deal between  Katims and NBC Universal, will be on Hulu:

Based on a script Katims and his True Jack head of development Michelle Lee created with Goldberg last year, The Way examines a family at the center of a controversial faith-based movement struggling with relationships, marriage and power. Each hourlong episode will take an in-depth look at what it means to choose between the life we live and the life we want. The drama will go into production in the summer. Casting is underway with the goal of nabbing high-end premium talent comparable to Hulu’s casting coup with James Franco in Warner Bros. Television’s J.J. Abrams-Stephen King miniseries 11/22/63.

Goldberg will pen the script and executive produce alongside Katims and Lee via the Parenthood and About a Boy creator’s pact with Universal Television. The deal marks Universal TV and Hulu’s first collaboration (as well as Katims’ first streaming deal). The Way arrives as the streaming service continues to bulk up on studio-produced fare in a bid to compete with Netflix and draw top-name producers.

It looks like Universal might be interested in continuing to make quality television shows, but not air them on NBC. If Universal also owned The Food Network, I’d be waiting for them to move Hannibal there.

In a less daring move, NBC is bringing Craig T. Nelson back in a re revival of Coach:

NBC’s sequel picks up 18 years after “Coach” went off the air in 1997 following a nearly 200-episode run. Nelson’s beleaguered football coach is now retired and is called back to become the assistant coach to his own grown son, who is now the new head coach at an Ivy League school in Pennsylvania that is just starting up a new team.

Spock Is Dead–Sadly No Genesis Planet This Time

Leonard Nimoy

Sad news today: Leonard Nimoy died at age 83 of end-stage COPD. Nimoy, best known for playing Mr. Spock in the original Star Trek series and subsequent movies, lived long and prospered. His roles included Spock’s death in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Being science fiction, his death did not prevent him from returning to life on the Genesis Planet in Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. His movie death and funeral in Star Trek II are in the video below:

Nimoy directed two of the Star Trek movies (Star Trek III: The Search for Spock and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home) and also appeared in the first J.J. Abrams reboot of Star Trek, along with a brief cameo in the second. He has also appeared in several other movies and television shows. This included playing William Bell on Fringe, who also had an on-screen death.

SciFi Weekend: Sleepy Hollow; Better Call Saul; Jessica Jones; Star Trek; Star Wars; Peter Pan Live; Into The Woods

Sleepy Hollow Irving

The networks have avoided new episodes around the holidays for a while, but they seem to be more formally dividing the seasons in recent years, including making the midseason finales a major event. Sleepy Hollow ended the fall season with major changes. This included the death of Frank Irving and Henry killing Moloch. This leads to questions as to whether we will see Irving again in some form and whether this suggests redemption for Henry, or will he now become the major big bad?

Variety interviewed executive producer Len Wiseman:

So, you just killed the show’s Big Bad halfway through the second season, which is a pretty bold move. Talk me through what went into that decision.
We were always leading up to wanting to [see how] Henry comes into his own. Henry has devoted his life to Moloch; he has served Moloch; and then to find out that he is just a servant, that another will take his place, and to see that he doesn’t have an importance to Moloch, is a big deal. We were always leading up to that fight within Henry. So where do we go from there, what happens? We also really wanted to present the idea that it’s not all about Moloch, and that’s why we decided that Moloch doesn’t die at the very end of the season, he dies at the midseason finale, because he’s not the endgame.

Obviously Ichabod (Tom Mison) and Katrina both want Henry to be redeemed, and killing Moloch seems like a step in the right direction, but is it as simple as that for Henry, or are there other motivations at play?
To your point, “is it?” That’s really the question: who is he doing that for, who is he trying to protect? Is he trying to protect his mother? Maybe. Is he trying to save himself? Maybe. What is the reason why he killed Moloch, ultimately? That’s what we’ll find out in terms of Henry in the rest of the season. And [that’s] what our characters are going to question. It’s not going to be clear to them why that move was made and how he benefits from killing Moloch.

The episode also said farewell to Frank Irving — what was the impetus behind that decision from a storytelling standpoint?
That decision, in terms of an ultimate sacrifice… He is controlled and he had sold his soul to evil, so that’s the one last power that he has — the fact that his soul is already taken — in having the power to wield the Sword of Methuselah. It gives him a strength and a power because he’s spent so much time regretting that choice that he made when he was tricked into selling his soul. He wants to be able to use that trick on Henry.

Since Henry was holding Frank’s soul, now that he’s dead, does that mean he can be raised by Henry in some way, or is he actually free?
It’s a pure sacrifice, it’s a soul for a soul, so it is a real sacrifice. He’s free, and where his soul goes may be something that we will find out and our characters will search out, but it’s definitely a sacrifice and he knows it is — it’s not a trick.

How does the second half of the season differ from the first 11 episodes, now that Moloch is gone?
What really takes a different turn is between Katrina and Crane, as well. There’s a lot of curiosity about why Katrina is struggling with her powers and her place in this war, and I’ve heard people say is her character underutilized — I would say there’s a difference between underutilized and not realized. When she discovers her full potential, things really get out of control.

Other fall finales coming up include Skye meeting her father on Agents of SHIELD and The Flash meeting Reverse Flash (will it be Harrison Wells?)

When we last saw Deathstroke on Arrow, he was locked up in Oliver’s island prison. He will be returning later this season.

Sneak peak of Better Call Saul,  in which Saul meets Mike in the video above. The Breaking Bad spin-off starts February 8.

Krysten Ritter, who also appeared in Breaking Bad, has been cast to star in Jessica Jones:

The Jessica Jones drama is one of four shows centering on Marvel heroes that Netflix has picked up straight to series. The streaming service has committed to a minimum of four 13-episode series, which will begin rolling out in 2015 and are slated to culminate in a miniseries about The Defenders, comprised of a dream team of heroic characters.

Ritter will play Jessica Jones, the cynical, sardonic and tough-as-nails, but innately cool and sexy, title character. Jones is described as a superhero suffering with post-traumatic stress disorder that leads to her hanging up her costume and opening up her own detective agency, where she ends up helping people and assisting other superheroes.

Jessica Jones Kristen Ritter

Netflix has also  announced that the third season of House of Cards will become available February 27.

The final season of Parks and Recreation will start on January 13 and the series will conclude on February 24.

January Jones has already landed a post-Mad Men role in The Last Man On Earth, a post-apocalyptic comedy on Fox.

Benedict Cumberbatch, already having major genre roles in Star Trek Into Darkness and Sherlock, now enters the Marvel universe as Doctor Strange. The looks like a good move. Doctor Strange does not have as large a following as many of the other Marvel characters, and with the large number of comics-based movies being planned, a big star such as Cumberbatch will help to keep this from getting lost among bigger name movies.

Robert Orci was called in to direct the upcoming Star Trek movie after J.J. Abrams left for Star Wars. It has been announced that Orci is no longer directing. Edgar Wright’s name is coming up the most often as probable replacement but some fans are pushing for Jonathan Frakes. Frakes might be a great choice as someone who (as opposed to Abrams) understands Gene Roddenberry’s vision for Star Trek.

The second season of Broadchurch doesn’t start until next month but it is rumored that a third season is already planned.

Stephen Colbert explains why the new style lightsabers in the next Star Wars movie are a good idea in the video above. It might take you two weeks to understand.

Allison Williams said we could not hate-watch Peter Pan Live, but what about snark-watching? The play was so much more fun to watch while following on Twitter. Some reviewers have said that NBC should have used actors more accustomed to acting in plays. Both these critics and Allison Williams missed the point. Sure we made fun of her at times, but that does not mean we wanted a better stage actress in the role or like Allison Williams any less even though she wasn’t perfect in the role. The point was the fun of the evening, including watching Allison Williams live out her childhood dream of playing Peter Pan, not to see a top notch Broadway-quality play on television.

There is only one actress I would have wanted to play Peter Pan other than Allison Williams, Jane Krakowski. Here is her leaked audition tape:

The highlight of the play was when Peter began to fight the pirates and declared himself to be an Avenger. I hope that most people did not turn off the show before the credits were over and miss the scene with Peter and Tony Stark going out for schwarma. My only complaint about the play was that, in order to be more topical, the “dead maid” in the closet should have shouted out, “I can’t breathe.” I also don’t understand how Wendy grew up to be Minnie Driver and didn’t look a day older.

Anna Kendrick was among the most prolific, and amusing, celebrities tweeting during Peter Pan Live. There is symmetry here as the play began with Wendy reading Cinderella to her younger brothers and Anna Kendrick is playing Cinderella in the movie version of the Broadway play,  Into The Woods. The movie doesn’t come out until December 25 but Disney has released the audio below of Anna Kendrick singing a modified version of the Broadway version of On the Steps of the Palace. Audio below:

SciFi Weekend: Star Wars; Independence Day 2; Jurassic World; The Flash; Arrow; Supergirl; Gotham; Agent Carter; Constantine; Doctor Who; Selfie; Frozen

There has been a lot of news on sequels to classic science fiction movies. The teaser for Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens (video above) has received considerable attention, and has led to more speculation as to the movie and the future of the Star Wars universe. There might not be that much information, but several people have broken it down scene by scene to see what can be learned. There is discussion of the trailer here, here, here, here, and here.

Other science fiction classics are also being remade, including Jurassic Park which is discussed below. Fox is planning to release Independence Day 2 on July 4, 2016. Of course for those who don’t want to wait a year or longer, many science fiction movies came out this year. What Culture has picked their list of ten best sci-fi movies of 2014. Some like Interstellar are original movies while others like the two Marvel movies (X-Men and Captain America), Godzilla, and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes are also sequels or remakes of earlier movies.

The trailer for Jurassic World is above. Film discussed the movie (and leaks of the plot) with director Colin Trevorrow. As is the case with many blockbuster science fiction films, liberties are taken with the science. Trevorrow described the premise:

Yes. Jurassic World takes place in a fully functional park on Isla Nublar. It sees more than 20,000 visitors every day. You arrive by ferry from Costa Rica. It has elements of a biological preserve, a safari, a zoo, and a theme park. There is a luxury resort with hotels, restaurants, nightlife and a golf course. And there are dinosaurs. Real ones. You can get closer to them than you ever imagined possible. It’s the realization of John Hammond’s dream, and I think you’ll want to go there…

This film picks up twenty-two years after Jurassic Park. When Derek [Connolly] and I sat down to find the movie, we looked at the past two decades and talked about what we’ve seen. Two things came to the surface.

One was that money has been the gasoline in the engine of our biggest mistakes. If there are billions to be made, no one can resist them, even if they know things could end horribly.

The other was that our relationship with technology has become so woven into our daily lives, we’ve become numb to the scientific miracles around us. We take so much for granted.

Those two ideas felt like they could work together. What if, despite previous disasters, they built a new biological preserve where you could see dinosaurs walk the earth…and what if people were already kind of over it? We imagined a teenager texting his girlfriend with his back to a T-Rex behind protective glass. For us, that image captured the way much of the audience feels about the movies themselves. “We’ve seen CG dinosaurs. What else you got?” Next year, you’ll see our answer.

Flash Arrow Crossover

The crossover episodes of The Flash and Arrow are on this week but these might not be the only crossovers coming up. CBS owns CW and there are hints that their upcoming Supergirl television show will be in the same universe as The Flash and Arrow, allowing for crossover episodes between these DC characters. However, while you might think that having Supergirl in the television universe would lead to at least mention of Superman, as of now this will not be allowed. Neither Metropolis or Gotham City will be mentioned either. From IGN:

Unfortunately for those hoping to see the Dark Knight show up on the shows, Arrow and Flash executive producer Andrew Kreisberg stressed that anything you see referencing Batman on the show is “a tease.”

Explained Kreisberg, “Obviously, they have the Batman movies and there’s [the series] Gotham. DC are amazing partners and Geoff Johns, who’s the chief creative officer [of DC] and one of the developers of Flash and done episodes of Arrow, he’s been with us from the very beginning on both shows. There are things we can do and things we can’t.”

Kreisberg noted, “I’m a huge fan of Nightwing,” and how exciting it was for him on Arrow “Getting to name check Blüdhaven and go there.” However, he said there are still restrictions in place even when it came to mentioning locations, adding, “There’s the cities that we can use and then there’s everything else. I don’t think you’re going to be hearing ‘Gotham’ or ‘Metropolis’ [on Arrow or The Flash] anytime soon.”

We do know that among the many DC-based TV series in development is Titans at TNT, which would feature Dick Grayson in his Nightwing persona. So could that show directly mention Gotham City and Bruce Wayne/Batman – or even go to Gotham and have an appearance by Bruce? Or is the Gotham TV show seen as the only place where a version of Bruce Wayne will be seen on TV right now? These questions and more — including how directly Superman can be mentioned on CBS’ upcoming Suprgirl TV show — are all ones we’ll slowly find out the answers too as DC expands into more TV shows and films.

There has been one tease and one indirect connection between The Flash and Gotham. I did notice a reference to Wayne Tech in a newspaper headline on The Flash. Morena Baccarin did the computer AI voice at STAR Labs on The Flash and will also be playing Dr. Leslie Thompkins on Gotham. Of course this also provides a connection to the multiple other genre shows she has appeared in.

Den of Geek has teasers, interviews, and other information on the upcoming Flash/Arrow crossover episode. Arrow also teased an ATOM suit for Ray Palmer in a recent episode, providing the possibility of yet another superhero becoming involved. There are also questions as to where Caitlin Snow’s character is going on The Flash. In the comics she is a villain named Killer Frost and Danielle Panabaker, the actress who plays here, states her evolution might take place sooner rather than later. Then there is the bigger mystery of what Harrison Wells is up to and whether he is the one who killed Barry’s mother. Theories range from Wells being Barry Allen’s future self to be being the Reverse Flash. With time travel clearly important to the Harrison Wells storyline, it is notable that a recent episode showed that time can be changed.

Gotham finally had a bigger role for young Bruce Wayne which involved food fights and even a kiss with Selena Kyle. Plus Alfred is practically a superhero on final fall episode.

I am looking forward to Agent Carter but what is the deal with the network promotion of the show with, “Sometimes the best man for a job is a woman.” This is 2014 and just because the show takes place in the 1940’s is not justification for using 1940’s ideas on women to promote the show.

Constantine has not been as successful for NBC as The Flash and Arrow have been for CW and NBC has decided not to go beyond the original thirteen episodes for this season. The producers are still hoping to be renewed, even if limited to thirteen episode seasons (which could be a plus quality-wise).

Doctor-Who-Christmas-Special. 2014

The synopsis for the Doctor Who Christmas special has been released: “The Doctor and Clara face their Last Christmas. Trapped on an Arctic base, under attack from terrifying creatures, who are you going to call? Santa Claus!” There is even more drama beyond the terrifying creatures.

Steven Moffat has never liked spoilers and in the past has said he would like to be able to keep it a secret until an episode in which the Doctor regenerated airs, but this is not possible. At least he is getting the opportunity to surprise fans with the fate of Clara Oswald. The Mirror, which initially claimed prior to the start of the past season that Jenna Coleman was leaving Doctor Who in the Christmas special now states that she had decided to remain, leading to a rewrite. When other sources such as Radio Times tried to get an answer, the BBC just told them they would have to wait for the Christmas episode.

Hulu has picked up the remaining six episodes of Selfie remaining after it was canceled by ABC.

Idina Menzel was interviewed by The Telegraph and it sounds like a sequel to Frozen is in the works.

Totally off topic, but I can’t resist noting that Rudy Giuliani’s comments on race following the events in Ferguson sound the best in the original German.

SciFi Weekend: Arrow; The Flash; Gotham; Agents of SHIELD; Natalie Dormer, Zombies, and Nudity on Game of Thrones; Westworld; How To Get Away With Murder; Doctor Who; Sherlock; SNL on Executive Orders

Flash vs Arrow

The Hollywood Reporter has  more information on the upcoming cross over episodes from Arrow and The Flash, along with some other information about Arrow. Among the information revealed (not all of which is new):

  • The title of The Flash portion of the pair of episodes is quite literal, The Flash vs. Arrow. Barry encounters a metahuman who brainwashes him.
  • The Flash episode “will deliver a very big moment for Oliver’s storyline.” It will take Oliver time to learn what the audience has learned.
  • Felicity sees Caitlin to get help from the people at STAR Labs in solving the mystery of the Black Canary’s murder
  • Laurel is mostly missing from the crossover stories but, “Episodes 10, 11 and 12 are a three-part trilogy that are about her. And episode 13 I think I can spoil, is called ‘Canaries.'” As it is Canaries pleural, my suspicion is that the flashback shows Sara while Laural replaces Sara as the Black Canary in the present.
  • Dingle’s ex-wife Lila is in danger.
  • Team Flash learns how dangerous things can be.
  • A future crossover is possible.

Gotham Penguin

Gotham is probably best viewed as a re-imagining of the Batman stories which is not necessarily connected to other aspects of the DC universe or other Batman series. Showrunner Bruno Heller told Entertainment Weekly about how he plans to establish the canonical Gotham–and then start messing with people’s minds. Killing off characters is not being excluded as a possibility:

Before Gotham premiered there was some discussion about how the show cannot kill any members of its cast of iconic characters, since the story is a prequel. And you had a great reply to that by saying, “It’s sad thing if you can only generate suspense by killing people.” I’m wondering now that you’ve dug more into the season and are juggling all these characters, with some being more interesting than others, whether there’s a part of you that’s like, “You know, what if we did?” Or is it just iron clad that you can’t deviate that far from canon?
I wouldn’t say it’s iron clad. You’d need a damn good reason to do it and a damn good end game to justify it. We’re certainly just learning the ropes at this stage. Not to be modest about it, but we’re still learning how to do a show this big. I’m always deeply reluctant to kill off characters simply for the shock value of killing them off. I’m not averse to cheap tricks. But apart from anything else, this season literally every actor has come through and [performed really strong]. I would hate to lose any of them. Killing off Sean Bean in the first season of Game of Thrones made everyone go, “Oh, what a good idea that is!” But I don’t think it’s a good idea if you’ve got Sean Bean. The bad one was on Deadwood, when they had David Carradine doing that marvelous Wild Bill Hickok, and then he was gone.

I agree on Carradine, it did feel like that character was gone too soon.
I’m going to put you on the spot: Who would you kill?

It’s not that there’s anybody in particular that I would kill off. But I would say the killing of a so-called un-killable character would add a greater layer of suspense when any of those characters are in jeopardy after that—because the message has been sent to the audience that, “You think you know how this story is going to go, but you’re wrong, because we’re not following the train tracks that you already know so well.
That is a very good point, and an actor somewhere is cursing you. You’re absolutely right. One of the things about doing the extra six episodes, and hopefully being successful enough to get a season two, is that once we’re up and running, that kind of narrative playfulness—playing with the audience’s expectations—is going to be much more a part of the show. For instance: Who will turn out to be The Joker? Those kind of games you can only get into once you have the audience’s trust and the train is rolling down the tracks. We want to establish the real deal—that this is the canonical Gotham—and then start messing with people’s minds.

Heller also revealed that Harley Quinn will not appear this season and there will be an episode here we learn how Robin’s parents got together. Ra’s al Ghul could conceivably appear, but at this point in Batman’s life, “He was probably a teenager as well, with Mrs. al Ghul making him sandwiches and sending him off to Ghul school.”

Agents of SHIELD Blue Alien

After dragging for most of the first season while waiting for the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Agents of SHIELD is really moving this season. Recent episodes have dealt with topics including Skye’s background and the meaning of the mysterious writings. TV Guide reports that we will also learn about the blue alien, and how it ties into other aspects of the Marvel universe:

He’s not just any alien. The Dec. 2 episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will finally reveal that its mysterious blue man from outer space — the one whose rejuvenating blood saved the life of Director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) — is a member of the humanoid Kree race. Yes, that’s the same alien species that gave us Lee Pace’s character, Ronan the Accuser, in the Marvel movie blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy. But all this means bupkis to Coulson and his S.H.I.E.L.D. team.

“Our people don’t know anything about the Kree or that there’s a planet full of them,” notes executive producer Jeffrey Bell. “What they do know is that the strange carvings created by Coulson after he was injected with the Kree serum are actually the map of a city, and they need to find that city before Hydra does. But where is it? Here or on another planet?”

The Hydra terrorists have more manpower and resources than S.H.I.E.L.D., and their freaky obsession with the blue alien goes all the way back to the 1940s — the setting for ABC’s upcoming spinoff series Marvel’s Agent Carter. But S.H.I.E.L.D. has Skye. The do-or-die agent with no last name, played by Chloe Bennet, was also injected with Kree serum but, unlike Coulson, suffered no consequences. Similarly, her not-always-trusty cohort Raina (Ruth Negga) — again, no last name — was able to touch the deadly alien obelisk and survive without harm.

ComicVine has more about the meaning of this.

Game of Thrones Natalie Dormer

Matt Smith and Natalie Dormer will fight zombies together in Patient Zero. According to ComingSoon.net:

Patient Zero takes place in a post-outbreak zombie apocalypse and follows the adventures of one man who has the unique ability to speak with the undead and who hopes to use his gift to discover a cure for the plague and his infected wife.

Natalie Dormer was interviewed by The Daily Beast about topics including her role in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and nudity in Game of Thrones:

Speaking of “equality,” I understand HBO has a “boobs mandate,” but lots of viewers of Thrones think the show could use some more dick in there—for symmetry.

Well, during the first season Alfie, Richard, and several of the men got naked—although not all the way. I suppose it’s just the rules of broadcast television, isn’t it? I think Thrones has been better than your average show with the equality, but they could definitely ramp it up! Absolutely.

Did you base the character of Margaery Tyrell on anyone in particular?

It was based on the media circus that surrounds Kate Middleton. It’s the Princess Diana effect. Whether you’re talking about the royal family in our country, or the first lady obsession in this country—Michelle Obama, or Hillary Clinton before her. Because Margaery is very politically savvy and our royal family tries to keep out of politics, it’s a hybrid of that statesmanship between the royal family and the first lady.

There was a particularly awkward sequence last season on Thrones where your character is forced to seduce the boy-king, Tommen Baratheon.

That scene was altered because I phoned Dan [Weiss] and David [Benioff] and said, “I’m not comfortable doing this.” It’s the nature of the beast that I’m four years into playing Margaery Tyrell and the big plot points of the book are in stone. You can’t change them. George R.R. Martin wrote a particular plot line, so on the specifics of Margaery and Tommen getting married, there’s nothing I can do. On the show, we had to find a way to navigate that in a sensitive way. There’s more of it next season too, and we’re trying to handle it with intelligence, and integrity.

westworld

When I first heard about plans for a series based upon Westworld I was skeptical, but it sounds like HBO is bringing quite a bit of talent into the project:

The drama, based on Michael Crichton‘s 1973 film and written by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, stars Anthony Hopkins in his first series-regular role as an inventor who runs an adult amusement park populated by lifelike robots. HBO made the announcement Monday via Twitter, with the series coming in 2015.

The drama hails from J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk‘s Warner Bros. Television-based Bad Robot Productions, with the duo exec producing alongside Jerry Weintraub, Nolan (who directed the pilot) and Joy. Kathy Lingg will co-EP and Athena Wickham is a producer on the drama. Susie Ekins is set as a co-producer. Westworld hails from Bad Robot, Jerry Weintraub Productions and Kilter Films.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the show’s androids — played by castmembers including James MarsdenEvan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton — can be killed off and return with completely different personas, allowing actors to play many characters. That creative device, one top talent agent said, helped HBO attract a premier cast (which also includes Ed HarrisMiranda Otto and Jeffrey Wright). And unlike the actors on such anthology series as FX’s American Horror Story and HBO’s own True Detective, which reboot themselves every season, the cast of Westworld is signing multiyear deals.

“This is built as a series and, in terms of storytelling, I think the rules are definitely being broken,” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told THR in August of the sci-fi Western from executive producers J.J. AbramsJerry Weintraub and Bryan Burk. “The promise of the show, in terms of where it’s going, is exciting to actors, and they want to be a part of this.”

While watching How To Get Away With Murder I was a little disappointed in how Sam’s murder was played out–until the revelation in the final moments. Entertainment Weekly discussed the mid-season finale and the second half of the season with showrunner Pete Nowalk.

It has been officially announced that Peter Capaldi will be returning to Doctor Who but no word yet on Jenna Coleman. There have been rumors since before the past season began that Coleman would be written out of the show on the Christmas episode (which have been denied), and the series has teased Clara leaving a few times. My bet is that Steven Moffat actually knows what is planned, but they are keeping this secret so that viewers will not know what might happen with Clara while watching the Christmas episode.

Series four of Sherlock will be a single episode, possibly airing on Christmas Day, 2015. Mark Gatiss has told Radio Times that the mystery about the apparent return of Moriarty at the end of season three will  will be solved “completely.”

BBC America will be showing a seven part series based upon Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

Saturday Night Live began with a skit this weekend hitting Barack Obama on executive orders. Medialite summarizes:

Finally, the first biting political spoof from Saturday Night Live in a while: the Bill from Schoolhouse Rock explains to a student how he becomes a law, only to be violently beat up by Barack Obama and his new best friend, “Executive Order.”

Even then, the poor Executive Order still thinks he’s used for simple things, like declaring holidays and creating national parks, until Obama informs him that he’s going to be used to grant amnesty to 5 million undocumented immigrants. His reaction: “Whoa.”

While Ted Cruz found reason to cite this on Fox News Sunday, the skit actually is not accurate. Obama did not grant amnesty, and the executive action was used because the Republicans failed to pass a bill, not as an attempt to act in place of a law. Previous Republican as well as Democratic presidents have issued many executive orders in the past with both Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush having had executive orders regarding immigration in the past. (Clarification: Fox News Sunday is the name of show and my use of this term does in any way suggest that Fox presents actual news. Generally I do not use the term “Fox News” as that is an insult to all real news networks. )