SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Final Two Episodes Of 2018; Star Trek Shows Saru’s Backstory

It Takes You Away provided three stories in one episode of Doctor Who. Unfortunately this meant that none of them were fully developed.

The episode started out looking like a “cabin in the woods” horror story. Once again there was misdirection when we learned it was about something else entirely. By the end, the real monster of this portion was the blind child’s father. Erik abandoned his daughter in the cabin and used recordings of a monster (with a primitive sound system as opposed to Wifi as Ryan discovered) to keep her from leaving. He mostly got away with this, but Yaz did chastise him for this: “That’s a shocking bit of parenting.”

The second portion of the story in the Anti-Zone was the weakest, and could have been eliminated in order to spend more time on the other portions. Ultimately we wound up with the Solitract, which required far too much explanation, based upon an old Gallifreyan fairytale. This episode fit in well with the overall theme of this season of loss–continuing from Chibnall and Whittaker’s work on Broadchurch. The science fiction trope of dead people appearing to have returned first showed Erik back with his wife, and then tried to lure Graham with faux-Grace.

The decision to part from the Moffat era hurt the episode. Instead of ending with a frog, it could have been much stronger if the Solitract had tried to lure the Doctor with the form of River Song.

There was an homage to past Doctor Who. Following the recent homage to Matt Smith and Fez hats, in an homage to Jon Pertwee, Yaz offered the advice to “reverse the polarity.” There was also a major progression of character development between Ryan and Graham.

This was followed by The Battle Ranskoor Av Kolos. As usual, I will avoid spoilers until after it airs legally in the US. Unfortunately this is not likely to be a memorable season finale for Doctor Who. Hopefully they do better on the New Year’s Day special, which appears to be teasing the Daleks in the preview: “This is the DNA of the most dangerous creature in the universe.” Then there will be no Doctor Who until 2020. The BBC released this statement:

THE DOCTOR AND HER FRIENDS WILL LAND AGAIN ON BBC ONE IN 2020

As series 11 came to a close on BBC One tonight (Sunday 9th December) the show announced that series 12 is on its way and will be returning to BBC One in early 2020.

Series 11 marked a brand new era for Doctor Who with Showrunner, Chris Chibnall, taking control of the TARDIS. With Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor, viewers saw the Doctor and her friends travel through space and time on adventures fighting monsters and conquering battles. Series 12 will see Jodie reprise her role as the Doctor and she will once again be joined by Bradley Walsh (Graham), Mandip Gill (Yasmin) and Tosin Cole (Ryan).

So far, from the first eight episodes, series 11 of Doctor Who has averaged a 4-screen consolidated audience of 8.4m.

Jodie’s first episode as the Doctor launched with a consolidated audience of 11 million making it the second biggest drama this year across all channels, while also placing it among the top 10 programmes in 2018 so far across all channels and genres. The episode received 3.7 million requests through BBC iPlayer.

Speaking of the return Showrunner Chris Chibnall said “We’re off again! Well we never actually stopped – as Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and friends have been winning the hearts of families across the nation this autumn, we’ve been busy with a whole new set of action packed adventures for the Thirteenth Doctor. We adore making this show and have been blown away by the response from audiences, so we can’t wait to bring more scares, more monsters and more Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole to BBC One. Brilliant!”

Charlotte Moore, Director of Content added, “We’re delighted that the Doctor and her friends will be returning to thrill audiences in 2020. I know Chris and the whole team are already working on a whole new set of exciting adventures. In the meantime we’ve got a very special episode on New Year’s Day for everyone to enjoy.”

 

 

The Brightest Star shows Saru’s backstory in the third Short Trek. We see the life of Kelpians, and how Saru met Philippa Georgiou. It was somewhat reminiscent of Pen Pals, an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which Data came into contact with a girl from a pre-warp civilization. It was a bit surprising that, while the Kelpians were victims, they were not shown to be the constant prey I had come to expect from the little which was said about them on Discovery.

Syfy Wire has information from the writers of the episode as to how it fits into the rest of the Star Trek timeline:

…the final moments of “The Brightest Star” depict Saru (Doug Jones) and Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) meeting for the first time, it begs the question of when exactly this all happened in the future-history of Star Trek. At this point in time, Georgiou is not the captain of the USS Shenzhou, just a lieutenant. So, by the time we get to the era of Discovery, just how long have she and Saru known each other?

The answer it seems is about 18 years.

“Burnham is brought aboard the Shenzhou for the first time in a flashback in ‘The Battle of the Binary Stars,’ and the events of this short took place about a decade before that,” Lippoldt tells SYFY WIRE. “Saru would have needed time to acclimate to this new worldview outside of his home planet; he’s only just learned that humans exist, after all! So he wouldn’t have entered [Starfleet] academy right away.”

In terms of Trek chronology, “The Battle at the Binary Stars” happens in the year 2256, and the flashback in which Burnham first beams aboard with Sarek is eight years before, in 2248. So, if “The Brightest Star” is “about a decade” before 2248, then we’re somewhere in the 2230s. For hardcore completists, this means we’re in a decade where Kirk and Spock are little kids, meaning Lt. Georgiou was out contacting alien races with Kirk and Spock literally in diapers!

They also looked at the questions raised about the Prime Directive:

“As we began exploring Saru’s backstory in the writers’ room, ‘Pen Pals’ did, in fact, come up a lot as it dealt with a pre-warp species,” Kim says. “We talked at length (days? weeks?) about the complexity of the Prime Directive, and how each Star Trek series has approached this iconic notion: How do our characters do the right thing, adhering not only to Starfleet’s values but also its governing laws? What are the exceptions, the loopholes?”

Lippoldt adds: “Part of the fun of developing this story is that we’ve — hopefully —created a scenario that presents a juicy moral quandary. Here, Georgiou made a case to make an exception for Saru based on several factors.

“First, that Saru is the one who initiated contact, and directly asked for help. Second, that during their interaction, Georgiou came to see that Saru displayed an understanding and knowledge of technology. And third, that Saru was only asking for himself. His people, and specifically his father, showed no interest in changing their ways. So by accepting to help Saru leave Kaminar without the rest of his people’s knowledge, Georgiou is not, in fact, interfering with the normal development of the planet’s civilization.”

Even so, this moral quandary leaves Mr. Saru in a situation where he cannot legally return home to visit his people. But will he ever? Does he want to?

“In the first few years of joining Starfleet, Saru had always intended on learning everything he could and returning to Kaminar to help his people,” Kim says. “But over the years, he realized that the Prime Directive exists for a reason, and breaking it would bring about serious repercussions, not just to his Starfleet career but to his people. So that is the weight of Saru’s burden.

In other Star Trek news, it was also announced this week that Patrick Stewart’s series reprising Jean-Luc Picard will debut in late 2019.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Continues To Improve, Looking At The Most Recent Three Episodes; Elseworlds; Daredevil Cancelled; Responses To Bill Maher’s Attack On Stan Lee; Handmaid’s Tale Sequel; Big Bang Theory/Young Sheldon Crossover

This season of Doctor Who will not be remembered for its any big episodes, but the show is getting on track. Chris Chibnall has stayed away from the big, outlandish ideas of past seasons, timey wimey twists, or multi-episode stories. Instead we have a series of stand alone episodes which do work well to keep the show accessible for new viewers and show the variety of types of stories possible with Doctor Who.

There have been three more solid episodes since my last review of Doctor Who. Kerblam! was a science fiction story which could have worked well with some of the previous Doctors. We got to see the Doctor wearing a Fez once again. As with some other episodes this season, the air date fit in well with current events, but wasn’t limiting for future viewers. We went into the week leading up to Black Friday with a look at some of the problems with Amazon (which did not prevent me from putting in lots of orders later that week).

Beyond the social commentary about the problems of replacing humans with machines, and the treatment of human workers, there was a strong story. One measure of its success was that I was totally fooled by who turned out to be the villain, while the more obvious villain was, as has been common this season, more misdirection. In previous seasons we have been led to fear common place actions such as blinking. This week the danger was in breaking bubble wrap.

The major faults of the story were primarily understandable due to budgetary constraints. This hardly seemed like a company which employed ten thousand people when we only saw a few. It was also a little disappointing to see how easily they killed off characters. Dan’s death seemed sort of unnecessary. Kira’s death was the saddest, and in other episodes equivalent characters would have been saved by the Doctor. I would even have expected the Doctor to resolve the problem without Charlie getting killed. The message of the episode was also diluted by having Charlie turn out to be the villain of the episode. However, having a rebel who goes too far for a desirable goal is hardly unprecedented, and does not contradict the underlying message.

After Kerblam! we got another historical episode with The Witchfinders. The episode checked off many boxes: time travel, social commentary, a historical figure, an alien threat, and even zombies. If the episode had any flaws, it was throwing too much into one episode. While taking place in England, the witch trials had the same warped logic of the American version:  “If she dies she’s innocent, and if she lives, she’s a witch and we’ll hang her.” The  Pendle Hill witch trials seen in this episode were based upon real historical events (but, to avoid any confusion, there were no mud zombies).

Once again there was misdirection as to the villain, with Alan Cumming, initially seen looking menacing in a mask, turning out to be more comic relief than the villain of the episode. The Doctor was also shown to have a new power–bobbing for apples without getting her hair wet.

This episode finally addressed the difference in having the Doctor regenerate as a woman. She had trouble being taken seriously due to her gender, as King James denied that a woman could possibly be the Witchfinder General.  Jodie Whittaker made a rare reference to her gender this episode in protesting: “If only I was still a bloke, I could just get on with the job without having to constantly defend myself.” There was this commentary on the times:  “These are hard times for women. If we’re not being drowned, we’re being patronized to death.”

It was inevitable the a woman who appeared and acted differently, and even used a magic wand, would be accused of being a witch during the episode. As the Doctor was told, “Do you know why the Ducking Stool was invented, Doctor? To silence foolish women who talk too much.” Fortunately the Doctor had also learned some tricks from Harry Houdini.

Kerblam! included a reference to the Doctor meeting Agatha Christie.  The Witchfinders quoted Arthur C. Clark’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

This week’s episode, It Takes You Away, was another success, taking place in the present on earth instead of in space or the past. I won’t say much about it to avoid spoilers as it has not aired in the US yet, but the episode also works well to continue the back stories of a couple of the companions, and move their relationship forward. The episode also includes monsters, with one again being based upon misdirection (but without WiFi). While it avoids getting seriously timey wimey, there is also a strong science fiction element going back to an old Gallifreyan fairytale. Following the recent homage to Matt Smith and Fez hats, in an homage to Jon Pertwee, Yaz offered the advice to “reverse the polarity.”

The above trailer is out for Elseworlds, the three night crossover on CW, which premieres next week. The official synopses are out:

EPIC ELSEWORLDS CROSSOVER KICKS OFF TONIGHT — When Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Oliver Queen (guest star Stephen Amell) wake up one morning and realize they have swapped bodies with each other, the two set off to find out what disturbed the timeline to cause such a shift. However, things quickly go from bad to worse when they present their case to Team Flash and the gang doesn’t believe them. Barry and Oliver realize they need Supergirl’s (guest star Melissa Benoist) help and travel to Smallville on Earth-38 where they end up meeting Kara’s cousin, Clark Kent (guest star Tyler Hoechlin), and intrepid reporter, Lois Lane (guest star Elizabeth Tulloch). LaMonica Garrett guest stars as The Monitor.

THE ELSEWORLDS CROSSOVER CONTINUES IN GOTHAM CITY WITH BATWOMAN (RUBY ROSE) — With Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Barry (guest star Grant Gustin) still stuck in the other’s bodies, the two get a lead on John Deegan (guest star Jeremy Davies) and head to Gotham City with Supergirl (guest star Melissa Benoist) to figure out why their reality has changed. While there, they meet the mysterious Kate Kane (guest star Ruby Rose) who provides them with information that leads the group to Arkham Asylum.

THE BATTLE CONCLUDES — Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), The Flash (guest star Grant Gustin), Green Arrow (guest star Stephen Amell) and Superman (guest star Tyler Hoechlin) engage in the battle of their lives.

Stephen Amell tweeted the above picture, posed in front of the bat signal.

Entertainment Weekly has more on the episodes from the stars, including this from Grant Gusten and Stephen Amell:

“You’re not going to see me playing Oliver Queen’s mannerisms, or Stephen playing Barry’s mannerisms. It’s more being aware that for some reason we’ve switched lives and destinies. It’s more the fun of the situational comedy that we keep finding ourselves in, and less us having a complete role reversal,” Gustin tells EW. “We get to see Stephen do some of the more goofy speed stuff I have to do on a regular basis, and I get some actual combat as Green Arrow. So, we just see different colors for each of us.”

“Having superpowers is crazy! Wearing the Flash suit is crazy!” says Amell, who, like everyone else involved, sounds genuinely thrilled about the crossover’s story. “The idea is that in order to be the best version of Barry Allen, which I have to be because we face a threat, there are elements of his personality I have to embrace, and there are elements of my personality that he has to embrace.”

Besides including characters such as Batwoman, Superman in black, and Lois Lane, Comicbook.com reports that the episodes will include “alternate versions of Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) serving as a Central City police officer — alongside alternate versions of Joe Wilson (Liam Hall) and Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman).”

Daredevil joins the growing list of Marvel series being cancelled by Netflix but Disney apparently has more planned for the character with their own streaming service starting soon. Third season showrunner Erik Oleson also discussed the news on Twitter. 

Stan Lee’s company has responded to Bill Maher’s attack on Lee’s legacy with this letter:

An Open Letter to Bill Maher from Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment

Mr. Maher: Comic books, like all literature, are storytelling devices. When written well by great creators such as Stan Lee, they make us feel, make us think and teach us lessons that hopefully make us better human beings. One lesson Stan taught so many of us was tolerance and respect, and thanks to that message, we are grateful that we can say you have a right to your opinion that comics are childish and unsophisticated. Many said the same about Dickens, Steinbeck, Melville and even Shakespeare.

But to say that Stan merely inspired people to “watch a movie” is in our opinion frankly disgusting. Countless people can attest to how Stan inspired them to read, taught them that the world is not made up of absolutes, that heroes can have flaws and even villains can show humanity within their souls. He gave us the X-Men, Black Panther, Spider-Man and many other heroes and stories that offered hope to those who felt different and bullied while inspiring countless to be creative and dream of great things to come.

These are but a few of the things we the fans of Stan Lee also consider “adulting,” because life both as a child and grown-up can indeed be a struggle. Stan is the author of millions of happy childhood memories and the provider of so many of the positive tools of adulthood.

Our shock at your comments makes us want to say “‘Nuff said, Bill,” but instead we will rely on another of Stan’s lessons to remind you that you have a powerful platform, so please remember: “With great power there must also come — great responsibility!”

-Team Stan

Comicbook.com has compiled arguments, beginning with a quote from  Barack Obama from 2013:

I grew up loving comic books. Back in the day, I was pretty into Conan the Barbarian and Spiderman. Anyone who reads comics can tell you, every main character has an origin story — the fateful and usually unexpected sequence of events that made them who they are.

They concluded by quoting these words from Stan Lee:

Let’s lay it Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them — to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater — one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hang-up is black men, he hates ALL black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads. If some foreigner beat him to a job, he’s down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he’s never seen — people he’s never known — with equal intensity — with equal venom.

The television version of The Handmaid’s Tale has gone beyond the events of the original novel. Margaret Atwood has tweeted that she is writing a sequel:

The Arrowverse doesn’t have the only shows with a huge crossover planned. CBS has revealed how they will handle the Big Bang Theory/Young Sheldon crossover episode: “Sheldon and Amy are still down about their theory being disproven, but a VHS tape from Sheldon’s past inspires him not to give up.” When I first heard of the crossover, I was hoping for time travel.

SciFi Weekend: Prospects For Doctor Who Looking Better, A Look At The Last Three Episodes; Star Trek Calypso; Stan Lee Dies

We now have three more episodes of Doctor Who since my last full review, and I am now feeling more optimistic about the series under Chris Chibnall. The first of these three however, The Tsuranga Conundrum, had me still wondering about story plots. If Steven Moffat tended to try to throw out too many big ideas in his stories, I felt like The Tsuranga Conundrum just had too many small stories thrown together.

The episode followed a common formula of getting the Doctor and companions into an alien base or spaceship, and then fight a menace. This was done in a unique manner as they were wounded in a sonic minefield, and then picked up by a hospital ship. This is the second time this season that they faced a near death situation, but were picked up by others.

The Doctor was asked what she is a Doctor of:  “Medicine, science, engineering, candyfloss, lego, philosophy, people, hope. Mostly hope.” We were also treated to a lesson on antimatter, in which the ship’s engine was described as  “the iPhone of CERN reactors.”

The alien menace, Pting, gave the feeling that they were battling Stitch. Pting isn’t directly menacing, but does eat everything, and is invulnerable to any form of weapons. Therefore the danger was that the ship would be eaten away while they were in space. The other danger turned out to be the ship’s own self-destruct system, leading to the obvious solution of feeding the bomb to Pting, and punting him out into space.

The heart of the episode was meeting the other patients, such as a male in labor. On his planet males gave birth to males, and females gave birth to females. As I said, it was an episode of lots of small ideas.

The meeting with another patient demonstrated that another Moffat-era idea is totally gone. At the conclusion of The Wedding of River Song, Matt Smith’s Doctor felt he had become too big: “I got too big. Too noisy. Time to step back into the shadows.” He started to write himself out of history in a big Moffat idea which never really went anywhere, and seemed to be forgotten in the Capaldi era. We saw that this idea is totally dead when the Doctor met General Cicero, who spoke about how the Doctor had a chapter in The Book of Celebrants, which appears to be a record of major heros in the galaxy. The Doctor responded, “I’d say it was more a volume than a chapter.” So much for writing himself/herself out of history.

My hopes for the series increased tremendously with Demons of the Punjab. The episode is the second historical drama of the season. It has similarities to Rosa, except is about a topic which Americans such as myself are likely to know far less about. The story begins when Yaz requests to see her grandmother Umbreen when younger, and the Doctor agrees to go back for one hour, with no interfering. That was an early clue that they would be there for far more than an hour, and would wind up getting involved in the events. This includes officiating the wedding (which she has also done for Albert Einstein).

The title of the episode, and much of the early action, was total misdirection. Initially it seemed that the aliens were the menace, and the goal would be, like in Rosa, to prevent an outsider from altering what should occur. Instead it turned out that the Vajarians, while initially assassins, had changed their goal to become witnesses for the unseen dead in response to the destruction of their own planet. (I wonder if they ever bump into the beings seen in Twice Upon A Time who harvested the memories of the dead.)

While Krasko might have been a villain in Rosa, the true villain of the episode was racism, and Krasko was removed from the story before the end. The Vajarians remained, but were shown not to be a threat well before the end of this episode. The demons were actually the humans, and the religious division and hatred, turning brother against brother. I wonder if the story might have been even stronger if left as a pure historical drama, but apparently it was felt that some sort of alien threat was needed for an episode of Doctor Who.

The author was certainly interested in the history and appears capable of writing an episode based on this. Vinay Patel tweeted, “There are so many stories to be told about Partition – this is only one, and whilst it was an honour to tell it, I’d urge you to seek out more. Hopefully the previous tweets will help with that. Thanks for having me in the Whoniverse.” This included a tweet with a few of the many books he read to research this episode.

This might not be the only episode in which the title was a red herring. Just as the demons were not the monsters in the title of this episode, was The Woman Who Fell To Earth the Doctor, as we first thought, or was it Grace, who fell to her death?

The episode was also like Rosa in that the characters had to allow history play out. It was hard for Graham to be a part of the events of Rosa, sitting in the front of the bus, and now hard to watch Brem get shot. Failing to allow events to play out would not have hindered the civil rights movement like in Rosa, but could have prevented Yaz from ever being born.

Besides showing more about Yaz’s family history, there was more fun interplay between the Doctor and companions. Last week the Doctor awarded points. This week Ryan earned a gold star. Will this drive sticklers for continuity crazy?

We have already seen that the Doctor is more kind and nurturing than Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. In this episode she claimed that she is too kind because her predecessor told her to be kind, referring to the speech in Twice Upon A Time just before the regeneration.

The Vajarians also turned out to be much like the Doctor, who was initially shown in the revival of the series to be the last of his kind after the destruction of his planet. Of course we now know that the story is more complex. This sense of loss fits in well with the works of Chris Chibnall, with Broadchurch being largely about the effects of the loss suffered by Jodie Whittaker’s character after the murder of her son.

My optimism for the future of the series increased further in seeing today’s episode, which I will not say much about to avoid spoilers as it has not yet aired in the United States. Kerblam! is in many ways the best episode of Doctor Who this season. Rosa and Demons of the Punjab might have been better in terms of dealing with serious historical issues, but Kerblam! felt the most like a good old fashioned fun Doctor Who science fiction story. More on this episode next week.

The second Short Trek is written by Pulitzer-prize winning author Michael Chabon along with Discovery staff writer Sean Cochran. Charbron wrote this story based upon the story of Odysseus landing on the Isle of Calypso from The Odyssey. The protagonist, Craft, is in an escape pod picked up by the Discovery one-thousand years in the future. The crew is gone, but there is an AI named Zora who is delighted to have the company after having been alone. We never learned why the Discovery is abandoned. Most likely we will never know this, but it is possible that there are plans to tie this into the events of a future episode. We also do not know how or when ship computers become as advanced as Zora, the AI in this episode.

Syfy Wire discussed the episode with Michael Chabron who suggested that “all of the computers in Trek lore have the ability to do what Zora does in this episode, but maybe they’ve just been suppressed.”

“In my mind, in the 1,000 years she’s been alone, she may have been all kinds of people, a whole library of personas. But Zora is the one she chooses to present to Craft,” Chabon told SYFY WIRE. “She had a lot of time on her hands and went through many incarnations. She may have had a male persona and a female persona and all kinds of persona. She also consumes massive amounts of media. Every film ever made. I mean, a starship like that could have a media library representing the cultural output of hundreds of civilizations over tens of thousands of years.

“So she’s kind of become an expert on how human emotion works, how moral quandaries work and how that kind of thing manifests itself. She’s made a study of it, and so she’s able to produce this magnificent persona. That’s what she’s been doing with herself.”

He discussed artificial intelligence further in the interview:

“At what point does a synthetic intelligence become so indistinguishable from a human consciousness that we have no choice but to acknowledge this as human?” Chabon says. “I wanted this guy to be confronted with a kind of indisputable reality. And he brings it on himself when he invites her to represent herself. Up until that point… He’s safe. But at that point, he can’t deny that she is a person in some way and that he is attracted to her.”

The ending of the episode finds Zora releasing Craft from exile aboard the empty USS Discovery. We have no idea why the ship is empty or whether this even is the version of the Discovery we know so well. The episode isn’t interested in answering any of those questions, just telling a story. Having said that, Chabon does seem to casually suggest a huge change to Star Trek canon. Are the computers aboard all these starships capable of becoming this self-aware?

“We don’t have any kind of indication from Discovery that the ship’s computer is that much more nuanced than ships’ computers have tended to be on Star Trek for a while,” he says. “I don’t think we ever see characters interacting with the ship like it was a person. Maybe that’s done by design? So maybe that’s how ship’s computers are intended to be. And maybe there’s some kind of discouragement in place to keep them from becoming too human in some way.”

Chabron is also a writer for the upcoming series based on Jean-Luc Picard. Seeing his work in this brief episode makes me optimistic about the upcoming series.

There is also talk that Michelle Yeoh might also star in a future Star Trek series on CBS All Access. Most likely it will continue stories of the Mirror universe Captain Philippa Georgiou in Section 31.

The biggest genre story of the week was the recent death of Stan Lee. It should not be necessary to say anything regarding the importance of his work. I09 has accumulated some of the many tributes to Stan Lee.

Douglas Rain, the voice of HAL in 2001, A Space Odyssey, also died recently.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Arachnids In The UK; Penny Dreadful Returning; Marvel Television Crossover Hinted; Arrowverse Crossover and News on The Flash

Arachnids in the UK provided both a horror story before Halloween and political satire just over a week before the midterm elections in the United States. These two components were not entirely successful, but there was a third aspect of this episode of Doctor Who which was a success, redeeming the episode.

The main story line was fairly weak (as many episodes of Doctor Who tend to be), and its fairly minimal importance was seen in the way it was wrapped up quickly. Rather than being a true monster, the spiders were simply normal spiders who grew to be too big and lacked an ecosystem to exist in. The solution played into the anti-gun sentiments seen earlier this season, but is it really more humane to let them suffocate as opposed to shooting them quickly? I could see earlier seasons solving the problem more humanely by transporting the spiders to a new planet where they could live in peace. While the episode did provide a quick solution for the spiders in the hotel, it also seemed to forget that there were additional spiders around the apartments seen earlier in the episode.

Chris Noth added the political aspect for the episode and, like the spiders, fell short of being the outright villain of the episode. He played an American businessman who aspires to be president, builds luxury hotels around the world, loves to fire people (including Yaz’s mother), sees guns as the solution, uses words such as “fire and fury,” and hates that a woman (the Doctor) is the one in charge. He also hates Donald Trump, whom he is clearly modeled upon, and plans to run against him. I had expected to see Jack Robertson die a horrible death, being eaten by the spiders. Instead this only happened to his poor bodyguard. The episode ended with Jack Robertson seeing himself as the hero, and ready to go on to attempt to become the next president. This would have been the true horror of the story if not for the fact that we already have Donald Trump as president. This does leave open the possibility of Robertson becoming a recurring character, possibly with Chris Noth returning to play the next president sometime in the future.

As political satire, this was fairly weak considering it adds nothing to the vast work satirizing Trump, other than copying some of his obvious characteristics. I suspect that Chris Chibnall did not want to get overly specific so that the episode will still hold up over time. While many future viewers might forget many of the specifics of the Trump years, I doubt anyone will forget the basic outline of Trump as shown in the episode.

The episode works best if seen as the conclusion of a trilogy to establish the Doctor and her new companions, beginning with The Woman Who Fell To Earth and The Ghost Monument. These show the Doctor meeting her future companions, getting to the TARDIS, and ultimately getting home after a series of adventures–with Rosa showing only one of these as a side story to this trilogy. After this series of adventures, the TARDIS made it back to Sheffield.

The revival of Doctor Who has been stronger by showing the families of many of the companions, allowing the companions to be more complete people as opposed to simply people traveling with the Doctor. The episode concentrated on showing Yaz’s family, but also went back to Graham’s loss of Grace and building a relationship with Ryan.

Until they returned to Sheffield, the three were with the Doctor by accident, and the goal was to return them home safely. Now they had a choice, and the Doctor even warned them of the dangers of traveling with her. This especially makes sense considering the fates of many of her recent companions. I imagine that it is easier to write a companion out by having a tragic outcome than showing that someone would just decide that they no longer wish to travel on the TARDIS.

The episode also suggests further expansion of the Doctor’s backstory. Steven Moffat had set up the possibility of a Timelord changing gender, but now we are hearing suggestions that the Doctor has also been a woman, had a family, and had a life we do not know about. Peter Capaldi, speaking of the Master, has said, “I think she was a man back then. I’m fairly sure that I was, too. It was a long time ago, though.” This episode was more explicit. The Doctor said she used to have sisters, and that she herself was once a sister in an aqua hospital, which was a training camp for space assassins. As we know very little of the Doctor’s life before becoming a Timelord, there is no contradiction with the Doctor having had sisters. However, for the Doctor to have once been a woman, this would mean that William Hartnell was not the first Doctor. Older episodes did sometimes hint at previous regenerations before Hartnell, but for this to have been possible it would have been necessary for the Doctor to have been granted additional regenerations in the past. We did see this was possible with Matt Smith.

In other Doctor Who news, it appears that instead of a Christmas special there will be a special on New Year’s Day this year. This does help as they appear to have run out of ideas for a Christmas tie-in for the series. I imagine that for some viewers in the UK, this might not matter much, unless people really care about the tradition. Watching in the United States, I would prefer a special on Christmas Day, and lacking a connection with the holiday would be fine. There is very little new American television around the holidays, and I’ve gotten in the habit of downloading Christmas specials from the UK that day. However, New Year’s Day is taken up by football here.  At least the streaming channels will fill in for the lack of Doctor Who on Christmas Day if my wife and I wind up staying home and watching television.

The Hollywood Reporter has a story on a new version of Penny Dreadful, with new cast and new location:

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels opens in 1938 Los Angeles for a story that Showtime describes as “a time and place deeply infused with Mexican-American folklore and social tension.” Rooted in the conflict between characters connected to the deity Santa Muerte and others allied with the devil, City of Angels will explore a mix of the supernatural and the combustible reality of that period, creating new occult myths and moral dilemmas within a historical backdrop. The series will feature all new characters and storylines.

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels will have a social consciousness and historical awareness that we chose not to explore in the Penny Dreadful London storylines,” Logan said Thursday in a statement. “We will now be grappling with specific historical and real-world political, religious, social and racial issues. In 1938, Los Angeles was facing some hard questions about its future and its soul. Our characters must do the same. There are no easy answers. There are only powerful questions and arresting moral challenges. As always in the world of Penny Dreadful, there are no heroes or villains in this world, only protagonists and antagonists; complicated and conflicted characters living on the fulcrum of moral choice.”

There have been hints about a cross-over between Marvel’s Runaways and Cloak & Dagger. Comicbook.com reports:

“It can reference the rest of the world, but it’s true to teenagers — they’re not interested in what Tony Stark is doing this week or what Matt Murdock is doing this week but they might be interested in a couple of kids who live down in New Orleans and what’s going on there.”

That’s fitting because both Tyrone Johnson and Tandy Bowen have been members of the Runaways team at some point along in the Marvel comics mythos. Now that the characters are played by Aubrey Joseph and Olivia Holt, respectively, that’s a scenario that’s entirely plausible in live-action.

In fact, Cloak & Dagger showrunner and executive producer Joe Pokaski has previously said the powers that be have had conversations on how to make crossovers happen.

Chicago, as opposed to Vancouver, will provide the background for Gotham City on the Arrowverse Elseworlds crossover episodes this season. We will be seeing Ruby Rose as Batwoman, and seeing a Black Suit Superman, but it has been confirmed that Batman will not appear.

CBR.com reports that Flash’s most iconic villains might be returning for the 100th episode:

DC World writer Paul Edwards attended an autograph signing at MCM Comic Con London. While there, he talked with actor Tony Todd, who previously provided the voice for Flash villain Zoom. During a conversation about Todd’s acting, the former Candyman star explained that he had just finished filming episode 100 of Flash. When asked if he would be reprising his role as Zoom, Todd replied, “They are all returning, all the speedster villains, and they all want a piece of Barry.”

…Executive producer Todd Helbing teased a big twist for the series at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, so this might be what he was referring to. The eighth episode of Flash Season 5, which will premiere on Dec. 4, will be the series’ 100th episode. Tom Cavanagh, who plays various versions of Harrison Wells on the show, will direct.

You might have noticed that Joe West has not been doing much on The Flash this season, generally sitting in scenes. TVLine has the reason for this:

I’m hearing that Martin suffered a back injury over the hiatus. In fact, a studio rep confirms for TVLine that the actor will be taking a medical leave from the CW hit, adding: “We wish him a full and speedy recovery and look forward to his return as Detective Joe West.” (It’s unclear at this time exactly when and for how long Joe’s absence will be felt on screen, but sources tell me it will be addressed at some point.)

Fortunately it should be easy to have a reduced role for Joe, and write him out for a while, without causing serious problems for the stories.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Rosa Review And Spoiler-Free Comments On  Arachnids In The UK; Timeless Finale; Star Trek Jumps Ahead 1000 Years, And Other ST News; The Orville Season 2 Trailer; Two Series With David Tennant

I will avoid spoilers for today’s episode of Doctor Who, Arachnids In The UK, as it has not yet been seen by those in the United States who wait to view it legally. The episode, like many episodes of Doctor Who, has its faults, but was still thoroughly enjoyable. It is best viewed not as a stand-alone episode but as part three of a trilogy which establishes the new Doctor and companions, beginning with The Woman Who Fell To Earth and The Ghost Monument. During the events of this trilogy, the group underwent an unknown number of adventures as the TARDIS failed to return home until Arachnids In The UK. We only saw one of these adventures, but Rosa is certain to become a classic episode of Doctor Who.

Rosa is a return to historical episodes of Doctor Who. It could be seen as a children’s educational show, including a recap of the significance of the story at the end. Then, being Doctor Who, there was a trip to see the asteroid named after Rosa Parks. However, it does not tone down the issues for children, showing the horrors of racist socient. The episode realistically shows racism as not being something isolated to certain evil individuals, but as the atmosphere of the time and area.

The companions worked well with the story, starting with Ryan experiencing racism when he simply tried to give a woman her dropped glove. Racism was similarly seen in other situations including in a restaurant, a white-only hotel, and, obviously for this story, on the bus. Racism was shown to be different with Yasmin, with the locals not being as clear as to where she fits in, with Yasmin even being mistaken for a Mexican. Yasmin was not welcome in the restaurant, but could sit with the whites in the front of the bus. Racism was as illogical in the episode as in real life.

Strangely nobody seemed disturbed that a woman was dressed like the Doctor in pants and an unusual shirt in 1955 Alabama.  Rather than deal with this, the episode did include a joke about the Doctor being the street artist Bansky. Plus Graham identified himself as Steve Jobs.

As with many historical Doctor Who episodes, there is an outside villain, but Krasko really isn’t all that memorable. (Similarly, does anyone recall the monster from Vincent and the Doctor?) Krasko just served to set up the situation of forcing the Doctor and her friends to make sure history played out correctly. Krasko did also show that Chris Chibnall isn’t totally ignoring the Moffat years, even if he is avoiding his characters. Krasko was recently released from Stormcage, where River Song was also imprisoned. A neural restrictor in his brain prevented him from directly killing–even if he could still conspire to do evil. His weapon was a version of how the Weeping Angels dispose of people, sending them to another time. Theoretically Krasko could appear again, but it is questionable as to whether there is any point in it.

One challenge in a story such as this was that the Doctor could not be the hero as usual. Rosa Parks had to be the star, and Vinette Robinson handled this very well in a story written by Malorie Blackman and Chris Chibnall. In many ways this felt more like an episode of Timeless than Doctor Who, with the stars concentrating on thwarting the efforts of someone who was trying to change the course of history.

The episode required an unusual victory, with the arrest of Rosa Parks hardly being a positive outcome unless viewed in its historical context of sparking protests. Graham was upset with being a part of this, being one of the whites on the bus who led to Rosa Parks being put in a situation where she was ordered to give up her seat, crying “No, no, I don’t want to be a part of this!” Graham actually seemed to have less understanding of racism and the civil rights movement than might be expected after he was married to a black woman. The episode even began with Graham first thinking of Elvis as opposed to racism when he learned they were in the south in the 1950’s.

Yaz clearly understood the significance of the events they were involved in: “I can be a police officer now because people like Rosa Parks fought those battles for me. For us. And in fifty-three years, they’ll have a black president as leader. Who knows where they’ll be fifty years after that? That’s proper change.”

As I mentioned above, last week’s episode of Doctor Who was structured more like an episode of Timeless than a typical episode of Doctor Who. Unfortunately Timeless will only be around for a tiny fraction of the time Doctor Who has been on the air. At least NBC has agreed to a television movie to wrap up the series, and the air date was announced last week. From Entertainment Weekly:

Timeless will air one last, well, time, on Thursday, Dec. 20 from 8 to 10 p.m. on NBC.

We’re told the episode is “an epic, unforgettable thrill ride through the past, present and future, with a healthy dose of Christmas spirit. Spread across three centuries and two continents, the finale will test Lucy, Wyatt and the entire Time Team like never before as they try to #SaveRufus, preserve history and put a stop to Rittenhouse once and for all.”

The next Short Trek jumps to one thousand years after Discovery, placing it beyond anything we have seen so far in the Star Trek time line. The above trailer has been released with the episode to be released on CBS All Access on November 8.

Following is the synopsis for the episode, written by Michael Chabron: After waking up in an unfamiliar sickbay, Craft (Aldis Hodge) finds himself onboard a deserted ship, and his only companion and hope for survival is an A.I. computer interface.

Not all of the upcoming series will be as big as a new series staring Patrick Stewart. Another new series has been announced, this time an animated comedy. From TrekMovie.com:

For the first time since the 1970s, Star Trek is getting animated. This morning CBS announced they have given a two-season order for Star Trek: Lower Decks, which is being developed by Mike McMahan, who recently won an Emmy for his work on the popular animated series Rick and Morty.

Star Trek: Lower Decks will be the first animated series for CBS All Access, and will be a half-hour comedy focused on the support crew serving on one of Starfleet’s least important ships. There are no details yet on what Star Trek era the show will be set in.

Mike McMahan also wrote the upcoming Harry Mudd-centric Star Trek: Short Treks. A longtime fan, back in 2015 he published the officially licensed Warped: An Engaging Guide to the Never-Aired 8th Season, which arose from @tng_s8 his popular parody Twitter account about an imagined eighth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

We have seen some of the technology from Star Trek become real, and now there is an effort to make a working holodeck. From TrekMovie.com:

Roddenberry Entertainment, owned by Rod Roddenberry, son of Gene Roddenberry, is teaming up with a number of technology companies working to make the Star Trek holodeck a reality. The partnership will leverage Light Field Lab’s revolutionary headgear-free holographic displays and OTOY’s ORBX Technology, the industry’s first open source and royalty-free format for rendering media and real-time graphics on Light Field Lab’s holographic display panels.

Original holographic content for the new system is in active development, spearheaded by Ari Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor, and Rod Roddenberry, CEO of Roddenberry Entertainment, and also an executive producer on Star Trek: Discovery.

“The concept of the Holodeck was extremely important to my father as well as the Star Trek Universe,” said Rod Roddenberry about his late father, Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. “I want to see Star Trek’s technologies made real, and for the very first time, now believe that a real Holodeck is no longer limited to science fiction. Although it’s early days, my father would be beyond excited to know his vision is coming into reality thanks to OTOY’s trailblazing light field rendering, and the revolutionary holographic display systems created at Light Field Lab.”

The Orville was the last Star Trek related series billed as comedy before Lower Decks, but has turned out to be more. The above trailer for season two was released along with information on the release date. The season will premiere on December 30 after a football double header, and then return to Thursday nights.

ComicBook.com added:

The series is adding Jessica Szohr as a new series regular and Chris Johnson in a recurring role in its second season. A veteran Star Trekwriter was also brought on board as an additional executive producer, and multiple Star Trekactors will guest star.

Star Trek: The Next Generation star and director Jonathan Frakes will also contribute to the new season of The Orville. At a convention, Frakes spoke about the series in comparison to CBS All Access’s Star Trek: Discovery.

“The Star Trek that we have has really found its voice, and Discovery has really found its voice,” Frakes explained earlier this year. “And The Orville has filled in a void. For a lot of people, The Orville is their new Star Trek because it does tell stories like [The Next Generation], and it’s got wild humor in it.

“[Seth MacFarlane] clearly wanted [The Orville] to look like [The Next Generation].” Frakes added. “So, he hired the cinematographer [Marvin Rush] and the camera operator, and Brannon Braga, who wrote First Contact among other things that are fabulous. Robbie Duncan McNeill, one of our wonderful directors from Voyager, James Conway, who directed a bunch of great Next Gen episodes; he hired me. He filled the room with Next Gen people so that the show would look and feel like it. I think he did it.”

So far I’ve only watched the pilot for Camping, but the show looks like a terrible waste of the talents of Jennifer Garner and David Tennant. At least Garner’s role, while wasting her talents, was the dominant character in the pilot, while Tennant was totally wasted. Fortunately David Tennant will be appearing in other roles. This includes staring with Martin Sheen in an adaption of Neil Gaiman’s book Good Omens. Amazon has released the following trailer:

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery And Continuity; Arrow Returns With Needed Changes; Luke Cage Cancelled; Doctor Who, Rosa

We continue to learn more about the upcoming season of Star Trek: Discovery, including receiving information on Spock and Christopher Pike when executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin spoke with IGN:

“Well, obviously we started Season 1 10 years before TOS [The Original Series], so it seemed like a very logical thing,” laughed Kurtzman. “We also established that Burnham is Spock’s half-sister, so we owe that story now. And this season is very much about siblings and their relationship. We learn what happened between them, we learn how they’re going to fix it, against the backdrop of this tremendous mystery that requires both of them to work out their issues with each other.”

Of course, we have seen Spock from this era before. Discovery’s time period basically lines up with the first pilot episode of Star Trek ever, “The Cage,” which featured Leonard Nimoy as Spock and Jeffrey Hunter as the captain of the Enterprise at that time, Christopher Pike. Now Ethan Peck and Anson Mount step into those roles, respectively, but fans know that the Spock seen in “The Cage” was fairly different from the calm, cool and collected Vulcan of the rest of TOS.

“What you have to remember is, this is not the Spock from TOS,” said Kurtzman. “He actually hasn’t gotten to the place where he’s more sanguine about his logic side. He’s really struggling through which — as a result of things that have happened, as a result of the visitation by the Red Angel, as a result of seeing these signals — his logic brain has been totally fried. And all of his logic training has failed him in many ways. And his emotional inner life has been suppressed in so many ways. So he really doesn’t know which way to turn. And that’s a big part of what he’s struggling through. In many ways, it’s the story of how Spock becomes the Spock we meet in TOS.”

The season will also, at least tangentially, touch upon Captain Pike’s past in “The Cage” — and, possibly, his tragic future as seen in TOS story “The Menagerie.”

“We do end up syncing with canon by the end of the season,” said Kurtzman. “So a lot of the things that everybody knows about these key characters will be touched on.”

Most likely the portrayal of Spock will make some fans angry. We will also see uniforms begin to sync up with what we have seen, with the Enterprise crew wearing uniforms closer to what was on The Cage, and later the original show, while the Discovery crew continues to wear uniforms like last season.

Digital Spy reports that Kurtzman acknowledged the difficulties in maintaining continuity, especially if the novels and graphic novels are considered:

“Everybody is always trying to maintain continuity,” Kurtzman told us. “But given the 50 plus years of Star Trek, it literally becomes impossible because people decide that they want to follow a character in a book series after the show has been cancelled, and so they’ll invent stories.

“And then 15 years later, a new show will come on that will take that character back and you can’t be consistent with everything. Our goal is always to try, always, always to try and never to negate what has existed in the novels and graphic novels but it is a literal impossibility.

“And part of what has kept Trek going for so long is everyone’s wonderful imagination to keep writing books and keep making graphic novels and keep making shows. And at a certain point, given the volume of things that are out there it’s just impossible for everything to sync up perfectly. So we give it our best effort.”

Arrow was starting to look stale in recent seasons but new showrunner Beth Schwartz is attempting to revive the show with changes, including Oliver spending a good portion of the season in prison, a new Green Arrow on the loose, and flash-forwards replacing the flashbacks. Beth Schwartz spoke with The Hollywood Reporter:

Viewers were left reeling when the end of the Arrow season seven premiere revealed that those island “flashback” scenes throughout the episode were actually flash forwards. Taking place 20 years in the future, Oliver Queen’s (Stephen Amell) now grown son William (Ben Lewis) journeyed to Lian Yu to link up with a now middle-aged Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) for a mysterious reason that will be explored throughout the entire season (and future seasons as well).

“I’ve been on the show since the beginning and we had always in the room discussed the possibility when the flashbacks ended that we would do the flash forwards,” executive producer Beth Schwartz tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Especially since we knew about William and we thought that would be really cool to see how he’s been affected by his childhood and his father. We always wanted to do something like that and then this season I pitched it to Greg [Berlanti] and he was like, ‘Yes!’ We knew we wanted something fresh and new for season seven and my favorite part of the show was always the flashbacks and the mystery of how Oliver became the Green Arrow and his origin story.”

While Schwartz doesn’t remember which writer or producer originally came up with the flash forward idea in the early days of Arrow, it was set in the core mythology of the series years ago. “It was when we realized this show might go on beyond five seasons and I know that Marc [Guggenheim] had always said the flashbacks were five years,” she adds. “What do we do after five seasons? It just made sense to go forward into the future instead of continuing flashbacks. We’re kind of breaking two shows. We have a whole separate mythology for the flash forwards and we have a lot of new characters and that’s why it feels so fresh; we’re doing two shows in one.”

Not surprisingly, we will eventually learn who the new Green Arrow is. Schwartz told Entertainment Weekly:

“I can’t really tell you which way the new Green Arrow [lands], but Dinah and Rene will be arguing that point for a little bit. They’ll be on different sides for a little bit,” said Schwartz, adding this isn’t a Vigilante situation and it won’t take a full season and change for him to be unmasked. “We’ll definitely unveil and explore before the end of the season, for sure.”

Just a week after we received news that Iron First was cancelled, there was more surprising news with Netflix cancelling Luke Cage. It is presumably a consequence of a combination of cost of the show, reported creative differences, and the deteriorating relationship between Netflix and Disney as Disney prepares to start its own streaming service.

Due to travel plans, this is being posted on Saturday instead of Sunday and does not include my usual weekly review of this week’s episode of Doctor Who. Review of The Ghost Monument here and The Woman Who Fell To Earth here. Most likely my review of Rosa will be posted next weekend (and I am looking forward to getting away from the same-day reviews). Doctor Who TV does have an advanced, spoiler-free, review of Rosa here. An excerpt:

Compared to some episodes where Doctor Who has only subtly touched on racism in period settings, “Rosa” does not shy away or sugarcoat its portrayal of the divide in 1955, with abhorrent acts on full display almost as soon as the gang steps out of the TARDIS. Ryan and Yaz are subjected to verbal and even physical abuse, that some may find tough to stomach.

Although the episode deals with weighty issues, there is still time for a little levity and pleasant character moments. The Doctor and Graham’s hotel room charade leads to one great gag. Meanwhile, Ryan and Yaz are able to intensify their bond in the face of adversity. This allows for some of their best material so far.

Of course we have Rosa Parks herself leading the guest cast, portrayed by UK star Vinette Robinson (The A Word, Sherlock). Some may remember it’s also not her first Whoniverse appearance, having starred in Chibnall’s pre-showrunner Doctor Who episode “42”. Robinson does well here to play what must have been tough boots to fill, though perhaps an African-American actor would have been a better pick to allow for a more natural accent?

There are no monsters in the episode, that’s to say there’s no traditional costumed/CGI threat of the week. Whilst there are plenty of horrifying people on display, Joshua Bowman steps forward as the main villain, Krasko. A character you could crudely sum up as a “racist Captain Jack”, just lacking the charisma (though he does have a [redacted]). For all his posturing though, he doesn’t quite demonstrate enough of a threat.

Trailer below:

SciFi Weekend: Interview with Jodie Whittaker; Sonequa Martin-Green, Mary Wiseman, and Doug Jones on Star Trek Discovery; Better Call Saul Season Finale; The Expanse; American Gods; Review of Doctor Who, The Ghost Monument


As I wrote in my review of The Woman Who Fell To Earth last week, Jodie Whittaker is doing an excellent job of portraying a newly regenerated Time Lord, still a bit confused about her role, who has changed from a Scotsman to a woman, yet still is clearly the Doctor. I will place my review of the second episode at the end to make it easier for those who are reading this before it aired to look away and avoid spoilers. For now, here are excerpts from an interview with Jodie Whittaker with Vulture:

When you were announced as the Doctor last summer, a lot of articles tried stirring the pot with headlines about a backlash, but I didn’t see that much vitriol on social media. Do you think the media was complicit in making a big fuss out of your casting, when, in fact, the overwhelming consensus was positive?
My limited perspective comes from the U.K. and its media. Not social media, because I’m not on it, so all of that went over my head. Sure, there were concerns or strange interpretations from fans. I think the negative responses were relatively small. Of course, when any Doctor changes — David [Tennant] to Matt [Smith], Matt to Peter [Capaldi], Peter to me — there’s an inevitable loss of the familiar. The suggestion that I’ve “ruined the show” or have “gone against the show” are coming from people who aren’t necessarily Whovians. If they understood the world, they know that Matt and David aren’t aliens. Peter isn’t an alien! Their gender is as irrelevant as mine as. As a political moment, or as a moment as a woman in the industry, it is relevant. But within the world of Doctor Who, it really isn’t.

It’s hard because for some people, Peter was their only Doctor. They haven’t lived through a regeneration before. It’s like you’re letting go of something. But the wonderful thing about the show is a celebration of change and evolution. There’s no point in making changes if you’re not going to do new things. I think the biggest misconception right now is that a woman has “ruined” the show.

That reminds me of one of your lines in the season premiere, which is something like, “I haven’t bought women’s clothes in a long time.” It suggests that the Doctor has been a woman before, but we just haven’t seen it on-screen.
Yeah, and there are a lot of things that reference what the show has done before — you’ll have to wait and see. The Doctor has three friends in the TARDIS now, even though it’s been traditional in the modern era to be one or two. Chris gets asked why he wants to “break form” in that way, and he’s like, Uh no, going back, that was always how it was on the show…

It’s one thing to have an anonymous Twitterbot spew stupid, misogynistic stuff about your casting, but when a former Doctor Peter Davison says he has doubts because it’s a “loss of a role model for boys,” does that give you pause?
I feel for him, because I feel he was misinterpreted. I don’t think it was a true reflection of what he was trying to say. Regardless of what was said, the mythology of “boys can only look up to boys” whereas “women are expected to look up to men,” it was never a question that our role models are men. But men have looked up to women their entire lives. Mothers, aunts, bosses — there are many versions of female heroes within our lives that are regardless of gender.

If someone actually came up to you and said, “I’m not watching the show anymore because the Doctor is a woman,” how would you respond?
I suppose I’d say, I think you have some internal issues that need addressing. I wonder if their mothers would be proud of that comment. [Laughs.] Some people are capable of change, but it isn’t worth engaging with, necessarily.

Let’s talk about your grand entrance! What were the conversations like surrounding that scene, especially in regards to the revelation of the Doctor discovering her new gender?
It was the second day on-set that I got to actually say all of those lines and do all of that jumping. I was like, Are you fucking kidding me? Jumping? You bastards! That hero speech is when I remember who I am. When I’m like, I thought my legs used to be longer!, it was a joy to play around with. It’s a nod to the fans, but if you haven’t seen the show before it’s okay, because it adds to the mystery of the character. Watching it back, it’s the most extraordinary entrance I’ve ever had to do.

In the premiere, the Stenza warrior mockingly tells the Doctor that she has a “tiny mind.” I didn’t necessarily think it was a gender-specific slight, but it did make me wonder: Will the Doctor’s new gender affect the way she’s treated by her adversaries? 
It definitely comes from things like history. I can’t speak to specifics, but there are moments when you venture into the past when relationships would be different. Like you said, we’re potentially going to times when women weren’t able to have a voice. The “tiny mind” thing was definitely character-to-character, not men-to-women. I don’t think gender played a role in the warrior’s motivation.

Are there motivations in future episodes when gender becomes more prevalent?
They do. There are times when we potentially go into history where gender is referenced, sometimes through others characters, too. But it’s irrelevant with the Doctor. The Doctor is the Doctor. The character isn’t lost because it’s in a female form. Maybe sometimes other people’s reactions are different because it’s a woman and not a man, but that’s as far as it goes.

I’ll get back to Doctor Who below. Meanwhile, we heard from yet another female lead of a science fiction franchise which began in the 1960’s, Sonequa Martin-Green of Star Trek: Discovery. From a a roundtable press interview as reported by TrekMovie.com from New York Comic Con:

Will Michael Burnham’s redemption arc continue in season two?

Oh for sure. The redemption continues, at least the journey to redemption continues, because what I realized as Burnham is that I have to forgive myself. I’ve been sort of redeemed, professionally speaking. I’ve been reinstated into Starfleet. I’ve been redeemed interpersonally. A lot of my coworkers and dear friends and loved ones have forgiven me and understood why I made the choices that I made, though they weren’t the right ones. But I do definitely have to forgive myself, and I carry a lot of guilt, as Burnham.

That’s a huge cornerstone for me, shame and guilt, because of things that happened, namely the murder of my parents, which was because of me. That’s a hell of a lot for a child to take on and carry with them through their maturation. So the redemption has to continue and it has to include a forgiveness and acceptance of my very self, and I say to Sarek in the pilot, that my emotions inform my logic, but what I need to find next is how my logic then informs my emotion. And that will show a synergy of all the parts of me. An acceptance of my emotion, an acceptance of my logic, an acceptance of my humanity, an acceptance of my Vulcan indoctrination … which is the journey of every human being, right? We have to find a way to accept all the parts of us and figure out how they work together, right? And we want that to be a seamless working together, but that’s a long journey for all of us. And that’s certainly the journey that’s continuing for me.

How would you define Burnham’s relationship with Spock?

Complicated. Difficult. Strenuous. We don’t shy away from that, either, which I love. And season 2, as I said in the panel just now, is deeply emotional. And I pray and hope that people can go on the journey with us wholeheartedly because it will wrench your heart. Because it is so deeply emotional. And of course, as we saw in the trailer, that wonderful trailer, that there’s lots of action, but this season digs down to a deeper emotional level than season 1 did. And I’m hoping that people just grit their teeth and are at the edge of their seats and take it in.

Are we going to find out why Spock has never told anyone about Michael?

Oh gosh, yeah. And we mentioned that too, you know … there’s a long game with Star Trek: Discovery. Because it is hyper-serialized, and because it is a novel told in chapters, there is a through-line, and there are conceptual weavings that take time to unravel – that might have been a mixed metaphor, but we’re just going to go with it – but I really encourage everyone to trust that every single question that we raise in Star Trek: Discovery that may seem like it’s not canon-compliant, every one of those questions gets answered. Every one.

Does Burnham wrestle with her spur-of-the-moment decision to bring back Mirror Georgiou?

For sure. What you’ll see in season 2 with Burnham – and with everyone else – is the aftermath. You’ll see the residual after the war, the war is over now, and now there’s time to think about everything that’s happened. And to look at the mess we’ve left behind and what we’ll do with it. And now, who are we? And where are we, and what are we doing, and what have I done and who am I now? And who are we now? Because there is a lot of aftermath after that war, there’s a lot of residual effect from the war. So that is just one of them – this huge decision that I made to bring Georgiou back, I will certainly be wrestling with that along with every other decision that was made throughout the course of season 1.

More at TrekMovie.com with full interview in this video:

In other interviews at New York Comic Con, Mary Wiseman and Doug Jones discussed Discovery and how their Short Treks episodes fit in:

Mary Wiseman: Yeah, I think it should take place sort of somewhere non-specific, in the timeline of season 2. So it’s not specific. And they wanted that so that it could be standalone. So people who don’t watch it, they can still appreciate the season, but also it’s an enriching sort of character story, deepens the character. So it’s set kind of where we are now, but not very specifically. We wanted to leave that open… Definitely after the medal ceremony, like you said.

Doug Jones: You’ll notice her hair, too. The hair might be a giveaway with where we are in the timeline.

Mary Wiseman: I was really obsessed with, just, you know, evolving from the bun into a pony.

Does “Runaway” affect what happens in season two?

Mary Wiseman: No, not sort of… super-specifically. The way that they exist in the world is more of a character study and a character deepening and a backstory – you get to see my mom, you know – it’s just like, I think it fleshes out a little bit who this character is. I don’t think we want it to directly affect the season, so if someone hasn’t seen it, they can still totally comprehend, and it will totally make sense.

Doug, can you tell us about your Short Treks episode (“The Brightest Star”)?

Doug Jones: The thing about all the four of the shorts we have so far, is that they’re all very different from each other, and they all take place in different moods, different time periods, different everything. Different characters. So mine is actually – you’re going to learn how Saru became a part of Starfleet. So mine goes back, so there are breadcrumbs that you’ll find in season 2 that you’ll find in the short film as well. So mine does have a direct tie with hints. But, like Mary just said, you can watch one or the other, with a complete story, without having to see the other one.

Season four of Better Call Saul ended with Jimmy talking about his plans for returning to practice law: “S’all good man!” In other words, we are seeing the birth of Saul Goodman. We also saw major development in Mike Ehrmantraut. Vulture spoke with showrunner Peter Gould:

What was the finale’s most dramatic moment: Mike executing Werner or Jimmy announcing his intent to practice as Saul?
This is a show with two sides: There’s the Mike Ehrmantraut side and the Jimmy McGill side. They’re two very different kinds of drama. On the one hand, you’re seeing the death of Werner Ziegler, and on the other, you might be seeing, possibly, the death of Jimmy McGill as we’ve known him. One is irrevocable, and one perhaps might still have a shot at redemption. I don’t know whether I can say one was more dramatic than the other…

Has Kim been trying to meet Jimmy halfway as he drifts further down his path, or is she still a mystery herself?
Yeah, Kim does try to meet Jimmy halfway. These two people have a lot in common. The first season, we saw Kim smile when he was doing that whole billboard scam. She enjoys the roguish side of Jimmy, but she believes that has to be put in its place. She seems to draw a very definite line between scamming and her legal work — until this season. If you squint at it one way, Jimmy’s dragging Kim down. If you turn your head and squint at it the other way, she’s facilitating his slide.

Kim is a relative blank slate compared to so many regular characters on Saul. Is that equally daunting and exciting?
One of the things that gratifies me the most is how much passion our audience has for thinking about Kim’s future, and how worried folks are when I talk to them about Kim. It’s really a tribute to Rhea Seehorn. Her character’s not quite like any character I’ve seen before. She has the best poker face of anybody I’ve seen, but she puts great intellect into the decisions she makes. But she also has an emotional, impulsive side, and someone who, like Jimmy has, pulled herself up by the bootstraps. I’m worried that she’s going to lose that, or lose her life, because we know Jimmy’s about to enter the same world of violence Mike has been living in. It gives us a world of possibilities in a show where a lot of the character’s fates are known already. All I can say is, I’d be very sorry if something terrible happened to Kim, but there’s a lot of things that can happen to people that don’t involve violent deaths.

The show isn’t moralistic, but it does put forward a point of view that you can’t just dip your toe into criminal life. Is that by design?
Hopefully it’s not a moralistic show, but we’re exploring a lot of questions about what’s okay to do. How do people get the things they want? How do they decide what they want? We talk a lot in the writers room about what the characters should be doing, and why doesn’t the character make the choice that in our eyes would be the most moral? There is a moral dimension, otherwise you just have chaos. One of the things I love in drama is it gives us all a chance to work out different possible lives. We’re all really law-abiding people in the writers room, so maybe it’s fun for us to race our minds over other ways to be in the world.

Peter Gould also spoke with Entertainment Weekly:

You’ve said that you kept pushing back Jimmy’s moment of transformation from as early as season 1 because you fell for Jimmy and loved exploring this character. Was it hard to finally let that moment happen? And why is now the right time?
I never felt like we were delaying it. It always felt like we hadn’t earned it. The Jimmy McGill we met in the first season of Better Call Saul was so very distant and different from Saul Goodman. And always the question we were asking ourselves and beating our heads against the wall trying to answer was, how does this guy become Saul Goodman? What we started with was, what is the problem that becoming Saul Goodman solves? And I think what we realized gradually, especially in season 4, was that the problem that becoming Saul Goodman solves is, “I don’t want to be Jimmy McGill anymore.” Saul Goodman is a choice that Jimmy makes — and I don’t think he’s made it all the way. I don’t think he’s exactly the Saul Goodman we met on Breaking Bad yet. Not by a long shot. I don’t think he’s ready to suggest murder to his clients, for instance. But assuming that separate identity is going to give him a lot of freedom. And I think he craves that freedom. Right now as the season ends, he thinks that there’s no contradiction between having that freedom of being Saul Goodman and also going home and being with Kim. We’ll see if he can have it both ways.

After Jimmy’s moment of triumph with the appeals board, Kim is stunned to see that he was faking it for the board. Does their relationship ever really recover from that moment? Especially coupled with that parking lot rooftop fight, which ended with her lacerating him with the comeback, “You’re always down, Jimmy.”
Wow! Oh, boy. That’s a great question because Jimmy has never fooled Kim before. He’s never scammed her. And now he has scammed her. But I will say two things that give me a little bit of hope for their relationship. First of all, that was an awful fight on the roof. But also, maybe it’s a door to a more honest relationship. Possibly. Because the two of them have been keeping their own counsel about so many things, there have been so many sins of omission between them: Kim started doing public defender work and she didn’t mention it to Jimmy for quite a while, and Jimmy was selling phones on the street and wasn’t telling Kim. I think they’re in a different place. There’s a little bit more honesty there because Jimmy especially has expressed his fears about the relationship. They came out as accusations, but in another way of looking at it, they are and were his fears. So it’s a question. I think it can go either way after an argument like that. And Jimmy doesn’t know that he fooled Kim. He may have scammed her, but his back was to her in that room. He was scamming the members of the board. We’ll see. I think that these two have a deep affection for each other, and I think they may have a little further to go down the road. I’m hoping.

In other genre news, Netflix has cancelled Iron Fist after two seasons. It was definitely the weakest of their Marvel series. I have seen some speculation that it might return when Disney starts their upcoming streaming service.

CBS and Scrubs creator Bill Lawrence are working on an adaption of DC’s Secret Six comics.

The Expanse cast did not make New York Comic Con, but Amazon did release the above video.

Neil Gaiman said at New York Comic Con that current plans are for at least five seasons of American Gods. According to I09, the second season will look at social media and the surveillance state.

I will now return to Doctor Who, with a warning that there are spoilers for those who have not seen The Ghost Monument. Jodie Whittaker was again great, but the jury is still out on the writing by Chris Chibnall. I did not expect a very complicated episode last week, consider all the table-setting that had to be done, but I did wonder if Chibnall might have lost an opportunity because of new viewers turning in. This week we had the typical second episode for a new Doctor, taking the companions into space–even if somewhat accidental this time. The problem, as the Doctor described it was, “We’ve been dumped in space, we’ve got spaceships crashing all around us, now we’re marooned on a planet that everyone else seems to be running to get away from.”

Unfortunately the actual episode was much smaller than this. Early in the episode it looked like they had come across the tent from The Great British Bake Off. A great race which included 209 terrains and over 94 planets was down to two contestants, location shots of desert from South Africa, and some pretty simplistic robots who could not hit anyone. Epzo and Angstrom were okay as guest characters. The closest thing to a villain was a hologram, to which the Doctor commented, “I was a hologram for three weeks – the gossip I picked up.” Not that I didn’t enjoy seeing a simple story with the Doctor and her new companions, but more might have been done to try to hook new viewers.

The trek did provide for some character development. Ryan again had a tendency to touch things he should not, and was given a lesson in why guns are not good to use. Ryan and Graham are having difficulty connecting after the death of Grace, and I suspect we will see development in their relationship over the course of the series. We will also need to watch for more references to the Stenza to see if they become a season-long threat, and there was the mysterious mention of the Timeless Child. The episode might seem more important down the road if they build upon these.

The highlights of the episode were the new title sequence and seeing the inside of the TARDIS (complete with biscuit dispenser). In addition, there were sunglasses in the episode which were previously worn by worn by either Audrey Hepburn or Pythagoras. (Somehow they were in the Doctor’s pocket even though she had empty pockets last week and had not been back to the TARDIS yet.)

The title sequence is in the video above. The video below shows the newly designed TARDIS with a description from Production Designer, Arwel Wyn Jones:

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, The Woman Who Fell To Earth; Star Trek Runaway, Bearded Spock, and the Picard Series; The Magicians

After months of anticipation, Doctor Who premiered today in an international simulcast. Jodie Whittaker totally nailed the role as The Doctor, showing that glass ceilings can be broken when you have the right woman. Her personality as the Doctor is far from completely established as this was a regeneration episode in which the Doctor is suffering from post-regenerative trauma. Whittaker did capture both many aspects of previous Doctors along with the disorientation of one in the process of completing a regeneration. She managed to be both somewhat confused and totally in charge, without this feeling at all contradictory. Chris Chibnall and crew also showed they understand what came before them on Doctor Who.

Despite the change, it did not seem at all strange to have a woman play the Doctor, while a male could have also played the lead in this episode, other than for a brief exchange when the Doctor apparently forgot having seen that she is a woman in last season’s finale, Twice Upon A Time. Again she is suffering from post-regenerative trauma, or perhaps a concussion after somehow surviving a fall to earth and into a train. She was surprised to be called a woman, and explained that, “Half an hour ago, I was a white-haired Scotsman.” She quickly accepted that she is a now a woman asking, “Am I? Does it suit me?”

Whittaker quickly established that she is also an alien when another character expressed skepticism about the threat on the train being an alien, saying “Don’t be daft, there’s no such thing as aliens. Anyway, even if there was, they ain’t gonna be on a train in Sheffield.” The Doctor responded, “Why not? I’m alien and I’m here.”

Yasmin, a new companion training to be a police officer, initially wanted to play by the book. The Doctor dissuaded her: “And why do you need to check CCTV when we all saw it with our own eyes?  But, you’re worried about how you’ll explain all this to a superior officer who won’t believe you.” This scene involving a woman who fears she will not be believed benefits from the accidental timing of airing the day after Brent Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, despite the accusations of a woman which some did not believe.

Whittaker still had to establish some of the other characteristics of the Doctor. Her pockets were empty, and she hates empty pockets. This left her being forced to rebuild her sonic screwdriver, instead of it just turning up as it has done for other Doctors. She also explained its role to her new companions and new viewers: “Sonic screwdriver. Well, I say screwdriver, but it’s a bit more multipurpose than that. Scanner, diagnostics, tin opener! More of a… sonic Swiss army knife, but without the knife – only idiots carry knives.”

While the explanation worked, I do hope that she goes back to referring to it as her sonic screwdriver and not sonic Swiss army knife.

There were various scenes in which she explained who she is, including explaining her regeneration and her role to her new companions:

There’s this moment when you’re sure you’re about to die. And the you’re born! It’s terrifying. Right now I’m a stranger to myself. There’s echoes of who I was and a sort of call towards who I am. And I have to hold my nerve and trust all these new instincts. Shape myself towards them. I’ll be fine. In the end. Hopefully. But I have to be, because you guys need help and if there’s one thing I’m certain of, when people need help, I never refuse! Right? This is gonna be fun!

She also warned the monster of the week who she is: “Bit of adrenaline, dash of outrage and a hint of panic knitted my brain back together. I know exactly who I am. I’m the Doctor. Sorting out fair play throughout the universe. Now, please – get off this planet, while you still have a choice.”

We did meet a whole new group of companions. Among things we learned were that Ryan has a tendency to touch things he shouldn’t, which the Doctor warns about in the preview to next week’s episode. He also has a developmental disorder which interferes with activities such as riding a bicycle. I wonder if riding a bicycle will become important in a future episode. We also learned that Graham has cancer, which is in remission.

I haven’t said very much about the actual story or the monster as this part was weak, as we have seen in previous regeneration episodes. There was far too much table setting to deal with than to worry about the story. There were some major plot holes which will soon be forgotten, such as how the monster initially came to earth to take someone’s sister before Ryan gave permission. If people are being held in some sort of stasis on the cusp of life and death, I would have expected the Doctor to go to their rescue. Maybe we will see this in the future, but I suspect we will not.

Once the monster was taken care of, partially in a manner the Doctor did not approve of, and there was a funeral for one character who did not survive, the Doctor was advised of the need to finally change her clothes. Rather than going through the TARDIS and throwing clothes all over until finding the desired look, the Doctor did the same in a clothing store. The store clerks will hate her. Then on to getting the TARDIS back. This was not completed this episode, so we did not get a chance to see either the new interior or the reactions of the new companions to it being bigger on the inside. Instead there is sort of a cliff hanger with them all just floating in space. I imagine that if the Doctor could fall all the way to earth without getting hurt, surviving this will not be all that difficult.

The first Star Trek Short Treks premiered with Runaway, staring Mary Wiseman as Tilly. The episode gives us a food fight, a further look at Tilly’s desire to get into command, and an introduction to another planet (which may or may not play a part in the actual series).

The return date for Star Trek: Discovery was announced to be January 17 at New York Comic Con, and the above trailer was released. It ends with a look at Spock, played by Ethan Peck, seen with a beard. As it is not a goatee, I suspect it is due to being in a situation where he could not shave, as opposed to indicating Mirror Spock. However, one character from the Mirror Universe is seen. Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) now works for Section 31. From The Hollywood Reporter:

Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) is undergoing her own metamorphosis. A transfer from the mirror universe, the ruthless empress was recruited into the secretive Section 31. “What they don’t like to do, we get to do really, really well,” she explained after jokingly tell the audience to bow to her. “Not everybody knows that I was from the mirror universe, so sometimes I get to play the good captain: compassionate, kind. And then with Georgiou from Section 31, she’s manipulative, dangerous.”

TrekMovie.com has some news on the upcoming series staring Patrick Stewart:

Speaking to TrekMovie at New York Comic Con on Saturday, executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Heather Kadin confirmed that actually, the plan is for new Picard show to be an ongoing Star Trek series. Heather Kadin specifically confirmed they are planning for the Picard series to run multiple seasons.

During the Discovery panel itself, Kurtzman spoke very briefly about the Picard series, saying the writers’ room is up and running, and noting “we are four weeks in.” Speaking to TrekMovie following the panel Kadin and Kurtzman confirmed that production on the Picard show is expected to begin in April 2019. They were not able to provide any estimates on when the show would be released, but if the Picard show follows the same pattern as Discovery, it could debut in early 2020.

The producers did talk about how they hoped to roll out the various shows in the planned expansion of the Star Trek television universe. When asked about CBS Studios David Stapf’s comments from August saying there “should be a Star Trek something on all the time on All Access,” Kadin confirmed with TrekMovie that the plan is to not have Star Trek shows overlap. She also noted they plan to have breaks between the various Trek shows, to build up fan anticipation.

Kurtzman also talked about how the Picard will relate to Discovery. Responding to a fan question during the Q&A portion of the panel the executive producer said that Jean-Luc Picard “will not mesh into this season [of Discovery], that will be its own thing.”

No other details on the Picard show were revealed during the panel or at our roundtable discussion. However, at the panel Kurtzman did tease the crowd regarding the Picard show saying “Who wants to know who the bad guys are?” only to then say “no” he wasn’t going to give out that kind of info.

Taking place much further into the future, it only makes sense that the new series will not mesh into the plot lines of Discovery. Having each series on at a different time also works well for the business model of CBS All Access, giving fans reason to continue to subscribe year round. (In this age of peak television, have a break in between is also welcome). Of course for this to really work, they will need at least one or two more Star Trek series.

The above trailer from season 4 of The Magicians was also released at New York Comic Com. Margo meets Ember in a dream but, as was seen in last season’s finale, Margo has no memory of being a queen.

Actually it seemed like I was watching the season finale of The Magicians all over again a couple of weeks ago when watching the season finale of Killjoys. Instead of The Monster being on the loose and most of the characters losing their memories and having new identities, Killjoys ended with The Lady on the loose and the main characters also having new identities with their old memories lost.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, More on the Season Premiere; Star Trek Short Treks, Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, and Michael Dorn; The Arrowverse Crossover Episode; Matt Damon as Brett Kavanaugh

A new clip from the season premiere of Doctor Who has been released in which the Doctor (now played by Jodie Whittaker) finds that she is a woman and no longer the white haired Scotsman she was not long ago. The season premiere episode, The Woman Who Fell to Earth, airs on October 7.

Radio Times has more information from a Q&A with Chris Chibnall and the stars. Regarding her costume:

Jodie Whittaker had a tough job in The Woman Who Fell to Earth, trying to play a character who hadn’t quite worked out who she was yet. Apparently, wearing the costume of her Doctor Who predecessor Peter Capaldi helped her find her feet.

“I think the thing that’s really helpful about episode one is being in Peter’s costume and feeling that I was literally in someone else’s shoes,” she said.

“So it felt as if I was continually trying to discover things and, I suppose, settle in. I really love the euphoria of the scene where the Doctor finds what she wants to wear because it does feel for me from that moment that the electricity is on.

“I feel that it was a really helpful episode for an actor playing a brand new role.”

We will see Peter Capaldi’s costume a while longer, and it might not be the last we see of Capaldi’s Doctor, as he hinted at Wizard World Comic Con:

The Doctor Who veteran recently was a guest at Wizard World Comic Con in Austin. During a panel, Peter Capaldi was asked about his final moments on set playing the Doctor. He explained that, once he finished shooting his last scene, sad as it may have been, he had a sense that this wasn’t really going to be the end of his relationship with the long-running sci-fi series. Here’s what Capaldi had to say.

“When I finished, well, you never really finish with Doctor Who. It was sad, but not as sad as you think it is because you never leave.”

Last week I noted the claims that the old monsters will not appear first season. This does not necessarily apply to the future:

Much has been written about the absence of classic foes like the Daleks or the Cybermen this year – but Chris Chibnall says he never intended to shelve them permanently.

“It’s not a rule forever on Doctor Who,” he said.

“It’s just that this year in the series we’ve got new monsters and new faces. As is relatively well known, I’m as big a fan of the show as anyone.

“There’s lots of things you’d like to bring back and we might do that in the future, but just not this year.”

Radio Times also has a spoiler-free review of the episode here.

The first of the Short Treks premieres on CBS All Access on October 4 with the above trailer released last week. I posted a list of all four episodes with release dates and synopsis last week.

Jonathan Frakes has completed work directing the second and ninth episodes of season two of Star Trek: Discovery and tweeted the above picture on the set.

We still don’t have any specifics regarding the upcoming series based upon Jean-Luc Picard, but Patrick Stewart has tweeted a picture from a meeting with Kirsten Beyer, Michael Chabon, Akiva Goldsman, Diandra Pendleton-Thompson, and James Duff to begin working on the series.

Michael Dorn has discussed the changing make-up for Klingons on each version of Star Trek, and that he is happy not to have to go through it as on Discovery:

In a general sense, in every iteration of Star Trek – outside of Next Generation and Deep Space Nine and all those Klingons – the producers were trying to make it their own and put their own stamp on the Klingons. So, they decided “We are going to do something different than everybody else.”…and I think that is what they came up with for Discovery. There is no rhyme or reason to it, or to any of the stuff, so I think it is just a matter that they want to put a stamp…

I am actually really glad that I am not in that makeup, because if you go online and look up YouTube of Mary Chieffo – just a wonderful, just a sweetheart, but what they do to that poor girl is mind-boggling. There are three makeup artists working the whole time on her…I mean, it’s okay. It’s just another iteration.

The title of this year’s Arrowverse crossover event has been named Elseworlds, and will finally introduce Gotham City. While we will not see Batman, who has occasionally been hinted at, the story will introduce Batwoman.  The crossover will start with The Flash on Sunday, December 9. Arrow on Monday, December 10, and conclude with Supergirl on Tuesday, December 11.

We don’t know if we will see the Gotham City of Earth-1, Supergirl’s Earth-38, or an entirely different universe. CBR.com speculates that the story will be part of a Crisis which leads to a merging of these different universes so that Supergirl is on the same earth as the other CW superheros (now that they are all on the same network):

After all, with the Monitor involved and an emphasis on alternate worlds, it seems quite likely that we might be looking at some sort of Crisis. What’s more, such a crisis was already hinted at in the pilot episode of The Flash. Viewers might recall a newspaper article from the future (the year 2024, to be exact) where the Scarlet Speedster had mysteriously disappeared following a crisis that involved red skies. If Crisis on Infinite Earths is known for anything else, other than merging DC continuity, it’s because it featured the heroic death of Barry Allen. Now, it’s already been established that the timeline on The Flash had been put on the fast track and altered, which could mean that the year 2024 might not be set in stone. Instead, it could very well end up being in 2018.

This doesn’t mean that Barry Allen will die, but it he could get lost in the Speed Force (again). Either that or, with history altered, another Flash (or DC character) could end up making the ultimate sacrifice (looking at you, Superman.) It seems like all of the elements are in place for the next Arrowverse crossover to actually be a full on Crisis-level event. If that is the case, then it’s likely that, after four years, we will finally see a merging of Earth-38 and Earth-1. If that happens, then Supergirl will finally be a part of the same universe as Green Arrow and the Flash.

They also looked at the question of a Flash dying during this Crisis in another post. (Any relation between the Red Skies and the Red Forest of 12 Monkeys?)

Marc Guggenheim has discussed how he works at Lifehacker.

This week we had the return of some shows, but the must-see scene of the week was Matt Damon as Brett Kavanaugh on the Saturday Night Live cold open:

Plus Weekend Update on the Senate testimony:

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Star Trek Shorts; Timeless Movie; Handmaid’s Tale; Veronica Mars

Doctor Who returns on October 7, and another trailer (video above) has been released. We will have a new Doctor and new companions. However, the new showrunner, Chris Chibnall, says we will not see other familiar faces:

In an interview with the Times Magazine, Chibnall revealed that the likes of Alex Kingston’s River Song, Michelle Gomez’s Missy (aka the female regeneration of longtime villain the Master) and the Paternoster Gang (including Neve McIntosh’s Madame Vastra and Dan Starkey’s Strax) won’t be included this time around, and while it’s not a massive shock – we might have heard by now if any of those figures were making a reappearance, and both Missy and River are technically dead at this point – it’s a definite sign of the vision Chibnall has for the show.

“I want this to be a recruiting year for Doctor Who to bring in that next generation of audiences,” he explained.

Chibnall also confirmed that other recurring monsters like the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Weeping Angels had been banished for the time being, with series 11 instead focusing on new baddies and threats to be enjoyed by new and old fans alike.

While it is hard to believe that we will not eventually see the return of classics like the Daleks, the Cybermen, and some version of the Master, I have wondered if Chibnall would use many of the characters which were creations of Steven Moffat. Perhaps there will be one similarity to the Moffat years. It was a common claim that Moffat lies–in order to attempt to have some surprises in this internet age when surprises are difficult. Syfy Wire has a good point that this could be similar misdirection from Chibnall:

The thing is, for those fans who have been around the block with the TARDIS once or twice, there’s every reason to believe this boast from Chibnall is actually a fib designed to protect spoilers and curb expectations. And that’s because the tools of misdirection, concealment, and outright lying are all time-honored traditions right before a new season of Doctor Who.

Way back in 2011, before Season 6 of the current run of Doctor Who, then-showrunner Steven Moffat made a similar claim, saying the Daleks would not appear in that season. “They aren’t going to make an appearance for a while… We thought it was about time to give them a rest,” Moffat said. And, then, in the finale of that season, “The Wedding Of River Song,” the Doctor fights a Dalek. True, the appearance of that Dalek was brief, but a big deal was made of the scene, complete with the Doctor calling his most dreaded enemy by name while looking right at the camera.

And then, there’s the supposed final appearance of River Song in the 2013 Season 7 episode “The Name of the Doctor.” Most fans considered her long-gone, and Moffat deflected the idea she would ever appear by saying that the former showrunner Russel T. Davies was going to write a raunchy episode called “Sex Storm” if she ever came back. Basically, the idea of a River Song return was laughed off by Moffat, publically. But then, in the 2015 Christmas Special, “The Husbands of River Song,” River Song returned, perhaps in her most poignant episode ever.

Steven Moffat also concealed the identity of Michelle Gomez’s character Missy back in 2014, insisting she was a new character to the show, when she was, in fact, not, and left it for the big Season 8 reveal that she was really the Master.

Jodie Whittaker discussed the controversy over being the first woman Doctor, and that she is confident that she is being paid the same as a male lead, in an interview with Variety:

When the new Doctor’s hood slowly dropped and Whittaker was revealed as the Time Lord on July 16, 2017, the world of sci-fi stood still for a moment, and fandom went a bit berserk. Not that Whittaker noticed, telling the BBC at the time that she’s not on social media. But “Avengers” and “Sherlock” star Benedict Cumberbatch struck a note for common sense. “It’s an alien,” Cumberbatch says. “Why can’t it be a woman? Why can’t it be any gender?”

Whittaker reports that the furor has since died down. “It’s not as [scary] as everyone maybe imagined when they took the hood down and it was a girl,” she tells Variety from Roath Lock, the studio in the Welsh capital of Cardiff where the series is shot.

The change, she says, is a long time coming: “It’s 2018. Women are not a genre. We are just the other half of the population, so to see us doing things should not be such a surprise.”

The gender debate strikes a personal chord. The leads Whittaker saw in series growing up were “white guys running about, saving the day doing really cool stuff,” while women were relegated to applauding their heroics.

When Whittaker started drama school at age 20, women were told their paths would be harder than for men because there were fewer roles. She hopes her Doctor can help remedy the problem. “It is a moment and I’m part of it and I’m proud of it,” she says. “But I can’t wait for it not to be a moment as well, so that when someone is going to drama school at 18 they don’t need to think, ‘There aren’t any jobs for me.’”

And with the gender pay gap also in the spotlight, Whittaker is confident a “Crown” moment isn’t coming. “I absolutely know I am not being paid less than any other Doctor,” she says. “This show is not the show that’s going to do that and have that revelation be the sidebar

The Wrap quotes Whittaker talking about role models:

“It’s someone’s opinion that boys can’t look up to women,” she said. “Role models and heroes come in all different shapes and sizes, and I’ve never needed to look like mine for me to be able to relate to them.”

Whittaker added that “Doctor Who” has always been “an inclusive” show, and that it’s “about embracing change.” “It’s not making the show to exclude, it’s making the show to include,” she said. “And the fact that a woman is playing an alien over a man playing an alien kind of is irrelevant to the qualifications. It’s playing an alien, and so the gender is irrelevant.”

We have also seen controversy when others were first cast to play the Doctor. When Matt Smith first started to play the Doctor, some complained that he was too young. Radio Times reports that it is possible Smith might have played a different role instead as Merlin. However, Smith ultimately lost the role to Colin Morgan as Smith was felt to be too old:

“Casting Merlin was really really hard because you needed to find an actor who had a really big, broad playing range, but also could handle the fact that it’s not naturalistic drama,” Johnny Capps, the co-creator and executive producer of the BBC fantasy series, tells RadioTimes.com in our in-depth feature on the making of Merlin, which will be available to read this weekend.

“So you couldn’t have an actor who was just going to play it in an incredibly earnest, real way. You wanted somebody that could find the truth, but also find the truth as it exists in that kind of fantasy world.”

And on the final shortlist for that part alongside Colin Morgan? Matt Smith, who apparently got down to the last two actors to play the boy wizard.

“Interestingly, in the early days Matt Smith was in the frame for Merlin,” recalls Julian Murphy, another co-creator and executive producer on the magical series.

“I think there’s a certain kind of actor who has the lightness and skill to play that sort of family drama, and I think both Colin Morgan and Matt Smith are that kind of actor. It’s a mercurial quality. And they’re light on their feet. That’s the skill they had.”

However, in the end Colin Morgan clinched it for one simple reason – the casting team felt like the younger Morgan would be better suited to play the adolescent wizard than Smith.

“We just felt that he was too old – not that he wasn’t great,” Murphy said. “And he was too old, really.”

Further information has been released about the Short Treks on CBS All Access this fall. From Deadline:

Runaway – Thursday, Oct. 4

Onboard the U.S.S. Discovery, Ensign Tilly (Mary Wiseman) encounters an unexpected visitor in need of help. However, this unlikely pair may have more in common than meets the eye.

Written by Jenny Lumet & Alex Kurtzman. Directed by Maja Vrvilo.

Calypso – Thursday, Nov. 8

After waking up in an unfamiliar sickbay, Craft (Aldis Hodge) finds himself on board a deserted ship, and his only companion and hope for survival is an A.I. computer interface.

Teleplay by Michael Chabon. Story by Sean Cochran and Michael Chabon. Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi.

The Brightest Star – Thursday, Dec. 6

Before he was the first Kelpien to join Starfleet, Saru (Doug Jones) lived a simple life on his home planet of Kaminar with his father and sister. Young Saru, full of ingenuity and a level of curiosity uncommon among his people, yearns to find out what lies beyond his village, leading him on an unexpected path.

Written by Bo Yeon Kim & Erika Lippoldt. Directed by Douglas Aarniokoski.

The Escape Artist – Thursday, Jan. 3

Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson), back to his old tricks of stealing and double-dealing, finds himself in a precarious position aboard a hostile ship – just in time to try out his latest con.

Written by Michael McMahan. Directed by Rainn Wilson.

Rainn Wilson discussed the shorts, along with his previous appearances on Star Trek: DiscoveryChoose Your Pain and Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad.

You’ll be acting in and directing one of the Short Treks installments…

There’s going to be that 10, 15% of fans that go, “Oh, no way. I’m not going to watch a short film about Star Trek. This isn’t how it works.” But I love that they’re breaking molds and breaking new ground, and it’s a terrific mini Harry Mudd adventure. It goes to a lot of different places, from different aliens to a  lot of fun situations, with some great twists and turns, and I get to direct it and star in it. It’s like a dream come true. It’s like, “Write me a dream job.”

Is this a stepping stone to directing more?

Possibly, yeah. This is a great way to cut my teeth as a director. I directed three episodes of The Office, and I directed some short films and digital shorts, but this is special effects and visual effects. I’ve got my work cut out for me

In other Star Trek news, TrekMovie.com has the plot outline of a proposed story for Star Trek: The Next Generation which would have had Spock meet a younger version of himself:

They were going to go back to what was now the most forbidden place in the galaxy, which was that time portal, and they were going to have to actually violate the rules about non-interference, and it was going to create a Pandora’s box with a whole terrible, unforeseen thing which only the Spocks from the two different time periods coming together could actually fix.

Collider spoke with Eric Kripke about the upcoming Timeless movie to wrap up the series:

“It’s basically the equivalent of two episodes. As a matter of fact, we tried, at one point, to do one long historical period to last over two hours, and then eventually, Arika wisely said, ‘Why are we doing this? Why don’t we just do what we always do, which is spend an hour in two different time periods?’ And so, though they’re connected and though it’s one long mythology story that plays over both, they really are, in effect, two time periods of Timeless that they visit, and we’ll shoot each one. We shot 8-day episodes, and this will be a 16-day shoot. It will be exactly like two more episodes of the show.”

Kripke did leave open the possibility of continuing the story (in the unlikely event that someone picks up the show):

The short answer is that I don’t know if there’s anything we can do that will make them finally say, ‘Oh, that’s great! I’m gonna close that chapter of my life.’ There’s a certain amount of shocking turns, and we tried to let it build to something and provide a certain amount of closure, and give you a sense of where these characters go. We tried to put a period at the end of the sentence, but not so much that the door isn’t open for further adventures, down the road.”

This “sexy” Handmaid’s costume really misses the point of The Handmaid’s Tale. Yandy wound up pulling the costume from their site in response to the inevitable complaints from everyone who has any idea what the show is about.

The Handmaid’s Tale received multiple Emmy nominations. TV Guide interviewed the producer and asked about the third season:

TV Guide caught up with executive producer Bruce Miller on the red carpet of the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, and what he had to say about June’s (Elisabeth Moss) upcoming storyline has us hungry for a closer look at the underground resistance within Gilead. “I think overall Season 3 is a lot more rebellious, outwardly rebellious than Seasons 1 and 2. I think June’s taken a lot, and I think it’s time for her to give back some,” Miller said.

Last we saw June, she was handing her newborn baby off to Emily (Alexis Bledel) so they could escape to Canada, while she stayed behind to try to find her other daughter, Hannah (Jordana Blake). It was a bold move, but does that mean June’s officially joining the resistance? Miller didn’t confirm how active a part June will take in the fight against Gilead (though we hope she gives them everything she’s got and more), but he did hint that her mindset will have changed drastically when we return to her story in Season 3.

“I think I’m most excited by what happens to June now that she’s chosen to go back to Gilead, that she isn’t forced,” Miller said. “That’s a huge, powerful choice. What changes in your psychology when you’ve chosen to be in a place like that and you’ve chosen to stay on the inside and fight as opposed to go to the outside? I think that’s a very different psychology so that’s been very interesting.”

 Sc

The Veronica Mars revival is now official on Hulu with the show premiering in 2019. Deadline has this plot synopsis:

In the revival, spring breakers are getting murdered in Neptune, thereby decimating the seaside town’s lifeblood tourist industry. After Mars Investigations is hired by the parents of one of the victims to find their son’s killer, Veronica is drawn into an epic eight-episode mystery that pits the enclave’s wealthy elites, who would rather put an end to the month-long bacchanalia, against a working class that relies on the cash influx that comes with being the West Coast’s answer to Daytona Beach.