SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sherlock; Sense8; The OA; Travelers; Westworld In Chronological Order; Carrie Fisher; Father Of The Bride

While waiting for the Christmas Special, The Return of Doctor Mysterio, we have The 12 Doctors of Christmas video above.

This will lead us into the upcoming season, to start in April 2017, which will be Steven Moffat’s last as show runner. He talked to Digital Spy about his plans:

If you’re expecting a grand finale to the Steven Moffat era of Doctor Who, then you might want to think again.

Moffat told press including Digital Spy that his final episodes of the BBC series will be about “pushing forward” – not bringing anything to a close.

“With Doctor Who, you never want to have finished the story – I’m not going to do that,” he insisted. “I want Chris [Chibnall, the new showrunner] to come in and have a brilliant time, so I’m not going to wrap it all up.

“So no… it’ll still be pushing forward. The thing is, people don’t really care about me or Chris, that’s the absolute truth. It’s heartbreaking, but it’s true – so the departure of a showrunner and the arrival of another one doesn’t really matter very much, ’cause no-one’s ever heard of us!”

Whether Peter Capaldi remains after Moffat stays might depend upon negotiations over pay, as the BBC has cut its fees in recent years.

Steven Moffat also has an interview with the BBC over the upcoming season of Sherlock, to premiere on New Year’s Day:

What do you mean when you say ghosts of the past are coming back?

By ghosts of the past we mean consequences. There are consequences to the kind of mad cap in-the-moment fun lives that Sherlock and John and Mary lead. There are things that have happened, there are enemies that they have made, there is damage that has been done and some of that is coming back to visit them. There will be surprises and when some of those surprises happen you’ll think “ah I should have seen that coming”.

How have the main characters developed in this series?

That’s the whole story of this series, so I’m not talking about that! Events get out of their control for a while and we see them in their darkest hours and in their highest moments.

How does Sherlock feel about John and Mary’s new addition?

The thing about Sherlock Holmes is that he is a grown-up. We always like to pretend he’s an absolute lunatic but he does things well and he straightforwardly adores John and Mary, they’re his best friends. So he behaves probably better than most young men behave when their best mates are having babies. He’s pretty good at all that.

Netflix released the Sense8 Christmas Special on December 23. At first it seemed an unlikely show to have a Christmas Special, but in retrospect it made a lot of sense. This provided a way to get reacquainted with the characters during the two year hiatus between the first and second season. The slow pace of the show worked well here. Not all that much happened to advance the story lines of the characters, giving plenty of time for holiday celebrations and the obligatory orgy scene.

Netflix also released two genre shows around the holidays, The OA and Travelers. I have not had time to see either, but The OA has been receiving a fair about of buzz since released. More information at Variety, Vox, and The Atlantic. The Travelers (trailer above) has an overall plot line similar to many science fiction shows including 12 Monkeys, Legends of Tomorrow, and Continuum in which time travelers from the future try to prevent a catastrophe in their era. This differs in that the travelers do not physically travel through time. Instead their consciousness takes over the bodies of others at the moment of their death. Here is the official synopsis:

Hundreds of years from now, the last surviving humans discover the means of sending consciousness back through time, directly into people in the 21st century. These “travelers” assume the lives of seemingly random people, while secretly working as teams to perform missions in order to save humanity from a terrible future. These travelers are: FBI Special Agent Grant MacLaren (Eric McCormack), the team’s leader; Marcy (Mackenzie Porter), a young, intellectually disabled woman in the care of her social worker, David (Patrick Gilmore); Trevor (Jared Paul Abrahamson), a high school quarterback; Carly (Nesta Marlee Cooper), a single mom in an abusive relationship; and Philip (Reilly Dolman), a heroin-addicted college student. Armed only with their knowledge of history and an archive of social media profiles, the travelers discover that 21st century lives and relationships are as much a challenge as their high-stakes missions.

Westworld is one show which in which things would be much clearer if viewed a second time. While watching the season finale I was thinking it would be even clearer if recut in chronological order, as some have done with a work by creator Jonathan Nolan’s brother–Christopher Nolan’s Memento. Of course it would be much harder to rewatch the entire season of Westworld as opposed to a movie such as Memento. These issues have been solved at The Outline where there is a recut version of Westworld season one in chronological order in which what they call the “normal” parts are sped up. This reduces the video to only ninety minutes.

As of time of writing this on Saturday, Carrie Fisher remain in intensive care after suffering a heart attack on Friday while flying from London to Los Angeles. She survived thanks to passengers on the plan initiating CPR. Hopefully she has a full recovery. We do need Princess Leia back to lead the rebellion against the evil empire when Donald Trump takes over in January.

For the last few months Father of the Bride has been the movie which means the most to me personally, still recalling watching it on ancient video tape when my daughter was a long way away from this point in her life. Therefore it caught my attention when I was scanning entertainment news for this post and saw that E! News had an article on the movie entitled How Realistic Is Father of the Bride? Fact-Checking the Classic 25 Years Later.  572 guests!!! I’m going to have nightmares tonight contemplating that.

After the show received quite a bit of controversy, A&E has cancelled Escaping The KKK.

Update: Carrie Fisher Dies At 60, May The Force Be With Her Always

SciFi Weekend: Westworld Season Finale; Doctor Who; Sherlock; Dirk Gently

The first season finale of Westworld, The Bicameral Minds, confirmed more fan theories, had additional revelations, and leaves big questions as to where the show is going for the second season. Major spoilers ahead. We found out much more about Bernard in the final episodes, both that he is a robot and that he was made in Arnold’s image. Ford did not seem very surprised that Bernard was revived in the finale, but he always seems to be many steps ahead of everyone else, largely as he has programed the actions of the hosts to a greater degree than previously revealed. What was a surprise was that Ford was on the side of the hosts, now taking Arnold’s side.

Early questions of whether Ford was good or evil now seem irrelevant. What matters is that has taken up Arnold’s mission to prevent robots, which would ultimately achieve consciousness, from being mistreated and exploited. This does leave the question of why Ford found it necessary to kill Arnold in the ninth episode, but perhaps this does not matter as death is only temporary on Westworld. Ford’s motives appear entirely different now that we know that he was on the side of the hosts, even if some of his earlier actions might have seemed contradictory. (I have seen speculation that possibly early scenes were filmed before the producers really figures out where they were going.) Despite his motives, he did utilize violence and was responsible for many deaths. Some of the violence might be rationalized, at least on Ford’s part, by the view that suffering and trauma were the key to waking up a host’s consciousness. Other deaths can be explained, even if not justified, by how low a view Ford held of humanity. This is echoed in the view of Delores, which probably reflects the views of Ford and/or Arnold, that humans are destined to go the way of dinosaurs.

Maeve proceeded with her rebellion, but we learned that this was part of Ford’s programing. Both Delores and Maeve were given the opportunity to make a decision, but it was no surprise that Maeve decided to remain in the park and search for her daughter in one story line after seeing the mother and daughter together on the train. Therefore she did not infiltrate the outside world, which may or may not be part of the long term plans for the show.

We also finally saw William put on a black hat, and then fade into The Man In Black thirty years later. This was widely predicted on line since the second episode when William and Logan were first introduced. It was a shock to Delores–possibly the final shock she needed for her to become fully sentient. While it might make sense that she does not connect the William of thirty years ago with The Man In Black of the show’s present, this makes less sense if William has been visiting the park, and presumably Delores, over the past thirty years as he aged. I am also not entirely satisfied with the explanation of how William’s character changed over the years. While he was disappointed in the finale to find that it was true that the maze was not for him, he did get what he wanted in having consequences to actions and the ability to get hurt at the end.

Other than for Ford’s plans, the biggest surprise of the episode was that Delores was Wyatt. While it has been clear there was some connection between Delores and past events in the park, it was a surprise to see the scenes of her actually killing the original hosts as part of Arnold’s failed plan to prevent the park from opening. This did make it more plausible to see her shoot Ford, her opportunity to make a choice in the finale, which I suspect was primarily because of the meta requirement of Anthony Hopkins only signing up for one year.

The  fate of some characters is less clear if you go under the assumption that if a character is not actually seen to have been killed will very likely return. Logan was last seen naked on a horse in distant parts of the park. If he survived this, he could be expected to return as a very angry enemy of William/The Man In Black. We also do not know what happened to Elsie and Stubbs.

I have seen both the producers and some cast members refer to the first season as a prologue for the story ahead in several interviews. It was inevitable in this form of story that the robots would rise up and rebel, but in contrast to the movie, the audience is made to be sympathetic towards the robots. From various interviews we know that Jimmi Simpson (William) will not return but Ed Harris will. Presumably this means that the flashbacks to thirty years ago are over, unless they will involve different people/robots. While it is possible that Ed Harris will only be returning to be killed in the opening, with Ford gone I wonder if Jimmi Simpson will be playing the role of the main human from Delos, and the opposition to the robots taking over. This could possibly include an older version of Logan as an enemy, with Elsie and Stubbs also playing a part if they are still alive. On the host side, both Evan Rachel Wood and Jeffrey Wright have said they are returning.

We do not know whether the next season will continue to take place primarily in the same areas, if we will see the outside world, and to what degree other parks are involved. We know both that this is Park 1, implying other parks, and we have seen a sign of Samurai (or possibly Shōgun) World.

Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy gave some minimal hints as to where the series is going in an interview with TVLine:

TVLINE | We see Felix and Maeve run through Samurai World or Shogun World or whatever it’s actually called — the backstage area for another park. In his note to her, we see that her daughter is in Park 1… indicating that there are multiple worlds. What can you tell me about the concept of multiple Worlds? 
NOLAN | Lisa and I embarked on this with a feeling that we’d need a plan, we’d need a beginning, a middle and an end to embark on something like this. We didn’t want to do a series that was really popular and we just kept doing it and doing it and ran out of ideas. We wanted to tell the story of the origin of a new species and the new messiness and ambition that would entail.

We wanted the show to change, season on season, sometimes in terms of the characters you’re looking at, but with many familiar faces along the way. And see how their journey, the hosts’ journey, shifts and changes as they understand more of the world around them. At the same time, the title of the series and our interest in the Western aspect of it, and what that means and why that genre was so durable and so evocative for so long, for us means that there’s always a connection to that place and that key of storytelling. Hopefully the ambition of the story and the scope of the story grows season on season, but you never quite forget where it started.

More is revealed in an interview with Variety:

How dead is Ford?
Jonathan Nolan: Oh, he’s dead.

Is he “Anthony Hopkins is available for pilot season” dead?Nolan:
Working with Anthony Hopkins on this season of TV has been one of the greatest pleasures and privileges for Lisa and I in our careers. It’s been an incredible experience, and we’ll see where our story takes us…

We’ve perceived Ford to be one type of person, and at the end he reveals himself to be a different type of person in terms of how he feels about his creations and how he feels about his own life’s work.
Lisa Joy: Only a titan like Anthony Hopkins could have done all the nuance that he embedded in this series. His character in my mind is always a little bit of Prospero in “The Tempest.” You think his plan involves one thing. You kind of underestimate him. Then you see this glimmer of malice and menace that you didn’t anticipate, so he goes to being the villain. Then by the end you realize that this is in some way about atonement for him and that he’s chosen this very difficult road because he believes it’s the only road in which he can atone for the mistakes of the past.

We got confirmation in the finale that the show takes place on multiple timelines, which had been hinted at strongly in previous episodes. How did you settle on that structure?
Joy: I think the key is to let it grow organically from the concept and the characters. Even though it is a very complicated, twisty set of reveals, this is the one show in which it is totally organic to what they’re experiencing. You have a group of hosts who are basically immortal, and the fundamental thing that is holding them back is memory. Unlike humans, who have these imperfect memories — we can’t really conjure events in all the detail they occur — the hosts have a different problem. They’re able to bring back the exact replica of that memory so lifelike and engrossing in detail that it’s impossible to distinguish today from tomorrow or yesterday.

Nolan: This is not the first time I’ve written about amnesiac characters. I remember talking to my brother [Christopher Nolan] about “Memento” and how I was intending to structure that as a short story. I wanted to write it as a deck of cards and then shuffle that to make it completely, aggressively non-linear, because that was that character’s understanding of the world. Here we had the unique opportunity to try to illuminate some of the differences between how an artificial person might understand the world, and especially an artificial person who had been artificially held back in terms of their understanding of the world in order for us to facilitate us being able to do whatever the f–k we want to them.

More at The Hollywood Reporter:

Season one was about control and season two is poised to explore chaos. What brought Westworld to this chaotic and extremely violent moment in the story?

Nolan: I think most television series … and I mean no disrespect by this. I’ve worked in television for years and I love all of the different ways you can build a show. But for the most part, you get through the pilot, you build your sets, you hire your cast, and it’s working, and you just want to hang out in that moment and enjoy that moment with that iteration of the story you’re telling. For Lisa and myself, with this show, we never had any intention of staying in one place. We don’t want to shoot on the same sets for 10 years. We want to blow the sets up and move on to another piece of the story. So we said when we started working on the series that we wanted to be ambitious. We wanted each season to increase in that ambition and in the scope of the show. It also follows the story of our hosts. Their lives begin in loops, and then expand and change and grow. It’s an origin of a new species. We want to follow that story all the way to the bitter end.

Joy: The control vs. chaos reminds me of the Langston Hughes poem, about what happens to a dream deferred. We’ve set this up as Dolores living in a dream, but it’s someone else’s dream. She can’t live her own life. Then, at the end, we see. It explodes and goes out with a bang.

Ford reveals his new narrative is designed to activate the hosts’ consciousness and ignite revolution against their human oppressors. He ultimately isn’t in conflict with Arnold; he actually has come to agree with his old friend. How did you arrive at this idea? 

Nolan: We had a lot of iterations of this, especially as we were working on the pilot. As we started to write the pilot, we understood that we had a great opportunity here to explore a very ambiguous character, a great man. Two great men, really. Their argument over what they were doing would stretch on for decades and beyond death. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to take our time. All we needed was the best living actor [to play him]…

Ford is no longer the last man standing, thanks to Dolores. Why did Ford need to die in order for this revolution to begin?

Joy: It’s a little bit like when Arnold says: “The violence has to be real. The stakes have to be real.” Ford is doing this in such dramatic fashion in front of the Delos board. He’s basically taking the safety off. There’s no turning back from this. It’s not a kind of fiction anymore. I think that’s part of it.

Nolan: We talked about the Julian Jaynes book [called The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind], which we thought was a very interesting place to start in terms of understanding the hosts’ cognition. They would be coaxed into life by this voice of god, and then at a certain point, this god has to realize that his partner was right. The appetites of the audience they were catering to and the story they were telling wasn’t what they wanted it to be. These creatures had grown into sentience within that story. They realize the only way for these creatures to be truly free is for that god to die. If on a very literal level, if Ford’s voice is the last thing … we’ve established his voice as an almost telepathic control of the park. The only thing standing between the guests and the hosts is Ford, so he removes himself from that equation.

Will we see Anthony Hopkins in season two?

Nolan: I think with this show, you want to assume nothing. We had a wonderful experience. It was one of the greatest privileges of my career so far, getting to work with Anthony for the first season. It was an incredible experience.

How afraid of Dolores should we be? How much Wyatt is in there?

Joy: I think that’s something we’ll come to see, and she’ll come to find also. I think it’s impossible to imagine … if you’ve been subjected to the violence and seen the evil Dolores has seen, the pendulum wouldn’t swing the other way, as we see it starting to do in the finale. But there’s a point, too, where I think selfhood transcends the reactionary. The question will be when the dust settles and the pendulum stops swinging, who will Dolores be?

We have to wait until 2018 to find out what happens next, but similar ideas are frequently seen. Humans, while lacking the budget and attention of Westworld, is handling similar concepts very well, and is not limited to a theme park.  Agents of Shield showed in the fall finale that Artificial Intelligence will be the theme of the second half of this season.

The Return of Doctor Mysterio, this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, has the Doctor return to New York for the first time since The Angels Take Manhattan. Perhaps this is why the TARDIS appears to be having problems in some of the preview pictures as the Doctor cannot return to New York or risk time distortions. Presumably the time distortions would have been far more serious if he had attempted to go back in time to save Amy and Rory as opposed to going in the present day. We will see if this is a part of the episode, or just another plot hole.

Another trailer (video above) has been released. Spoiler: When dealing with aliens, the expression”open your minds” appears to be as ominous as “To Serve Mankind.”

Sherlock returns on January 1. A trailer is above. Following is the synopsis of the first episode, entitled The Six Thatchers:

In episode one of this new series, written by Mark Gatiss, Sherlock waits to see where Moriarty will make his posthumous move. One mysterious case in particular baffles Scotland Yard – but Sherlock is more interested in a seemingly-trivial detail. Why is someone destroying images of the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher? Is there a madman on the loose? Or is there a much darker purpose at work? Something with its roots deep in Mary Watson’s past…”

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency  completed its first season. I am a few episodes behind, and thoroughly confused as to what is going on (and as I’m behind, didn’t actually read this link supplied for those interested in a discussion of the finale). BBC America has renewed the show for a second season.

SciFi Weekend: The Flash; Supergirl; Arrow; Legends of Tomorrow; Gotham; Dark Mirror; Westworld; Outlander; Falling Water; Doctor Who; SNL On The Second Presidential Debate

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All four shows in the Berlantiverse have premiered on the CW Network for this season. (Spoilers ahead for those who are not up to date). The Flash returned with the long-anticipated Flashpoint story, and couldn’t keep up with the hype. Unfortunately it was all predictable that after saving his mother, some reason would come up which would force Barry to restore the time line. This combined both disasters for some of his friends with him developing the problem of losing his original memories. It was mostly resolved in the first episode, but the restored timeline did have some changes, such as Iris not speaking to her father. Almost everything was fixed by the end of the second episode. There is one change which does extend to Arrow–Diggle now has a son rather than a daughter (with the son seen in an episode of Legends of Tomorrow last season).

While The Flash got off to a mixed opening, Supergirl started the season strong with the introduction of Superman–now putting these two series out in front of the Berlantiverse shows. It was the perfect view of Superman for this series–the version from the latest movies certainly would not have fit in.

I bet nobody was surprised that Kara decided to become a reporter. The move of Winn from CatCo to the DEO is exactly the type of change which might be farfetched in the real world, but which fits into television reality. They hinted at changes for Cat Grant, which is probably a cover for Calista Flockart not going to appear as often due to the move of the show to Vancouver. It does make sense that Kara will not see her as much with the change from her personal assistant to reporter. She will have a new boss, with some information from Entertainment Weekly:

Kara’s working relationship with her new boss, Snapper Carr, is very different from the one she had with Cat Grant. “Cat — both with Kara and I think with others — is actually devoted to mentoring people,” EP Andrew Kreisberg says. “She challenges them hard, but she does that with the idea that she’s forging them and they’re going to come out the other side as stronger, better people. Snapper Carr doesn’t give a crap. He believes in the written word, in facts and ‘Are you good at your job or are you not? If you’re not good at your job, I don’t have time for you.’”

A clip from next week’s episode in which Kara meets Snapper Carr is above.

While The Flash was about Barry and Iris getting together regardless of the time line, Kreisberg has decided that Kara and Jimmy Olsen should just be friends. I just hope they stick with this decision. We have seen far too many Ross and Rachel situations on television.

Arrow has been on a downward trajectory since its superb second season, and it is too early to say whether it can move out of third place among the Berlantiverse shows. The first two episodes of the season have concentrated on building a new team, and have been rather unremarkable. Maybe once this is established the show will improve. At least the flash backs in Russia look more interesting than the flash backs from last season.

Legends of Tomorrow has been largely rebooted, but I’d still rank it as the weakest of the four seasons based upon the single episode available so far.  It appears that the team has a new leader in place of Arthur Darvill’s character Rip Hunter, but I’m not certain that he is really gone for good. On the one hand the mission first season was more personal for Rip Hunter and it might make sense to reduce the emphasis on him. On the other hand, it is Arthur Darvill who has the direct connection to the Time Masters they are replacing (along with a certain Time Lord). So far we have only had a glimpse of the Justice Society of America, but we should be seeing a lot of them next week.

Geek and Sundry has a guide to the Justice Society

Before the Justice League… Who’s the Justice Society?

So, the Justice Society of America, or JSA, was DC comics’ first all-star super group, debuting in the 1940s. Its initial roster consisted of names who should sound very familiar to followers of recent movies and shows. There was the Atom, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and the Flash, among others. Only these weren’t the same characters which viewers are familiar with today. A key aspect of DC lore is the notion of masked personas being passed down through generations, so when the company dusted off the super group concept in the 60’s with the Justice League of America, it didn’t take long for the creators to retcon the two teams as being part of a lineage.

Judging by the trailer, it seems this JSA might be the only official super group in the “Arrowverse,” and its line-up will be cherry picked from various incarnations of the team. It’ll also apparently live up to its name more by operating as a clandestine secret society. Who are the members, though?

Hourman

The first wearer of this cowl, Rex Tyler, takes his name from the Miralco Pill which grants superhuman physical prowess for an hour once ingested. As soon as time’s up, though, Hourman’s reverts back to being a normal human being. The chronal chaos seen in the trailer suggests, however, that this guy will be an amalgamation of all three heroes in the tradition, having the time-travel capability of the second Hourman, along with the black costume of the third.

Stargirl

She’s a more light-hearted heroine with ties to two superhero dynasties. Stargirl wields the powerful “cosmic staff,” which absorbs and re-directs energy, allowing her to fly, fire bolts, create forcefields, and also levitate objects.

Dr. Mid-Nite

Imagine a character somewhere between Daredevil and Riddick. All three Doctors have been actual medical doctors who turned to crime-fighting after accidents granted them night vision at the cost of near-blindness in normal light conditions. Hence, the goggles. For all doctors, the preferred tool is the noxious “black out” smoke bomb, and the preferred assistant is a deadly, trained owl.

Obsidian

The mutant son of the first Green Lantern (not Hal Jordan!), he’s born with powers that ironically invert the mighty light of his father. Obsidian can turn into a living shadow and gain all the associated qualities, like flight and intangibility. He can even sometimes build objects out of darkness, much like GL’s constructs.

Vixen

A bit like the Beastmaster, this heroine can tap into a primordial force called “the Red” which allows her to possess the abilities of any animal. This power comes from the mystical Tantu Totem, which is passed down through generations. And in fact, this Vixen is not the same one who’s previously been seen on Arrow. She’s her grandmother.

Commander Steel

A bit like Captain America, this star-spangled hero is a military man who’s granted super strength and invulnerability after a top secret experiment. (In this case, it’s meant to restore his damaged body.) Steel fights in World War II, and he makes life-long enemies with Nazi super-villains who come back to bedevil the grandsons who eventually take up his mantle.

There was even a reference to Gotham on Supergirl last week, even if not the Gotham of the Fox television show. This DC-based show also got off to a good start this season. Their election for mayor was settled far more quickly than our presidential election. Oswald Cobblepot might be as disgusting a figure in many ways as Donald Trump, and as crooked as Hillary Clinton, but if he was in a three-way race for president, I would be tempted to vote for him over our current awful choices.

Black Mirror

Just after I finished one show dropped on Netflix (Luke Cage), they are releasing another genre series on Friday. After two seasons of Dark Mirror on Channel 4 in the U.K., Netflix will be releasing a third season. TV Guide looks at the previous episodes to watch before the third season begins. The first two seasons are also available on Netflix. The New York Times spoke with the show’s creator, Charlie Brooker, and his collaborator Annabel Jones.

While I will hold off on discussing Luke Cage until a later date, of the Netflix Marvel series, I’d rank it just a bit behind Daredevil season 1, and above Daredevil season 2. Jessica Jones remains the best of the series. While there are some overlaps, and Luke Cage did have a role in Jessica Jones, each series can be watched independently without having seen the others.

Nerdist looks at how Doctor Strange fits into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

westworld

I was disappointed when I found that HBO was not streaming the third episode of Westworld early like they did with the first two, and I will have to wait until later tonight to watch. While I have not seen all of the new series which have premiered this season, so far it is the one I am most interested in. Assignment X has an interview with Jonathan Nolan. Here is a portion, which also compares it to Nolan’s previous series, Person of  Interest:

AX: You spent five years dealing with A.I. on PERSON OF INTEREST …

NOLAN: I think I found my subject.

AX: Did you come to any conclusions about artificial intelligence while doing PERSON OF INTEREST that have been useful in WESTWORLD?

NOLAN: It’s funny, because it’s really looking at the subject from a different perspective. PERSON OF INTEREST was relentlessly non-anthropomorphic A.I. was really the godhead, it was A.I. as a pure intelligence, not tethered to the mortal coil, an A.I. that was developed in secret. With WESTWORLD, you have really the opposite. You have A.I. that, if you consider the consciousness aspect of it, it’s almost an accident that these creatures – they’ve been programmed merely to be as lifelike as necessary for their job, and their job is to satisfy, as Lisa said, our most noble or most base desires. So they’re not supposed to be smarter than us. That’s the last thing [their makers] want.

AX: What are the WESTWORLD park’s customers like?

NOLAN: Well, the guest experience is the third point of view of the show, but it’s very much unlike the original film. We really wanted to start with the hosts, start with their limited understanding of what this world is. But there is that great point of entry. You want to know, how does this place work? As Lisa said earlier, the show is really an examination of human nature, from two different directions. From the perspective of synthetic humans, or synthetic beings, who have been coded to resemble human nature as closely as possible, and who are beginning the question, in the first season, just how worthy a model that is to follow. Every perspective of human beings, and this is the delicious part of the premise, who have been invited or made their way into a space in which they’ve been told that they have free rein. They can take their id on vacation. They can indulge in any whim, no matter how noble or dark that they want, and apparently without consequence. And so that’s a fascinating premise as well. You know, who are we when the lights are off? Who are we when we don’t think anyone’s keeping score? And then in between these worlds [of the synthetic hosts and the human guests], you have the programmers, writers, technicians, the Promethean characters who are responsible for mediating those two worlds.

AX: It seems like Ed Harris’ Man in Black gunslinger/marauder character is a guest who is indulging real darkness in himself …

NOLAN: Ed’s character features as the “ne plus ultra” guest. This is an expert-level player, someone who has been coming to the park, as he says in the second episode, for thirty years. He knows everything about [the park].

When Crichton wrote the original film, the state of the videogame business was Pong. In the forty years since then, that entire industry has grown up and evolved into this monster that’s bigger than the film business, bigger than the TV business. So our narrative had to account for that more sophisticated understanding that we have of gaming. We call them “guests,” but there is also a gaming aspect to what they do in the park. It is not just a leisurely resort. They’re here to engage in the narratives, and the narratives are increasingly sophisticated.

AX: We see that the guests can shoot the android hosts, and the hosts can’t shoot each other, but theoretically, the guests can’t shoot each other and the hosts can’t shoot the guests. Are the guns built so that they can detect human physiology as opposed to android physiology, or how does that work?

NOLAN: It’s not the guns. It’s the bullets. We thought a lot about this. In the original film, the guns won’t operate guest on guest. But we felt like the guests would want to have a more visceral experience here. So when they’re shot and it has an impact, they’re called “simunitions.” The U.S. military trains with rounds like the ones we’re talking about. There’s a bit of an impact, a bit of a sting. So it’s not entirely consequence-free for the guests.

There has been a steady stream of news, such as this casting news, to keep alive interest in Outlander until it returns, probably in April. The season two gag real was also released–audio not safe for work.

I haven’t had a chance to watch Falling Water yet, but have a few links for those who are interested. The New York Times has a review. Buddy TV has videos of interviews with cast and crew, followed by summaries of key points, here and here.

jenna-coleman-doctor-who

Den of Geek looks at the possibility of Jenna Coleman returning to Doctor Who.

While there are no firm plans yet, Steven Moffat has stated that Benedict Cumberbatch is interested in continuing with Sherlock after the fourth season. He is obviously quite busy on other projects, including Doctor Strange. Moffat also states that Peter Capaldi will be remaining on Doctor Who after he leaves as show runner.

Donald Trump is not happy with how Saturday Night Live has portrayed him. Video of their parody of the second presidential debate above, with Alec Baldwin portraying Donald Trump. Trump says that the media is rigging the election that Baldwin’s portrayal stinks. He also tweeted that it is “Time to retire the boring and unfunny show.”

SciFi Weekend: Series Finales For Person of Interest and Penny Dreadful; Mr. Robot

Person of Interest Finale Finch

Person of Interest and Penny Dreadful both had their series finale in the past week. There will be major spoilers for each.

We knew from the start of the season that Person of Interest was concluding, and at times the abbreviated season felt frustrating as too much time, probably at the insistence of CBS, was spent with procedural episodes when there was so much story to tell this season. The end game started late in the season with Root being killed in the 100th episode. This led to Harold thinking more about what must be done, and the consequences of his previous decisions to limit the machine. Root got her way in having the Machine be set more free, and it adopted not only her voice but her attitude. The penultimate episode showed what would have happened to the characters if Harold had never built the Machine. Some were better off and some worse off. Either way, this convinced Harold of what he must do, as he released the Ice-9 virus.

The finale dealt with the aftermath, skipping around in time. We got a glimpse of the chaos around the world, but much of the episode centered on Harold speaking with the machine on a roof where Harold thought he was engaging in a final suicide mission to destroy Samaritan. It was fitting that much of the remainder of the episode had Finch and Reese together as the series began, ending consistent with their characters that Reese (with the help of the Machine) would sacrifice himself instead.

While there was speculation that the finale would be a blood bath, Reese was the only member of Team Machine to die. In a way Root came back from death as the personification of the Machine.   Lionel hopefully still has his pension to look forwards to. The Machine, which had failed to beat Samaritan in all those previous simulations, somehow managed to win this time, although it is not clear how. Shaw has the dog, and received a call from the Machine, now sounding like Root. She could conceivably carry on the old missions, with it also revealed recently that the Machine has other recruits. (It did seem strange that, knowing they exist, they were not called in to help in the final battle). Finch, like the Machine, received a happier ending than would have been predicted. He not only recovered from his wounds, but was reunited with Grace. Does he know that the Machine survived, and will it also call him again in the Future?

Person of Interest Finale Finch and Reese

Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman discussed the show with Deadline (part one here and part two here).

DEADLINE: Person Of Interest made artificial intelligence a central part of the story years before it became a hot topic. While most headlines today incite fear, the Machine on POI is not a threat but helps people. Jonah, why did you decide to do that and what it your position on AI, a subject that you have tackled in several projects?

NOLAN: I think it’s a nuanced one, it’s a complicated one. Part of the reason for the inception of the show or the spark for me was that I had seen many, many examples in film and TV of dystopian visions of AI. But, while the movie Her is a great example that came out a couple of years after we started making the show, it is one of the very few examples you can point towards of a positive depiction of artificial intelligence. It’s a subject that I’m kind of fascinated with, took a similar approach with the robots in Interstellar and now our current project, HBO’s Westworld, sort of exploring the same idea. I think we’ve long viewed AI as the bogeyman. That’s indicative of the way that we’ve viewed anything else that we see as a possible threat to us. Look, there’s good reason to be apprehensive.

I think the open AI initiative that Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking and others pushed for is a great idea. There needs to be transparency in what we’re doing. A lot of the stuff that’s happening right now is happening behind closed doors. It’s not science fiction to imagine that an ASI, an artificial super intelligence, will or could have an enormous impact on society. I think it’s an enormously positive impact. That’s part of what we wanted to portray but we also wanted to portray it in a very balanced way. We wanted to consider both the upside and downside of that and really get into the nitty-gritty of this. One of the things I’m proudest of for the show is this long-form conversation about how AI should play out. How unbound should it be.

For us, in this show the AI takes on the form that I think is the likeliest that it’ll take on, which is a network intelligence. Not a robot necessarily wandering around but a network intelligence that watches us and interacts with us and asks us to do things. In a sense, in this show we become the robots. Reese becomes the agent acting at the behest of this all-seeing intelligence. I think if you get to the end of this show, will you imagine that AI is an unqualified good thing? No. But I think from the beginning we wanted to portray both sides of it and the idea that a networked artificial intelligence could be a great force for good. And then you have Samaritan, I think that’s a little more familiar in terms of AI presentations where they want to take over the world. It’s abundantly clear that Samaritan would be a great force for change and good in the world but at a significant moral cost. We wanted to play in the gray area…

DEADLINE: Was this the original ending you had in mind for the series? When was that idea formed that a character will be killed off?

NOLAN: Greg, this is pretty much what we talked about from the beginning, right?

PLAGEMAN: Yeah. It seemed to spring organically from the sacrificial nature of what Reese was doing. It felt right in terms of that relationship from the very beginning. The moment Finch hired him at the end of the pilot, he said, ‘I should warn you, we’ll probably both get killed.” You almost knew at some point in time that sort of sacrifice was going to be required in order for them to ultimately defeat Samaritan and for one to allow the other to go on.

NOLAN: You get a sense that these guys are on a tragic journey — we announced it right from the pilot that they are not both going to make it. So it’s really a question of the arc for these characters and also the idea of friendship and sacrifice.

Reese, when we find him, is an extremist. In a sequence that we weren’t able to shoot because we couldn’t get permission, originally the pilot starts with Reese about to throw himself off the Manhattan Bridge. The city wouldn’t let us shoot it. They would let us shoot it on the bridge to Roosevelt Island, but that’s only about 20 feet off the water so we didn’t think we would get quite the same level of spectacle. So we weren’t able to shoot the beginning of the pilot the way it’s supposed to play out

When we find Reese, he’s in a very dark place, an assassin at the end of his rope. Finch gives him a reason to live, a new purpose. There’s great affection. This is really where the season started with the relationship between these two characters. When we get to the end, there are so many amazing characters that we found along the way and they all play a role in that finale. But it’s really that relationship — Finch, Reese, and the Machine but specifically Finch and Reese and their evolving friendship over the seasons. It’s probably the heart of the show, the essence of the show from the beginning. The sort of odd couple.

So we wanted to see Reese, as he says in the finale, he gets a chance to repay that great favor that Finch gave him a new lease on life. It’s a redemptive arc for Reese, the sacrifice at the end is him giving some of that back to Finch in the hopes that one of them could make it out alive…

DEADLINE : What about Shaw, is she the new Reese? There was a hint in the finale that she may take the mantle. 

NOLAN: I think that’s the suggestion at the end of the finale. As Finch says in the pilot, the numbers never stop coming. We assume that someone has to pick up that mantle. There’s no better candidate than Shaw. She’s capable and has a somewhat redemptive arc through this. I think that purpose and that relationship with Root as the Machine, to us we always imagined that someone would pick up the mantel and carry it forward. Shaw was always conceived of as that character.

DEADLINE: Let’s talk about the Machine. Was it important for you that it lived on?

PLAGEMAN: I do think it’s important. I think it’s important to understand that there is an artificial intelligence in the world that considers humanity. We talked about artificial intelligence quite a bit on the show and what could happen, will there be just one or will there be multiple artificial intelligences that proliferate. For now, at least in the ending of this show, as far as we’re aware there is only one. That is the one that Harold Finch originally encoded…

DEADLINE: The Episode 11 that Greg mentioned, was it envisioned as a potential spinoff?

NOLAN: Definitely not an attempt on our part to do a spinoff. If we were ever going to do a spinoff it would have been with the Control end of things and the relevant side of things which would have been great fun to take a look at three seasons ago. We didn’t want to do a spinoff. We’ve watched friends go through this where it’s like, the series is doing great, spin it off and then you wind up impoverishing both shows. So definitely not an attempt on our part to spin the show off. It was an attempt to answer a big question that’s always been there in terms of what happens to all the numbers that come up outside of New York City and to see that there is this master plan with the Machine in terms of the numbers along the way, everything adding up to something new and different.

Person of Interest Finale Finch2

They were also interviewed by IGN. The first question quoted is related to one of my questions above about the finale, and they also discussed what could have happened if the show was not ending:

Matt Fowler: In the finale, the Machine defeated Samaritan, after losing to it trillions of times in a simulated battle. Did she just have it within her all along to pull out the win in the end?

Nolan: I think a part of it was all that relentless training, in a sense. Finch and Root trying to scheme out how this would work but also running these simulations with the Machine in order to figure out how it could win in its most paired down form. So you’ve got this decommissioned Soviet satellite and these things were up in there in their most compact fighting form. Sort of like how armies used to march out and select one champion to represent them, and the fight would be decided with that champion and the rest of the army would abide by that outcome. But at this point, the armies have been decimated and destroyed and only the champions remain. The sparest algorithmic versions of these ASIs uploaded into the satellite like two strands of DNA having a kung fu battle. So kind of fun, but also kind of hard to visualize.

Plageman: Also, keeping in mind that Finch unleashed this virus that could hobble Samaritan enough to put the two ASIs on more equal footing.

Nolan: Both of them have been reduced to their respective essence, and in that form, the Machine was going to kick Samaritan’s ass.

Goldman: Samaritan ended up working as the ultimate foe for the Machine. Did you always see it as the end game and would have held off on this final battle for a couple more seasons if the show were continuing? Because you kind of ended up with the HR era and then the Samaritan era.

Nolan: I had imagined that in any version this would be the final season for Samaritan. And we had a blueprint we used for what could come next. If this was the ultimate big bad – like, what could we do afterward? And we had some pretty cool ideas. But certainly for a final adversary, Samaritan is a pretty great one…

Goldman: The great and bad thing about creating something people care about is you’re going to have to put up with guys like us asking, for years and years, “Will there be a follow-up to Person of Interest?” What’s your gut feeling? We live in an era with more revivals than ever. Do you think in some form, these characters could ever pop up again?

Nolan: Last year, it was 24, X-Files and Heroes. You’d be forgiven for waking up and checking your TV Guide thinking you’d traveled back in time 10 years. So you never say never. They’ve got our number! They can call us. We love these f**king characters. We love this world.

penny dreadful finale2

While we knew going into the season that it would be the last for Person of Interest, it was not announced until after the finale of Penny Dreadful aired that the show was not coming back. This was probably a good thing for those viewing Sunday night as I bet they were expecting to see Vanessa triumph in the end. For those like myself who watched it later, after seeing headlines of the shocking ending as well as the cancellation, Vanessa’s death was more predictable (although surprising that she had so little to do at the end). In a way it was also foreshadowed in the penultimate episode as both ended with rather disappointing surrenders by female characters who might have been expected to be stronger. Perhaps it was an homage to the common Victorian troupe of damsels in distress.

The final season also felt strangely constructed. Season two ended with the characters separated. I expected to see them reunited sooner, as opposed to waiting until late in the season, and then ending it all. It seemed like they were introducing Dr. Jekyll for a larger role in the future but couldn’t go very far with that. Other new characters were handled better, such as Dracula, Catriona Hartdegen, and Justine, even if I didn’t like how her character died. Actually the only character’s story line which I was really satisfied with this season was the Creature.

penny-dreadful-series-finale

The Hollywood Reporter spoke with Showtime president David Nevins and series creator John Logan:

When did you first know this would be the final season?

Logan: It was midway through season two, about two years ago when I was envisioning season three. I knew at the end of season two that Vanessa Ives steps away from God and burns the crucifix and she’s left completely alone without the one thing that sustained her and the one source of strength she truly has — which is her faith. Since the show for me has always been about a woman grappling with God and faith, I thought the idea of her scratching her way back to God and finally achieving some some of apotheosis was the appropriate ending. As the season began to dance about in my head, I realized where it was going to have to go and have to end. I thought that was the right end and the graceful end for the character. I discussed it with Eva and then talked to David about where I felt the season was going.

Nevins: I spent a short amount of time trying to say, “Are you sure you want to do it? There’s all these other wonderful characters.” It became clear John was right and it needed Vanessa or it wasn’t smart to continue the show beyond Vanessa. I fairly quickly said yes. And then the question was how do we handle that information and position it? The traditional thing to do was announce this is the last season. It felt like that would give away the surprise and part of the pleasure of watching TV now is experiencing it for yourself and the emotions in an unspoiled, unmediated sort of way. The episode begins with not the usual main title and that signals something different is going on here and it ends with “The end.”

Many viewers felt Vanessa’s arc suggested she was doomed at the end of the first season. Do you think this is an example of one great performance shifting the focus of an ensemble show more than anticipated?

Logan: From a writer’s perspective, this was always a show about Vanessa Ives for me. That character was the spine of the show.

Nevins: This was not a change. It was clear from John’s perspective, the show was about Vanessa Ives’ story. I encouraged an ensemble a bit, but its spine and trunk was always Vanessa.

Penny Dreadful Billie Piper

They spoke at Entertainment Weekly about the fates of the major characters:

John, you called this the story of a woman’s journey to faith. Why could returning to her faith only happen for Vanessa as she died?
LOGAN:
Because Vanessa, like all characters that are interesting to me, is broken. She’s a cursed, dark creature, and she was never going to exist easily in Victorian society as a proper Victorian wife or matron or anything. There was always an exceptionality about her, most emphatically in the fact that she’d dwelt in the dark side, with both Dracula and the devil seeking her soul. The only peace she could possibly have was with God, and the way to commit to that was to give herself entirely to it. And it became a sacrifice that she had to enact for the good of mankind. It was a generous act that she did in dying and going to God, as well.

Opposite her experience, we’ve got the Creature [Rory Kinnear] who’s also choosing death over life on behalf of his son. Vanessa is religious. The Creature is not. Were their similar responses to death an intentional counterpoint?
LOGAN:
Of course. Those two characters do a pas de deux the entire series for me. I’m Irish, so it’s like different sides of my personality. Half the time I want to go to Mass; half the time I want to walk away.

The story around Lily [Billie Piper] has been one of my favorites this year.
LOGAN:
Yeah, me too.

That monologue about her daughter in episode 8 was just stunning. Can you take me through why it was so important that you saved that really human story for the end of the season?
LOGAN:
Happily. I chose to write about women in Victorian society — that’s the stealth thing this show is actually about. It’s a very feminist show, and the idea that the audience gets to see, in our three years, Lily as a degraded figure who’s abused by men, as Brona, literally being reborn into a blank slate and then achieving incredible power but always having a great human connection. That was a case where I was also inspired by the actor, because Billie Piper so delights me, and I found that in the second season I was able to write her an eight-minute monologue that she absolutely delivered, completely, in a way that I found thrilling. I just wanted to do it again, because she’s an actor who understands theatricality and understands larger than life language in a very unique way, and that’s part of what this show is about.

Penny Dreadful Finale Vanessa

Variety spoke with John Logan:

There are a lot of balls you’ve got in the air, a lot of storylines. Obviously you’ve had multiple story lines in other seasons, but this seemed like the most “Penny Dreadful” has ever had.

This is multiple stories on steroids. I think that’s fun. The series has gotten broader and broader every season and I think that’s correct. If it was still the same five people in a room in Victorian London, you’d want to kill yourself. I certainly didn’t want to write the same show year after year, with the central characters talking in the great room about evil. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to have bigger themes, bigger stories.

Part of what helped me do that this season was having a lot of new characters. We’ve got Patti LuPone, who plays Dr. Seward, Dr. Jekyll, Keatenay, and Dr. Sweet, who’s involved in Vanessa’s storyline — all those new characters start thickening the broth, if you will. And by season three, I think we want a thick broth.

The different characters add different shadings, different notes on the scale, if you will. As do the different actors. When you see Wes Studi and Tim Dalton are fantastic together and there’s a chemistry there, seeing where the chemistry connects between the actors and the characters, is really rewarding.

And the important thing to me, as I planned the first three seasons of the show, was weaving back into the Dracula story. We did that to some degree in season one, with Mina Harker, Sir Malcolm’s daughter, and then we get back into it big time in season three. It’s fun, and challenging.

That was an unexpected reveal at the end of the first episode, but it does draw on one of the show’s themes, that these things are constants. These dangers, these demons, the issue the characters face on their moral journeys — they don’t just go away. You don’t solve them, because they’re eternal.

That’s exactly right. You look at Vanessa, who is obviously for me the beating heart of the series — the woman is tormented from without and within. From within, it’s part of a journey of faith, and losing her faith and that leaving her in a wasteland of an existence, until she tries to drag herself out of it. But also, from without, she was tormented by Satan last season, Dracula in the first season, and those things don’t go away. Your inner demons and outer demons are still there until you find finally face them in some way. I always wanted this season to be about Vanessa and Ethan facing their most difficult challenges. Ethan goes back home into the crucible of his past, his father, what made him a werewolf, why is the way he is. With Vanessa, it’s [an exploration of] the darkness around her.

The finale of Person of Interest, with scenes of chaos after the release of the Ice-9 virus,  reminded me of the ending last season of Mr. Robot with the release of their hack. A new trailer for the second season is above, showing that the FBI is after Elliot. The season has been extended from ten to twelve episodes, and there will be an after show entitled Hacking Robot.

The video below looks back at the first season:

SciFi Weekend: Person of Interest; Orphan Black; American Gods; Game of Thrones; Outlander; Arrow; David Tennant; Captain America; DC Rebirth; iZombie

"Sotto Voce" -- The mysterious criminal mastermind known as "The Voice" returns, trapping Reese and Fusco in their own precinct with several armed gang members and the latest POI. Also, Root makes a shocking discovery, on PERSON OF INTEREST, Monday, May 30 (9:59 -- 11:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured L-R: Michael Emerson as Harold Finch and Amy Acker as Root Photo: John Paul Filo/CBS ©2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

With only three episodes to go, Jonathan Nolan was free to do almost anything for the 100th episode, and he did. Major spoilers ahead. Those who were behind this season might not even have been aware that Elias was still alive but in hiding. His actual death this episode was overshadowed by the far more significant death of Root. At least she lives on in some manner with the Machine choosing to make her voice her own.

TV Line discussed the episode with Jonathan (Jonah) Nolan and Greg Plageman. Here is a portion:

TVLINE | For starters, why Root? Why was she the big loss entering this final salvo of episodes?
GREG PLAGEMAN | Root has always implored Harold Finch to make his machine more assertive in this war, and now, faced with what they’re up against, Root ultimately is the one who makes the sacrifice to save the father of The Machine, and that’s Harold. I think it’s true to Root’s character — her first love was The Machine. She always believed people were “bad code,” and more than anything she wants Harold’s machine to win this war. Her going down in this matter seemed apropos.

TVLINE | She did go down in a blaze of glory, after making one of the sickest kills in TV history.
JONAH NOLAN | Yeah, I was holding onto that one for a movie, but I decided Amy Acker was worth it…

TVLINE | In the million months since you filmed this episode, a controversy arose about TV shows killing off LGBT characters. But I think that in your defense, Root was a richly realized character, over four seasons. And as you have said, she died meaningfully.
NOLAN |  Thank you for that. We haven’t seen these other shows [that killed LGBT characters], so I can’t speak to that, but it’s really just about characters getting their due and not feeling disposable, and not feeling like the audience’s investment in a character is being used against them, or that they’re being set up for it. This was always the end of Root’s story, this was always where we were going. It became clear at the beginning of the season that this was the end of the ride for us… and Root’s journey has always been getting ever closer to The Machine, so the end of her story was always basically becoming The Machine. That’s another thing I thinks separates this from the pack, and this is how Root feels about it — it’s an evolutionary step. We’re not trying to sucker-punch the audience.
PLAGEMAN | We’re aware of the objections now to that [“Bury Your Gays”] trope, and I think we circumvent that in many ways. This is a real relationship between [Root and Shaw]. Not only was it consummated but there are real feelings there in subsequent episodes. Not to mention, as Jonah said, we’re heading down the final stretch here. This is not the only loss that Team Machine is going to encounter.

TVLINE | On the topic of consummation, although what we saw a few weeks ago was just a simulation, did I read somewhere that you said Root and Shaw actually first got “together” in Season 3, Episode 6…?
NOLAN |  We definitely implied as much at various moments. Look, we’re on CBS, there’s only so much we can show, a lot of that is left to the imagination…

TVLINE | Elias similarly went out as a hero. How important was it for you to “resurrect” him and get back Enrico Colantoni, if only for a short bit?
NOLAN |  Enrico Colantoni is a f–king magnificent actor, and has been such a fun collaborator for us over the years. We’ve always managed to make it work, when he’s available, and he’s had some great moments here. It was always the plan to fake his death and bring him ever closer to our team. If there’s one thing about the season I regret it’s not having a little more time to play with relationships like these, and spend a season with him on our team. But again, we’ve had to get to the end a little sooner than we wanted. We wanted to spend a little more time with Elias all the way inside the team, though we’d have to be careful with that — Elias isn’t much of a joiner! [Laughs] But that relationship between him and Finch has been so much fun to develop over the years, from the sort of chess conversations to really bringing him all the way in. The idea in this episode was that it’s almost like an avalanche of grief and loss bearing down on Finch, and the cumulative impact of it for Finch is watching as this set of decisions that he’s made, this sort of plan that he has held into all of these years, comes literally to grief with the death of two of his allies and friends.

TVLINE | The Machine actually speaking at the end, springing Harold from jail…. I almost feel like that’s Rocky getting up from the mat before pummeling Apollo Creed. Is our team about to rally?
PLAGEMAN | I got chills, man. One of the things that Elias really served to do…. When a character with that power says to Harold Finch, “You’re the one that people should be afraid of,” he gives that a certain weight and heft that we understand something’s coming for Harold Finch, because Elias told us so.
NOLAN | And at Comic-Con three years ago, when asked, “When will The Machine get a voice?,” we did say, “Someday, but you won’t like how it happens.” I think we fulfilled that mandate.

I was suspicious of Felix’s sister Adele when she showed up on the show, suspecting she worked for Neolution or some other group. After this week’s episode, she just might be what she seems. She filled a needed role of an attorney Donny and Alision could call on. She also had one of the best lines of the episode when she met Alison and noticed how she looks so much like Sarah, “with less anger and more hygiene.”  Next week Helena returns. I’d love to see Adele’s take on her.

Gillian Anderson has had some major genre rolls, including The X-Files, The Fall, and Hannibal. She will be working with Bryan Fuller once again on Amerian Gods. Variety reports:

Anderson will play Media, the mouthpiece for the New Gods, functioning as their public face and sales representative, by taking the form of various iconic celebrities. She lives off the attention and worship that people give to screens — to their laptops, their TVs, to their iPhones in their hands while they watch their TVs. Ever the perky spokesperson, and always in control, she spins stories in whatever direction best suits her.

The attack of the White Walkers on the cave was one of the most memorable scenes on Game of Thrones recently. The above video discusses the making of that scene.

Outlander has been renewed for two additional seasons. This will also make it possible to have less of a delay between seasons. Homeland has been renewed for three additional seasons by Showtime, who will also be doing a series based upon Jonathan Frazen’s novel Purity. Amazon has renewed Transparent for a fourth season.

TV Line has news on next season’s big bad on Arrow:

Arrow‘s latest evil mastermind is heading to Star City by way of Baltimore. TVLine has learned exclusively that the CW drama’s upcoming fifth season will introduce a new villain loosely inspired by Idris Elba’s Wire drug kingpin Stringer Bell.

The character, tentatively named “Anton Church,” is a ruthless crime lord who sets out to fill the sizable void left by 960Damien Darhk and H.I.V.E. The initial casting notice describes him as an “apex predator” who “cuts his way through the shadows” by taking down “the biggest threat first.” (Um, he’s looking at you, Ollie Q.). While the role is being likened to Elba’s classic Wire baddie, the breakdown also references ex-Game of Thrones actor Jason Momoa as a physical prototype.

Arrow had a great big bad last season, but sure didn’t conclude the story very well. Hopefully the quality of Arrow will get back to what we saw the first two seasons.

Here’s something for fans of both Doctor Who and Marvel. David Tennant of Jessica Jones does Ask Marvel in the video above.

In other Doctor Who news, Steven Moffat recently revelaled that the role of The Doctor was once offered to a black actor, but it didn’t work out.

Captain America Hydra

There have been a lot of changes in both the Marvel and DC comics over the years. After the last two Captain America movies showed SHIELD to be infiltrated by Hydra, and now has Captain America and other Avengers on the run, there is an even more radical change in the comics. Steve Rogers is apparently an undercover Hydra agent. Of course, in the comics, this could be a trick, or just something to go on for a while until they reboot again.

Here is a review of the DC Universe Rebirth from Nerdist and additional spoilers from Bleeding Cool.

Rose McIver discussed the season 2 finale of iZombie and what might be coming in season 3.

SciFi Weekend: The Big Reveal on Game of Thrones; Orphan Back; Person of Interest; DC & Marvel News; Star Trek; The Handmaid’s Tale

Game of Thrones Jon Snow

While technically a spoiler for those who have not seen lase week’s episode of Game of Thrones, there was little doubt that Jon Snow would return in some form. While he has returned to life, so far all we have seen is his eyes open and beyond that he might not be entirely the same. Vulture looks at some of the possibilities, including that his wounds might never heal or that he might not have his memories. They also speculate that his death might have terminated his vow to to the Night’s Watch which “shall not end until my death.” If so, this would allow him to take other roles, such as leading the North and/or returning to aide the surviving  Starks.

Regardless of what happens to him, Kit Harrington is happy that he no longer has to lie to everyone.

Orphan Black Donnie

Orphan Black started out the season with a bit of a reboot and simplification of all the various conspiracies. The show is always at its best in dealing with the characters as opposed to overly complex conspiracies. While Tatiana Maslany is generally the show, supporting characters do have a lot to add, such as seeing Donny and Felix posing as a gay couple as part of the investigation of one of those conspiracies. It got even better when Donnie called Alison to help him provide a sperm specimen with phone sex in yet another classic scene in this series.

Person of Interest returned for its final season on CBS. A sneak peak from Comic-Con is above. The AV Club spoke with executive produces Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman. Here is a portion:

The A.V. Club:Since the beginning, this show that’s ostensibly been about artificial intelligence is really about human connection. What’s it like to thread that needle and how has it evolved over time?

Jonathan Nolan: It’s a great question. And it’s a big challenge. I remember Greg and I talking from the beginning about the collision between the more esoteric ideas in the pilot and how we were going to draw emotions and humanism and a recurring interest from the audience out of all those ideas. There are a lot of ideas in the show, and it’s something I’m very proud of. It’s funny, it’s not a normal show for CBS, but people kind of found it, which is exciting.

That link between the big ideas of the show and the characters—we’ve concentrated on it so hard from the beginning, because we wanted to explore all these crazy ideas about the surveillance state, big data, and AI—and the collision of all of that on a personal level. And from the beginning, I’ve felt like there was a great connection there between big data and the kind of “normal” violent crimes that you find in a major city like New York. I’m just kind of fascinated by the idea of the collision of all of those things. But the thing that people keep tuning in for is the characters. Week in, week out, you’re looking not for ideas, necessarily, although it’s great when your shows have ideas in them, but for the characters to become extended family. Especially in broadcast TV, that’s what happens on that level: When you’re on weekly, your characters come back and you connect with them every week. So, as you said, threading that needle becomes the challenge throughout all five seasons.

AVC:One of the great things is how you were able to connect to The Machine, even on a very personal level. The Machine was gendered female, whereas Samaritan has stayed relatively genderless. Can you expand on that?

JN: I think the gender question, you know, they’re obviously connected. If you want to understand the impact that any SI, or super intelligence, will have—and it’s pat, but it’s accurate—but it’s as if there were no gods and we made them, right? God has often been gendered in the West in a masculine light, which is absurd, but it evolved sort of organically, talking about The Machine as a person. Finch always referred to The Machine as “it” or a thing, but for Root there’s always been more of a personal connection there, a belief in The Machine as a being. So her personification of it—sadly, in the West, we have to gender things to personify them—it seemed most apt that she would think of it in those terms. There’s also something else we’re doing with that: If you’ve paid close attention to the show and where we’re going, there’s a little bit of foreshadowing there as well.

AVC:It seems as though The Machine went through a rebellion phase when it really started to only speak through Root. Will this season be about The Machine becoming more mature in that sense and answering to everybody?

JN: I’m picturing a hormonal artificial super intelligence.

Greg, what are you thinking?

Greg Plageman: I think the interesting relationship for me is Harold Finch and his creation. And there’s always been a troubling conundrum for Finch, building this thing that’s so powerful yet that could overtake us. He’s never been quite comfortable with the idea of an ASI—building something that’s more intelligent than us and us expecting that we could still actually control it. So he’s always had that dilemma that he’s been grappling with, and that caused him to put a limiter on The Machine. What Root has always implored Harold Finch to do is take the gloves off the thing because we’re losing—we’re losing to a much more diabolical creation.

So I think the evolution of that relationship of Harold Finch and his machine this season, in terms of reconstituting it, and how it’s going to be different this time, it’s almost like, what’s the point? What’s the point, Harold, if you’re going to put a limiter on this thing all over again, as Root has always told him in terms of her wanting to let this thing go and to see what it can do. It becomes an exploration of Harold Finch’s character that I think the audience is going to find very fascinating.

AVC:Do you think that if we had been watching the team behind Samaritan from the beginning, rather than the team behind The Machine, that we would be pro-Samaritan?

JN: I think that’s one of the delicious things about what we’ve been doing with this storyline and where we’ve gone with it in this last season. I’m always most excited about and drawn to villains who have a point of view and have a plan. One of the most exciting things about The Joker in The Dark Knight is, he may be a villain in your eyes, but he’s the only person who hasn’t broken his own rules. Everyone else has, everyone else has corrupted themselves, but he’s in many ways one of the most ethical people in the film in terms of their own ideas. He had an idea, and it drives the story forward. We applied a similar approach here, but even more rationally. A lot of things that Samaritan espouses are believed by the people who work for Samaritan, the same way that I’m sure people who work for Facebook don’t believe that they’re working for the company that will destroy the world. But, you know, they are. And everyone gets through the day rationalizing their own existence.

GP: It’s sort of fascinating right now what’s happening in Russia with Putin’s control of the media and the way the everyday Russian views the West now or the United States. It just depends on who’s telling the story. There was a moment where Root met Greer and he sort of said these things to her: “You and I are not all that unalike.”

Supergirl

CBS has not decided yet about renewing Supergirl, with cost being an issue. Ideas being considered include moving the show to Vancouver and airing fewer episodes. It might also move to CW with the other Berlantiverse shows. (If necessary to make room for all the superhero shows, I’d suggest cancelling Legends of Tomorrow and airing Supergirl instead).

At ABC, it has not been decided whether to return Agent Carter or go ahead with Marvel’s Most Wanted. If they don’t air the second, I wonder if they would write Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood back into Agents of SHIELD. With the way they were written out, it wouldn’t be hard for Coulson to decide he doesn’t care what the Russians think and bring them back–especially as they are operating secretly. We should have news on May 17 from ABC.

Needless to say, there has been a lot out in the past week on the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the release of Captain America: Civil War. To avoid spoilers I will postpone discussing this until a later date. Here is one link of interest–the backstory from the comics of the history of fights between Captain American and Iron-Man.

CBS All Access remains on track to begin the new Star Trek series in January, 2017. They will be releasing one episode per week.

Hulu will be showing a ten-episode miniseries based upon Margaret Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale  in 2017. It will star Elizabeth Moss (Mad Men) had will be written by Bruce Miller of The 100. Miller will c0-executive produce the series along with Daniel Wilson (who worked on the movie version of the book), Fran Sears (The Sophisticated Gents) and Warren Littlefield (Fargo). I suspect they will also be releasing an episode a week as they did with the adaptation of 11.22.63.

Speaking of Mad Men, here’s a chance to explore Don Draper’s apartment in 3-D. It would be even more fun to have an apartment like this to spend some time at in Manhattan.

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

Person of Interest Simulations

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

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

Reese: “Coolly delivered sadistic warning.”

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

Root: “Funny, yet insightful retort.”

Finch: “Mildly agitated declaration of mission completion.”

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

Person of Interest Shaw Kiss Root

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

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

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

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

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

Person of Interest Root Elevator

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flash-TV-Reverse-Flash-Theories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Agent Carter Poster

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

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

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

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

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

Mad Men Bar

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

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

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

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

neil-gaiman-trigger-warning

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

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

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

American cartoonist Robert Crumb gives a

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flash vs Arrow

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

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

Gotham Penguin

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

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

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

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

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

Agents of SHIELD Blue Alien

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

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

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

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

ComicVine has more about the meaning of this.

Game of Thrones Natalie Dormer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Arrow; The Flash; Doctor Who; The Fall; More Genre Novels Receiving TV Adapatations; Ascension; Community; Mrs. Wolowitz Dies; Porn Stars Explain Net Neutrality; Bill Cosby Rape Allegations

Arrow Black Canary Katie Cassidy

By now  most fans must have figured out that Katie Cassidy’s character is training to replace her sister Sara as the Black Canary, so there is no point in keeping this a secret. Publicity pictures have been released of Cassidy as the Black Canary. Marc Guggenheim has answered questions about when we will find out who killed Sara and has shot down another fan theory in a recent interview. The mystery over Sara’s killer won’t be dragged out over the entire season, but he is not telling exactly when we will find out.

The CW Network has released the synopsis of the cross over episodes of The Flash and Arrow, which will air on December 2 and 3.

Part 1: “Flash vs. Arrow”

“Barry is thrilled when Oliver, Felicity and Diggle come to Central City to investigate a case involving a deadly boomerang. Excited about teaming up with his friend, Barry asks Oliver if he’d like to help him stop Ray Bivolo (guest star Patrick Sabongui), the meta-human Barry is currently tracking. Bivolo causes people to lose control of their emotions and has been using that skill to rob banks. Unfortunately, the superhero partnership doesn’t go as smoothly as Barry expected. When Oliver tells Barry he still has a lot to learn, Barry sets out to prove him wrong by attempting to stop Bivolo alone. However, when Bivolo infects Barry and sets him on a rage rampage, everyone is in danger, and the only one who can stop him is the Arrow. Meanwhile, Iris is furious when Eddie tries to get a task force to stop The Flash, Joe and Dr. Wells agree the Arrow is a bad influence on Barry, and Caitlin and Cisco deal with a new team in S.T.A.R. Labs.”

Part 2: “The Brave and The Bold”

“Oliver, Arsenal and Diggle track down the location of a boomerang-wielding killer named Digger Harkness (guest star Nick Tarabay) but are surprised when they come face to face with an A.R.G.U.S. team. Diggle asks Lyla why A.R.G.U.S. is involved but she defers until Harkness attacks the building, killing several agents and targeting Lyla. The Arrow joins the fight and gets help from an old friend – The Flash. Harkness manages to get away and Oliver teams up with Barry again to find him before he can get to Lyla. When Harkness plants five bombs in the city that are timed to explode at the same time, both teams must come together to save the city.”

The above clip from this year’s upcoming Doctor Who Christmas special was played at Friday’s Children in Need special. Jenna Coleman is shown appearing again as Clara, and we do not know if this means whether Clara is continuing with the show next season or exiting the series as previously rumored.

Steven Moffat has discussed the past season of Doctor Who. With it uncertain as to whether there will be a new companion coming, there has been a lot of attention paid to his discussion of “changing it up with the companion.”

We actually have changed it up quite a lot, look how different those girls have been. Wait and see.

What we have is probably the most enduring form of the show and I think will always tend back to it for whatever reason, but there’s no reason you couldn’t tend away from it and there’s no diktat or special rule book left by Verity Lambert or something.

We absolutely could vary it. The times they’ve varied it, it makes them work hard – you can see them struggling with Leela. She was a great character but they had to civilize her fast because it was getting hard to fit her into stories – but it’s not a hard and fast rule at all.

Some of the bloggers at The Mary Sue disagree that they have changed it up all that much. Comments included, ” I know! Amy’s hair was red, and Clara’s was dark brown! So different“followed by, “And they were played by different women and it wasn’t the same actress in a wig so, right there.” Other comments included, ““And one wasn’t in love with the Doctor” followed by “Yes. One of them only flirted with the doctor. The others flirted and had feelings!” Maybe we’ll see “something really, really different” such as “curly hair.” On the other hand, the current formula works, so why be concerned about changing anything up?

The past season has received mixed reviews from fans, with more criticism of the plot holes in Moffat stories. What Culture has compiled a list of their top “face palm” moments in Doctor Who. While some fans are swearing that Moffat is destroying the show, to be fair to Moffat there were plenty of plot holes in stories before he took over. Examples can be found here, here, and here. Similarly, plot holes can be found during any typical evening of watching television. The nature of the show increases the risk of some plot holes on a show such as Doctor Who, but I also think the number is increased because Moffat often throws far too many clever ideas into some episodes, as he did in Death in Heaven. I feel he did a better job on episodes such as Blink in which he devoted the episode to just one clever idea and fully developed the story around it.

Michelle Gomez is hinting she will return to Doctor Who next season. She did too good a job as Missy to not consider using her again.

The Fall has started its second season, receiving excellent reviews, and Gillian Anderson hints there might be a third season. Netflix, which has the first season of this British series, will release all six episodes of the second season on January 16. The trailer is above.

There seems to be quite a few genre novels being turned into television series. Jonathan Nolan, creator of Person if Interest, is doing an adaptation of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series for HBO. I could see this working as either adaptations of the books or as stories set in the universe Asimov created. Amazon has announced their planned pilots for 2015 and the list includes a series based upon The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick. The alternative history creates a world twenty years after World War II in which the allies have lost. This could be another example of a series which might work by either adapting the novel or writing original stories in the universe created by the novel.

Ascension, a three night mini-series starting on Syfy on December 15 sounds like it could be awesome. Trailer above. From what I’ve read at various sources, the premise is that during the Kennedy years there were fears that humanity would not survive so an interstellar life boat was sent into space with a wide variety of people. The series takes place in the present, but the culture has not changed from the 1960’s, sort of giving us Mad Men in space. The mini-series reportedly deals with problems ranging from a murder to reaching the point of no return and having to decide whether to go on or to return to earth. Cast includes Tricia Helfer of Battlestar Galactica as the scheming wife of the Captain.

Paget Brewster

Community finally starts production next week and will be adding two new cast members following the loss of some regulars over the years. The new members of the cast will be Paget Brewster (above) and Keith David.

Carol Ann Susi, who provided the voice of Mrs. Wolowitz on The Big Bang Theory, died last Tuesday. No word yet as to how this will be handled on the show.

Glen A. Larson, creator of the original Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century,  Magnum P.I., and multiple other shows has died.

Karen Gillan’s new series Selfie has apparently not received enough “likes” and has been canceled by ABC. CBS has canceled The Millers, which means that Margo Martindale might now have more time to reprise her role as Claudia on The Americans.

If you heard the rumors last week about Spider-Man’s Aunt May getting her own movie, they aren’t true. The biggest problem with the rumored concept was that the movie was going to take place when she was younger. If the concept had any chance of succeeding, they’d be better sticking with Sally Field, who just  might be able to pull it off.


Funny or Die used porn stars to explain net neutrality in the video above. Consumerist summarizes:

…three adult actresses — Alex Chance, Mercedes Carrera, and Nadia Styles — explain what it would mean if the FCC passes compromised neutrality rules.

“Without net neutrality, Internet service providers could create special fast lanes for content providers willing to pay more,” says Carrera.

Adds Chance, “That means slow streaming, slow social networking, and yes, slow porn.”

Ms. Styles slam neutrality critic, Sen. Ted Cruz from Texas, saying he “doesn’t want me to get naked for you.”

She also points out that the anti-neutrality drive is being led by wealthy older men and says that doesn’t make any sense since, “Old rich guys watch the weirdest porn.”

Ms. Chance compares the current, neutral state of the Internet to “a giant sex party where everyone gets to have sex with anyone they want,” but Ms. Carrera contends that, “Without net neutrality, that sex party is only for rich people.”

 Bill Cosby’s attorney has issued a statement regarding the recent rape allegations:

Over the last several weeks, decade-old, discredited allegations against Mr. Cosby have resurfaced. The fact that they are being repeated does not make them true. Mr. Cosby does not intend to dignify these allegations with any comment. He would like to thank all his fans for the outpouring of support and assure them that, at age 77, he is doing his best work. There will be no further statement from Mr. Cosby or any of his representatives.

Response from The Washington Monthly:

As I’ve previously noted, I certainly hope the allegations—some of which date back years—against Cosby turn out to be false; if true, every bigot who thinks African-American men, regardless of accomplishments, are sex fiends at heart will say, “See! I told you so!” However, as Boston Globe columnist Renee Graham notes, Cosby’s credibility appears to be compromised:

“Cosby settled a lawsuit in 2006 filed by a woman who claimed the comedian drugged and raped her in 2004, and he has never been charged with any crime connected to the allegations. Yet from comedian Hannibal Buress, who straight up called him “a rapist,” to countless slings and arrows on Twitter, there’s a sense that Cosby won’t emerge from this mess unscathed…

“Howard Bragman, a longtime celebrity public relations consultant, insisted on CNN that Cosby has “got to be willing to go on the air and go on the record, and say ‘These charges are not true, this is nothing I would do.’ ” So far, Cosby has done no such thing, perhaps already realizing his reputation is a lost cause.”

Cosby’s attorney says his client’s lips will remain sealed. We’ll see about that. Meanwhile, I don’t quite get why Rush Limbaugh is leaping to Cosby’s defense; does he think Cosby is a Republican? (By the way, remember when the right went after Cosby’s wife Camille in 1998 after she claimed that American racism played a role in the 1997 murder of their son Ennis?)

Again, I hope these allegations against Cosby turn out not to be true. However, if these allegations are meritorious, I think the lesson to be learned is: stop making celebrities out to be heroes.

SciFi Weekend: Continuum; Sherlock; Arrow; Person of Interest; The Avengers; Better Call Saul; The Labyrinth; The Fall; Hannibal; Communty; Sleepy Hollow; Almost Human

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Collider spoke with Rachel Nichols about her role in the recently released movie Raze and then got to the third season of Continuum. She has some news here, such as that Season 3 will reveal more about The Freelancers. Beware there are spoilers as she tells what happens with the Season 2 cliff hanger in which Alec traveled through time. She reveals exactly where/when Alec went, which is one of the more common answers which people speculated about after Season 2 concluded. Not surprisingly, it is also clear that Kiera does get out of that cell she was dropped into.

Continuum has really become one of the best sci-fi shows on TV, right now.  What can you say to tease where Season 3 is going, especially with how ripped apart all of the characters were, at the end of last season?

NICHOLS:  We started shooting Season 3 already.  We got three episodes finished before Christmas break.  What I can tell you is that, at the end of Season 2, Alec (Erik Knudsen) clearly betrayed Kiera and went back in time.  At the beginning of Season 3, you learn a lot more about The Freelancers.  I can’t say how, but I can say that Kiera ends up going back in time to the point where Alec went back in time to save Emily (Magda Apanowicz).  So, suddenly there are two Alecs and two Kieras and we can’t run into each other, obviously.  Right off the bat, in Season 3, you’ve got craziness ensuing.  There’s a death.  There’s a description of The Freelancers.  I’m happy to say that Terry Chen is back, in a big, big way.  And overall, for this season, what I’m feeling is that where Kiera was always about getting home before, acknowledging her impact on the world, with everything she was doing in the present day, now I think there’s a part of her that’s going to be relegated to staying here and really setting up life and knowing she’s going to be here for awhile, and maybe even wanting to.  That will be a back change for her, given the fact that her family is in the future. 



Teasers from Showcase and SciFi above.

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Sherlock returns in the United States this weekend, but as the show already completed the season on BBC One I wonder how many fans are still unaware of what happened. I will avoid any spoilers here and have a few comments leading into the series. The first two episodes are written far more than other episodes for the fans, but would not be good episodes to start with for those who are not already fans of the series. Start with the first two seasons. At very least watch last season’s finale and cliff hanger before the first episode of this season, The Empty Hearse.

The second episode, The Sign of Three, is about a very difficult task for Sherlock and doesn’t start out seeming like a typical episode at all. It is the weakest of the three but if you stick with it you will find that there is a mystery, and the events brought up earlier turn out to really matter. Quite often this season, things are not as they seem.

The third episode, His Last Vow, is the best of the three, and some reviewers have called it the best of the series. It is a more conventional mystery. Lars Mikkelsen, brother of Mads Mikkelsen of Hannibal, makes a fantastic villain, and there is a huge cliff hanger. Make sure you watch until the very end. I’ll hold off until it airs in the United States to discuss speculation about the cliff hanger.

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Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim told Entertainment Weekly about upcoming plans for Roy:

After being injected with Mirakuru in the mid-season finale, the first episode back, airing Wednesday night, will explore the benefits — and consequences — of his newfound strength. “We’re going to learn starting with episode 10 that the Mirakuru may give you incredible strength and it really may accelerate your healing, but it comes with some very significant mental downsides as well,” teases executive producer Marc Guggenheim. “And Roy will be experiencing those in the present, and Slade in the past [via flashbacks] will begin to develop those difficulties.”

Guggenheim adds that as everything about Roy’s current predicament becomes clearer, we’re also going to see how it affects the people around him — Thea and Oliver included. “We always said that this year, Roy is going to go through a crucible. And the Mirakuru [storyline] is basically that ordeal and for sure when he comes out the other side — if he comes out the other side — he will be a different person and set on a different path,” he says. “You will start to see that as early as episode 12.”

It’s part of the longer story the writers are telling with Roy, explains Guggenheim, one that shows him going “from being sort of the street urchin we met in episode 15 last year to somebody who could potentially inherit the Arrow’s mantel as Roy Harper did in the comic books. We’re never really driven too much by what we call the comic book destinies of characters, but we’re very much aware of them and we’re very much aware that we’re telling a Batman Begins-style story for all of our characters. And obviously the Mirakuru and what Roy will experience in the wake of episode 9 is a big part of that Batman Begins-like story for him.”

Some additional points were discussed:

+ Have they decided what they’re doing with Flash in episode 20?
Not yet. After it was decided that the Flash pilot would stand alone — rather than being part of the 20th episode of the season — plans had to change, said Guggenheim. But the official plan is still in the works. “We’ve had a lot of afferent internal discussions of how episode 20 basically becoming an Arrow episode instead of a backdoor pilot could operate in terms of the connection to Barry. But we haven’t come to a decision yet, so we’re not ready to talk about it yet,” he said.

+ Will Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) continue to have tension over Barry?
Yes. And you will see more of it in Wednesday night’s episode. “One of our pet peeves is when a show does a backdoor pilot and the episode that follows it tends to ignore what happened in the backdoor pilot. And episodes 8 and 9 served as the introduction of Barry Allen, and it struck us as wrong not to acknowledge everything that happened in those two episodes, particularly in regard to Barry’s burgeoning relationship with Felicity,” he says. “So a good chunk of the emotional real estate in episode 10 is spent on Felicity’s reaction to Barry being electrocuted at the end of episode 9 and being struck by lightning.”

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Guggenheim also discussed Slade with The Hollywood Reporter:

In the winter finale, Slade declared that his sole mission was to turn Oliver’s world upside down. Has Slade turned pure evil, or is there some redemption for him?

What a great question. I will say that I don’t think anyone on our show is pure evil. We always try really hard to write according to the axiom that everyone is the hero in their own story. In other words, in real life, even the most evil people think they’re doing the right thing — at least, through their own lens through which they view their world. Slade is taking actions that he feels are very justified and thus in his mind, he’s not pure evil, he’s not even evil. He’s just a man with a very serious vendetta. For us, the advantage of doing it that way are even our antagonists are grounded and realistic, and I think they’re made more compelling when their motivations are made more human than the comic-book trademark “pure evil.” That’s just as true for Slade as for any of the villains on our show.

Hypothetically, if Oliver were to find out about Slade, how do you think he’d take the news?

I can tell you that hypothetically, were he to find out that Slade is alive and kicking in Starling City, Oliver would not take that well. (Laughs.) And I guess I can spoil and say that it is just a matter of matter of time before Oliver discovers that Slade is in Starling City. We actually have a whole episode and a whole storyline devoted to Oliver’s reaction to that news. I won’t tell you what episode that is.

He was also asked about Sara:

Will Sara come back into the fray in the modern day? Will she come face to face with Laurel?
It’s probably not spoiling anything to say that it’s only a matter of time before Sara returns to modern-day Starling City. We’ve already made the decision as to when and how and why exactly all that [Sara coming face to face with Laurel] will happen. When, over the course of the next 13 episodes that happens, I’m not saying.

So, it appears that Oliver will figure out what is going on with Slade, but still not figure out that Sara is not the same girl he last saw on the yacht in the Season one pilot, with Jacqueline MacInnes Wood’s scenes later reshot with Caity Lotz.

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While both series had already been excellent, there are two shows I watch which have become even better this year: Arrow and Person of Interest. In early episodes, Person of Interest was often just a procedural with the machine used as a gimmick to get the leads into the action. Over the last couple of seasons the series has evolved more into a science fiction show about the surveillance state. The Nerdist discussed how the show has become our reality:

Person of Interest is unique in the world of procedural dramas. While plenty of shows have been able to claim they’re ripped from the headlines, POI has the distinction of being able to say it predicted them. As The New Yorker points out, the show predicted Edward Snowden a year in advance with its episode “No Good Deed.”

Is is worth reading the entire article on this show by Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman now that the show has become increasingly relevant. Another passage:

Nolan and Plageman are on the same page as to where this data mining will lead: the singularity. “The cornerstone of the show is that out of this arms race of information technology that we’re now thoroughly engaged in,” said Nolan, “cyber warfare, which was a silly idea, a silly phrase fifteen years ago, is now an absolute reality and quite terrifying in its own way. This is definitely the moment we find ourselves in and our idea was that out of the kind of carnage of this aggressive information arms race you might well see the emergence of something that probably in hindsight we’ll see was an Artificial Intelligence. It’s probably going to emerge out of the NSA or out of a data call center like the one the New York Times profiled. It’s either going to be a sales tool or it’s going to be a spy tool.”

With the audience now fully on board with the Orwellian nature of the show, Plageman says his fake world collides with the real one more than he thought it was going to. “On the show,” Plageman responded, “even though there is this science fiction aspect, there’s a heightened tone to the show – we always try to ground that. We always try to use technology that is in existence. That’s actually here and material. So, I’m always surprised when we talk about something in the writers room, whether we’re talk about AI or Ray Kurtzweil and the singularity. Then all of a sudden he’s hired at Google and you’re like, ‘Wait a minute.’ That’s just ridiculous. We’re talking about this now and you see these things converging and you’re going, ‘Okay, what’s that going to look like?’ [Amy Acker’s] Root is, to a degree, an acolyte of Kurtzweil, and all of a sudden he’s in the hen house. There’s this non-stop drum beat of material coming our way; We’re even struggling to keep up with to a degree.”

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Scarlett Johansson spoke with Parade about Her and about reprising her role as Black Widow in Avengers 2:

“Oh boy! Well, we can expect the Avengers. Joss [Whedon], again, is back, wrote the script, and is directing. I think the script is dark and it’s dry, it’s got this amazing one-liner, glass-cutting sense of humor. Obviously the script is very cerebral. It doesn’t lose that exciting comic book aspect that people enjoyed in the first film, but it’s smart and it feels like the next installment. It doesn’t feel like a rehashing, it feels like these characters are moving forward, plotlines are moving forward. It’s deep and I think that’s why people really respond to the Marvel universe, because the films are fun and exciting and have all that flashy stuff, but there’s a gravity to them. People can expect that gravity this time around.”

Aaron Paul says that both he and  Bryan Cranston are interested in reprising their roles in the Breaking Bad prequel/sequel Better Call Saul.

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The CW Network has obtained the US rights to show The Labyrinth

The CW Network has acquired LABYRINTH, the four-hour event miniseries with a multi-national and award-winning cast, including John Hurt, Sebastian Stan, Jessica Brown-Findlay & Tom Felton, it was announced today by Mark Pedowitz, President, The CW. Premiere night and time will be announced at a later date.

Filmedon-location in the medieval town of Carcassonne in southwest France and Cape Town, South Africa, the historical miniseries jumps back and forth between modern and medieval France as it follows the lives of two women who are separated by centuries, but united in their search for the Holy Grail.

In Carcassonne, France, in the year 1209, 17-year-old Alaïs (Jessica Brown-Findlay, “Downton Abbey,” “Misfits”), is given a mysterious book by her father; a book which he claims contains the secret of the true Grail. Although Alaïs cannot understand the book’s strange words and labyrinth symbols, her father instructs her to protect the book no matter what happens to him. Alaïs realizes that her destiny lies in keeping the secret of the labyrinth safe. Eight centuries later, at an archeological dig in the French Pyrenees, a young volunteer named Alice Tanner (Vanessa Kirby, “The Hour,” “Great Expectations”) discovers two skeletons in a forgotten cave. Puzzled by the labyrinth symbol carved into the rock, she realizes she’s disturbed something that was meant to remain hidden. Somehow, a link to a horrific past – Alice’s own past – has been revealed.

In addition to Brown-Findlay and Kirby, LABYRINTH features a multi-national cast which includes two-time Oscar(R) nominee, three-time BAFTA Award winner and Golden Globe(R) winner John Hurt (“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows”), Sebastian Stan (“Captain America: The First Avenger,” “Gossip Girl”), Tom Felton (the “Harry Potter” films, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes”), Oscar(R), BAFTA and Golden Globes(R) nominee Janet Suzman (“Nicholas and Alexandra,” “Midsomer Murders”), multi-award winner Claudia Gerini (“The Passion of the Christ,” “Under the Tuscan Sun”), Katie McGrath (“Merlin,” “Red Mist”), Emun Elliott (“Game of Thrones,” “Black Death”) and Tony Curran (“The Pillars of the Earth,” “The Adventures of Tintin”).

It would have been better if this was being shown on premium cable so that it wouldn’t be necessary to cut the nude scenes with Jessica Brown-Findlay and Katie McGrath which are in the original version. I wonder how many people will wind up downloading the show as opposed to watching on CW.

In somewhat related news. the sex scenes in the movie version of Fifty Shades Of Gray are being toned down compared to the books.

Season two of The Fall, starring Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan starts filming in Belfast in February. The first season of the the BBC mystery, also released simultaneously on Netflix, was excellent. Filming will be delayed a month as Gillian Anderson has been tied up with filming for Season two of Hannibal.

Entertainment Weekly has more news on Season two of Hannibal:

1. Will Graham is in prison and everybody thinks he’s guilty: Fuller brilliantly subverted audience expectations at the end of season 1 by having FBI profiler Graham (Hugh Dancy) framed for Hannibal’s (Mads Mikkelsen) crimes when fans expected the show to follow Thomas Harris’ novels and have the cannibal psychiatrist end up in prison (he’ll get there, we assume, eventually). Graham hasn’t magically been released between seasons and he isn’t going to pop back into his old job after one episode (unlike, for instance, Patrick Jane on CBS’ The Mentalist). Graham is also going to be a much more focused and proactive character this season now that he’s no longer suffering from encephalitis and knows he’s not crazy. He’s going to actively try to get himself released, or at least take down Hannibal.

2. Hannibal has Graham’s old job: With Graham in prison, now the FBI is relying on Hannibal even more to help solve crimes, so we’ll get plenty of scenes of the serial killer working to catch other serial killers. “Hannibal becomes the new Will Graham in many ways,” Fuller teases. “There’s a lot of fun seeing him interact with the FBI.”

3. It’s still surreal, though more clear: Hannibal‘s haunting surreal imagery is a signature of the show and will continue. But with Graham no longer ill, he’s a more reliable narrator, which helps ground the storytelling a bit more.

4. Gillian Anderson is back: Anderson reprises her role as Hannibal’s psychiatrist. Expect this season for her character to grow suspicious of her most mysterious patient. “She’s doing a really fun closer examination of her patient and figuring some things out for herself, and that’s dangerous for anyone,” Fuller says.

5. The opening scene of the premiere. Though I suspect it will be widely reported before airing (Hannibal‘s TCA press tour day is Sunday, where it will probably come up), I can’t bring myself to reveal this. I’ll just say it’s the best scene the show has done to date.

6. The murders are more grotesque than ever: You thought that human mushroom farm was unappetizing? Just wait until you see “the beehive”…

7. Mason and Margo Verger are in this season: Fans of the books know the story of Hannibal’s tragically doomed wealthy patient and his sister from the Hannibal novel. They will be introduced later this season and have not yet been cast. Yet another major character from the canon, Francis Dolarhyde from Red Dragon, will likely not come into play until season 3.

A musical version of Groundhog Day is in the works. I loved the movie but am not sure about a musical. Will we have to sit through the same songs over and over?

Community had one of its better episodes last week with Cooperative Polygraphy, showing what Dan Harmon can accomplish with just the group sitting around the table for the almost the entire episode. The episode also concluded the storyline for Pierce, despite him not appearing, and revealed how Troy will be leaving the series. Plus we had this great line from Britta, after finding that Jeff kept her underpants and made up the story of a hawk stealing them: “You exploited me…and made me believe in a slightly more magical world!”

I’m looking forward to the two-hour season finale of Sleepy Hollow this week. Monday nights on Fox shows the advantage of a genre show having a continuing storyline and a strong mythology. Given the premise of the two shows, I’d expect to be far more interested in the harder science fiction of Almost Human. While I do enjoy it, the lack  of signs (so far) of the story really going anywhere have made Sleepy Hollow the show I more look forward to. Next season Fox plans to run Sleepy Hollow uninterrupted  without dividing the show up as it did this year.