SciFi Weekend: Finales Including Last Man on Earth & Gotham; Marvel and DC News; New Shows, Returning Shows, And Cancellations

Last Man On Earth Finale

The Last Man on Earth started out strong (my initial review here) but it was apparent in the early episodes that the story would have to evolve over time. The initial stories with just Will Forte (Phil), and even those with the edition of Kristen Schaal (Carol), could not go on for very long. Unfortunately the series got bogged down way too long with a variation on a simple sit-com scenario. Will married Carol as, even though they thought at the time that they were the only ones left alive on earth, Carol insisted upon marriage before she would have sex with Phil. Soon after the marriage January Jones turned up, followed by others. Several episodes were centered around Phil trying to have sex with January  Jones, or later additional women who appeared, despite his hasty marriage to Carol. Plus Phil repeatedly tried too hard to make himself look good, and various forms of deception were repeatedly exposed.

In the finale, things got progressively worse for Phil, who even lost his name as a newcomer was also named Phil Miller, leading to the original Phil being called by his middle name, Tandy. With all the lies he told all season, he couldn’t think of a cooler middle name? Tandy/Phil found that Carol was even having sex with the new Phil, explaining that she insisted upon marriage initially as the plan was to repopulate the earth, but she had no problems with casual sex with the new Phil. Of course casual sex is exactly what Phil wanted.Later Tandy/Phil was literally driven out of town after it was revealed that he contemplated driving the new Phil out of down and abandoning him. He had tried the same with an earlier arrival, but he couldn’t go through with it and turned around and brought him back. Tandy/Phil was left with two days worth of food, which could have lasted until he made it to the next city. Phil ate it all in twenty minutes, but Carol anticipated this and showed up with additional food. After Phil convinced her that he now actually cared for her, and even wrote a song for her, Carol decided she would rather stick with the guy who didn’t have the heart to go through with abandoning someone in the desert, as opposed to the man who actually did this. The show nearly ends with the two going off together, leaving it open as to whether they will go off somewhere else or ever return to Tuscon. As if this didn’t leave things open enough, at the end we saw Phil’s brother, an astronaut stranded in space played by Jason Sudekis. This left the question of whether he would return to earth, which is certainly possible on this show considering how fast and loose the show plays with science.Will Forte discussed the finale with Entertainment Weekly and the short answer is that he and the other writers don’t really know exactly where they plan to go with these scenarios:

Where on Earth are Phil and Carol headed? And what does this mean for all of those other characters that joined the show later in the season? Forte cautions that the plotting of season 2 is in the embryonic stages, though he notes, “I have one idea that would be a really fun first episode. It is fair to say that you haven’t seen the last of the old new gang, despite Phil’s banishment. “Obviously we’re not going to not show Mary Steenburgen or Cleopatra [Coleman] or Mel [Rodriguez] or January [Jones] or Boris,” he says. “They’re so important to the show. There’s a lot of room for play and it opens us up to having some time where the characters are once again in a very desolate situation. We really want to open up the world and look at the starting up of a society again with just a small group of people and basic rules…. Phil is not allowed on the cul-de-sac right now. It is entirely possible that Phil and Carol could be living somewhere else for the whole season, and we’re checking in on the different people. But I would think that they would somehow rendez-vous at some point earlier in the season.”

Is Phil truly going to try this time to make a relationship with Carol work? “Is this just a situation of you want what you can’t have, or is he truly in love with her?” Forte asks right back. “That’s how we go into season 2. They’re still totally different people and they have such different world views, we still think it’s going to be really fun to see how they act as a couple. Not in any way would I ever compare it to this, but an Archie-and-Edith type situation, or Sam and Diane—that’s what you shoot for, these two different people who just somehow are together.”

When did Carol decide to stay with Tandy? While you might be wondering if she had a change of heart before she left the cul-de-sac— as she told him in the desert, “I don’t want to be with a man who can leave someone in the desert to die; I want to be with the man who doesn’t have the heart to go through with it”— that was not her intention when driving out to meet him in the middle of nowhere, according to Forte.In our minds, Carol came out to the desert just to give him supplies,” he says. “She had no clue that she would be ending up with him and it just kind of hits her after the song. When he told her about the song, she didn’t believe him immediately. He’s told her a million things. We edited the show a million different ways, and it used to be edited in a way that you really didn’t believe that he had written a song, so we put a lot on that song. You can tell that Phil actually took the time to write this song and was feeling very real feelings toward Carol. [Click here to read more about the song, which was written by cast member Mary Steenburgen.] It’s an impulsive decision that she makes and Phil even says, ‘I think you’re making a really bad decision here.’ But she’s willing to take the chance and Phil really appreciates that.”

Forte said that what  happens with Will’s brother comes down to whether Jason Sudekis is available. He left it open as to whether there will be new characters and whether much is said about the virus which killed almost everyone:

Will we learn more in season 2 about the virus that wiped out almost every single person on the planet? The short answer: Possibly. The longer answer: ”We’ve purposely avoided the virus stuff because we didn’t think that it was important,” says Forte. “And it’s tricky to handle virus stuff and how real should it be. What happens if a real virus becomes a problem around the world? There were a lot of pitfalls. We’ve always had this general idea of the type of virus that it was. We’ve said that it’s a virus that is potent enough to sweep across the world in a matter of months but one that is slow moving enough that allows people to safely crawl into their beds and die very neatly in their own homes. (laughs)… At some point in the pilot, we showed a dead body. There was a lot of back and forth, and it was decided that we shouldn’t show the dead body. We’ve always wanted to address that, so I really do feel like there will come a point where we address the virus. Even if it’s just an indirect addressing. When we still were going to have flashbacks in the pilot, one of the ideas we had was just a regular dramatic scene between two people wearing surgical masks and everybody around them is wearing surgical masks. They don’t ever talk about the virus—it’s just happening. I would love to flesh out the virus with little scenelettes like that, although they would have to be in flashbacks, because obviously everyone who was not immune to the virus has died.”

GOTHAM: Bruce (David Mazouz) looks deeper into his fatherÕs past in the ÒAll Happy Families Are AlikeÓ episode of GOTHAM airing Monday, May 4 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2015 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Jessica Miglio/FOX

In other finales last week, Gotham appears to have gotten rid of some characters, most likely to open up room for more spectacular Batman-style villains. Fish Mooney appears to have drown, but there is talk that Jada Pinkett Smith might return. The big reveal at the end of the episode was a stairway which we know leads to the Batcave. Presumably next season we will learn what Bruce’s father did with it, and what  Bruce will do there as he is years away from becoming Batman.

Person of Interest ended with the situation looking bleak, but at least the Machine was saved for now. The Big Bang Theory ended with major changes for two couples. Arrow, The Flash, and Agents of SHIELD are heading towards big season finales next week, plus there are only two episodes left of Mad Men.

Entertainment Weekly has an interview with Joss Whedon and other producers on the tie-in between Agents of SHIELD and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The movie will also have an extended cut on Blu-Ray with an alternate ending.

Emily Van Kamp might have lost her job on Revenge, but she will be reprising her role as Agent 13 (Sharon Carter) in Captain America: Civil War. It actually sounds like most of the Marvel universe will be taking part. The movie will then set up the two part Avengers: Infinity War.

Jessica Jones

AKA Jessica Jones staring Krysten Ritter will be the next Marvel series on Netflix. A synopsis has been released:

Ever since her short-lived stint as a Super Hero ended in tragedy, Jessica Jones has been rebuilding her personal life and career as a hot-tempered, sardonic, badass private detective in Hell’s Kitchen, New York City. Plagued by self-loathing, and a wicked case of PTSD, Jessica battles demons from within and without, using her extraordinary abilities as an unlikely champion for those in need… especially if they’re willing to cut her a check. In this new collectible volume, go behind the scenes into the world that brings the story of Jessica Jones to life. Packed with stunning production photography, as well as exclusive interviews, this deluxe companion reveals the details of the set and script of Marvel’s AKA Jessica Jones through the eyes of its makers.

There has been a lot of news this week on renewals and cancellations. I fear that the DC shows on CW and now CBS (which owns CW) might be growing exponentially. First there was Arrow. Then the number doubled with the addition of The Flash. Next year this will double again as  CBS has picked up Supergirl, and CW will have the Arrow/Flash spin-off, now named DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Will we have to find room for eight or sixteen shows the following year?

A synopsis has been released for DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, which will be premiering in January:

When heroes alone are not enough … the world needs legends. Having seen the future, one he will desperately try to prevent from happening, time-traveling rogue Rip Hunter is tasked with assembling a disparate group of both heroes and villains to confront an unstoppable threat — one in which not only is the planet at stake, but all of time itself. Can this ragtag team defeat an immortal threat unlike anything they have ever known?

I wonder if the time travel element will provide a way for Caity Lotz to return as the original Black Canary, or if she will play a different role. Incidentally time travel might be allowing for the return of a popular Doctor Who character who apparently died last season–Ingrid Oliver as Osgood.

The Marvel television universe is not growing as much as it originally appeared. Instead of the rumored spin-off of Agents of SHIELD, they will stick with this and Agent Carter will get a second season. I hope they do it the same way, putting Agent Carter in SHIELD‘s time slot temporarily, as opposed to adding yet another hour. Maybe CW will also begin to stagger their shows.

Constantine was canceled by NBC but there is speculation that it might be picked up elsewhere. The Mindy Project was also cancelled, with talk that it might be picked up by Hulu. Among other genre shows, Resurrection and Forever are both cancelled, and most likley neither will be resurrected and both are gone forever.

Fox has picked up some new genre shows including Minority Report and Lucifer.

Orphan Black and iZombie were  among the genre shows which recently received official renewals. Being busy this Sunday, I will hold of on discussing this week’s episode of Orphan Black until next week.

Grace and Frankie were released by Netflix on Friday. The handful of episodes I watched did look promising, and at this point I would rank it above Kimmy Schmidt, which received much more buzz. An incidental benefit of ent Carter, Agents of SHIELD, Arrow, Avengers, Batman, Big Bang Theory, Black Canary, Captain America, Constantine, Doctor Who, Frankie and Grace, Gotham, iZombie, Jessica Jones, Joss Whedon, Krysten Ritter, Legends of Tomorrow, Lucifer, Mad Men, Minority Report, Orphan Bla Grace and Frankie is that the major cast members have all been on Aaron Sorkin shows.

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SciFi Weekend: Avengers Age of Ultron; Agents of SHIELD; Orphan Black; Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell; Community; Revenge; Scarlett Johansson On SNL

Marvel's Avengers: Age Of Ultron..Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and James "Rhodey" Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle)..Ph: Film Frame..?Marvel 2015

Avengers: Age of Ultron opened with the second highest box office receipts of all time, trailing only The Avengers 2012 opening. I would rank the first Avengers movie, along with the better Iron Man and Captain America movies, above Age of Ultron, but it was still a very enjoyable movie, falling in the middle of the recent Marvel releases. My discussion here is primarily as to how it fits into the rest of the Marvel universe and I avoided major spoilers of plot points, but those who want to totally avoid any information about the movie before seeing might want to jump down to the next section. Some of the linked articles have even more significant spoilers.

There is an attempt at continuity between the Marvel television universe and cinematic universe, but it is largely one way. The movie definitely takes place after the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier with SHIELD broken up. The members of the Avengers are working out their own hierarchy, no longer taking orders from SHIELD. Agents of SHIELD did have a lead-in for the movie in last week’s episode, including the search for Loki’s scepter, but as far as the movie series goes, Coulson is dead. While Nick Fury and Maria Hill appeared in the movie, there was no sign of Coulson, even at a party where it seemed everyone who ever appeared in a Marvel movie was invited. For those who primarily watch the movies, they avoided having to explain how he is alive, and viewers of the show could just assume he was too busy hiding from HYDRA and the other SHIELD to attend. Joss Whedon discussed the conflict between the television and movie people, including a reference to the ending of St. Elsewhere:

“Yeah he’s dead. The entire television series is just a fever dream. It’s a Jacob’s Ladder moment he’s having at the point of death, but we don’t give that away until after season seven. And there’s a snow globe. Now I’ve given it away. Bollocks!

“It’s a weird little yes and no. As far as I’m concerned in the films, yes he’s dead. In terms of the narrative of these guys [The Avengers] his loss was very important. When I created the television show, it was sort of on the understanding that this can work and we can do it with integrity, but these Avengers movies are for people to see the Avengers movies and nothing else. And it would neither make sense nor be useful to say ‘Oh and by the way remember me? I died!’”

The Agents of SHIELD show runners discussed the tie in to the movie with Variety. Note that it is not necessary for understanding of the television show to have seen the movie to make sense of its references in last week’s episode. We will see how the events tie into future shows, but my bet is that the movie and television show are sufficiently self-contained so that it won’t necessary to have seen the movie.

One limitation of Avengers movies is that there are too many characters to spend much time on each individually. They did throw in a new romance, and we learned much more about Hawkeye and about The Black Widow. The most significant opportunity for characters to be seen as individuals  occurred when Scarlet Witch caused them to have dream sequences. These sequences told more about the motivations and thoughts of the characters, and are discussed further at Slate.

It shouldn’t come as a spoiler to note that the Avengers win in the end. The ending shows some of the original Avengers leaving the group, although we know they will be seen again in Captain America: Civil War. The ending did suggest that newer superheroes would be replacing some of them, but I would not be surprised if more of the original Avengers also play a role in the future. It looks like the Avengers will primarily consist of Captain America, Black Widow, Falcon, War Machine, and two introduced in this movie: Scarlet Witch and Vision. More on this here , here, and here. There was not a scene at the end of the credits, but there was a brief scene during the credits which also ties the movie to Guardians of the Galaxy. Discussion of that scene can be found here. Of course there was the obligatory Stan Lee cameo.

Orphan Black s03e03

Orphan Black got back to Mark and the Prolethean storyline, and had a big revelation about the Castor clones (I am  your sister). In watching it is hard to tell to what degree the writers had a long range plan and to what degree they are making things up as they go along. This is most apparent in how they retcon Paul’s role to fit into whatever is happening each season. This season they have him working with Team Castor, and therefore retroactively came up with the explanation the he had previously infiltrated Dyad. There is an even more retcon with Mark. Ari Millen was originally intended to only play Prolethean Mark, but at the end of the season it was decided to have him play the line of male clones. I had wondered how they would reconcile Mark’s character with the other clones. Now the explanation is that he was only with the Proletheans to retrieve material from Henrik. The change in each character seems even less plausible when considering the scene last season where Mark and Paul met in a bar and gave no indication that they were both on Team Castor. While they should have recognized each other, I imagine this scene could be explained away as each engaging in meaningless banter to avoid giving themselves away to anyone who might have been around them.

The Hollywood Reporter discussed the episode with Graeme Manson and John Fawcett, who pretend this was their plan all along:

Though the male line of clones was only introduced in the second season finale, it took just three episodes of season three for a key piece of the puzzle to fall into place: The clones from Project Castor (the males, played by Ari Millen) and Project Leda (the females, played by Tatiana Maslany) are biological siblings.

“There’s no doubt that’s been a plan of ours for a long time,” Orphan Black co-creator Graeme Manson tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It does shape the season going forward. We wanted a big revelation about these male clones, and the revelations are going to keep on coming.”

Cosima (Maslany) shared the truth with Sarah (Maslany), and then Sarah informed Mark (Millen) of their connection. And while Sarah has fiercely embraced protecting her new sisterhood, the discovery will lead to her own mixed feelings on the matter.

“It certainly adds a massive layer of complexity for Sarah, especially,” says series co-creator John Fawcett. “She’s just coming to grips with the fact that it really wasn’t that long ago where she was basically running away from her own daughter. Shunning her responsibilities of her immediate, biological family. Sarah’s done a lot of growing up in the past; going from street urchin, running around, avoiding the fact that she’s a mother to changing her life, wanting [her daughter] back, wanting to be a mother, going, ‘Oh my God, I have clones running around.’ There’s been a lot of acceptance and discovery for Sarah through this journey. There’s this other brain-numbing facet that Sarah has to take on board. It’s a big part of the mystery going forward.”

“Bearing in mind, none of these ‘brothers’ are acting very much like siblings,” added Manson. “So, we are also raising questions in terms of family of, ‘What makes family?’ Does biology make family? Do you choose your family? Sarah, like John said, has grown up a lot. She’s choosing her clone family. Are they going to choose the males or not?”

The above trailer for the television adaptation of Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell has been released.

Looking to the week ahead, both Gotham and Person of Interest have each set up a high stakes battle for their season finales, and the end games for The Flash and Arrow appear near. I will wait until these stories have played out more to discuss them further. I have not been thrilled by the last couple of episodes of Outlander, but those who have read the book do say that big things are happening in the remaining episodes of the season.

Syfy has canceled Helix after its second season.

Community Annie Pleasure Droid

With twenty-eight minute episodes. Dan Harmon can get into more into an episode of Community now that it is on Yahoo! instead of NBC.  This week’s episode, Intro to Recycled Cinema, mocked commercials, Chris Pratt, and movie-making. It amusingly ripped off Star Wars, including the Cantina and garbage chute scenes. Chang was briefly a star, Jeff was the Mayor of Outer Space, Abed did his thing, and Annie was a  pleasure droid-turned-bounty-hunter Scorpio 9, who sometimes reached into her shirt and pulled out a laser bomb.

In an act of mercy killing, ABC is canceling Revenge. This is a perfect example of the problem with the US model for television series. It was a fine escapist show the first season, but continued long after there was any reason to drag out the story. While the BBC or cable might have ended the series at a natural point, even if only after a season or two, the American networks don’t work that way. The final straw was, after the rational for the show was seeking revenge for the false imprisonment and death of David Clarke, he suddenly turned up alive.

Scarlett Johansson was guest host on Saturday Night Live this week, and in this video showed how Marvel would make a girl superhero movie:

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SciFi Weekend: Parenthood Finale; The Marvel Cinematic Universe; The 100; Arrow; Allegiance; The Americans

Parenthood Finale Table

Parenthood concluded with one of the best television finales of all time. This was an easier show to conclude than some others. It did not have the problem of shows such as The X-Files and Lost, which became so burdened by its mythology that it was impossible for the finale to be satisfying without giving up hope that it would really make sense. The Parenthood finale remained true to the stories to date, not tempted to throw in a surprise which did not fit the series, like with How I Met Your Mother or Dexter.

The final episode concluded the major story lines of the season. Most were handled well, but the solution to Adam search for the job of his dreams was the most contrived, with Kristina suddenly having an opportunity at a non-profit which left the position of headmaster at Chamber’s Academy open for Adam. It made sense for Crosby to run The Luncheonette without Adam. Accountants and attorneys could provide some of the business advice he received when Adam was there full time, even if it didn’t make any sense when Crosby said he would be Adam and Amber would be Crosby. It was rather sudden for Julia and Joel to be offered the chance to adopt Victor’s sister, but such an offer coming suddenly did not seem as unnatural as Kristina’s sudden job opportunity.

There were two other story lines which were more important during the season, and which dominated the finale. Sarah’s wedding turned out to be a perfect way to end the series. Besides being a major event for Sarah, the wedding provided a way to get all the characters together as budget limitations required the absence of characters for parts of the season. Besides being the obvious ending for Sarah’s storyline, it provided a good end point for Max, who got the job as wedding photographer and was also “in the picture.” He even got to dance with a girl. Plus the scenes of Max taking the family pictures was a good way to just get a look at the cast members.

The other major storyline of the season was Zeek’s heart problems which, no matter how much fans tried to deny it, was inevitably going to lead to his death. Any lingering doubt that this would occur were eliminated when I read that it would jump ahead to show the Bravermans in the future. It would have been dishonest to not have Zeek die at some point. His death was handled well as he died peacefully at home a few months after he walked Sarah down the aisle, as can be seen in the video above.

Instead of a sad funeral we jumped ahead to see Zeek’s ashes spread at a baseball diamond, and then the Bravermans did what Zeke would have wanted them to do–play baseball, with the series theme song, Bob Dylan’s Forever Young playing. Then, in one of the greatest endings in television history, we had a combination of how Jason Katims ended his previous show, Friday Night Lights with the ending of Peter Krause’s previous show, Six Feet Under.

The show jumped ahead, also in the video above to show the broad outlines of what happens to the Bravermans. There was no ambiguity as in The Sopranos. Adam does become headmaster, eventually handing Max his high school diploma. Crosby does run The Luncheonette. Besides adopting a third child, Julia winds up becoming pregnant with a fourth, and even gets a puppy. Julia and  Joel recreat the original structure of the Braverman family with a younger brother and sister and an older brother and sister. Camille makes it to to inn in France which Zeek had wanted to take her to.

Parenthood - Season 6

Amber’s future is the most exciting. After having her child with Ryan, aka Luke Cafferty of Friday Night  Lights (Matt Lauria), Amber winds up marrying Jason Street (Scott Porter). Ryan even gets his act together and is part of their lives. Scenes with their courtship were shot but got cut from the finale, with Scott Porter’s character named Peter:

“There’s a scene where they meet. Peter and his daughter are at what amounts to a Kidtown, like an indoor jungle gym playtime place. Peter has his daughter and Amber has Zeek. Zeek [named after his grandfather] gets lost in the ball pit and Peter goes bravely in to save him and brings him back to Amber.”

They clicked right away. “They have similar kinds of pasts,” Porter explains. “Both were a little bit wild at one point, and both have kids they maybe weren’t expecting but that were perfectly timed for them. They’re single parents who met and were immediately drawn together.”

While no wedding was actually shot, Porter had no problem imagining the nuptials.

“I imagine it was a very small, intimate wedding. These are two people who are very protective of their families. So pretty small, except for the Braverman side — they come in numbers that most families don’t come in anymore.”

This and other deleted scenes are bound to show up on the DVD set, and some deleted scenes can be found online here.

Matt Lauria and Scott Porter were just two of many former stars of Friday Night Lights who appeared on Parenthood over the years. Yahoo has a slide show, starting with Minka Kelly who both tutored Max and slept with Crosby.

Parenthood - Season 6

This very well might be the end for quality dramas such as Friday Night Lights and Parenthood on network television as I discussed last week. Fortunately cable and streaming networks are doing more quality shows. This topic came up in an interview with Jason Katims at Variety:

It’s unique as a family drama on TV right now. Can you imagine trying to sell it today?

It would be a hard sell to go out and sell a family drama that doesn’t have some sort of twist. There are lot of shows about family, but they’re all couched in other things. This is a straight family drama. It’s unusual in that way. But honestly it was not easy to sell it five years ago. It’s not like anyone was saying let’s have it then. But the TV landscape is changing so rapidly. There’s so much opportunity now, so many different types of outlets — you never know. I’m hoping that there’ll still be a place for shows like this.

The finale provided a broad outline, but also leaves things open to return to their story in the future, either during the period seen or afterwards. Katims is interested, and the new outlets make this more likely in the future.

Given the wealth of platforms on the TV landscape, could you imagine ever revisiting the Bravermans down the road?

Yes, absolutely. Everyone who is doing the show — our writers, our actors, our directors, our producers — we all love doing the show. Everyone would want to do more. There is no one who is angling to get out of doing this thing. I personally would be interested in seeing what happens a few years down the road. I want to know what happens to these people, these characters. If you asked me three years ago, I would say it’s not going to happen. But now there are so many ways of doing things that it’s possible. I would very much be open to that.

Parenthood - Season 6

He also discussed this with E! saying, “I love the idea of doing a reunion movie like Boyhood, where every year, everybody commits a week to doing this project.,” he said. “Maybe it’s not that crazy to think that we could pull something like that off.”

Of course the old episodes are all easily available, both on Netflix and Amazon. I rewatched the pilot later on Thursday night, and this provided a real feeling of going full circle in an episode which introduced the characters. The pilot both had major life events for members of Team Braverman and featured the family at baseball games.

The Bravermans are a fantasy family. It is a family nobody actually has, and it is hard to imagine how Adam and Kristina could have afforded to live in Berkeley, hire private tutors for Max, and afford to send Haddie to Cornell. This universe is still more grounded in reality than the Marvel cinematic universe, with both types of fantasy enjoyable to watch. Digital Spy has some spoilers regarding Avengers: Age of Ultron (trailer above) with more in the full post.

We won’t see the Avengers assemble again (which hopefully also means we’ll be spared a silly alternative UK title). “This movie starts off and the team is together, on a mission, they’re working in tandem, and there are new relationships between them,” explains producer Jeremy Latcham. “Time has passed, so you pick up right in the middle of an action sequence and start trying to catch up.

“I think that’s fun for an audience, to try and figure out, ‘Wait, those two are funny together now, there’s something going on with them, maybe there’s a little tension over there’. You’re showing up at a party when it’s already a little bit started.”

“Bigger” and “darker” are two of the most clichéd terms you can apply to a franchise sequel, but Age of Ultron looks set to earn both – according to Ruffalo, it “makes the first Avengers look like Waiting for Guffman“.

Latcham expands on this by reminding us that much of The Avengers was shot on a small soundstage in Albuquerque, and that its New York City was created “in an old abandoned train station where we’d hung green screen and built part of a bridge.”

Not only are the locations real this time – they’re also global. “The Avengers saved New York, but the Avengers aren’t just about America,” Latcham says. “They’re here to protect this blue rock that we all live on.”

Hence Age of Ultron‘s globe-trotting remit, which sees various strands of the gang show up in South Africa, Northern Italy (playing as Eastern Europe) and South Korea among other places. In preparation for one particularly spectacular set piece, producers asked the South Korean government for permission to shut down Seoul’s equivalent of the M1 for two weeks. They complied.

avengers-age-of-ultron-quicksilver-scarlett-witch

The movie adds Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch to the Avengers, but they start out on Ultron’s side.

New recruits Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) initially join forces with James Spader’s Ultron against the Avengers, creating a very different balance of power than solo villain Loki. “Instead of Ultron giving a lot of speeches so everybody knows what he’s thinking, it’d be nice if he had some allies,” Latcham explains.

“The story that Joss put together with these two kids is really sweet and poignant, and you really understand why they would start on this side of the line. It’s a great journey that they go on, from being these rough and tumble kids in Eastern Europe who blame the West, and the Avengers for the plight, the power structure of the world that keeps kids like them down. Over the course of it they realize maybe the Avengers are here for good reason.”

But the brother-sister duo have legitimate beef with one Avenger in particular. “Our characters have a lot of anger, especially towards Tony Stark, and we want revenge,” says Olsen. “We meet Ultron, and he’s someone who preaches peace and… believes what we believe, which is that the Avengers create destruction and that Tony Stark’s bomb is responsible for killing our parents.”

Unsurprisingly, their alliance with Ultron ends up turning sour, and Olsen reveals that “my character ends up really having to deal with her ignorance. A lot of problems that happen towards the end of the film are her responsibility.”

Age of Ultron also leads into the next Captain America movie and the situation leading to the upcoming civil war is explained:

Much of the Avengers’ problem boils down to their lack of a clear leader post-Winter Soldier. “SHIELD has fallen apart, so this movie becomes Tony Stark and Steve Rogers trying to put the Avengers together without a parental unit like Nick Fury hovering over them,” explains Latcham. “What you realize is that these are guys who work best with rules, and probably do need some adult supervision.”And as anybody who watched the first film can guess, Tony and Cap aren’t an ideal leadership pairing. “Tony has been paying for everything, designing stuff, building new toys, he’s the benefactor of the whole thing. But Steve Rogers is very much in charge of operations and missions, he’s the moral compass,” Latcham goes on. “But how long can Tony Stark have someone else be in charge?” In other words, groundwork is being distinctly laid for the Stark vs Rogers core of Civil War.

Avengers Age of Ultron Spoilers

Joss Whedon has helped create a fantastic universe with the Marvel characters but has been talking about moving on, and creating a new universe:

“I would never rule anything out, because I like working here. By the same token, the biggest thing for me is that I need to do something that I create myself. It’s been way too long since I created a universe. The last thing I did before The Avengers was [directing an episode of] Glee, and in between I did Much Ado About Nothing. So I haven’t created my own universe for over five years. That feels wrong.”

The Marvel universe is not limited to the Avengers and other movie series from Marvel Studios as other studios have the rights to some of the Marvel characters. Fox has the rights to X-Men and the Fantastic Four, and there is talk that their worlds will ultimately intersect. Information on the upcoming X-Men and Fantastic Four movies here and here respectively.

Sony owns the rights to Spider-Man and we learned during the recent leaks of their email that there was talk of Marvel Studios getting partial rights to the character. Blastr argues that it might have actually been a good thing that Marvel Studios did not own the rights to all of the Marvel characters:

It’s easy to forget that back in the mid-2000s, Marvel Studios was one heck of a risky proposition. After partnering with outside studios for years, the company finally decided that, if they wanted good movies based on their comics (and the winner’s share of the box-office bucks that come with them), they’d have to make ’em themselves. There was just one problem: They’d already sold off any franchise with obvious big-screen potential, most notably Spider-Man, X-Men and the Fantastic Four.

So Marvel decided to dig deep. The comic universe has always thrived on variety and a world populated with extremely interesting and damaged heroes, so they decided to apply that model to film. Iron Man and Hulk were arguably the most bankable heroes left on the bench, so Marvel pumped every dime it had into those two projects and prayed for a hit. Luckily for all of us, Robert Downey Jr. and Jon Favreau caught lighting in a bottle with Iron Man in 2008. More than $585 million later, we were well on our way toward The Avengers.

Since Marvel didn’t have the luxury of a sure-fire star like Spider-Man — who is currently the most lucrative comic-book character in existence, with more than $1.3 billion in licensing revenue in 2013 alone — they had to work with characters who might not have ever gotten a shot otherwise. Just think: If Marvel could have made splashy Spider-Man and X-Men movies, do you think we’d have ever gotten something as creatively quirky as Guardians of the Galaxy (or Ant-Man), or the risky period-set romp that was Captain America: The First Avenger? Maybe somewhere down the line, but a lot of the limited focus (and release slots) would almost certainly be eaten up by those larger properties. 

Yes, Marvel would probably be making better movies than what’s out there now (especially on the Spider-Man front), but for me, I wouldn’t trade the epic Marvel Universe we have now for the chance at some better Spider-Man movies. Not by a long shot. The fact that Marvel didn’t have Spider-Man in its stable was the catalyst to bring characters like Iron Man and Thor to life, and gave Marvel the confidence to try something as seemingly insane as a film starring Rocket Raccoon and Groot. The only thing they could control was making the best movies possible, and since the characters were mid-tier, they had to be extremely good.

He has a good point that the way Marvel built the Avengers with characters starting with lesser characters like Iron Man worked out well. However, now that this has been established, Marvel Studios (as part of Disney) is probably big enough to hire the crew to put out an even larger number of movies. Plus it would be worth sacrificing some of the planned movies with minor characters if it meant having Spider-Man movies of the quality of other movies from Marvel Studios.

100-1

Briefly looking at other shows on last week, I was glad to see that the cast and crew of The 100 agree that the plan for Bellamy to infiltrate Mt. Weather “sucked.” I can accept writing a script with characters doing foolish things, as people do foolish things, as long as the writers are doing this intentionally. More on upcoming plans for The 100 in the linked interview.

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I am also glad that it was intentional that Team Arrow was so weak without Oliver. It would be especially unrealistic if Laurel was suddenly an effective crime fighter like her sister, who had years of training. Marc Guggenheim discussed Arrow and The Flash in an interview with Assignment X. Guggenheim also tied Arrow into contemporary politics:

AX: How much do you weigh referencing ARROW as a modern-day Robin Hood?

GUGGENHEIM: There’s an interesting thing that’s happening in the country right now, where you’re talking about one percent versus ninety-nine percent, haves versus have-nots. Poverty and whatnot has become a political issue, which is interesting, because to me, it was always an issue on both sides of the aisle, how we distribute wealth in this country. It’s a little scary to me that it’s become this polarizing political thing. That’s not the country I grew up in, so it’s weird also to be writing on a show that’s clearly dealing with that issue head-on. Obviously, GREEN ARROW is inspired by Robin Hood and we’re playing around with those elements, but you go it’s more about social justice than it is about politics. At least, that’s what the show should be about.

AX: Aren’t social justice and politics sort of the same thing?

GUGGENHEIM: Well, the point I’m making actually is that social justice has become a political issue in a way that it never has been in this country. Obviously, yes, there’s always been a political divide, we’ve always had disagreements in terms of how to address these issues, but it just feels like the disagreements have become so vitriolic and the differences have become so severe that it’s taken on a different cast than it used to have.

NBC plans to air Allegiance on Thursday nights in place of Parenthood. It sure sounds like a rip off of The Americans, even if its producers deny it. I’m sure there will be differences, like on The Americans the Russians are after the daughter, but on Allegiance they want to turn the son into a spy. It seems better to place such a scenario with undercover Russian spies in the 1980’s, like The Americans, as opposed to present day.

The Americans started its season with another excellent episode, and is ranked by may critics as the top show currently on television. I doubt that Allegiance will be anywhere as good, either as a spy show or as a family drama. If you haven’t seen it, call in sick for the next two days and binge on the first two seasons on Amazon Prime to catch up.

And, finally, a nine year-old in Texas was suspended from school for threatening to make a classmate disappear. He had just watched The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies and claimed to have the one ring to rule them all.

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SciFi Weekend: Arrow; The Flash; Agents of SHIELD; Gotham; Doctor Who; Hannibal; Daredevil; True Blood; The Leftovers; The Last Ship; 24; Penny Dreadful

Arrow Oliver Felicity

TV Guide interviewed Andrew Kreisberg about the third season of Arrow:

Can Arrow‘s consummate hero have it all?

The third season of The CW series will dare to answer that question when Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) attempts to have his cake and eat it too — in this case, that means being a superhero that the residents of Starling City actually respect while also trying to have a personal life. It’s harder than it sounds — something that Ollie will learn fairly quickly into the season.

But Oliver’s love life won’t be the only thing that’s complicated this season, especially since two of his ladies will actually be getting love interests of their own! TVGuide.com tracked down executive producer Andrew Kreisberg to get the scoop on the new season, including a surprising return from the dead, the future for Team Arrow and new villains ahead:

Will there be a time jump when the show returns?
Andrew Kreisberg: 
We’re going to jump the same amount of time that we did last year. It’ll be real time. It’ll be seven or eight months later. For Oliver, things are good. As we like to say, everything is coming up Arrow. Crime is down. At the end of last year, there was victory. A lot of this season is about what happens when you win and how winning isn’t always as easy as it looks.

What does it mean for Oliver now that the city actually accepts him?
Kreisberg: 
In the premiere, Lance (Paul Blackthorne) actually disbands the anti-vigilante task force in his new role as Captain. The Arrow is free to do his thing and it’s different for Oliver. He spent the first two years being hunted and distrusted. Now, he’s starting to feel like he has this under control. And then, of course, as Joss Whedon taught us all, you let your characters have a moment of happiness and then you take it all away from them.

You seemed to be setting the stage for Ra’s al Ghul to be the villain in Season 3. Is he actually the villain? Can you say anything about the new villain?
Kreisberg: 
It’s big. I can say that he’s big and he’s bad. We’re still figuring that stuff out. As far as the Big Bad, there will be Big Bad. Even last year, everybody was a subset of Slade’s (Manu Bennett). Slade was the Big Bad. We will meet other villains along the way, as always. We’ll have recurring villains and new villains we’re starting with this year and people who are coming back from the previous two seasons.

Felicity (Emily Bett Rickards) and Oliver are going on a date in the season premiere. How do you avoid the TV trope that a hero can’t be with the woman he loves just because of his duty?
Kreisberg: 
When you see the premiere and you see how things shake out, you’ll come to a very sympathetic understanding of both of their positions. The premiere last year was a microcosm of what was happening for the whole year. In the same way that the premiere of last season was really about Oliver struggling with whether or not he should be the Arrow, in this season premiere it’s, “Can I have everything I want?” That quest is going to take up his entire year, and hers.

How much of a foil will Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), Felicity’s new rumored love interest and head of Queen Consolidated, be to Oliver?
Kreisberg: 
A big foil. It’s Season 3, and Season 3 is typically when you add that game-changing character like Buffy did in adding Faith or Everwood did with adding Scott Wolf. First of all, getting Brandon — he couldn’t be nicer, he couldn’t be sweeter. It’s just such a different energy that he’s bringing to the show. A lot of what’s funny about Felicity and Oliver is that he’s so straight and she’s the funny one. With Brandon, you get somebody who’s as tall, square-jawed and handsome as he is [and] he’s a really funny comedian. He and Felicity can have that verbal repartee that we haven’t typically had on the show. As much as the show is getting darker, it’s gotten a lot funnier. It’s just such a different energy. He and Felicity are really cute together.

The second season ended with the Black Canary giving her black jacket to her sister Laurel. This fed speculation that Laurel will become the Black Canary as in the comics. Kreisberg has a good point that she is not ready for this  yet: “As always with all of these things, you can’t just put on a mask and go running around. You’ll get killed. Laurel is still just an attorney. She’s an attorney with a jacket. I think Katie Cassidy fans are going to be very, very excited about her trajectory this year. Laurel is going to have a new love interest this season.” Caity Lotz will be returning for three episodes next season. One of the many good things about Arrow is that there is now a huge supporting cast, and even more characters are to be introduced. This allows them to have a variety of characters for parts of a season as opposed to having exactly the same characters from week to week. There will also be a cross over with The Flash next season in the eighth episode of each show, and Felicity will appear in the fourth episode of The Flash.

There has been contradictory information as to whether The Flash and/or Arrow will cross over with the DC cinematic universe in the manner in which Agents of SHIELD does with Marvel. The latest story is that DC Entertainment Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns says the television shows and movies will be kept separate. Presumably this will mean that the Flash seen in the Justice League of America movie would be a different character than on the television show. While it would be entertaining to have the television and movie universes combined, there are advantages of keeping them separate. This allows for greater flexibility with the television shows not being confined by the movie universe, avoiding the problems faced by SHIELD most of its first season.

BRETT DALTON

Agents of SHIELD executive producers Jeffrey Bell, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen were interviewed about plans for the second season, now that the show is no longer constrained by waiting for Captain America: The Winter Soldier to reveal HYDRA’s infiltration of SHIELD.

Will there be consequences for Grant Ward for all that he had done last year?

“I would assume so,” Maurissa Tancharoen said. “Let’s put it this way: They’re not gonna just drop him on a farm and let him run wild.” Jed Whedon added. “When last we left him, he was in our custody. What does that mean? You’ll have to see,” Maurissa teased.

What are you specifically excited about for Season 2?

“I think the fact that when we left them, S.H.I.E.L.D. had completely crumbled… so just the idea of Coulson and our team, sort of left with nothing, or limited resources… I think we’ll be rooting for them to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D.,” Tancharoen said.

“It’s a lot harder to protect the world when you don’t have any resources. Last year we saw how giant and all-consuming S.H.I.E.L.D.’s reach was, and they don’t have that anymore, so it’s much more of a struggle. They’re much more the underdog this year, which we’re really excited about that, and the tone that it sets, and what it does to our characters.” Whedon added.

This “ragtag team” has Maria Hill as a contact and she’s working for Tony Stark. Couldn’t she talk to him to hook them up with some money?

“We hope so! That’d be so cool!” Whedon responded. “Maybe so,” Tancharoen said. “That’s a good question.”

“Tony Stark doesn’t know Coulson’s alive, so it might be really awkward. It’d be weird,” Jeffrey Bell chimed in. “They could set up a Coulson Memorial Fund and channel that into S.H.I.E.L.D.,” he joked.

So with Phil Coulson now being the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Avengers still don’t know he’s alive?

“That’s a complicated question. One might assume, but you can’t assume anything, and they have their own movie that exists…” Whedon said, with his brother, of course, directing Avengers 2: Age of Ultron to come out next year.

“At least on screen so far, that hasn’t happened,” Bell said.

Will we be seeing Fitz (Iain de Caestecker) sooner rather than later?

“That’s a good question. When last we left him, we didn’t know exactly what happened to him. We just know he’s alive,” Tancharoen teased.

Gotham

TV Guide has more information on Gotham:

There will be no cape. There will be no cowl. Nevertheless, Fox’s Gotham intends to stay true to the Batman comics that fans have come to know and love over more than seven decades.

Based on DC Comics characters, Gotham explores the origin stories of the Caped Crusader’s eventual ally James Gordon (Benjamin McKenzie), a detective with the Gotham City Police Department, and his battle with the villains who made the city famous.

“What we won’t do is break the canonical iron truths of the mythology,” executive producer Bruno Heller told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s fall previews on Sunday. “It’s not a whole new mythology. But issues of chronology, we will play with in a fun way.”

Instead of Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) taking center stage in the effort to save Gotham, James Gordon will be the central focus as he fights the ever rampant corruption and crime alongside his partner and mentor Det. Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue). “Gordon is the lynchpin of the show,” Heller explains. “He’s the guy who creates Batman or gives permission for Batman to exist in this world. Gordon will still remain at the central, but it’s very much about [the origin stories of every character], but Gordon is the moral center that you can identify with.”

Though Heller said that Batman won’t appear on the series, he doesn’t believe that will drive the fanboys away. “I don’t think so because the really interesting parts of the stories is the origin stories,” Heller says. “As soon as you’re into the capes and the costumes, it’s less interesting than how the people got there.

“If there is a superhero in this show, it’s Gotham,” he continues. “That’s a larger than life character that’s a central part of the show. To me, heroes are more interesting than superheroes because precisely the difference is superheroes do the impossible, and drama is really about the physically possible. This is about people and people trying to overcome real problems as opposed to trying to learn how to fly.”

But where do Gothamites find hope when the city’s villains of are running free with nary a hero (or the hope of one) to stop them? After all, Bruce Wayne hasn’t even started shaving yet! “That’s the situation that the show is all about,” Heller says. “How do you deal with crime of this level when there are no superheroes? It’s as much about the hope and the struggle that they’re engaged in… It’s about men and women, not about superheroes.”

And those men and women truly will be overrun. Though the first season delves into the rise of the Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), the series pilot introduces a fair amount of villains for the show to play with, including Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), Poison Ivy (Clare Foley) and Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith). “You have to front-load the pilot with the best that you’ve got because that’s the way that you’ve got to open big,” Heller says of introducing so many villains. “As the show rolls on, we’ll be far more … careful with how we roll out the villains and in what way.”

Trailers for the upcoming season of Doctor Who above (one official and one from a fan).

With Laurence Fishburne having a roll on a new show next season, Black-ish, there has been speculation that this might mean that he did not survive the massacre in the second season finale of Hannibal. Fishburne says he is returning, and will do both shows part time. He also says the third season of Hannibal will be very dark–as if the first two seasons were so light and cheerful.

Looking back quickly on some genre shows of the past week, I was happy to see True Blood end some of its weak plot lines and get rid of some of the superfluous characters. This almost gives them yet another fresh start going into the final episodes of the series, and I hope they take advantage of this to end with a better story line.

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The Leftovers dealt with Christopher Eccleston’s character. As we know that it will not deal with any sort of explanation of what  happened to the missing people, to be successful the show will need to get viewers interested in the characters and how they responded to the other people disappearing. So far they have not done the greatest job of introducing the characters and adequately explaining their motivations. Earlier episodes dealt heavily with the police chief and his family, but it is not clear why his family is so affected considering that nobody in their family disappeared. Entertainment Weekly compared The Leftovers to Battlestar Galactica in the way in which both shows dealt with a loss of a portion of the population. Both the disaster and the manner in which the response were handled was greater on BSG.

While The Leftovers does have that in common with Battlestar Galactica, The Last Ship has far more in common in dealing with a ship of people surviving after mass deaths. It remains more of an action/adventure show than hard science fiction, but remains entertaining summer television.

Under the Dome remains weak (to put it gently), yet somehow remains interesting to watch. The same problems persist with the Dome having powers with no apparent limits but no clear motivations for those using the power. Now it was able to bring a girl who died years ago back to life. Plus Junior’s mother was also confirmed to be alive after her reported suicide.

24: Live Another Day concluded its short season. A shorter season was a plus, but it would have been even better if it ended a few episodes earlier when the main terrorist plot was tied up. In the past, full seasons suffered from the need to move from one plot line to another to keep things going for an entire twenty-four episodes. Now that they were freed from those constraints it would have better to tell one single story well, regardless of how many episodes it took. Then they had to tag on yet another quick story at the end to put Chloe in danger to set up Jack’s fate. The producers of 24 have not yet said whether the show will return. I’m sure that depends upon a lot upon the ratings.

Extant remained interesting in its second episode. I still fear it will turn out to be a network television rehash of old science fiction (and Spielberg)  troupes but I’m willing to give it a chance to prove me wrong.

Penny Dreadful Eva Green

Penny Dreadful ended earlier this month and I should note that after seeing the entire first season that it was well worth watching. The plot was not the strong point but it did excel in creating its characters and a world where fictional characters including Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, and others interacted. The show had a strong cast including Timothy Dalton, Josh Hartnett, and Billy Piper, but by far the strongest was Eva Green. The actual story such as fights with vampires weren’t terrible significant except as ways to introduce the characters and set up future events. Early episodes showed some violent deaths and, while there were some clues, the probable identity of the killer wasn’t revealed until the finale, undoubtedly influencing the second season. The show also made good use of episodic television, both having continuing stories and using some episodes to reveal character back stories or past events.

James Gardner, star of shows including The Rockford Files and Maverick, died yesterday at 86. Reports from Variety and The New York Times.

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SciFi Weekend: Black Widow; Arrow; Continuum; House of Cards; Fantastic Four; Hannibal; Man From UNCLE; The Americans; Two More US Remakes Of British Shows; Karen Gillan; If Ikea Sold A TARDIS

Black Widow

Variety reports that Black Widow will continue to have a major role in upcoming Marvel movies and then Scarlett Johansson will star in her own stand-alone movie:

According to Chris Evans, who plays Captain America, Black Widow’s storyline in “The Winter Soldier” revolves around “her coming to terms with her history, that she’s been a spy, and spies aren’t necessarily trustworthy,” he told Total Film.

That will be further explored in “The Avengers: Age of Ultron,” out in 2015. Film starts production in March.

“(Black) Widow’s part in that is very big,” Feige said. “We learn more about her past and learn more about where she came from and how she became in that film. The notion of exploring that even further in her own film would be great, and we have some development work with that. When we meet the Avengers at the top of ‘Age of Ultron,’ it’s a very different landscape than we left them at the end of the first film. Partially, that’s because we love the rhythm that the comicbooks have developed — each of the characters appear in their runs, occasionally they get together for a big event or crossover series, they part again, and then they come back together again.”

It’s unclear whether Marvel hopes to have a Black Widow movie become part of its third phase of films, which so far includes “Ant-Man,” “Doctor Strange” and the third installments of “The Avengers” and “Captain America.”

Phase two includes “Iron Man 3,” “Thor: The Dark World,” “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “The Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Bringing Sarah into Team Arrow raises questions as to Felicity’s role. That is answered with a Felicity-centered episode. Preview above. More about Arrow here.

After Arrow, I’m far more willing to take a show on CW seriously. They have ordered  pilots from the creators of Sleepy Hollow and Veronica Mars:

The CW has given pilot orders to dramas Identity, from Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, Jane the Virgin, from Jennie Snyder Urman, and iZombie from Rob Thomas, TVGuide.com has learned.

In Identity, when a young woman in need of a transplant learns she is related to a powerful family whose son is her only hope for a donor organ, the CIA approaches her to investigate the family’s involvement in domestic terrorism and to infiltrate their rarified world.  Her loyalty, morality and ethics are tested as she’s forced to slowly build a case against the family who saved her life. Sleepy Hollow‘s Kurtzman and Orci will executive-produce with The Good Wife‘s Corinne Brinkerhoff, who will also write. Heather Kadin, Rob Golenberg and Alon Aranya are also attached as executive producers…

Based on DC Comics’ series, iZombie is a supernatural crime procedural about a med student-turned-zombie who takes a job in the coroner’s office to obtain the brains she must eat to maintain her humanity. However, with every brain she consumes, she also inherits the corpse’s memories. In order to silence those disturbing voices in her head, she solves homicide cases along with her medical examiner boss and a police detective. Veronica Mars‘ Thomas and Diane Ruggiero will write and executive-produce with Danielle Stokdyk and Dan Etheridge.

Showcase has released another trailer for the third season of Continuum. It returns on  March 16  or you can wait until April 4 and see cut episodes on SyFy. Guess which version I plan to watch.

If you haven’t seen the first episode of season two of House of Cards yet, you just better get off the Internet if you don’t want to see spoilers. It turns out that the shocking event from the first episode was planned from the start with a similar event in the season finale of the first season of the U.K. version. How realistic is the show? A star such as Robin Wright may or may not know very much about actual political life, but it is easy to have their opinion covered by being a bit titillating:

During a Q&A in the upcoming issue of Capitol File magazine, a reporter asked whether Wright’s White House source thought the fictional events depicted in the Netflix series were close to the mark.

“Did she think reporters sleeping with sources and members of Congress was factual?” the reporter asked.

“Oh, yeah,” the actress replied. “D.C. is more corrupt than Hollywood. It really is. It’s more sleazy than Hollywood… how much infidelity goes on.”

Kate Mara might soon become better known for another genre role. The cast has been announced for the Fantastic Four reboot, with Mara playing Sue Storm. Think how House of Cards might have turned out differently if Zoe Barnes also had Sue Storm’s power to turn invisible.

Orange Is The New Black returns on Netflix on June 6. No relation to Black Widow, Black Canary, or Orphan Black.

Hannibal returns on February 28, with the first season available to binge on Netflix and Amazon. Here is some more information on  the second season.

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Open Channel D. The Man From UNCLE movie opens on January 16, 2015. The movie stars Henry Cavill, Armie Hammer, Alicia Vikander, Elizabeth Debicki, Jared Harris, Hugh Grant and Luca Calvani. One of the key things I remember from the original show was the use of cigarette cases and pens as communication devices. Is there any point in this with smart phones? But if these are not used, will the movie really feel like UNCLE? It might be fun to go back and look at some of the old episodes to see how they stand up today. My guess is that they would be better than SHIELD.

Actually Agents of SHIELD has improved. They did try experimenting with storytelling a little in the last episode, TRACKS, telling the same story from the perspective of different characters. I also enjoyed seeing a train heist as it reminded me of one of the first Joss Whedon shows I had ever seen, The Train Job episode of Firefly. (Yes, I have never seen Buffy). The episode ended with a cliff hanger but I doubt Skye is really dead considering how they appear in the midst of developing her back story. Besides, people on comic-based shows are rarely ever dead. A clue to this is that the next episode when SHIELD returns from hiatus will be entitled  TAHITI. Bill Paxton will be joining to assist in saving Skye.

Producer Joel Fields answered questions about the second season of The Americans, which returns this week. One of my favorite moments from the first season was when Reagan was shot and the Russians saw it as a coupe attempt by Alexander (“I am in control here”) Haig. Fields was asked if any real life events will be included in the second season:

Season two will begin in early 1982 and, as our show was last season, it will be informed – but not shaped – by real life events. Philip and Elizabeth will deal with threats ranging from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan to the covert American assistance taking place in Nicaragua, and everything they do will happen under the specter of constant brinkmanship that was a hallmark of US-Soviet relations at that time.

Last year it was discovered that Robert Galbraith was really a pseudonym for J.K. Rowling. She has a second novel about Cormoran Strike coming out on June 19. With character names such as Cormoran Strike, we should have guessed who the author was.

Joel McHale of Community will be hosting the White House Correspondents Dinner on May 3.

Broadchurch US

The first pictures have been released from filming of Gracepoint, the US remake of Broadchurch. David Tennant reprises his staring role from the ITV version, along with Anna Gunn of Breaking Bad.

An American adaptation of Utopia is being planned by HBO and is to be written by Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn.

Both Broadchurch and Utopia have completed their first season in the U.K. and will be returning for a second season. The first season of each was excellent, but as accustomed as I have become to downloading shows from the U.K. I can’t help but wonder why they don’t just show the original versions here. Yes, there are references which Americans might not understand, and David Tennant’s accent was a bit thick in the ITV version, but I think American audiences can cope. Look how popular Downton Abbey and Call the Midwife are becoming here without need to remake them for American audiences.

The above trailer has been released for Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.

Karen-Gillan-Joins-Selfie-Comedy

Doctor Who and Guardians of the Galaxy star Karen Gillan has been cast in an American sit-com, Selfie:

The actress, who next appears in Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy and Oculus, has been tapped to star in ABC’s Emily Kapnek comedy Selfie, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The modern take on My Fair Lady is inspired by the musical and tells the story of a self-obsessed 20-something woman named Eliza Dooley (Gillan) who is more concerned with “likes” than being liked. After suffering a public and humiliating breakup, she becomes the subject of a viral video and suddenly has more social media “followers” than she ever imagined — but for all the wrong reasons. She then enlists the help of a marketing expert at her company to help repair her tarnished image.

The casting marks the Scotland native’s return to TV following Doctor Who — where she played the Doctor’s companion, Amy Pond, for more than 30 episodes on the show’s fifth through seventh seasons — and Adult Swim’s NTSF: SD: SUV

No word as to whether Karen Gillan will be doing any nude writing or baking as in  Not Another Happy Ending.

I’ve seen a number of posts about people building their own TARDIS. With so much interest, it is only a matter of time until Ikea comes up with a kit. This is what the experience might be like:

TARDIS Ikea

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SciFi Weekend: Arrow; Agents of SHIELD; Daredevil; Terminator And Other Dangers of Artificial Intelligence; Orphan Black; Continuum; Doctor Who; Veronica Mars; Superman; Batman; Wonder Woman and More

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Arrow is in the middle of a two-part story which introduces Barry Allen, who will later become The Flash. The steady introduction of new characters, who then leave before they have overstayed their welcome, has been a strong point of the series. There is also a potential reversal in Oliver’s relationship with Felicity. I just hope they don’t turn this into another Laurel storyline. There are some pictures and minor spoilers from next week’s episode posted here.

While the show is far from perfect, and sometimes lapses into CW-style soap opera, it has been an admirable attempt to portray a super hero story in live action. The show has received considerable notice this season, including a recent article in The New York Times which refers back to another excellent review which I mentioned in a previous post:

There is a consensus, among fans, critics and network executives that with “Arrow,” Mr. Berlanti seems to have found the right formula for making a comic book hero work as a television protagonist. (A headline in The Hollywood Reporter asked, “Is Arrow the Best Live-Action Superhero Show Ever?”) The episodes are peppered with references from the comic books — adversaries with names like Deathstroke and Count Vertigo — but not so many as to confuse viewers who might not know the source material.

“Greg does not tend to do projects he does not really believe in,” said the CW president, Mark Pedowitz. “‘Arrow,’ in a way, was contrary. It’s not ‘Smallville.’ It’s a much darker, grittier version of a comic book character. That was not normal CW programming.”

When he pitched “Arrow” two years ago, Mr. Berlanti, who got involved with DC in 2007, when he wrote the original draft of the “Green Lantern” feature film, said he envisioned the series less as a superhero tale than a “Bourne Identity” type thriller: a continuing story of a privileged playboy who finds himself shipwrecked, held captive and tortured on a remote island, where he must acquire new skills — and a new sense of himself — to survive. That playboy, Oliver Queen (played by Stephen Amell) returns to Starling City five years later a different, better but still in some ways tortured man. And he’s become really good with a bow and arrow.

“The story of that transformation” — told through flashbacks to the island — “will continue through the whole series,” Mr. Berlanti said. “The beginning of the show (Oliver being rescued and returning to civilization) will be the end of the show as well. That was always the pitch.”

The article also compares the show to Agents of SHIELD, with The Guardian being clearer in the difference between the two with an article under the headline: Superhero TV: Agents of SHIELD could learn a lot from Arrow.

Agents of SHIELD will be introducing two new characters:

Episode 14 will introduce two recurring characters: an African-American agent who specializes in combat/weapons, and a high-level S.H.I.E.L.D. agent/munitions expert who has past ties to both Coulson and Ward.

Any hope that this means they will be eliminating two (or more) of the current weak characters?

While the Daredevil movie had terrible reviews, Blastr provides considerable hope that the Daredevil television show will be far better:

The pattern of Whedon-adjacent creators taking on Marvel properties continues. Not that we’re complaining.

Daredevil is slated to be the first Marvel character that Netflix will be releasing into the wild world of instant streaming sometime in 2015. If you were wondering who the boss is going to be, wonder no more — it’s Drew Goddard.

Just in case the name doesn’t immediately fire off all your geeky synapses, let’s run through his credits — Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Alias, Lost, Cabin in the Woods, World War Z, and the list goes on. Goddard is the one-man link between the two most powerful men in sci-fi — Joss Whedon and J.J. Abrams. And now he’ll be writing and directing the Daredevil pilot in addition to executive-producing it.

As choices go, that’s about as good as both Netflix and we can hope for. What his vision is? That remains to be seen.

Based on his body of work, though, we’d say Daredevil is in good hands.

Terminator-Sarah-Connor-Chronicles-reboot

Not only is there planned reboot of the Terminator movies. The Hollywood Reporter has a story on a planned television series based upon the upcoming movie:

The producers behind the upcoming fifth installment have tapped Thor and X-Men: First Class writers Zack Stentz and Ashley Miller to write and executive produce a new Terminator television series that will be a companion piece to the rebooted trilogy.

The TV series will follow a critical moment from the first Terminator film (1984), and where the film’s story goes one way, the upcoming series will take the same moment in a completely different direction. As the rebooted film trilogy and the new TV series progress, the two narratives will intersect with each other in surprising and dramatic ways.

I wish they would have produced a conclusion for the cliffhanger which ended The Sarah Connor Chronicles before going on to a new series. Still, the idea of following different time lines in the continuation of the series does sound intriguing if done well.

The Drudge Retort has an interesting discussion on the potential risk of artificial intelligence:

Documentarian James Barrat, author of Our Final Invention: Artificial Intelligence and the End of the Human Era, is worried about robots too. Only he’s not worried about them taking our jobs. He’s worried about them exterminating the human race. In Barrat’s telling, we are on the brink of creating machines that will be as intelligent as humans. Specific timelines vary, but the broad-brush estimates place the emergence of human-level AI at between 2020 and 2050. “intelligence explosion” — an onrushing feedback loop where an intelligence makes itself smarter thereby getting even better at making itself smarter. This is, to be sure, a theoretical concept, but it is one that many AI researchers see as plausible, if not inevitable. Through a relentless process of debugging and rewriting its code, our self-learning, self-programming AGI experiences a “hard take off” and rockets past what mere flesh and blood brains are capable of.

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The first new picture from season 2 of Orphan Black teases us with some girl on girl action, with Tatiana Maslany in both positions. Entertainment Weekly spoke with show’s creators John Fawcett and Graeme Manson about the second season and the pictured conflict between Sarah Manning and Rachel Duncan, the clone seen at the end of season one who was working with the Neolutionists:

EW: What else, if anything, can you tell us about this image here and what it means for season 2?
MANSON: Probably that if Rachel launched the first volley in this war, this is one of Sarah’s steps in this war.

FAWCETT: Our launching framework for season 2 is really the war between Sarah and Rachel.

EW: You guys just scratched the surface with what we saw with Rachel last season. She’s clearly not a clone we’re not rooting for at this point, nor are we really sympathetic toward her, as we became somewhat sympathetic to Helena over the course of season 1. Where are you planning to go with her in season 2?
FAWCETT: For us, using Helena as an example, it was very interesting to draw a character that began really as one thing — for example, a serial killer — and then through the course of a few episodes become able to add layers and add flesh to the point where you could understand her and be sympathetic to her. So, to me, that was about creating a really dynamic deep interesting character that wasn’t just a cartoon. And I think we feel the same about Rachel. I think you could probably tell from the end of season 1 that Rachel’s got a little bit of heavy to her. And I think what’s interesting to us is that we’re having fun creating a new character this season who isn’t just a heavy. There’s other aspects to her. And that’s been a really fun developing a new girl.

MANSON: No one is just who they seem on Orphan Black. That’s the most important thing. Maybe things get set up as kind of a cliché or as one thing, but we’re always trying to bend it and find the layers to keep it fresh and original.

FAWCETT: Even as a villain, Rachel is going to hold a lot of surprises for us. She’s been a really fun nemesis for Sarah.

EW: Season 1 on any show is all about introducing the story and the characters, and it’s essentially setting the table. And if you do it right, a lot people want to come sit down at that table. But now, in season 2 what do you do to keep them sitting there?
MANSON: Right off the bat we’ve really hit the ground running. We left a lot up in the air, so it’s been a lot of fun figuring out how and when and where those balls land and how they land in unexpected ways. As for Rachel, we did leave last season knowing that Rachel was a child of Neolution, therefore much connected to the origins of the experiment. So I think Rachel is going to help to open a window for us and we ’re going to begin to understand a lot more about the conspiracy.

FAWCETT: Plus, I also think one of the big things we’re going to have to deal with in season 2, which is finding its own twists and turns, is Cosima’s illness. And that is a very pressing bit of drama that is not just straight ahead. It’s got a lot of mystery to it. It’s got a lot of twists and turns to it and it is thematically a big part of season 2 also.

MANSON: It’s a genetic mystery. It’s a genetic biological mystery and it feeds into some of our body horror and it feeds into our science mystery.

Season two of Orphan Black returns on BBC America and on Space on April 19, 2014.

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Showcase has announced that filming has begun and they will air the third season of Contiuum starting in March, 2014. More from their press release:

In season three of Continuum, Kiera Cameron (Rachel Nichols; Criminal Minds, Alias) faces the immediate consequences of Alec Sadler’s (Erik Knudsen; Jericho, Scream 4) betrayal at the end of season two – when he disappeared in a flash of light with the time travel device Kiera hoped might send her home. Alec’s impulsive decision sets in motion a chain of events, which pushes Kiera into a shocking alliance with a former enemy.

Kiera must also contend with a newly strategic Liber8 organization, and a growing darkness in her police partner, Carlos Fonnegra (Victor Webster; Castle, MelrosePlace). Ultimately, all roads lead through young Alec Sadler, and with his genius never having been more tested, his choices force Kiera – and everyone – to examine all they hold dear.

“Season three of Continuum will raise the stakes and expand the universe of our show in ways that will surprise and engage our fans,” said creator/executive producer Simon Barry. “Kiera’s journey brings her experiences that test her beliefs and challenge her resolve. The future is not what it used to be.”

“We could not be happier about the phenomenal success of the show over the first two seasons, with a very loyal and enthusiastic fan base that continues to expand worldwide,” said Reunion Pictures’ Tom Rowe.  “The third season, under the creative direction of Simon Barry, along with fellow Executive Producer/Director Patrick Williams, the first-rate writing team and our exceptional cast, again promises to exceed all expectations.”

New to the cast this season is Rachael Crawford (Alphas,The Firm) who joins as a guest star in a multiple episode arc. Returning cast include Stephen Lobo (Smallville, Little Mosque On The Prairie), Lexa Doig (V, Stargate SG-I), Omari Newton (Blue Mountain State, Sophie), Luvia Petersen (The L Word) and Terry Chen (Bates Motel, Combat Hospital).

SyFy has the rights to air the show in the United States. An air date has not been announced. I hope that they start when Showcase does in Canada. However, SyFy has several shows starting in mid-January and I wouldn’t be surprised if they wait until their thirteen-week runs end before starting another series. Such delays cause a real problem with blogging about shows after downloading upon airing when most US fans have not viewed the show yet.

Disney has bought the rights to Indiana Jones, with a fifth movie now planned. Disney has already been using Indiana Jones themed exhibits in their theme parks and we can assume there will be far more synergistic use of the characters with other Disney marketing.

Jenna Coleman-death-comes-to-pemberley

Jenna Coleman seen above as Lydia Wickham in Death Comes to Pemberley  “BBC One’s Pride and Prejudice follow-up – based on the novel by PD James – is a murder mystery set six years after the events of Jane Austen’s classic.” It will air in the UK later this month with US air date not set yet.

Moffat and Gatiss plan to release a mini-episode of Sherlock on December 25, taking place two years after Sherlock’s “death” in The Reichenbach Fall. The series returns in the UK on New Year’s Day and later in January in the US.

The BBC has announced the air time for the Doctor Who Christmas Special–The Time of the Doctor. It will be on at 7:30 pm. BBC America won’t be airing it until 9 pm in the US, meaning that with the difference in time zones it will be available for download several hours before it airs in the US.

Rebecca Mader, Charlotte on Lost, will join other former actors from Lost as the new villain on Once Upon A Time. Unfortunately they dragged on the Peter Pan plot line for too long. Meanwhile, there sure were a lot of daddy issues this week on Once Upon A Time in Wonderland (which I currently find to be the better of the two).


The Veronica Mars movie will be released on March 14, 2014, about a year after the Kickstart campaign made it a reality. The above video shows the ten-year reunion at Neptune High.

NBC has renewed The Blacklist for a second season.

Netflix has announced that they will be releasing season two of House of Cards on February 14.

Three Breasted Woman Total Recall

ComicBookMovie.com looks at various designs for the three-breasted hooker from Total Recall.

Wonder Woman, played by Gal Gadot, will be appearing in the upcoming Man of Steel sequel, scheduled for release in 2015.

I have questioned whether there was any point in having a show about Gotham City before Batman but Fox apparently is interested in airing Gotham, a show about “the origin stories of Commissioner James Gordon and the villains that made Gotham famous.” Now there are reports that Bruce Wayne will appear–but as a ten-year-old.

Is Superman a Fascist? Andrew Sullivan posted all sides of the debate.

***STRICTLY EMBARGOED FOR ALL USAGE IN PRINT AND ONLINE UNTIL 00.01 ON 5 DECEMBER, 2013, GMT*** DOCTOR WHO XMAS 2013

And, finally, another tease for the upcoming Christmas Special, The Time of the Doctor

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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Star Trek, Batman, Star Wars, JK Rowling, SHIELD, Sleepy Hollow, Utopia, Breaking Bad

Doctor Who

The BBC has released the above poster for the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, to be named The Day of The Doctor. It will be the second from last episode staring Matt Smith, also staring David Tennant and John Hurt.

Steven Moffat discussed filming the final episode with Matt Smith at the TV Choice Awards, where Doctor Who won for Best Drama Series. David Tennant won the Best Actor award for his role on Broadchurch. Miranda Hart of Call the Midwife won for Best Actress. (Jessica Raine,who plays Jennie Lee on Call the Midwife, played Emma Grayling in the Doctor Who episode Hide and has a role in the upcoming movie on the development of the series, An Adventure In Space And Time.)

Peter Davison

Peter Davison will be appearing in the 50th Anniversary episode of Doctor Who. While he has confirmed the appearance, he states he is unable to give any specifics. My suspicion is that he has a cameo role in the special but does not reprise his role as the Doctor unless the story can give a plausible explanation for showing a former version of the Doctor who has also aged. Pictures appeared on line of Tom Baker in his scarf starting rumors that he would also appear but it turns out it was to film a skit for another show.

startrek-lensflare-spock-tsrimg

In follow-up of the controversy I mentioned last week, TrekMovie.com has posted another opinion arguing that Star Trek is Not  Broken. Those who are not happy with how J.J. Abrams is handling Star Trek might be happy to hear that he will not be directing the next Star Trek movie now that he will be busy with Star Wars. I fear that this won’t change many of the problems cited by fans but at least it might mean less lens flare.

There has been even more controversy over the choice of Ben Afflect to play Batman in the Man of Steel sequel. The CEO of Warner Brothers defended the choice, describing this Batman as “kind of tired and weary and seasoned and been doing it for a while.”

Besides the upcoming Star Wars trilogy, Disney is going to take advantage of buying the rights by putting out additional movies. Variety reports that they will be origin movies. There will be a lot of Star Wars as “one ‘Star Wars’ trilogy film or ‘origin story film’ would also appear on the release schedule each year, starting with the seventh installment in the ‘Star Wars’ saga that J.J. Abrams will direct and Disney releases in 2015.”

Warner Brothers is returning to a recent major source of income for the studio. J.K. Rowling is going to write a new movie series taking place in the Harry Potter universe. After recently reading The Cuckoo’s Calling, I think she does have a better future in writing such movies then detective novels, although the two aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s not that I didn’t like the book, but I read several far more entertaining novels over the summer, and there are plenty of similar mystery series already out there.

Grant Gustin of Glee will play The Flash on Arrow, and potentially on a spinoff show.

marvels-agents-of-shield-shield

Cult Box has a spoiler-free review of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Gawker reports that some of the scripts were not very good and Joss Whedon had to rewrite them. The web site for the series is now on line.

The Detroit News reviews another new genre show, Sleepy Hollow. More on the show at TV Line.

ABC is working on an alternate reality series which sounds interesting. The show, entitled The Thirteen, takes place in an alternative present day in which the colonies did not win independence from England and are still fighting the English for independence.

Paul Krugman and John Amato both recommend Orphan Black, which I certainly agree with.

utopia

Utopia writer Dennis Kelly has discussed conspiracy theories, over population, and the second season of the series:

There’s going to be a second series of Utopia isn’t there?

There is. It’s currently being written. It’s being filmed in two months [speaking on the 22nd of August]. I’ve got two months before the first block. You film it in two blocks so episodes one, two and three, and then four, five and six. Marc Munden who directed one, two and three, and really set up the look for Utopia – and that’s what people talk about a lot when they talk about Utopia – he’s a brilliant director, more like a filmmaker than a TV director really, and he’s fantastic to work with. He’s come back and he’s going to do the first block again. He has a much more involved role in the whole series, which is great.

Can you give us any ideas about what series two might contain?

We’ve got a very odd first episode, which people are either going to really like or really say ‘what the fuck did you do that for?’ and I’ve got no idea what the reaction’s going to be. Some of the characters are coming back, you’ll definitely see Arby again, and Jessica. There’s a lot of people dead unfortunately and a lot of people will die [laughs].

Do you have a finite end for Utopia in mind?

I think I do, I think so, yeah. Not necessarily a good one. [Laughs].

Luc Besson is interested in doing another movie in the world of The Fifth Element.

Trailer for Last Days on Mars posted here.

The cast of Dexter teased the finale.

Joking Bad, Jimmy Fallon’s parody of Breaking Bad, can be viewed above. The series ends this month. A spinoff is being considered based upon Saul Goodman before he became Walt’s lawyer. The Hollywood Reporter lists Saul’s top moments.

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SciFi Weekend: The 12th Doctor; The Next Batman; SHIELD And The Avengers; Captain America; Star Wars; Star Trek; Homeland; Dexter; The White Queen; Piracy

Last week white smoke emerged from the BBC and soon afterwards Peter Capaldi was introduced as the 12th Doctor on a show simulcast in the U.K., the United States, Canada, and Australia (video above). BBC America has a run down on the news coverage. The Guardian introduces Capaldi to non-Brits.

Every time there is a regeneration, there is speculation that the next Doctor might not someone other than a white male. Neil Gaiman claims that a black actor has turned down the role. Steven Moffat, Matt Smith, and Jenna Coleman discussed the transition in this interview. An excerpt:

Is writing that final story for Matt Smith’s Doctor the biggest pressure you’ve faced, in doing this show?

MOFFAT:  The biggest pressure will always be introducing a new Doctor.  And I can’t imagine it will ever be tougher than with “The Eleventh Hour” because everything changed.  It’s not an ideal way to run television.  It really isn’t.  That was mad.  All the execs left, the producer left, and all the stars left.  You think, “Christ, how do you get away with that?!”  We’re not in that situation this time, and it’s good that we’re not.  People say, “It must have been great and exciting and marvelous that you had all that new stuff,” but not really.  But, we got away with it.  I just remember thinking, “Are people going to buy that this is the same show, when it clearly is not?”

Do you wish that you could just introduce the new Doctor via the show, when he finally shows up?

MOFFAT:  I’d love to, but that’s physically impossible.  It was Russell’s plan not to tell anyone that Chris [Eccleston] was going to change in the last episode, but it leaked after one week.  I wish it were possible.   The fact is that those actors’ agents have to say that they’re available.  They have to take jobs.  It’s going to leak, so you have to take command of that story.  It’s annoying.  I’d far rather not tell anybody anything, seriously.  If you’re telling a joke, you don’t want anybody telling the punchline before you get to the end.  Sadly, I don’t think it’s possible now.  Everybody wanders around with cameras now.  A few years ago, no one had a camera on them.  Now, every little human being goes around with a camera on their phone.  How am I going to keep secrets with that?!  It’s tough.  It can be irritating, but what can you do?

Moffat started with a new cast with both Matt Smith and Karen Gillan. With Jenna Coleman still being relatively new to the series, the show with Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman will have a different feel than during most of Moffat’s tenure with Matt Smith and the Ponds.

Now that we know who will play the next Doctor, the next major succession is who will play Batman when he appears in the next Superman movie. Rumor has it that Orlando Bloom is the leading contender.

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Joss Whedon discussed synergy between Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the universe of The Avengers:

Speaking at the recent TCAs, Whedon said fans will spot some synergy in the run-up to Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Thor: The Dark World. “There will be as much as we can allow,” he said. “We’re still working that out. It’s a fun opportunity, but it’s not the reason for the show. It’s not an Easter egg farm, we want people to come back.”

The pilot kicks off with Angel alumnus J August Richards as an “unregistered gifted” that the SHIELD agents must track down. Don’t expect a superhero-of-the-week show, though, “There could be a device, a mystery,” Whedon continued.

“There’s so many aspects as to what’s happened since everybody in the world found out there’s a superhero team and aliens invaded New York. We want to be able to change it up every week: spy stuff, hero stuff, heartfelt stuff. We want to make sure the humor is there, but every week, you get something that feels a little bit different.”

Disney has also released a full synopsis for Captain America: The Winter Soldier

After the cataclysmic events in New York with The Avengers, Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier finds Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, living quietly in Washington, D.C. and trying to adjust to the modern world. But when a S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague comes under attack, Steve becomes embroiled in a web of intrigue that threatens to put the world at risk.

Joining forces with the Black Widow, Captain America struggles to expose the ever-widening conspiracy while fighting off professional assassins sent to silence him at every turn. When the full scope of the villainous plot is revealed, Captain America and the Black Widow enlist the help of a new ally, the Falcon. However, they soon find themselves up against an unexpected and formidable enemy—the Winter Soldier.

These Avengers-themed sex toys will definitely never be sold at the many stores around the Disney theme parks, even should the Avengers characters be moved from Universal to WDW in the future.

ABC is in talks to bring another genre show to television–a live action Star Wars show. I really hope this happens, not because I care whether there is a weekly Star Wars show but because maybe this would lead CBS (who appears to own the rights, but it is somewhat murky) to counter by returning Star Trek to television. Star Trek worked far better as a weekly series than intermittent movies which are forced by market demands to be big action movies.

After Disney purchased the rights to Star Wars, there was talk of expanding the Star Wars presence at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park. I expressed skepticism over speculation that they would  get rid of Muppet Vision 3D and the Honey I Shrunk the Kids Playground for this expansion. Earlier in the week I was looking at the refurbishment schedule at Walt Disney World and noticed that Muppet Vision 3D is closed August 6 through September 2 for refurbishment. In addition, the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Playground will be closed September 3 through November 19 for refurbishment. They might not be around forever, but it doesn’t appear likely that they plan to remove them in the near future. As is usually the case at WDW, other areas will also be closed during these times. The most significant is that Spaceship Earth will be closed August 18-24.

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On Orange is the New Black, Kate Mulgrew ran the prison kitchen instead of the Starship Voyager. She was interviewed by Vulture, and told about one Star Trek reference thrown into the show:

At one point Natasha Lyonne has a line, “I thought I was your Spock.”
Yes, they threw that in. I’m sure they’ll do some more of that. I think that was intentional and very clever!

Speaking of Star Trek, Blastr describes how the show was saved by Lucille Ball.

In 1965, Roddenberry got a pilot order from NBC and produced the original Star Trek pilot “The Cage.” It was rejected by the network, reportedly because it was “too cerebral,” and for most shows that’s where the story would have ended. Luckily for Roddenberry, he had Ball on his side. The story goes that she still thought the Star Trek idea had legs, and used her considerable influence in television to push for NBC to give Roddenberry a second chance. The network made the exceedingly rare move of ordering a second pilot from Roddenberry, who overhauled almost the entire cast of characters from “The Cage” and eventually produced “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” That pilot was accepted, the show was given a series order, and the rest is history.

Damian Louis interviewed about his role on Homeland in the video above.

Anna Torv returns to television following Fringe in a show expected to air on HBO next year. Torv will play a lesbian yoga instructor.

Yvonne Strahovski as Hannah McKay (Season 7, episode 6) - Photo: Randy Tepper/Showtime - Photo ID: dexter_706_0087

We don’t know yet how Dexter will end but executive producer Sara Colleton realizes that she can’t make everyone happy.

“This has been the ending that we have talked about for years,” she said. “So to us, it feels right for our show and how we feel about it. I hope fans will think it’s right [too].”

The exec conceded that there is no way to make “everybody happy” with the conclusion of the Michael C Hall series.

“At the end of the day, we know that you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t,” she said. “There will be people who hate it, but we can’t try to anticipate that or put it through the lens of any other show’s finale – because that was another show.

“This is our show. This is Dexter.”

It is hard to believe that things will end well for Dexter Morgan. Multiple routes to doom have arisen this season. So far this has included Dr. Vogel and Deb when she is in a crazy mood. Last week episode showed two additional threats. He has decided he wants to be a mentor to Zach Hamilton, but Zach appears unhinged enough to turn on Dexter. Then there was the return of Hannah McKay.

Having a hard time waiting until Game of Thrones returns? The White Queen on Starz might help.

Piracy drops when there are legal ways to view shows. It comes as no surprise that piracy has spiked in response to the Time Warner cable blackout of CBS.
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SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Hannibal; Avengers; Under the Dome; Defiance; Bunheads; Renewed and Canceled Shows; Gone Girl Cast; Cookoo’s Calling

Matt Smith appeared on Craig Ferguson’s show on July 24. Video above.

Steven Moffat says he will clear up some of the hanging plot threads in Doctor Who this year in an interview with I09:

When we caught up with Moffat last weekend at Comic-Con, we asked him, “Do you feel like you owe viewers some closure on the big questions, like who blew up the TARDIS? Or what the Silence was up to?”

And he responded, “Well, we are going to do it all. It’s going to end at Christmas. Yeah, [there will be closure]. But ‘owe them’? I don’t know about ‘owing.’ But yeah, there’s a plan, and we will end the Eleventh Doctor’s run with the answers to some of those questions.”

And what about the biggest dangling plotline in Doctor Who history? Back in 1986, the Doctor met a dark alternate future version of himself known as the Valeyard, who put him on trial and tried to steal his remaining lives. And the Valeyard was never mentioned again — until the most recent Who story, “The Name of the Doctor,” when his name came up.

How does the mention of the Valeyard tie in with the trend of the Doctor acting more dark? Are we going to see him again? We asked Moffat, and he responded,

Well, I couldn’t resist saying ‘The Valeyard,’ because we haven’t mentioned him in the new series. [Laughs] So I thought, ‘I’ll just put that one in.’ I never quite understood, in ‘Trial of a Time Lord,’ what he was meant to be. I never understood if he was a real Doctor, or [something else]. But in a story where we are hinting that the Doctor has a hidden chapter to his life, it was irresistible to mention the Valeyard. But you know, he’ll only ever get so dark, let’s be honest. He’s the Doctor. I think a man who worries about going bad is never really going to go bad. Maybe not.

As for the Doctor’s wife, River Song, she is not a dangling plot any longer — and in fact Moffat seems pretty happy with how he left her in “The Name of the Doctor.” At this point, he seems to feel as though he’s told the story he wanted to tell about her.

He adds that he’s “not quite sure” if we’ll see her again. We could, because we’re seeing her out of sequence in the past, “and clearly the implication is that she’s met more than two Doctors. But the question is whether or not we should” revisit her. He adds that “it’ll now be story-driven”: If he has the perfect idea for a story that involves River Song, she’ll be back. “But I quite liked where we got to at the end of ‘The Name of the Doctor,’ with him saying goodbye to her. So we’ll see.”

It doesn’t sound from this that the theories of the John Hurt Doctor being the Valeyard are correct, but this could also be misdirection on Moffat’s part. There are also rumors that a scene is being filmed showing the regeneration from Paul McGann’s Doctor to John Hurt’s Doctor, which might be shown as a prequel.

The BBC has figured out how to prevent spoilers from getting out after the initial airing of the 50th anniversary episode. It will be aired worldwide at the same time. (Unfortunately November 23 is a football Saturday and I still might wind up putting off watching until later in the day, depending upon the football schedule.)

Hannibal

Bryan Fuller discussed Hannibal with A.V. Club. Some of the question and answers from the four-part interview follow:

AVC: This is a prequel to stories we’ve already seen, and you’ve been very open about your plan for the series going forward. How do you keep the suspense? How do you keep overriding tension when we know where this is going?

BF: Well, we know that Hannibal is going to get caught and that he’s going to end up in the Baltimore State Hospital For The Criminally Insane, but a lot can happen to get there. I think the big move in there was to frame Will Graham and have him take the fall for a lot of these murders, which, right off the bat, introduced a completely new concept to the backstory, but also gave us a way to hold off incarcerating Hannibal Lecter for a while, because we have such a new twist to the story, where Jack Crawford is going to be bonding more with Hannibal Lecter, which really informs his distrust and disdain for this character when we get to the Silence Of The Lambs or Red Dragon era of the story. So it felt like we have now all of this opportunity to tell the specific details of a story that only existed between the lines of the book.

AVC: This episode really starts the relationship with Will and Hannibal together in therapy. You’re really interested in both presenting Hannibal as a credible therapist and in the process of seeing two people in a room talking together, which is different for a crime procedural. How did those two elements come to enter the show’s world?

BF: Well, there’s a certain amount of budgetary restraints with the show, because we are not a big-budget show. In the path we had gone down initially, we laid out a version of the show for the network, and the network said that it wanted it to be much more case oriented and procedural. So we laid out that version of the show, and it was very, very expensive. And nobody wanted to increase the budget, so it was really a matter of going back to… fortunately the budget was our friend in that way, because I did want to tell a psychological horror story, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time at crime scenes when I could be finding out what characters are going through. And the best, simplest way for that was for people to sit down and talk about it. We fortunately are dealing with psychiatrists, so [Laughs.] it’s a great platform to have people say what they mean and what they feel and have it feel relatively natural, given the context of where they’re having those conversations. So it was initially a budgetary thing, but I think for the benefit of the show—and the stories I was interested in telling—were much more psychological and could sustain sitting down and talking about them.

Before I was going to be a writer, I was going to be a psychiatrist, so I’m fascinated with psychiatry and how it can go wrong and how it can be incredibly helpful for the patient. So I thought it was a great opportunity to tell a story about psychiatrists. And we have a lot of psychiatrist characters on the show. [Laughs.] It felt like that’s our world and these are our characters, so they are going to be talking about psychiatry. And we tried to get the psychiatry to be as honest as possible, given what we needed to tell, story-wise.

AVC: Will she be able to be in future seasons? She has a new show at midseason on NBC.

BF: We absolutely want her to be. She absolutely wants to be. It’s going to be working out the schedule with the other show, and we know that it’s about the schedule. We were very flexible with her last year. Actually, she was in five episodes, and we filmed all of her material over three days. We got her for three days, got her in, did the five episodes, and got her out, because she has a family in London that she wants to spend time with. She’s very interested in coming back. Right now, she’s in the first episode of the second season, but we have to work out schedules and see if we can actually pull it off.

AVC: This episode brings Abigail’s arc to an end. Was she always going to die?

BF: We made that decision about halfway through the season. She wasn’t always going to die. It was one of those where we were going to kill off one of the regular characters, and the character that we were going to kill off, we felt like it wouldn’t be as devastating for that person to die, because we hadn’t fully serviced that character. Someone had said, “I don’t really care about that character dying, but if you’re going to kill somebody that’s going to make me upset, then Abigail Hobbs,” and I was like, “Yeah, that’s who we have to kill, isn’t it?” [Laughs.] It’s kind of as simple as, “Whose death would mean the most?” and it was Abigail’s.

AVC: Can you reveal who you were originally going to kill?

BF: No. Because we may kill them in the second season.

AVC: How important to you was it that he have that moment of realization somewhere in this season?

BF: Very important. Because the audience knows from the first frame, before Hannibal is even onscreen that we are telling the story of Hannibal Lecter, who is going to be caught by Will Graham and incarcerated, Will had to figure Hannibal out in the first season. Otherwise, it would feel like we were treading water and artificially distending the story to accommodate a television schedule, and I wanted each of these seasons to feel like a novel, as opposed to episodic television. It felt like, what a great way to begin the story and then end the story at that point. And end it iconographically with the Silence Of The Lambs shot of coming down the corridor of the Baltimore State Hospital For The Criminally Insane, to that last cell on the left and finding, not Hannibal Lecter, but Will Graham. And know that we are now taking a turn away from the canon that will somehow get us back into canon. But right now, we are departing from the literature into uncharted territory that will be unique to the television show. Then when we circle back into the timeline of the books and get to Red Dragon again, so much will have happened between these characters that will further inform their uniqueness to this show.

AVC: Will is incarcerated right now, and if you’re able to go on and do the later seasons, Hannibal will be incarcerated. How do you approach that question of writing a character who’s confined to a room, yet has to be one of the protagonists of the series?

BF: That’s the great thing about imagination is that Will’s imagination can transport him out of that room and into places, cinematically, that will allow him to continue being a pivotal part of the story, even though he’s locked up. One of the things that was really interesting in the books, is the concept of Hannibal’s memory palace, the place where he goes to survive incarceration with the virtual-reality system that exists between his ears. We’ll be seeing Will create his own version of the mind palace over the course of the second season.

AVC: How intricately did you think out Hannibal’s framing of Will? 

BF: It was pretty meticulously plotted. We knew that there were certain changes along the way, like we were originally going to deal with both the copycat killer and the Chesapeake Ripper in the first season, and then it felt like, as we got further into this season, that the story should be about the copycat killer primarily, and that the Chesapeake Ripper should serve to complicate Jack Crawford’s character. Then we could spike that ball in the second season.

Vulture outlines what we know, and what is being rumored, about the next Avengers movie, Age of Ultron. The story won’t be based upon the recent comic arc with this name, and there will be a new origin story. Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch will be joining The Avengers. Joss Whedon also says that Black Widow will have a larger role in this movie.

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Under the Dome was disappointing last week (with the entire series so far not living up to my hopes for it). Did anyone really doubt that the mother of all bombs would hit the dome and nothing would happen inside? I could see where the inhabitants would be worried, but I would expect them to see the failure of the bomb to affect the dome as a possible outcome. I was not surprised to see Big Jim question whether to release Angie, and not all that surprised to see her back with Junior. The Hollywood Reporter conducted an interview with producer Brian K. Vaughan which answers some minor questions.

I’m glad I stuck with Defiance and finished the first season last week.  It is not the best science fiction around, but the show did become more interesting at the end of the season with the lives of so many main characters getting shook up. Amanda is no longer mayor and Nolan is now a free agent, leaving the two characters with fewer limitations and more potential. Bastr has more:

But it sounds like the Tarr Family will be the major source of drama for Season Two. Murphy expressed that they are what he’s looking forward to the most, having left them in a precarious position at the end of season one after Datak was arrested after winning the election, leaving the Tarrs broken. He will be missing in the beginning of the season (as will be Irisa).

“The family is constantly changing because the balance of power keeps changing.” Curran explained. “As the second season starts and progresses, if Datak is to survive, wherever he is, he has to learn not to be such a hot head. He has to be more pliable instead of brittle. Like steel when it’s brittle, it snaps. He needs to be more manipulative in his approach. His attack, kill and ask questions later obviously isn’t working for him. You can’t demand respect, you have to earn it. Unfortunately his way is very demanding and the future is going to get him in trouble again.”

Curran has read a few scripts from the second season and shared his excitement for the interesting stuff within the Tarr family that he found to be especially compelling. “It’s a sci-fi show set within this immigrant drama, and a lot of it puts the mirror up to society in many ways for immigrants around the world. I have a wife who’s Vietnamese, she was an immigrant from French-Bosnia-Serbia. So many ways there’s a lot of similarities in a lot of those aspects that I find compelling in the sci fi world as it pertains to our society. I think we’re going to touch on that with a lot of back story.”

Amy Sherman-Palladino’s show Bunheads has officially been canceled.David Weigel had previously called the best show on television. I wouldn’t go that far, but nobody other than Aaron Sorkin can write better dialog than her when she is hot. Unfortunately the show didn’t last long enough to rival Gilmore Girls.

John Williams is going to score the next three Star Wars movies. They wouldn’t be the same without his music .

Netflix is rapidly turning into a major source for new television material. Arrested Developmentwill return for another season. Netflix has also renewed Orange Is The New Black. It appears that HBO will be renewingThe Newsroom, perhaps with an official announcement coming soon.

It is looking like Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck will be playing the leads in the movie adaptation of Gone Girl.

J.K. Rowling says a sequel to Cuckoo’s Calling should be out next year.

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SciFi Weekend: SDCC Part 2–Avengers; Karen Gillan Bald for Guardians of the Galaxy; Captain America; X-Men; Superman and Batman; Doctor Who; Matt Smith as Bart Simpson; True Blood; Person of Interest; Revolution; Community; How I Met Your Mother; Veronica Mars

There was lots of news on the Marvel Cinematic Universe out of San Diego Comic Con–video of panel above. This includes the name of the next Avengers movie, Age of Ultron, and a bald Karen Gillan (head shaved for Guardians of the Galaxy).

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Co-directors Joe and Anthony Russo were interviewed, explaining how Captain America: The Winter Soldier will bridge the two Avengers movies. Among other news is the report of star Chris Evans kissing Scarlett Johansson.

News on X-Men: Days of Futures Past is here.

The rumors of a combined Batman and Superman movie have been confirmed.

Matt Smith walked on the floor at Comic Con disguised at Bart Simpson (video above).

Steven Moffat says “we’re likely never going to see that final date night on Darillium with the Doctor and River Song, the one where he cries because he knows she’s going to die/get digitized on a library planet.”

The reason: Moffat’s too prude to put the Doctor and River in a room alone together. That said he might change his mind.

”I always felt that there were certain things between the Doctor and River that we should never see. So, I don’t know. He sort of said his goodbye in ‘The Name of the Doctor.’ There’s always the possibility, because it’s always out of sequence and you can do anything you like with that. It’s a tough one. I remember I wrote some extra scenes for the DVDs and all that we had available were Alex (actress Alex TK] and Matt, so I had to write scenes for the Doctor and River alone in the T.A.R.D.I.S. and I go, ‘Dear God, that’s the situation I’m always tring to avoid for obvious reasons.’ What does that woman do to him the moment the door is shut? What were they doing that night in Durillion. There are somet things surely the Time Lord must keep to himself.

“The implication is that she had met many more Doctors than just the two of them, so it’s always possible. But I quite liked the good bye in “The Name of the Doctor” and I think there should always be stuff that we never saw, and I don’t just mean that as a laugh.”

The above preview of the remainder of this season of True Blood was shown. There has been talk for a while that a major character would die this season and there does appear to be a funeral in these clips. Cast secrets revealed in these videos. The show has been renewed for another season. While the show has had its problems (including too many characters and story lines), I do see hope for improvement:

Executive Producer, Brian Buckner wants to bring the show back to its roots. While he acknowledges True Blood has a large cast, he wants to condense the number of stories they are telling and  “really come home.” And as for bringing in new creatures, right now he thinks no. He believes the show is about vampires, humans and the town. And wants to bring that back.

The big news on Person of Interest is that, as I had been rooting for, Amy Acker will become a regular next season. Cast interviews here.

Despite all its flaws, Revolution keeps me curious enough to keep watching. A trailer for the second season is above. The cast and crew revealed spoilers regarding the cliff hanger at the end of the first season. From Tracy Spiradakos (Charlie):

“I can tell you that the bombs do drop, so there’s an aftermath to dealing with that.” Holy moly! Randall completed his mission in destroying Atlanta and Philadelphia, apparently, and the destruction of those cities will completely change the feel of the show. The militias will be broken up, the show that was once all about being on the road will now settle into a particular spot near Texas, characters will be more consistent, and the stories will have some room to breathe since people won’t be as busy running from Point A to Point B. Additionally, even though the power went on in the finale, there will be a time-jump of about three months, and you can expect that it will be shut off again pretty soon.”

More spoilers from this, and other reports: The power is off permanently and the Tower is no longer functional. The Patriots supporting the old United States government represent a serious threat which forces Miles and Monroe to work together.

Ronald Moore on Helix and Battlestar Galactica.

Dan Harmon interviewed about season 5 of Community in the video above. News includes the departure of Donald Glover.

News on the final season of How I Met Your Mother posted here. More news here including comments from the kids.

Kristen Bell suggests that Veronica Mars might continue after the upcoming movie, possibly on Netflix as a way to get around contractual restrictions on appearing in two television shows:

CNN: Is this film finally going to give you a sense of closure on “Veronica Mars”?

Bell: No. This could be my whole life. And by the way, what a lucky life it would be if it were. There’s no formula for it, because it just has never been done before. Except — and I’m just throwing it out there — “Star Trek” did it. They did a TV show and then nine movies. Who knows? Why can’t we make a couple films? Or continue to produce content of “Veronica Mars”? It gets tricky because television contracts legally only allow you to do one episode of a different show. They purchase you. I am now the face of “House of Lies.” So the only way I would be able to reprise Veronica Mars (on TV) is in movie form.

CNN: What about if it were on Netflix?

Bell: There are some loopholes that we are already investigating.

Earlier news from San Diego Comic Con was posted here.

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