SciFi Weekend: Westworld Season Two Finale; The Expanse Season Finale; 12 Monkeys; Oprah’s Cameo On The Handmaid’s Tale; The Orville & Discovery Among Saturn Award Winners; Further Rumors On Patrick Stewart Returning To Star Trek; Jonathan Frakes On Star Trek and The Orville

Westworld concluded the second season by answering many of the questions raised during the season, and opening up a whole new set of questions for season three. One meta question about the series going into the season was whether the producers could surprise fans with twists after the major twists of the first season were predicted on line. I give them credit for pulling it off this year. While it was apparent that something was up with Delores not being seen in the most recent timeline, I don’t think many realized that she was in a host version of Charlotte Hale’s body. It would be interesting to watch Charlotte’s scenes again knowing that she could have been Delores in some.

We know Delores left the park in Charlotte’s body, but we later saw both Charlotte and Delores, raising the question of whose mind is in Charlotte’s body at that point. We know that Delores took the minds of some other hosts with her, but not which ones. It is like the mystery of the Final Five Cylons on Battlestar Galactica. Which of the apparently dead characters will return this way? Will she reconstruct Maeve? When Delores left the park, it was obvious that Stubb realized she was a host, and most likely that he was a host constructed to protect the other hosts. This leaves open the question of how many other hosts there are impersonating humans. While some apparently dead characters will return, I suspect we will never see those who went to the virtual reality heaven again, but nothing can be ruled out entirely.

One of the most interesting questions was raised in the final post-credit scene. I assume that William and Emily were both humans when William first killed Emily. Apparently at some time in the future, perhaps third season or perhaps long beyond then, there will be a host version of Emily doing a fidelity test on a host who has William’s mind inside, reliving the events of William in the park. As on Battlestar Galactica, all of this happened before and will happen again.

The producers did clear up many of the questions raised in the finale in various interviews, while making clear that other topics are being saved for next season. Following are some excerpts from various interviews:

Deadline

Wait a second, isn’t Dolores in Charlotte? Why are they standing together in the end?

JOY: What Dolores has done is that she’s smuggled herself out of the park while impersonating Hale. She has put herself back into her body, and yet Hale is still there. The question is where is Hale now? And that’s a question we’ll be visiting next season.

As Charlotte buzzes away from the island, in a bag she carries several pearls from The Forge.

JOY: In those pearls are a handful of hosts that she is smuggling out of the park. Which hosts they are, we’ll be exploring.

We see the Man in Black digging in his arm, and he’s not in a lot of pain. Does that make him a host? We see that there’s actually a back-up of him that exists.

JOY: This season we’ve been seeing him in a lot of pain and as he digs into his arm, he suffers from madness. He himself doesn’t know if he’s a host or not. We’ve basically had two time lines this season in the classic film noir structure. We’ve seen him playing the game and figuring his footsteps to the Valley Beyond, but he’s become confused on his side of reality, questioning his nature. If you immerse yourself in the game for too long, do you lose the sense of what is real and not real? He struggles with this and it leads to the moment where he kills his daughter Emily thinking she might be a host. He was in fact mistaken, and he’s digging into his own skin for answers and doesn’t find any wires by the time Dolores arrives. By the end of this time line, he’s being shipped out into the real world. He did kill his own daughter, he’s in the prison of his own skin, locked in his own confusion and guilt.

The chapter that occurs after the credits [editor’s note: Where the Man in Black arrives in an apartment that looks a lot like the one that housed android James Delos being interrogated by daughter Emily as though she is the human, and he the robot] is a little piece of what to come in the future. It gives full closure of the timelines by validating what happened in the park as the Man in Black leaves.

And Bernard?

JOY: He’s leaving his home in the end to be in the real world. Dolores is being totally upfront with him. That they escaped the park, and even if they’re working as foes, it will take both of them to survive. The real world is what we’re investigating next season.

Entertainment Weekly

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY:  Do you know who each of those balls represent in Dolores’ purse? Or is your cast on edge about which characters Dolores found worthy of survival?
JONATHAN NOLAN: We’ve had some interesting conversations. It’s a large ensemble cast and sadly we’re saying goodbye to some people at the end of this season. But as always with this show, who remains and who doesn’t is something we’re having a lot of fun with. There’s going to be a bit of a wait for a third season but we want to surprise and hopefully delight people with the way things progress…

When we see Dolores walking with Charlotte out of the room at the end on the mainland, does that mean there are now two Doloreses played by different actors?
Ehhh, not really. The question of who’s who and what we’re looking at is something we’re excited to play with. We’re excited to withhold a little from the audience but … it’s complicated…

Is it safe to assume — and perhaps it’s not — that Zahn McClarnon’s character, the Ghost Nation leader Akecheta, and others who went through the portal to the virtual Eden are not going to continue on?
I think that’s on the safer end of things to presume. But there’s a big story we’re telling here so … yeah.

I know you’ve drafted the broad strokes of your multi-year plan, can you say if next season largely take place outside the park?
Yes. We’re very excited about where the third season goes. It’s been a long build-up to get outside the park. And we’re incredibly excited about what that looks like and sounds like and what exactly our hosts discover out there…

Your Marvel-like post credits sequence with William and his daughter that brought us back to the horrifying James Delos fidelity apartment. My read was that Dolores printed out a version of the Man in Black and his daughter using the park’s secret guest data to leave them entombed in The Forge to do the fidelity test for all eternity and that scene takes place many years later. But that it doesn’t mean the Man in Black was a host previously or that he’s not still alive in the real world like we saw with him in the tent. Is that more or less how we should be interpreting this?
I’d agree with a lot of that. They do explicitly say they’re not in the system. And we do see the ruins of it. So that does suggest in that scene we are further in the future. We’d always said with this story we wanted to consider the beginning, middle and the end the of the emergence of a new form of life on Earth and we managed to cover a lot of those bases in this season.

Based on that final scene, should we assume there will be a time jump for season 3?
Not necessarily. We just love the ability to play in perceptual terms with the hosts being immortal. There is a subtle shift in this season, when you started seeing more and more backstory of the Man in Black, it should raise suspicions, and it has for a lot of people but, um … returning to the last question, your take it on it, which, as usual, is astute, is we’re watching a series of events play out: We see Emily’s dead body, we see the Man in Black in extremis — but not quite dead yet — but we also understand we’ve explored Delos’ greatest mistake, the one unalterable moment, the cornerstone decision he makes in his life, and we’re seeing that play out with the Man in Black. We’ve seen how it is that, using The Forge, that you’d be drawn back to these key moments and you’d run them again and again…

The Wrap:

TheWrap: Where exactly did Dolores send the Hosts who went into the Sublime when she changed the coordinates?

Joy: I think what she’s done is she fulfilled their wish. They wanted to escape to a digital space where they could be truly free and create their own world, untarnished by human interference. And in changing the coordinates and kind of locking in and stowing them away, Dolores has finally found a way to accept their choice and give them what they so desired.

TheWrap: After the guest data in the Forge is erased, Hale/Dolores leaves with five control units in a purse. Who is in them? Maeve? Armistice? And can “Halores” remake them then?

Joy: There is Host data in the actual hosts who did not “sublime” — so their CPUs are still intact. So, if they didn’t sublime, those pearls still contain their information. In each of those little balls in the purse is a Host, so there is a handful of them — but not an infinite amount of them. There are five. One Host per pearl.

TheWrap: When Halores left the beach, it seemed like Stubbs knew it was Dolores — or at least that it wasn’t Hale. Is that safe to assume?

Joy: Yes! It is safe to assume. And there is a step further that you can assume too. And we don’t say it explicitly, but if you are left wondering with all [Stubbs’] talk, his knowing talk about, “I’ve been at the park a very long time,” and Ford designed him with certain core drives, and he’s gonna stick to the role he’s been programmed with; it’s a little acknowledgement of just why he might have his suspicions about what’s going on with Hale, and then lets her pass.

And doesn’t it make sense if you are Ford and designing a park and you have a whole master plan about helping robots that you would keep one Host hiding in plain sight as a fail-safe? Maybe the Host who’s in charge of quality assurance? And by the way, that was totally meant to be subtle [laughs]…

TheWrap: So, because we do know that Emily died in the current timeline we’re in, is it fair to assume whoever is down there with this iteration of the Man in Black is similar to Dolores training Bernard? That has to be a Host or some other something if this is in the future and Emily died. Yes?

Joy: Oh yes, the Katja Herbers in the future talking to the Man in Black is now a Host version of Katja Herbers.

More on the finale in the Behind the Scenes video above.

The Expanse season three was by far the best season yet, making me very happy that Amazon is keeping the series alive. I am also glad that they did move at a quicker pace and conclude Abaddon’s Gate. If they had ended a season mid-book again, it would have been really frustrating if the series was not renewed.

Showrunner Naren Shankar discussed the season finale and plans for season four with Entertainment Weekly:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start right at the very end: What is the meaning of that last shot where the Roci goes through the Ring, and as Holden passes through it, there is a burst of energy. What’s going on there, and what are you setting up for season 4?
NAREN SHANKAR:
 When Holden was in that vision with Miller, he learns the beings that built the Rings, they’re gone. So what killed them? Because he had a vision of these things, he had a vision of something destroying the Rings and shutting them down. And Miller says, “I kinda wanna know too.” And so when the Roci goes to the Ring at the end, it comes to kind of an ominous little harbinger of things to come. That there is something inside that Ring space, in places between the Ring gates, that’s gonna come into play at some point as the series goes on.

We’ll talk more about what you have in store for season 4 in a bit, but let’s get into what happened this season. First off, you really sped through book 3, Abaddon’s Gate, doing the whole thing in seven episodes — much faster than the first two books. Why the accelerated pace for what is, in my opinion, one of the best books in the series?
Book 3 was a challenging thing to adapt. What was tricky about Abaddon’s Gate was that it starts with an entirely new cast of characters. It kind of builds up to getting them through the Ring. It’s more philosophical than intellectual. The space where they go into, it’s sort of the most… I don’t want to use this term disparagingly at all, but sort of science-fiction-y thing we have done in the run of the show. Which tends to be sort of more like science-realistic, or at least tries to achieve that. So for a lot of reasons, we felt like we had 13 episode seasons, we were gonna finish off Caliban’s War mid-season. We took the approach that we compressed it and we launched Anna, who was the character, really kind of the focus character in Abaddon’s Gate, early in the season, which we did because she is not actually in the second book at all…

One of the most interesting things you did on the show was your treatment of Ashford. He’s a pretty detestable character in the book, but you made him much more layered here and turned him into a guy who, while on the wrong side of things, does think what he’s doing is right and is admirable in the way he is willing to sacrifice himself for that. How did that character evolve for you?
Part of it was when we got this point in the narrative, it was about Fred and Dawes and their dueling agendas. But when we got to the Behemoth, it would be kind of weird to have Fred and Dawes on this ship. And so, it led us to this idea of their lieutenants. So Drummer was a logical one to take it for Fred Johnson, and then we were like, “Who’s the guy who worked for Dawes?” Then that was the starting point for Ashford, because he doesn’t have really that backstory in the book. And we asked ourselves, what would a guy who worked for Dawes have done before?

And so we crafted that character and built a backstory around him. And then, as we understood what he was going to do, we had the opportunity to reach out to David Strathairn. He was older than we thought initially the character was going to be, but that actually allowed us to give more layers and more depth to it. And so what you saw in the final product was kind of the aggregation of all of those different things. I think that it’s one of my favorite things in season 3, honestly. He just gives a terrific performance, all over.

Let’s talk about season 4. What can you say about where the story goes next?
One of the things that seems pretty clear, and we set it up at the end of the episode 13 with Holden’s thing, it’s going to be another blood-soaked gold rush. That’s about to happen, because you’ve got an entire species and several societies that have defined themselves on the fact that the solar system is all they’ve got, that those resources are what they have. But suddenly that all changes. It’s like the discovery of the New World — suddenly there’s land, there’s resources, there’s the potential of making incredible fortunes right there. What’s going to happen? Well, readers of the book know that these are things that that destabilize societies, and that’s what you are going to see the beginnings of in season 4.

The fourth book, Cibola Burn, takes place pretty much all on the planet Ilus, or in orbit of that planet. Will that be the same deal here? Is that going to be the battleground and the space version of expanding west?
[Book authors] Ty and Daniel often refer to the story of Ilus and Cibola Burn as kind of a classic Western in many ways. The book Cibola takes place entirely on Ilus. We are there for one complete novel. We are going to tell that story in season 4, sure, but we’re not leaving Earth and Mars and the Belt behind. They’re part of the story, and both of fans of the books and fans of the show are going to see something really interesting and new in season 4…

Finally, how does the show change now being on Amazon as opposed to Syfy?
There are some things that are amazing that we don’t have to worry about: restrictions on nudity, restrictions on language, and restrictions on length to some extent. It’s like we don’t have to jam the episodes into 43-minute boxes if they’re going to spill over into a 50-minute box. There were times in season 3 where I wished that I had been able to put another four or five minutes into certain shows, it would have been great. And we certainly would have done it, and that’s the beauty of being on another platform like this, is that if the material demands it, you can make the story a little bit longer to accommodate it.

We never wrote it going, “Oh, God, it’s going to be on basic cable so we’ve got to tone this down.” I think we did some pretty drastic things when we needed to. None of that’s going to change, and I hope that as we get into it more, we’re going to find more and more opportunities to really make the platform work for us, because it’s a great way to watch the show. When you can stream this thing in 4K and it’s seamless and there are no commercial breaks — we don’t even go to blacks — it’s a different experience when you watch. It’s incredibly engaging, and every time I show it to people that way, they go, “That’s a completely different experience than watching it on basic cable.” So we’re really excited to be on Amazon.

This week set of three episodes of 12 Monkeys was darker than the previous three as expected. While characters might not actually be gone in a time travel series such as this, it appears to have been the conclusions of the stories for Deacon, Hannah and Emma. The twist with Hannah was unexpected until late in the episode, but in retrospect makes perfect sense. Showrunner Terry Matalas told  TVLine that this was planned from the start: “From the moment we mentioned Marion Woods, I knew. In fact, on Brooke’s first day, I told her, right after she was cast. It was something that was always planned. And if you go back and watch the series, you can see many hints of that throughout.”

Like last week, the episode also ended with a family drink thanks to time travel.

There were other twists. We found that Cole is the living anomaly in the timeline, and the weapon mentioned in the previous episodes was designed to wipe him out of time. Yet another major twist had Cassandra be the one to release the virus, with the alternative being even worse should they not have time travel available to fight the threat against time itself. The danger is accelerating as Titan is completed and the sky is turning red over New York. The episoded ended with the message, To Be Concluded.

During last week’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, June was briefly free, and turned on a car radio to hear this message from Radio Free America:

And now, this news. The American Government in Anchorage today received promises of economic aid from India and China. In the United Kingdom, additional sanctions on Gilead were announced, as well as plans to raise the cap on American refugees relocating from Canada. Now, a tune to remind everyone who’s listening, American patriot or Gilead traitor; we are still here. Stars and stripes forever, baby.

The message was read by Oprah Winfrey. Showrunner Bruce Miller explained how this cameo came about:

“We’d heard Oprah was a fan of the show, and had a story idea, and thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful if… So we asked and she said yes, and it was a lovely, easy process,” showrunner Bruce Miller says. “The radio segment she recorded was inspired by the free radio of the Allies from World War II.  It was an absolute honor to have Oprah featured on the show, and especially thrilling as she was the one who presented us with the Emmy last year.”

The Orville has won the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction TV Series. The full list of awards is here. Awards for best television series in various categories went to:

Best Science Fiction TV SeriesThe Orville
Best Horror TV SeriesThe Walking Dead
Best Action/Thriller TV Series Better Call Saul
Best Fantasy TV SeriesOutlander
Best Presentation on Television:
  Twin Peaks
Best Animated TV Series:  Star Wars Rebels
Best Superhero Adaptation Television Series:  The Flash
Best New Media TV Series:  
Star Trek: Discovery
Best New Media Superhero Series:  Marvel’s The Punisher

Star Trek: Discovery won another Saturn Award with Sonequa Martin-Green winning as Best Actress on Television. Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks) won for Best Actor on Television.

Blade Runner 2049 received the award for Best Science Fiction Film. Black Panther won the award for Best Comic-to-Film Motion Picture

The rumors continue that Patrick Stewart might be reprising his role as Jon Luc Picard. While it is not clear how reliable this is, The Mirror makes it sound like they are close to a deal:

Sir Patrick, 77, is “close to securing a deal” to return as Captain Jean-Luc Picard for a reboot of the Generation series.

The star is keen to reprise his most ­famous part – and deals are close to ­being struck, says a TV source…

The show’s co-creator Alex Kurtzman has a five-year contract to forge new adventures for the small screen. And his team has spoken to Sir Patrick about returning as Picard to helm the Enterprise for run or even longer.

An LA source said: “Patrick is ­looking pretty good to get back on board the Enterprise. There are some aspects of the deal to be finalised, but there is a verbal commitment from all parties.”

He said: “There are animated series also in the works, and Patrick could easily lend his voice to them.

“An announcement will be made in the next few weeks and the show should be out next year.”

If it comes down to one or the other, I hope it is a live action reboot of The Next Generation as opposed to having Stewart work on an animated series. It would also be great to see Star Trek finally move forward again, with the last two series and recent movies all taking place at earlier times. As other former Star Trek stars have not been mentioned, I wonder if the plan is to secure Stewart first, or if this would be done with a new crew under Picard.

TrekMovie.com has posted an interview with Jonathan Frakes in which he discussed both Star Trek and directing The Orville. He had this to say about type-casting:

And I don’t know if I knew subconsciously or consciously that there’d be this typecasting. As Leonard Nimoy famously said, “It’s better to be typecast than not to be cast at all.” But there was a certain thing that happened after the show that you can see evidence of from The Original Series, from our series, Voyager, DS9, Enterprise. The exceptions were Bakula, and Patrick, and Bill and Colm, and Rene and Kate, maybe, to a certain point. Jeri Ryan. More of a handful people were not painted with the Star Trek brush, right? I don’t know what you’d call that in your world, but there certainly is … It was a double-edged sword.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; The Orville; Twin Peaks; Blade Runner; Sarah Jane Adventures Tenth Anniversary; Emmys By Network; Batman Takes A Knee

CBS has not released any screeners for Star Trek: Discovery, and has placed an embargo on reviews until the show airs. They did release the full title sequence today:

Despite the episode not being available, sites such as IO9 have posted guides like Everything You Need to Know About Star Trek: Discovery Before It Premieres based upon the information which has been released so far.

The first episode will air on CBS at 8:30 pm tonight, with the second episode following on their paid streaming service CBS All Access.  Season 1 will have fifteen episodes with the first eight episodes running September 24 through November 5. The season will return for the remaining episodes in January. CBS All Access is allowing one week free to check out the service. If you are undecided, consider waiting until later tomorrow, which will allow you to watch both the second episode this week and the third episode next week. Some people are thinking about waiting until towards the end, and then binging on each half of the season or the who season while only paying for one to two months.

Discovery will be available outside of the US and Canada on Netflix. I had contemplated using a VPN to stream the UK edition of Netflix, but Netflix has become very aggressive in blocking VPN’s.

A four-part comic will provide further backstory on the Klingons prior to the events of Discovery.

In preparation for tonight’s premiere, CBS arranged to have the U.S.S. Discovery fly above New York City. Video above. (Yes, there have been posts on line about how they staged this, but why ruin the fun?)

In unrelated Star Trek news, TrekMovie.com reports that Quentin Tarantino has expressed interest in directing a Star Trek movie.

The Orville has been difficult to characterize as it is neither straight drama or consistently humorous. While Star Trek: Discovery reportedly will be serialized, The Orville is basically stand-alone episodes heavily modeled after Star Trek: The Next Generation. Like classic Star Trek, The Orville has even made an attempt at looking at contemporary issues.

About A Girl received advanced publicity for tackling gender reassignment surgery. Just as the show has its limitations as both dramatic science fiction and as a parody, the handling of the controversial issue was also somewhat simplistic. Vox looked in more detail at how the issue was handled.

Of course we must keep in mind that Star Trek: The Next Generation was also weak through most of the first two seasons, until it ended the second season with the excellent cliffhanger, Best of Both Worlds. I’m hoping that Seth MacFarlane has the clout to keep the show alive to buy time for them to better figure out what to do with this series.

Kyle MacLachlan and Judi Dench brought the red room from Twin Peaks to The Late Late Show, frustrating host James Corden in the video above.

Wired has a look at Blade Runner 2049.

Bill Clinton is writing political fiction, just like Hillary. Bill is working on a novel with James Patterson entitled The President Is Missing. Hillary wrote a fictional account of the 2016 election in which Bernie Sanders was the villain and a character with her name was a progressive. Showtime has announced a deal to do a television adaptation of Bill’s book.

It is the tenth year anniversary of the release of The Sarah Jane Adventurers. To celebrate, the BBC is rebroadcasting three episodes and has an article posted entitled 5½ Reasons Why EVERYBODY should watch The Sarah Jane Adventures. From the article:

The show’s essential premise was simple. Take one former companion of the Doctor. Add some young sidekicks; season with familiar foes like Sontarans and the Slitheen and for good measure, throw in the Doctor himself for a couple of stories. Then stir them all together in two-part adventures where the planet’s in peril but our heroes still have time for a few one-liners and a group hug at the end.

Except, of course, it’s not as easy as that. SJA worked because it hit just the right blend of alien scares and human drama. The childless Sarah Jane gets a family. Her alien son learns what it means to be human. The cocksure Clyde Langer finds there’s more to this world than he ever imagined… Just like Doctor Who, it was a show that revelled in adventure but always found time to explore and celebrate its characters without patronising its audience.

The article noted appearances by both Matt Smith and David Tennant.

The Handmaid’s Tale was among the big winners at the Emmy Awards last week. I looked at the best political jokes from the awards ceremony earlier in the week. This included a video of the skit with Stephen Colbert and Jeffry Wright based upon Westworld. 

By now I’m sure everyone interested has already seen the full lists of winners and read plenty about the awards so I will not say much more here. I did find these lists interesting, showing the expected superiority of cable and streaming. Here is a list compiled by Deadline of those winning awards at last week’s ceremony:

HBO: 10
NBC: 6
Hulu: 5
Netflix: 4
FX: 2

The second list includes all those who won three or more awards, including the Creative Arts awards which were presented earlier:

HBO: 29
Netflix: 20
NBC: 15
Hulu: 10
ABC: 7
FX Networks: 6
Fox: 5
Adult Swim: 4
CBS: 4
A&E: 3
VH1: 3

Francesco Francavilla has tweeted a picture of Batman taking a knee, showing support for the NFL players who have been protesting racial injustice and police brutality by taking a knee when the National Anthem is played before the start of an NFL game. Donald Trump has demanded that the players be fired or suspended. This statement has been protested by players and owners, but now Trump also has to deal with Batman. Besides Batman, Trump is also opposed by the next best thing, Jim Harbaugh, who said, “No, I don’t agree with the president. That’s ridiculous. Check the Constitution.”

Update: Adding to responses from Michigan football heroes, Tom Brady said, “I certainly disagree with what he said. I thought it was just divisive.”

SciFi Weekend: Twin Peaks Finale; Star Trek Discovery Tackles The Trump Era; The Orville; Doctor Who News

As Damon Lindelof said during the Twin Peaks panel at Comic-Con, “Without Twin Peaks, there would be no Sopranos, no X-Files, no True Detective, no Fargo, no Lost…” continuing to list the shows which have changed television.  Twin Peaks: The Return went beyond these in being unusual and something we have never seen before on television. We saw exactly what David Lynch would do with eighteen hours in which he could do whatever he desired, unedited. Some who are huge fans of David Lynch had great reviews. Television reviewers, probably along with most viewers, were more negative, expecting something more like television, and seeing a need for at least some boundaries on the imagination of David Lynch.

It is difficult to truly recap what occurred in either the series or two-hour finale last week. The series was slow, and often confusing. It included fake versions of major characters, including three different versions of Dale Cooper (or at least those who looked like him), and time travel. We also saw Diane, the off screen secretary from the original series, but of course things were not as they seemed with her. Perhaps most disappointing was how little there was of Audrey Horne, and with major questions about her left unanswered. An earlier disappointment was that Madeline Zima’s character, who I initially thought might be the Audrey Horne of the revival, was killed shortly after she took her clothes off.  Many things throughout the series seemed to make no sense, but to criticize the show for this would miss the point in a David Lynch creation.

In the finale, Cooper went back in time to prevent the murder of Laura Palmer, and was as almost as confused as the viewers when the series ended with him asking, “What year is this?” This was followed by a scream from Laura Palmer, who perhaps was recalling her murder in another time. If the interpretation at IndieWire is correct, the better question for Cooper to ask might have been whether he was in an entirely new time line (perhaps created when he attempted to save Laura). The episode then ended, leaving many questions open. Kyle MacLachlan has said there have been no discussions related to another season, and I wonder how many of those of us who made it through eighteen episodes of this series would do so again.

We also might ask, as Dale Cooper, did, what year this is when watching television. Just as we recently returned to Twin Peaks, soon we will be watching Star Trek once again. In the original series, produced during the Cold War, the Klingons represented the Soviet Union. Entertainment Weekly reports that Star Trek Discovery will tackle the political divide in the Trump era:

Star Trek: Discovery will continue the venerated sci-fi tradition of using a fantastic setting to tackle real-world issues — only in a bigger way than any Trekseries has done before.

The upcoming CBS All Access drama tells the serialized story of a war between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire. The show is set a decade before 1966’s original series — which premiered 51 years ago today — during which the Federation and Klingons were in a Cold War standoff that reflected yesteryear’s U.S.-Soviet relations. In Discovery, war breaks out and the Klingons leading the charge have some ideological ideas inspired by the 2016 electoral divide.

“The allegory is that we really started working on the show in earnest around the time the election was happening,” showrunner Aaron Harberts says. “The Klingons are going to help us really look at certain sides of ourselves and our country. Isolationism is a big theme. Racial purity is a big theme. The Klingons are not the enemy, but they do have a different view on things. It raises big questions: Should we let people in? Do we want to change? There’s also the question of just because you reach your hand out to someone, do they have to take it? Sometimes, they don’t want to take it. It’s been interesting to see how the times have become more of a mirror than we even thought they were going to be.”

Of course we have already seen another genre show deal with a Trump presidency–Game of Thrones with King Joffrey.

Discovery only takes place ten years before the events of the original show, meaning that we already know what some of the characters were doing at the time. TrekMovie.com reviewed where the TOS characters were.

There will be another show paying homage to Star Trek premiering tonight, Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville. It was originally billed as a spoof, but many reviews are negative, along with saying it is neither a true drama or comedy. Vox compares it (negatively) to fan fiction. I had planned to summarize some of the other reviews, but now see that The Mary Sue has already posted excerpts from several.

Once I heard that Jodie Whittaker was to become the thirteenth Doctor, I had hoped that River Song would get a chance to meet her. Alex Kingston also expressed interest in returning to Doctor Who for such a meeting a Dragon Con:

…she also mentioned that she was going to “call the BBC and let them know River is ready to meet her second wife.” To which, of course, the audience exploded. “Why not?  She (River) said it!”

Billie Piper also says that Rose would be in love with the thirteenth doctor.

It was previously announced that the Doctor Who spinoff Class would not be renewed for a second season, but the possibility was left open that it might continue if it did well in the United States, where it did not air for several months after on in the UK. The cancellation is now official.

Sian Brooke, who played Eurus in season four of Sherlock, teases the possibility of a fifth season. Hopefully it really is made.

SciFi Weekend: Sherlock; The Expanse; Deadpool; Stranger Things; Wayward Pines; Twin Peaks; iBoy; Humans; Victoria; John le Carré; Celebrities On Surviving Trump

I am not going to give any spoilers on the season finale of Sherlock which airs tonight but leaked out early, waiting to watch until this is posted, but there remains a lot to say about last week’s episode. Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis spoke about the big twist in The Lying Detective. (Major spoilers for those who have not seen the episode):

At the end of the episode, we found out that the woman pretending to be Watson’s therapist, rush hour crush and Culverton Smith’s daughter were the same person. Not only that, but she was Sherlock and Mycroft’s long lost sister, Eurus (which means east wind).

After a screening at the BAFTA Cymru in Cardiff, the show creators hosted a Q and A where they told all about the chaos that had just ensued.

Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat explained how the idea that Sherlock had a sister had been in the back of their minds ever since the first episode. Gatiss said:

It started as a joke years, years ago. Right from the beginning of the first season, there was a line in ‘The Great Game’ when we were sort of sketching in the idea of the Holmes family and there was going to be a line about Mycroft being a member, Sherlock admitting that he was cleverer than him and then him kindly saying, mind you…my sister…

It was absolutely cut off, and that’s really where it all began.

[At the time] we thought, we won’t do too much. And thank god we didn’t, as it gives us this place to go.

But that wasn’t the only shock of Sherlock. People were frankly dumbfounded to see that Watson had been seeing a girl behind Mary’s back. Steven decided to tackle that one, head on, saying:

He’s a fully rounded character. He’s a fully rounded human being with all the normal flaws that people have.”

BuzzFeed then asked him if he was going to be back to his usual self for the next episode, to which he said:

We’re not going to say now that he’s cosy and lovely, you don’t get Martin Freeman to play that.”

The episode even contained a Torchwood Easter egg–a postcard on the mantel with the Torchwood ‘T’ logo. Technically this would place Sherlock in the Doctor Who universe.

The Lying Detective left Radio Times with thirteen burning questions. Fans are looking back through old scenes for clues.

Moffat and Gatiss did tease tonight’s finale:

“It’s a grand old finale. It’s a very very finale finale,” said Moffat, at the BAFTA screening for ‘The Lying Detective’.

“It’s the most like a Universal Sherlock Holmes that we’ve ever done,” Gatiss added. “It’s like a Basil Rathbone one. It’s absolutely crazy.”

The Expanse returns for season 2 on February 1. For those of use who didn’t make it through the entire first season, Syfy has put out a series of videos on the series, such as the one above. For those who want a briefer summary of season 1, below is a recap with cats:

Deadline interviewed the writers of Deadpool about the planned second movie. They also blamed the leak of test footage from the first movie on Putin.

The cast of Stranger Things teased season two in an interview with Vanity Fair.

Wayward Pines will not be returning this summer, but Fox has left open the possibility of it returning in the future. I’m actually happy to hear this. I’ve read the novels the show was based on by Blake Crouch, but the television show is one of many shows in this era of peak TV which I haven’t gotten to yet. Another year might give me a chance of watching the first two seasons before a third if there should be one. Incidentally, Blake Crouch is also the author of Dark Matter (no relationship to the televisions how by that name). The novel is more a page-turner thriller than hard science fiction, but, like his Wayward Pines series, was a quick and enjoyable read, and I’ve seen it on some of lists of top books of 2016. (Also, while not really related, I have used the hiatus in new shows around the holidays to catch up on Syfy’s Dark Matter and will now be able to include it in the weekly show coverage when it returns).

Return to Twin Peaks on May 21:

Kyle MacLachlan reprises his role as FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper. TWIN PEAKS, the 18-part limited event series will debut with a two-part premiere on Sunday, May 21 at 9PM ET/PT. Immediately following the premiere, SHOWTIME subscribers will have access to the third and fourth parts, exclusively across the SHOWTIME streaming service, SHOWTIME ANYTIME® and SHOWTIME ON DEMAND®. In its second week, TWIN PEAKS will air the third and fourth parts back-to-back on the linear network, starting at 9 p.m. ET/PT, followed by one-hour parts in subsequent weeks…

Directed entirely by David Lynch, the new SHOWTIME limited event series picks up twenty-five years after the inhabitants of a quaint northwestern town were stunned when their homecoming queen Laura Palmer was shockingly murdered.

Widely considered one of the most groundbreaking and influential broadcast series of all time, TWIN PEAKS followed the inhabitants of a quaint northwestern town who were stunned after their homecoming queen Laura Palmer was shockingly murdered. The town’s sheriff welcomed the help of FBI agent Dale Cooper, who came to town to investigate the case. As Cooper conducted his search for Laura’s killer, the town’s secrets were gradually exposed. The mystery that ensued set off an eerie chain of events that plunged the inhabitants of Twin Peaks into a darker examination of their very existence. Twenty-five years later, the story continues…

Maisie Williams has a major role in an new superhero movie coming out on Netflix. It has a more modern origin story. Instead of being bit by a radioactive spider, the hero gets his powers from portions of a smartphone embedded in his brain:

Tom is an average teenager whose world is turned on its head when a violent encounter with local thugs leaves fragments of his shattered smartphone embedded in his brain. He wakes from a coma to discover that returning to normal teenage life is impossible because he has developed a strange set of superpowers. With these new powers he sets out to seek revenge on the gang, who also assaulted his best friend Lucy.

iBoy is a Netflix original film starring Bill Milner, Maisie Williams, Miranda Richardson and Rory Kinnear and is available on Netflix globally from January 27th, 2017.

The Hollywood Reporter has news on another Game of Thrones Star. Peter Linklage is engaged in talks to appear in Avengers: Infinity War.

The second season of Humans was excellent, and will become available (legally) in the United States on AMC on February 13. Deadline has some information. Syfy Wire spoke with the showrunners about topics including the comparisons to Westworld:

The showrunners were asked whether they minded that Westworld entered their same thematic storytelling space last year, but Brackley says the more, the merrier. “From our point of view, it’s only a good thing if people are interested in the issues we are all talking about. There’s plenty of room for both of us, and probably more about AI. Our shows are very different.”

Another excellent series from the UK will also become (legally) available in the US. Victoria debuts on PBS tonight. It is often compared to Golden Globe winner, The Crown, with similarities including actors from Doctor Who in key roles. While The Crown had Matt Smith in a supporting role, this one stars Jenna Coleman. Both The Crown and Victoria center around a new Queen and her relationship with the Prime Minister in their first season. Unlike The Crown, in which Elizabeth is married to Philip at the start, Victoria doesn’t meet Albert until later in the first season.  Entertainment Weekly has more on Victoria and spoke with Jenna Coleman:

Apparently there is some other show about British royalty called The Crown, which features your Doctor Who costar Matt Smith. Have you two compared notes?
[Laughs] I think both of us tried to work out our [characters’] relationship to each other. It’s funny, he’s filming the second season in London. I’ve seen all the first, which I think is fantastic.

We already know Victoria will have a second season. In an ideal world, how long will the show run?
It depends on appetite and the pacing. There’s so much story, it could run for 60-odd years!

There is another interview with Jenna Coleman at Collider.

The Night Manager was one of the highlights of 2016. This leaves me optimistic about the next John le Carré adaptation from AMC, The BBC, and The Ink FactoryThe Spy Who Came In From The Cold.

While several celebrities say that at first they were petrified about the upcoming inauguration of Donald Trump, they are now singing, I Will Survive. Those singing Andrew Garfield, Chris Pine, Emma Stone, Amy Adams, Natalie Portman, Matthew McConaughey, and Chris Pine. Needless to say, conservatives don’t find this entertaining. The New York Times looked at how other celebrities such as Judd Apatow are responding in a different manner. I previously posted about reactions to Donald Trump at the Golden Globe Awards, including text and video of Meryl Streep’s speech, here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sundance has renewed Rectify for a fourth and final season.

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

12 Monkeys will return on April 18 on Syfy.

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

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

Coal Hill School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Babylon 5 and Blake’s 7 Reboots; Doctor Who; Captain America; Agent Carter; Agents of SHIELD; Defiance; Big Bang Theory; Google Maps Adds The Moon and Mars

Babylon-5-Alt-FT-779x400

J. Michael Straczynski has announced plans to reboot Babylon 5 as a movie. One reason for doing it his way is that Warner owns the television rights but Straczsynki retained the feature film rights:

Speaking at San Diego Comic Con last week, Straczsynki announced that he would soon be sitting down to write a Babylon 5 feature film, which is envisioned as a reboot of the iconic sci-fi series. JMS said that he plans to get the script locked down by the end of 2015 and the film would then enter production the following year in 2016.

Next to nothing is known about the plot for this Babylon 5 feature film, beyond the fact that it is a reboot of the concept seen in the series. That said, J. Michael Straczynski has stated that he would like to use cast members from the series, such as Bruce Boxleitner and Mira Furlan, in new roles in the feature film. “I’d love to see Bruce as the President of the Earth Alliance”, he said.

The hope is that Warner Bros, who produced the Babylon 5 television series, would step up and green-light a “big budget” feature film once the script has been completed. But owing to the nature of the deal that Straczysnki inked with the studio to produce Babylon 5 in the early 1990s, he, rather than Warner Bros, owns the feature film rights to the show. Should Warner Bros. choose not to greenlight a B5 movie, Straczynski would still proceed with the feature, which would then be funded and produced through his Studio JMS banner on a budget of $80 – $100 million.

Although Syfy passed on the show, there is still some hope for a remake of Blake’s 7.

The BBC has renewed Doctor Who for an eighth season since the show returned, again staring Peter Capaldi, with the shows to be presented in a continuous run. Steven Moffat said recently that there are no plans for either the return of the Master or for a tenth anniversary show (which would seem strange after doing a 50th).  Moffat has also expressed a willingness to do a Doctor Who/Sherlock cross over, but others involved are not interested. Would it look something like the video above, except with Peter Capaldi instead of Matt Smith?

Above is, perhaps, how Captain America: The Winter Soldier should have ended. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo discussed their upcoming projects, Agent Carter and the third Captain America movie:

Before turning their attention to the next feature, the Russos are directing several episodes of the spin-off TV series Agent Carter, debuting on ABC in January 2015. The miniseries follows the solo adventures of Peggy Carter, the love of Captain America’s life and founder of S.H.I.E.L.D. in the 1940s. From there, the brothers will tackle the third film, which picks up “a couple years” after Winter Soldier left off. Although the heart of the movie will be Steve Rogers’ complicated relationship with his childhood friend Bucky Barnes, the themes of politics and power will still be in play. “The character was invented for an explicitly political purpose. So it’s hard to get away from that nature,” Anthony tells Yahoo. It’s also important to the directors that Captain America doesn’t become another disillusioned antihero. As Joe sees it, “his morality is part of his superpower.”

While they’re not leaking any major details from the 2016 film, the Russo brothers promise that they’re “bringing some new elements to the table that will give us a twist on Winter Soldier.” Does this mean that Steve Rogers will pass the Captain America shield to Bucky Barnes (aka the Winter Soldier) or Sam Wilson (aka the Falcon), both of whom have donned the stars-and-stripes in the comics? With actor Chris Evans shifting his focus to directing, and Sebastian Stan and Anthony Mackie already in place as the Winter Soldier and the Falcon respectively, the next film could allow a new hero to step in.

Elsewhere in the Marvel universe, FBI Special Agent Dale Cooper (Twin Peaks) will be meeting SHIELD. Kyle MacLachlan  has been cast to play Skye’s father on Agents of SHIELD. Chloe Bennet said at Comic-Con that next season will also involve more hair. Skye will have bangs and Brett Dalton will do the evil-Spock thing of the mirror universe and have a beard as the evil Grant Ward.

Defiance Cast

Defiance has done a good job of creating a world with numerous well-developed characters and alien races, but often while watching I wonder if there is any point to it all. It lacks the big story ideas of a Babylon 5 or Battlestar Galactica. The showrunner, Kevin Murphy, did work on BSG and I am glad that he got away from the idea of doing the show as a “science-fiction crime of the week.”

AX: How did DEFIANCE started and how did it change when you came onto the project during its development?

KEVIN MURPHY: The original version was a little more of a closed-ended procedural, it was kind of more of a science-fiction crime of the week, and we were in the process of changing that when CULT got picked up and [original DEFIANCE co-creator/show runner] Rockne O’Bannon left. I then had a choice that I wasn’t sure that the show was going to work in the incarnation that it currently was in, and I didn’t want to have responsibility for something that didn’t work. So I gave Syfy a choice. I said, “I’ll transition you into your next show runner, and I’ll make sure that casting continues and produce the pilot, but I’m not going to stay on for the series unless I believe in the show.” And they were like, “Well, what would you want to do to it?” And it was basically, “Well, it involves getting rid of pretty much all the scripts, and let me give you my pitch.”

So I did the pitch, worked it out with the writing staff, and at this point, it was Rockne’s last day, and he was helping us to kind of reconceive it, and Scott Stewart, the director, was very involved in the process, and so was Michael Taylor, who had worked on BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and was a member of staff under me. And we pitched the whole thing to [then-Syfy Channel president] Mark Stern while he was driving in his car on vacation with his family in Palm Springs. And he had his wife and kid in the vehicle with him, and the pitch lasted about ninety minutes, because we pitched the entire story from beginning to end, every single beat, and by the time he pulled into the hotel in Palm Springs, we had finished our pitch and he was like, “Okay, I love it. Go write it.”

AX: Did you make major changes to the characters?

MURPHY: The PAPER MOON thing I added, the idea that Nolan [the town’s new law officer, played by Grant Bowler] came in from the outside and that he was a con man and a drifter and a huckster and a criminal. That was all stuff that I added. The idea that Amanda has only been mayor for six weeks and she’s the former mayor’s assistant and no one takes her seriously, that was an addition; the idea that Irisa [Nolan’s adopted Irathient daughter, played by Stephanie Leonidas] uses knives and Irisa being sort of the feral badass was an invention of mine. And Michael. When I say “me,” I’m including Michael Taylor, who was definitely my partner in crime. We would not have gotten that script in the shape it needed to be in without Michael at my side.

The Werewolf Transformation

In follow-up of an item from last week, the cast of The Big Bang Theory did settle on a new contract. The top three stars, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco, will each  earn $1 million per episode for the planned upcoming three seasons, and there is talk of potentially adding an eleventh season.

Google Maps has added maps of the moon and Mars. I imagine that going off the earth was inevitable once they added the TARDIS to their maps.