SciFi Weekend: End of Season Twists on Sherlock & The Good Place; Amy Pond; This Is Us; Trump Plaigerizes Batman Villian; Supergirl Melissa Benoist and Arrow Star Stephen Amel on Donald Trump

The week included two shows ending their season with a twist (a tip off that this post has many spoilers). It was notable that the comedy The Good Place did a far better job with its twist than the more serious Sherlock. The Final Problem  had multiple twists. First there was the overall idea, introduced the previous week, that Sherlock has a sister. This week we found the degree to which, despite somehow forgetting her existence, Eurus influenced Sherlock’s behavior.

Mark Gattis defends the flaws in the episode by bragging about how the show is complicated, but that does not justify the cheats and inconsistencies they relied upon. The story was propelled too easily by having Eurus being able to exert mind control over others, freeing Moffat and Gattis of any need to write a more plausible plot. The flat was blown up, with everyone simply jumping out the window and remaining uninjured. It makes no sense that Eurus almost blew her brother up, but later was so upset when Sherlock surprised her by pointing the gun at himself.

The twist with Redbeard was more plausible, but it is an idea which has been used before. This was mishandled in the current story when the police pulled Watson out of the well while he had a chain on his feet. The manner in which Molly was handled only reinforced criticism of how Moffat handles women. Moriety’s suicide did not seem to make much sense in The Reichenbach Fall.  This episode raises the question of whether Eurus gave  him the suggestion to do so, or whether Moriety had a death wish and improvised on his own.

The episode began with a girl on a plane with everyone else, including the pilot, unconscious. The manner in which this was handled was the poorest twist of all. There were many strange things about the situation from Sherlock’s perspective when listening to what he heard on the phone. If this is all the audience encountered we might have have questioned its reality. However we actually saw the scene with a small girl, making it an unfair solution to later find it was Eurus on the phone pretending to be the girl.

Steven Moffat had an explanation for this which I do not agree with, along with other comments on the episode at Entertainment Weekly:

It felt like by bringing back Moriarty you to have your cake and eat it too — he’s back but in flashback so you don’t violate that he died. Can you talk about the decision to bring him back?
There was some unfinished business there, but we were always absolutely clear he was dead. People said we were making that up, but the power of that rooftop scene would have been destroyed in retrospect if he hadn’t really killed himself just to win an argument, which is what happened. It was great to get a bit of Andrew [Scott] back, it didn’t occur to us until quite late in the day that we could just do it. But we needed the flashback to fill in how this had happened. And you’ve got the perfect opportunity to bring back Moriarty and for two minutes to make it seem like he was arriving in the present day. It was fun.

Was it a bit of a cheat to have a different actress play Euros in the plane vs. in the flashbacks? 
No, because that’s a dream, she doesn’t need to look the same. A dream image of yourself you don’t dream of yourself looking as you necessarily are. So I didn’t think so at all.

Some of the elements, from Redbeard to the water motif, extend back further into the series. How long did you know about the major elements of this finale? 
We started talking about him having a sister fairly early on. What if Sherlock had a sister? What would that be like? But we didn’t take it madly seriously. During the planning of [season] 3 we came up with the plotline that we wanted to do. But there are elements from it we’ve been kicking around forever. Some of them have accidentally worked out well. If you go back to “A Scandal in Belgravia” and look at Mark Gattis when he reflects that Sherlock originally wanted to be a pirate but suddenly looks very sad and haunted, it’s very much a long game.

And since we didn’t get any closure on this: What’s now going on with Mycroft and Lady Smallwood and Sherlock and Irene Adler, that we’re not being privileged to witness?
Well, that you’re not privileged to witness it means you’re not going to know! With Lady Smallwood and Mycroft, we might never find out what happened there, and I’m quite content to leave it that way. We don’t have to know everything. And as for Sherlock and Irene Adler, I have no reason to suppose that Sherlock is not telling the truth, that he loves ignoring her texts. There was no new information there. We always known he rescued her and she wasn’t really dead. And if you paid attention you’d have known they’ve remained slightly in touch because there’s a rose — when he’s injured — there’s a single rose in the room. If you think about it, he saves her life, they must have escaped together, obviously there’s some form of contact.

If there is something fans seem upset about with this episode it’s that there’s no resolving scene with Molly after that very effective devastating call to her while she’s in the kitchen. Did you consider doing one? Is it fair to leave her that like that? 
But that’s not how we leave her. People need to learn to face their televisions, we see her later on–

We see her skipping into the room but–
She gets over it! Surely at a certain point you have to figure out that after Sherlock escapes tells her, “I’m really sorry about that, it was a code, I thought your flat was about to blow up.” And she says, “Oh well that’s okay then, you bastard.” And then they go back to normal, that’s what people do. I can’t see why you’d have to play that out. She forgives him, of course, and our newly grown-up Sherlock is more careful with her feelings in the future. In the end of that scene, she’s a bit wounded by it all, but he’s absolutely devastated. He smashes up the coffin, he’s in pieces, he’s more upset than she is, and that’s a huge step in Sherlock’s development. The question is: Did Sherlock survive that scene? She probably had a drink and went and shagged someone, I dunno. Molly was fine.

We do not know whether Sherlock will be back, and, even with its flaws, the episode works both as a season or series finale. Sherlock and Watson are left to go back to solving crimes as they have done in earlier seasons before the show concentrated more on their ongoing personal stories as opposed to mysteries.

Many other shows besides Sherlock have utilized plot twists, but none did it as well as The Good Place. The plot twists in Westworld were discussed on line long before they were revealed. Mr. Robot relied on plot twists in both the first and second season, These were predicted both years, with some questioning the wisdom of trying it a second time. In contrast, I don’t know of anyone who predicted the huge twist on The Good Place, and yet once revealed it made perfect sense after Kristen Bell’s character figured it out. Ted Danson responded with the perfect diabolical laugh, and went on to wipe the memory of everyone involved to set the stage should there be a second season.

The old broadcast networks have very few new shows worth watching (besides The Good Place, along with Speechless). This is US is probably the best new network drama. It has now been renewed for two additional seasons.

Star Trek Discovery has been delayed again due to scheduling conflicts with its lead, Sonequa Martin-Green. The good news is that James Frain has been cast to play Spock’s father Sarek.

Steven Moffat has received criticism for his treatment of women characters long before the controversy over the scene with Molly in last week’s episode of Sherlock. In a recent interview, Moffat expressed regrets over how he treated the matter of Amy and Rory grieving over the loss of their baby:

In an interview with Doctor Who Magazine, Steven Moffat discussed his feelings on how Amy Pond and Rory Williams dealt with the grief of their baby. In “A Good Man Goes to War”, Madame Kovarian kidnapped their daughter Melody. Amy gave birth to her child after being captured by Kovarian, and then Melody disappeared — only for everyone to find out that River Song is the grown-up Melody.

The entire season was a little wibbly wobbly timey wimey but the way that the Ponds dealt with their baby being kidnapped was weak, for lack of a better term. In the interview, Moffat explained why it was hard for him to write their grief.

“Usually, big dramatic things happen in Doctor Who, then the next week everyone’s absolutely fine. I never found a way to have Amy and Rory grieve over their lost baby, and I still don’t know how I would do that. I could never work out how to write that.”

In an interview with The Wrap, Karen Gillan says she would be willing to return to play Amy Pond if asked:

Gillan is also well known for her portrayal as Amelia Pond, co-star to the Eleventh Doctor in the popular BBC adventure series “Doctor Who.” But will the show’s fans see her reprise her role any time soon? Gillan said, “If they ask me, I would be back there in a shot, but I think I’m more excited about seeing Pearl take over as companion, because she was amazing.”

The big event of the week was the inauguration of Donald Trump, making the 2016 election the worst reality show ever. Trump has been accused of plagiarizing from the Batman villain Bain in his acceptance speech:

Compare Trump’s declaration that, “Today’s ceremony, however has very special meaning. Because today, we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another or from one party to another. But we are transferring power from Washington D.C. and giving it back to you… the people.For too long a small group in our nation’s capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have born the cost.Washington flourished but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered but the jobs left and the factories closed. The establishment protected itself but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories. Their triumphs have not been your triumphs and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land. That all changes starting right here and right now because this moment is your moment. It belongs to you.”

Sound familiar? Declareth the cartoon Batman villain: “We take Gotham from the corrupt! The rich! The oppressors of generations who have kept you down with myths of opportunity, and we give it back to you… the people. Gotham is yours. None shall interfere. Do as you please. Start by storming Blackgate, and freeing the oppressed! Step forward those who would serve. For and army will be raised. The powerful will be ripped from their decadent nests, and cast out into the cold world that we know and endure. Courts will be convened. Spoils will be enjoyed. Blood will be shed. The police will survive, as they learn to serve true justice. This great city… it will endure. Gotham will survive!”

💪#womensmarchonwashington

A photo posted by Melissa Benoist (@melissabenoist) on

Huge crowds are demonstrating against Donald Trump today. At one of them,  Supergirl star Melissa Benoist warned Donald Trump not to try to grab her pussy in the Instagram picture above.

Stephen Amel of Arrow also had some comments on Donald Trump on Facebook:

Bottom line: I don’t really like Donald Trump, I wouldn’t invite him to dinner, I probably wouldn’t stay in a property he owns… but I don’t yet know how he is going to govern. And I think that requires me to (tepidly) reserve judgement. Why? Because – holy shit!! – he’s the President, and citizen or no, America is my home. I pay taxes. I care about the way the government treats its citizens. So… I hope he succeeds for EVERYONE. And I can’t say I completely understand the opposite perspective – hoping for failure – even though I fully support someone’s right to have it.

People might think I live in a bubble, but I actually feel quite the opposite. At 35, I don’t really have experience on my side, but I have been across the spectrum to a pretty strong degree. I’ve lived in two countries, in varying states of financial security and I’ve participated in an industry that celebrates diversity. There’s no place for anything but inclusion, honesty and transparency in 2017. I hope that’s what we get.

Bleeding Cool shows how various comics have recognized the inauguration.

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 Matters 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: Sherlock; The Man In The High Castle; CW Network News; Doctor Who News; The Crown

Sherlock began the season in The Six Thatchers with a plot twist which was in some ways both shocking and predictable. Major spoilers ahead for those who have not seen the episode yet. Steven Moffat explained the decision to kill of a major character in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Just so fans don’t misinterpret that ending … Mary’s really dead right?
Steven Moffat: Yes, we’re not playing games. She’s dead.

What made you decide to get rid of Mary? She died in Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, but the cause of death was never even mentioned…
The truth is it’s never established that she died in the stories. We just assume she died because Watson refers to his “sad loss” which is probably a death but not necessarily. The reality of this, of course, is that Sherlock Holmes is about Sherlock and Dr. Watson and it’s always going to come back to that — always always always. They had fun making it a trio but it doesn’t work long term. Mary was always going to go and we were always going to get back to the two blokes. That’s the format. [Sherlock writer-producer-actor] Mark Gatiss and I do not have the delusion that we know better than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. That’s how the show works and always will. We reset to the most traditional and famous version of the format…

What made Mary decide to take a bullet for Sherlock?
Well, she saved her friend. There wasn’t a lot of time to do anything about it. Throughout the episode, she’s really quite protective of them. She’s actually better at all this than they are. She regards them as a couple of talented amateurs. She doesn’t make a huge decision about it, she does what she can with no time to think.

Her postmortem message said “Save John,” meaning protect him from being lost without her?
Yes, you can assume we’re going to elaborate on that next week.

Watson made such an agonizing wail during that scene, and of course, Freeman and Abbington were partners in real life (and recently announced they’re separating). What was it like to shoot that? 
It was emotional, but at the same time, we did that scene a million times. There was a sense this was a hugely important moment in a show we’ve been making all this time and it was Amanda’s exit from a show that she’s been part of for a few years. So it was a big deal.

You said this will “reset” the relationship between Sherlock and Watson, but this seems like a rift that can never fully heal. 
We take that rift head-on in the remainder of the [season]. We don’t ignore it. We don’t have John come back and say, “Well I’ve thought about it and it’s all fine.” If anything, the rift gets worse. We decided if we were doing this we’re doing grief properly. We were doing the consequences properly. We tried to have people go through what they’d actually go through in this circumstance which, of course, is hellish. And as emotionally reticent as Sherlock Holmes is, it doesn’t take a 12-year-old to figure out he’s a profoundly emotional man. We don’t skirt around it. We don’t just get on with the story of the week — although there is a story of the week. There’s a big villain to fight. But front and center are the consequence of Mary’s death and Sherlock’s culpability. He could have done better, it’s his lifestyle that killed her in the end.

It was interesting because very clearly that whole situation could have been wrapped up without bloodshed had Sherlock not kept egging her on in that moment. 
We spent a long time trying to work out what his culpability was. Obviously, it wasn’t his fault. Mary tried to save his life. But having Sherlock unable to stop himself from showing off and that’s what riles her up to take the shot, I think it adds another layer. We were determined to make it as difficult for us as possible [as writers] to take on the following things: We will do grief in a big way, we will have the rift between them, and it will be real and will never completely go away — because you’ll always think about that, however imperishable that friendship is. At the same time, we’ve got to be a proper detective show with proper action, proper villains, proper mystery solving. We really went for it. There was a big debate about whether to kill her in episode 1, instead of more traditionally in episode 3 at the end of the [season]. But let’s not give ourselves that two years to forget how mad they are at each other. Let’s do it in a circumstance where we have to come back in a week and make this show work again. I think it does. Obviously, I’m not the person who makes the judgment. All the consequences are believable and painfully in place with a Sherlock Holmes plot and with some kind of resolution to it all that makes continuing possible. If we do pull that off that will be great.

It is understandable that the series is about Holmes and Watson, but if that is the case I cannot help but question the decision to have Watson marry Mary in major episodes if they were only going to make her this disposable and kill her off so quickly.

Beyond the incidents leading to Mary’s death, the episode just played with a more classic title, substituting busts of Margret Thatcher for Napoleon in the original story. The show has changed from early episodes to tell more of a continuing story, differing from the original stories where everything was generally reset at the start of the next. Sherlock’s detective skills were shown more in brief snippets as opposed to making this a coherent story based upon detective work. In may ways it did feel more like Bond that Holmes, raising objections from some critics. Mark Gattis responded to this criticism in rhyme:

Here is a critic who says with low blow
Sherlock’s no brain-box but become double-O.
Says the Baker St boy is no man of action –
whilst ignoring the stories that could have put him in traction.

The Solitary Cyclist sees boxing on show,
The Gloria Scott and The Sign of the Fo’
The Empty House too sees a mention, in time, of Mathews,
who knocked out poor Sherlock’s canine.

in the misspelled wrestle Doyle called baritsu.
In hurling Moriarty over the torrent
did Sherlock find violence strange and abhorrent?

In shooting down pygmies and Hounds from hell
Did Sherlock on Victorian niceties dwell?
When Gruner’s men got him was Holmes quite compliant
Or did he give good account for The Illustrious Client?

There’s no need to invoke in yarns that still thrill,
Her Majesty’s Secret Servant with licence to kill
From Rathbone through Brett to Cumberbatch dandy
With his fists Mr Holmes has always been handy.

Mark Gatiss
London

The second season of The Man In The High Castle tied up most of the loose ends from the first season. (Spoilers ahead). The ending could serve as the end of the story, but leaves things open for additional seasons in this universe. People who otherwise might be seen as villains did turn out to be heroes, at least in stopping a war between Germany and Japan which could have been devastating for America.

There was a brief flashback to John Smith witnessing the destruction of Washington, D.C., confirming that he was an American who happened to be away from the capital at the time. This raised questions as to how he rose to his rank in the first two season. It has been announced that the show has been renewed for a third season, with at least a part being a flashback which addresses these questions. SciFi Now reports:

Intertestingly, it looks like the show is going through a number of changes. For a start, it will at least in part be a prequel, more specifically during the invasion of the US when Washington DC is nuked, with John Smith (Rufus Sewell) and his wife Helen (Chelah Horsdal) in the vicinity. At this time Smith was an officer in the US army, so it will be interesting to see how he became one of the Reich’s highest-ranking – and most ruthless – officers.

Also confirmed is that Eric Overmyer will be serving as showrunner for the new season (there wasn’t one in Season 2 after Frank Spotnitz’s departure at the end of Season 1), with Ridley Scott, David W Zucker, Richard Heus, Isa Dick Hackett and Daniel Percival all on board as executive producers.

Speaking of the new appointment, Joe Lewis, Amazon Studios’ Head of Comedy and Drama, had this to say:

“As timely as ever, the exploration of characters at a dark point for humanity has provided incredible stories for two seasons. Eric and his team are doing an incredible job crafting stories about the inner lives of those who struggle to do good in a world that is not. We couldn’t be more excited to bring season three to customers in 2017.”

Cast members for Season 2 included Alexa Davalos, Rupert Evans, Luke Kleintank, Rufus Sewell, Joel de la Fuente, Brennan Brown, Bella Heathcote, Callum Ke ith Rennie, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa and DJ Qualls, with the majority of these expected to return for Season 3.

The CW Network has announced early renewals of Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl,  Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jane the Virgin and Supernatural. No word yet on iZombie and The 100, which have not started their seasons yet. Frequency and No Tomorrow are not expect to be renewed. There are plans to wrap up the stories in a digital format to be posted on the website if cancelled.

Arrow has some hints on Laurel’s return, and Felicity might take a darker turn.

On The Flash, it appears that Barry has learned nothing about the dangers of meddling with time. Of course he must try to save Iris.

Legends of Tomorrow has the return of Rip Hunter and a young George Lucas.

Constantine is returning as an animated series.

Entertainment Weekly has a first look at the upcoming season of The 100.

The CW also plans a reboot of Charmed set in 1976.

In Doctor Who news, following The Return of Doctor Mystero, Titan comics is planning a spinoff comic of The Ghost.

Matt Smith will be regenerating into a different actor once again, this time on The Crown as the lead characters age. Claire Foy, who is working on the second season, has revealed that there will be a change in cast after the second season:

Producers plan to cast new actors for the third series of the Royal saga. A total of six series are planned.

Competition is already heating up for stars to play the Queen for the years 1965 to 1985, with Emily Watson, Rachel Weisz and Kate Beckinsale among those tipped for the role.

Presumably this means they will also cast someone older to play Prince Philip. Perhaps Peter Capaldi could replace Matt Smith once again.

 

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who–The Return Of Doctor Mysterio; Carrie Fisher; Will & Grace; Gilmore Girls; Matt Smith On The Crown; Sherlock; Hollyweed

A Doctor Who Christmas Special is different from a regular episode. While there have been some exceptions, generally they are lighter and disconnected from the story lines of a particular season, making them something the entire family might watch even if they do not watch Doctor Who regularly. Keeping this in mind will answer some of the criticism I’ve seen of The Return of Doctor Mysterio, which worked fine as a Christmas story, even if light. It was not, and was not intended to be, a major story with profound ramifications for the mythology of the show. The show broke ratings records for BBC America.

The episode got its name because Peter Capaldi loved to refer to his character as he is referred to in Mexico, and it fit as it did include two times in which the Doctor returned to see Grant after he accidentally turned him into a superhero. Having the Doctor be responsible allowed for Steven Moffat to play with many troupes of superhero comics and movies without fully including superheroes as part of the Doctor Who universe. Instead it is superhero comics, and generally not superheroes, which are a part.

This was the first appearance of the Doctor (other than his brief cameo in Class) since last year’s Christmas special, The Husbands of River Song. While it was not necessary to have seen it, this episode is a direct continuation. Both episodes included a key situation involving not recognizing someone else. They also both involved  aliens exchanging heads or brains, and has the return of Matt Lucas as Nardole. Fortunately the Doctor’s many skills include the ability to reassemble Nardole’s head on his body, allowing him to become a valuable assistant after the twenty-four year night he spent with River Song before she met her fate in the library. Matt Lucas will remain a semi-regular in the upcoming season.

Moffat took advantage of his experience in writing the romantic sit-com Coupling. This was seen when he had the entire body of the adolescent superhero who couldn’t control his x-ray vision levitate, obviously representing the rise of something else. It was seen again in scenes with Grant and Lucy, especially when they had dinner on the roof, while Grant had to be in two places at once.

The roof-top dinner was a clear homage to the Richard Donner/Christopher Reeve Superman films. There were even panels from a Superman comic displayed early in the episode. How many collectors felt ill to see the Doctor deface what would now be a rare old comic by drawing glasses on Superman to show off how he figured out that Clark Kent is Superman, oblivious to the fact that everyone else already knows this (except for Lois Lane). It is just something we accept that wearing glasses keeps most people from figuring out his secret identity, but to the Doctor, “there are some situations which are too stupid to be allowed to continue.”

There were other ways in which this was a homage to Superman, including the double-L name of Lucy Lombard to match the names in DC comics. Moffat worked in the names of Siegel and Shuster, the creators of Superman, as names of employees at Harmony Shoals. There is a globe on top of the  building reminiscent of The Daily Planet.

Moffat didn’t limit himself to Superman comics. There are items from multiple DC and Marvel comics all over young Grant’s bedroom. The Ghost had aspects also comparable to Batman, including the look of the Ghost, his voice, and a reference to the bat signal. The advice, “With great power comes great responsibility,” comes from Uncle Ben’s advice to Peter Parker in Spider-Man. The Doctor reacted to Spider-Man’s origin in being bitten by a radioactive spider by expecting the signs of radiation poisoning. He considered himself to be the inspiration for superheroes with Doctor in their name.

There were other great moments in the episode, such as Lucy interrogating the Doctor by squeezing Mr. Huffle. I bet the BBC will be selling those toys in the future. I also liked the earlier scene when the Doctor came across Lucy, also spying on the aliens: “It’s okay. I’m an intruder too. Yeah, I brought snacks – mark of a pro. Keep listening.”  Plus there was the Doctor’s comment on the situation: “Brains with minds of their own? No-one will believe that – this is America.”

Yes, there was also an alien invasion, but this was a trivial aspect of the show, present to provide a backdrop for Grant’s story. This did make the episode seem a little disjointed at times, but the pleasure of seeing the classic superhero triangle of Grant, The Ghost, and Lucy made up for  this.

The episode ended with a teaser of the next season, and the new companion, Bill, played by Pearl Mackie.

Bill met the Doctor at a University and, contrary to previous rumors, is from the present. The trailer above does give some clues as to her personality and relationship with the Doctor. At this time we don’t know yet whether she will encounter the strangest aspect of being a companion to the Doctor, witnessing a regeneration.

The biggest genre related news of the week was the death of Carrie Fisher, followed the day later by her mother, Debbie Reynolds, dying, presumably of a broken heart. Carrie Fisher’s death was too big a story to wait for SciFi Weekend, and I posted about this story in greater detail here: Carrie Fisher Dies At 60, May The Force Be With Her Always.

Also this week, William Christopher, best known as Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H died.

It looks like NBC will be bringing back a ten episode revival of Will and Grace next fall.

Netflix dropped a hint raising speculation that there will be more of Gilmore Girls after the cliff hanger ending of A Year In The Life.

Bot Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman played British royalty in The Crown and Victoria in 2016. While Matt Smith’s role was not as big as Jenna Coleman’s, his portrayal of Prince Phillip was an entertaining aspect of The Crown. Radio Times reports that Matt Smith will continue to have a major role in season two of The Crown:

You might think you know what’s coming next in Netflix’s The Crown: after all, the life of the most famous family in the country is not exactly untold history and requires no spoiler alerts.

But with the making of season two, creator Peter Morgan has revealed how he plans to continue the story of Elizabeth’s reign – and the focus will shift away from the Queen herself as other royals take centre stage.

“We start to focus on Charles as a young boy and his education, and on Philip and his back story,” Morgan told People magazine.

Matt Smith’s Prince Philip was one of the most engaging characters in the first season as he struggled to adjust to his wife (played by Claire Foy) becoming Queen. The production team has recently been in South Africa, filming part of Philip’s Commonwealth tour which took him away from his wife and young family for months.

Executive producer Suzanne Mackie teased: “We glance backward to Philip’s childhood and his upbringing, and how that might have impacted him as a man, a father and as Prince Consort – which is fascinating.”

Diana won’t be appearing until season three.

Sherlock season four premieres tonight. Steven Moffat and Mark Gattis warn that it had people sobbing in an interview with The Sun:

We’ve watched the first episode and we really felt as though something bad was going to happen…
Mark: It’s prefigured. You start with the sharks and then you go into lots of light-hearted fun. But it’s important to think: ‘This is not going to end well.’ I was listening to people sobbing in our first press screening – that’s a very good reaction.

Are you two still moved to tears, despite knowing what’s coming up?
Mark: Oh, I cry every time with episode one. That one shows what fun the duo have, but that events have consequences… It’s about the past coming to get you. And there are at least two scenes in episode two that make me cry. And I always cry at a certain point in episode three…
Steven: Episode three is the finale of finales…

You have said that this is not the last series. Have you got the next one mapped out?
Steven: It’s slightly early to be talking about season five when season four hasn’t been on yet. But no one can really end the story of Sherlock Holmes, can they?
Mark: We’d like to carry on. We just don’t know.

Finally in show business, including Hollywood, news, someone changed the famous Hollywood sign to read “Hollyweed” last night. This happened once before in 1976 following the passage of a California marijuana law.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

More is revealed in an interview with Variety:

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

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

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

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

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

More at The Hollywood Reporter:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Will we see Anthony Hopkins in season two?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Flash vs Arrow

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

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

Gotham Penguin

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

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

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

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

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

Agents of SHIELD Blue Alien

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

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

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

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

ComicVine has more about the meaning of this.

Game of Thrones Natalie Dormer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

westworld

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sleepy Hollow; Outlander; Agents of SHIELD; Gracepoint; Blacklist; Arrow; Supergirl; The DC Cinematic Universe; Revenge; How I Met Your Mother Alternate Ending

Doctor-Who-Robot-of-Sherwood-Villain-620x370

Doctor Who‘s third episode of the Capaldi era, Robot of Sherwood, was the lightest of the season. The episode, written by Mark Gatiss, almost seemed to be outside of the continuity of the season, being a story which could be watched at any time and which could easily have happened under Matt Smith or an earlier Doctor. The episode begins with Clara on the TARDIS, showing nothing of her home life, ignoring the recent addition of Danny Pink to the show. There are no scenes of Missy, but there was a brief reference to a space ship searching for the Promised Land.

The episode does have several references to classic Doctor Who. For example, the black and white still of Robin Hood from the TARDIS database is from a 1953 BBC show in which Patrick Troughton played Robin.

Despite the Doctor’s insistence that “I am totally against bantering,” the episode is amusing for its banter between the Doctor, Clara, and Robin Hood, along with its mocking of the traditional tropes of the action/adventure show. This was best seen in the dungeon scene as the Doctor and Robin discussed their plans to escape. They  included the classics: “get interrogated and turn the tables” and “pretend to be sick so the jailer will come in.” Clara excluded one Doctor Who solution which is utilized too often: “Can you explain your plan without using the words ‘sonic screwdriver'”? For once, an enemy took the sonic screwdriver away.

The Doctor had his own unique answer to the hero who fights but carries no weapon: “I don’t need a sword. Because I am the Doctor. And this is my spoon.” There was also a look at the nature of legends and heroism. Instead of being compared to the Daleks in Into the Dalek, this week the Doctor was compared to Robin Hood, even if it took a while for the Doctor to acknowledge Robin’s”reality” within this universe. We knew from the title that robots were involved, but it was not clear until the end as to who would be real and who would be robots.

Above is the Doctor Who Extra for Robot of Sherwood. While I posted the Doctor Who Extra for Into the Dalek with last week’s review, I initially did not post the video for Deep Breath as initially it was available for view within the U.K. only. Doctor Who Extra has since been made available internationally. The video for Deep Breath can be viewed here.

One scene was cut from the broadcast episode involving a decapitation in response to the recent decapitation of two journalists by ISIS. DoctorWhoTV described the cut scene:

In the original version of the final sword fight, the Sheriff gets the upper hand on Robin disarming him and putting his sword to his neck. Robin looks doomed but the Doctor throws a cloth tapestry over the Sheriff blinding him. Robin picks back up his sword and decapitates the Sheriff. His head rolling across the floor.

Clara congratulates Robin on his apparent victory, but the Sheriff’s severed head suddenly starts talking! He reveals that the skyship fell on him and the knights made him half-robot.

Behind Clara the Sheriff’s body gets back up and puts a sword to her throat ordering the Doctor and Robin to surrender. Robin picks up the Sheriff’s head and throws it back to the Sheriff’s headless body. He puts his head back on. And the fight scene resumes as was shown.

In total about a minute of footage was lost and of course the reveal that the Sheriff was a robot.

Next week’s episode, Listen, sounds much darker, despite reportedly containing Clara and Danny’s first date. The episode is being compared to perhaps Steven Moffat’s greatest episode so far, Blink. Trailer above.

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Sleepy Hollow had poor timing with their National Headless Day promotion, and did not manage to get this canceled before seen as Doctor Who did with its beheading scene. For more mundane promotion, here is the official synopsis of the first episode of season two:

Episode 2.01 – This Is War (22-Sep-2014)
In Sleepy Hollow, it would seem as though the status quo has been restored, but things in the formerly quaint town are never truly as they appear. Even now, how Crane managed to escape being betrayed and buried alive by his son, Jeremy (aka Henry Parish, aka the newly minted Horseman of War), or how Abbie freed herself from Purgatory, remains a mystery… even to them. What appears certain however is that while both Katrina and Jenny have apparently been lost, the Two Witnesses have not abandoned their quest to fight tirelessly against Moloch and his minions. Meanwhile, Moloch’s malevolent forces use all the powers at their disposal in an attempt to locate a key – once belonging to Founding Father Benjamin Franklin – which is capable of unlocking the gates of Purgatory. After using his unique skills on an unanticipated prisoner, Sin-Eater Henry Parish discovers a clue which points him in the direction of the valuable artifact, but Crane is intent on finding it first. While in Purgatory, Moloch works to raise a demonic army in preparation for his invasion, but those who would prevent the hoard’s advent get help from an unexpected source. Meanwhile, we learn that Jenny and Katrina are both still alive, though each is being held prisoner for vastly different reasons, and Crane takes the inadvisable action of re-entering Purgatory in order to fulfill a promise.

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Doctor Who is no longer the only time travel show on Saturdays. Even before Outlander began, critics who received the first six episodes were saying the sixth was by far the best. With the cliff hanger last night,next week’s episode, The Garrison Commander does look like it could be a major episode.

Claire was left with a big decision. She could tell the Red Coats that she was willingly with Dougal and stick with the enemy she knows, knowing she does have Jamie to protect her, or risk the unknown of seeing whether the British would really treat her any better. From the previews it looks like she does wind up with the Red Coats, but that doesn’t explain the situation under which this occurs or what her answer is. The episode also had added interest when Claire understood that Dougal’s motives were more noble than she first thought, but that he and his clan were ultimately doomed. She experienced the  frustration of being a time traveler and being unable to do anything about the future.

ABC has released a synopsis for the second season of Agents of SHIELD:

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” returns for a dynamic, action-packed second season, with newly appointed Director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) – now the keeper of the secrets — charged with rebuilding and restoring government and public trust in S.H.I.E.L.D. in the wake of the events of “Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” where it was revealed evil Hydra agents had infiltrated the organization. Ever since the existence of super heroes and aliens became public knowledge after the Battle of New York, the world has been trying to come to grips with this new reality. Agent Phil Coulson, who had died at the hands of Loki during the battle, was resuscitated and brought back into action, assembling a small, highly select group of Agents from the worldwide law-enforcement organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division). S.H.I.E.L.D.’s mission: to protect those who cannot protect themselves from threats they cannot conceive.

But the biggest threat was growing from within, as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s old enemy, Hydra – a dangerous extremist group Captain America fought against in World War II – had secretly infiltrated and infected the organization at the highest levels. Once revealed to the public, S.H.I.E.L.D., including Coulson and his team, was discredited and made to look like the enemy. The world now views S.H.I.E.L.D. as untrustworthy, and it’s Coulson’s job to change that opinion.

After helping to thwart Hydra, Coulson was appointed as Director and tasked with rebuilding the agency. This won’t be an easy job to accomplish with the majority of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents either killed, secretly working for Hydra or free agents. Agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), expert pilot, martial artist and longtime friend, will continue to look after Coulson in the wake of the mysterious etchings he’s been carving into walls. What do these etchings mean, and can Coulson be trusted? Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), highly trained in combat and espionage, was found to be a Hydra mole and a traitor to S.H.I.E.L.D. and locked up away from the world and his former teammates. But this isn’t the last we’ve seen of him… After being left to die in the middle of the ocean by Ward, Agent Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), brilliant engineer, and Agent Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), genius bio-chemist, found a way to escape their watery grave. But all did not go well for Fitz, who was left in a coma and may never regain his full cognitive functions; a devastating blow to Simmons. And computer hacker Skye (Chloe Bennet), now a full-fledged S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, discovered her origins as a 0-8-4 — an object of unknown origin – and that her parents were considered “monsters.” Could Skye have darkness lying dormant inside of her? Also joining Coulson’s core team is Lance Hunter (Nick Blood), a dashing mercenary sharp shooter with a quick wit. Since he didn’t rise up through the ranks, does he have an ulterior motive for helping out the team?

Who can Coulson trust?

Fox has released a teaser for Gracepoint, staring David Tennant and Anna Gunn. It just feels like Broachchurch where they got things wrong.

There are some spoilers for season two of The Blacklist here.

Arrow has cast Matt Nable in the role of Ra’s Al Ghul. Thea will also have a new love interest.

Supergirl might be the next DC character to get her own television series.

The Nerdist has a look at what is known about the planned DC cinematic universe which follow Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern. Future movies include the Justice League of America, Shazam, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. AV Club has more on Shazam on how it will differ from other DC movies.

There’s further talk about a movie version of 24.

Syfy is planning a six part miniseries adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End. If done well, this could be one of the network’s greatest features to date.

Revenge tried to drag out the storyline from its first season way too long, and it looks like they are making the right decision in changing the show around. BuddyTV has some spoilers as to what will change next season:

With David Clarke’s name cleared, will Emily’s quest for revenge be over? Conrad was imprisoned and is now presumably dead and the great Victoria Grayson has been left to rot in a mental institution. Plus, Emily’s father is actually alive!

That will be an awkward reunion. Emily went against her father’s wishes and left the sweet Amanda Clarke behind and became a ruthless killer instead. Her life will be turned upside-down with the news.

Executive Producer Gretchen J. Berg teased, “The drive of season four will be Emily discovering who Amanda Clarke is and Emily figuring out her new life with her father in it. I don’t want to say when she’s going to discover that, but that’s going to be our arc for the season.”

In addition to Emily unraveling her true identity, it looks like she’ll have to contend with being the target of someone else’s revenge. The tides have turned!

Victoria does the voice over for the first Revenge Season 4 Trailer, “My name is Victoria Grayson and I have a story to tell. Over the past three years my family was destroyed, the love of my life murdered, my freedom taken away. When everything you love has been stolen from you, someone has to pay. Emily Thorne, I’m coming for you.”

…When we last saw Jack, he was being arrested for Charlotte’s kidnapping. He’ll take the cuffs off and become the one putting them on others when he becomes a cop. Yes, Jack likely will be donning a uniform!

What will happen when Emily and Victoria find out David’s alive? Executive Producer Aaron Harberts told EOnline, “He may not be the most emotionally and psychologically stable and if Victoria is the first person to get to David, she might be in control of that guy, which sort of presents her power running through the season,”

Copies of the promised alternate ending to How I Met Your Mother have been appearing on line but have been taken down. I don’t know how long it will be here, but at the time of posting I have found the above video of the entire final episode, with alternate ending to the finale starting around 37 minutes in. The options are somewhat limited as it can only contain what was already filmed, but it does have new narration from Bob Saget. While the alternate ending therefore could not show any new scenes of Ted and Tracy in the future, it was still a far better ending for the series than the one that aired.

As I discussed in my review of the finale, the ending made sense when first filmed early in the series run, but no longer made sense from where the show ultimately wound up. Viewers had too much invested in Tracy in the final season to just see her quickly die. Having Ted and Robin ultimately get together was the obvious ending during the first season, but it no longer made sense to have Robin and Barney break up for this to occur after spending so much time making this implausible relationship make sense, and spending the entire final season at their wedding.

While we were denied more scenes of Ted and Tracy leading up to the moment when Ted was telling the story to his children, there remains the opportunity to see Cristin Miloti alive, but in a different relationship, on the upcoming sit-com, A to Z. The pilot has been released for early viewing.

SciFi Weekend: Arrow; Hannibal; Orphan Black; Doctor Who; Star Trek; Person of Interest; The Americans; Continuum; Fox vs. Kristen Bell; Mad Men; Lost; Creationists vs. Cosmos

Arrow Suicide Squad

I must admit I was a bit underwhelmed by this week’s episode of Arrow, not because it was a bad episode (it wasn’t) but my expectations had been raised so high by all the hype over the introduction of the Suicide Squad. I did like how they tied it to Dingle and his ex-wife, but beyond them there was little time for anyone else other than Deadshot and Amanda Waller. Of course Shrapnel didn’t last very long. (Are we certain he is really dead–we never saw the body.) They probably could have used more time to flesh out the story further, perhaps as a two-part show. Dingle was definitely able to carry the episode as lead and if limited to one episode it also might have been better to just give him the entire episode. Most of the scenes with Oliver and Felicity, other than the final scene, were pretty much filler anyways. I know it is unconventional to leave out two of the biggest stars, but it would have made a stronger episode.

There were two scenes with Oliver worth noting. I have no idea how Slade could have had video of Shadow from the island and suspect this was a case of the writers going for a more dramatic scene at the expense of reality (even within the parameters of this series). I did like the ending, tying into not only Dingle but Oliver, and having a potential new ally against Slade. While she was introduced to the DC world long after I stopped reading Batman comics, I understand that the cameo by Harley Quinn is a huge deal for many fans. Collider spoke with producer Marc Guggenheim about the series and potential appearances from characters from the Batman universe:

How much of the Batman universe can you plug into this show, especially now with Gotham out there?

GUGGENHEIM:  That’s part of the ongoing relationship and discussions that we have with DC.  Things have not really changed with Gotham.  It’s the same thing that it always is, which is that we have an idea, we go to DC, we talk about it, and we find out where the lines are and which characters are available or not available.  I want to manage expectations with respect to Harley Quinn.  She was always intended to be an Easter egg.  I don’t want people to go in with incorrect expectations and walk away from Episode 16 disappointed.  But there is an element to the Easter egg that was not spoiled by the promo, that I think people will find a lot of fun. 

The Arrow’s secret identity was also discussed:

Question: There are a lot of people who know Oliver’s secret now.  Is that number going to go down, before the end of this season, or are more people going to find out?
MARC GUGGENHEIM:  I would say that that number is going to go up, before the end of the year.  By the finale, more people will know than currently do.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

GUGGENHEIM:  We talk in the writers’ room a lot about, are there too many characters that know and does it diminish the secret identity?  Where we have come from is the philosophy that, when members of our cast of characters know, it draws them into Oliver’s world and it draws them into the show more.  So, we tend to get more story out of people knowing than people not knowing.  You could say that too many people know, but we always use The Dark Knight trilogy as our compass, and a lot of people knew that Bruce Wayne was Batman, particularly by the third movie, and it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of watching those stories unfold.  Obviously, there are different philosophies and different points of view.  For us, as writers, we always go towards whatever gives us more story, and more interesting story.  For now, at least, certain people knowing is more interesting than certain people not knowing. 

Quentin Lance used to be a detective.  How has he not figured out that Oliver is Arrow?

GUGGENHEIM:  Episode 19 pretty definitively answers that question, as far as Lance is concerned.  And the answer to that will surprise you.  It’s not something that you would expect.

I’m happy to hear they are addressing Lance. After a recent episode in which Lance saw Sara with Oliver and with the Arrow in a couple scenes I could not believe that he did not figure out that they were the same person.

More characters from The Flash will also be introduced in episode 19, The Man Under the Hood.

Hannibal Takiawase

Hannibal stressed a couple of themes this week which are pertinent to the series as a whole: death as an escape and unconventional psychiatric therapy. The first involved both the motives of the killer of the week (well played by Amanda Plummer) and a second storyline in which Hannibal was the villain not for committing a murder but for thwarting Bella’s attempt to die on her own terms. If the coin toss went the other way, would he have had Bella for dinner?

For a moment I thought that perhaps Will was going to win over a new ally but instead it is clear that Hannibal is going to have Beverly for dinner. If only she had taken Will’s claims more seriously, refrained from relating any suspicions to Hannibal, had passed on her suspicions to Jack, and had thought to have backup before falling into his trap.

Will might have lost one potential ally, but he is still not powerless despite being locked up, and now better able to play detective with the return of lost memories. As he does every week, Bryan Fuller discussed the episode with AV Club. Here is an excerpt about Will:

AVC: Will is getting his memories back, and you’re filling in some of the gaps in season one. Was that always the plan? Did you have thoughts of what had actually happened when you were writing last season?

BF: There was, once Will says, “The answers are in my head, and I’m going to find them,” I felt like we were obligated to tell that story and to keep peeling back the onion of his memory, or the pomegranate, as it were, peeling back membranes and finding these clusters of bloody seeds that he has to deal with. We did that with the intubation of the ear, and then we did that with the reveal of, on some level of consciousness, he was aware what was going on in Hannibal’s dining room when Gideon was there, and is able to access that it causes him to seek out Chilton, to see if he can help him answer some of the mysteries that are locked away in his mind. It felt like it was a way to keep Will active. He can’t actually go out to investigate things, as much as he can go in and investigate things, so we needed to have some device for him to continue his investigation. To be active while he’s incarcerated and going inside his mind felt like a really strong way to do that.

AVC: Did you struggle with finding ways for Will to be active?

BF: It was always part of the conversations when we were story-breaking. “Okay, Will’s not active enough. Will has to be driving this.” We are telling Will Graham’s story, so it was very important to seek out those ways to keep him active when he’s incarcerated. That was the big thing: We need to get outdoors and see him in his mind palace fishing to give us a sense of the power of his imagination and also the transportive power of imagination in general. I think we hear from survivors of terrible atrocities, and how they survive is their imagination. It’s such a wonderful gift, and there was a line that we cut from an episode where they talk about how imagination is the greatest virtual-reality machine known to man, and it’s between our ears. It’s that kind of, almost, masturbatory transportation where you can go someplace and make it as real as you need it to be in your mind, even though you’re locked in a cage.

Orphan Black insider video with Tatiana Maslany above. We already have a strong set of genre shows airing now with Arrow, Hannibal, Continuum, and The Americans. Orphan Black might be the best of them all.

Mark Gatiss has discussed the return of the Time Lords of Gallifrey to Doctor Who.

Blastr has the first hints about the third Star Trek movie since the J.J. Abrams reboot. I’m still waiting for a movie in which the original Spock recruits the Enterprise crew to fix the time line and save Vulcan.

The Americans had another great episode. Claudia is back, and they are trying to track down the killer from the first episode. I would assume that the couple who intervened in the final scene were involved. Last week Elizabeth used fear to get information from the poor janitor. This week she used other more womanly techniques for interrogation. Paige created problems again, this time by going to church and getting caught reading a Bible. Plus Nina might be in danger because of Oleg, and Martha might place Philip’s identity at risk. Arrow shows what a superhero show should be and The Americans sets a new bar for spy shows. This makes Agents of SHIELD look so weak in both genres.

Person of Interest Root2

I’ve also highly enjoyed the last couple of episodes of Person of Interest. The first was almost entirely flashback, filling in some major holes to date in the back story. It ended with Root in the present, leading into this week’s episode which was more centered around Amy Acker’s character. She can easily carry the show, just as Dingle could carry an episode of Arrow. I was happy to read in this interview that she will probably be in the remaining episodes this season.  It looks like she has her own team to rival Harold’s, with root more connected to the Machine.

In many ways Person of Interest is increasingly reminding me of Fringe. Both started by concentrating more on monster or case of the week episodes, but overtime the mythology of the show took over. The characters have become increasingly compelling as people beyond operatives. Root is by far my favorite to watch, and I enjoy seeing her developing relationship with Shaw (“I love it when you play doctor.”) At least the two get along better than Root gets along with Fusco, who constantly calls her “Cuckoo’s Nest.”

I am trying hard to avoid any major spoilers on the season premiere of Continuum. Alec’s decision to use time travel has major repercussions, and is moving the show in a new direction. There is finally an answer to the central question of the show, as to whether the time line can be changed.

Now Fox (the network which says it might take a long time to find Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 because it took us 2000 years to find Noah’s Arc ) is attacking Kristen Bell for saying rich people should pay more because they can afford it. Incidentally, I received my copy of the script and digital download of the Veronica Mars movie last week after donating to the Kickstarter campaign, but have not had time to watch yet.

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Matt Weiner isn’t going to let much out about the upcoming season of Mad Men, but there was a little information at PaleyFest. Here’s what they said about Don Draper:

Don is even more aimless without his job.
Don Draper has had some dark moments, but he’s always had his job to fall back on and obsess over. “His marriage is in trouble, his relationship with his kids is tricky at best, and now work isn’t there,” said Hamm. “Don is trying to process his life and his place in his job, his career, his family, everything.” And he’s made some uncharacteristic mistakes of late, including the disastrous Hershey’s pitch. “That was a completely honest moment for him. He thought, I’m going to try this because it’s a step in the right direction,” said Hamm. “But it was a step in the exact opposite direction.” Don’t dismay, though. Hamm ended on a hopeful note: “There’s one principle to Don: He’s a survivor. He rises to the challenge.”

The Lost show runners discussed the finale at PaleyFest. No, the fan theory which I never believed that they were dead the whole time is not true.

Creationists are angry about Cosmos as Neil deGrasse Tyson isn’t providing them with equal time to deny science. Last week’s episode did an excellent job showing how evolution is the foundation of modern biology. As there is tremendous evidence for evolution and zero for creationism, there is no reason to grant the creationists a moment of time (other than perhaps to further debunk their claims).

SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; The Fall; Crisis; Orphan Black; Continuum; History of Science Fiction; HIMYM; Gotham; Agent Carter; SHIELD; The Americans; Under The Skin; Under The Dome

Hannibal-Season-2-Episode3

Hannibal has now become a courtroom drama, with Will Graham on trial for the murders committed by Hannibal. We appear to have another murderer out there, but without Will investigating we never get into the new murderer’s head and do not even know their identity. Is Hannibal also committing these murders in an attempt to free Will and regain him as a (manipulated) friend? Hannibal was forced to admit that there were some differences in how the murderer was operating. Hannibal would know better, unless this was part of a bigger plan.

Another favorite scene in the trial was the return of Freddie. She first seemed to bury Will by saying that Abigail had confided in her that she was afraid Will  might kill and cannibalize her. The defense then asked Freddie how many times she was accused of libel (six) and how many times she settled (six), quickly discrediting her testimony.

Assignment X has an interview with Mads Mikkelsen:

AX: Did you watch any of the earlier incarnations of Hannibal?

MADS MIKKELSEN: I think we all watched that, growing up, right? We were certain from the beginning that we could not detach ourselves from the character. Obviously, he’s a man who loves anything beautiful – beautiful music, beautiful people, beautiful wine – so we had to address that, but we had to detach it from what Anthony did. Obviously, it would be creative suicide to go down his path. He was so wonderful, and if you try to copy something like that – but I think any actor would make it his own, regardless of if it’s me or somebody else, but it was a conscious choice that detached us.

AX: Can you say what you’re bringing to Hannibal?

MIKKELSEN: A lot of it is already in Bryan’s scripts. He’s already given life to the character to a certain degree, and then it’s up to me to step into those shoes. As I said before, any actor would color it somehow, and I’m coloring it – I’m trying, to a degree, to make him human. What he does is absolutely not human, but his emotions are true and honest.

AX: You’ve compared Hannibal to Lucifer. Is he becoming more Luciferian or less Luciferian as you go along?

MIKKELSEN: He is Lucifer. He is the fallen angel. The thing about him is that he’s honest – he’s honest with his emotions regarding Will. He’s having a hard time here trying to regain his friendship. That’s uphill, of course. But that’s his main target in this season.

AX: Do you think Hannibal qualifies as a psychopath by regular psychiatrist standards, or is he something else?

MIKKELSEN: I don’t think he is a psychopath. I mean, reading about psychopaths, they normally have a traumatized childhood or something they’re struggling with. He doesn’t have that. He’s as happy as you can get. He’s a happy man. I have rarely given life to a character that is as happy as him, I must say.

AX: What would you say Hannibal’s relationship is like with his erstwhile psychiatrist Dr. Bedelia du Maurier, played by Gillian Anderson?

MIKKELSEN: That’s obviously a very unique and kinky relationship that they have, and we will address it a little more in this season. I think she has been a very important partner for him, in a sense that we will see a different side of Hannibal, and he will be quite emotional with her to a degree. Why he’s doing that, we don’t know. And I think that’s just his little space of freedom where he can be what he is.

Gillian Anderson is gone from the series for now, busy with two other series. She has begun filming the second season of The Fall for BBC2, a series well worth watching (and available in the United States on Netflix). Another series, Crisis, begins on NBC tonight with some  initial reviews being very favorable. Entertainment Weekly has more on the show.

Gillian Anderson had a great response to a question posed on Reddit:

Question: My question is assuming your character is made into a gourmet meal by Hannibal what type of food would you want to be made into?

Gillian Anderson: Something so rich that he’d choke on it and die.

EW Orphan Black

Orphan Black has put BBC America on the map (and cover of Entertainment Weekly) with one of the top genre shows of all time.Tatiana Maslany spoke about one of her clones being gay:

Even while Orphan Black received praise for the diversity of its characters, there was some debate online about the decision to have Cosima be gay, because If she has the same genetic code as her clone sisters, does that mean the show is implying that she chose to be gay as opposed to being born that way (since other clones like Sarah and Alison appear to be heterosexual)? Absolutely not, says the woman who plays her. “By no means are we saying that Cosima chooses to be gay,” says Maslany. “It’s by no means that. It’s just that there are so many biological factors into the mother’s womb, into the conditions of the womb. So much of the research I was doing about clones was about identical twins, right? Identical twins would actually be closer in expression than clones because clones are birthed from different wombs. And there’s so much information that gets fed through the mother. I think we’re not saying anything about that in terms of choice and biology or whatever. We’re saying more that everyone could be anything.”

I think we have to give the show some leeway being fiction and not try to use it as actually revealing anything about the genetics of sexual preference. More from the interviews at Screen Rant.

Spoiler TV has information (and video) on a new clone to be introduced in the second season:

A brand new season of Orphan Black means a brand new clone. And we have all the intel on said clone right here! Meet Jennifer Fitzsimmons, a 28-year old teacher and swim coach. And you are about to meet Jennifer the same way Cosima does, through a series of video diaries that Cosima discovers while researching her own respiratory illness.

Amazon has obtained exclusive streaming rights to Orphan Black, along with Hannibal, and the first season is available if you missed it.

Besides their science fiction drama, BBC America will also be airing a show on The Real History of Science Fiction beginning April 19:

From Star Wars to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and from Jurassic Park to Doctor Who, each program is packed with contributors behind these creations and traces the developments of Robots, Space, Invasion and Time. Narrated by Mark Gatiss, Doctor Who writer, actor, and co-creator of the BBC’s Sherlock, the series determines why science fiction is not merely a genre… for its audience it’s a portal to a multi-verse – one that is all too easy to get lost in.

Among those taking part are: William Shatner (Star Trek), Nathan Fillion (Firefly), Zoe Saldana (Avatar, Star Trek), Steven Moffat (Doctor Who), Richard Dreyfuss (Close Encounters of the Third Kind), Chris Carter (The X-Files), Ronald D Moore (Battlestar Galactica), John Landis (An American Werewolf in London, Schlock), David Tennant (Doctor Who), Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), Rutger Hauer (Blade Runner), John Carpenter (Dark Star, The Thing), Karen Gillan (Doctor Who), Neil Gaiman (The Sandman, Stardust), Kim Stanley Robinson (Mars Trilogy), Scott Bakula (Quantum Leap, Star Trek: Enterprise), Ursula K Le Guin (The Left Hand of Darkness), Syd Mead (Blade Runner), Kenny Baker (Star Wars), Anthony Daniels (Star Wars), Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek), Peter Weller (Robocop), Edward James Olmos (Blade Runner, Battlestar Galactica), and many more.

The four part series will be divided into episodes on Robots, Space, Invasion, and Time.

Continuum - Episode 3.01 - Minute by Minute - Promotional Photos (5)_FULL

Continuum returns tonight on Showcase, but American audiences who resist the temptation to download the episode will have to wait until April 4. I certainly intend to get a hold of the earlier (and uncut) episodes after aired on Showcase. I will warn of any spoilers before the American showing. Some Spoilers have already been released prior to the first episode of the season, but presumably nothing which truly spoils the episode. Those who want to know nothing might want to skip the rest of this section which discusses what I have already heard.

The first episode, Minute By Minute reportedly reveals who the Freelancers really are, and someone new  joins up with them and gets the tattoos. Kira teams up with Garza, which comes as little surprise considering the changing alliances we have seen. As suggested in the second season finale, Alec goes back in time to try to save Emily, and reportedly there is a lot of timey wimey stuff with potential end of the world consequences. With time travel involved, other dead characters do return. The first ten minutes have already been released in this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wbdOVrqHuCU

The Marvel vs. DC feud will heat up next year, this time in the movie theaters. Both Captain America 2 and the next Superman vs Batman movie will be released the weekend of May 6, 2016.

CBS has renewed The Big Bang Theory for three more seasons. Bazinga!

Cristin Milioti has called the theories that her character dies on How I Met Your Mother “some crazy conspiracy theories, which actually just makes me really love the fans more,” but never actually denied the rumors.  The show runners also dodged the question at PaleyFest. I wouldn’t be surprised if this is intentional misdirection, but if there is some other surprise at the end. The cast will also be appearing on Inside The Actors Studio later this month prior to the series finale on March 31.

Gotham

Fox has released more information on their upcoming series, Gotham:

Everyone knows the name Commissioner Gordon. He is one of the crime world’s greatest foes, a man whose reputation is synonymous with law and order. But what is known of Gordon’s story and his rise from rookie detective to Police Commissioner? What did it take to navigate the multiple layers of corruption that secretly ruled Gotham City, the spawning ground of the world’s most iconic villains? And what circumstances created them – the larger-than-life personas who would become Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and The Joker?

“Gotham” is an origin story of the great DC Comics super villains and vigilantes, revealing an entirely new chapter that has never been told. From executive producer/writer Bruno Heller (“The Mentalist,” “Rome”), “Gotham” follows one cop’s rise through a dangerously corrupt city teetering on the edge of evil and chronicles the birth of one of the most popular super heroes of our time.

Growing up in Gotham City’s surrounding suburbs, James Gordon (Ben McKenzie, “Southland,” “The O.C.”) romanticized the city as a glamorous and exciting metropolis where his late father once served as a successful district attorney. Now, two weeks into his new job as a Gotham City detective and engaged to his beloved fiancée, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards, Open Grave, “Breaking In”), Gordon is living his dream – even as he hopes to restore the city back to the pure version he remembers it was as a kid.

Brave, honest and ready to prove himself, the newly-minted detective is partnered with the brash, but shrewd police legend Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue, “Sons of Anarchy,” “Terriers,” “Vikings,” “Copper”), as the two stumble upon the city’s highest-profile case ever: the murder of local billionaires Thomas and Martha Wayne. At the scene of the crime, Gordon meets the sole survivor: the Waynes’ hauntingly intense 12-year-old son, Bruce (David Mazouz, “Touch”), toward whom the young detective feels an inexplicable kinship. Moved by the boy’s profound loss, Gordon vows to catch the killer.

As he navigates the often-underhanded politics of Gotham’s criminal justice system, Gordon will confront imposing gang boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith, The Matrix films, “HawthoRNe,” Collateral), and many of the characters who will become some of fiction’s most renowned, enduring villains, including a teenaged Selina Kyle/the future Catwoman (acting newcomer Camren Bicondova) and Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor, “The Walking Dead,” Another Earth).

Although the crime drama will follow Gordon’s turbulent and singular rise through the Gotham City police department, led by Police Captain Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara, “Burn Notice”), it also will focus on the unlikely friendship Gordon forms with the young heir to the Wayne fortune, who is being raised by his unflappable butler, Alfred (Sean Pertwee, “Camelot,” “Elementary”). It is a friendship that will last them all of their lives, playing a crucial role in helping the young boy eventually become the crusader he’s destined to be.

captain-america Agent Carater
Collider has spoken with Captain America screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeel  about how they envision the planned Agent Carter series. From this description, I’m more hopeful about this show than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Here are the key points reported:

  • ABC has the script for the pilot but nothing is greenlit yet.
  • Markus and McFeely have recently spoken to Hayley Atwell and she is very interested in doing the show.
  • Howard Stark would be a recurring character, not a series regular.  This is assuming Dominic Cooper would be willing to continue to play the role.  I’ve spoken to him about this and he seemed very interested.  But this was a few months ago and things change.
  • The show would start in 1946, sort of in the middle of the timeline of the One Shot.  McFeely said, “We can’t get her to the end of S.H.I.E.L.D. that fast.  We wanna stay in that world longer where people are disrespecting her and she’s proving herself and going on missions and things like that.”
  • Unlike most network shows that are 22 or 23-episode seasons, Markus and McFeely think Agent Carter should be a limited series with a maximum of 13 episodes per season.  McFeely said, “[13 episodes] is how this is envisioned, maybe even less… That’s my hope, is that it would be something like [Under the Dome].  Our case would be that it would be a limited series and you would wrap up that one bad guy and that one case, and then if you like it we’ll do it again next year and it’s 1947.”

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. did have one of its better episodes of the season with the Thor crossover, guest staring Jaimie Alexander as Lady Sif. While both a big event for the show and entertaining, the storyline still showed the weakness of the show. If they knew that Lorelei had the ability to control men, why would they have not one but two of their male agents wind up in a position where she could so easily take them over. Plus that plane of theirs has to be the least secure government facility in existence. Last week’s episode did also advance the storyline of Coulson’s return from the dead and this continuing storyline is a plus for the show.

THE AMERICANS -- The Walk In -- Episode 3 (Airs Wednesday, March 12, 10:00 PM e/p) -- Pictured: (L-R) Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings, Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings -- CR: Patrick Harbron/FX

While entertaining, S.H.I.E.L.D looks like a bunch of armatures compared to the KGB in 1982. The Americans had another solid episode. Elizabeth showed she can be far more threatening than any S.H.I.E.L.D. agent as she terrified a janitor into getting her some information. Luckily for him, he stumbled upon Elizabeth’s weak spot when he showed her pictures of his children. It saved his life, but I doubt he will ever talk. Paige went do track down “Aunt Helen,” who Elizabeth was supposedly with while recovering from her gunshot wound. While the KGB was ready for this with a fake Aunt Helen complete with a picture of Elizabeth and Paige on the wall, I wouldn’t put it past Paige to ultimately bring down their entire spy operation. The episode also had a satisfying answer to my question last week as to why Nina told Stan about the walk-in by Bruce Dameran. Building up Stan by allowing him to kill Dameran is expected to be of more value to the KGB than any information they might have obtained from Dameran.

The episode also showed why the series works despite having KGB agents as the protagonists. Much of the episode dealt with family matters, including a letter from Leanne to Jared written years earlier in the event that she and Emmett were killed, so it didn’t matter that it was dealing with Russians. The subplot with Stan and Dameran, while a victory for the KGB, also involved Stan preventing an assassination, something which American viewers could root for. The scenes with Elizabeth and the poor janitor were so dramatic that it was easy to ignore the fact that they also involved American secrets falling into KGB hands.

Scarlett Johansson

The Guardian has an interview with Scarlett Johansson about her role in Under the Skin. In this portion she discussed why she wanted to take the role:

It’s one reason, presumably, that she took the part, though I’m curious to know the details. There’s only about three lines of dialogue in the entire film, so it can hardly have been the standout script. The main point of her character is that she doesn’t actually have a character. She’s an alien. She doesn’t do emotion. And it was filmed in Scotland. In winter. And most of the film consists of her standing around in wet boots and a too-thin coat. Or stripping off her clothes in a derelict squat and luring men into a vat of black ectoplasm. (At one point, she appears naked. Johansson fans, of which there are many, most especially the male variety, have been lighting up message boards for months with discussion of this particular fact.)

So why, of all the scripts she must get sent, did she decide to do this one? “I heard Jonathan was making a film and originally it was a very different story. But I met him, and it was very clear that he was struggling to figure out what he was doing with it, and what had attracted him to it. It wasn’t his passion project but there was something in the idea of having a character that was an alien that could give him the freedom to be completely observant without any judgment. I think we were both interested in that. I thought it would be incredibly challenging to play a character that’s free of judgment, that has no relationship to any emotion I could relate to.

“And for me, at this point, I think it much more interesting for me to look at something and know that I can play it, but not know how, rather than to look at something and go, ‘Ah, I can do that.’ And then just do it.”

The story also touched on other roles, including genre movies such as Captain America and Her.

The above trailer has been released for the second season of Under the Dome. The first episode will be written by Stephen King–hopefully he can get the show back on track. Executive producer Brian K. Vaughan says “The second season is going to take us to places where the book never got to go . Stephen King gave us some ideas we never imagined.” Two new characters will be introduced, Junior’s uncle who had been hiding out and a young school teacher. Two characters from the first season will be killed in an apparent law of conservation of characters. Early opinion from fans is that killing off just two characters is not enough. Maybe they could do this every week.

john_cho

John Cho of the two Star Trek remakes and Sleepy Hollow has been cast as the male lead in Selfie, the upcoming sit-com staring Karen Gillan of Doctor Who.

Selfie, a modern take on My Fair Lady and inspired by the musical, centers on 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.

Cho will play self-assured, successful marketing expert Henry, who is a different breed from today’s social media-addicted society. As a challenge, he decides to “remarket” his coworker Eliza. He joins an ensemble that already includes Allyn Rachel, Tim Peper, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and David Harewood. Casting for the regular roles is now complete.

SciFi Weekend: Sherlock Season 3 In Review

sherlock-the-empty-hearse

Now that the series has completed in the United States, I can discuss season three of Sherlock without spoiling it for American viewers who did not download it when the series first aired. There are major spoilers for those who have not seen season three yet.

The season was far more meta and fannish compared to the first two seasons. The first episode, The Empty Hearse,  played with fan reaction to the cliffhanger by showing various possible solutions as to how Sherlock survived the fall. The episode also concentrated on how a world in which this Sherlock is real would react to Sherlock’s apparent death and rumors that he has survived.

Apparently Sherlock did fool Moriarty’s people who were watching to see if Sherlock went through with jumping. Unfortunately the explanation concentrated on fooling Watson, but the more contrived it was to fool Watson, the greater the chance that one of Moriarty’s men should have seen something to tip them off that Sherlock was faking his death.

The relationship between Sherlock and Watson, along with their relationships with women, was also a major theme of the season. Sherlock sure misjudged how Watson would react to seeing him alive. Although Mrs. Hudson, in one of many amusing scenes in the episode, was surprised to see that Watson’s fiancé was a woman, there was very good chemistry between John and Mary. This was partially due to Mary being played by Martin Freeman’s wife Amanda Abbington. We learned later in the season that Mary is not exactly what she seems, but in the end that actually makes her a better partner for a Watson who is spending time fighting crime with Sherlock (once we move beyond awkward events such as Mary shooting Sherlock later in the season).

sherlock-wedding

The Sign of Three was again more about relationships than a classic Sherlock Holmes story. Sherlock faced one of the hardest tasks of his life–writing the best man’s toast at Watson’s wedding. Sherlock often looked awkward, and at times I felt like I was watching Sheldon Cooper. Besides the talk about John as a friend, Sherlock brought up past cases, some of which were unsolved. In the end this was all tied together as there was an attempted murder at the wedding, and a previous unsolved case provided the information to figure out how to stop it. Unfortunately the method of the attempted murder was not very realistic.

sherlock-episode-3-03-his-last-vow-promotional-photos-6_full

His Last Vow was the best episode of the season, and many have called it the best of the series. It was the most like a conventional episode, but relationships between both Sherlock and Holmes with women played a key part. Sherlock’s relationship was established to obtain information, and we learned the truth about Mary’s past with the CIA. Lars Mikkelsen did as wonderful a job playing  Magnussen as his brother does playing Hannibal.

I found the ending with Magnussen to be somewhat disappointing. Sherlock could not get the evidence to convict Magnussen, or stop him using conventional means as the information was all in his head, so he had no solution but to shoot him. Besides not being an entirely satisfactory ending, I find it hard to believe that Magnussen would have allowed Sherlock into his home without checking for a gun. There were other situations solved too simply this season, such as Sherlock stopping a bomb by hitting the off switch (after playing with Watson).

Moriarty Miss Me

As punishment for murdering Magnussen, Sherlock was sent on a mission to East Europe which was predicted to result in his death in six months. This sentence was changed when Moriarty’s face showed up on screens all over England with the question, “Miss Me?”

Fans will be speculating over this cliff hanger just as they did over the cliff hanger over how Sherlock survived the fall. There are many possibilities, but we might not find out the answer for two years.

I always found it questionable that Moriarty would devise a plan to kill Sherlock in which he would not survive to enjoy seeing this, or anything else. Moffat has claimed in interviews that Moriarty is really dead, but we know Moffat lies, or that Mark Gattis might have different ideas. Maybe we are to take this on face value and Moriarty really did fake his death. Moriarty and Sherlock are often parallels of each other. In that way it might fit to have the question between one season be how Sherlock faked his death, and then move on to how Moriarty faked his death.

There is another variation on this which I like. At one point in The Reichenbach Fall, the Moriarty character claimed to really be an actor named Rich Brook and that Sherlock invented Moriarty. What if he was partially telling the truth. Maybe the person we saw kill himself really was an actor, perhaps really named Rich Brook except one working for Moriarty, and was coerced by the real Moriarty into killing himself. I can more easily see Moriarty coercing someone else into pretending to be Moriarty and killing himself than I can see the actual Moriarty committing suicide.

It is also possible that the suggestion that Moriarty is alive was a complete hoax. Perhaps another villain, or one of Moriarty’s men, arranged this and plan to commit future crimes in Moriarty’s name.

Sherlock might have arranged this as a backup plan in case his initial plans to get the evidence against Magnussen failed and he wound up getting arrested.  A more likely possibility is that Mycroft Holmes was responsible. It has been established that he has considerable technological abilities. It was also established earlier in the episode that he did not want to see his brother go to his death in Eastern Europe. This could have been his way of ensuring that Sherlock would be brought back home.