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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

The answer it seems is about 18 years.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He discussed artificial intelligence further in the interview:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery Season Finale; Sex Ed On The Magicians; Roswell; Constantine on Legends of Tomorrow; Black Panther

Star Trek: Discovery had the best first season for a Star Trek sequel/prequel series, but the season finale, Will You Take My Hand, was somewhat of a disappointment. Some aspects of the episode did work, but it was an overly simple and unrealistic ending for a season-long arc. While many individual episodes of other Star Trek series have relied on similarly simplistic endings, I had hoped for more with Discovery. On the other hand, Star Trek does have  a history of disappointing conclusions of arcs, such as with the finale of Deep Space Nine.  I wonder if the loss of Bryan Fuller resulted in setting up the season long story line, but if he left before the ending was totally fleshed out.

Last week they set up the ruse that Georgiou was the Prime Georgiou, despite it being unrealistic that the crew of the Discovery would be fooled. This was immediately abandoned this episode when Mirror Georgiou did not act like a Federation officer. It was also unnecessary for the plan initiated in the finale for her to have tried to fool anyone.

While weakly plotted, the scenes on  Qo’noS had multiple treats for fans, including a fourth role for Clint Howard going back to The Corbomite Maneuver. There were Orions, and we learned more about the Klingon penis in a season which previously showed Klingon breasts. (If everything, including the penis, is duplicated in Klingons, shouldn’t they have four breasts?) By the time they revealed that the package was really a bomb and the plan was to destroy or cause major destruction to  Qo’noS, I assume that most viewers had already caught on.

While a rather simplistic conclusion for the Klingon war, this provide the opportunity for Burhnam to raise the issue of sticking to Star Fleet principles, and give her reason to mutiny for a second time. The parallels to the start of the season were obvious. Besides returning to the theme from the start of the season, this season was unique in both starting and ending without the main ship’s captain being present.

Burnham came up with a solution preferable to mutiny, but I don’t see how she sold Star Fleet on her plan and returned before Georgiou had time to set off the bomb. Although it was established that L’Rell’s main goal was Klingon unification, there was hardly good reason to be so certain that L’Rell wouldn’t have tried to accomplish this by leading the Klingons to victory after taking over. It is also questionable that Klingons would have believed she could blow up the planet and very likely would have decided to attack her first and think about matters later (if at all).

Even if L’Rell could get the Klingons in the room to give her the power, I also found it unrealistic that Klingon ships on the verge of attacking earth would have turned around. It would have been more realistic that the Klingons would have abandoned the war if, instead of being on the verge of victory, they were engaged in a space version of trench warfare from World War I with no victory in sight for either side. Having the Klingons be so dominant at this stage of the war also makes it less believable that the Federation seemed so dominant again by the time of the original show. Perhaps the resurgence of the Federation will be dealt with over the next few years on Discovery.

With the war over, there was time for a family reunion and an awards ceremony. Many questions already remained open. How will they deal with the spore drive, which now seems fully functional, but which needs to be forgotten within the next ten years? What is the meaning of the spore which landed on Tilly? Georgiou, L’Rell, and Tyler are all around in this universe, providing possibilities for a return. The Prime Lorca and perhaps the Mirror Burnham could also turn out to be alive.

After leaving the awards ceremony, the next question raised was the identity of the new captain. While the captain would be picked up on Vulcan, this may or may not mean that the person will be a Vulcan.

Then came the big surprise. The Discovery encountered another ship. The call letters began NCC17…

By then most fans probably knew what was coming next. They certainly could not tease this and then show the NCC1776, The USS Independence Day, or some other starship. It was NCC 1701, the original USS Enterprise, the flagship of Star Fleet, currently under the command of Captain Pike.

The episode then went into a new rendition of the original Star Trek end credits music, and we will have to wait until next season to see what happens with the Enterprise. This is the type of a cliff hanger I prefer for a series which will not return for months. Conclude the main story arc of the season, and then tease something from the upcoming season, as opposed to leaving the main arc unfinished.

For all but purists, the ship we saw did look like the Enterprise, regardless if there were slight changes. Matters will be more difficult if they show the interior, or the uniforms, considering how much Discovery has been updated. It would be an easy matter to recast Captain Pike, and most of the crew are unknown to us with one notable exception–Spock. While it would be amazing if Zachary Quinto were to play Spock, I doubt this is likely.

There are other difficulties. If Spock and Burnham interact, it would be a little more difficult to believe that Spock never mentioned his half-sister. There would be an even greater contradiction if Sarek and Spock see each other considering that, as established in Journey to Babel, the two were estranged for eighteen years. Of course it is possible that the two could avoid any contact with each other as they are estranged, or Spock could be elsewhere.

TVLine  discussed the episode with  Discovery executive producers Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts

TVLINE | Let’s start at the end, with the Enterprise reveal. What kind of storytelling avenues does that open up for you in Season 2?
AARON HARBERTS
 | I think one of the biggest things it’s going to allow us to do is start to develop how Discovery fits into canon. One of the big things that’s been polarizing for fans is, “We’ve never heard about Discovery! How does it fit? She’s related to Spock?” All those things. And what it’ll allow us to do is hit that straight-on. We see it as an exciting opportunity to say, “This is exactly how Discovery fits into the timeline. This is exactly how we can reconcile the choices we have made.” Because at this period in time, the Discovery and the Enterprise are the crown jewels in the fleet, so they should be face-to-face.

TVLINE | So does that mean Christopher Pike is a full-fledged character next season? Because we don’t know a lot about him, outside of “The Cage” and “The Menagerie.”
GRETCHEN J. BERG | Yeah, we can’t talk about specifics too much, but I think that because we are in canon, we look at things we know, and things we don’t know… and then there are the things we don’t know about the things we know! And there, often, you’ll find great opportunities for storytelling. But it is intriguing. It’s one of the fun things about playing within this box that is the timeline where we are.

HARBERTS | If there ever were to be a captain from canon that one could explore… Christopher Pike would certainly be that one.

TVLINE | So I guess you can’t tell us if we’ll see a ten-years-younger Spock next season, then?
BERG | [Laughs] No, we can’t!

HARBERTS | I can tell you: All you have to do is look at Michael Burnham and Sarek, and the look they exchange at the end of the show, and ask yourself what that could be about.

TVLINE | Maybe it’s safe to ask you about this: How great did it feel to lay down the old-school theme song over the closing credits?
HARBERTS | That was [executive producer] Akiva Goldsman’s idea. He is a huge Trek fan, and from the very beginning of his involvement in the show, he’s always been the guy who’s like, “And then the Discovery and the Enterprise will meet up!” And we’re like, “OK, Akiva, yes, yes…” [Laughs] It was his ultimate fanboy geekgasm… and it was a great idea. And then it was his idea to do the old theme at the end of the episode. I was at the scoring session, watching [composer] Jeff Russo lay that down. Tons of people were there, and you could have just heard a pin drop, and then there were smiles on everyone’s faces. It was very cool.

TVLINE | Oh, so that was totally re-recorded? That wasn’t just the original theme replayed?
HARBERTS
 | Oh yes, that was re-recorded. We had a vocalist come in. They had a bongo player in an isolation booth to play the bongo part. [Laughs] It was legit…

TVLINE | There’s always a chance she could run into Tyler and Georgiou again, right? It’s a big universe, but not that big.
HARBERTS | Oh yeah. One of our goals was: We wanted to create a universe, and play in that universe. And it’s only fun if you’ve got a cast of characters who can continue to come and go…

TVLINE | You did leave us hanging on who the next captain of the Discovery will be. What kind of personality type are you looking for to fill that spot?
BERG | Well, I don’t think we could bring back a Lorca [type] again, just because he was a captain perfect for wartime. I think the crew would be suspicious of that again. [Laughs] Discussing who’s next in that chair is a big topic in the writers’ room, and we certainly have landed somewhere… but I think we’d like you to stick around and watch and find out who it is, and why.

ET Online also interviewed them:

ET: Why did you want to introduce the USS Enterprise now on Star Trek: Discovery?

Gretchen J. Berg: From the beginning, it was something that we knew that folks who are fans of Star Trek know the Enterprise is out there and it was kind of the elephant in the room. We knew eventually that we would want to address that and deal with it. Even though it’s a giant, giant universe, it’s something that’s on everybody’s minds. So we were glad to be able to take the whole season to get to know our crew because the storytelling is going to be told from the point of view from Michael Burnham and Discovery. Let everybody get to know our characters and our show and what we were doing before we brought in the Enterprise. We knew it would be exciting and provocative, for sure.

Aaron Harberts: We also knew that we couldn’t hold off on this because there are so many questions about Burnham in regards to the notion of Sarek and Spock’s family, which is not to say that we’re introducing Spock at the moment. We don’t want to spoil anything. But it’s certainly time to get the audience understanding that we fully intend to respect the original series and respect where Discoveryfalls in that. To do that, we have to show the Enterprise and at least have these ships cross paths.

What is your intention with establishing the Enterprise in this way? What are you comfortable saying with regards to its place in season two?

Berg: Usually, we like to say sit back and enjoy the ride because it’s one of those things… You know, as a writer, you work on something and work on something, and you’re always like, but wait! We’re working on it and we’re going to show it to you and you’ll see. We’re certainly acknowledging that they exist in the same time. But always, always, always, the story on Discovery will be told from the point of view of Disco and our Disco crew. I think it’s fair to expect something, but we probably couldn’t go too much into detail about what it is.

Harberts: More than anything, it is about what new stories does this provide for our crew, for Michael Burnham, for Saru, for Tilly. Our main interest is Discovery. However, if the presence of the Enterprise can show us new things about our crew, the better.

It’s notable that it’s Captain Pike who sent the distress signal for the Enterprise. Is he a character we could meet in season two, along with Enterprise crew members?

Harberts: The thing to consider about Captain Pike is, from an audience and writer’s point of view, there is something very exciting about a key character from [Star Trek: The Original Series] who’s only been explored in two episodes of the original series — three if you consider how [the rejected pilot for the original series] “The Cage” works into the puzzle in TOS. When we think about the idea of Captain Pike, it opens up some large possibilities. We will never say never to exploring him a little bit more…

Are you suggesting that the nine-month period in Prime during which Michael and crew were stuck in Mirror Universe won’t be revisited?

Harberts: To be honest, Episode 14 [“The War Without, the War Within”] was all about what had happened. With the destruction that was wrought by the Klingons and the Federation during those nine months, we tried to paint the picture of that. I think what’s exciting about moving into season two is we’ve got a fresh new palette. We’ve put the war behind us and we’re excited to move on into some things that Trek fans have been longing for, which is more exploration, more diplomacy, more planets, more away missions. We’re focused on serving up some new stuff.

What does this mean for the future of Jason Isaacs, whose Mirror Lorca was killed but the whereabouts of Prime Lorca are still unclear, or Michelle Yeoh, whose Mirror Philippa is still roaming the galaxy?

Berg: If they’re out there, the possibilities are endless. Never say never. That’s the great thing about this universe: there are so many more different ways to go. I can’t confirm or deny anything, but…

Harberts: If we find Prime Lorca, I sort of want to find him making artisan sourdough bread in a bakery in San Francisco. That’s how that storyline could start and we’d just build from there. (Laughter.)

Because it seems the Mirror Universe isn’t a destination you’ll go back to anytime soon, what about Paul Stamets and Hugh Culber’s future? Wilson Cruz told us recently that their story isn’t over.

Berg: Wilson’s correct. We have just begun to tell the love story between Culber and Stamets, so I would just say hold tight.

Harberts: Stamets has got a lot to process that he hasn’t had time to process yet, in terms of not being in charge of the spore drive and having lost Culber. We’ve got to take Stamets on a journey as well and then we’ll see. But Culber is a character who is part of this Star Trek world, no doubt.

You’re already knee-deep on season two planning. What are you looking to achieve thematically and creatively?

Harberts: Chapter 1 of this novel was war, and right now, we’re thinking about Chapter 2. One of the themes we continue kicking around is the conflict between science and spirituality, and that’s something that we’re very interested, particularly after you finish a war. How do you rebuild yourself? What’s required for that? What we’re most excited to do is to continue thematic exploration and philosophical exploration and debate, and these characters are perfectly primed to carry storylines like that. That’s one thing that we’re thinking about. We have a few things up our sleeve, but we’d be lying if we knew everything, because that’s the fun of it is as well. You go into it, you see what’s working and you see what’s interesting, and you build from there.

Berg: The joy is in the journey for us as well in creating it.

This week’s episode of The Magicians was significant for introducing Poppy Kline, played by Felicia Day, but regular Summer Bishil (Margo) certainly held her own. Margo wound up in an undesired marriage to young Fomar, and turned to her version of sex ed to attempt to turn him off to the idea. While she pulled out a thick volume which contained female anatomy, her suggestion of the presence of teeth provided the title for the episode.

As usual, The Magicians did an excellent job of combining such amusement with advancing the plot. While Fumar was knocked out (later to be told he did great), Eliot and Margo found a massive field of the Fairy Queen’s mushrooms, which turned out to be fairy incubators to grow a fairy army. It will be interesting to see what happens now that Margo has taken hostages.

More also happened in this episode, including a look at depression with Felicia Day’s story. Inside The Magicians video below:

The CW Network rivals Syfy in the number of genre shows. They have announced that they will be expanding their programming to six nights a week, adding Sunday. This should increase the chance of their bubble shows returning and provides room for new shows. Next season this includes remakes of Charmed and Roswell.  Jeanine Mason (Grey’s Anatomy) has been cast a the lead for the Roswell reboot.

The highlight of the past week on CW was an appearance by Constantine on Legends of Tomorrow. It has been confirmed that Constantine will return later in March.

The biggest genre news of the week was the record smashing opening weekend of Black Panther.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; The Orville; Black Mirror Does Star Trek; The Tick; The X-Files; The Punisher; The Magicians; Doctor Who; Gal Gadot On SNL

The third episode of Star Trek Discovery, Context Is For Kings, was like a new pilot, with last week more of a prequel. They finally introduced the Discovery and Captain Lorca. Do Discovery’s call letters, NC1031, mean that this ship falls under Section 31? While James Kirk and Benjamin Sisco have bent the rules at times, Lorca goes far beyond what we have ever seen on Star Trek before. Typically Star Fleet captains who behaved like him have turned out to be the villain, not heroes. Lorca also has that strange menagerie, including an apparently neutered Tribble, while ten years later Kirk will know nothing about them. Perhaps he uses the Tribble as a way to detect any Klingons who might attempt to infiltrate the Discovery.

Lorca claims to have permission from Star Fleet to do whatever it takes to find a way to beat the Klingons. This appears to have included orchestrating the rescue of Michael Burhnam from the shuttle, even if it meant allowing the shuttle pilot to die. Apparently he has enough clout to keep Burnham as part of his crew if he has her on board, but not enough to simply request that she be transferred from prison to his ship. Obviously it was more dramatic this way.

Burnham did appear beaten at the start of the episode. I had expected to see the standard troupe of having her rescue the shuttle, but that did not occur. She did return to her usual self over the course of the episode. Thanks to Burnham, we see why Star Fleet abandoned the ineffective breath detector as a security device. Once on the away team, she was the one to save the rest. Beyond the breath detector dying out as a security system, it makes sense that black alerts didn’t catch on. While dramatic to hear them announced, it would be quite hard to visualize the flashing lights of a black alert.

The first two episodes provided a familiar type of Star Fleet ship, with Burnham having a conventional relationship with her Captain, until the mutiny. Even granting that Burnham was wrong in her actions, she is now being unjustly blamed for the entire war, which the Klingons appeared determined to start regardless of what she did. Lorca, Burnham, and Saru have a relationship somewhat analogous to the Kirk, Spock, McCoy threesome from The Original Show, although with major differences. They apparently have forgotten about sun glasses in the future and it is far too early for Geordi La Forge’s visor, making it difficult for Lorca to go on away missions due to the injury to his eye. With Saru also not appearing to be well suited for away missions, this makes it plausible that Burnham might lead them instead of the  more senior officers which typically (and perhaps foolishly) led them in the other series.

Burnham’s relationship with Lorca is also different from the start with Lorca believing that Burnham is forced to be loyal to her because he is the one giving her a fresh start. On the other hand, it might become significant again that Burnham was willing to defy her captain when felt to be necessary. If Lorca does turn out to be the villain, Burnham might be called on to turn against her captain once again.

There have been some complaints that this does not feel like Star Trek, but we must consider that the series is unique in taking place during wartime. Consider how different everything felt on the episode Yesterday’s Enterprise. Deep Space Nine did not feel like conventional Star Trek, either before or during the Dominion War. If this is a Section 31 vessel, it might also seem different regardless of circumstances.

Being a Section 31 ship would help explain how we are seeing things which are not known on board the Enterprise ten years later. It is also possible that their research turns out to be dead ends, too dangerous to allow many to know about, or perhaps the Discovery is destroyed like its sister ship. It does appear that the writers have considered such continuity issues in various interviews.

Jason Isaacs has discussed some of the questions I raised above in interviews, and discussed other aspects of Captain Lorca. From TV Guide:

Why does Lorca have a room full of animals?
We’re losing this war and I’ve been given license to do whatever the hell is necessary to try and see if I can in any way shift the odds. And so I have in my private study area, anything I want including weapons, gasses, poisons, creatures… Anything that, if examined correctly, might give us an edge because we need something to turn the tide in the war. And that’s why someone like me has been given this ship and given license to go off and — not under the glare of anyone else’s spotlight — see if I can come up with a solution, any kind of creative solutions to this problem of imminent destruction.

So the tardigrade might be one, some of the Klingon weapons I’ve got might be it… The spores might be it. I just need something and I need it fast and I need people to help me, and hence, one of the reasons why I get Michael Burnham to be on my team. She is someone who’s prepared to break the rules… Someone who’s really smart strategically and someone who I think will ultimately be loyal to me since I’ve given her a second chance at life.

From Entertainment Weekly:

You still get the sense that Lorca will do anything, even if it’s off-book, to accomplish the ultimate goal against the Klingons — and possibly other agendas.

He just wants to win the war. This is 10 years before the series that people fell in love with Kirk and Spock, before the Federation directive comes out, before people are exploring peacefully. This is a time when the Federation might not be there tomorrow morning. All of the high-minded ideals will go out the window once everyone around them is incinerated and Lorca thinks he sees that modern man. He thinks he’s going to win this war by any means necessary and they’ve kind of given him license to do it, because they’re terrified and they’re right to be terrified. So he’s on this science ship, which is not the ideal vessel, got some possible breakthrough technology, but there’s a lot of work to be done there, and he’s got a bunch of explorers crewing this thing who are really not battle-hardened at all and he’s going to try and do whatever he has to do to tip the tide of the war. It’s not going to be easy. Certainly, he’s not going to get there by being nice…

At the end of the episode, Lorca has the creature from the USS Glenn — the one that was terrorizing Michael and company — secretly beamed aboard the Discovery into one of his secret rooms with other contraband objects and creatures. What is he doing with all those things that he’s, presumably, illegally accumulated?

He’s got a room, a study room in which he studies war because they’re at war. In different times, he might have books of poetry, he might have an easel in there. He’s an exercise man, so at one point in time he might have been doing interplanetary yoga. Right now, he needs to work out how to defeat enemies and he’s got forbidden material in there. He’s got weapons, he’s got poisons, he’s got creatures. He’s looking for an edge in a war with a superior opponent and he’ll take anything he can get, anywhere he can get it. Sometimes he takes risks to get it.

What is Lorca’s relationship with the women on the Discovery crew, because it seemed like there was something a little extra between the captain and Commander Landry, his head of security?

I think in this tradition of Star Trek captains and these alpha males who rise to the top, he’s got a taste for the good life and he’s got an eye for his female officers. I don’t know that that’s going to work with Burnham very well, frankly. She doesn’t look like she’s up for that kind of thing, but him and Landry certainly have a relationship that goes beyond, I would think, work. But that’s how I played my scenes with all the women on board, whether or not the writers were on board with that. By the way, that’s my tribute to Shatner. I always thought, as much as the original series was born out of the civil rights struggle and the birth of feminism, some of that was [infused with a feeling of] James Bond. It was clear Captain Kirk had his way with any member of the micro-skirted crew members he wanted, so that was my subtle tribute to him. I’m playing that, even if it’s inside my head. (Laughs.)

CBS has announced that they will present episodes through November 12 (instead of November 5 as previously announced), leaving only six episodes after the show resumes in 2018.

It was revealed at New York Comic con that Michelle Yeoh will be returning as Captain Georgiou. Presumably this will be as a flash-back, unless they find a way for her to return after being killed last week.

On rare occasions we have had two different Star Trek series on at once, but the current situation is unique in having two shows inspired by Star Trek but going in such different directions. While Discovery is darker and serialized, The Orville provides stand alone stories which are more similar to those from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The series appears to be moving more towards actual science fiction stories as opposed to parody, while still incorporating humor. The last episode was the most successful to date in incorporating humor while adding to the main story. Being directed by Jonathan Frakes helped make it feel like STTNG. Plus it introduced time travel to this universe.

The episode also benefited by the guest appearance of Charlize Theron. She turned out to be different from what she first seemed to be, but she had time for casual sex with Captain Mercer and to sit around sipping drinks. While the relationship between Mercer and his ex-wife has sometimes seemed to have been used excessively to attempt humor, it worked very well in this episode as Ed initially mistrusted Kelly’s suspicion of Pria as being based upon jealousy.

One thing I always found unrealistic about the Star Trek universe was the limited existence of mass entertainment and popular culture. The Orville has had multiple references to pop culture, although it appears to have ended around our time. Previous references have included Kermit the Frog, Friends, and reality TV. This episode started with a clip from Seinfeld, which propelled the B story line. Teaching Isaac about humor and practical jokes allowed them to use humor without it appearing out of place as in some of the earlier episodes. I could easily imagine a similar story line involving Data. Of course Seth MacFarlane did take it further, with Issac amputating Malloy’s leg as a practical joke. Fortunately the limb was easily regenerated.

The episode also did a good job of incorporating the B story line into the main story, both with Malloy’s leg falling from the ceiling and with Isaac using a reference to the Seinfeld clip to tip off Malloy as to what he was doing to help save the ship.

Besides the two versions of Star Trek discussed above, there was more information at New York Comic Con on the planned Star Trek based episode from the fourth season of Black Mirror:

Titled “USS Callister,” the 74-minute adventure stars Fargo‘s Jesse Plemmons and Cristin Milioti, Jimmi Simpson (Westworld), and Michaela Coel.

While critics were barred from reviewing it, by all accounts from those in attendance it’s one of the most cinematic of Black Mirror installments, thanks to its epic production values — from sprawling desert locations and scenes set on the deck of the titular starship to the out-of-this-world outfits and expensive computer effects.

“The idea came up in conversation, and it struck us. We hadn’t done a space epic before and we thought, how would that work in the Black Mirror universe?” Brooker told The Hollywood Reporter.  “What sort of tone would it have? We ended up in this strange place.”

Naturally, the show tackles themes befitting its signature paranoid style and contains more than a few twists (and reportedly a few lens flares too, in a nod to the J.J. Abrams-helmed reboot).

Rather than releasing all the episodes at once, Amazon released only part of The Tick, hoping that buzz from the first half of the series will increase viewership before the series is completed. They announced at New York Comic Con that the show will return in February and released the above trailer. The show does effectively combine humor with a superhero story.

The above trailer for The X-Files season 11, which will premiere in January 2018, was released at New York Comic Con. More information on the upcoming season here.

Chris Carter said in an interview that he might continue the series even longer, but Gillian Anderson has said that the eleventh season will be her last. There have been attempts at bringing in other cast members, but I am skeptical as to whether the show can survive without Mulder and Scully.

Netflix cancelled promotions for The Punisher at New York Comic Con and a planned Paris event following the recent shootings in Las Vegas. They are also delaying the premiere of the series.

The next season of The Magicians will deal with restoring magic. We got some hints as to what will occur at the New York Comic Con:

“Julia and Quentin almost circle back to who they were as kids,” John McNamara notes that their reunion more or less restores their BFF status. Aside from partying with a god, we get to see them revisit a lifelong friendship and get over past grievances.

Jason Ralph and Stella Maeve spoke enthusiastically about the unexpected nature of Quentin and Julia’s relationship, which started as the tired unrequited love trope but evolved into something much more interesting. Jason Ralph said during the panel, “It’s really gratifying to get back together.”

The quest to revive magic will also lead to some unlikely pairings for the cast. Sure, we get some expected combos like Eliot with Margo or Quentin with Julia, but Sera Gamble teased during The Magicians NYCC panel that we’ll see more scenes with Julia and Alice together in Season 3. Julia’s relationship to the strange new magic she discovered evolves over the season in unexpected ways, and perhaps it’ll take Alice to help her figure it out.

Alice herself will go through the “worst quarter-life crisis ever,” according to Taylor Dudley. Alice died, became a niffin, sort of died again, and when finally reunited with her Shade, she then had magic taken away completely. Alice will be in a weird emotional spot when the season kicks off, especially considering she’s being hunted by an enemy she made while a niffin.

This year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, Twice Upon A Time, will also be shown in movie theaters, along with special features. More information here.

Nerdist reports on how Peter Capaldi learned that a woman was to be cast as the thirteenth Doctor. Capaldi also discussed why he is leaving Doctor Who at New York Comic Con:

In a retrospective session at New York Comic-Con, Peter Capaldi said that playing the title role in British TV juggernaut Doctor Who brought many pleasures but proved all-consuming. After four years, he said he felt it was best to leave before it ever felt like a routine.

 “It fills up your life,” he said. “You don’t have a second where it’s not about Doctor Who. It’s a nice way to live.” And yet, he continued, “I really never wanted to get to a place where I knew how to do this because that’s not what being creative is. The actual amount of time we were spending on the show, I realized I was getting the hang of it. And that made me frightened.”

Asked by a fan whether he would consider returning for a special or in any small role down the road, he said, “I think it’s probably time for me to go.”

The Mirror has some changes they claim will be made to Doctor Who next season under Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker. The reliability of the report is unknown.

This week has marked the 40th anniversary of the introduction of K-9 on Doctor Who and the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Mirror universe on Star Trek.

Den of Geek talked to Karen Gillan about Nebula’s role in  Avengers: Infinity War.

Gal Gadot was guest host on Saturday Night Live last night and talked about playing Wonder Woman in the opening monologue (video above). She also had the skit below about Wonder Woman:

There was also far more news at New York Comic Con than I can get to today and I will present more of it next week.

SciFi Weekend: The Flash/ Supergirl Duet; Felicty Smoak, Superhero; The Magicians; Star Trek Discovery Cast; Justice League Trailer; Doctor Who At Comic Relief; American Gods; Riverdale

The DC based shows on CW are beyond their prime, suffering from attempting to have four season-long series simultaneously. I found it to be a welcome break to get away from the usual narrative on The Flash and have the musical cross-over with Supergirl last week. The episode was well received. Synopsis and review at Geeks of Doom. Another review at I09.

The story was briefly introduced at the end of Supergirl, and continued on The Flash, with Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) in a dream-like state, first seeing Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) singing Moon River (video above).

Other musical numbers included The Flash and Supergirl singing, of course, Super Friend in the above video, with amusing references to each series. Characters from both Supergirl and The Flash were included playing different roles, along with other CW characters such as John Barrowman and Victor Garber, both now appearing on Legends of Tomorrow.

Cast and crew discussed the episode in the video above.

Elsewhere in the Belantiverse, Felicty Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) will be seen in a super hero costume, but it will be on Legends of Tomorrow as opposed to Arrow.

Marc Guggenheim has said that we will not learn the identity of Prometheus, one of the big bads on Arrow, until season six, but it will be someone we already know. He also teased how the season finale will be different from previous seasons in not destroying Star City once again:

As the season heads toward the ultimate showdown between Oliver and Chase, we’re going to be seeing a very different season finale this year. “We’re not going to destroy the city,” EP Marc Guggenheim teases. “We’re not even going to threaten the city. In fact, I can also tell you the finale doesn’t even take place in the city. Finally, the citizens of Star City can breathe easily in May.” Wherever the finale takes place, Guggenheim adds, “You can expect a good number of returning characters, characters you haven’t seen in a while, back in the episode.”

The Magicians also had a major musical number in last week’s episode (video above). Margot once looked like just a sidekick for Eliot, but in recent episodes she has turned into quite a strong character. She is often the most sensible one, who can figure out what to do in a crisis. She had a unique way to prepare Eliot for battle, as described by IndieWire:

“The Magicians” went into battle on Wednesday night and pulled out the ultimate weapon: a Broadway musical song.

In the episode, Fillory’s High King Eliot (Hale Appleman) is about to enter into mortal combat with the King of Lauria, who has never been defeated. Eliot’s right-hand magician and partner in every crime imaginable Margo (Summer Bishil) gives him a pep talk and reminisces about how well he did in a production of “Les Miserables.” Inspired by that success, she used magic to force him and others to perform the number “One Day More” from the musical in order to get him pumped up for his duel.

For the benefit of anyone who might have read Lev Grossman’s novels but haven’t seen the television series, Margo’s character was  named Janet in the books.

Screener interviewed the show runners about this scene, and other aspects of the show. Screener also has an interview with Christopher Gorham about his newly introduced character, John Gains.

Star Trek: Discovery is now in production, with release expected late summer or early fall. Above is the first picture of the cast, via Empire On Line:

From left to right are Jason Isaacs (Discovery’s captain, Lorca), Michelle Yeoh (Captain Georgiou, whose ship is the Shenzhou), Chris Obi (the Klingon T’Kuvma, who is determined to bring together the various Klingon houses), Sonequa Martin-Green (Rainsford, also known as Number One, a lieutenant commander who serves as Discovery’s first officer and the show’s main character); Kenric Green (not actually on the show, but definitely serving as Sonequa’s husband), Doug Jones (an alien science officer aboard Discovery), James Frain (the Vulcan father of Mr. Spock, Sarek), and Shazad Latif(Kol, a commanding officer of the Klingons).

Other cast members of the show not featured in this image are Terry Serpico as Starfleet Admiral Anderson, Maulik Pancholy as the Shenzhou’s chief medical officer, Nambue; Sam Vartholomeos as junior officer Connor, assigned to the Shenzhou; Mary Chieffo as L’Rell, a Klingon battle deck commander; Mary Wiseman as Starfleet cadet Tilly, who is assigned the Discovery, and Anthony Rapp as science officer Stamets.

The Justice League official trailer has been released (video above).  Learn what Bruce Wayne’s superpower is, and how he feels about playing well with others. Here is the synopsis of the movie:

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

Further discussion here.

The BBC released the above video last week:  “To celebrate Red Nose Day today we present the full 1999 Doctor Who Comic Relief special The Curse of Fatal Death. Starring Rowan Atkinson, Richard E. Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Joanna Lumley as the Doctor, written by Steven Moffat.” I09 wrote how this has forshadowed the Moffet era:

One of the other truly fascinating things about 1999’s “The Curse of Fatal Death” is how it previews a number of things from the show’s revival years later: the tried and weary Doctor, the Doctor and Master’s complicated one-upmanship, making the romantic love between the Master and Companion explicit, same for that between the Master and the Doctor (although, it’s the Doctor who is female in this, and not the Master), etc. I’m actually most disturbed by the idea of the Dalek-Time Lord hybridization, since it reminds me of the horrible Dalek plot in “Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks.”

The other thing that makes this short more relevant than before is the flurry of regenerations at the end. Both Moffat’s time as showrunner and Peter Capaldi’s time as the Doctor are coming to an end soon, and people really want a Doctor who isn’t a white man. For proof that it would work fine, check out Joanna Lumley at the end of this. She’s great!

Starz has released the above trailer of American Gods. Nerdist interviewed the cast at South By Southwest.

The Big Bang Theory has been renewed for two additional seasons.

Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa spoke with Entertainment Weekly, teasing further genre elements in the show. There was no definite answer regarding fan theories that zombies will be involved.

SciFi Weekend: Heroes v. Aliens; What Happened To Rip Hunter; Lost In Space; Star Trek: Discovery; Inhumans; The Crown; Billy Piper; Adult Jokes On Doctor Who

The CW Network has released the above extended preview of this week’s crossover episode between Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow. Bleeding Cool provides the comic book background of the Dominators, the alien villains for the episodes.

Reportedly Supergirl doesn’t get involved until the end of Monday’s episode, presumably putting the main story lines for the other three shows on hold this week. Maisie Richardson-Sellers, who plays Vixen on Legends of Tomorrow, gave a hint about what is coming up in an interview with CinemaBlend. She said that Rip Hunter “does come back, just not necessarily the Rip that we remember. That’s sort of what is a big part of the second half of the season.” As the show involves time travel I wonder if it will be a version of Rip Hunter from before he created the group, or one from the future. I suspect that there is also a connection to the warning from future Barry Allen revealed earlier this season.

The real world reason that Arthur Darvill left the series for a while was to return to his role in Broadchurch for its third and final season. Besides Legends of Tomorrow, Broadchurch, and Doctor Who, Darvill wants an upcoming role in yet another franchise. He has expressed an interest in playing Young Dumbledore, who will be appearing in the sequel to Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them. More on what other former cast members of Doctor Who are doing below.

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Changing the gender of characters in a remake has worked well in the past, such as with a female Starbuck in Battlestar Galactic. It will be interesting to see what they do with the role of Dr. Smith on the Lost in Space remake, with Parker Posey to play the character. Hopefully the Lost in Space remake is also like Battlestar Galactica in being much better than the original.

We already knew there would be a female lead on Star Trek: Discovery. Michelle Yeoh, who previously stared in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, has been cast.

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There were recently reports that the proposed television series of The Inhumans was to replace the movie. It has more recently been announced that The Inhumans movie is still planned, and the first two episodes of the series will also be shown in Imax theaters. From The Hollywood Reporter:

On Nov. 14, the Disney-owned network said its straight-to-series order for Marvel drama The Inhumans will include a debut in more than 1,000 Imax theaters in 74 countries. The first two of the eight-episode series — about a race of superhuman heroes (among the more popular characters in the Marvel universe) — will run for two weeks starting Labor Day 2017 before airing as part of ABC’s fall lineup.

The deal marks the first time a TV series will have its premiere on the big screen. And it gives ABC a way to “event-ize” Inhumans in the crowded fall TV space, where launching a show is a multimillion-dollar investment. “We think this is a quadruple win — a win for Imax, a win for Marvel, a win for ABC Studios and a win for ABC to launch a show in an innovative way and get attention,” Disney-ABC Television Group president Ben Sherwood tells THR. The Imax pact is the first of what Sherwood hopes will be several innovative ways to launch programming.

As part of the agreement, the first two episodes will be shot entirely with Imax cameras, with subsequent action scenes — some of which will be set on the moon — also filmed using the technology. Sources say Imax is paying for the first two episodes (ABC won’t reveal the budget; the show hasn’t begun casting), offsetting the hefty costs associated with the pilot and helping to make the deal more attractive to producers ABC Studios and Marvel Television. ABC will then take the Imax episodes and expand them with additional content for broadcast. ABC, Imax and Marvel will each mount tailored marketing campaigns for Inhumans, what analysts see as a can’t-miss cross-platform push…

ABC also hopes that Inhumans — which is not a spinoff of the network’s Agents of SHIELD and does not replace the planned feature film — will have a halo effect on the veteran Marvel drama as well. The network hopes fanboys flock to see Inhumans in theaters and follow the show to the network, bringing in new viewers who may not already be watching SHIELD (provided the latter returns for a fifth season next fall.)

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Matt Smith experienced danger when he played the Doctor, and faced some unexpected excitement during the filming of The Crown. He was relaxing in a Cape Town bar and wound up being held at gunpoint.  He didn’t even have a sonic screwdriver to defend himself with. The fame he experienced from his role on Doctor Who has given him some insight into playing Prince Philip:

Smith says he can relate to his character Prince Phillip, because of both the “crazy shit” and the amount of public interest, after he was cast in Doctor Who.

“Every single part of my life was affected,” he said. “You have to be hyper-aware, because Doctor Who is a children’s show ultimately, and you have to behave accordingly, I suppose.

“I went from being an actor doing theatre and stuff, to overnight being on the front page of every newspaper. There’s journalists going to my granddad’s house offering him £40,000 [for gossip]. Nothing can prepare you for that.”

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Billie Piper also discussed how her role on Doctor Who has affected her life and her career in an interview with ES Magazine. Digital Spy has some excerpts.

Her portrayal as The Doctor’s brave friend Rose Tyler undoubtedly set the mark for all future companions, and her two series remain a golden era for many fans.

In the latest issue of ES Magazine, Billie looks back fondly on Doctor Who ten years on – while also admitting that working on the show seemingly non-stop in Cardiff took a toll on her private life.

“I’m quite a homebody and I missed London so much,” she recalled. “Also, it makes you so famous, a show like that.

“It gave me little memories of being a popstar – you can’t go anywhere without it being a thing, and I found that quite hard again. But it changed everything for me. And I have never worked with a nicer bunch of people in my life since.

She also said she is sick of being sent hooker roles and is working on her own show about “two London women in their thirties and everything that comes with that.”

Billie Piper’s “hooker roles” included scenes on shows such as Secret Diary of a Call Girl and Penny Dreadful which could never appear on Doctor Who. They had to be more subtle with regards to sex. Radio Times has put out a list of 10 adult jokes in Doctor Who you might have missed.