SciFi Weekend: Arrow; Legends of Tomorrow; Jessica Jones; Luke Cage; The Man In The High Castle; The Expanse; Childhood’s End; 11.22.63; Minority Report; House of Cards; Fargo; Doctor Who; Ted Cruz Christmas Infomercial

Arrow -- "The Magician" -- Image AR304a_0155b -- Pictured (L-R): Katrina Law as Nyssa al Ghul and Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen -- Photo: Ed Araquel/The CW -- © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Matt Nable will be reprising his role of Ra’s al Ghul from Arrow in the ninth episode of Legends of Tomorrow. Considering that much of the cast is made up of people who either died or appeared to die on Arrow, this doesn’t really come as a surprise. Damian Dark will also be making an appearance on Legends of Tomorrow. On Arrow, Nyssa will also continue to fight Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) for her dead father’s title.

I really liked Daredevil, and liked what they did with Jessica Jones even more. Jessica Jones also has me looking forward to Luke Cage. Collider had an interview with Mike Colter, who plays Luke Cage. The discussion included how Luke Cage will differ from Daredevil and Jessica Jones.

Man In The High Castle

I was happy to hear that Amazon has renewed The Man In The High Castle, as expected, for a second season. The entire series was enjoyable, but that ending has me really wondering where the show is headed. I read the book many, many years ago and don’t remember how it ended. Plus there are already major changes from the book so that might not matter.

I’ve  been far too busy around the holidays to keep up with everything on television. I thought I was doing well completing both Jessica Jones and The Man In The High Castle. (My original plan was to review these two series this week, but holiday plans have prevented it.) I haven’t had time to start The Expanse, but I hear that if some time opens up it is possible to stream the first four episodes, and get ahead of what has been shown on television.

I have recorded Childhood’s End with hopes of watching it sometime later over the holidays. Meanwhile this article, which I haven’t read to avoid spoilers, looks like the type of article with a show’s producer on the ending which I would be quoting from if I had seen the show.

Yet another new genre show I haven’t had time to watch–The Magicians. IO9 has a review here.

Hulu is releasing teaser trailers of 11.22.63, produced by J.J. Abrams and based upon the Stephen King novel. Abrams also has something else major out this weekend.

I also haven’t had a chance to watch the movie version of The Martian yet, but did enjoy the book last year. Nerdist has news on Andy Weir’s next book, to take place on the moon and feature a female lead.

With so much to watch on television, I didn’t watch Minority Report after some poor reviews of the first episode, followed by news that production was cut to ten episodes. The final episode aired recently and I have heard some buzz that the series ended well. This is a positive sign of how television has changed. In the past a network needed at least a few years of a series to make money in syndication. If it looked weak after a few episodes, they would be tempted to just pull the plug.

These days a series can still bring in episodes with even a short run. By giving the producers a cut off date, they were able to make a series which stood on its own with ten episodes, or expand into subsequent seasons if it did build an audience. It is still possible to sell a self-contained ten episode series as a Blu ray or DVD set, as well as have it on one or more streaming networks. The networks have reason to continue a show with a small audience for at least a short time, current viewers get a conclusion as opposed to having a show they like abruptly pulled, and genre fans have one more thing available to watch when desired in the future. Plus maybe a show will even be brought back by another outlet.

Netflix ran the trailer for the fourth season of House of Cards during last week’s Republican debate. The show returns on March 4. “America, I am only getting started” sounds sort of scary.

The third season of Fargo won’t be filming until next winter, and therefore won’t be seen until sometime in 2017. It will take place in 2010, four years after the first season. We got an unexpected view of some of the characters from the first season in the second season finale, but reportedly the regulars from the first season will not be the major characters for the third season. Some could appear briefly.

Doctor Who TV has an advance review of this year’s Christmas special, The Husbands of River Song.

ABC will be airing a one hour special, Captain America’s 75th Anniversary, on January 19th, just prior to the season premiere of Agent Carter. It will be opposite the return of The Flash on CW, but that is why we have Hulu, and modern DVR’s which record more than one show at a time.

Vox looks at Tina Fey’s response to some of the internet outrage over Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for having  the blonde, Polish actress Jane Krakowski playeding a Native American woman who was hiding her true ethnicity.

Ted Cruz has paid for a Christmas-themed parody infomercial to air during Saturday Night Live tonight. Steve M. has a review, and finds Cruz to be scary. I agree.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Jessica Jones; Fargo; Extant Canceled & Minority Report Unlikely To Survive; Blindspot; Limitless; Casual; The Flash; Arrow; Continuum

Doctor Who Before-the-Flood-3

The conclusion to last week’s episode of Doctor Who, Before the Flood, got more timey wimey. Under the Lake, possibly not trusting the audience to realize they were seeing a paradox, began with the Doctor speaking directly to the audience about the Bootstrap Paradox (named after the paradox in Robert A. Heinlein’s classic story By His Bootstraps). The doctor told what he called a fake story about a time traveler who loved the work of Ludwig van Beethoven. He went back in time to meet Beethoven, and even took all his sheet music for Beethoven to autograph. The time traveler found that Beethoven did not exist, so he had the sheet music he brought published under Beethoven’s name. History went on as he remembered it, but who actually composed all the music in the first place?

The Doctor also had to find a way to break the rules of time in this episode–which he wold only do for Clara. When he first found out that he was to become a ghost in the time  period where the story began, he assumed that this was part of history, a fixed point in time, and could not be changed. Clara urged the Doctor to try and he did find a way. He created a hologram, so that Clara saw what she told the Doctor she saw, but it was not actually a ghost. He then set up a prerecorded message claiming to be the order of the deaths, motivating the Doctor to take action to prevent Clara’s death (but not O’Donnell’s). There was also a second message, “The chamber will open tonight.” The Doctor then came out of the suspended animation chamber in  the future, like his companions and the Pandorica. The messages given by the hologram gave the Doctor the information he needed, but where did the idea for those messages come from in the first place? Maybe the same place as those messages in Blink.

Best line from the show: “You might find you’ve lost a couple other memories too. Like people you went to school with, or previous addresses, or how to drink liquids…”

The early reviews of Jessica Jones have been excellent. The show includes superpowers,  hot sex scenes, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first lesbian character. There have now been a few teasers such as above, without Krysten Ritter’s face actually being shown. This makes me wonder if these scenes are not from the show, and possibly filmed with a body double. Jessica Jones premiers on Neflix on  November 20.

Fargo returns on Monday and sounds quite promising. Reviews herehere, here, here, and here.

Manhattan is also starting its second season soon. This show deserves a far bigger audience than it has received. I highly recommend binging on the first season and then watching the second.

CBS has finally canceled Extant, and plans another project with Halle Berry. They should have made this decision at least a year ago.

I held off on watching Minority Report after the first couple of episodes were not received well. Fox has now cut back the order from thirteen to ten episodes, which looks like a poor sign for the show to continue.

AMC has renewed Halt and Catch Fire for a third season. While it has low ratings, I’ve heard that AMC likes the demographics of the viewers. Plus AMC directly owns the show and hopes to make money off of streaming rights in the future.

Blindspot

Blindspot is the first new drama of the season to receive a full season pickup. It is well deserved, so far being my favorite new network drama of the season. Another new drama I’ve watched has been Limitless. I see Blindspot and Limitless as having a lot in common, with Blindspot the better of the two and Limitless as being a lighter version.

Both shows feature protagonists with powers (fighting ability plus her clues in Blindspot, and abilities from the pill in Limitless) who are working with the FBI. The first few episodes of each centered around them gaining trust and getting involved in cases rather than remaining behind in an office. Both have some type of mysterious  background stories.

I was surprised to see how quickly Blindspot revealed that Jane Doe is Weller’s missing childhood neighbor Taylor Shaw, but that really does not answer any of the mysteries. (Does star Jaimie Alexander’s Asgardian roots explain anything about her character?) I was also surprised to see the bearded guy get killed so soon. Actors on this show have even less job security than those on Games of Thrones.

When Brian’s new “boss” introduced himself on Limitless, I wondered if this was a way to continue the story without Bradley Cooper, but reportedly he will return in future episodes.

Sleepy Hollow also follows this pattern to some degree with Abbie now being in the FBI and, while not having unusual abilities, Ichibad does have an unusual background in other days. This season feels like an attempt to reboot the series, but so far has not captured the unique entertainment of the first season. It does look promising enough to watch longer.

Other worthwhile shows of the new season include Supergirl, based upon the pilot previously released on line, and Casual. While totally non-genre, Casual (on Hulu) is an excellent family dramedy. The first two episodes were very entertaining, and reviews have been great from those who saw the series at the Toronto Film Festival.

Above are trailers for this season of The Flash and Arrow from New York Comic-Con. Note that characters who have apparently died are present, in preparation for them joining together on Legends of Tomorrow.

The penultimate episode of Continuum has aired in the United States and the series finale aired on Showcase in Canada. The Desperate Hours was mostly all action, including another heroic death, setting up the finale which is obviously named Final Hour. It seems rather pointless now to discuss the questions I have had during the season and after The Desperate Hours considering that they were answered in Final Hour. I will wait to discuss Final Hour to avoid spoiling those who wait for the US presentation of the show.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; SHIELD; The Flash; John Snow; Jessica Jones; Getting Hooked on Netflix; Black Mirror; Continuum

Doctor Who s09e02

The Witch’s Familiar, the concluding episode of last week’s episode of Doctor Who, The Magician’s Apprentice, works despite the weakness in its plot due to its dual match-ups. One was the Doctor and a supposedly dying Davro,s and the other pair was Clara and Missy.

Pairing the Doctor and Davros was an idea which Steven Moffat has had since watching Genesis of the Daleks according to an interview at blastar:

“When I was very young, I watched Genesis of the Daleks and began a long plan.”

“I was doing what I do in my spare time which is watch old episodes of Doctor Who – because I really know how to kick back and relax,” he explained. “Davros had already returned within the series…and it occurred to me, and I think this is just true, there isn’t a bad scene between the Doctor and Davros.”

“Whatever you think of the stories – and I think they’re all good – all the time, every time you have the Doctor confronting Davros, in the classic series and in the new series… every time they meet, it’s really quite electric. There’s something about those two characters meeting, so I wanted to have a go at it.”

“What surprised me, looking back at the old stories, was how little screen time they have together. In Genesis of the Daleks they have a couple of scenes, that’s all – brilliant scenes, beautifully written and played, beautifully done. But they’re very short – they’re not long at all. I’d imagined it in my memory as being most of the story, but it wasn’t at all.

“So my notion was to actually stick them in a room together and see what happens after a long while. So that’s, you know, a childhood ambition that hasn’t changed into my 50s.”

Doctor Who s09e02a

The pair spent a considerable part of the episode talking to each other and launching plots against each other. Reminiscent of the question posed by the Doctor last season, Davros even asked the Doctor, “Did I do right Doctor? Tell me, was I right? I need to know before the end. Am I a good man?”

The pairing of Clara and Missy was more amusing. This included Missy’s implied threat to eat Clara if there wasn’t anything else to hunt and Missy’s response when Clara suggested throwing a stone down into the sewers to see how deep they were. “Ah yeah, good idea.” And she pushed Clara in. Plus what is the deal with Missy’s reference to a daughter?

The resolution of the story was weak. Even if we accept that the Doctor can just turn on regeneration energy at will, what was his end-game? He was assisted in escaping by Missy, but at the time the Doctor thought that Missy was dead. His plan might have worked to have the decaying Dalek sewer slime attack the other Daleks, but how was the Doctor planning to escape?

It is also questionable why the Doctor revealed to Davros that Gallifrey still existed. Other questions also came up in the discussion with Davros, such as the idea that the Doctor might have been running from something when he left Gallifrey, and a possible Dalek/Timelord hybrid. Presumably some, if not all, of this will come up in future episodes.

Missy posed an additional threat to Clara when Clara was inside a Dalek. This was actually the third time she was, one way or another, inside a Dalek. We  saw Clara’s mind trapped inside a Dalek in Asylum of the Daleks in Jenna Coleman’s first appearance. Last season there was the journey by a team inside a Dalek in Into the Dalek.

This was an amusing sequence in which Clara tried to communicate but there were many words which the Dalek  translated differently from what she desired, being limited by what it knew. Then she said “mercy” which was not a concept the Dalek should have known. This led to the other somewhat weak aspect of the conclusion as the Doctor went back in time to show mercy to young Davros, therefore introducing the concept of mercy into the Dalek DNA.

The episode also eliminated the sonic screwdriver for now, with the Doctor moving on to wearable technology. There is still the question of the confession dial, which I bet will play a part later this season in typical Moffat style.

The two-part format did allow for many ideas to be inserted into the story, along with a cliff hanger. As plot holes have always been a part of Doctor Who, being present well before Moffat despite the frequent criticism of him for this, it does make sense to have less stories and include more in each one.

ABC has released the first four minutes of Agents of SHIELD, which is returning on Tuesday. Video above with Daisy and other SHIELD agents helping an Inhuman.

TV Guide has some information on Cisco’s new powers on The Flash.

TV Guide also has some set pictures which might provide spoilers on the fate of John Snow on Game of Thrones.

Fox will have a two part trailer for The X-Files on Monday night on Gotham and Minority Report. Minority Report did premiere last week but I’ve held off on watching until I hear more about how the show is. Starting to follow genre shows on Fox doesn’t always turn out very good. The season premier of Gotham left me with hope for improvements in the second season over the first.

Netflix has released the above teaser for Jessica Jones, providing a glimpse of her super powers.

Netflix has released some interesting information on how many episodes viewers had to watch of certain shows before becoming hooked on them. They found the episode at which seventy percent of those viewing would then go on to finish the season. Viewers were hooked with the second episode of Breaking Bad. Some other shows took longer.

Streaming has become a way to provide a future for television shows, in addition to provide access to old episodes of shows. Netflix has ordered twelve new episodes of Black Mirror.

Steven Spielberg has always been a master of fiction. Reportedly Hillary Clinton turned to Spielberg for acting coaches to help her appear more likable. This comes from the book Unlikable by Edward Klein. I’m not sure how much of this book is fact versus fiction.

Tonight we have the rare super blood moon total eclipse. National Geographic describes how to view it.

Continuum Power Hour

The third episode of Continuum, Power Hour, finally started to reveal much more of what is going on (and the reveals are even greater in the fourth episode–but no spoilers for episode four as this has not aired in the United States yet). Kiera and Garza teamed up to find out what the Time Marines are up to. In the process Curtis met a heroic death. After previously warning Alec that his superpower was in computers, not fighting, Curtis himself got drawn into the action.

Julian tried to destroy the Theseus manifesto. Leading a rebellion against the Corporate Congress in which there would be thousands of casualties, followed by failure, just did not seem like a good future for him. He could not escape his fate as, in sort of a time loop, Chen made sure a copy of the manifesto from the future came out, also leading Julian to a toddler Kagami. This leads back to the question of whether the future we know about will still come about, which directly impacts Kiera’s attempts to return home.

After two episodes which were largely setup, the story did progress in the third episode–already half way into the final season. The fourth episode does move the story forward considerably, making it possible to speculate as to the end game of the series. Here are a some teasers which will not spoil the episode, but those who want to go into the episode with zero information might want to look away. Alec responds to Emily being gone, but does not destroy the entire timeline this time. There is an unexpected conversation between characters. A puzzle from the first season is resolved. Keep wondering whether Kellogg should trust his future self.

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

Last Man On Earth Finale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jessica Jones

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Matt Smith and Benedict Cumberbatch Take Ice Bucket Challenge; Gotham; True Blood; Minority Report; Dating Naked; Richard Attenborough

Doctor Who Deep Breath

We now have a new regeneration of the Doctor, a redecorated TARDIS, and a new title sequence on Doctor Who. Unfortunately the plot of Deep Breath was not very good. There was the return of the droids from The Girl in the Fireplace. Unlike the challenge of not blinking in Blink and other stories with the Weeping Angels, the challenge in this episode was seeing how long you could hold your breath. There was plenty of humor between the confusion of the Doctor post-regeneration, along with cultural misunderstandings and the usual Strax humor. In addition, Moffat’s inner teenager came out wigh having a dinosaur and multiple allusions to Clara either removing her clothes or having sex. The Doctor did do some flirting, but only with the female dinosaur and not Clara, plus there was a human/lizard lesbian kiss. There was even the reported cameo by Matt Smith, telephoning Clara from his past.

While this episode was far from one of the better post-regeneration episodes, the episode did leave me confident that Peter Capaldi will make an excellent 0ld school style Doctor, and of course Jenna Coleman remains an excellent companion, even if there is no flirting or actual removal of her clothing. There are some vague clues of things to come. While we know that the reason the Doctor has seen his face before is because Peter Capaldi has appeared on Doctor Who in other roles, it appears that the reason for the same face will be given an explanation within the story in future episodes. The end of this episode left open the possibility that this could be the start of a new arc, with Missy apparently having had key roles in the past, such as giving Clara the Doctor’s phone number in The Bells of St. John. Capaldi presented what could also be a theme for the season: “I’m the Doctor, I’ve lived for over 2,000 years, and not all of them were good; I’ve made many mistakes, and it’s about time I did something about that.”

Next week: Daleks.

There is a rumor that Jenna Coleman will be leaving Doctor Who in the Christmas episode. Peter Capaldi denies this.

There are alternative versions of Doctor Who. For example, check out the above video celebrating fifty years of American  Doctor Who. IO9 looked at a porn parody of Doctor Who which can be viewed at Woodrocket.com.

Matt Smith has taken the Ice Bucket Challenge to raise money for research on ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis). Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock went even further, including getting naked in the shower for a repeat exposure. Contributions to the ALS Association can be sent through their web site.

Last week I noted that the pilot for A to Z is available on line. A sit-com pilot with an even stronger genre connection was released this week–Selfie staring Karen Gillan.

A four-part You Tube series with background on Gotham has been released. The first part is above.

True Blood finally reaches the true end tonight. Does anyone even care anymore whether Bill really goes through with true death or if the show end with true love? At least there were some humorous moments in the final few episodes, such as Ginger finally getting to have sex with Eric. The scene is discussed more here.

My theory as to how the series ends is that Sookie will decide to become a vampire to convince Bill that the two of them can spend eternity happily ever after. Bill refuses to turn her into a vampire so she goes to Eric. By the time Sookie gets out of the ground she finds that Bill has already died from Hepatitis V. Meanwhile Pam, thinking Eric turned Sookie into a vampire for herself, kills Sookie. Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll) then leaves the show for a role on Daredevil. We will find out later tonight if my prediction comes through.

Steven Spielberg is developing a television series based upon the movie Minority Report.

Dating Naked

The big law suit this week stemming from television is Jessie Nizewitz suing Viacom for $10 million because not everything was obscured in the airing of Dating Naked. This led to many web sites (including here) posting the uncensored picture. I do not think a model should film a television show entirely naked if she has any qualms about pictures of her crotch getting out. Plus I would bet that far more people have now seen her nude pictures following the publicity from this law suit.

Richard Attenborough has died at age 90.

Lord Attenborough was one of Britain’s leading actors, before becoming a highly successful director.

In a career that spanned six decades, he appeared in films including Brighton Rock, World War Two prisoner of war thriller The Great Escape and later in dinosaur blockbuster Jurassic Park.

As a director he was perhaps best known for Gandhi, which won him two Oscars.

SciFi Weekend: Dexter; Star Trek; Total Recall; Spider-Man

The seventh season of Dexter (preview above) begins where the previous season left off–with Deb finding out about her brother. There are some hints about the upcoming season in this interview with executive producer Sara Colleton:

Since the season is picking up right where we left off, just how many curse words will Deb use when the show returns?
Sara Colleton: [Laughs] It rocks her world so there are a few classic Deb-isms. If the series-long quest for Dexter was to finally have someone who really knows him — well, be careful what you wish for because Deb now knows everything and that’s a game-changer.

If last season was about finding faith for Dexter, what is this season about?
Colleton: It is about things he’s never experienced before, which are regret, responsibility, shame, betrayal, all of those things. Also, it’s the flip side of wanting to be known, and then once you are known, there’s a loss of freedom. It comes with heavy responsibility, so he’s dealing with a lot of emotions that he’s never had before, and never been allowed to feel before or allowed himself to feel before.

Deb only saw Dexter kill Travis on the table, but will she learn everything this season?
Colleton: Yeah. Obviously this whole season we’re going to have great fun playing with every permutation that can be played between Debra and Dexter in their relationship now that this information has come out. She was on her way to the church at the end of the last season because she had come to realize that she not only loved her foster brother Dexter but she is in love with him. So now what does she do? Does she turn him into the police? Is she repulsed by him? Can she continue to love him? Does she feel an odd relief that finally she understands some fundamental part of him that always felt elusive? Dexter was always elusive and Debra always thought it was because of her, and now she knows it wasn’t about her, it was about him really protecting her.

But she is the head of the homicide division and so it has to really affect her sense of justice and the whole system. It’s a really challenging year for her to juggle. And Dexter, of course, his world is equally rocked. He’s never had to deal with these kinds of emotions — regret, guilt, a sense of having let Deb down and also, obviously, the gnawing suspicion that at any time, she could have him arrested.

Given what Deb learns about Dexter, how will that change her sudden revelation that she has feelings for him?
Colleton: It will be explored. It has to explored, because one doesn’t come to a realization like that and then completely change. But obviously what she learns is going to affect it, so all of the things that have been the bedrock of Deb’s life get moved around. That’s part of what we hope will be fascinating for our fans, is to watch and see how we play out all of those various interpretations.

Will we see a vulnerable side to Dexter this season?
Colleton: Oh, yes. It is like Superman’s cape has been taken off. He’s extremely vulnerable and that is very interesting to see and to explore.

Is there a sense of relief knowing if he’d let anyone in like he did with Lumen (Julia Stiles), he’d want it to be Deb?
Colleton: I think that’s part of it because [the relationship with] Lumen was certainly almost like acting out for his guilt in Rita’s (Julie Benz) death. But Deb has been the rock in his life from the time he was taken in by Harry. I always go back to one of the very first scenes in the pilot when he goes, “Oh that’s my foul-mouthed sister Deb and if I could love anyone it would be Deb.” They have had an incredible closeness. So that, in some ways, is a relief, but it comes with a whole new set of responsibilities.
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Speaking of Harry (James Remar), he’s always helped Dexter with his Dark Passenger, but now that Dexter’s issues involve Debra, how will his advice to Dexter differ from what we’ve seen before?
Colleton: It’s very upsetting to Harry. For Deb, she’s always suffered from feeling like Daddy’s second best. She realizes now, too, that this was never her being second best. She will learn all about Harry training Dexter and that is another thing that is going to rock her world. Again, in the pilot, when Harry tells Dexter that people deserve to die, and [in Season 5], when Deb hated Jordan Chase (Jonny Lee Miller) and she says, “Maybe there are people who deserve to die.” It’s a very complicated year on that level.
We’re really enjoying exploring all of these things because now it’s all out in the open.

What other obstacles will Dexter face because of Deb’s discovery?
Colleton: There are other complications that will come in because, at the crime scene, Dexter’s blood slide gets found by Lieutenant LaGuerta (Lauren Velez) because he loses it in the chaos that ensues and she immediately recognizes it’s his. The only other time that she had seen this blood slide was in the copy case of the Bay Harbor Butcher. Her dear friend Sergeant Doakes, everyone thought he was the Bay Harbor Butcher, and thought that when he died, the Bay Harbor Butcher died with him. Now, she begins to suspect, “Is the Bay Harbor Butcher still alive and how can I set about proving the innocence of my friend Sergeant Doakes?” That is something that’s a silent thing at the start, but it’s, again, going to be eventually working its way back to Dexter. It’s going to be very interesting to see if she can exonerate him.

What can you tell us about the new castmembers?
Colleton: We have Ray Stevenson, who — oh my God — he is such a fantastic actor. He plays the head of a crime syndicate who owns many nightclubs in Miami. Jason Gedrick plays George, the U.S. manager of all of his clubs. Ray Stevenson’s character, Isaac, comes to Miami when his very close personal lieutenant is accused of killing a Miami cop and then suddenly disappears. So Isaac wants to find out what happened to his friend and how he disappeared. The fact that it was a cop will bring them all around the Miami Metro police system. That is going to be a long story arc.

Also, we have Yvonne Strahovski. She is fantastic. She plays this woman named Hannah, who took off from this small rinky-dink Florida town and ran off with this older guy and they went on this wild killing spree. So when they got caught, she turned state’s evidence on the boyfriend, he went to jail for life and she started a new life. Years later, she’s in her 30s and she will intersect with Dexter. I would say Hannah is a still water that runs very deep and is quite unlike any woman Dexter has ever known.

How does Hannah compare to Lumen? And is there a possibility of a romance transpiring between Dexter and Hannah?
Colleton: There’s always the possibility. Whenever there’s a man and a woman, there’s always that possibility — or a man and a man or a woman and a woman or any configuration. There’s nothing needy about Hannah. Every woman that Dexter’s ever come to either the rescue of or been involved with have been incredibly needy. Lila (Jaime Murray) was one of those borderline women who other women take a look at and say, “Stay away!” but men can never resist them. You just know that they are bad news. Rita was damaged goods just like Dexter. And Lumen, when she appeared in his life, she was severely damaged. Hannah has a cool aloofness, but there’s something about her that will intrigue him.

Since the show has been renewed for two more seasons, is this definitely the end?
Colleton: This was definite. We wanted to end it this year, but the network convinced us that it would be best to do it in two years. In some ways, this is a two-season series-ender. We have worked that out and know where it’s going to end. Next year will definitely be the last year of Dexter. Absolutely.

Are you guys ready to say goodbye to Dexter?
Colleton: From the very beginning, when I first started developing the pilot, I always knew it would be a seven-year arc for this series. I feel easily that we can be an eight-year show, but I never want it to get old and stale. I want us to go out on a high and everybody on the show is determined to keep the level of it up to the very end. It’s always wise to know when it’s time to leave the stage before you’re asked to leave the stage.

Do you think Dexter has to die at the end?
Colleton: [Laughs] I would never answer that question.

Do you know what the final scene is?
Colleton: We don’t know what the final scene is, but we know where it’s going. We know now exactly how it’s going to end and how the series will end.

Alex Kurtzman warns of further bold moves in the next Star Trek movie:

Capone: So we are still in that place where they’re bonding?

AK: One-hundred percent. They only really came together as a team at the end of the first movie as a function of story. But the bridge crew from the original series, they aren’t those people yet, neither in age nor in experience. So I think the worst mistake that we could have made was to assume that they were there already at the top of the movie and skip that stuff. And the other thing I’ll say without revealing too much is that in the first TREK, we made choices–in our invention of the story–that were extremely controversial. Blowing up Vulcan, hugely controversial choice, and we knew that die hard Trekkers were either going to skewer us or accept it based on the emotional architecture around that choice. I think for us, TREK is at its best when it is making hugely bold moves like that, and there will be hugely bold moves in this one.

Last time they destroyed Vulcan. What to they do next, destroy Earth? Star Trek has a rich future history. I can see where they would not want to be locked down to every continuity detail, but I do not agree with the idea of making bold moves for the sake of being bold moves. Trek is at its best when it is Star Trek.

Robert Orci was asked about reviving the television series:

There are two major issues. Alex and I and Bad Robot want to make sure that nothing gets in the way of the movies, but number 2, Paramount controls the movies and CBS controls TV. So there is a little bit of power struggle there in terms of what happens. I have mentioned to CBS the idea of a Star Trek series and they are interested in it, but they would have to coordinate with Paramount and they would have to coordinate with Bad Robot. It is something we we are trying to figure out. If we can figure out a beautiful timing for it, it is something we would all love to do. It is tricky, with multiple chefs in that kitchen. It is something many of us are thinking about and I want to see one too.

Regarding the setting:

We haven’t even got to that point. We haven’t even gone in to pitch, because the rights of how to get it done are so complicated that we are sort of waiting to see what can really happen. And see where the avenues of freedom are. For all I know maybe it would be better to make it separate or maybe it is better to tie it into the [movie] universe. I don’t know yet.

Star Trek was always better as a series which allowed characters and events to develop gradually. I would like to see a future series back in the Roddenberry universe taking place after the events already aired, but I doubt that will happen

I’m not sure if there is any reason to do a remake of Total Recall, but at least it will have a three-breasted sex worker. (Trailer above).

The BBC looked at which predictions came true from two other movies based upon the work of Philip K Dick, Blade Runner and Minority Report.

I was already interested when HBO announced that it was adapting Tom Perotta’s novel The Leftovers for a television show. I’m even more interested now that I hear that Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof  will be producing and co-writing the series. Perotta’s novel is about those left behind after millions of people disappear from the earth in a situation similar to the rapture but without ties to Christian ideas on the event. Maybe he could tie this into the last season of Lost.

More clips from The Amazing Spider-Man have been released, such as the one above. My favorite scene is the one below:

Mandatory Assessments of Ability to Raise Children

While we may have to contend with threats of mandatory health care in the United States, health care appears even more Orwellian in Great Britian where they can reach mandatory judgments on the ability of women to raise their children. In a twist on predicting crimes in Minority Report (which I’ve already noted some believe is possible), social services in Great Britain believe they can predict whether a woman will be a suitable mother. From The Telegraph:

A pregnant woman has been told that her baby will be taken from her at birth because she is deemed capable of “emotional abuse”, even though psychiatrists treating her say there is no evidence to suggest that she will harm her child in any way.

Social services’ recommendation that the baby should be taken from Fran Lyon, a 22-year-old charity worker who has five A-levels and a degree in neuroscience, was based in part on a letter from a paediatrician she has never met.

Hexham children’s services, part of Northumberland County Council, said the decision had been made because Miss Lyon was likely to suffer from Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy, a condition unproven by science in which a mother will make up an illness in her child, or harm it, to draw attention to herself.

Under the plan, a doctor will hand the newborn to a social worker, provided there are no medical complications. Social services’ request for an emergency protection order – these are usually granted – will be heard in secret in the family court at Hexham magistrates on the same day.

From then on, anyone discussing the case, including Miss Lyon, will be deemed to be in contempt of the court.

Miss Lyon, from Hexham, who is five months pregnant, is seeking a judicial review of the decision about Molly, as she calls her baby. She described it as “barbaric and draconian”, and said it was “scandalous” that social services had not accepted submissions supporting her case.

“The paediatrician has never met me,” she said. “He is not a psychiatrist and cannot possibly make assertions about my current or future mental health. Yet his letter was the only one considered in the case conference on August 16 which lasted just 10 minutes.”

Northumberland County Council insists that two highly experienced doctors – another consultant paediatrician and a medical consultant – attended the case conference.

Making decisions such as this based upon a case conference without even seeing the patiient reminds me of Bill Frisk deciding that Terri Schiavo was not brain dead based upon viewing a video tape. The inaccuracy of that diagnosis was verified on autopsy. The Telegraph quotes a Member of Parliament as saying that such diagnoses of Munchausen’s Syndrome “had been used to remove a number of children from parents.” They also report that 2000 babies under one year of age were taken from their parents.

Liberal Profs Not Responsible For Destroying Religion

If you listen to the babble coming from many conservatives, you’d get the impression that “politically correct” liberal professors are turning students into atheists who will help Democrats steal their bibles. A study in Social Forces shows that college is not responsible for people losing interest in religion:

“Actually we’ve just been wrong about this for quite a while,” said Mark D. Regnerus, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Texas at Austin and one of the authors of a new study that suggests students who attend and graduate from college are more likely than others to hold on to their faith.

It’s not that colleges necessarily encourage faith, he said, but for all the talk about how intellectuals are out to destroy students’ relationships to their religions and God, the main obstacles to such relationships have to do with maturing and how young people spend their time. “Some kids were bound to lose [their faith] anyway and they do,” Regnerus said. But the evidence suggests that college isn’t responsible…

A substantial majority of young adults report a decline in attendance at religious services, while a minority report that religion has become less important and that they have completely dropped their religion. But the greatest drops come from those who are not in college.

FBI Data Mining Program Seen as Threat to Civil Liberties

The Blotter warns of the civil liberties consequences of an FBI data mining program:

Lawmakers are questioning whether a proposed FBI anti-terrorist program is worth the price, both in taxpayer dollars and the possible loss of Americans’ privacy.

The National Security Analysis Center (NSAC) would bring together nearly 1.5 billion records created or collected by the FBI and other government agencies, a figure the FBI expects to quadruple in coming years, according to an unclassified FBI budget document obtained by the Blotter on ABCNews.com…

The FBI has a track record of improperly — even illegally — gathering personal information on Americans, most recently through the widespread abuse of so-called National Security Letters, the two men noted in a letter to Congress’ investigative body, the Government Accountability Office…

The FBI even wants to predict terrorist activity before it happens. Will the next step be something along the lines of Minority Report, the science fiction book and movie in which the government punishes people for crimes which it is predicted they will commit:

Of further concern to the two congressmen are the FBI’s stated hopes to “pro-actively” mine the data to find terrorists using “predictive” analysis, according to its budget request, an unproven method according to experts and even the U.S. intelligence chief’s office.

In theory, predictive analysis involves mapping a known pattern of terrorist behavior — for instance, the sequence and timing of such mundane activities as bank transactions and travel purchases — against a massive collection of such records like the NSAC databases. If an individual’s actions match the pattern, they can be considered a suspect, even if they have no known ties to any suspected terrorists or known terrorist groups.

Such a method would help identify “sleeper cells,” the FBI claims in its request — secret groups of terrorists living innocuously within the United States, waiting for a signal from a terrorist group leader to assemble and strike.

But to date the approach has not proven workable. So far, terrorism researchers “cannot readily distinguish the absolute scale of normal behaviors” for terrorists or ordinary Americans, conceded a 2006 document from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and obtained by National Journal magazine. In other words, no one can figure out how terrorists act differently from normal Americans.