SciFi Weekend: New Companion Announced For Doctor Who; Supergirl Finale; Krypton; The Girl On The Train; Person of Interest; Mr Robot; The Blacklist; The Night Manager; Catastrophe; Mick Jagger

The next companion has been introduced in the video above to replace Jenna Coleman on Doctor Who. Pearl Mackie will play a character named Bill, who clearly has not encountered the Daleks in the past. The Guardian has a little more information on her:

Capaldi said it was “a genuine delight” to welcome Mackie to Doctor Who. “A fine, fine actress with a wonderful zest and charm, she’s a refreshing addition to the Tardis and will bring a universe of exciting new possibilities to the Doctor’s adventures.”
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Steven Moffat, outgoing lead writer and executive producer, said: “A new face in the Tardis, a new voyage about to begin: welcome aboard, the amazing Pearl Mackie! This is where the story really starts.”

Mackie trained as an actor at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, graduating in 2010. Since drama school, she has worked across theatre, film, radio and television. Her acting credits include Svengali, a British film released in 2013, and she is currently appearing in the stage production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Gielgud Theatre in London.

Among other actors who had been thought to be in the running for the role were Coronation Street’s Michelle Keegan, Rakhee Thakrar, who impressed many with her performance as Shabnam Masood in EastEnders, and Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark in Game of Thrones and guest-starred in the last season of the sci-fi show.

Supergirl finale

Supergirl ended the season well. While the two part season finale had its plot holes, they did end many of the plot thread of the season, while leaving one major one for next season (the search for Jeremiah Danvers) and ended the episode with a cliff hanger. Prior to the last second cliff hanger, there was a feel-good moment for the cast. Plus there is the question (as of now undecided by the writers) as to exactly Kara’s new job will be.

Entertainment Weekly interviewed Andrew Kreisberg about the finale. Here are a couple of excerpts:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start off with the reveal that someone else has landed on Earth. What can you tease of who this is? Are they friend or foe?
ANDREW KREISBERG:
Obviously it’s our big cliffhanger of the season, so I’m not fully inclined to let everyone know who shot J.R. It’s an important character, and they’ll play an important role in season 2.

Is this a character we may have seen in the comics before?
Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but it’ll be cool. The fans are going to be excited. It’s going to definitely shake things up for season 2.

Especially with something like Project Cadmus in the ether, the first person I think of is Superboy.
[Crickets.]

Moving on, Kara was willing to risk her life for the world. How does that change her in season 2?
This whole season has been about her embracing being Supergirl. In a way, this was her graduation episode. She hadn’t fully figured out how to integrate being Supergirl into her life. This whole season has been a learning experience for her. At the end of this episode, she’s fully Supergirl. Next season, you’re going to see a Supergirl who is more mature, and a bit more of a cohesive character. She’s taken the identity of Kara and the identity of Supergirl and merged them in a better way. You’re just going to see a more confident, stronger Supergirl than we’ve ever seen before.

Is it safe to say the world is now on her side?
Oh yeah. You don’t save the world without dispelling all doubters…

Even though Fort Rozz is gone, are the prisoners who were once inside it still an ever-present threat?
I think so.

What can you say of the fates of Non and Brainiac?
If you’re a fan of the comic books, you know that Kara’s heat vision took away Non’s — lobotomized Non. How and when we see him again, he’ll probably be very different. I think Indigo is probably the hardest person in the world to kill given that she’s a living computer, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she pops up again.

What would you say was your point of pride for the first season?
I’m so proud of the show. As much expectation there was for the show, there was also a lot of like, “Yeah, prove it!” [Laughs.] I think the show really works. Melissa is a star. Like any first season show, there were missteps and not every episode was as strong as the others, but I can point to a whole bunch of episodes, like “Red Faced,” like “Human for a Day,” like the crossover, like “Falling” as being some of my favorite episodes that I’ve gotten to do over the course of all the series that Greg [Berlanti] and I work on together. I’m just super proud of the show. We’ve proven that there’s an audience for a female superhero. Hopefully there will be many more years to come.

Syfy has ordered a pilot for a Superman prequel Krypton, set on the planet two generations before its destruction. The idea reminds me of Gotham, and even more of Caprica. Hopefully it is more successful than the later.

The trailer is out for The Girl On The Train. The mystery novel, often compared to Gone Girl, should make a good movie, and does have a strong cast.

The cast and crew of Person of Interest haven’t given up on saving the show, which CBS is ending after the upcoming season which will air this spring. From TV Guide:

A potential reboot doesn’t mean, however, that the June 21 series finale will lack closure. “We had to hurry up and end it. They had 13 episodes to turn a very large, slow-moving boat,” Emerson says. “But I think the idea that we had to do it in 13 was actually a plus rather than a minus. I think it allowed the writers’ room to set aside their need to create palatable side stories or a murder-of-the-week or whatever, and really just get focused on wrapping up the loose ends of this thing.”

Adds executive producer Jonathan Nolan: “I would have loved to have kept making this thing for a long, long time, but you don’t want the show to become creatively moribund. We saw the writing on the wall before this season started, but we had the incredible luxury of having 13 episodes to really finish our story. And so, as much as I would have loved to have kept working on the show … I’m very proud of what we’ve made here for the final season, and I’m very glad that we had a chance to finish telling our story, an opportunity that’s denied to so many great network TV shows. So I’m very satisfied with the way we’ve told our story, and I certainly hope our fans are.”

After evolving from a CBS procedural to a true genre show, I certainly can see reason to keep it going if any other networks are interested.

MR. ROBOT -- "Pilot" Episode 101 -- Pictured: (l-r) Rami Malek as Elliot, Christian Slater as Mr. Robot -- (Photo by: David Giesbrecht/USA Network)

Mr. Robot will be returning on July 13. Presumably we will be seeing the aftermath of the first season finale, unless Elliot just imagined it all.

Some additional brief thoughts on the past week which will be kept brief due to limited time this week:

Better Call Saul had a great second season, but certainly left a lot hanging in its season finale.

Cape May was an unusual episode of The Blacklist. I’m still not certain if Lizzie is really dead, but it is looking less likely that Reddington faked her death. If she is alive, Reddington does not appear to be aware of it.

The Night Manager’s premier was excellent. As soon as time permits I will probably be downloading the remainder of the season rather than waiting for it to finish its run here.

Speaking of shows from the UK, Amazon recently released the second season of Catastrophe, which is well worth watching. The show is much like You’re The Worst in tone with a somewhat older couple. Like You’re The Worst, Catastrophe got a little more serious in its second season, but it did so without any drop in quality or humor.

In other entertainment news, Mick Jagger is not portrayed very well in a new book:

Rich Cohen delivers the unflattering portrayal of Jagger in “The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones.”

“There’s something monstrous about Mick Jagger,” Cohen writes after exhuming details from the band’s dark past.

“The Stones had been shedding people from the start. Use ’em up, toss ’em aside,” Cohen continues. “It’s a machine that runs on bodies.”

Prince was honored in this week’s Saturday Night Live, hosted by Jimmy Fallon.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Supergirl; Agents of SHIELD; Renewals; DC Movie News; Schwarzenegger Refuses To Talk About Trump

Capaldi First Image

Peter Capaldi had previously suggested he would leave Doctor Who after the upcoming season, when Chris Chibnall will replace Steven Moffat as show runner. He has now told Radio Times that he has been asked to stay on but has not made up his mind. He also states that the new companion to replace Jenna Coleman has been cast and will be named soon.

Capaldi has told Newsweek that he is not happy with how the BBC handles the series:

Perhaps, as is the fate of so many seemingly happy marriages, the BBC has taken the Doctor for granted? “Undoubtedly,” he says. “The BBC is an incredible organization, but…sometimes people there think, That’s looking after itself. And it’s not being looked after. I think maybe their eye was taken off the ball, or the show was seen as a thing they could just push around. It’s not. It’s a special thing.”

The later time slot prompted tabloid hyperbole of a “ratings crisis,” something the star admits he begrudgingly keeps tabs on. “I have to pay attention to ratings—I’d rather not—but it’s the way the business is,” he says. “I think overnight ratings are a thing of the past. You can’t really measure the success of the show by its overnight ratings, which is what the papers do. But there’s still a place for families to sit down and watch the show—that’s still a great, fun thing to do. That’s what the show’s success has been based on. That has to be protected.”

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Rob Latour/REX/Shutterstock (5613187u) Melissa Benoist, Calista Flockhart and Chyler Leigh 'Supergirl' TV series screening, Inside, PaleyFest 2016, Los Angeles, America - 13 Mar 2016

The cast and crew of Supergirl discussed feminism, and the upcoming Supergirl/Flash crossover episode at PaleyFest:

Much of the discussion centered on feminism, particularly on the impact of having a female superhero on television in a male-dominated field. Leigh said that’s what motivated her to take on the Alex Danvers role. “I have two girls, and right before taking this job my husband was really challenging me in the sense of like ‘think about what this opportunity is and think about what it means to you and look at our little girls and if you don’t have a resounding yes [about being on Supergirl] then you’re crazy. For little girls, there’s so much on TV that is influential especially towards the younger ages. To be a part of something that’s telling a very powerful story in many different ways from many different perspectives, especially from a women’s standpoint but also from little girl’s standpoint … is rewarding.” Added Adler, “And that’s not just confined to little girls or women. I think the most exciting thing for me is the feeling that everyone feeling the strength of Supergirl regardless of gender.”

…On why he chose The Flash to be the first comic book crossover character on Supergirl, Berlanti said: “We needed to create a way to do it. We had to introduce Superman since you’ve heard about him and you’ve heard about Supergirl, but in worlds of Arrow and Flash, they didn’t exist in that world. We introduced the multiverse in The Flash this year, and that was always our way in.” But fans shouldn’t hold their breath for a visit from the Man of Steel. “We’re so thrilled that Supergirl is our point of view,” Adler said. “We’re thrilled to continue to tell her story.”

Supergirl has been renewed for a second season.

marvels-agents-of-shield-shield

Agents of SHIELD will once again be affected by the Marvel Cinematic Universe:

After Captain America: The Winter Soldier delivered the game-changing twist that Hydra had infiltrated SHIELD from the inside, completely destroying the government organization that makes up the very core of Agents of SHIELD, the ABC Marvel drama became a completely new show in season one. Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) became Director Coulson of the real SHIELD, working in the shadows to take down the Hydra agents who betrayed them, including their former friend Grant Ward (Brett Dalton). The show was never the same after that revelation, and it was clear from both critical and fan response that the series was better for it.

With Captain America: Civil War only weeks away from its box-office bow, Agents of SHIELD is set to change yet again as a result of whatever happens in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

“It will definitely have a ripple effect,” executive producer Jed Whedon says. “It is one world, so if there is a giant event, it will definitely have a ripple effect on our world.”

SHIELD Palicki and Blood

There is also more information on the spinoff being considered staring Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood:

After spawning low-rated but critical darling period drama Agent Carter, ABC’s first Marvel series is laying the groundwork for pilot Marvel’s Most Wanted. Centering on the newest additions to SHIELD, Bobbi Morse aka Mockingbird (Adrianne Palicki) and Lance Hunter (Nick Blood), the potential series would follow the two former spies and ex-spouses who are on the run with no friends, no SHIELD and a long list of enemies looking to claim a bounty on their heads.

Without any allies except each other, Bobbi and Hunter will be forced to form an uneasy alliance with Dominic Fortune (Delroy Lindo), a rogue adventurer with a wealth of resources and even more adversaries, who agrees to protect them so long as they help him with his own agenda. These two heroes will help anyone in need, all while trying to uncover the conspiracy that put their own lives in jeopardy.

They will continue to work with SHIELD this season and decisions as to Marvel’s Most Wanted and Agent Carter will probably be made in May.

Fox has renewed Gotham for a third season. In other news on the show,  Brian McManamon has been cast as  Clayface.

Person of Interest returns on May 5 with two episodes to air per week, airing on Monday and Tuesday. This is to be the final season.

Amber Herd has been cast to play Mera in the upcoming Justice League and stand-alone Aquaman movie. Both the stand-alone Aquaman movie and Flash movie will be new stories following their appearance in Justice League and will not be origin stories. Following are the planned release dates for the DC movies:

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice March 25, 2016

Justice League: Part One November 17, 2017

The Flash March 16, 2018

Aquaman following July 27, 2018

Arnold Schwarzenegger, who is about to take over as host of Celebrity Apprentice, walked out of an interview and refused to answer questions about Donald Trump’s presidential campaign when asked on Australia’s Weekend Sunrise. Schwarzenegger has endorsed John Kasich for the GOP nomination. Meanwhile Trump’s campaign continues like a bad reality show or movie, with more violence reported, involving his campaign manager.

SciFi Weekend: Mr. Robot; Jessica Jones; Kimmy Schmidt; Person of Interest; Homeland; 24; Heroes; The DC Superhero Shows; Orphan Black; Blacklist

Mr Robot Finale Bar

After Mr. Robot won two Golden Globes for Best TV Drama and Best Supporting Actor (Christian Slater), cast and crew discussed the show at the Television Critics Association press tour. Here are some excerpts via Vulture:

The first-season finale ended with everyone’s favorite hacker confronting his painful delusions. The new season will begin with that struggle. “The whole show has been about Elliot’s emotional journey, and I really wanted to focus on that and less about the plot,” Esmail said. “And so, for me, the headline of season two is: How does Elliot reconcile the fact that he’s aware that he’s been seeing this fantasy?” Even as the first season entertained viewers with several twists and turns, Esmail said he’s not interested in “gotcha moments … Rami brilliantly plays Elliot in a way that he drops you into his psyche. So you’re learning it with him. As long as that is organic and that feels real, then I think the twists will come from there. But it’s not my agenda to keep shocking you. It really isn’t.”

Elliot’s past — and when his delusions began, and whom they involve — will become clearer in the second season. “There will be a lot more backstory that we’re going to show,” Esmail shared. “The timeline is going to get a little clearer. Not 100 percent clearer, because what’s the fun in that? But a little clearer.” Malek said Esmail has shared “enough” with him to help him start preparing for his performance. With this character, I have to prepare for anything at any given moment. I go through every direction as to what possibly happened to someone like this because in his head we never know what has happened. And I think having to trace back the truth and discover the truth ultimately makes him more complex to play — just trying to decipher what he’s actually seen and where he’s actually been. When I think about that, it kind of haunts me as a human being, having to do that. And that’s the place he finds himself in approaching this next season.”

Elliot is an unreliable narrator, and yes, there are other things he’s shown viewers besides the identity of Mr. Robot that we shouldn’t trust. After Esmail revealed that during the panel, Malek asked him, “Do I know? Do we know?” The answer: “No.”

Jessica Jones Luke Cage

Krysten Ritter discussed the sex scenes in Jessica Jones during the press tour. Considering both the highly favorable reception for the show and discussion of season two in several years, I assumed that it was already decided. Apparently a second season was not official at the time, but Netflix has now made it official. Plus elsewhere there is talk about season two of Daredevil, and about  Iron Fist,

Netflix has also announced that Orange is the New Black will return on June 17, 2016 and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt returns for its second season on April 15th, 2016. Kimmy Schmidt has also been renewed for a third season.

Person of Interest season 5 will air this spring, and CBS President Glenn Geller left open the possibility that it could be renewed. Perhaps airing in the spring, when there aren’t as many new episodes of network shows, will result in high ratings to justify renewing it. On the other hand, the show has an extensive back-story and a lot of episodes to catch up on which makes it difficult for new viewers to get involved. It would be interesting if someone could put together the parts of episodes dealing just with the mythology of the show and cut all the number of the week stories.

Homeland will be coming back for a fifth season, taking place in New York. I finally gave in and completed watching the last season over the holidays. It was better than some recent seasons, but still far below the first season. There were also some vague references to Quinn’s fate:

The closest thing to a teaser came in the form of a cryptic update on Quinn, who was not having a good time at the end of last season. “Quinn is very damaged, no question about that,” the network’s president of programming, Gary Levine, said, according to Deadline. “If he should live, he won’t be in the shape and form he was.”

If this (and multiple other shows) don’t give you enough stories on fighting terrorism, Fox plans to reboot 24 with a new case.

Heroes Reborn will not be coming back for a second season, and there is no reason it should.

73rd ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS -- Pictured: (l-r) Melissa Benoist, Grant Gustin, Presenters at the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC)

We sort of had a Supergirl/Flash crossover at the Golden Globes when Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin presented an award together. (I wish they had the two race up the stage to see whether Supergirl or the Flash is faster.) There have been rumors and denials of a crossover on their television series for some time. CBS president Glenn Geller has now left an opening for such an event. I hope Arrow is included as I think that Kara and Felicity would get along very well together. More on the possibility of a crossover here.

The Flash and Arrow will be returning on CW, along with the premiere of DC’S Legends of Tomorrow. The producers have been denying internet rumors that Felicity will become Oracle. (I don’t think anyone really believes she was killed.)  Some news here, including that the remainder of the season on The Flash will deal with Zoom and the show’s multiverse.

The Americans, one of the best dramatic shows on television the last few years, returns on March 16. Some teasers on the upcoming season and future of the show here.

The above teaser has been released for season 4 of Orphan Black.

Blacklist appears to have wrapped up the Lizzie on the run storyline which dominated the first half of the season. The Director turned out to be less powerful that initially suggested as the Cabal literally had him dropped. Reddington has said it was time to “take down the Cabal” but it appears to remain alive and well (even if weaker). Things are much like before except it appears Lizzie will now be working with Reddington as an FBI asset as opposed to an agent. Plus it is not clear if Reddington is now a part of the cabal. If so, does that mean they are still an evil group trying to get us into World War III with Russia? Will Reddington still be helping the FBI capture people involved with the Cabal?Plus is Laurel Hitchen in charge, or just the highest ranking person we see, and how dangerous will she be now that everyone is on to her?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sundance has renewed Rectify for a fourth and final season.

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

12 Monkeys will return on April 18 on Syfy.

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

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

Coal Hill School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: The Top 20 New Shows of 2015

Once again, as I did last year, I’m concentrating, I’m concentrating on the top new shows of the past year (but will include some comments on returning shows below). This is for a few reasons:

  • Not having the time to devote professional time to television as professional television critics do, there are many shows I have not watched purely due to lack of time. Limiting to a single year reduces the impact of this.
  • Limiting to new shows eliminates the problem in many “best of” lists of including the same shows every year.
  • Talking about new shows could be of greater value. It is more likely that readers know about the top shows which have been on for the last several years, but might not be aware of some of the shows which started more recently.
  • If readers are inspired to catch up on a show from a list such as this, it is far more practical to catch up after one season than several. I know this from personal experience. This is why I cannot say much about the series finale of Justified, which has received great reviews, as I’m years behind. It was much easier to catch up on Manhattan and The 100 after missing the first season, allowing me to say more about them below.

Besides being limited to shows I have watched, this is also biased towards genre shows. Therefore, what might be the year’s biggest hit among new shows, Empire, is excluded from consideration on both counts. Rankings are also quite arbitrary, and some shows could easily be a few spots higher or lower if I were to redo this fifteen minutes later. Still, this gives a general idea of which I consider among the best as compared to those ranked lower. It is a sign of the increased number of good shows coming out, partially due to the increased influence of steaming video along with cable, that I have expanded from a top fifteen list last year to a top 20 list this year.

Top 20 New Shows Of 2015

Last Man On EarthCa

20. Last Man on Earth (ABC)

This would have ranked far higher if it could have maintained the quality of its original premiere, but adding new characters just led to it devolving into a number of more standard sitcom tropes. Still, while many gave up on the show, I continued to have interest in the first season finale and into the second season.

NUP_166495_0049.jpg

19. Childhood’s End (Syfy)

Adapting a novel from Arthur C. Clarke seemed like a sure winner, but there were problems I didn’t expect from doing this until I viewed the miniseries. It seemed far more dated in 2015 compared to when I read the novel in the 1960’s now that we have seen so many shows with alien visitation to earth. This story worked out much better as a novel as they could not capture important aspects of the story, including the magnitude of the ending, on television as compared to in prose. The show also failed to make the new world created in the miniseries seem believable, compared to the far better adaptations in a couple of other shows listed below. We heard about all the changes on earth, but rarely saw them, and what we did seem, such as mankind giving up science, didn’t seem believable.

Togetherness

18. Togetherness (HBO)

An excellent sitcom showing how cable and streaming have replaced the “must watch TV” from NBC and the other broadcast networks.

The Expanse

17.The Expanse (Syfy)

Syfy returns to space, with a mystery and quite a bit of world building in the series based upon the novels by James S. A. Corey. I have only seen the first two episodes so far, so my opinion of the show could change once I see more. It was just recently renewed for a second season.

Fresh off the Boat

16. Fresh Off The Boat (ABC)

Both Blackish last year and Fresh Off The Boat this year offer new variations on Modern Family. Constance Wu makes the show.

Casual

15. Casual (Hulu)

Yet another twist on a family sitcom, done far better by Hulu than the networks.

12Monkeys

14. 12 Monkeys (Syfy)

A time travel show which took aspects from the movie, but improved upon them for a weekly series. The series did an excellent job of building on its mythology, providing surprises, and moving in a new direction in the season finale.

Programme Name: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - TX: n/a - Episode: Ep2 (No. 2) - Picture Shows: Mr Norrell (EDDIE MARSAN) - (C) JSMN Ltd - Photographer: Matt Squire

13. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell (BBC One/BBC America)

An excellent adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s novel, making a world in which magic exists seem real.

Supergirl-TV-Show-Actress-Melissa-Benoist

12. Supergirl (CBS)

Another show from the produces of Arrow and The Flash, with his being much closer to The Flash in style. The show had an excellent pilot, but for a while seemed like a weaker version of The Flash. It started getting more interesting toward the end of the fall season as the show had an opportunity to develop. Spoilers ahead: Major events before the hiatus included the revelation that Hank Henshaw is the Martian Manhunter. Calista Flockhart is excellent as Cat Grant, but considering her profession can she be trusted now that she figured out Supergirl’s secret identity? So far Supergirl doesn’t know about Hank, but it is inevitable that she learns who he is. A shape shifter could be useful to show both Supergirl and Kara in the same place to fool Cat.

Sense8 Will and Riley

11. Sense 8 (Netflix)

A very ambitious show, which took time to develop its story, but well worth the wait. Enjoy the scenery from around the world while trying to figure it out in the early episodes.

agent-carter_promo-cast-photos-616x462

10. Agent Carter (ABC)

This shows how much better a network show can be when limited to a single eight-episode story.  Maybe that is why it is the only network show which cracked the top ten. Of course a network still could not compete with streaming when entering the Marvel universe.

kimmy23f-6-web

9. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

This shows how the networks have surrendered quality sitcoms to streaming and cable. The show was originally produced by Tina Fey for NBC, but they passed on it and it was picked up by Netflix. It will be interesting to see if the show is even better when the second season is produced, knowing it will appear on Netflix rather than NBC.

Daredevil Matt and Karen

8. Daredevil (Netflix)

The first of a series of shows from the Marvel universe. Dardevil was darker, grittier, and more violent than any of the superhero shows before this. The series also took advantage of the streaming medium, often telling a continuous story, but sometimes including a more conventional single episode on a specific topic (which was still part of the greater story for the season).

Master of None

7. Master of None (Netflix)

Aziz Ansari shows how good a comedy could be on what I bet is a low budget if there is excellent writing. Besides comparisons to his character on Parks and Recreation, the show is often compared to Louie. I also see a lot of early Seinfeld in it.

Catastrophe

6. Catastrophe (Channel 4/Amazon)

The British show, also made available in the United States from Amazon Prime, was the best new sitcom of the year. It was this year’s, You’re The Worst, with Sharon Horgan playing what felt like could be an older version of Aya Cash’s chacter, and the nationalities of Jimmy and Gretchen’s nationalities reversed.

Man In The High Castle Poster

5. Man In The High Castle (Amazon)

While changes were made for the new version, Man In The High Castle was an excellent adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel, providing a realistic look at what could have happened if Germany and Japan had won World War II and occupied the United States. Changes were made in some characters, and there were plot differences to turn this into an ongoing series. Hitler remaining alive in the 1960’s provides for a difference in the politics. Instead of a book with an alternate history in which the Allies won, using film reels worked better on television. While the main storyline was tied up, the finale raised new questions, making me very happy that it was renewed. Spoilers ahead: As happened earlier in the book, the finale did show a character crossing over into an alternate universe looking like ours, partially explaining the meaning of those news reels. I still have a lot of questions about them, and if the book gave any further hints, I read it too long ago to remember. The finale did wrap up the major storyline and led to an unexpected character living in a “high castle” who was interested in the news reels. Is he really the title character, and how is he connected to the films?

Humans

4. Humans (Channel 4/AMC)

Yet another British import on this list which was also shown in the United States presented a look at how robots (Synths) could change our society, along with a thriller storyline involving a small group of  Synths which were more than they seemed. I’m not sure if the second season could be as strong as the first now that all the secrets have been revealed, but they definitely left matters open to continue the story.

MR. ROBOT -- "Pilot" Episode 101 -- Pictured: (l-r) Rami Malek as Elliot, Christian Slater as Mr. Robot -- (Photo by: David Giesbrecht/USA Network)

3. Mr. Robot (USA)

A cyber-thriller which is totally different from what anyone would expect from a show on USA. The show gave a lot of hints about one element which was not confirmed until later in the season, but still came up with surprises along the way. The season finale also left room for a lot more.

Better Call Saul

2. Better Call Saul (AMC)

Better Call Saul greatly exceeded expectations, standing on its own in addition to being a prequel series to one of the greatest television series of all time, Breaking Bad.

Jessica Jones

1. Jessica Jones (Netflix)

Netflix exceeded what was accomplished on Daredevil with Jessica Jones, staring Kristin Ritter in the title role. The series, even more than Daredevil, was like a single long movie, with only brief breaks in the narrative to fill in viewers on the back stories of the major characters. This works as a stand alone story, but also has references to The Avengers, a character from Daredevil, and sets up future shows, especially Luke Cage.

Spoilers ahead. The show did so many things well.  While many super hero stories suffer from trying to create yet a bigger danger to the entire world to fight, Jessica Jones was a personal story between Jessica and the villain, with David Tennant doing a fantastic job playing Kilgrave. Without their powers, this is essentially the story of an abused woman who once again confronts the man who abused her. Add on the super powers, and it becomes a story of a man who can have whatever he wants and does not understand why Jessica does not love him when he is nice to her.

Most of the supporting cast was also excellent, including Mike Colter as Luke Cage and Rachel Taylor as Trish Walker. One neighbor initially seemed to be a stereotypical drug addict, but turned into a significant figure. The brother and sister also living in the same building were the weakest characters, but the sister was useful to allow Kilgrave to escape. The length of the story did require a series of  near-captures, captures, and escapes. Plus it was necessary to change the situation so that the ending could take place, when earlier Jessica had reason to not only capture Kilgrave alive, but provide proof of his powers.

Honorable Mention

Grace and Frankie Season 1 netflix handout .... Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the Netflix Original Series "Grace and Frankie". Photo by Melissa Moseley for Netflix.Ê

Grace and Frankie (Netflix) Any show staring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston has to be good, even if some of other new sitcoms were more consistent.

Blindspot (NBC) A fascinating premise made the early shows feel like something unique from network drama, but far too often it is just a gimmick to introduce the case of the week. Whether the show becomes a great will depend on whether the underlying mystery of the show remains compelling. Also on NBC, Blacklist almost felt like a new show with Lizzie now on the run, reminiscent of how Person of Interest evolved into more of a genre show last year on CBS.

Limitless (CBS) A lighter genre show which shows potential to be entertaining, but I doubt will rise to greatness.

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (Netflix) A prequel to the movie.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS) and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore (Comedy Central) were two excellent additions to light night television, a genre which I arbitrarily left out of the rankings. They help make up for the loss of David Letterman and Jon Stewart. I haven’t actually watched much of Larry Wilmore but he has been hilarious when I’ve seen clips. I’m looking forward to seeing him host the White House Correspondents’ dinner.

The Republican Debates have become an amusing reality show, featuring reality television star Donald Trump. His previous reality show had a similar format in gradually eliminating candidates vying for a job.

Besides the above changes on late night television,  this year marked the end of many excellent shows including Mad Men, Parks and Recreation, Hannibal, Parenthood, Continuum, and Justified. Downton Abbey concluded in the UK with the Christmas special, but the final season is just now beginning in the United States. (No spoilers, but the series ended well).

Last year I left out some shows only because I had not had a chance to see them yet. These included The 100 (CW) and Manhattan (WGN). These turned out to both be extremely high quality shows. and both would have made the top five if I had seen them when compiling last year’s list.

Among shows I’ve heard excellent things about, and very well might deserve to be ranked among the top shows but I have not had a chance to see so far are Narcos (Netflix), Wolf Hall (BBC Two/PBS), and The Jinx (HBO). While not as critically acclaimed, I have received a plug for another genre show, Wayward Pines (Fox).

SciFi Weekend: Arrow (Is Felicity Dead?); Martian Manhunter Joins Supergirl; You’re The Worst; Fargo; The Leftovers; More Renewals

Arrow Felicity Shot

Mid season finales have now become a big thing on network television as many shows take a hiatus for the holidays, while some cable shows have completed their season. There were several big WTF moments on television recently, often, but not entirely, part of a midseason or season finale.

Two of the superhero shows from Andrew Kreisberg  and his group featured big WTF moments. The biggest one would be the death of Felicity on Arrow if anyone really believed it was real. Last year we saw Oliver die and come back to life, with Thea and Sara Lance having also come back from the dead. While there is no longer a Lazarus Pit, it seems a safe bet that they would never kill off Felicity. They replayed a portion of the grave scene, to imply that it was Felicity’s, but we’ve also been led to believe that the scene takes place later this spring, not currently to coincide with Felicity getting shot.

While there could be misdirection, Emily Bett Rickards is also present in set photos (such as here) from episodes still being filmed.

This leaves the question of who is in the grave. While there are other possibilities, at present I like the fan theories that it could be Samantha or William Clayton, Oliver’s former girlfriend and their son. This would explain why all of Team Arrow, along with Felicity’s mother, weren’t at the grave site if it was Felicity’s. In a recent interview, producer Wendy Mericle did warn of “serious consequences” that “come to a head” because of the decisions Oliver made regarding them. This most directly seems to be regarding Oliver and Felicity’s relationship, but perhaps it also leads to putting Samantha or William in danger.

Supergirl Martian Manhunter

The big WTF moment on Supergirl was that Hank Henshaw didn’t turn out to be an evil alien as many fans suspected. As with Harrison Wells on The Flash, Hank Henshaw’s body was taken over by someone else, but in this case not be someone evil. Henshaw turned out to be J’onn J’onzz aka The Martian Manhunter. The show’s producers discussed this with The Hollywood Reporter:

“It’s the secret of Supergirl: Within the body of the series of Supergirl, there is a Martian Manhunter series rolling throughout it,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s the thing that makes us giggle the most.”

Back when the showrunners were on set to shoot the pilot, the idea to make DEO head Hank the Martian Manhunter was initially floated as a joke.

“[DC Comics CCO] Geoff Johns, [executive producer] Greg Berlanti and I were saying, ‘It’s so funny we cast David because he’s got those weird ears. Like alien ears,’ ” Kreisberg says. “I don’t remember which one of us said it, but it was like, ‘If we were ever going to make a Martian Manhunter show, David would have been the perfect Martian Manhunter.’ And Geoff said, ‘Well, why can’t he be?’ We already had it set up that Hank was keeping this bad secret, and then we started thinking about well, what if it was a good secret? You think he’s bad but then he turns out to be not only good, but the most good person in the DC universe.”

…Executive producer Ali Adler teases that John’s abilities will blow Kara’s out of the water. “He’s got such tremendous powers,” Adler says. “We really want to show off what he can do, and we’re definitely going to do that in upcoming episodes.”

“There’s a lot of fun to be had,” Harewood adds. “He’s a shape-shifter so he can be whoever he wants to be. So you’ll find me being other members of the cast at some various points of the story.”

You're The Worst Season 2 Finale

You’re the Worst picked up a renewal for the third season as the second season concluded, plus Stephen Falk received a deal to produce additional shows for FX and FXX. While the second season of You’re The Worst was not as good as the first, Stephen Falk deserves credit for taking the season in such a different direction for the second season. I suspect that it might have been the added depth he showed in the second season which led to his deal to produce additional shows.

The arc with Gretchen’s depression showed more depth in writing by Falk, as well as acting by Aya Cash, but it was the comedy, not potential for such drama, which made the show television’s best (even if under-rated) sitcom last year. Another consequence was that there was less interaction between the story lines of the various characters. On the plus side, this ultimately did lead to further development in the relationship between the two dysfunctional leads. Gretchen decided to consider medications for depression, which she never considered in the past, now that she was involved with someone else who was affected by her depression. (Her friendship with Lindsay doesn’t count.)  Jimmy almost ran off with the girl who owns the bar, but in the end did not. Plus the two of them managed to tell each other that they loved the other, even if it required them to be drunk at the time.

Fargo Flying Saucer

Noah Hawley will not only be doing more of Fargo, but has signed a deal to develop additional shows for FX. He had one of the big WTF moments on Fargo last week (“It’s just a flying saucer, hon”), and there is still an episode to go. A UFO was also seen briefly in the first episode of the season. I now wonder if it will play a role in the finale, or just be something without further explanation. It sounds like it will be the later from Hawley’s comments. Perhaps Fox is getting us ready for the return of The X-Files.

Fox has renewed Wayward Pines for a second season. I haven’t seen this one, but a recent plug for the show and news of its renewal might change that.

The Leftovers 2x08 – International Assassin

The Leftovers has been renewed for a third and final season on HBO. This sounds about right. The second season was much better than the first, having completed the events of the Tom Perrotta novel and now able to explore new territory, but I’m not sure there is enough to do in this world which cannot be wrapped up in one more season.

This is the perfect series for Damon Lindelof . He can write about how people respond to unexplainable situations, without being expected to ultimately give an explanation as on Lost. A lot happened in the season finale, but for me seeing the Guilt Remnant show up and seeing Mary wake up was nothing compared to the WTF moment in the eighth episode, International Assassin, when Kevin was in a  hotel from purgatory, if not hell. That episode alone made the season a success.

Blacklist has been much better this season with Elizabeth on the run with James Spader’s character. It has been renewed for a fourth season.

Melissa Benoist Homeland Supergirl

Showtime has renewed Homeland and The Affair. After its slip in quality over the years, I haven’t watched this season of Homeland yet, but might watch binge it Netflix style if time permits. There are many reasons to remember the first season fondly, but the recent start of Supergirl has led to additional attention for the show as viewers recall a topless Melissa Benoist being asked questions such as whether she enjoys anal sex and other women in the first season of Homeland. (Video here–not safe for work.)  Kara would turn as red as the star she was born under if asked those questions on Supergirl.

Person of Interest strangely is not appearing on CBS’s schedule yet. There is speculation that it is being held back until spring or summer, and hope that maybe it can be renewed beyond this year if it is more successful than Extant and Under the Dome, which have been canceled.

The Man In The High Castle, which I completed this week, ended the first season with a couple of WTF moments. One was foreshadowed by events in the book, despite some major differences between the book and the television series. As there are still likely to be many who have not finished the series yet, I’m holding off on discussing this streaming series, as well as Jessica Jones, a little longer. Both are highly recommended.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Limitless; Supergirl; Gotham; You’re The Worst; Alison Brie; Continuum

Doctor Who Missy and Clara

Doctor Who returned with The Magician’s Apprentice. Does this mean that the Doctor is the Magician and Clara the Apprentice? This was a true Moffat episode, including both the strengths and weaknesses which that implies. The strengths include dealing with big issues, and a strong connection to the history of Doctor Who. The episode returns to the question raised in the classic 1975 episode, Genesis of the Daleks: “If someone who knew the future, pointed out a child to you, and told you that that child would grow up totally evil, be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives, could you then kill that child?”

The episode started with a child endangered by a war. The Doctor appeared to try to save him, with the advice, “Your chances of survival are about one in a thousand. So heres what you do, you forget about the thousand and concentrate on the one.” Then, before trying to save him, the Doctor asked his name. “Davros. My name is Davros.” Davros, the creator of the Daleks

From the start we saw another characteristic of a Moffat episode–many interesting ideas thrown in. Davros was threatened by the hand mines. When there was an effort later to get Clara’s attention, it was done by stopping planes in the air–a simple time trick from Missy, who is not dead as appeared last season: “Not dead. Back. Big surprise. Never mind.” This led to a quick scene with Clara at UNIT, meeting with Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, and then the actual meeting between Clara and Missy.

The season began somewhat similar to how last season did, with the Doctor not around. It also felt like a repeat of an old theme with the Doctor preparing for his death, with the added twist this time of the Doctor sending Missy his confession dial, the Last Will and Testament of the Doctor. He hosted a rock party and, without regard to how it might change human history, “I’ve also introduced the word ‘dude’ several centuries early.”

Missy’s role was never entirely clear, other than for the Moffat tendency to try to find a way to bring back favorite ideas from previous episodes. It did make little sense for the Doctor to walk into such an obvious trap. If he did not see it himself, he even had his frenemy Missy to warn him, noting “I know traps. Traps are my flirting.” She was a little upset to find that she was not the Doctor’s number one enemy:

The Doctor: “Now, explain. Politely. Davros is my archenemy. Why would I want to talk to him?”
Missy: “No, wait, hang on a minute. Davros is your archenemy now?”
The Doctor: “Hush.”
Missy: “Not as much as I am.”

But the Doctor did walk into the trap, and apparently saw the death of both Clara and Missy, along with the destruction of the TARDIS. Of course there was never any question as to whether it would really end this way. If Davros is killing the Doctor’s friends (or friend and favorite enemy) because of remembering how the Doctor did not save him, this leaves two options. He could return to save him, or could make sure Davros did not survive.

I suspect that there is more Moffat misdirection, but the episode ended with the impression that the Doctor did go back time to make certain that Davros died. Or maybe he exterminates the hand mines. In the final scene, the Doctor again appeared in the hand mine field. “I’m from the future.” He then said to young Davros, “I’m gonna save my friend the only way I can: Exterminate!”

We will have to wait until next week to see how this really turns out, with Moffat mixed in providing satisfactory conclusions to the set-ups in two-part stories. Two part stories area also reportedly to become the norm this season. There will be twelve episodes and then a Christmas episode which includes the return of River Song.

Doctor Who Daleks Abbey Road

The return of Doctor Who was a major event. My favorite publicity picture is the one above with the Doctor and Clara along with two Daleks replacing The Beatles on Abbey Road. Steven Moffat discussed the entire season with Radio Times, possibly providing too many spoilers. Just like last year there were rumors that Jenna Coleman would be leaving the show, ultimately with confirmation that this will be her last season. There are also two Doctor Who Extra videos for this week’s episode which can be viewed here.

Supergirl

CBS made the pilot for Limitless available through there All Access service, and in this day and age that means a copy was quickly available all over the web. The pilot was enjoyable in setting up the series, essentially being an origin story for someone with superpowers. From here I fear that it might drift into a typical CBS procedural, with the setup for that type of storyline contained in the pilot. Maybe we will be pleasantly surprised, like with Person of Interest. While the pilot does appear to set up a procedural, it also left open questions about the drug which gave the protagonist his powers.

Originally reports also suggested that Supergirl would be more of a CBS procedural also, however watching its pilot (which leaked out weeks ago) it appears to be more similar to The Flash, with Supergirl having super-enemies who escaped from Krypton similar to the metahumans who provide conflict for Barry Allen. Pictures of the Red Tornado were also recently released, further suggesting that the show is headed in the direction of fighting super-powered foes.

Season two of Gotham will be a more serialized story, and it sounds from this interview like they might have fixed some of the problems with the first season.

The second episode of You’re The Worst, Crevasses, showed dilemmas including Jimmy and Gretchen having to make their own Bloody Mary’s when Edgar was out with Lindsay. Most important discovery of the episode: Jimmy’s kitchen has a Bloody Mary drawer.

Alison Brie of Community and Mad Men will be staring in  Julian Fellowes’ first  post-Downton Abbey show for ITV, a television adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s Doctor Thorne.

It is hard to believe that Continuum is half over, with three episodes having already aired on Showcase (two shown in the United States). I will avoid any spoilers for those who have only seen the first two episodes. It should be no spoiler to note that the questions I had after the first two remain after watching the third, even if the third did advance the storyline more than the first two episodes did. As is usual for Continuum, finding out a little more information often leads to even more questions.

The first episode included a scene which was later revealed to be a simulation created by Kiera’s  CMR after she was knocked unconscious. Kiera felt as though she woke up in 2080 after spending three years in a medically-induced coma after the explosion which actually sent her back in time. Kiera saw her family, and afterwards had regained the desire to return home. (I suspect this came about here due to the need to condense the series and wrap it up this year–otherwise I suspect Kiera might not have regained this interest until later in the series). This raises a huge question after seeing how the future changed after Kellogg had taken control of Piron.

If the future has changed, how does Kiera think she can return home? While not explicitly stated, does this mean she intends first to correct the time line? Is she envisioning a means of returning to one of multiple possible time lines? It is also hard to believe she will just consider her job done when the Time Marines are running around in the present. There is also the question  of what is their goal, and how this will affect the future. It is apparently only need to know for Brad, and we do not know if the soldiers returned from just after Brad left, from a time later on when things have changed, changing the mission, or if this is even the same exact timeline Brad came back from.

Kellogg should also have questions about the soldiers which his future self sent back. The Kellogg of the present would much rather live in luxury as a corporate CEO than become a future warlord. Everyone should wonder what Curtis is up to, as he might know more than anyone else, but appears to be playing each side off each other.

In other events of interest, Dillon is somehow still alive, and now working for Piron. We have seen since the start of this series that alliances change, and I would not write him off as one of the bad guys yet. Poor Emily has both been kidnapped, and after escaping being told she is not the mother of Alec’s son, leading her to pack up and leave. I’m not sure that it makes sense for her to expect to be Jason’s mother considering how the timeline has changed since Jason traveled back in time, and how in the original timeline she was killed. The whole point of Emily’s character is that she might keep Alec from turning out to be how we have seen his future self.

If you are watching the episodes as presented in the United States, you might feel that too little has happened so far, considering how close we are to the end of the series. The action does pick up in the third episode, but it certainly feels like there is far too much to fit into only three more episodes.

SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; Mr Robot; Jessica Jones; Patrick Stewart; DC Television Universe; Star Wars Expansion at Disney; The Last Ship; Person of Interest; Homeland

>Hannibal mask

…And The Beast From The Sea continued the portrayal of Red Dragon on Hannibal, and provided the first glimpse of Hannibal Lecter wearing the mask he is famous for in the movies. Hannibal remained in contact with the Tooth Fairy, and even joked about using personal ads or notes on toilet paper to facilitate this in a reference to the novel where this was a more substantial plot point. Hannibal suggested that Dolarhyde  kill Will’s family, leaving viewers uncertain if he would succeed in killing Molly or Walter. Instead a guy just happening to drive by became the victim. Dolarhyde presumably also poisoned the dogs, but fortunately they also survived.
In some ways Hannibal seemed even more evil in this episode, placing Will’s family in risk in this manner. (“They’re not my family, Will”). To Hannibal, perhaps Will is his family, but Molly and Walter are just in the way. Elsewhere in the episode,it was not surprising to see Dolarhyde’s relationship with Reba fall apart, despite how Hannibal characterized the relationship.

Jack and Alana showed again that they do not really understand Hannibal, thinking he would assist them in tracking a call to Dolarhyde. Hannibal played with them, and then tipped off Dolarhyde  with the warning that they were listening. Hannibal had previously given Alana the ominous warning, “I always keep my promises.” Now it was Alana’s turn: “You’re not the only one who keeps their promises, Hannibal.” In response to this latest betrayal. She had all the amenities removed which kept Hannibal so comfortable, “The toilet, too.” As these were removed from the cell, the mask was placed on Hannibal for the safety of those in there.

Mr Robot Darlene

On Mr. Robot, Elliot had a brief meeting with the time-obsessed White Rose, but it was the meetings and surprise interactions between older characters on the show which were of greater interest. There is a major spoiler ahead for those who have not seen this episode yet.

The first big surprise was that Angela and Darlene not only knew each other, but at yoga class both talked about Elliot, showing concern for him. Later there was the meeting between Tyrell Wellick and Mr. Robot, with the two apparently working together, even if not entirely comfortably. This seems to confirm that Mr. Robot is real, but raises major questions, especially for those who think that Mr. Robot and Elliot are the same person.

The biggest scene was when Darlene told Elliot that she loves him, Elliot kissed her, and Darlene recoiled in horror asking, “Did you forget who I am?” Soon it was revealed that Darlene is Elliot’s sister. It was as if Luke had kissed Lea, but is Mr. Robot now Darth Vader?

This led to memories flooding into Elliot’s head. Going meta, Elliot looked at the camera and asked us viewers, “Were you in on this the whole time?” and then“Were you?” Maybe to some degree we are in on it, but we are also quite confused at the moment, also looking for answers.

There was the suggestion that Mr. Robot is Elliot’s father, previously said to be dead. This has been interpreted differently by fans who think that Mr. Robot and Elliot are different manifestations of the same person, and those who think he is a separate and real individual. Mr. Robot showed up at Elliot’s apartment to supposedly explain, so maybe we will learn the answer next week. I wonder if the show will move onto a quite different path as it heads toward its second season.

jessicajones-netflix-509x480

Indiewire reports that Jessica Jones will be a psychological thriller, reporting statements from executive producer Jeph Loeb and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg at the TCA Press Tour. They also discussed a major role for David Tennant:

“When we first sat down and started talking about ‘Daredevil,’ what we said was, for all intents and purposes, it was a crime drama first and a superhero show second,” Loeb told the room. “One of the things we’ve talked a lot about is that ‘Jessica’ is in many ways a psychological thriller first and then a superhero show second.”

…Loeb then went on to say that Tennant’s role in the show would be a key part of what differentiates “Jessica Jones” from other superhero series: “What you get out of ‘Jessica’ is a sort of hold-your-breath tension as to what’s going to happen. When you see the dynamic between Krysten Ritter and David Tennant… that question of ‘What’s going to happen next?’ and ‘What could happen next?’ and how that’s driven by character is something that is so important to not just the scripts but also the way the show is shot, and the way that everyone reacts, and the way those two react with each other.”

Elsewhere in the Marvel universe, Professor X (Patrick Stuart) will have a substantial role in the third Wolverine movie.

white-canary-lazarus-pit

Moving on to DC, next season we will see the return of Sarah Lance on ArrowAusiello discussed how Lance responds to the return of Sarah:

Frankly, it could be the last thing Sara’s family needs! “Thanks to Laurel helping him see the light at the end of last season, Lance is back on the wagon for now, trying to keep on the straight and narrow,” Paul Blackthorne previews. “But that will of course be tested when Sara comes back from the dead. Because I think when your daughter’s coming back from the dead, she may not necessarily come back as quite the same person. Yeah, that’s going to be an issue for the family to deal with!’

Her return will also be in an episode with a cross over from Constantine, who assists with her return to life, which in turn leads into the origins of Legends of Tomorrow.

Despite previous reports to the contrary, CBS is now saying there will not be crossovers between Supergirl and Arrow or The Flash. Reportedly they are in the same universe, so this might be open to reconsideration if the right story is presented.

Disney has always provided synergy between their films, theme parks, and merchandise. Therefore it was no surprise to find that, with Star Wars expected to be a huge blockbuster film this December, there will be a fourteen acre expansion based upon Star Wars at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

TNT has renewed The Last ship for a third season.

Sarah Shahi is returning to Person of Interest following her maternity leave. She will return early in the season and be present for eight or nine episodes of the upcoming thirteen episode season.

The firth season of Homeland sounds like it might be expanding its story lines, dealing with Edward Snowden, Putin, and ISIS.

Donald Trump told a boy on a helicopter ride in Iowa that he is Batman. That is about as ridiculous as Hillary Clinton claiming to be a liberal.

SciFi Weekend: Arrow; Mad Men; Agent Carter; Agents of SHIELD; Person of Interest; The Blacklist; Gotham and Twin Peaks

Arrow Felicity

I was surprised to see Arrow ending its third season in a way much like one of the possible endings I see for Mad Men. Although Don Draper doesn’t currently have a comparable woman in his life, I can easily see him ending the series starting over with a new life in California. As for Oliver Queen, there is little doubt that a new threat to Starling City will bring him back. The best line of the finale was Lance not being surprise that the cite was in  grave danger because it is May, showing awareness of how each season of the show has turned out.

Mark Guggenheim appears to have given away the direction, and big bad, for next season in an interview in Variety:

What can you tease about the trajectory of season four — will HIVE still play a major role?

We’re kind of doing a lot more in terms of the big bad for next year than we have in previous season finales. We first heard about Damien Darhk in episode 321 and there’s a pivotal sequence that surrounds Damien Darhk in the season three finale, so that’s exciting. It feels like we’re pulling a “True Blood” or a “Sons of Anarchy” where the big bad for the following year is teed up in the season finale of this year, so that’s kind of exciting for me because that’s something we’ve never seen before.

A trailer for the spin-off DC’s Legends of Tomorrow has been released and Caity Lotz will play The White Canary, apparently returning to life in a changed form due to The Lazarus Pit.

Mad Men Milk And Honey Route

As for Mad Men ending with a comparable ending with Don Draper driving in California, this is one of many possibilities. He did look the about the happiest he has ever looked at the end of last night’s episode, just sitting on the bench at the bus stop, having divested himself of almost everything in his life. It would be even more plausible that Don would never return to New York if not for the events of last week, but it is also possible that he will pick up the kids after Betty dies and settle into a new life with them in California or elsewhere. There has been some talk recently that the show could end with Don jumping out of the building as in the opening titles. I see the story very likely ending figuratively along such lines–not with Don actually jumping but with him giving up everything about his life as Don Draper except possibly his kids.

There is little doubt that the finale will center around Don, but there is much more in question as to whether we will see more of other characters. Pete somehow looks like he will be the one to end up living happily ever after after last week’s episode, but it remains possible that something will still change things in the finale. After we saw Betty in a previous episode with both a happy family life and going to school, it looked like this might be the end of her story. In retrospect her lung cancer was certainly foreshadowed, between Betty smoking so frequently and all the episodes dealing with cigarettes and lung cancer. Joan could live happily ever after with her financial settlement, and possibly with her new love interest, and we may or may not see her again. I do hope we find out whether Peggy is successful in being treated as a professional, but if we don’t see her again the manner in which she walked into McCann Erickson the last time we say her would be a satisfactory ending. I’m not sure what Roger will do there, but I was also never sure of what he actually did previously.

agent-carter_promo-cast-photos-616x462

Whether or not Oliver Queen or Don Draper wind up in California, it looks like Peggy Carter will when Agent Carter returns. The synopsis to the second season:

Marvel’s Agent Carter returns for a second season of adventure and intrigue, starring Hayley Atwell in the titular role of the unstoppable secret agent for the SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve). Dedicated to the fight against new atomic age threats in the wake of World War II, Peggy must now journey from New York City to Los Angeles for her most dangerous assignment yet. But even as she discovers new friends, a new home — and perhaps even a new love — she’s about to find out that the bright lights of the post-war Hollywood mask a more sinister threat to everyone she is sworn to protect.

Agents of SHIELD finale

The season finale of Agents of SHIELD tied up the Inhuman plot but left them as potential future enemies. The whole question of a second SHIELD appears resolved, but we don’t know if Coulson will lead SHIELD as a one-armed man (or whether Dr. Ricard  Kimble will be chasing after him). Hopefully Simmons will be saved and Fitz will have happiness. We got some clues as to where next season could be heading. From Entertainment Weekly:

And here’s where the show sets up the now-official season three: a one-handed Coulson decides to put together a new team, centered around people with powers, led by Skye, under the promise that everyone on the team will be kept anonymous. An Inhumans team! Ah! It’s all happening!!!

But even Coulson and Skye don’t realize just how important and necessary their powered team is now, since the crate of crystals Skye sunk in the ocean breaks open, infecting all the fish, who are then caught by fishing ships and chopped up into fish oil pills sent to supermarkets and pharmacies everywhere. The world is about to become overrun with unsuspecting Inhumans! Jiaying’s plan succeeded, even if she did survive to see it happen.

More from executive producer Jeffery Bell at IGN:

IGN: Coulson wants Skye to form a new, super-powered and anonymous team. Is this heading towards the Marvel Cinematic Universe take on Secret Warriors?

Jeffrey Bell: Well, Daisy Johnson certainly has a big part in Secret Warriors and having a team like that. If you’ll notice, Coulson says right now she is the only person in what might be this new outfit. But you know, the idea of a team of powered people is something we’ve seen in the show, and I think there’s a world down the road where we do our version. We do our version of all these things so they may not be Secret Warriors but there’s a whole lot of super-powered people fighting super-powered people. That’s not really what we do or what we can even do on a weekly series. But tipping our hats to that direction I think is something we’re suggesting there in the new season.

IGN: Another new team looks like it could be forming under Ward as he moves into a leadership role in Hydra. What’s ahead for him?

Bell: Ward has been a lot of fun. He’s gone through several changes over the course of last two seasons – going from boy scout, to Hydra foot soldier who’s loyal to people above him, to someone who’s been off on his own, and coming to a place where he’s at peace with himself. But after these events at the end of these last two episodes — finally he has a personal vendetta against Coulson and his team in a way he didn’t before because he can now point to them as the reason, whether rightly or wrongly, that he killed the woman he loved. By saying he wants to get closure – and we’ve seen what that’s meant in the past — I think in many ways that means he’s going to be a much more terrifying person…

IGN: What can you tease about whatever the Kree monolith did to Jemma?

Bell: As you go down your list, you’re always looking at what would generate the most story and what would tell interesting, compelling stories. And her character has changed so much in the course of a year. With Fitz, in just in a more obvious way with the head trauma and PTSD with what happened to him, but we did see her go through a lot of changes as well. They’ve each kind of become their own — in the first season we referred to them as FitzSimmons, one word almost as if they were two halves of the same person. This season we’ve split them into two whole people. They went their separate ways, and now that just as they were coming back together, it just seemed like there was an opportunity to twist that story a little bit.

And now that she’s dead — [laughs] no, I’m just kidding — or lost somewhere. Who knows what happened to her? But it seemed like too good of an opportunity not to explore. We love Elizabeth as an actress, and we look forward to seeing what happens to her and how she deals with it.

"A House Divided" -- When an unknown entity prevents The Machine from seeing the full picture of an impending catastrophic event, it sends the team five separate numbers to help them piece together the bigger picture, on PERSON OF INTEREST, Tuesday, May 6 (10:01-11:00 PM ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right:  Jim Caviezel and Amy Acker Photo: Giovanni Rufino/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2014 WBEI. All rights reserved.

Person of Interest has only been picked up for thirteen episodes, but that could be a good thing as the show has moved from a procedural to a more science fiction show about artificial intelligence and surveillance. Thirteen episodes will allow them to deal more with the mythology and less with the number of the week–especially when the machine might not even be able to shoot out more numbers. It is not know if there will be further seasons after the fifty. If they end it with a good thirteen episode arc like on Fringe that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

Co–showrunner Greg Plageman has discussed plans for the fifth season:

How much do you have planned about season 5 at this point?
Greg Plageman: We’ve actually got a lot mapped out. It’s really kind of cool. We gathered our writers at the end of the year — and obviously we left on quite a cliffhanger in terms of Team Machine being engaged in a firefight. [Laughs] We really wanted to know where we were headed. What does it mean with the Machine being in an impenetrable case, and what that’s going to entail for the first couple of episodes, and what the larger arc of the season was. Some really great things emerged from that, and [PERSON OF INTEREST creator] Jonah [Nolan] and I both feel great about the blueprint going forward.

Will you be picking up next season in the immediate aftermath of that epic gunfight? Or will there be a time jump?
GP: We discussed a couple of options, and we feel the most honest and satisfactory way to go would be to pick up in real time. Clearly, Team Machine is carrying a pretty valuable football. The case seems pretty impenetrable; I certainly hope it can float.

Will they be able to return to their subway sanctuary? Or is that off-limits now?
GP: The subway is still okay, as well is, interestingly enough, the cover identities of the guys hasn’t been blown in terms of Samaritan’s point of view. The problem comes when members of Samaritan recognize our crew out in the street, and know who they are, or they engage in anomalous behavior that alerts Samaritan. We feel like some of the fun we had [with the cover identities] is an unexplored arena we’d like to get into a little bit more in the next season.

Do you anticipate going back into the numbers of it all as soon as possible next season? Or does the Machine being compressed give you an opportunity to step away from that for a bit?
GP: It’s going to take some doing [to get back to normal], obviously. We imagine if the Machine knew its demise was imminent, it may have also known of a number of premeditated murders and plotted — before it was compressed into a Kevlar case — to let our guys know that there are some people they should keep an eye on until the Machine is able to regain some of its faculties.

Blacklist Finale Lizzie

Although not science fiction, The Blacklist ended the season in a way analogous to Person of Interest.  The show started out as primarily a vehicle for James Spader and frequently concentrated on the case of the week. Lizzie Boone was often a weak character who could only succeed by getting key information from Reddington. The season finale blew that up, and should make Lizzie  more interesting as a character. I have some question about the finale as I don’t  really think Lizzie would take the step of shooting the Attorney General, ensuring that she would be a fugitive. However for the purpose of advancing the show, I will accept that in a moment of extreme stress, with everyone she knows being threatened, she might take such an extreme action.

Morena Baccarin has been promoted to a series regular for the second season of Gotham.

Orphan Black has hit a relatively slow point the last couple of weeks, with one or another clone captured, along with some DNA talk,  so I will hold off on detailed reviews. Among the more memorable scenes was Helena killing the “lab rat.” I was surprised to see her leave Sarah behind, as previously she said she did not believe the claims that Sarah had betrayed her. Helena is never predictable.

There were questions as to whether David Lynch was going to go through with the revival of Twin Peaks. It looks like it is back on again.

Saturday Night Live mocked Hillary Clinton once again. Video via Crooks & Liars:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orphan Black s03e03

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Syfy has canceled Helix after its second season.

Community Annie Pleasure Droid

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

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

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