SciFi Weekend: Agents of SHIELD; Suicide Squad; Star Trek; Gotham; Stranger Things; Doctor Who

SHIELD Daisy season 4

Agents of SHIELD concluded the third season with a jump ahead showing that someone other than Coulson will be Director of SHIELD. Marvel has revealed that Jason O’Mara will play the Director. While vague, the release did say that he will be “playing a character whose Marvel roots go back to the 1940s.” The synopsis for the upcoming season explains the reason for the change, as well as the changes in the role of some of the other characters:

In light of the Sokovia Accords, and with Hydra obliterated, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been legitimatized again and no longer needs to operate in the shadows. Since the world presumes that Coulson is dead, the organization needed a new Director (Jason O’Mara) to be the face of the organization.

Coulson finds himself back in the role as an agent and teamed with Mack (Henry Simmons), and together they are tasked with tracking down and confirming the presence of Enhanced people, aka Inhumans. They have been trying to track down and capture Daisy (Chloe Bennet), aka Quake, who has gone rogue in an attempt to atone for sins from the past. But with the world believing that Daisy is a dangerous outlaw who has taken down banks and bridges, the new Director has no qualms about taking her down for good.

Agent May (Ming-Na Wen) is tasked with training specialist strike teams, and Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) have taken a big step forward in their relationship. But with Simmons’ new promotion as Special Advisor to the Director in Science and Technology, Fitz, as well as her former team members, finds it hard to confide in or trust her since she’s now the Director’s confidant.

Robbie Reyes (Gabriel Luna) will roar into the lives of Agent Coulson and the team as a junkyard mechanic who can turn on a dime into the terrifying Ghost Rider. Will Robbie be a friend or foe to S.H.I.E.L.D. – as well as the world, itself? Meanwhile, Fitz discovers that socially awkward genius and friend Dr. Radcliffe (John Hannah) has started putting the finishing touches on a new, secret invention.

Chloe Bennet talked with TVLine about Daisy going rogue and her agenda.

In other news about Agents of SHIELD, ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey said at the Television Critics Association press tour that Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood could possibly return. As I noted last week, the return as a regular would be complicated by Palicki being cast in another role.

Suicide Squad2

Suicide Squad has opened to a large box office but has received very poor reviews. It does sound like studio interference played a role in any problems the movie has. The Hollywood Reporter‘s account begins:

“Better late than never.” That was one Warner Bros. executive’s reaction to the excitement at Suicide Squad‘s splashy Aug. 1 premiere in New York. Tracking indicates the film could open to more than $140 million domestically and potentially hand the studio its first unequivocal megahit since American Sniper‘s $547.4 million in December 2014. With March’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice grossing $873 million worldwide but failing to impress audiences or reach the hoped-for $1 billion mark, Warners still urgently needs to jump-start its critical DC Comics universe, raising the stakes for Suicide Squad, which cost at least $175 million to make.

Yet if the villain team-up ultimately works — and it has drawn some harsh early reviews  — it will be in spite of the kind of behind-the-scenes drama that is becoming typical for giant franchise movies that now are the main focus of the studio business: a production schedule engineered to meet an ambitious release date; a director, David Ayer (Fury), untested in making tentpole movies; and studio executives, brimming with anxiety, who are ready to intercede forcefully as they attempt to protect a branded asset. Often, efforts to fix perceived problems ratchet up costs, which drive anxiety ever higher. In extreme cases, such as Fox’s troubled Fantastic Four, the intervention is so aggressive that it becomes unclear what it means to be the director. (In each such case, studios are careful to stress that the credited director is on-scene and in charge, which is essential to avoid DGA issues. And the wise director plays along.)

The video above is a tribute to Star Trek with clips from ever show and movie.

Star Trek Into Darkness ended with Carol Marcus appearing to be a new crew member but she was not seen in Star Trek Beyond. Simon Pegg, who c0-wrote the movie responded to questions about this by explaining they didn’t have a role for her which made fit into this movie and,“We thought rather than have Carol Marcus be not used to a reasonable capacity, let’s just not include her, have her be alive, in canon, and be ready to come back at any time.” As Star Trek Beyond took place three years later, it is quite plausible that she spent some time as a part of the Enterprise crew and then either left or was not present for some other reason in Star Trek Into Darkness.Nerdophiles has information from the cast on the third season of Gotham.

Stranger Things

I’m sure that by now pretty much everyone has heard the hype about Stranger Things. It deserves all the hype, and more. Some compare it to E.T. and to Super 8. It is very rare to see a television show which is as immediately captivating as Stranger Things. The show brings three television series to my mind with their ability to also do this: Twin Peaks, Lost, and The X-Files. One other thing that all three have in common is that they went downhill. The mythology on Lost and X-Files got too convoluted, and they didn’t know where to go beyond the initial story on Twin Peaks.

The format on Netflix should reduce the risk of the show deteriorating over time. Eight episodes allowed them to tell a complete story, while leaving some things open for future seasons. There was no need for filler episodes, and there won’t be the same push as on network television to continue too long. Matt and Ross Duffer have hinted at a second season and it would be quite a shock if Netflix didn’t go with it.

The BBC has a round up of news since series ten of Doctor Who went into production here. More pictures at DoctorWhoTV.

I’ll conclude with commentary on this year’s election from The IT Crowd:

IT Crowd

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Beyond & Star Trek Discovery; Sherlock & Doctor Who News; Adrianne Palacki Cast On Seth MacFarlane SF Show; Gilmore Girls Trailer; Sense8

Star Trek Beyond

Star Trek Beyond is the third installment since J.J. Abrams took over Star Trek. Like the first two movies, it is fun to watch, and in this one there is more of an effort (only partially successful) to make this movie actually be Star Trek. There will be some spoilers here, but not to the point of giving away anything which isn’t becoming obvious in the first half of the movie.

The movie has a lot of action, but also makes an effort to get a feel for the characters early in the movie. The Enterprise is now on the third year of its mission in deep space which began at the end of Star Trek Into Darkness. This work mean that, although James Kirk took over the Enterprise at an earlier point in his life, that they have been in deep space for approximately as long as the crew on the original show. (The original series ended in its third season, but they had already been on their five year mission for some time when the show began). In this universe, we also know that they have encountered Tribbles and Khan earlier.

Whatever they have experienced, Kirk now feels that “things have started to feel episodic” and is contemplating a desk job. It should be no spoiler to say that he doesn’t go through with it. There was a reference to the original when he complained that his shirt got torn on an away mission. There was also time for Kirk and the rest of the crew to take  break when they traveled to a space station. Again, it should be no spoiler that something happened there which pulled the Enterprise into an adventure.

Before going off to fight another villain, and meet another memorable character, Spock also had to deal with both romantic problems with Uhura and learning of the death of Ambassador Spock, his future self from the origianl Star Trek universe. That is obviously an homage to the death of Leonard Nimoy. The ending of the movie also had a tribute to the death of Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov. While a fourth movie has already been approved, a decision has been made to not replace Yelchin. Chris Hemsworth will reprise his role as Kirk’s father in the fourth movie, despite having died in the first movie. No word whether that will involve time travel, a revelation that he somehow survived, or some other means.

Spock contemplated leaving Star Fleet to continue Ambassador Spock’s work and his people following the destruction of Vulcan. This provided no more drama than Kirk contemplating taking a desk job. While at this star base we also learned that a ship even bigger and more powerful than the Enterprise was being built. Do I need to label it a spoiler to say that this guaranteed the repeat of what didn’t occur to the Enterprise in the prime universe until its third movie?

While no longer directed by J.J. Abrams, his influence was seen. I have some of the same nit picks as I did with Star Trek Into Darkness. Everything must be bigger, including getting yet a bigger and better version of the Enterprise and the incredible size of the space station out in deep space (which seemed partially modeled on Epcot). Once again, distance did not seem to matter. The Enterprise has gone where no one has gone before, but is not far from a station of this magnitude, and right around the corner from an almost unexplored nebula.

The most important thing about the Star Trek movies is that they have kept Star Trek around in some form. Star Trek has always worked better as a television show than movie series, and it will return to television early in 2017. Bryan Fuller announced at Comic Con that the next series will be named Star Trek Discovery, (referred to as DSC rather than the initials STD). The series will premiere on CBS television but subsequently be shown on CBS All Access, a paid streaming service. Episodes will also be available internationally on Netflix within twenty-hours making me wonder if it will be accessible in the US if using a VPN. With such limited availability, I bet it will also be heavily pirated.

Star Trek Discovery will tell a single story in thirteen chapters, with episodes released weekly. The series will take place in the prime timeline, but it has not been announced when. There has been speculation that the registry number of NCC-1031 for the Starship Discovery suggests it could take place before the original show, but that is far from definitive.

The above trailer for Sherlock season 4 was presented at San Diego Comic Con.

That naturally leads to recent news related to that other show run by Steven Moffat. Moffat predicts that Peter Capaldi will be remaining with the show after he leaves as show runner in 2017.

Karen Gillan has been cast as the female lead in All Creatures Here Below, an indie drama written by and starring David Dastmalchian. (I just thought of Amy Pond earlier today when I was walking by a house with a small angel on its lawn. I did not blink).

Jenna Coleman will be playing Queen Victoria for ITV. She has not ruled out returning to Doctor Who some day, but told Collider she will probably not return “for a good while”  if she ever does.

Adrianne-Palicki

Adrianne Palacki has been cast in Seth MacFarlane’s upcoming show for Fox:

Set 300 years in the future, the untitled show — MacFarlane’s first live-action TV series — follows the adventures of the Orville, a not-so-top-of-the-line exploratory ship in Earth’s interstellar fleet. Facing cosmic challenges from without and within, this motley crew of space explorers will boldly go where no comedic drama has gone before.

MacFarlane plays Ed, captain of Orville. Palicki plays Kelly Grayson, Ed’s ex-wife and the newly appointed First Officer of the Orville. Grimes plays Gordon, Ed’s best friend whom he hires to pilot the Orville.

This should answer the question as to whether Palacki will return to Agents of SHIELD after ABC decided against picking up the proposed spin-0ff which she was to star in. While she was written out of SHIELD, the manner in which it was done did not make it too difficult to have her return.

The Last Ship has been renewed by TNT for a fourth season. It has taken a different approach for the third season, reminding me of previous post-apocalyptic shows such as Jericho and Revolution. It is like rebuilding society in Revolution, with a recent plague being far more plausible than the loss of electricity on Revolution.

There is no question I will be binging on Gilmore Girls Thanksgiving weekend until I hear the four final words which Amy Sherman-Palladino has always planned to end the series with. She had hoped to have the show released in individual episodes to avoid spoiling the ending, but Netflix insisted on releasing all four episodes on November 25. I can’t think of any better place than Stars Hollow to spend Thanksgiving weekend. Trailer above. John Oliver did respond to Lorelei’s question while appearing on Stephen Colbert’s show:

Then on Christmas we can get more of Sense8 as opposed to watching it for the eighth time. ONTD has these items from the J. Michael Straczynsk’s panel at Comic Con:

– He confirms they’re filming in more cities because the Sense8 will be meeting more Sensates and some of them might be evil.
– There’s a lot more action than in Season 1.
– They’re gonna dig a lot deeper into the company searching for Sensates.
– Kala/Wolfgang storyline evolves a lot from S1.
– He confirms Sun gets out of jail ‘but not in the way you’d expect’.
– They’re working more like a group and having more scenes together.
– Netflix revealed that most Netflix shows are re-watched once at most. Sense8’s rewatchability index is off the charts. People rewatch Sense8 up to 7 times in average (end to end).
– Season2 is more ‘hopeful’ about LGTB people, privacy and relationships
– Riley’s gonna be the one leading the agenda to meet more sensates and she uses her DJ concerts to do so.
– Christmas movie airs on Christmas Day and the rest of the season shortly after in 2017.

SciFi Weekend: 12 Monkeys; San Diego Comic Com Top News; Batman v. Superman; Torchwood

12 monkeys season two finale

The second season of 12 Monkeys concluded last week. The series demonstrated a problem with many series which start out with a good story which can be told in a season or two, but the economics of American television demand that they try to find a way to extend the series longer. The initial story line of going back in time to stop the plague would have made a great story if it could have been concluded over one or two years, but it could not be dragged out indefinitely. Continuum had a similar structure with characters who went back in time to change their future, but managed to keep it fresh every season while sticking to the same overall structure.  12 Monkeys instead changed the focus of the series.

While there were good moments, I just could not find the story this season to be as compelling as the first season. The finale did wrap up some of the events of the season, while leaving other matters open. After seeing such division between the main characters over two different strategies, both failed leaiving most of the characters either dead or stranded in the past going into the finale. It took another means of traveling through time to repair the damage, followed by the revelation of the identity of The Witness. It was also fun to see Madeline Stowe, who was in the movie version, have a significant role in the finale.

12 MONKEYS -- "Memory of Tomorrow" Episode 213 -- Pictured: (l-r) Madeleine Stowe as Dr. Kathryn Railly, Aaron Stanford as James Cole -- (Photo by: Steve Wilkie/Syfy)

Show runner Terry  Matalas discussed the finale with Blastr. Here is the start of the interview, which begins with a major spoiler if you anyone intends to watch this in the future:

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: We now know the identity of The Witness, and it’s the child of Cole and Cassie. What can you tell us about the big reveal? 

Matalas: I knew from the outset that this is where our characters were heading – that the reveal of The Witness shouldn’t be just a surprising narrative revelation, but a hugely emotional one. We easily could have put a familiar face behind that mask and the moment might’ve been shocking – maybe even satisfying – but it ultimately would’ve felt like plot. Mind-blowing is fantastic, but it also needed to be heart-breaking; it needed to really challenge Cassie and Cole and pose these massive, emotional questions for Season 3.

How long have you been setting up this Witness reveal, and what hints might we have missed along the way? Was this the plan all along from the start of Season 1?

Matalas: Yes.  In many ways, the biggest hint from the start is that Cassie and Cole are continually left alive. The Army of the 12 Monkeys – Pallid Man, Olivia, The Messengers –they’ve made no secret that these two characters are important in the grander cycle. Time and again, they’ve opted not to kill them – even when the opportunity was painfully clear.

Speaking a bit more thematically, if you look closely at Season One, it’s very much about fatherhood. Season Two is equally about motherhood. Season Three, it stands to reason, will focus on the children.

You obviously can’t give us the play-by-play for Season 3, but what can you tell us about how this reveal will inform the next chapter of the series for Cole and Cassie?

Matalas: If you knew that your child was destined to become the Destroyer of Worlds – that the gentle, loving child in your arms would one day murder billions – what would you really do? Or not do? The “Kill Hitler” scenario becomes much more complicated when you’re Hitler’s mom or dad. So a major part of Season Three for Cassie and Cole is that central question, the weight and responsibility of it all.

But Season 3 will also be a “Sympathy for the Devil” tale. What if you met The Witness, heard his story and actually understood why he’s done what he’s done? Maybe even agreed with it?

12Monkeys_gallery_212Recap_16

More questions are answered in the full interview, and in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Plus Entertainment Weekly also  interviewed Amanda Schull:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you feel when you found out that Cassie was not only pregnant, but their child was the Witness?
AMANDA SCHULL: [Executive producer Terry Matalas] told me fairly early on. I hadn’t had all of the moments with the Witness — understanding the gravity of how upset and just how violated she feels by the Witness — so it didn’t have the gravitas when he told me initially. Then, as we progressed throughout the season, every single interaction with the Witness, realizing how much she despises and how much it makes her despise herself for what she’s done and everything about it, that’s what is upsetting. It’s much more impactful knowing later on after having been able to reenact those scenarios from the page.

Then [with] the pregnancy [reveal], I don’t have a child, I’ve never been pregnant and I really loved being able to have the moment. We don’t say it, it’s all done through looks. I really liked the challenge. I really like having that interaction with Aaron. I work really comfortably with Aaron. I really enjoy everything that we get to do together. We shot those moments the final week of season 2, and it was just us in this tiny little set and we kind of had a skeleton crew. It was really special and I think they chose an even less emotional take of mine, because we did his coverage first and I just kept crying every time he opened the card. I’ve never told anybody that I’m pregnant, so I’ve never had that opportunity to tell somebody that. And his reaction, just everything that they’ve gone through up until that point really moved me.

What do you think that internal struggle will be like for Cassie between wanting to protect her child and considering other possibilities?
My initial reaction to that when we were talking about it was very un-[politically correct]. It was basically, “Get it out of me at any cost.” But then in thinking about that, it becomes a question of nature versus nurture: Is there a possibility that she could change it? She could rewrite history if she were able to undo this. If she’s never going to see Cole again, is she going to hang on to the very last bits of his DNA that she has and try to salvage the upbringing of this child in a way that isn’t destructive to all human kind? It is really a fascinating battle and I think will largely have to do with the certain circumstances in which she is being kept in the future with the Army.

We know that Cole is headed toward the future to try and save Cassie. With the concept of nature versus nurture in mind, do you think her choices about the Witness might put her at odds with Cole?
I think it will be really interesting and I think that it could perhaps put them at odds, but the fact is they seem to end up coming around to the same page. Of anyone’s partnership on this show, they seem to have the understanding of one another for whatever reason. They were sort of meant for each other. I think they would have an understanding. They might be at odds at first, but I have no idea how Terry and his evil genius brain wants to play that out.

There was a tremendous amount of news out of San Diego Comic Con over the past weekend. The above trailer both gives a better idea of how Flashpoint will be handled on The Flash and confirms earlier reports that Wally West will be seen as Kid Flash.

In other DC news, despite her character getting killed on Arrow, Katie Cassidy has become the latest to be made a regular across the entire line of DC shows on the CW Network.

Also on CW, there was news on the upcoming season of The 100:

“The Earth strikes back in season four—it is an unbeatable foe,” creator Jason Rothenberg teased regarding next season. “It quickly becomes about not how to stop it, because stopping it is not possible, but about: How do we survive? There aren’t enough lifeboats, so who gets to choose who lives?”

With total nuclear destruction on the way, getting her people to safety is something Clarke (Eliza Taylor) will have to deal with. In the exclusive clip shown off during the panel, we hear Clarke’s ominous narration: “Our enemy isn’t something that can be fought. It can’t be reasoned with. It can’t be killed. When all is lost, can hope survive? can we survive? After everything we’ve done, do we deserve to?”

After losing major characters like Lexa, Lincoln, and Pike last season, facing the impending apocalypse will be difficult for everyone. Octavia, for instance, will be traveling down a much darker road, channeling her inner assassin. She explained, “Octavia will take a really dark turn. She’s going to do what she does best, which is killing people. She really found her home within herself in becoming a warrior, and that’s thanks to Lincoln and Indra.”

More was seen of the future of DC’s cinematic universe with the above trailers for Wonder Woman and Justice League.

Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice came out on Blu-ray and DVD last week, also making this a good time for the above video of Easter Eggs in the movie.

An Honest Trailer was also released for Comic Con.

In other news, it has been confirmed that Daredevil will be back for a third season. While it was a complete story, a lot of personal matters for the characters were left hanging at the end of the second season.

Star Trek Beyond came out Friday and there was news at Comic Con on the upcoming television series. While the movie still had some of the flaws seen since revived by J.J. Abrams, it did feel the most like true Star Trek. I discuss both the movie and what we know about the television show together, and will hold off until next week to give more people a chance to see the movie.

Benedict Cumberbatch of Sherlock is involved in yet another franchise. A trailer for Doctor Strange is above.

In other potential big news in the Doctor Who universe, John Barrowman said he is working hard to bring Torchwood back, and he has a big telephone call related to this scheduled for Monday. Hopefully we will have some real news afterwards.