SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Return Date; William Shatner Interview; Blakes 7 Actress Dies; Evangeline Lilly on the Lost Finale; A Historian on Why Science Fiction Is Important

We finally have an announcement of a return date for Doctor Who, Sunday, October 7. I don’t know about viewing habits in the UK, but the change to Sunday could help ratings here in the United States. For years I have been downloading Doctor Who shortly after it airs in the UK instead of waiting to watch late on Saturday evening. BBC American plans to air the first episode of Doctor Who this season at the same time it airs in the UK, followed by a repeat showing in the evening. Subsequent weeks I guess I’ll be back to downloading.

With the change to Sunday I might have to reconsider how SciFi Weekend is posted. The post was initially called SciFi Friday, with the subsequent move to the weekends (generally Sunday) helpful for covering Friday night shows. I have been reviewing new episodes of Doctor Who on Sundays, the day following their release. Sunday releases create a problem with this schedule, as I ran into last year with my weekly reviews of the first season of Star Trek: Discovery not being posted until a week after the show aired.

Jodie Whittaker literally breaks the glass ceiling in the trailer:

Despite the point made in this promo, Chris Chibnall says that the gender change is barely mentioned in the opening episode, with the Doctor more concerned with surviving. The title of the episode will be The Woman Who Fell to Earth, sounding like it picks up where the last season ended. Chris Chibnall recommends:

New Doctor, new home. Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor is about to burst into Sunday nights – and make the end of the weekend so much more exciting. Get everybody’s homework done, sort out your Monday clothes, then grab some special Sunday night popcorn, and settle down with all of the family for Sunday night adventures across space and time. (Also, move the sofa away from the wall so parents can hide behind it during the scary bits). The Thirteenth Doctor is falling from the sky and it’s going to be a blast.”

According to Syfy Wire, Doctor Who director Jamie Childs said  that ’80s-era Spielberg served as an inspiration for the upcoming episodes in an interview with Empire Magazine.Executive producer Dan Strevens said the new season will be like Forrest Gump. “It’s a box of chocolates of a series. There’s something different in every episode.”

BBC America will be rebroadcasting every episode of Doctor Who since the reboot. This will take place over thirteen days, beginning on September 25 at 6 am.

TrekMovie.com interviewed William Shatner, who has a new memoir out entitled, Live Long and… What I Might Have Learned Along The Way. Some excerpts from the interview:

In the book, you talk about regret, although mostly framed as how you regret the things you haven’t done. I’m curious about something you did do that may have cut off future opportunities. Do you regret agreeing to do Star Trek: Generations, and allow them to kill off Kirk?

Well, I didn’t think I had any choice in the matter. Paramount had decided that the ceiling that they could reach in our box office had been reached and they thought that by putting in the Next Generation cast, that they would reach a higher box office. That decision had been made. It was either I was going to appear and die, or they were going to say he died. So, I chose the more practical of the two.

So, they were killing you no matter what?

That was their theory. It didn’t work out that way, but that is the way it was.

Recently you gave an interview where you said you were happy for Patrick Stewart and his new Star Trek series, but doing something like that wasn’t for you. Some in the media took that to mean you were done with Star Trek entirely. Last year you told me you were open to returning to the character. You may not want to do a new TV series, but if they can find a way to make it work, you would still return to the role, right?

That is exactly right. If they can find a way of writing a 50 years older captain and it was meaningful and had something to do with the plot, I would jump at the chance.

Evangeline Lilly was recently asked about the Lost finale at a convention. Here is her response:

“Well, I’m going to have to go straight to the finale. Vote of confidence, who liked the finale? [The room broke out into cheers] Who did not like the finale? [about the same amount of cheers] About 50/50. So, for those of who you didn’t like it; you loved our show, because at the end of every week, we would leave you with an impossible and pressing mystery. It would force you to the water cooler, or the dinner table, asking each other the most difficult questions. Usually philosophical questions. Sometimes questions that touched on God or religion and reality, and what it means to be human.

And then, on the finale, you sat waiting with baited breath, thinking ‘they’re gonna give us the answer.’ Well, that’s what religions do. So if you want the answer to the great big question of life, go to church, go to God, find the answer, but art…art is supposed to, every time without fail, turn the question back on you, and asks you to look at what you’re seeing, listen to what you’re hearing, experience it, and then look at it in the mirror of your soul, and figure out what it means to you.

And so there is no one interpretation of the finale of LOST. For as many people that are in this room, there are that many true, real, endings for LOST.

Because it’s just a reflection of who you are, and it’s the ultimate question being posed to you, not the ultimate answer being handed to you.”

Jacqueline Pearce, who played Servalan on Blakes 7 has died at 74.

I highly recommend reading Sapiens by historian Yuval Noah Harari. Wired reports that Harari is a big fan of science fiction and that he “includes an entire chapter about it in his new book 21 Lessons for the 21st Century.”

“Today science fiction is the most important artistic genre,” Harari says in Episode 325 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy  podcast. “It shapes the understanding of the public on things like artificial intelligence and biotechnology, which are likely to change our lives and society more than anything else in the coming decades.”

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek News; Doctor Who; Sharp Objects Finale; The Arrowverse; Iron Fist; Mr Robot; X-Files Barbie Dolls

Deadline reports that Star Trek will be awarded a Governor’s Award on September 8 during the Creative Arts Emmy Awards in recognition of,  “the visionary science-fiction television franchise and its legacy of boldly propelling science, society and culture where no one has gone before.” Also from the Academy:

What began as a television show grew into an entertainment franchise that has consistently depicted humanity’s greatest hopes for a better tomorrow. Throughout the Gene Roddenberry-created Star Trek’s multiple series, viewers were exposed to a world where technology and science helped improve the human condition. Futuristic technological advancements featured in the show bear striking resemblances to the cell phones and virtual reality systems in use today.

David Stapf, President of CBS Television Studios, added:  “The impact of Star Trek is far-reaching, and has inspired not only countless individuals, but great advancements in technology, science, health care, space exploration and more. We are so grateful to the brilliant minds and talented individuals, both in front of and behind the camera, who boldly tell stories that stand the test of time.”

TrekMovie.com has some quotes from the cast of  Star Trek: Discovery on the upcoming season speaking at Fan Expo Canada in Toronto.

William Shatner told the Toronto Star that he is not interested in doing a new Star Trek series like Patrick Stewart.

Karl Urban (McCoy) spoke about the Quentin Tarantino Star Trek movie at  Trekonderoga, including how it would be R-rated, but not because of the use of obscenities:

You shouldn’t worry that it is going to be full of obscenity and stuff. He wants an R-rating to really make those beats of consequence land. If it’s not PG, if someone gets sucked out into space, which we have all seen before, we might see them get disemboweled first…It allows some some breadth…gives him some leeway to do that. To me, that was always one of the things I loved about what DeForest Kelley did. He would actually capture the horror of space. That look in his eyes of sheer terror always struck me when I was a kid.

TrekMovie.com has an excerpt from,  So Say We All, an oral history of the Battlestar Galactica series, discussing how Deep Space 9 paved the way for BSG, and the long road towards a more serialized format on Star Trek series.

Variety reports that Matt Smith will be joining the cast of Star Wars: Episode IX.

Sources tell Variety that “The Crown” star Matt Smith is joining “Star Wars: Episode IX,” which is currently in production in the U.K. It’s unknown at this time whether the “Doctor Who” alum will be on the side of the rebels or the evil empire.

As for the new Doctor, Matt Smith has this to say about Jodie Whittaker: “She’ll be brilliant. I think she’s got great humor but a real depth and sort of pathos and humanity that I think will lend itself to the character. I’m really excited as a fan, actually. Game on!”

While we still don’t have much information on the upcoming episodes of Doctor Who, Radio Times reports on hints of  “dark,” “epic” and “squelchy” episodes coming. Metro has a story on the CGI effects.

Others recently revealed to be included in Star Wars: Episode IX include Keri Russel of The Americans.

There continues to be few new genre shows currently on, but there was one major finale to look at. Sharp Objects ended essentially the same way as the novel, but (major spoilers) did end with the revelation that, while Adora killed Marian, Amma killed the girls with help from her roller-skating friends. The show used this as the surprise ending, leaving out the aftermath described in the novel. The television series ended with Camille seeing the teeth in the doll house and Amma (an anagram for Mama), telling her, “Don’t tell Mama.” Then there are a couple of  scenes in the credits which quickly fill in the details of the killings, and revealing that Amma was the woman in white.

Joanna Robinson looked at many of the questions from the series at Vanity Fair. She included information from the book, such as why Amma did the killings:

Why did Amma do it? In the book, there’s a lot more explanation: Amma tells Camille that she had fun at first with the violent little Ann and Natalie. They killed a cat together! But at a certain point, the two girls started hanging around her house too much, asking too many questions about Amma’s mysterious illness—and worst of all, getting too much attention from Adora. Amma murdered the girls partially because she’s been warped by being poisoned by her mother her whole life. Often, children who have been subjected to Munchausen by Proxy have a hard time distinguishing what constitutes real violence and separating the idea of pain and affection. “A child weaned on poison considers harm a comfort,” Flynn writes.

Robinson summarized what happened to Amma in the novel:

In the book, Amma gets arrested and goes to prison. She’s only 13 in the novel, and is definitely tried as a minor. She’ll be in there until she’s 18, at least; Camille suspects even longer. Amma has shorn off all her hair—an act of defiance that mirrors young Camille’s cropped cut. (All the good girls of Wind Gap have long flowing hair, but Amma isn’t in Wind Gap anymore.) Camille visits Amma, who is having a hard time adjusting to life behind bars. Amma hasn’t recruited any new disciples . . . yet.

And Camille:

In the book, after Amma is arrested, everything unravels for Camille. She takes a knife to the one uncut part of her body—her back—and is only prevented from going after her own face because her editor, Curry, breaks in and stops her. She goes to live in the Curry house, and is slowly rebuilding. She’s also given up drinking.

Alan Sepinwal discussed the ending with Gillian Flynn in an interview in Rolling Stone:

We have to start with that ending and how abruptly we cut from the revelation that Amma killed the girls, to the Led Zeppelin song, to the credits. How did you and Marti and everyone decide that was how you wanted to wrap up the season?
That was mostly a Jean-Marc choice. It was his idea to have, right at the moment people are looking at each other to start theorizing about what happened, those quick shots of what exactly happened, and then that last final shot of Amma as the Woman in White. If you stay long enough; I don’t know if you saw that part.

I did, but that’s still a relatively new thing for television. The Marvel movies have trained audiences to watch through the credits, but outside of Westworld, TV doesn’t do much of this. Was there any concern that the audience might turn it off before getting to that?
Now that everyone watches TV differently, the idea is that you can go back. If it becomes a viral thing, like the different words [on Camille’s body] that people were looking for, you have an opportunity to go back and look for it a second time. You can hold the episodes on your DVR or on your devices and go back easily.

The book spends more time letting Camille and the reader absorb and contemplate Amma’s role in things. As the author, how did you feel about Jean-Marc’s choice to end things so abruptly after that’s revealed?
That was all of our choice. The only Jean-Marc part was the trippy Led Zeppelin cut. Books are just very different from film, and I had to respect how that was going to feel. There was a lot of discussion in the writers’ room about how much time we were going to have after Amma comes home with her, that there was going to be that extra twist. We wanted to preserve that moment but give enough time so that it does feel like the rug is being pulled out from under you. You want to give enough time where Amma and Camille are being like sisters so that it is that moment of incredible shock. We went around a lot about what was the correct amount of time to have the proper amount of gut-punching! Which I say with an evil laugh…

For the benefit of people who didn’t read the book and have only that ending montage to go on: Adora was responsible for killing Marian with Munchausen by proxy, and was doing the same to the Natalie and Ann, but it’s Amma who went and killed them on her own?
She wasn’t necessarily doing Munchausen by proxy — she was tending to [Natalie and Ann], and that made Amma very angry. Amma is the one who feels like she’s made that sacrifice. She has allowed herself to be sickened by Adora, and therefore she feels like her treating any other girls is a deep violation of that contract. And I don’t blame her in her child mind logic. That made her angry, so she sociopathically chooses to kill the girls.

The CW Network has released the above trailer for their super hero series. According to Syfy Wire, “Supergirl‘s fourth season premieres on Sunday, Oct. 14, at 8 p.m. EST; Arrow‘s seventh season follows on Monday, Oct. 15, at 8 p.m. EST; Legends‘ fourth season airs right after at 9 p.m. EST, although it won’t premiere until the 22nd; The Flash‘s fifth season arrives Tuesday, Oct. 9, at 8 p.m. EST; Black Lightning‘s second season follows at 9 p.m. EST.”

Syfy.com has excerpts from a recent interview with Stephen Amell on playing the Arrow. They also have some information on the upcoming season of The Flash.

Iron Fist returns for season two next week. Hopefully they have fixed some of the problems from the first season. Bleeding Cool has some behind the scenes videos and pictures.

I recently noted that Christian Slater was saying that Mr. Robot will end with season 4. Variety confirms that the show will end after the fourth season.

A federal judge has ruled that only San Diego Comic Con can use the term comic con, and that other comic conventions using the term are infringing on their trademark.

The original X-Files Barbie dolls, seen in the picture above, did not look all that much like Mulder and Scully. New versions are being released for the shows’s twenty-fifth anniversary, which can be seen here. They look much better, and can be pre-ordered for $40 each.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek News; The Arrowverse; Jessica Jones Showrunner Leaving for Warner; Man In The High Castle Trailer; Veronica Mars; The Affair; Big Bang Theory; Timeless; Foundation Trilogy; Hugo Award Winners

It is another slow week with only one new science fiction show airing which I’m watching (Killjoys). While fun to watch, I don’t find that a show worth reviewing episode by episode as I do with some genre shows. There was one season finale with The Affair, but I don’t see much point in writing about that here except for one brief comment. I was surprised that such a major character was killed off, but many have speculated that it came down to Ruth Wilson complaining about not receiving equal pay with its male lead. Tonight is the season finale of Sharp Objects, but I will wait until after I see the finale to comment on the show. While no shows to review this week, there have been some items of interest.

With limited new news, I’ll start by going back to something interesting we learned about Deep Space Nine. I never did like the ending of the series, and I believe that this is the consensus of Star Trek fans, even if this story claims that the ending was well-received. Regardless, we learned at the Las Vegas Star Trek convention that the ending could have been far worse. From ComicBook.com:

Speaking during a panel at Star Trek Las Vegas, Behr revealed that he really wanted the series finale to call back to the popular season six episode “Far Beyond the Stars,” revealing that the entire story of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was actually the dream of science fiction writer Benny Russell.

“I did pitch to [executive producer] Rick Berman that the final episode would end up with Benny Russell on Stage 17 at Paramount, wandering around the soundstages, realizing that this whole construct, this whole series, that we had done for seven years, was just in Benny’s head,” Behr said (via Trek Movie).

But Deep Space Nine is just one television series in the Star Trek franchise, and Behr’s dream ending could have had major implications for the rest of the franchise as well.

“That is how I wanted to end the series. And Rick said ‘Does this mean The Original Series was in Benny’s head? Does this mean Voyager was in Benny’s head?’ I said ‘Hey man, I don’t care who is dreaming those shows, I only care about Deep Space Nine and yes, Benny Russell is dreaming Deep Space Nine.’ He didn’t go for it,” Behr said.

In “Far Beyond the Stars,” series lead Sisko finds himself experiencing the life of Benny Russell, a black science fiction writer in 1950s America. Russell imagines Deep Space Nine as a story he’s trying to sell, but struggles with the racism of the era. In the end, this is revealed as a vision sent to Sisko from the prophets in the wormhole near Deep Space Nine. In reality, it’s a powerful episode about what science fiction is for, what it is capable of, and why who writes it matters.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. There’s a documentary planned for release later this year titled What We Left Behind that will feature the cast and creative team that worked on the show looking back on the time they spent, the stories they created, and the legacy of the series.

I totally agree with Rick Berman on this one. It was fine to have an isolated episode in which things were possibly a dream, or for some series like St. Elsewhere to be a dream, but do not end the series in this manner when Star Trek extends far beyond this series.

TrekMovie.com has some quotes from Gates McFadden, including answering questions regarding the news of a new Star Trek series staring Patrick Stewart:

No, we haven’t [heard anything], and I am sure Patrick will fill us in sometime. I have no idea if we are in it, or if it is just Patrick or what. We will all find out, but it is just so cool, though. It is very exciting. Again, I am always blown away by the fans, who have loved the show and Roddenberry’s vision for so long and through so many different series, and they have all been so wonderful. I am as excited as everybody else.

Tyler Hoechlin will be reprising his role as Superman in the upcoming seasons Arrowverse crossover, and Lois Lane will be introduced (along with Catwoman, as previously announced). From Deadline:

The three-night crossover event kicks off with The Flash on at 8 PM Sunday, December 9, followed by Arrow at 8 PM December 10 and capping off with Supergirl on December 11. For this year’s crossover, The Flash and Supergirl will swap time slots. The Flash normally airs on Tuesdays and Supergirl on Sunday. Arrow airs in its regular Monday night slot.

Hoechlin’s Superman will appear in all three episodes. This year’s crossover will also include the first appearance of Batwoman (Ruby Rose).

The Flash will return with new episodes on Tuesday, October 9 at 8 PM ET/PT on The CW, followed by Black Lightning (which is not technically part of the Arrowverse) at 9 PM. Supergirl premieres the next week on Sunday, October 14 at 8 PM, followed by Arrow on Monday, October 15 at 8 PM. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow will return on Monday, October 22 at 9 PM. The as-yet-untitled crossover event will from Sunday, December 9 through Tuesday, December 11.>

I09 has a story on the rise of the Dark Night on the upcoming season of Gotham.

We might see a big improvement in the DC based television shows while there has been a huge loss for the Marvel shows. Melissa Rosenberg, creator and showrunner for Jessica Jones, is leaving Netflix and moving to Warner Bro Television. From The Hollywood Reporter:

In a competitive situation, the Jessica Jones creator and showrunner will depart the Netflix Marvel drama after season three and move to Warner Bros. Television with an overall deal. Sources say the indie studio outbid Netflix for Rosenberg’s services in a deal that ultimately is worth in the eight-figure range. Ultimately, Rosenberg was ready to do something different and was ready to move on to new projects though Netflix is said to have courted her to stay.

Under the multiple-year pact, Rosenberg will create and develop new projects for Warner Bros. TV. She is currently focused finishing up the previously announced third season of Netflix’s Marvel drama Jessica Jones. A return date for the Krysten Ritter-led Marvel Television drama from ABC Studios has not yet been determined. A new showrunner would take over for Rosenberg should Netflix renew Jessica Jones for a fourth season. Rosenberg will remain credited as the show’s creator and executive producer.

Amazon Prime has released the season three trailer for The Man In The High Castle (video above). The synopsis:

Season three of the Emmy award-winning The Man in the High Castle finds Juliana Crain (Alexa Davalos) grappling with her destiny after seeking safety in the Neutral Zone. Realizing that their fates are intertwined, she works with Trade Minister Tagomi (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) to interpret the mystery of the last remaining films. Meanwhile, as tensions between the Reich and the Empire continue to rise, Joe Blake (Luke Kleintank) returns from Berlin and is sent on a diplomatic mission to San Francisco, where he and Juliana reunite and come to a turning point in their relationship. Also in the new season, Obergruppenfuhrer John Smith (Rufus Sewell) finds himself celebrated by Nazi high society, but political forces are closing in as North American Reischsmarschall Lincoln Rockwell and J. Edgar Hoover plot against him. Helen (Chelah Horsdal) takes drastic action to protect her family while they struggle with the aftermath of Thomas’ death, and Smith learns of a shocking and ambitious new Nazi program that has personal and global ramifications

Hulu is planning a reboot of Veronica Mars, with Kristen Bell reprising the title role.

Apple has picked up a ten-episode series based upon Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy.

We have more news on the Timeless movie planned to wrap up the series. The two-part episode will air in December, with production starting in October. The full cast will be returning. TVLine has more on the planned writers and director.

The Stone Sky by N.K. Jemisin has won the Hugo Award for best novel. Wonder Woman has won for Best Dramatic Presentation–Long Form and The Good Place: “The Trolley Problem” has won for Best Dramatic Presentation–Short Form. The Verge has a full list of nominees and winners.

ABC is planning a biracial reboot of Bewitched.

I’m sure everyone who cares knows by now, but I feel I should include the news that The Big Bang Theory will be ending after this season. Fifty million dollars was not enough to entice Jim Parsons to stick around for another two years.

ACLU Joins Other Civil Libertarians In Warning About Dangers Of Censorship On Social Media

Censorship on social media has been an ongoing problem involving people on both the left and the right, but the recent banning of Alex Jones has increased attention to the issue. While many civil libertarians have seen the dangers, others have allowed their views of Alex Jones to distract from the urgent civil liberties issues at stake. Attacks on civil liberties have often started with unpopular targets, and then extending to others. The American Civil Liberties Union has warned about the worrisome implications:

Several companies, including Facebook and YouTube, have removed Jones and his radio show for violating their hate speech policies. But doing so may set a dangerous precedent, according to Ben Wizner, director of ACLU’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.

As private institutions, these sites have the constitutional right to decide whether to host Jones. But a hate speech policy defining when an individual warrants being banned could be “misused and abused,” Wizner told HuffPost on Monday.

“If [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions, for example, were deciding what’s hate speech, he would be less likely to think KKK and more likely to think [Black Lives Matter],” Wizner said. “It turns out to be an extremely subjective term.”

“I have some of the same concerns about platforms making those decisions,” he added. “Governments at least purport to be acting solely in the public interest, but platforms are making these decisions based on what’s in their financial interest. So their interest might be in avoiding controversy, but do we want the most important speech platforms in the world to avoid controversy?”

“Who should decide what’s fake? … It’s not so easy to do in a way that is objective,” he said. “If these platforms get in the business of trying to be the arbiters of truth or falsity, pretty soon everyone is going to have something to complain about.”

“Do we really want corporations that are answerable to their shareholders and their bottom lines being the ones who decide which political speech Americans should see or not see?” he added. “Because that’s what we’re asking for here.”

Some have questioned whether this is a civil liberties issue as on the surface it involves private companies as opposed to the government. The point is not that whether this is a First Amendment issue, but that our concept of censorship and the First Amendment must be updated due to how social media is being used by government to restrict speech. Social media has become the equivalent of the old fashioned town square. When we have a near monopoly controlling social media on the internet (which happened to be developed with taxpayer’s money), and government then instructs these companies to restrict the speech of people, it can be more dangerous than our conventional concept of censorship. Making matters worse, there is no due process when done with supposedly private companies in this manner.

The purpose of the First Amendment was to protect free speech–not to give excuses to support censorship when it does not strictly fall under the wording of the First Amendment. Wired had  warnings about allowing Facebook to censor free speech, and responded to the argument that this is not a First Amendment issue:

The lamest of counterarguments to Zuckerberg’s absolutist position is the drearily predictable one of “the First Amendment doesn’t apply to companies.” It’s the nitpicky point of the eighth-grade know-it-all. How about I quarter troops from my private army in your house, and when you cite the Third Amendment, I’ll reply with “well, they’re not government troops,” and see how you feel about it?

Concepts like “trespassing” and “privacy” are not mentioned in the Constitution and did not then exist in the form we know today. We have extended the animating spirit of the Third and Fourth Amendments—respecting a person’s property and privacy—more broadly, because it’s a foundational value we want to see respected everywhere. Ditto the First Amendment: We want companies to embrace it too.

Internet censorship greatly increased as a result of pressure from Democrats who blame Russian ads and “fake news” for the defeat of Hillary Clinton, as opposed to being willing to acknowledge the serious problems in nominating Clinton, and the terrible campaign she ran, which caused her defeat. Clinton herself called on Congress to regulate what she considered to be fake news after her defeat–a rather serious attack on First Amendment rights.

It is easy to look the other way when someone as vile as Alex Jones is the target, but internet censorship has extended to many others on both the left and the right. If censorship is justified based upon expressing hatred, promoting violence, and spreading false information, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are far more dangerous. If kooky right wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones should be banned, the same could just as easily be said about kooky left wing conspiracy theorist Rachel Maddow, whose conspiracy theories risk starting a war with a nuclear power.

Before the government pushed internet companies to act as their censors, they preferred to be regarded as common carriers who are not responsible for regulating content. Either we go with that concept, or we have a handful of executives in Silicon Valley deciding what any of us can say. There is no middle ground. As Matt Taibbi pointed out, “as was obvious during the Senate hearing with Mark Zuckerberg earlier this year, politicians are more interested in using than curtailing the power of these companies. The platforms, for their part, will cave rather than be regulated. The endgame here couldn’t be clearer. This is how authoritarian marriages begin, and people should be very worried.”

After Alex Jones was removed by multiple social media companies, Senator Chris Murphy tweeted: “Infowars is the tip of a giant iceberg of hate and lies that uses sites like Facebook and YouTube to tear our nation apart. These companies must do more than take down one website. The survival of our democracy depends on it.”

Instead of falling into the trap of saying this is not a First Amendment issue as it is not the government doing the censorship (at least directly), we should be exerting pressure on both members of Congress and the social media companies to consider social media companies as common carriers rather than taking on the job of censoring speech. The alternative would be as if AT&T, when they had a monopoly, was also entrusted with determining what types of speech could be allowed over its telephone lines.

In a follow up article to the one I quoted from above, Taibbi wrote on this topic in greater detail:

Two weeks ago, we learned about a new campaign against “inauthentic” content, conducted by Facebook in consultation with Congress and the secretive think tank Atlantic Council — whose board includes an array of ex-CIA and Homeland Security officials — in the name of cracking down on alleged Russian disinformation efforts.­ As part of the bizarre alliance of Internet news distributors and quasi-government censors, the social network zapped 32 accounts and pages, including an ad for a real “No Unite the Right 2” anti-racist counter-rally in D.C. this past weekend.

Last week, we saw another flurry of censorship news. Facebook apparently suspended VenezuelaAnalysis.com, a site critical of U.S. policy toward Venezuela. (It was reinstated Thursday.) Twitter suspended a pair of libertarians, including @DanielLMcAdams of the Ron Paul Institute and @ScottHortonShow of Antiwar.com, for using the word “bitch” (directed toward a man) in a silly political argument. They, too, were later re-instated.

More significantly: Google’s former head of free expression issues in Asia, Lokman Tsui, blasted the tech giant’s plan to develop a search engine that would help the Chinese government censor content…

Both the Jones situation and the Facebook-Atlantic Council deletions seem an effort to fulfill a request made last year by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Last October, Facebook, Google and Twitter were asked by Hawaii Senator Mazie Hizono to draw up a “mission statement” to “prevent the foment of discord.”

Companies like Facebook might have balked before. They have long taken a position that’s very Star Trek, very Prime-Directive: We do not interfere. Mark Zuckerberg, as late as 2016, was saying, “editing content… that’s not us.”

…After Trump’s shocking win in 2016, everyone turned to Facebook and Google to fix “fake news.” But nobody had a coherent definition of what constitutes it.

Many on the left lamented the Wikileaks releases of Democratic Party emails, but those documents were real news, and the complaint there was more about the motives of sources, and editorial emphasis, rather than accuracy…

Within a year, Google bragged that it had deleted 8 million videos from YouTube. A full 6.7 million videos were caught by machines, 1.1 million by YouTube’s own “trusted flaggers” (we’re pre-writing the lexicon of the next dystopian novels), and 400,000 by “normal users.”

Subsequently, we heard that Facebook was partnering with the Atlantic Council — which, incidentally, accepts donations from at least 25 different foreign countries, including United Arab Emirates and the king of Bahrain, in addition to firms like weapons manufacturer Raytheon and my old pals at HSBC — to identify “potential abuse.”

…For more than half a century, we had an effective, if slow, litigation-based remedy for speech violations. The standards laid out in cases like New York Times v. Sullivan were designed to protect legitimate reporting while directly remunerating people harmed by bad speech. Sooner or later, people like Alex Jones would always crash under crippling settlements. Meanwhile, young reporters learned to steer clear of libel and defamation. Knowing exactly what we could and could not get away with empowered us to do our jobs, confident that the law had our backs.

If the line of defense had not been a judge and jury but a giant transnational corporation working with the state, journalists taking on banks or tech companies or the wrong politicians would have been playing intellectual Russian roulette. In my own career, I’d have thought twice before taking on a company like Goldman Sachs. Any reporter would.

Now the line is gone. Depending on the platform, one can be banned for “glorifying violence,” “sowing division,” “hateful conduct” or even “low quality,” with those terms defined by nameless, unaccountable executives, working with God Knows Whom…

Google and Facebook have long wrestled with the question of how to operate in politically repressive markets — Google launched a censored Chinese search engine in 2006, before changing its mind in 2010 — but it seems we’re seeing a kind of mass surrender on that front.

The apparent efforts to comply with government requests to help “prevent the foment of discord” suggest the platforms are moving toward a similar surrender even in the United States. The duopolistic firms seem anxious to stay out of headlines, protect share prices and placate people like Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy, who just said deleting Jones was only a “good first step.”

Americans are not freaking out about this because most of us have lost the ability to distinguish between general principles and political outcomes. So long as the “right” people are being zapped, no one cares.

But we should care. Censorship is one of modern man’s great temptations. Giving in to it hasn’t provided many happy stories.

Slate warned that, “placing the distribution of information in the hands of a few tech companies will remain a very big problem.”

Did anyone vote to make Google and Facebook monopolies. Did anyone vote to say we are going to make private actors make these decisions? There hasn’t been such a vote. People are just waking up to the fact that these guys are monopolies. People are just waking up to the fact that these guys have built these machines and amplified these kinds of voices. We only had our first major hearing in Congress last summer. This is pretty fresh, pretty new. I think if you put it to a vote, you sure as hell wouldn’t have anybody say, “We will choose these people to be our censors, we will choose these people to be our regulators.” And remember that this is a two-edged story. Any time you say that you are going to allow for this type of private action or private censorship, it is something that can be used against your friends next year, tomorrow.

Caitlin Johnstone, who herself was the target of internet censorship this month, further discussed how In A Corporatist System Of Government, Corporate Censorship Is State Censorship:

In a corporatist system of government, wherein there is no meaningful separation between corporate power and state power, corporate censorship isstate censorship. Because legalized bribery in the form of corporate lobbying and campaign donations has given wealthy Americans the ability to control the US government’s policy and behavior while ordinary Americans have no effective influence whatsoever, the US unquestionably has a corporatist system of government. Large, influential corporations are inseparable from the state, so their use of censorship is inseparable from state censorship.

This is especially true of the vast megacorporations of Silicon Valley, whose extensive ties to US intelligence agencies are well-documented. Once you’re assisting with the construction of the US military’s drone program, receiving grants from the CIA and NSA for mass surveillance, or having your site’s content regulated by NATO’s propaganda arm, you don’t get to pretend you’re a private, independent corporation that is separate from government power. It is possible in the current system to have a normal business worth a few million dollars, but if you want to get to billions of dollars in wealth control in a system where money translates directly to political power, you need to work with existing power structures like the CIA and the Pentagon, or else they’ll work with your competitors instead of you.

For more on this topic, I would also recommend the following video discussion with Glenn Greenwald (who has written extensively on civil liberties and social media), Sam Biddle, and Briahna Joy:

SciFi Weekend: A New Spock And A New Look For Klingons; Mr Robot; Watchmen; Iron Fist; Supergirl; Arrow

For a while the producers of Star Trek: Discovery teased us by not telling us whether we would only see a younger version of Spock in flashbacks in season two versus an adult Spock. Once the premise for the season was released at San Diego Comic Con, it looked far more likely that a new adult Spock would be cast. We subsequently learned there would definitely be an adult Spock–but one not as developed as the one seen on the original show. CBS finally revealed last week that Ethan Peck has been cast to play Spock.

There will also be yet another look for Klingons next season. Comicbook.com reports:

During a panel at Star Trek Las Vegas, Star Trek: Discovery makeup designer Glenn Hetrick teased that the Klingons will be getting a new look in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery.

“As we move into season 2, it has been a while since we have been with our characters,” Hetrick said via Trek Movie. “It has been a while since we have seen our Klingon friends. So, everything keeps evolving. The story has evolved. And I can guarantee you this, you are going to be blown away that they have a completely new look, yet again, going into season two.”

The creative team behind Star Trek: Discovery has repeatedly said the show’s second season will provide many answers to lingering questions about how Star Trek: Discovery fits into established Star Trek canon. Hetrick offered a hint about how the series’ very different-looking Klingons may fit in with the Klingons fans have come to know from previous Star Trek shows. That has to do with how appearance is tied to family, like almost everything else in Klingon culture.

“In season two, you are going to see much different designs,” Hetrick said. “You are going to see different houses you haven’t seen before. One of the most important things to us was that at this point in canon, as we head towards the current version of unification, the houses really each grow up on different planets. It is an Empire, it is not just Qo’noS…We have seen six of the great houses in close up in season one. As we move forward into the next season, I promise that we will continue exploring and unpacking and unfolding that infinitely interesting story of what the Klingon culture looks like on a wider level.”

I fear that there will never be a consistent explanation which encompasses the various ways Klingons have looked in various series, and which is consistent with the weak explanations given to date. Personally I’m fine with the meta explanation that it is a consequence of different special effects being used in different eras, but this is sure to lead to some debates among fans.

Also at the Las Vegas Star Trek Convention, Garrett Wang suggested that instead of Star Trek: Nemesis, Paramount would have been better off going with a movie based upon Enterprise:

I think Voyager’s “Endgame,” the final episode, the first hour was amazing. The second hour tied things up too quickly, right? They should have aired the first hour on your television screen and on the end say “To be continued in a theater near you” and and film a Voyager two and a half hour movie, got rid of the Nemesis script. Because, let’s face it, if your TNG feature film script is not as good as certain TNG TV episodes, don’t film it. Sorry.

A longer conclusion for Voyager would have probably made for a better story than Nemesis.

In an interview with Collider, Christian Slater says he thinks season four will be the final season of Mr. Robot:

How are things going with Mr. Robot,now that you’re heading into Season 4?

SLATER:Yeah, Season 4, and I believe that will be the last season. (Show creator) Sam [Esmail] always said it was going to be somewhere in that zone, and he didn’t want to go further than what he could creatively contribute to that storyline. So, I think that Season 4 will be it. I think they’re in the writers’ room, as we speak, putting it all together, but I have no idea what it’s gonna be, or if I’m gonna be floating in and out of scenes. I have no idea, so we’ll see what happens.

Damon Lindelof’s television version of Watchmen has been officially picked up by HBO, with the series expected to premiere in 2019.

TNT has picked up the sequel to The Alienist, entitled The Angel of Darkness.

The Iron Fist season 2 trailer is now out (video above). Hopefully the producers learned from the problems with the first season.

The version of Supergirl seen on the television show is quite a bit different from the comic version I read back in the 1960’s. Syfy helps out with a summary of The Many Retcons of Supergirl.

Arrow will be changed somewhat with a new show runner coming in, both bringing back aspects of the first season and doing some things new. The new showrunner had to clear some of their plans with the network censors.

The season 7 premiere will be directed by one of the show’s longtime stunt coordinators, James Bamford. He said that he’s bringing in some of the classic feelings of the inaugural season, but also with some new elements mixed in.

“In the premiere you will find some elements with the Season 1 feel, but you will find other elements that is new, uncharted territory,” said Bamford.

James said he and the newly-promoted showrunner Beth Schwartz have intense plans for this fall that led them to having a meeting with the network’s censors.

“Beth and I had a phone call with BNSP, which is our censors… a very lengthy phone call about a particular scene that we never had before. So we are really trying to push the limits on the show in the gritty factor,” Bamford revealed. “We are trying to go as far as you can go within the confines of our network and what is expected of us and what we can and can’t do. We are not on Netflix so we will never be able to X, Y, and Z, but we are damn sure going to try.”

It is a shame that the show is on the CW Network and not on Netflix, but we have to deal with what we have. Imagine if Jessica Jones had to be toned down to broadcast television standards.

SciFi Weekend: The 100 Season 5 Finale; Star Trek News; Space Force Humor

The season five finale of The 100 showed why I have had mixed feelings about this series for the last few years.  While the show has its problems, it sure knows how to put together an intriguing season finale. It was the end of yet another cycle of continuing battles, followed by another reset, which I fear will lead to more of the same. Yet the reset in the finale has me interested enough to give the show yet another chance next season.

This season did do some interesting things. Once again the cast was put in a situation in which terrible decisions had to be made to survive. This led to fighting pits and cannibalism, along with a major character developing a drug addition in response to the decisions which were made. However, each season’s enemy and war might be more enjoyable if they didn’t drag on so long and sometimes become so convoluted. Jasper summed up the problem in his suicide note earlier in the season: “There is no light at the end of the tunnel, there is only the tunnel. Another enemy to fight, another war.”  Diyoza showed how convoluted the plots become in saying to Clarke, “It’s hard to keep track of whose side you’re on.”

The time jump and new setting starts Book 2 of the series, and largely resets to being more like early in the series. Instead of a dying earth there will be a new planet. The characters we know, which combines various groups as opposed to the original 100, and at least one new character, will again be trespassers on an inhabited planet. Most likely they will go through yet another tunnel with another enemy to fight and another war. The question will be what interesting things come into play while doing so with a new combination of characters.

TV Line interviewed Jason Rothenberg about the finale:

TVLINE | Let’s start at the very last shot: “End of Book One”? Explain yourself.
As the season was unfolding, we didn’t know that we were going to get another season, which is a difficult position to be in. I assumed we would, but we hadn’t gotten an official order. So I had to write an ending that would be both satisfying as a series finale and would tee up the next adventure. That was my target, which I feel like we hit. Had that been the end of everything, it would have been a bummer not to explore what’s down [on that new planet], but it would have been emotionally satisfying the way Monty’s life passes before our eyes and Bellamy and Clarke weep during his final speech. Thematically, Monty’s speech summed up a lot of what we’ve been talking about for five seasons. As we move into this new world, I really wanted it to be a new book. The first volume is closed and now we get to tell an entirely new adventure with the people we’ve come to love. It’s going to be crazy and amazing and beautiful and very, very different…

TVLINE | How did Christopher Larkin and Chelsey Reist react to finding out that this was their last episode?
It’s always a hard conversation to have. When I called Chelsey about it, she was in her car on the way to work, and she had to pull over because she got upset. But when I pitched her what it was, she immediately embraced it, loved it and saw how beautiful it was and what a satisfying emotional ending it would be for her character and the Monty-Harper relationship. I start from the point of those characters and what they wanted all season. Monty wanted to get back to space. He was happy in space. He did not want the war. So he found a way to live an entire happy, long life with the woman he loves, and to create a family. It felt like something we hadn’t done before, and I knew it was going to be emotionally devastating. I actually wrote the final act of the finale before the rest of the episode. It came out all in one creative burst. On the day we shot it, it was the most emotional anyone has ever been on set. Dean White, who did a fantastic job directing, knew that as soon as Chris [Larkin] started reading his lines, everyone would just burst into tears. So we had our first AD, Ian Samoil, read Monty’s part — and people were still crying. The camera guys were crying, I was crying, Dean was crying. It was crazy! You see it on camera where Bob and Eliza are just … the tears are pouring. I actually had to edit it down, because there was too much crying. I needed to pace it.

TVLINE | As was I. And I’m so thrilled we finally got to meet Shannon Kook’s character! As the son of the people who saved everybody, how important will Jordan be to the survivors in Season 6?
He’ll be very important. And his story is very fascinating. He’s a blank slate. He’s never been off that ship. He’s never known anyone but his mother and father. Everything he experiences is going to be for the first time — he’s never tasted anything other than algae before! It’s going to be a fascinating journey to see if he can keep that innocence and wide-eyed excitement that he’ll enter the season with, surrounded by all these people who are drenched in blood. As for how the other characters are going to feel about him: Murphy will be the uncle who tries to corrupt him, Bellamy and Clarke are the protective aunts and uncles who won’t let him get into danger. Everyone will have a different reaction to the child of Monty and Harper.

TVLINE | Switching gears a bit, many fans were worried that Octavia was becoming irredeemable. Do you think her actions this week (and last) helped, or does she still have a lot of work to do?
She definitely reached a breaking point and had a realization that it was her fault, for lack of a better word. She was willing, in last week’s episode, to try and make good by letting Bellamy, Indra and Gaia escape. Had she been killed saving them, that would have been a redeeming death for her. But she didn’t get that. We see that scene between Bellamy and Octavia at the end of the finale, where he’s putting her into cryosleep, and she’s looking for some sort of emotional connection with her brother, but he doesn’t really give it to her. She’s broken, and when she wakes up 125 years later, she’ll be in the same place where she went to sleep. It’s not like the six-year time jump of last season. She’ll be bringing everything into the new world with her. Her character in Season 6 is going to have to grapple with what she’s done and who she’s become and how everyone looks at her. It’s going to be a fascinating arc; it would have been too easy ending this season by killing her off. I do look forward to some sort of reconciliation in the future between the Blakes.

TVLINE | Even though nearly everyone survived, some of the injured characters are played by actors who are involved with other projects. What can you say about the fates of Kane and Gaia, specifically?
Everybody who went into cryo will come out of cryo. So all the characters who are with us at the end of Season 5 will be with us at the beginning of Season 6. Actors have deals that make things tricky, but we’ll do our best to work around [schedules] as much as we can. It’s a show where characters don’t necessarily get jobs in Cleveland and move away — especially in a world where there is no Cleveland anymore. The business side of it is always tricky, but creatively, I love Gaia and I think there’s a lot still there to explore. And what can you say about Henry Ian Cusick? He’s a legend, he’s amazing. He was great all season, and for the last five seasons. It’s been an honor to have him on the season. And he, too, will continue to play a role in Season 6.

TVLINE | Lastly, I have to ask: What was the significance of Clarke and Bellamybeing the first to wake up.
It was Monty’s plan to wake the two of them. When the two of them are on the same page, things go well. They are the leaders of this show and of the remaining people in the human race — until we find out what may or may not be on the ground of this new planet. [Monty] wanted to wake them and talk to them first and let them decide who to wake next and how to break the news. So that’s where that came from.

There was plenty of additional news coming out of the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention since last week’s post. TrekMovie.com has several quotes from the cast, including Anson Mount on his role as Christopher Pike:

There is “The Cage” and then there is  “The Menagerie,” and those are two very different things. I do kind of play around with this idea that we have this established character and now we are going back, and I am wondering, am I establishing a guy we can see moving forward that ends up making that decision in “The Menagerie,” but in a way that is victorious and self-realizing and not a tragedy. But, that hasn’t really informed me at all.

What has informed me more is growing up and watching The Original Series, and knowing the series and knowing Roddenberry’s work and that if this is Roddenberry’s original guy, he kind of has to be the embodiment of an optimism, the same optimism that Roddenberry had that we are at our most basic, good and curious and adventurous. So, having to put together a guy that covers those bases, but is still not a flat portrait of something that is just a protagonist. Because I am not the protagonist. I am here to augment the protagonist of this show.

It was announced that the Discovery season one Blu-ray and DVD will be released in November, providing an opportunity for those who do not subscribe to CBS All Access another means to view the series. However, unless you really want to own the set, the more economical way to legally view the season for those who do not want to pay every month would be to subscribe for one month and binge. Another option would be to get the seven day free trial and use it to watch quickly. As the price for the Blu-ray is currently $47.77, I personally have no plans to purchase considering that I can rewatch any episodes if desired on CBS All Access.

CBS TV Studios president David Stapf  told Deadline that the planned Star Trek series with Patrick Stewart reprising his role as  Jean-Luc Picard is part of a plan to have “a Star Trek something on all the time on All Access.” As I suggested last week, this should help give fans a reason to continue a subscription to CBS All Access throughout the year. I just hope they don’t dilute the quality of Star Trek as has happened with other franchises. Ron Moore also warned about the risk of franchise fatigue, among other quotes at TrekMovie.com. In this age of peak TV, I also wouldn’t mind if they did take a month or two break between each series. From the interview, after a discussion of other shows planned for All Access:

DEADLINE: How did the idea of bringing back Patrick Stewart’s character come about, and how long did it take to get him to do it?
STAPF: It came to us, as do all things Trek now, through Alex Kurtzman, with the idea of, wouldn’t it be cool to do something Next Gen-oriented, and/or get Patrick Stewart and/or any of those iconic Next Gen characters. As Patrick himself has said, he was of the opinion that “I’ve done that character,” but he got a meeting with Alex and some of the other guys and they won him over. The deal didn’t take that long once he decided to do it.

DEADLINEAny other former Trek franchises you are looking at next?
STAPF: No.

DEADLINESo that’s a definite No on William Shatner?
STAPF: (laughs) I would say, never say never.

DEADLINEIs it certain that one of the new Trek series will be a spinoff from Discovery, and how big a franchise universe are you looking to build?
STAPF: My goal is that there should be a Star Trek something on all the time on All Access. We know it draws an audience, and Discovery has done quite well.
DEBEVOISE: We started well and we’d love to have a second one.
STAPF: Yes, and as we learned, we want to do it right.

We have learned that we will be introduced to a new Spock on Discovery. Not it appears that there might be a new Kirk for the movie series. The Hollywood Reporter says that talks have fallen through with Chris Pine and Chris Hemsworth. Apparently the poor box office for Star Trek Beyond leaves Paramount reluctant to pay Pine what previous contracts provided for (or what he can make in the Wonder Woman movies). Chris Hemsworth can also pull in far more as Thor than Paramount is willing to pay for him to reprise the role of George Kirk for the planned time travel story in Star Trek 4.

It is possible that this is all a negotiating tactic which will be worked out. If not, Paramount might come down to a choice of paying more in hopes of long term profits from the movie series versus recasting. If they recast Pine and Hemsworth, this then leaves open the question of a recasting the rest of the crew–which then might include Chekov following the death of Anton Yelchin.

It seems to me that with it coming down to money, another possibility might be to give in to Chris Pine, who is far more important for continuity. It would be far easier to have a different actor play George Kirk, who only appeared briefly in the first movie, unless they were counting on Hemsworth bringing in a larger audience.  If they do want a big name actor to play Kirk’s father, but one who might not be in as much demand as Chris Hemsworth, what about William Shatner? He does currently look like he could be Jim Kirk’s father, but that would have been more feasible if George Kirk had lived to an older age.

Speaking of William Shatner:

Except that I don’t think that only having played a Captain on television would change Trump’s mind about hiring him. Space Force has probably been the most popular meme on political sites this week, including one based upon Arrival below. Some more examples:

While this really has nothing to do with the proposal for Space Force, here is an interesting take on the risk of unintentional interplanetary war. While I don’t know enough about the physics to evaluate it, the article seemed worth looking at. If nothing else, it gives a potential science fiction plot. After I posted this on Facebook, I received a response with this article.

SciFi Weekly: Patrick Stewart Returns to Star Trek; Spock On Discovery; Timeless Movie; Steven Moffat Returns To Time Travel; Humans Season Finale; Cloak & Dagger Season Finale; Marvel & DC Television News Briefs

After several weeks of rumors, it was finally confirmed at the Los Vegas Star Trek Convention that Patrick Stewart will be returning to Star Trek, reprising his role as Jon Jean-Luc Picard . Deadline reports:

The new series, which is not a Star Trek: Next Generation reboot, will tell the story of the next chapter of Picard’s life. It will be shepherded by Star Trek: Discovery co-creator/executive producer Alex Kurtzman who was tapped to oversee development of new Star Trek content under a big new overall deal with CBS TV Studios…

“I will always be very proud to have been a part of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but when we wrapped that final movie in the spring of 2002, I truly felt my time with Star Trek had run its natural course,” Stewart said. “It is, therefore, an unexpected but delightful surprise to find myself excited and invigorated to be returning to Jean-Luc Picard and to explore new dimensions within him. Seeking out new life for him, when I thought that life was over.”

“During these past years, it has been humbling to hear many stories about how The Next Generation brought people comfort, saw them through difficult periods in their lives or how the example of Jean-Luc inspired so many to follow in his footsteps, pursuing science, exploration and leadership,” Stewart continued. “I feel I’m ready to return to him for the same reason – to research and experience what comforting and reforming light he might shine on these often very dark times. I look forward to working with our brilliant creative team as we endeavor to bring a fresh, unexpected and pertinent story to life once more.”

We don’t have any specifics but it does appear that this will not be a reboot of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but will feature Picard after the events of the series. In other words, we will be moving forward, as opposed to the subsequent series which either took place in another part of the galaxy, or which have been prequels. This also avoids finding a way for him to appear on Discovery, as initial rumors suggested might be the case.

I think it is a safe bet that most Star Trek fans will be interested in at least checking this out, regardless of the nature of the series. (Although I sure do hope it is not Picard as headmaster at Star Fleet Academy.) This is also a wise move for CBS All Access. Presumably it will air at a different time than Discovery, making Star Trek fans more likely to subscribe continuously, as opposed to only taking out subscriptions part of the year to watch Discovery.

Jason Isaacs also appeared but was not talking about whether Lorca will appear on Discovery again:  “You can ask me any questions, any questions you like, including questions about any future sightings of Lorca, anywhere in Star Trek and I will probably continue to lie and keep secrets, like I did last year. You can ask anything you like, but you will get nothing out of me.”

Rainn Wilson discussed the Star Trek Short episode he will appear in as Harry Mudd: “It is very funny and weird. You see some alien situations you have never seen before in the Star Trek canon, and I am thrilled.”

Besides Jean-Luc Picard returning to television, we will have a different version of Spock on Star Trek: Discovery next season. Alex  Kurtzman discussed this with TV Guide:

Alas, Spock is definitely headed to Star Trek: Discovery in Season 2 but he won’t be the cool-headed Vulcan you know from the original Star Trek series. After dropping the big news that the OG character was headed to Discovery at Comic-Con, new showrunner Alex Kurtzman shared even more details about Spock’s much-anticipated appearance, and it looks like there’s some major family drama ahead.

“This is not entirely the Spock who has been formed enough to be the Spock that we know from TOS. There’s a lot of story about who Spock was before he becomes the Spock that is the yin-yang to Kirk,” Kurtzman told TV Guide. “What I’m so excited about is that we have an opportunity to present a version of Spock that’s both totally consistent with the Spock everyone knows but very, very different. And it’s all gonna tie to how we sync up with canon.”

Spock’s appearance on Discovery will be tied to his relationship with his adoptive sister Burnham, who he has never mentioned before in Star Trek canon. Kurtzman previously told us that Season 2 will explain exactly why Spock never brought up Burnham during his time on the USS Enterprisewith Kirk and the rest of the gang. And according to Sonequa Martin-Green, it looks like we’ll see firsthand some of the reasons why.

“We’re certainly gonna see Spock and we’re gonna be exploring those family dynamics,” she said. “We’re gonna see a lot between them.” Added executive producer Heather Kadin, “I think that like any brother or sister, there’s love. There’s deep wells of stuff. That’s what’s so great about exploring that relationship, is there’s a lot of tricky stuff that we get to dig into.” No word yet on who will play the famous Vulcan but we can’t wait to see him in action!

We will not get another season of Timeless, but we do have a shot at getting Rufus back. A deal has been made to bring back Timeless for a two-hour television movie to conclude the series. Entertainment Weekly quoted the show’s producers:

“While we wish we could’ve made another dozen seasons of Timeless, this is the next best thing,” said Ryan and Kripke in a statement. “We’re thrilled to take the Lifeboat out for one last spin and bring closure to our story. The studio, network, cast and crew are all doing this for one reason only: the fans. Because they deserve it. Because the fans made this happen and we thank them for their passion, support and helicopters. So? You guys want to get Rufus back or what?”

Steven Moffat is returning to time travel. Deadline reports that HBO has picked up an adaptation of Audrey Niffenegger’s novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife. Moffat, of course, is experienced in time travel from his work as a writer and show runner for Doctor Who.

Written by Moffat based on the novel by Audrey Niffenegger, The Time Traveler’s Wife is described as an intricate and magical love story about Clare and Henry, and a marriage with a problem… time travel.

“I read Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife many years ago, and I fell in love with it. In fact, I wrote a Doctor Who episode called ‘The Girl In The Fireplace’ as a direct response to it. When, in her next novel, Audrey had a character watching that very episode, I realized she was probably on to me. All these years later, the chance to adapt the novel itself, is a dream come true. The brave new world of long form television is now ready for this kind of depth and complexity. It’s a story of happy ever after – but not necessarily in that order.”

Meanwhile, in the present, season 11 of Doctor Who has concluded filming. Some pictures from the season are available here.

Humans concluded on AMC a couple of weeks ago. While I downloaded it when it aired in the UK, I have held off on spoiling it until concluded in the US, especially with such a major event as (major spoiler) the death of Mia. Digital Spy discussed the finale with Humans creators Sam Vincent and Jonathan Brackley:

There’s only one place to start, really… When did it become clear you would be writing Mia and Gemma Chan out of the show?

SAM: Relatively early on. Obviously Mia is a completely central character to the show, and we took her on this journey – we were plotting her story, and it became clear that she was going to become this political symbol, a lightning rod, a face around which a group can gather.

And it was going to be about sacrifice. I remember, when we talked about her character, she’s always been extremely self-sacrificing. She’s always put others before herself, from Leo (Colin Morgan), and being a mother figure to him, to giving her life for Laura (Katherine Parkinson) in series two.

And we sort of felt like that self-sacrificing quality is the essence of the character in so many ways. And when we started her on this path, we felt that this could be the culmination of all of the stories of series three in many ways, in that every great movement, you could argue, needs a martyr.

I mean, I don’t necessarily agree with that, but many great movements have pivoted around a martyr. And when we had this idea that she could actually quite consciously make the decision to put herself in harm’s way because she understood the power of the world seeing that.

We felt like it was really exciting, because it was true to the character. It was meant to be moving, but it also was about how sophisticated and intelligent she was; that she makes a conscious choice to put herself directly in the firing line, because she knows the power of that image – that she had that kind of political savvy was really thrilling to us.

And obviously it was an extremely big deal to even contemplate killing off a central character like this. We spoke about it. Internally, when we were sure that this was the right story and felt true, we went and spoke to Gemma about it.

It was obviously extremely important to talk to her as early as possible, and to bring her into that process, and get her thoughts on it.

So it was a pure storytelling decision, then? It wasn’t motivated by anything else?

JON: No. It was purely borne out of storytelling decisions, from the very beginning…

Once you knew that you would be writing Mia out, did that impact on Niska’s arc for this series? Did her arc then become all about making her ready to become a leader?

SAM Yeah. That was very much in our thoughts. We’re always trying to do something new with the characters, and push something challenging on them. And for Niska, she has this great responsibility now. Literally, in episode eight, we see her say, “No, no, no – you’re thinking of Mia. She’s the mother of her species. She is the leader of the Synths.”

But for that baton to be passed onto somebody who’s not ready for it, or isn’t quite suitable, or is going to struggle to don that mantle… we felt that that was a really interesting point of connection between the two of them. And we loved that moment.

What exactly are Niska and V now that they’ve evolved into “Purple Eyes”?

VINCENT: Well, as the fans will know from season two, V is a near-omniscient AI programme that started off as a kind of template of the human mind, but has evolved and grown into something much more.

V isn’t limited by a body, and has this omniscience because she’s everywhere on the internet, and is connected to all things, and essentially, V has looped Niska into that.

So Niska now has a kind of similar all-seeing eye, and other abilities besides, perhaps, that we wanted to keep in our back pocket.

Let’s talk about Mattie, who’s giving birth to a human/Synth hybrid baby. What inspired that idea?

SAM: That child was referred to – and I can’t even remember why now, but throughout the whole story-lining process, that child was referred to as “the turbo baby”. I think it might’ve been our producer, the wonderful Vicky Delow who actually coined the term!

We’ve always had in the back of our mind that eventually there would be a synthesis – no pun intended – between humans and Synths, and that they would come together in some way. The great truth, the answer that we wanted to have, is that we’re not different to them and the future relies on mixing and melding [with] them.

It of course pushes the boundaries of just how science fiction we can be within the parameters of this show. But we wanted to find a way to examine how Synths and humans can come together.

Of course, we’ve had it before in Leo, who’s a central character. But when we struck upon this, we thought: it’s quite momentous, but it’s also very, very human, because it’s a young woman who’s fallen pregnant, with potentially extraordinary stakes.

We knew that we were going to have Mia’s death, and this huge battle, and the scenes with Niska and Odi, so we wanted to play all of that huge stuff, and then come back down to one of the most human things we have, which is Lucy Carless’s face, as she hears some impossible news.

We were always keen to have that as the final shot of this season. And fortunately, we were able to make it work, courtesy of Daisy’s writing and Richard’s great direction in this episode…

Cloak and Dagger completed its first season last week. TVLine spoke with executive producer Joe Pokaski:

TVLINE | Now that Tandy and Tyrone have finally gotten a taste of what they can do together, will that change how they operate next season?
Yeah, I think that’s exactly it. Season 1 was about understanding them as human beings, then thrusting them into a heroic role. Season 2, in our dreams so far, is about them choosing to be heroes, choosing to be vigilantes. We’ll look at the reality of it and how that bucks up against what you’re supposed to do — and what happens when you cross the line.

TVLINE | We’ve spoken about the pacing of the season. Will Season 2 follow the same gradual build, or will it be more hectic from the start?
Part of the reason we wanted to let it breathe was so you could really lock in on who these characters are. Having worked on a few genre shows, I know there’s an inevitability to it speeding up, which I think we saw begin around Episode 6. Part of the reason we deliberately lingered towards the beginning was because you can never go back. In truth, we’ll probably be at a similar pace in Season 2, or we might ratchet it up a little more. The training wheels are off a little in terms of storytelling, so we’ll be moving at a slightly quicker pace.

TVLINE | I guess it wouldn’t make sense for things to slow back down, especially since Tyrone is still wanted for murder.
Yeah, that’ll be a big obstacle. What we were excited to do — possibly because we’re masochists — was to take something away from Tandy and Tyrone at the end of the season. Tyrone’s main problem was that he was living in a gilded cage; in the first episode, he called his mom “smothering.” So when you do that on our show, it means that by the end of the season, you won’t have a mom anymore. We’re able to look at a different aspect of his personality and to knock him down and see how he gets back up. On the Tandy side, it’s the same sort of thing where she’s been in a little bubble — living alone and keeping people at arm’s length, which allows her to be cynical — but by the end, she’s seen what her mom’s gone through for her. She chooses to move back in, which is the right thing to do, but it’s going to be complicated. It’s going to recalibrate her morality, as well.

TVLINE | This is a potentially stupid question — and I’ve already told you I’m not a comic expert — but did Tandy and Tyrone break the curse of the Divine Pairing, or just prolong it?
They have broken the curse. We’re very excited about the idea of the next generation saving us all. We talked about it before Parkland and after Parkland. We love the idea that people have always said “This is the way it’s supposed to be,” and then our kids are the ones who say, “No. Just because you say this is the way it’s supposed to be, that doesn’t mean it has to be.” We take inspiration from Emma Gonzalez, the idea that we’re only going to be saved by young men and women who say “Enough is enough, we’re changing the rules.”

TVLINE | When Freeform announced that Season 2 will be “mayhem,” I figured we’d be getting a glimpse at O’Reilly’s alter ego. Was that the finished product, or will her look continue to evolve?
Everything we do with Mayhem, particularly in the first three or four episodes, is going to surprise the heck out of you. I don’t want to say too much, because I’m really excited about what we’re doing. It was a tease about how we’re turning up the volume in Season 2. Now that we’ve worked with Emma Lahana and we know what she can do, we’re going to present a Mayhem — and a character — unlike you’ve ever seen.

TVLINE | With a name like Mayhem, you’d think she’d be a villain, but in my research — again, not a comic expert — I found that she does a lot of good.
Yeah, she’s a little in the middle. The thing that excited me, in the most general sense, was the idea that if Tandy and Tyrone are choosing to be vigilantes, how do they react to the way that Mayhem operates? And how do they calibrate their own vigilantism, either away from or towards her?

Netflix has announced that season three of Daredevil will be released before the end of the year.

Moving on to DC television, and returning to Star Trek, Brent Spiner has been cast in a recurring role on Supergirl as the vice president.

CinemaBlend has a list of all of the new characters coming to the Arrowverse next season.

Arrow season seven will reportedly be closer in tone to the first season–which should be a big improvement over the last few seasons. Actually, if I remember correctly, I think that the second season might have been the best, but a desire to return to the tone of the first sounds like a wise move.

SciFi Weekend: More News From Comic Con Including The Orville, Star Trek Discovery, Doctor Who, The Expanse and CW Shows; Game of Thrones; Altered Carbon Renewed

Last week I began coverage of this year’s San Diego Comic Con, concentrating on Star Trek: Discovery, The Orville, and Doctor Who. This week I will add some additional information which came out at Comic Con on these shows, some information on other shows, and some news which came out later in the week.

Marina Sirtis will be guest staring in an episode of The Orville, which will be directed by Jonathan Frakes. John Billingsley (Dr. Phlox) is yet another former Star Trek actor who will be appearing in an upcoming episode of The Orville. More on plans for season two of The Orville in last week’s post and at TrekMovie.com.

Rod Roddenberry premiered a short film at San Diego Comic Con, which can be viewed here. More information at SyFy Wire.

Alex Kurtzman says that a new Spock has already been cast.

Last week I wondered whether Anson Mount would be taking command of the Discovery for the entire season, or just as an arc part of the season. This does not entirely answer the question of whether he will be in command of Discovery the entire time, but Mount did say how long he will be appearing on Star Trek: Discovery in this interview with TrekMovie.com:

They’re still shooting, so was it an arc or are you a season 2 character?

Oh yeah. I’m contracted.

For the whole season, I meant. Main cast, whole season?

Yep.

13 episodes.

Yep.

There’s something a little jaded about Pike when we meet him early on in “The Cage.” Would you say that maybe some of what he experiences in this is part of his arc that takes him to that point?

Editor’s note: The question was intended to touch on how “The Cage” informed Mount’s performance, and how it affects where Pike is now. The fast pace of the red carpet means sometimes questions aren’t phrased perfectly. To clarify, the events of “The Cage” took place in 2254, three years prior to DSC season two (2257).

You’re going to see some easter eggs that you’ll recognize about Pike, I can tell you that.

Michael Dorn says that there hasn’t been any talk yet about a Worf spinoff among the new Star Trek projects, but he is working on it:

“I think this Worf thing would be perfect — I mean, really perfect,” he says. “It’s just a matter of getting the phone number of the right guy or getting the email of the right person that can actually get you in there. It’s a little early in the game right now, but I still think there’s hope for it.”

Even though there’s a powerful mystique to being a Starfleet captain, Dorn’s idea isn’t to put Worf in charge of the Enterprise. Dorn is fascinated with Klingons and feels the race of warrior aliens could be explored even further. His idea is to put Worf in charge of a Klingon ship during a period of cultural change for their fictional empire. There would be different aliens — including humans — on the ship, and the shift toward diversity and inclusion would be a painful one for the Klingons.

“I’ve always liked the Klingons. I’ve always thought that they were the most interesting aliens outside of the Vulcans and all that,” Dorn says. “There’s a certain Shakespearian bent with the Klingons. They’re very nationalistic — there’s coups, there’s assassinations, there’s takeovers, there’s all these kind of things. Interestingly enough, they talk kind of Shakespearian.”

Chris Chibnall told Digital Spy why the upcoming season of Doctor Who will have three companions and be more of an ensemble:

“I love Doctor Who as a big, popular, mainstream, accessible show,” Chibnall said. “So I wanted to make sure that every member of the audience felt they had a relatable character, an access point. Hopefully it means that the show can resonate with the broadest possible audience.

“And of course, three companions with the Doctor… we’re really going back to 1963 – that’s the format of the show! You’re not changing the format, that’s how it started, really – which I only realised afterwards.”

The Doctor’s new friends – Chibnall says not calling them “companions” just feels “a bit more natural” but “is in no way a rule or edict from now on” – include Yaz (Mandip Gill), who is “in absolute awe of the Doctor” and Ryan (Tosin Cole), who “challenges the Doctor from time to time, gets it right sometimes, but wrong a lot of the time”.

“Ryan’s 19, Yaz is 19, and then you’ve got Graham who’s the oldest of the bunch, so we’ve got different generations, different genders,” Cole told us.

“People have an ‘in’, in three different ways,” Gill added. “We all bring something different to the group, with gender, race, everything. And just the personalities of the three characters are very different.

“They each have a very individual voice, where I think certain people will be able to instantly relate to Bradley Walsh’s character, instantly relate to Tosin’s… and hopefully just love us all!”

Walsh completes the trio as Graham, with Chibnall confirming that he thought of casting the star having worked together on ITV’s Law & Order: UK in 2009.

“He’s an amazing actor and that’s what I learned working with him on Law & Order,” he added. “He has an incredible emotional range. He’s able to be really funny, and break your heart. And these guys [Gill and Cole] are exactly the same, as is Jodie. It means you have a range of emotional flavours in the show.”

Io9 interviewed Naren Shankar, showrunner of The Expanse at Comic Con, and asked about the move to Amazon:

io9: Will fans be able to tell the difference with the shift to Amazon?

Shankar: I think we’re in real strong continuity at this point. Anybody who’s read the books know that the books change pretty radically, sort of season by season. We’re in book four now, and if you’ve read book four, that is set entirely on one of the alien worlds beyond the rings. We’re not going quite that far, to, just completely do that as the entire season. But I think one of the strengths of the show is that it keeps changing. But—hopefully we’re doing our jobs right.

It’s not like Ty [Franck] and Daniel [Abraham, who co-author the Expanse books as James S. A. Corey] stopped being involved in the show. [laughs]. So, it’s not that. [Show writers] Georgia Lee and Robin Veith have both moved on to other projects, but they’re still friends of the show and they’ll be part of it again, I have no doubt.

io9: Will working with Amazon give you more creative freedom, or at least release you from having to do things like bleep out swear words?

Shankar: Absolutely. None of those restrictions have to come into play, because those are all basic cable issues. What’s weird about it is that on Syfy all of that stuff was bleeped out, but if you happened to be watching it on Space in Canada, none of that’s bleeped out. It’s going to be, I think, terrific for the show, because we don’t have language restrictions, we don’t have nudity restrictions, we don’t have all of these things that conspire a lot of times to make, especially genre shows, not feel as adult as they should be. Not to feel real. In my mind, it sort of infantilizes genre [TV series] even more so. But that goes away on Amazon.

We also don’t have to jam the individual episodes into 43-minute chunks. There were a lot of times over the last few seasons that I’ve gotten a show through post, and it’s been like, “Man, it would much better if I could just open this thing up by two minutes.” But you can’t. That isn’t a problem on Amazon either. So I think there’s huge creative advantages. And honestly, this show was made for streaming. It was made for bingeing. That’s just what it is. And everybody [who works on The Expanse], I think to a person, would say the same thing. We kind of have found our home. This is the right place for the show…

io9: The third season had events from both book two and book three guiding its plot. Will there be any of book five in season four?

Shankar: Without giving too many spoilers [laughs]—there’s so much that is juicy from this point on. One of the great frustrations when we thought we’d been canceled at the end of season three was that the end of the third book is really the end of the first big movement of the series. Which is, after spending a lot of time inside the solar system, this gigantically important thing happens that opens up an entirely new frontier for humanity. And that starts happening in book four.

Yeah, the book itself is completely restricted to the storyline on this new planet, Ilus, and a huge portion of the new season [is based on] book four. But we’re also creating material [that takes place] back in the solar system, that reflects on the events on Ilus. It’s stuff that isn’t in the book, but it actually bridges books four and five going forward. There’s a whole bunch of things happening that are sort of referred to, obliquely, in the text, but we’re bringing them to life and actually playing storylines back in the solar system simultaneously.

io9: Can you name a couple of examples from past seasons when the show has added or changed material from the books?

Shankar: There’s a few examples, even going back as far as the pilot. Chrisjen Avasarela, she’s not in book one of the series. She actually comes into book two. Very early on, that decision was made to pull her into the original narrative to give Earth’s perspective of the events, so it’s not just Holden and Miller, which is the entire book one. Similarly, the character played by Elizabeth Mitchell, Anna Volovodov, she’s in book three but she’s not in book two at all. So because we knew that we would be bridging the end of book two and book three in the third season, we launched Anna at the beginning of season three—the backstory of Errinwright and her on Earth, that’s not in the books or the novellas. So we’re teeing up the narrative for future seasons of the show, but we’re creating new stuff that’s not in any of the published stuff. Ty and Daniel are right there with us, so we’ve talked a lot about how to bridge it. But I think people are going to be pretty psyched by what we do.

io9: Is the ultimate goal to finish the books?

Shankar: I would love to take the show to the end of book nine. Ty and Daniel have written a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. That is the perfect version of this for me—if we can keep the show going, and people like it, I think it would be remarkable to tell, because they are telling a story about the evolution of a species and sort of the fate of humanity in very, very big terms with a very particular point of view. I’d love to be able to take it to the end. That would be amazing.

Nora Allen said she made a “big mistake” at the end of last season, but it turns out that she made multiple mistakes per this report from ComicBook.com:

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, Helbing said that Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) has more than one mistake to deal with and that those additional mistakes are well on their way.

“There’s a bunch of big mistakes and they’re coming,” Helbing said. “It’s not just one.”

While Helbing didn’t elaborate on exactly what those mistakes were, during the show’s SDCC panel Helbing also revealed that the show, whose overall theme for season five is the concept of legacy, would be doing a younger version of The Rogues. If Nora, whose heroic codename is XS, is operating as a super heroic speedster in the future it would make sense that she would also have her own version of the Rogues, the iconic group of Flash villains in comics.

On top of the possibility of a Young Rogues, the season’s big bad, Cicada, has also been teased as art of Nora’s big mistake. A tease about the villain was supposed to factor into The Flash’s season four finale, but was ultimately cut for time, though it was confirmed that Cicada won’t be a speedster, something Helbing told ComicBook.com gave the show a way to change up the obstacles for Barry and the team.

TV Line looked at Legends of Tomorrow, including why they are not being included in next season’s Arrowverse crossover.

Supergirl will have feature television’s first transgender superhero next season.

Marvel’s Cloak and Dagger has been renewed for a second season.

It was revealed at Comic Con that the third season of The Man In The High Castle will premiere on October 5, with the entire season being released that date. Amazon has also renewed the show for a fifth season.

The final six episodes of Game of Thrones will air in the first half of 2019. A pilot for one of the prequel series will also start filming early in 2019. At present there are only plans to proceed with one series, with previous stories discussing several possible spinoffs.

TV Line has information on The 100.

Altered Carbon has been renewed by Netflix for a second season. Like Doctor Who, the show lends itself to the “regeneration” of the main character, or at least having a different appearance and star every season. Anthony Mackie, who has played The Falcon in Captain America and Avengers movies will play Takeshi Kovacs next season. It is not known if other characters from the first season will return.

Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits is being made into a television series by Apple.

SciFi Weekend: News From San Diego Comic Con On Star Trek Discovery, The Orville, & Doctor Who

We learned from the Star Trek: Discovery panel at San Diego Comic Con that Christopher Pike will be taking command of Discovery, but it is not how much of the season this will apply to. Even before the second season of Star Trek: Discovery returns, CBS All Access will be showing more Star Trek in the form of shorts. From The Hollywood Reporter:

Called Star Trek: Short Treks,each of the four-episode series will run between 10-15 minutes and feature deeper storytelling surrounding the characters and themes from Discovery and the expanding Star Trek universe. The series will launch in the fall and roll out monthly, helping to keep awareness of Discovery high before its return in January 2019.

Rainn Wilson will reprise his role as Harry Mudd in a short he will direct. Aldis Hodge (Hidden Figures, Showtime’s upcoming City on a Hill) will star in another installment as Craft, a man who finds himself the only human on board a deserted ship. Additional episodes will explore Saru’s (Doug Jones) backstory as the first Kelpien to join Starfleet and Tilly’s (Mary Wiseman) journey aboard the USS Discovery and her friendship with an unlikely partner.

“There is no shortage of compelling stories to tell in the Star Trek universe that inspire, entertain and either challenge our preconceived ideas or affirm long-held beliefs, and we are excited to broaden the universe already with Short Treks,” Discovery showrunner Alex Kurtzman said. “Each episode will deliver closed-ended stories while revealing clues about what’s to come in future Star Trek: Discovery episodes. They’ll also introduce audiences to new characters who may inhabit the larger world of Star Trek.”

This should serve two purposes–keeping alive interest in Star Trek until Discovery returns, and giving fans a reason to continue their subscription to CBS All Access as opposed to only subscribing during the months when Discovery is on.

The following trailer was released:

Other news includes an announcement that Rebecca Romijn (X-Men) will guest-star as Number One. While Spock will be on the show, there is no answer as to whether it will by young Spock in flashbacks or Spock serving on the Enterprise. The trailer does indicate that Spock will be on leave at the start of the season, but will be involved in the problem which leads to Pike taking command of Discovery.

Alex Kurtzman was evasive when asked if Lorca will return after his apparent death last season. Culmets will be back, but we don’t know how. There was a hint that it had something to do with mycelium.

The video of the Star Trek: Discovery panel can be seen in the video above. Alex Kurtzman also discussed canon:

We know we owe you a lot of answers how Discovery connects to canon, and you will get a lot of those answers this season. Guaranteed. You’re just not going to get them the way you expect them. A lot of what the first season was about was about the crew finding each other, and coming together, and forming the foundation of a family. Now they really are a family. And so much of what’s will happen over the course of season 2 is going to test them constantly. And they’re even going to have to make choices between their real family and their starship family. So a lot of family pain is going to be a major part of it. As you may have seen in the trailer, there are these mysterious signals that appear. The signals are very significant, and form a lot of the investigative trail of why the Enterprise is here, and where they’re heading. And it will lead to a lot of surprises.

Earlier in the month I noted the plans for  James T. Kirk Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The next in the line of Star Trek themed spirits was introduced at SDCC: Ten-Forward Vodka. The manufacturer plans to send a batch into space, which will be blended with the larger stock so they can promote this by saying that every bottle contains a tiny bit of space-bound booze.

Star Trek Discovery will be returning in early 2019 with exact date not yet announced.

Seth MacFarlane said at The Orville panel that the initial marketing for the show gave the wrong idea about it. From TV Guide:

“Initially, I think the show was a little misrepresented in Season 1. It was marketed as a comedy, a hard comedy. I’m not sure why. I think there was a little bit of worry that this was so new and weird and different that it wouldn’t land if it wasn’t put into a box. It wasn’t necessarily representative of the show,” he said. “The nice thing is that the fans stuck with it and saw what we were, the tonal balance that we were riding and they embraced it.”

MacFarlane clarified that the marketing team for Season 2 was staying more in line with what he believes is the core ethos of the show.

“The show was always intended to be what it is now. I’ll start this by saying that I think the work that the marketing team at Fox did on the season is stellar. They just did a knockout job with [the Season 2] trailer,” he explained.

The feel of Season 2 is going to be a lot bigger in Season 1 as MacFarlane says the writing team is taking more risks in their sophomore season.

“There are two huge changes — the experiment was a success so in Season 2 the storytelling is more assertive and bold. There’s some narratively bold stuff that was just amazing to make,” MacFarlane teased. “What you’re going to see in Season 2 is a show that’s even more comfortable in its footing as far as existing in that Goldilocks zone [between sci-fi and comedy]… Every episode feels like a movie.”

IndieWire adds:

“This show was a tonal experiment of sorts,” MacFarlane said. “Comedy and sci-fi when you blend them together, they don’t always mix well. In features they do, but television is kind of hard to sustain. The pleasant surprise for me was that fans and viewers were willing to let us tell a story. They weren’t waiting for the next joke to come.”

MacFarlane said “different stories call for different tones,” just like life has different tones, and the comedy in “The Orville” was always meant as a “garnish” more than the main course. To that end, he said early advertisements for the hourlong series weren’t in line with the final product.

“Initially, I think the show was a little misrepresented,” MacFarlane said. “It was marketed as a comedy… I’m not sure why. Maybe there was a worry this was so new and weird and different it wouldn’t land.”

Video from The Orville panel above.

The Orville will return on December 30. More on the second season here, including that the second season will be at least one episode longer than the first as one episode was held back.

We have known for a while that we will have a new set of faces when Doctor Who returns, and Den of Geek has some additional information. This includes that, “Chibnall is writing five episodes and that two of the five guest writers on this series are women, including the first-ever woman of colour to contribute to the TV show.”

Deadline interviewed Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker:

DEADLINE: Jodie, besides this being your first Comic-Con, you are the first female Doctor Who. What is the significance of that for you?

WHITTAKER: Oh, it’s huge, really. I mean, your whole mind-set is programmed from being a kid that to play the Doctor, you have to be a man, and if you’re a girl you can be, could be a companion. So as an actor, for those rules to be thrown out the window at this kind of perfect time is really exciting.

DEADLINE: Why?

WHITTAKER: Because for the first time, the Doctor regenerates, but regenerates in this completely brand new way, which is really liberating. For me, now approaching the part it’s really liberating because there’s no rules for me in this way. Also, it’s a perfect job for any actor because even though there’s the 12 previous shoes that you’re filling, you’re able creatively to make it your own. So, I think rather than feeling the pressure of that, I feel the excitement of that.

DEADLINE: Was the heritage of the show an advantage?

WHITTAKER: Well, no season of Doctor Who is like the previous in many ways and neither is a new Doctor, so coming at it with fresh eyes was helpful in so many ways because nobody knows the character before born into this new body. I just wanted to, I suppose, use my newness in myself to be able to bring that energy to the show. Then also, you know, there’s so many references. You’re never going to have a Doctor Who series without references to things that have gone before. So, I obviously have done enough research to know what I’m talking about.

DEADLINE: Clearly, you know the 10th Doctor, David Tennant, from your mutual work on Broadchurch. Did you discuss the role and the show with him or other of your Gallifreyan predecessors?

WHITTAKER: (Laughs) I’ve known David for years, but at first, I wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone because I wasn’t allowed to tell anyone that I got the job. So, it was the only the weekend before it was officially announced that I was able to speak to, very briefly, Peter, Matt Smith and David.

DEADLINE: Did they have any words of Time Lord wisdom?

WHITTAKER: I think the thing that was the overriding message was that you are going to have the time of your life. Also, that this is like no other job, and it’s completely unique for every single person who plays the part.

DEADLINE: Speaking of playing the part, Chris, the two of you obviously worked together on Broadchurch and you have penned a number of Who episodes in the past. But what is it like working with Jodie on Doctor Who?

CHIBNALL: Actually Dominic, that was the brilliant thing about it, really. Having known Jodie and worked with her previously, I know that she is limitless as a performer and is incredibly funny and full of energy, which something that many people haven’t had a chance to see. Often, and some of this is my fault, she’s been crying in shows for years on British television.

So, now, I think what’s been brilliant is knowing how amazing she is as an actress, is to try and give her as much variety, and as much range, and as many challenges as possible to reveal her range and skills. Because the part of the Doctor can go anywhere and should go anywhere. So, in terms of us working together again, that’s been the joy of it on a show that, I think we can all agree, is pretty much the polar opposite of Broadchurch.

DEADLINE: Jodie, not just in terms of gender but generationally, you are a different Doctor than say Peter was. In that context, do you approach this with a clean slate point of view or as a continuation of the greater narrative that Doctor Who has built up over the decades?

WHITTAKER: It’s not so much of a clean slate because you take what’s gone before, and you honor it. But to make it your own season, and for me, to make it my own Doctor, I want to take those elements that’ve gone before in a new direction without losing any of the rich history of show.

DEADLINE: How do you mean?

WHITTAKER: Well, the way we’ve been operating is that if you’ve been a fan of this show for the last 20 years or 50 years, then this will absolutely carry on your passion, and engagement, and excitement. But if you’re brand new to it, that’s OK too. You don’t need to have an encyclopedic knowledge to come into this with fresh eyes, and that’s of any age or gender. I think that’s what’s been exciting for me, because I didn’t come at this as a Whovian, and this is a show that’s inclusive rather exclusive and that’s great.

The official trailer is above and video of the Doctor Who panel is below. So far the BBC is only saying that Doctor Who will return in Autumn 2018.

There was, of course, far more news from San Diego Comic Con which I will return to next week.

SciFi Weekend: The Handmaid’s Tale Controversial Second Season Finale; Discovery Shows The Enterprise Bridge; Emmy Nominations For Genre Shows; Doctor Who Teaser; HBO Picks Up New Show From Joss Whedon; Sweetbitter Renewed; Downton Abbey Movie Announced

The second season finale of The Handmaid’s Tale was quite controversial. I had mixed feelings when I saw June/Offred decide not to flee to Canada. It was frustrating, and unexpected, that she did not take advantage of this opportunity, but I was also concerned while watching the minutes leading up to this that we might be seeing a replay of the first season finale–June on the verge of escaping and then being dragged back again. At very least I am glad that they wound up doing something different.

The question is whether the surprise ending is believable with what we know about June. We would expect anyone to want to escape that country if possible. Last season, when given the opportunity to try to escape, June attempted to do so.  However, some things are different. She saw her first child, and had to face the question of why she did not try harder to remain with her. She even has information about her daughter, giving her a chance at finding her again. While fighting the system in Gilead appears to be too dangerous to risk, seeing that the Marthas have united to rebel does give more hope.

It might be argued that she was attempting to escape when she tried to get the car earlier in the season, however we don’t really know that her plan was to try to escape to Canada. She might have planned to try to free her first daughter first. Plus at that time she was pregnant, and escaping Gilead with her soon to be born daughter would be motivation to try to escape. At the end of the second season she had the opportunity to both send her second daughter to safety and remain behind to fight.

Ultimately whether I accept the conclusion of the second season as a realistic choice will depend upon what we learn was in June’s head in the time and what she winds up doing. After two bleak seasons, I hope that the third season does show further rebellion. Of course with this show there is no guarantee of success. There is the danger that June winds up being captured and in an even worse situation, or even that the entire series ultimately ends with the execution of the characters in Gilead who we care about. Hopefully we will get a more optimistic ending than that.

There are also questions about several other characters. Will Emily actually make it to Canada and, if so, what does she do there. How far will Serena go in opposing the system? Will Aunt Lydia survive her wounds? I bet she will be back. What happens to the relationship between Nick and Commander Waterford now that it is clearer that Nick is involved with the resistance? There must be a limit to how useful Nick’s knowledge of Waterford’s secrets are against a guy cruel enough to have his own wife’s finger cut off for reading the Bible. What will Commander Lawrence do now that we know where his sympathies actually lie? Will the authorities realize that the Marthas were rebelling, and what action will they take? It will be far easier to have a mass execution of Marthas than of handmaidens (as they threatened at the start of the season).

We have some hints as to the answers in this interview executive producer Bruce Miller had with TV Guide:

Did you know from the beginning that Offred was not going to escape at the end of the season? And did you get push back from anyone else about whether or not she should escape or stay?Bruce Miller: There was incredible amount of push back from me and from everybody else. All we want is for her to get out. So even though storywise you want to do one thing, emotionally all you want is the other answer. So I guess we all wanted her to get out personally. But yeah, I mean, I knew from the middle of Season 1 that this would happen. So because of that, we were working toward this. I mean, once we started to feel the kind of deep vein of regret that Offred was feeling, or June was feeling at the prospect of leaving Hannah behind and how it was tearing her apart, we felt like [that] after she saw her. And after she kinda was faced with the idea of, “I am going to be able to get one child to safety, and now I just have to decide what to do myself.” I don’t think it’s a choice about whether you’re gonna stay behind to try to rescue your child, I think it’s a needto. I wouldn’t be able to leave one of my children behind… When we got to it, it felt very natural to the character. It is an impossible choice but we are faced with those all the time, so it is interesting to see what she does.

Have we seen the last of Emily and baby Nicole or is there more story to tell for those two characters?
Miller: We have not seen the last of Emily and Nicole. I don’t know that we’re gonna see Nicole going to her first prom very soon, or Emily for that matter, but we have not seen the last of them. We’ll follow them on their journey after they leave Offred in the tunnel, in the finale, we will be following them… I think that Nicole is quite a popular young girl. There’s lots of people who want her including a whole country of Gilead if she happens to get out… It’s a huge, huge puzzle piece of our world. It’s June’s child, and just as much as Hannah has been a huge part of our show Nicole’s going to be a huge part of our show whether it’s in influence or whether it’s in corporeal reality with someone holding her in their arms. She is the force to be reckoned with. She is the next generation that they’re all doing all of this for.

Will Bradley Whitford’s character be coming back in Season 3, and what are we gonna learn about him and why he helped Emily escape?
Miller:
 Yes, Bradley’s coming back for Season 3. He was exactly the kind of character we wanted to start building in Season 2. We were hoping his schedule would work out that he could come back for Season 3. I think we’re gonna learn a ton about him. I mean, I think the fact is he’s our Oppenheimer character. The man who designed an atomic bomb and then saw what it could do. I mean, he’s a designer of Gilead, and now he’s seen what it can do. So he is a mass of contradictions and dangers, so you never know what he’s willing to do, what he’s not willing to do. He’s been protecting himself for a very long time. And his adventure to keep himself alive certainly is not always an adventure that’s going to keep the people around him alive. But now that June has crossed paths with him, she’s going to cross paths with him a lot more in Season 3.

What you can tell us about Aunt Lydia and her future? We don’t see her actually die but it looks really bad at the end of the season.
Miller: Aunt Lydia doesn’t die. I don’t think Aunt Lydia can die. I don’t think there are forces in the world strong enough to kill Aunt Lydia. And by extension the incredibly strong, fabulous Ann Dowd, I think is with us for a long, long time as well. Aunt Lydia doesn’t die, she’s transformed by this event. The fact that one of her girls who — [she thinks] that there’s a love between her and her girls — has literally stabbed her in the back. I think that that alters your workplace feelings on a day-to-day basis. You don’t wanna turn your back. So I think that in some ways there’s a lot of possible effects. But I think in her case, it makes her double down that she feels like she just wasn’t strong enough in her discipline. So she, I think, has decided it’s time to get tough.

It was exciting to see Rita take a decisive action in the finale. What can we expect from her character moving forward?
Miller: Amanda Brugel, has really done a remarkable job with Rita. The fact that she’s both incredibly strong and invisible in the house is just, it’s a miracle of acting that she really has made her both a powerful force and you just completely forget that she exists. And I mean, and that’s supposed to be mirroring the way the Waterfords and the people in Gilead just let her fade into the woodwork, on purpose, because that’s the role that she’s supposed to play. But it’s great that she uses it strategically, and so everybody forgets about her, and then all of a sudden she has this freedom to build this network with all the other Marthas. They trade things back and forth, information and cinnamon and cheese and all sorts of stuff. And so they have a life going on there and a resistance network. You know it’s used for other things, black-market things, gossip, but now she’s turning it and using it as a resistance network.

I think she’s gonna have to do some very deft dancing to get around her comeuppance for her complicity in this, and I don’t know whether she will, but she is our representative of this group of women who have been pushed into invisible domestic roles like so many women in real society, in our society. She is, but she is not invisible, and she’s not domestic. She is a woman in full, and you get to see kind of the power that brings to bear. And I think, in [Season 3], we’re going to see some of the results of her coming out of her shell and becoming a little more visible. But I think the key for me is that she is a very smart survivor, and that’s what she’s going to continue to be.

We saw Nick, too, take a stand against Fred (Joseph Fiennes) in the finale to help Offred escape. What are the consequences for that choice are going to look like for him next year?
Miller: Nick did take a stand and impulsively, which is not his best — not a Crayola crayon he does do very often. He’s not an impulsive guy in general. And I thought is was such a kind of a measure of the closeness of his relationship with Fred and how much he was willing to risk… But yes, there will be repercussions for Nick. The interesting thing about Nick and Fred is that power dynamic between the two men and the two positions that they hold. One is kind of outwardly a leader of Gilead, and the other, Nick, is quite a powerful person behind the scenes because he’s a spy, and because he has dirt on people, and because he knows all the good and bad things people are doing, going to Jezebel’s and all those things. So I don’t think it’s a hammer that the commander can bring down so easily on Nick, or would want to…

Is there a happy ending to this story? Is that in any way the end goal or is everything always going to be terrible?
Miller: I think there is a happy ending, and I don’t think everything’s always going to be terrible… I believe in June, and I believe that if The Handmaid’s Tale is the story we’ve decided to tell from this imaginary place of Gilead, if June’s story is the story we tell, we’ve told it because it’s a story of hope. I do feel like every episode where it ends and Offred is alive, June is alive, it’s a huge victory and a story worth telling. To see how someone in this world doesn’t just survive, but in their own way, find ways to live, find ways to actually have a life, have intimacy. She sees her daughter, which she never thought would happen. So all of these things are huge victories for me.

But in terms of an ending, I think this is a story of a woman getting out of bondage. So I think in the end that’s the story, whether she is able to get out herself or whether she’s able to get one or more of her children out, or reunite with her husband. Those are all details, but I think the story is bending, I hope, because it exists, it’s bending towards a happy ending because this account of what happened exists means that somehow some way, June got that account out. That to me sets a story of kind of the triumph of the human spirit and hope.

Miller had more to say about why June stayed in this interview with Deadline:

DEADLINE: I often like to start these at the end, so why does June stay in Gilead at the end of the finale?

MILLER: Because she’s a mother. She has one child who’s going off to safety and one child that’s still here so she stays for her daughter Hannah. Whether she’s going to help her daughter or whether she’s going to try her hardest to injure Gilead, it really comes from two things. One is her mom saying you’re stronger than you think, which is something she realized about herself throughout the season. The other is her daughter saying why didn’t you try harder?

When she finally sees Hannah, Hannah says why didn’t you try harder to find me?

And she’s going to try harder and I think that after having a season where all these things that were seemingly impossible have come to pass I think she’s willing to take a chance. She’s not so willing to leave her eldest daughter behind.

Elisabeth Moss also supported her character’s decision in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter:

“Speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Moss explained her take on the season finale and the game-changing decision for June to stick around in Gilead, saying there are two primary reasons for the development.

“There’s really a couple answers to this, and they are equally important,” she says when asked why June’s decision feels like the right way to end season two. “Hannah is the first one. It’s as simple as that. She cannot leave her daughter there. She doesn’t know if she can get back in if she leaves. What can she do from the outside? She doesn’t know. But here’s what she does know. She just discovered that there’s a legitimate and strong underground network of Marthas working for the resistance. The wives led by Serena (Yvonne Strahovski) just rebelled against the men and government of Gilead. They are starting to resist. And she just saw a commander (Lawrence, played by Bradley Whitford) help his handmaid and her dear friend Emily escape. A commander. How deep does this underground network of resistance go? She knows now she isn’t alone. She doesn’t want to leave Hannah, but when she sees Emily and the commander, she realizes she can get her baby Holly out and stay to try to do the same for Hannah. And she doesn’t have a lot of time to make that decision. She does the riskier thing, which is stay, but she literally cannot leave Hannah in that place.”

(For what it’s worth, Moss weighs in on why June told Emily to refer to Holly as Nicole, the name Serena gave the baby: “It’s a show of love for Serena and a thank you for what Serena did in letting June get her out. It’s June’s baby, but it’s June’s way of acknowledging Serena’s true love for that child.”)

In terms of why June’s decision to stay was the right way for season two to end, Moss says, “She is staying to fight to save all the children of Gilead. It’s bigger than her now. It’s bigger than her and Holly and Hannah. It’s all about the sons and especially daughters of Gilead, and fighting for their lives. Seeing the Martha network and the commander have opened her eyes. She is no longer alone. She has an army, and she’s going to fight back.”

“I don’t want to fight from the outside,” she adds. “I think it would kill June. To feel helpless like that. There are people doing the work that needs to be done in other countries, particularly Canada of course, that we show legislatively and trying to find their families and fighting Gilead in that way. There are very few people who can fight from the inside, and you have to have both. There are very few people who are as smart and experienced with Gilead as June is, who are as connected to a high ranking commander such as Waterford (Joseph Fiennes) or Lawrence, who know the ins and out, who have someone connected like Nick (Max Minghella), who knows that there’s a network of Marthas. She has very particular qualities that make her the one who should lead the resistance. Being in Canada, trying to change things from the outside, would just be extremely frustrating for her. And there’s probably no one who gives less fucks about what she has to do to get her daughter Hannah out than June does.”

The final moment of the season sees June pulling her handmaid hood over her head, more iconically cloaked in Gilead than ever before. And yet, Moss agrees that it signals an end for June’s life as “Offred,” even if it also means the birth of someone new.

“It’s not the June that was captured and brought to Gilead,” she says. “It’s not the June in the flashbacks. It’s a new June. She has become stronger, smarter, braver. She has learned a lot. She has experienced indescribable physical and emotional pain. She has changed forever, and not necessarily for the better, but in a way that she needs to have changed to be able to lead the resistance. She has hardened. She’s gotten very tough. She’s maybe colder. But that’s what she needs to be. She will never lose her humanity, and she will never lose the capacity to love as a mother, but that mother’s love can be the fiercest thing you’ve ever seen.”

Promotional pictures for season two of Star Trek: Discovery are showing the inside of the Enterprise.  The above picture is of Burnham walking onto the bridge of the Enterprise. Sonequa Martin-Green is quoted as saying,  “…we’re really going to be digging into family. A lot of questions are going to be raised; some are going to be answered.” Will that include showing Spock? There has also been a picture released of a Saurian, an alien species first seen in Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

Star Trek: Discovery, with two nominations, is just one of several genre shows to receive Emmy nominations. Discovery’s nominations are in the categories of  Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup (Series, limited series, movie or special) and Outstanding Sound Editing For A Comedy or Drama (One Hour).

Other Emmy nominations of note include Tatiana Maslany (Orphan Black),  for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, Jesse Plemons (Black Mirror: USS Callister) for Lead Actor in a Limited Series or TV Movie, and multiple nominations for Westworld, Game of ThronesThe Handmaid’s Tale, and The Americans. The full list is available here.

The official teaser for Doctor Who series 11 was released during the BBC’s coverage of the World Cup Final. We got a look at Jodie Whitaker as the Doctor, the Doctor’s new companions, and perhaps a timey wimy way to replenish a pizza box.  From Entertainment Today’s cover story on Doctor Who:

The choice of Whittaker to play the lead role on Doctor Who represents a massive gamble on the part of new showrunner Chris Chibnall — who’d previously cast Whittaker as a grieving mother on his cop drama Broadchurch — and the BBC, which successfully revived the sci-fi series in 2005 following a lengthy hiatus. More than 18 million Doctor Who DVDs have shipped, 12 million action figures have been sold in the 13 years since its relaunch, and in 2013 a 50th-anniversary episode was screened in 94 countries. In the U.S., the show has become the flagship series for BBC America, which will premiere the new season this fall, simulcasting the first episode so it screens at the same time as in the U.K. There is a lot riding on Whittaker’s ability to make audiences around the world fall in love with a female Doctor, as the actress is well aware.

“There’s no rules, and it’s liberating,” she says. “But it’s equally terrifying.”

EW spent two days on the set of Doctor Who for this week’s cover story, hanging out with Whittaker and the trio of actors who are playing the Doctor’s new companions: Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill, and Tosin Cole. Your writer also spoke with Chibnall who explained why he had made the decision to make the Thirteenth Doctor female once Whittaker’s predecessor, Peter Capaldi, decided to leave the series.

“I just felt the time was right,” said Chibnall. “I think if the show hadn’t done it, we would have been behind the world, and Doctor Who has got to be out front leading the world, and being a great example of all the amazing things that are in the world. So, it wasn’t even a question in my mind.”

Above is a cross over episode I’d love to see (via Doctor Who Today).

HBO has picked up a new series from Joss Whedon. TV Line reports:

The Whedonverse is expanding to HBO.

The premium cabler on Friday gave a series order to Joss Whedon‘s The Nevers, which is described as an “epic science-fiction drama about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies, and a mission that might change the world.”

Whedon — who previously toyed with creating a “Victorian female Batman” for the stalled comic book series Twist— will write, direct and executive-produce the HBO drama, as well as serve as showrunner. His previous live-action TV forays include, of course, Buffy the Vampire SlayerAngel and Firefly, as well as Dollhouse and the co-creation of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (where his brother Jed serves as co-showrunner).

Totally non-genre (unless you consider the abundance of shows about someone moving to the big city or restaurant shows a genre), but I was pleasantly surprised to find that STARZ has renewed Sweetbitter for a new season. I won’t say it is must see, but at times shows with short seasons come in handy, sort of as a long movie. The first season is six thirty minute episodes, making it easy to watch in one or two sittings. It was the inclusion of Caitlin Fitzgerald in the cast which caught my attention.

In the historical television genre, a Downton Abbey movie is now official.