SciFi Weekend: The Marvel Television & Movie Universe; The Night Manager; Mads Mikkelsen On The Possible Return of Hannibal; Wet Hot American Summer; Hugo Nominees; Top Jokes From White House Correspondence Dinner

Agents-of-SHIELD-Cover-04272016

Not long after Supergirl used a classic comic book cover to promote the Supergirl/Flash cross over, Agents of SHIELD is also using a classic comic cover to promote an upcoming episode.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is sliding into its last few episodes for the season three finale, and they’re going for the hype by promising someone is going to die in promo art. The illustration is an homage to the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #121; that’s the one hinting at the death of you-know-who. Uh-oh. The art by Greg Land will actually be available as a variant cover in comic book shops, too. It will be a rare catch for Civil War II #0.

The official synopsis for the penultimate episode of the season ties into Captain America: Civil war, as the first season tied into Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

With only two episodes left before S.H.I.E.L.D. loses one of their own, Daisy’s prophecy ticks closer towards a major loss, as the aftermath of the events of “Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War” force S.H.I.E.L.D. to register the Inhumans, on “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” TUESDAY, MAY 10 (9:00-10:00 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network.

Joe and Anthony Russo have also discussed how Captain America will lead into the Infinity War storyline.

Besides appearing in the Captain America and Avengers movies. Robert Downey, Jr. will be appearing in Spider-Man Homecoming. He is now teasing the possibility of a fourth Iron Man movie.

Marvel is now developing a series for Netflix about The Punisher, presumably in response to the response to his charter in Daredevil season 2.

John le Carré discussed how his con-man father inspired Richard Roper (Hugh Laurie) in The Night Manager in the video above.

Mads Mikkelsen gave an interview to the Sunday Express which sounds encouraging for the return of Hannibal:

Fans of the television adaptation of Thomas Harris’ novels about psychopathic psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter were left outraged last year when broadcaster NBC unceremoniously axed the show after just three seasons.

Nonetheless, in an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Mikkelsen has revealed that the story is far from over – and that there is hope for a reboot yet. When asked whether the series still has the potential to be picked up by another network, the actor revealed that the ball is firmly in show creator Bryan Fuller’s court.

“It all depends on Bryan. He is the key, the base, the heart,” Mikkelsen said. “We will wait and see what happens next in his career. But we all know that we can easily pick this up in two or three years, there are breaks in the stories. We could pick it up, say, four years later. If Bryan is up for it, we will all go for it.”

But will Fuller be up for it?

“He loved it. It was his baby. Let’s wait and see,” the 50-year-old actor teased, a knowing glint in his eye.

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After a successful prequel, Netflix is returning to Wet Hot American Summer once again with  Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later. This time the cast will look more like the ages they are playing, but it was amusing during First Day of Camp to see the adult actors playing themselves as teenagers in the original. That’s except for Paul Rudd, who seemed to have barely aged, possibly due to a painting in the attic.

The Hugo Award nominees are out. Here are the nominees for television shows and movies:

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (LONG FORM)
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron written and directed by Joss Whedon (Marvel Studios; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
  • Ex Machina written and directed by Alex Garland (Film4; DNA Films; Universal Pictures)written and directed by Alex Garland (Film4; DNA Films; Universal Pictures)
  • Mad Max: Fury Road written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nico Lathouris, directed by George Miller (Village Roadshow Pictures; Kennedy Miller Mitchell; RatPac-Dune Entertainment; Warner Bros. Pictures)
  • The Martian screenplay by Drew Goddard, directed by Ridley Scott (Scott Free Productions; Kinberg Genre; TSG Entertainment; 20th Century Fox)
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens written by Lawrence Kasdan, J. J. Abrams, and Michael Arndt, directed by J.J. Abrams (Lucasfilm Ltd.; Bad Robot Productions; Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION (SHORT FORM)
  • Doctor Who: “Heaven Sent” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay (BBC Television)
  • Grimm: “Headache” written by Jim Kouf and David Greenwalt, directed by Jim Kouf (Universal Television; GK Productions; Hazy Mills Productions; Open 4 Business Productions; NBCUniversal Television Distribution)
  • Jessica Jones: “AKA Smile” written by Scott Reynolds, Melissa Rosenberg, and Jamie King, directed by Michael Rymer (Marvel Television; ABC Studios; Tall Girls Productions; Netflix)
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: “The Cutie Map” Parts 1 and 2 written by Scott Sonneborn, M.A. Larson, and Meghan McCarthy, directed by Jayson Thiessen and Jim Miller (DHX Media/Vancouver; Hasbro Studios)
  • Supernatural: “Just My Imagination” written by Jenny Klein, directed by Richard Speight Jr. (Kripke Enterprises; Wonderland Sound and Vision; Warner Bros. Television)


Barack Obama had his final appearance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (full video above).  He said that “if this material works well, I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year,” mocking Clinton’s paid speeches. He also made fun of her attempts to appeal to young voters:  “Look, I’ve said how much I admire Hillary’s toughness, her smarts, her policy chops, her experience. You’ve got admit it though, Hillary trying appeal to young voters is a little bit like your relative who just signed up for Facebook. Dear America, did you get my poke? Is it appearing on your wall? I’m not sure I’m using this right. Love, Aunt Hillary.’”

Obama also mocked Donald Trump: “There’s one area where Donald’s experience could be invaluable, and that’s closing Guantanamo. Because Trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground.” Plus he praised his foreign policy experience: “They say Donald lacks the foreign policy experience to be president, but in fairness, he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world — Miss Sweden, Miss Argentina, Miss Azerbaijan.”

Some of Obama’s top jokes can be read here and here.

Bored with the current set of presidential candidates? Take a look at Andrew Basiago, who claims to have traveled back in time and to have teleported to Mars in the 1980’s  with a young Barack Obama. It is surprising that Obama has never mentioned this.

Update: Larry Wilmore At The White House Correspondents’ Dinner

SciFi Weekend: X-Files Finale; Big Reveal on The Flash; Captain America Civil War; Daredevil; Star Trek; Star Wars

THE X-FILES:  L-R:  Guest star William B. Davis and David Duchovny in the “My Struggle II” season finale episode of THE X-FILES airing Monday, Feb. 22 (8:00-9:01 PM ET/PT) on FOX.  ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co.  Cr:  Ed Araquel/FOX

The X-Files concluded last week, with my discussion of the prior episodes appearing here. The six-episode revival rebooted the mythology storyline, and then wound up the earth on the brink of destruction, plus a UFO flying overhead. It is quite dissatisfying if you want a coherent mythology storyline for the season. Instead it is necessary to think of a cliff hanger on The X-Files as being more like the annual cliff hanger on Dallas as opposed to a complete genre story. It was enough to have me wanting to see more, so in the business of television it was a success.

Another plus was the introduction of Robbie Amell and Lauren Ambrose as recurring characters, the mini-Mulder and mini-Scully. I don’t know if they could carry the entire franchise on their own in the future, but at very least they reduce the burden on David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, which could make a difference in making future seasons.

TV Line spoke with  Chris Carter about the finale. Here is a portion:

TVLINE | Let’s say the planets don’t align and there are no movies and no more seasons — are you OK with ending the series on that note?
I can tell you this: Fox owns this show. I can’t imagine, with the ratings that we’ve got and the way we ended this season, that there won’t be more X-Files. They will find a way to get that done. Because I spoke about it briefly with [Fox CEO] Dana Walden today, so there’s an appetite there and… a chance certainly to find how we’re gonna get ourselves off this precipice.

TVLINE | We had that shot of Alien Scully at the end of the cold open, which Fox released weeks ago. Was that just to mess with us?
[Laughs] Well, if Scully believes that she has alien DNA, this is something that’s going on in her subconscious. She’s possibly as alien as she is human, and that was playing with that idea.

TVLINE | Between the first episode of the revival and the finale, Scully and Mulder feel as though they’re growing back together — maybe not romantically, but they seem to want to be in each other’s company again.
Yes. There’s tension there, because they love each other and have, I think, since the first season — maybe even from the moment they first met. There’s a tremendous amount of love and respect there. That is what still exists, even if they’re not back together, I think you saw through our six episodes a warming, a thawing of whatever cold places they’d both found themselves in. And when they are arm in arm, or hand in hand, walking in front of Mulder’s house there [in Episode 5, “Babylon”], I think that’s a moment, for me, of a thawing of the situation.

TVLINE | William was referenced in a bunch of the episodes, then again right before the cliffhanger. In your mind, do you know where he is and what he’s up to?
[Laughs] I can’t tell you.

TVLINE | Of course you can’t! But do you know?
Well, if anyone knows, it’s me.

The Flash -- "Enter Zoom" -- Image FLA206A_0236b.jpg -- Pictured: Zoom -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2015 The CW Network, LLC. All rights reserved.

The big reveal of the week (major spoilers) was the identity of Zoom on The Flash. Variety discussed this reveal with Andrew Kreisberg:

While fans may be forgiven for thinking that the Zoom storyline seems eerily reminiscent of last season’s twist, which revealed that the Reverse Flash, Eobard Thawne (Matt Letscher), had assumed the identity of scientist Dr. Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanagh) in order to gain the trust of Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), executive producer Andrew Kreisberg tells Variety that the parallel is entirely by design.

“For us, it could only happen because of what happened last season,” Kreisberg explains. “For Barry and the others, as much as they were stung by Wells/Thawne’s betrayal, he had been their mentor and friend and they all felt that vacuum when he was gone. Jay had been watching them and knew that so he was able to masterfully step into the role each of them needed. He became a friend and mentor to Barry. A love interest to the heartbroken Caitlin. He skillfully played them all.”

The twist is particularly surprising given Jay’s iconic status in the DC universe, but Kreisberg says that fan expectations helped conceal their master plan for Zoom. “We knew there’d be a fair amount of the audience who would know who Jay Garrick was and would take the character and anything he said at face value because of his past history,” he points out. “With this, we were better able to hide the ball as it were as to Zoom’s true identity. Who would suspect the big bad was the classic hero from the comics?”

Captain America Civil War

A director of Captain America: Civil War teases a controversial ending:

“The consequences of Civil War will have an even more significant impact [than The Winter Soldier]. In Civil War, we’re going to change the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Psychology, and it’s an extreme shift.” He added: “Winter Soldier was a political thriller; this is a psychological thriller.” Now, there have been a lot of rumours about how the end of the movie is going to play out, and Anthony went on to promise that fans should expect a “very dramatic ending that will be controversial for a lot of people.” 

Netflix has released the above trailers for season 2 of Daredevil. The first is discussed here and the second, featuring Elektra, is discussed here. Den of Geek also has a spoiler-free review of the series, which will be released on March 18.

There is more good news about the upcoming Star Trek television series on CBS All Access. Recently we learned that Bryan Fuller would be show runner. Now it has been announced that Nicholas Meyer will be a writer and consulting producer.

Meyer wrote directed both Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country. He also wrote Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. 

J.J. Abrams might explode a few conservative heads:

“When I talk about inclusivity its not excluding gay characters, it’s about inclusivity so of course,” Abrams said at the U.S.-Ireland Alliance Oscar Wilde Awards on Thursday when asked if the franchise might include a gay character in the future. “To me the fun of Star Wars is exploring the possibilities, so it seems insanely narrow minded to say that there wouldn’t be a homosexual character in that world”

SciFi Weekend: The X-Files; SHIELD; Orphan Black; Nebula Nominees; Heroes; Daredevil; Kimmy Schmidt; Ashley Judd On Twin Peaks

THE X-FILES: L-R: Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny in the "Home Again" episode of THE X-FILES airing Monday, Feb. 8 (8:00-9:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2016 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ed Araquel/FOX

The six episode revival season of The X-Files concludes Monday. The series was worthwhile for old fans but I couldn’t recommend it to others. Those who have not seen it would be better off watching some of the top old episodes. The original series ended with a convoluted mythology which was no longer making any sense. For the revival they dispensed with much of it. Spoilers ahead: Mulder now believes that he was being intentionally deceived, leading him to come up with many false conclusions. Rather than an alien threat, it now appears that humans killed an alien years back and stole their technology, with plans to use it to conquer the earth.

Some of the episodes are stand alone. For fans, the most fun was the third episode, Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster. The first episode was a mythology episode in that it got Mulder and Scully back together. The second episode to air did have a suggestion of the conspiracy with the Cigarette Smoking Man (old Alec Sadler to Continuum fans) appearing at the end. However, this was  originally intended to be the fifth episode, and there has been nothing more on this. Presumably it will play a key part in the final episode, which it appears might not be the end. Variety reports:

The X-Files” reboot has been a major success for Fox, but will there be more episodes after the event series wraps this upcoming Monday?

While there are no firm plans at this time for a second round of episodes, with the ratings proof, Fox execs are undoubtedly discussing the possibility of ordering more episodes. Plus, the network has been promoting Monday’s finale as the “season finale” — not the “series finale.”

“We said before it aired that we would love to do more, and we are over the moon with the performance. So far, the response has been really encouraging,” Fox entertainment president David Madden tells Variety, speaking in an interview conducted earlier in “The X-Files” season.

He adds, “We haven’t talked to the talent yet about Season 2 in any more definitive way than we had prior to airing the show, but certainly, it seems like there’s an audience responding to the show that would love to see more episodes.”

…Insiders tell Variety there are no official conversations under way regarding the future of the franchise, but Fox would love to make more “X-Files” happen, if they can — the main hurdle would be getting the schedules of Chris Carter, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny to align, given their other commitments.

When asked about the possibility of a second rebooted season last month at the Television Critics Association press tour, Fox bosses Dana Walden and Gary Newman also touched on the talent subject, saying, “The biggest impediment to going forward with ‘The X-Files’ is the schedule of David and Gillian and, to an extent, Chris…but even the other night at the premiere, we were all laughing and joking that we would love to do this again. So we would be on board if schedules can be worked out.”

Long before the six revival episodes aired, Duchovny talked to Variety about the possibility of returning for more episodes.

Agent Carter has been excellent this year, I think better than the first season. It is winding down with two episodes to be aired back to back again before the finale. Agents of SHIELD will return on March 8 with promo above.

Comic Book Resources has a report on how Brett Dalton (Ward)’s character will be used after having been killed by Coulson before the midseason break. (Some might consider this spoilers):

Since the episode aired, fans have speculated about the comic book roots of Ward’s surprising transformation. While speaking at Wizard World Portland earlier today, series star Elizabeth Henstridge (who plays Jemma Simmons) let slip Ward’s new identity. As it turns out, the fans were right.

Discussing how her character deals with the constantly shifting circumstances of the show’s world, Henstridge said “…and now Ward is Hive and takes on the memories of people he’s killed, so that’s going to have some interesting situations.”

Though a brief mention, her statement is confirmation that Hive is now part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Created by Jonathan Hickman in his “Secret Warriors” series, Hive is a mass of genetically engineered parasites created by Hydra to personify the best qualities of the organization and the individuals therein. The parasites latch onto a human host, increasing its strength while absorbing its memories.

The TV show has clearly taken a different route with the character, as it has already been revealed that it is an Inhuman, and that freeing the creature and harnessing its powers is the reason Hydra was originally founded. Still, the increased strength and memory absorption remain part of its power set.

Orphan Black returns on BBC America on Thursday, April 14th. The official trailer (which shows a lot) is above. Here is BBC America’s description of the season:

Season 4 of the drama will see leader-of-the-pack, Sarah, reluctantly return home from her Icelandic hideout to track down an elusive and mysterious ally tied to the clone who started it all — Beth Childs. Sarah will follow Beth’s footsteps into a dangerous relationship with a potent new enemy, heading in a horrifying new direction. Under constant pressure to protect the sisterhood and keep everyone safe, Sarah’s old habits begin to resurface. As the close-knit sisters are pulled in disparate directions, Sarah finds herself estranged from the loving relationships that changed her for the better.

The 2015 Nebula Award nominations are out. The nominees for the Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation are:

Ex Machina, Written by Alex Garland
Inside Out, Screenplay by Pete Docter, Meg LeFauve, Josh Cooley; Original Story by Pete Docter, Ronnie del Carmen
Jessica Jones: AKA Smile, Teleplay by Scott Reynolds & Melissa Rosenberg; Story by Jamie King & Scott Reynolds
Mad Max: Fury Road, Written by George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, Nick Lathouris
The Martian, Screenplay by Drew Goddard
Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Written by Lawrence Kasdan & J.J. Abrams and Michael Arndt

HEROES REBORN -- "11:53 To Odessa" Episode 110 -- Pictured: (l-r) Danika Yarosh as Malina, Jack Coleman as Noah Bennet -- (Photo by: Steve Wilkie/NBC)

Tim Kring discussed the recently concluded Heroes Reborn miniseries, including whether Heroes will return (not that I see much point in any more):

Have you had any indication as to whether NBC are open to another miniseries?

It was very important that this be a stand-alone event. In looking back at the original series, I was not comfortable with the ongoing serialized saga model of the show. It was extremely difficult to sustain, and relied heavily on cliffhangers that kept attempting to top themselves each episode. I believe the show always wanted to be rare and special, and as I have said it is impossible to be rare and special when you on the air all the time. We had orders of up to 26 episodes a year on the original series.   Each one of these episodes is like a mini movie, and we just could not maintain the quality with that heavy of an order.

As for Heroes Reborn, there was literally never a word of discussion with the top brass about doing more episodes. However, I think it was always expected that when the 13 episodes came to an end we could gauge whether or not there was an appetite for another series somewhere down the road that would tell a completely different story in the Heroes saga. We wanted to keep the door open by teasing a tiny bit of story to come, and I certainly have ideas about what that story would be, but I have yet to have any of the initial discussions about this with NBC.

Daredevil Season 2 returns on Netflix on March 18. Trailer above and Entertainment Weekly has further information.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt returns on April 15 for its second season, and the show has already been renewed for a third season. Teaser above (which does not appear to contain new material).

AshleyJudd Facebook

Ashley Judd is the latest big name star added to the cast of the Twin Peaks revival. Of course to Star Trek fans, she will always be Ensign Robin Lefler.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sundance has renewed Rectify for a fourth and final season.

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

12 Monkeys will return on April 18 on Syfy.

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

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

Coal Hill School

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Star Wars, The Force Awakens; Doctor Who, The Husbands of River Song

Star Wars Force Awkens Rey BB-8

The Force Awakens was the sequel to Star Wars we were looking for after the original trilogy. While J.J. Abrams has never understood Star Trek, he is a perfect fit for a franchise such as Star Wars which centers more on action and mythology than the type of ideas which characterize Star Trek when done well.  Rather than rejecting parts of of the original as with Star Trek, J.J. Abrams made a sequel to Star Wars which was a true homage to Star Wars: A New Hope. The movie has many parallels to the original, but does introduce a new generation of characters and mix things up enough to keep it fresh.  It avoided the mistakes of the second trilogy. There was no Jar Jar Banks, and it presented a cuter version of R2-D2 for a new generation. This review contains major spoilers, along with looking at some of the questions left unanswered in the movie.

In many ways, The Force Awakens was a retelling of the original story for a new generation. Both The Force Awakens and A New Hope have much of the early action on a desert planet with a droid carrying important information playing a major part. Therefore it did not came as a surprise that the escape was on The Millennium Falcon. Having it sitting there unused for years but all fueled up and ready to fly is just one of many plot holes which are easily ignored. Nor was it a surprise that Han Solo showed up. Many of the scenes on The Millennium Falcon felt quite familiar. Rather than repeating one classic scene, Harrison Ford did provide another reference to the original when asking about a garage chute.

The biggest surprise of the movie was that Rey turned out to be the character with the Force. We saw this when Rey found Luke’s lightsaber at Maz’s watering hole (reminiscent of the Cantina scene), with no explanation of why it was there. The producers did an excellent job of keeping this secret, such as showing the rare scenes in which Finn held the lightsaber in previews and posters.The experience would have been quite different if the previews showed the battle between Rey and Kylo Ren, or showed Rey holding out the lightsaber for Luke at the end.

Once we learned that Rey was really the main character with the Force, her path in the movie became clear. She would fight the movie’s villain, be tempted by and resist the dark side, and ultimately find Luke–after this movie’s version of the Death Star was destroyed (including flights through the trenches).

Once we saw the bridge in this part of the universe where hand rails have never been invented, it was also obvious that Han Solo would reprise Obi Wan Kenobe’s death scene. J.J. Abrams explained that this was also done to establish how evil  Kylo Ren was so that he could be at the level of a Darth Vader. Of course moments later in the movie R2-D2 woke up, so that viewers wouldn’t be sad for too long.

star-wars-force-awakens-images-poe-dameron-oscar-isaac

The movie introduced other characters. One of the new characters, Poe, was intended to die but instead he turned up later in the movie. This isn’t the first time that Abrams planned to kill a character who seemed like a major character and later changed his mind. The original plan was to for Jack to be killed on Lost. While it might have been a surprise to see him later in the movie, most genre fans know that if you don’t see the body, the character most likely isn’t dead. I would have preferred it if there were brief scenes of Poe surviving but getting separated, and showing how he escaped from the planet.

Abrams also repeated an error he made in Star Trek in ignoring how big space is. The Enterprise seemed to travel from Vulcan to Earth in minutes, and in the alternate universe it is possible to beam by transwarp onto a starship traveling at many times the speed of light. The hyperlight weapon in The Force Awakens seems implausible, undoubtedly as a result of a desire to have a weapon even more powerful that the Death Star. The weapon was capable of destroying four distant planets as if they were nearby, with the four planets also appearing to be very close to each other.

The politics of the movie was also puzzling. It looked like we had a civil war between the Republic and the First Order. If that was the case, why weren’t the forces under Leia’s command the military for the Republic, as opposed to a rebel group? While I’ve seen explanations on line such as a peace treaty between the Republic and the First Order which made it necessary for the Republic to hide their actions against the First Order, the meta reason is most likely to be reminiscent of the rebel forces in the original trilogy. I suspect that having had its capital and a few other planets destroyed, we won’t see much more of the Republic, except possibly at the conclusion.

If a big moment in the second movie of the first trilogy was Darth Vader telling Luke that he was his father, I wonder if the second movie of this trilogy will be Luke saying the same to Rey. While I think that this is the most likely reason for Rey having the force, there are other possibilities. Maybe Leia is her mother, making Ren her brother, but this would require an explanation for Leia giving no indication of knowing about a daughter. Possibly Rey is descended from Obi Wan Kenobe. This could also explain the connection with the lightsabre as Luke’s lightsaber previously belonged to Obi Wan.

Another theory is that Ren’s parents are not from the characters we know. In The Empire Strikes Back, after Luke completed his training under Yoda, Obi Wan said , “This boy is our last hope.” Yoda replied, “No, there is another.” It was assumed he was referring to Leia, but she was never trained in the Force. Perhaps Yoda was referring to someone else that we do not yet know about.

star-wars-force-awakens_fire

There are many other questions raised, some of which will probably be answered in subsequent movies. Others might be plot holes which there is no good reason for, but the movie was so much fun that most viewers won’t care. Some elements of the movie were taken from plot points in the expanded universe which was invented after the movies, which should give fans a lot to speculate on. The novelization for The Force Awakens also fills in some points.

The Daily Dot listed ten things learned from the novelization. Among the most interesting are the description of Kylo Ren’s feelings about killing his father:

In the movie, it isn’t clear what’s going through Kylo’s mind after he stabs his father through the chest with his lightsaber. The scene quickly shifts gears, and Kylo, wounded by a shot from an enraged Chewbacca, snarls up at Finn and Rey from a crouched position before the two heroes flee.

In the novelization, Kylo feels “stunned by his own action.”

“Following through on the act,” the narration says, “ought to have made him stronger, a part of him believed. Instead, he found himself weakened.”

Foster wrote the novelization based on a version of the script that later underwent significant revisions. It’s possible that the discrepancy between page and screen here is not a casual inconsistency but a deliberate choice—that J.J. Abrams and company didn’t want to suggest that Kylo felt conflicted after the fact. Of course, given how difficult it is to visually convey an internal monologue, it’s also possible that this moment wasn’t so much deliberate struck as overlooked for simplicity’s sake.

Rey’s battle with the dark side was more obvious in the novelization than the movie:

Rey’s triumph over Kylo in their lightsaber duel is widely considered one of the film’s greatest moments. But what you don’t fully see on-screen is that, standing over a defeated Kylo, Rey faces a final challenge. The novelization portrays it thusly:

Kill him, a voice inside her head said. It was amorphous, unidentifiable, raw. Pure vengeful emotion. So easy, she told herself. So quick.
Instead of killing Kylo, Rey “recoil[s]” from the feeling, which the narration describes as the pull of the dark side.

This is a very significant moment. Every Force-strong Star Wars hero faces this kind of challenge. When the narration refers to “pure vengeful emotion,” it’s important to remember that part of what drove Rey was seeing Kylo brutally defeat her new friend Finn. She had just seen Kylo deal Finn what might have been a killing blow. She was no doubt furious in that moment—the perfect target for the lure of the dark side.

This is, in essence, the dark side’s modus operandi. It’s how Anakin Skywalker began his fall in Attack of the Clones, when he slaughtered a village full of Tusken Raiders after they kidnapped his mother, who died in his arms.

But Rey, like Luke, is stronger than Anakin. She resists the urge to deliver her own killing blow. In the movie, a chasm quickly opens up between her and her vanquished foe, appearing to foreclose the possibility of her killing him. In the novelization, she makes her choice before that happens. She runs to Finn, to her friend, instead of yielding to her rage. In refusing the dark side, she has just taken the biggest step of her life.

I will be looking forward to seeing where they go with the next installment. It might be difficult to top the Starkiller base, and I hope they are not tempted to come up with a more implausible threat.  The answer might be to concentrate more on the characters now that The Force Awakens has made them important to the viewers. Will Luke have a more significant role? Presumably we will learn more about Ren’s back story, and possibly more about Snoke, assuming he remains a factor.

Doctor Who Husbands of River Song

Christmas also meant the annual specials from British television. This year’s specials included Doctor Who, Call the Midwife, and Downton Abbey. The Downton Abbey special was also the series finale, and therefore I will not give any spoilers for those who are waiting for the US showing of the final season. I wills say that they ended the series quite well.

The Doctor Who Christmas Special, the Husbands of River Song, was a very fun episode. The actual story hardly mattered. What was important was that it set up the situation where the Doctor met River Song with a different face that she knew, with River not recognizing the Doctor at first. This provided the Doctor a chance to act like those who see the inside of the TARDIS for the first time, and Peter Capaldi really hammed it up:

River: Oh, before you come in, you’d better prepare yourself for a shock. It’s not as… snug as it looks.
The Doctor:Finally… It’s my go. Oh… my… God! It’s bigger!

River: Well, yes.

The Doctor: On the inside!
River: We need to concentrate.
The Doctor: Than it is!
River: I know where you’re going with this, but I need you to calm down.
The Doctor: On the outside!
River: You’ve certainly grasped the essentials.
The Doctor: My entire understanding of physical space has been transformed! Three-dimensional Euclidean geometry has been torn up, thrown in the air and snogged to death! My grasp of the universal constants of physical reality has been changed… forever. Sorry. I’ve always wanted to see that done properly.
River: Would you like a drink? Aldebaran brandy. Help yourself, but don’t tell Dad.
This also allowed River to describe her relationship with the Doctor, more than once. First, someone looking for the Doctor questioned River, having identified her as “the woman who loves the Doctor.”
River: Yes, I am. I’ve never denied it. But whoever said he loved me back? He’s the Doctor, he doesn’t go around falling in love with people. And if you think he’s anything that small or that ordinary, then you haven’t the first idea of what you’re dealing with.
Doctor Who Husbands of River Song2
River discussed their relationship once again, when they were in danger, just before the Doctor revealed his identity:
River: When you love the Doctor, it’s like loving the stars themselves. You don’t expect a sunset to admire you back. And if I happen to find myself in danger, let me tell you, the Doctor is not stupid enough, or sentimental enough, and he is certainly not in love enough to find himself standing in it with me!
The Doctor: Hello, sweetie.
Another of my favorite exchanges between the two when in danger:
River: Does sarcasm help?
The Doctor: Wouldn’t it be a great universe if it did?
The dangers in this episode were handled, but we know there are other dangers ahead for River Song. She had a feeling for this when she saw how little room was left in her diary and noted, “The man who gave me this was the sort of man who would know exactly how long a diary you were going to need.”

The Singing Towers of Darillium was established as the location for their last night together when in 2008 in Forest of the Dead. However things were not as bad as they looked, even if this is truly their last night together before River met a younger Doctor in the library:

River: So… assuming tonight is all we have left…
The Doctor: I didn’t say that.
River: .. how long… is a night on Darillium?
The Doctor: 24 years.
River: ( gasps ) I hate you.
The Doctor: No, you don’t.

Doctor Who Extra videos can be seen here.

Third Democratic Debate Showed Sanders’ Strength On Foreign Policy, Health Care, And Social Justice

Third Democratic Debate ABC News

The third Democratic Debate (transcript here) was most significant for Sanders doing his best job yet in the debates of taking on Hillary Clinton on foreign policy. Unfortunately, with the debate airing on the Saturday night before Christmas, The Guardian might have it right in this headline: Sanders outshone Clinton on foreign policy at the debate. But who watched? Both Sanders and O’Malley were also critical of Clinton’s Wall Street ties and economic views. During much of the evening I felt like I was watching a debate between two Democrats and a Republican.

While Sanders was prepared to take on Clinton’s foreign policy views, he did begin with his usual themes in his opening statement:

I am running for president of the United States because it is too late for establishment politics and establishment economics. I’m running for president because our economy is rigged because working people are working longer hours for lower wages and almost all of new wealth and income being created is going to the top one percent. I’m running for president because I’m going to create an economy that works for working families not just billionaires.

I’m running for president because we have a campaign finance system which is corrupt, where billionaires are spending hundreds of millionaires of dollars to buy candidates who will represent their interests rather than the middle class and working families. I’m running because we need to address the planetary crisis of climate change and take on the fossil fuel industry and transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

I’m running for president because I want a new foreign policy; one that takes on Isis, one that destroys ISIS, but one that does not get us involved in perpetual warfare in the quagmire of the Middle East but rather works around a major coalition of wealthy and powerful nations supporting Muslim troops on the ground. That’s the kind of coalition we need and that’s the kind of coalition I will put together.

The breech in security on the DNC’s voter data base came up. Sanders explained the situation, including an open admission of what staffers had done wrong, and then was asked if Clinton deserved an apology:

Not only — not only do I apologize to Secretary Clinton — and I hope we can work together on an independent investigation from day one — I want to apologize to my supporters. This is not the type of campaign that we run.

And if I find anybody else involved in this, they will also be fired.

Clinton appeared shocked, as if she didn’t see this coming. Such an honest response to a scandal is so foreign to her.

It didn’t take long for the debate to turn to foreign policy. Sanders criticized Clinton’s interventionist foreign policy views and support for regime change. There was a detour on gun control when Clinton was asked, ” Secretary Clinton, in the wake of the San Bernardino attack, you all emphasized gun control. But our latest poll shows that more Americans believe arming people, not stricter gun laws, is the best defense against terrorism. Are they wrong?”

Clinton stumbled in answering but I do think she was trying to say the right thing here. She finally did say, “Guns, in and of themselves, in my opinion, will not make Americans safer.”

O’Malley took advantage of this to attack the records of both Clinton and Sanders on guns. He is right, as I have discussed here, that Clinton changes her position on this every election year. He is also right that Sanders has had some votes which gun control advocates could rightly criticize, but as has generally been the case when this issue has come up, Sanders’ general history of support for gun control was distorted. Among the issues was that O’Malley raised was that, “Senator Sanders voted against even research dollars to look into this public health issue.”

The problem with citing a single vote against any Senator is that bills contain multiple items, and it is possible that Sanders voted against the amendment based upon details unrelated to the general issue. This vote took place in 1996 and in more recent interviews Sanders has not been able to recall the specifics of why he voted against this at the time. More importantly, Sanders now favors funding for this research. All three candidates are strongly promoting gun control.

Hillary Clinton often seemed to deflect from questions by bringing up criticisms of Donald Trump. Most were valid, but Clinton was wrong on one point:

And we also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don’t fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists. So I want to explain why this is not in America’s interest to react with this kind of fear and respond to this sort of bigotry.

The fact check sites, including Factcheck.org, states that no such video exists. This is apparently as fictitious as the videos which Carly Fiorina claimed to have seen regarding Planned Parenthood at the second Republican debate.

Clinton was confronted with the contradictions in her statements on Syria by Martha Raddatz, who tried to force Clinton to defend her foreign policy failures several times during the debate:

Secretary Clinton, you too have ruled out a large U.S. combat force, yet you support sending in special operations forces to Syria, and sending those 100 to 200 troops to Iraq to do exploitation kill raids.

We’ve already lost one Delta Force member in a raid. It has looked very much to me like we’re already in ground combat on frequent trips I’ve made there.

After a weak answer from Clinton, Raddatz followed up:

Secretary Clinton, I want — I want to follow up on that. You do support sending special operations forces there. You support what the president has done already. One of the lessons people draw from Vietnam and war since is that a little force can turn into a little more and a little more. President Obama certainly didn’t expect to be sending 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan the first year of his presidency.

Are you prepared to run the risk of a bigger war to achieve your goals to destroy ISIS, or are you prepared to give up on those goals if it requires a larger force?

Clinton continued to struggle to defend her foreign policy views. After Clinton mentioned her support for a no-fly zone in Syria, Raddatz asked, “Secretary Clinton, I’d like to go back to that if I could. ISIS doesn’t have aircraft, Al Qaida doesn’t have aircraft. So would you shoot down a Syrian military aircraft or a Russian airplane?”

Both O’Malley and Sanders criticized Clinton’s views, with Sanders putting it all in perspective:

I have a difference of opinion with Secretary Clinton on this. Our differences are fairly deep on this issue. We disagreed on the war in Iraq. We both listened to the information from Bush and Cheney. I voted against the war.

But I think — and I say this with due respect — that I worry too much that Secretary Clinton is too much into regime change and a little bit too aggressive without knowing what the unintended consequences might be.

Yes, we could get rid of Saddam Hussein, but that destabilized the entire region. Yes, we could get rid of Gadhafi, a terrible dictator, but that created a vacuum for ISIS. Yes, we could get rid of Assad tomorrow, but that would create another political vacuum that would benefit ISIS. So I think, yeah, regime change is easy, getting rid of dictators is easy. But before you do that, you’ve got to think about what happens the day after. And in my view, what we need to do is put together broad coalitions to understand that we’re not going to have a political vacuum filled by terrorists, that, in fact, we are going to move steadily — and maybe slowly — toward democratic societies, in terms of Assad, a terrible dictator. But I think in Syria the primary focus now must be on destroying ISIS and working over the years to get rid of Assad. That’s the secondary issue.

With Clinton lacking any arguments of substance to defend her views, Clinton resorted to her usual tactic of deception. She tried to deflect from such criticism, and deny the substantial difference in their views, by distorting  Sanders’ record in saying, “With all due respect, senator, you voted for regime change with respect to Libya. you joined the Senate in voting to get rid of Qaddafi.” As Politico pointed out after the debate, the vote referred to a nonbinding resolution he voted for, which asked the dictator to “desist from further violence, recognize the Libyan people’s demand for democratic change, [and] resign his position.” This was hardly comparable to the removal of Qaddafi by force which Clinton backed.

O’Malley criticized Clinton’s antiqued thinking, with this not being the only time he contrasted his age to his two older opponents:

During the Cold War — during the Cold War, we got into a bad habit of always looking to see who was wearing the jersey of the communists, and who was wearing the U.S. jersey. We got into a bad habit of creating big bureaucracies, old methodologies, to undermine regimes that were not friendly to the United States. Look what we did in Iran with Mosaddegh. And look at the results that we’re still dealing with because of that. I would suggest to you that we need to leave the Cold War behind us, and we need to put together new alliances and new approaches to dealing with this, and we need to restrain ourselves.

I mean, I know Secretary Clinton was gleeful when Gadhafi was torn apart. And the world, no doubt is a better place without him. But look, we didn’t know what was happening next. And we fell into the same trap with Assad, saying — as if it’s our job to say, Assad must go.

We have a role to play in this world. But we need to leave the Cold War and that sort of antiquated thinking behind.

O’Malley was strong in criticizing Clinton’s ties to Wall Street and pointed how in the second debate she “very shamefully, she tried to hide her cozy relationship with Wall Street big banks by invoking the attacks of 9/11.” Clinton down played her contributions from Wall Street by ignoring her super PAC contributions, while Sanders pointed out, “Secretary Clinton, I don’t have a super PAC. I don’t get any money from Wall Street.” I am even more concerned about the corrupting effects of the contributions to the Foundation and unprecedented speaking fees paid to her husband.

The debate moved to health care with Sanders repeating his support for Medicare for All and Clinton objecting based upon the tax increases this would require. Sanders defended his proposal from Clinton’s attacks:

But Secretary Clinton is wrong.

As you know, because I know you know a lot about health care. You know that the United States per capita pays far and away more than other country. And it is unfair simply to say how much more the program will cost without making sure that people know that, we are doing away with cost of private insurance and that the middle class will be paying substantially less for health care on the single payer than on the Secretary’s Clinton proposal.

Clinton continued to channel right wing attacks on progressive programs by concentrating on their costs while ignoring their benefits in saying, “I don’t think we should be imposing new big programs that are going to raise middle class families’ taxes.”

Sanders responded by once again showing how he supports the economic policies of FDR and LBJ:

Number one, most important economic reality of today is that over the last 30 years, there has been a transfer of trillions of dollars from the middle class to the top one-tenth of one percent who are seeing a doubling of the percentage of wealth that they own.

Now, when Secretary Clinton says, “I’m not going raise taxes on the middle class,” let me tell you what she is saying. She is disagreeing with FDR on Social Security, LBJ on Medicare and with the vast majority of progressive Democrats in the House and the Senate, who today are fighting to end the disgrace of the United States being the only major country on Earth that doesn’t provide paid family and medical leave.

Sanders was the strongest candidate in speaking out for social justice:

Well, this whole issue concerns me. And I agree with much of what the secretary and the governor have said. But let’s be clear. Today in America we have more people in jail than any other country on earth, 2.2 million people. Predominantly African-American and Hispanic.

We are spending $80 billion a year locking up our fellow Americans. I think, and this is not easy, but I think we need to make wage a major effort, to come together as a country and end institutional racism. We need major, major reforms of a very broken criminal justice system. Now, what does that mean?

Well, for a start it means that police officers should not be shooting unarmed people, predominantly African-Americans.

It means that we have to rethink the so-called war on drugs which has destroyed the lives of millions of people, which is why I have taken marijuana out of the Controlled Substance Act. So that it will not be a federal crime.That is why we need to make police — and I speak as a former mayor. I was a mayor for eight years, worked very closely with a great police department. And what we did is try to move that department toward community policing, so that the police officers become part of the community and not, as we see, in some cities an oppressive force.

We need to make police departments look like the communities they serve in terms of diversity. We need to end minimal sentencing. We need, basically, to pledge that we’re going to invest in this country, in jobs and education, not more jails and incarceration.

Towards the end, Martha Raddatz returned to Clinton’s failed policy on Libya, which Clinton has received considerable criticism for:

Secretary Clinton, I want to circle back to something that your opponents here have brought up. Libya is falling apart. The country is a haven for ISIS and jihadists with an estimated 2,000 ISIS fighters there today. You advocated for that 2011 intervention and called it smart power at its best. And yet, even President Obama said the U.S. should have done more to fill the leadership vacuum left behind. How much responsibility do you bear for the chaos that followed elections?

Clinton tried to deflect and Raddatz followed up:

Secretary Clinton, I want to go back. That — government lacked institutions and experience. It had been a family business for 40 years. On the security side, we offered only a modest training effort and a very limited arms buy-back program. Let me ask you the question again. How much responsibility do you bear for the chaos that followed those elections?

Sanders also showed his disagreements with Clinton on regime change:

SANDERS: Look, the secretary is right. This is a terribly complicated issue. There are no simple solutions. But where we have a disagreement is that I think if you look at the history of regime changes, you go back to Mossaddegh (ph) in Iran, you go back to Salvador Allende who we overthrew in Chile, you go back to overthrowing Saddam Hussein in Iraq, you go back to where we are today in Syria with a dictator named Assad.

The truth is it is relatively easy for a powerful nation like America to overthrow a dictator but it is very hard to predict the unintended consequences and the turmoil and the instability that follows after you overthrow that dictator.

So I think secretary Clinton and I have a fundamental disagreement. I’m not quite the fan of regime change that I believe she is.

After many questions of substance, the final questions were rather lame regarding the role of the president’s spouse. The candidates then gave their closing statements, with Clinton going last and concluding, “Thank you, good night and may the force be with you.”

The force was strong in Bernie Sanders, while Hillary Clinton (and Debbie Wasserman Schultz) have been taken away by the dark side.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Jessica Jones; Supergirl; Limitless; Star Wars; Blindspot; Childhood’s End

Doctor Who Sleep No More

I don’t want to spend too much time on an episode of Doctor Who which I really did not like very much.  Sleep No More did not have the usual intro sequence to the show but did start with a character giving this warning: “You must not watch this! I’m warning you. You can never unsee it.” Viewers should take his advice and apply it to the episode.

It is hard to say exactly what to make out of an episode where the Doctor says he’s confused and that it doesn’t make sense. Perhaps this was written to lead into future events of the season. We know Jenna Coleman is leaving, and we are told that the Morpheus process has already begun in Clara. I hope that this is not the episode which leads into Clara’s departure, especially if it means she dies. A major character deserves to go out better than this. This could be the worst exit for a character (even if not the final episode for her) since Tasha Yar’s death on Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Mark Gattiss warns that a sequel is planned. He should not be judged primarily on this episode after all the great writing he has done. Fans might be more interested in this interview with Tor, released earlier this week

Doctor Who Extra videos can be seen here. (I have not watched them–I have no further interest in this episode).

Doctor Who Magazine Clara

While the show itself was weak, presumably it inspired the great cover for Doctor Who Magazine. More on the contents of the issue here.

Next week Fear the Raven features the return of Maisie Williams.

The BBC has released the synopsis for the Hell Bent, the final episode of Doctor Who before the Christmas episode:

If you took everything from him, betrayed him, trapped him, and broke both his hearts…how far might the Doctor go?

Returning to Gallifrey, the Doctor faces the Time Lords in a struggle that will take him to the end of time itself. Who is the Hybrid? And what is the Doctor’s confession?

These trailers for Jessica Jones continue to create considerable interest in the show, premiering November 20 on Netflix.

CBS has pulled episodes of Supergirl and NCIS scheduled for Monday following the terrorism in Paris as they deal with terrorist attacks. The episode planned for next week has been moved up.

I09 reports that Georgina Haig of Fringe will have a recurring role on Limitless:

Georgina Haig is set for a recurring role as Piper. Per the producers, Piper was once like Brian, naive and sheltered—then she lost everything. Now, self-trained in many forms of combat, she has a mission to stop the man who took it from her—with Brian as either her ally or her enemy.

This TV spot for Star Wars: The Force Awakens has also been released.

J.J. Abrams has some comments on Luke Skywalker.

NBC has renewed Blindspot for a second season. That is good news, but also means there is no hope for an explanation this year.

The above featurette was released on Syfy’s upcoming adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End.

Julian McMahon and Charles Dance, who star in Syfy’s new Childhood’s End talk about what it means to be a part of a utopian society. Childhood’s end looks at a peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious “Overlords.” The group’s arrival begins decades of apparent utopia under indirect alien rule…but at the cost of human identity and culture.

Vincent Margera has died. TMZ reports:

Vincent Margera — the uncle of Bam Margera who appeared in “Jackass” — has died … TMZ has learned.

Vincent became famous for pranks he pulled off with Bam on the TV show and later the “Jackass” movies as well as “Viva La Bam”.

It’s a double blow for Bam, who lost his best friend and co-star Ryan Dunn, who was killed in a car crash.

Vincent has been struggling with kidney and liver failure for several years. He fell into a coma last month and has been in bad shape ever since.

Bam’s mom tells us, Vincent passed away Sunday at 6:45 AM.

Vincent was 59.  RIP.

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

>Hannibal mask

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

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

Mr Robot Darlene

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

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

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

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

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

jessicajones-netflix-509x480

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TNT has renewed The Last ship for a third season.

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; San Diego Comic Con Highlights Including Doctor Who, Arrow, The Flash, SHIELD, Muppets, Star Wars, Orphan Black, Heroes Reborn, Superman v Batman, & More

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This week’s episode of Hannibal, Digestivo, involved a lesbian relationship between Margot and Alana, a pig-baby, and an escape from Muskrat Farms.  We learned that Mason’s plan was to cut Will’s face off, place it onto his face, which had been destroyed, and then eat Hannibal piece by piece with Will’s face. His butcher/surgeon, Cordero, is at least as sadistic as Mason, and planned to both cut off Will’s face without anesthetic (but paralyzed) and keep Hannibal alive while he is eaten piece by piece.  Mason’s best line of the episode, discussing another cannibalistic murder was, “you go to all that trouble to eat a friend, and you overcook his penis.” In telling this story, Mason did promise not to overcook Hannibal’s penis.

Alana and Margot, who became lovers, had major roles in this episode. Alana knew that Mason’s sadism would work to her advantage: “He’ll torture them and take the time to enjoy it: That gives us time.” Alana even warned Mason as to how this would all turn out: “Play with your food, Mason, and you give it the opportunity to bite back.”Alana and Margot set Hannibal free, while Chiyoh was nearby to shoot anyone pursuing them. Finally Chiyoh’s presence in the earlier episodes this season had a reason. Instead of getting Will’s face, Mason saw himself with Codero’s face lying on his own before he was killed in his eel tank. Hannibal gave up on his earlier desire to eat Will, possibly because of how intrigued  he was when Will took a bite out of Cordero’s face. Regardless of motivation, Hannibal kept a to promise he made to Alana to take Will to safety, but was shocked when Will realized he was all through with Hannibal–so shocked that Hannibal surrendered.

Now there is going to be a three-year time jump, and on to the events of Red Dragon.

Caroline Dhavernas and Katharine Isabelle discussed their characters’ romance in the episode post-mortem video above.

Bryan Fuller discussed the episode with TV Guide, answering the big question I had as to why Hannibal surrendered, and discussed future plans:

This episode felt like a finale, and particularly brought back many of the emotions I had watching the Season 2 finale.
Bryan Fuller:
This was the breakup that we had been driving toward. One of the benefits of having two distinct chapters in the season is you get two distinct climaxes. This one had to serve as a stopping place for the story before it can be launched again next week three years later. So, this is the breakup, and when we pick up in the second half of the season, it’s that awkward moment when you have to see your ex again.

Will’s motivation has always been hard to read. Should we believe him when he says he wants Hannibal out of his life?
Fuller:
We come back to that moment in the final episode of the season and break it down between those two characters, and they address it themselves. Will is telling Hannibal, “I don’t need you anymore, I don’t want you anymore, I release you.” And Hannibal is saying, “No you don’t. You’re telling yourself that. You don’t want to know or think about where I am? I am going to give you the knowledge of exactly where I am and let that eat away at you for as long as it takes you to come back into my orbit, and I am patient enough to wait.”

Does Hannibal surrender to Jack out of spite towards Will or is he once again heartbroken? Does he no longer feel like playing this game without Will as a willing participant?
Fuller:
Will realizes that he can’t win and Hannibal can’t win. So, the only option for him at that moment is to stop playing. That, for Hannibal, is a huge rejection. It’s an even stranger rejection than the betrayal of Season 2 because Will has gone into Hannibal’s past and understands him better than ever. Will has realized that this is not an evil man, this is just a monster doing what he has always been designed to do essentially. So, he can’t give him any more energy. For Will, a magic door presented itself that he could step through and leave Hannibal and all of this behind him. But what Hannibal knows is going to come around again on the cannibal carousel is that that Will can’t live without him…

As Will predicted/suggested, Alana played an active role in Mason’s demise. What kind of impact will that have on her moving forward?
Fuller:
Once Alana made the devil’s bargain with Mason, it felt fated that she would play a role in bringing Mason down. In her mind, she always knew that she was going to stab him in the back one way or another. She put up with his ugliness inside and out for the purposes of capturing Hannibal, but she always intended to bring in the cavalry at the last moment. … We continue Alana’s shift into a less naïve, more hardened spirit in the Red Dragon arc. We see who she’s become three years later as a result of this pact and her relationship with Margot and this cabal against Mason. There’s a lot of bargains that were struck between various characters that, even though we’re picking up three years later, we still feel them resonating in the next arc of episodes.

And, of course, Hannibal reminded Alana that he always keeps his promises….
Fuller:
Yes, and that’s something we carry through into the Red Dragon arc. Alana is fully aware that if Hannibal gets away in any way, shape or form, he is absolutely intending to kill her.

Is this the last we’ll see of Chiyoh this season?
Fuller:
Yes. She told Hannibal that she was going to be his keeper. She was always going to be that angel in the bushes with the rifle making sure that no one further was killed by him. That’s the penance she’s willing to pay for 20 years of keeping a prisoner out of the interest of not taking a life. In essence, she’s saying to Hannibal, “I’m not going to cage you, but I’m going to serve as your jailer.” But as she’s watching the takedown of Hannibal, she realizes her job is done and she’s free, for the first time in her life, to go off and pursue her own life.

You mentioned that the next episode jumps ahead in time three years. How big of a reset should we expect?
Fuller:
It feels huge. We’ve leapt forward in all these people’s lives. Everyone is stained in their own way from the experiences of the first two and a half seasons, and yet everyone has a sobriety and they go into this new chapter with eyes open. But even so, they’re in for some horrible, horrible surprises.

Will it feel different tonally than the first half of the season?
Fuller:
It’s a slightly more grounded narrative than what we experienced in the first part of the season. So much of the first arc was all about the grieving process and also the trauma of what these people had experienced. I didn’t want to skip over what these characters were feeling, and that’s why so much of the first part of the season was contemplative and brooding and surreal. Everyone was in shock.

Red Dragonhas already been adapted into two different movies. How do you think your version will be different?
Fuller:
The version of Red Dragon that we are telling is very faithful to the literature with the exception of the relationship we’ve been building over the last two and a half seasons. Will and Hannibal’s relationship in the previous adaptations was nowhere near as wet and dark and sticky as what we’ve come to learn of the dynamic between the men in this version of the telling. So, to have Will and Hannibal truly possess a history together that informs their approach to the Red Dragon didn’t necessarily feel like an opportunity to change the story, but to provide many more layers of the tiramisu for the audience to enjoy.

(more…)

Meaningless But Hopeful News For Sanders And O’Malley

Favorability Fictional Characters And Politicians

This week has a lot of somewhat encouraging news, even if it all has zero predictive value. Bernie Sanders came unexpectedly close to Clinton in the Wisconsin straw poll. While straw polls are pretty much meaningless, as we saw with all those straw poll victories by fringe candidates like Ron Paul, it could be a sign of the enthusiasm for Sanders, which has also been seen elsewhere, and Sanders has far more upside potential than Paul ever had. The first Daily Kos Democratic Straw Poll shows Sanders leading Clinton by more than two to one at the time I am writing. Then there is the survey pictured above.

The data is based upon the favorability of politicians from the latest Quinnipiac poll along with Google Consumer Survey questions on famous movie villains. The Terminator, Darth Vader, and the Shark from Jaws beat all politicians. No surprise there. It is also not surprising that Donald Trump has the lowest favorability of all.

It is also interesting to look at the non-fictional candidates. Of the potential 2016 candidates, Bernie Sanders and Marco Rubio both beat Hillary Clinton,  and Martin O’Malley, who has barely started his campaign is not far behind Clinton. The latest polls show a sharp drop for Clinton and if this continues she might even wind up below Rand Paul, Scott Walker, and Voldemort.

At the moment, it looks like Bernie Sanders is the most electable based upon this chart.

Of course the more meaningful numbers are in the recent polling results showing that support for Clinton is falling among Democrats.