Donald Trump continues to show both his bigotry and his incompetence in his attacks against the federal judges ruling on his travel ban. The Hill reports:
Trump argued the law gives him broad powers to control who enters and leaves the U.S.
“A bad high school student would understand this. Anybody would understand this,” he said.
Yes, a bad high school student very well might be fooled into thinking that Trump is right. Fortunately judges who went beyond high school to study law are more likely to understand how Donald Trump is violating the law and violating the Constitution.
If we can trust Huffington Post as a source, reportedly his own staff is alarmed at Trump’s conduct. Leaks include the content of a rather strange 3 am call:
President Donald Trump was confused about the dollar: Was it a strong one that’s good for the economy? Or a weak one?
So he made a call ― except not to any of the business leaders Trump brought into his administration or even to an old friend from his days in real estate. Instead, he called his national security adviser, retired Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn, according to two sources familiar with Flynn’s accounts of the incident.
Flynn has a long record in counterintelligence but not in macroeconomics. And he told Trump he didn’t know, that it wasn’t his area of expertise, that, perhaps, Trump should ask an economist instead.
The story goes on to describe how leaks are becoming commonplace because of government officials who are alarmed by Trump’s bizarre conduct:
Unsurprisingly, Trump’s volatile behavior has created an environment ripe for leaks from his executive agencies and even within his White House. And while leaks typically involve staffers sabotaging each other to improve their own standing or trying to scuttle policy ideas they find genuinely problematic, Trump’s 2-week-old administration has a third category: leaks from White House and agency officials alarmed by the president’s conduct.
“I’ve been in this town for 26 years. I have never seen anything like this,” said Eliot Cohen, a senior State Department official under President George W. Bush and a member of his National Security Council. “I genuinely do not think this is a mentally healthy president.”
There is the matter of Trump’s briefing materials, for example. The commander in chief doesn’t like to read long memos, a White House aide who asked to remain unnamed told The Huffington Post. So preferably they must be no more than a single page. They must have bullet points but not more than nine per page.
Earlier in the week, Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times reported on the isolation of Donald Trump and difficulties faced by the Trump administration in its first two weeks:
Aides confer in the dark because they cannot figure out how to operate the light switches in the cabinet room. Visitors conclude their meetings and then wander around, testing doorknobs until finding one that leads to an exit. In a darkened, mostly empty West Wing, Mr. Trump’s provocative chief strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, finishes another 16-hour day planning new lines of attack.
Usually around 6:30 p.m., or sometimes later, Mr. Trump retires upstairs to the residence to recharge, vent and intermittently use Twitter. With his wife, Melania, and young son, Barron, staying in New York, he is almost always by himself, sometimes in the protective presence of his imposing longtime aide and former security chief, Keith Schiller. When Mr. Trump is not watching television in his bathrobe or on his phone reaching out to old campaign hands and advisers, he will sometimes set off to explore the unfamiliar surroundings of his new home…
The bungled rollout of his executive order barring immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries, a flurry of other miscues and embarrassments, and an approval rating lower than that of any comparable first-term president in the history of polling have Mr. Trump and his top staff rethinking an improvisational approach to governing that mirrors his chaotic presidential campaign, administration officials and Trump insiders said…
Cloistered in the White House, he now has little access to his fans and supporters — an important source of feedback and validation — and feels increasingly pinched by the pressures of the job and the constant presence of protests, one of the reasons he was forced to scrap a planned trip to Milwaukee last week. For a sense of what is happening outside, he watches cable, both at night and during the day — too much in the eyes of some aides — often offering a bitter play-by-play of critics like CNN’s Don Lemon.
Until the past few days, Mr. Trump was telling his friends and advisers that he believed the opening stages of his presidency were going well. “Did you hear that, this guy thinks it’s been terrible!” Mr. Trump said mockingly to other aides when one dissenting view was voiced last week during a West Wing meeting.
But his opinion has begun to change with a relentless parade of bad headlines.
Can a president whose reading is limited to single page memos make the changes needed to turn this around, or will he become increasingly isolated, perhaps to the point of talking to the pictures on the White House walls like Richard Nixon in his final days in office?
With over four hundred scripted shows (expected to surpass 500 in 2017) it is probably impossible for any one person to fairly rank the best of any season. Even many professional television critics, who don’t have another day job interfering, have said how difficult it is to watch all the shows to do their end of year rankings. To make it more manageable, and to get around problems of listing the same top shows every year, I have limited this to the best new shows every season. Last year’s list is here and the top new shows of 2014 were listed here.
It got even harder this year with so many new streaming shows, some not dropping until December. In order to include more shows, I waited until the end of January to post the list. As usual, there are shows which I have heard very good things about which I have not watched at all. I put in a couple of shows towards the end of the list which I only watched parts of the season, and might rank them higher if I were to watch more. Also, as usual, it is very difficult to compare shows from different genre’s, or shows watched months apart. If you disagree with some of the rankings, it is very likely I also might agree and rank them differently if I were to do this on a different day. The real point of lists such as this is to point out shows which were worth watching.
Top 20 New Shows Of 2016
20. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (CW Network)
If based upon the premiere of the show in early 2016, this show would not have made the list, however it was much better when it returned for a second season in the fall. If you gave up on it last year, as I almost did, it is worth another look.
19. Class (BBC)
A Doctor Who spinoff aimed at an older audience than TheMary Jane Adventures. Torchwood (in its early years) remains the only spinoff I consider must see, but fans should find this enjoyable. It aired in the UK last fall, and will be shown in the U.S. this spring after Doctor Who. While I understand the decision in the U.S., I personally found it to be of more value as a fall show to fill the gap when, besides the Christmas episode, there was no true Doctor Who.
18. Fleabag (Amazon Prime)
I wasn’t as in love with this show as the critics, but if you have Amazon Prime, it is well worth checking it out and deciding for yourself. The entire season is only about three hours, making it essentially a long movie. There is a definite payoff to some of the events of the season in the finale.
17. Atlanta (FX)
Another show which many would probably rank higher. I started watching when it premiered, but then it got forgotten in September because of a combination of being busy with personal matters and the premiers of all the fall shows. It very could rank higher after I see more.
A fun and very quirky genre show which, by the end, definitely qualifies as science fiction.
15. Billions (Showtime)
An entertaining cable series. It’s most important benefit was to give Damian Lewis somewhere else to go to make sure they didn’t get desperate and try to bring him back to life on Homeland.
14. Speechless (ABC)
A few years ago it looked like network sitcoms were on the verge of death, beyond The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family. ABC has managed to continue to make worthwhile sitcoms with the Modern Family formula, including Black-ish, FreshOff The Boat, and now Speechless.
13. Goliath (Amazon Prime)
Billy Bob Thorton makes what could have been a run of the mill lawyer show well worth watching
12. The Crown (Netflix)
A young queen ascends to the thrown in a high budget presentation. She receives advice from the prime minister and is married to a foreigner played by Matt Smith, who adds a bit of whimsy to the show.
11. Victoria (ITV and PBS)
A young queen ascends to the thrown in a not-so-high budget presentation. She receives advice from the prime minister and is married to a foreigner. This also has strong connections to the Doctor Who world including Victoria being played by Jenna Coleman, with supporting cast including Eve Myles from Torchwood. It doesn’t have the budget of The Crown, but in deciding upon the ranking I deferred to my wife’s opinion. This aired in the UK last fall and recently started airing in the United States on PBS.
10. Luke Cage (Netflix)
The latest introduction of a Marvel character on Netflix. It could not meet the extremely high bar set last year by Jessica Jones, but was better than the second season of Daredevil.
9. The Magicians (Syfy)
Much more than an adult Harry Potter, but that would make a starting point to explain what this series is about. Yes, it did technically have an advanced showing of the pilot in 2015, but I’ll still consider this to essentially be a 2016 series. I watched the uncut episodes later in the year, and the editing for television on the premier episode of the second season last week was noticeable.
8. The Good Place (NBC)
A sitcom which has a continuing story, a genre element, discusses philosophy, plus has Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. Extra points for having one of the best plot twists on television in recent years.
7. This Is Us (NBC)
I thought that quality drama was dead on NBC with the ending of Parenthood, but this fills the gap. It had a fairly good twist of its own in the pilot but, unlike in The Good Place, I saw this one coming. The bigger surprise was that Mandy Moore could do such a good job acting. Sure it is full of old television cliches and spends most episodes tugging at the heart strings, but it does a good job of it.
6. 11.22.63 (Hulu)
Received mixed views but I thoroughly enjoyed this adaptation of the Stephen King time travel novel. (No comparison between this and the messed up adaptation of Under the Dome). More on the show here.
5. Travelers (Showcase and Netflix)
Another low budget Canadian science fiction series filmed in Vancouver. This one is well-written and highly recommended, plus now easily available in the US on Netflix. The premise is that travelers from the future send their consciousness back to our present to prevent an apocalyptic future, taking over the bodies of people at the time of their recorded death. (I was hoping that something like this would happen on January 20.) Besides having to attend to their mission, the travelers have to cope with the lives they took over–and sometimes their information was a bit off.
4. The Night Of (HBO)
A great self-contained story which shows both problems in the criminal justice system and xenophobia.
The surprise hit from last summer. The series, with explanations of the finale, was discussed here.
1. West World (HBO)
The most discussed new show of the season, with mainstream critics also falling for this science fiction series. I looked at the show at various times, with a discussion of the season finale here.
There are also shows which might make the list which I did not see. I didn’t see any point in rehashing the O.J. Simpson story, but note that The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX) has received considerable critical acclaim. Many other shows, including genre dramas such as The OA (Netflix) and comedies such as One Mississippi (Amazon Prime) are also recommended by many people.
In past years I have found shows which I did not see when new, but saw them in subsequent years and thought they deserved to be in my rankings. This year I caught up on season one and two of Dark Matter (Syfy) and loved the show. I then tried Killjoys (Syfy) and didn’t get into it. I only watched the first episode, which might not be enough to judge it. I also thought that perhaps I was expecting Dark Matter and it might be better to watch some other shows before trying it again so I could judge it on its own merit.
It is notable that, once again, cable (both basic and premium), British imports, and especially streaming, dominate the list, with very little from the major American networks.
The past two weekends also were dominated by protests against Donald Trump. Earlier this week I looked at one good thing to come from Trump’s election–people are talking about books. This includes the classic 1984, as well as two other novels in which populist authoritarians became president. Even Doctor Who has been cited in discussion of the alternative facts coming from the Trump administration.
This week included the return of several genre shows, as well as the premiere of The CW’s reimagination of Archie comics, Riverdale. After watching Riverdale, I have three questions:
1) Who killed Jason Blossom?
2) What real teen talks about Truman Capote and about Mad Men by season?
3) And the old classic question, Betty or Veronica?
Stranger Things was the surprise hit of the summer. It was as close to a perfectly structured television show as I’ve ever seen, both telling a complete story in eight episodes and leaving some things open for future seasons. It has an excellent cast, a story which was compelling from the start, and a lot to bring back fond memories of both the 1980’s and previous stories in the genre. The early 1980’s was a perfect period for this story, when kids could roam freely without being immediately available by cell phone, kids would have to ask their science teacher for information rather than looking it up on line, and Cold War paranoia made the background of the story seem a bit more plausible. I briefly discussed the show last week without spoilers. In order to discuss the finale and where the second season might go, major spoilers are unavoidable.
If I had any complaints after the conclusion, it might be that questions which we might not have had time to wonder about while binging were left unanswered. I’m thinking of where the story was at even before the final few minutes when additional teasers for the future were inserted. Fortunately the producers do have an outline which presumably contains information which might answer some of my questions in future seasons.
We know something about the research being done at Hawkins Lab, and how Eleven presumably opened a portal to another dimension. There could be far more going on at the lab, and was there a one through ten?
What happened in the other dimension, which appears to be like ours with the atmosphere destroyed and people no longer alive? Some scenes which looked up to the stars led me to believe it was due to aliens, while the 1980’s time frame also makes me suspect it was the consequence of a nuclear winter. Why did we see only one Demogorgon? Perhaps such monsters, and perhaps other types, are roaming the other dimension, and only this one made it to their version of Indiana. Did such monsters destroy Earth, or were they created by radiation from a nuclear war? The kids faced a Thessalhydra while playing D&D at the end of the episode. Is this what they will encounter next? Is there a connection between their games and what is found in the Down Under? What was the egg which Hopper discovered?
What happened to Eleven and the monster? If this was a completed story we might assume she died after saying goodby to Mike. However, as we are dealing with parallel universes and the ability to travel between them, it wouldn’t be surprising if a sequel shows that they did go to another dimension. Deaths always must be questioned if there is no body–and in this show even a body did not prove death. If two dimensions were shown this season, are there other dimensions which might come into play in future seasons?
It is plausible that Will remained alive as long as he did by hiding out in alternate versions of places he knows in his universe, but how did he communicate with the lights? Even if messing with the wires in one dimension affected them in the other dimension, he showed remarkable accuracy in turning flashing specific lights by specific letters. Barb was not so fortunate, but to maintain some degree of horror I think it was necessary for her to have been killed. Most of the characters who were put in danger did survive. Will was alive in the end. His mother and Hopper were both captured but managed to be released. The kids survived the final attack of the monster in their school Someone had to actually die for the monster to be menacing in the end, and a character such as Barb who was only in a handful of scenes was the obvious “red shirt.”
The final few minutes of the series went further in providing loose ends to tie up in the future. What happened when Hopper went in that car. Why was he leaving Eggos Waffles in the box in the woods? Either he knew that Eleven was out there and was leaving her favorite food for her, or he perhaps he was leaving them to see if she returned to take them. I think the later is more plausible as if he was actually feeding her he would have presumably left more.
The biggest sign that we have not seen the last of the Upside Down was when Will coughed up the slug and briefly saw the other dimension. Was that just a mental flash back, or was there a breakdown between the dimensions in the bathroom? Is this the original Will, or yet another type of fake, this time created in the Upside Down? What about Will’s mother and Hopper? Both were in the Upside Down and had breathed in the air.
The Duffer brothers have verified in various interviews that they are hoping to produce a second season involving the same characters, with additional ones added. There will be a time jump of one year which makes matters much simpler when dealing with children actors, and allows for the story to have advanced.
Here are some excerpts of interviews with Matt and Ross Duffer:
How much do we know about Eleven’s true origins at this point, and how much did you want to keep a mystery?
Ross: We get the hint that her mom was involved in the experimentations back in the day resulting in her being born with these powers, but what we wanted to do with the show — and this season specifically — was mostly seeing the mystery and these extraordinary things through the eyes of these ordinary characters. By the end of the show they don’t know or understand everything. That is purposeful.
We do cut away to the government occasionally for these pops of mystery or horror, but what we didn’t want was to have a scene of the scientist just sitting down to explain everything. We wanted to slowly peel back layers of this mystery for audiences through the eyes of these very ordinary people. It’s not all solved by the end of the season. We wanted to resolve the main mystery of Will being gone, that was the story of this season.
Do you see the government or science conspiracy angle as a long-term mystery for the show?
Ross: There’s a lot there we don’t know or understand. Even with the Upside Down, we have a 30-page document that is pretty intricate in terms of what it all means, and where this monster actually came from, and why aren’t there more monsters — we have all this stuff that we just didn’t have time for, or we didn’t feel like we needed to get into in season one, because of the main tension of Will. We have that whole other world that we haven’t fully explored in this season, and that was very purposeful.
Matt: We wanted a simple drive and a somewhat simple mystery with bizarre pops of supernatural horror and then add a larger mythology behind this rift that we only know and refer to as the Upside Down because that’s what the boys decide to call it. Everything they’ve learned about it is kind of hypothetical. They’re theorizing based on their knowledge from fantasy gaming and their science teacher, Mr. Clarke. That’s as much as we get to understand it. I think part of it is us thinking in terms of horror, it’s scarier when you don’t fully understand what’s happening. If you were to encounter something from another world or dimension, it would be beyond comprehension. We talked a lot about Clive Barker and his stories. They’re very weird, and the weirder it is, the more inexplicable it is, the scarier it is.
As you head into future seasons, have you thought about how much of that 30-page document you want to reveal and explore?
Ross: We leave these dangling threads at the end. If people respond to this show and we get to continue this story — we had those initial discussions of where we might go with it. If there was going to be a season two, we would reveal more of that 30 page document, but we’d still want to keep it from the point of view of our original characters.
Even though you tell a complete story within the season, you end on a couple of major cliffhangers — the first being Eleven’s disappearance. Did you want to hint at where she’s been with the scene of Hopper leaving Eggos in the woods?
Matt: Obviously something happened to her when she destroyed and killed that monster and we don’t know what she went. Hopper is left with this guilt because he sold her out. We wanted to leave it sort of mysterious exactly what he knows… Have there been sightings in the woods or is he hoping she’s out there or has he already made contact with her? We don’t answer any of that, but we like the idea of potentially putting her and Hopper together.
It also seems that the Upside Down has changed Will or maybe he’s brought some of it back with him. What can you say about the flash he has in the bathroom?
Ross: We love the idea that [the Upside Down] is an environment that is not a great place for a human being to be living in. Will’s been there for an entire week, and it’s had some kind of effect on him, both emotionally and perhaps physically. The idea is he’s escaped this nightmare place, but has he really? That’s a place we wanted to go and potentially explore in season two. What effect does living in there for a week have on him? And what has been done to him? It’s not good, obviously.
They discussed more of these plot points with IGN:
IGN: What can you say about where Eleven is? That’s a very open question, of course, since there are different worlds you’re dealing with here.
Ross: It is. We wanted to leave it purposefully ambiguous. We always, from the very beginning, liked this sort of childlike idea that this escapee from this facility with these amazing powers would be able to just move into Mike’s basement and they’d have this wonderful life together and she’d go to school. It’s not that simple. The goal is to make it as complicated as possible, and without going into too much detail, to really tear them apart at the end of that season, to make things much more difficult. But we love Eleven.
Matt: But the great thing about having a portal to another dimension is that you’re not boxed in, narratively. There’s a lot we can do.
Ross: What did James Cameron say? No one’s ever dead in sci-fi.
IGN: Will clearly has been changed by this experience, it doesn’t seem in a great way. But he’s not the only one that went over there. Should we assume he might not be the only one affected?
Ross: That’s a good question. Though I will say that Will obviously was in there much longer. He had that thing hooked up to him. He went through a much more traumatic experience. A big part of Season 2 that we’ve been discussing is what is that effect? Did it affect anyone else? But specifically, is Will okay? The short answer being no.
Matt: But you’re absolutely right, three of the other characters were in there.
Ross: And they took off their helmets. And we know it’s a toxic environment. Nancy was in there too. Yeah, that’s an interesting question…
IGN: Is that the cool thing about doing a time jump? Asking what has Will been like in the year in between?
Ross: Yeah, that’s exactly it. And how have these characters moved on with their lives and not just in the plot and supernatural [aspect] but also just in terms of their characters and what have they done to fill that time?
Matt: We like that they’ve all had a very traumatic, nightmare experience together and after it’s over they kind of try to sweep it all under the rug. Season 2 would be very differently, structurally. It would be that everything seems great on the surface and then there are hints that things aren’t okay or that there are lingering effects from what happened last year. The initial instinct is to push that back and sweep that crap back under the rug but eventually it becomes impossible to ignore and so they have to confront the repercussions of everything they’ve experienced. I like to think about Stephen King’s It too. — that’s a big time jump. They jump like thirty years. But the idea that the evil is still there and comes back to haunt them and one of the characters finds out about it and kills themselves immediately. That image always stuck with me.
IGN: We see Hopper go for a little meeting at the end there. What can you say about everything he was involved in and how it might open up the world?
Ross: The intention in the scene when he gets in the car – and we want to get into this in the next season – is the clean up of what happened and the mess of all this and Will dying and coming back to life, whatever happened at the school, and the dead bodies… This is not a simple clean up job. It’s complicated. We have all these characters that know that these crazy things happen. We liked the idea that, sort of lead by Hopper, our characters are drawn closer to the government, in terms of having to make a bit of a deal with the devil. To us, that’s an exciting place to take our story.
Matt: But also the idea of going back to the laboratory and pull back the curtain a little bit. Maybe they brought someone new in. It’s not as evil and mysterious as it was in Season 1. We might start to get into what they’re doing a bit little more. Maybe they seem a little bit more friendly… as least at the beginning. A lot of the agents involved in that project are dead.
Ross: The monster and Eleven did a clean sweep of that whole operation, really.
Matt: So it would be new people which I think is cool. I think our initial instinct, when you talk about all of this stuff and “Oh god, this is all such a pain in the ass. We created such a mess.” But then we decided let’s just lean into the problems this created.
Ross: And even someone like Barb, where we left them, her poor parents think she’s just run away. There’s no closure there at this point, which I think is another reason why audiences are reacting like that. They’re like “You saved this boy, but…” What we were trying to do with that last scene in the hospital when Nancy leaves and Jonathan catches her right as she’s going is that there isn’t closure for Nancy. There isn’t closure for Barb’s parents. There is still, despite the relief that our boys are feeling, there still was tragedy here. We want to make sure that we don’t forget about that. We don’t want to forget about Barb.
Collider asked about the benefits of working with Netflix:
Eight episodes was the perfect length for the Season 1 narrative. Was that your decision, to keep it that tight?
MATT: Yes, it was.
ROSS: When we first pitched it to Netflix, we said, “This is an eight-episode story,” and they were like, “Great!” That’s the amazing thing about Netflix. They do not dictate. They don’t tell anyone that it should be 10 episodes or 13 episodes. They just say, “What do you need to tell your story?,” and that’s an amazing freedom that most storytellers who are working in film or TV haven’t had. This is a very recent thing. On television, you’ve gotta have a certain number of breaks for commercials. You’re working on a very clear structure.
MATT: On Wayward Pines, we were writing to commercial breaks.
ROSS: And you know how many episodes it has to be because they’ve got so many slots. Or with a film, you know it can’t be too long ‘cause you can’t get enough showings in. You’re very locked in. So, I think it’s an exciting time. We can play around a bit with form and length, and all of that, and it really just boils down to what we need to tell the story.
MATT: But even though this show has been successful, there’s no pressure to make it 13 episodes. People say, “They need to make way more episodes,” but I like to think one of the reasons it works for people is because it’s paced and it feels like a movie, and that’s because it’s not too long. I think, if we pushed it to 13 episodes, we’d have to start coming up with all these bullshit adventures they’re going on, that aren’t directly tied to the main tension. Eight felt about right. But if we’re developing Season 2 and it feels like seven or nine or eleven, Netflix would support any of those lengths.
How long do you see this series running? Have you thought about future seasons?
ROSS: We don’t know, specifically. We’re very weary of making it go on past the point it should. You want to end on a high note. That’s the goal. We’ve had initial discussions, but we haven’t quite landed on it.
One reason “Stranger Things” is effective is because the monster is revealed slowly. At first, it’s only glimpses. That out-of-sight, fear-of-the-unknown quality feels very “Jaws.”
Ross: “Jaws” was a big one. It’s a classic. The shark not working while making that movie made it much better. Also, we looked a lot at Ridley Scott’s “Alien.” On YouTube, there’s a cut of all the instances where you see the alien in that first movie, and it’s a couple minutes long. And that’s a two-hour movie. I think the reason it’s so scary is that, when it does appear, it has a certain amount of impact. So we thought, OK, we’re going to see the shadow in Episode 1, because we knew we had eight episodes. We were trying to slowly reveal it, until you finally saw the full thing. We don’t really deal with it until Episode 8. It’s a dude in a suit, and I remember reading old interviews with Ridley Scott about “Alien.” The studio was upset with him for it because it’s an amazing alien suit and you’re not shooting it. But the reason is because so much of it will look like a guy in a suit, and so much of it is that what you don’t see is much scarier. We tried to go back to that old-school style of filmmaking…
I want to pose a logistical plot question: Why did Will survive the Upside Down but Barb didn’t?
Matt: Right, I guess we think of it as ― and this is continuing with the “Jaws” references ― it’s the other dimension, the Upside Down, where the shark lives, and every once in a while it comes out of that ocean into our world on the surface and then it grabs a victim and pulls them down to the Upside Down. You saw Barb at the top of Episode 3 in the Upside Down. Just imagine that’s a world, and Barb tried to escape and failed to escape, but Will was sneakier, so he was able to escape. He was able to hide. He goes, initially, to that cubby in Episode 3 inside the Byers’ house, which is why Joyce is able to communicate with him. We had this whole backstory for what Will is doing, but we don’t see it all.
Ross: It’s more like the monster bringing him back to the net, which is why Hopper and Joyce are able to distract Will into being held in this net like a spider caught in its web. He’s brought there by the monster for eating later. Is he there for other reasons? We don’t know. We have ideas.
The way the season ends, there are enough questions answered for it to almost stand as a complete series. But the many unresolved mysteries set up an obvious next chapter. How much of the backstory regarding Dr. Brenner’s experiments and Eleven’s history did you have in place from the get-go?
Matt: We had ideas that we were sort of feeling out. We have a lot more backstory built in for Brenner and Eleven. Every time that we were writing scenes in the Hawkins Lab, we wanted to stop writing them, just because it seemed like we wanted to experience as much of it as possible in the present day and through the eyes of our ordinary characters. We just wanted to leave that as mysterious as possible. I hope that, with the mystery, people are responding to it and it’s not frustrating. But to us, the sci-fi elements are so much more fun if we’re understanding it via our characters. I like that basically everything we understand about what is going on is pretty much through the boys. And they’re only able to understand it through Dungeons and Dragons terminology and by talking to their science teacher, Mr. Clark. It’s all sort of hypothetical. I never wanted any scenes in the laboratory where you have Brenner and the scientists sitting around discussing what’s going on. And Eleven even doesn’t fully understand how she wound up where she wound up and what their plans for her are, so there are very few scenes with Brenner without one of our other main characters. The scenes that are with Brenner and not our main characters have almost no dialogue in them.
Ross: Moving forward, we’re going to get more into detail about the monster and where it came from and what the Upside Down really is. But with this season, we talked a lot about “Poltergeist.” At the end of the day, what really matters in “Poltergeist” is that Carol Anne is missing and they have to go through a portal in the closet to get her back. That matters more than the backstory. People want explanations for all that, so while we have answers for all this, what we really wanted to get from this first season is that this gate opens to this other dimension. What it really boils down to is, Will is in there and we have to get him back. The hope was that, because we resolved that, the first season will be satisfying to people and work as a stand-alone. Hopefully we get to go back and explore more of this stuff.
While Stranger Things brought us back to the 1980’s, Mr. Robot had a surprising beginning by opening as if it was a 1990’s sit-com, including appearances from Alf. If you haven’t watched it yet, do not skip the commercials, as they play into the illusion of a 1990’s television show. Of course, like other less obvious examples on the show, we are seeing what is happening in Eliot’s head as opposed to reality. There was even a plausible explanation for this, which led to a reconciliation with the imaginary Mr. Robot portion of him, after attempts by each to destroy the other earlier in the season. While we still do not know what happened to Tyrell Wellick, he does have a symbolic appearance here also.
Bryan Fuller is slowly teasing news on Star Trek Discovery. It will take place ten years before the original show, bridging events between Enterprise and the original Star Trek. There will be seven lead characters including a gay character, and a female lead who plays a lieutenant commander, providing a different perspective than leading with the Captain as on other series.
The bathroom at The Way Station bar in Brooklyn is bigger on the inside than on the outside. The video above has a tour of the TARDIS themed bathroom.
In other Doctor Who news, the 1996 movie staring Paul McGann is being released on Blu-ray later this year.
Jenna Coleman and Karen Gillan had a joint appearance at Boston Comic Con. Hopefully someone videotaped it and will upload it soon.
Kenny Baker, who played R2-D2 in the Star Wars movies, died at age 81 during the past week.
Bryan Fuller has been named to be the showrunner for the upcoming Star Trek television series on the CBS All Access streaming service starting in January 2017. Fuller has certainly demonstrated his skills in running a first class genre series with his work on Hannibal. He is also a long time Star Trek fan:
“My very first experience of ‘Star Trek’ is my oldest brother turning off all the lights in the house and flying his model of a D7 Class Klingon Battle Cruiser through the darkened halls. Before seeing a frame of the television series, the ‘Star Trek’ universe lit my imagination on fire,” said Fuller. “It is without exaggeration a dream come true to be crafting a brand new iteration of ‘Star Trek’ with fellow franchise alum Alex Kurtzman and boldly going where no ‘Star Trek’ series has gone before.
Fuller also has experience with Star Trek, including writing two episodes of Deep Space Nine (which he has called his favorite Star Trek series) and twenty episodes of Star Trek: Voyager.
Variety reports that “The creative plan is for the series to introduce new characters and civilizations, existing outside of the mythology charted by previous series and the current movie franchises.” This still leaves open whether it will occur in the Roddenberry or Abrams time line, at what point it time it will occur, and whether it will encompass the entire Star Trek universe or be more limited as Voyager was.
For Valentines Day we have a special edition of Marvel Super Heroes in the video above.
Elsewhere in the Marvel universe, there is now a question as to whether Agent Carter will return as Haley Atwell has been cast in a pilot for an ABC drama entitled Conviction. It sounds doubtful that she will return to Agent Carter if the pilot is picked up, although this is a series which might return at any point in the future as time allows.
Being Valentines Day, it is also significant that yet another of Rory’s old boyfriends has been cast for the Gilmore Girls revival, now adding Milo Ventimiglia. In an unexpected addition, Sutton Foster has also been cast. Will she reprise her role as Michelle and make this a Gilmore Girls/Bunheads cross over episode, will Foster play another Lorelei stand-in, or will she have an entirely different part.
Grant Gustin has uploaded the first picture of himself and Melissa Benoist in this Glee reunion and Flash/Supergirl cross over.
The latest trailer for Outlander deals with attempting to change the future due to Claire’s knowledge of history. Outlander returns on Saturday, April 9th at 9pm ET.
11.22.63 also deals with attempts to change historical events. It premiers tomorrow and it is disappointing that USA Today gives it a very poor review, advising to just watch the final episode if you are curious as to what happens. The New York Times and IGN have more mixed reviews. Adaptations of Stephen King novels do not have the greatest track record on television, as with Under The Dome.
The New York Times has a much better review for Better Call Saul, which returns for its second season tomorrow.
The latest trailer above for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice which premiers on March 25th, 2016.
Aniz Ansari’s Master of None has been renewed by Netflix for a second season.
House of Cards returns to Netflix on March 4th. Trailer above.
Amazon has renewed Mozart in the Jungle for a third season. The show recently Best Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globe awards and Gael Garcia Bernal won for Best Performance in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy.
Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are the stars of their own comics. More on the comics here.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Matt Nable will be reprising his role of Ra’s al Ghul from Arrow in the ninth episode of Legends of Tomorrow. Considering that much of the cast is made up of people who either died or appeared to die on Arrow, this doesn’t really come as a surprise. Damian Dark will also be making an appearance on Legends of Tomorrow. On Arrow, Nyssa will also continue to fight Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) for her dead father’s title.
I really liked Daredevil, and liked what they did with Jessica Jones even more. Jessica Jones also has me looking forward to Luke Cage. Collider had an interview with Mike Colter, who plays Luke Cage. The discussion included how Luke Cage will differ from Daredevil and Jessica Jones.
I was happy to hear that Amazon has renewed The Man In The High Castle, as expected, for a second season. The entire series was enjoyable, but that ending has me really wondering where the show is headed. I read the book many, many years ago and don’t remember how it ended. Plus there are already major changes from the book so that might not matter.
I’ve been far too busy around the holidays to keep up with everything on television. I thought I was doing well completing both Jessica Jones and The Man In The High Castle. (My original plan was to review these two series this week, but holiday plans have prevented it.) I haven’t had time to start The Expanse, but I hear that if some time opens up it is possible to stream the first four episodes, and get ahead of what has been shown on television.
I have recorded Childhood’s End with hopes of watching it sometime later over the holidays. Meanwhile this article, which I haven’t read to avoid spoilers, looks like the type of article with a show’s producer on the ending which I would be quoting from if I had seen the show.
Yet another new genre show I haven’t had time to watch–The Magicians. IO9 has a review here.
Hulu is releasing teaser trailers of 11.22.63, produced by J.J. Abrams and based upon the Stephen King novel. Abrams also has something else major out this weekend.
I also haven’t had a chance to watch the movie version of The Martian yet, but did enjoy the book last year. Nerdist has news on Andy Weir’s next book, to take place on the moon and feature a female lead.
With so much to watch on television, I didn’t watch Minority Report after some poor reviews of the first episode, followed by news that production was cut to ten episodes. The final episode aired recently and I have heard some buzz that the series ended well. This is a positive sign of how television has changed. In the past a network needed at least a few years of a series to make money in syndication. If it looked weak after a few episodes, they would be tempted to just pull the plug.
These days a series can still bring in episodes with even a short run. By giving the producers a cut off date, they were able to make a series which stood on its own with ten episodes, or expand into subsequent seasons if it did build an audience. It is still possible to sell a self-contained ten episode series as a Blu ray or DVD set, as well as have it on one or more streaming networks. The networks have reason to continue a show with a small audience for at least a short time, current viewers get a conclusion as opposed to having a show they like abruptly pulled, and genre fans have one more thing available to watch when desired in the future. Plus maybe a show will even be brought back by another outlet.
Netflix ran the trailer for the fourth season of House of Cards during last week’s Republican debate. The show returns on March 4. “America, I am only getting started” sounds sort of scary.
The third season of Fargo won’t be filming until next winter, and therefore won’t be seen until sometime in 2017. It will take place in 2010, four years after the first season. We got an unexpected view of some of the characters from the first season in the second season finale, but reportedly the regulars from the first season will not be the major characters for the third season. Some could appear briefly.
Doctor Who TV has an advance review of this year’s Christmas special, The Husbands of River Song.
ABC will be airing a one hour special, Captain America’s 75th Anniversary, on January 19th, just prior to the season premiere of Agent Carter. It will be opposite the return of The Flash on CW, but that is why we have Hulu, and modern DVR’s which record more than one show at a time.
Vox looks at Tina Fey’s response to some of the internet outrage over Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt for having the blonde, Polish actress Jane Krakowski playeding a Native American woman who was hiding her true ethnicity.
Ted Cruz has paid for a Christmas-themed parody infomercial to air during Saturday Night Live tonight. Steve M. has a review, and finds Cruz to be scary. I agree.
Only four companions had previously died in the long history of Doctor Who, with none in the new series. This changed on Face the Raven with the death of Clara Oswald. The episode took place on Trap Street, a hidden street in London like something out of Harry Potter, except in this case Maise Williams’ immortal character returned as mayor, providing sanctuary for aliens. Clara’s friend Rigsy (previously seen inFlatline, when Clara was acting as the Doctor) was sentenced to die, with a Chronolock tattooed on his neck, counting down the minutes until his death. The Doctor tried, unsuccessfully, to turn to his index cards to express his condolences, but Clara pushed him to try to save him.
Unfortunately it turned out to be Clara who saved him by transferring the Chronolock from Rigsy to herself. Maise Williams’ character, Me, had already guaranteed Clara’s safety on Trap Street, so she thought this would buy them time. What Clara did not know is that Me never really intended for Rigsy to die. However, once the Chronlock was transferred from Rigsy to Clara, the terms of Me’s deal with the quantum shade, which controlled the execution, were changed and Me could not save her.
Clara assumed the Doctor could save her once again, but he could not, and the two said their dramatic farewells. It did seem questionable that the Doctor couldn’t at least try to save her. After all, it was already established that there was a stasis machine nearby. If that couldn’t work, there was also a teleport bracelet, not to mention the TARDIS, which might take Clara to safety.
Clara’s death was actually guaranteed by the decision for Jenna Coleman to leave the series. Steven Moffat discussed writing Clara out in an interview with Blogtor Who:
“What we’re gonna do with Clara’s departure was ‘Plan A’. This is what I wanted to with Clara from very, very early on in Clara’s run but Jenna said that she wanted to leave at the end of Series 8. And I sort of knew she didn’t really want to leave, I think she just felt she ought to leave at the end of Series 8, despite my various attempts to tell her what she was thinking – which never goes down well I find with human beings! [Laughs]
She decided to leave so I wrote her out of the end of Death In Heaven, that was her last episode. I was halfway through Christmas [Last Christmas] without Jenna and she said, ‘Actually, I’d like to be in Christmas,’ so I discreetly threw away the script I was writing and started again. [Laughs] Never told her that – should’ve.
I wrote her out of the end of Christmas but this time I sniffed a wind and wrote two endings; one version where she actually is the old lady and we last see her going up the spiral staircase. At the read through we did the big heart-rending departure and she changed her mind.
Peter and I did perform every form of emotional manipulation known to people on the world tour, badly and ineptly I might add. I like to think in the sheer ineptitude of out apparent subterfuge we were charming.
But what we’re doing now is the right way for her to go, in my view.”
There might theoretically be a way in which Clara did not die and could return for some of the final episodes of the season, but now that Jenna Coleman had her big exit scene it would be better to leave her character dead. That does not mean that Jenna Coleman might not show up again. A form of Clara has been involved with all Doctors we have seen so far, and the way in which she was fragmented should mean that she will also be involved with future Doctors, although that does not mean that either the Doctor or the audience will see her
The Doctor has met Clara in different forms. He met Oswin Oswald, the soufflé girl, inAsylum of the Daleks, and met the Victorian barmaid and governess Clara Oswin Oswald in The Snowmen. He also came close to meeting Clara as a child but did not recognize her.
There are still questions left from Face the Raven. The Doctor was teleported off, and is on his own, leading into the final episodes of the season (which will be extended length). Will he return to face Me, after warning her “You’ll find that it’s a very small universe when I’m angry with you”? Who was Me working with? It was apparently someone who knew about the Confession Dial, which might mean Davros, or Missy. Incidentally, it was Missy who put Clara in touch with the Doctor in The Bells of St. John, so it might be fitting that she was also indirectly involved in her death. (Incidentally Michelle Gomez, who plays Missy, also appeared on Gotham last week).
The portion of the season prior to the Christmas episode will end with another two-parter. Heaven Sent will air on November 28th and run fifty-five minutes. Hell Bent will air on December 5th and run sixty-five minutes.
Behind the scenes videos of Face the Raven can be seen here.
It was a tough decision with both Jessica Jones and The Man in The High Castle both becoming available for streaming on Friday night. Ultimately a show staring Krystin Ritter, David Tennant, and Carrie-Ann Moss won out. In addition to these three, Rachel Taylor does an excellent job as Trish Walker and Mike Colter is excellent as Luke Cage. Besides appearing in Jessica Jones prior to appearing in his own show, Luke Cage has been teased in a trailer for the second season of Daredevil.
While I have not finished the series yet, I have seen enough to say that this is excellent. It is possibly the best superhero show ever on television, and possibly the best television show or movie with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Vulture has a collection of excerpts from the many excellent reviews of the series. I will have no spoilers of the individual episodes in discussing the series.
Jessica Jones has started out even stronger than Daredevil. While set in the same Hell’s Kitchen background, it is not entirely as dark and gritty, with more of New York City seen. There are brief mentions of other events in the Marvel universe, but it is not necessary to have seen any as long as you are just aware that New York City was under attack in The Avengers movie.
Krystin Ritter is excellent as the damaged superhero. She plays a strong female lead, but the tone of the show is entirely different from the other superhero series with a female lead, Supergirl. Ritter’s dramatic acting abilities were clear in Breaking Bad, and she showed she could handle being the lead for a show in Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23. She further shows her acting talent as the lead in this complex dramatic role in which her character underwent a traumatic experience in the past, leading to the season-long arc with the big-bad Killgrave, played by David Tennant.
Unlike a lot of superhero shows, she doesn’t seem to rely on her superpowers that often.
That’s how I always approach the character. Just a woman and a girl first, with her feet on the ground and with real issues. Her struggle is so personal and so relatable and so grounded. I just focused on that and the superpower thing second. I just felt like it was an extension of who she is – because internally, she’s so strong.
What unique issues are being explored in “Jessica Jones”?
I felt like it was groundbreaking material in how it handles some of the darker stuff that happens to her. We never actually see, literally, [her] history with [villain] Kilgrave. But we see the effects of it. Ultimately, this is a story about coming to terms with something internally with yourself. I also enjoyed that she wasn’t sexualized. She’s never putting on high heels and the tight skirt to seduce somebody like your typical P.I. So there were all these things in there that felt a lot bigger. I felt like it was a great conversation starter. It has the potential to be an iconic character.
The Los Angeles Times spoke with Kristin Ritter and showrunner Melissa Rosenberg, who was also head writer on early seasons of Dexter:
“[For Jessica] the superpowers are just a matter of fact. She doesn’t advertise them, but she doesn’t deny them. She doesn’t hide them,” show runner Melissa Rosenberg explains. “What I love about this character is she’s so unapologetically who she is. She’s unapologetic about her sexuality, about her powers, about her drinking, about just about anything. She is who she is.”
Her sexuality, and drinking, along with other aspects of Jessica Jones, are certainly not hidden. While there is no nudity, this is not a superhero series for children.
I have also been bookmarking material on The Man In The High Castle but will wait until I have hopefully had time to start the series.
An extended promo has been released for this season’s crossover episodes of The Flash and Arrow, starting December 1 (video above).
The season finale of The Flash is part of the crossover event with Arrow and introduces Wally West. There has been speculation this season that when Iris’s mother turned up and there was mention of another child, this would be Wally West. The following synopsis has been released.
“Running to Stand Still” — MARK HAMILL, WENTWORTH MILLER AND LIAM MCINTYRE RETURN; KEIYNAN LONSDALE JOINS THE CAST AS WALLY WEST — When Mark Mardon AKA The Weather Wizard (guest star Liam McIntyre) returns to break Leonard Snart AKA Captain Cold (guest star Wentworth Miller) and James Jesse AKA The Trickster (guest star Mark Hamill) out of Iron Heights, Barry (Grant Gustin) must stop these rogues from taking over Central City during Christmas. Meanwhile, Joe (Jesse L. Martin) and Iris (Candice Patton) meet Wally West (Keiynan Lonsdale). Kevin Tancharoen directed the episode written by Andrew Kreisberg (#209). Original airdate 12/8/2015.
We have already seen the first glimpses of Hawkgirl on The Flash, as the various characters for Legends of Tomorrow have been put place on Arrow and The Flash. Legends of Tomorrow will debut on Thursday, January 21. In addition to bringing back old characters on Arrow in preparation for this, Roy will be returning to Arrow in episode 412.
The above teaser has been released from 11/22/63 from J.J. Abrams, based upon the book by Stephen King. It is to be released on Hulu on Presidents Day, 2016.
Danger Will Robinson: Netflix is planning a reboot of Lost in Space.
CBS has signed a deal with Carter Bays and Craig Thomas to produce another comedy set in New York. Deadline reports that the show, named New York Mythological, “centers on a Midwestern girl who moves to Manhattan and experiences firsthand the magic of New York.” It sound like quite a few other shows done over the years but it is the execution which matters. There have also been a lot of shows about friends in New York City, but few did them as well as Bays and Thomas did with How I Met Your Mother.
Fox has officially decided to go ahead with a six episode revival of The X-Files. Here is what we know from various web reports, including an interview with Chris Carter at XFilesNews.com. Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny will be back and Carter is looking into the availability of others, including William B. Davis and Mitch Pileggi.
Chris Carter mentions that there will be a nice mix of mythology and stand alone episodes, but what is the set up after all is said and done? Will this be the final ride or are we keeping the door open?
“It’s a good question,” he snickers. “I don’t want to answer it exactly because I wanna keep people guessing.” If the man of mystery and I were in the same room, I’m betting that statement would have come with a wink.
The reality is that it’s been seven years since the last movie, and we always wonder what would be the storyline to tackle? How would time affect these characters, and how would time shift the way in which these stories would be told? After all, the world has changed, and so has TV and you would expect that time has also shown face in Mulder and Scully’s universe.
But Carter is firm in his response, “I don’t think it will actually change anything, of course, with the new technology we’ll certainly see Mulder and Scully carrying different cell phones.”
…Still, he assures me that time won’t influence the stories, per se. “We’re going to tell X-Files the way that we’ve always told them; we will of course set them in the time and place that they exist. We’re telling contemporary stories about contemporary situations, true to Mulder and Scully’s characters and their relationship and the passage of time.”
“But where do we land? Are we going to have a time jump? Are we going to address the 2012 deadline? And what about William?” I ask.
“I’ve thought about that,” he says referring to the colonization date. “I don’t know exactly how I’m going to address it, in a big way, a mild way, a modern way, a mention or a plot point.” Then he adds, “And of course you can’t avoid to deal with the William (arc) in some way or another.”
12 Monkeys finally showed why 1987 was so important in Shonin’, and it was sure a surprise. Going into the episode we knew that Cole was in 1987 and this is possibly the last time jump he can take. Ramse went to the same year, wanting to preserve the current timeline so that his son would be born. I’m sure everyone expected there would be a fight between Cole and Ramse, but not how it would turn out. Ramse spent several years in prison after apparently killing Cole, but was ultimately freed from prison and brought to the United States by Olivia, where he winds up at an estate with The Pallid Man.
Ramse, thinking that Cole is dead, thought he only had to prevent any changes in order for his timeline to come about. Ramse and Olivia are working behind the scenes to make sure things occur as we have seen them during the season, and making sure that Cole’s plans inevitably failed. The plan would probably work if Jones didn’t come up with a great idea. Possibly only having one time jump left, she splintered him to Cassie’s apartment in 2015 rather than bringing him back to her present. Presumably Cassie will arrange for medical treatment for Cole’s knife wounds, and now they both realize what Ramse has been doing. This sets up for quite a confrontation for the end of the first season. The show has already been renewed for a second season.
Kirk Acevedo, who plays Ramse, also appeared on Agents of SHIELD last week as a deputy for Robert Gonzales, the head of the “other SHIELD” played by Edward James Olmos. In other comic-based television shows, all over at The CW, The Flash reversed the shocking events of the previous week thanks to time travel, but viewers now know far more. There are promotional pictures floating around of Stephen Amell in League of Assassins attire but Marc Guggenheim won’t comment as to what that means. iZombie has gotten off to a good start.
Among unconfirmed rumors flying around this week, ABC might be ready to renewAgent Carter next week and CBS might be thinking of going ahead with another Star Trek television series. Matt Weiner is swearing television critics to secrecy on four points regarding the final episodes of Mad Men, including what year it takes place in. The top rumors on Twitter are that it takes place in 2043 and that we learn that Don Draper is a Space Werewolf. I hope the rumors regarding the first two shows are true, and it would be absolutely awesome if the third was true (not).
The Americans is primarily a cerebral spy show which critics and its small base of viewers love, but some hate for its slow pace. That hasn’t kept it from having four unforgettable scenes this season: packing Annelise‘s body in a suitcase, home dental work, death by fire, and perhaps its most chilling death scene last week. It was probably not possible to top the incineration scene last week with violence which would be acceptable on television. Instead they topped it in yet a different way, in an episode which also had the greatest name: in an homage to Philip K. Dick: Do Mail Robots Dream of Electric Sheep?
On what seemed like a simple mission to plant bug on the FBI’s mail robot while in for repairs,Elizabeth and Phillip found that Betty, played by Lois Smith, had picked “a bad time” to do paperwork at night when she didn’t expect interruptions. In cases like this, the witness is frequently killed, but sometimes they do find ways to spare them. There was a battle of wits between Elizabeth and Betty. Their conversation was fascinating, with obvious comparisons to Elizabeth’s feelings for her own mother, and to a lesser degree to the relationship between Philip and Martha.
For a while the drama was enhanced by not knowing if Betty would live or die. Then everything changed when Elizabeth mentioned her mother, Betty asked where she lives, and Elizabeth answered honestly that she was in Russia.
Betty: “You aren’t going to let me leave. Are you?”
Elizabeth: “It’s not possible, no.
Betty: “This is not how I expected it to end—the story.
At least Betty rationalized this is a better ending than dying drunk in the street, alone in front of the television, or withering away in a hospital. Elizabeth forced her to overdose on her heart medicine, and the two continued their conversation as long as possible while Betty took the pills one by one. Just before dying, Betty asked Elizabeth why she was doing what she was doing and Elizabeth, always the good Russian, said it was to make the world a better place:
Betty: “Do you think doing this to me will make the world a better place?”
Elizabeth: “I’m sorry, but it will.”
Betty: “That’s what evil people tell themselves when they do evil things.”
Of course on The Americans the world is far grayer than this.
Much more happened on the episode. Hans was so much cruder in killing Tod. After the discussion with Phillip, Gabriel might have to find someone else to play Scrabble with. Martha is strangely going along with her fantasy marriage, but at some point this must end. Stan and Oleg are great working together and fighting against each other. Maybe they should get their own spin-off. Curing a headache is done with aspirin and a beer chaser: “It works better if you take it with beer. It’s not supposed to, but it does.” With two mail robots in the robot repair shop, are we going to see an alternate history in which they reproduce and the world is overrun with mail robots? Is this the rise of the machines?
If you miss both Parenthood-like storytelling and Zeek, both will be back in some form. While NBC has ended both Parenthood and About A Boy, Jason Katims will have a ten episode series next year and, like most of the talented people who previously did shows for NBC, it will be seen elsewhere. Instead of airing on NBC this show, which was part of a deal between Katims and NBC Universal, will be on Hulu:
Based on a script Katims and his True Jack head of development Michelle Lee created with Goldberg last year, The Way examines a family at the center of a controversial faith-based movement struggling with relationships, marriage and power. Each hourlong episode will take an in-depth look at what it means to choose between the life we live and the life we want. The drama will go into production in the summer. Casting is underway with the goal of nabbing high-end premium talent comparable to Hulu’s casting coup with James Franco in Warner Bros. Television’s J.J. Abrams-Stephen King miniseries 11/22/63.
Goldberg will pen the script and executive produce alongside Katims and Lee via the Parenthood and About a Boy creator’s pact with Universal Television. The deal marks Universal TV and Hulu’s first collaboration (as well as Katims’ first streaming deal). The Way arrives as the streaming service continues to bulk up on studio-produced fare in a bid to compete with Netflix and draw top-name producers.
It looks like Universal might be interested in continuing to make quality television shows, but not air them on NBC. If Universal also owned The Food Network, I’d be waiting for them to move Hannibal there.
In a less daring move, NBC is bringing Craig T. Nelson back in a re revival of Coach:
NBC’s sequel picks up 18 years after “Coach” went off the air in 1997 following a nearly 200-episode run. Nelson’s beleaguered football coach is now retired and is called back to become the assistant coach to his own grown son, who is now the new head coach at an Ivy League school in Pennsylvania that is just starting up a new team.
Kill the Moon could be seen both as one of many totally implausible and scientifically absurd episodes of Doctor Who along with another high concept episode with a major role in the series. Even if we accept that the moon could really be a giant egg, it makes no sense for the development of the space dragon to also lead to giving the moon more gravity. Doctor Who also has a strange cell phone technology on several episodes where cell phones seem to be connected to the time and place of their origin, in this case allowing Courtney to post to her Tumblr account (which has died out by 2049).
If you ignore its absurdity, which Doctor Who fans are accustomed to doing, the show does fill in a gap in the future history of mankind as presented on the show. The present earth of Doctor Who sees aliens as monsters and invaders. The far future has been shown with humans spread throughout space. At the time of this episode, mankind has given up on space exploration and even needed to restore an old museum shuttle to return to the moon. Thanks to Clara ignoring the input from humans at the time, earth was able to see space as a wonder and not threatening, encouraging mankind to start to look outwards.
The episode even answered the question raised during the episode of how the moon could be destroyed when they knew it was present in the future. Now I’m wondering how the moon remained attached to the earth when the earth was dragged to elsewhere in the universe in The Stolen Earth/Journey’s End.
The episode was originally written for Matt Smith, and must have had major rewrites in order to fit in so well with the story of the current Doctor as played by Peter Capaldi. The decision to go to the moon came about because the Capaldi Doctor couldn’t bring himself to tell Courtney that in some way she is special without actually making this true. The episode ended with Clara rejecting the Doctor, making me wonder if this is part of a planned arc. It certainly fits in with the personality changes in the Doctor since his last regeneration.
This might set up next week’s episode to be one without Clara, or show further advancement in their relationship. The entire lineup of companions is now in question. Danny Pink kept the possibility that Clara isn’t really done with the Doctor alive. Last summer we were teased with the idea of another couple in the TARDIS but Danny has yet to actually travel the the Doctor. Courtney has even beaten Danny in traveling in the TARDIS. If his relationship does not go further, I imagine it is debatable as to whether to consider Danny a (limited) companion. He is certainly involved with a continuing character, he is aware of what the Doctor is, and even did work with the Doctor at defeating an alien (after first messing up his plans) in The Caretaker.
Other continuity issues were touched upon. The doctor claimed he could regenerate forever. Did he really obtain an infinite number of lives, or is the Doctor who could not tell a white lie at the start of the episode now telling a lie? Was he lying when telling Courtney she would be the first woman on the moon? Polly traveled to the moon with the second Doctor in 1966 in Moonbase but it was set in 2070 while Courtney, from 2014, traveled to the moon of 2049. The Doctor could have been lying, could be using a timey wimey technicality, or could have just forgotten. At least he did remember his old catch phrase, “When I say run, run.”
There was not a scene with Missy and any of the astronauts who got killed during this episode.
The best television news of the week is that You’re The Worsthas been renewed. It is being moved to FXX and will be expanded to thirteen episodes. Married, which was paired with You’re The Worst, was also renewed and will remain on FX. The renewal and increase in number of episodes of You’re The Worst is no surprise considering the strong critical reaction to the show as people discovered it over the summer. If you haven’t seen it, the show is highly recommended. It would be easy to bing on as with only ten episodes the entire series only around three and a half hours after commercials are cut.
With all the late spring and summer television shows, there are probably several which we haven’t heard news on regarding renewals. In my opinion, the only one which we haven’t received word on yet which really matters is Continuum. Besides wanting to see this for several years to come, they just cannot end the show where it ended. In terms of ending a show with an unexplored change in the final episode, this would be reminiscent to the ending of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
As for shows I don’t care as much about, TNT has canceled their reboot of Dallas. Now we will never find out if Christopher Ewing, who died in the finale, will reappear in Elena’s shower, or if Nicolas is really the father of her baby.
Twin Peaks ended with Special Agent Dale Cooper disappearing for twenty-five years, and now that it is time for him to reappear there are rumors that the show might return. Update: It was announced Monday that it is coming back as a limited series on Showtime.
Collider has information on X-Men: Apocalypse which opens in 2016 and concludes the current trilogy. The relationship between Mystique and Beast plays a large role in the movie:
Part of what’s really interesting about Mystique’s character is that she is, in some ways, the child of both Erik and Charles. She grew up with Charles and then she sort of became a woman with Erik, so her being the cross-pollination, if you will, of those two philosophies and those two men is something we can explore in the movie too.
Perhaps Mystique/Jennifer Lawrence will go after whoever spread the nude photos of her, without the body paint, around the Internet.
If you are having difficulty keeping track of all the mutants in the X-Men movies, Screen Rant has a guide.
Robert Downey, Jr. has said he will not appear in another Iron Man movie, but now says that Mel Gibson deserves another chance and would do so if Gibson directs it.
Adrianne Palacki, who will be playing Mockingbird on Agents of SHIELD, has said her character might also wind up appearing in a future Avengers movie.
It appears that the Fantastic Fourcomic might be canceled prior to the release of the upcoming Fantastic Four movie reboot. If true, this comes from the manner in which different Marvel Studios/Disney only have the movie rights to some of the Marvel characters. Other studies have the movie rights to characters including Spider-Man, Daredevil, The Fantastic Four, and X-Men as long as they are using the characters. This is one reason for the lack of cross overs of some of the characters with The Avengers, and also why some dreadful movies have been shoved out in order for other studios to maintain their movie rights.
Arrow returns this week–clip above. With Oliver losing the business it looks like everyone has to get new jobs, but Felicity is still helping him out. More at The Hollywood Reporter.
Homeland returns tonight. TV Guide has some information on changes in the show now that they finally got away from the Brody storyline.
Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley) won’t be continuing on Community when it returns on Yahoo! due to having to care for her sick father. She will have recurring roles on th CBS reboot of The Odd Couple and on a new USA Network show, Benched. With Jonathan Banks also leaving the show due to his commitment to Better Call Saul, two new characters will be added: “One is described as a woman who’s brought in as a consultant to help shape up the school. The other is a retired salesman who comes to Greendale to reinvent himself.”
The number of outlets for original programing has sure expanded. Beyond broadcast and cable television, both Netflix and Amazon have put out multiple shows. Yahoo! becomes far more significant with the addition of Community. Now Hulu is planning a miniseries based upon Stephen King’s time travel novel on the Kennedy assassination, 11/22/63. The show will be produced by J.J. Abrams and run for nine hours. This is certainly a far better way to do a book of its length as opposed to a movie adaptation. They have left open the possibility of doing additional seasons beyond the events of the book, which I am wary of after seeing what happened with Under the Dome.
Starz won’t have to worry about running out of material for Outlander if they want to continue the series for several more years. Diana Gabaldon has signed a multi-million dollar book deal for the ninth book in the series. Thanks to the Starz series, the first Outlander novel from twenty-three years ago has jumped to the top of the bestseller lists.
Zoe Seldana’s short skirt while playing Uhura in the Star Trek movies was not very practical, unless flashing is encouraged in the J.J. Abrams universe. She discussed this problem, and other wardrobe malfunctions.
Wired looked at science fiction worlds and languages, such as the Klingon and Dothraki languages.
Most of this week’s episode of Orphan Black, Knowledge Of Causes, And Secret Motion Of Things, seemed like a lighter episode with less actual changes to move the story compared to other recent episode, until the end. Several characters did learn significant things they did not know before.
The episode introduced Marian, played by Michelle Forbes, as someone high up in Dyad, but without the ambiguity as to whether he is good or evil seen in Leekie’s character. There was also a reunion between Sarah and Allison, with Tatiana Maslany once again having the opportunity to play one clone playing another. This situation was set up by Allison calling in Sarah for help after she made the mistake of trusting Vic with the truth about what happened to Aynsley before discovering he was spying on her for Angie. Sarah wound up filling in for Allison, both giving a speech for family day to the booze hounds and the pill poppers, and then engaging in role playing in which she pretended (not all that well) to be Allison playing Donnie who was speaking with Allison.
The same evening included additional comedy with Sarah and Felix carrying around Vic’s body Weekend at Bernie’s style after Felix spiked his tea with benzodiazepines. Donnie ultimately saw Sarah and Allison together and it became clear that despite being Alison’s monitor he had no idea that they were clones or what Leekie was really up to. Yes, I could believe Donnie is stupid enough to think he was helping a long term social metrics study. Needless to say, he became quite angry when he learned how he was being duped.
Donnie wasn’t the only one to learn the truth. Cosima found out that the stem cells were from Kira and was not happy about this either. She threw Delphine out of the lab saying, “This is my lab, my body. I’m the science.” Kira was the only one to learn something this episode without getting angry. Finding out that stem cells taken from her tooth were somehow significant, she calmly got a piece of string and pulled out another loose tooth.
Rachel found out that the first father to raise her was still alive and that Leekie had set the fire which killed her mother. Marian sided with Rachel, but Rachel did give Leekie a chance to survive on the run, with warnings not to get in his car or to go home. At first it looked like he was safer with Donnie finding him (although I’m not sure how he did it) before Dyad. Donnie happened to be holding a gun and accidentally blew Leekie’s brains out. Apparently keeping Leekie, Rachel, and now Marian around would have left too many at the top.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with some words for the dearly departed Aldous Leekie. JOHN FAWCETT: We knew Dr. Leekie was going to die in season 2. And we knew that was something that we wanted to work towards and was going to be a big part of the Rachel/Dr. Leekie story and be a big part of why we’ve been telling a lot of this backstory. Ultimately, I think we didn’t really know how we were going to do it. We knew we were going to do it, we just didn’t know how we were going to do it. And [co-creator] Graeme [Manson] early on had this idea that Donnie should kill Dr. Leekie. It’s funny because my initial reaction was “that’s ridiculous.” Then we sort of kind of went at it a bunch of different ways: Who would kill him? How would he die? And ultimately we came back to Donnie. We wanted to do it in a surprising sort of strangely comic fashion, and that was the result.
EW: And to have Donnie be an accidental triggerman is kind of perfect. FAWCETT: Yeah, we wanted it to be surprising. And you know that Leekie’s life is in danger at the end of the episode. Rachel in a way kind of lets him escape, but there is a very real threat to his life, and Donnie just happens to step in the wrong place at the wrong time. The gun goes off.
EW: Obviously when you kill off a main character, that’s a big deal and you have to walk through the pros and cons of doing that. So why Leekie and why now?
FAWCETT: Well, I think that obviously Dr. Leekie and Matt Frewer are a big part of our show and it is a very big decision to decide to eliminate a character. We don’t want to just make those decisions lightly, and it really has to have a bearing on not just story structure of the season, but really the big picture also. It has to work towards our end goals. So we designed the first part of the season all the way to episode 7 knowing this was going to come to a head and that Leekie was going to die. We used that as building blocks for that character, and by the time the end came for him, he wanted to build a character that we actually had grown to like and maybe couldn’t entirely trust, but were having some sympathies for. And he wasn’t just a kind of a bad guy. He was kind of in a weird way helping. It’s interesting then to kind of kill off someone that actually the audience and the fans are sort of starting to like and care about. I think it was an important element to building that character and using his death to actually mean something at the end of episode 7, and going forward in the next bunch of episodes. Because Dr. Leekie’s death…the fact that he’s gone or missing or presumed dead or whatever — that informs a bunch of story in the coming episodes.
Fawcett made it sound pretty definite that Leekie is dead after we saw “brains on the window.” However this week there was a hint of another character possibly surviving an apparent death. Bryan Cranston suggested that Walter White might still be alive. He pointed out, “You never saw a bag zip up or anything.” Theoretically they could have him return on Better Call Saul, which sounds like primarily a prequel series but which might jump around in time. They better have a really good storyline to justify saying Walter White is still alive as otherwise his death in the series finale of Breaking Bad would be the best way to end his story.
The New York Times Magazine looked at Damon Lindelof, discussing both Lost and his new show,The Leftovers. His upcoming show is based upon the Tom Perotta novel:
The conceit of “The Leftovers” is also a kind of trick: 2 percent of the earth’s population disappears one day with no explanation. There appears to be no common denominator to the people who go missing. Condoleezza Rice is gone. The pope is gone. So is Gary Busey. It may be the Christian Rapture — when believers ascend to heaven — or it may not. The story begins on the third anniversary of what has become known as the Sudden Departure, and focuses on characters living in a world that is trying to figure out how to move on.
It’s a compelling but tricky premise for a TV show, because the show’s central mystery may (or may not) be teased out indefinitely. Perrotta’s novel wrapped up its story after 355 pages, but a successful HBO series has to sustain several seasons of intrigue. And because it is Lindelof’s first TV project since he was a creator of “Lost,” the ABC show that famously drew out several mysteries for many seasons — only to end with resolutions that many people found, to put it mildly, unsatisfying — this may be a good time to remember how comfortable Lindelof is with the whole idea of mystery. The short answer: very, despite everything.
The most disappointing cancellation from last season was for Community. Now Deadline gives hope that Hulu might keep the series alive.
There is a glimmer of hope that there could be a sixth season of cult comedy series Community. I have learned that Hulu is in talks with Community producer Sony Pictures TV for more original installments of the show, which was cancelled by NBC earlier this month. Sources stress that conversations are preliminary and it is unclear whether they would lead to a deal, but I hear there is will on both sides. That includes Community creator Dan Harmon, who confessed on his blog that he had warmed up to the possibility of continuing the show elsewhere, changing his stance from “eh” when Sony TV called him with the news of the series’ cancellation by NBC to “sure, let’s talk” two days later. Said Harmon, “I’m not going to be the guy that re-cancels cancelled Community.”
My review of last week’s episode of Mad Men, the last until next year, was posted here.
Collider discussed the second season of Under the Dome with Neal Baer:
Question: What can you say about what viewers can expect from Season 2?
NEAL BAER: We are really excited about Season 2. It is the season of transformation. Last season was the season of secrets being revealed. Our characters were trapped under this impenetrable Dome, where no one could get in and no one could get out. And because they were trapped in this hot house, their secrets started to come out. This is the season where we will find out what they are truly made of. One of our characters met a very untimely death, and so will another beloved character. That doesn’t mean you won’t necessarily see them again, because anything is possible under the Dome. But, we are very excited to continue our journey with these characters, and we have so many surprises in store, this season.
Are you going to deal with the practical aspects, this season, of how they are getting food, what happens when they run out of toilet paper, and things like that?
BAER: That’s a huge part of it, and it really puts Julia and Big Jim at huge odds, in Episodes 3 and 4.
What new capabilities does the Dome have?
BAER: It’s certainly magnetic. We just love the butterfly metaphor. This is a season that’s almost about impending ecological disaster. That magnetism has caused many things to happen. So, you will be seeing, in the early episodes, our characters, and particularly Big Jim, confronting the almost Biblical problems of pestilence and bloody rain. Our characters haven’t been the stewards that maybe they should be, protecting the land and protecting each other. They have a lot to learn this year, and I guess the Dome is teaching them. That’s what Julia keeps talking about. We have to understand the message that the Dome is trying to give us, and what it is trying to teach us.
How many years do you think this can continue, given the structure of the book?
BAER: Well, I’m glad you brought up the book because Stephen King wrote the first episode, so he’s certifying that he is very much involved in this show. The book is there for those who want to read it, if they haven’t, at this point. But, we are way past the book. The book is really only about the first week under the Dome, and we are already two weeks in. This season, we will be going for two more weeks. We really go day-by-day under the Dome. If we lasted 15 years, that would really only be a year under the Dome. So, I think it’s certainly possible to keep going because we have so many stories to tell.
We have new characters, as well, who shake things up. We’ve got Eddie Cahill coming on as San Verdreaux, who is Big Jim’s brother-in-law. He has been a recluse for the 10 years since his sister died, and was an alcoholic. We have Karla Crome coming on as Rebecca Pine, who is a school teacher. We are really getting into the science versus faith elements this season. Rebecca represents scientific explanations for what’s going on, versus Rachelle’s character, Julia, who is really much more about faith. And Big Jim is in the middle, trying to figure it out. We have Grace Victoria Cox, who is the young woman that Julia pulls out of the water. She is a pivotal character whose connection will be revealed. And we have Sherry Stringfield, my dear friend who I worked with on ER. We have a reunion this season because Eric LaSalle will be directing Sherry in Episode 10. We are excited about that. So, Stephen writing the episode is really sending us off into a place that he feels really proud of and really loves. It’s his ideas of how to go beyond the book. It’s really special for us to have Stephen launch us this season.
Maybe Stephen King can get the show back on track.
BBC and BBC America are running teasers announcing that Doctor Who will be returning in August with a new Doctor played by Peter Capaldi. Steven Moffat revealed that the BBC had considered canceling the show after David Tennant left but Russell T. Davies pushed to keep it going, giving us Matt Smith along with Karen Gillan. Not only does Karen Gillan have an upcoming sit-com, Selfie, she will also be staring in a Western, In a Valley of Violence. According to BBC America, “She joins Ethan Hawke, John Travolta and Taissa Farmiga in the story of a drifter (Hawke) turning up in a small town in the 1890s, ready to find and punish the people who murdered his best friend. Karen and Taissa play sisters that run the local hotel.” She has previous western experience in the Doctor Who episode, A Town Called Mercy.
Ann B. Davis, best known for playing Alice on The Brady Bunch, died on Sunday.