SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Star Trek Shorts; Timeless Movie; Handmaid’s Tale; Veronica Mars

Doctor Who returns on October 7, and another trailer (video above) has been released. We will have a new Doctor and new companions. However, the new showrunner, Chris Chibnall, says we will not see other familiar faces:

In an interview with the Times Magazine, Chibnall revealed that the likes of Alex Kingston’s River Song, Michelle Gomez’s Missy (aka the female regeneration of longtime villain the Master) and the Paternoster Gang (including Neve McIntosh’s Madame Vastra and Dan Starkey’s Strax) won’t be included this time around, and while it’s not a massive shock – we might have heard by now if any of those figures were making a reappearance, and both Missy and River are technically dead at this point – it’s a definite sign of the vision Chibnall has for the show.

“I want this to be a recruiting year for Doctor Who to bring in that next generation of audiences,” he explained.

Chibnall also confirmed that other recurring monsters like the Daleks, the Cybermen and the Weeping Angels had been banished for the time being, with series 11 instead focusing on new baddies and threats to be enjoyed by new and old fans alike.

While it is hard to believe that we will not eventually see the return of classics like the Daleks, the Cybermen, and some version of the Master, I have wondered if Chibnall would use many of the characters which were creations of Steven Moffat. Perhaps there will be one similarity to the Moffat years. It was a common claim that Moffat lies–in order to attempt to have some surprises in this internet age when surprises are difficult. Syfy Wire has a good point that this could be similar misdirection from Chibnall:

The thing is, for those fans who have been around the block with the TARDIS once or twice, there’s every reason to believe this boast from Chibnall is actually a fib designed to protect spoilers and curb expectations. And that’s because the tools of misdirection, concealment, and outright lying are all time-honored traditions right before a new season of Doctor Who.

Way back in 2011, before Season 6 of the current run of Doctor Who, then-showrunner Steven Moffat made a similar claim, saying the Daleks would not appear in that season. “They aren’t going to make an appearance for a while… We thought it was about time to give them a rest,” Moffat said. And, then, in the finale of that season, “The Wedding Of River Song,” the Doctor fights a Dalek. True, the appearance of that Dalek was brief, but a big deal was made of the scene, complete with the Doctor calling his most dreaded enemy by name while looking right at the camera.

And then, there’s the supposed final appearance of River Song in the 2013 Season 7 episode “The Name of the Doctor.” Most fans considered her long-gone, and Moffat deflected the idea she would ever appear by saying that the former showrunner Russel T. Davies was going to write a raunchy episode called “Sex Storm” if she ever came back. Basically, the idea of a River Song return was laughed off by Moffat, publically. But then, in the 2015 Christmas Special, “The Husbands of River Song,” River Song returned, perhaps in her most poignant episode ever.

Steven Moffat also concealed the identity of Michelle Gomez’s character Missy back in 2014, insisting she was a new character to the show, when she was, in fact, not, and left it for the big Season 8 reveal that she was really the Master.

Jodie Whittaker discussed the controversy over being the first woman Doctor, and that she is confident that she is being paid the same as a male lead, in an interview with Variety:

When the new Doctor’s hood slowly dropped and Whittaker was revealed as the Time Lord on July 16, 2017, the world of sci-fi stood still for a moment, and fandom went a bit berserk. Not that Whittaker noticed, telling the BBC at the time that she’s not on social media. But “Avengers” and “Sherlock” star Benedict Cumberbatch struck a note for common sense. “It’s an alien,” Cumberbatch says. “Why can’t it be a woman? Why can’t it be any gender?”

Whittaker reports that the furor has since died down. “It’s not as [scary] as everyone maybe imagined when they took the hood down and it was a girl,” she tells Variety from Roath Lock, the studio in the Welsh capital of Cardiff where the series is shot.

The change, she says, is a long time coming: “It’s 2018. Women are not a genre. We are just the other half of the population, so to see us doing things should not be such a surprise.”

The gender debate strikes a personal chord. The leads Whittaker saw in series growing up were “white guys running about, saving the day doing really cool stuff,” while women were relegated to applauding their heroics.

When Whittaker started drama school at age 20, women were told their paths would be harder than for men because there were fewer roles. She hopes her Doctor can help remedy the problem. “It is a moment and I’m part of it and I’m proud of it,” she says. “But I can’t wait for it not to be a moment as well, so that when someone is going to drama school at 18 they don’t need to think, ‘There aren’t any jobs for me.’”

And with the gender pay gap also in the spotlight, Whittaker is confident a “Crown” moment isn’t coming. “I absolutely know I am not being paid less than any other Doctor,” she says. “This show is not the show that’s going to do that and have that revelation be the sidebar

The Wrap quotes Whittaker talking about role models:

“It’s someone’s opinion that boys can’t look up to women,” she said. “Role models and heroes come in all different shapes and sizes, and I’ve never needed to look like mine for me to be able to relate to them.”

Whittaker added that “Doctor Who” has always been “an inclusive” show, and that it’s “about embracing change.” “It’s not making the show to exclude, it’s making the show to include,” she said. “And the fact that a woman is playing an alien over a man playing an alien kind of is irrelevant to the qualifications. It’s playing an alien, and so the gender is irrelevant.”

We have also seen controversy when others were first cast to play the Doctor. When Matt Smith first started to play the Doctor, some complained that he was too young. Radio Times reports that it is possible Smith might have played a different role instead as Merlin. However, Smith ultimately lost the role to Colin Morgan as Smith was felt to be too old:

“Casting Merlin was really really hard because you needed to find an actor who had a really big, broad playing range, but also could handle the fact that it’s not naturalistic drama,” Johnny Capps, the co-creator and executive producer of the BBC fantasy series, tells RadioTimes.com in our in-depth feature on the making of Merlin, which will be available to read this weekend.

“So you couldn’t have an actor who was just going to play it in an incredibly earnest, real way. You wanted somebody that could find the truth, but also find the truth as it exists in that kind of fantasy world.”

And on the final shortlist for that part alongside Colin Morgan? Matt Smith, who apparently got down to the last two actors to play the boy wizard.

“Interestingly, in the early days Matt Smith was in the frame for Merlin,” recalls Julian Murphy, another co-creator and executive producer on the magical series.

“I think there’s a certain kind of actor who has the lightness and skill to play that sort of family drama, and I think both Colin Morgan and Matt Smith are that kind of actor. It’s a mercurial quality. And they’re light on their feet. That’s the skill they had.”

However, in the end Colin Morgan clinched it for one simple reason – the casting team felt like the younger Morgan would be better suited to play the adolescent wizard than Smith.

“We just felt that he was too old – not that he wasn’t great,” Murphy said. “And he was too old, really.”

Further information has been released about the Short Treks on CBS All Access this fall. From Deadline:

Runaway – Thursday, Oct. 4

Onboard the U.S.S. Discovery, Ensign Tilly (Mary Wiseman) encounters an unexpected visitor in need of help. However, this unlikely pair may have more in common than meets the eye.

Written by Jenny Lumet & Alex Kurtzman. Directed by Maja Vrvilo.

Calypso – Thursday, Nov. 8

After waking up in an unfamiliar sickbay, Craft (Aldis Hodge) finds himself on board a deserted ship, and his only companion and hope for survival is an A.I. computer interface.

Teleplay by Michael Chabon. Story by Sean Cochran and Michael Chabon. Directed by Olatunde Osunsanmi.

The Brightest Star – Thursday, Dec. 6

Before he was the first Kelpien to join Starfleet, Saru (Doug Jones) lived a simple life on his home planet of Kaminar with his father and sister. Young Saru, full of ingenuity and a level of curiosity uncommon among his people, yearns to find out what lies beyond his village, leading him on an unexpected path.

Written by Bo Yeon Kim & Erika Lippoldt. Directed by Douglas Aarniokoski.

The Escape Artist – Thursday, Jan. 3

Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson), back to his old tricks of stealing and double-dealing, finds himself in a precarious position aboard a hostile ship – just in time to try out his latest con.

Written by Michael McMahan. Directed by Rainn Wilson.

Rainn Wilson discussed the shorts, along with his previous appearances on Star Trek: DiscoveryChoose Your Pain and Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad.

You’ll be acting in and directing one of the Short Treks installments…

There’s going to be that 10, 15% of fans that go, “Oh, no way. I’m not going to watch a short film about Star Trek. This isn’t how it works.” But I love that they’re breaking molds and breaking new ground, and it’s a terrific mini Harry Mudd adventure. It goes to a lot of different places, from different aliens to a  lot of fun situations, with some great twists and turns, and I get to direct it and star in it. It’s like a dream come true. It’s like, “Write me a dream job.”

Is this a stepping stone to directing more?

Possibly, yeah. This is a great way to cut my teeth as a director. I directed three episodes of The Office, and I directed some short films and digital shorts, but this is special effects and visual effects. I’ve got my work cut out for me

In other Star Trek news, TrekMovie.com has the plot outline of a proposed story for Star Trek: The Next Generation which would have had Spock meet a younger version of himself:

They were going to go back to what was now the most forbidden place in the galaxy, which was that time portal, and they were going to have to actually violate the rules about non-interference, and it was going to create a Pandora’s box with a whole terrible, unforeseen thing which only the Spocks from the two different time periods coming together could actually fix.

Collider spoke with Eric Kripke about the upcoming Timeless movie to wrap up the series:

“It’s basically the equivalent of two episodes. As a matter of fact, we tried, at one point, to do one long historical period to last over two hours, and then eventually, Arika wisely said, ‘Why are we doing this? Why don’t we just do what we always do, which is spend an hour in two different time periods?’ And so, though they’re connected and though it’s one long mythology story that plays over both, they really are, in effect, two time periods of Timeless that they visit, and we’ll shoot each one. We shot 8-day episodes, and this will be a 16-day shoot. It will be exactly like two more episodes of the show.”

Kripke did leave open the possibility of continuing the story (in the unlikely event that someone picks up the show):

The short answer is that I don’t know if there’s anything we can do that will make them finally say, ‘Oh, that’s great! I’m gonna close that chapter of my life.’ There’s a certain amount of shocking turns, and we tried to let it build to something and provide a certain amount of closure, and give you a sense of where these characters go. We tried to put a period at the end of the sentence, but not so much that the door isn’t open for further adventures, down the road.”

This “sexy” Handmaid’s costume really misses the point of The Handmaid’s Tale. Yandy wound up pulling the costume from their site in response to the inevitable complaints from everyone who has any idea what the show is about.

The Handmaid’s Tale received multiple Emmy nominations. TV Guide interviewed the producer and asked about the third season:

TV Guide caught up with executive producer Bruce Miller on the red carpet of the 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, and what he had to say about June’s (Elisabeth Moss) upcoming storyline has us hungry for a closer look at the underground resistance within Gilead. “I think overall Season 3 is a lot more rebellious, outwardly rebellious than Seasons 1 and 2. I think June’s taken a lot, and I think it’s time for her to give back some,” Miller said.

Last we saw June, she was handing her newborn baby off to Emily (Alexis Bledel) so they could escape to Canada, while she stayed behind to try to find her other daughter, Hannah (Jordana Blake). It was a bold move, but does that mean June’s officially joining the resistance? Miller didn’t confirm how active a part June will take in the fight against Gilead (though we hope she gives them everything she’s got and more), but he did hint that her mindset will have changed drastically when we return to her story in Season 3.

“I think I’m most excited by what happens to June now that she’s chosen to go back to Gilead, that she isn’t forced,” Miller said. “That’s a huge, powerful choice. What changes in your psychology when you’ve chosen to be in a place like that and you’ve chosen to stay on the inside and fight as opposed to go to the outside? I think that’s a very different psychology so that’s been very interesting.”

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The Veronica Mars revival is now official on Hulu with the show premiering in 2019. Deadline has this plot synopsis:

In the revival, spring breakers are getting murdered in Neptune, thereby decimating the seaside town’s lifeblood tourist industry. After Mars Investigations is hired by the parents of one of the victims to find their son’s killer, Veronica is drawn into an epic eight-episode mystery that pits the enclave’s wealthy elites, who would rather put an end to the month-long bacchanalia, against a working class that relies on the cash influx that comes with being the West Coast’s answer to Daytona Beach.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery Season 2; Rebooting Gotham; Steven Moffat on Dracula And Other Doctor Who Related News; Mark Hamill On The Big Bang Theory; The Spy

Production on Star Trek: Discovery season 2 started in Toronto on April 16. TrekMovie.com has an excellent rundown of what is known about the season so far. This includes some new cast members, which indicates that we will see two additional star ships (including The Enterprise as was shown at the end of season one, and Section 31):

Anson Mount – Captain Christopher Pike of the USS Enterprise, he’ll be in at least the first two episodes of the season.

Alan Van Sprang – Leland is the head of Section 31, introduced in a bonus scene that was originally attached to the end of the season one finale. Based on what Van Sprang said at WonderCon, he’s expected to recur throughout the season.

Tig Notaro – Chief Engineer Denise Reno of the USS Hiawatha, guest staring in an unknown number of episodes.

They also have come comments on the theme of the second season:

Theme of season two: Science vs Faith

The showrunners have said a few times now, on After Trek, and then at WonderCon, that theme of season two is “science versus faith.” Aaron Harberts explains:

What is the role of serendipity versus science? Is there a story about faith to be told? Leaps of faith. We are dealing with space. We are dealing with things that can’t be explained and you have a character like Michael Burnham who believes there is an explanation for everything. And it doesn’t just mean religion. It means patterns in our lives. It means connections you can’t explain.

Harberts also talked about how the tone of the show will change in season two:

[Season one] was an interesting season because it was set against the backdrop of war. One of things we are looking forward to in season two is a tone that we can now be in a more exploratory phase and a more diplomatic phase – maybe a bit more of a Trekian chapter

Last week I, and multiple other sites, repeated a story based upon apparently incorrect information from a Discovery staffer claiming that the differences between the Enterprise in the season one finale and the original show were due to legal reasons. CBS has subsequently issued a statement stating that the changes were done for creative and not legal reasons:

CBS TV Studios does, in fact, have the right to use the U.S.S. Enterprise ship design from the past TV series, and are not legally required to make changes. The changes in the ship design were creative ones, made to utilize 2018’s VFX technology.

The art that was used in the 2019 calendar is ‘concept art,’ which was completed long before the VFX process is completed.

Last week I also noted that Star Trek: Discovery was nominated for a Peabody Award. While they did not win, other shows which I have previously discussed in SciFi Weekend were among the winners– The Handmaid’s Tale, Better Call Saul, and The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. The full list of winners is available here.

Gotham will be drastically changed after the fourth season finale according to a report at ComicBook.com:

The Season 4 finale, which follows the ever-popular Batman: No Man’s Land story from the comics, will alter the entire reality of the series. Everything we know about Gotham will change, and an entirely different Batman prequel series will rise up in its place.

According to executive producer Danny Cannon, “A Dark Knight: No Man’s Land” will change the fabric of Gotham‘s DNA, and serve as a reboot of the show’s story.

During an exclusive interview with ComicBook.com, Cannon mentioned that the finale would bring a “cataclysmic event” to Gotham. Knowing that “No Man’s Land was the title of the Season 4 finale, this wasn’t much of a surprise, but we asked him to elaborate.

“Like I said, the catastrophic event, the cataclysmic event that happens in the last three episodes not only will change Gotham,” Cannon continued, “it not only combines so many characters that you don’t think will cooperate with each other, but it changes the face of Gotham forever, so that season five, it’s almost a reboot and a different show.”

“Our characters have reached a maturity now, our characters are so well defined and that’s why I think as writers, that’s right about the point when you want to change people’s perception of them,” Cannon clarified. “The [term] ‘reboot’ means, just when you thought you knew people, something else will happen, and just when you thought your Season 5 would be like Season 4, Season 5 is completely different. New characters and old characters that have changed. It’s a complete [departure], and the city has changed too, new characters on a new landscape.”

Steven Moffat has revealed minimal information about plans for a reinvention of Dracula:

While speaking to Graham Norton on his BBC Radio 2 show, Moffat had a few words to say about his new adaptation. He confirmed that he and Gatiss will tackle the project “in a Sherlock-y way” though there will be one important difference between them: Dracula won’t be brought into the modern day.

“But not in exactly the same way. We’re not modernizing it or anything, but we are doing a version of Dracula.”

In other news related to the Doctor Who/Sherlock universes, Entertainment Weekly reports that David Tennant was considering the staring role on Hannibal:

“I met [Hannibal executive producer] Bryan Fuller a couple of times, and we talked about it,” says Tennant. “But I think they quite wisely chose Mads Mikkelsen, I think he was a perfect choice for it, and I think he did things with that character that I wouldn’t have managed, so I think the right man got the job.”

Considering how well he played the villain on Jessica Jones, I’m sure that Tennant could have also done an excellent job as Hannibal.

Sort of tying in Sherlock with Star Trek news, Benedict Cumberbatch revealed that he spilled secrets about filming Star Trek Into Darkness with Stephen Hawking.

Season eleven of The Big Bang Theory will conclude with the wedding of Amy and Sheldon. Guests include Laurie Metcalf as Sheldon’s mother and Courtney Henggeler reprising her role as his twin sister Missy. Jerry O’Connell has been cast as George, Jr. Besides bringing older versions of the cast of Young Sheldon, Wil Wheaton will be present. The most exciting addition to the guest list is Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker). There is no word as to what his role will be on the episode.

Noah Emmerich of The Americans will continue to be a spy even after his current show is off the air. He will be staring in a limited run series on Netflix entitled, The Spy:

Written and directed by Gideon Raff, creator of the Israeli drama Prisoners of Waron which Showtime’s Homeland was based, The Spy tells the story of legendary Israeli spy Eli Cohen (Baron Cohen). Eli Cohen lived in Damascus undercover in the beginning of the ’60s, spying for Israel. He managed to embed himself into Syrian high society and rise through the ranks of their politics until he was uncovered by the Syrian regime, sentenced to death and publicly hanged.

Emmerich will play Dan Peleg, a charming, rumpled and brilliant Mossad trainer. He is wise, wary and stubborn, and has a tendency to blur the boundaries between the personal and professional. He has conflicted feelings about Eli (Baron Cohen), and is tormented by a mistake he made in the past.

I’m still hoping for a Stan and Oleg spin-off of The Americans.

SciFi Weekend: Pike and Spock on Discovery; Why The Enterprise Looks Different; Robert Picardo Returns To The Orville; Steven Moffat Fills In Plot Holes In Doctor Who; Legends of Tomorrow; The Arrow; Jessica Jones Renewed; Killing Eve

Anson Mount has been cast to play Captain Christopher Pike on Star Trek: Discovery. We don’t know much of the Enterprise will be seen on Discovery next season, but did get some clues from Jonathan Frakes, who will be directing two episodes next season. Last season he was the first to reveal that Discovery would be going to the Mirror universe. Frakes more recently revealed at the El Paso Comic Con that he will be directing the second episode of season two. The episode will include both Captain Pike and Spock.

The catch is that Spock will appear in a flashback of his childhood years, including a view of Michael Burnham. There is no word about whether an adult Spock will ever appear on Discovery, but the producers have expressed reservations about recasting Spock in past interviews. I suspect that they will be keeping adult Spock off screen, whether or not he is aboard the Enterprise at the time, but it is also possible they are hiding their plans.

We also learned why the Enterprise looked slightly different than the original Enterprise in the season finale of Discovery, to the frustration of some purists. (My review of the season one finale was here). The reasons came down to the changes in ownership rights to Star Trek, requiring these changes.  John Eaves, one of the designers for Discovery, explained the process on Facebook last week:

Back in April of 2017 the task of the Enterprise making an appearance came to be and work was to start right away. The task started with the guideline that the Enterprise for Discovery had to be 25% different otherwise production would have most likely been able to use the original design from the 60’s but that couldn’t happen so we took Jefferies original concepts and with great care tried to be as faithful as possible. We had the advantage of a ten year gap in Trek history to retro the ship a bit with elements that could be removed and replaced somewhere in the time frame of Discovery and the Original series…

The changes between the two enterprises are as follows. The new ship has more TMP struts than TOS struts, the main hull and nacelles are shorter and more plump, the deflector dish now has one antenna vs two, the impulse module is thinner from side to side, the overall ship has a heavier plating detail, and the exterior has a more broader range in lighting and nacelle glow. I am sure there are subtle differences but I have not seen any more than you have to make a more detailed comparison so look at the calendar as concept art and all will be good and hope this quick breakdown helps.

He added in a comment:

After Enterprise, properties of Star Trek ownership changed hands and was divided,, so what was able to cross TV shows up to that point changed and a lot of the crossover was no longer allowed. That is why when JJ’s movie came along everything had to be different. The alternate universe concept was what really made that movie happen in a way as to not cross the new boundaries and give Trek a new footing to continue.

If the recent attempt by CBS to purchase Viacom had been successful, there could have been a resolution of some of the problems caused by this division in ownership rights. Perhaps Vulcan could be saved.

Update: After multiple blogs and media outlets posted similar stories, CBS issued a statement saying that the changes to the Enterprise were for creative and not legal reasons, and that CBS does have the rights to use the original design of the Enterprise.

Also in Star Trek news, Star Trek: Discovery has been nominated for a Peabody Award.  Star Trek: The Next Generation previously won a Peabody in its first season, for the episode The Big Goodbye.

ComicBook.com has a look at Robert Picardo’s return to The Orville during the second season and recaps his appearance during the first season.

Radio Times reports that Steven Moffat has cleared up a few plot holes from Doctor Who in his novelization of The Day of the Doctor. This includes sort of bringing the Peter Cushing movies into cannon. No, he did not add yet another unknown Doctor like the War Doctor. Instead he brought in the movies:

In one of the new novel’s more meta moments, Moffat also explains away one of the greatest canonical issues in Doctor Who history – where, exactly, do the 1960s Peter Cushing films fit in?

For those not in the know, these films (called Dr. Who and the Daleks and Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 AD) were a remake of some early William Hartnell Doctor Who stories, starring Star Wars and Hammer horror icon Cushing as a human scientist who actually invented the Tardis (losing the “the” to become just Tardis) and battled alien nasties.

Obviously, Cushing can’t be counted among the official line-up of Doctors, but fondness for the films has led Who fans to keep him in their hearts – and now the new book finally explains his place in the canon.

According to Moffat’s Day of the Doctor adaptation, the Cushing Doctor Who films do exist in the main Whoniverse, with the actor playing a fictionalised version of the real-life Doctor with the blessing of the man himself. The new book shows posters from Cushing’s films actually hanging in the Black Archive, which Moffat has previously said he wanted to do in the episode that aired on TV – plans which were scuppered when the BBC were unable to get the rights to the artwork.

“Seen them? He loves them,” UNIT boss Kate Stewart explains to Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald in the episode when discussing the films.

“He loaned Peter Cushing a waistcoat for the second one, they were great friends. Though we only realised that when Cushing [started] showing up in movies made long after his death.”

That last bit, of course, is a reference to how the late Cushing was included in 2016’s Star Wars prequel Rogue One using cutting-edge CGI – though apparently it was just Tardis trickery instead.

Other questions answered include earlier meetings between River Song and the Doctor and why the stories about the first two Doctors were in black and white.

Legends of Tomorrow co-showrunner Phil Klemmer discussed last week’s season finale with TV Line and gave a hint about next season in a question about Mallus:

TVLINE | What is his agenda? What does he “want” most in the world?
He is a sort of bellwether of bad guys to come in Season 4. Up until this point, we’ve been dealing with earthly and historical bad guys, and we certainly had fun with all of that, but this year we dabbled in the world of the occult, through Damien Darhk and his enterprises. But you know that Constantine is coming onto the show [as a regular] next season, so we want to go deeper, we want Mallus to be used as “the tip of the iceberg.” He is not human, and we want to start playing with the idea that Earth hasn’t always belonged just to our kind.

We want to get into the world of fantastic myths and monsters a bit more. It’s kind of presumptuous for anybody to think they have ownership of this Earth or any part of it. Not to get deep into immigration metaphors, but Mallus is an ancient evil, he doesn’t understand humans and doesn’t understand why we have any claim to controlling this world of ours.

Of course this will work out well with the addition of Matt Ryan (Constantine) to the cast.

Arrow still has a few weeks to go, but I do like the idea of Oliver going more solo as we saw last week (as long as Felicity is still around, of course). Marc Guggenheim discussed the upcoming finale with Entertainment Weekly. ComicBook.com summarized:

“It’s gonna be interesting,” Guggenheim said. “It’s very, you know, I’ve been saying it’s an unconventional kind of finale. It still feels very much like a season finale. When I first started talking about it we hadn’t written the darn thing yet, but now we’ve written it and we’re in prep on it and on Monday we start shooting. And it’s a real game-changer.”

To a certain extent, the season five finale was also a game-changer for the show with Adrian Chase/Prometheus’ (Josh Segarra) end game resulting in Lian Yiu being blown up, Oliver Queen/Green Arrow (Stephen Amell) becoming a single parent after the murder of his son’s mother, as well as setting into motion some of the events this season — Thea (Willa Holland) in a coma, Oliver trying to find a work-life-vigilante balance, and the splintering of Team Arrow. However, what’s coming for the season six finale will go even further and Guggenheim teased that the aftermath of “Lian Yu” as seen in the season six premiere will play a role as they’ve been plotting up to this game-changer from premiere.

“The show fundamentally changes in the finale and I think you’ll see there’s stuff that we were seeding back in the season premiere that finally comes to fruition here in the season finale, so you’ll see that there was a very specific plan to the entire season,” Guggenheim said. “We always knew that this is where we were headed to. So, hopefully in subtle ways have been teasing this all along without you realizing it. My hope is that people are surprised, but also look back and are like oh, that was kind of the only way that they could have ended the season.”

There are also reports that Colton Haynes is returning to Arrow, which is a bit odd after Thea left the show to supposedly go with Roy.

Jessica Jones has officially been renewed for a third season on Netflix.

HBO has renewed Silicon Valley for a sixth season

SciFi Weekend has frequently gone beyond science fiction. At present two of the hottest new shows on are not science fiction, but instead both deal with killers, the reluctant hitman on Barry and the much more enthusiastic assassin played by Jodie Comer on Killing Eve. A discussion with the creator of Killing Eve,  Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and its stars,  Sandra Oh, and Jodie Comer, can be seen at Vulture.

One reason Killing Eve works so well is by the acting job done by Jodie Comer. Collider has an interview with her:

Will we get to know more about why she ended up in this profession?

COMER: Yeah, you do. As the story goes on, you definitely do see a little bit more of an insight into that. As the investigation progresses and they find out more information, you do learn a little bit about her. I don’t think her past excuses what she does, but I think it definitely gives you a little bit more of an understanding, as to who she is and where she’s come from, definitely.

It’s one thing to kill people and it’s another thing entirely to enjoy it, which she seems to do.

COMER: Yeah, absolutely! It’s like a life force for her. I feel like her job gives her purpose, for sure, and she wants to do a good job. She’s had so many conversations with Konstantin (Kim Bodnia), where she’s like, “Did you see what I did?! Did you see how good that was?! Are you impressed with me?! Because I’m impressed with me!” She’s so self-confident. She’s brilliant.

Do you think that will also get her in trouble?

COMER: Yeah, absolutely! I think she become quite careless. Konstantin is certainly in charge of her, and he sees this going on, so she loses a little bit of her independence and she can’t deal with that. Konstantin says, “Listen, you do what you’re told, and you don’t ask any questions.” She doesn’t abide by that, and there are consequences to that. What’s so lovely about their relationship is that he’s the only person who understands her and sees through her games. He’s like a father figure, in a lot of ways. It’s nice to see her actually have what seems to be a genuine relationship with someone, who she may actually care about, maybe.

Do you think she would still kill him, if need be?

COMER: I don’t know. I wouldn’t put anything past her, at this point.

Does she have a moral code? Is there somewhere that she would draw the line?

COMER: First off, I think she puts herself first, so if her life was threatened, then she would absolutely do anything. I think her independence is what’s most important to her, and why that is, you will discover.

How threatened does she feel by being looked into?

COMER: At the beginning, she thinks it’s just a game. She feels invincible. Maybe there’s a realization that they are actually getting information. She doesn’t speak Russian anymore. That’s the part of her life that she wants nothing to do with, and yet it’s getting dragged up by everybody else. That is not something that sits well with her, at all. What she does about it, you’ll have to see.

What does Villanelle think of Eve, and what can we expect from how that dynamic develops?

COMER: Villanelle lives this luxurious life, and I think she’s intrigued at how ordinary Eve is. She lives her life with her husband. The narcissist in Villanelle is like, “This chick wants to know about me? I’m gonna show her!” She wants to make sure that Eve gets to her. She wants to make sure that they meet. It’s a funny relationship. I feel like Villanelle is seeking something from Eve. Nothing material, but spiritually, there’s something. There’s a connection there that they’re both not sure of, but it’s undeniable. It’s there. There is a connection with Eve, on a personal level for Villanelle, because she reminds her of someone who is very close to her, in her past. It brings all of these emotions up.

Above is the official trailer to Killing Eve. At present it is still easy to catch up with both of these shows if you have not seen them. The second episode of Killing Eve airs tonight and the first episode remains available on line. The fourth episode of Barry will be on HBO later tonight, but as episodes are only slightly over thirty minutes it won’t take long to catch up.

SciFi Weekend: Agents of SHIELD and the MCU; Arrow; The Americans Return For Final Season; Hugo Award Nominees; Trish Walker Music Video From Jessica Jones

 

The last two episodes of Agents of SHIELD have been excellent, tying into the events of last season and fitting into the upcoming events in Avengers: Infinity War. This week’s episode, Rise and Shine, jumped back in time twenty-eight years to further tie HYDRA into the history of the MCU, including the upcoming war. TV Line has summarized Easter Eggs in the episode.

The episode did provide a compelling argument for SHIELD and HYDRA to unite, but I am appalled by HYDRA’s view on dogs. I am glad that General Hale put an end to that when it came to her daughter’s dog.

Earlier in the season I had heard speculation that SHIELD was moved into space and the future this season in order to avoid conflicting with Avengers: Infinity War. Instead they came back prior to the movie’s release, and are now tying into it. At WonderCon the showrunners gave a different reason for going into space:

Jed Whedon: Last year was a real kitchen sink year. We had a lot of stuff going on. We did alt world. We did Ghost Rider. We did LMDs. So we did two different versions of alternate versions of ourselves and so we were thinking ‘Where can we go that’s different.’

Maurissa Tancharoen: Mack’s line sort of reflects what we were thinking in the writer’s room. He turns to Coulson and goes ‘We’re in space. It’s the one thing we haven’t done yet.’ So it was definitely an area that we had been contemplating for a while.

In other words, they went into space as it is something they had not done before. Screen Rant suggests that they venture into alternate dimensions next season.

The future for the series is unknown. The show is on the bubble at ABC, and the season finale was written to be a series finale if the show is not renewed. Besides the usual factors involved in making such a decision, it is possible that the failure of Inhumans will give Disney reason to continue SHIELD with the absence of Marvel on ABC. This might not be enough with Marvel having shows on Freeform, Netflix, and Hulu.

Another factor is that Clark Gregg will be co-staring in Captain Marvel. As the movie takes place in the 1990’s, this will not conflict with his death in the Avengers movies. It does raise the question as to whether filming the movie would interfere with SHIELD returning. While they have been hinting at the possibility of Coulson’s death on SHIELD, which would bring the television show in line with the MCU, I doubt they would bring the show back without Clark Gregg.

The last two episodes of Arrow featured the return of Roy Harper and ended (spoilers) with Thea Queen leaving town with him. Many characters have left the show, and Thea did have a reduced role this year, but it was unexpected that they would eliminate one of the few remaining stars who have been with the show since the start.

Entertainment Weekly discussed the decision with Marc Guggenheim:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What came with the decision to write Thea off the show now and whose decision was it? 
MARC GUGGENHEIM: At the end of season 4, Willa had come to us and basically said that she would like some more time for herself, and would like to reduce her role on the show. And we did, we reduced the commitment that she was making to us in season 5, and carried that over in season 6. Season 6 is the end of her contract, and going into season 6, with all of us knowing it was the end of her contract, Willa expressed the desire to move on, not re-up. She expressed a desire to be written out at a certain time in the season, which is around episode 16, so we accommodated her on that front as well. Look, we love Willa, we love working with Willa, we love the character of Thea, we particularly have always loved Thea’s relationship with Oliver. That relationship is one of the things that we deviated from the comic book early on. It was one of the very first major creative decisions we made in terms of adapting the Green Arrow comic for live action television. So it’s always been an incredibly important, critical part of the show for us.

At the same time, this is what happens when a show goes past five years. Actors start to reach the end of their contracts, they start to look towards greener pastures or new opportunities. I think this is true across all the shows. We never wanna stand in the way of someone wanting to express themselves creatively in a different way, on a different show, or through a different medium. So we took Willa’s request and took it seriously, and decided “Okay, well, if this is the hand we’re dealt, how do we play it as best we can and write off Thea in the most emotional and interesting way possible?”

Instead of getting a happy ending, Thea has set out to right her father’s wrongs. Why was this the most fitting ending?
This was something that came out of the writers’ room and it excited us for a variety of different reasons. For one thing, we really like the idea of writing Thea off in a way that suggested a larger story for her. One could imagine us, at some point in some medium, exploring the story of Thea, Roy, and Nyssa working to find these other Lazarus Pits. We tend to, as writers, gravitate toward stories that suggest other stories. As a showrunner, I got enamored with the notion of writing out a series regular in a way that didn’t suggest the end of a story, but rather the beginning of a new one. That’s not something that you typically see. Normally when a character’s written off, a series regular’s written off, it always feels to me like an ending. Sometimes it’s a literal ending and you’re killing off the character, but a lot of other times it’s like, well they’re going off and just living a much quieter life and there’s no more story to tell about them. I really like the idea of actually going the opposite route and suggesting a greater and bigger story for Thea. I just think that’s both interesting and unexpected.

You’ve always said you didn’t want to kill Thea, but was that seriously considered? Were there alternate possibilities for Thea’s exit?
There were. We talked certainly about the low-hanging fruit of “Well, the simplest thing to do is bring Colton back and have her and Roy ride off into the sunset together,” sort of the way they do at the beginning of the episode. That to me was the obvious choice. That’s the thing that you would expect given the story that we’ve told with Roy and Thea since season 1. But because it’s the obvious choice, that was one of the first choices we immediately discounted, because we never wanna do something that’s so patently apparent. Killing her off was never on the table. I’ve always been very sincere and consistent in my view that Oliver just can’t lose his last remaining family member. So that was never even on the table.

Is there a chance we could see her on the show in the future? And will we get an update on the destruction of the Lazarus Pits, whether Thea returns or not?
Really, honestly, it’s totally up to Willa. One of the things that I love about Arrow — and I think this is true for the other superhero shows as well, but I think Arrow‘s really shown a capacity for it — is no one is ever gone. Even the characters who have been killed off are never gone. People can come back in a variety of different ways here. In Thea’s specific example, there’s a whole storyline left to explore. We haven’t started thinking about how to do it in season 7 or beyond. I think we know Willa’s just finished Arrow, she’s looking to see what other opportunities are out there for her. But I love this idea of Thea, Roy, and Nyssa making an unlikely trio, exploring a different part of the Arrow-verse, a different corner of the Arrow-verse. It would be a shame not to revisit it. At the same time, we’ve also shown that we can tell Arrow-verse stories in other mediums: animated, comic books, and prose novels. There are those avenues open to us as well. So I don’t know what the future holds, but there are potentials out there.

It has become commonplace on the show for characters to leave and return, so I would not be surprised if they were to do an arc with Thea returning. They even brought Katie Cassedy back after her character was killed, and now Stephen Amell is teasing that Colin Donnell (Tommie Merlin) will be returning. Supposedly this will not be a flashback, but there are all sorts of ways they could have Oliver imagine the return of people from his past, without even having to resort to either a flashback or Tommie from another earth.

Caity Lotz will also be returning in the season six finale of Arrow, in addition to her regular role in Legends of Tomorrow. There is no word what her role will be, or how she will respond to the earth-2 version of Laurel.

The Americans has returned for its final season, with a jump to 1987. Throughout the series, the speculation was that, assuming there is no happy ending for the main characters, the show might end in the arrest of the Russian agents. The season premier has raised other possibilities. Elizabeth and Philip Jennings might turn on each other. Even worse, Elizabeth’s end could come from the pill she was given now that she is in a position where she cannot be arrested. Philip has left the spy business and Paige has entered. The season premiere also showed the importance that Elizabeth places on her daughter’s safety, suggesting that this might also be the one thing which could lead her to disobey orders from Russia.

Oleg has also returned to the United States. In the past there were jokes of a Stan and Oleg spin off. Now will it be Oleg and Phillip?

No matter how things play out for the Jennings, we know that the Soviet Union is heading towards its end. Their travel agency is also an anachronism, with the internet likely to change it in the near future.

This is all just speculation as the final season can go in a number of directions. Regardless of how it plays out, I am very happy that The Americans is back. It has consistently been among the top network dramas for the last several years. Plus The Americans shows that Russian attempts to influence the United States, and vice versa, are nothing new. This is a long-standing situation which is not about why Hillary Clinton lost an election that any decent Democrat could have won, and not a reason to panic and restrict free speech. We have survived Russian attempts to influence the United States in the past and can continue to do so if we can ignore cable news hysteria.

The 2018 Hugo Award nominees are out. Television shows nominated include episodes of Black Mirror, Doctor Who, Star Trek: Discovery, and The Good Place. Following are the nominees for movies and television shows:

Best Dramatic Presentation – Long Form

  • Blade Runner 2049, written by Hampton Fancher and Michael Green, directed by Denis Villeneuve (Alcon Entertainment / Bud Yorkin Productions / Torridon Films / Columbia Pictures)
  • Get Out, written and directed by Jordan Peele (Blumhouse Productions / Monkeypaw Productions / QC Entertainment)
  • The Shape of Water, written by Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor, directed by Guillermo del Toro (TSG Entertainment / Double Dare You / Fox Searchlight Pictures)
  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi, written and directed by Rian Johnson (Lucasfilm, Ltd.)
  • Thor: Ragnarok, written by Eric Pearson, Craig Kyle, and Christopher Yost; directed by Taika Waititi (Marvel Studios)
  • Wonder Woman, screenplay by Allan Heinberg, story by Zack Snyder & Allan Heinberg and Jason Fuchs, directed by Patty Jenkins (DC Films / Warner Brothers)

Best Dramatic Presentation – Short Form

  • Black Mirror: “USS Callister,” written by William Bridges and Charlie Brooker, directed by Toby Haynes (House of Tomorrow)
  • “The Deep” [song], by Clipping (Daveed Diggs, William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes)
  • Doctor Who: “Twice Upon a Time,” written by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay (BBC Cymru Wales)
  • The Good Place: “Michael’s Gambit,” written and directed by Michael Schur (Fremulon / 3 Arts Entertainment / Universal Television)
  • The Good Place: “The Trolley Problem,” written by Josh Siegal and Dylan Morgan, directed by Dean Holland (Fremulon / 3 Arts Entertainment / Universal Television)
  • Star Trek: Discovery: “Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad,” written by Aron Eli Coleite & Jesse Alexander, directed by David M. Barrett (CBS Television Studios)

My post on USS Callister is here, Twice Upon A Time is here,  Magic to Make the Sanest Man go Mad here, and Michael’s Gambit here.

The full list of nominees is here.

Netflix has released a pop-up musical video of Trish Walker’s video hit, Want Your Cray Cray. This was seen in season two of Jessica Jones, which both more on Jessica and Trish’s earlier years and foreshadowed Trish’s future.

SciFi Weekly: The X-Files Finale; Agents of SHIELD And The MCU; Star Trek Discovery Season Two Plans; The Ninth Doctor; What They Wear Under Those Cloaks On The Handmaid’s Tale

There are so many reviews already out there about how bad My Struggle IV was that I won’t spend much time piling on here. It is especially disappointing that this is not only the season finale of The X-Files, but it might also be the series finale. I gave them the benefit of the doubt after watching My Struggle III, hoping that essentially retconning last season’s finale would give them the opportunity to end this season in a better way. While they got rid of the alien invasion, the episode was not the season or series conclusion which fans were hoping for. At least there were some worthwhile stand alone episodes during the season.

For the benefit of those who gave up watching but have passing curiosity as to how it all ended, the episode centered around William, who was previously described as the son of Scully and Mulder. The episode ended with Scully telling Mulder, “William was an experiment. He was an idea, born in a laboratory. I carried him. I bore him. But I was never a mother to him. William wasn’t…”  This led to Mulder asking, “What am I now if I’m not a father?”

Then the big shocker to end the season: “You are a father!” Scully grabbed Mulder’s hand and put it on her abdomen.  “That’s impossible…”  “I know, it’s more than impossible,” Scully responded.

Chris Carter had this to say about the pregnancy in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter:

Given the twist about William’s paternity this year, can you confirm this is biologically Mulder and Scully’s kid that she is carrying?
I will confirm it is their child. But I will also confirm Scully has alien DNA.

Syfy Wire interviewed Chris Carter about the episode:

Did it feel different this year bringing the season to a close?

Chris Carter: No. I don’t think we’re at the ending as much as a new beginning. Or, it’s not a conclusion for me. It’s maybe one of the biggest cliff-hangers we’ve ever had. Certainly, with the carnage and the revelations. We did six last time, and 10 this time. Even though it took a year of my life to do it, it happens much faster. So, the arc is much quicker, and that struck me again.

When did the concept of the four-part “My Struggle” episodes come to you? Obviously, you had your Season 10 pick up, but did you know then that you wanted to tell this particular through line in four pieces?

Yeah, I had four stories to tell. They were the characters that were most central to the mythology being Mulder, Scully, the Cigarette Smoking Man, and Mulder and Scully’s son, William. Those are the stories I wanted to tell, so I’m glad everyone stuck with it.

Gillian had a very specific announcement this year saying that she was retiring from the character. Did that affect the tail end of the season?

No, it’s what I wanted to do always. I wanted to reveal William’s immortality. I wanted to bring Mulder and Scully back together in the most emotional way. So, I had all those cards to play.

Some showrunners have an idea of a last image that they want to end with. Was Mulder and Scully hugging on that dock with the knowledge that she’s pregnant set, or did that come from telling that story this season?

It was in my head and I couldn’t wait to shoot it. But that’s not the last image. (Laughs)

True. It was indeed William in the water alive. But was it Mulder and Scully or William you were moving towards the whole season?

You know, I’m so invested in these characters. I’ve lived so much of my life with them, and it’s a moment we’ve seen twice. We’ve seen it at the end of the second movie, and we’ve seen it now at the end of the finale. The revelation about the first child was a different situation. I really feel like emotionally they are connected in a way that we haven’t ever quite seen.

The X-Files has always been very subtle about portraying the romantic relationship between Mulder and Scully. But you let the writers lean into it this season with some really poignant moments. Why was it important to show that now?

I think that there was some part of us that heard the fans. There was another part of us that saw them both getting older and thinking about the future, and thinking about retirement and old age, and what their lives might be together. So, I think that these are poignant moments for two characters who have known each other for 25 years…

What was the wrap shot for the season?

I think the final shots that I shot were with some of the additional stuff that I had to do with Mitch for that action sequence. The sequence on the dock with Mulder and Scully was the second to last night. We tried to put it on the last night, but we were unable to do that.

Speaking of Skinner, we’re very well trained by you that unless you say someone’s dead, they aren’t dead. So, we see part of Skinner’s body. Do you want to say if he’s dead or not?

Well, you see him lying under the car. But you did see him fall before the car hit him, so while he’s motionless it certainly begs many questions…

I’ve got a nerdy question: In “My Struggle part II”, we get Scully’s vision of the end of times. And it showed CSM in a very different physical state. And then we see in this season that he looks fine. Are we supposed to assume his regenerated appearance is a result of his involvement with the various alien projects?

CSM’s had access to science that no one else has access to, and if he is a part of William’s immortality, what’s to say that he doesn’t hold the key to that in his cells? And when he went off the end of that pier, what does that suggest?

I’m going to assume until I see his dead body that he could be coming back at any point.  So let’s shift to the fact that Kersh closed the X-Files again. Are we supposed to take that at face value?

My feeling is that The X-Files has been closed before. They closed it in Season 1 actually, long ago. So, it’s not the first time. Practically, those files still sit down there in those drawers. And someone is going to investigate them. And if that’s Mulder and Scully, they’ll do it with the same passion they’ve always done it with. But the fact is that those files sit down in those drawers to be investigated.

David posed to me once that The X-Files should live on with a show about William. With Gillian retired from Scully, is that more of a credible direction for you to ponder as a spin-off?

No, I guess you could take that approach. I hadn’t really considered it. I like Miles Robbins (William). I think he’s interesting, I think the character of William is interesting, but that’s a different kind of show. That would really be starting from scratch. It’s more of a superhero show. That might be an undertaking, but I’m too tired to think about it right now.

Additional interviews with Chris Carter are available on TVLine and Entertainment Weekly.

The showrunners for Agents of SHIELD were asked how Avengers Infinity War would affect the show at WonderCon. While there was nothing very specific, they did discuss how the movies have changed what they do on the show (beyond the obvious first season response to the first Avengers movie). From Deadline:

“If you watched the trailer, a lot of sh*t goes down!” exclaimed Whedon. “These are the kinds of questions we can do everything but answer.”

However, he did provide us with something to chew on. “The movies blaze a path,” he continued. “When Doctor Strange came out it introduced us to magic which gave us Ghost Rider; when [Guardians of the Galaxy] came out, we were introduced to space. We are waiting for that movie to come out so it can open a new playground for us.”

TrekMovie.com listed what was learned about Star Trek: Discovery season 2 at WonderCon. Here’s some excerpts:

Regarding being in the Prime Timeline:

Aaron Harberts: The idea was to always be in the Prime Timeline. Obviously, there are questions and concerns and things that are different. Our technology is a little different. We have a ship that runs very differently. We are our own show in a lot of ways. Season two is really exciting for us. This is our opportunity to really show how Discovery fits into this Prime Timeline. We are firmly committed to that.

Regarding the dark tone of the first season:

Gretchen J. Berg: We are aware it is a different era and a different format for the show. I don’t think we are gunning for shock value. Everything always comes out of character and story. If it feels like something that would happen in that world and in that context, we go in that direction. It is not a group that leads with wanting to shock people or horrify people.

Aaron Harberts: [Season one] was an interesting season because it was set against the backdrop of war. One of things we are looking forward to in season two is a tone that we can now be in a more exploratory phase and a more diplomatic phase – maybe a bit more of a Trekian chapter…But, everything for us is really driven by character.

About the USS Enterprise seen at the end of the season:

Tamara Deverell: For the Enterprise, we based it initially off of The Original Series. We were really drawing a lot of our materials from that. And then we particularly went to more of the Star Trek movies, which is a little bit fatter, a little bit bigger. Overall, I think we expanded the length of it to be within the world of our Discovery, which is bigger, so we did cheat it as a larger ship.

Jason Zimmerman: It starts with them giving us designs to work with and then there is a lot of back and forth between VFX and [Tamra’s] department to make sure that we get everything right. There were a lot of conversations and more emails than I could remember about how the design would evolve and sort of match our universe, and that is how we sort of arrived where we are

About the uniforms:

Gretchen J. Berg: Well, we are in the same timeline. This is the prime universe and we are pretty close to when TOS happens.

Aaron Harberts: Well, we bump up against the Enterprise at the end of our [season one] finale, and we know what kind of uniforms they wear. So, we will leave it at that.

Regarding Saru:

Aaron Harberts: You will learn more about Saru this season. We had to lay some pipe early in episode 2 [of season one]. What are those threat ganglia. What do they do? What do they represent in the Terran Empire and a lot of that stuff will fold back in when we are back on the air.

ScreenRant has a clue as to what might be coming in the second season. They report on a deleted scene in which Section 31 recruiting is recruiting Mirror Georgiou.

Steven Moffat has released portions of an early version of the script for The Day of the Doctor, the fiftieth anniversary episode, in which Christopher Eccleston’s Doctor appears. Radio Times has some excerpts.

Eccleston recently told The Guardian that he was blacklisted by the BBC after he left Doctor Who:

“What happened around Doctor Who almost destroyed my career,” he says. “I gave them a hit show and I left with dignity and then they put me on a blacklist. I was carrying my own insecurities as it was something I had never done before and then I was abandoned, vilified in the tabloid press and blacklisted. I was told by my agent at the time: ‘The BBC regime is against you. You’re going to have to get out of the country and wait for regime change.’ So I went away to America and I kept on working because that’s what my parents instilled in me. My dad always said to me: ‘I don’t care what you do – sweeping the floor or whatever you’re doing – just do the best job you can.’ I know it’s cliched and northern and all that bollocks, but it applies.”

He described tensions on the show before he left with Radio Times:

“My relationship with my three immediate superiors – the showrunner, the producer and co-producer – broke down irreparably during the first block of filming and it never recovered,” Eccleston says in the latest issue of Radio Times.

“They lost trust in me, and I lost faith and trust and belief in them,” he continues.

Eccleston starred in the sci-fi series when it first rebooted in 2005 with Russell T Davies as showrunner.

Describing the situation as “very” stressful, Eccleston claims that he felt out of place playing a lighter role, and believes it may have contributed to on-set difficulties.

“Some of my anger about the situation came from my own insecurity,” he says. “They employed somebody [as the Doctor] who was not a natural light comedian.”

He adds, “Billie [Piper], who we know was and is brilliant, was very, very nervous and very, very inexperienced. So, you had that, and then you had me. Very, very experienced, possibly the most experienced on it, but out of my comfort zone.”

In the interview, Eccleston goes on to reveal why he’s only elected to speak on the subject in recent months, with the Salford-born actor suggesting he’d made an agreement not to “damage” the reputation of the series.

“When I left, I gave my word to [then-showrunner] Russell T Davies that I wouldn’t do anything to damage the show,” he says. “But they did things to damage me. I didn’t criticise anybody.”

Asked if Davies was aware of the issues, Eccleston says, “If you’re the showrunner, you know everything. That’s your job,” adding that he “never will have” a working relationship with the screenwriter again.

We finally got an answer as to what the cast of The Handmaid’s Tale wear under those cloaks:

Keeping in mind that the show is being filmed up in Canada where it can get quite cold in some regions it’s not too much of a surprise that some of the women have said that they either wear granny panties that cover nearly their entire abdomen or resort to wearing multiple layers of long johns to stave off the chill. Some of them even manage to tape heating packs to their bodies to keep warm as the cloaks don’t do much for warmth in the colder climate in which they film

There are also clues as to what happened to Offred after the cliff hanger ending of season one here.

SciFi Weekend Time Travel Edition: Legends of Tomorrow Does The Time Loop; Doctor Who News; Timeless Season 2

Having the characters of a science fiction show enter a time loop as on Groundhog Day has been a common trope on science fiction shows. Last week’s attempt at this on Legends of Tomorrow might not have been the best version, but it turned out to be a great homage to the sub-genre. Tala Ashe (Zari) did an excellent job of expressing her frustration of repeating the same events repeatedly.

In some ways this was most like the version seen earlier this year on Star Trek: Discovery. The overall scenario was quite different from Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad, but they were similar in having one character realize they were in a time loop, and having their ship explode at the end of each cycle. On both shows, one person realized what was going on, but had a hard time convincing others.

On Discovery, Stamets beat the time loop by convincing Burnham that he was telling the truth by showing that he knew everything she was going to say, and subsequently others were brought in.

On Legends, Zari initially had no success convincing others she was telling the truth. I was actually thinking at one point that time loops are such a common science fiction trope that the obvious thing to do is to tell people that things were happening like on Groundhog Day. Moments later Zari came close to this in a conversation with Nate. Actually she explained the scenario and Nate recognized it as Groundhog Day. Having it explained like Groundhog day was enough for him to believe her, and he and suggested that she only had to tell him that to get him on board next time. She did botch by saying Hedgehog Day, but she ultimately got the message across.

Groundhog Day is hardly the only example of this. Subsequently Ray was brought in, except that he related the scenario to Cause and Effect, an episode of Star Trek, The Next Generation. Other recent shows to use this trope have included the fourth episode of season three of Dark Matter, and the movie Edge of Tomorrow. While I did not watch the show, I also recently read that Xena: Warrior Princess had their own version entitled Been There, Done That. With this being such a common trope, it really should not be hard to explain what is going on if one encounters a science fiction fan while in a time loop.

The episode used the time loops partially for fun, and showing more about the characters. This included another rare occurrence of seeing Amy Pemberton give Gideon a human form. Other fun aspects including learning that Mick writes romance novels (and goes to great lengths to keep this secret). One time Nate suggested that Zari take a break and go though a cycle and just have fun, knowing she would have another chance to try to prevent the Waverider from exploding afterwards.

When Doctor Who returns next fall, major changes in how the show looks and feels are inevitable, between a new show runner (Chris Chibnall) and the first female Doctor (played by Jodie Whittaker). The show will also have a new logo, pictured above. A BBC America press release states that, “all official Doctor Who merchandise featuring the new logo will be available at selected retailers from February 20th, 2018.”

There will also will might be significant changes to the sound of Doctor Who. Murray Gold, who has been composing the music for Doctor Who since its return in 2005, is leaving.

Another rumored change might be moving the show from Saturday to Sunday. I hope this is the case as I regularly download Doctor Who as soon as possible after airing in the UK, except for when it conflicts with college football–as it inevitably will when moved back to the fall.

There are also rumors that an episode next season will deal with Rosa Parks.

Now that old television shows are easy to watch I suspect that there is far less interest in novelizations of episodes, but if people are still interested, Russel T. Davies and Steven Moffat are writing novelizations of some of the episodes they wrote.

For those interested in podcasts about both science fiction and Doctor Who, I recently discovered one worth subscribing to. Imaginary Worlds deals with a wide range of science fiction topics, and is currently running a series on Doctor Who. The first episodes was on the Doctor, the second was on the companions, and the third is on the Daleks, with briefer mention of other villains. The stories have a feel sort of as if This American Life was covering Doctor Who. The coverage includes both the original run and the new series. The podcasts would be great for someone new to the show to get a feel for its background, but long time viewers are also likely to find it interesting.

Another time travel show, Timeless, returns March 11. This was a rare case of a show being cancelled, and then the network reversing the decision and renewing it. Any chance someone went back in time to change the future for the show?

As Timeless ended on a big cliffhanger, which I looked at here, I am happy that it will be returning.

Following is the official synopsis of the season from NBC:

From Eric Kripke (“Revolution,” “Supernatural”) and Shawn Ryan (“The Shield”), season two of this thrilling action-adventure series will pick up right where we left off with our heroes. We continue to race throughout history with our beloved team: Rufus (Malcolm Barrett), a scientist; Wyatt (Matt Lanter), a soldier; and Lucy (Abigail Spencer), a history professor, in an attempt to prevent the destruction of our world as we all know it. This season they’ll find an unlikely ally in their quest to ruin Rittenhouse, a deadly organization with plans to change history and reshape reality — even though Lucy’s family has been a part of Rittenhouse for centuries. Still making every effort not to affect the past themselves, they will visit 1692, 1917, 1941, 1981 and more.  We’ll be introduced to the likes of Marie Curie, Hedy Lamarr, William Randolph Hearst and a multitude of other influential people throughout history. 

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery Returns; The X-Files; Runaways Concludes First Season; The Handmaid’s Tale Season Two; Krypton

Star Trek: Discovery returned last week with Despite Yourself, directed by Jonathan Frakes. The episode immediately provided the answers to two points which were widely predicted: Ash Tyler is Voq and the Discovery is in the Mirror universe. Of course there were new twists to keep things interesting.

As I had been discussing late in the fall season, the only way to make sense of Ash Tyler’s actions was that if he was Voq he was a sleeper agent and did not realize it. This turned out to be true, but in addition something went wrong when L’Rell tried to restore his memories. This leaves Ash/Voq in a situation where we cannot predict what he will do in the future, and we have seen that at times either could dominate.

The procedure used for Voq was quite sophisticated, initially fooling medical exams. (The Tribble was back on Lorca’s desk so perhaps it can expose Voq–except both are off the Discovery.) Ultimately Culber did figure it out, and appears to have been killed to keep him quiet. This resulted in Discovery taking heat for providing another case of part of a same-sex couple getting killed, such as on The 100 a couple of years ago. This led to quick assurances that we will see Culber again. There are many possibilities including that he can still recover (with the help of future medicine) from having his neck snapped, Stamets using time travel or other aspects of the mycelial network to reverse what happened, or the replacement of Culber with a version from the Mirror universe or another universe. It is a bit strange that there was nobody else around either sickbay or the brig when Ash was letting L’Rell out of the brig or attacking Culber.

Finding that Ash Tyler is actually a sleeper Klingon has the potential for further ramifications now that he is one of only three from the Discovery crew on the ISS Shenzhou. This came about due to a poor decision from Burnham to keep quiet about him, but it was established early that Burnham is capable of making really bad decisions. Fortunately we saw that Burnham is very capable of defending herself.

It was also revealed very early in the episode that they were in the Mirror universe from Mirror, Mirror. The data recovered from a destroyed rebel ship quickly provided them with quite detailed information about not only the Empire but about the roles of the crew on their own ship. While somewhat unrealistic that they could have received this much information, it did allow them to quickly get into the story without wasting time searching out this information. This also provided a good way to bring viewers new to Star Trek up to date without boring long time viewers. Tying this into the events of an episode of Enterprise, In a Mirror, Darkly, was also rewarding for long time Star Trek fans, while new viewers could still follow what is going on. (A synopsis of In a Mirror, Darkly can be found here).

While Captain Lorca reviewed the information they retrieved, it also felt like this was for the benefit of others, and Lorca was already aware of what was going on, having appeared to have intentionally caused the Discovery to wind up in the Mirror universe. Having learned that the Lorca of the Mirror universe has disappeared raises suspicion that possibly the Lorca we know is actually the Mirror counterpart. This would explain much of his behavior, including sleeping with a weapon. If so, Lorca is more sophisticated than Mirror Kirk, who could not keep fit in and keep his identity secret when he crossed over to our universe in Mirror, Mirror. There is also the question of what is going on with the Mirror Discovery after it crossed over into our universe.

It was entertaining to see the USS Discovery quickly convert to the ISS Discovery. Seeing a replicator-like process for making Burnham’s uniform in a previous episode makes it more plausible that they could quickly make the needed uniforms (even if not entirely consistent with the original show). As on previous Mirror universe stories, the elevator was one of the preferred places for an assassination attempt (other than the bedroom), and we got the obligatory attempted murder scene. As was foreshadowed in Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum with Stamets calling Tilly “Captain,” Tilly (or Killy) is the Captain of the Mirror Discovery. I do like how this is truly a continuing, serialized series, with little events in one episode providing a payoff in future episodes. Having Lorca portray the Engineer with a Scottish accent was also an amusing homage to the original show.

While the recovered data provided far more information than was realistic, the one missing piece of information was the identity of the Emperor. As they made a point of this, it is very likely that this will be revealed in a future episode, and it will also provide a payoff to viewers. If this was fan fiction, I might guess that it was a very old Empress Sato. While that would be satisfying to fans who remember In A Mirror, Darkly, it would mean little to newer fans, so I doubt that this will be the case. My bet is that it will be Philippa Georgiou, especially after there was no sign of her on the Shenzhou. Burnham already had a fight to the death with the Mirror version of someone she knew from the Shenzhou, and I bet she will also have to confront the Mirror Georgiou. (A confrontation with Tyler/Voq is also very likely.)

While previous Mirror universe stories were one or two episodes, it appears that the entire second half of the season will be a longer Mirror story. As I quoted in an interview with the producers last week, Discovery is gradually moving towards showing the vision of the Federation we are accustomed to from the original series. Taking place in the Mirror universe does now allow Discovery to portray what is good about the Federation through contrast with the Empire, even if we did not see it at its greatest in the first half of the season.

The same interview mentioned second chances. Being in the Mirror universe has provided a second chance for Lorca, who appears to have wanted to go there with his future uncertain in our universe. Bringing the Discovery from our universe might also be part of a bigger plan if he is really the Mirror Lorca. Bernham might also be tempted to remain now that she is the Captain of her own ship in the Mirror universe, and faces a possible return to prison in our universe. Ultimately both will have big decisions about what is important to them. The xenophobia of the Mirror universe also resonates in our present with the presidency of Donald Trump, years after the idea was first shown on the original show. It is sad that we have not progressed more since the 1960’s.

TV Line interviewed the Discovery show runners about the episode:

TVLINE | The mirror universe is a huge part of Trek mythology, dating back to the original series. How early on in the writing process did you know you wanted to go there?
GRETCHEN J. BERG | I think pretty much from the beginning.

AARON HARBERTS | Yeah, the biggest thing, frankly, was when we were going to do it. Initially, plans had been hatched to go over there in Episode 5, and we realized as we were talking about it: The mirror universe only works when you can care about the characters enough in the prime universe, so you can uncover the discovery of who people are in the alternate universe. So we realized that the mirror universe really needed to play in the back half of the [season], that it really needed to anchor the last several episodes…

TVLINE | So the crew needs to find a way out of this mirror universe with the Terrans. Is that the overriding mission for the next few weeks? Does it run through the season finale?
HARBERTS
 | We will be in the mirror universe for a little while. Episode 10 is simply the introduction. We felt like we could tell quite a bit of story in this mirror universe — not only about the mirror universe, but about our characters. Things come out about our characters in the mirror universe that wouldn’t come out in the prime universe. So we really felt like it was a great crucible for storytelling.

TVLINE | Is it giving away too much to ask if we’ll see a mirror Georgiou?
BERG
 | I find your question very interesting, but that’s a “no comment.” [Laughs]

TVLINE | Making Tilly the captain was such an inspired stroke of storytelling. How much did Mary Wiseman enjoy that twist?
HARBERTS | [Laughs] The thing that was fun is, we always knew we were going to do it. The gift that we’ve been given from CBS All Access was to allow this to be so serialized. So Tilly says “I’m going to be a captain someday” the first time we meet her. So we knew: “Mary, guess what? In the mirror universe, you’re going to be a captain!” Mary is super-dry and super-sassy, so whenever she would cop a little ‘tude — and I mean that in the most playful of ways, because we have fun and just go at each other — it would just be like, “Yeah, that’s really mirror-universe Tilly. Save that for the mirror universe!” I think she had a ball. When she takes charge of that bridge, it’s just a testament to how great she is as an actor. She can go from comedic to downright scary to fighting both instincts. She’s just truly gifted.

TVLINE | We did witness Dr. Culber’s death as well, when Tyler’s alternate personality came out. What’s the fallout going to be from that when the crew returns to the ship? 
BERG | There are so many things that are set off or started in Episode 10… there are ramifications for every action. It is a huge thing. And it’s heartbreaking, and horrifying.

HARBERTS | One of the early bits of feedback about Discovery is that it’s very dark, and very bleak. And I don’t necessarily believe that that’s true, because we know where the show is going. But I do think that scenes of forgiveness and atonement and redemption are really important in Star Trek, and we’re going to have to take that journey. On our show, no one is ever truly a villain, and no one is ever truly a perfect person. And what’s beautiful about Shazad [Latif]’s performance is, you see just how shocked and horrified he is by his actions…

TVLINE | What else is coming up in the rest of this season? Is Tyler’s alternate personality kind of the ticking time bomb that could derail this entire mission?
BERG
 | It’s looming pretty large, and it’s a huge complication to what is going on, not only personally with Burnham and everybody else.

HARBERTS | If your psyche is hanging by a thread, maybe the last thing you want to do is go on an away mission to the Terran Empire. [Laughs] What you don’t need is more stress.

BERG | Where is the couch and afghan you can climb under? They don’t have one! I would say, also, as shocking as the death of Culber is that you just witnessed at the hands of Tyler, Culber and Stamets have been in a relationship that… sort of represents the epic love story of our series. And, you know, love overcomes all. I think you can count on that it won’t be the last we see Culber. You’ll see him again.

HARBERTS | This relationship between Stamets and Culber… this death is but the first chapter. The trope of “Bury Your Gays,” which is running rampant through our television landscape, that is not something that Star Trek has ever been interested in doing. I think we’ve shown by now that we’re not interested in tropes, and that we love our characters, and we love our actors. When you’re given the gift of Wilson Cruz and Anthony Rapp, and you’ve got several gay writers on staff, you don’t just throw that away. You will see Dr. Culber again. This is a love story that’s going to transcend death, and there is much more story to tell for those two. And the science that [the real-life mycologist] Paul Stamets has provided as a backdrop for our fictional Paul Stamets, and for our show… if the audience is concerned about what’s going to happen to Culber, dig deeper into the science of the mycelial network. There are so many clues in there.

This (as with last week’s episode) has me optimistic that we are in store for a much better season of The X-Files than the previous. While much of the story might not hold up if looked at too critically (which can be said of the original run of the show), it was very entertaining. It provided, as a revival should, both something of the past (Richard Langly of The Lone Gunmen) along with an updated twist. The idea of consciousness being uploaded after death is an idea which Steven Moffat has used several times, although this was handled much more like Black Mirror than Doctor Who.

The episode also played on modern paranoia and conspiracy theories, from the use of the Russians to this exchange:

Skinner: “The bureau is not in good standing to the White House these days.”

Mulder: ‘The FBI finally found out what it’s like to be looked upon a little spooky.”

While the alien threat was potentially eliminated last week, there is a new threat. We were warned that, “life on this earth, all human life, most animal life, is about to be crushed. Burnt to the ground.” They also had to enter something very close to a real life NSA facility.

Runaways concluded its first season last week, and was an excellent origin story setting up their situation. By the end of the first season, we have learned quit a bit about the characters and their situation. Nothing really got resolved in the finale, but fortunately Hulu has renewed the series for a second season. They also renewed Future Man. I have not seen this yet, but have heard good things about the series.

Hulu has turned into a major player in streaming with The Handmaid’s Tale, including with a Golden Globe win last week. It will be interesting to see what happens when it returns on April 25 now that they are beyond the book. Reportedly the second season will go beyond the events in Gilead and show the Colonies. The above trailer was recently released.

Syfy has released the first official trailer for Krypton, which premiers March 21.

SciFi Weekend: Twice Upon A Time; Black Mirror Does Star Trek (And More) With USS Callister; Jonathan Frakes on Star Trek Discovery and The Orville; Top New Genre Shows Of 2017

Twice Upon A Time was the final episode of Doctor Who for both Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat. The episode has far more references to previous episodes than I’d attempt to list and makes it clear that it is part of a tradition starting long before either Capaldi or Moffat were involved. It goes back to the first Doctor, starting with black and white footage and the caption “709 episodes ago,” ultimately leading to the words “to be continued.”

We knew it would be continued although both the first and the twelfth Doctor threatened  not to regenerate. Of course we knew that the first had to regenerate as we have seen subsequent Doctors. It was also no surprise that Twelve ultimately decided that, “One more lifetime won’t kill anyone…except me.” Of course each Doctor will give into yet one more lifetime.

The episode differed from a typical episode in that we learned that the Testimony was not really doing anything menacing. (“I don’t know what to do when it isn’t an evil plan.”) Rather than having the universe in danger this was a smaller scale story, only giving enough plot so that we didn’t have the two Doctors, along with the Captain and Bill’s memories, do nothing but talk to each other. This also enabled Moffat to return to his earliest stories. The planet Villengard was from his first Doctor Who story, The Doctor Dances, and Rusty the good Dalek returned from Into The Dalek. The idea of memories living on after death has been seen repeatedly in Moffat’s stories in some form or another.

The year of #MeToo turned out to be the perfect year for Doctor Who to explore sexism, contrasting the first Doctor’s 1960’s attitudes with the present. When the twelfth Doctor said, “You can’t say things like that,” he was not only lecturing someone from the 1960’s, but was also pointing out what he has learned over time. It was an even bigger shock for the first Doctor when he and the Captain mentioned that they have had “some experience of the fairer sex” and Bill responded that she has too. Ultimately the glass ceiling in the TARDIS was broken (along with the entire TARDIS blowing up).

Besides the appearances by David Bradley as William Hartnell’s first Doctor (after having played Hartnell in the An Adventure in Space And Time), and the return of some form of Bill, there were brief cameos by Clara Oswald and Nardole, with the Doctor regaining his memory of Clara. The two characters out of World War I were by Mark Gatiss and Toby Whitehouse, both writers with Doctor Who experience. The Captain also turned out to have yet another role in Doctor Who history as he was ultimately identified as Hamish Lethbridge-Stewart–the grandfather of General Sir Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart,  the Brigadier. (His exact relationship was not mentioned in the episode but SciFi Wire reports that Gatiss referred to his character as the Brigadier’s grandfather in a press Q&A).

Being a time travel story, there was the obvious slip (“Spoilers”) of the Doctor referring to the “War To End All Wars” as “World War I.”  “What do you mean ‘one’?” Plus being a Christmas episode led to the perfect resolution of the Captain’s story with the Doctor returning him a few hours later so that instead of being shot he participated in the Christmas Armistice of 1914

Of course we all knew where this was going as Peter Capaldi gave his final speech on the TARDIS, with advice for his next self:

Oh there it is. Silly old universe. The more I save it, the more it needs saving. It’s a treadmill. Yes, Yes I know they’ll get it all wrong without me. Well I suppose one more lifetime won’t kill anyone. Well, except me. You wait a moment, Doctor. Let’s get it right. I’ve got a few things to say to you. Basic stuff first. Never be cruel, never be cowardly, and never ever ever eat pears. Remember, hate is always foolish and love is always wise. Always try to be nice, but never fail to be kind. Oh, and you mustn’t tell anyone your name — no-one would understand it anyway. Except children, children can hear it, sometimes if their hearts are in the right place, and the stars are, too, children can hear your name — but nobody else, nobody else, ever. Love hard, run fast, be kind. Doctor, I let you go.

Screen Rant provided an explanation as to where the various portions of this speech came from.  Den of Geek also explained:

The twelfth Doctor’s final speech, which was worked on by both Steven Moffat and Peter Capaldi, contains several elements from dialogue past. “Never be cruel, never be cowardly” is a doff of the cap both to The Day Of The Doctor and to 70s script editor Terrance Dicks, who would often cite the Doctor’s lack of these two traits as one of his greatest virtues. “Never eat pears” is a reference to Paul Cornell’s novel Human Nature, in which the seventh Doctor expressed a dislike for pears before taking on human form. A similar line was cut from the 2007 tenth Doctor adaptation with the same name. In Hell Bent the Doctor told Clara never to eat pears, as “they’re too squishy and they always make your chin wet”.

“Be kind” is what the Doctor begged of the Master and Missy back in The Doctor Falls, but it was also said by the tenth Doctor to the Vashta Nerada in Forest Of The Dead. “Don’t tell anyone your name” likely refers to the kerfuffle caused by the Doctor’s name in Matt Smith’s final year, when it was revealed that saying his name on Trenzalore would have reignited the Time War. However, the Doctor did seemingly tell River Song his real name on the occasion of their ‘nuptials’ in 2011’s The Wedding Of River Song – but then, as we’ve been told, ‘the Doctor lies’… The part about the stars and one’s heart being in the right place appears to be the invention of Peter Capaldi, who expressed a similar sentiment at a special screening earlier this year.

Then there was the regeneration energy, the Doctor’s ring fell off, and we had a new Doctor. Just as we first saw Peter Capaldi’s forehead and eyes, this is what we first saw of Jody Whittaker. Apparently us Americans will have to learn to understand Jody Whittaker’s Yorkshire accent. All we heard from her so far was, “Oh brilliant.” Then there was the ultimate cliff hanger as the TARDIS exploded and the thirteenth Doctor was falling towards the earth. Presumably this will enable her to have her own look for the TARDIS, or perhaps she will be without it for a while.

More on Twice Upon A Time, and the question of the Doctor’s real name, here.

Just as Doctor Who incorporated the Doctor from the 1960’s, Black Mirror began its fourth season with an homage to the other classic science fiction show of the 1960’s, Star Trek, with USS Callister. It first appeared as an over-the-top parody of a Star Trek episode, culminating with Captain Kirk kissing all the girls. It turned out to be something completely different. Major spoilers ahead.

While Star Trek type science fiction played a key role in the story, the story was more about artificial reality and about abuse of power. Jesse Plemons played the co-head of a tech firm who did not get much respect on the job, and took it out on sentient digital clones of others in the office. Most had accepted their roles and inability to fight back until a new employee played by Cristin Milioti was brought aboard. The final straw was finding that she had been robbed of her sexuality, and her vagina. She led a successful rebellion, which included blackmailing her real self into helping with revealing pictures hidden online. It all worked out well in the end with the digital clones becoming free of Jesse Plemons and free to explore the digital universe, now with a modern JJ Abrams Star Trek look (including lens flare). Perhaps if Plemons wasn’t so concerned with exercising power and abusing others he could have had far greater adventures in his digital world.

Den of Geek interviewed Charlie Brooker and Anabel Jones about the episode:

This is a brilliant ‘have your cake and eat it’ episode, in that you start with the spoof of the ship navigating the asteroid belt, then by the end I’m watching like this [mimes learning forward, tense] thinking ‘are they going to get through the asteroid belt?!’ How did the layers of that story evolve?

Charlie Brooker: We were on the set of Playtest from the previous season and we were saying ‘we haven’t done a space episode. What’s a Black Mirror space episode?’ and quite quickly we went ‘well, it couldn’t really be in space, it would have to be in a simulation’, then quite quickly again it was like ‘what if there are people who are copied in and they’re trapped in there and it’s like a prison?’

Like White Christmas?

CB: Yeah! And then the captain is the baddie, so it’s like Playtime Fontayne from Viz, who’s a grown man who makes everyone play games like a child. It’s like a nightmare, he’s a tyrant, he’s mad! So then we started calling it Toy Story or Adult Toy Story, we kept calling it…

Annabel Jones: …which then sounded wrong! [laughs]

CB: Relatively quickly those thoughts came together. Then the notion of it being a sort of vintage show that he was obsessed by kind of came in slightly later because we thought, what’s even more unexpected? A), because the world he has created is a throwback and a simplistic interpretation of shows like that. It’s his interpretation of that show, rather than what that show would have actually been, it’s his simplistic fable version of it and it’s quite reductive and out of date. We’re not saying that shows of that nature are reductive and out of date, because they were actually very progressive at the time. His warped version of it.

Partly it also came about because we wanted to have an opening where you go ‘what the fuck is this?’…

He starts as the underdog and I thought I was going to like him, he seemed like my kind of socially awkward guy. Then you see him behaving like a cruel tyrant, ignoring the irony of the speech he gives about the utopian ideals of Space Fleet. He’s like ‘actually, it’s about ethics in space exploration!’ Was that intended as a comment on online fandom and that sort of character?

CB: Not really. It’s interesting because that is a thing that a couple of people have said. That worries me slightly because I don’t want it to be seen that we’re attacking fans of classic sci-fi, that speech is more meant to be a bit of a joke really. He delivers this speech, which presumably he has lifted from an episode of Space Fleet, about the noble ideals of this progressive UN-in-space, and then he turns around and goes “…and you arseholes are fucking it all up!” It’s meant to illustrate the gulf between his fantasy heroics—he wants to be the hero in this make-believe world—and the stupidity and tyranny of what he’s actually doing…

Speaking of influences, there are echoes of that Twilight Zone great episode with Anthony Fremont, the little kid who controls his town and turns people into Jack-in-a-box. Was that an inspiration or just somewhere in the back of your head?

CB: I think at some point I thought ‘hang on, it’s not a million miles away’ because he’s a tyrant, that kid is a dictator that everybody has to be extremely mindful of, that lives in a fantasy world so probably unconsciously there was an element of that. Certainly you could draw a parallel there.

Are you a Star Trek fan? What’s your relationship with that franchise?

CB: I was probably more of a Doctor Who fan as a kid, or Twilight Zone or Tales Of The Unexpected but Star Trek was kind of an anthology show as well in a way. I never really watched the 90s Star Trek series. Will Bridges, who co-wrote the episode, is a big, big, big Star Trek fan, so he was delighted at the chance to do all that. He knew a lot of the lingo.

The episode has a lot of fun with early Star Trek…

CB: Tropes, yes. A lot of that came from Will, he was like ‘Oh, I know! This and that can happen’, so he was having a lot of fun in that respect. I watched The Original Series when I was a kid and would find it terrifying a lot of the time. I think we wanted it to feel, generally, with classic sci-fi, we wanted it to feel more like an homage than an attack.

An affectionate ribbing?

CB: Yeah. There’s a bit of piss-taking going on but really it’s aimed at Daly.

So incurring the wrath of Star Trek fans isn’t something you’re worried about?

CB: Well it’s worrying, because you don’t want to upset people unnecessarily. We’re not saying that is a rubbish show, or it’s a throwback, because again, it was wildly ahead of its time. He says at one point that it was visionary, and that’s true!

Of course this season we have had two different interpretations of Star Trek with new the new shows, Star Trek: Discovery and The Orville. Jonathan Frakes, who has past experience on Star Trek: The Next Generation, has directed episodes of both and discussed this with IndieWire:

Mimicking a variety of styles is something that the veteran director is quite used to doing. In just the last year, Jonathan Frakes directed five episodes of television, including both “The Orville” and “Star Trek: Discovery,” perhaps serving as the ultimate bridge between the two fall TV homages to the “Star Trek” franchise. And according to Frakes, there’s room for both.

“Stylistically, your responsibility as an episodic television director [is] when you do a show like ‘The Orville,’ you want that show to look like ‘Next Generation,’” he said. “And when you go to Canada to do ‘Star Trek: Discovery,’ they want that show to have the feeling, and look, and vibe of the J.J. [Abrams]-era ‘Star Trek.’ Much more cinematic, a lot of crane work, and a lot of movement, a lot of dutch angles. On ‘Next Generation,’ the traditional framing, and the things we became accustomed to as fans of the show, we see in [‘The Orville’] because that’s the look.”

When it came to “The Orville,” Frakes said that “I was afraid that it was going to be like ‘Family Guy,’ and it’s not really, but it’s also not really as serious as ‘Next Generation.’ I think Seth [MacFarlane], and Brannon [Braga], and whoever else is involved in all this, they found a tone that clicks with this audience, either the millennial audience or the old school audience. Everyone is very pleasantly surprised at how well the show has been received. I’m happy to see the homage, and I’m happy to see success for whoever wants to steal good ideas.”

Added Frakes, “It was a very conscious, and I think quite successful, homage. ‘Orville’s’ coming back for a second season, so is ‘Discovery.’ There’s room, obviously, in the fans’ hearts for both types of ‘Star Trek.’”

Star Trek: Discovery and The Orville are just two of the great science fiction shows to premiere in the past year. See SciFi Weekend’s ranking of the Top Ten New Genre Shows Of 2017. (I’m linking to it again today as those who follow links to SciFi Weekend through Facebook groups did not get the link last week as I was back in Facebook Jail last Sunday, with Facebook increasingly interfering with posting links to groups).

SciFi Weekend: Top Ten New Genre Shows Of 2017; Doctor Who News On The Eve Of “Twice Upon A Time”

Doing top of the year lists in television has become increasingly difficult in this age of peak television when there are around 500 scripted shows and it is impossible to watch everything new which is on. I’ve even heard some of the professional television critics admit to this problem and that their lists should realistically be called the Top X Shows Which I Have Watched. As each season adds to the number of shows which deserve to be ranked which I have not seen, I have annually limited my lists to the top new shows of the year. (The Top Twenty New Shows Of  2016 is posted here). In past years I have included all types of television, with a bias towards genre in the rankings. I found that this year I have seen most (but certainly not all) of the new genre shows which I believe are worth seeing, but when all types of shows are considered the percentage drops significantly. Therefore I decided to make the main list the Top Ten New Genre Shows Of 2017 and will mention some additional shows afterwards.

Top Ten New Genre Shows Of 2017

10. The Gifted (Fox)

One of three new X-Men or mutant related shows (with the X-Men and Inhumans possibly to be united if the Disney purchase of Fox goes through). This is definitely the more conventional of the two included on this list, and the mid-season finale opens hope that the show will be expanded from what we have seen so far. It is worth seeing with the combination of Root (Amy Acker) and Vampire Bill (Stephen Moyer), both obviously in new roles.

9. The Defenders (Netflix)

The team-up of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist was more worth watching to see the interactions of these four than for the battle against The Hand. I previously reviewed the series here.

8. The Tick (Amazon Prime)

This was a far better than NBC’s attempt at superhero comedy with Powerless. More on the show here.

7. The Punisher (Netflix)

Technically there are no superhero or science fiction elements in the show but I will include it as it overlaps with the Marvel universe, with Karen Page playing a significant role, and with the Punisher having been introduced in Daredevil. Like the other Marvel shows which are set up as one long story, it might have been better if cut to eight to ten episodes as opposed to thirteen, but they did do a good job of intermixing two related stories in the present along with flashbacks to set up the backstory. I did prefer the government conspiracy story line over The Hand as in the other two new Marvel series on Netflix this year.

6. Runaways (Hulu)

Yet another show based upon a Marvel comic, Runaways in tone is somewhere between the network-friendly Agents of SHIELD and the more adult shows on Netflix. So far it has done a good job of setting up a conflict between a group of teens and their villainous parents.

5. American Gods (Starz)

Bryan Fuller and Michael Green have done an excellent job of adapting the first portion of Neil Gaiman’s novel, but it is now questionable as to whether this will survive with their departure from the show. There is a look at the season finale here.

4. The Orville (Fox)

The show initially appeared questionable when billed as a parody, but over the course of the season Seth MacFarlane learned how to tell serious science fiction stories while mixing in humor. I had brief reviews of each episode, often looking at how well humor was incorporated into the episode, in each week’s post. My review of the season finale was here, with a follow-up look at the first season here. The show is strongly based upon Star Trek: The Next Generation, and many who prefer more conventional Star Trek, as well as episodic television, might prefer this over the other new Star Trek show.

3. Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)

While many fans feel more comfortable with The Orville, Star Trek: Discovery is the more ambitious of the two. Discovery does a far better job than Enterprise did in making a Star Trek show with a more modern television feel, including a serialized format. This is also different from previous Star Trek series in taking place during a time of war, and having a Captain who is far more morally ambiguous. There are also questions regarding continuity which I discussed here. I had weekly reviews of each episode while the show was on, with the review of the fall finale here.

2. Legion (Fx)

Noah Hawley provided a quite original take on the X-Men universe, providing something new and unique to prevent superhero fatigue. My post on the season finale was here.

1. The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

This excellent dramatization of Margaret Atwood’s novel about a dystopian future could have been a great series any year, but its treatment of women seemed so much more relevant at the start of the Trump administration–at time when its horrors seemed a bit more plausible. More on the series here.

Among the shows which I saw but did not make the cut was Iron Fist, the weakest of the Netflix Marvel series. While flawed, it is watchable and does lead directly into The Defenders. If you still have a lot of Marvel shows to watch, put this off. If you plan to watch them all, it might make sense to still watch it before The Defenders.

Two genre series which debuted in 2017 were remakes of past series. The X-Files (Fox) was generally disappointing, but with all the excellent episodes in the past I will still give the next season a try. I previously discussed the show here and here. There was also the return of Twin Peaks (Showtime), which competed with Legion as strangest series of the year. I previously looked at the series here.

There are also some genre shows which I have not seen but which might be worth checking out, such as the time travel comedy Future Man and the anthology series Dimension 404, both on Hulu. The genre show which I haven’t seen which is receiving the most favorable publicity is the German series Dark, available in the United States on Netflex.

There were also a few genre flops in 2017. I gave up on Powerless (NBC) midway through the season. I didn’t watch The Inhumans (ABC) after numerous poor reviews. If interested, Io9 summarizes what happened on The Inhumans for those who stopped watching. Time After Time (ABC) was cancelled before I had a chance to give it a try.

Moving beyond genre, there were also many excellent shows in 2017. There were two excellent dramas dominated by women, Big Little Lies (HBO) and Godless (Netflix), which I am currently in the midst of watching. The three top comedies from 2017 which I have watched also are led by women: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime) from Amy-Sherman Palladino, GLOW (Netflix), staring Allison Brie, and SMILF (Showtime).

While not genre, the CW also premiered another comic based series in 2017, Riverdale, which presents a new take on the Archie comics.

Tomorrow we have a major television event with Peter Capaldi having his last appearance before regenerating into Jodie Whittaker on Doctor Who. Doctor Who News has an interview with Steven Moffat about the show:

What does Twice Upon A Time have in store for us?

There are some new eerie creatures of glass haunting the Doctor and his friends throughout this story – but what their purpose and what their plan is, and what their time traveling machinations are, is going to be a big surprise to the Doctor.

Were there any sets or locations that you particularly enjoyed working on?

There’s a real range of spaces that we visit across the special. We have the inside of a giant stone spaceship full of creepy glass creatures. We’re in the first Doctor’s TARDIS – recreated and brought back from the 1960s to stand proud in the Welsh studios. We’re on a First World War battlefield. And at long last we go to a location that I mentioned in my very first episode of Doctor Who back in 2005, as we visit the ruins of Villengard.

How would you describe the tone of this episode?

This episode is somewhere between a coda and drumroll. It’s a coda to the time of the Twelfth Doctor played by Peter Capaldi, and a drumroll to usher in the Thirteenth Doctor, played by Jodie Whittaker. Approaching it, one issue I had was that The Doctor Falls (this year’s series finale) was the end of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. That episode saw the Twelfth Doctor stating what he stands for and standing on the hill on which he was prepared to die.

That was the end of his story. But – as often happens in stories and real life – it didn’t end there. He kept going, he started to regenerate, so at Christmas what we’re going to see is a man weary and tired and, having made his point and having made his stand and given his life for something that matters, he has to learn just how to carry on after that. But of course this being Doctor Who and Christmas it’s much warmer and hopeful than that, so in perfect timing walking towards him out of the snow he meets earliest incarnation. The William Hartnell version of the Doctor – played now by David Bradley in an astonishing performance – and the two of them are about to regenerate. Tonally it’s about saying “to hell with dying, let’s get on with living”. And what’s more Christmassy that that? It’s the turn of the year, a time for new beginnings, it’s the time when we start climbing back towards the light.

How does the First Doctor look at the Twelfth Doctor?

Well the Doctor never gets on with himself. Arguably he doesn’t get on with himself when it’s just him alone – we had the whole plot of Heaven Sent (in series nine) about that – so he doesn’t get on with himself even when it’s just him. But here I think we have perhaps one of the most interesting instances of the Doctors meeting, because the First Doctor as we know from the show is quite different from the Doctor we know now.

Ultimately he’s the same person – he has the same set of impulses and ideals – but he hasn’t yet become at home with what he’s becoming. If you look at the original William Hartnell series, the Doctor’s starting to fight the good fight, but he’ll arrive in a spot of trouble and generally speaking he’ll only help others out because he needs to get back to the TARDIS. So often there’d be a plot contrivance to stop William Hartnell’s Doctor getting back to his TARDIS and flying out of danger. Slowly that started changing as the Doctor developed as a character. He’d start saying “No I can’t leave yet – not because I can’t get to the TARDIS, but because these people are still in trouble and this evil is still in control. I have to help these people.”

Without noticing it, or it ever being his plan or his intent, he’s starting to engage with the universe and he’d be horrified to think that he’s starting to become its protector. Now, at the end of that lifetime when the First Doctor is facing his end, he doesn’t yet realise that’s what he already is. He’s already the man who rides to the rescue, the saviour of the oppressed, but he doesn’t own up to that. Now he meets the Twelfth doctor, and the Twelfth doctor has been doing this for so long. He’s used to the idea that he’s already Earth’s protector – an idea that completely bewilders his younger – except kind of older self. The thing to focus on this time, alongside the flourishes that distinguish the two doctors – it that they are at very different moments in their lives. The First Doctor is not quite yet the hero we are used to.

How did you feel to be writing your final episode of Doctor Who?

The truth about writing anything is that it’s always difficult. You can change the reason why it’s difficult, but the fact is it’s just always difficult! Throughout writing this I wanted to feel more about the fact it’s the last one I’ll ever write, and I wanted to feel more about it’s the last one Peter will ever play, but the truth is that the technicality and the difficulty and the demands on your creativity – all that overwhelms you to the point where you’re just trying to write a great Doctor Who story! That’s enough to contend with – you can’t have the real life drama of two old Scotsmen making their way to the door.

Once we got into shooting it, however, and especially when we approached filming Peter’s last moments as the Doctor which were done at the end of the shoot, we did talk more about how exactly he should meet his end. We were both very pleased with that final section of the script already, but as we went through piece by piece we thought there were ways to improve it so I’d be banging out new pages each night for us to discuss on set each day. That was so enjoyable and exciting to do – to really feel that we were getting his send off right – that in a way it took whatever emotions we were both having about leaving and put them on screen where they belong. By the time we got to that part of filming I think Peter and I were probably the least emotional on set because we’d put it all in the show!

David Bradley has some advice for Jodie Whittaker:

“Keep it light. Keep it funny,” he offered, adding poignantly: “Have a sense and wonder about the universe and everything in it.”

David Bradley previously told Digital Spy that he had high hopes for his former Broadchurchco-star Jodie’s tenure as the denizen of the TARDIS.

“I was delighted [by the casting],” Bradley told us. “I was wondering if [showrunner] Chris [Chibnall] would pick someone from the Broadchurch cast.

“As we saw in Broadchurch, she’s got this emotional reserve that… there’s no limits. She’s capable of great emotion and passion.”

The TARDIS Yule Log video has some glimpses of Twice About A Time.

Yahoo TV talked with Pearl Mackie about her year on Doctor Who. Here is a portion:

What were the characteristics about Bill that jumped out at you right away?
Well, she’s quite cheeky, which I liked. But she’s also intelligent and doesn’t feel the need to brag about it. It’s very much a part of her, and she’s not ashamed to just say things. She has this confidence that I really engaged with; she doesn’t let her life or experiences get the better of her. She also wants to learn more and is very inquisitive.

We see that in the way she challenges the Doctor from their first meeting. That’s a different dynamic from past companions.
Yeah, and that’s the energy that I felt when I first read the script. There’s an irreverence between her and the Doctor, even though there’s also a lot of respect and they grow to be very close by the end of the series. She’d never be like, “I bow to your superior knowledge.” It’s more akin to, “Well, actually I don’t agree with that. What about this?” I think he respects her for that; they both enjoyed the verbal sparring they had. It’s enjoyable to watch that dynamic.

How quickly did you establish that rhythm with Peter Capaldi?
I met him for the first time in my second audition — my callback essentially. Before that, I’d been reading the script on my laptop with the Facetime camera on, responding to a recording I’d made of myself doing a version of Peter Capaldi reading his lines! The real Peter is a much better actor than that — much more dynamic. [Laughing] When I went into the room, I was absolutely terrified because Peter is not only an incredible actor, but he’s also been playing this character for a long time. We read the first scene of Episode 1, this mammoth six-page scene, and I spent most of it standing there just hoping that what I was doing was right or at least interesting.

Then we did the scene where Bill goes into the TARDIS for the first time, and Peter said, “Do you want to stand up?” I went, “What? OK, sure.” In auditions, you’re supposed to sit still and keep your face as still as possible, but if you’re me, your face tends to move of its own accord. Steven enjoyed that and used it a little bit in the first episode when Bill is standing at the window in the Doctor’s office and says, “I see my face all the time. I never liked it; it’s all over the place — it’s always doing expressions when I’m trying to be enigmatic.” But, yeah, I mainly remember standing there aghast at being in a room acting with Peter Capaldi. Luckily, Bill was supposed to be pretty aghast when she walked in the TARDIS, otherwise we may not be having this conversation today! I think we were both responding to each other quite honestly and seemed to work in a very harmonious fashion.

BBC America posted this thank-you video for Peter Capaldi.

CinemaBlend said Capaldi had this to say about the Doctor’s real name: “I also know his real name. It’s not pronounceable to humans. It’s a frequency that can only be heard of people with good heart.” They went on to add:

To date, that’s one of the best answers someone connected with Doctor Who has given to the question. It’s far better than Matt Smith’s answer from long ago that it was “Drasicanawhocius” or some long name similar that is easily abbreviated by saying “Doctor Who.” It’s also more interesting than the some diehard fans’ explanations that the Doctor’s name is actually a rather hard-to-pronounce set of Latin letters to varying powers. Given that, Peter Capaldi’s response to Radio 2’s Access All Areas (via Digital Spy) should win as it gels with the awesomeness of the Doctor and doesn’t risk the spraining of the tongue muscle trying to pronounce.

While he has some very interesting ideas regarding the Doctor’s name, Peter Capaldi also holds an opinion that may sound like hot take to many Doctor Who fans. In fact, it may trigger some of those fans fans who have battled to keep those outside the fan community from referring to him in a certain way. Capaldi may indeed ruffle some feathers with this statement:
We can get into a fight about whether he’s called The Doctor, or Doctor Who. The reason I call him Doctor Who is because when you’re in the street, people don’t shout out, ‘There’s The Doctor!’ They go, ‘Hey, Doctor Who!’ That’s his street name. His street name is Doctor Who.