SciFi Weekend: Prospects For Doctor Who Looking Better, A Look At The Last Three Episodes; Star Trek Calypso; Stan Lee Dies

We now have three more episodes of Doctor Who since my last full review, and I am now feeling more optimistic about the series under Chris Chibnall. The first of these three however, The Tsuranga Conundrum, had me still wondering about story plots. If Steven Moffat tended to try to throw out too many big ideas in his stories, I felt like The Tsuranga Conundrum just had too many small stories thrown together.

The episode followed a common formula of getting the Doctor and companions into an alien base or spaceship, and then fight a menace. This was done in a unique manner as they were wounded in a sonic minefield, and then picked up by a hospital ship. This is the second time this season that they faced a near death situation, but were picked up by others.

The Doctor was asked what she is a Doctor of:  “Medicine, science, engineering, candyfloss, lego, philosophy, people, hope. Mostly hope.” We were also treated to a lesson on antimatter, in which the ship’s engine was described as  “the iPhone of CERN reactors.”

The alien menace, Pting, gave the feeling that they were battling Stitch. Pting isn’t directly menacing, but does eat everything, and is invulnerable to any form of weapons. Therefore the danger was that the ship would be eaten away while they were in space. The other danger turned out to be the ship’s own self-destruct system, leading to the obvious solution of feeding the bomb to Pting, and punting him out into space.

The heart of the episode was meeting the other patients, such as a male in labor. On his planet males gave birth to males, and females gave birth to females. As I said, it was an episode of lots of small ideas.

The meeting with another patient demonstrated that another Moffat-era idea is totally gone. At the conclusion of The Wedding of River Song, Matt Smith’s Doctor felt he had become too big: “I got too big. Too noisy. Time to step back into the shadows.” He started to write himself out of history in a big Moffat idea which never really went anywhere, and seemed to be forgotten in the Capaldi era. We saw that this idea is totally dead when the Doctor met General Cicero, who spoke about how the Doctor had a chapter in The Book of Celebrants, which appears to be a record of major heros in the galaxy. The Doctor responded, “I’d say it was more a volume than a chapter.” So much for writing himself/herself out of history.

My hopes for the series increased tremendously with Demons of the Punjab. The episode is the second historical drama of the season. It has similarities to Rosa, except is about a topic which Americans such as myself are likely to know far less about. The story begins when Yaz requests to see her grandmother Umbreen when younger, and the Doctor agrees to go back for one hour, with no interfering. That was an early clue that they would be there for far more than an hour, and would wind up getting involved in the events. This includes officiating the wedding (which she has also done for Albert Einstein).

The title of the episode, and much of the early action, was total misdirection. Initially it seemed that the aliens were the menace, and the goal would be, like in Rosa, to prevent an outsider from altering what should occur. Instead it turned out that the Vajarians, while initially assassins, had changed their goal to become witnesses for the unseen dead in response to the destruction of their own planet. (I wonder if they ever bump into the beings seen in Twice Upon A Time who harvested the memories of the dead.)

While Krasko might have been a villain in Rosa, the true villain of the episode was racism, and Krasko was removed from the story before the end. The Vajarians remained, but were shown not to be a threat well before the end of this episode. The demons were actually the humans, and the religious division and hatred, turning brother against brother. I wonder if the story might have been even stronger if left as a pure historical drama, but apparently it was felt that some sort of alien threat was needed for an episode of Doctor Who.

The author was certainly interested in the history and appears capable of writing an episode based on this. Vinay Patel tweeted, “There are so many stories to be told about Partition – this is only one, and whilst it was an honour to tell it, I’d urge you to seek out more. Hopefully the previous tweets will help with that. Thanks for having me in the Whoniverse.” This included a tweet with a few of the many books he read to research this episode.

This might not be the only episode in which the title was a red herring. Just as the demons were not the monsters in the title of this episode, was The Woman Who Fell To Earth the Doctor, as we first thought, or was it Grace, who fell to her death?

The episode was also like Rosa in that the characters had to allow history play out. It was hard for Graham to be a part of the events of Rosa, sitting in the front of the bus, and now hard to watch Brem get shot. Failing to allow events to play out would not have hindered the civil rights movement like in Rosa, but could have prevented Yaz from ever being born.

Besides showing more about Yaz’s family history, there was more fun interplay between the Doctor and companions. Last week the Doctor awarded points. This week Ryan earned a gold star. Will this drive sticklers for continuity crazy?

We have already seen that the Doctor is more kind and nurturing than Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. In this episode she claimed that she is too kind because her predecessor told her to be kind, referring to the speech in Twice Upon A Time just before the regeneration.

The Vajarians also turned out to be much like the Doctor, who was initially shown in the revival of the series to be the last of his kind after the destruction of his planet. Of course we now know that the story is more complex. This sense of loss fits in well with the works of Chris Chibnall, with Broadchurch being largely about the effects of the loss suffered by Jodie Whittaker’s character after the murder of her son.

My optimism for the future of the series increased further in seeing today’s episode, which I will not say much about to avoid spoilers as it has not yet aired in the United States. Kerblam! is in many ways the best episode of Doctor Who this season. Rosa and Demons of the Punjab might have been better in terms of dealing with serious historical issues, but Kerblam! felt the most like a good old fashioned fun Doctor Who science fiction story. More on this episode next week.

The second Short Trek is written by Pulitzer-prize winning author Michael Chabon along with Discovery staff writer Sean Cochran. Charbron wrote this story based upon the story of Odysseus landing on the Isle of Calypso from The Odyssey. The protagonist, Craft, is in an escape pod picked up by the Discovery one-thousand years in the future. The crew is gone, but there is an AI named Zora who is delighted to have the company after having been alone. We never learned why the Discovery is abandoned. Most likely we will never know this, but it is possible that there are plans to tie this into the events of a future episode. We also do not know how or when ship computers become as advanced as Zora, the AI in this episode.

Syfy Wire discussed the episode with Michael Chabron who suggested that “all of the computers in Trek lore have the ability to do what Zora does in this episode, but maybe they’ve just been suppressed.”

“In my mind, in the 1,000 years she’s been alone, she may have been all kinds of people, a whole library of personas. But Zora is the one she chooses to present to Craft,” Chabon told SYFY WIRE. “She had a lot of time on her hands and went through many incarnations. She may have had a male persona and a female persona and all kinds of persona. She also consumes massive amounts of media. Every film ever made. I mean, a starship like that could have a media library representing the cultural output of hundreds of civilizations over tens of thousands of years.

“So she’s kind of become an expert on how human emotion works, how moral quandaries work and how that kind of thing manifests itself. She’s made a study of it, and so she’s able to produce this magnificent persona. That’s what she’s been doing with herself.”

He discussed artificial intelligence further in the interview:

“At what point does a synthetic intelligence become so indistinguishable from a human consciousness that we have no choice but to acknowledge this as human?” Chabon says. “I wanted this guy to be confronted with a kind of indisputable reality. And he brings it on himself when he invites her to represent herself. Up until that point… He’s safe. But at that point, he can’t deny that she is a person in some way and that he is attracted to her.”

The ending of the episode finds Zora releasing Craft from exile aboard the empty USS Discovery. We have no idea why the ship is empty or whether this even is the version of the Discovery we know so well. The episode isn’t interested in answering any of those questions, just telling a story. Having said that, Chabon does seem to casually suggest a huge change to Star Trek canon. Are the computers aboard all these starships capable of becoming this self-aware?

“We don’t have any kind of indication from Discovery that the ship’s computer is that much more nuanced than ships’ computers have tended to be on Star Trek for a while,” he says. “I don’t think we ever see characters interacting with the ship like it was a person. Maybe that’s done by design? So maybe that’s how ship’s computers are intended to be. And maybe there’s some kind of discouragement in place to keep them from becoming too human in some way.”

Chabron is also a writer for the upcoming series based on Jean-Luc Picard. Seeing his work in this brief episode makes me optimistic about the upcoming series.

There is also talk that Michelle Yeoh might also star in a future Star Trek series on CBS All Access. Most likely it will continue stories of the Mirror universe Captain Philippa Georgiou in Section 31.

The biggest genre story of the week was the recent death of Stan Lee. It should not be necessary to say anything regarding the importance of his work. I09 has accumulated some of the many tributes to Stan Lee.

Douglas Rain, the voice of HAL in 2001, A Space Odyssey, also died recently.

SciFi Weekend Preview

Since the last full post, we have had two additional episodes of Doctor Who. If Steven Moffat tried to throw out too many big ideas, Chris Chibnall throws out a whole lot of small ideas in The Tsuranga Conundrum. Then history got personal in Demons of the Punjab. In both, Chibnall tried to avoid having any real monsters.

Star Trek returned with a new Short Trek, Calypso, written by Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon.

I have had to postpone the full post on these topics, and more, for later in the week.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Arachnids In The UK; Penny Dreadful Returning; Marvel Television Crossover Hinted; Arrowverse Crossover and News on The Flash

Arachnids in the UK provided both a horror story before Halloween and political satire just over a week before the midterm elections in the United States. These two components were not entirely successful, but there was a third aspect of this episode of Doctor Who which was a success, redeeming the episode.

The main story line was fairly weak (as many episodes of Doctor Who tend to be), and its fairly minimal importance was seen in the way it was wrapped up quickly. Rather than being a true monster, the spiders were simply normal spiders who grew to be too big and lacked an ecosystem to exist in. The solution played into the anti-gun sentiments seen earlier this season, but is it really more humane to let them suffocate as opposed to shooting them quickly? I could see earlier seasons solving the problem more humanely by transporting the spiders to a new planet where they could live in peace. While the episode did provide a quick solution for the spiders in the hotel, it also seemed to forget that there were additional spiders around the apartments seen earlier in the episode.

Chris Noth added the political aspect for the episode and, like the spiders, fell short of being the outright villain of the episode. He played an American businessman who aspires to be president, builds luxury hotels around the world, loves to fire people (including Yaz’s mother), sees guns as the solution, uses words such as “fire and fury,” and hates that a woman (the Doctor) is the one in charge. He also hates Donald Trump, whom he is clearly modeled upon, and plans to run against him. I had expected to see Jack Robertson die a horrible death, being eaten by the spiders. Instead this only happened to his poor bodyguard. The episode ended with Jack Robertson seeing himself as the hero, and ready to go on to attempt to become the next president. This would have been the true horror of the story if not for the fact that we already have Donald Trump as president. This does leave open the possibility of Robertson becoming a recurring character, possibly with Chris Noth returning to play the next president sometime in the future.

As political satire, this was fairly weak considering it adds nothing to the vast work satirizing Trump, other than copying some of his obvious characteristics. I suspect that Chris Chibnall did not want to get overly specific so that the episode will still hold up over time. While many future viewers might forget many of the specifics of the Trump years, I doubt anyone will forget the basic outline of Trump as shown in the episode.

The episode works best if seen as the conclusion of a trilogy to establish the Doctor and her new companions, beginning with The Woman Who Fell To Earth and The Ghost Monument. These show the Doctor meeting her future companions, getting to the TARDIS, and ultimately getting home after a series of adventures–with Rosa showing only one of these as a side story to this trilogy. After this series of adventures, the TARDIS made it back to Sheffield.

The revival of Doctor Who has been stronger by showing the families of many of the companions, allowing the companions to be more complete people as opposed to simply people traveling with the Doctor. The episode concentrated on showing Yaz’s family, but also went back to Graham’s loss of Grace and building a relationship with Ryan.

Until they returned to Sheffield, the three were with the Doctor by accident, and the goal was to return them home safely. Now they had a choice, and the Doctor even warned them of the dangers of traveling with her. This especially makes sense considering the fates of many of her recent companions. I imagine that it is easier to write a companion out by having a tragic outcome than showing that someone would just decide that they no longer wish to travel on the TARDIS.

The episode also suggests further expansion of the Doctor’s backstory. Steven Moffat had set up the possibility of a Timelord changing gender, but now we are hearing suggestions that the Doctor has also been a woman, had a family, and had a life we do not know about. Peter Capaldi, speaking of the Master, has said, “I think she was a man back then. I’m fairly sure that I was, too. It was a long time ago, though.” This episode was more explicit. The Doctor said she used to have sisters, and that she herself was once a sister in an aqua hospital, which was a training camp for space assassins. As we know very little of the Doctor’s life before becoming a Timelord, there is no contradiction with the Doctor having had sisters. However, for the Doctor to have once been a woman, this would mean that William Hartnell was not the first Doctor. Older episodes did sometimes hint at previous regenerations before Hartnell, but for this to have been possible it would have been necessary for the Doctor to have been granted additional regenerations in the past. We did see this was possible with Matt Smith.

In other Doctor Who news, it appears that instead of a Christmas special there will be a special on New Year’s Day this year. This does help as they appear to have run out of ideas for a Christmas tie-in for the series. I imagine that for some viewers in the UK, this might not matter much, unless people really care about the tradition. Watching in the United States, I would prefer a special on Christmas Day, and lacking a connection with the holiday would be fine. There is very little new American television around the holidays, and I’ve gotten in the habit of downloading Christmas specials from the UK that day. However, New Year’s Day is taken up by football here.  At least the streaming channels will fill in for the lack of Doctor Who on Christmas Day if my wife and I wind up staying home and watching television.

The Hollywood Reporter has a story on a new version of Penny Dreadful, with new cast and new location:

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels opens in 1938 Los Angeles for a story that Showtime describes as “a time and place deeply infused with Mexican-American folklore and social tension.” Rooted in the conflict between characters connected to the deity Santa Muerte and others allied with the devil, City of Angels will explore a mix of the supernatural and the combustible reality of that period, creating new occult myths and moral dilemmas within a historical backdrop. The series will feature all new characters and storylines.

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels will have a social consciousness and historical awareness that we chose not to explore in the Penny Dreadful London storylines,” Logan said Thursday in a statement. “We will now be grappling with specific historical and real-world political, religious, social and racial issues. In 1938, Los Angeles was facing some hard questions about its future and its soul. Our characters must do the same. There are no easy answers. There are only powerful questions and arresting moral challenges. As always in the world of Penny Dreadful, there are no heroes or villains in this world, only protagonists and antagonists; complicated and conflicted characters living on the fulcrum of moral choice.”

There have been hints about a cross-over between Marvel’s Runaways and Cloak & Dagger. Comicbook.com reports:

“It can reference the rest of the world, but it’s true to teenagers — they’re not interested in what Tony Stark is doing this week or what Matt Murdock is doing this week but they might be interested in a couple of kids who live down in New Orleans and what’s going on there.”

That’s fitting because both Tyrone Johnson and Tandy Bowen have been members of the Runaways team at some point along in the Marvel comics mythos. Now that the characters are played by Aubrey Joseph and Olivia Holt, respectively, that’s a scenario that’s entirely plausible in live-action.

In fact, Cloak & Dagger showrunner and executive producer Joe Pokaski has previously said the powers that be have had conversations on how to make crossovers happen.

Chicago, as opposed to Vancouver, will provide the background for Gotham City on the Arrowverse Elseworlds crossover episodes this season. We will be seeing Ruby Rose as Batwoman, and seeing a Black Suit Superman, but it has been confirmed that Batman will not appear.

CBR.com reports that Flash’s most iconic villains might be returning for the 100th episode:

DC World writer Paul Edwards attended an autograph signing at MCM Comic Con London. While there, he talked with actor Tony Todd, who previously provided the voice for Flash villain Zoom. During a conversation about Todd’s acting, the former Candyman star explained that he had just finished filming episode 100 of Flash. When asked if he would be reprising his role as Zoom, Todd replied, “They are all returning, all the speedster villains, and they all want a piece of Barry.”

…Executive producer Todd Helbing teased a big twist for the series at this year’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, so this might be what he was referring to. The eighth episode of Flash Season 5, which will premiere on Dec. 4, will be the series’ 100th episode. Tom Cavanagh, who plays various versions of Harrison Wells on the show, will direct.

You might have noticed that Joe West has not been doing much on The Flash this season, generally sitting in scenes. TVLine has the reason for this:

I’m hearing that Martin suffered a back injury over the hiatus. In fact, a studio rep confirms for TVLine that the actor will be taking a medical leave from the CW hit, adding: “We wish him a full and speedy recovery and look forward to his return as Detective Joe West.” (It’s unclear at this time exactly when and for how long Joe’s absence will be felt on screen, but sources tell me it will be addressed at some point.)

Fortunately it should be easy to have a reduced role for Joe, and write him out for a while, without causing serious problems for the stories.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Rosa Review And Spoiler-Free Comments On  Arachnids In The UK; Timeless Finale; Star Trek Jumps Ahead 1000 Years, And Other ST News; The Orville Season 2 Trailer; Two Series With David Tennant

I will avoid spoilers for today’s episode of Doctor Who, Arachnids In The UK, as it has not yet been seen by those in the United States who wait to view it legally. The episode, like many episodes of Doctor Who, has its faults, but was still thoroughly enjoyable. It is best viewed not as a stand-alone episode but as part three of a trilogy which establishes the new Doctor and companions, beginning with The Woman Who Fell To Earth and The Ghost Monument. During the events of this trilogy, the group underwent an unknown number of adventures as the TARDIS failed to return home until Arachnids In The UK. We only saw one of these adventures, but Rosa is certain to become a classic episode of Doctor Who.

Rosa is a return to historical episodes of Doctor Who. It could be seen as a children’s educational show, including a recap of the significance of the story at the end. Then, being Doctor Who, there was a trip to see the asteroid named after Rosa Parks. However, it does not tone down the issues for children, showing the horrors of racist socient. The episode realistically shows racism as not being something isolated to certain evil individuals, but as the atmosphere of the time and area.

The companions worked well with the story, starting with Ryan experiencing racism when he simply tried to give a woman her dropped glove. Racism was similarly seen in other situations including in a restaurant, a white-only hotel, and, obviously for this story, on the bus. Racism was shown to be different with Yasmin, with the locals not being as clear as to where she fits in, with Yasmin even being mistaken for a Mexican. Yasmin was not welcome in the restaurant, but could sit with the whites in the front of the bus. Racism was as illogical in the episode as in real life.

Strangely nobody seemed disturbed that a woman was dressed like the Doctor in pants and an unusual shirt in 1955 Alabama.  Rather than deal with this, the episode did include a joke about the Doctor being the street artist Bansky. Plus Graham identified himself as Steve Jobs.

As with many historical Doctor Who episodes, there is an outside villain, but Krasko really isn’t all that memorable. (Similarly, does anyone recall the monster from Vincent and the Doctor?) Krasko just served to set up the situation of forcing the Doctor and her friends to make sure history played out correctly. Krasko did also show that Chris Chibnall isn’t totally ignoring the Moffat years, even if he is avoiding his characters. Krasko was recently released from Stormcage, where River Song was also imprisoned. A neural restrictor in his brain prevented him from directly killing–even if he could still conspire to do evil. His weapon was a version of how the Weeping Angels dispose of people, sending them to another time. Theoretically Krasko could appear again, but it is questionable as to whether there is any point in it.

One challenge in a story such as this was that the Doctor could not be the hero as usual. Rosa Parks had to be the star, and Vinette Robinson handled this very well in a story written by Malorie Blackman and Chris Chibnall. In many ways this felt more like an episode of Timeless than Doctor Who, with the stars concentrating on thwarting the efforts of someone who was trying to change the course of history.

The episode required an unusual victory, with the arrest of Rosa Parks hardly being a positive outcome unless viewed in its historical context of sparking protests. Graham was upset with being a part of this, being one of the whites on the bus who led to Rosa Parks being put in a situation where she was ordered to give up her seat, crying “No, no, I don’t want to be a part of this!” Graham actually seemed to have less understanding of racism and the civil rights movement than might be expected after he was married to a black woman. The episode even began with Graham first thinking of Elvis as opposed to racism when he learned they were in the south in the 1950’s.

Yaz clearly understood the significance of the events they were involved in: “I can be a police officer now because people like Rosa Parks fought those battles for me. For us. And in fifty-three years, they’ll have a black president as leader. Who knows where they’ll be fifty years after that? That’s proper change.”

As I mentioned above, last week’s episode of Doctor Who was structured more like an episode of Timeless than a typical episode of Doctor Who. Unfortunately Timeless will only be around for a tiny fraction of the time Doctor Who has been on the air. At least NBC has agreed to a television movie to wrap up the series, and the air date was announced last week. From Entertainment Weekly:

Timeless will air one last, well, time, on Thursday, Dec. 20 from 8 to 10 p.m. on NBC.

We’re told the episode is “an epic, unforgettable thrill ride through the past, present and future, with a healthy dose of Christmas spirit. Spread across three centuries and two continents, the finale will test Lucy, Wyatt and the entire Time Team like never before as they try to #SaveRufus, preserve history and put a stop to Rittenhouse once and for all.”

The next Short Trek jumps to one thousand years after Discovery, placing it beyond anything we have seen so far in the Star Trek time line. The above trailer has been released with the episode to be released on CBS All Access on November 8.

Following is the synopsis for the episode, written by Michael Chabron: After waking up in an unfamiliar sickbay, Craft (Aldis Hodge) finds himself onboard a deserted ship, and his only companion and hope for survival is an A.I. computer interface.

Not all of the upcoming series will be as big as a new series staring Patrick Stewart. Another new series has been announced, this time an animated comedy. From TrekMovie.com:

For the first time since the 1970s, Star Trek is getting animated. This morning CBS announced they have given a two-season order for Star Trek: Lower Decks, which is being developed by Mike McMahan, who recently won an Emmy for his work on the popular animated series Rick and Morty.

Star Trek: Lower Decks will be the first animated series for CBS All Access, and will be a half-hour comedy focused on the support crew serving on one of Starfleet’s least important ships. There are no details yet on what Star Trek era the show will be set in.

Mike McMahan also wrote the upcoming Harry Mudd-centric Star Trek: Short Treks. A longtime fan, back in 2015 he published the officially licensed Warped: An Engaging Guide to the Never-Aired 8th Season, which arose from @tng_s8 his popular parody Twitter account about an imagined eighth season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

We have seen some of the technology from Star Trek become real, and now there is an effort to make a working holodeck. From TrekMovie.com:

Roddenberry Entertainment, owned by Rod Roddenberry, son of Gene Roddenberry, is teaming up with a number of technology companies working to make the Star Trek holodeck a reality. The partnership will leverage Light Field Lab’s revolutionary headgear-free holographic displays and OTOY’s ORBX Technology, the industry’s first open source and royalty-free format for rendering media and real-time graphics on Light Field Lab’s holographic display panels.

Original holographic content for the new system is in active development, spearheaded by Ari Emanuel, CEO of Endeavor, and Rod Roddenberry, CEO of Roddenberry Entertainment, and also an executive producer on Star Trek: Discovery.

“The concept of the Holodeck was extremely important to my father as well as the Star Trek Universe,” said Rod Roddenberry about his late father, Gene Roddenberry, the creator of Star Trek. “I want to see Star Trek’s technologies made real, and for the very first time, now believe that a real Holodeck is no longer limited to science fiction. Although it’s early days, my father would be beyond excited to know his vision is coming into reality thanks to OTOY’s trailblazing light field rendering, and the revolutionary holographic display systems created at Light Field Lab.”

The Orville was the last Star Trek related series billed as comedy before Lower Decks, but has turned out to be more. The above trailer for season two was released along with information on the release date. The season will premiere on December 30 after a football double header, and then return to Thursday nights.

ComicBook.com added:

The series is adding Jessica Szohr as a new series regular and Chris Johnson in a recurring role in its second season. A veteran Star Trekwriter was also brought on board as an additional executive producer, and multiple Star Trekactors will guest star.

Star Trek: The Next Generation star and director Jonathan Frakes will also contribute to the new season of The Orville. At a convention, Frakes spoke about the series in comparison to CBS All Access’s Star Trek: Discovery.

“The Star Trek that we have has really found its voice, and Discovery has really found its voice,” Frakes explained earlier this year. “And The Orville has filled in a void. For a lot of people, The Orville is their new Star Trek because it does tell stories like [The Next Generation], and it’s got wild humor in it.

“[Seth MacFarlane] clearly wanted [The Orville] to look like [The Next Generation].” Frakes added. “So, he hired the cinematographer [Marvin Rush] and the camera operator, and Brannon Braga, who wrote First Contact among other things that are fabulous. Robbie Duncan McNeill, one of our wonderful directors from Voyager, James Conway, who directed a bunch of great Next Gen episodes; he hired me. He filled the room with Next Gen people so that the show would look and feel like it. I think he did it.”

So far I’ve only watched the pilot for Camping, but the show looks like a terrible waste of the talents of Jennifer Garner and David Tennant. At least Garner’s role, while wasting her talents, was the dominant character in the pilot, while Tennant was totally wasted. Fortunately David Tennant will be appearing in other roles. This includes staring with Martin Sheen in an adaption of Neil Gaiman’s book Good Omens. Amazon has released the following trailer:

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.”

 Sc

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.