SciFi Weekend: Homecoming; Star Trek Wins Governors’ Award & Other News; The Arrowverse; Professor Proton; Tatiana Masslany, Bryan Cranston, and Aaron Paul

Homecoming looks like it should be one of the more interesting genre television shows of the fall season, premiering on Amazon Prime on November 2, with the first four episodes shown recently at the Toronto Film Festival. The series is based on the podcast of the same name, and to give the feel of a podcast will be shown in twenty minute episodes. The TV Addict summarized the plot:

HOMECOMING, the new Amazon Prime Video psychological drama, is based on the podcast of the same name. Julia Roberts stars as Heidi Bergman, a caseworker at the Homecoming Transitional Support Center — a facility that is helping soldiers transition back to civilian life. Enter Walter Cruz (played by Stephan James), a soldier who is eager to move on to the next phase of his life. There’s also Colin Belfast (played by Bobby Cannavale), Heidi’s supervisor who seems to have questional motives.

Fast forward four years, when Heidi has left the center and is working as a small-town waitress while living with her mother (played by Sissy Spacek). A Department of Defense auditor visits her one day to ask questions about the work she did at the Homecoming facility and why she left. As she relays her story, Heidi realizes there’s more to the story than she told even herself.

Besides the strong cast as listed above, the series will be directed by Sam Esmail of Mr. Robot. Deadline spoke with Esmail about both Homecoming and season four of Mr. Robot.

While the network broadcast of the Emmy Awards won’t be on until tomorrow, Star Trek received the Governor’s Award at this year’s Creative Arts Emmy Awards. Above is the video of the tribute to Star Trek. Bill Nye praised Star Trek saying, “It may have started off as an entertainment series but it changed the world — and I feel that it changed the world for the better.”

Deadline discussed the show with several cast members:

Backstage, Koening, Burton, Ryan, Shatner, Martin-Green and Kurtzman talked about how the Star Trek franchise still resonates after all these decades.

“It resonates because we were talking about topical issues and socio-political content,” said Koening, who played the memorable Chekov. He said that it still resonates today.

Burton chimes in, “It’s all about good storytelling.”

“We still worry about living together and having a fruitful and joyful experience,” continues Koening. We are beset with problems that we had in the ’60s.”

As the newest member of the fleet, Martin-Green points out that she hopes Discovery gives justice to the franchise and furthers it. “It was very important to us anew, but be our own at the same time,” she adds.

Kurtzman adds that Star Trek “has been a beacon of hope for so many people for so long.”

The USS Callister episode of Black Mirror, which was a warped homage to Star Trek, also won three awards.

In other Star Trek news, Michael Chabon, who is working on the new Picard series, revealed that the show will take place in 2399. This brings us into uncharted territory, finally showing what happens beyond the 24th century when TNG, DS9, and Voyager took place.

William Shatner has discussed why Captain Kirk was killed.

Episodes on the CBS All Access app will be available for download for offline viewing, including Star Trek: Discovery. There are a few catches. Downloading will only be available for subscribers to the commercial free tier, downloads expire after 30 days, and after watching a show it will only remain available for another forty-eight hours.

Rainn Wilson teased returning to Star Trek: Discovery to reprise his role as Harry Mudd.

Sonequa Martin-Green was recently asked about season two of Star Trek: Discovery:

It’s way too soon to talk in any detail about season two of Discovery, but give us some sort of sense of what fans can expect in terms of the show’s direction, Michael’s path…

Well, I think people expect the fallout from everything that happened last year. There’s so many things that happened. So many decisions were made. So many changes happened. There was evolution in season one, but we weren’t able to dig into it because we were at war. So, you will see all of that. You will see people dealing with what’s left. Dealing with the residual, dealing with, “OK, what do I have now? What have I done? What does that mean? Who am I? Who are we?” You’ll see people asking those questions and seeking to answer them in season two. And there is a lot more…. there’s a little more joy just because we aren’t at war. We’re able to smile a little bit more. There’s a sense of levity that’s there simply because we’re not fighting for our lives.

And Michael will be part of that? Be a bit lighter?

Oh yeah, for sure. There’s certainly a heaviness that is present with me as Burnham, just because of everything that is driving me and because there are deep-seated problems there. So, those are still at play, for sure. But yes, you see the smile, and you see the chuckles that we allow ourselves to have, including Burnham, because we’re not fighting.

How will the presence of Captain Pike affect Michael?

In that big way that a captain affects a ship and a crew. A crew is almost defined by the essence of the captain. We went through the ringer with Lorca, and so there’s a little bit of PTSD there. There’s a little bit of distrust there because of what we’ve gone through and because we had someone who manipulated us and sought to kill us for his own gain. And so, Pike being the deeply rooted good guy he is, he is going to have an effect on us. He’s soothing in that way. He’s comforting in that way. And hopefully you will see us sort of galvanize because of that.

Elizabeth Tulloch of Grimm has been cast to play Lois Lane in the upcoming season’s Arrowverse crossover episode. This adds her to along list of actresses who have played the role, including Margot Kidder, Teri Hatcher, Amy Adams, Kate Bosworth, Noel Neill, Phyllis Coates, Erica Durance, Megan Fox, Uma Thurman, Dana Delany, Mandy Moore, Stana Katic and Pauley Perrette. As previously announced, Tyler Hoechlin will reprise his role as Superman. Cassandra Jean Amell, wife of Stephen Amell, will play Nora Fries, the wife of Mr. Freeze.

Grant Gustin has teased the upcoming season of The Flash in an interview with Entertainment Weekly:

“I don’t want people’s expectations to be through the roof, but I really think this could be very similar to season 1 in [terms of] the heart and humor it had and the scope,” Grant Gustin tells EW.

One thing contributing to the season’s lighthearted tone is the arrival of Barry and Iris’ (Candice) daughter from the future Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy), which essentially thrusts parenthood onto the couple. “They’re learning all of the lessons new parents learn when their kids grow up, but since she’s an adult it sort of adds this heightened scenario to all those decisions,” says EP Todd Helbing.

The CW Network has released the above teaser for Supergirl.

Netflix has released the above trailer for season three of Daredevil.

Bob Newhart will be making a final appearance as the ghost of Professor Proton on The Big Bang Theory.

Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black will be appearing with Bryan Cranston on a Broadway version of Network.

Aaron Paul, who starred with Bryan Cranston on Breaking Bad, will be appearing as a regular on season three of Westworld.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ABC is planning a biracial reboot of Bewitched.

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

SciFi Weekend: The Big Bang Theory Wedding; Anson Mount on Star Trek Discovery; George Kirk Is Still Dead; The Expanse Cancelled By Syfy And Other Renewal/Cancellation News; 12 Monkeys; Bafta Awards

The wedding of Amy and Sheldon occurred on The Big Bang Theory last Thursday. TV Line discussed the episode with Steve Holland:

TVLINE | You mentioned when we spoke last week that Meemaw’s “cameo” was cut for time. Was there anything else you had to lose?
Usually our scripts come in at about 40, 45 pages. This one was about 65 pages. [Laughs] We spent the week [of production] paring it back. There were some jokes here and there that we lost, but I think the episode is stronger for it. We knew we weren’t going to skimp on the vows. We knew we weren’t going to skimp on the wedding. Some of those cuts were painful, but anything that wasn’t servicing [the central story] fell by the wayside.

TVLINE | What was the most painful cut?
Probably the Meemaw phone call. It was a lovely moment. That was a hard one. But it was 35 seconds in a script that was [already] five or six minutes long.

TVLINE | How and when did it come up with the idea to have Mark Hamill be the officiant?
When we first started talking about the wedding, it had come up that maybe one of Sheldon’s friends could get him a surprise officiant. And Mark was the first name on the list, so we reached out to him to see if he’d be interested. We didn’t have a script at the time, so [he] really had to take a leap of faith and trusted that we were going to do right by him… He was the nicest human being you could ever imagine.

TVLINE | Will we see much of Sheldon and Amy’s honeymoon when we pick back up next season?
I don’t know. We have some overall conceptual thoughts about next season, but we haven’t nailed down any of the specifics. But it’s certainly possible. It’s something we have talked about as an option.

More on the wedding last week.

Another cut scene with a tribute to Stephen Hawking was released on Twitter. I really think they should have made an expanded episode for the wedding.

More on the wedding last week.

BleedingCool.com has a guide for for those interested in seeing every moment possible of coverage of next week’s wedding of Prince Henry of Wales and Meghan Markle of Suits. Television coverage starts at 4 am on BBC America, with BBC America devoting more time for coverage than the BBC.

StarTrekMovie.com shows how Anson Mount is turned into Captain Pike for season two of Star Trek:Discovery.

Last week I quoted Jennifer Morrison refer to George Kirk’s “supposed death” in the 2009 Star Trek movie. She later clarified that she was just joking and wrote on Instagram, “I have no idea what they are planning for the next Star Trek. I’ve never talked to anyone involved with the project. I’m excited to watch and see how it turns out just as much as all the other fans.” So he might have never died, he might have died and is coming back, or there will be some timey wimey stuff going on.

Den of Geek summarizes what else is known about Star Trek 4.

We received a lot of news about television renewals and cancellations this week. From a science fiction perspective, the biggest cancellation is of The Expanse. There is talk of trying to get another network to pick it up but Ars Technica discussed why this might be difficult, as well as why it had problems at Syfy. At least there are the novels to find out what happens next.

The one show which so far has been successful in finding a new home was Brooklyn Nine-Nine. After talk of it being picked up by Netflix of Hulu, NBC wound up taking it.

Fox has cancelled The Last Man On Earth, with talk of Hulu possibly picking it up. Otherwise we will never know what is going on with those people who were underground.

Lucifer was cancelled with a huge cliffhanger, causing Fox to once again frustrate genre fans.

Timeless received a reprieve after being cancelled last season and remains on the bubble. Eric Kripke says it could go either way.  NBC has renewed The Blacklist.

The other major bubble show is Agents of SHIELD with no word yet from ABC. (Update: SHIELD has been renewed for a thirteen episode season). It came as no surprise that ABC officially cancelled The Inhumans. It was pretty much assumed that it would not be returning.

The CW Network has renewed The 100 and iZombie. They also announced new series including reboots of Charmed and Roswell.

Syfy has released the above trailer for season 4 of 12 Monkeys, which returns June 15.  All eleven episodes will be shown over four week. Three episodes will air on each Friday for the first three weeks of the season. The two-part season finale will be on Friday, July 6.

The Bafta TV Awards were presented today. Winners include Peakey Blinders for Drama Series and The Handmaid’s Tale for International. The full list of winners can be found here.

As regular readings might guess from the scarcity of the usual comments on the week’s shows, I remain seriously behind following last weekend. Hopefully I can get caught up for some of the season finales coming up imminently.

SciFi Weekend: Late and Abbreviated Wedding Edition Including Star Trek News, Renewals for Westworld & The Handmaid’s Tale, And How To Find Out If Thanos Killed You

There have been reports for a while that Star Trek 4 will include Chris Hemsworth reprising his role as the father of Captain Kirk, despite being killed in the first J. J. Abrams Star Trek movie. Jennifer Morrison might have given away how that can happen while at a panel where she was primarily speaking about her role on Once Upon A Time. From ComicBook.com:

However, her moderator was Star Trek: Voyager star Garrett Wang and Wang began by referencing Morrison’s role as Winona Kirk, the mother of James T. Kirk, in the opening scene of 2009’s Star Trek movie.

Wang said, “As an actor, I think it is incredibly difficult to play the role of a mother who just gave birth to James Tiberius Kirk, knowing that your husband is 36 seconds away from death, basically…”
And that’s when Morrison interrupted and corrected Wang’s statement, saying “Supposed death,” and then smiling to add, “Just saying.”

A reunion between James Kirk and his father is not the only Star Trek related reunion lately. Star Trek: Discovery has begun filming season two, with Jonathan Frakes directing the second episode. He was joined on the set by Star Trek: The Next Generation co-star and eventual on-screen wife, Marina Sirtis.

Two excellent genre series are currently showing their second season. Not surprisingly both  Westworld and The Handmaid’s Tale have also been renewed for a third season.

This week is both a late and abbreviated version of SciFi Weekend. This has been posted continuously every week for over ten years and I was not going to entirely skip a week, but it was also complicated this week as I did not have much time to either watch any of the past week’s shows or read very much on line. That does not mean I did not think of genre. I wore the Star Trek cuff links in the picture above for my daughter’s wedding while my nephew, who also officiated the wedding, wore the Yoda cuff links. The groom wore ones with Darth Vader. There was also a Welcome Reception the night before the wedding which occurred on Star Wars Day (May the Fourth…) and this was reflected at the event. Finally, my speech at the wedding included brief references to Tolkien, Wakunda, Star Wars, and I quoted the great Jewish philosopher Leonard Nimoy in wishing that the newlyweds Live Long and Prosper.

There is another big wedding to come this week. TV Line spoke with, Steve Holland, the showrunner for The Big Bang Theory about Sheldon and Amy’s upcoming wedding.

Finally, while I won’t give any specifics or numbers, I don’t think it is a real spoiler to say that there were many deaths in Avengers: Infinity War. There is a web site to tell you whether you lived or died entitled Did Thanos Kill Me?

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: Stephen Hawking, Scientist & Genre Star; The 100; Martin Freeman on Sherlock; Alexis Bledel on A Handmaid’s Tale; Double Renewal For Eric McCormack–Will & Grace & Travelers; The Americans; Nathan Fillian To Reprise Firefly Role; Saturn Award Nominees

Stephen Hawking died last week leading to recognition not only from the scientific community, tributes from many in actors due to his many appearances on genre television. He was the only historical figure to play himself on Star Trek. In the video above from Star Trek: The Next Generation, Hawking played cards with  Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, and Data in the holodeck. Syfy Wire has several tributes to Hawking from the cast of multiple versions of Star Trek. More at TrekMovie.com.

Sheldon Cooper met Stephen Hawking on The Big Bang Theory in the clip above. TV Line has tributes from the cast of The Big Bang Theory. IO9 has additional television cameos.

The 100 ended last season with major changes, and a quick glance of the future. An extended trailer for the the fifth season has been released, showing a new enemy to contend with. The 100 returns on April 24.

It has been a huge question as to whether Sherlock would return considering how the careers of both stars have taken off. It does not sound encouraging that Martin Freeman will want to return after he said that it wasn’t fun anymore in a recent interview:

In a new interview in The Telegraph, the Black Panther actor was asked if there were any talks about a fifth season of the BBC fan favorite.

“Not massively,” the Dr. Watson actor said. “Um… I think after series four [it] felt like a pause. I think we felt we’d done it for a bit now. And part of it, speaking for myself is [due to] the reception of it.”

Martin, the article explained, was referring to 2017’s fourth season which seemed to struggle to continue building on fans’ expectations of previous outings.

“To be absolutely honest, it [was] kind of impossible,” he explained. “Sherlock became the animal that it became immediately. Whereas even with [the U.K. version of] The Office, it was a slow burn. But Sherlock was frankly notably high quality from the outset. And when you start [that high] it’s pretty hard to maintain that.

“Being in that show, it is a mini-Beatles thing,” he concluded. “People’s expectations, some of it’s not fun anymore. It’s not a thing to be enjoyed, it’s a thing of: ‘You better f—ing do this, otherwise, you’re a c—.’ That’s not fun anymore.”

The Handmaid’s Tale returns to Hulu on April 25. Entertainment Weekly interviewed Alexis Bledel:

This season, we get to learn a lot about Emily’s life from Before. Was her backstory something you’d thought about before this episode?
Yes, I loved filming Emily’s flashbacks. [Executive producer] Bruce Miller and I had talked about what her pre-Gilead life might have been like even before I started working on the first season. I think much of her worldview is informed by her previous life as a professor of cellular biology. Life in the Colonies is a last stop. Emily does not have a great deal of hope for a future there; she knows her days are numbered.

Marisa Tomei costars with you in the second episode. What was that like?
It was amazing to work with her; she’s someone whose work I admire. We had these incredibly dark, dramatic moments to play out that she brought so much depth to.

I keep thinking/wondering what’s worse: life as a Handmaid or living in the Colonies?
Being forced to exist in either Gilead or the Colonies threatens to destroy a person’s soul in different ways. Handmaids are forced to follow an extremely limiting set of rules to comply with the mandates of the Gileadean regime, including the horrific monthly ceremony. Anyone in Gilead would be terrified to be sent to the Colonies. Everything from the soil the unwomen turn over to the water they use to wash is toxic in the Colonies, so a person’s health begins to rapidly deteriorate as soon as they get there. They know they will die there, all the while forced to do hard labor without decent food to eat or clean living conditions.

We are going to be seeing more of Eric McCormack on television next year. NBC has renewed the Will & Grace revival for a second season, and is extending it to eighteen episodes. Fewer people might be aware that Eric McCormack also stars in an excellent Canadian science fiction series called Travelers. The first two seasons were broadcast on Showcase and later shown on Netflix–although once I discovered this show I wound up downloading episodes rather than waiting for it to be available on Netflix.

Travelers has been renewed for a third season, and McCormack will be directing the first episode. However, instead of airing first on Showcase, the show will be shown exclusively on Netflix. I wonder if this was a case of Netflix saving the show if Showcase was not going to continue it, or (I suspect more likely) Netflix has business reasons and the power to take it over.

Travelers is technically a time travel show but the series takes place entirely in the present, with people from the future taking over the consciousness of people at the moments they were to have died. The characters must deal with not only their mission to save the earth , but also must deal with the personal lives of the bodies they take over. I won’t give specifics for those who have not seen it, but the second season ended with major changes for everyone, making fans eager to see a third season.

The Americans returns for its sixth and final season on March 28. FX has released the above official trailer.

Earlier in the week I had this post regarding a social credit system in China which sounds like something out of Black Mirror. It is also reminiscent of Majority Rule, an episode of The Orville.

Storing the contents of one’s brain provided for a fascinating story on Altered Carbon. A company is claiming that they can store the contents of your brain, but there is a huge catch.

Nathan Fillian is going play himself on an upcoming episode of American Housewife, and will be suiting up as Captain Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly.

(more…)

SciFi Weekend: The Flash/ Supergirl Duet; Felicty Smoak, Superhero; The Magicians; Star Trek Discovery Cast; Justice League Trailer; Doctor Who At Comic Relief; American Gods; Riverdale

The DC based shows on CW are beyond their prime, suffering from attempting to have four season-long series simultaneously. I found it to be a welcome break to get away from the usual narrative on The Flash and have the musical cross-over with Supergirl last week. The episode was well received. Synopsis and review at Geeks of Doom. Another review at I09.

The story was briefly introduced at the end of Supergirl, and continued on The Flash, with Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) in a dream-like state, first seeing Supergirl (Melissa Benoist) singing Moon River (video above).

Other musical numbers included The Flash and Supergirl singing, of course, Super Friend in the above video, with amusing references to each series. Characters from both Supergirl and The Flash were included playing different roles, along with other CW characters such as John Barrowman and Victor Garber, both now appearing on Legends of Tomorrow.

Cast and crew discussed the episode in the video above.

Elsewhere in the Belantiverse, Felicty Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards) will be seen in a super hero costume, but it will be on Legends of Tomorrow as opposed to Arrow.

Marc Guggenheim has said that we will not learn the identity of Prometheus, one of the big bads on Arrow, until season six, but it will be someone we already know. He also teased how the season finale will be different from previous seasons in not destroying Star City once again:

As the season heads toward the ultimate showdown between Oliver and Chase, we’re going to be seeing a very different season finale this year. “We’re not going to destroy the city,” EP Marc Guggenheim teases. “We’re not even going to threaten the city. In fact, I can also tell you the finale doesn’t even take place in the city. Finally, the citizens of Star City can breathe easily in May.” Wherever the finale takes place, Guggenheim adds, “You can expect a good number of returning characters, characters you haven’t seen in a while, back in the episode.”

The Magicians also had a major musical number in last week’s episode (video above). Margot once looked like just a sidekick for Eliot, but in recent episodes she has turned into quite a strong character. She is often the most sensible one, who can figure out what to do in a crisis. She had a unique way to prepare Eliot for battle, as described by IndieWire:

“The Magicians” went into battle on Wednesday night and pulled out the ultimate weapon: a Broadway musical song.

In the episode, Fillory’s High King Eliot (Hale Appleman) is about to enter into mortal combat with the King of Lauria, who has never been defeated. Eliot’s right-hand magician and partner in every crime imaginable Margo (Summer Bishil) gives him a pep talk and reminisces about how well he did in a production of “Les Miserables.” Inspired by that success, she used magic to force him and others to perform the number “One Day More” from the musical in order to get him pumped up for his duel.

For the benefit of anyone who might have read Lev Grossman’s novels but haven’t seen the television series, Margo’s character was  named Janet in the books.

Screener interviewed the show runners about this scene, and other aspects of the show. Screener also has an interview with Christopher Gorham about his newly introduced character, John Gains.

Star Trek: Discovery is now in production, with release expected late summer or early fall. Above is the first picture of the cast, via Empire On Line:

From left to right are Jason Isaacs (Discovery’s captain, Lorca), Michelle Yeoh (Captain Georgiou, whose ship is the Shenzhou), Chris Obi (the Klingon T’Kuvma, who is determined to bring together the various Klingon houses), Sonequa Martin-Green (Rainsford, also known as Number One, a lieutenant commander who serves as Discovery’s first officer and the show’s main character); Kenric Green (not actually on the show, but definitely serving as Sonequa’s husband), Doug Jones (an alien science officer aboard Discovery), James Frain (the Vulcan father of Mr. Spock, Sarek), and Shazad Latif(Kol, a commanding officer of the Klingons).

Other cast members of the show not featured in this image are Terry Serpico as Starfleet Admiral Anderson, Maulik Pancholy as the Shenzhou’s chief medical officer, Nambue; Sam Vartholomeos as junior officer Connor, assigned to the Shenzhou; Mary Chieffo as L’Rell, a Klingon battle deck commander; Mary Wiseman as Starfleet cadet Tilly, who is assigned the Discovery, and Anthony Rapp as science officer Stamets.

The Justice League official trailer has been released (video above).  Learn what Bruce Wayne’s superpower is, and how he feels about playing well with others. Here is the synopsis of the movie:

Fueled by his restored faith in humanity and inspired by Superman’s selfless act, Bruce Wayne enlists the help of his newfound ally, Diana Prince, to face an even greater enemy. Together, Batman and Wonder Woman work quickly to find and recruit a team of metahumans to stand against this newly awakened threat. But despite the formation of this unprecedented league of heroes—Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash—it may already be too late to save the planet from an assault of catastrophic proportions.

Further discussion here.

The BBC released the above video last week:  “To celebrate Red Nose Day today we present the full 1999 Doctor Who Comic Relief special The Curse of Fatal Death. Starring Rowan Atkinson, Richard E. Grant, Jim Broadbent, Hugh Grant and Joanna Lumley as the Doctor, written by Steven Moffat.” I09 wrote how this has forshadowed the Moffet era:

One of the other truly fascinating things about 1999’s “The Curse of Fatal Death” is how it previews a number of things from the show’s revival years later: the tried and weary Doctor, the Doctor and Master’s complicated one-upmanship, making the romantic love between the Master and Companion explicit, same for that between the Master and the Doctor (although, it’s the Doctor who is female in this, and not the Master), etc. I’m actually most disturbed by the idea of the Dalek-Time Lord hybridization, since it reminds me of the horrible Dalek plot in “Daleks in Manhattan/Evolution of the Daleks.”

The other thing that makes this short more relevant than before is the flurry of regenerations at the end. Both Moffat’s time as showrunner and Peter Capaldi’s time as the Doctor are coming to an end soon, and people really want a Doctor who isn’t a white man. For proof that it would work fine, check out Joanna Lumley at the end of this. She’s great!

Starz has released the above trailer of American Gods. Nerdist interviewed the cast at South By Southwest.

The Big Bang Theory has been renewed for two additional seasons.

Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa spoke with Entertainment Weekly, teasing further genre elements in the show. There was no definite answer regarding fan theories that zombies will be involved.

All We Hear About Is Trump, But The Resistance Is Winning (So Far)

If you feel that all we hear about these days is Donald Trump, you are right. Due to a combination of factors including his breaks with conventional norms and his own use of social media, Donald Trump is dominating the news more than is usual for a newly-elected president. His impact on the media extends beyond the conventional news. Farhad Manjoo even found a way to measure this:

Consider data from mediaQuant, a firm that measures “earned media,” which is all coverage that isn’t paid advertising. To calculate a dollar value of earned media, it first counts every mention of a particular brand or personality in just about any outlet, from blogs to Twitter to the evening news to The New York Times. Then it estimates how much the mentions would cost if someone were to pay for them as advertising.

In January, Mr. Trump broke mediaQuant’s records. In a single month, he received $817 million in coverage, higher than any single person has ever received in the four years that mediaQuant has been analyzing the media, according to Paul Senatori, the company’s chief analytics officer. For much of the past four years, Mr. Obama’s monthly earned media value hovered around $200 million to $500 million. The highest that Hillary Clinton got during the presidential campaign was $430 million, in July.

It’s not just that Mr. Trump’s coverage beats anyone else’s. He is now beating pretty much everyone else put together. Mr. Senatori recently added up the coverage value of 1,000 of the world’s best known figures, excluding Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump. The list includes Mrs. Clinton, who in January got $200 million in coverage, Tom Brady ($38 million), Kim Kardashian ($36 million), and Vladimir V. Putin ($30 million), all the way down to the 1,000th most-mentioned celebrity in mediaQuant’s database, the actress Madeleine Stowe ($1,001).

The coverage those 1,000 people garnered last month totaled $721 million. In other words, Mr. Trump gets about $100 million more in coverage than the next 1,000 famous people put together. And he is on track to match or beat his January record in February, according to Mr. Senatori’s preliminary figures.

This includes Trump dominating conversation beyond the news. He is everywhere on Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and Reddit. He comes up elsewhere:

It wasn’t just news. Mr. Trump’s presence looms over much more. There he is off in the wings of “The Bachelor” and even “The Big Bang Theory,” whose creator, Chuck Lorre, has taken to inserting anti-Trump messages in the closing credits. Want to watch an awards show? Say the Grammys or the Golden Globes? TrumpTrumpTrump. How about sports? Yeah, no. The president’s policies are an animating force in the N.B.A. He was the subtext of the Super Bowl: both the game and the commercials, and maybe even the halftime show.

It is impossible to ignore Trump. His impact has been seen in many areas already, but probably the most on immigration. This excites the haters on the right, and is met with appalled criticism from others. The New York Times is not exaggerating in writing, Mr. Trump’s ‘Deportation Force’ Prepares an Assault on American Values.

Probably the most fearful narrative about Donald Trump is that he is an authoritarian, in Putin’s mold. There has been increased attention paid to George Orwell’s  1984 and other books about authoritarianism. Jonathan Chait has looked at these fears:

The prospect that President Trump will degrade or destroy American democracy is the most important question of the new political era. It has received important scholarly attention from two basic sources, which have approached it in importantly different fashions. Scholars of authoritarian regimes (principally Russia) have used their knowledge of authoritarian history to paint a road map by which Trump could Putinize this country. Timothy Snyder, Masha Gessen, and other students of Putin’s methods have essentially treated Putinization as the likely future, and worked backward to the present. A second category of knowledge has come from scholars of democracy and authoritarianism, who have compared the strengths and weaknesses of the American system of government both to countries elsewhere that have succumbed to authoritarianism and those that have not. Their approach has, more appropriately, treated Trump’s authoritarian designs as an open question. Trump might launch an assault on the foundations of the republic. On the other hand, he might not.

What are the signs of impending authoritarianism? Trump has rhetorically hyped violence, real or imaginary, committed by enemy groups, while downplaying or ignoring violence or threats from friendlier sources. He said nothing about a white-supremacist terror attack in Canada that killed six people before denouncing a knife attack a few days later by an Islamist radical in France that killed nobody. He quickly directed a government program on countering violent extremism to focus exclusively on Muslim radicalism and stop work halting white-supremacist terrorism. Just as he urged his campaign crowds to rough up protesters, he treated news that pro-Trump bikers would patrol his inauguration not as a threat to create chaos but as a welcome paramilitary force. “That’s like additional security with those guys, and they’re rough,” he gleefully told reporters. Trump’s rhetoric follows a pattern of politicizing violence, simultaneously justifying stringent government action against enemies he has designated while tacitly justifying vigilantism by extremists sympathetic to his cause.

Since his election, Trump has obsessively fabricated a narrative in which he is the incarnate of the will of the people. According to his own concocted history, he won a historically large Electoral College victory, and would have also won the popular vote if not for millions of illegal votes. He has dismissed protesters against him as paid agents, denied the legitimacy of courts to overrule his actions, and, most recently, called mainstream media “enemies of the people.” This is an especially chilling phrase to hear from an American president. Totalitarian dictators like Stalin and Mao used designation of a political figure or a social class as an “enemy of the people” as a prelude to mass murder.

Fortunately, while Trump has done many undesirable things, the talk of the loss of American democracy remains only talk. Checks and balances on the presidency still work. We are seeing the start of a strong anti-Trump protest movement. While far too many liberals were willing to ignore Hillary Clinton’s extremist positions on American interventionism, with many even defending her positions on Iraq, Libya, and Syria, and ignore her views on restricting civil liberties which are nearly as far right as those of Donald Trump, the left (and others) are already forming a resistance against Trump. Chait notes that, at least for now, the resistance has the upper hand:

It is worth noting that, so far, normal political countermobilization seems to be working quite well. “The Resistance,” as anti-Trump activists have come to be known, has already rattled the once-complacent Republican majorities in Congress, which Trump needs to quash investigations of his corruption and opaque ties to Russia. Whatever pressure Trump has tried to apply to the news media has backfired spectacularly. His sneering contempt has inspired a wave of subscriptions that have driven new revenue to national media, which have blanketed the administration with independent coverage. Popular culture outlets, rather than responding to Trump’s election by tempering their mockery, have instead stepped it up, enraging the president.

The most plausible (to me) mechanism by which Trump might ensconce himself in power was laid out by Matthew Yglesias three months ago. The scenario Yglesias described would be one in which Trump used the authority of the federal government to compel large firms to give him political support. Companies that opposed him, or who even refused to offer support, might be punished with selectively punitive regulation, while those that played ball might be rewarded with lax enforcement of labor, antitrust, or other regulation.

So far there is no evidence such a scenario is playing out. To be sure, Trump is attempting, sporadically, to bully the private sector. But the effort has backfired. Firms whose leaders make favorable statements about the president have seen their stock get hammered. A long list of prominent CEOs has openly criticized Trump. The reason for this is obvious. Trump’s supporters may have disproportionate power in the Electoral College, but his opponents have disproportionate power in the marketplace. Firms cater in their advertising to the young, who overwhelming oppose Trump, rather than to the old, who strongly support him.

If Trump has a plan to crush his adversaries, he has not yet revealed it. His authoritarian rage thus far is mostly impotent, the president as angry Fox-News-watching grandfather screaming threats at his television that he never carries out. The danger to the republic may come later, or never. In the first month of Trump’s presidency, the resistance has the upper hand.

SciFi Weekend: Timeless; Legion And Other Wednesday Genre Shows; Doctor Who; Renewal And Returning Show News; A Sci-Fi Explanation For Donald Trump; Oscar First Thoughts

Timeless started out the season as an entertaining time travel series, even if not the most significant genre show on at present. As it approaches its season (and possibly series) finale, the show has gotten even better as the Rittenhouse backstory progressed, and the series moved on from its initial formula. Screenrant looked at Why Everyone Needs To Be Watching This Time Travel Show.

TV Line spoke with producers Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan about Timeless:

TVLINE | How would you preview the finale?
SHAWN RYAN | I’m proud of the finale. It answers a ton of the questions that we’ve raised. We’ve had a pretty good plan from the beginning of the season. There are things that happen in the finale that we had plotted out in our first couple weeks in the writers’ room back in June. We’ve known for a while that we were going to make 16 episodes this season, so we were able to plan for that and build to this…

TVLINE | The last episode left off on quite a cliffhanger, with Rufus in very dire straits. How that will play out in the finale?
ERIC KRIPKE | It’s not so much about whether Rufus will live or die, because — spoiler alert! — he lives. He’s one of our main characters and a popular one, and we’re not going to kill him. So as long as there’s a Timeless, Malcolm [Barrett] has a reasonable amount of job security. It’s more about the storyline that it leads to. Rufus is unable to pilot the lifeboat alone because he’s wounded, and so he needs some help, which comes from some unexpected places, and it kind of turns the story into a new direction, and then turns again.

I think the show’s gotten better and better the more we’ve focused in on and doubled down on the characters. The thing I’m most proud about in the finale is that it’s really a character piece. So many finales, especially the genre shows, are just about people running around and fighting, and ours really digs down to the thematics and the character issues that our people have been facing all year. It’s a uniquely thoughtful and emotional finale, and I’m really proud of it because of that.

TVLINE | How much did not knowing whether the show was renewed or not impact the finale and how you chose to end it?
RYAN | It did not have a great impact. We had a story that we wanted to tell from the beginning. We’re moving forward optimistically. We think there will be a Season 2. I’ve been in a situation before on Last Resort, where it was clear as we were making Episodes 10 and 11 that the show wasn’t going to continue, and we chose at that point to write what was essentially a series finale for Episode 13 to give closure. I think there are a lot of reasons for optimism for a Season 2. We’ll find out in two or three months. We’ve always set out to tell this one-season story that then would provide a launching point for a Season 2, but that would answer a lot of things, and I think we did it. We didn’t have any conversations where we were pulling out ratings and trying to do the math. We’re just writers, and we told the best story we could. So we’ll let the chips fall where they may.
KRIPKE | When you write these things, you plan for success. You just sort of have to, and whatever happens happens. But you write it as if the show’s coming back, because I think doing it any other way, you’re compromising the story you set out to tell.

Legion remains one of the more intriguing shows of the last  couple of years, and is already being compared to recent greats like Mr. Robot and West World. It deals with mental illness and an unreliable narrator as in Mr. Robot. While it might not be a major feature of the show after the premise is established, it handled time jumps far better than West World. While the themes are quite different, it also raises comparisons to Noah Hawley’s recent work on Fargo, in which Hawley adapted another universe in his own way. Uproxx interviewed Noah Hawley:

When you first got the material, what was going in your head in terms of how you wanted this to look?

When I sat down to write it, there was nothing specifically contemporary about it, but I don’t think I assumed it wasn’t a contemporary story. Then, I guess we talked about, since the movies jump from decade to decade, should we be in there somewhere? Then it just seemed to me like the subjectivity of the show gave us this opportunity to create a reality and I don’t know why, I just found myself drawn to these ’60s movies, British ’60s movies; Terence Stamp movies and Quadrophenia. There was a sense of the young punks and these are a band of outsiders and there is that sense of teenage rebellion that exists in this thing. In a modern day sense I think we’re over that and yet there’s something about that period in us that makes something familiar unfamiliar.

It started with just thinking like, “Well, let’s embrace the brutalist architecture and let’s not have any cars, because cars date something, so then if you’re in a reality without cars, where are you when you’re outdoors?” We shot on this University of British Columbia campus where there were no cars allowed. Then the hair and the costumes, this idea of the track suits that they’re in and all of that was a process of figuring out what it was and then the music plays into that as well. This idea, as I said to our composer Jeff Russo, that the show should sound like Dark Side of the Moon, so he went out and he bought the patch cord synthesizer they use in the show.

It is this mixture of visuals and the sound and music of it that’s trying to create something that’s not about information but that’s about experience.

Yeah. It’s almost a ‘60s vision of what the future would look like.

Right. Some of the elements seem futuristic and some of them seem dated, but I wanted there to be a certain whimsy to it as well, and a playfulness. I always loved about that genre and genre in general was the pure inventiveness of it and the way like a science fiction story. The example I give is Battlestar Galactica, the remake. It’s the Cylons who have God. It takes God and it takes robots and it creates something completely new. It’s not something that you would do in a drama. It’s something you would only do in a genre and so what are the genre elements that will allow us to take a show that would work as a dramatic story, two people in love, trying to define themselves rather than being defined by society and it turns it into something that I hope every week there’s something that blows your mind a little…

David alone has, in theory, an infinite number of powers. You get a bunch of these other characters with their own abilities that seem to, for the most part, be your own creations, so you can give them the powers to do whatever you want. What was that process like of figuring out, for instance, what Syd can do?

For me it was about creating characters and saying, what makes a tragic love story? A tragic love story is about people who want to be together but can’t be together for one reason. If they physically can’t touch then that creates this seemingly unleapable obstacle. Then it became about her having a power where she couldn’t be touched, and obviously I think there are characters in comic book lore who have different versions of, “If you touch me, something happens.” I took the creative license to say, “Well this is my version of that.” The danger with a character with a hundred issues of mythology is you’re always turning around and realizing you can’t do something because someone’s going to get mad or it’s going to conflict with what they know and it’s going to be confusing.

It just seemed more and more that I could take David and take this multiple personality disorder that he has in the comic and I could create a sort of metaphorical version of that, which is not to say we won’t ultimately realize that’s what he has, but it’s to say that that’s not what he’s diagnosed with in the show. Then to surround him with characters of my own invention so that I’m not hamstrung about what stories I can tell.

There has been a recent TV trend of unreliable narrators. How do you keep the audience from looking at the show as a puzzle to solve?

You have to solve the mystery. The narrator has to become reliable. It’s a lot to ask an audience to take a perpetually unsatisfying journey where it’s like you’re never going to know for sure. It’s another thing to say, “We’re going to take a character out of confusion into clarity and an audience out of mystery into clarity.” That’s the goal of it which is to say, there’s a contract and you watch that first hour and you like, “I don’t know. There’s a devil with yellow eyes and there are these other elements that I’m not sure what they mean, but I trust the filmmaker and I know that I’m going to understand it eventually.” You do. It becomes clear by the end of the first year what’s going on.

Before this era of peak TV, The 100 might have been the top genre show on of the night. Now it shares the night with Legion, The Magicians, The Expanse, and Arrow. The 100 really deserves more attention than I’ve been paying to it, but TV Line does have some comments on the revelations in Wednesday’s episode.

Spoiler TV reviewed last week’s episode of The Magicians in the aftermath of Alice’s death.

Plus information from the producers on Arrow here and here.

Vox has more on The Expanse.

Although they have no inside information, and the decision probably won’t be made for several months, the odds makers seem to like Tilda Swinton as the favorite to replace Peter Capaldi on Doctor Who. Chris Chibnall will be making the actual decision, and says it will be made in the traditional way:

We’ll cast the role in the traditional way: write the script, then go and find the best person for that part in that script. You couldn’t go out and cast an abstract idea.”

He adds: “The creative possibilities are endless, but I have a very clear sense of what we’re going to do, without even knowing who’s going to play the part.”

Steven Moffat says that Chibnall did try to convince Peter Capaldi to stay. He also says he does not plan to write further episodes of Doctor Who for a while after he leaves as show runner. He seems to have thrown all his ideas into Doctor Who the last several years, but perhaps he will come up with something new down the road.

Odds are looking good that The Big Bang Theory will be renewed for two additional seasons.

Fox has renewed Lucifer for a third season.

I gave up on Once Upon A Time a while back, and  from the ratings it looks like many others have too. The producers are talking about wrapping up the current narrative at the end of season six, and possibly rebooting the show in a different direction for a seventh season.

Fox is considering a reboot of Firefly, but only if Joss Whedon is on board. That makes perfect sense. I question if there is any point in rebooting the show, as opposed to leaving it as a brief , but excellent, old series. I really see no point in having someone else do a reboot.

Netflix has announced that Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt returns on May 19.

Outlander returns in September. The production is moving to South Africa, which might be a stand-in for Jamaica.

Goliath has been renewed for a second season.

The Flash deals in multiple parallel universes, including the one in which Supergirl takes place. Screen Rant explains the most important Earths in the CW multiverse. This got me thinking after hearing Donald Trump’s comments on what appears to be an alternative Sweden…

It increasingly looks like the best explanation is that Donald Trump and his top aides have been replaced by their counterparts from an alternate universe in which there have been terrorist attacks in Bowling Green, Atlanta and Sweden. Also, in their universe, Barack Obama really was a Muslim born in Kenya, and scientists never did figure out the connection between human action and climate change. Presumably orange skin and that hair are also commonplace there too.

I’m still racing to catch as many of the top Academy Award nominees as possible by next Sunday. Looking at the favorites, at this point I enjoyed La La Land and am okay with Emma Stone as Best Actress, but I would not pick it as Best Picture. Based upon what I’ve seen so far I’d go with Arrival, but not expecting a science fiction movie to win, I’d also pick Lion above La La Land. It would be a toss up with Manchester by the Sea, depending upon whether I want a more upbeat or downbeat movie. Casey Afflect is justifiably a strong contender for Best Actor.

This could change by next week. My immediate goal is to at try to get in Hidden Figures, Fences, and Moonlight before the awards.

SciFi Weekend: Top Twenty New Shows Of 2016; Mary Tyler Moore and John Hurt Die; Genre Novels In The Age Of Trump; Riverdale Premieres

With over four hundred scripted shows (expected to surpass 500 in 2017) it is probably impossible for any one person to fairly rank the best of any season. Even many professional television critics, who don’t have another day job interfering, have said  how difficult it is to watch all the shows to do their end of year rankings. To make it more manageable, and to get around problems of listing the same top shows every year, I have limited this to the best new shows every season. Last year’s list is here and the top new shows of 2014 were listed here.

It got even harder this year with so many new streaming shows, some not dropping until December. In order to include more shows, I waited until the end of January to post the list. As usual, there are shows which I have heard very good things about which I have not watched at all. I put in a couple of shows towards the end of the list which I only watched parts of the season, and might rank them higher if I were to watch more. Also, as usual, it is very difficult to compare shows from different genre’s, or shows watched months apart. If you disagree with some of the rankings, it is very likely I also might agree and rank them differently if I were to do this on a different day. The real point of lists such as this is to point out shows which were worth watching.

Top 20 New Shows Of 2016

20. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (CW Network)

If based upon the premiere of the show in early 2016, this show would not have made the list, however it was much better when it returned for a second season in the fall. If you gave up on it last year, as I almost did, it is worth another look.

19. Class (BBC)

A Doctor Who spinoff aimed at an older audience than TheMary Jane Adventures. Torchwood (in its early years) remains the only spinoff I consider must see, but fans should find this enjoyable. It aired in the UK last fall, and will be shown in the U.S. this spring after Doctor Who. While I understand the decision in the U.S., I personally found it to be of more value as a fall show to fill the gap when, besides the Christmas episode, there was no true Doctor Who.

18. Fleabag (Amazon Prime)

I wasn’t as in love with this show as the critics, but if you have Amazon Prime, it is well worth checking it out and deciding for  yourself. The entire season is only about three hours, making it essentially a long movie. There is a definite payoff to some of the events of the season in the finale.

17. Atlanta (FX)

Another show which many would probably rank higher. I started watching when it premiered, but then it got forgotten in September because of a combination of being busy with personal matters and the premiers of all the fall shows. It very could rank higher after I see more.

16. Dirk Gentry’s Holistic Detective Agency (BBC America)

A fun and very quirky genre show which, by the end, definitely qualifies as science fiction.

15. Billions (Showtime)

An entertaining cable series. It’s most important benefit was to give Damian Lewis somewhere else to go to make sure they didn’t get desperate and try to bring him back to life on Homeland.

14. Speechless (ABC)

A few years ago it looked like network sitcoms were on the verge of death, beyond The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family. ABC has managed to continue to make worthwhile sitcoms with the Modern Family formula, including Black-ish, Fresh Off The Boat, and now Speechless.

13. Goliath (Amazon Prime)

Billy Bob Thorton makes what could have been a run of the mill lawyer show well worth watching

12. The Crown (Netflix)

A young queen ascends to the thrown in a high budget presentation. She receives advice from the prime minister and is married to a foreigner played by Matt Smith, who adds a bit of whimsy to the show.

11. Victoria (ITV and PBS)

A young queen ascends to the thrown in a not-so-high budget presentation. She receives advice from the prime minister and is married to a foreigner. This also has strong connections to the Doctor Who world including Victoria being played by Jenna Coleman, with supporting cast including Eve Myles from Torchwood. It doesn’t have the budget of The Crown, but in deciding upon the ranking I deferred to my wife’s opinion. This aired in the UK last fall and recently started airing in the United States on PBS.

10. Luke Cage (Netflix)

The latest introduction of a Marvel character on Netflix. It could not meet the extremely high bar set last year by Jessica Jones, but was better than the second season of Daredevil.

9. The Magicians (Syfy)

Much more than an adult Harry Potter, but that would make a starting point to explain what this series is about. Yes, it did technically have an advanced showing of the pilot in 2015, but I’ll still consider this to essentially be a 2016 series. I watched the uncut episodes later in the year, and the editing for television on the premier episode of the second season last week was noticeable.

8. The Good Place (NBC)

A sitcom which has a continuing story, a genre element, discusses philosophy, plus has Kristen Bell and Ted Danson. Extra points for having one of the best plot twists on television in recent years.

7. This Is Us (NBC)

I thought that quality drama was dead on NBC with the ending of Parenthood, but this fills the gap. It had a fairly good twist of its own in the pilot but, unlike in The Good Place, I saw this one coming. The bigger surprise was that Mandy Moore could do such a good job acting. Sure it is full of old television cliches and spends most episodes tugging at the heart strings, but it does a good job of it.

6. 11.22.63 (Hulu)

Received mixed views but I thoroughly enjoyed this adaptation of the Stephen King time travel novel. (No comparison between this and the messed up adaptation of  Under the Dome). More on the show here.

5. Travelers (Showcase and Netflix)

Another low budget Canadian science fiction series filmed in Vancouver. This one is well-written and highly recommended, plus now easily available in the US on Netflix. The premise is that travelers from the future send their consciousness back to our present to prevent an apocalyptic future, taking over the bodies of people at the time of their recorded death. (I was  hoping that something like this would happen on January 20.) Besides having to attend to their mission, the travelers have to cope with the lives they took over–and sometimes their information was a bit off.

4. The Night Of (HBO)

A great self-contained story which shows both problems in the criminal justice system and xenophobia.

3. The Night Manager (BBC and AMC)

An excellent adaptation of the John le Carré novel. It was such a success that BBC and AMC are planning a second adaptation.

2. Stranger Things (Netflix)

The surprise hit from last summer. The series, with explanations of the finale, was discussed here.

1. West World (HBO)

The most discussed new show of the season, with mainstream critics also falling for this science fiction series. I looked at the show at various times, with a discussion of the season finale here.

There are also shows which might make the list which I did not see. I didn’t see any point in rehashing the O.J. Simpson story, but note that The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story  (FX) has received considerable critical acclaim. Many other shows, including genre dramas such as The OA (Netflix) and comedies such as One Mississippi (Amazon Prime) are also recommended by many people.

In past years I have found shows which I did not see when new, but saw them in subsequent years and thought they deserved to be in my rankings. This year I caught up on season one and two of Dark Matter (Syfy) and loved the show. I then tried Killjoys (Syfy) and didn’t get into it. I only watched the first episode, which might not be enough to judge it. I also thought that perhaps I was expecting Dark Matter and it might be better to watch some other shows before trying it again so I could judge it on its own merit.

It is notable that, once again, cable (both basic and premium), British imports, and especially streaming, dominate the list, with very little from the major American networks.

2016 ended with the loss of one beloved actress, Carrie Fisher, and began with the loss of another, Mary Tyler Moore. Later in the week, John Hurt died. While he is more famous for other roles, among science fiction fans he might be best remembered as the War Doctor for the Doctor Who 50th anniversary.

The past two weekends also were dominated by protests against Donald Trump. Earlier this week I looked at one good thing to come from Trump’s election–people are talking about books. This includes the classic 1984, as well as two other novels in which populist authoritarians became president. Even Doctor Who has been cited in discussion of the alternative facts coming from the Trump administration.

This week included the return of several genre shows, as well as the premiere of The CW’s reimagination of Archie comics, Riverdale. After watching Riverdale, I have three questions:

1) Who killed Jason Blossom?
2) What real teen talks about Truman Capote and about Mad Men by season?
3) And the old classic question, Betty or Veronica?