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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TV Line interviewed the Discovery show runners about the episode:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: The X-Files Returns; Star Trek Discovery Starting Second Half Of Season; Jodie Whittaker On Doctor Who

The X-Files returned last week and, after so many good seasons, there was no question but to give it another chance despite a disappointing season two years ago. My Struggle III wound up retconning much of what occurred in part II (last season’s cliff hanger season finale). The events, including the plague, the breakdown of civilization, and the alien spaceship at the end, apparently are prophesies while Scully is actually in a coma, and none of it has happened yet (if ever). Normally I might object to getting out of a cliff hanger in such a manner, but it is probably better for the show that they reset like this. It just lowers my view of the tenth season a bit more, while giving me more hope for this season.

Overall it was a good episode, and I hope that they do include more of the mythology, as opposed to going to stand-alone monster of the week episodes until the season finale as they did last season. Besides the retcon of cliff hanger, they went back and revised more of what we thought about the show, spending a lot of time on events dealt with during the regular run of the series. This included a lot with the Cigarette Smoking Man (always a plus for an X-Files episode), and especially with his involvement with William’s birth. If he sees himself as William’s father, I guess this means that William is Mulder’s half-brother rather than son.

Other developments include finding that Monica Reyes (Annabeth Gish) is working quite closely with the Cigarette Smoking Man, and there are new characters involved in the big conspiracy. Jeffrey Spender is also more important, as long as the season involves the search for William. The entire end-game has also changed, with the aliens no longer wanting to colonize the earth as we have made it too hot. Apparently there is some good to come from global warming.

The episode also showed the moon landing as being faked, which I was disappointed in, finding this to be a bit too much tin-foil-hat even for The X-Files. Yes, part of X-Files is accepting a lot of alien conspiracy stuff as real for the fun of the series. I wouldn’t have minded if they did something like having aliens on the moon at the time of the landing. However X-Files is about believing that a lot of science fiction stuff is real, not denying space travel which has actually occurred.

Where ever they go this season, I do hope that they end with a satisfactory conclusion (even if leaving some things open), especially as Gillian Anderson says she will not return to The X-Files (or American Gods), and Chris Carter doesn’t plan to continue without her. Of course actors have been convinced to change their mind in the past about returning to a role.

Star Trek:Discovery returns tonight–but why couldn’t CBS stream it a little earlier so we could watch it before the Golden Globes start? Tonight’s episode, Despite Yourself, will be the one directed by Jonathan Frakes, and is rumored to involve the Mirror universe. The producers are teasing what we will see in the second half of the season, via AV Club:

The Discovery EPs talked about keeping the workplace safe for women and promoting greater representation on and off screen, which remained a part of the discussion even when reporters were green-lit to go off topic and ask about what viewers can expect from the second half of the show, which returns January 7.

Berg advised fans to “buckle up,” because the show is “introducing a huge new development.” “It’ll be fun for Trek fans,” Harberts chimed in, teasing a “nice nod to stuff from [The Original Series]. This back half—what happens tomorrow night firmly anchors the back half to the season. It’s definitely again a war story, as far as how it’ll play out, but our characters find themselves in a place where their identities are challenged. It’s an emotionally wrought back half. Very intense. The cast has done some amazing work.”

As far as what thematic arc we can expect from the Trek series that the EPs and network have regularly touted for its more serialized storytelling, Berg invoked the “discovery and self-discovery” themes that have been a part of Burnham’s story this season. “She had a big hole to climb out of emotionally, spiritually, and how she feels she fits in the world. [This second half] is about getting her back to a place we saw her in in the beginning.”

“Redemption’s a huge theme,” Harberts adds, which is something the show’s producers and writers are probably hoping for after the first half of season one was deemed not quite Trek enough by some viewers. “The other thing that’s a huge theme for us is taking the Federation from the darkness into the light. Everybody wants this optimistic version of Star Trek right out of the gate. And I feel that our show has a lot of hope in it from episode to episode, depending on storyline we’re tracking.” So if you’ve found the show somewhat grim (this particular writer hasn’t), stay tuned, because Harberts says “by season’s end, people will see the Federation they’ve come to know and love from TOS on.”

When The A.V. Club asked Berg and Harberts about Georgiou’s sudden departure, the EPs pointed to the upcoming episode. Berg calls the relationship between Georgiou and Burnham “such a core relationship for the entire spine. Our goal was always to keep Captain Georgiou alive on the show.” Cutting herself off to avoid revealing too much, Berg then says, “The joy is in the journey. I’d say, keep watching, because Georgiou is such a huge part of the heart who was Michael Burnham. If that’s something you’re invested in, keep watching because I think you hopefully will enjoy what we’re going to do.” “Once you watch episode 10, you’ll see the context that we’re playing in,” Harberts adds. “Another theme for the back half is second chances. As people are consuming the back half, keep that in mind.”

As for what we can expect from the back half of season one, the war story will continue, but there will be less Klingon and subtitles. “We still stand behind that decision,” Berg says, because it made sense for the story of the nativist Klingons. But Harberts also indicates there will be “a little less reading involved” going forward.

I previously speculated that we might see Captain Georgiou alive in the Mirror universe, or some other parallel universe. Perhaps we will find out if that is the case tonight.

Doctor Who Magazine has an interview with Jodie Whittaker which includes the above picture of her as she will be dressed on Doctor Who. Whittaker also discussed the significance of her new role on Doctor Who in an interview with Total Film, calling it “fucking brilliant.” A synopsis from Digital Spy:

In an interview with Total Film, Jodie acknowledges how the very act of her casting as The Doctor may already have opened up doors for other actresses.

“This is the defining moment of my life,” she tells the magazine. “I feel old enough for it. And I feel like I understand how important it is, and I’m so excited that the role models for young children, boys or girls… or teenagers, or adults, come in different forms.

“There’s nothing unattainable about me. I don’t look like I’ve been carved out of rock. I don’t sound like I’ve had the extraordinary glamour.”

The actress then explained: “For me, knowing what I thought were my limitations as a person and an actor, because this industry is about, ‘You sound like this, you look like this’… but I’m normal.

“And that was exciting to [Broadchurch co-star and former Doctor] David [Tennant] – it was a superhero he could play. And now it opens it a little wider, to women as well.

“It’s amazing to be a milestone, but how wonderful if it wasn’t, if it was just accepted, embraced. I’m not dissing the moment – it’s f**king brilliant – but hopefully when other people grow up, it’s not so much of a surprise.”

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

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

Top Ten New Genre Shows Of 2017

10. The Gifted (Fox)

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

9. The Defenders (Netflix)

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

8. The Tick (Amazon Prime)

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

7. The Punisher (Netflix)

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

6. Runaways (Hulu)

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

5. American Gods (Starz)

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

4. The Orville (Fox)

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

3. Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)

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

2. Legion (Fx)

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

1. The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How would you describe the tone of this episode?

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

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

How does the First Doctor look at the Twelfth Doctor?

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Bradley has some advice for Jodie Whittaker:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; The Orville; Black Mirror Does Star Trek; The Tick; The X-Files; The Punisher; The Magicians; Doctor Who; Gal Gadot On SNL

The third episode of Star Trek Discovery, Context Is For Kings, was like a new pilot, with last week more of a prequel. They finally introduced the Discovery and Captain Lorca. Do Discovery’s call letters, NC1031, mean that this ship falls under Section 31? While James Kirk and Benjamin Sisco have bent the rules at times, Lorca goes far beyond what we have ever seen on Star Trek before. Typically Star Fleet captains who behaved like him have turned out to be the villain, not heroes. Lorca also has that strange menagerie, including an apparently neutered Tribble, while ten years later Kirk will know nothing about them. Perhaps he uses the Tribble as a way to detect any Klingons who might attempt to infiltrate the Discovery.

Lorca claims to have permission from Star Fleet to do whatever it takes to find a way to beat the Klingons. This appears to have included orchestrating the rescue of Michael Burhnam from the shuttle, even if it meant allowing the shuttle pilot to die. Apparently he has enough clout to keep Burnham as part of his crew if he has her on board, but not enough to simply request that she be transferred from prison to his ship. Obviously it was more dramatic this way.

Burnham did appear beaten at the start of the episode. I had expected to see the standard troupe of having her rescue the shuttle, but that did not occur. She did return to her usual self over the course of the episode. Thanks to Burnham, we see why Star Fleet abandoned the ineffective breath detector as a security device. Once on the away team, she was the one to save the rest. Beyond the breath detector dying out as a security system, it makes sense that black alerts didn’t catch on. While dramatic to hear them announced, it would be quite hard to visualize the flashing lights of a black alert.

The first two episodes provided a familiar type of Star Fleet ship, with Burnham having a conventional relationship with her Captain, until the mutiny. Even granting that Burnham was wrong in her actions, she is now being unjustly blamed for the entire war, which the Klingons appeared determined to start regardless of what she did. Lorca, Burnham, and Saru have a relationship somewhat analogous to the Kirk, Spock, McCoy threesome from The Original Show, although with major differences. They apparently have forgotten about sun glasses in the future and it is far too early for Geordi La Forge’s visor, making it difficult for Lorca to go on away missions due to the injury to his eye. With Saru also not appearing to be well suited for away missions, this makes it plausible that Burnham might lead them instead of the  more senior officers which typically (and perhaps foolishly) led them in the other series.

Burnham’s relationship with Lorca is also different from the start with Lorca believing that Burnham is forced to be loyal to her because he is the one giving her a fresh start. On the other hand, it might become significant again that Burnham was willing to defy her captain when felt to be necessary. If Lorca does turn out to be the villain, Burnham might be called on to turn against her captain once again.

There have been some complaints that this does not feel like Star Trek, but we must consider that the series is unique in taking place during wartime. Consider how different everything felt on the episode Yesterday’s Enterprise. Deep Space Nine did not feel like conventional Star Trek, either before or during the Dominion War. If this is a Section 31 vessel, it might also seem different regardless of circumstances.

Being a Section 31 ship would help explain how we are seeing things which are not known on board the Enterprise ten years later. It is also possible that their research turns out to be dead ends, too dangerous to allow many to know about, or perhaps the Discovery is destroyed like its sister ship. It does appear that the writers have considered such continuity issues in various interviews.

Jason Isaacs has discussed some of the questions I raised above in interviews, and discussed other aspects of Captain Lorca. From TV Guide:

Why does Lorca have a room full of animals?
We’re losing this war and I’ve been given license to do whatever the hell is necessary to try and see if I can in any way shift the odds. And so I have in my private study area, anything I want including weapons, gasses, poisons, creatures… Anything that, if examined correctly, might give us an edge because we need something to turn the tide in the war. And that’s why someone like me has been given this ship and given license to go off and — not under the glare of anyone else’s spotlight — see if I can come up with a solution, any kind of creative solutions to this problem of imminent destruction.

So the tardigrade might be one, some of the Klingon weapons I’ve got might be it… The spores might be it. I just need something and I need it fast and I need people to help me, and hence, one of the reasons why I get Michael Burnham to be on my team. She is someone who’s prepared to break the rules… Someone who’s really smart strategically and someone who I think will ultimately be loyal to me since I’ve given her a second chance at life.

From Entertainment Weekly:

You still get the sense that Lorca will do anything, even if it’s off-book, to accomplish the ultimate goal against the Klingons — and possibly other agendas.

He just wants to win the war. This is 10 years before the series that people fell in love with Kirk and Spock, before the Federation directive comes out, before people are exploring peacefully. This is a time when the Federation might not be there tomorrow morning. All of the high-minded ideals will go out the window once everyone around them is incinerated and Lorca thinks he sees that modern man. He thinks he’s going to win this war by any means necessary and they’ve kind of given him license to do it, because they’re terrified and they’re right to be terrified. So he’s on this science ship, which is not the ideal vessel, got some possible breakthrough technology, but there’s a lot of work to be done there, and he’s got a bunch of explorers crewing this thing who are really not battle-hardened at all and he’s going to try and do whatever he has to do to tip the tide of the war. It’s not going to be easy. Certainly, he’s not going to get there by being nice…

At the end of the episode, Lorca has the creature from the USS Glenn — the one that was terrorizing Michael and company — secretly beamed aboard the Discovery into one of his secret rooms with other contraband objects and creatures. What is he doing with all those things that he’s, presumably, illegally accumulated?

He’s got a room, a study room in which he studies war because they’re at war. In different times, he might have books of poetry, he might have an easel in there. He’s an exercise man, so at one point in time he might have been doing interplanetary yoga. Right now, he needs to work out how to defeat enemies and he’s got forbidden material in there. He’s got weapons, he’s got poisons, he’s got creatures. He’s looking for an edge in a war with a superior opponent and he’ll take anything he can get, anywhere he can get it. Sometimes he takes risks to get it.

What is Lorca’s relationship with the women on the Discovery crew, because it seemed like there was something a little extra between the captain and Commander Landry, his head of security?

I think in this tradition of Star Trek captains and these alpha males who rise to the top, he’s got a taste for the good life and he’s got an eye for his female officers. I don’t know that that’s going to work with Burnham very well, frankly. She doesn’t look like she’s up for that kind of thing, but him and Landry certainly have a relationship that goes beyond, I would think, work. But that’s how I played my scenes with all the women on board, whether or not the writers were on board with that. By the way, that’s my tribute to Shatner. I always thought, as much as the original series was born out of the civil rights struggle and the birth of feminism, some of that was [infused with a feeling of] James Bond. It was clear Captain Kirk had his way with any member of the micro-skirted crew members he wanted, so that was my subtle tribute to him. I’m playing that, even if it’s inside my head. (Laughs.)

CBS has announced that they will present episodes through November 12 (instead of November 5 as previously announced), leaving only six episodes after the show resumes in 2018.

It was revealed at New York Comic con that Michelle Yeoh will be returning as Captain Georgiou. Presumably this will be as a flash-back, unless they find a way for her to return after being killed last week.

On rare occasions we have had two different Star Trek series on at once, but the current situation is unique in having two shows inspired by Star Trek but going in such different directions. While Discovery is darker and serialized, The Orville provides stand alone stories which are more similar to those from Star Trek: The Next Generation. The series appears to be moving more towards actual science fiction stories as opposed to parody, while still incorporating humor. The last episode was the most successful to date in incorporating humor while adding to the main story. Being directed by Jonathan Frakes helped make it feel like STTNG. Plus it introduced time travel to this universe.

The episode also benefited by the guest appearance of Charlize Theron. She turned out to be different from what she first seemed to be, but she had time for casual sex with Captain Mercer and to sit around sipping drinks. While the relationship between Mercer and his ex-wife has sometimes seemed to have been used excessively to attempt humor, it worked very well in this episode as Ed initially mistrusted Kelly’s suspicion of Pria as being based upon jealousy.

One thing I always found unrealistic about the Star Trek universe was the limited existence of mass entertainment and popular culture. The Orville has had multiple references to pop culture, although it appears to have ended around our time. Previous references have included Kermit the Frog, Friends, and reality TV. This episode started with a clip from Seinfeld, which propelled the B story line. Teaching Isaac about humor and practical jokes allowed them to use humor without it appearing out of place as in some of the earlier episodes. I could easily imagine a similar story line involving Data. Of course Seth MacFarlane did take it further, with Issac amputating Malloy’s leg as a practical joke. Fortunately the limb was easily regenerated.

The episode also did a good job of incorporating the B story line into the main story, both with Malloy’s leg falling from the ceiling and with Isaac using a reference to the Seinfeld clip to tip off Malloy as to what he was doing to help save the ship.

Besides the two versions of Star Trek discussed above, there was more information at New York Comic Con on the planned Star Trek based episode from the fourth season of Black Mirror:

Titled “USS Callister,” the 74-minute adventure stars Fargo‘s Jesse Plemmons and Cristin Milioti, Jimmi Simpson (Westworld), and Michaela Coel.

While critics were barred from reviewing it, by all accounts from those in attendance it’s one of the most cinematic of Black Mirror installments, thanks to its epic production values — from sprawling desert locations and scenes set on the deck of the titular starship to the out-of-this-world outfits and expensive computer effects.

“The idea came up in conversation, and it struck us. We hadn’t done a space epic before and we thought, how would that work in the Black Mirror universe?” Brooker told The Hollywood Reporter.  “What sort of tone would it have? We ended up in this strange place.”

Naturally, the show tackles themes befitting its signature paranoid style and contains more than a few twists (and reportedly a few lens flares too, in a nod to the J.J. Abrams-helmed reboot).

Rather than releasing all the episodes at once, Amazon released only part of The Tick, hoping that buzz from the first half of the series will increase viewership before the series is completed. They announced at New York Comic Con that the show will return in February and released the above trailer. The show does effectively combine humor with a superhero story.

The above trailer for The X-Files season 11, which will premiere in January 2018, was released at New York Comic Con. More information on the upcoming season here.

Chris Carter said in an interview that he might continue the series even longer, but Gillian Anderson has said that the eleventh season will be her last. There have been attempts at bringing in other cast members, but I am skeptical as to whether the show can survive without Mulder and Scully.

Netflix cancelled promotions for The Punisher at New York Comic Con and a planned Paris event following the recent shootings in Los Vegas. They are also delaying the premiere of the series.

The next season of The Magicians will deal with restoring magic. We got some hints as to what will occur at the New York Comic Con:

“Julia and Quentin almost circle back to who they were as kids,” John McNamara notes that their reunion more or less restores their BFF status. Aside from partying with a god, we get to see them revisit a lifelong friendship and get over past grievances.

Jason Ralph and Stella Maeve spoke enthusiastically about the unexpected nature of Quentin and Julia’s relationship, which started as the tired unrequited love trope but evolved into something much more interesting. Jason Ralph said during the panel, “It’s really gratifying to get back together.”

The quest to revive magic will also lead to some unlikely pairings for the cast. Sure, we get some expected combos like Eliot with Margo or Quentin with Julia, but Sera Gamble teased during The Magicians NYCC panel that we’ll see more scenes with Julia and Alice together in Season 3. Julia’s relationship to the strange new magic she discovered evolves over the season in unexpected ways, and perhaps it’ll take Alice to help her figure it out.

Alice herself will go through the “worst quarter-life crisis ever,” according to Taylor Dudley. Alice died, became a niffin, sort of died again, and when finally reunited with her Shade, she then had magic taken away completely. Alice will be in a weird emotional spot when the season kicks off, especially considering she’s being hunted by an enemy she made while a niffin.

This year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, Twice Upon A Time, will also be shown in movie theaters, along with special features. More information here.

Nerdist reports on how Peter Capaldi learned that a woman was to be cast as the thirteenth Doctor. Capaldi also discussed why he is leaving Doctor Who at New York Comic Con:

In a retrospective session at New York Comic-Con, Peter Capaldi said that playing the title role in British TV juggernaut Doctor Who brought many pleasures but proved all-consuming. After four years, he said he felt it was best to leave before it ever felt like a routine.

 “It fills up your life,” he said. “You don’t have a second where it’s not about Doctor Who. It’s a nice way to live.” And yet, he continued, “I really never wanted to get to a place where I knew how to do this because that’s not what being creative is. The actual amount of time we were spending on the show, I realized I was getting the hang of it. And that made me frightened.”

Asked by a fan whether he would consider returning for a special or in any small role down the road, he said, “I think it’s probably time for me to go.”

The Mirror has some changes they claim will be made to Doctor Who next season under Chris Chibnall and Jodie Whittaker. The reliability of the report is unknown.

This week has marked the 40th anniversary of the introduction of K-9 on Doctor Who and the 50th anniversary of the introduction of the Mirror universe on Star Trek.

Den of Geek talked to Karen Gillan about Nebula’s role in  Avengers: Infinity War.

Gal Gadot was guest host on Saturday Night Live last night and talked about playing Wonder Woman in the opening monologue (video above). She also had the skit below about Wonder Woman:

There was also far more news at New York Comic Con than I can get to today and I will present more of it next week.

Americans Report Criminal Aliens To Trump Hotline

When I heard a news story about Donald Trump’s hotline to report crimes committed by illegal aliens, my first thought was of The X-Files, or perhaps those aliens in Independence Day who blew up the White House. Of course there are serious objections to the xenophobic and racist nature of this program, and others have tried to tie up the hotline by protested along the lines I was first thinking of.

BuzzFeed reports that People Are Trolling Trump’s New Anti-Immigrant Hotline With Reports Of Space Aliens And The Government Is Not Amused. By coincidence, Wednesday was also Alien Day, used to promote the upcoming release of Alien: Covenant,  further putting people in the mood for this type of protest. There was encouragement on Twitter:


Alexander McCoy, a member of the activist group Common Defense, called to say he was abducted by a UFO, and the person taking his call did not get the joke. Once they did figure out what was going on, Immigration officials were not amused:

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials told BuzzFeed News the hotlines were “tied up by hoax callers.”

“There are certainly more constructive ways to make one’s opinions heard than to prevent legitimate victims of crime from receiving the information and resources they seek because the lines are tied up by hoax callers,” an ICE spokesperson said.

“We will adjust resources, if necessary, to ensure that the victims for whom this office and hotline is intended get the info and resources they need.”

There were also calls to complain that Superman is an illegal alien, and warnings about that orange alien from New York.

Gabe Ortiz had more serious criticism of the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) program:

Here’s the truth: “unauthorized immigrants commit crimes at a lower rate than the American population at large,” according to multiple studies. And the pro-immigrant sanctuary city policies that Trump loves to hate actually make communities safer, because local law enforcement agencies are able to build trust with immigrant residents. But truth isn’t Trump’s intention here. As the Atlantic notes, if “Trump’s goal is stigmatizing a vulnerable class of people, then publicizing their crimes—and their crimes alone—makes sense. It’s been a tactic bigots have used more than a century”:

In The Nazi Conscience, Duke historian Claudia Koonz notes that the Nazi newspaper Der Sturmer ran a feature called “Letter Box,” which published readers’ accounts of Jewish crimes. When the Nazis took power, the German state began doing something similar. Frustrated by the failure of most Germans to participate in a boycott of Jewish businesses in April 1933, Adolf Hitler’s government began publicizing Jewish crime statistics as a way of stoking anti-Semitism. In Nazi Germany and the Jews: The Years of Persecution, the historian Saul Friedlander notes that, until 1938, Hitler’s Ministry of Justice ordered prosecutors to forward every criminal indictment against a Jew so the ministry’s press office could publicize it.

Resistance Report noted yet another way to protest this program:

In response to the obvious fearmongering about immigrants from the Trump administration, Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colorado), Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington), and Tony Cárdenas (D-California) launched the Saved by American Immigrants National Task force (SAINT) program, which aims to highlight stories of Americans who were saved by the heroic acts of immigrants.

Speaking of aliens who act heroically to protect the earth:

Now I think I will call the hotline to report a Dalek invasion.

SciFi Weekend: Agents of SHIELD; Suicide Squad; Star Trek; Gotham; Stranger Things; Doctor Who

SHIELD Daisy season 4

Agents of SHIELD concluded the third season with a jump ahead showing that someone other than Coulson will be Director of SHIELD. Marvel has revealed that Jason O’Mara will play the Director. While vague, the release did say that he will be “playing a character whose Marvel roots go back to the 1940s.” The synopsis for the upcoming season explains the reason for the change, as well as the changes in the role of some of the other characters:

In light of the Sokovia Accords, and with Hydra obliterated, S.H.I.E.L.D. has been legitimatized again and no longer needs to operate in the shadows. Since the world presumes that Coulson is dead, the organization needed a new Director (Jason O’Mara) to be the face of the organization.

Coulson finds himself back in the role as an agent and teamed with Mack (Henry Simmons), and together they are tasked with tracking down and confirming the presence of Enhanced people, aka Inhumans. They have been trying to track down and capture Daisy (Chloe Bennet), aka Quake, who has gone rogue in an attempt to atone for sins from the past. But with the world believing that Daisy is a dangerous outlaw who has taken down banks and bridges, the new Director has no qualms about taking her down for good.

Agent May (Ming-Na Wen) is tasked with training specialist strike teams, and Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) have taken a big step forward in their relationship. But with Simmons’ new promotion as Special Advisor to the Director in Science and Technology, Fitz, as well as her former team members, finds it hard to confide in or trust her since she’s now the Director’s confidant.

Robbie Reyes (Gabriel Luna) will roar into the lives of Agent Coulson and the team as a junkyard mechanic who can turn on a dime into the terrifying Ghost Rider. Will Robbie be a friend or foe to S.H.I.E.L.D. – as well as the world, itself? Meanwhile, Fitz discovers that socially awkward genius and friend Dr. Radcliffe (John Hannah) has started putting the finishing touches on a new, secret invention.

Chloe Bennet talked with TVLine about Daisy going rogue and her agenda.

In other news about Agents of SHIELD, ABC Entertainment President Channing Dungey said at the Television Critics Association press tour that Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood could possibly return. As I noted last week, the return as a regular would be complicated by Palicki being cast in another role.

Suicide Squad2

Suicide Squad has opened to a large box office but has received very poor reviews. It does sound like studio interference played a role in any problems the movie has. The Hollywood Reporter‘s account begins:

“Better late than never.” That was one Warner Bros. executive’s reaction to the excitement at Suicide Squad‘s splashy Aug. 1 premiere in New York. Tracking indicates the film could open to more than $140 million domestically and potentially hand the studio its first unequivocal megahit since American Sniper‘s $547.4 million in December 2014. With March’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice grossing $873 million worldwide but failing to impress audiences or reach the hoped-for $1 billion mark, Warners still urgently needs to jump-start its critical DC Comics universe, raising the stakes for Suicide Squad, which cost at least $175 million to make.

Yet if the villain team-up ultimately works — and it has drawn some harsh early reviews  — it will be in spite of the kind of behind-the-scenes drama that is becoming typical for giant franchise movies that now are the main focus of the studio business: a production schedule engineered to meet an ambitious release date; a director, David Ayer (Fury), untested in making tentpole movies; and studio executives, brimming with anxiety, who are ready to intercede forcefully as they attempt to protect a branded asset. Often, efforts to fix perceived problems ratchet up costs, which drive anxiety ever higher. In extreme cases, such as Fox’s troubled Fantastic Four, the intervention is so aggressive that it becomes unclear what it means to be the director. (In each such case, studios are careful to stress that the credited director is on-scene and in charge, which is essential to avoid DGA issues. And the wise director plays along.)

The video above is a tribute to Star Trek with clips from ever show and movie.

Star Trek Into Darkness ended with Carol Marcus appearing to be a new crew member but she was not seen in Star Trek Beyond. Simon Pegg, who c0-wrote the movie responded to questions about this by explaining they didn’t have a role for her which made fit into this movie and,“We thought rather than have Carol Marcus be not used to a reasonable capacity, let’s just not include her, have her be alive, in canon, and be ready to come back at any time.” As Star Trek Beyond took place three years later, it is quite plausible that she spent some time as a part of the Enterprise crew and then either left or was not present for some other reason in Star Trek Into Darkness.Nerdophiles has information from the cast on the third season of Gotham.

Stranger Things

I’m sure that by now pretty much everyone has heard the hype about Stranger Things. It deserves all the hype, and more. Some compare it to E.T. and to Super 8. It is very rare to see a television show which is as immediately captivating as Stranger Things. The show brings three television series to my mind with their ability to also do this: Twin Peaks, Lost, and The X-Files. One other thing that all three have in common is that they went downhill. The mythology on Lost and X-Files got too convoluted, and they didn’t know where to go beyond the initial story on Twin Peaks.

The format on Netflix should reduce the risk of the show deteriorating over time. Eight episodes allowed them to tell a complete story, while leaving some things open for future seasons. There was no need for filler episodes, and there won’t be the same push as on network television to continue too long. Matt and Ross Duffer have hinted at a second season and it would be quite a shock if Netflix didn’t go with it.

The BBC has a round up of news since series ten of Doctor Who went into production here. More pictures at DoctorWhoTV.

I’ll conclude with commentary on this year’s election from The IT Crowd:

IT Crowd

SciFi Weekend: Arrow; The Americans; Sleepy Hollow; 11/23/63; Orphan Black; The 100; Sherlock; Bruce Springsteen

Arrow Cemetary

It looks like many shows think that they can duplicate the  success of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead by killing off characters. There are more major spoilers this week. Recent posts have already dealt with character deaths, and there were more to look at this week. Some were handled better than others.

We knew for quite a while that there would be a death on Arrow this season, but none of the discussion I’ve seen predicted that it would be such a major death, even though major characters have been killed on this show since the beginning. It does make sense to kill Laurel as they never really knew what to do with her beyond the first season when the ex-girlfriend role made sense. They have varied so much from the comics that it is not necessary to keep her, especially as it appears, despite their current troubles, that Oliver is fated to wind up with Felicity and not Laurel.

Marc Guggenheim and Wendy Mericle, and Paul Blackthorne (Detective Lance) discussed the episode with Entertainment Weekly. Here are some of the questions:

But seriously, why Laurel?

“Obviously Arrow is always a show that’s evolving,” Guggenheim says. “It’s always a show where every character, arguably except for the Arrow, is fair game. We started off this year with the promise of a death and when we worked our way through our various different creative choices, we realized that the thing that will give us the most pop going into the end of the season and into next season unfortunately would be Laurel.”

Was she killed because some of the fanbase doesn’t like Laurel?

“When I say it gives us a lot of pop I don’t mean on the Internet or publicity, I mean creatively for the show,” Guggenheim says. “Every time we’ve killed off a character on the show, it’s really been for the effect it has on all the characters left behind. I don’t want to spoil the end of season 4 or what we have planned for season 5, which we’re already in the room working on, but the way we always describe it is the creative math. How divisive Laurel is as a character on Twitter is not a factor. Truth be told, Twitter is a very specific sub-segment. The number of people who don’t like Laurel is probably an infinitesimally small group, so it’s not, as they say, statistically relevant.”

But shouldn’t Oliver and Laurel be endgame?

“One of the things we knew people would think was, ‘Oh, well, in the season where Oliver and Felicity get engaged and Laurel dies, that’s clearly making a choice about who’s going to end up with who,” Guggenheim says. “Truth be told, we told the Laurel-Oliver romance story in season 1. We told that story. We never really thought about going back to it. The ‘shipping thing was not an element, it was not a factor to us. We recognize that that upsets a lot of fans, particularly the comic book fans.”

Yeah! Oliver and Laurel end up together in the comics! What gives?

“In the comics, Dinah Lance and Oliver Queen, depending on which version of the character you like, are in a romance together in various iterations,” Guggenheim says. “That, to some people, is considered canonical and iconic, and we respect that, but at the same time we’ve always made no bones about the fact that we are telling our own version of the Green Arrow mythos. The Green Arrow has had so many different interpretations, and Black Canary has had so many different interpretations over the years, that we never felt beholden to one particular interpretation. This is our interpretation, like it or not, and I recognize there are plenty of people up and down my Twitter feed who do not like it. I totally respect that. But it made the most creative sense for us going forward despite the fact that we love Katie, absolutely love Katie.”

So could Laurel come back to life?

“Not getting a chance to work with Katie day in and day out is tempered by the fact that we now live in a universe where there’s resurrection, parallel earths, time travel, flashbacks — we have all these different ways of keeping Katie in the Arrow-verse family,” Guggenheim says. “In fact, you will see her on an episode of Flash playing the Earth-2 version of Laurel Lance. Katie is reprising her role as Laurel of Earth-1 to be in Vixen season 2. Death does not mean goodbye on any of these shows, but we made a creative choice and we’re sticking to it. We’re recognizing that Black Canary and Laurel have an incredibly loyal fanbase, and Katie has an incredibly loyal fanbase, but the show has never been just about the comic book history, it’s never been just about one or two different particular fanbases. We make the creative choices we feel benefit the show as a whole and the story that we’re telling overall.”

But by bringing her back on other shows, doesn’t that cheapen Laurel’s death?

“We definitely recognize across all three shows that when we kill off a character, it means something different now,” Guggenheim says. “I’m not going to put a qualitative judgment on whether it’s more or less impactful. I’ll leave that to the audience, but certainly we acknowledge there’s a difference. Arrow, much more so than Flash or Legends, it traffics in death. We started off the series of the apparent death of Sara Lance and the actual death of Robert Queen and a hero who murdered people. For better or for worse, death is part of the show. What we’re finding is that death now, as it should by the way, when you start to get where we are pushing into season 5, the show has to evolve, it has to change. The concept of death on this show is evolving and changing as we’ve already seen with Sara Lance, and with seeing Laurel in a parallel universe. There’s a world where we do an episode where Oliver Queen meets the Laurel Lance of Earth-2. That’s now on the table. Time travel is now on the table. As the show has evolved, so has death.”

The interview also dealt with reactions from the other characters, and revealed that we will not find out what Laurel said to Oliver before she died until next season, showing that the death of Laurel will be impacting the show for some time. As noted in the interview, Katie Cassidy will appear as an Earth-2 version of Laurel on The Flash. Her sister will also get a chance to react to her death on Legends of Tomorrow. Additional interviews from cast and crew can be seen here.

In other Arrow news, Echo Kellum (Curtis) has been promoted to a series regular for season 5, and presumably will be an active part of Team Arrow. I also would not be surprised to see Felicity getting back with the team, whether or not it takes time for her to get back with Oliver.

THE AMERICANS -- "Dimebag" Episode 304 (Airs Wednesday, February 18, 10:00 PM e/p) Pictured: Annet Mahendru Nina Sergeevna. CR: Ali Goldstein/FX

The Americans had the death of a major character at a strange time. (More spoilers here). It would have made more sense to end Nina’s story at the end of last season rather than continuing it so briefly this year, but many of the plot thread from last season were left to continue this year. It also provided an interesting look at how such executions were handled, with Nina being shot only three seconds after being told her appeal was denied and her death sentence would be carried out shortly.

TV Line discussed the episode with Joe Fields:

TVLINE | When was she originally supposed to die?
JOEL FIELDS | We went back and forth a little bit. There was a point at which we thought she might go at the end of Season 3. Then we fussed around with different episodes in Season 4. So yeah, there was a little bit of elasticity to it.

TVLINE | Why, ultimately, the decision to kill off Nina now?
FIELDS | It was really all about how the story laid out and how it fit in with other stories. … You do get very attached to these characters. As writers, you get very attached to them, and as actors, you fuse with them in a certain way. So it feels like a real loss.

TVLINE | So poor Nina was always doomed?
FIELDS | Well, not from the very beginning. And frankly, you’ve got to define “doomed.” The truth is, this character transformed in a way that has great meaning, and she could have maybe found a way to continue on as somebody who would do anything to survive. But instead, she grew. And she grew into a character who was willing to take a risk to do the right thing for someone else. Although she paid the ultimate price for it, she grew into a much fuller person. Yes, she made her choices, and in all seriousness, we have a lot of respect for her choices.

TVLINE | The method of her death was so brutal and quick. How did you land on that?
WEISBERG | That’s how they actually executed traitors. We learned about it from a book written by our consultant, Sergei Kostin. His book came out after the end of the Cold War, and we tried to follow it beat by beat in our script. Our director followed it beat by beat [and] beautifully shot it. As soon as we read it, we thought, “This is the way to do it.” It was so dramatic and so powerful and, interestingly enough, so humane. Because the reason they came up with that system was to spare the person being shot any foreknowledge about what was going to happen so they wouldn’t suffer and be afraid.

TVLINE | Nina has been separated from much of the main cast for a while now. Will her death reverberate for the rest of the characters somehow?
WEISBERG | I think it’s safe to say that Oleg’s father is very highly placed in the Soviet government, so he could easily find out what happened. I don’t think we ever saw that story as separated as maybe some people did. Even though the role was not as interconnected in the way that things are interconnected today with the internet and communications, it was still an interconnected role at the heart.

TVLINE | Did Oleg’s dad try to reach out to help her?
WEISBERG | He did try, but he just wasn’t successful.

The Americans Nina Execution

Spoiler TV has an interview with Annet Mahendru who played Nina, and also appeared in The X-Files revival this year:

Could you talk a bit about Nina’s motivations for helping Anton [Baklanov], what her mindset is and how you dealt with the change in her this season?

Annet Mahendru: I think last season we see it goes on for a while, she’s figuring him out, she’s always about the other – she’s kind of a reactor to things – and she doesn’t quite know what to do with Anton and she sees a human being for the first time and it brings that out of her. And she’s exhausted, she’s been in this hamster wheel over and over buying her life out, walking this thin line and you know, every decision, every step, it’s life or death for her and she’s exhausted and she’s falling and she can’t do this anymore. And he moves something in her. For the first time it’s something very direct: he has a son, and she’s given all that up when she entered this profession and she finds joy in his world and his letters and love and for the first time I think we see her happy and she literally gives up everything for that moment of happiness and that’s her freedom from that tragic life that she has chosen and has been dealing with [since we met] her. So I think for joy and for just she lives for the first time and that’s what she needs to do to live and sometimes you need to change in order to survive and that’s what she does.

Nina seemed quite resigned when reading the statement from Baklanov. Do you think she’s at peace with her fate now?

Annet Mahendru: I think she’s content, she is, she’s very much settled and she’s ok now because she did something for the first time that allowed her to be who she is and something that she saw, you know she has done everything to secure the future of the Soviet Union, this cause, this great cause that is so far-fetched and to hear something so direct – there’s a boy that needs to know that his dad loves him and she did that and that’s the greatest thing she’s ever done.

What was your reaction like when you got the script for this episode? Did [creators] Joel [Fields] and Joe [Weisberg] give you some heads up or did you find out as you were reading?

Annet Mahendru: (Laughs) Goodness no, I got the first script and then I got a phone call and you kind of wait for that phone call from the get-go – everytime they call you, that might be the phone call. It finally came and I played it really cool because you’d think you’d be prepared for it but you absolutely are not. I was angry at them, I loved them, I felt every single thing you could possibly feel and I remember my mom was like “it’s not you dying, it’s Nina, it’s Nina” because it just felt like a part of me that I was so lucky to be able to tap into and that I had to also say goodbye to. And the weird thing is I felt like in the 2nd episode I’m getting to know Nina, she’s meeting her husband, she finally has her own mission, her transformation that she desperately needed and I felt like I had just gotten a taste of her and that’s it and then like an episode later she’s dead. So that little bit of joy, that little bit of her that I finally got, it was so fleeting and it was over before I could really embrace it and it was really sad. We’ve all been, since the beginning, treasuring her and fighting for her – it’s really been a fight – and it just made me realise that it’s just such a tragic life and that it’s real, you know, this happens out there and it made me really angry.

Could you compare working on a show like this to working on a show like The X-Files?

Annet Mahendru: You know, it was really ironic, it was like a double death for my characters this year. It was a lot of death but Sveta died for the reopening of the X-Files and Nina died for starting something very important for an individual. It was a really difficult season and also the greatest season at the same time. The X-Files was a real treat and it was another special story that I got to tell.

Sleepy Hollow

From a mass audience perspective the death on the season (and perhaps series) finale of Sleepy Hollow was the biggest, but as I was also giving up on the show it mattered the least to me. (More spoilers ahead). The she had already lost its way after the first season, when it centered around the relationship between Ichabod and Abbie. There is no news yet as to whether the series will be renewed. While this was also not a very satisfactory way to end the series, it would probably be best to end it now, unless someone can go back in time and end it after the first season.

TV Line discussed the episode with showrunner Clifton Campbell:

TVLINE | I’m going to jump in with the big question first: Is Abbie really dead? Is this the last we’ll see of her?
The character of Abbie Mills makes the supreme sacrifice to save the world, and her character dies in the season finale, yes. To answer the second part of that question, she will not return to the show as Abbie Mills. There’s certainly the possibility, given our really good relationship with Nicole and how much she’s help build us these past three seasons, that reflections of her will be around and that the idea of her will be around is certainly something we’ve all talked about, but not as the character of Abbie Mills.

TVLINE | So is Nicole Beharie no longer with the show?
Nicole Beharie as Abbie Mills is no longer with the show. The character is dead. But we’ve had a terrific run with her. She’s been an absolute delight. She helped build out the mythology of the show, and we’ve had a tremendous run with her. The character is gone and, like I said, in Sleepy Hollow it’s always surprising to see how the reflections of one character or another can influence the show moving forward.

TVLINE | Ichabod’s grief over what happens is palpable, but I was struck by how Tom Mison played it contained. Did you think about Ichabod having a big emotional moment after he realizes she’s gone? Did you shoot any takes like that?
Listen, Tom has really created this character from the bottom up. His instincts are without parallel. His fearless creation of this character in all of these moments, particularly as they pertain to his relationship with Abbie Mills, is not something any of us would second guess. You picked up on that contained emotion — I think this is such a big moment, and a huge loss in his life and his world that he needs to process. At a point where we have that opportunity in the finale, he hasn’t quite reached that point yet.

TVLINE | Having Abbie sacrifice herself twice in the same season — fans might think, “Well, you brought her back last time…” What’s the fundamental difference between her going into the tree and her willingly entering Pandora’s box?
Well, she knew she wasn’t coming out of the box in the finale. She knew, because of what they learned in the catacombs, that the box was missing its hope, which is at the center of darkness and gave it context, gave it form. She knew she was giving herself to the box… that that meant she would not be coming back.

At the midseason break this year, it was more immediate. The Shard of Anubis was going to blow; her sister and Crane and everybody in close proximity could suffer catastrophic loss. Abbie knows she’s giving her life up at the end of Season 3 to save the world. The difference is, from the audience’s perspective, is [at the midseason break] she had fallen into a realm that we didn’t know about. She didn’t die.

112263 Finale

Hulu completed 11.23.63 last week with the series clearly being about whether one person, John Kennedy, would die. While I noted some negative reviews when the show first started, with some suggesting that viewers skip ahead to the final episode, I did find it enjoyable throughout the entire season. The finale did flow well from what was shown before.  (More spoilers ahead).

The series began by including a cosmic reset switch when introducing its rules for time travel. Whenever anyone went back in time, everything they did in a previous visit was reset and they could start all over again. Knowing about this reset switch from the start, the most obvious outcome was that Jake would be successful in preventing the assassination of John F. Kennedy, but things would be worse because of him doing so and he would have to go back in time to reset this.

The show was not very clear as to why things were so awful when Jake returned to the present, leading me to quickly skim the ending of the book. In the book the issue comes down to matters of destruction because of making changes in time itself, as opposed to a result of Kennedy’s actions after remaining alive.

It was clear several episodes before the end that the real story was about what would happen between Jake and Sadie, a woman Jake fell in love with after going back in time. When he spoke about bringing her back to the present with him, my first thought was that we have seen people go back in time, but never forward in time from their timeline. Whether or not it was possible for Sadie to go forward in time, Jake had to sacrifice the relationship in order for her to live to have a  happy life. Over the course of the finale, John Kennedy and Sadie were both killed and not killed on different trips back in time.

Orphan Black returns on April 14 on BBC America. The first four minutes are above. Here is the synopsis, which does not even mention the events of the flashback with Beth Childs.

After two months of respite, Sarah’s hard-won refuge in Iceland is shattered by a Neolution attack. Once again forced to flee, she realizes no matter how far her family runs it will never be far enough.

Ricky Whittle is isn’t happy with how his character was handled on The 100 last week. This follows the controversy over the death of Lexa earlier in the season.

For those interested in still more television deaths, Geeks of Doom reviews the season finale of The Walking Dead.

Filming has begun on Season 4 of Sherlock, with Steven Moffat being vague in his comments on where the season goes.

Last week I noted how economic considerations, including pressure from Disney and other studios, led to a veto of a “religious liberties” law in Georgia. North Carolina has passed a similar discriminatory law, and now they have seen the first economic consequences of this:

Bruce Springsteen canceled Sunday’s concert at the Greensboro Coliseum because of House Bill 2, saying in a statement that he and his band would show solidarity for North Carolinians working to oppose the law.

“Some things are more important than a rock show and this fight against prejudice and bigotry — which is happening as I write — is one of them,” the singer wrote on his website. “It is the strongest means I have for raising my voice in opposition to those who continue to push us backwards instead of forwards.”

…HB 2, passed quickly by the General Assembly in a one-day special session last month, prevents cities and counties from passing anti-discrimination ordinances to protect lesbian, gay and transgender residents. Legislators passed the bill in response to an ordinance adopted in Charlotte that would have allowed transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with, a provision overturned by the new law.

Dozens of businesses, including American Airlines, Dow Chemical, BioGen and Labcorp, have spoken out against the law. PayPal canceled a planned $3.6 million expansion in Charlotte that would have created 400 jobs, and dozens of people have canceled attendance at the semiannual furniture market in High Point that starts next weekend.

Cancellation of the Springsteen concert is the first major economic blow to Greensboro as a result of the law.

John Kasich said that he would not have signed the law:

“I believe that religious institutions ought to be protected and be able to be in a position of where they can live out their deeply held religious purposes,” Kasich, who’s running for the Republican presidential nomination, told host John Dickerson in an interview for Sunday’s “Face the Nation.” “But when you get beyond that it gets to be a tricky issue. And tricky is not the right word, but it can become a contentious issue.”

SciFi Weekend: World’s Finest, Supergirl and The Flash; Another Death on The 100; Gilmore Girls; Studios vs. Religious Liberty Law; Gilmore Girls; Bernie Sanders on Colbert; Donald Trump Heroin

Superman-Flash-Supergirl-Flash-comic-book-cover-Worlds-Finest_edited-2

When I was younger and reading comics in the 1960’s, World’s Finest featured a team up between Superman and Batman in every issue, and at other times in its history it included other DC superheroes. While Superman and Batman are together in the same movie this month, television teamed up Supergirl and The Flash instead. Lacking the rights to Superman, ideas from the comics are often adapted to Supergirl (as Batman story lines have been adapted for Arrow).

I also clearly recalled the classic Superman cover with Superman racing The Flash. Supergirl used a similar poster to promote the show, and TV Addict has put the two together in the graphic above.

Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin had terrific chemistry together in this Glee reunion. I don’t know if them having worked together in the past helped, and it certainly helped that both characters are similarly light. I doubt we would have seen the same chemistry with an Arrow/Supergirl crossover, unless Supergirl became a Felicity-substitute for Oliver.

Their awkward meeting can be seen in the video above.

The premise was actually explained further on Tuesday’s episode of The Flash in which Barry traveled back in time to seek ways to become faster to fight Zoom. Fortunately the show kept technobabble to a minimum and concentrated on the chemistry between the characters–although I do wonder how Barry would be able to get back to his original earth. I can envision this as a Barry from yet another earth who is spending years traveling from one earth to another in search of home. While there was a brief discussion of parallel earths, it was pretty much limited to Winn’s “That’s cool.”

The show had many other great lines. Supergirl was still trying to regain the support of the people of National City after the episode in which she was exposed to red kryptonite and briefly became a menace. She expressed her frustration and the drastic measures she was utilizing: “I saw that winning the people back wasn’t going so well. I have tried everything I can think of. Last night, I helped a family assemble their IKEA table!” The Flash demonstrated his super speed to Supergirl by quickly running out for ice cream. Supergirl’s response was perfect: “That’s cool.”

Cat might have been fooled by Supergirl’s secret identity (although now that she knows there is a shape shifter around, I’d would expect her to figure out how she was tricked). She had no difficulty figuring out that Barry was the new speedster in town, but she did not like the name of The Flash: “The Flash sounds like someone whose only super-power is jumping out of an alley in a trench coat.”

There was a reference to  CW, which The Flash is on: “All four of you, standing there, doing nothing. You look like the attractive yet non-threatening, racially diverse cast of a CW show.”

While I could have easily spent the hour just watching Supergirl and The Flash hanging out together, there was even a plot to the story. If there were two superheroes, there had to be too super villains working together, Siobhan (Italia Ricci) and Livewire (Brit Morgan):

Siobhan: “You want to kill Cat Grant and Supergirl, and I want to kill Cat’s assistant, who’s protected by them both. Figured we could team up.”

Livewire: “Like an evil Taylor Swift squad?”

Worlds-Finest-crop-740x431

Nerdist has information from Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg on the repercussions of the cross over episode:

“We always wanted to do it,” says Berlanti of the crossover. “From the day we cast Melissa [Benoist], the notion of her in scenes with Grant [Gustin] or someday maybe, in the best of all worlds, with Stephen [Amell] as well…it’s exciting to think of them on screen together. And there was a similar tonality to the shows. But a few things had to go right. We were introducing this notion of Earth-2 and the Multiverse on Flash, and that had to work for us. We always said very openly that Flash and Arrow exist in a universe where there’s no Superman, or you would have heard about him. They would have had at least one conversation about him, and certainly Supergirl as well. And he exists on this show.”

But the multiverse would prove the easier hurdle of the two shows converging—even though they live on different networks (CW for The Flash and CBS for Supergirl. “It was more challenging in that way because it’s not so convenient. It’s two separate cites that they shoot in. You wanted the show to work and stand on its own, and CBS has its own audience. We thought we might wait until the second season,” explained Berlanti. “But after Christmas we came back and we were planning out the final third of the year and we saw a way that we thought we could do it; and it felt like the right time for him to enter her world and help her out. So it all came together. We went to all the powers that be and said, ‘I think we had indicated maybe we’d wait a little longer. But we’d really like to do this now.’”

…But will there ever come a day where Kara returns the favor and visit Barry on The Flash”

“We would love that,” said Berlanti. “Just like we love this and are excited about this. I think we want to wait and see the audience reaction to something like this. But just as storytellers and fans of the actors, obviously. We love it when we can figure out a way to do it creatively and hopefully everybody enjoys it.”

Of course, the Multiverse does add a tiny wrinkle to this: wouldn’t that mean a Kara already exists on Barry’s Earth? And if so, what might a version of her look like there?

“I would think that any Kara that exists on Earth-1 would also have to have been an alien,” explained Kreisberg. “There can’t just be Kara Danvers from Poughkeepsie. That’s the fun of the Multiverse. We have a really exciting, fun doppelgänger coming up on the penultimate episode of The Flash that we haven’t announced yet. That’s just another one of those ‘Oh, that would be really cool…’ It’s surprisingly easy to justify any of these decisions. Usually when we’re in the writers room, and arguing the merits of doing something or not doing something, it really comes down to ‘Is it cool? Is it fun?’ The logic of how we get to it we find we can make work, especially if you don’t dwell too much on it. Because at the end of the day the audience wants to see the fun thing, they want to see the Flash and Supergirl together. So getting them across—he ran a little too fast with his tachyon drive—it wasn’t a lot of shoe leather to make it happen. Then you get forty-two minutes of the fun stuff.”

As a lifelong fan of the DCU, we posited the idea of Melissa Benoist appearing on The Flash as the Power Girl of Earth-2 to Kreisberg. His thoughts? “Sure,” he laughs. “[It’s] a different costume, but sure!”

As for why the two iconic heroes are first meeting on Supergirl as opposed to The Flash, Berlanti explained that it was “because it was his capacity to come this way,” adding that they “never really considered it the other way” and that “it’s maybe a little bit more fun at first to bring the veteran from that show to the chemistry of a new show.”

As for whether or not the time-traveling heroes of the Flash spinoff Legends of Tomorrow could appear on Supergirl via their ship the Waverider, Kreisberg got our hopes way up, saying that, “The Waverider can go anywhere.”

That last line also explains how Rip Hunter once said, “I’ve seen Men of Steel die and Dark Knights fall. Your entire 21st century world will suffer.” Superman and Batman apparently do not exist in the Arrow/Flash world but did exist in Rip’s past. Does this mean that the characters picked up by Rip are actually working to save a different earth?

"Worlds Finest" -- Kara gains a new ally when the lightning-fast superhero The Flash suddenly appears from an alternate universe and helps Kara battle Siobhan, aka Silver Banshee, and Livewire in exchange for her help in finding a way to return him home, on SUPERGIRL, Monday, March 28 (8:00-9:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Pictured left to right: Jeremy Jordan, Grant Gustin, Mehcad Brooks and Melissa Benoist Photo: Robert Voets/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. © 2016 WBEI. All rights reserved.

More at TV Line, including some comments related to what I wrote above about Supergirl’s secret identity:

In discussing this crossover’s genesis, Berlanti also hints at the idea of Supergirl and Green Arrow interacting, saying, “From the day we cast Melissa [Benoist], the notion of her in scenes with Grant [Gustin] – or someday maybe in the best of all worlds with [Arrow star] Stephen [Amell], as well – it’s exciting to think of them on screen together.”

…If Cat was so easily able to decipher that Barry is The Flash, then how can she still be in the dark about her assistant’s secret identity? “There’s a number of people that assume that she does know and just doesn’t say anything,” Berlanti notes. “Both are safe bets. We haven’t firmed up if and when we [will] clarify that point. I think it’s kind of enjoyable to appreciate the show both ways.”

The 100 Steaiing Fire

When watching most television shows and a character’s life is in danger, the assumption is that they will survive. (Spoilers ahead). The opposite is true on The 100–especially when the character is played by an actor who has a role lined up on another television show, such as with Ricky Whittle. This is the second major death in a short time. Lincoln’s death has not been met with as much controversy as Lexa’s, but there has been some protests over how he died.

gilmore-girls-reunion

Amy Sherman-Palladino never got the chance to use the four final word she planned for The Gilmore Girls as she left the show in its final season due to a contract dispute.  She kept them secret in case she ever had a chance to use them, and it has been verified they will be used in the Netflix revival. There are many possibilities from, “Luke, I love you” to “Mother, you are insane” to “Rory, you were adopted.”

I recently posted on how Marvel Studios and others protested the “religious liberties” bill in Georgia. The loss of potential income to the state appears to have been more important than appeasing the religious right as Governor Deal has vetoed the measure.

Dave Schilling gave his ideas on who different television characters would vote for at The Guardian. For example:

Mulder & Scully

Mulder’s naturally rebellious, so he’d have to be for Bernie Sanders. All the revolutionary rhetoric would appeal to his lack of trust in government. Scully, on the other hand, is highly religious and less prone to seditious behavior. Still, I don’t think she’d ever vote for any of the Republicans because of their denial of climate change science and anti-choice policies. I’m going to guess Hillary on this one.

Bernie Sanders played Wheel of News on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Friday. The segment ended with Sanders shooting the T-shirt cannon. Video above.

After the Michigan and Missouri primaries, Donald Trump put on an infomercial and talked about all the products with his name on them, even if not very truthfully. Now there is a new product to add to the Donald Trump line, Donald Trump Heroin. Mediaite reports:

A New Hampshire woman was arrested a few days ago for selling heroin with the name of none other than Donald Trump branded on the bags.

According to the Union Leader Correspondent, Darcie Hall was busted after a confidential informant managed to organize two heroin buys––one at a McDonald’s, another at a mini-mart. She had been under investigation by the police and the state attorney general’s drug task force.

And the detective who saw the heroin bundles wrote in his affidavit, “I also observed that each wax bag was stamped with a ‘Donald Trump’ logo.” (Make Heroin Great Again was probably too on-the-nose.)

Plus The New York Post reports on women who not only support Donald Trump, but are stripping down or him. Pictures included.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Captain America Civil War

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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