SciFi Weekend: Season Finales For Agents of SHIELD, Timeless, Arrow, The Blacklist, and Gotham; More Renewal News; The Orville & Star Trek News; Nebula Awards

Shortly after I listed Agents of SHIELD as one of the shows in which the fate was unknown when I listed renewals last week, word came out that SHIELD was renewed for a thirteen episode season, which will not air until summer. With SHIELD often dividing the season up into two arcs, a thirteen episode season should work well to concentrate on one story line. Delaying until summer also avoids conflicting with the events of Avengers: Infinity War. While I’ll avoid any significant spoilers, the movie ends with a cliff hanger which left the world changed–until it is presumably resolved in the next Avengers movie. It would be difficult to do a season of SHIELD while ignoring this. This way SHIELD can be written based upon how the matter is resolved, and could just refer to the events of the movies in passing, as was done late this season.

Agents of SHIELD ended the season with two possible character deaths, but there ways that they might not be permanent, especially with another version of Fitz out in orbit. The biggest question might be whether Jemma immediately tells Fitz they are married, or waits for him to propose as he was planning when he awoke in the future.

Syfy has an interview with the producers which was conducted before news that the series would be back for another season:

But you did seem to leave the door open for a possible Fitz return, judging by what Jemma was talking with Coulson about in the aftermath.

JW: Right. Everybody got zapped to the future, and zapped back, plus Fitz. But Fitz traveled to the future the long way. He basically slept in cryo-freeze for 80 years. So there are technically two Fitzes in this timeline, so we just killed one of them.

MT: We killed the blond one.

JW: It’s hard to follow, we know (laughs).

I blame you guys for the confusion because the tears you made us shed!

JB: That scene was written to be that way. That kind of, “I’m sorry I couldn’t be there, but when you see him, tell him I say ‘Hi.’” Coulson makes a turn in the middle of it that could make someone miss that bit.

As if that wasn’t heart-wrenching enough, Coulson sacrificed himself to allow Daisy the chance to stop Talbot and save Earth. During his farewell speech at the end of the episode, Clark Gregg looked like he was barely keeping his emotions in check. What was that like, filming that moment, seeing the team’s heart and soul, the captain, saying goodbye?

JW: That was a big day, a tough day. We agree with everything you said. We think of Clark as the foundation that the show is built on. But we also knew that we wanted Coulson’s deal with Ghost Rider to have a price, and we wanted the show to … he’s approaching a point where’s he is pushing Daisy into a leadership role. His relationship with May has grown into something new. We felt it was a way of honoring the foundation of our show by giving it real stakes and hoping that he can pass the lessons, that he’s so good at teaching, to his teammates, in a more permanent way.

JB: This entire season we’ve been looking back at where we’ve come from. If you think about it, Coulson in the Avengers movie really brought the team together and allowed them to save the world. And then there was Tahiti.

So for us to take him back to Tahiti and for him again to make the sacrifice, in the sense that he didn’t take the injection that could save his life, and instead gave it to Daisy, he again was the character who, in a sense, saved the world. And we thought there was a nice circular return there for Coulson.

gain, one can guess you left yourself just enough room to bring Coulson back, if you wanted to and Clark wanted to return. Because he was still alive in that last scene.

JW: In terms of moving forward, we’ll have to figure out how to address that. In thrilling fashion, of course. But going into this season, not knowing if we would get another year, we felt like it was the right way to wrap up the show and Coulson’s storyline.

Filming the series finale this way made sense when it was not known whether it would be a series finale. This would suggest that Coulson was going to die if the series ended, eliminating the differences between the television show and movies, but leave matters open should the show return.

Clark Gregg was interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter about his potential role in the sixth season:

The golden rule of TV is if a character dies but it isn’t shown on screen, then they’re not really dead. That said, is Coulson really dead or is there a way that he can be cured in time for the abbreviated sixth season next year?

My understanding is that Phil Coulson is no longer alive. He’s been brought back, he’s been really clear that he didn’t want supernatural measures used again. I always felt like he thought almost like he wasn’t supposed to be here. That got more complicated for him when he started to form this new family and to have this surrogate daughter that he probably always wanted and to, in the most recent weeks of this SHIELD timeline, really opened himself up to his feelings for Melinda May. But I don’t think there is a real buy back for the fact that this deal he made with the Ghost Rider is killing his body.

How much have you discussed your future on the series with producers?

I have a meeting with [executive producers] Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen and the showrunners and I know there is some interest in having me involved in this 13-episode season six. I don’t know in what form that will take, whether that will be flashbacks or hopefully some sexy dreams that Melinda May is having. [Laughs.] That would be nice. But that’s all I know so far. There is some desire that is going to be explained to me but it’s why this finale is so deep and emotional. I knew by then that this was really a farewell to that character and his life. It was also before we knew anything about whether or not we were picked up so the scene where he is saying goodbye to people was a scene that we couldn’t even rehearse or read aloud successfully. We just had to figure out where we were going to stand and start shooting it because it was just so emotional for me and everybody there.

With these plans to continue having Coulson on the series in some capacity, does that mean you’ll be returning as a series regular next season?

That’s all what’s going to be part of this discussion and working it out. I’m available for whatever they need me to do and we’ll just be figuring it out. We just got picked up a few days ago. That’s what we’ll have to figure out going forward. I hope to be involved, maybe I’ll be an LMD or maybe I’ll be in a C3P0 suit and I’ll be everybody’s starchy Brit robot.

What did you think of Coulson’s goodbye in the finale, where he finally got to go to Tahiti and share that experience with May?

I found it all so moving. I’ve been playing this guy for 10 years now. In between shooting that stuff I was back shooting Captain Marvel with Brie Larson and Sam Jackson and playing him again in the ’90s so extending his timeline even further, and the membrane between the two of us, although we’re in some ways very different, it’s very thin. And my connection with the people on Agents of SHIELD and the number of hours we’ve all put in together and what we’ve all been through together, it feels very real. All of it, saying goodbye to those people, was very heavy. And then to step out onto the sands of Tahiti, I really have to thank ABC again for giving us the Disney jet and letting us have this really magical weekend in Tahiti. I’m just kidding. [Laughs] But that would have been nice. I loved the way they did it. I really thought it was a masterful idea by the writers of SHIELD and a really beautifully executed script by Jed and Maurissa and really beautifully directed by Jed.

Timeless is one of the few remaining network shows with no news regarding renewal or cancellation. The second season did leave with a big cliff hanger. Moments before the end, when I did not know what would happen, but it was obvious they were setting things up for a cliff hanger, I was thinking it would be really interesting if a second Lifeboat appeared next to the one which had just returned, possibly with Rufus (who had been killed earlier in the episode) aboard. They did even better with a newer version of the Lifeboat appearing, with future versions of  Lucy and Wyatt asking, “You guys want to get Rufus back or what?”

This was a perfect ending to grab the curiosity of fans, but there are some risks in a time travel show such as this. A relatively minor issue is that it does show that Lucy and Wyatt will both be around in the future. More seriously, it shows that they find a way around the limitation of not being able to travel back to where they have been, and lowers the stakes in the future if they can redo adventures if anything goes wrong. Presumably Rittenhouse will be able to do the same, complicating any attempts at stopping their efforts to change history.

Executive producer Shawn Ryan spoke with TV Line about the finale:

TVLINE | Where did these other versions of Lucy and Wyatt come from?
The episode that aired this past Sunday, Flynn referenced that he got the journal from Lucy. It seemed as if a future version of Lucy had given it to him, so that was a little bit of a tease that that was possible. It’s something that we hope to address in greater detail in Season 3 [if the show is renewed], exactly where that particular Wyatt and Lucy came from and what their circumstances are…

TVLINE | Where did these other versions of Lucy and Wyatt come from?
The episode that aired this past Sunday, Flynn referenced that he got the journal from Lucy. It seemed as if a future version of Lucy had given it to him, so that was a little bit of a tease that that was possible. It’s something that we hope to address in greater detail in Season 3 [if the show is renewed], exactly where that particular Wyatt and Lucy came from and what their circumstances are…

TVLINE | You’ve been playing all season with this idea of fate versus free will when it comes to Rufus’ life. Why did you decide to go through with Rufus’ death in the end?
We really like the idea of Jiya’s visions and how powerful they are, and the idea that what she saw were things that did come true in a way. One of her first visions was that Rufus was going to kill this pilgrim, and we ultimately saw in that episode that he actually didn’t shoot the guy, but the guy ended up being run over by horses and a carriage and died anyway. So the idea that there is some sort of fate thing that was going to befall Rufus, that despite all their best efforts to avoid it, they couldn’t, was something that was powerful to us — although, obviously, in the context of the twist end, where there’s a feeling like, “Hey, there’s a way to get him back now.”

Arrow ended the season on a cliff hanger which was awfully similar to what has already occurred on The Flash with Oliver going to prison. The death of Quentin Lance was not really a surprise as it was already announced that Paul Blackthorne was leaving the show. Presumably Oliver will not spend the rest of the series in prison. Unless Oliver can convince people that his statement that he is the Arrow was part of a ruse (similar to others covering for him in the past), the world will now know his identity, changing the show forever.

Marc Guggenheim is leaving as show runner after this season. He was interviewed about the finale by The Hollywood Reporter:

Season finales always include huge game-changing moments for Arrow and this was no different with Lance’s death and the Legends crossover with Sara (Caity Lotz) coming to the hospital. Where did the decision to kill off Lance come from? Was that always the plan or did that come as a result of conversations with Paul about the future of the character?

I wouldn’t say it was always the plan. It was something that we slowly came to. Sometimes we know exactly what our plans for a character are and other times it’s a slow discovery. In the case of Paul, it was a combination of two things. We started thinking about Lance’s character in season seven and coming to the conclusion that we felt like we told all the story there is to tell with Lance. We ran out of story with him while at the same time we were thinking about Katie Cassidy’s character, Earth-2 Laurel, and thinking about if Diaz were to kill Lance, what does that do for her character? It opened up a lot of very exciting storytelling possibilities for us and it fit in with a lot of things we were already thinking about in terms of the trajectory for Laurel’s character in season seven.

Oftentimes, we do what we call story math: If we killed off Lance, X, Y and Z happen. What are X, Y and Z? If we get excited about X, Y and Z, the idea starts to develop its own momentum. The more we talked about it, the more it felt like the natural and right thing to do. It’s always hard but at the same time, the show has always had an element to it where no one was safe. Unlike some of the other Arrow-verse shows, we’ve killed off more characters on Arrow than all the other Arrow-verse shows combined. There is something in the DNA about the show that makes that resonant and makes that visceral. As a result, we’re less precious about holding on to characters past their expiration date. But it’s hard because I will really miss working with Paul.

With Oliver now having publicly confessed to being the Green Arrow and getting sent to prison, after so many fake-outs in the past, what does this mean for the series moving forward now that he can’t go back to leading a double life?

When we were doing the pilot, I had a bucket list of ideas for the show. The identity reveal in my original conception happened in a very different way, but the idea of him revealing his identity, that was my penultimate card to play. Going into this season, we knew that that’s how we wanted to end the season. We were cognizant going into season six that if the show was going to be a six-plus-season show, it needs to constantly evolve and change. Oliver revealing his identity at the end of the season would be a great way to fundamentally change the series going into season seven.

He’s not going to remain in prison for the remainder of the series. When he gets out of prison, the fact that he now has to deal with the consequences of the public knowing his secret identity, that is huge. It’s not just Oliver, it’s also Felicity (Rickards) and his son, William (Jack Moore). She’s now married to the Green Arrow. William’s dad is the Green Arrow. That’s going to be huge for their family. That just creates so many cool stories to tell, interesting complications, challenges, dangers. It makes the prison storyline so much more visceral. If we wanted to just stick Oliver in prison, we could have done that without revealing his secret identity, but for us what always made the prison storyline exciting was he’s not just trapped in prison, but he’s trapped in prison with all these people who know that he’s the one who put him there. That’s such rich, exciting territory for us to be able to undertake in season seven.

Another change for the Arrowverse is that Batwoman and Gotham City will be introduced in next season’s cross over event. Oliver did mention Bruce Wayne earlier this season, showing that this is part of their universe.

The Blacklist managed to change things again with the revelation of whose bones were in the bag in the season finale. While watching I was wondering whether this was something planned all along or a twist they came up with this season to keep the show going. Entertainment Weekly received an answer to this question from Jon Bokencamp:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Did you know from the beginning that James Spader was not playing Raymond Reddington? 
JON BOKENKAMP: Yeah, this is something that we’ve talked about from the inception of the show. It is part of the underlying mythology that we’ve slowly been unraveling. I think there are a number of episodes that we can go back and sort of map and chart how we got here. Hopefully that is proof of concept to the audience that this is not something we’re just winging, and that we’re on a very specific path, and this is a well-earned reveal.

Did Spader know? Did the cast?
Yes, James has known and it’s something we’ve talked extensively about. The cast did not know, as far as I know. I’m always the last to know, so I have really no idea who else knew. But the thing I want to point out is that it doesn’t change tuning in to watch Spader be Raymond Reddington. He’s lived as Raymond Reddington long enough to be this person, right? He has told great stories, he has had great experiences, he’s become a world-class criminal and probably become a far more interesting person than the real Raymond Reddington ever dreamed of becoming.

I remember talking with James, it was probably right after we shot the pilot, and we were talking about what the show would be, how it would look and feel, and who this character was. The thing that has always stuck with me is that when James read the pilot, he had said that he felt like, at the end of the episode, it’s almost like he knew less about the character than he knew when he started reading the episode. We wanted to somehow hold on to that concept, that Reddington should be somebody who, once you think you understand who he is, you realize you know nothing about him. I think tonight is an example obviously of how we have tried to stay true to that, that he’s a very enigmatic figure that is a bit of a shape-shifter.

If he’s not Red, is there anything you can say as to who he is?
Well, I do think that is primarily the reason to come back in season 6, but you can go online and find all kinds of theories, imposter theories of who he is. There are a great number of them, by the way, many of which could make sense. But one of the things I love best about the show is that I can read some of these and I’d be like, “Well, that actually tracks.” What’s going to be the most fun about next season is watching Liz peel back this onion and get to the truth of why this man entered her life five years ago…

Liz has vowed to destroy Red. She went pretty dark in this episode. How far will she go? 
Yeah, well remember that she knows this truth about Reddington, but he does not know that she knows. I think that piece of information is really compelling. Not only has she learned a great deal from this man that she believed was her father, Raymond Reddington, she’s also learned a great deal from her now-deceased husband, who was a spy. So this is not the first-day-on-the-job FBI agent in the pilot who has just had a bombshell dropped in her lap. This is somebody who is struggling with who she is at the very core, and has not only killed people, has stewed people, has lied to people she’s worked with, so the potential darkness and the way in which she may approach handling this bombshell I think has real possibilities.

Watching Megan perform this year, I think she’s been fantastic. The character has always been fundamentally changing since the day we met her, but I think specifically in season 5, we’ve seen her take some pretty big steps. It’s some of the best stuff that character has had to do this season, because of the inner strength and the anger and everything she’s gone through to really put her in the corner. When she’s in the corner, she becomes a very interesting character.

Gotham has been renewed for a fifth and final season. One scene seemed to tease the Bat-signal. The producers had previously warned that the next season would bring many changes to the show in response to the catastrophe in the fourth season finale.

Fox also reports no current plans for another season of The X-Files but they are attempting to revive 24 once again. Of course the last season left matters quite open for another season of The X-Files if they manage to correct some of the creative problems in a way which entices Gillian Anderson to return. I am glad they have stayed away from trying to continue it with other stars.

The Last Ship will also receive a fifth and final season.

Netflix has renewed Lost in Space for a second season. Some  hints as to what will occur in the second season are in an interview posted here.

Amazon has renewed The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel for a third season even prior to the release of the second season later this year.

I previously posted news on renewals and cancellations here.

While we already knew it was renewed, Fox has announced the return date for The Orville. It will return on Sunday, December 30th following football and return to Thursday evenings following the conclusion of the football season. Jonathan Frakes will continue to do work for the show, and another Star Trek writer, Joe Menosky, has been made a co-executive producer.

Last week we also found about another show which was planned but has been indefinitely delayed. Nicholas Meyer, who directed Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and worked on Discovery in its early days, had previously hinted about a new Star Trek project. Trek Core now  has information regarding this:

Last night, speaking to an audience at the University of California, Irvine, at a public “Shakespeare and Star Trek” discussion, Meyer shared details about his Trek project for the first time — and thanks to exclusive coverage from this event, we can share his comments with you.

AUDIENCE QUESTION: A while back there were reports that you might be working on a ‘Star Trek’ miniseries, is there any truth to that, if you’re allowed to say anything about that?

MEYER: No, I can say something. I was hired to write a stand-alone ‘Star Trek’-related trilogy, [details of which] I can’t discuss or I’d have to kill you. [Laughs] I was writing it for CBS [All] Access… but at the moment CBS is at a war with Paramount/Viacom [about merging].

They’re in a power struggle which turned really nasty this past week when CBS decided to sue Viacom. So I don’t think my project is going anywhere in a hurry, because everything is on hold while they sort out this merger business. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it.

I’ve always thought that Star Trek worked better as a television series than a movie, but I do find this project interesting. First, Meyer had directed one of the best Star Trek movies. Secondly, a streaming trilogy could be like a short Star Trek season, allowing for more time for ideas and characters, as opposed to blockbuster films which concentrate on action.

The Nebula Award winners have been announced, with a listing here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

More on the wedding last week.

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

More on the wedding last week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: The Magicians Musical Episode; Black Mirror Renewed; Timeless Returns; Michelle Gomez on Returning To Doctor Who; The Expanse; Agents of SHIELD; Gotham; Lost In Space; Jessica Jones; Altered Carbon; Episode of Black-ish Too Controversial For ABC

Last season The Magicians went into battle with a musical number from Les Miserables (video here). This season they topped that in an episode with four muscical numbers, which also revealed where Josh has been.  The most talked about musical scene was Under Pressure where the entire cast was involved but my favorite was Kady (Jade Tailor) singing All I Need Is the Boy (adapted from All I Need Is the Girl from Gypsy). While most of the cast members have no experience singing, Jade Tailor does have experience with burlesque.

I have not been able to find a stand alone video of Jade Tailor’s song. Video of the entire cast singing Under Pressure follows:

The producers discussed All That Josh with Entertainment Weekly:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In approaching the episode with so many musical numbers, where do you start — with the songs or the story? 
JOHN MCNAMARA: God, I wish it was that linear. [Laughs]
SERA GAMBLE: John, I remember you talking about the David Bowie song, like, the previous season. Am I remembering this right, that you kind of had this image in your head of everybody singing that song long before we got to this episode?
MCNAMARA: Yeah, I think the music was first. Initially, I think it was a much looser, even lighter, less menacing plot. At first, the design was almost going to be like a singing contest where there are high stakes to be lost. That didn’t really hold water, it just didn’t seem to work. [We realized] it had to sit in the serialized narrative of the show, it had to be about the quest, it had to be about something and someone you really cared about, and it had to also serve several ongoing threads that had nothing to do with this musical pocket universe. That just took a lot of trial and error. This was one of those episodes — you have one every season — where the normal episode will take anywhere from three days to two weeks to break the story, get all the beats on the board, and my recollection is this took six weeks. It stopped the [writers’] room. It literally stopped all forward momentum. Fortunately, we’d been on schedule with our other scripts and we kind of planned out. This was the knot to untangle at the end of the second third of the season. All hands were on deck. I give a lot of credit (or blame, depending) to my two co-writers Jay Gard and Alex Raiman. This was their debut professional script.

For me, one of the breakthroughs — which fortunately happened while I was out of the room, so it wasn’t my idea, but I immediately approved it — was the idea that it was a universe where there were dangerous consequences if you didn’t behave exactly the way the leader, Todd/the demon, wanted you to behave. That was a really important breakthrough, I think, for all the writers because it gave it a lot of bottom. It wasn’t just going to be like jazz hands.

When I got to this episode, I was surprised that it became about the group uniting. How did you land on taking it in that specific direction, where it’s about Josh feeling left out? 
MCNAMARA: Part of it was just an accident. We realized we hadn’t had Josh in a bunch of episodes. He sort of got bumped out of a block of episodes through no fault of his own, just that we have a lot of characters and a lot of plot, and that in a way felt fortuitous, that you could then make the show about what happened to Josh.
GAMBLE: Whether or not the episode we’re working on happens to have half a dozen musical numbers in it, we are always playing within the structure of a classic fairy-tale quest this season. Quentin especially is very, very cognizant of how these epic quests work and how each step of the quest challenges the quester in a different way. From the beginning in this case, the quest has been a group effort, and when Eliot is given the quest in the first episode, he’s both encouraged and warned by the fact that everybody is part of one whole, and that means that these different keys, as you try to get them, will challenge you in different ways. If they’re a team and they forgot Josh, that’s a problem for the quest. So that was really one of the first things that we could sink our teeth into. Unlike John, I really don’t have a brain for musical theater. There are a lot of hilariously ardent musical theater fans in The Magicians writers’ room, as you can tell, starting with John, and I am not one of them. I am sort of the grumpy person in the corner who’s drinking coffee and saying, “Explain to me how this would work if no one was singing.”

You had “Under Pressure” in the back of you head for a while, but how did you pick the other three songs for the episode?
MCNAMARA: We knew the opening number would have to reintroduce Josh in a big way. It would have to be a big, inexplicably well-choreographed number that tells you why he’s so happy to be here, how integrated he is into this universe. The dance tells you something nonverbally about the world and the character: He is the center of this whole little universe. He’s the lead singer, he’s the lead dancer, and Todd is kind of his enabler, and we later learn why. That to me felt like we needed something big and upbeat and party-ish. We listened to a lot of songs, I can’t remember the titles of all of them. Some of them were insanely expensive and popular, and the song “Wham Bam” I thought was really catchy and a lot of fun. I thought it was like a really good introduction. It then gave Alice, Quentin, and Kady something to stare incomprehensibly at.

Another [type of musical number] that I’m very fond of is cabaret, where most of the musical numbers take place on a stage, so that you’re seeing a character perform for an audience that isn’t the audience in the theater, it’s the audience of the Kit Kat Klub, and character and milieu are revealed through a little more of a sideways way in. On the surface, it’s not as revealing of character, but if you do it right, it’s very revealing of character. So that informed the decision to have Kady sing her song. All I knew about that song early on was I wanted it to be a Sondheim song, because I love his work and I think it’s really intelligent and it always has layers to it, and I knew that it had to be a torch song because I had an instinct early on that we do a kind of classic Mata Hari move wherein she would do something outrageous to distract all of these creatures, and mollify and entertain them while our heroes were off doing something nefarious upstairs with Josh. I thought the [“All I Need Is the Boy”] lyrics were just as good if not better than “All I Need Is the Girl,” which has pretty good lyrics. I thought that’s the perfect torch song and definitely for our really hardcore musical theater aficionados, who may number in single digits, it’s kind of a treat to hear what is kind of, for 99% of the world, a brand new Stephen Sondheim lyric and, in my opinion, does not disappoint when you want cleverness, emotion, and a not-sentimental emotion and depth from Sondheim.

Then I came to discover with Sera, Jay, and Alex was now we have to explain why it is Kady would choose to sing this song and do a striptease. Then we thought, well, her mom, who we met in season 1 and was a bit of free spirit, might have had a year where she decided to be a stripper and maybe she did this burlesque number and Kady remembers it and recreates the dress. Without necessarily intending to, suddenly the song and the number and the moment and even the suspense it creates all illuminates Kady’s character to a greater degree.

“Car Wash” was just that we wanted something fun for Josh to use to distract, but also to slowly reveal to him how empty and repetitive this life has become and how false it is. I thought disco was a pretty good route to get to the death of the soul. If you’re just doing disco for months and months and months, you’re going to see the emptiness of it. As I said, “Under Pressure” was always in the back of my head before there was anything like a story as something that all eight characters could sing as we intercut between their various worlds and their various problems. None of us started out knowing how or why. That was just always on the board as the big number. In a weird way, the only one that we planned ahead of time was “Under Pressure.” Everything else was kind of trial and error, and selected to either illuminate character or move the story forward.O

Inside the Magicians (video above) has more on the episode, including a very brief look at Jade Tailor singing All I Need Is the Boy.

Black Mirror was officially renewed for a fifth season. There is no word yet as to how many episodes

Timeless returns tonight. Spoiler TV has a preview of the episode here.

In an interview with Doctor Who Magazine, Michelle Gomez says she might return to face Jodie Whittaker’s version of the Doctor. She had this to say about the character:

I think it’s going to be really hard to shake this one off. Missy has made quite a big impression on me, and hopefully on the fans as well. She was such a great fit. Even though, for now, she has been laid to rest. I don’t think she’s ever going to be that far away. I loved playing this character so much, and it was really hard to see her go. But I think that in many different shapes and forms, she will be back. I can’t really say much more than that. I have never had this response to anything else that I’ve done, and I’m really grateful for that.

While her character appeared to be killed and left unable to regenerate, the Master has a long tradition of returning from apparent death. Plus time travel would allow for seeing her at a different point in her time line.

Syfy has released the above trailer for The Expanse season three, which returns April 11.

There were big moments last week for the 100th episode of Agents of SHIELD (discussed and spoiled here), and on Gotham. Although it was during a drug induced hallucination caused by Poison Ivy, Bruce Wayne had a vision of his future, with might be the only view of Batman we are likely to see on the show:

The Librarians has been cancelled by TNT, with there some talk of trying to have it picked up elsewhere.

Netflix will be releasing another remake of Lost in Space on April 13, and released the following trailer:

Jessica Jones is out on Netflix now. I have a four more episodes to go, but so far it has been excellent, showing more about Jessica’s backstory. While the series is slow moving, I haven’t minded. I would much rather spend time with Jessica, Patsy, and the rest of this cast than in the far less interesting world created in Iron Fist.

Altered Carbon is another show highly worth binging which came out recently on Netflix. It also starts out a little slow, but once I got to the second half it was hard to stop until the end.  While it has not been renewed for a second season, I would not be surprised if it returns after the success of the first season. They have the options of adapting the sequels to the novel, or writing new stories set in the universe created.  Joel Kinnaman, star of the current season, will be staring in Hanna on Amazon, and may or may not be available to return for a future season. However, somewhat analogous to Doctor Who, this series has a built-in way to cast a new lead. In this case, as occurred in the novels, Takeshi Kovacs could receive a new sleeve and have his consciousness placed in a new body, played by a different actor. If desired, they could continue this series with a different lead actor every year.

Black-ish has often dealt with political matters, but the episode originally scheduled for February 27 was not shown due to “creative differences.” Variety has some information on the episode:

Shot in November and directed by Barris, “Please, Baby, Please” features Anthony Anderson’s patriarch Dre caring for his infant son on the night of an intense thunderstorm that keeps the whole household awake. Dre attempts to read the baby a bedtime story, but abandons that plan when the baby continues to cry. He instead improvises a bedtime story that, over the course of the episode, conveys many of Dre’s concerns about the current state of the country.

The episode covers multiple political and social issues. In one scene, Dre and oldest son Junior (Marcus Scribner) argue over the rights of athletes to kneel during the performance of the national anthem at football games.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Following is the official synopsis of the season from NBC:

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

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; The X-Files; Time Travel: Doctor Who, Timeless, and Legends of Tomorrow

With Vaulting Ambition I feel that Star Trek: Discovery has moved on from what was predictable and discussed in previous posts to new surprises. As I, and probably most of the internet, previously guessed, Ash Tyler is Voq, Lorca is from the Mirror universe and caused Discovery to wind up there, and Georgiou is the Emperor. All of this was finally confirmed, additional details provided, and new questions raised.

If you accept the logic of the Mirror Universe, most of the remaining revelations in Vaulting Ambition make total sense. In the Prime Universe Burnham was an orphan, was close to Georgiou, and betrayed her. In the Mirror Universe, the specifics are different, but this basic framework exists. As we learned last week that Sarek was not the one who adopted Burnham, it was not all that much of a surprise to learn that Georgiou was the one who adopted her.

It was already pretty obvious that Lorca had a special need for Burnham considering how he not only arranged for her to be on Discovery, but also acted very protective of her. Their connection was explained. Presumably the Lorca of the Prime Universe and the Mirror Burnham are dead, but having one or the other show up isn’t impossible. The writers sure played with the audience in both surprising us in the dinner scene with the revelations that Burnham was adopted by Georgiou, and subsequently that Burnham had betrayed her with Lorca. They also played with the viewers when Lorca was in the torture booth initially pretending not to know the name of the sister, as would be expected if he was from the Prime Universe. Then he suddenly gave it away.

There were already many clues. While there was already speculation that Lorca was the Mirror version to explain his very un-Starfleet like behavior, including leaving Harry Mudd behind with the Klingons, I became convinced of it in Lethe. The clues included him not remembering details of past actions with Admiral Cornwall and his behavior towards her, including attacking her and sleeping with a phaser. Another clue in this episode was finding that both Georgiou and Lorca eat Kelpiens, after Burhnam picked one out as we pick lobsters. Again this is consistent with Kelpiens being a prey species in the Prime Universe (even if not prey of humans). The clincher for Burnham was finding out about the shared eye problem between Georgiou and Lorca.

The confirmation that Lorca is from the Mirror Universe provides an answer for critics of Discovery who complain that what we have seen is not consistent with Star Trek. Lorca was not acting like a Starfleet Captain because he was from the Mirror Universe. The fact that his actions were found to be suspicious and he was at risk of losing his command shows that the rest of this universe is like the Star Trek universe we are accustomed to.

Burnham, who has frequently made bad decisions from her initial attack on Georgiou in the pilot to going to the planet last week, seems to have made another one in quickly informing Mirror Georgiou both that she is from a different universe and about the spore drive. Georgiou was far better at keeping secrets, including the use of her killer fidget spinner to make sure none of the witnesses to the conversation will talk. Burnham was also easily conned by Mirror Georgiou’s claims of being honorable as the Georgiou she knew was honorable, but the whole point of the Mirror Universe is that we are seeing the evil versions of Federation characters.

Also in the episode, Stamets did get to see Culber again, but it hardly left me optimistic that Culber will actually be seen alive again. The issues in the mycelial network might provide yet another reason why the technology is not being used by the time of the original show.

It was surprising that  L’Rell both revealed so much about her plan with Voq, and gave in to work on him. This still leaves the question open of what she is actually doing, and who will remain when she is done.

There are many remaining questions including the specifics of Lorca’s plan. In a battle between the Mirror versions of Lorca and Georgiou, is one preferable, or are both entirely evil? Will learning about how Lorca got into the Prime Universe provide another way home for Discovery? Regardless of how the battle between Lorca and Georgiou turns out, where does this leave Star Trek: Discovery in the future?

It is hard to see Lorca being Captain in the future, unless the Prime Universe version is locked up in Lorca’s menagerie and will be ready to retake command (after a hiatus between seasons). One of the original ideas discussed for Discovery was for it to be an anthology series. I wonder if it is even a possibility that next season will be an entirely different story with a different ship and crew. That possibility also means that we cannot even be certain that the Discovery will return to the Prime Universe. It might be stuck in the Mirror Universe, wind up in yet another universe, or leave the Mirror universe at a different point in time.

If you only watch one episode of The X-Files this season, watch The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat. The episode was written by Darin Morgan who wrote classic episodes such as Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’ and the best episode of last seasonMulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster.

The episode appears to be inspired by both The Twilight Zone and Donald Trump. It is about gaps in collective memory, a phenomenon known as the Mandela effect–except in the episode it is also misremembered as the Mengele effect. Examples begin with Mulder finding evidence that his favorite episode of The Twilight Zone, The Lost Martian, doesn’t really exist. When Mulder couldn’t find it anywhere Scully suggested it might have been an episode of The Outer Limits. Mulder was shocked: “Confuse The Twilight Zone with The Outer Limits?! Do you even know me?”

Elsewhere in the episode Mulder set everyone straight as to who he is: “Do you know who I am? I’m Fox Mulder! I was fighting the power and breaking conspiracies before you saw your first chemtrail, you punks! I’m Fox Freaking Mulder, you punks! I’m Fox Mulder! Fox Mulder!”

Much of the episode involved meeting a guy named Reggie in a parking garage, with other faux historical information provided about manipulating collective memory. This included Dr. Thaddeus Q. They, who had worked on making astronauts forget home, but wound up making them think they were chimpanzees. His best scene was siting on top of the Washington Monument (as there were no other seats available) wearing a “Make America Great Again” cap. It was mocking Trump’s claims about the inaugural crowd by pretending that the public was manipulated into forgetting how many people actually attended.

This was the perfect episode for the Trump era, called the POCO age in this episode as “We’re living in a post-cover-up, post-conspiracy age.”  This might describe the POCO age:

No one will care whether the truth gets out, because the public no longer knows what’s meant by the truth. No one can tell the difference anymore between what’s real and what’s fake. Take this Mandela Effect. In the old days, I never would have come out and admitted to you that yes, I can change people’s collective memories.

Dr. They gave Trump credit: “Our current president once said something truly profound. He said, ‘Nobody knows for sure.’”

The episode had Mulder attempt to explain discrepancies in memory based upon parallel universes, while Skully explained it by faulty memory. When Mulder’s memory of watching television of a child was shown, there was a child sized Mulder with adult Mulder’s head.

The invasion of Grenada was shown to be a cover-up of an alien visit. We later later learned that, “We’re not alone in the universe, but nobody likes us.” The alien returned to say that a wall, which will be “beautiful, albeit invisible,” will be built around our solar system to keep humans from infecting the rest of the galaxy. The rationalization sounded like one from Donald Trump saying the Earth is  “not sending us your best people. You’re bringing drugs, you’re bringing crime, you’re rapists.” To make up for this restriction, Mulder was given a book entitled All the Answers, which answers all the questions raised by the X-Files. Of course Mulder did not want the book, wanting to continue his search for the truth.

Ultimately the entire series was retconned to include Reggie as a third member of the team, with scenes from classic episodes edited to include Reggie Forrest Gump style. The idea was set up earlier this season in This when Mulder and Scully were flipping through the electronic X-Files and there was a badge for Reggie. Reggie was ultimately taken away in a straight jacket. Skinner then came out asking where they were taking Reggie, adding a question as to how real his story was.

With the recent talk of a secret society in the FBI working to undermine Trump, I do hope that Gillian Anderson reconsiders and returns for another season of The X-Files so that they could do an episode on this. The likelihood that this talk is largely nonsense in no way reduces the possibility that The X-Files could use the idea for an episode.

SyFy.com interviewed Darin Morgan:

With the renewal of The X-Files for a Season 11 and your call back to write another episode, did it start with asking yourself, “What do I want to explore?”

Darin Morgan: Well, you know my last episode [“Mulder & Scully Meet the Were-Monster”] was kind of about coming back to the show, and reflecting back on what did it all mean and how did I feel about that?

 have to say, it was a unique exploration of those themes via comedian Rhys Darby’s out-of-sorts monster.

Yeah, Rhys was great. So this one was more of like, ‘Okay, you’ve reflected, so what’s going on now with the world?” And the whole idea of, if this show’s main thing has been ‘The truth is out there’ and we have a president who…

For him there is no truth.

Right. Or you have Mulder, who’s been a conspiracy nut from the get-go, and now you have essentially his boss [President Trump] is even a bigger conspiracy nut.

Mulder actually looks sane for the first time compared to where the world is right now.

Exactly. So that was the main approach. How would Mulder respond to all that’s going on around him?

David and I talked about that too, in that over the 25-year span of the show, the world has achieved peak surreal. As a writer, how do you distill that into this world?

Good question. I don’t know. This may not directly answer you, but I found the hardest thing was in terms of Trump, every day he does something that you go, “I can’t believe he said that. I want to address that.” But a week later, no one remembers that thing. There were so many things when I first started writing that if I had referenced it I don’t think people would have remembered it now. So I ended up focusing on the wall and his lying. Those two things will always be around as long as he’s president. I sort of focused on those two things.

Having Reggie as the third partner is fantastic. Where did that idea come from, and also Brian’s casting?

Brian was great. He’s a lot of fun. I came across the… I was going to say the Mengele Effect, but it’s The Mandela Effect. (Laughs) From that it was figuring out what I was going to do with that. It’s this idea — and I think this is where the third partner idea came in — was like if someone has never had an experience, like I don’t have a memory other people do, the only way to make them understand what that might feel like is if someone was watching the show, The X-Files, and the someone goes, “There was always another character.” And you go, “Wait, no, no. It was just Mulder and Scully.” And they say, “No, no. There was Mulder and Scully and Reggie something.” That would put them in a position of going, “Oh, how would I react if a memory I have that I cherished of my past, suddenly nobody else believes me?” So that was the way to do it.

Did you come out of the other end of it feeling like the phenomena is something more?

No.

No?

I still think it’s just people misremembering. I have a really bad memory myself. It’s interesting to go, “Oh, try to come up with some theory to explain it.” But it’s just people not remembering. I guess that’s why I probably didn’t do as thorough and in-depth exploration of that phenomenon, because, to me, there wasn’t a lot to run with. Other than that, I get parallel universes, which is one explanation…

Are you doing any episodes in the back part of the season?

No. Once is enough.

After all these years, do you feel like new X-Files stories still come to you easily?

Oh, God no. No. It’s always tough. Writing for the show is so hard because you have to come up with a completely different story and it’s not in an anthology show, which in some ways makes it easier. But it’s also difficult because you have to do Mulder and Scully investigating a story on something completely different. It’s just always difficult. I’ve never had an episode where, “Oh, that one was easy.”

I am glad that the 13th Doctor won her first battle. From Digital Spy:

The BBC gender pay gap was one of the biggest stories of last year, and one person who is not afraid of fighting such inequality is Jodie Whittaker.

The actress told Digital Spy and other media outlets that she made sure that she got paid the same as her Doctor Who predecessor Peter Capaldi.

Speaking backstage at the National Television Awards, Whittaker said: “It’s an incredibly important time and the notion [of equal pay] should be supported.

“It’s a bit of a shock that it’s a surprise to everyone that it should be supported!

“I know I do not speak just on behalf of the women here, I speak on behalf of the men and the women,” she added, stating that people of both sexes believe they should be paid equally.

When asked how she was enjoying working on the iconic sci-fi show, the actress said: “Yeah, it’s great. I love it, I absolutely love it, yeah. It’s amazing! I get to see all the best places!”

Den of Geek looked at the unanswered questions of the Peter Capaldi era.

Radio Times summarized what is known about the first season of the Jodie Whittaker era here.

NBC has announced a return date for Timeless. The second season will  start on Sunday, March 11th at 10 p.m. with an episode entitled, The War to End All Wars. Needless to say, it involves a trip back to World War I. I hope they don’t give away the fact that we call it World War I as the Doctor did on Twice Upon A Time. Spoilers.

On another time travel series, Legends of Tomorrow, Wally West (Kid Flash) is going to become a series regular. Constantine will also appear on the show when it returns February 12. Following is the synopsis of the episode:

After Sara’s (Caity Lotz) encounter with Mallus, the Legends are paid a visit by John Constantine (guest star Matt Ryan), a demonologist detective.

The Legends agree to accompany him to a present-day psychiatric hospital and they are surprised to discover who Constantine is trying to help.

During the exorcism, Sara, Leo (guest star Wentworth Miller) and Constantine go missing, leaving Ray (Brandon Routh) and Zari (Tala Ashe) to try to take care of Constantine’s client.

Meanwhile, Amaya (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) and Nate (Nick Zano) once again come face to face with Kuasa. Dominc Purcell also stars.

The CW Network is staggering its superhero shows, having recently started Black LighteningMark Pedowitz, the CW’s president, realizes that there is a limit to how many superhero shows can survive at once, and has placed a limit of four. Good idea, especially considering that other networks also have superhero and comic-based series at present.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, The Doctor Falls; iZombie Ends Season 3 With Game Changing Episode; Sense8 To Return For A Two Hour Special

The Doctor Falls allowed both Peter Capaldi and Steven Moffat to leave Doctor Who with an excellent season finale, but unfortunately it is a long way until Christmas to see how this concludes. Among the highlights were seeing two versions of the Master, with Michelle Gomez and John Simm doing an excellent job of playing off of one another. This included seeing Missy change sides between the Master and the Doctor based upon what was to her benefit at the time, gags such as Missy knocking herself out, their seemingly incestuous (?) relationship, a timey-wimey solution for the Master’s damaged TARDIS, and ultimately Missy deciding to be good.

This seemed to lead to both Missy and the Master killing each other, leaving the Master to regenerate and Missy’s fate unknown. The Master claimed that he shot Missy with enough force to prevent further regenerations, but the Master has a long history of coming back from apparent death. Plus we don’t know for sure if Missy was the regeneration directly after the John Simm Master. We might wind up seeing other regenerations between the two as it is hard to believe that the Master will never return in some form, even if Missy cannot regenerate.

Bill seemed to be heading towards  a tragic ending at the end of World Enough and Time last week. When the description of the creation of Cybermen was discussed, including the discarding of parts, it became clear that the Doctor could not save her. As I predicted last week, Steven Moffat would not leave her to suffer such a fate and, like Clara Oswald who escaped her death by going off with Ashildr before her last heart beat, Bill went to explore the universe with Heather from Pilot. This was foreshadowed with her tears. (“Where there’s tears, there’s hope.”) While most likely Bill will be leaving the series in this form, this does give Chris Chibnall the option of returning her to human form, either temporarily or permanently, to return as a guest or companion should he desire.

At least Pearl Mackie got to return for this episode as she saw herself in human form and was portrayed this way in many of her scenes. One minor nitpick is that if her brain showed her in human form when she looked at herself directly, why would her brain also not show her human self to her when she looked in a mirror or at her reflection?

Steven Moffat explained why he did not kill companions like Clara and Bill, and why Bill was not left as a Cyberman:

I’ll just say this and I’ll get into terrible trouble with certain people…I don’t think Doctor Who is that kind of show. Doctor Who is a big hearted, optimistic show that believes in kindness and love and that wisdom will triumph in the end. I don’t believe it’s the kind of show that says there are bitter, twisted, nasty endings because it’s not. It’s not gritty; it’s aspirational. It says, ‘It can work. And wisdom and kindness will triumph. And love will always come through in the end.’ I think there aren’t enough people or enough shows saying that and I’m damned if Doctor Who is going to join in with the general chorus of despair.

This leaves matters open:

So, she doesn’t die. She nearly dies. She nearly dies and she becomes something else. And we leave it in such a way that, again, I don’t know future plans, I’ve kept away from them, I put it such that, because Heather does say ‘Look, I can put you back on Earth if you want to go back and make chips,’ she could. So any of those are [possible]. I kind of think in my head she flies around the universe with Heather. That’s what she does.

We saw an origin of the Cybermen, but don’t know if this will be a separate group, or if they will ultimately escape the black hole and spread through the galaxy. The different origins seen so far for Cybermen is explained by this being the inevitable action of humans when put in a desperate situation and they wind up misusing their technology: “Like sewage, smartphones and Donald Trump, some things are just inevitable.”

This was hardly the first time that Doctor Who solved a seemingly impossible problem with an easy solution. It was too easy for the Doctor to reprogram the Cyberman in a matter of seconds to include two hearts in their definition of human. If the Doctor could do this, why not remove humans with only one heart from danger? It was also too easy for them to make things explode, even if they were on a space ship with such material under the floor. It would have made matters much simpler if they could create such explosions on the hospital floor where the Cybermen were being created. We did get to see the ultimate apple upgrade in one of many fun scenes. While it was shown to be impossible to return to the TARDIS for most of the episode, this was also solved too easily at the end.

Nardole had the simplest ending, taking the place of the Doctor to protect a group of humans. However, it is hard to believe that the Cybermen will not continue going upwards floor by floor.

The biggest question is what happens next with the Doctor. Moffat has said in interviews he wanted the Christmas special to be more positive than showing the death of the Doctor. Instead he had the Doctor receive his deadly wounds in the season finale as opposed to the Christmas episode. Peter Capaldi’s Doctor did not want to go (like David Tennant’s) but also did not want to return in a different form. Presumably the Christmas episode will have the a more uplifting story line with the Doctor deciding to go on.

The final scene also confirmed reports that the first Doctor would also appear, and it appears this might be around the time of his own regeneration. The scene also allowed both Peter Capaldi and  David Bradley (playing William Hartnell’s Doctor) to declare at different times in the episode that they were not just a doctor but the Doctor. The first Doctor introduced himself with: “You may be a Doctor. But I am the Doctor. The original, you might say.”

With this concluding on Christmas, this leaves open the question of whether, if the first Doctor is the ghost of the Doctor’s past, will we also see a version of the Doctor’s future in a story along the lines of It’s a Wonderful Life. If so, this conceivably could be a Doctor in a far distant regeneration, allowing Chris Chibnall to have a different actor play the Doctor when he takes over. This could also account for casting rumors. There could be different actors being considered for this role in the Christmas episode and for next season.

Steven Moffat has done a lot to set up the possibility of a female Doctor in previous episodes as I discussed last week. This was teased further when the Master asked, “Will the future be all girl?” The Doctor answered, “We can only hope.” Moffat has no say as to the next Doctor, but perhaps he is trying to nudge Chibnall in that direction. Maybe he will show a future regeneration as a female Doctor in the Christmas special.

iZombie also concluded the season with an excellent two-part episode. It was inevitable that Fillmore Graves (great name) would not act in a totally benign manner, and having all those people line up for a vaccine would lead to tragedy. While Doctor Who will be changing with a different show runner and cast, the season finale of iZombie also set up the show to move in a new direction now that the public is aware of the existence of zombies, and many more people are on the verge of becoming zombies.

Nerdist spoke with Rob Thomas about the changes:

“In some ways, some things will be familiar,” Thomas tells Nerdist. “Liv [Rose McIver] and Clive [Malcolm Goodwin] will still be solving murders in Seattle. But beyond that, the show is going to feel very different. Seattle is going to be a very different place next year. Zombies will be living side-by-side with humans, with each of them knowing that. There will be places where zombies hang out publicly. Human-zombie relations will be a very touchy thing. Seattle is going to become a walled city, much like Berlin. It’s going to be very different.”

In building to this point  zombies going public — this season and pretty much the whole series has essentially been like a prequel to the potential zombie apocalypse. But Thomas promises that we haven’t gotten to that point yet. “Everyone’s trying to prevent the apocalypse,” he says. “What I think it feels like is the Cuban Missile Crisis.”

He laughs, then adds, “Like right on the edge. There are people high up in the U.S. government, probably a lot of world governments, that would be in favor of nuking Seattle and just taking care of the zombie problem. It’s a tense, tense situation. Essentially, the card that Chase Graves has to play is, ‘I’m holding a half million human citizens hostage. If you’re going to nuke all the zombies, we’re going to take a half million innocent humans with us.’ We’re in a standoff.”

However, all these radical changes doesn’t mean we’re letting go of what makes iZombie, well, iZombie.

“Even if you lived in a city like that, life would have to go on,” Thomas says. “There’s this no-mans-land between Seattle and the rest of the United States, but murders still have to solved, the garbage still has to be picked up, food has to be delivered and most importantly, the rest of the U.S. has to deliver brains to Seattle, otherwise the zombies will go hungry and if the zombies go hungry, the apocalypse will start. Just as Chase Graves said in the video in the finale, ‘Send us your brains and everything will be okay.’”

Given the fact that Chase Graves has alerted the rest of the country to Seattle’s ever-growing zombie population, it would seem pretty reasonable to expect things to grow to a national—if not global—scale in the future, but Thomas gets pretty real about why the scope of the series isn’t going to grow all that much.

“Given our budget and the fact that we film in Vancouver, it’s always going to feel very Seattle-ish,” he says with a laugh. “We don’t quite have the Game of Thrones budget where we could do desert shots or anything. We might be able to put up a Chinese flag behind us and a couple Chinese actors and fake a call to China but I think that’s about all we could manage. We’ll have largely a Pacific Northwest bent to it.”

Like people returning from the dead on iZombie, television shows sometimes also return from the dead after they are cancelled. We saw this with Timeless, with NBC reversing their decision to cancel the show. Not long after Netflix cancelled Sense8 they agreed to have a two hour episode to resolve the cliff hanger from the season two finale. It certainly makes sense for Netflix to do this. They currently own two seasons of the show along with a Christmas special which bridged the seasons. Offering a conclusion will make it more likely people will watch Sense8 in the future, whether on Netflix, DVD’s or syndicated elsewhere. It would be much harder to maintain interest in a show which ends on a cliff hanger, and a two hour episode to wrap it up will cost far less than another full season. Will this also include a third orgy scene?

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Oxygen; Timeless; Sense8; The Handmaid’s Tale; More Renewals and Cancellations; The Last Man On Earth Season Finale; Artistic Opposition To Donald Trump

Doctor Who began Oxygen with an apparent homage to Star Trek, speaking of the final frontier. Except it led into this week’s episode by saying, “Final because it wants to kill us.” Final frontier might also tie into the return of the Master by referring to the 1973 episode Frontier In Space which was final appearance of Roger Delgado as the Master.

The episode took advantage of the Doctor’s role as professor, and allowed him to use the blackboard again, even if he got off topic in discussing the dangers in space: “What’s this got to do with crop rotation?” This was a combination hard science fiction/space zombie episode, with less of the simple talk between Bill and the Doctor. That does not mean Bill didn’t get a chance to ask pertinent questions such as, “What happens if I throw up in my helmet?”

The best answer of the episode came from the Doctor in response to the question“Who the hell put you in charge?” The response: “I’m here to save lives. Anyone who doesn’t want me to, raise your hand now.”

The episode finally involved Nardole in the story, and got him off earth.

This was one of the more political episodes of the show. It was bad enough to find that the miners were charged for oxygen. They would also pump any excess oxygen out of the station to force the workers to have to purchase the oxygen from them. Making matters even worse, once the algorithms calculated that it was not cost effective to keep the workers alive, they were turned off and the suits took over. They continued to move, looking like space zombies.

A line from the Doctor when he figured out that the next set of people coming were not to rescue the workers, as that would not be cost effective, made this all work: “They’re not your rescuers. They’re your replacements. The end point of capitalism. The bottom line where human life has no value at all. We’re fighting an algorithm, a spreadsheet … like every worker everywhere, we’re fighting the suits!”

Giving the two meanings to “fighting the suits” fit in so well with this episode.

The Doctor went on to explain that soon after humanity resorted things like selling oxygen capitalism came to an end. However, after this, “the human race makes a whole new mistake.”

The solution to the problem was simple but fit into the story. The Doctor began to bluff in saying, “The nice thing about life is however bad it gets, there’s always one option left – dying well.” He had no intention of actually dying, but he made it look like he would make it more expensive for the corporation, causing the suits to all stop.

Unfortunately this did not come without some costs. The sonic screwdriver was destroyed (once again). The Doctor gave Bill his helmet to keep her alive, and as a result became blind. As the Doctor put it,  “I’ve got no TARDIS, no sonic, about 10 minutes of oxygen left and now I’m blind. Can you imagine how unbearable I’m going to be when I pull this off?”

Many episodes this season turn something common into something deadly,  reminiscent of Blink. This week the warning was “don’t panic” as this will lead to breathing faster, using up more oxygen, and death. Next week in Extremis yet another common event, reading a book, might get you killed. The Doctor’s blindness might be what saves him. Is this just a temporary measure for next week’s episode, or is it part of a slow death leading to his regeneration later this season? From the preview, we also see the return of Missy.

There was a lot of news this week regarding final decisions on renewals, largely with shows which were thought to be on the bubble. The announced cancellations included Sleepy Hollow, Timeless, Blacklist: Redemption (with Blacklist renewed), Scandal, PowerlessFrequency, and No Tomorrow. Renewals included New Girl (for one final season), Gotham, Agents of SHIELD, iZombie, American Gods, Thirteen Reasons Why, and A Handmaid’s Tale.

Of the cancelled shows, the only two which I might miss are Sleepy Hollow and Timeless. Sleepy Hollow did recover this season, with its season finale working as either the series finale or as a stepping stone to a new season. Timeless got better as the season went on, and ended with a cliff hanger which did leave me wanting more. Fortunately NBC listened to protests from other fans who felt the same and reversed its decision, giving it ten episodes next spring or summer.

Considering the nature of the show, there is also speculation that time travel was utilized to bring back the show. However, we learned from The Flash that going back in time to change things does have consequences. Reversing the decision at NBC might lead to terrible consequences. Perhaps ER will return for another decade, or worse, Whitney or Sean Saves The World will return to the NBC lineup.

I have no idea how the two new CW shows, Frequency and No Tomorrow, were. I never gave them a chance as there were already more shows on than I had time for, but I know both shows did have their fans. The CW Network has at least released epilogues for both of these shows.

Both Thirteen Reasons Why and The Handmaid’s Tale have been renewed for a second season, adding to the series based upon books which are going on beyond where the book they were based upon ended. The third season of The Leftovers is showing how a series can be better in such a situation. The Handmaid’s Tale has been excellent through the fifth episode, leaving me quite trusting of the producers to continue the story. While based upon the book this season, the show so far is often made stronger when it goes beyond the book. The story feels more realistic and a possible extension of current trends by showing the flashbacks. Mentions of events in Canada and the European Union since I last mentioned the book have further added to this sense of reality.

Now that we have also had additional episodes beyond the first three which were released at once, I further appreciate how good a job they are doing at not only converting a book but presenting episodic television. While it is not necessarily bad, many streaming shows and shows based upon books are more like a multi-hour movie with arbitrary breaks every hour or so. In contrast, each episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, while part of the novel, do tell a separate story.

Sense8, which I have completed since last discussing this, is also stronger in its second season in better handling episodic television while also having a season-long arc. Highlights include a wedding, a shoot out, and a car chase, along with other things I won’t mention to avoid any spoilers.

The Last Man on Earth ended with a change in scenery necessitated by a nearby nuclear power plant being on the verge of a melt down. We also found out that Kristen Wiig’s character, who had appeared in a single episode, has survived. Den of Geek spoke with the writers:

DEN OF GEEK: I sort of like the idea that this finale is all about safety. Did you know that you’d be ending up at this nuclear fallout angle when the season began? There are light references to it throughout the year.

KIRA KALUSH: We were always pretty set on doing a nuclear fallout this season. For a while we thought it could be our mid-season finale. We even toyed around with it being the reason the group leaves Malibu, but ultimately, here it landed, and I think it was the right move.

ANDY BOBROW: When we went in to discuss the season with the network, we pitched this ending, kind of as a “this is something we’re thinking about, not married to it yet.” It certainly scared them financially, since we basically guaranteed we will have to build all new sets next year. So we were mindful of that, what it would cost. And we kept thinking, well, maybe some better idea will come along. As the year progressed, we really couldn’t think of anything stronger. We realize we’re writing ourselves into a corner, but it just seemed so Last Man, I think we had to go for it.

Is that perhaps the direction that the show is moving in?  Where the gang is just trying to avoid nuclear fallout. It’s nice that this material also brings everything back full circle in terms of Pat.

KIRA KALUSH: You can never really say where the show is going until we’re there, but I don’t think the group will be on the run for too long. It’s likely that this is just a way for them to move locations and get out of their element. But who knows? R.I.P. Pat Brown. He was a fantastic misunderstood conspiracy theorist with anger problems, but it was his time to go.

ANDY BOBROW: The thought of doing a whole season on the run is very enticing, but might be cost prohibitive. Just in terms of the production of the show, our model is we build a set and shoot three days on set and two days on location per episode. Location shooting is more expensive, but if there’s a way to do more of it and stay on budget, I’m all for it…

The season seems to end with the only things that are clear being that the gang is on a boat and that Kristen Wiig’s Pamela is along for the ride. Did you ever think of her appearance almost just functioning as like a short film about the end of the world, or was the plan always to circle back to her?

KIRA KALUSH: I actually have a good answer to this one. There was a pitch that always made me laugh, but it’s a giant “fuck you” to the audience. The Wiig episode is so good and so exciting and we knew our fans would be psyched, waiting to see when and how she joins the group. So the pitch was this: In the time jump at Melissa and Todd’s wedding, Tandy is rambling on about everything they’ve been through together as a group. He points to memorials of Phil, Gordon, Lewis, and finally, Pamela — revealing that Pamela met up with the group, lived with them and died, all within those six months. I don’t think we ever would have done it, but it still cracks me up.

ANDY BOBROW: Right right. I mentioned this in the time jump questions, because at one point, rather than Pamela it was going to be Steve Buscemi. Either Steve Buscemi as himself, or just a character Tandy mentions, who is represented by a driver’s license or passport on a tombstone, and you can see it’s Steve Buscemi.

But getting back to Pamela, Will’s initial discussion with Kristen was we’ll take you for as few or as many episodes as you want. So our thought was if we could only have her for one episode, it would be a thing where she interacts with them more, i.e. she shows up at the beginning and leaves them at the end. Since she was game for more than one, we decided this was the way to go. Do a standalone with her, and then have her show up at the end. There were pitches that would have used more of her in the finale, but her availability was limited. She only had a day. As for season four, well once again, we’ll take as much Kristen as we can get.

The first episode of The Last Man on Earth with Kristen Wiig showed the death of the Pence administration, presumably after Trump was gone. While the novel was written in the Reagan era, The Handmaid’s Tale as a television show has been seen as a cautionary tale about Donald Trump.

In another commentary on politics, during the past week we learned that hail-hydra.com redirected to the official White House web site. Bleeding Cool tracked down and interviewed the person responsible for this:

Bleeding Cool: What made you decide to do this? Did you own the domain before you decided to do the redirect or did you buy a while ago? What made you decide to buy it?

Hail-Hydra Owner: I bought the domain in April of 2014. I’d remembered the Senator played by Garry Shandling whispering “Hail Hydra!” in Iron Man 2, then is arrested at the end of Captain America: Winter’s Soldier for being a member of Hydra. His character reminded me of many GOP senators (probably a personal bias there) so I looked to see if I could come up with a good domain to redirect at Republicans. hail-hydra.com was the second I tried. Originally I pointed it at Ted Cruz‘s presidential campaign, then Trump’s campaign and finally (and depressingly) at his White House web page…

Bleeding Cool: What about the current redirect? Was it something you changed recently or was it when he was inaugurated in January? Or was this a reaction to something specific that President Trump did?

Hail-Hydra Owner: I changed it the day of the inauguration. It was the first time I knew I was going to change it and when. All the other times I’d just remembered I owned it and would pick a target based on news at the time, and then tweet a few people to try and get it to go viral. I’m not even sure what set it off this time around.

Bleeding Cool: Finally, how do you want people to react to what you’ve done here? Did you get the type of reaction that you wanted or did you want something more? Less?

Hail-Hydra Owner: Since this seems to be getting some news I’ve kept an eye on twitter reactions, most people are reacting the way I would hope. It’s funny, it’s political satire. Do I think Republicans are literal Nazis? No. Do I think they’re over-authoritarian with a complete disregard for the majority of people in the country that can’t donate a million dollars to them? Yes. Several articles say they contacted the White House for comment, I hope I don’t end up on a terror list in retaliation.

For those who prefer their artistic opposition to Donald Trump to come from music, The Hill reports:

Todd Rundgren, a singer and songwriter, warned fans not to attend his concerts if they are Donald Trump supporters, saying “buyer beware.”

“If I had the power, I’d say: If you’re a Trump supporter, don’t come to my show, because you won’t have a good time,” Rundgren said in a Variety interview released Sunday.

Rundgren collaborated with an array of artists for his new album “White Night,” including Donald Fagen. Together, Fagen and Rundgren produced an anti-Trump song called “Man in the Tin Foil Hat.”

Lyrics include: “He’s coming down the escalator with a girl from east of here, because the man in the tin foil hat is leading like a teenage girl. He put’s the ‘pluto’ in plutocrat, he hasn’t got time for losers, unless they do what he demands.”

Rundgren said his shows will contain many insulting jokes about the Republican president, warning that it could be a turnoff for the president’s supporters

“I guarantee that in this show, if you’re a Trump supporter, you will likely be offended. Let the buyer beware! I mean, if you can’t take a joke, or you can’t admit that you’ve made a mistake, you don’t belong with the rest of us,” he said with a laugh, according to the interview.

Rundgren also said he also questions the values of Trump supporters.

“And also, I don’t understand your frickin’ values. Because I’m not singing about that. If you don’t understand that basic thing, you’re just fooling yourself,” he added.

SciFi Weekend: Timeless Finale; SHIELD In The Framework; The 100; Doctor Who Trailer; Sense8; The Discovery; Bill Paxton Dies

Timeless ended its first season on the bubble, and the season finale was written without knowledge of whether it will return. I am still waiting for Trump to actually do something useful, such as issue an Executive Order banning cliff hangers on shows which aren’t known to be coming back. If there must be one, it was handled well on Timeless. The season finale did wrap up the running story line of the first season, and could work as a series finale. It also had a huge reveal in the final minutes which changes how we see some of the season, and leaves a lot open for a second season, if the series is renewed.

Deadline spoke with Shawn Ryan, who co-created and executive produces Timeless with Eric Kripke:

DEADLINE: Up until the last few minutes, the series was heading to a happy ending. Why did you decide to add the major cliffhanger at the end?
SHAWN RYAN: We had thought for awhile about what the best way was to give some closure for Season 1 while also setting us up for a new dynamic in Season 2. We wanted to bring Garcia Flynn’s journey to some kind of end, though I’m sure we’ll see more of him going forward. So while many people might see our Season 1 conclusion as a cliffhanger, we see it as a wrap-up of Season 1 and a launch point for Season 2.

DEADLINE: Did you have an alternate ending that would serve as a series finale in case Timeless does not come back?
SHAWN RYAN: No. Eric and I planned for success. We’ve been working towards this ending ever since the season began.

DEADLINE: In the cliffhanger, Rittenhouse takes control over the time machine. What is the plan for Season 2? Will our heroes continue to chase the mothership, trying to prevent Rittenhouse from implementing their sinister plan?
SHAWN RYAN: We are working on our overall plan for Season 2 right now and we’ll pitch it to NBC in April, so I’m reluctant to get too much into it because we’ll want to take a deep breath and evaluate the whole season before we commit to what we want to do in Season 2. What I can say is the current plan involves our heroes traveling to the past to stop history from being perverted and changed too much…

DEADLINE: What will be Lucy’s mom role going forward, and why wasn’t she arrested along with 100+ Rittenhouse members in the government sweep?
SHAWN RYAN: Lucy’s mom will be influential in Season 2. We don’t presume that every member of Rittenhouse was identified and apprehended in the first 48 hours after our heroes returned from 1954, though the organization was definitely dealt a big blow. So we will owe an answer in Season 2 as to why Lucy’s mom was one of the Rittenhouse members not to be identified right away.

DEADLINE: Had she been onto the time machine project from the very beginning, including the arrangement of Lucy’s involvement in it?
SHAWN RYAN: Yes. Eric and I had it in our minds even from pilot stage that Carol was secretly a part of Rittenhouse and was keeping her eye on Lucy this whole time…

DEADLINE: Will Flynn resurface in Season 2 or did his story arc end with the season 1 finale?
SHAWN RYAN: Well, Goran was fantastic for us this season and I don’t think we’ve seen the end of Garcia Flynn on the show, though obviously his role would be different going forward

DEADLINE: How did Emma, seemingly a fugitive on a mission to take down Rittenhouse, turn out to be a Rittenhouse operative? Is she earmarked for a major role in the Season 2 developments?
SHAWN RYAN: We will definitely owe some answers and explanations for this in Season 2, but once again, it was always our plan that she was secretly Rittenhouse and she was hiding out in the 1880s for Rittenhouse reasons that we will need to explain. We’ll see what stories we want to tell and how available our actress is to be on the show…

DEADLINE: Will Lucy be able to get her sister back or will she succumb to her Rittenhouse fate as her parents suggested?
SHAWN RYAN: I certainly think she’s going to continue to try to get her sister back. We’ll see if her mother or father can persuade her otherwise.

I posted excerpts from an interview with both Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan about Timeless last week.

It was only a matter of time until Agents of SHIELD found a way to bring Agent Ward back in some form. This is being done by having the show move into the Matrix. Actually it is called the Framework. The probably couldn’t call it the Matrix for copyright reasons, just as Ray Palmer said he couldn’t call his saber which used light a lightsaber for trademark reasons in the Camelot/3000 episode of Legends of Tomorrow. Jed Whedon discussed Agents of SHIELD with E! News:

How long was it in the works to bring Brett back? How long had you been planning on this?
Well, we knew that at the start of the third pod as we’re calling them, we were going to get into the Framework, so there were a lot of options of things to do there, but that was always sort of at the top of the list. We love him and the fans love him and so we didn’t want to undercut the stories we’ve told with him, but this felt like a way to bring him back in a thrilling fashion that didn’t negate what we’d done earlier with him.

Was there talk at the end of last season when he was written out that this was an option, or was this something that came about later?
His end was his end, but this is Marvel and our show is built upon the foundation of a man who was brought back from the dead. And we had actually done that with Ward. So, it’s always an option that someone can find a way to appear back on our show and I think that this next pod will prove that out.

How would you tease what this Framework version of Ward? Because he’s wholly an Aida creation, it would seem.
The Darkhold has given them this amazing ability to sort of recreate reality, but we know that some small changes were made, repairing regrets for everybody they’ve put in there, so that seems to have had some sort of ripple effect. Who Grant Ward is in this world, we’ll have to wait and see, but they set out to recreate our world in every way and recreate everyone in it and everything in it, so there will be some familiarity to the man when you get to know him right off the bat in the next episode.

Another big surprise was learning that Jemma isn’t alive in the Framework. Are we going to cut to poor Simmons waking up in a coffin when she enters the Framework? How will this work for her?
We’ll have to see, but she didn’t wake up in a warm tub, that’s for sure. We’ll have to wait and see how that plays out, but the two of them are going in and how she comes to be we’ll have to see. I have a feeling that she’s not gone from the series. That’s not how we would end Elizabeth’s run. [Laughs.] That’s a wait and see, as I have a feeling a lot of these questions will be…But that’s the fun part about the Framework. It’s a what-if world and we don’t really know what to expect.

Talk to me a little bit about the decision to have Hydra in control in the Framework. What is this Hydra going to be like and what was the thought process behind going in that direction?
Well, you know, Hydra is sort of the opposite of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the simplest version of the anti-S.H.I.E.L.D. And we’ve told a lot of Hydra stories, but this story is more about our characters and sort of dealing with questions of identity and the nature of reality and whether or not you have a true nature or whether or not you’re made up of your experiences. If you’re made up of your regrets. Is there a true you or are you just an assembly of your experiences?

More at TVLine.

Jemma’s death on Agents of SHIELD is only in the Framework, but it appeared that we were seeing a string of deaths on television. There was the death of Alice on The Magicians recently. Connie Britton’s character died on Nashville. In this case I assume it was a matter of Britton not wanting to commit to a series on CMT for more than a brief season after it was cancelled by ABC. The question now is whether the show can survive her loss. It reminds me a little of how Dallas couldn’t survive the loss of Larry Hagman after the revival of Dallas on TNT. The one difference is that Hagman’s death came as a surprise, as opposed to Herskovits and Zwick having planned on Britton’s departure from the start.

For a brief time I thought we also had a major death on The 100. I actually went into the episode expecting a death based upon headlines of articles I had put off reading. The 100 has a history of killing off major characters, including Lexa and Lincoln last season, but Octavia seemed too important to kill off. Between having a sword go through her body and falling off that cliff, she sure did look dead, but the rules for survival are different on television than in the real world. Perhaps the bigger question of how she survived this is how her horse managed to make it down the cliff to her.

At least I am glad that they did show her get on the horse at the end of the episode as opposed to leaving viewers with a false belief that she was killed if they did plan to keep her alive. Now the question is how long it will take for Bellamy to discover that the news he heard of his sister’s death was premature. Plus Clarke’s story line got quite interesting last week, reminiscent of the types of issues raised in the first season.

The above teaser has been released for Doctor Who series 10, which will premiere on April 15. It features the Doctor’s new companion, Bill, speaking about him:

The first time you meet him, he’s funny.The second time, he’s amazing. The third time, you realize he’s the most dangerous man in the universe. He says he’s a man of peace, but he walks in war. I’m having the time of my life, and I wouldn’t miss it for the world–even if it kills me.

As Pearl Mackie has only been signed for a single season, and there is talk about a clean slate when Chris Chinball takes over as showrunner, perhaps she actually will die.

In other Doctor Who news, the spin0ff Class has been cancelled after a single season due to low ratings. It aired in the UK last fall and will be shown in the United States this spring following episodes of Doctor Who on BBC America. I did download the episodes last fall and found it to be a decent show to watch while there was no Doctor Who available, but it is hardly must see for those who have not seen it yet. The eight episodes do wrap up a story for the season, so it can easily be watched as a stand-alone season.

Sense8 returns on May 5, after a teaser Christmas episode.  Here is the (rather vague) synopsis for the upcoming full season:

Picking up where season one left off, Capheus (Toby Onwumere), Kala (Tina Desai), Lito (Miguel Angel Silvestre), Nomi (Jamie Clayton), Riley (Tuppence Middleton) , Sun (Donna Bae), Will (Brian J. Smith) and Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) come together both physically and mentally, plunged into the middle of each other’s tragedies and triumphs. On the run from Whispers (Terrence Mann), and forced to question their very identity, it’s a matter of survival as the Sensates must find a way to live with, understand and protect one another against all odds.

Some pictures have been posted on line. As we already got the obligatory orgy in the Christmas episode, I don’t know if there will be another in the full season.

Netflix has released the above trailer for The Discovery, a movie in which the afterlife has been scientifically proven to exist and millions of people commit suicide to get there. My bet is that there is a catch.

The 2016 Nebulla Award nominees have been announced.

In this time of peak TV we already have one excellent series by Noah Hawley running (Legion). A second will return soon as the third season of Fargo is schedule to premiere on April 19.

Starz has announced that the long-awaited series based upon Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods will premiere on April 30.

Looking at the winners of recent awards ceremonies can help predict the winners of the Academy Awards tonight. Based upon recent winners, I predict that La La Land will win Best Picture, and Rumor the German Shepherd will win Best in Show.

Bill Paxton has died at age 61 of complications of heart surgery. He starred in Big Love, and has had genre roles including Aliens and Agents of SHIELD. There are many comments on his death on Twitter today, including several from cast and crew of Agents of SHIELD, with TVLine having a compilation. He has also had lesser genre roles including being killed early in The Terminator. The Mary Sue points out the science fiction villains he has faced:

In the course of his career, Paxton faced three of science fiction’s most famous villains. In Aliens, he faced the xenomorphs; in Predator 2, he faced a Predator; and in The Terminator, he played one of the punks from whom Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character demanded clothes. /Film wrote that this makes him “the only actor to have been killed by a Terminator, a Predator, and a Xenomoprh,” and I personally can’t think of anyone else who can come for that title.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Plus information from the producers on Arrow here and here.

Vox has more on The Expanse.

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

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

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

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

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

Fox has renewed Lucifer for a third season.

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

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

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

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

Goliath has been renewed for a second season.

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Stranger Things; Timeless; Rectify; The Good Place; CW Genre Shows; Doctor Strange; Doctor Who; Matt Smith Back In The Past With New Companion on The Crown

A 1980’s news cast (video above) reports on the disappearance of Barb, as seen during the first season of Stranger Things. The newscast also provides further evidence that Eleven is still around. It should come as no surprise that she is returning, despite the first season finale leaving things ambiguous.

NBC has extended Timeless from thirteen to sixteen episodes, to run in two blocks, between November 14 and December 12 and from January 16 to February 20.

Showrunner Ray McKinnon explains why you can’t multitask and keep up with Rectify, and discusses the upcoming fourth and final season

Parks and Recreation predicted the victory by the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. Since the series ended, Michael Schur has moved on to new show, The Good Place. It returns for its four final episodes of the season on January 5. Michael Schur discussed what will be happening with Entertainment Weekly. Think love quadrangle.

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Last week’s episodes of The Flash revealed the secret behind the new version of Harrison Wells, as well as dealing far more with Caitlin’s powers–which should be a major focus for the upcoming episodes. More at The Nerdist.

Besides the major crossover involving all of the Berlantiverse shows, there will be a Glee reunion with Melissa Benoist and Grant Gustin doing a musical crossover between Supergirl and The Flash. Now there is talk that Legends of Tomorrow might get involved to at least include Broadway veteran Victor Garber.

Lexa Doig has been cast as alia al Ghul, daughter of Ra’s al Ghul and half sister to Nyssa al Ghul, on Arrow.

Spoiler TV has some teasers regarding season four of The 100.

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The biggest genre event of the week was the opening of Doctor Strange. It is too early to have any spoilers about the movie here, but here are a number of links for those wanting to read more:

Hitflix wrote about Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange,’ ‘Inhumans,’ and the connected MCU (no spoilers until the end, with spoiler warning). Also at Hitflix, ‘Doctor Strange’ writer Jon Spaihts talks about blowing the Marvel Cinematic Universe wide open

Time on Doctor Strange and What We’ve Learned From Superhero Movies in 2016. Plus How Doctor Strange Hints at Big Changes for the Marvel Universe and Demystifying Doctor Strange‘s Curious Mid-Credits Scene.

Nerdist asks How Will DOCTOR STRANGE Change the MCU?

Spoilers from AV Club with Doctor Strange’s writer on [REDACTED]’s fate and that final credits sequence

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Moving on from Doctor Strange to another Doctor, I previously posted about plans for an animated version of a lost Doctor Who story, The Power of the Daleks. Inverse calls it essential viewing, and has updated information.

When the BBC purged their archives in 1974 to make room for more film, “The Power of the Daleks,” the Second Doctor’s introduction to the show, was lost in the process. “The Power of the Daleks” is not the only serial or episode lost to time; there are dozens of episodes that have never been seen by modern audiences. But “The Power of the Daleks” is the first one to be made in what is assumed to be a shot-for-shot remake. It’s animated and, of course, in black and white, but Troughton’s Doctor and Anneke Wills’s Polly will probably be no less charming.

Matt Smith is back playing a character in the past on television, with Netflix releasing The Crown last week. Claire Foy (who previously played Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall) makes an excellent companion for him as Queen Elizabeth. Much of Matt Smith’s character can be seen in his portrayal of Prince Phillip. I was not surprised to see him handle an elephant in Nairobi, expecting him to pull out a sonic screwdriver or explain handling the elephant by saying, “I speak elephant.” When he protested playing second fiddle after Elizabeth became Queen, I half expected him to protest that he is a Time Lord of Gallifrey.

The series starts with Elizabeth and Phillip before Elizabeth became (spoiler?) Queen and was forced to fulfill what was expected of the role. They have great chemistry together and someday I would like to see Foy and Smith together again, possibly in another period piece, in which they can remain young and carefree, without having to fit into their historical roles on this show. The actual history along with a look at the series are discussed at The Guardian.

Matt Smith was able to get some tips on playing royalty from Jenna Coleman, who is staring in ITV’s Victoria. This means that Smith is playing Coleman’s great-great-grandson-in-law. It will take a TARDIS to get them back together.

While Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman are busy playing members  the royal family, Karen Gillan is preparing to direct, as well as write and star in, and independent movie named Tupperware Party, which is being filmed in Scotland.

Also in the Doctor Who universe, I got a chance to watch the first three episodes of Class while flying home last weekend. I was impressed that each episode was better than the previous. I have not seen the fourth yet, but have heard it couldn’t continue that trend, but look forward to further episodes.