SciFi Weekend: Westworld Season Two Finale; The Expanse Season Finale; 12 Monkeys; Oprah’s Cameo On The Handmaid’s Tale; The Orville & Discovery Among Saturn Award Winners; Further Rumors On Patrick Stewart Returning To Star Trek; Jonathan Frakes On Star Trek and The Orville

Westworld concluded the second season by answering many of the questions raised during the season, and opening up a whole new set of questions for season three. One meta question about the series going into the season was whether the producers could surprise fans with twists after the major twists of the first season were predicted on line. I give them credit for pulling it off this year. While it was apparent that something was up with Delores not being seen in the most recent timeline, I don’t think many realized that she was in a host version of Charlotte Hale’s body. It would be interesting to watch Charlotte’s scenes again knowing that she could have been Delores in some.

We know Delores left the park in Charlotte’s body, but we later saw both Charlotte and Delores, raising the question of whose mind is in Charlotte’s body at that point. We know that Delores took the minds of some other hosts with her, but not which ones. It is like the mystery of the Final Five Cylons on Battlestar Galactica. Which of the apparently dead characters will return this way? Will she reconstruct Maeve? When Delores left the park, it was obvious that Stubb realized she was a host, and most likely that he was a host constructed to protect the other hosts. This leaves open the question of how many other hosts there are impersonating humans. While some apparently dead characters will return, I suspect we will never see those who went to the virtual reality heaven again, but nothing can be ruled out entirely.

One of the most interesting questions was raised in the final post-credit scene. I assume that William and Emily were both humans when William first killed Emily. Apparently at some time in the future, perhaps third season or perhaps long beyond then, there will be a host version of Emily doing a fidelity test on a host who has William’s mind inside, reliving the events of William in the park. As on Battlestar Galactica, all of this happened before and will happen again.

The producers did clear up many of the questions raised in the finale in various interviews, while making clear that other topics are being saved for next season. Following are some excerpts from various interviews:

Deadline

Wait a second, isn’t Dolores in Charlotte? Why are they standing together in the end?

JOY: What Dolores has done is that she’s smuggled herself out of the park while impersonating Hale. She has put herself back into her body, and yet Hale is still there. The question is where is Hale now? And that’s a question we’ll be visiting next season.

As Charlotte buzzes away from the island, in a bag she carries several pearls from The Forge.

JOY: In those pearls are a handful of hosts that she is smuggling out of the park. Which hosts they are, we’ll be exploring.

We see the Man in Black digging in his arm, and he’s not in a lot of pain. Does that make him a host? We see that there’s actually a back-up of him that exists.

JOY: This season we’ve been seeing him in a lot of pain and as he digs into his arm, he suffers from madness. He himself doesn’t know if he’s a host or not. We’ve basically had two time lines this season in the classic film noir structure. We’ve seen him playing the game and figuring his footsteps to the Valley Beyond, but he’s become confused on his side of reality, questioning his nature. If you immerse yourself in the game for too long, do you lose the sense of what is real and not real? He struggles with this and it leads to the moment where he kills his daughter Emily thinking she might be a host. He was in fact mistaken, and he’s digging into his own skin for answers and doesn’t find any wires by the time Dolores arrives. By the end of this time line, he’s being shipped out into the real world. He did kill his own daughter, he’s in the prison of his own skin, locked in his own confusion and guilt.

The chapter that occurs after the credits [editor’s note: Where the Man in Black arrives in an apartment that looks a lot like the one that housed android James Delos being interrogated by daughter Emily as though she is the human, and he the robot] is a little piece of what to come in the future. It gives full closure of the timelines by validating what happened in the park as the Man in Black leaves.

And Bernard?

JOY: He’s leaving his home in the end to be in the real world. Dolores is being totally upfront with him. That they escaped the park, and even if they’re working as foes, it will take both of them to survive. The real world is what we’re investigating next season.

Entertainment Weekly

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY:  Do you know who each of those balls represent in Dolores’ purse? Or is your cast on edge about which characters Dolores found worthy of survival?
JONATHAN NOLAN: We’ve had some interesting conversations. It’s a large ensemble cast and sadly we’re saying goodbye to some people at the end of this season. But as always with this show, who remains and who doesn’t is something we’re having a lot of fun with. There’s going to be a bit of a wait for a third season but we want to surprise and hopefully delight people with the way things progress…

When we see Dolores walking with Charlotte out of the room at the end on the mainland, does that mean there are now two Doloreses played by different actors?
Ehhh, not really. The question of who’s who and what we’re looking at is something we’re excited to play with. We’re excited to withhold a little from the audience but … it’s complicated…

Is it safe to assume — and perhaps it’s not — that Zahn McClarnon’s character, the Ghost Nation leader Akecheta, and others who went through the portal to the virtual Eden are not going to continue on?
I think that’s on the safer end of things to presume. But there’s a big story we’re telling here so … yeah.

I know you’ve drafted the broad strokes of your multi-year plan, can you say if next season largely take place outside the park?
Yes. We’re very excited about where the third season goes. It’s been a long build-up to get outside the park. And we’re incredibly excited about what that looks like and sounds like and what exactly our hosts discover out there…

Your Marvel-like post credits sequence with William and his daughter that brought us back to the horrifying James Delos fidelity apartment. My read was that Dolores printed out a version of the Man in Black and his daughter using the park’s secret guest data to leave them entombed in The Forge to do the fidelity test for all eternity and that scene takes place many years later. But that it doesn’t mean the Man in Black was a host previously or that he’s not still alive in the real world like we saw with him in the tent. Is that more or less how we should be interpreting this?
I’d agree with a lot of that. They do explicitly say they’re not in the system. And we do see the ruins of it. So that does suggest in that scene we are further in the future. We’d always said with this story we wanted to consider the beginning, middle and the end the of the emergence of a new form of life on Earth and we managed to cover a lot of those bases in this season.

Based on that final scene, should we assume there will be a time jump for season 3?
Not necessarily. We just love the ability to play in perceptual terms with the hosts being immortal. There is a subtle shift in this season, when you started seeing more and more backstory of the Man in Black, it should raise suspicions, and it has for a lot of people but, um … returning to the last question, your take it on it, which, as usual, is astute, is we’re watching a series of events play out: We see Emily’s dead body, we see the Man in Black in extremis — but not quite dead yet — but we also understand we’ve explored Delos’ greatest mistake, the one unalterable moment, the cornerstone decision he makes in his life, and we’re seeing that play out with the Man in Black. We’ve seen how it is that, using The Forge, that you’d be drawn back to these key moments and you’d run them again and again…

The Wrap:

TheWrap: Where exactly did Dolores send the Hosts who went into the Sublime when she changed the coordinates?

Joy: I think what she’s done is she fulfilled their wish. They wanted to escape to a digital space where they could be truly free and create their own world, untarnished by human interference. And in changing the coordinates and kind of locking in and stowing them away, Dolores has finally found a way to accept their choice and give them what they so desired.

TheWrap: After the guest data in the Forge is erased, Hale/Dolores leaves with five control units in a purse. Who is in them? Maeve? Armistice? And can “Halores” remake them then?

Joy: There is Host data in the actual hosts who did not “sublime” — so their CPUs are still intact. So, if they didn’t sublime, those pearls still contain their information. In each of those little balls in the purse is a Host, so there is a handful of them — but not an infinite amount of them. There are five. One Host per pearl.

TheWrap: When Halores left the beach, it seemed like Stubbs knew it was Dolores — or at least that it wasn’t Hale. Is that safe to assume?

Joy: Yes! It is safe to assume. And there is a step further that you can assume too. And we don’t say it explicitly, but if you are left wondering with all [Stubbs’] talk, his knowing talk about, “I’ve been at the park a very long time,” and Ford designed him with certain core drives, and he’s gonna stick to the role he’s been programmed with; it’s a little acknowledgement of just why he might have his suspicions about what’s going on with Hale, and then lets her pass.

And doesn’t it make sense if you are Ford and designing a park and you have a whole master plan about helping robots that you would keep one Host hiding in plain sight as a fail-safe? Maybe the Host who’s in charge of quality assurance? And by the way, that was totally meant to be subtle [laughs]…

TheWrap: So, because we do know that Emily died in the current timeline we’re in, is it fair to assume whoever is down there with this iteration of the Man in Black is similar to Dolores training Bernard? That has to be a Host or some other something if this is in the future and Emily died. Yes?

Joy: Oh yes, the Katja Herbers in the future talking to the Man in Black is now a Host version of Katja Herbers.

More on the finale in the Behind the Scenes video above.

The Expanse season three was by far the best season yet, making me very happy that Amazon is keeping the series alive. I am also glad that they did move at a quicker pace and conclude Abaddon’s Gate. If they had ended a season mid-book again, it would have been really frustrating if the series was not renewed.

Showrunner Naren Shankar discussed the season finale and plans for season four with Entertainment Weekly:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start right at the very end: What is the meaning of that last shot where the Roci goes through the Ring, and as Holden passes through it, there is a burst of energy. What’s going on there, and what are you setting up for season 4?
NAREN SHANKAR:
 When Holden was in that vision with Miller, he learns the beings that built the Rings, they’re gone. So what killed them? Because he had a vision of these things, he had a vision of something destroying the Rings and shutting them down. And Miller says, “I kinda wanna know too.” And so when the Roci goes to the Ring at the end, it comes to kind of an ominous little harbinger of things to come. That there is something inside that Ring space, in places between the Ring gates, that’s gonna come into play at some point as the series goes on.

We’ll talk more about what you have in store for season 4 in a bit, but let’s get into what happened this season. First off, you really sped through book 3, Abaddon’s Gate, doing the whole thing in seven episodes — much faster than the first two books. Why the accelerated pace for what is, in my opinion, one of the best books in the series?
Book 3 was a challenging thing to adapt. What was tricky about Abaddon’s Gate was that it starts with an entirely new cast of characters. It kind of builds up to getting them through the Ring. It’s more philosophical than intellectual. The space where they go into, it’s sort of the most… I don’t want to use this term disparagingly at all, but sort of science-fiction-y thing we have done in the run of the show. Which tends to be sort of more like science-realistic, or at least tries to achieve that. So for a lot of reasons, we felt like we had 13 episode seasons, we were gonna finish off Caliban’s War mid-season. We took the approach that we compressed it and we launched Anna, who was the character, really kind of the focus character in Abaddon’s Gate, early in the season, which we did because she is not actually in the second book at all…

One of the most interesting things you did on the show was your treatment of Ashford. He’s a pretty detestable character in the book, but you made him much more layered here and turned him into a guy who, while on the wrong side of things, does think what he’s doing is right and is admirable in the way he is willing to sacrifice himself for that. How did that character evolve for you?
Part of it was when we got this point in the narrative, it was about Fred and Dawes and their dueling agendas. But when we got to the Behemoth, it would be kind of weird to have Fred and Dawes on this ship. And so, it led us to this idea of their lieutenants. So Drummer was a logical one to take it for Fred Johnson, and then we were like, “Who’s the guy who worked for Dawes?” Then that was the starting point for Ashford, because he doesn’t have really that backstory in the book. And we asked ourselves, what would a guy who worked for Dawes have done before?

And so we crafted that character and built a backstory around him. And then, as we understood what he was going to do, we had the opportunity to reach out to David Strathairn. He was older than we thought initially the character was going to be, but that actually allowed us to give more layers and more depth to it. And so what you saw in the final product was kind of the aggregation of all of those different things. I think that it’s one of my favorite things in season 3, honestly. He just gives a terrific performance, all over.

Let’s talk about season 4. What can you say about where the story goes next?
One of the things that seems pretty clear, and we set it up at the end of the episode 13 with Holden’s thing, it’s going to be another blood-soaked gold rush. That’s about to happen, because you’ve got an entire species and several societies that have defined themselves on the fact that the solar system is all they’ve got, that those resources are what they have. But suddenly that all changes. It’s like the discovery of the New World — suddenly there’s land, there’s resources, there’s the potential of making incredible fortunes right there. What’s going to happen? Well, readers of the book know that these are things that that destabilize societies, and that’s what you are going to see the beginnings of in season 4.

The fourth book, Cibola Burn, takes place pretty much all on the planet Ilus, or in orbit of that planet. Will that be the same deal here? Is that going to be the battleground and the space version of expanding west?
[Book authors] Ty and Daniel often refer to the story of Ilus and Cibola Burn as kind of a classic Western in many ways. The book Cibola takes place entirely on Ilus. We are there for one complete novel. We are going to tell that story in season 4, sure, but we’re not leaving Earth and Mars and the Belt behind. They’re part of the story, and both of fans of the books and fans of the show are going to see something really interesting and new in season 4…

Finally, how does the show change now being on Amazon as opposed to Syfy?
There are some things that are amazing that we don’t have to worry about: restrictions on nudity, restrictions on language, and restrictions on length to some extent. It’s like we don’t have to jam the episodes into 43-minute boxes if they’re going to spill over into a 50-minute box. There were times in season 3 where I wished that I had been able to put another four or five minutes into certain shows, it would have been great. And we certainly would have done it, and that’s the beauty of being on another platform like this, is that if the material demands it, you can make the story a little bit longer to accommodate it.

We never wrote it going, “Oh, God, it’s going to be on basic cable so we’ve got to tone this down.” I think we did some pretty drastic things when we needed to. None of that’s going to change, and I hope that as we get into it more, we’re going to find more and more opportunities to really make the platform work for us, because it’s a great way to watch the show. When you can stream this thing in 4K and it’s seamless and there are no commercial breaks — we don’t even go to blacks — it’s a different experience when you watch. It’s incredibly engaging, and every time I show it to people that way, they go, “That’s a completely different experience than watching it on basic cable.” So we’re really excited to be on Amazon.

This week set of three episodes of 12 Monkeys was darker than the previous three as expected. While characters might not actually be gone in a time travel series such as this, it appears to have been the conclusions of the stories for Deacon, Hannah and Emma. The twist with Hannah was unexpected until late in the episode, but in retrospect makes perfect sense. Showrunner Terry Matalas told  TVLine that this was planned from the start: “From the moment we mentioned Marion Woods, I knew. In fact, on Brooke’s first day, I told her, right after she was cast. It was something that was always planned. And if you go back and watch the series, you can see many hints of that throughout.”

Like last week, the episode also ended with a family drink thanks to time travel.

There were other twists. We found that Cole is the living anomaly in the timeline, and the weapon mentioned in the previous episodes was designed to wipe him out of time. Yet another major twist had Cassandra be the one to release the virus, with the alternative being even worse should they not have time travel available to fight the threat against time itself. The danger is accelerating as Titan is completed and the sky is turning red over New York. The episoded ended with the message, To Be Concluded.

During last week’s episode of The Handmaid’s Tale, June was briefly free, and turned on a car radio to hear this message from Radio Free America:

And now, this news. The American Government in Anchorage today received promises of economic aid from India and China. In the United Kingdom, additional sanctions on Gilead were announced, as well as plans to raise the cap on American refugees relocating from Canada. Now, a tune to remind everyone who’s listening, American patriot or Gilead traitor; we are still here. Stars and stripes forever, baby.

The message was read by Oprah Winfrey. Showrunner Bruce Miller explained how this cameo came about:

“We’d heard Oprah was a fan of the show, and had a story idea, and thought, wouldn’t it be wonderful if… So we asked and she said yes, and it was a lovely, easy process,” showrunner Bruce Miller says. “The radio segment she recorded was inspired by the free radio of the Allies from World War II.  It was an absolute honor to have Oprah featured on the show, and especially thrilling as she was the one who presented us with the Emmy last year.”

The Orville has won the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction TV Series. The full list of awards is here. Awards for best television series in various categories went to:

Best Science Fiction TV SeriesThe Orville
Best Horror TV SeriesThe Walking Dead
Best Action/Thriller TV Series Better Call Saul
Best Fantasy TV SeriesOutlander
Best Presentation on Television:
  Twin Peaks
Best Animated TV Series:  Star Wars Rebels
Best Superhero Adaptation Television Series:  The Flash
Best New Media TV Series:  
Star Trek: Discovery
Best New Media Superhero Series:  Marvel’s The Punisher

Star Trek: Discovery won another Saturn Award with Sonequa Martin-Green winning as Best Actress on Television. Kyle MacLachlan (Twin Peaks) won for Best Actor on Television.

Blade Runner 2049 received the award for Best Science Fiction Film. Black Panther won the award for Best Comic-to-Film Motion Picture

The rumors continue that Patrick Stewart might be reprising his role as Jon Luc Picard. While it is not clear how reliable this is, The Mirror makes it sound like they are close to a deal:

Sir Patrick, 77, is “close to securing a deal” to return as Captain Jean-Luc Picard for a reboot of the Generation series.

The star is keen to reprise his most ­famous part – and deals are close to ­being struck, says a TV source…

The show’s co-creator Alex Kurtzman has a five-year contract to forge new adventures for the small screen. And his team has spoken to Sir Patrick about returning as Picard to helm the Enterprise for run or even longer.

An LA source said: “Patrick is ­looking pretty good to get back on board the Enterprise. There are some aspects of the deal to be finalised, but there is a verbal commitment from all parties.”

He said: “There are animated series also in the works, and Patrick could easily lend his voice to them.

“An announcement will be made in the next few weeks and the show should be out next year.”

If it comes down to one or the other, I hope it is a live action reboot of The Next Generation as opposed to having Stewart work on an animated series. It would also be great to see Star Trek finally move forward again, with the last two series and recent movies all taking place at earlier times. As other former Star Trek stars have not been mentioned, I wonder if the plan is to secure Stewart first, or if this would be done with a new crew under Picard.

TrekMovie.com has posted an interview with Jonathan Frakes in which he discussed both Star Trek and directing The Orville. He had this to say about type-casting:

And I don’t know if I knew subconsciously or consciously that there’d be this typecasting. As Leonard Nimoy famously said, “It’s better to be typecast than not to be cast at all.” But there was a certain thing that happened after the show that you can see evidence of from The Original Series, from our series, Voyager, DS9, Enterprise. The exceptions were Bakula, and Patrick, and Bill and Colm, and Rene and Kate, maybe, to a certain point. Jeri Ryan. More of a handful people were not painted with the Star Trek brush, right? I don’t know what you’d call that in your world, but there certainly is … It was a double-edged sword.

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

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

Top Ten New Genre Shows Of 2017

10. The Gifted (Fox)

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

9. The Defenders (Netflix)

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

8. The Tick (Amazon Prime)

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

7. The Punisher (Netflix)

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

6. Runaways (Hulu)

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

5. American Gods (Starz)

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

4. The Orville (Fox)

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

3. Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)

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

2. Legion (Fx)

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

1. The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How would you describe the tone of this episode?

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

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

How does the First Doctor look at the Twelfth Doctor?

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

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

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

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

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

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

David Bradley has some advice for Jodie Whittaker:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; The Orville; Twin Peaks; Blade Runner; Sarah Jane Adventures Tenth Anniversary; Emmys By Network; Batman Takes A Knee

CBS has not released any screeners for Star Trek: Discovery, and has placed an embargo on reviews until the show airs. They did release the full title sequence today:

Despite the episode not being available, sites such as IO9 have posted guides like Everything You Need to Know About Star Trek: Discovery Before It Premieres based upon the information which has been released so far.

The first episode will air on CBS at 8:30 pm tonight, with the second episode following on their paid streaming service CBS All Access.  Season 1 will have fifteen episodes with the first eight episodes running September 24 through November 5. The season will return for the remaining episodes in January. CBS All Access is allowing one week free to check out the service. If you are undecided, consider waiting until later tomorrow, which will allow you to watch both the second episode this week and the third episode next week. Some people are thinking about waiting until towards the end, and then binging on each half of the season or the who season while only paying for one to two months.

Discovery will be available outside of the US and Canada on Netflix. I had contemplated using a VPN to stream the UK edition of Netflix, but Netflix has become very aggressive in blocking VPN’s.

A four-part comic will provide further backstory on the Klingons prior to the events of Discovery.

In preparation for tonight’s premiere, CBS arranged to have the U.S.S. Discovery fly above New York City. Video above. (Yes, there have been posts on line about how they staged this, but why ruin the fun?)

In unrelated Star Trek news, TrekMovie.com reports that Quentin Tarantino has expressed interest in directing a Star Trek movie.

The Orville has been difficult to characterize as it is neither straight drama or consistently humorous. While Star Trek: Discovery reportedly will be serialized, The Orville is basically stand-alone episodes heavily modeled after Star Trek: The Next Generation. Like classic Star Trek, The Orville has even made an attempt at looking at contemporary issues.

About A Girl received advanced publicity for tackling gender reassignment surgery. Just as the show has its limitations as both dramatic science fiction and as a parody, the handling of the controversial issue was also somewhat simplistic. Vox looked in more detail at how the issue was handled.

Of course we must keep in mind that Star Trek: The Next Generation was also weak through most of the first two seasons, until it ended the second season with the excellent cliffhanger, Best of Both Worlds. I’m hoping that Seth MacFarlane has the clout to keep the show alive to buy time for them to better figure out what to do with this series.

Kyle MacLachlan and Judi Dench brought the red room from Twin Peaks to The Late Late Show, frustrating host James Corden in the video above.

Wired has a look at Blade Runner 2049.

Bill Clinton is writing political fiction, just like Hillary. Bill is working on a novel with James Patterson entitled The President Is Missing. Hillary wrote a fictional account of the 2016 election in which Bernie Sanders was the villain and a character with her name was a progressive. Showtime has announced a deal to do a television adaptation of Bill’s book.

It is the tenth year anniversary of the release of The Sarah Jane Adventurers. To celebrate, the BBC is rebroadcasting three episodes and has an article posted entitled 5½ Reasons Why EVERYBODY should watch The Sarah Jane Adventures. From the article:

The show’s essential premise was simple. Take one former companion of the Doctor. Add some young sidekicks; season with familiar foes like Sontarans and the Slitheen and for good measure, throw in the Doctor himself for a couple of stories. Then stir them all together in two-part adventures where the planet’s in peril but our heroes still have time for a few one-liners and a group hug at the end.

Except, of course, it’s not as easy as that. SJA worked because it hit just the right blend of alien scares and human drama. The childless Sarah Jane gets a family. Her alien son learns what it means to be human. The cocksure Clyde Langer finds there’s more to this world than he ever imagined… Just like Doctor Who, it was a show that revelled in adventure but always found time to explore and celebrate its characters without patronising its audience.

The article noted appearances by both Matt Smith and David Tennant.

The Handmaid’s Tale was among the big winners at the Emmy Awards last week. I looked at the best political jokes from the awards ceremony earlier in the week. This included a video of the skit with Stephen Colbert and Jeffry Wright based upon Westworld. 

By now I’m sure everyone interested has already seen the full lists of winners and read plenty about the awards so I will not say much more here. I did find these lists interesting, showing the expected superiority of cable and streaming. Here is a list compiled by Deadline of those winning awards at last week’s ceremony:

HBO: 10
NBC: 6
Hulu: 5
Netflix: 4
FX: 2

The second list includes all those who won three or more awards, including the Creative Arts awards which were presented earlier:

HBO: 29
Netflix: 20
NBC: 15
Hulu: 10
ABC: 7
FX Networks: 6
Fox: 5
Adult Swim: 4
CBS: 4
A&E: 3
VH1: 3

Francesco Francavilla has tweeted a picture of Batman taking a knee, showing support for the NFL players who have been protesting racial injustice and police brutality by taking a knee when the National Anthem is played before the start of an NFL game. Donald Trump has demanded that the players be fired or suspended. This statement has been protested by players and owners, but now Trump also has to deal with Batman. Besides Batman, Trump is also opposed by the next best thing, Jim Harbaugh, who said, “No, I don’t agree with the president. That’s ridiculous. Check the Constitution.”

Update: Adding to responses from Michigan football heroes, Tom Brady said, “I certainly disagree with what he said. I thought it was just divisive.”

SciFi Weekend: Twin Peaks Finale; Star Trek Discovery Tackles The Trump Era; The Orville; Doctor Who News

As Damon Lindelof said during the Twin Peaks panel at Comic-Con, “Without Twin Peaks, there would be no Sopranos, no X-Files, no True Detective, no Fargo, no Lost…” continuing to list the shows which have changed television.  Twin Peaks: The Return went beyond these in being unusual and something we have never seen before on television. We saw exactly what David Lynch would do with eighteen hours in which he could do whatever he desired, unedited. Some who are huge fans of David Lynch had great reviews. Television reviewers, probably along with most viewers, were more negative, expecting something more like television, and seeing a need for at least some boundaries on the imagination of David Lynch.

It is difficult to truly recap what occurred in either the series or two-hour finale last week. The series was slow, and often confusing. It included fake versions of major characters, including three different versions of Dale Cooper (or at least those who looked like him), and time travel. We also saw Diane, the off screen secretary from the original series, but of course things were not as they seemed with her. Perhaps most disappointing was how little there was of Audrey Horne, and with major questions about her left unanswered. An earlier disappointment was that Madeline Zima’s character, who I initially thought might be the Audrey Horne of the revival, was killed shortly after she took her clothes off.  Many things throughout the series seemed to make no sense, but to criticize the show for this would miss the point in a David Lynch creation.

In the finale, Cooper went back in time to prevent the murder of Laura Palmer, and was as almost as confused as the viewers when the series ended with him asking, “What year is this?” This was followed by a scream from Laura Palmer, who perhaps was recalling her murder in another time. If the interpretation at IndieWire is correct, the better question for Cooper to ask might have been whether he was in an entirely new time line (perhaps created when he attempted to save Laura). The episode then ended, leaving many questions open. Kyle MacLachlan has said there have been no discussions related to another season, and I wonder how many of those of us who made it through eighteen episodes of this series would do so again.

We also might ask, as Dale Cooper, did, what year this is when watching television. Just as we recently returned to Twin Peaks, soon we will be watching Star Trek once again. In the original series, produced during the Cold War, the Klingons represented the Soviet Union. Entertainment Weekly reports that Star Trek Discovery will tackle the political divide in the Trump era:

Star Trek: Discovery will continue the venerated sci-fi tradition of using a fantastic setting to tackle real-world issues — only in a bigger way than any Trekseries has done before.

The upcoming CBS All Access drama tells the serialized story of a war between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire. The show is set a decade before 1966’s original series — which premiered 51 years ago today — during which the Federation and Klingons were in a Cold War standoff that reflected yesteryear’s U.S.-Soviet relations. In Discovery, war breaks out and the Klingons leading the charge have some ideological ideas inspired by the 2016 electoral divide.

“The allegory is that we really started working on the show in earnest around the time the election was happening,” showrunner Aaron Harberts says. “The Klingons are going to help us really look at certain sides of ourselves and our country. Isolationism is a big theme. Racial purity is a big theme. The Klingons are not the enemy, but they do have a different view on things. It raises big questions: Should we let people in? Do we want to change? There’s also the question of just because you reach your hand out to someone, do they have to take it? Sometimes, they don’t want to take it. It’s been interesting to see how the times have become more of a mirror than we even thought they were going to be.”

Of course we have already seen another genre show deal with a Trump presidency–Game of Thrones with King Joffrey.

Discovery only takes place ten years before the events of the original show, meaning that we already know what some of the characters were doing at the time. TrekMovie.com reviewed where the TOS characters were.

There will be another show paying homage to Star Trek premiering tonight, Seth MacFarlane’s The Orville. It was originally billed as a spoof, but many reviews are negative, along with saying it is neither a true drama or comedy. Vox compares it (negatively) to fan fiction. I had planned to summarize some of the other reviews, but now see that The Mary Sue has already posted excerpts from several.

Once I heard that Jodie Whittaker was to become the thirteenth Doctor, I had hoped that River Song would get a chance to meet her. Alex Kingston also expressed interest in returning to Doctor Who for such a meeting a Dragon Con:

…she also mentioned that she was going to “call the BBC and let them know River is ready to meet her second wife.” To which, of course, the audience exploded. “Why not?  She (River) said it!”

Billie Piper also says that Rose would be in love with the thirteenth doctor.

It was previously announced that the Doctor Who spinoff Class would not be renewed for a second season, but the possibility was left open that it might continue if it did well in the United States, where it did not air for several months after on in the UK. The cancellation is now official.

Sian Brooke, who played Eurus in season four of Sherlock, teases the possibility of a fifth season. Hopefully it really is made.

SciFi Weekend: Game Of Thrones Finale (Tear Down This Wall); Dark Matter Cancelled; Killjoys Renewed; Twin Peaks Finale Tonight; Doctor Who News; Walter Becker Dies

The seventh season of Game of Thrones moved far more rapidly than previous seasons despite its shorter length. Plot lines which I suspected might be carried over into the eighth and final season were quickly wrapped up–which made sense when we say just how huge the cliff hanger in the final minutes was. Major spoilers ahead.

Seeing Jon and Daenerys wind up in the cabin together (in an intentionally simple scene) was no surprise, and their incest was not all that shocking considering that, as opposed to Cersei and Jaime, they were not as closely related, didn’t grow up together, and had no idea of their relationship. Targaryens have a strong tradition of incest so this probably won’t bother Dany when she finds out, but it might come as a shock to Jon.

Dany is far more likely to be concerned about the impact the news will have on her claim to the iron throne than the incest, although at this point I question if the revelation that Jon has a stronger claim to the Iron Throne than Daenerys matters all that much. Two dragons might trump lineage. The winner, if there is one, is likely to be whoever can survive as opposed to who has the stronger claim. Besides, we don’t even know for sure if there will be another monarch sitting on the Iron Throne at the end, or if the events of the series will bring about bigger changes.

One thing we can be certain about is that Littlefinger will not  manipulate his way into ruling. The story line of the discord which Littlefinger tried to develop between Sansa and  Arya  concluded rather rapidly, obviously with events occurring off screen beyond the last meeting we saw between the two sisters. Isaac Hempstead Wright, who plans Bran Stark, described a deleted scene which explained how Sansa figured out Littlefinger’s plan:

We actually did a scene that clearly got cut, a short scene with Sansa where she knocks on Bran’s door and says, “I need your help,” or something along those lines. So basically, as far as I know, the story was that it suddenly occurred to Sansa that she had a huge CCTV department at her discretion and it might be a good idea to check with him first before she guts her own sister. So she goes to Bran, and Bran tells her everything she needs to know, and she’s like, “Oh, s—.”

If anyone has any sympathy for Littlefinger, Sophie Turner has been countering their arguments on Twitter.

Many more things happened. Cersei’s betrayal was no surprise, but it did increase the growing rift between her and Jaime. Less importantly, Theon gets his redemption arc.

Plus there were those final moments at the wall.

Of course nothing is perfect, with Game of Thrones getting sloppy about following its rules, which is important for good fantasy to seem believable. The most obvious example this season was the speed in which the raven got the message to Daenerys and she showed up with a dragon. Of course the consequences of this were quite serious, but did anyone really think that the mission beyond the wall was a good idea?

The season three finale of Dark Matter was titled Nowhere to Go and it wound up having an unfortunate meta meaning. Ryo remained alive despite things looking grim in the final moments the previous week, and I wonder if the long term plan was to be another mind wipe. Instead this episode might have been the start of his redemption. Other characters are in serious danger. Many other story lines remained left open for the next season. And then the Black Ships arrived in a moment which, while of a much lower scale, is a bit like the also previously predicted invasion beginning at the end of Game of Thrones. 

This left so much to look forward to, and ultimately be resolved through the conclusion of the planned five year arc for the show. Then there was yet another television shocker this week. The sad news came that Syfy has cancelled Dark Matter after its third season.

The show’s co-creator Joseph Mallozzi commented in a blog post:

It is with great sadness that I confirm the news.  Syfy has cancelled Dark Matter after three seasons.

To say that I’m incredibly disappointed would be an understatement.

I’ll save my comments and field your questions in a future blog entry.  For today, I just want to extend a heartfelt thanks to my amazing crew, my wonderful cast, and to all of you, our incredible fans.

You all deserved better.

In a follow up post, Mallozzi described the economic reasons why the show was not renewed, and concluded with his long term plans, and immediate plans post cancellation. He concluded:

The nature of the show I created and developed over many years wouldn’t allow for a nice, neat wrap up at season’s end.  Dark Matter’s narrative was designed as a series of set-ups, developments, and payoffs, with multiple parallel storylines that would eventually cross and converge.  Season 1 begins with our crew discovering they are criminals and ends with them being hauled off to prison.  Season 2 begins with them inside the Hyperion-8 galactic prison and ends with their failing to head off a corporate war and deny a former ally.  Season 3 begins with the crew facing off against that former ally amidst the backdrop of corporate war and ends with the alien invasion. Season 4 will begin with our crew, and humanity’s, response to the alien threat… The fact that I have a five year plan (rather than just making it up as I go along) means I know exactly where the various stories are headed.  I know all the answers to all of the questions.  And having that foreknowledge allows for a much more satisfying narrative when all of the pieces of the puzzle finally fall into place. It also means that no matter how much I could try to wrap things up in a season finale, many questions would remain unanswered.  Still, I figured as a final alternative, I could try my damnedest and offer fans some degree of closure by pitching SYFY a 6-episode miniseries to wrap it up.  This, unfortunately, was not an option either.

We, on the Dark Matter production team, tried our damnedest.  And you, the fans, tried your damnedest.  We ALL tried our damnedest.  And still we were cancelled.

So, where does that leave us?  Besides cancelled of course?  Well, as many of you have pointed out, there are other options we could pursue, although finding someone to step in and take SYFY’s place is easier said than done (for reasons I’ll save for another blog entry).

For now, know that we’re doing everything possible to save the show.  It may take weeks before we have our answers but I promise to let you know as soon as I hear anything.  In the meantime, do you part by keeping Dark Matter alive.  Tweet, retweet, post and respond!  Let ’em know what they’re missing!

The news was better for fans of Killjoys. The series was renewed for two additional seasons before the series ends.

The finale of the Twin  Peaks revival is on tonight. I’m not even going to attempt to describe where the show is going into the finale, but AV Club has a short video to bring you up to date.

Rolling Stone wrote on the choice of Jodie Whittaker to become the next lead on Doctor Who:

“I’m the type of person that you’d walk past and go, ‘I think I went to school with her,’ or ‘I know her and I can’t quite place it.’” says Jodie Whittaker, calling from the kitchen of her London flat. “It certainly isn’t, ‘I know her full name, and I can tell you who she is.’

For the British actress, that’s probably about to change. On July 16th, it was announced that she would be playing the next Dr. Who – the 13th incarnation of the time-traveling alien, and the first female to ever take on the iconic role since the debuted in 1963. “I remember walking through London after that going, ‘What the fuck?!?'” she says, recalling a coffee date with Dr. Who showrunner Chris Chibnall – the one in which he had asked her if she would consider auditioning for the part. “I was like, ‘I want to audition now!'” she says. “As a young girl, I did not think that ‘Time Lord’ would ever be on my CV.”

Whittaker – who grew up hooked on Eighties movies (“I’m from that Spielberg era of wonderful make-believe”) in Huddersfield, a Yorkshire town in the north of England – had already made a name for herself in a number of feature films (from Venus, opposite Peter O’Toole, to the cult sci-fi flick Attack the Block) and the breakout BBC hits Broadchurch and Black Mirror. Still, she had to fight for the part, going through multiple rounds of auditions. And Whittaker says she was heartened by the fact that the casting search was not a scattershot one. “I have no idea who, but I know I was up against other actresses,” she claims. “It was very much that [Chibnall] was auditioning people for the first female Doctor.”

Since then, she has already been hailed as a feminist icon and become the target of Internet trolls who view her casting as a form of sacrilege (i.e. “Nobody wants a Tardis full of bras”). “I’m playing an alien,” Whittaker scoffs, “and gender is not a part of that.” In fact, to her mind, the genderlessness of the role only makes the iconic part more feminist. “A moment like this of being the first woman cast as something,” she says, “it makes you really think about your sex, whereas actually what you want to do is play a part where your gender is irrelevant. I am a woman, so I don’t need to play that. And so for me, this was the most freeing experience because there’s no right or wrong way to do it. The rules went out the window.'”

Last week I quoted newspaper reports that Bradley Walsh has been picked to be the 13th Doctor’s companion. This has not been officially announced or confirmed by the BBC.

Karen Gillan has put up pictures on Instagram showing her reunion with Matt Smith and Arthur Darvill at Dragon Con.

In other entertainment news, Walter Becker, co-founder of Steely Dan, has died at 67. The New York Times reports:

Walter Becker, the guitarist, bassist and co-founder of the rock duo Steely Dan, one of the most successful and adventurous groups of the 1970s and early ’80s, died on Sunday. He was 67.

His death was announced on his official website, which gave no other details. He lived in Maui, Hawaii.

Mr. Becker had missed performances in Los Angeles and New York earlier this year. Donald Fagen, the band’s other co-founder and lead singer, told Billboard last month that Mr. Becker had been “recovering from a procedure, and hopefully he’ll be fine very soon.” He gave no other details.

Steely Dan had little use for rock’s excesses, creating instead a sophisticated, jazz-inflected sound with tricky harmonies. Mr. Becker was the primary arranger.

Starting in 1972, after Mr. Becker and Mr. Fagen had met at Bard College, the group produced hit singles like “Do It Again,” ‘Reelin’ In the Years,” “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” and “Deacon Blues,” as well as a raft of critically lauded albums, including “Pretzel Logic,” “The Royal Scam,” “Aja” and “Gaucho,” the latter two widely regarded as their most artistically accomplished.

SciFi Weekend: The Return Of Kahn; Mr. Robot; Doctor Who Deals With Chauvinism; Legends of Tomorrow; The Handmaid’s Tale; Patrick Melrose; Will and Grace; Audrey Horne Returns To Twin Peaks

It looks like Star Trek: Discovery might not be the only Star Trek television coming up. Geek Exchange reports that Nicholas Meyer is working on a limited television series based upon Kahn:

According to the sources, Meyer’s new project takes him back to Khan Noonien Singh, the “genetically superior” villain played by Ricardo Montalban in the original series episode “Space Seed” and in The Wrath of Khan, and by Benedict Cumberbatch in the J.J. Abrams-helmed Star Trek Into Darkness. Meyer will reportedly be developing a prequel miniseries, or limited series that would take place on Ceti Alpha V and chronicle Khan and his followers struggling to survive in the years between when Kirk dropped him off on the planet at the end of “Space Seed” and when the crew of the U.S.S. Reliant finds them early in The Wrath of Khan.

The directors cut of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn is going to have a theatrical release in September to mark the 35th anniversary of the movie:

The Director’s Cut of Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, widely considered the best Star Trek film, is getting a special theatrical release this September to celebrate its 35th anniversary! I had a chance to sit down with writer/director Nicholas Meyer to discuss his experiences making the movie and its long-lasting success. But first, some exclusive details regarding the big screen re-release…

The digitally remastered Director’s Cut of Wrath of Khan will show for two days on Sunday, September 10th and Wednesday, September 13th in more than 600 theaters across the U.S. at 2pm and 7pm local time. Fans can buy advance tickets starting today. Screenings will be preceded by a brand new 18-minute interview with William Shatner about the making of the film. Tickets can be purchased online by visiting FathomEvents.com or at participating theater box offices.

A very creepy trailer was released for the third season of Mr. Robot with this description: “MR. ROBOT follows Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek), a cyber-security engineer who, along with Mr. Robot (Christian Slater) and fsociety, starts a revolution to change the world. Picking up immediately following the Season 2 cliffhanger, Season 3 will explore each character’s motivations and the disintegration between Elliot and Mr. Robot.” The show returns October 11 with new cast members including Bobby Cannavale.

Considering all the noise made about Jodie Whittaker being cast as the thirteeth Doctor, it is fitting to learn that the Doctor Who Christmas special will deal with chauvinism:

David Bradley is set to appear as the First Doctor in the Doctor Who Christmas special lined up for the end of the year, and he’s recently revealed at the London Film & Comic Con that he and outgoing Doctor Peter Capaldi are set to clash over their attitudes toward women during Steven Moffat’s final episode.  

“What we did emphasise,” Bradley explained, “was the old fashioned nature and how he is from the 60s. He goes into the Twelfth Doctor’s Tardis and says ‘it’s a bit dusty around here, it’s in an awful state isn’t it? Where’s Polly? Shouldn’t she give it a spring clean?’ And then Peter’s saying ‘you can’t say that’.”  

Bradley added that his character “brings all his 60s sensibilities, what’s lovingly called casual chauvinism. He’s just talking [as if] the [companions] are there just to help out, and do the dusting and do all the domestic chores – his attitudes to a lot of things come right from the 60s, so there’s a lot of conflict between Hartnell’s Doctor and Peter’s Doctor about how things have changed in the last 50 years… we had quite a bit of fun with that.”

LGBT Nation takes matters even further in questioning if the new Doctor will be bisexual:

Michelle Gomez, who plays Missy in the hit sci-fi show Doctor Who, dropped on heckuva spoiler in an interview with the UK’s Daily Star.

While male versions of the Doctor have had female companions, Pearl Mackie’s character Bill Potts, was the first lesbian companion on the show. The character “died” last season when she left to continue her relationship with an old flame who turned into an alien during her first plotline.

Missy, however, paved the way for Whittaker’s role, as the newest incarnation of the Doctor’s longstanding nemesis, the Master. Gomez’ character proved that a Time Lord could regenerate as the opposite sex.

“Now we have a got a female Doctor so there is going to be girl on girl,” Gomez said. “It might work. Dunno. Obviously it might be awful.”

While producers have reportedly pushed for a male companion next season, Mackie for her part says she’d love to see a lesbian relationship develop between the Doctor and her companion. “It could work,” she said.

Asked if she’d be willing to return to the show to be the object of the Doctor’s affection, Mackie was quick to reply.

“Who wouldn’t? It is Doctor Who. Never say never.”

Buddy TV has this news on the third season of Legends of Tomorrow (trailer above):

Legends of Tomorrow season 3 will continue the trend started in season 2 of having a group of villains terrorize the heroes. It won’t be the Legion of Doom this time but a much larger and more diverse group. Klemmer did announce that among this group will be Damien Darhk, Arrow‘s season 4 villain and one of the original members of Legends of Tomorrow’s Legion of Doom.

Legends of Tomorrow season 2 had Darhk travel from the past to participate in adventures with Reverse Flash and Malcolm Merlyn. This will no longer be the case in season 3. Darhk will be resurrected from the dead after being killed by Oliver Queen’s hands in season 4 of Arrow. There will be a power behind Darhk, who the show has yet to reveal, but Damien will be the face of the organization.

“Damien Darhk is going to be the leader of this group in the way Thawne was sort of the boss last year for the Legion of Doom. This group is distinctly led up by Damien,” executive producer Marc Guggenheim explained.

As for the mysterious head honcho, Klemmer promised that they would be unlike anything the show has seen before. At the head of the group of villains will be a “non-human entity” as Legends of Tomorrow plans to get more into the occult and magic side of the DC universe. Klemmer confirmed that they are actively pursuing getting Matt Ryan’s Constantine on season 3.

One non-human on the evil crew however will be The Flash‘s Gorilla Grodd. Much like Damien Darhk, Legends will introduce a Grodd that has not yet been seen on The FlashLegends‘ Grodd will be older, wiser and much more dangerous. “It will be a version of him that we have not met yet on any of the shows. It will be the most evolved and powerful form of Grodd,” Klemmer said.

While the group of villains will form the spine of the season on an episode-to-episode basis, Legends of Tomorrow will be dealing with anachronisms, not aberrations. Following the season 2 finale where time “broke,” figures from history will start appearing in the wrong eras. One example that was teased was Helen of Troy showing up in the 1940s and become a movie star. The head of the villainous group of season 3 will be using these changes to exploit and further their own purpose.

Deadline reports on a new cast member:

Mistresses alumna Jes Macallan has signed on for a recurring role in the third season of the CW’s superhero drama DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

 Macallan will play Special Agent Ava Sharpe, a hard working agent for a secret branch of the Federal Government (the Time Bureau) dedicated to the regulation of time-travel and the protection of history. She is very smart and incredibly ambitious and always believes she is the smartest person in the room. She is often quite ruthless in obtaining her goals and her drive for perfection has left many discarded friendships (and relationships) in her wake.

The Handmaid’s Tale has been the best new show so far of 2017, ending the first season in an ambiguous manner. The story now goes beyond the book, and the fact that there will be a second season indicates that Offred survives after being taken away. There were also other small signs of hope and rebellion in the first season finale.

We also know that Alexis Bledel’s character not only survives, but has been promoted to a series regular.

Beyond this we know very little, and Elizabeth Moss warns against trying to guess how the second season begins. She told TV Guide:

“Don’t try to guess what happens in that first scene of Episode 1 in Season 2,” she said. “You will never get it, and I mean that objectively as a viewer. You just won’t guess, and I love that so much.”

 

TV Line reports that Allison Williams has been added to Benedict Cumberbatch’s upcoming Showtime series, Patrick Melrose:

The former Marnie Michaels will guest-star on Patrick Melrose, Benedict Cumberbatch’s upcoming Showtime limited series, TVLine has learned.

The five-part project, formerly called Melrose, is based on Edward St. Aubyn’s novels and stars Cumberbatch as the title character, “an aristocratic and outrageously funny playboy” who turns to substance abuse to erase bad childhood memories of his abusive father.

Williams will play Marianne, someone Patrick runs into during his time in New York City.

The drama’s cast also includes Hugo Weaving, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Anna Madeley.

Will and Grace has not only been extended for sixteen episodes next season, but was also renewed for a tenth season before the revival even began. The revival plans to retcon the original series finale and have the cast back as we remember them (such as without the children shown in the original finale). Things have also been brought up to date, with Karen having voted for Donald Trump. Eric McCormack discussed this:

“One of the hardest things we’ve all had to deal with is realizing that some of the people around us didn’t vote for who we voted for and they might’ve been friends or they might still be friends, and how do we maintain that friendship?” McCormack told reporters at the Television Critics’ Association on Thursday. “We know that’s the case here as a result of that video we did in September. We know that Karen, of course, voted for her friend Donald. So that is going to lead the conversation. That is not inherently about the politics of today or even yesterday; it’s about the politics of friendship and how you navigate that. And it can be quite hysterical, how you navigate that.”

I wouldn’t dream of attempting to do recaps of Twin Peaks, or in any way try to explain what is going on, but I will note that last week’s episode had the return of  Audrey Horne (Sherilyn Fenn). Picture from last week’s episode above. Or as we remember her:

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Eaters of Light Review and Chris Chibnall Hints At Plans For Next Season

Eaters of Light was a filler episode of Doctor Who before we get into the two-part season finale. It was written by Rona Munro, who wrote Survival, the last serial of classic Doctor Who. Some elements of the old serials could be seen compressed into this episode. Munro has also been working as a play write, and this could be seen in the excellent dialog of the episode, which helped make up for the weakness of its plot.

In some ways I felt like I was watching a different version of last week’s Empress of Mars. Like last week’s episode, it began with a brief scene in the present or near-future which raised a question–this time the TARDIS engraved on a stone. The story then went back to resolve the mystery. Like last week, the plot was pushed forward by Bill falling. Again there were the themes of redemption for cowardice, the folly of war, and the need for enemies to work together for their common survival.

Besides the minor mystery of the TARDIS being engraved on the stone, two other common ideas from Doctor Who were seen. An old mystery, in this case what happened to the Ninth Roman Legion  in the second century AD, was “answered.” We also “learned” a lot about crows and how they communicate.

Bill showed her science fiction geekiness in figuring out the telepathic autotranslation functions of the TARDIS, although this revelation would have made more sense earlier in the season. This came into play in also allowing the previously warring parties to communicate and settle their differences in order to work together. Bill’s sexual preferences were easily understood by a Roman soldier. Bill also played a role in motivating the others, which ultimately set them up for their sacrifice at the end: “If you come with me, I can’t promise that you won’t die but, I can promise you this: you won’t all die in a hole in the ground.”

Nardole played comic relief, initially going around in his bathrobe like Arthur Dent in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Later he changed clothes and did some face painting to fit in with the natives.

The plot did have its problems. I was bothered early on when Bill just went off on her own with no weapons, no way to communicate, and no way for anyone to track her. This did propel the plot, and everyone did get together after being separated, as often happened over and over again in the classic serials.

The entire enemy creature was weakly described. After other episodes in which the “monster” turned out to not be entirely evil, with motivations which made sense, we had a rather simple monster here. It is best to ignore much of the explanation and settle with this:

The Doctor: “It’s as if his bones disintegrated.”

Nardole: “What could do that?”

The Doctor: “A complete and total absence of any kind of sunlight.”

Nardole: “Death by Scotland.”

It was predictable that the Doctor might be willing to spend eternity battling the monster to protect earth, but hardly clear how the gate works or how the humans, with their brief lifespans and no regenerations, could accomplish this. It is best to just move on and get back to the TARDIS where we were surprised by the presence of Missy. The Doctor has upset both Bill and Nardole by allowing her out, but for the moment it appears she is trying to be good. Unfortunately for the Doctor, that does not mean she sees things the same way as he does.

Missy: “Those little people, trapped in a hill, fighting forever – – is that really up to your bleeding-heart standards?

The Doctor: “You understand the universe, you see it, you grasp it, but you never learn to hear the music.”

We should learn soon whether Missy really is good, and the previews reveal (as was already known) that both the John Simm version of the Master and the Mondasian Cybermen play a part.

The upcoming two part episode and the Christmas episode will also mark the end of Steven Moffat’s tenure as show runner, and the end of the current configuration the Doctor and his current companions. We may have learned something interesting about next season from incoming show running Chris Chibnall:

Season 11 of Doctor Who is going to be new… very new. There will be a new Doctor, a new showrunner, and apparently a new format. Chris Chibnall, who is slated to come on board as showrunner in 2018, has hinted at going away from the monster of the week format and into a more broad series storyline. As long as the TARDIS allows.

The writer/producer, who is coming off of the blazing BBC hit Broadchurch is fond of season-long storytelling, proven through the compelling, addictive crime drama. As the new head honcho, the style could easily bleed into Doctor Who, giving the season one single storyline…

Though Chibnall stayed mum on most Doctor details (ahem, like who is going to play the Doctor), he did respond to the question if he would be allowed to do a whole-season story­line, like Broadchurch, rather than individual episodes. To which he responded: “Yes. What the BBC was after was risk and boldness.”

Considering how difficult it must be to come up with a fresh story every week, this might be a good idea. Chibnall showed that he can keep a season long story arc interesting on Broadchurch (with the first and third seasons far better than the second). More on Chris Chibnall here.

***

Much more has happened in genre beyond Doctor Who, but I have had to limit the last couple of posts due to traveling. I still want to get to the question of whether Nora was telling the truth in the series finale of The Leftovers. Gotham ended the season with major character development for many characters, including Bruce Wayne. Dark Matter has continued from where last season left off, and is pushing some of its characters in new directions. Wynonna Earp has also returned on Syfy. I have not seen this series yet, but based upon recommendations of others it is now high on my list of series to catch up on. Orphan Black has also had major developments in its first two episodes, including the death of a clone. We are well into the revival of Twin Peaks, but still have not seen the real version of Special Agent Dale Cooper in the real world. I also just completed House of Cards, which is struggling to be even more outrageous than real life politics these days.

I am hoping to get caught up by next weekend to review some of these shows in greater detail.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Extremis; Agents of SHIELD Season Finale; Legends of Tomorrow; The Flash; Arrow; Star Trek Discovery; Seth MacFarlane’s Spoof, The Orville; Gotham; The Magicians; Twin Peaks

Extremis was the best episode of Doctor Who so far this season, and it is just the first part of a three part story. There was a lot of misdirection in the episode, which is part of what made it so interesting.

The episode appeared to have two different story lines, but the conclusion revealed there were actually three. There were the flashbacks to the execution and the scenes with the Doctor outside the vault. It wasn’t reveled until the end that all of the other events were actually taking place in the shadow world, their version of the Matrix.

Even the execution scene had misdirection, as it was unclear whether the Doctor was intended to be the victim or executioner. Once it finally became clear that it was Missy to be executed, things did not turn out as planned. This gave plenty of opportunity for Missy to be Missy: “Please, I’ll do anything. Let me live. Teach me how to be good. I’m your friend.” She also had some words for her captors: “Get off, I’ve just been executed. Show a little respect” and “Knock yourself out. Actually, do that. Knock yourself right out.”

I am glad that they didn’t drag out the reveal as to who is in the vault any longer as pretty much everyone probably realizes by now that it is one of the versions of the Master. The Doctor is keeping his word to watch over her body, even if he mislead Missy’s captors in not going through with executing her. His decision to spare her life is consistent with the relationship which as developed between the two.

Any episode in which the events are in some way not real is vulnerable to criticism, but I was willing to accept it here. Being only the first part of a three part story helps minimize the problem the events being in the shadow world. There is also a legitimate pay off to the situation in which the Doctor outsmarted the Monks and got out a warning by email to the “real” Doctor. Or as the Doctor in the shadow world put it, “I’m doing what everybody does when the world’s in danger. I’m calling the Doctor.”

This reveal also allowed for some other genre references. This included the second Star Trek reference in two weeks, this time with Nardole saying the shadow world is like “like the Holodeck on Star Trek, or a really posh VR without a headset.” I also liked the explanation of people seeming to commit suicide when they realized the truth: “it’s like Super Mario figuring out what’s going on, deleting himself from the game, because he’s sick of dying.” There was also a reference to Harry Potter and portions of the episode felt like they were out of a Dan Brown novel.

Besides the simulation leading to the Doctor getting the warning about the invasion, it also gave the Doctor reason to encourage Bill to ask Penny out, reassuring her that she is not out of her league, knowing how it worked in the shadow world. While it only happened in the shadow world, presumably this accurately reflected the real world with Bill’s foster mother not realizing she is a lesbian, and therefore not realizing what was going on between the two girls. This included the exchange with Bill’s foster mother telling her “I have very strict rules about men” and Bill replying, “Probably not as strict as mine.”

The shadow world also gave us scenes at the Vatican, briefly at the Pentagon, at CERN, and with a dead president. This led the Doctor to wonder, “Particle physicists and priests–What could scare them both?” Plus there was the Pope in Bill’s bedroom: “Doctor, here’s a tip. When I’m on a date, when that rare and special thing happens in my real life, do not, do not under any circumstances put the Pope in my bedroom.”

There is plenty of additional grounds to nitpick, such as questioning whether a simulation so complex could not come up with a better random number generator. I am far more willing to accept potential plot holes which come up with thinking about an episode as opposed to glaring ones which cause a distraction while watching, such as with Knock Knock.

Continuity was also handled fairly well in this episode. They might have initially had the Doctor regain his vision at the end of Oxygen, but it worked out better to extend his blindness into this episode. This could also play into the upcoming regeneration, but I can’t help but wonder what would happen if he encountered the Weeping Angels while unable to see.

The episode also showed how Nardole remained with the Doctor following the events of The Husbands of River Song, with him there at River’s request to prevent the Doctor from taking extreme actions following her death. Nardole even used a passage from her diary to influence the Doctor. While not seen on camera, Steven Moffat has said that one of the stories in his mind that he will not get a chance to tell is of the Doctor having Nardole going to the library after the events of The Forest of the Dead to recover River’s diary. There are also rumors that River will be returning this season. If so, this, along with her pictures on the Doctor’s desk, provides a good set up.

Agents of SHIELD also spent a lot of time in a version of the Matrix this season before the framework was destroyed in the season finale. IGN spoke with the producers about that space cliff hanger and that new role for Coulson:

IGN: Going back to the cliffhanger, that diner scene at first very much reminded me of the shawarma scene at the end of Avengers. Was there ever version of that sequence that didn’t have the cliffhanger, in case for whatever reason you didn’t get picked up?

Bell: It’s what it is. There was not a nice quiet shawarma version of it where they go, “Oh, it’s nice to be together.” It was always supposed to be, “Oh look, we’re finally together. Oh no, something bad happens.”

IGN: Which is sort of how it always goes for these guys, right?

Bell: It is!

Whedon: Man, SHIELD is not the coziest place to work, you know? I think they have a pretty good health plan, but other than that, it’s kind of up in the air all the time.

IGN: Well I hope so. They do keep coming back from the dead or near death at all points. I am excited we’re going back to space, though! Can you say how long it’s been in the show between when the team gets taken and when we pick back up with Coulson at the end?

Whedon: [silence] We can’t say.

Bell: We acknowledge there’s a time jump…

IGN: Going back a little bit, how long have you been planning for Coulson to be the Ghost Rider — and what was Clark Gregg’s reaction to finding out that news?

Bell: To say he was happy, it would be an understatement.

Whedon: I think what he said when we told him was, “I didn’t think I could geek out more,” but he was like, “It seems I can.”

Bell: Yeah, that was what he said.

IGN: Can you clarify: did Coulson make a deal with the devil to take on the Ghost Rider identity, or will we find out a bit more of the logistics of that deal that’s alluded to soon?

Whedon: We’ll find out more about it, but I think it’s safe to say he made a deal with the Ghost Rider, or the powers behind him. We’ll see what it all means, but it didn’t come for free. It wasn’t like, “Hey bro, can I borrow that? Can I just borrow that Ghost Rider thing for a second?”

Bell: Right, like borrowing a T-shirt.

IGN: Are you leaving the door open for more Ghost Rider?

Whedon: Well, first of all, he’s not dead — not that that means anything in our world. He also has shown that he has the ability to move in and out of realms and dimensions or planets or wherever he’s going. He’s a threat to pop up at any moment. Whether or not he will, I can’t say, but he’s out there…

IGN: I want to talk a bit about Fitz and Simmons. You’ve put them through the wringer over the past couple seasons, and my working theory is it’s because Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge always deliver such fantastic performances of those traumatizing events. Considering what they’ve gone through this year, are you considering them as a couple who will remain rocks for each other, or are you still planning to throw a bunch more terrible things at them?

Whedon: First of all, it’s the nature of the world. I think even this year with the flashbacks of May and Coulson and the rules we’ve stated through many seasons, that there are rules about agents not getting together for this very reason. Your love will be tested. That’s sort of the nature of the business. I think it’s safe to say from these past two episodes that they love each other and won’t love anyone else, but that doesn’t mean that they’ll be able to repair their relationship and all that pain in between. One would hope that they could because everybody roots for FitzSimmons and the fans do and we do. We love the two actors, and so I think that seeing them together is a reward that the audience deserves, but how that happens, we’ll have to wait and see if it does.

Bell: I think the thing is people can have the forever love, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they get to end up together. They might, but you don’t know.

Whedon: But theirs is a forever love.

The CW Network has released a synopsis for the third season of Legends of Tomorrow, including the return of Rip Hunter and establishment of the Time Bureau, after they fractured time in the season finale:

After the defeat of Eobard Thawne and his equally nefarious Legion of Doom, the Legends face a new threat created by their actions at the end of last season. In revisiting a moment in time that they had already participated in, they have essentially fractured the timeline and created anachronisms – a scattering of people, animals, and objects all across time! Our team must find a way to return all the anachronisms to their original timelines before the time stream falls apart. But before our Legends can jump back into action, Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) and his newly established Time Bureau call their methods into question. With the Time Bureau effectively the new sheriffs in town, the Legends disband – until Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell) discovers one of them in the middle of his well-deserved vacation in Aruba. Seeing this as an opportunity to continue their time traveling heroics, Sara (Caity Lotz) wastes no time in getting the Legends back together.  We reunite with billionaire inventor Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), the unconventional historian-turned-superhero [Nate] Heywood (Nick Zano), and Professor Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and Jefferson “Jax” Jackson (Franz Drameh), who together form the meta-human Firestorm. Once reunited, the Legends will challenge the Time Bureau’s authority over the timeline and insist that however messy their methods may be, some problems are beyond the Bureau’s capabilities. Some problems can only be fixed by Legends.

Last week’s episode of The Flash appeared to show that Iris did die in the scene we’ve been seeing all season. It might have been premature for The CW Network to release this synopsis of season four, which appears to have a major spoiler as to  how the season ends (not that I’m all that surprised considering how this show has involved changing timelines, not to mention the imaging tool used):

Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) lived a normal life as a perpetually tardy C.S.I. in the Central City Police Department.  Barry’s life changed forever when the S.T.A.R. Labs Particle Accelerator exploded, creating a dark-matter lightning storm that struck Barry, bestowing him with super-speed and making him the fastest man alive — The Flash.  But when Barry used his extraordinary abilities to travel back in time and save his mother’s life, he inadvertently created an alternate timeline known as Flashpoint; a phenomenon that gave birth to the villainous speed god known as Savitar, and changed the lives of Caitlin Snow (Danielle Panabaker) and Wally West (Keiyan Lonsdale) forever.  With the help of his adoptive father, Joe West (Jesse L. Martin), his lifelong best friend and love interest Iris West (Candice Patton), and his friends at S.T.A.R. Labs — Cisco Ramon (Carlos Valdes), C.S.I Julian Albert (Tom Felton), and an Earth-19 novelist named H.R. Wells (Tom Cavanaugh) — Barry continues to protect the people of Central City from the meta-humans that threaten it.  Based on the characters from DC, THE FLASH is from Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti (“Arrow,” “Supergirl”), Andrew Kreisberg (“Arrow,” “The Flash”), Sarah Schechter (“Arrow,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”) and Todd Helbing (“Black Sails”).

They have also released the synopsis of Arrow season six:

After a violent shipwreck, billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) was missing and presumed dead for five years before being discovered alive on a remote island in the North China Sea.  He returned home to Star City, bent on righting the wrongs done by his family and fighting injustice.  As the Green Arrow, he protects his city with the help of former soldier John Diggle (David Ramsey), computer-science expert Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards), his vigilante-trained sister Thea Queen (Willa Holland), Deputy Mayor Quentin Lance (Paul Blackthorne), brilliant inventor Curtis Holt (Echo Kellum), and his new recruits, street-savvy Rene Ramirez (Rick Gonzalez) and meta-human Dinah Drake (Juliana Harkavy).  Oliver has finally solidified and strengthened his crime-fighting team only to have it threatened when unexpected enemies from his past return to Star City, forcing Oliver to rethink his relationship with each member of his “family”.  Based on the characters from DC, ARROW is from Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with Berlanti Productions and Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti (“The Flash,” “Supergirl”), Marc Guggenheim (“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” “Eli Stone”), Wendy Mericle (“Desperate Housewives,” “Eli Stone”), Andrew Kreisberg (“The Flash,” “Eli Stone,” “Warehouse 13”) and Sarah Schechter (“The Flash,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow”).

CBS has released the above trailer for Star Trek Discovery, which is to premiere this fall. Breakdown at TrekMovie. com and at Cult Movie News. Producer Ted Sullivan has reassured fans that it is definitely a prequel to TOS, and not a reboot or re-imagining.

The trailer for Seth MacFarlane’s spoof of Star Trek for Fox The Orville, is far more amusing.

Bruce Wayne’s transition to become Batman finally starts in season four of Gotham.

Trevor Einhorn (Josh) and Brittany Curran (Fen) have been promoted to regulars for the third season of The Magicians.

Twin Peaks returns tonight. The New York Times has a guide to where everyone was left after the original series. There’s another guide at Vulture.

Netflix has confirmed a fifth season of Arrested Development.

A revival of How I Met Your Mother in some form also continues to look possible.

SciFi Weekend: Last Man On Earth Kills Off Pence Administration; SNL Does SciFi Skit On Trump; Riverdale Renewed; Doctor Who; Broadchurch Season 3; Passengers; The Night Manager; The Americans

The Last Man on Earth returned with an episode which barely involved the regular cast. The, staring Kristen Wiig and Laura Dern. goes back to before the virus killed off virtually everyone. In a news report Mike Pence was referred to as the president. Wiig’s character was shocked that there was no vaccine for the virus, arguing that the president must have a vaccine. That led clips from news reports showing a series of funerals for President Pence, followed by President Paul Ryan, President Rex Tillerson, President Jefferson Beauregard Sessions, and finally President Betsy DeVos:

There was no explanation as to why Donald Trump was not mentioned, with Mike Pence president at the time. This might suggest that Trump was impeached before the virus struck.

The episode progressed to having Kristen Wiig move to a bunker with only her dog for company. She gradually went crazy, including trying to get the dog to say “milk.” She turned out to be the person who sent out the drone shot down by Melissa (January Jones) in a previous episode. Kristen Wiig might be interacting with the regular cast as she left the bunker to search out the people she saw via the drone. Of course they have all moved on from the home where they were spotted by the drone, and we don’t know if she is immune to the virus.

While Donald Trump was not recognized as president on Last Man On Earth, he was portrayed once again by Alec Baldwin on a science fiction themed cold open on Saturday Night Live (video above). The New York Times recapped this and other political skits on the show:

Sure, “Saturday Night Live” has offered ample criticism of President Trump and his young administration. But in its latest episode, the program expressed confidence that he’ll be in office until at least 2018, long enough to see America decimated by an alien invasion force from the planet Zorblatt 9…

A military officer played by the cast member Kenan Thompson told him, “The aliens are killing us, sir. They have the most advanced weaponized technology we’ve ever seen. What should we do?”

The Trump character responded, “Here’s what we’re going to do. We are going to bring coal back, O.K.? We’re going to have so much coal, you’re going to say, ‘Where did all this coal come from? I never knew there could be so much coal.’”

Informed that the aliens had already vaporized the state of California, Mr. Baldwin answered, “So then I won the popular vote?”

As Mr. Trump, he explained that the aliens had already been secretly living in the United States for hundreds of years. “Look, there’s one right there,” he said, indicating Leslie Jones. “And so is the woman next to her, right there,” he said, pointing at Sasheer Zamata.

Asked where he was getting his information, Mr. Baldwin replied, “From a very reputable source, Infowars. It’s a radio show hosted by Alex Jones. You know he’s legit because he’s always taking off his shirt.”

When the aliens at last overrun the base and learn that Mr. Trump is president, one creature (played by Bobby Moynihan) declares, “Really? This is going to be so easy.”

Riverdale has been renewed for a second season. I wonder if the season finale is already set, or if knowing that there is a second season will  affect when we find out who killed Jason Blossom. Screener looks at the major suspects. On the one hand, viewers might be disappointed if there is not some answer in the foreseeable future after following the show. On the other hand, ending the mystery requires them to come up with something new to hook the viewers.

The series is sort of a Twin Peaks light with its murder mystery in a small town. Twin Peaks quickly went down hill after it revealed who killed Laura Palmer, and we found that they didn’t have much more story to tell. (Hopefully they have come up with more story for the upcoming Showtime revival). There certainly is plenty of potential in Riverdale for additional stories, and not everything going on this season is centered around the murder of Jason Blossom. Perhaps it will be more like Veronica Mars in having a different mystery each season.

The CW Network has also renewed The 100 for a fifth season.

We are down to less than a month until the start of series ten of Doctor Who. The Gallifrey Times has an updated episode guide with what is known so far about every episode. The final two episodes feature the original Mondasian Cybermen seen on The Tenth Planet in 1966. New Who created an alternative time line in which the Cybermen were created on earth.

In other Doctor Who news, Radio Times looks at the question of Time Lords aging, or “why did Matt Smith’s Doctor look so young on his ‘farewell tour’ (the 200 years he lives through in series 6), but become an old man while defending the town of Christmas on Trenzalore for 300 years in The Time of the Doctor?” Plus we learned last week that a CIA hacking tool revealed by Wikileaks is called the Weeping Angels.

Broadchurch was of special interest to Doctor Who fans from the start with a cast which includes David Tennant and Arthur Darvill. It became even more significant when show runner Chris Chibnall was picked to replace Steven Moffat. After two episodes of Broadchurch, it is showing promise to surpass the second season and be more like the first. While the murder of the first season still is having an impact, the second season is concentrating on a different crime, a rape. There are already multiple suspects, and more are likely to be added. Beth Lattimer, a key character from the first season, remains a significant part of the story, having become a rape counselor.

It looks like, as usual, the story is as much about the effect on the town as the crime itself, plus the show has already gotten into other topics including the challenges to the small town newspaper. I would suggest that even those who gave up the show in its second season give it another chance. Broadchurch is currently on Mondays on ITV. BBC America will be carrying the show in the future but has not posted a date yet.

Similarly I would recommend that those who gave up on Homeland give the current season a chance, but beware it does start out slow. The payoff the last few episodes makes it worthwhile.

Nerdist looks at the Easter eggs in the Deadpool 2 trailer (video above). This includes posters for Firefly, presumably due to Morena Baccarin being in both Firefly and Deadpool.

Netflix releases Iron Fist this week, with early reviews not being very favorable.

A premiere date for season seven of Game of Thrones has been announced. The seven-episode season will start on July 16.

Passengers will never become a classic science fiction movie, despite a cast led by Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt.  It is best to go into in looking for mindless escape and ignore how creepy the actions of the male lead were. Despite its flaws, the movie was actually enjoyable and even good for some unintentional laughs, such as with the resuscitation scene. Look at it more as a rom-com about the dangers of waking up a woman too soon in order to have sex with her. Or, if you are looking for comedy, you could just watch the blooper reel above (which some are arguing is far better than the actual movie).

The Night Manager was one of the top shows of 2016, but the miniseries completed the events of the John le Carré novel. A second season is being written, but has not yet been picked up. There is no information on what it will be about. It might take other elements from le Carré’s books, especially as some of the characters do appear in other novels. I imagine they could also come up with an original story based on elements and characters from the first miniseries. As I posted previously, the producers of The Night Manager are also working on a miniseries based on  The Spy Who Came In From The Cold.

The Americans returned last week and is receiving additional media attention due to Russia being in the news recently. This includes articles in USA Today and Entertainment Weekly. The Americans has consistently been one of the best shows on television since it premiered.

SciFi Weekend: Legion Premier; The Magicians; First Look At Klingons On Star Trek Discovery; Stranger Things; Travelers Renewed & Other Renewals; Supergirl/Flash Cross Over; Missy Returning To Doctor Who

The major genre event of the week was the much anticipated premier of Legion. After watching the pilot, I would say it is worthy of the hype. If it can maintain this quality, it would rank with Jessica Jones, and possibly surpass it as the best superhero show ever. Created by Noah Hawley of Fargo, the show will also hopefully receive a cross over base of fans from those who watch quality television, even if they have not watched superhero shows in the past.

Syfy Wire interviewed Noah Hawley. Here is a portion of the interview:

In a recent conference call interview, Hawley says FX’s John Landgraf was all-in with approaching the show from left field. “The only reason to take on the genre on FX is if we felt we could make a FX show out of it,” Hawley details. “They are hardwired to look for a different way to tell a story. I think the love story [between David and Syd (Rachel Keller)] is also very grounding. When you have a character who doesn’t know what is real or not real, and the audience is on the journey with him, if you give them something positive to root for, they will make you a trade. As long as the girl is real and the love is real, we’ll go where you want to go.”

At the Television Critic’s Association Winter tour, we talked more with Hawley about how closely he hewed to the Marvel X-Men universe when crafting the series, the aesthetic of the series and how he narratively framed the eight-hour first season.

Legion has a very distinct, retro, out-of-place vibe to it. Why go with a vague visual setting for the series?

These latest X-Men movies take place in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, so there is a period-ness to the movies. By hiding the period [in the series], the question is more open-ended and it allows us to prove ourselves and stand on our own two feet. With the first year of Fargo, for the first three hours there was no connection to the movie at all so the audience felt it was working on its own. Then in the fourth hour, we introduced the money from the movie and suddenly it was connected. But by that point we had earned the right to be judged on our own merits.

Was there any burden to look to Marvel comic or even recent X-Men film mythology to construct this series around?

I suppose I have. There’s nothing on a white board with a lot of squiggly lines. For me, the show isn’t an information delivery device, right? It’s an experience delivery device. There is information in there that can often be separated from its meaning. You’re seeing things that are important because [David] is seeing them, but you don’t necessarily understand what they mean yet. It creates something that is a little surreal, which isn’t something that TV normally does, since Twin Peaks or Hannibal. There’s information that you will understand down the line, but right now what’s important is the experience of being in his mind…

Do you apply any of the ‘rules’ of the universe?

We obviously had a conversation based on the movies, where in the second-to-last movie mutants became public knowledge. Our idea is that they are not public knowledge. So it was a lot about where are we and how do we play with those rules. The other thing X-Men has is a lot of alternate universes. I’m not saying [the show is] one of those. I’m saying the rules are flexible enough that I can place the show and say, “Just watch it. Experience it and then we’ll talk.”

What’s been freeing about writing a genre show?

What I always got from the genre is a sense of wonder, and the inventiveness. If you look at the remake of Battlestar Galactica, there was the idea that the robots were religious, which was a such a fascinating idea. To say on an existential level, what is it really like to be these people [in Legion]? This idea that David, in the comics, has a multiple personality disorder, which is not something we are literally doing this year, but you are seeing facets of things that make you wonder, as in The Wizard of Oz, like a little bit of you were there, and you were there, and you were there, and they are all parts of him in some level…

How did you construct the series, as in will there be a cliffhanger to end the season like the comics or films might do, or is this self-contained storytelling?

It ends a chapter. Even though it’s a recurring series, and not a limited series, there is a beginning, middle and end to the first season, and there would be to the second season as well. I think it’s important to think of them in that way.

The Magicians also had some major events last week, with the third episode of the season feeling more like a season finale than an early season episode. (Spoilers ahead). Among the major changes, it does appear that Alice is at least a niffon, and probably dead. Fortunately in a genre show such as this, death may not be permanent, and characters might be seen even after death. Screener tried to find out what will happen with Alice from the cast:

Everyone give a warm welcome to Niffin Alice. Knowing that his girlfriend is essentially gone (niffins don’t have those pesky consciences, or even souls really) Quentin makes the impossible choice to set his keiko demon on her to make sure she isn’t set loose on Fillory.

Naturally, we asked the cast whether we should really accept that Alice is dead and gone. Jason Ralph’s answer was at least a little encouraging, since apparently Alice & Quentin might not be totally done with each other yet.

“The evolution of that relationship continues throughout the season,” Ralph teases. “So in some way, she’s around.”

It sounds like even though Alice is dead, we might be seeing a little more of her through flashbacks, visions, or even as a ghost. At least we can take heart knowing that we’ll see some version of her from here on out.

E! News interviewed Olivia Taylor Dudley:

E! News: At what point did you know we were saying goodbye to Alice this season?
Dudley: I knew eventually Alice was going to die, because I mean I read the books, and it happens in the books. I didn’t know going into the series when it would happen, and neither did John [McNamara] and Sera [Gamble], our showrunners. We talked about it and knew it wasn’t going to happen in the first season, so I assumed it was going to happen in the second season, but didn’t know until we got up to Vancouver and started shooting that we had the conversation that it was going to be in the third episode. And I think it’s so important to the story, and it’s a huge part of Quentin’s journey from here on out, and the heartbreak of that, so I knew that it was important. As much as I didn’t want it to happen, I was excited to get a chance to have that moment, because it was my favorite part in the books when Alice battles the beast and dies.

It was such a cool moment at the end of last season when Quentin realized Alice was really the “chosen one” who needed to kill the Beast. Did that have a big impact on you, especially knowing it was leading to this heroic death? 
That’s very exciting to get to play that. In that scene, when Quentin says you’re the hero, you’re the one, I think it’s really hard for Alice to digest. For me, it was so exciting to get to play the hero at the end, and you know, Alice has so many issues and it takes a really long time for any of them to have any kind of growth on the show, but under the surface, I think that it’s hard for her to swallow that she’s the one, she’s the chosen one. I love that in books and movies, like Lord of the Rings. I loved that character that gets to be the chosen one whether or not they wanted to. She wasn’t seeking this in her life, and to get it thrust upon her and force her to be great is, I think, really beautiful.

She also confirms that Alice will be back, in some form:

“That version of Alice that we’ve been with for the last season and a bit is gone forever. You can’t bring her back, and there’s no cheap tricks on bringing her back,” Dudley says. “So I get to disappear for a while, and there is a version of Alice that fans will get to see in one shape or another. I got to go on a separate journey with her and with this character later on in the season. I’m excited for people to see that. But it is heartbreaking, because I fell so in love with Alice and had such a wonderful time playing her, so getting to not play that person anymore is really sad.”

The Verge took a look at the entire series in an article entitled, The Magicians builds a better fantasy show by bringing realism to magic.

With Star Trek: Discovery taking place before The Original Show, there has been speculation as to whether the Klingons will return to their original look or have the ridges as on later series. We got the first answer in the picture above.

The cast of Stranger Things is on the cover of Entertainment Weekly, with some hints as to what happens next season.

Showcase has renewed Travelers for a second season, with it to also be available in the United States on Netflix. Netflix has also renewed The OA and Love.

Set photos suggest that the Supergirl/Flash musical cross over episode will take place in the 1940’s.

The BBC has confirmed that Missy will be returning on series 10 of Doctor Who.

The fifth and final season of Orphan Black will premiere on June 10.

Sarah Shahi of Person of Interest will be appearing in another genre show, Reverie. The NBC thriller deals with virtual reality.

We might need a show as absurd as Veep to make any sense out of the Trump White House. Fortunately the show will be returning on April 16.

Richard Hatch, who stared in the original Battlestar Galactica and also had a role in the remake, died last week of pancreatic cancer.

Al Jarreau died earlier today:

Al Jarreau, a Grammy Award-winning singer whose versatile tenor voice and vibrant stage style blurred the lines between jazz, soul and pop music, died Feb. 12 at a Los Angeles hospital. He was 76.

His publicist, Joe Gordon, announced the death, saying the singer had been treated for exhaustion, after announcing his retirement from touring last week. The cause of death was not immediately known.

Mr. Jarreau was loosely classified as a jazz singer, but his eclectic style was entirely his own, polished through years of obscure apprenticeship in lonely nightclubs. He did not release his first album until 1975, when he was 35, but within two years, he had won the first of his seven Grammy Awards and had begun to attract a wide following.