SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; The Orville; Superhero Shows; Stranger Things; Runaways; Good Omens; The Man In The High Castle; Electric Dreams; Doctor Who: Shada

Episode 4 of Star Trek DiscoveryThe Butcher’s Knife Cares Not For The Lamb’s Cry, continues what will presumably be a redemption arc for Burnham. Her defense of the tardigrade, arguing that it should not be judged entirely for its actions on one particular day, is a clear reference to her own situation. The tardigrade was also reminiscent of the creature in the first season episode of the original show, Devil in the Dark.

Unfortunately Landry was not as wise as Burnham, both in seeing the tardigrade only as a potential weapon to be studied (as did Lorca), and in forgetting how dangerous it was. We now know that the killing of apparent main cast was not limited to the first two episodes.

Last week I noted that Georgiou had filmed more material. I hope this means more than just the message seen in this episode. After my speculation as to how she might reappear on the show last week, I thought of another situation where it might make sense to see her alive–an episode in the Mirror universe.

In yet another interview a writer for Star Trek: Discovery insists that the show will not violate canon and the events of the original series, which takes place ten years later. Seeing the necessity of enslaving a sentient species to operate the spore drive suggest at least two reasons why we might never see this again. After the war, Star Fleet principles might come into play again, leading this to be banned. Or possibly any ship trying this is ultimately destroyed by the tardigrade.

The episode had the feeling of continuity with our world and the Star Trek universe by dropping names such as the Wright Brothers, Elon Musk, Zefram Cochrane, and Zaphod (Beeblebrox)?

Polygon discussed the militarization of science with the cast of Discovery.

TrekMovie.com has the episode titles through November when the show goes on hiatus until January.

Last week’s episode of The Orvill, Krill, showed both the strengths and the weaknesses of the series. Of course some might disagree as to which features are strengths and weaknesses. The episode once again captured the feel of an old episode of Star Trek The Next Generation, and did include a moral dilemma. This was interspersed with a number of jokes, often involving the name of the Krill god, Avis, and the car rental company. While the jokes were somewhat amusing, it is a matter of opinion as to how much they distract from the episode or make it more amusing.

The episode also did subtly mock common tropes seen in Star Trek, such as with Mercer speaking before Alara had a communications channel open.

One nitpick is that they had to take a picture of every page of the book they were seeking. Couldn’t they find an ebook version?

The episode also repeated a common issue in episodes of The Orville with problems being solved in simple and unrealistic ways. If they were elsewhere I could see light being used as a weapon, but I found it less plausible that their ships own lights could easily be turned up so bright as to kill most of the crew. Other episodes had similarly questionable solutions, such as seeing Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer being enough to change a character’s long standing views.

This week I will try to catch up with some of the news from New York Comic Con which I couldn’t get to last week, along with genre news from other sources. As there remains too much news to fit in again this week, I will limit to links in many cases. I am also postponing most of the news on the DC superhero shows on CW, which did return last week. One reason to cut back, at least for now, on coverage of them is that interest appears to be declining, with ratings for their return episodes down.

I think that the problems include having too many superhero shows, and that there have been too many episodes of the DC series to maintain quality and interest. This is especially difficult when we have the Netflix series for comparison. I think that CW would be better off reducing these series to a maximum of thirteen episodes a year, both tightening up each series and reducing to two at a time. Guest appearances can keep the other series in the minds of viewers when they are off.

The one additional news item on the CW shows I will mention today is that Victor Garber will be leaving Legends of Tomorrow to return to Broadway. Of course the nature of this show makes it easy for him to return should he become available and interested in the future.

At the moment I like Gotham the best of the network superhero shows, now surpassing the CW series. One reason is that they are continuing where last season left off with the gradual development of Bruce Wayne into Batman. Syfy Wire has information on the Gotham panel at New York Comic Con.

Information on the Agents of SHIELD panel at New York Comic Con here.

Two different X-Men type series have also started. The Gifted appears to show promise after two episodes, teaming up Vampire Bill and Root (aka Stephen Moyer and Amy Acker). I have not watched The Inhumans after reading a number of terrible reviews. As it is only eight episodes, I figure I can binge it later if it improves.

Netflix has done an excellent job of developing their own superhero universe (existing with other Marvel superheroes who are left off screen). After their team up in The Defenders, Iron Fist will be appearing in Luke Cage season 2.

Netflix has posted the final trailer for Stranger Things season 2, which will be released on October 27. The producers are now talking about extending the show beyond four seasons.

Screen Rant discussed the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Kevin Feige.

Dirk Gently has returned for a second season. Review here.

Hulu will be releasing their own Marvel series. Teaser for Runaways above. Engadget has some background information:

For all those unfamiliar with the source material, Runaways follows a dysfunctional group of six teens who band together to fight their evil parents. Judging by the trailer, the show draws its influences from late-nineties genre fare, like The Craft and The Faculty. And, it comes from the creative team behind The O.C. and Gossip Girl, so you can also expect plenty of snappy dialogue, self-deprecating humor, and pop-culture references. The series is reportedly set within the Marvel cinematic universe, but tonally sits closer to the likes of Freeform’s upcoming Cloak and Dagger TV show, and ABC’s The Inhumans. So, don’t go expecting The Punisher to make a cameo.

Amazon’s World of Philip K. Dick panel at New York Comic Con revealed that the third season of The Man In The High Castle will deal more explicitly with parallel universes–and the attempts by the Nazis to conquer them. Trailer above and more information here. Syfy Wire notes how timely the anti-Nazi message of the show is.

More information on Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams, another upcoming show from Amazon, was also revealed at the New York Comic Con. Instead of being based upon a single story like The Man In The High Castle, it will be a series of ten movies. IO9 has more information:

…each episode has different writers and directors, and they were given creative freedom to take the short stories and interpret them in whatever way they saw fit. This is in addition to the rotating cast, which includes stars like Steve Buscemi, Bryan Cranston, Janelle Monae, and Liam Cunningham, the only actor who appeared at the panel. Executive producer (and Philip K. Dick’s daughter) Isa Dick Hackett said she felt this was the best way to approach Dick’s short stories, which she called “the gems of his ideas,” in a way that both honored his work but also made the messages relatable to a modern audience.

It was already impressive that Michael Sheen and David Tennant would be staring in Amazon’s upcoming series Good Omens based upon the Neil Gaiman novel. John Hamm has now been added to the cast. Syfy Wire has more on the series, including others who have been cast.

A teaser (video below) has been released for an animated version of Shada, a Doctor Who serial written by Douglas Adams. The serial was never completed due to a BBC strike. The original actors will be returning to do the voices. Shada will be available for digital download from BBC Worldwide on November 24, then released on Blu-ray and DVD on December 4.

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.