SciFi Weekend: Holiday Shows (Doctor Who, Sherlock, Sense8); Holiday Gifts; Metropolis; Star Trek Discovery Casts Lead; Humans; The Man In The High Castle

We have now gone almost a year without any new episodes of Doctor Who. (At least there was Class, along with seeing Matt Smith on The Crown and Jenna Coleman on Victoria). Peter Capaldi and others have filmed the above message in advance of the Christmas special, and Capaldi has been available for interviews, including the one below:

Doctor Who does have some famous fans, including Prime Minister Theresa May, who has said she always watches the show on Christmas Day. Peter Capaldi responded to hearing this by saying, “I hope she takes this message of kindness and tolerance and compassion to heart.” When asked about whether he plans to leave the role, Capaldi responded by saying, “not for a long time, I hope.”

In another recent interview with Digital Spy, Steven Moffat has suggested someone else for the Doctor to meet, but does see a potential problem. “I’d like Doctor Who to meet the real James Bond, that’d be awesome. They wouldn’t get on at all. He’d shag his assistant!”

The fourth season of Sherlock begins on New Year’s Day. (They don’t worry about competing with the Rose Bowl in the U.K.) There have been hints that it might be the final season in light of how busy Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are, but Steven Moffat denies it will be the final season.

Among other things I’ve recently learned about Doctor Who, Matt Smith has a sister, who is one of the girls in the above video.

Gizmodo lists The Best Gifts for Doctor Who Fans. Of course I already have my own full-sized Tom Baker scarf and a sonic screwdriver.

If you prefer a different franchise, and have a big budget, Ars Technica reviews a $434 replica light sabre. Or, if you want to build your own Death Star, here is how to begin.

We have become accustomed to seeing special holiday episodes of shows from the U.K., but I believe it is a first for Netflix to do this. The trailer for the Sense8-Christmas Special is above (to be released December 23). I have seen conflicting reports as to whether they will wait until May (as the trailer states) versus releasing the second season this month. Presumably the trailer has the most up to date plans.

In other genre news this week, Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot) is planning to do a miniseries of the 1927 classic science fiction movie, Metropolis.

The lead has been cast for Star Trek: Discovery. Sonequa Martin-Green (Walking Dead), will play a lieutenant-commander. Unlike previous Star Trek series, the show will not center around the captain.

Humans ended its second season tonight. (I have the season finale downloaded but have only watched through the seventh of eight episodes). The series raises many of the same issues as Westworld. It lacks the budget, the hype, and the big stars, but it many ways it has done an even better job. AMC will be starting the second season in the United States on February 13.

Amazon started the second season of The Man In The High Castle. While I am still early in the series, it looks good so far. The show which includes Nazi occupation of the eastern United States now seems more relevant with just over a month to go until Donald Trump becomes president. Deadline also recommends another new streaming show released on December 12, OA on Netflix.

SciFi Weekend: Westworld Season Finale; Doctor Who; Sherlock; Dirk Gently

The first season finale of Westworld, The Bicameral Minds, confirmed more fan theories, had additional revelations, and leaves big questions as to where the show is going for the second season. Major spoilers ahead. We found out much more about Bernard in the final episodes, both that he is a robot and that he was made in Arnold’s image. Ford did not seem very surprised that Bernard was revived in the finale, but he always seems to be many steps ahead of everyone else, largely as he has programed the actions of the hosts to a greater degree than previously revealed. What was a surprise was that Ford was on the side of the hosts, now taking Arnold’s side.

Early questions of whether Ford was good or evil now seem irrelevant. What matters is that has taken up Arnold’s mission to prevent robots, which would ultimately achieve consciousness, from being mistreated and exploited. This does leave the question of why Ford found it necessary to kill Arnold in the ninth episode, but perhaps this does not matter as death is only temporary on Westworld. Ford’s motives appear entirely different now that we know that he was on the side of the hosts, even if some of his earlier actions might have seemed contradictory. (I have seen speculation that possibly early scenes were filmed before the producers really figures out where they were going.) Despite his motives, he did utilize violence and was responsible for many deaths. Some of the violence might be rationalized, at least on Ford’s part, by the view that suffering and trauma were the key to waking up a host’s consciousness. Other deaths can be explained, even if not justified, by how low a view Ford held of humanity. This is echoed in the view of Delores, which probably reflects the views of Ford and/or Arnold, that humans are destined to go the way of dinosaurs.

Maeve proceeded with her rebellion, but we learned that this was part of Ford’s programing. Both Delores and Maeve were given the opportunity to make a decision, but it was no surprise that Maeve decided to remain in the park and search for her daughter in one story line after seeing the mother and daughter together on the train. Therefore she did not infiltrate the outside world, which may or may not be part of the long term plans for the show.

We also finally saw William put on a black hat, and then fade into The Man In Black thirty years later. This was widely predicted on line since the second episode when William and Logan were first introduced. It was a shock to Delores–possibly the final shock she needed for her to become fully sentient. While it might make sense that she does not connect the William of thirty years ago with The Man In Black of the show’s present, this makes less sense if William has been visiting the park, and presumably Delores, over the past thirty years as he aged. I am also not entirely satisfied with the explanation of how William’s character changed over the years. While he was disappointed in the finale to find that it was true that the maze was not for him, he did get what he wanted in having consequences to actions and the ability to get hurt at the end.

Other than for Ford’s plans, the biggest surprise of the episode was that Delores was Wyatt. While it has been clear there was some connection between Delores and past events in the park, it was a surprise to see the scenes of her actually killing the original hosts as part of Arnold’s failed plan to prevent the park from opening. This did make it more plausible to see her shoot Ford, her opportunity to make a choice in the finale, which I suspect was primarily because of the meta requirement of Anthony Hopkins only signing up for one year.

The  fate of some characters is less clear if you go under the assumption that if a character is not actually seen to have been killed will very likely return. Logan was last seen naked on a horse in distant parts of the park. If he survived this, he could be expected to return as a very angry enemy of William/The Man In Black. We also do not know what happened to Elsie and Stubbs.

I have seen both the producers and some cast members refer to the first season as a prologue for the story ahead in several interviews. It was inevitable in this form of story that the robots would rise up and rebel, but in contrast to the movie, the audience is made to be sympathetic towards the robots. From various interviews we know that Jimmi Simpson (William) will not return but Ed Harris will. Presumably this means that the flashbacks to thirty years ago are over, unless they will involve different people/robots. While it is possible that Ed Harris will only be returning to be killed in the opening, with Ford gone I wonder if Jimmi Simpson will be playing the role of the main human from Delos, and the opposition to the robots taking over. This could possibly include an older version of Logan as an enemy, with Elsie and Stubbs also playing a part if they are still alive. On the host side, both Evan Rachel Wood and Jeffrey Wright have said they are returning.

We do not know whether the next season will continue to take place primarily in the same areas, if we will see the outside world, and to what degree other parks are involved. We know both that this is Park 1, implying other parks, and we have seen a sign of Samurai (or possibly Shōgun) World.

Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy gave some minimal hints as to where the series is going in an interview with TVLine:

TVLINE | We see Felix and Maeve run through Samurai World or Shogun World or whatever it’s actually called — the backstage area for another park. In his note to her, we see that her daughter is in Park 1… indicating that there are multiple worlds. What can you tell me about the concept of multiple Worlds? 
NOLAN | Lisa and I embarked on this with a feeling that we’d need a plan, we’d need a beginning, a middle and an end to embark on something like this. We didn’t want to do a series that was really popular and we just kept doing it and doing it and ran out of ideas. We wanted to tell the story of the origin of a new species and the new messiness and ambition that would entail.

We wanted the show to change, season on season, sometimes in terms of the characters you’re looking at, but with many familiar faces along the way. And see how their journey, the hosts’ journey, shifts and changes as they understand more of the world around them. At the same time, the title of the series and our interest in the Western aspect of it, and what that means and why that genre was so durable and so evocative for so long, for us means that there’s always a connection to that place and that key of storytelling. Hopefully the ambition of the story and the scope of the story grows season on season, but you never quite forget where it started.

More is revealed in an interview with Variety:

How dead is Ford?
Jonathan Nolan: Oh, he’s dead.

Is he “Anthony Hopkins is available for pilot season” dead?Nolan:
Working with Anthony Hopkins on this season of TV has been one of the greatest pleasures and privileges for Lisa and I in our careers. It’s been an incredible experience, and we’ll see where our story takes us…

We’ve perceived Ford to be one type of person, and at the end he reveals himself to be a different type of person in terms of how he feels about his creations and how he feels about his own life’s work.
Lisa Joy: Only a titan like Anthony Hopkins could have done all the nuance that he embedded in this series. His character in my mind is always a little bit of Prospero in “The Tempest.” You think his plan involves one thing. You kind of underestimate him. Then you see this glimmer of malice and menace that you didn’t anticipate, so he goes to being the villain. Then by the end you realize that this is in some way about atonement for him and that he’s chosen this very difficult road because he believes it’s the only road in which he can atone for the mistakes of the past.

We got confirmation in the finale that the show takes place on multiple timelines, which had been hinted at strongly in previous episodes. How did you settle on that structure?
Joy: I think the key is to let it grow organically from the concept and the characters. Even though it is a very complicated, twisty set of reveals, this is the one show in which it is totally organic to what they’re experiencing. You have a group of hosts who are basically immortal, and the fundamental thing that is holding them back is memory. Unlike humans, who have these imperfect memories — we can’t really conjure events in all the detail they occur — the hosts have a different problem. They’re able to bring back the exact replica of that memory so lifelike and engrossing in detail that it’s impossible to distinguish today from tomorrow or yesterday.

Nolan: This is not the first time I’ve written about amnesiac characters. I remember talking to my brother [Christopher Nolan] about “Memento” and how I was intending to structure that as a short story. I wanted to write it as a deck of cards and then shuffle that to make it completely, aggressively non-linear, because that was that character’s understanding of the world. Here we had the unique opportunity to try to illuminate some of the differences between how an artificial person might understand the world, and especially an artificial person who had been artificially held back in terms of their understanding of the world in order for us to facilitate us being able to do whatever the f–k we want to them.

More at The Hollywood Reporter:

Season one was about control and season two is poised to explore chaos. What brought Westworld to this chaotic and extremely violent moment in the story?

Nolan: I think most television series … and I mean no disrespect by this. I’ve worked in television for years and I love all of the different ways you can build a show. But for the most part, you get through the pilot, you build your sets, you hire your cast, and it’s working, and you just want to hang out in that moment and enjoy that moment with that iteration of the story you’re telling. For Lisa and myself, with this show, we never had any intention of staying in one place. We don’t want to shoot on the same sets for 10 years. We want to blow the sets up and move on to another piece of the story. So we said when we started working on the series that we wanted to be ambitious. We wanted each season to increase in that ambition and in the scope of the show. It also follows the story of our hosts. Their lives begin in loops, and then expand and change and grow. It’s an origin of a new species. We want to follow that story all the way to the bitter end.

Joy: The control vs. chaos reminds me of the Langston Hughes poem, about what happens to a dream deferred. We’ve set this up as Dolores living in a dream, but it’s someone else’s dream. She can’t live her own life. Then, at the end, we see. It explodes and goes out with a bang.

Ford reveals his new narrative is designed to activate the hosts’ consciousness and ignite revolution against their human oppressors. He ultimately isn’t in conflict with Arnold; he actually has come to agree with his old friend. How did you arrive at this idea? 

Nolan: We had a lot of iterations of this, especially as we were working on the pilot. As we started to write the pilot, we understood that we had a great opportunity here to explore a very ambiguous character, a great man. Two great men, really. Their argument over what they were doing would stretch on for decades and beyond death. We knew from the beginning that we wanted to take our time. All we needed was the best living actor [to play him]…

Ford is no longer the last man standing, thanks to Dolores. Why did Ford need to die in order for this revolution to begin?

Joy: It’s a little bit like when Arnold says: “The violence has to be real. The stakes have to be real.” Ford is doing this in such dramatic fashion in front of the Delos board. He’s basically taking the safety off. There’s no turning back from this. It’s not a kind of fiction anymore. I think that’s part of it.

Nolan: We talked about the Julian Jaynes book [called The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind], which we thought was a very interesting place to start in terms of understanding the hosts’ cognition. They would be coaxed into life by this voice of god, and then at a certain point, this god has to realize that his partner was right. The appetites of the audience they were catering to and the story they were telling wasn’t what they wanted it to be. These creatures had grown into sentience within that story. They realize the only way for these creatures to be truly free is for that god to die. If on a very literal level, if Ford’s voice is the last thing … we’ve established his voice as an almost telepathic control of the park. The only thing standing between the guests and the hosts is Ford, so he removes himself from that equation.

Will we see Anthony Hopkins in season two?

Nolan: I think with this show, you want to assume nothing. We had a wonderful experience. It was one of the greatest privileges of my career so far, getting to work with Anthony for the first season. It was an incredible experience.

How afraid of Dolores should we be? How much Wyatt is in there?

Joy: I think that’s something we’ll come to see, and she’ll come to find also. I think it’s impossible to imagine … if you’ve been subjected to the violence and seen the evil Dolores has seen, the pendulum wouldn’t swing the other way, as we see it starting to do in the finale. But there’s a point, too, where I think selfhood transcends the reactionary. The question will be when the dust settles and the pendulum stops swinging, who will Dolores be?

We have to wait until 2018 to find out what happens next, but similar ideas are frequently seen. Humans, while lacking the budget and attention of Westworld, is handling similar concepts very well, and is not limited to a theme park.  Agents of Shield showed in the fall finale that Artificial Intelligence will be the theme of the second half of this season.

The Return of Doctor Mysterio, this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special, has the Doctor return to New York for the first time since The Angels Take Manhattan. Perhaps this is why the TARDIS appears to be having problems in some of the preview pictures as the Doctor cannot return to New York or risk time distortions. Presumably the time distortions would have been far more serious if he had attempted to go back in time to save Amy and Rory as opposed to going in the present day. We will see if this is a part of the episode, or just another plot hole.

Another trailer (video above) has been released. Spoiler: When dealing with aliens, the expression”open your minds” appears to be as ominous as “To Serve Mankind.”

Sherlock returns on January 1. A trailer is above. Following is the synopsis of the first episode, entitled The Six Thatchers:

In episode one of this new series, written by Mark Gatiss, Sherlock waits to see where Moriarty will make his posthumous move. One mysterious case in particular baffles Scotland Yard – but Sherlock is more interested in a seemingly-trivial detail. Why is someone destroying images of the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher? Is there a madman on the loose? Or is there a much darker purpose at work? Something with its roots deep in Mary Watson’s past…”

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency  completed its first season. I am a few episodes behind, and thoroughly confused as to what is going on (and as I’m behind, didn’t actually read this link supplied for those interested in a discussion of the finale). BBC America has renewed the show for a second season.

SciFi Weekend: Gilmore Girls A Year In The Life; CW Superhero Crossover; Bryan Fuller and Star Trek Discovery; Class; Doctor Who; Sherlock; Luke Cage; Sense8; Westworld

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Gilmore Girls, A Year In the Life finally revealed the greatest mystery beyond the secret of life, the universe and everything (which was revealed in The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy to be 42). Major spoilers ahead as I figure that any fan of Gilmore Girls will have completed the series by now. It is only six hours and it is Lorelai, Rory, Emily, and Stars Hollow, after all. The series concluded with those four final words which  Amy Sherman-Palladino had intended when she first started the series, but did not get to use because of leaving the series for its final seventh season over contract disputes. After years of waiting, we now know they were, “Mom. “Yeah?” “I’m pregnant.” The words, in retrospect, were entirely predictable. As we learned from Battlestar Galactica, “All this has happened before, and all of it will happen again.” Lorelai being pregnant with Rory years earlier set up the series, and now all of it will happen again.

Of course it will not happen exactly the same. Rory will not run off and leave her family as Lorelai did. Rory is now much older than both Lorelai was, and also significantly older than Rory would have been if the four final words were spoken at the end of the original seventh season. She could go down a completely different path. “Rory doesn’t have to keep the baby,” as Amy Sherman-Palladino told TVLine. “There are choices here that she can make. It’s just the left turn. It’s that curveball that life throws you. I will say, weirdly, that I like it much more now. ”

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The revival captured much of what made the original series great. Most of the old cast was seen, with Paris having some of the best scenes. Drop Murder She Wrote and sign Liza Weil for a Paris Geller spinoff. There were many additional cameos, including cast members from Bunheads and Parenthood. This included her Parenthood daughter Mae Whitman. The two park rangers were played by Jason Ritter, a romantic interest on Parenthood, and by Peter Krause, her brother on the show, and real-life romantic partner. A full list of cameos can be found here.

There were many pop culture references. This includes genre references include Doctor Who (with an appearance by Alex Kingston), Superman, Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel Movies, Outlander, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twin Peaks (with Ray Wise also having a role), and Game of Thrones. While there were far too many to mention all the genre references here, Screen Rant has a full list. The timing of the show, taking place during the 2016 election year but filming before the results were known, prevented them from including political references. A future season of Gilmore Girls could easily include some snarky comments about Donald Trump–as they sometimes did at the expense of George Bush and other Republicans during the original run. I collected some examples here and here.

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Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino gave multiple interviews which covered some of the points discussed, included whether Stars Hollow would have gone for Donald Trump. Here’s a portion of one interview from Vulture:

Let’s get right to the heart of the matter: the final four words. You’ve said these were the same four words that would have marked the end of the original series. But did you ever contemplate changing the ending for A Year in the Life in a way that differed from that plan?
Amy Sherman-Palladino: We didn’t really know what that last season was until we got into it and then we asked a lot of questions and we found out where the show ended. The show could have ended in a different place that made those last four words completely irrelevant. So we went into breaking this in a way that we were really looking at it like these three women are at a crossroads. The patriarch has died and what’s the way forward for them?

Organically, the last four words fell into place on this. It’s not something we would have shoved in there if it hadn’t really led us to a good space and if we weren’t churning toward that anyhow. What’s interesting about the last four words as originally conceived is they would have been when [Rory] was 22, and while that still, I think, thematically would have worked with the whole idea of history repeating itself full freaking circle — you know, daughter follows in mother’s footsteps — to me it’s actually more interesting, it takes on more relevance, that it’s at the same age. She’s at the same age now that Lorelai was when we started the series.

That’s just an interesting kind of dynamic. When we met Lorelai, she was 32 and that’s where she was in her life and now we’re leaving Rory at 32 with the thing on the horizon. It felt kind of cooler to us to do it now than if we had done it when we were still on the WB.

Also, Rory has had an opportunity to live life and do some things that her mom didn’t.
ASP: She’s bringing more to whatever decision she makes than she would have at 22, fresh out of college.

Let me ask you this: Do you know who the father of Rory’s baby is?
ASP: We do…

I’m sure everyone is asking you this question, but do you want to do another season or series of mini-movies like this? Has that been discussed at this point?
DP: Nothing’s been discussed. This was kind of set as a one-off thing, but we would never have anticipated that we were going to do this up until a couple of years ago when it occurred to us. So we never say never. It wasn’t designed to go beyond this, but it certainly can go beyond this.

ASP: Yeah, it wasn’t the sales pitch. The sales pitch was, these are the four stories, this is A Year in the Life, this is what it’s going to be. There were no ulterior motives walking into that room to pitch, other than we think it will be really interesting to see where these women are over this particular year.

Because it ends the way that it does, some people may assume that, “Oh, they set it up to continue.”
ASP: Nope, not at all. We’ve always tried to not wrap things up in a bow. We tried to do that on the series. Because life isn’t like that. You can have a good moment with a parent you are estranged from, and you have a great moment, and then the next time you see them, everything’s back to the way it was before and you guys are throwing knives at each other. Life doesn’t tend to fix things or wrap them up in bows. Because of that, we wanted the ending of this to not have a pat, “And they all lived happily ever after!”

It’s not that it’s a sad ending, particularly, but it’s an ending of, “And life throws you another left turn and then you’ve got to go with the flow.” That’s what we’ve always tried to do, successfully or unsuccessfully, with the show over the life of it. We felt it would have been weird to end this year with, “Everyone’s happy! Yay! Unicorns for all!”

A detail that jumped out at me while I was watching was a poster with the date of Luke and Lorelai’s wedding, which would have been a few days before the election. I didn’t know if that was something that was …
ASP: They were so happy then. So innocent to the ways of the world.

DP: We were tempted to put something about — you know, because there was the prospect and the likelihood that there was going to be a woman president-elect at the very, very end. I think that poster [originally] indicated that it would be on November 19, I think it was post-election. I think it may have been post, you know, it was right around that time. We in this industry can’t afford to even predict the future even when it’s as certain as Hillary Clinton winning the presidential election. Quite frankly, this show — Amy and I are dyed in the wool liberals and very left wing. But the show, we always wanted it to be bipartisan and Stars Hollow is a — probably voted for Trump, mainly …

ASP: No. No, no, no, no.

DP: Oh, I think they did.

ASP: No, no, no, no, no.

DP: It’s rural America!

ASP: No, no, no, no, no. There is no evilness in Stars Hollow. Do not put that out there, I do not accept that. Absolutely not.

DP: Okay, maybe it’s a …

ASP: No. No.

DP: … clean, liberal …

ASP: No. No.

DP: … maybe.

ASP: No. No, no, no. The problem is that if we had known Satan was taking over the world we would have needed a whole other budget for, like, dragons and flying demons and, you know, like the sun disappearing from the world. Winter is coming. It would have been so expensive the way we would have needed to do it, had we known that the apocalypse was coming. It’s good we didn’t, so we didn’t have to spend all that money on horns, harpies — and Minotaurs and women with snakes.

Gilmore Girls, A Year In The Life works well as a stand-alone revival, or given the flexibility of Netflix, it should be possible to have further mini-seasons.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow --"Invasion!"-- Image LGN207c_0156.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): David Ramsey as John Diggle, Caity Lotz as Sara Lance/White Canary, Carlos Valdes as Cisco Ramon, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak, Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen, Grant Gustin as Barry Allen, Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer/Atom, Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl, Nick Zano as Nate Heywood and Victor Garber as Professor Martin Stein -- Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

The CW Network had its big cross over event with Supergirl, Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow.The episodes were a treat not only for fans of the CW shows, but for all genre fans. While there weren’t as many genre references as in Gilmore Girls, MoviePilot.com listed some of the Easter Eggs for genre fans included in the episodes.

Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim discussed some of the issues raised in the episodes with TVLine:

WILL THERE BE MORE FLASHPOINT CHANGES FOR ARROW AND LEGENDS CHARACTERS? | The producers are keeping mum on that front, but Guggenheim did share that “there’s a fair amount of discussion” about the subject in next Wednesday’s Arrow midseason finale. “[The characters] deal with — in some humorous ways, actually — some of the ramifications. For example, I think Curtis is concerned that maybe he was straight, originally.” As for whether Barry’s voicemail is directly tied to Flashpoint or referencing more changes that the speedster makes down the road, Kreisberg offers this cryptic tease: “The message from the future relates to Flashpoint, but it also may relate to something else coming up.”

WILL SUPERGIRL VISIT EARTH-1 AGAIN? | Now that Kara has a way to communicate and travel across Earths, crossovers are certainly “easier” to execute, Kreisberg says. “The next time we do it, it means it doesn’t necessarily have to be because Oliver and Barry need Kara; it could be because Kara needs them.” However, the EP notes that nothing is in the works, seeing as how “we just barely survived this one. So we’re not too concerned with what we’re going to try to do next year. But it just gives us another way to come at a story.”

WILL STEIN’S DAUGHTER BE BACK? | “You’ll see her again in a few episodes,” Guggenheim says. And as early as next Thursday’s Legends midseason finale, “the ramifications” of Stein and Jax keeping the doc’s newly discovered offspring a secret “come into play.”

COULD THE NEW PRESIDENT HAVE BEEN LYNDA CARTER? | “Actually, in the original draft of the Legends episode, she was the Vice President, who became the President,” Guggenheim reveals. “The studio had what we all considered to be a very fair note [that] it was a bit too confusing.”

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Bryan Fuller is no longer involved with Star Trek: Discovery, but his early work on the series should still have a big impact on the direction of the series. From Newsweek:

“Ultimately, with my responsibilities [elsewhere], I could not do what CBS needed to have done in the time they needed it done for Star Trek,” Fuller explains to Newsweek. “It felt like it was best for me to focus on landing the plane with American Gods and making sure that was delivered in as elegant and sophisticated a fashion as I could possibly do.”

CBS opted to move ahead without Fuller after previously accommodating his and co-creator Alex Kurtzman’s request to push the show’s planned January 2017 premiere to May in order to “achieve a vision we can all be proud of.” Variety reported in September that the pair wanted to meet fans’ expectations, particularly with special effects.

“It is bittersweet,” says Fuller. “But it was just a situation that couldn’t be resolved otherwise…so I had to step away.”

Fuller—who retains an executive producer credit—wrote the first two episodes of Discovery and the story arc for the rest of the 13-part first season. CBS said it would see his “vision through,” but the writer confirms he has no active involvement with the series.

“I’m not involved in production, or postproduction, so I can only give them the material I’ve given them and hope that it is helpful for them. I’m curious to see what they do with it,” he says.

He commented on a potential second season: “They have my number and if they need me I will absolutely be there for them.”

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Class began it season with an appearance by Peter Capaldi and now has completed its first season with a surprise visit from a classic Doctor Who enemy. As it won’t be airing in the United States until spring, I won’t give any details. Those interested can find out more here. Warning, the spoiler is in the title and cannot be avoided if you click on the link. Review of the episode here.

Jenna Coleman reports that filming of the second season of Victoria will start in February. The first season will be available in the United States on Masterpiece on PBS starting January 15.

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The above picture provides several clues about Sherlock. Radio Times goes through the clues, which include a nod to a Doctor Who character.

Netflix has picked up Luke Cage for a second season.

Originally Netflix was only going to release a Christmas episode of Sense8. Now they have decided to release the entire second season on December 23. (Update: The second season will not be released until May.)

Masters of Sex has been canceled after its fourth season. The show has gone downhill and it didn’t seem like they really knew what to do with it anymore. I just wish that they had known that it would be the final season earlier. Rather than a meandering fourth season, they could have told a story over a longer time span and taken the story until wherever they wanted to ultimately finish it.

Amazon has canceled Good Girls Revolt after its first season. I have not had a chance to see it yet, but I had added the first season to my queue following favorable reviews.

Last week more fan theories were confirmed on Westworld but there are a lot of questions remaining. With the season finale airing soon after this will be posted, there is little point on speculating further until the finale is viewed. I do have one additional tip for casual viewers who have not been paying attention to all the on-line discussion of the show. Pay close attention to the opening credits. The scenes do give away a lot.

Alec Baldwin did his impersonation of Donald Trump once again on Saturday Night Live, this time mocking his use of Twitter. Probably failing to see the irony, Trump responded by blasting Baldwin with a tweet. Baldwin offered to stop doing his impersonations if Trump would release his tax returns.

SciFi Weekend: Westworld, Mr. Robot, Humans, Doctor Who

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This week I’ll start with two shows which a lot of time could be spent on to interpret their full meaning–Westworld and Mr. Robot. Both deal with technology, but only one is really about robots. Westworld started out with a slow presentation of the story over the first five episodes and then a lot more happened in the last two, with another episode on tonight. Spoilers ahead related to the first seven episodes, along with fan theories which may or may not be true.  Last week’s episode Trompe L’Oeil confirmed what many of us suspected about Bernard being a host–and at times I wonder if even more characters we see as people are actually robots.

For the more casual viewers, here’s some clues to watch for which gave Bernard away, and are worth watching for regarding other characters.  Hosts are programmed not to see some doors that humans can see. Hosts are also literally blind to other things as well and it was a huge clue earlier in the season when Ford showed Bernard a picture which Bernard said didn’t look like anything. Episodes typically begin with scene involving a  host waking up for the day but they only seemed to break with this by showing Bernard waking up.  The big question remains as to whether Bernard is in the image of Arnold.

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The last episode also confirmed what was widely suspected–that Ford is evil, and provided more evidence of the theory that we are seeing at least two different timelines, with William later becoming the Man in Black. It is notable that the scenes from when William first arrived show what appears to be an older version of a Westworld logo. They both use the same knife, and they both wear collarless shirts. William’s white hat is getting dirtier, and darker, the longer he is in Westworld. We have been told that disease has been eradicated in the outside world in The Man in Black’s time, but William was asked about pre-existing health conditions when he first arrived. William’s said things to Delores in the last episode which were remarkably like what The Man in Black said in an earlier scene in the series.

The fan theories regarding William becoming the Man in Black and Bernard being a host (possibly based upon Arnold) are two of the most discussed ideas, but there are many more floating around, such as this about Mauve’s escape plan. The show also has a tremendous number of Easter eggs. Some are obvious, such as an image of Yul Brynner from the original movie in the background. There are others which I would have never picked up on if I wasn’t tipped off by others. For example, the meaning of the robotic player piano is fairly obvious. What is less obvious, as the lyrics are not heard, is that the lyrics to many of the songs played are directly related to what is happening on the show (giving a reason for why modern songs are often played).

In actual news, Ed Harris has confirmed that he will be returning for the second season of Westworld. I hope that this doesn’t blow up anyone’s favorite theory about the show.

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Recode Decode interviewed Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail, with full transcript here. The conversation includes the hacker world, technology, Westworld, and Donald Trump. Here are some excerpts:

What was the impetus for you when you were writing it? What were you trying to do there?

There were three things. Initially, it was, I just need to write something about the hacker culture and tech culture that I didn’t think was being represented. So that was in the back of my head for years, since I was 14 and I was like, “Oh, that will be a great movie. I don’t know what it is yet, but I’m going to come up with the idea.”

I always start with characters, so I started thinking about the character of Elliott. And then 2008 happened, the financial crisis. And I was like, “Oh, it’s gotta be …” And you know, Anonymous, the hacking group, had just come out. And LulzSec. So I was like, “Okay, this is kind of like the sort of group that Elliott might be involved in or might partake in.”

And then the 2008 financial crisis happened. I was like, “Okay, this is awesome, it’s going to be an anti-capitalist, anti-establishment character who’s angry and who wants to take down the system.” And then I cooled off a little bit because I was like, “Who wants to hear a guy rant about that for hours and hours?” I thought that would get a little grating. And there wasn’t a humanity to it. So I went away from that. It stayed in there, but the character wasn’t complete yet.

And then the Arab Spring happened and, you know, I’m Egyptian, so I have a lot of family out there, a lot of cousins. I went out there about nine months after the revolution happened to just talk to my cousins, who were young, who were online, who were part of that whole movement, using technology and honestly just channeling that anger that they had against their country, against the way their society was being run, in a really positive way. That was the missing piece. That was the thing that really moved me…

I was watching “Westworld” and it’s again, technology — although it’s humanity in that particular series. But go ahead.

So to me, I feel like obviously, as younger writer/directors come up and they kind of understand it and then want to represent it more authentically, hopefully that mindset will change in Hollywood. Because in terms of just the old-fashioned thing, and then we talked about Donald Trump, those rules just don’t apply anymore. There aren’t 400-pound guys who are devilishly sitting behind a keyboard wanting to change the traffic lights, you know?

I think a lot of it came from the original Matthew Broderick movie, “War Games.” You know what I mean? That really had an impact on people of how the hacking culture [worked]. To me that was the biggest success, I guess.

Well, “Sneakers.” Although I don’t know if “Sneakers” …

With Robert Redford.

But that’s a great movie.

It is a great movie.

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

But one of the things that is important to me is that technology is also a situation that’s ruining their business. The Rubicon has been crossed. People are streaming on phones. Amazon and Netflix are disrupting their business incredibly, so there’s a real fear of the technology, too.

It’s the fear that’s going to kill them, not the technology. Look at Netflix. They’ve pounced on that. They’ve taken that as an opportunity to say, “Well, if no one else wants to embrace the technology, if no one else wants to say ‘hey, no, this isn’t something to be scared of but an opportunity to expand and offer entertainment in a way that wasn’t offered before,’ then we’ll do it.”

And they’re doing it really well. And I think that’s the thing. Even the way films are made right now, they’re talked about as universes, franchises, right? So it’s not just about one movie anymore, it’s about how many movies can you make off that one movie, and how many toys can you make and how many video games. You know, it’s now this whole kind of universe.

See, to me, it’s still an antiquated way of thinking. Because when you watch all movies … I think I watched “Mr. Robot” on my phone, the whole time. How do you, as a creator, how do you think about that? Are there creators like you? You’re obviously illuminated about technology. But do they understand what’s happening? When Google becomes a studio, when Facebook becomes critically important to distribution of entertainment.

I don’t know if they do. And this is the worrisome part. For example, we’re doing a book, but the book is not a marketing opportunity, the book is its own standalone thing, and it’s an interactive thing. It’s not just a book you read, there’s layers to it. A little bit like that J.J. Abrams book “S.” So that’s a thing.

And then we had a mobile game that we released, which is awesome and that is a story. So it’s not just a game that you play and again, not just a marketing fodder for the show, it’s its own story and all these little pieces you can embrace. That’s sort of the universe-building, that’s the world-building of the future. That’s why when/if Google becomes a studio, or Facebook becomes a studio … Oh, we also did a VR film, which is also another story that’s kind of like in between a couple episodes…

And then my last question: I interviewed Elon Musk earlier this year at our Code Conference, and he talked about a lot of things. He talked about going to Mars, he talked about his cars, a bit of everything. But then we moved into the idea of artificial intelligence and whether we’re all in a big game. He believes this is all fake.

Simulation.

Simulation. But he was talking about the idea of artificial intelligence, and that the best case scenario, given your stories about the power of technology, is that we’re all going to end up in the most benign sense, as house cats to computers. And they will take our places.And the only way we can battle it is by attaching neural networks to our own brains.

This is the whole singularity thing: Will machines evolve faster than us? And honestly, you can’t avoid saying yes to that question, because why wouldn’t they? They would just have much more power, much more processing power. And so it’ll come down to that spiritual question, and it’s a tough one: Is there something different about us that a machine won’t have? Is there that soul that a machine might not … I mean, they might have the faster brain, but are we just neurons and electrical impulses, or is there something more to us than that? I don’t know the answer to that.

Because I think your show is about humanity, it’s not about tech at all.

Well, exactly right. I think we tried to. In a weird way, we try and fight against our humanity. I don’t see my friends anymore. I don’t even call them anymore. I text them. We’ve devolved our communication. I remember when texting came out and it was so popular and I was like, “Wait a minute, we used to call each other on the phone, we used to hear each other,” and we would get so much more information out of that, but now we’d just rather text because of our own whatever, I don’t know what it is. Is it just easier or more efficient or too neurotic to get on the phone? I don’t know.

Sam Esmail has also “leaked” a page from a Mr. Robot script in which Elliot’s psychologist asked why he is so disappointed in society. Elliot’s answer: “Oh, that’s easy. Donald Trump was just elected president of the United States.”

Westworld is not the only current television show dealing with artificial intelligence. Humans is already into its second season on Channel 4 in the U.K. I’m currently behind (and even if I wasn’t I would avoid spoiling it for those who are waiting for it to be more easily available in the United States), but it did get off to a good start. So, to keep this all straight, Westworld and Humans are about robots, but Mr. Robot is not.

A sneak peak of the Doctor Who Christmas special was released at Children in Need (video above). Radio Times listed what we have learned.

In other Doctor Who news this week, Steven Moffat might create some controversy with his argument that the Doctor’s companion should always be a female:

Science-fiction is notoriously male. You can tell that because everyone wears uniforms and marches around talking about rules. But Doctor Who has always felt to me, rather female. It’s full of kindness and compassion and eccentricity and wisdom instead of violence. And from that point of view it is important that the main character, the Doctor’s best friend, should be female. I think it would be damaging to Doctor Who if that voice and viewpoint were not represented.

There have been male companions such as Rory and Captain Jack, but there were also female companions at the time. Classic Who also included some male companions, including Ian at the beginning and later Harry Sullivan and Adric. Generally there were also female companions along with male ones. (I am only speaking of companions present for a prolonged period of time, not isolated events such as Christmas episodes).

This argument also does not answer what will happen if there is ever a female Doctor.

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Moffat was also asked recently whether the Doctor’s daughter, as played by Georgia Moffat, will return. He has no idea. He said it is doubtful that David Tennant’s duplicate Doctor would even return as, should they have the opportunity to use Tennant again, “then we would bring back David playing the real Doctor, and not a substitute Doctor.”

Karen Gillan has explained why she used such a husky voice in Guardians of the Galaxy.

The major show business story of the week was the duel between the cast of Hamilton and Trump/Pence.

After the final curtain calls that night, Brandon Victor Dixon, the actor who portrays Aaron Burr, stepped forward with a microphone to directly address Mr. Pence, who was leaving the theater. “We, sir — we — are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us,” he said. He added that he hoped “this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us. All of us.”

Mr. Trump quickly made it clear on Twitter, his social medium of choice, that Mr. Dixon and the “Hamilton” team had been “rude and insulting” and owed Mr. Pence an apology. At first, a part of me could see Mr. Trump’s point, or at least feel a shudder of embarrassed empathy for Mr. Pence. If someone were to single me out for a direct plea from the stage in a large theater, I would no doubt want to run home, dive into bed and bury myself under the covers. (Mr. Pence, speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” said he was not offended by Mr. Dixon’s words.)

I posted more on this yesterday.

SciFi Weekend: The Flash; Supergirl; Arrow; Legends of Tomorrow; Gotham; Dark Mirror; Westworld; Outlander; Falling Water; Doctor Who; SNL On The Second Presidential Debate

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All four shows in the Berlantiverse have premiered on the CW Network for this season. (Spoilers ahead for those who are not up to date). The Flash returned with the long-anticipated Flashpoint story, and couldn’t keep up with the hype. Unfortunately it was all predictable that after saving his mother, some reason would come up which would force Barry to restore the time line. This combined both disasters for some of his friends with him developing the problem of losing his original memories. It was mostly resolved in the first episode, but the restored timeline did have some changes, such as Iris not speaking to her father. Almost everything was fixed by the end of the second episode. There is one change which does extend to Arrow–Diggle now has a son rather than a daughter (with the son seen in an episode of Legends of Tomorrow last season).

While The Flash got off to a mixed opening, Supergirl started the season strong with the introduction of Superman–now putting these two series out in front of the Berlantiverse shows. It was the perfect view of Superman for this series–the version from the latest movies certainly would not have fit in.

I bet nobody was surprised that Kara decided to become a reporter. The move of Winn from CatCo to the DEO is exactly the type of change which might be farfetched in the real world, but which fits into television reality. They hinted at changes for Cat Grant, which is probably a cover for Calista Flockart not going to appear as often due to the move of the show to Vancouver. It does make sense that Kara will not see her as much with the change from her personal assistant to reporter. She will have a new boss, with some information from Entertainment Weekly:

Kara’s working relationship with her new boss, Snapper Carr, is very different from the one she had with Cat Grant. “Cat — both with Kara and I think with others — is actually devoted to mentoring people,” EP Andrew Kreisberg says. “She challenges them hard, but she does that with the idea that she’s forging them and they’re going to come out the other side as stronger, better people. Snapper Carr doesn’t give a crap. He believes in the written word, in facts and ‘Are you good at your job or are you not? If you’re not good at your job, I don’t have time for you.’”

A clip from next week’s episode in which Kara meets Snapper Carr is above.

While The Flash was about Barry and Iris getting together regardless of the time line, Kreisberg has decided that Kara and Jimmy Olsen should just be friends. I just hope they stick with this decision. We have seen far too many Ross and Rachel situations on television.

Arrow has been on a downward trajectory since its superb second season, and it is too early to say whether it can move out of third place among the Berlantiverse shows. The first two episodes of the season have concentrated on building a new team, and have been rather unremarkable. Maybe once this is established the show will improve. At least the flash backs in Russia look more interesting than the flash backs from last season.

Legends of Tomorrow has been largely rebooted, but I’d still rank it as the weakest of the four seasons based upon the single episode available so far.  It appears that the team has a new leader in place of Arthur Darvill’s character Rip Hunter, but I’m not certain that he is really gone for good. On the one hand the mission first season was more personal for Rip Hunter and it might make sense to reduce the emphasis on him. On the other hand, it is Arthur Darvill who has the direct connection to the Time Masters they are replacing (along with a certain Time Lord). So far we have only had a glimpse of the Justice Society of America, but we should be seeing a lot of them next week.

Geek and Sundry has a guide to the Justice Society

Before the Justice League… Who’s the Justice Society?

So, the Justice Society of America, or JSA, was DC comics’ first all-star super group, debuting in the 1940s. Its initial roster consisted of names who should sound very familiar to followers of recent movies and shows. There was the Atom, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and the Flash, among others. Only these weren’t the same characters which viewers are familiar with today. A key aspect of DC lore is the notion of masked personas being passed down through generations, so when the company dusted off the super group concept in the 60’s with the Justice League of America, it didn’t take long for the creators to retcon the two teams as being part of a lineage.

Judging by the trailer, it seems this JSA might be the only official super group in the “Arrowverse,” and its line-up will be cherry picked from various incarnations of the team. It’ll also apparently live up to its name more by operating as a clandestine secret society. Who are the members, though?

Hourman

The first wearer of this cowl, Rex Tyler, takes his name from the Miralco Pill which grants superhuman physical prowess for an hour once ingested. As soon as time’s up, though, Hourman’s reverts back to being a normal human being. The chronal chaos seen in the trailer suggests, however, that this guy will be an amalgamation of all three heroes in the tradition, having the time-travel capability of the second Hourman, along with the black costume of the third.

Stargirl

She’s a more light-hearted heroine with ties to two superhero dynasties. Stargirl wields the powerful “cosmic staff,” which absorbs and re-directs energy, allowing her to fly, fire bolts, create forcefields, and also levitate objects.

Dr. Mid-Nite

Imagine a character somewhere between Daredevil and Riddick. All three Doctors have been actual medical doctors who turned to crime-fighting after accidents granted them night vision at the cost of near-blindness in normal light conditions. Hence, the goggles. For all doctors, the preferred tool is the noxious “black out” smoke bomb, and the preferred assistant is a deadly, trained owl.

Obsidian

The mutant son of the first Green Lantern (not Hal Jordan!), he’s born with powers that ironically invert the mighty light of his father. Obsidian can turn into a living shadow and gain all the associated qualities, like flight and intangibility. He can even sometimes build objects out of darkness, much like GL’s constructs.

Vixen

A bit like the Beastmaster, this heroine can tap into a primordial force called “the Red” which allows her to possess the abilities of any animal. This power comes from the mystical Tantu Totem, which is passed down through generations. And in fact, this Vixen is not the same one who’s previously been seen on Arrow. She’s her grandmother.

Commander Steel

A bit like Captain America, this star-spangled hero is a military man who’s granted super strength and invulnerability after a top secret experiment. (In this case, it’s meant to restore his damaged body.) Steel fights in World War II, and he makes life-long enemies with Nazi super-villains who come back to bedevil the grandsons who eventually take up his mantle.

There was even a reference to Gotham on Supergirl last week, even if not the Gotham of the Fox television show. This DC-based show also got off to a good start this season. Their election for mayor was settled far more quickly than our presidential election. Oswald Cobblepot might be as disgusting a figure in many ways as Donald Trump, and as crooked as Hillary Clinton, but if he was in a three-way race for president, I would be tempted to vote for him over our current awful choices.

Black Mirror

Just after I finished one show dropped on Netflix (Luke Cage), they are releasing another genre series on Friday. After two seasons of Dark Mirror on Channel 4 in the U.K., Netflix will be releasing a third season. TV Guide looks at the previous episodes to watch before the third season begins. The first two seasons are also available on Netflix. The New York Times spoke with the show’s creator, Charlie Brooker, and his collaborator Annabel Jones.

While I will hold off on discussing Luke Cage until a later date, of the Netflix Marvel series, I’d rank it just a bit behind Daredevil season 1, and above Daredevil season 2. Jessica Jones remains the best of the series. While there are some overlaps, and Luke Cage did have a role in Jessica Jones, each series can be watched independently without having seen the others.

Nerdist looks at how Doctor Strange fits into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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I was disappointed when I found that HBO was not streaming the third episode of Westworld early like they did with the first two, and I will have to wait until later tonight to watch. While I have not seen all of the new series which have premiered this season, so far it is the one I am most interested in. Assignment X has an interview with Jonathan Nolan. Here is a portion, which also compares it to Nolan’s previous series, Person of  Interest:

AX: You spent five years dealing with A.I. on PERSON OF INTEREST …

NOLAN: I think I found my subject.

AX: Did you come to any conclusions about artificial intelligence while doing PERSON OF INTEREST that have been useful in WESTWORLD?

NOLAN: It’s funny, because it’s really looking at the subject from a different perspective. PERSON OF INTEREST was relentlessly non-anthropomorphic A.I. was really the godhead, it was A.I. as a pure intelligence, not tethered to the mortal coil, an A.I. that was developed in secret. With WESTWORLD, you have really the opposite. You have A.I. that, if you consider the consciousness aspect of it, it’s almost an accident that these creatures – they’ve been programmed merely to be as lifelike as necessary for their job, and their job is to satisfy, as Lisa said, our most noble or most base desires. So they’re not supposed to be smarter than us. That’s the last thing [their makers] want.

AX: What are the WESTWORLD park’s customers like?

NOLAN: Well, the guest experience is the third point of view of the show, but it’s very much unlike the original film. We really wanted to start with the hosts, start with their limited understanding of what this world is. But there is that great point of entry. You want to know, how does this place work? As Lisa said earlier, the show is really an examination of human nature, from two different directions. From the perspective of synthetic humans, or synthetic beings, who have been coded to resemble human nature as closely as possible, and who are beginning the question, in the first season, just how worthy a model that is to follow. Every perspective of human beings, and this is the delicious part of the premise, who have been invited or made their way into a space in which they’ve been told that they have free rein. They can take their id on vacation. They can indulge in any whim, no matter how noble or dark that they want, and apparently without consequence. And so that’s a fascinating premise as well. You know, who are we when the lights are off? Who are we when we don’t think anyone’s keeping score? And then in between these worlds [of the synthetic hosts and the human guests], you have the programmers, writers, technicians, the Promethean characters who are responsible for mediating those two worlds.

AX: It seems like Ed Harris’ Man in Black gunslinger/marauder character is a guest who is indulging real darkness in himself …

NOLAN: Ed’s character features as the “ne plus ultra” guest. This is an expert-level player, someone who has been coming to the park, as he says in the second episode, for thirty years. He knows everything about [the park].

When Crichton wrote the original film, the state of the videogame business was Pong. In the forty years since then, that entire industry has grown up and evolved into this monster that’s bigger than the film business, bigger than the TV business. So our narrative had to account for that more sophisticated understanding that we have of gaming. We call them “guests,” but there is also a gaming aspect to what they do in the park. It is not just a leisurely resort. They’re here to engage in the narratives, and the narratives are increasingly sophisticated.

AX: We see that the guests can shoot the android hosts, and the hosts can’t shoot each other, but theoretically, the guests can’t shoot each other and the hosts can’t shoot the guests. Are the guns built so that they can detect human physiology as opposed to android physiology, or how does that work?

NOLAN: It’s not the guns. It’s the bullets. We thought a lot about this. In the original film, the guns won’t operate guest on guest. But we felt like the guests would want to have a more visceral experience here. So when they’re shot and it has an impact, they’re called “simunitions.” The U.S. military trains with rounds like the ones we’re talking about. There’s a bit of an impact, a bit of a sting. So it’s not entirely consequence-free for the guests.

There has been a steady stream of news, such as this casting news, to keep alive interest in Outlander until it returns, probably in April. The season two gag real was also released–audio not safe for work.

I haven’t had a chance to watch Falling Water yet, but have a few links for those who are interested. The New York Times has a review. Buddy TV has videos of interviews with cast and crew, followed by summaries of key points, here and here.

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Den of Geek looks at the possibility of Jenna Coleman returning to Doctor Who.

While there are no firm plans yet, Steven Moffat has stated that Benedict Cumberbatch is interested in continuing with Sherlock after the fourth season. He is obviously quite busy on other projects, including Doctor Strange. Moffat also states that Peter Capaldi will be remaining on Doctor Who after he leaves as show runner.

Donald Trump is not happy with how Saturday Night Live has portrayed him. Video of their parody of the second presidential debate above, with Alec Baldwin portraying Donald Trump. Trump says that the media is rigging the election that Baldwin’s portrayal stinks. He also tweeted that it is “Time to retire the boring and unfunny show.”

SciFi Weekend: Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Westworld, 12 Monkeys, Doctor Who

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Entertainment Weekly interviewed Andrew Kreisberg about the second season of Supergirl, which returns this week on CW along with DC’S Legends of Tomorrow. He revealed that Supergirl will travel from her dimension to “our” dimension where The Flash, Arrow, and Legends live, but the universes are not combined. More excerpts from the interview:

What’s going on with Kara personally and professionally this season?
For this season, she’s feeling really good about herself as Supergirl. She spent a lot of time last year doubting herself, learning, training, getting stronger and getting better at it. Then, at the end of the year, Superman got taken out and she saved the world all by herself, so we come into season 2 and she feels like she’s got a handle on being Supergirl — it’s everybody else in her life that she feels like, “How can I be a girlfriend? What am I supposed to do with my career? How can I be there for my sister?” So it’s all the Kara stuff that’s really the tough stuff early on, and that’s where Clark comes in. We say it’s like becoming a parent, where when you were a kid, your parents knew everything and then you become an adult and you’re like, “I’m lost, I don’t know what to do.” You realize that neither did your parents; they were making it up as they went, they just presented themselves as knowing it all even if they were dying inside. That’s one of things that Kara says, like, “I know how to be Supergirl, but I don’t know how to do any of this other stuff. But Clark, he makes it look easy, he’s Superman, he’s a great reporter, he’s a great boyfriend. How does he do it?” And Clark says, “I’m making it up as I go, too. It’s all about balancing it and it’s all a day-to-day thing. Just because I make it look easy, doesn’t mean that it is.” So Kara is really growing up this season, that’s really her journey.

What brings Superman to National City?
The two of them actually show up to the same crisis. It wasn’t a turf war, they just both heard about the same tragedy on the news and both flew into action. But they haven’t really gotten a chance to spend time together, especially since she’s come out as Supergirl, and they both want that. Both of them have a bit of sadness about them, they both have that sense of feeling alone, they both have that sense of feeling different, and both of them remark that that loneliness, that alienation, that isolation goes away when they are together. Part of what these episodes explore is that they don’t get that because of the machinations of the plot and of the actions of Project Cadmus, the villains; they both have homes to defend and they have to defend their own turf.

What brings Mon-El (Chris Wood) to Earth?
He’s brought to Earth because he’s from Daxam, just as in the comics, which was a sister world to Krypton. The destruction of Krypton also resulted in a very bad day for Daxam. That’s how he escaped that cataclysm and came to Earth. What’s interesting about it is that Kara has always had mentors, whether it was Laura [Benanti], or it was the Danvers, or whether it was Cat, or Clark, but now she has somebody to take care of, she has somebody to mentor. He’s fresh off the boat — as far as he’s concerned. He got into a pod on Daxam and then the next day was on Earth. She says to somebody in one of the early episodes that she wasn’t sent to Earth to be Supergirl, she was sent to Earth to watch Clark, take care of him and to be a protector. In a way, Mon-El coming here, she’s finally now getting to fill that original mission..

Talk about Project Cadmus and whether it’s the big bad this season.
They’re the big bad of the first part of the year — a second big bad will emerge later in the year — but they’re dedicated to eradicating alien life on Earth. They’re fanatics, they’re true believers. What’s interesting about them is it’s this collection of scientists, it’s this collection of very bright, patriotic people who truly believe what they’re saying. That makes them even more dangerous, because they believe they have a point, that ever since these aliens started coming here, the Earth has become this free for all, and human beings are about to get knocked off the food chain. They don’t care that you’re wearing a cape one day, what happens when you turn around and decide I don’t want people cheering for me anymore, I want people bowing before me? So their goal is to eliminate the J’onns and the Supermans and the Supergirls of the world along with all the other evil aliens that are out there — they don’t make that distinction, which creates an interesting problem for our good guys.

TV Guide has some more information on the second season of Supergirl.

Collider has some information on the second season of Legends of Tomorrow (extended trailer above. The original trailer posted is no longer available so the replacement might not correspond entirely with the article).

Legends seems poised in Season 2 to bring some interesting things to the table. Firstly there’s a shakeup among the core team, which has added a historian (played by Nick Zano) as well as a whole new host of heroes — who don’t just bumble their way through space and time like a wrecking ball — with the Justice Society of America. Even more promising, perhaps, is the Legion of Doom, which will take villains Damien Darhk, Eobard Thawne, and others in a super-villain team-up that could be a lot of fun. And fun is really the key word with Legends. At this summer’s TCA press tour, I spoke briefly with EP Phil Klemmer about how Season 2 might be different than what we’ve seen before, and he assured me that the emphasis is just going to be on having fun.

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So far with two episodes of West World available (the second streaming ahead of its usual showing on HBO tonight) the series looks promising. Of course with Anthony Hopkins (who also played Hannibal Lecter) in charge, you have to be suspicious that something is up. SciFi Now interviewed Anthony Hopkins:

You play Dr Robert Ford, the creator of Westworld and another mysterious character. What is it that draws you to these roles?
I knew what scares people when I was a kid – that’s the art of the control freak. I’m not a control freak in my life, I’m the opposite. But they keep casting me as control freak nuts. I always make an attempt to go the opposite of what an audience would expect.

Elia Kazan once had to play a gangster, and met one of Al Capone’s buddies. This guy said – “you don’t have to holler. They know who you are. If you’re playing a killer be very quiet.”

What was it about Westworld that intrigued you?
Artificial intelligence is very interesting. I was on holiday recently up in Ohio and I was having lunch, this young guy sitting at the table opposite me. He worked at MIT in artificial intelligence. I told him about Westworld. He said it’s very unlikely we’ll ever be able to create a living cell. He didn’t think we’d ever create Westworld robots.

I saw the original years ago, and then my agent said that Jonah wanted to cast me and would I read the script. We met, and I was intrigued by it, and so I said yes.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is yet another genre movie to be turned into a television series, according to The Hollywood Reporter. I have no idea how it will work as an ongoing television series (as I also wonder with Westworld) but it was an excellent movie.

Things don’t look very good in 2163 in the above season 3 trailer for 12 Monkeys which was shown at New York Comic Con.

The above first look at the Doctor Who Christmas Special, episode entitled The Return of Doctor Mysterio, was shown at the New York Comic Con. As promised, it does include a superhero. Radio Times also points out that it looks like the sonic screwdriver makes a comeback. More on the Christmas Special at The Telegraph and below.

Video of the full Doctor Who panel at New York Comic Con is above. Mashable has the following key points:

  • Showrunner Steven Moffat says Mackie’s Bill “starts her journey with the Doctor in a surprising way,” and promises that the reveals will keep coming over the course of the new companion’s journey in Season 10, but declined to give further details about her introduction — except to say, “I can promise you it’s really quite different.”
  • Capaldi notes that Bill “refreshes” the show, since she “comes from the real world; she doesn’t come from the world of Doctor Who, so she has to be introduced” to the Doctor’s way of doing things. Moffat adds, “you’re getting to see the Doctor for the first time all over again through a new pair of eyes,” thanks to the new companion.
  • On that note, Moffat says that Season 10 will be a great starting point for new viewers, since they took the opportunity to reset things with Bill’s introduction. “If I can give you a tone word for the season, it’s ‘brand new’ … episode 1 really is episode 1, it explains the entire mythos of Doctor Who, and you can start there,” he promises.
  • Bill won’t appear in the Christmas special, which is titled “The Return of Doctor Mysterio,” but Lucas’ Nardole will be back for the festive installment. “Just as I was thinking it would be great if the Doctor had some kind of valet or butler who wouldn’t be very polite or obedient, Matt said he wanted to come back,” Moffat says of bringing Lucas back to the fold. “He just kept volunteering to do more. It’s working better than we could’ve expected.”
  • Nardole will be “a little different” from the last time we saw him — both a bit more grounded and, at times, even “sinister,” per Moffat: “There are lots of layers to him.”
  • The Christmas special is inspired by Moffat’s love of Superman — specifically Clark Kent, who the showrunner describes as “awesome — he goes around pretending he’s not a god; he doesn’t tell the woman he loves that he’s the person she’s in love with — it’s a love triangle with two people.” He says he’s always wanted to write Clark Kent’s journey, which is fitting, because Capaldi compares the tone of the special to the original Christopher Reeve Superman film, calling it, “a new, ironic, good-hearted superhero movie.”

the-doctor-and-bill

Screen Rant has more on the panel.

The Doctor also appears in the above trailer for the spin off series Class. There is a crack in space and time, reminiscent of the crack in Amy Pond’s wall.

SciFi Weekend: Agents of SHIELD; Star Trek Discovery Delayed; Luke Cage; Westworld; Syfy Pilots; Barrowman v. Moffat on Torchwood

MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. "The Ghost" Season 4, Episode 1 Air Date: September 20, 2016 Pictured: CHLOE BENNET as Daisy EXCLUSIVE through 9/16

Chloe Bennet sets the stage for Daisy in the upcoming season of Agents of SHIELD, which returns this week:

In light of the Sokovia Accords, S.H.I.E.L.D. has gone legit.

When Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns, there’s a new director (Jason O’Mara), who tasks Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) & Co. with tracking down enhanced individuals — and that spells trouble for Daisy (Chloe Bennet), who has gone rogue after Lincoln’s death.

“Everyone she’s gotten close to has died,” Bennet tells EW. “Her way of protecting the people that she cares about — which is Coulson and the rest of the team — is to distance herself. She’s doing anything she can to help people and try to makeup for what she feels is her fault.”

But her self-imposed exile doesn’t necessarily make her a hero. “We know from the past that your power comes with a price,” EP Jed Whedon says. “It damaged her when she first used it and you have to learn to control it. Part of her nothing-to-lose attitude has allowed her to unleash her power on a level that’s much more aggressive, but also much more dangerous.”

“She’s in a place where she’s pushing herself beyond her limitations,” EP Maurissa Tancharoen adds. “Whether or not that’s being self-destructive or just trying to be her own version of her best self, we’ll explore that question.”

Spoiler TV also reports that season 4 will include a loose cross over with the upcoming Doctor Strange movie:

“Our ties are at times very direct and at times are more thematic,” EP Jed Whedon tells EW. “The tie this year will feel more of a reflection of the movie, less an interweaving plot. As that movie hits the world, it comes at the right time in our show, and you will see some of those same ideas being explored.”

“The same questions that our team is exploring leading up to the premiere of Doctor Strange, perhaps some of those concepts will be reflected in the movie and then carried through,” EP Maurissa Tancharoen says. Adds Whedon: “Hopefully some of the questions that we’re asking will be answered by it and then pose some new themes and ideas for us to explore.”

Star Trek Discovery

Originally January was going to be significant for both the inauguration of the next president and for the start of Star Trek: Discovery. CBS has delayed the premiere from January until May, 2017. StarTrek.com reports:

Star Trek: Discovery will now launch in May, 2017, it was announced this afternoon by CBS All Access. The new premiere date is driven by the creative team’s belief that this will give the show the appropriate time for delivery of the highest-quality, premium edition of the first new Star Trek television series in more than a decade.

“Bringing Star Trek back to television carries a responsibility and mission: to connect fans and newcomers alike to the series that has fed our imaginations since childhood,” executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Bryan Fuller said in a joint statement. “We aim to dream big and deliver, and that means making sure the demands of physical and post-production for a show that takes place entirely in space, and the need to meet an air date, don’t result in compromised quality. Before heading into production, we evaluated these realities with our partners at CBS and they agreed: Star Trek deserves the very best, and these extra few months will help us achieve a vision we can all be proud of.”

Personally I’d prefer that we get Discovery in January, and postpone the inauguration of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton (indefinitely).

Luke Cage is the next installment of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on Netflix, teaser above. Showrunner showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker discussed the series in an interview with SciFiNow (via MCUExchange):

In an interview with science fiction website SciFiNow, Coker calls Luke Cage a show that is about “a man who moves to a new section of town, which has deteriorated over time.” He goes on to say, “Instead of a saloon, we have a club named Harlem’s Paradise. And inside this ‘saloon’ there is another strong man who is controlling vice and – to some extent – has an amount of control in law enforcement [this would be Mahershala Ali’s crime lord Cornell ‘Cottonmouth’ Stokes], so he gets away with everything.”

When asked about how Luke Cage compares to the other MCU Netflix properties, Coker had this to say:

Luke Cage has a different feel to Jessica Jones and Daredevil,” explains the self-confessed comic-book fan. “Let’s talk about the elephant in the room right now; it’s a black show. However, at the same time, it’s a different genre to the other shows to some extent, because Daredevil is a crime drama with superhero elements, and Jessica Jones is a psychological thriller, even though it has some classic ‘Sam Spade’ noir moments.”

The promos for HBO’s adaptation of Westworld continue to make me far more interested in the series than I was when it was first announced. SciFi Now has a spoiler-free review of the first four episodes.

Sci-Fi Storm reports on three pilots at the Syfy channel. Here’s the one I find most interesting:

The Machine, based on the 2013 UK cult film, explores humanity through artificial intelligence when a sentient AI is created, but the military wants to use it for war. Caradog James, who directed the film, is an executive producer with Red & Black Films and John Giwa-Amu, the film’s producer.

It appears that John Barrowman has been claiming that Steven Moffat has been blocking the return of Torchwood–something which Barrowman has been tying hard to make happen. Doctor Who News reports that Moffat denies this:

You may be aware that John Barrowman has been saying, publicly, that I’ve been blocking a new series of Torchwood. To be very clear – I haven’t blocked it; I wouldn’t block it; I wouldn’t even be ABLE to block it. I didn’t even know a revival had been mooted till I read about it on the Internet. As John perfectly well knows, it’s not my show and I could no more prevent it happening that he could cancel Sherlock. I am bewildered, and a little cross, even to be included in this conversation. For the record, I really liked the show (especially the third series) and would be very happy to see more – monsters and mayhem, why not? But the fact is, it has nothing to do with me. Please pass this on to the anxious and the angry – I’ve had enough hate mail now.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; Westworld; Aftermath; Stranger Things; Supergirl; Agents of SHIELD; Doctor Who News

Star Trek Discovery

Bryan Fuller has explained the name Discovery was chosen for the upcoming Star Trek series:

“This ship is called the Discovery for a few reasons,” Fuller explained. “Not the least of which is Stanley Kubrick’s contribution to the Discovery on 2001: A Space Odyssey, NASA’s vessel the Discovery, and also the sense of discovery.” He added that the title of Star Trek: Discovery was also about “what the word ‘discovery’ means to Star Trek audiences who have been promised a future by Gene Roddenberry where we come together as a planet and seek new worlds and new alien races to explore and understand and collaborate with.” Fuller went on to say that sense of discovering would manifest as the show reintroduces new and familiar aliens, ships, and technology to the Star Trek universe.

 TV Guide reports that there will be more than just a television series:

Star Trek: Discovery is going really, really big when it debuts on CBS — before moving to CBS’ All Access portal in January of 2017: not just with a new ship, new aliens and new planets; but a novel and comic book series, too.

Kristen Beyer, who’s overseeing a line of Star Trek novels, announced the big plans for the series at the Star Trek: Mission New York convention this weekend, where she and Nicholas Meyer, writer and director of the acclaimed movie Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, celebrated the franchise’s 50-year milestone.

At the gathering, Beyer said that longtime Star Trek author David Mack will write the Discovery tie-in novel, while writer Mike Johnson will have a hand in developing the comic series. “We’re creating these in real time [with the show],” Beyer said, according to a report from Yahoo. “They’re going to support the story in a way we don’t normally have the chance to do.”

HBO has a new trailer for Westworld.

Westworld looks quite promising but looking at the trailer, I have my doubts about Aftermath. It looks like they tried to throw in far too much, but we won’t know until actual episodes are on, and perhaps others will find this above trailer more compelling  than I did.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Alex Glen/REX/Shutterstock (5585090cg) Alison Brie 'How To Be Single' film premiere, London, Britain - 09 Feb 2016 WEARING DAVID KOMA

Netflix has picked up season two of Stranger Things. The second season will contain nine episodes and take place in 1984. That is not the only Netflix series to take place in the 1980’s. Netflix has also picked up G.L.O.W., a ten-episode comedy by Jenji Kohan of Orange Is The New Black. The series about a 1980s female wrestling league is primarily of interest as it will star Alison Brie of Community and Mad Men.

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow fortunately is being largely redone for the second season. Trailer above. The addition of the Justice Society of America gives another reason to give the series a second chance.

Superman Supergirl

Supergirl will finally show Superman on screen second season. The first set pictures of Superman (played by Tyler Hoechlin ) with Supergirl have been posted this week.

Among the changes on Agents of SHIELD include the addition of Ghost Rider. More at The Hollywood Reporter.

Grimm has been renewed for a thirteen episode final season.

Karen-Gillan-karen-gillan-13197795-450-650

Radio Times reports that Doctor Who has had a huge influence on names in England and Wales:

Amelia – the dearly departed Amelia Pond of course – is the most popular girls’ name in England and Wales for 2015. Even more significantly, Clara entered the top 100 for the very first time in 2015 – the same year as Clara Oswald’s final moments in the Tardis.

Rose (Tyler), Martha (Jones), Sarah (Jane), Victoria (Waterfield – an assistant to the second Doctor) and Grace (Holloway – pal to the eighth Doctor) all feature in the top 100 names for girls.

In fact, according to our calculations, 3 per cent of all girls born in 2015 were named after Doctor Who companions.

And the boys? Well, Rory (Williams) and Michael (‘Mickey’ Smith) both have a place in the top 100. Jack (Captain Harkness) meanwhile, is the second most popular name for boys in 2015.

I’m not so sure that we can attribute the Michaels and Jacks to Doctor Who, but is is far more likely that others such as Clara, Amelia, and Rory were influenced by the show.

Amelia Pond is also quite busy in new roles. Karen Gillan has been cast in the remake of Jumanji. This is among other upcoming roles including returning as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and a role in the movie version of The Circle.

In other Doctor Who related news, the spin-off Class has completed filming.

SciFi Weekend: Arrow; The Flash; Gotham; Agents of SHIELD; Natalie Dormer, Zombies, and Nudity on Game of Thrones; Westworld; How To Get Away With Murder; Doctor Who; Sherlock; SNL on Executive Orders

Flash vs Arrow

The Hollywood Reporter has  more information on the upcoming cross over episodes from Arrow and The Flash, along with some other information about Arrow. Among the information revealed (not all of which is new):

  • The title of The Flash portion of the pair of episodes is quite literal, The Flash vs. Arrow. Barry encounters a metahuman who brainwashes him.
  • The Flash episode “will deliver a very big moment for Oliver’s storyline.” It will take Oliver time to learn what the audience has learned.
  • Felicity sees Caitlin to get help from the people at STAR Labs in solving the mystery of the Black Canary’s murder
  • Laurel is mostly missing from the crossover stories but, “Episodes 10, 11 and 12 are a three-part trilogy that are about her. And episode 13 I think I can spoil, is called ‘Canaries.'” As it is Canaries pleural, my suspicion is that the flashback shows Sara while Laural replaces Sara as the Black Canary in the present.
  • Dingle’s ex-wife Lila is in danger.
  • Team Flash learns how dangerous things can be.
  • A future crossover is possible.

Gotham Penguin

Gotham is probably best viewed as a re-imagining of the Batman stories which is not necessarily connected to other aspects of the DC universe or other Batman series. Showrunner Bruno Heller told Entertainment Weekly about how he plans to establish the canonical Gotham–and then start messing with people’s minds. Killing off characters is not being excluded as a possibility:

Before Gotham premiered there was some discussion about how the show cannot kill any members of its cast of iconic characters, since the story is a prequel. And you had a great reply to that by saying, “It’s sad thing if you can only generate suspense by killing people.” I’m wondering now that you’ve dug more into the season and are juggling all these characters, with some being more interesting than others, whether there’s a part of you that’s like, “You know, what if we did?” Or is it just iron clad that you can’t deviate that far from canon?
I wouldn’t say it’s iron clad. You’d need a damn good reason to do it and a damn good end game to justify it. We’re certainly just learning the ropes at this stage. Not to be modest about it, but we’re still learning how to do a show this big. I’m always deeply reluctant to kill off characters simply for the shock value of killing them off. I’m not averse to cheap tricks. But apart from anything else, this season literally every actor has come through and [performed really strong]. I would hate to lose any of them. Killing off Sean Bean in the first season of Game of Thrones made everyone go, “Oh, what a good idea that is!” But I don’t think it’s a good idea if you’ve got Sean Bean. The bad one was on Deadwood, when they had David Carradine doing that marvelous Wild Bill Hickok, and then he was gone.

I agree on Carradine, it did feel like that character was gone too soon.
I’m going to put you on the spot: Who would you kill?

It’s not that there’s anybody in particular that I would kill off. But I would say the killing of a so-called un-killable character would add a greater layer of suspense when any of those characters are in jeopardy after that—because the message has been sent to the audience that, “You think you know how this story is going to go, but you’re wrong, because we’re not following the train tracks that you already know so well.
That is a very good point, and an actor somewhere is cursing you. You’re absolutely right. One of the things about doing the extra six episodes, and hopefully being successful enough to get a season two, is that once we’re up and running, that kind of narrative playfulness—playing with the audience’s expectations—is going to be much more a part of the show. For instance: Who will turn out to be The Joker? Those kind of games you can only get into once you have the audience’s trust and the train is rolling down the tracks. We want to establish the real deal—that this is the canonical Gotham—and then start messing with people’s minds.

Heller also revealed that Harley Quinn will not appear this season and there will be an episode here we learn how Robin’s parents got together. Ra’s al Ghul could conceivably appear, but at this point in Batman’s life, “He was probably a teenager as well, with Mrs. al Ghul making him sandwiches and sending him off to Ghul school.”

Agents of SHIELD Blue Alien

After dragging for most of the first season while waiting for the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Agents of SHIELD is really moving this season. Recent episodes have dealt with topics including Skye’s background and the meaning of the mysterious writings. TV Guide reports that we will also learn about the blue alien, and how it ties into other aspects of the Marvel universe:

He’s not just any alien. The Dec. 2 episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will finally reveal that its mysterious blue man from outer space — the one whose rejuvenating blood saved the life of Director Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) — is a member of the humanoid Kree race. Yes, that’s the same alien species that gave us Lee Pace’s character, Ronan the Accuser, in the Marvel movie blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy. But all this means bupkis to Coulson and his S.H.I.E.L.D. team.

“Our people don’t know anything about the Kree or that there’s a planet full of them,” notes executive producer Jeffrey Bell. “What they do know is that the strange carvings created by Coulson after he was injected with the Kree serum are actually the map of a city, and they need to find that city before Hydra does. But where is it? Here or on another planet?”

The Hydra terrorists have more manpower and resources than S.H.I.E.L.D., and their freaky obsession with the blue alien goes all the way back to the 1940s — the setting for ABC’s upcoming spinoff series Marvel’s Agent Carter. But S.H.I.E.L.D. has Skye. The do-or-die agent with no last name, played by Chloe Bennet, was also injected with Kree serum but, unlike Coulson, suffered no consequences. Similarly, her not-always-trusty cohort Raina (Ruth Negga) — again, no last name — was able to touch the deadly alien obelisk and survive without harm.

ComicVine has more about the meaning of this.

Game of Thrones Natalie Dormer

Matt Smith and Natalie Dormer will fight zombies together in Patient Zero. According to ComingSoon.net:

Patient Zero takes place in a post-outbreak zombie apocalypse and follows the adventures of one man who has the unique ability to speak with the undead and who hopes to use his gift to discover a cure for the plague and his infected wife.

Natalie Dormer was interviewed by The Daily Beast about topics including her role in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 and nudity in Game of Thrones:

Speaking of “equality,” I understand HBO has a “boobs mandate,” but lots of viewers of Thrones think the show could use some more dick in there—for symmetry.

Well, during the first season Alfie, Richard, and several of the men got naked—although not all the way. I suppose it’s just the rules of broadcast television, isn’t it? I think Thrones has been better than your average show with the equality, but they could definitely ramp it up! Absolutely.

Did you base the character of Margaery Tyrell on anyone in particular?

It was based on the media circus that surrounds Kate Middleton. It’s the Princess Diana effect. Whether you’re talking about the royal family in our country, or the first lady obsession in this country—Michelle Obama, or Hillary Clinton before her. Because Margaery is very politically savvy and our royal family tries to keep out of politics, it’s a hybrid of that statesmanship between the royal family and the first lady.

There was a particularly awkward sequence last season on Thrones where your character is forced to seduce the boy-king, Tommen Baratheon.

That scene was altered because I phoned Dan [Weiss] and David [Benioff] and said, “I’m not comfortable doing this.” It’s the nature of the beast that I’m four years into playing Margaery Tyrell and the big plot points of the book are in stone. You can’t change them. George R.R. Martin wrote a particular plot line, so on the specifics of Margaery and Tommen getting married, there’s nothing I can do. On the show, we had to find a way to navigate that in a sensitive way. There’s more of it next season too, and we’re trying to handle it with intelligence, and integrity.

westworld

When I first heard about plans for a series based upon Westworld I was skeptical, but it sounds like HBO is bringing quite a bit of talent into the project:

The drama, based on Michael Crichton‘s 1973 film and written by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, stars Anthony Hopkins in his first series-regular role as an inventor who runs an adult amusement park populated by lifelike robots. HBO made the announcement Monday via Twitter, with the series coming in 2015.

The drama hails from J.J. Abrams and Bryan Burk‘s Warner Bros. Television-based Bad Robot Productions, with the duo exec producing alongside Jerry Weintraub, Nolan (who directed the pilot) and Joy. Kathy Lingg will co-EP and Athena Wickham is a producer on the drama. Susie Ekins is set as a co-producer. Westworld hails from Bad Robot, Jerry Weintraub Productions and Kilter Films.

Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the show’s androids — played by castmembers including James MarsdenEvan Rachel Wood and Thandie Newton — can be killed off and return with completely different personas, allowing actors to play many characters. That creative device, one top talent agent said, helped HBO attract a premier cast (which also includes Ed HarrisMiranda Otto and Jeffrey Wright). And unlike the actors on such anthology series as FX’s American Horror Story and HBO’s own True Detective, which reboot themselves every season, the cast of Westworld is signing multiyear deals.

“This is built as a series and, in terms of storytelling, I think the rules are definitely being broken,” HBO programming president Michael Lombardo told THR in August of the sci-fi Western from executive producers J.J. AbramsJerry Weintraub and Bryan Burk. “The promise of the show, in terms of where it’s going, is exciting to actors, and they want to be a part of this.”

While watching How To Get Away With Murder I was a little disappointed in how Sam’s murder was played out–until the revelation in the final moments. Entertainment Weekly discussed the mid-season finale and the second half of the season with showrunner Pete Nowalk.

It has been officially announced that Peter Capaldi will be returning to Doctor Who but no word yet on Jenna Coleman. There have been rumors since before the past season began that Coleman would be written out of the show on the Christmas episode (which have been denied), and the series has teased Clara leaving a few times. My bet is that Steven Moffat actually knows what is planned, but they are keeping this secret so that viewers will not know what might happen with Clara while watching the Christmas episode.

Series four of Sherlock will be a single episode, possibly airing on Christmas Day, 2015. Mark Gatiss has told Radio Times that the mystery about the apparent return of Moriarty at the end of season three will  will be solved “completely.”

BBC America will be showing a seven part series based upon Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

Saturday Night Live began with a skit this weekend hitting Barack Obama on executive orders. Medialite summarizes:

Finally, the first biting political spoof from Saturday Night Live in a while: the Bill from Schoolhouse Rock explains to a student how he becomes a law, only to be violently beat up by Barack Obama and his new best friend, “Executive Order.”

Even then, the poor Executive Order still thinks he’s used for simple things, like declaring holidays and creating national parks, until Obama informs him that he’s going to be used to grant amnesty to 5 million undocumented immigrants. His reaction: “Whoa.”

While Ted Cruz found reason to cite this on Fox News Sunday, the skit actually is not accurate. Obama did not grant amnesty, and the executive action was used because the Republicans failed to pass a bill, not as an attempt to act in place of a law. Previous Republican as well as Democratic presidents have issued many executive orders in the past with both Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush having had executive orders regarding immigration in the past. (Clarification: Fox News Sunday is the name of show and my use of this term does in any way suggest that Fox presents actual news. Generally I do not use the term “Fox News” as that is an insult to all real news networks. )

SciFi Weekend: Under the Dome; Hannibal; Continuum Special Effects; Star Trek Broken?; Doctor Who; Arrow; Same-Sex Marriage and DC; Westworld; X-Men and More

UNDER THE DOME

Under the Dome got a little darker, and less believable, last week. There have essentially been three major story lines: Barbie/Julia, Big Jim, and the teens with the mini-dome. The Big Jim and Barbie story lines have now merged, with events surrounding both being rather unrealistic, or at least poorly developed.

Barbie was introduced as a killer, but since then has been the closest we have to a hero on the series. Initially the acceptance of him was difficult to believe. Nobody knew anything about him, but the town made him their hero. Was there nobody else who had been living there who could step up in time of crisis? Eventually Julia did discover the fact that Barbie killed her husband but there were no consequences. Barbie had to promise not to lie again, and their relationship continued. Finding out that Peter Shumway manipulated Barbie to kill him so that his life insurance would pay out hardly exonerates Barbie of his crimes.

Big Jim has been a more interesting character due to both being portrayed as a murderer and legitimately having concern about the people in Chester’s Mill. I would anticipate that if these goals conflicted, Jim would support his own interests. Just as I wonder why there is nobody else in the town to who is as heroic as Barby, I wonder why Big Jim is the only one left from the town’s government. It is not realistic that everyone else was on the other side of the dome.

Things changed suddenly for Barbie and Big Jim last week. Linda was on the verge of discovering Big Jim’s crimes. Then Jim framed Barbie for Maxine’s murder and suddenly Linda forgot both all her suspicions about Jim and ignored her trust in Barbie. Even if the degree of trust in Barbie was somewhat realistic, it doesn’t help matters to ignore what went on before. Besides, Linda did see how Barbie called in Julia’s shooting and Barbie ultimately saved her live. Jim’s claim that Barbie was responsible for her shooting, or the shooting of Maxine, should not have been accepted so easily.

The other story line with the teens gets to the central mystery of the show regarding the dome, but I do fear there will never be a satisfactory answer. Now the dome appears to have told the kids to kill Big Jim. Apparently it does have a sense of justice, or opposition to a questionable story line, but with all its power I would think the dome could do something more directly to take out Jim if that was its goal.

Hannibal-4-NP

Mads Mikkelsen discussed his role on Hannibal. Here is a portion of the interview, concentrating on speculation as to where the series is going:

How much of his real self do you think Hannibal reveals to Gillian Anderson’s character Bedelia Du Maurier?
“It’s very interesting because he doesn’t have to reveal anything… so who’s he doing this for? For her? She’s no threat. For the audience? No – he doesn’t know there is an audience.

“He likes it – he needed to get it out. He needs to get some emotions out and he uses that little session to get it out, even though in the normal world, that would be very f**ked up what he’s doing!

“At the same time, he could be doing it because he wanted to manipulate someone, but I don’t think that is the case right now with Gillian Anderson’s character. But it remains to be seen, because I don’t know where that [situation] is going yet!”

Were you surprised that Will discovered the truth about Hannibal in season one’s finale? Other shows might have dragged that plot out for longer…
“Again, it remains to be seen exactly what he found out. As I see it, we have three opportunities here – three possibilities. One is that Will can’t remember anything because he’s sick, the other one is that he does remember everything and he tells me, and the third one is that he does remember everything but he plays that he can’t remember… and then the table is turned, right?

“So it’s going to be very interesting to see how [Bryan] wants to start the episodes in the new season, but I would be surprised if Hannibal doesn’t know that he knows that he knows! (laughs) Hannibal’s a smart guy!”

Where do you think Hannibal will go in season two? The main threat to him – Will – now seems to have been neutralised…
“Yes, but Hannibal has never had a master-plan – he’s able to change his ‘master-plan’ every day and, as I said before, he just wants to enjoy life and have a wonderful day!

“I still believe that Will is part of his future – one way or the other – and I don’t believe that Hannibal has a master-plan to take over the FBI. He likes the game and he likes the people around him, and he will just see how far he can go with them, I guess.”

Continuum is notable for telling a very compelling science fiction story with a low budget. That doesn’t mean they don’t do impressive things with special effects, as can be seen in the video above. I discussed both the entire series and the season two finale last week. As expected special effects are used for the  high tech world of 2077 along with the expansion of the Vancouver coastline. From the above video we also see how many of the dramatic scenes, including near collisions with trains and cars, also are computer generated.

The J.J. Abrams Star Trek movies were of value in reviving interest in Star Trek and both were fun blockbuster films. Unfortunately they were not really what we think of as Star Trek. TrekMovie.com generated a lot of interest in a recent post arguing that Star Trek is broken. They gave several suggestions as to how to fix Star Trek. Robert Orci responded and overreacted in the comments:

“I think the article above is akin to a child acting out against his parents,” he said. “Makes it tough for some to listen, but since I am a loving parent, I read these comments without anger or resentment, no matter how misguided.

“Having said that, two biggest Star Treks in a row with best reviews is hardly a description of ‘broken.’ And frankly, your tone and attitude make it hard for me to listen to what might otherwise be decent notions to pursue in the future. Sorry, Joseph. As I love to say, there is a reason why I get to write the movies, and you don’t.”

Orci later apologized, tweeting “not my finest moment. agreed. what can I say? i’m more than half human.”

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There has been speculation on line that Matt Smith’s Doctor might actually regenerate in the 50th Anniversary episode. One piece of weak evidence cited for this was that Matt Smith cut his hair off for a movie before filming the Christmas episode. That theory has fallen apart. It has been announced that filming is to begin September 8 with Matt Smith wearing a wig. We will then have a long wait as the next season of Doctor Who with Peter Capaldi as the Doctor will not air until the following fall.

Before the regeneration into Peter Capaldi, we still have the 50th anniversary episode. The Guardian interviewed John Hurt with the discussion eventually getting to Doctor Who:

It’s your 50th year in the business and you are about to appear as the Doctor in the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who. Both of you have had lots of reinventions. Is there a neat link there?

I’d never thought of that, but let’s use it! Oh yes, there’s a huge link definitely. But I had no idea that Doctor Who had got so huge; I just thought, “Brilliant, I’ll be a Doctor!” I was suddenly – what do they call it? You start “trending”. This is all new to me!

Is it a relief you can talk about your role, now that the costume designer let slip to the Prince of Wales that you play a “dark Doctor”?

Of course you have to remember that the Doctors are all one person, so I’m not outside of that. I can’t talk about it, but I will say I was really impressed when I did it. Both the previous doctors – Matt Smith and David Tennant – boy, are they good at it. Whoa-wee! They are so quick, and there’s a huge amount of learning and no time to learn it in. All that fake scientific nonsense. Terribly difficult to learn.

Have you met the Whovians?

I’ve done a couple of conferences where you sit and sign autographs for people and then you have photographs taken with them and a lot of them all dressed up in alien suits or Doctor Who whatevers. I was terrified of doing it because I thought they’d all be loonies, but they are absolutely, totally charming as anything. It’s great fun. I’m not saying it’s the healthiest thing – I don’t know whether it is or isn’t – but they are very charming.

Arrow Season 2 Poster

Back in the days of the Soviet Union, along with in China, observers would pay attention to material such as photos of Politburo members to decide who was in and who was out. I had a similar feeling reading analysis of the season two poster for Arrow. Apparently Laurel might not be as important and, as has been confirmed in other reports, Felicity has a bigger role.  Buddy TV has more on the second season including the relationship between Oliver and Laurel, new characters, pirates on the island, and a sidekick for the Dark Archer.

DC Comics has forbid portrayal of the planned same-sex marriage for Batwoman leading to the creative staff leaving. This has led to a global backlash.

J.J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan and Jerry Weintraub are developing a television version of Westworld for HBO:

“Westworld” explores a futuristic theme park split into three distinct areas — West World, Medieval World and Roman World. However, things soon go wrong as the robots built to interact with human customers malfunction, attacking and killing anyone they see. A sequel, “Futureworld,” was released in 1976, and a television series aired on CBS in 1980. It was canceled after airing only three episodes.

Now, HBO is set to tackle the property again on the small screen. The pilot script will be co-written by Nolan and Lisa Joy (“Burn Notice”), and directed by Nolan. Jonathan Nolan, of course, worked with his brother Christopher Nolan on projects such as the Dark Knight series and “Memento.”

This marks HBO’s first real foray into science-fiction territory, which is known for modern and historical dramas, and with the recent success of “Game of Thrones,” fantasy.

Abrams’ and Nolan’s version of “Westworld” is described as “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.”

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Jennifer Lawrence explains why Mystique is nude in much of  X-Men: Days of Future Past:

“I’m naked,” says X-Men: Days Of Future Past’s Jennifer Lawrence, putting it bluntly. “But when I do get to wear clothes, I love the ’70s outfits.” She will be reprising her role as Mystique in the sequel to First Class, which is set 10 years later.

Lawrence’s costume is a little different this time around. She’s wearing a body suit rather than being covered in body paint, and it’s a darker shade of blue than in First Class. It looks more like Rebecca Romijn’s version of Mystique, but that’s not the only change to the character, as Lawrence explains:

“Some of the Mystique look is a little different, but we’re still using the same paint. But she’s different in this film too,” she tells SciFiNow exclusively. “She was struggling – like a lot of normal humans – with the way she looked, and she was covered up a lot in the first movie, but this time she is Mutant and proud.”

Stargate is to be rebooted in a movie trilogy.

PBS will be airing Superheroes: A Never-Ending Battle, a three hour documentary, on October 15.

Trailer for Gravity above.