SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Dirk Gently; You’re The Worst; Mr. Robot

After the announcement that Jodie Whittaker has been chosen to be the next lead on Doctor Who, the next question was how they would handle the companion. With a female lead, it came as no surprise that they are switching to a male companion. Bradley Walsh has received the role and, like Whittaker, is someone previously known to Chris Chibnal. The Mirror reports:

The first female Doctor Who will have a male sidekick old enough to be her father, it has been revealed.

Jodie Whittaker, 35, will be accompanied on her travels through space and time by former Coronation Street star and quiz-show host Bradley Walsh, 57…

The actor and writer go back a long way.

In 2008, Chibnall was the lead writer on ITV’s Law & Order UK, which starred Walsh as DS Ronnie Brooks and ran for eight successful series.

More at Metro.

Update: While some newspapers are reporting this as fact, it does not appear to have been verified by the BBC and this might only be speculation.

Arthur Darvill tweeted the above picture which makes it look like he will be facing a Doctor Who villain on Legends of Tomorrow next season.  I doubt they will really be bringing Weeping Angels to LOT. Like the TARDIS, the Waverider can travel through time and space, but I doubt it can cross over to a different franchise.

Geeks Are Sexy looks at Doctor Who business suits. Of course they are soon going to need to add a version for women.

The season two trailer for Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency has been released (video above). The show returns on BBC America on October 14. About the show:

The vast dangers lurking in the fantasy realm navigate a path to Earth, becoming a threat in reality, and it’s up to Dirk (Samuel Barnett) and the gang to stop them in their tracks. But first – they need to find each other… Everything and everyone continues to be connected… from the sterile chambers of the government organization Blackwing, to the sleepy town of Bergsberg and the magical land of Wendimoor. After a few misfires, Dirk Gently steadily finds his footing on the new case to “find The Boy”, and with the help of his friends, makes the necessary connections to solve the mystery before it’s too late.

You’re The Worst returns on September 6 on FXX. The Mary Sue explains why the show is the best.

Deadline looked at the visual approach to Mr. Robot.

Next week we’ll have the season finales of Game of Thrones (which hasn’t aired yet), and Dark Matter (which aired Friday, but it has been too busy a weekend for me to deal with it today) to discuss.  There are lots of other things going on in the world too. I can’t help but notice that we didn’t see the sun go out, and then disasters of this magnitude in Texas before Donald Trump took office.

SciFi Weekend: Orphan Black Series Finale; Doctor Who; Hugo Awards; How I Met Your Father; Wayward Pines; Sense8; Hannibal; GLOW; Kristen Wiig Returning To The Last Man On Earth; The Defenders

The series finale of Orphan Black aired last night and had two different halves. Initially they concluded the story from the previous week to save Helena as she was having twins. The overall mythology of the series took a big step towards concluding with the death of Westmoreland.

However, while many series would have ended here, the heart of Orphan Black has always been seeing the sisters and other characters together. They were separated a large part of this season with much of the action taking place on the island, but we got a final party with them all at Helena’s baby shower. We also learned that Helena was writing a book about her sestras, starting with the event of the show’s pilot when Sarah first saw Beth.

Besides the partying, another portion of the mythology was dealt with. Rachel continued her redemption by giving Felix a list of all 274 Leda clones, allowing the episode to conclude with Cosima and Delphine traveling to give them the treatment.

This might not be the end as there was talk about following up the series with a movie.

Deadline interviewed  John Fawcett:

DEADLINE: I have to ask right at the top, is this the series finale that Graeme and yourself envisioned for Orphan Black from the beginning? 

FAWCETT: I think it is in a lot of ways. In some respects, I think that we imagined that the finale really was going to boil down to Sarah and Helena, and that we were going to have to deal with P.T. Westmoreland. We knew that, critically, we were going to have a really kind of dirty, awful, nasty birth, and that that was going to be part of kind of this two-part finale.

DEADLINE: Well, that does sound like “To Right The Wrongs of Many” in a nutshell…

FAWCETT: Yes, but I think we also understood that killing P.T. Westmoreland was important, but not the most important thing for us. It is something you had to do, but that, tonally, for the final episode, we wanted it to be a much more emotional episode. We wanted to structure it in a way that we were finished with plot fairly early on in the episode so that we could make this time jump, as we did. We were really interested in moving forward into the future three months to see where everyone is.

DEADLINE: Part of that jump, nearly at the very end, with the backyard party at Alison’s with the core sestras together around a still shattered Sarah, was Helena reading from her book called Orphan Black of her life and the other clones. Why did you choose that bookending, pardon the pun?

FAWCETT: That was something we devised at the beginning of Season 5, though we had talked about it before. We liked the idea that Helena has been jotting down her memoirs and really, like, exactly that, it comes down to the sisters. It comes down to the twin sisters, between Sarah and Helena.

It’s very important that we’ve ended this in a way that we believed it was nice to have some really strong belief that Helena, after everything that she’s come through, is now going to be a very capable mother. So that somehow, by having her read her journals and her memoirs and bringing us back to the beginning of the series, it just seemed like the right place to end her. You know, we laughed a lot about the idea that Helena would wind up somewhere getting a book deal and maybe going on a book tour at some point. Of course, that’s just what we’ve joked about.

DEADLINE: But the series finale is not really the end of Orphan Black is it? With Cosima and Delphine now traveling the world to find the other 274 Ledas, there is a lot of ripe story or a lot more stories to tell, isn’t there?

FAWCETT: It certainly is. I think that to Graham and I, the imagery and the ideas that come from the concept of Delphine and Cosima out in the world journeying to find these 274 Ledas is certainly ripe, there’s no question. We’ve talked since the beginning of wanting to do some kind of feature or some kind of two-hour continuation of the series.

At this point, I think we’re happy that it’s come to a conclusion that we feel satisfied with, and it closes this chapter. Graham and I are both going to let it sit for a little bit, but I know that these characters are so strong with us and so engrained with us, that there’s certainly a chance that we’ll pick that up and continue…

More at TV Line here and here. Another interview with the producers at Entertainment Weekly included how they considered killing off Rachel. Interview with Tatiana Maslany here.

David Tennant appeared on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert prior to the series finale of Broadchurch airing in the United States. He talked about how Broadchurch is ending after only three seasons, which would not be what would happen with a successful show in the United States:

“It’s a peculiarly British thing. I think we see something that works, and we run from it — you heard about Brexit?” Tennant asked. “That’s what we do. If it works, and it’s solid, and it makes money, and it’s good for everyone in it, abandon it immediately.”

Tennant also talked about the fans who are unhappy with the choice of Jodie Whittaker to play the next Doctor:

David Tennant, the 10th regeneration of Doctor Who‘s title character, was one of Stephen Colbert’s guests on Wednesday’s Late Show, and Colbert asked about his new, slightly controversial successor, Doctor No. 13. “How do you feel, or do you have any feelings about Jodie Whittaker breaking the glass TARDIS ceiling and becoming the first female Doctor?” he asked, and Tennant did. “I’m delighted,” he said, noting that Whittaker has starred with him on the BBC detective show Broadchurch for three seasons. “She’s a mate of mine,” as well as the right actor at the right time.

Colbert noted that not every Doctor Who fan has been so pleased. “Are you surprised that there’s been any backlash at all?” he asked. “Do you know, whenever the Doctor changes there’s a backlash, because that’s a character that people love so people get very affectionate about the Doctor they knew,” Tennant said. When he took over the role of the iconic time lord from Christopher Eccleston, “they were like, ‘Who’s the weaselly looking guy? Who’s this? I liked the last guy! This is not going to work for me! This show is dead to me! I resign from the internet! [send].'” And it won’t last, he added. “Sure, Jodie is from a different gender than anyone who has gone before, but that will be irrelevant almost immediately once she takes the part.”

In recent interviews, Jodie Whittaker has discussed being chosen for the role. She was also interviewed by BBC News in this video:

Peter Capaldi has discussed filming his regeneration scene and leaving Doctor Who.

The Hugo Award winners have been announced. The Obelisk Gate by N. K. Jemisin  won the award for Best Novel. Arrival won for Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form). The final episode of the first season of The Expanse, Leviathan Wakes, won the award for Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form). This was also the name of the first novel in the Expanse series. The full list of nominees and winners can be found here.

After two attempts at a spin off of How I Met Your Mother, 20th Century Fox has now commissioned a spec script from  Alison Bennett, a writer from You’re The Worst, for another attempt entitled  How I Met Your Father. (A previous spin off was to be called How I Met Your Dad). If you know the original show, the premise of the new show should be obvious from the title. The last attempt was to be by This Is Us co-executive producers Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, but they had to drop the idea with the success of This Is Us. Perhaps combining the original comedy style of HIMYM with some aspects of You’re The Worst could be the way to go.

A third season for Wayward Pines remains a possibility, but no plans yet.

Lana Wachowski is hopeful that Sense8 will receive an entire third season, beyond the single episode Netflix agreed to in order to wrap up the story.

Bryan Fuller says that talks about a fourth season of Hannibal, presumably at a different network, couldn’t start until two years after the final episode of season three aired. Such conversations have now begun, and hopefully the show will be back in some form.

Netflix has renewed Alison Brie’s series GLOW for a second season.

Kristen Wiig will be back in at least three episodes of The Last Man On Earth.

The big event coming up is the release of The Defenders–final trailer above. In preparation for its release, I gave in and watched Iron Fist last week. As I went into it with low expectations from its poor reviews, I was somewhat pleasantly surprised. It certainly did have its flaws, such as people changing sides too often to be believable, but was quite watchable. It was one of those shows which I spent a lot of time web surfing and otherwise multitasking while watching, which I would have never done with Jessica Jones. If nothing else, a sequence which equates pharmaceutical reps with drug pushers made it all worthwhile.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Thin Ice; The Handmaid’s Tale; Catastrophe; American Gods

Thin Ice had the most complete story so far this season, but the highlight of the episode remained the relationship between Bill and The Doctor. The episode dealt serious matters including racism and class, but it was the meta discussion of time travel and the Doctor which was most interesting.

The Doctor and Bill continued in their rules of tutor and pupil with Bill asking questions throughout the episode, also providing an opportunity to give some comments on the show in Moffat’s final season. This was Bill’s first real trip into the past and, being well-aware of science fiction tropes, Bill asked what the “rules” are. “You travel into the past. There’s got to be rules. If I step on a butterfly it could send ripples through time that mean I’m not even born in the first place and I could just disappear.” Her concern was that, “Every choice I make in this moment here and now could change the whole future.” The Doctor replied with justification for the often careless manner in which he interacts with the past in pointing out that this is, “Exactly like every other day of your life. The only thing to do is to stop worrying about it.”

Except for poor Pete, written out of history, and even deleted from the memories of viewers and from recordings of the last two episodes. We haven’t seen anything like this since Cold Blood in which Rory was sucked into a crack in the universe and erased from history. Perhaps Pete will return, possibly as another Auton duplicate, as Rory later did.

There was also repetition of the Doctor being a bit of a thief, along with his his limited control over the TARDIS: “I told you, you don’t steer the TARDIS. You reason with it… and successfully most of the time… She’s a bad girl this one. Always looking for trouble.”

Bill had more serious questions and observations. She noted that “Regency England, a bit more black than they show in the movies.” The Doctor replied, “So was Jesus. History’s a whitewash.”

She realized that there was a lot more to the Doctor than a university professor after seeing his lack of a response to the death of a child. She asked him how many people he has seen die, and then how many he has killed. He had no specific answers. He did say, “I’m 2,000-years-old and I’ve never had the time for the luxury of outrage.” I wondered how long it would be until Bill saw through that lie, and it occurred later in the same episode.

The Doctor had fun with Bill beyond his reference to Pete. He allowed her to watch the lights because she was having fun, and then mentioned seeing lights as a side effect of time travel. Later he told her to let him do the talking because she has a temper. Moments later he slugged  Lord Sutcliffe (also showing his capacity for outrage).

Of course the Doctor wasn’t entirely cold about the death of the boy. He just has seen enough to know when he can and cannot do something. His overall view was more humane: “Human progress isn’t measured by industry. It’s measured by the value you place on a life. An unimportant life, a life without privilege. The boy who died on the river, that boy’s value is your value. That’s what defines an age. That’s what defines a species.”

The episode took place in the Frost Fair of 1814, the last in a series of actual events when the the River Thames froze over. Being 2000 years old (or actually older if the events of past seasons are taken into consideration), and prone to hanging out on earth, it is no surprise that the Doctor was there before. A Good Man Goes to War reveals that he was there with River Song, with Stevie Wonder performing:

River: It’s my birthday. The Doctor took me ice skating on the River Thames in 1814, the last of the great Frost Fairs. He got Stevie Wonder to sing for me under London Bridge.
Rory: Stevie Wonder sang in 1814?
River: Yes, he did, but you must never tell him.

(As a totally irrelevant aside, Stevie Wonder was once dining at the same restaurant I was at while traveling to Washington, D.C.)

There was an old Companion Chronicle audio story in which the first Doctor, Vicki and Steven visited the Frost Fair of 1814. The Doctor also promised to take Clara to the Frost Fair in The Caretaker (and actually did in a novel) The Doctor’s lack of interest in rules of time travel in his discussion with Bill is consistent with his lack of concern for returning to the same place–which would be forbidden in other time travel stories. This includes the breaking of time in the Legends of Tomorrow season two finale.

Bill did verify that her trip did not brake time, and Doctor Who has already established that humans have an incredible tendency to forget the extraordinary events depicted on the show. Bill used Search-wise.net for her research–a site which actually exists for television purposes.

The Doctor and Bill returned to the Doctor’s office in time for tea, but Nardole figured out that they had been traveling in time when he saw their change of clothing. He did not appear to figure out out that he had no chance to win the coin toss. For the sake of continuity, he did make reference to how he was reassembled between The Husbands Of River Song when he was decapitated and The Return Of Doctor Mysterio. He returned to the vault where we learned that someone or something inside was knocking, perhaps the Master, except that he knocks four times. Knocking also foreshadowed a past regeneration.

The Handmaid’s Tale premiered on Hulu, with the first three episodes being released. The show displayed a very bleak future in which Christian fundamentalists have established a dictatorship. This would be more plausible in a Muslim country, especially considering recent events in Turkey. It seems more plausible here, and  especially timely, after the election of Donald Trump, with the lack of respect for reproductive right’s and a woman’s right to control her own body taken to even more horrifying extremes. (To be objective and nonpartisan, Democrats cannot totally place the blame on Donald Trump and Republicans for rightward movement in this country considering their lack of concern in nominating a candidate such as Hillary Clinton who has a terrible history on First Amendment issues, including separation of church and state. While obviously Clinton would never support the mistreatment of women in this manner, her work with The Fellowship while in the Senate did help facilitate the goals of the religious right in increasing the role of religion in public policy.)

Elisabeth Moss does an excellent job as Offred (presumably given this name as she belongs to Fred), who is forced to conform outwardly. The totalitarian society shows how those without power being under constant surveillance, appearing to have no chance to rebel, or even safely be themselves with others. Inwardly it is a different story: “My name is Offred, and I intend to survive.” Her internal thoughts provide necessary relief from the overall story. There are also breaks from the main narrative to see how America went in that direction. Martial law was initiated, supposedly on a temporary nature in response to a terrorist attack, and later women were prohibited from having money or holding jobs.

The supporting cast also does an excellent job, especially Alexis Bledel (renamed Ofglen, following the same pattern), who managed to portray with her eyes alone the horrors of what she was exposed to in the third episode. Yvonne Strahovski is also excellent. 

Showrunner Bruce Miller discussed changes in the television show from the novel, including what happened to Ofglen (with spoilers for the third episode):

You take the character of Ofglen (Alexis Bledel) in a different direction very early on in the series. Can you talk about the decision to have Ofglen forcibly undergo genital mutilation surgery and how that changes things for her character moving forward?
Miller:
In the book, Ofglen just disappears and we hear that she killed herself. There’s no real way to confirm that. This was just one of those cases where you just follow your curiosity and you say, well, what happened to her? And I was fascinated by the idea, personally, of seeing how some of the institutions were being reproduced in Gilead. And the institution of the criminal justice system seemed fascinating in a world with institutionalized sexism and misogyny and biblical laws that were being taken literally. So that kind of lead us down a path of, OK, if I want to see how all of those things go, it would be very interesting to follow those things to the end. And making the decision about the female genital mutilation was really just kind of a practical discussion. A world that happened by accident is different than a world people created on purpose and here, Gilead is a world they created on purpose. There’s motive behind it, human motive. So what we’re trying to do is say, OK, what would they do to someone like Ofglen? They don’t want to kill her or send her away. They want to maintain her fertility as part of their reproductive system and their focus on that. So how would they try to control her?

And also taking into account, Margaret Atwood has said many times and we’ve certainly took on this adage, that nothing should happen in the show that doesn’t happen in the world. We don’t want to make up cruelties just for the sake of doing it. Then it turns into pornography. It turns into violence. It’s commentary and it helps you understand the world if you take things that happened in the world. Female genital mutilation is certainly something that happens all over the world. The difference here is that it doesn’t usually happen to white girls, but it does happen all over the world. We spoke to the U.N. and we spoke to the councils they sent us to about how it happens and why it happens and what it’s used for and how it’s done. We took it really seriously. We didn’t want to do it for shock value, even though it’s very shocking. You want to do it because it seems like the thing that Gilead would do. It’s a difference in the book, but it’s also something that takes place out of Offred’s point of view, at least in the show and also in the book. So we felt like we weren’t straying so far because it was something that could have happened in the world of the book and could have happened to somebody else. But anything we did that was not in the book or anything we changed, we were incredibly serious in those discussions about why to change things.

He also discussed how timely the series is:

A lot has been said about how timely the series is. Do you feel any concern that, given the current state of our society, The Handmaid’s Tale might hit a little too close to home for many viewers who would rather avoid facing these ideas head-on?
Miller:
I’m not worried. I hope it hits a little too close to home for viewers who are feeling anxious, because I think there are some great lessons to be learned, which is that the world can change in big ways and we should be very mindful of keeping an eye on our freedoms. As in the show, we see in the flashbacks, how in big and small ways the world can change and the things that we say and the things people say, they’re going to end up mattering in people’s personal lives and that we live in a country where we enjoy lots of freedoms and that those freedoms are not to be taken for granted.

The other thing is that if it does hit close to home, it also offers some really good examples of what to do. Offred is in an incredibly difficult circumstance, and yet she finds ways to express herself, she keeps her sanity, she keeps her heart alive. She also pulls levers of power. She manipulates the people around her to both increase her chances of survival, but also to build some sort of life. She makes connections with people even when they’re scary. I think in a way that’s inspiring. If Offred can do that in that situation, maybe we can do something in this situation. I think Margaret said it in the book, which is, “just do something.” And hopefully you walk away with that. And the other part is that there is a part of doe-eyed optimism on my part, when you look in the flashbacks, the world is so jarringly different. Our messy, noisy world where people are kissing in public and on their iPhones and stuff, you learn to appreciate it, or at least I did. Spending so much time in the fictional world of Gilead, you learn to appreciate how nice it is to have a messy, noisy world and what a pleasure that is. So if you walk out of there going boy, we actually have a good thing going even though it annoys us sometimes, that’s the nerve you want to hit, which is people saying, “Oh, actually there are some good things. Let’s fight to preserve them.” As opposed to, “Things are sh–ty, let’s just throw up our hands and abandon them.

While there were changes from the book, he also discussed how he consulted Margaret Atwood in an interview with Time:

The show definitely expands on what’s happened in the book. You get more backstory. You get to see what happens from the perspective of other characters. How did you decide what to expand and why, and did you discuss those decisions with Margaret Atwood at all?

Everything’s been a conversation with Margaret. It’s very unusual with something this iconic that you would have the author still living. Margaret is an expert in her own way of seeing this particular piece of work adapted: It’s been a play, opera, movie. So she had a lot of experience with what things need to change for different forms for this story. Where I might have had trepidation changing things because of my affection for the book, she certainly did not.

If we changed something, we did it thoughtfully and for a reason. We discussed the repercussions of each change with Margaret. It’s been a very active conversation back and forth. And I’ve been through the story a lot. We’ve picked it apart in the writers’ room. Elisabeth, in particular, has been through the book and educated herself to the nth degree. She’s memorized whole sections of it. So we took great care, and most of the changes we’ve made were actually extrapolations: Taking a thing that was a sentence in the book and turning it into a whole episode.

While Handmaid’s Tale is a must-see show this season, it is disturbing and bleak. My wife and I found that comic relief was necessary after watching three episodes. Fortunately Amazon has released the third season of Catastrophe. If  you haven’t seen this, I recommend going back to the start. Each season takes under three hours to watch. It is sort of like doing You’re The Worst with older, but still highly flawed people, and setting it in the U.K.

For the benefit of those who watched the second season, the events at the end of the final episode have considerable impact as the third season began. A similar formula was used, with an event at the tend of the final episode of the third season likely to have further ramifications in the fourth. Fortunately the series was renewed for both a third and fourth season at the same time, so we will see where this goes.

Sadly, the series has become of significance for science fiction. Carrie Fisher reprised her role as Rob’s mother in an episode which ironically dealt with death and loss. This was the role she was filming before flying from London to Los Angeles the day she had her fatal heart attack. A tribute to Carrie Fisher was attacked to the episode.

The highly anticipated premiere of American Gods is on tonight. (Gillian Anderson in the above picture.) Bryan Fuller and Michael Green discussed the show with Uproxx:

The novel tackles just about every Big Theme there is: politics, religion, modernity, sexuality. Do you two think about America in these grand terms as well?

Fuller: It’s hard not to think of America in grand terms in the current political climate because the country has shit the bad. We’re facing a violent time of great crisis, and that calls into question what we believe in, where we’ve placed our faith, how we navigate the secular and the search for something more meaningful. Then there are those who are not searching, because they’ve made up their minds that they’ve experienced the extent of the world that they need to, and have no cause to look further. That’s so limited and narrow of an approach to living, so you’ve got to challenge people on what they believe. Challenge the conservative Christians who don’t understand the concept of Christianity, or else they’d never pair those two words together.

Green: The book is sexual, and that’s nothing we’d ever shy away from, but we wanted to make sure our depiction of sexuality would be relevant to the show. Where nudity becomes dicy for me, as a viewer, is when it’s cuttable. That’s the definition of ‘gratuitous,’ when it doesn’t need to be there to enhance enjoyment of the show. And that’s not the show we set out to make. We wanted all the sexuality to be grounded in character, so you can’t tell Bilquis’ story without the scene. We wanted to do the scene between Salim and the djinn with fidelity to the book, but also give a graphic depiction of gay sex that no one could say wasn’t beautiful. We wanted to show the majesty of this religious experience mediated by sex, and put it beyond judgement from those viewers who usually feel uncomfortable with same-sex depiction.

American Gods is a finite work, but the nature of TV is that when something’s going well, people want more of it. What do you think about the future of this project? American Gods has an end; does the show have one as well?

Fuller: I think the show should have an end, but that does not mean the show cannot spawn other shows that live on beyond the scope of American Gods. If we were to secure the rights to Anansi Boys, that would be our first choice for a spinoff. We love Orlando Jones and what he brings to the mythology of this series, and we love the story of that book. We’d love to get our hooks into that and branch that off if this show ends up being successful.

Den of Geek also has an interview with Bryan Fuller which tied it into contemporary politics:

Thinking about Mr Wednesday, the figure of the con man has scarcely felt more relevant to US politics.

[Laughs. Loudly]

And to the US Media.

Well, you have a con man who is saying ‘let’s make the gods great again’.  There is a certain angle of that story that is much more resonant and relevant now than it was prior to the election in November. Being in post and watching those episodes as we’re cutting and putting them together was an interesting experience – to be watching the show before the election and then watching the show after the election and realising just how resonant it has the potential to be in that climate. Particularly as an immigration story, since both the Trump election and Brexit were platforms of anti-immigration and fear of the other and exploiting that fear in citizens, it feels like we are inadvertently tapping into a conversation that we need to have and continue to have as we figure out a way to celebrate differences and not condemn them.

This story is a ripe opportunity for social comment.

Absolutely.

In particular the idea of people being whipped up into a war whose only purpose is to further the power of a couple of individuals…

It’s tragic on one level and then on another level it’s an opportunity to take a look at where we are. Sometimes you have to take a step backwards to move forwards. It feels like with both Brexit and the Trump election, we’re two nations taking a step backwards. As disappointing as it was to see hatred and fear rule the day for both of us, it was a great disappointment to say the least, it makes it even more vital and important for us to encourage conversations and also to encourage the fundamentals of listening to somebody. That’s the biggest issue, certainly what’s happening in America, is the unwillingness to listen to somebody else’s point of view.

That’s something that I love to do, even if I violently disagree with somebody, I’m fascinated with how they’ve come to their decisions. Talking to people in the States who voted for Trump, and not wanting to shut them down, like, oh my gosh, you are supporting somebody who has bragged about sexual assaults and has a clear disdain for many groups of people, but instead wanting to find a common ground because what I think all of us found in both of our situations was that everybody made up their mind and there was nothing that was going to change them regardless.

SciFi Weekend: CW Superhero Crossovers; Celebrities on The Election; Luke Cage; American Gods; Doctor Who; Class

Digital Spy reports on the threat which brings together the heroes of the four Berlantiverse DC shows on CW. Trailer above.

There’s only one army in the DC Comics universe terrifying enough to unite Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

Turns out that the threat of meta-humans running wild has raised the ire of planets across the galaxy, causing an alien race to form its own coalition in order to conquer and subjugate earth’s superheroes.

“This year, for our mega Arrowverse crossover, we’re taking inspiration from a DC crossover from the late 1980s known as Invasion!, which featured an alien race called the Dominators, who’d previously vexed the Legion of Superheroes,” Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow producer Marc Guggenheim revealed in a statement.

“We’re using cutting edge prosthetics and computer effects to achieve a feature film-quality look which is faithful to Invasion! artist Todd McFarlane’s interpretation of the characters.”

The Dominators made their first appearance in the pages of DC Comics all the way back in 1967, and have continued to cause trouble for the Legion of Super-Heroes and others within the DC Universe ever since.

This autumn’s four-night event will be the first of two major DC crossovers. Supergirl and The Flash will also be meeting up for a musical episode that’s sure to be interesting.

Supergirl also teams up with her cousin in the above trailer.

The Mary Sue reports that Lynda Carter Used Hillary Clinton As Inspiration For Her Upcoming Role on Supergirl. Hopefully this doesn’t mean that the president on Supergirl will engage in regime change in other countries based upon dubious arguments and sell influence from the White House.

Related story at Paste: Whitewashing Hillary: When Lena Dunham and Her Celebrity Ilk Become Dangerous. Obviously celebrities are hardly the people who we should trust with political analysis, but of course they are going to give their opinion. J.J. Abrams and many a long list of people involved in Star Trek have taken a stand against Donald Trump in a long open letter on Facebook. Unfortunately they also have fallen for the whitewashing of Hillary, and fail to recognize the importance of third party options. Trump is a celebrity in his own right, including The Apprentice and the recent revelation of his appearance in a softcore porn Playboy video.

Netflix has released Luke Cage. There is some background information in the Marvel 101 video above. I haven’t had time to watch it yet and hope to start next weekend. Speakeasy has some information on the series:

Showrunner and writer Cheo Hodari Coker (“Ray Donovan,” “Southland”) talked to Speakeasy about the show and shared some key details that will make “Luke Cage” different than “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones,” its Marvel predecessors on Netflix.

It takes place after “Jessica Jones,” but it’s all about Luke’s perspective.

The super-strong, nearly indestructible Luke Cage showed up as a butt-kicker and love interest during the first season of “Jessica Jones,” alongside series star Krysten Ritter. Yet, while “Luke Cage” will build on that foundation, it will be told through his perspective. “It doesn’t take away from the Luke you meet in Jessica Jones, but we’re telling a different story,” Coker says. “At the same time, I’m hoping people who see the show that like Luke from ‘Jessica Jones’ like what we’ve done in expanding the character.”

It aims to be the Tribe Called Quest of superhero shows.

The show’s cast is mostly made up of black actors, but Coker, who is also black, wanted to make sure it’s also representative of black culture, while keeping it relatable to all audiences. “I wanted to show it was possible that it had a deeply African-American context but do it in such a way that people who weren’t necessarily from hip-hop culture, or from black culture, and watch the show feel as though they’re part of the conversation,” he says. Coker points to A Tribe Called Quest’s albums as examples of art that both maintained its integrity within the context of black culture and still registered crossover success.

It draws on all sorts of Marvel Comics traditions.

Coker says Brian Michael Bendis‘s “Alias” comics have inspired the look of this Luke Cage, while much of the character’s origin story on the show comes directly from the 1972 comic “Luke Cage, Hero for Hire” No. 1. The showrunner, though, says a variety of Marvel Comics — from Chris Claremont and Frank Miller‘s Wolverine to X-Men comics in general — helped him develop his skills as a writer and dramatist in the televsion world. He says the issue-by-issue run in a comic book story line works well for TV. “That’s kind of the way you structure the season,” Coker says.

More information at TV Guide for before viewing. This article at TV Guide looks like it will be of interest after viewing.

the-tick

Amazon recently began showing a pilot for The Tick, which started as a comic and was also briefly on television in the past. It has been picked up for to start as a series in 2017.  CBR,com interviewed creator Ben Edlund:

CBR News: Ben, the new “Tick” pilot is something of an outlier as it’s rare for creator-owned comics to get a second big media adaptation let alone a third one. And I know this particular project took a long time to come together and had many twists and turns along the way. What was it like for you to go through that process of bringing the character to TV over a decade since the last go round?

Ben Edlund: It was, I would say, some of the scarier work I’ve done recently. [Laughs] This is a very specific character for me. I have a lifelong relationship with this creature, and so to engage with another expression of it and take the chances of messing it up or what have you, it makes you feel like it’d be pretty nice to just let it sit there. This is something I take very seriously, and I didn’t want to do this if it didn’t have a new reason for being and if it wasn’t something that wasn’t its own new thing on top of being another respectful chapter in the existence of this blue creature.

So that put the stakes up pretty high for me. And working with Amazon, we kind of started in a place that was quite distant from where we ended up. There was a lot of growth over the drafts we did, and I had to take time to figure out how to engineer a superhero live-action comedy in a way that would not be immediately ephemeral. It had to be something you could care about. So it was a very daunting bit of work for me.

I was very much the beneficiary of the 13 years I’ve spent working in live-action television. When I first did this, I had no experience other than some film school experience and cartoon experience. Now I’ve been doing this for a long time and working almost exclusively in this hybrid between drama and comedy. That started with “Firefly” and “Angel,” but with “Supernatural” and even “Gotham” and “Powers” – all of them incorporate elements of other things. That’s been a craft I’ve been drawing from and trying to learn about because I did actually feel like eventually it would be appropriate to look at Tick again and try to do something new with it.

And I didn’t know where that would be or when it would take shape. I didn’t even initiate the first ripple that led to this series. That was actually Patrick Warburton and Barry Josephson and others. It just kind of encompassed me, and it was time. It was ready to happen again. So when they came to me and asked if how I could conceive of it being doable in live-action, it took a long time to get my head around it.

Aside from your place as the creator coming back to his creation, the really interesting thing about the new Tick is that the superhero media landscape is vastly different than it was 15 years ago. For a long time, comics was the landscape where you could do anything and get deeper and weirder, while TV was much more restrictive. Now mass superhero media is bigger and weirder than it’s ever been. How has that changed your approach?

I think #1 right now is we’re at a point of superhero saturation. No one could have predicted how comprehensive it would be and how pervasive it would be. And so the level of education per capita [that the audience has] on the minutia of a superhero universe offers a lot more latitude in terms of joke material – because there’s just more to reference. That’s one part of it. The other part is that we’re the beneficiaries of technology. Big effects are a lot more achievable now, and so our vision is wider. That’s a great tool to have.

But I think the thing that’s most intriguing and interesting is that the whole complexion of television has changed. It’s gone from where we sort of anti-serialized stories and promoted the stand-alone ones to where things are completely engaged with the experience of serialization. People want that from these “binge vehicles.” What they want is a novel in televised form which is shaped and conceived as novels are. Those are not things that are free jazz improvisations as a general rule. They’re stories. It’s a demand that’s increasing with our appetite, and I’m happy about that because that’s the thing I want to do. I don’t want it to just be jokes. And nobody else wants that either, which is weird. The conventional wisdom of almost any other era of television was that we’d reduce things to just jokes. But this is a very different organism, and I’m intrigued by the experiment.

american-gods

Nerdist has a video report providing information on the television adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel American Gods. Screenrant summarized some of the key points,  including:

Nerdist News went deep with the cast and crew of American Gods and discovered that the series will follow a path somewhat different from the novel that inspired it. Far from being a true diverging, however, Nerdist reports that the series will not only cull from the near 600-page edition of Gaiman’s text, but also from the author’s character and plot notes, many of which either didn’t make it in, or were merely alluded, to in the novel.

According to Nerdist, much of the expanded story will follow the tales of how the Old Gods came to dwell on American soil. While the novel does tell the stories of how gods like Kristin Chenowith’s Easter and Orlando Jones’ Mr. Nancy left their original homes for our shores, the series is expected to dive even deeper into these character backstories to create a richer, more full universe.

Considering how well Bryan Fuller re-imagined the Hannibal books and movies, I am optimistic he will do a good job with American Gods, especially he will be working with ideas also created by Neil Gaiman.

NBC has picked up This is US for a full eighteen-episode season.

FX reports that The Strain will conclude with season four. FXX has renewed You’re The Worst for a fourth season.

There reportedly will be a  a superhero character appearing in this year’s Doctor Who Christmas Special.

DigitalSpy held a contest in which David Tennant’s 10th Doctor was voted the best TV character of the 21st century

ScreenRant has some videos to introduce the Doctor Who spinoff Class.

 

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SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery; Digital Erections; Supergirl; The Flash; What Thor Was Doing During Captain America: Civil War; Outlander; Doctor Who; You’re The Worst

Star Trek The Cage

When word came out that Star Trek Discovery (officially abbreviated DSC, not STD) would take place about ten years before the original show, and it would feature a female lead who is not the Captain, many fans realized that this would put it around the era of The Cage (the original pilot which was re-cut into flashbacks on The Menagerie). Some also speculated that the female lead could be Number One from that episode if she transferred to a new ship. Bryan Fuller has told Ain’t It Cool News that the female lead will be know as Number One. It was not stated whether this will be the same character, or perhaps another character is being referred to in this manner (as Riker was on The Next Generation).

As for the other project upcoming from Bryan Fuller, I09 discussed plans for digital erections in American Gods.

Supergirl Martian Manhunter

Collider interviewed producer Andrew Kreisberg regarding plans for Supergirl’s second season:

With all of the great things that come with getting to continue the show on The CW, one of the things you lost was the ability to have Calista Flockhart on as a regular cast member. How often can we expect to see her?

KREISBERG: Well, she’s in the first two episodes and we’re talking to her about doing more. It’s funny because, from our perspective, we thought she wouldn’t do any. And it’s not because she doesn’t love the show. She’s such a huge fan of the show, but moving to Vancouver, we assumed that we would part as friends. But she’s so into the show and feels such an allegiance and a responsibility to it that she’s agreed to come back, so we’re very happy. We’re not focusing on what we don’t have. We’re focusing on what we do have, and it’s allowed us to have Ian Gomez, who’s playing Snapper Carr, come in, in a more supervisory capacity, which is fun. Kara has spent two years of her life learning to deal with Cat Grant’s idiosyncracies, foibles, short temper and mixed signals, and just when she finally got that down, she’s now introduced to a new boss who’s very different, has his own thing, and isn’t quite as impressed by her spunk as Cat always was, even if Cat wouldn’t admit it. It’s a journey, like any of us go on. We’ve all had different bosses, over the course of our careers. Just when you finally feel like you’ve nailed your job, you get promoted and you’re suddenly like, “I don’t know what I’m doing anymore!” That’s what’s going to happen to Kara this season…

What can you say about the addition of Christopher Wood and how his character will fit in with things?

KREISBERG: We don’t want to say too much because we’re doing our own version of Mon-El. Obviously, he’s a character from the comic books and he’s much beloved, and we’re putting our own spin on it. What’s interesting about Mon-El joining the show, from Kara’s perspective, is that Kara has spent her whole life as someone who’s been mentored, first by her mother, and then by the Danvers and Superman and Cat. She’s always been somebody who’s been taken care of, in a way. Now, with Mon-El, he’s fresh off the boat. As far as he’s concerned, living on another planet happened yesterday, and suddenly, he’s on Earth and everything he knew was lost, just the way it was for Kara, but she’s had 12 years to process it and he’s struggling with it. So, Kara is now the one in the mentor position. Ironically, she even says in an episode, “I was sent to Earth not to be a hero. I wasn’t sent here to be Supergirl. I was sent here to protect Clark and take care of Clark. Now, in an odd way, with Mon-El here, I’m getting to fulfill that original mission that I had.” So, it’s a big change and a big growing experience for Kara, this season.

How daunting was it to figure out how you wanted to portray Superman, what you wanted the dynamic between Clark and Kara to be, and finding the right actor to take all of that on?

KREISBERG: I think our take on him is probably something a little bit more traditional. There’s certainly a little bit of the “Aw shucks” about him, but he’s been Superman for awhile, so there’s a savviness about him as Superman and as Clark. If he’s been Superman for 12 years, that also means that he’s been Clark Kent for 12 years. He knows how to interview somebody. He knows how to get a story out of someone. As always, with any of these things, we’re never doing a direct adaptation of a specific comic book. We cherry pick the best parts and things that we love. So, there’s a little bit of the Christopher Reeve Superman in there, a healthy dose of the Superman animated series, which we’re huge fans of, a little bit of Lois & Clark, a little George Reeves, and a little Super Friends. And as far as finding the right guy, as soon as we said we were going to do Superman, Greg [Berlanti] mentioned Tyler [Hoechlin]. We’ve been fans of his for years, and when we sat down with him, he is Superman. Not just with the looks, but he’s such a good guy, such a nice guy, and he’s so open and forthright and brimming with life. You just feel better when you’re around him, which I think is part of the secret of Superman. He is that ideal, but not in an unattainable way. Superman should make you feel like you can do anything, even though he’s the one that can do anything. And Tyler just had all that in spades. So, it was less a question of us reaching out. It was more a question of hoping he would say yes. After Tyler, I’m not sure what we would have done…

What’s in store for J’onn J’onzz?

KREISBERG: Part of the reason we’re bringing on Miss Martian is to give J’onn his own story this year and his own emotional ride, meeting her and having this tie to his home world that he thought he would never have again. As he has to keep reminding people, he’s been here for 300 years and isolated for most of it. Last year, with his relationship with Alex and his relationship with Kara, he started to come out of his shell a little bit and wasn’t quite so afraid to show who he really was. So, in getting to interact with M’gann, he’s going to have a whole new person with which to share his martian experience. We think it’s going to be a great story.

The Flash will be lighter in tone next season, despite dealing with two villains along with Flashpoint.

avengers-suit-secret-identity

On the weekends I often wear somewhat subtle genre t-shirts such as Stark Expo, Wayne Enterprises, or Nelson and Murdock, Avocados At Law. I have a lot of ties with hidden, and in some cases not so hidden Mickeys (and one with both Mickey and Goofy). Now it is possible to go all out with superhero themed suits. Fun Suits has put out a line of discrete Marvel and DC based suits. The Mary Sue provides a description. The downsides are that they are polyester, and won’t be available until November.

In other Marvel news, Marvel has revealed what Thor was busy doing during the events of Captain America: Civil War in the above video, which was shown at San Diego Comic Con.

Outlander

Variety  reports on Ron Moore’s comments about season 3 of Outlander:

“Outlander” showrunner Ronald D. Moore told an audience at the Edinburgh Intl. Television Festival on Thursday that in Season 3 the show would start in Scotland but would then be making a sea voyage in the 18th century.

“There’s an extended journey across the Atlantic and then the story eventually goes to Jamaica, the Caribbean and ending up in the New World,” he said. “Season 3 will be as different to Season 2 as Season 2 was to Season 1.”

These dramatic shifts threw up challenges for Moore, who said: “It’s exciting creatively; it’s very hard in terms of the production… You are doing a whole new series with every season. So that’s very difficult. Scouting new locations, building new sets, bringing in new cast members, new costumes, different eras. It increases the expense, it increases the time necessary to prep everything, to shoot everything… So it makes it more difficult and it also takes more mental energy having to crack new problems.”

…Moore underscored the differences between the novel and the show. “You are not capturing Diana’s voice in the show, so much as you are capturing her world and her story. Diana’s voice is there for you on the page. When you read the book, or any book, the author is speaking to you directly,” he said. “The TV show has a vision, feeling and vibe that is an entity unto itself. All these component pieces then combine into our voice.”

Osgoods

Ingrid Oliver says she knows the difference between the human and Zygon version of Osgood:

Discussing last year’s last year’s ‘The Zygon Invasion’ and ‘The Zygon Inversion’ episodes, Oliver told Doctor Who: The Fan Show: “In the script it simply said Osgood 1 and Osgood 2. Steven [Moffat] never said explicitly ‘This is Zygon Osgood and this is not Zygon Osgood – or Hybrid Osgood’, so I sort of made a choice, but I don’t know if it’s right!”

Asked if there were any tells to signify which Osgood is which, she revealed: “Yes, in my head there are some very small tells. But, having said that, it’s sort of open to interpretation – because I guess that’s the point of the episode. In my head, inevitably there are a couple of little things that I did.”

Oliver joked: “I don’t know if people have noticed it – probably not… the Zygon one strokes her chin a lot!”

You’re the Worst returns on Wednesday. Season three trailer above. I hear the first episode is rather Not Safe For Work, and the season also includes an episode entitled The Last Sunday Funday. TV Line has more on the season.

I am waiting to see what happens next on tonight’s episode of The Last Ship. Last week’s episode felt like a look at Donald Trump’s America with that wall going up.

SciFi Weekend: Emmy Award Surprises & Snubs; Mr Robot Returns; Community Movie; Sherlock; Fargo; Outlander; Doctor Who

the_americans_ep313

The Emmy nominations came out this week, and I think they did a much better job than most years. The full list of nominees can be found here. Common problems in previous years included failing to recognize new shows, snubbing genre, and keeping old favorites in the nominations even when shows were beyond their prime. Last year they finally made up for snubbing Tatiana Maslany for Lead Actress in a Drama Series and she was nominated again this year. The biggest correction this year was finally recognizing The Americans–not only for Outstanding Drama Series, but also recognizing its stars Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell.

While it took four years for the academy to give The Americans the recognition it deserves, another good surprise was that Mr. Robot received nominations, including for the series and for star Rami Malek. As with Tatiana Maslany on Orphan Black, it is hard to picture Mr. Robot working without Rami Malek. On the other hand, they did snub Christian Slater, who won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his work on the series. Perhaps the Emmy Awards don’t recognize characters who are a figment of another character’s imagination.

It was also a pleasant surprise that Master of None received nominations including for the series and for star Aziz Ansari. Ansari might have benefited from his work on 30 Rock, while another 30 Rock alumni, Ellie Kemper (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt) missed out her first year but was nominated this year.

Beyond the additions of The Americans and Mr. Robot, the Outstanding Drama Series category was fairly predictable, including Homeland and Downton Abbey remaining beyond their best years. Of course the Emmy’s have also been more likely to include a show or star when they are in their final year, so I was not surprised that Downton Abbey was included. If they must include a show which Damian Lewis was at one time connected with, I would have chosen Billions over Homeland this year.  The biggest snub this year of a show which deserved to be included was Jessica Jones. Similarly, Krysten Ritter and David Tennant deserved nominations for Best Actress and Supporting Actor. The series was nominated for some minor awards but it is hard for genre shows other than Game of Thrones to receive the major nominations.

The Outstanding Comedy Series category includes several worthy shows, along with continuing to nominate Modern Family out of inertia. I would have included Catastrophe and You’re The Worst before Modern Family.

Fargo deserves another nomination for Outstanding Limited Series, but this year I would give the award to The Night Manager, which also received nominations in additional categories. A miniseries was the best way to handle a John le Carré novel. While the same can also be said of other novels, whenever I have seen a movie based upon one of his novels which I have read I would feel disappointed by how much had to be left out.

Mr Robot Eliots Room

Mr. Robot returned with two episodes last week. One question when watching is how much is true and how much is Eliot imagining. I noticed that when the episode showed his routine, whenever he was by a television Barack Obama was on live, throughout the day. That aspect was obviously imagined, even if he really saw Obama at one point. How much of the rest of the day, or where he is living, was imagined?

TV Guide looked at one theory that everything was imagined, noticing how much his room looked like a cell in containing only a bed and a small table, his mother seemed like a guard, his meals with the same person could have been taking place in a prison cafeteria, his meeting across the table with Gideon looked like a prison visit, and the use of a wall phone as opposed to a cell phone looked like a prisoner talking on a prison phone. These, and other examples, could mean that Elliot was in prison, or perhaps a mental hospital. The knock on his door at the end of season one could have been when he was apprehended. However, there were also suggestions that the FBI is pursuing Elliot, which might argue against  him already being in prison, unless he is relating events out of order.

Community

Dan Harmon says a Community movie will still happen, although from this report it sure doesn’t sound like we will see it anytime soon (if ever).

With  Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman both becoming such big stars, Steven Moffat wonders if he will be able to continue Sherlock beyond the fourth season.

Channel 4 has renewed Catastrophe for seasons three and four. Amazon will stream them in the United States. Amazon didn’t stream previous seasons until after they were on Channel 4 so I bet I will wind up downloading them as opposed to waiting.

I would watch season three of Fargo even if it stared all unknown actors, but the addition of Carrie Coon (Leftovers) is a huge plus.

In follow up of my review last week of the season finale of Outlander, Vulture has some spoilers as to what to expect in the third season.

Digital Spy looks at the rumors of Matt Smith returning to Doctor Who and gives reasons why they do not believe they are true.

Next week we will have a miniseries of the absurd, The Republican Convention. The schedule of people you don’t really want to see speak is listed here.

SciFi Weekend: The Americans Season 4 Finale; New Director At SHIELD; The Flash; Supergirl; Gotham; You’re The Worst; Peter Capaldi Teases Reunion With Clara Oswald;

The Americans Season 4 Finale

The Americans concluded its fourth season  (spoilers ahead) with the death of another charter, and presumably the end of the biological weapons story line. Technically William had not died by the end of the episode, but if he should survive into the next season it will only be briefly. This was a season which included the deaths of some characters, and the possible loss of others to the show. Notable deaths include Nina and Gantt, dying in quite different manners. Plus the finale introduced another character which was mentioned previously–Philip’s long lost son from before he began working with Elizabeth.

With The Americans renewed for two more seasons, we can safely predict that Elizabeth and Philip will not be discovered in the near future, but this has been a major theme since Paige revealed their secret to Pastor Tim. Over the course of the season, Paige has developed into a reluctant but effective junior spy. The risk from Pastor Tim and his wife now seems much lower, but it will always hang in the background.

While William didn’t seek to betray Elizabeth and Philip, he did provide Stan with a small amount of information: “couple of kids…American dream. You’d never suspect them. She’s pretty. He’s lucky.” This fits far too many people for Stan to suddenly think of his neighbors across the street, but if he is ever given stronger reason to suspect them, he is bound to remember this.

Gabriel did strongly advise Elizabeth and Philip to leave the country, but left the ultimate decision up to them. If they are at risk, I think the greater risk would be that Philip might reach the point where he cannot go on. EST might help him, or it might lead him to question  what he is doing even more. Of course he couldn’t fully explain his difficulties in leaving his job when he had to go with the travel agent cover. Plus the world will change for him with the Soviet Union heading closer to its collapse and the introduction of his son.

Instead of Elizabeth and Philip deciding to leave, Oleg made that decision to help his mother. Arkady appears to be leaving involuntarily. Martha has been in the Soviet Union for months. We may or may not see these characters again.

The Americans William Palm

Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields were interviewed at Speakeasy:

The finale seemed to set a lot up for the fifth season, but at the same time, a lot of stories were left in a cliffhanger-y spot. So did you know when you wrote and shot the finale that the show had been renewed?

Joel Fields: Yes. FX is very generous and communicative about that stuff. They really helped us as we were turning a corner from the end of this season toward the last couple of seasons by putting the creative choice of how to end the show in our hands. And I think in a lot of ways we were able to be thinking through that as we were finishing up Season 4.

Was any of what happened to William in the finale based on a true story, the way he infected himself with the lethal Lassa virus to get out of the mission (and to get out of spending the rest of his life in jail)? There’s got to be tons of stories about spies like William getting disgruntled after all those years.

JF: We did a lot of research into disgruntled spies, into biological weapons. We never saw a story of someone intentionally infecting himself, but, there are stories of people who actually worked on these biological-weapons programs getting accidentally infected, and the horrible, horrible way that they died. So I think that that would be the closest thing to it being based on something real.

How long had you been planning to introduce the Philip’s son plotline?  

Joe Weisberg: It’s funny, because we were reminiscing about season 1, when, in fact, [you didn’t know] whether or not Philip actually had a son. It was ambiguous. Was Irina making that up? Or was it true? And we didn’t have an answer to that, ourselves. We liked that ambiguity. We thought that was really interesting. So, introducing that plotline meant making a final decision that that was a real person and a real character, which is probably more satisfying.

JF: Yeah, and that’s that case where much of the time you really plan these things out years in advance, seasons in advance. But this part of the story unfolded organically, as the story was told, like in that first episode with Irina when she mentioned the son? That was something that blossomed out of the script, and these other pieces fell into place over the course of the seasons.

The Americans Finale

More at Vulture:

The most surprising development in the entire season for me was the relationship between the family and Pastor Tim. I’m surprised that he made it out of the season alive. But I’m even more surprised that he seems to actually be their friend now!
JF: I don’t think we ever considered killing him off. As much as everybody was speculating that he was about to go, we were really exploring the question of how these characters would deal with being in this box, and how would that [situation] unfold?

Also, Tim is a character with whom we had a lot of sympathy. He really does, on some level, want to do the right thing — that’s been his whole problem all along. And the Pastor Tim thing also was an opportunity to explore a lot in terms of these character dynamics.

JW: It was pretty apparent to us early on that [the Soviets] couldn’t kill Tim because of the effect it would have on Paige. It would destroy her parents’ relationship with her. And that was it. The question then became, with that constraint of not being able to kill him off, what else could we do? The fact that he ends up being actual friends with them did take us a little bit by surprise, but [once we figured that out], that changed our sense of who this guy was, and how we would always see him from the moment we got to know him. And so we followed that through the season, and throughout the story, he just could not open his heart up to them.

JF: But it also led to one of my favorite lines in the season, which was in episode ten, when Paige was convinced that her parents had something to do with his disappearance, and Elizabeth says, “God, why would we do something as stupid as leave Allison, and, God, she thinks we would do that? If she only knew everything we did to not kill him!”

Are we ever going to see Martha again?
JW: We’re not going to answer that!

JF: What kind of a spoiler-y question is that, Matt?

I’m sorry I disappointed you with that question, guys! I have no idea why I asked that.
JW: Come on! Why don’t you just go ahead and ask us what the last scene of the show is going to be?  [Laughs.]

Okay: So you have two more seasons to go after this one. Is two a number that FX gave you, a number that you asked for? And are you happy with it?
JF: We’re thrilled with it. They came to us some time ago and said, “As you start thinking about the end of season four, we’re all thinking about how the show’s going to wrap up. What do you need? How do you want to tell the story?” That was something they really put on our end, which was generous and allowed us creatively to figure out what we thought would be best.

The Americans William

At TV Line:

TVLINE | We’ve seen Elizabeth have some hesitation this season about the things she has to do, specifically with regards to Young-Hee. Is she starting to understand Philip’s point of view about the job?
JOEL FIELDS | Philip has gone through a major personal transformation over the course of the show, [which] on a deep level is about marriage. When you’re in a marriage with somebody, you can’t help but be affected if your partner changes. She’s started to go through her own changes, although much smaller and at a much different pace than Philip. We’ll see how all of that plays out for them as a couple, her as a mother and her as an individual.

TVLINE | We’ve said goodbye to a lot of characters recently —Nina, Martha, Gaad, Arkady and possibly Oleg now. All the departures almost made it feel like you were reaching the end of the series. But then there was a two-season renewal.
WEISBERG | We did not have any particular intention or idea [like], “Oh, let’s gets rid of a lot of characters. Oh, it’s supposed to end. Oh, let’s start over.” There was no thinking like that at all. Every bit of this is just following stories where they were going. The two major storylines of Nina and Martha were coming to their end, and they happened to be coming to their end at the same time, which is fundamentally coincidental. There is no reason one of them might not have come to an end in a different season, [but] they happened to come to an end in the same season. It is probably less coincidental, in terms of storytelling, that the Gaad storyline ended soon after the Martha storyline, but there’s certainly a world where we could have kept Gaad or not killed Gaad. But ultimately, after what happened with Martha, he just wasn’t going to survive any longer in that job. The choice to have him die and how that was going to impact other people and other elements in the story seemed like a better choice to us.

TVLINE | Martha wasn’t killed off, and you’ve had scenes in Russia with Nina and various other characters. Will we see her in that setting at some point?
FIELDS | She’s not dead. So on The Americans, that’s something to hold on to.

TVLINE | What about Oleg? What can you say about his status?
FIELDS | Also not dead.

TVLINE | But he’s leaving America? He hasn’t changed his mind?
FIELDS | We’ll see. He was pretty clear on that

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Clark Gregg has discussed his thoughts on the next Director of SHIELD, but does not seem to know very much about this and how it will play into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. From Entertainment Weekly:

“Since it’s clear that Coulson is Team Cap, Jed [Whedon] and Maurissa [Tancharoen] have fiendishly put Coulson on the spot, because Hive [Brett Dalton] turned out to be the living embodiment of all the reasons why you would be afraid of Inhumans,” Gregg says. “He was the greatest argument that the people who support the Sokovia Accords could ever have for locking them all up. Coulson had to ride the line where he was trying to respect these new iterations of humanity as friends and allies, and at the same time stop Hive at all costs.” Fortunately, S.H.I.E.L.D. was able to stop Hive, but it certainly came at a steep price with Lincoln’s death, Daisy’s disappearance and Coulson’s demotion.

So, who is the new director of S.H.I.E.L.D.? The executive producers played coy ahead of the finale, which means Gregg is in the dark, too. “I was not given a clear answer,” he says. “I don’t know that it’s been determined. I thought I was going to find out when I saw Civil War, but it’s not at all clear. It all depends when the glorious Nick Fury [Samuel L. Jackson] returns from the cold and the shadows. I suspect, in the wake of the Sokovia Accords and the end of Civil War, the people involved in choosing who the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be are other than in-house S.H.I.E.L.D. people. If I know my government bureaucracies, I have a feeling it will be someone somewhat less qualified than Coulson to run S.H.I.E.L.D.”

Screen Rant has information on a new character being added on The Flash. Supergirl has had a casting call for five new characters including Lex Luthor’s sister, plus they are finally going to show Superman. Vicki Vale is being added on Gotham. As for the comics, Bleeding Cool looks at the relationship between Batwoman and Rachel Madow (who once discussed the character on Seth Meyers’ show).

FXX has announced that You’re The Worst will return on Wednesday, August 31.

The CMT has picked up Nashville following its cancellation by ABC. It sounds like a good fit. Cable and streaming services have provided multiple ways for canceled shows to return. I still haven’t given up hope that The Food Network will revive Hannibal.

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Screen Rant reports that Peter Capaldi has teased the possibility of the Doctor and Clara meeting again:

Speaking at a Doctor Who panel at Awesome Con in Washington, D.C., Capaldi hinted that there might be more to the Clara situation than what we saw at the end of season 9. While Clara won’t be returning as the Doctor’s companion, she may not be completely forgotten either. Capaldi stopped himself before he revealed too much, however:

“I think that the thing about the Doctor is that he’s quite mysterious – hence the name, Doctor Who – um, and I’m not sure how successfully Clara was able to wipe his mind. And in fact, I just did a… I was about to tell you something I can’t tell you yet.”

While Amy Sherman-Paladino is finishing up work on the Netflix revival of Gilmore Girls, Amazon has picked up a new pilot from her:

Sherman-Palladino’s dramedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which she wrote and executive produces, is about a 1950s housewife who decides to be one of the first female standup comics. Sherman-Palladino is currently in post-production on the four Gilmore Girls movies for Netflix, which serve as a sequel to her signature dramedy series.

Related genre post from earlier in the week: A Lanister Always Pays His Debts–But Not Donald Trump. Plus chart of which Game of Thrones character is most like 2016 candidates.

SciFi Weekend: New Companion Announced For Doctor Who; Supergirl Finale; Krypton; The Girl On The Train; Person of Interest; Mr Robot; The Blacklist; The Night Manager; Catastrophe; Mick Jagger

The next companion has been introduced in the video above to replace Jenna Coleman on Doctor Who. Pearl Mackie will play a character named Bill, who clearly has not encountered the Daleks in the past. The Guardian has a little more information on her:

Capaldi said it was “a genuine delight” to welcome Mackie to Doctor Who. “A fine, fine actress with a wonderful zest and charm, she’s a refreshing addition to the Tardis and will bring a universe of exciting new possibilities to the Doctor’s adventures.”
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Steven Moffat, outgoing lead writer and executive producer, said: “A new face in the Tardis, a new voyage about to begin: welcome aboard, the amazing Pearl Mackie! This is where the story really starts.”

Mackie trained as an actor at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, graduating in 2010. Since drama school, she has worked across theatre, film, radio and television. Her acting credits include Svengali, a British film released in 2013, and she is currently appearing in the stage production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at the Gielgud Theatre in London.

Among other actors who had been thought to be in the running for the role were Coronation Street’s Michelle Keegan, Rakhee Thakrar, who impressed many with her performance as Shabnam Masood in EastEnders, and Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark in Game of Thrones and guest-starred in the last season of the sci-fi show.

Supergirl finale

Supergirl ended the season well. While the two part season finale had its plot holes, they did end many of the plot thread of the season, while leaving one major one for next season (the search for Jeremiah Danvers) and ended the episode with a cliff hanger. Prior to the last second cliff hanger, there was a feel-good moment for the cast. Plus there is the question (as of now undecided by the writers) as to exactly Kara’s new job will be.

Entertainment Weekly interviewed Andrew Kreisberg about the finale. Here are a couple of excerpts:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start off with the reveal that someone else has landed on Earth. What can you tease of who this is? Are they friend or foe?
ANDREW KREISBERG:
Obviously it’s our big cliffhanger of the season, so I’m not fully inclined to let everyone know who shot J.R. It’s an important character, and they’ll play an important role in season 2.

Is this a character we may have seen in the comics before?
Again, I don’t want to give too much away, but it’ll be cool. The fans are going to be excited. It’s going to definitely shake things up for season 2.

Especially with something like Project Cadmus in the ether, the first person I think of is Superboy.
[Crickets.]

Moving on, Kara was willing to risk her life for the world. How does that change her in season 2?
This whole season has been about her embracing being Supergirl. In a way, this was her graduation episode. She hadn’t fully figured out how to integrate being Supergirl into her life. This whole season has been a learning experience for her. At the end of this episode, she’s fully Supergirl. Next season, you’re going to see a Supergirl who is more mature, and a bit more of a cohesive character. She’s taken the identity of Kara and the identity of Supergirl and merged them in a better way. You’re just going to see a more confident, stronger Supergirl than we’ve ever seen before.

Is it safe to say the world is now on her side?
Oh yeah. You don’t save the world without dispelling all doubters…

Even though Fort Rozz is gone, are the prisoners who were once inside it still an ever-present threat?
I think so.

What can you say of the fates of Non and Brainiac?
If you’re a fan of the comic books, you know that Kara’s heat vision took away Non’s — lobotomized Non. How and when we see him again, he’ll probably be very different. I think Indigo is probably the hardest person in the world to kill given that she’s a living computer, so I wouldn’t be surprised if she pops up again.

What would you say was your point of pride for the first season?
I’m so proud of the show. As much expectation there was for the show, there was also a lot of like, “Yeah, prove it!” [Laughs.] I think the show really works. Melissa is a star. Like any first season show, there were missteps and not every episode was as strong as the others, but I can point to a whole bunch of episodes, like “Red Faced,” like “Human for a Day,” like the crossover, like “Falling” as being some of my favorite episodes that I’ve gotten to do over the course of all the series that Greg [Berlanti] and I work on together. I’m just super proud of the show. We’ve proven that there’s an audience for a female superhero. Hopefully there will be many more years to come.

Syfy has ordered a pilot for a Superman prequel Krypton, set on the planet two generations before its destruction. The idea reminds me of Gotham, and even more of Caprica. Hopefully it is more successful than the later.

The trailer is out for The Girl On The Train. The mystery novel, often compared to Gone Girl, should make a good movie, and does have a strong cast.

The cast and crew of Person of Interest haven’t given up on saving the show, which CBS is ending after the upcoming season which will air this spring. From TV Guide:

A potential reboot doesn’t mean, however, that the June 21 series finale will lack closure. “We had to hurry up and end it. They had 13 episodes to turn a very large, slow-moving boat,” Emerson says. “But I think the idea that we had to do it in 13 was actually a plus rather than a minus. I think it allowed the writers’ room to set aside their need to create palatable side stories or a murder-of-the-week or whatever, and really just get focused on wrapping up the loose ends of this thing.”

Adds executive producer Jonathan Nolan: “I would have loved to have kept making this thing for a long, long time, but you don’t want the show to become creatively moribund. We saw the writing on the wall before this season started, but we had the incredible luxury of having 13 episodes to really finish our story. And so, as much as I would have loved to have kept working on the show … I’m very proud of what we’ve made here for the final season, and I’m very glad that we had a chance to finish telling our story, an opportunity that’s denied to so many great network TV shows. So I’m very satisfied with the way we’ve told our story, and I certainly hope our fans are.”

After evolving from a CBS procedural to a true genre show, I certainly can see reason to keep it going if any other networks are interested.

MR. ROBOT -- "Pilot" Episode 101 -- Pictured: (l-r) Rami Malek as Elliot, Christian Slater as Mr. Robot -- (Photo by: David Giesbrecht/USA Network)

Mr. Robot will be returning on July 13. Presumably we will be seeing the aftermath of the first season finale, unless Elliot just imagined it all.

Some additional brief thoughts on the past week which will be kept brief due to limited time this week:

Better Call Saul had a great second season, but certainly left a lot hanging in its season finale.

Cape May was an unusual episode of The Blacklist. I’m still not certain if Lizzie is really dead, but it is looking less likely that Reddington faked her death. If she is alive, Reddington does not appear to be aware of it.

The Night Manager’s premier was excellent. As soon as time permits I will probably be downloading the remainder of the season rather than waiting for it to finish its run here.

Speaking of shows from the UK, Amazon recently released the second season of Catastrophe, which is well worth watching. The show is much like You’re The Worst in tone with a somewhat older couple. Like You’re The Worst, Catastrophe got a little more serious in its second season, but it did so without any drop in quality or humor.

In other entertainment news, Mick Jagger is not portrayed very well in a new book:

Rich Cohen delivers the unflattering portrayal of Jagger in “The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones.”

“There’s something monstrous about Mick Jagger,” Cohen writes after exhuming details from the band’s dark past.

“The Stones had been shedding people from the start. Use ’em up, toss ’em aside,” Cohen continues. “It’s a machine that runs on bodies.”

Prince was honored in this week’s Saturday Night Live, hosted by Jimmy Fallon.

SciFi Weekend: The Top 20 New Shows of 2015

Once again, as I did last year, I’m concentrating, I’m concentrating on the top new shows of the past year (but will include some comments on returning shows below). This is for a few reasons:

  • Not having the time to devote professional time to television as professional television critics do, there are many shows I have not watched purely due to lack of time. Limiting to a single year reduces the impact of this.
  • Limiting to new shows eliminates the problem in many “best of” lists of including the same shows every year.
  • Talking about new shows could be of greater value. It is more likely that readers know about the top shows which have been on for the last several years, but might not be aware of some of the shows which started more recently.
  • If readers are inspired to catch up on a show from a list such as this, it is far more practical to catch up after one season than several. I know this from personal experience. This is why I cannot say much about the series finale of Justified, which has received great reviews, as I’m years behind. It was much easier to catch up on Manhattan and The 100 after missing the first season, allowing me to say more about them below.

Besides being limited to shows I have watched, this is also biased towards genre shows. Therefore, what might be the year’s biggest hit among new shows, Empire, is excluded from consideration on both counts. Rankings are also quite arbitrary, and some shows could easily be a few spots higher or lower if I were to redo this fifteen minutes later. Still, this gives a general idea of which I consider among the best as compared to those ranked lower. It is a sign of the increased number of good shows coming out, partially due to the increased influence of steaming video along with cable, that I have expanded from a top fifteen list last year to a top 20 list this year.

Top 20 New Shows Of 2015

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20. Last Man on Earth (ABC)

This would have ranked far higher if it could have maintained the quality of its original premiere, but adding new characters just led to it devolving into a number of more standard sitcom tropes. Still, while many gave up on the show, I continued to have interest in the first season finale and into the second season.

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19. Childhood’s End (Syfy)

Adapting a novel from Arthur C. Clarke seemed like a sure winner, but there were problems I didn’t expect from doing this until I viewed the miniseries. It seemed far more dated in 2015 compared to when I read the novel in the 1960’s now that we have seen so many shows with alien visitation to earth. This story worked out much better as a novel as they could not capture important aspects of the story, including the magnitude of the ending, on television as compared to in prose. The show also failed to make the new world created in the miniseries seem believable, compared to the far better adaptations in a couple of other shows listed below. We heard about all the changes on earth, but rarely saw them, and what we did seem, such as mankind giving up science, didn’t seem believable.

Togetherness

18. Togetherness (HBO)

An excellent sitcom showing how cable and streaming have replaced the “must watch TV” from NBC and the other broadcast networks.

The Expanse

17.The Expanse (Syfy)

Syfy returns to space, with a mystery and quite a bit of world building in the series based upon the novels by James S. A. Corey. I have only seen the first two episodes so far, so my opinion of the show could change once I see more. It was just recently renewed for a second season.

Fresh off the Boat

16. Fresh Off The Boat (ABC)

Both Blackish last year and Fresh Off The Boat this year offer new variations on Modern Family. Constance Wu makes the show.

Casual

15. Casual (Hulu)

Yet another twist on a family sitcom, done far better by Hulu than the networks.

12Monkeys

14. 12 Monkeys (Syfy)

A time travel show which took aspects from the movie, but improved upon them for a weekly series. The series did an excellent job of building on its mythology, providing surprises, and moving in a new direction in the season finale.

Programme Name: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - TX: n/a - Episode: Ep2 (No. 2) - Picture Shows: Mr Norrell (EDDIE MARSAN) - (C) JSMN Ltd - Photographer: Matt Squire

13. Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell (BBC One/BBC America)

An excellent adaptation of Susanna Clarke’s novel, making a world in which magic exists seem real.

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12. Supergirl (CBS)

Another show from the produces of Arrow and The Flash, with his being much closer to The Flash in style. The show had an excellent pilot, but for a while seemed like a weaker version of The Flash. It started getting more interesting toward the end of the fall season as the show had an opportunity to develop. Spoilers ahead: Major events before the hiatus included the revelation that Hank Henshaw is the Martian Manhunter. Calista Flockhart is excellent as Cat Grant, but considering her profession can she be trusted now that she figured out Supergirl’s secret identity? So far Supergirl doesn’t know about Hank, but it is inevitable that she learns who he is. A shape shifter could be useful to show both Supergirl and Kara in the same place to fool Cat.

Sense8 Will and Riley

11. Sense 8 (Netflix)

A very ambitious show, which took time to develop its story, but well worth the wait. Enjoy the scenery from around the world while trying to figure it out in the early episodes.

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10. Agent Carter (ABC)

This shows how much better a network show can be when limited to a single eight-episode story.  Maybe that is why it is the only network show which cracked the top ten. Of course a network still could not compete with streaming when entering the Marvel universe.

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9. The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)

This shows how the networks have surrendered quality sitcoms to streaming and cable. The show was originally produced by Tina Fey for NBC, but they passed on it and it was picked up by Netflix. It will be interesting to see if the show is even better when the second season is produced, knowing it will appear on Netflix rather than NBC.

Daredevil Matt and Karen

8. Daredevil (Netflix)

The first of a series of shows from the Marvel universe. Dardevil was darker, grittier, and more violent than any of the superhero shows before this. The series also took advantage of the streaming medium, often telling a continuous story, but sometimes including a more conventional single episode on a specific topic (which was still part of the greater story for the season).

Master of None

7. Master of None (Netflix)

Aziz Ansari shows how good a comedy could be on what I bet is a low budget if there is excellent writing. Besides comparisons to his character on Parks and Recreation, the show is often compared to Louie. I also see a lot of early Seinfeld in it.

Catastrophe

6. Catastrophe (Channel 4/Amazon)

The British show, also made available in the United States from Amazon Prime, was the best new sitcom of the year. It was this year’s, You’re The Worst, with Sharon Horgan playing what felt like could be an older version of Aya Cash’s chacter, and the nationalities of Jimmy and Gretchen’s nationalities reversed.

Man In The High Castle Poster

5. Man In The High Castle (Amazon)

While changes were made for the new version, Man In The High Castle was an excellent adaptation of the Philip K. Dick novel, providing a realistic look at what could have happened if Germany and Japan had won World War II and occupied the United States. Changes were made in some characters, and there were plot differences to turn this into an ongoing series. Hitler remaining alive in the 1960’s provides for a difference in the politics. Instead of a book with an alternate history in which the Allies won, using film reels worked better on television. While the main storyline was tied up, the finale raised new questions, making me very happy that it was renewed. Spoilers ahead: As happened earlier in the book, the finale did show a character crossing over into an alternate universe looking like ours, partially explaining the meaning of those news reels. I still have a lot of questions about them, and if the book gave any further hints, I read it too long ago to remember. The finale did wrap up the major storyline and led to an unexpected character living in a “high castle” who was interested in the news reels. Is he really the title character, and how is he connected to the films?

Humans

4. Humans (Channel 4/AMC)

Yet another British import on this list which was also shown in the United States presented a look at how robots (Synths) could change our society, along with a thriller storyline involving a small group of  Synths which were more than they seemed. I’m not sure if the second season could be as strong as the first now that all the secrets have been revealed, but they definitely left matters open to continue the story.

MR. ROBOT -- "Pilot" Episode 101 -- Pictured: (l-r) Rami Malek as Elliot, Christian Slater as Mr. Robot -- (Photo by: David Giesbrecht/USA Network)

3. Mr. Robot (USA)

A cyber-thriller which is totally different from what anyone would expect from a show on USA. The show gave a lot of hints about one element which was not confirmed until later in the season, but still came up with surprises along the way. The season finale also left room for a lot more.

Better Call Saul

2. Better Call Saul (AMC)

Better Call Saul greatly exceeded expectations, standing on its own in addition to being a prequel series to one of the greatest television series of all time, Breaking Bad.

Jessica Jones

1. Jessica Jones (Netflix)

Netflix exceeded what was accomplished on Daredevil with Jessica Jones, staring Kristin Ritter in the title role. The series, even more than Daredevil, was like a single long movie, with only brief breaks in the narrative to fill in viewers on the back stories of the major characters. This works as a stand alone story, but also has references to The Avengers, a character from Daredevil, and sets up future shows, especially Luke Cage.

Spoilers ahead. The show did so many things well.  While many super hero stories suffer from trying to create yet a bigger danger to the entire world to fight, Jessica Jones was a personal story between Jessica and the villain, with David Tennant doing a fantastic job playing Kilgrave. Without their powers, this is essentially the story of an abused woman who once again confronts the man who abused her. Add on the super powers, and it becomes a story of a man who can have whatever he wants and does not understand why Jessica does not love him when he is nice to her.

Most of the supporting cast was also excellent, including Mike Colter as Luke Cage and Rachel Taylor as Trish Walker. One neighbor initially seemed to be a stereotypical drug addict, but turned into a significant figure. The brother and sister also living in the same building were the weakest characters, but the sister was useful to allow Kilgrave to escape. The length of the story did require a series of  near-captures, captures, and escapes. Plus it was necessary to change the situation so that the ending could take place, when earlier Jessica had reason to not only capture Kilgrave alive, but provide proof of his powers.

Honorable Mention

Grace and Frankie Season 1 netflix handout .... Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin in the Netflix Original Series "Grace and Frankie". Photo by Melissa Moseley for Netflix.Ê

Grace and Frankie (Netflix) Any show staring Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Martin Sheen, and Sam Waterston has to be good, even if some of other new sitcoms were more consistent.

Blindspot (NBC) A fascinating premise made the early shows feel like something unique from network drama, but far too often it is just a gimmick to introduce the case of the week. Whether the show becomes a great will depend on whether the underlying mystery of the show remains compelling. Also on NBC, Blacklist almost felt like a new show with Lizzie now on the run, reminiscent of how Person of Interest evolved into more of a genre show last year on CBS.

Limitless (CBS) A lighter genre show which shows potential to be entertaining, but I doubt will rise to greatness.

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp (Netflix) A prequel to the movie.

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS) and The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore (Comedy Central) were two excellent additions to light night television, a genre which I arbitrarily left out of the rankings. They help make up for the loss of David Letterman and Jon Stewart. I haven’t actually watched much of Larry Wilmore but he has been hilarious when I’ve seen clips. I’m looking forward to seeing him host the White House Correspondents’ dinner.

The Republican Debates have become an amusing reality show, featuring reality television star Donald Trump. His previous reality show had a similar format in gradually eliminating candidates vying for a job.

Besides the above changes on late night television,  this year marked the end of many excellent shows including Mad Men, Parks and Recreation, Hannibal, Parenthood, Continuum, and Justified. Downton Abbey concluded in the UK with the Christmas special, but the final season is just now beginning in the United States. (No spoilers, but the series ended well).

Last year I left out some shows only because I had not had a chance to see them yet. These included The 100 (CW) and Manhattan (WGN). These turned out to both be extremely high quality shows. and both would have made the top five if I had seen them when compiling last year’s list.

Among shows I’ve heard excellent things about, and very well might deserve to be ranked among the top shows but I have not had a chance to see so far are Narcos (Netflix), Wolf Hall (BBC Two/PBS), and The Jinx (HBO). While not as critically acclaimed, I have received a plug for another genre show, Wayward Pines (Fox).

SciFi Weekend: Arrow (Is Felicity Dead?); Martian Manhunter Joins Supergirl; You’re The Worst; Fargo; The Leftovers; More Renewals

Arrow Felicity Shot

Mid season finales have now become a big thing on network television as many shows take a hiatus for the holidays, while some cable shows have completed their season. There were several big WTF moments on television recently, often, but not entirely, part of a midseason or season finale.

Two of the superhero shows from Andrew Kreisberg  and his group featured big WTF moments. The biggest one would be the death of Felicity on Arrow if anyone really believed it was real. Last year we saw Oliver die and come back to life, with Thea and Sara Lance having also come back from the dead. While there is no longer a Lazarus Pit, it seems a safe bet that they would never kill off Felicity. They replayed a portion of the grave scene, to imply that it was Felicity’s, but we’ve also been led to believe that the scene takes place later this spring, not currently to coincide with Felicity getting shot.

While there could be misdirection, Emily Bett Rickards is also present in set photos (such as here) from episodes still being filmed.

This leaves the question of who is in the grave. While there are other possibilities, at present I like the fan theories that it could be Samantha or William Clayton, Oliver’s former girlfriend and their son. This would explain why all of Team Arrow, along with Felicity’s mother, weren’t at the grave site if it was Felicity’s. In a recent interview, producer Wendy Mericle did warn of “serious consequences” that “come to a head” because of the decisions Oliver made regarding them. This most directly seems to be regarding Oliver and Felicity’s relationship, but perhaps it also leads to putting Samantha or William in danger.

Supergirl Martian Manhunter

The big WTF moment on Supergirl was that Hank Henshaw didn’t turn out to be an evil alien as many fans suspected. As with Harrison Wells on The Flash, Hank Henshaw’s body was taken over by someone else, but in this case not be someone evil. Henshaw turned out to be J’onn J’onzz aka The Martian Manhunter. The show’s producers discussed this with The Hollywood Reporter:

“It’s the secret of Supergirl: Within the body of the series of Supergirl, there is a Martian Manhunter series rolling throughout it,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg tells The Hollywood Reporter. “It’s the thing that makes us giggle the most.”

Back when the showrunners were on set to shoot the pilot, the idea to make DEO head Hank the Martian Manhunter was initially floated as a joke.

“[DC Comics CCO] Geoff Johns, [executive producer] Greg Berlanti and I were saying, ‘It’s so funny we cast David because he’s got those weird ears. Like alien ears,’ ” Kreisberg says. “I don’t remember which one of us said it, but it was like, ‘If we were ever going to make a Martian Manhunter show, David would have been the perfect Martian Manhunter.’ And Geoff said, ‘Well, why can’t he be?’ We already had it set up that Hank was keeping this bad secret, and then we started thinking about well, what if it was a good secret? You think he’s bad but then he turns out to be not only good, but the most good person in the DC universe.”

…Executive producer Ali Adler teases that John’s abilities will blow Kara’s out of the water. “He’s got such tremendous powers,” Adler says. “We really want to show off what he can do, and we’re definitely going to do that in upcoming episodes.”

“There’s a lot of fun to be had,” Harewood adds. “He’s a shape-shifter so he can be whoever he wants to be. So you’ll find me being other members of the cast at some various points of the story.”

You're The Worst Season 2 Finale

You’re the Worst picked up a renewal for the third season as the second season concluded, plus Stephen Falk received a deal to produce additional shows for FX and FXX. While the second season of You’re The Worst was not as good as the first, Stephen Falk deserves credit for taking the season in such a different direction for the second season. I suspect that it might have been the added depth he showed in the second season which led to his deal to produce additional shows.

The arc with Gretchen’s depression showed more depth in writing by Falk, as well as acting by Aya Cash, but it was the comedy, not potential for such drama, which made the show television’s best (even if under-rated) sitcom last year. Another consequence was that there was less interaction between the story lines of the various characters. On the plus side, this ultimately did lead to further development in the relationship between the two dysfunctional leads. Gretchen decided to consider medications for depression, which she never considered in the past, now that she was involved with someone else who was affected by her depression. (Her friendship with Lindsay doesn’t count.)  Jimmy almost ran off with the girl who owns the bar, but in the end did not. Plus the two of them managed to tell each other that they loved the other, even if it required them to be drunk at the time.

Fargo Flying Saucer

Noah Hawley will not only be doing more of Fargo, but has signed a deal to develop additional shows for FX. He had one of the big WTF moments on Fargo last week (“It’s just a flying saucer, hon”), and there is still an episode to go. A UFO was also seen briefly in the first episode of the season. I now wonder if it will play a role in the finale, or just be something without further explanation. It sounds like it will be the later from Hawley’s comments. Perhaps Fox is getting us ready for the return of The X-Files.

Fox has renewed Wayward Pines for a second season. I haven’t seen this one, but a recent plug for the show and news of its renewal might change that.

The Leftovers 2x08 – International Assassin

The Leftovers has been renewed for a third and final season on HBO. This sounds about right. The second season was much better than the first, having completed the events of the Tom Perrotta novel and now able to explore new territory, but I’m not sure there is enough to do in this world which cannot be wrapped up in one more season.

This is the perfect series for Damon Lindelof . He can write about how people respond to unexplainable situations, without being expected to ultimately give an explanation as on Lost. A lot happened in the season finale, but for me seeing the Guilt Remnant show up and seeing Mary wake up was nothing compared to the WTF moment in the eighth episode, International Assassin, when Kevin was in a  hotel from purgatory, if not hell. That episode alone made the season a success.

Blacklist has been much better this season with Elizabeth on the run with James Spader’s character. It has been renewed for a fourth season.

Melissa Benoist Homeland Supergirl

Showtime has renewed Homeland and The Affair. After its slip in quality over the years, I haven’t watched this season of Homeland yet, but might watch binge it Netflix style if time permits. There are many reasons to remember the first season fondly, but the recent start of Supergirl has led to additional attention for the show as viewers recall a topless Melissa Benoist being asked questions such as whether she enjoys anal sex and other women in the first season of Homeland. (Video here–not safe for work.)  Kara would turn as red as the star she was born under if asked those questions on Supergirl.

Person of Interest strangely is not appearing on CBS’s schedule yet. There is speculation that it is being held back until spring or summer, and hope that maybe it can be renewed beyond this year if it is more successful than Extant and Under the Dome, which have been canceled.

The Man In The High Castle, which I completed this week, ended the first season with a couple of WTF moments. One was foreshadowed by events in the book, despite some major differences between the book and the television series. As there are still likely to be many who have not finished the series yet, I’m holding off on discussing this streaming series, as well as Jessica Jones, a little longer. Both are highly recommended.