SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, Hell Bent; Batman v. Superman; The Expanse; Transparent; Outlander; Supergirl; Fargo; You’re The Worst

Doctor Who Hell Bent

The season finale of Doctor Who, Hell Bent, concluded the three part story which began with the death of Clara Oswald in Face the Raven. It turned out that the ending of last week’s episode, Heaven Sent, contained some misdirection about where the finale was going. While the Doctor did return to Gallifrey, this was not at all what the episode was really about.

The Doctor returned to Gallifrey as a war hero, and used this return to save Clara. While the leaders on Gallifrey were concerned with the identity of the Hybrid, it turned out that the Doctor did not really know the answer. His priority was in saving Clara.

Face the Raven appeared to end with the Doctor allowing Clara to die as there was way to prevent her death. Now he was willing to break all the rules and risk the fracturing of time to save her. Clara was pulled out of time just before the moment of her death,  in between heartbeats and lacking  a pulse, not really living. She was informed of her condition by a general on Gallifrey: “Although you are conscious and aware, in fact you died billions of years ago. We have extracted you at the end of your time stream. Once you have finished here, you will be returned to your final moments. Your death is an established, historical event.”

The Doctor was willing to break the rules of time, as he had done on occasions before, and to defy the leadership on Gallifrey. He killed a general to demonstrate how far he would go to save Clara.  They escaped through the Matrix, one of several references for things established in old episodes, and escaped in an old school TARDIS. As he had started out, the Doctor escaped Gallifrey in a stolen TARDIS, this time with a functioning Chameleon Circuit. They escaped the Time Lords by going to the last hours of the universe, where they met up with Ashildr, who the Doctor had made immortal earlier this season in The Girl Who Died.

While the identity of the Hybrid was never definitively revealed, Ashildr had what came closest to an answer. She theorized, “‘What if the hybrid was to people.‘A passionate and powerful Time Lord and a young woman so very similar to him – companions willing to push each other to extremes?” The Hybrid might have been the Doctor and Clara working together.  Whether this is the actual answer, it was still a meaningful description of who the Doctor is.

The problem now is Clara was only alive in a form with some very timey-whimey stuff which threatens the space-time continuum. Plus at any moment she could be returned to the moment of her death. The Doctor believed that Clara had to have her memory wiped to return to earth and lead a normal life, where she could not be found from her memories of being with the Doctor. (I’m not sure what would have happened the first time she had any type of medical exam and was found to be lacking a pulse). It would be a sort of repeat of how things ended with Donna Noble, although the need to wipe Donna’s memory was more straight forward on Journey’s End.

Clara was watching in on the Doctor’s conversation with Ashildr and was not willing to give up the best years of her life, or her memory of them. Ultimately matters were left to chance, and it turned out that it was the Doctor, not Clara, whose memories of the other were wiped. This might make Clara safer as nobody could use the Doctor to get to her. Perhaps it also made sense for the Doctor’s memories to be erased if they were not going to remain together. As we saw on The Snowmen, it took him on hundred years to get over the loss of Amy and Rory, and after over four billion years he has not gotten over what appeared to be the death of Clara.

On the other hand, this is not the first time that the Doctor has lost a companion. Is  Clara that much more important to the Doctor than Rose Taylor, Donna Noble, or Amy Pond? Plus it is never clear why the Doctor and Clara could not continue to travel together.

Doctor Who Hell Bent 2

Throughout the episode, scenes were interspersed with the Doctor at an diner speaking to a waitress played by Jenna Coleman. By the end, we finally realized the meaning of these scenes, with Clara knowing who the Doctor was, but the Doctor not remembering her. The Doctor told Clara what he recalled of this story, even believing that he would remember Clara if he saw her, but he did not. He did see an image of her when he got his TARDIS back due to Rigsy’s memorial graffiti, plus The Doctor got a new sonic screwdriver.

Despite the matters left unanswered on this episode, it was all worthwhile for the ending in which Clara, who had already become like a Time Lord, ended up in her own TARDIS with her own companion, Ashildr. Again, it is not clear why Clara can travel with Ashildr, but not with the Doctor. While we will probably not see Clara again on the show, I bet this will launch a lot of fan fiction.

Doctor Who Extra videos for Hell Bent can be seen here.

Doctor Who returns on Christmas Day with The Husbands of Rive Song. The synopsis has been released:

It’s Christmas Day on a remote human colony and the Doctor is hiding from Christmas carols and comedy antlers. But when a crashed spaceship calls upon the Doctor for help, he finds himself recruited into River Song’s squad and hurled into a fast and frantic chase across the galaxy. King Hydroflax (Greg Davies) is furious, and his giant robot bodyguard is out of control and coming for them all! Will Nardole (Matt Lucas) survive? And when will River Song work out who the Doctor is?

The Batman v. Superman trailer was shown on Gotham last week. As I know some superhero fans are not watching Gotham due to the lack of superheroes, I’m posting it above for those who might have missed it.

The Expanse officially states on December 14, but the first episode can be seen online here.

Amazon will be releasing season two of Transparent on December 11, but the first episode was made available early.

The second season of Mozart in the Jungle will be released by Amazon on December 30.

Outlander returns for a second season this spring. Teaser above.

Supergirl has been picked up CBS for a full season. The show still seems to be trying to figure out where it is going without being too much a clone of The Flash, and sometimes struggles to be in Superman’s shadow while contractually being unable to show him as an adult (with a younger version of him to be seen this season). Now that it has a several episodes under its belt, it is starting to show more promise.

Meanwhile on CBS’s sister network, The CW Network, the annual cross over episodes of The Flash and Arrow has aired. It served largely to set up Legend’s of Tomorrow, but was a fun two hours with the casts of both current shows getting together again. During the week there was also another round of rumors of a cross over episode between Supergirl and The Flash, with this once again denied (but not ruled out for the future).

Fargo season three will take place a couple of years after the first season, and could include some of the same characters.

FXX has renewed You’re The Worst for a second season. While an argument could be made that the show had stronger dramatic material from Aya Cash this season, I do hope that she gets over her depression and the third season returns to the dynamic between Gretchen and Jimmy of the first season.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sleepy Hollow; More on the Continuum Series Finale; Sherlock; Supergirl; Gilmore Girls; Married Canceled; Beware of Cats; Fred Thompson Dies At 73

Doctor Who Zygon Invasion

The Zygon Invasion picks up on the Zygon plot of The Day of The Doctor which was left hanging. The episode of Doctor Who included three doctors, and if we include the Zygon version, two Osgoods, allowing for her return after being killed by Missy in Death in Heaven. It was not so simple as a totally separate human and Zygon version, leading to yet another mention of a hybrid this season.

The two presented this message regarding the peace treaty between humans and Zygons:

“Every race is capable of the best and the worst.”

“Everyone is peaceful and warlike.”

“My race is no different.”

“And neither is mine.

Unfortunately the peace has fallen apart, leading to yet another threat of aliens taking over the earth. This led to the return of UNIT, and the Doctor to his role of president of the world:

Clara: I thought you didn’t like being president of the world
The Doctor: No but I like poncing about in a big plane

I’m not so hot on continuing the idea of president of the world, and like the idea of “Doctor Disco” even less. Fortunately these moments did not harm an otherwise excellent episode.

The episode was better than the typical alien invasion show by the efforts to maintain peace and to understand the aliens. This included the message above, along with the Doctor trying to prevent further killing:

Kate: You left us with an impossible situation Doctor
The Doctor: Yes I know its called peace

There were moments when characters did not act all that wisely. It is debatable whether the soldiers in Turmezistan were showing humanity or acting foolishly when deciding not to kill the Zygons who had taken on the form of members of their family, despite the evidence that they were fakes. It was even more questionable that Kate went to Truth or Consequences alone, without any backup, and failed to suspect that the other woman was actually a Zygon. It was not surprising that Clara had memorized Trivial Pursuits cards, and was therefore aware of this American city named after a television show.

This all led to the cliff hanger with a missile being shot towards the plane carrying the Doctor and the Doctor being told, “Clara Oswald is dead, Kate Stewart is dead.” Most likely they both can be rescued from the pods, but the knowledge that Jenna Coleman is leaving this season leaves just a tiny bit of doubt.

Videos from Doctor Who Extra can be seen here.

Sleepy Hollow Bones Cross Over

There are a couple of crossovers in genre shows last week and in the upcoming week. Sleepy Hollow has done their cross-over  with Bones.If the purpose was to get fans of Sleepy Hollow to watch Bones, it did not impress me. While Sleepy Hollow  remains weaker than its first season (but better than last year), the little I saw of Bones did not tempt me at all to watch any more. For that matter, for those who are holding out to determine if it is necessary to watch Bones to follow the plot on Sleepy Hollow, you don’t have to bother. Spoiler: The episode deals with the exhumation of General Howe’s corpse (which is more important on Sleepy Hollow) and basically keeps it in the background until Crane and Abbey are able to take the body at the end of the episode.

Bones showrunner Michael Peterson discussed the cross over with Assignment X. Here is a small portion:

AX: And how is the SLEEPY HOLLOW crossover going to work? There have been hints of ghosts and an afterlife on BONES, but no Headless Horsemen.

PETERSON: I’ve been saying that it’s like X-FILES – we’re the Scully hour, they’re the Mulder hour. We make sense of what seems to be supernatural, but there’s always logic behind it. Our people will not see ghosts, they will not see vampires, they will not see zombies. We’re not that show. We do science-based, but it’s going to be a handoff. There will be one mystery that leads to another, and we think it’s going to work pretty nicely. But it’s going to be very much a BONES show, with elements of SLEEPY HOLLOW.

AX: So the BONES characters are going to step into and out of the more exotic SLEEPY HOLLOW universe without realizing what they’ve been in and out of?

PETERSON: Exactly. And part of the fun is that we get to do it on Halloween. So that leaves it open to a lot of things that are going on. We have costumes, we have superstitions that are going on, but we’re going to handle it in the BONES way. It’s worked for over two hundred episodes, it’ll work for this one.

Meanwhile Arrow has recently had  Sara Lance’s resurrection in the Lazarus Pit, but with rather unfavorable results. This leads to the crossover with Constantine next week (and ultimately leads into DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

Following the series finale of Continuum, (which I discussed in greater detail here), Simon Barry both answered questions from fans (video above) and had an interview with Blastr. In the interview, Barry described the rules of time travel established for the series:

In Season 1, I addressed the writers’ room with a simple set of guidelines.

1. Time travel could not exist in a closed loop, because it would remove stakes from the show if everything was simply preordained to happen and our characters were fighting windmills.

2. We needed to preserve the stakes of guideline #1 for as long as possible to keep the characters and audience wondering what the consequences were of changing history.

3. Kiera was going to be able to change history and return to a better future as a result.

It became obvious once we dispensed with paradoxical time travel that anything was possible with multiple timelines. The only way to not get lost in this was to limit the number of time-travel events in the show. This way you couldn’t just hit reset with your characters to fix things. And even if you thought you could, as Alec did at the end of Season 2, there had to be unforeseen consequences to these choices that made you wish you hadn’t.

By making time travel as rare an event as possible, by making it difficult, we could minimize the impact of this technology. It’s also about perspective. Time travel is a purely relative process. It means nothing to those that aren’t themselves traveling, so we had to ensure that the only characters who would have access to the technology were characters whose perspectives were relevant in the show. Kiera and Alec are therefore the only perspectives we wanted to experience, because it’s really their journey.

I listened to the above Q&A in the above video on an audio podcast in the background soon after it came out and have to rely on notes I took after the fact, so there very well could be other things of interest which I’m leaving out. Regarding time travel, Barry discussed, as he made up his own rules, how incredibly difficult and unlikely actual time travel would be. He pointed out how rapidly the earth is moving around the sun, making it quite difficult to have the earth in the same location when you get back in time. (So, if the goal was to kill Kellogg off at the end, he could have wound up in empty space).

As we know would happen, once the series was canceled and Barry had only six episodes to wrap things up (which were definitely better than ending without even a rushed conclusion), many planned  plot threads were left out. “Emily, Julian, the Traveler were all supposed to get larger stories. We had also discussed an entire season set in 2077 to really get to know each member of Liber8 and how they eventually got signed up with the cause.”

In both interviews, Barry talked about a desire to tell more about this universe in other medium. This was also raised in this Reddit AMA which took place before the final six episodes aired. In the podcast, he talked about how difficult this could be to get on television. Stories left to tell ranged from the Traveler to what happened to Kellogg after winding up in the past. Barry had wanted to send him even further back to be among dinosaurs, but the budget did not allow this.

During the podcast, Barry said he had worked on a scene which took place five years from now, which would include Emily, showing what the characters who remained in the present were doing. Unfortunately the scene was never filmed. The story of the Traveler might have done to religion what the show in general did to corporate greed. Barry described the Freelancers as being like religious fanatics, who thought they were following the Traveler, but got the message wrong.

It was necessary to tie up the story of how Alec sent people back into the past way too quickly. This could have included reasons for sending back Kiera beyond young Alec mentioning her name. Among ideas which might have been presented if time permitted was that Alec sent Kiera into the past because of the manner in which she investigated a murder at Sadtech. This both gave Alec reason to see her as an effective cop, along with giving him reason for wanting to get rid of her.

Sometimes the show was affected by the availability of actors. Escher was written out of the show earlier than planned for this reason. The original plan was still to ultimately kill him off, except Kellogg would have been the one to kill Escher. The actor who played Kiera’s husband was not available for the final season, which is why he did not appear. I still think it would have made more sense to have mentioned him. While it is obviously necessary to ignore some scientific implausibilities in a show such as this, I also find it hard to believe that, if Kiera had changed the future, her parents were in the same place at the same time to conceive her, and that the same happened to conceive her son. A more plausible version of the ending might have had Kiera return to her time and find that she had never been born, as opposed to having a duplicate there who never traveled back in time. Instead we will allow Barry to make up his own science, knowing that everything was implausible anyways.

It is unfortunate that such an excellent series could not have been completed as envisioned by Simon Barry. Under the circumstances, he did do an excellent job of tying  up as much as possible in the final six episodes.

An extended trailer for the Victorian era episode of Sherlock, The Abominable Bride, has been released (video above). The episode will air in the US and the UK on January 1. They apparently don’t understand about college bowl games in the UK.

If you missed the excellent Supergirl pilot, or want to see it again, it remains widely available on line, as it has now been for several months. Plus you can stream it for free (and legally) from Vudu, iTunes and Amazon  (Hat tip to ComicBook.com). These sources will charge for subsequent episodes, so it makes more sense to catch them as they air on CBS.

The recently announced new episodes of Gilmore Girls to be presented on Netflix will each deal with a different season. This leaves room for a lot of Stars Hollow seasonal festivals, and perhaps a June wedding for Lorelei.

Married was much better in its second season, but apparently did not bring in enough new viewers as FX has canceled the show. This is leading to speculation as to whether You’re The Worst might also be in trouble. Both comedies premiered at the same time on FX  summer of 2014, with You’re The Worst moving to FXX and currently being shown in the fall. While also not doing well in the ratings. You’re The Worst has received far more critical attention and hopefully will survive because of this.

Researchers found that cats are neurotic, and are probably planning how to kill you.

In joint political and entertainment news, former actor and Senator Fred Thompson has died. From The Tennessean:

Fred Thompson, a former U.S. senator for Tennessee, GOP presidential candidate, Watergate attorney and longtime “Law and Order” star, died on Sunday. He was 73.

Mr. Thompson died after a recurrence of lymphoma, according to a prepared statement issued by the Thompson family.

“It is with a heavy heart and a deep sense of grief that we share the passing of our brother, husband, father, and grandfather who died peacefully in Nashville surrounded by his family,” the statement reads.

“Fred once said that the experiences he had growing up in small-town Tennessee formed the prism through which he viewed the world and shaped the way he dealt with life.  Fred stood on principle and common sense, and had a deep love for and connection with the people across Tennessee whom he had the privilege to serve in the United States Senate. He enjoyed a hearty laugh, a strong handshake, a good cigar, and a healthy dose of humility.  Fred was the same man on the floor of the Senate, the movie studio, or the town square of Lawrenceburg, his home.

“Fred believed that the greatness of our nation was defined by the hard work, faith, and honesty of its people. He had an enduring belief in the exceptionalism of our country, and that America could provide the opportunity for any boy or girl, in any corner of our country, to succeed in life. “

On his acting career:

In 1977 Mr. Thompson found himself representing the whistle-blower in one of Tennessee’s biggest political scandals. In her role as a parole administrator, Marie Ragghianti refused to release inmates granted pardons after paying then-Gov. Ray Blanton. Mr. Thompson successfully represented Ragghianti in a wrongful termination case, helping her win a settlement and a return to her job in 1978.

That case eventually became the subject of a book and launched Mr. Thompson’s acting career. Mr. Thompson played himself in the 1985 version of the movie “Marie.” Critics praised his performance, and more roles soon followed.

Five years later, Mr. Thompson had roles in three of the biggest films of 1990: “Days of Thunder,” “The Hunt for Red October” and “Die Hard 2.”  He also enjoyed a five-year run on NBC’s “Law and Order” as District Attorney Arthur Branch from 2002-2007.

Though he took a break to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2008, acting remained a constant in Mr. Thompson’s life.

He appeared in box office hits as recently as 2012, with a role in the horror film “Sinister,” and had a recurring role on NBC’s short-lived 2015 series “Allegiance.”

Update: News came out on Monday that CBS is planning a new Star Trek television series to be streamed on their All Access service. The show, to be produced by Alex Kurtzman, is to start in January 2017.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sherlock; Age of Ultron; Jessica Jones; The Flash; Arrow; Supergirl; Back To The Future (Bernie Sanders Meets Doc Brown); Gilmore Girls; Maureen O’Hara

Doctor Who The Woman Who Lived

The Woman Who Lived works as a stand alone episode of Doctor Who which did not really need to fall directly after last week’s episode, The Girl Who Died. Maise Williams’ character is seen eight hundred years later. It was strange that she remembered the Doctor and Clara and not her own name or village. She also had a colder attitude which can be seen in this exchange:

The Doctor: Anyone is that village would have died for you
Ashildr: Well, they’re all dead and here I am. I guess it all worked out

The show described the problems with immortality, and Ashildr’s frustration: “I have waited longer than I should ever have lived. I have lost more than I can even remember. Please Doctor, just get me out of this. I want more than this. I deserve more than this.”

While her life span was increased her memory was not so she had to resort to her journals, tearing out the pages of things she wanted to forget. She did keep the pages about her children dying of the plague, as a reminder to never have children again.

The Doctor did not take her with her, but did tell her , “I travelled with another immortal once. Captain Jack Harkness.” Will she ever meet up with Captain Jack (John Borrowman)? Plus Sam Swift may or may not also be immortal.

Nerdist reports that Maise Williams will return to Doctor Who:

Over the weekend, at London’s MCM Comic-Con, “Face the Raven” writer Sarah Dollard confirmed that Ashildr/Me would be back for her episode. During “The Woman Who Lived,” we find out that the character decided to be there for the people the Doctor leaves following his swoop-in/swoop-out style of day-saving. “Someone has to look out for the people you abandon, who better than me? I’ll be the patron saint of the Doctor’s leftovers,” she told him. She also says, “While you’re busy protecting this world, I’ll get busy protecting it from you.” When the Doctor expresses that he thinks he’s very glad he saved her life, she replies, rather ominously, “I think everyone will be.”

This could make her an interesting recurring character, and provides job security should she be killed off on Game of Thrones.  She is present in the background of a picture at Clara’s school shown at the end of the episode. I’ll accept the coincidence that she is present in the first picture that Clara showed him after this encounter, but what about all the companions prior to Clara? While that probably cannot be shown on screen, she could be an interesting addition to books or fan fiction. With Jenna Coleman reportedly leaving after this season, possibly Maise Williams will play a part.

The above trailer announces that the long-awaited Victorian version of Sherlock will air on January 1 in both the UK and the Unites States and will be named The Abominable Bride.

I’m going to post this link without reading the article. I haven’t looked at the deleted scenes on the Blu Ray of Avengers: Age of Ultron yet, and will do so before reading this, but Den of Geek has a detailed description for those who might want to read about them without viewing.

After a bunch of teasers, Netflix has released a full trailer for Jessica Jones (video above).

I avoid watching Amazon pilots until a series is about to be released in full, but I am really looking forward to The Man In The High Castle. Reviews of the pilot have been fantastic. Now Amazon is going to make the first two episodes available, even to non-prime members, here  from 12am Pacific on Friday, October 23rd until 11:59pm Pacific on Sunday, October 25th. The first two episodes will remain available to Prime members, with full release on November 20. While I already had an Amazon Prime membership for the free shipping, with streaming becoming a huge player, I now consider Amazon Prime, Hulu (commercial free subscription), and Netflix all essential (with HBO Go and comparable services from the other pay cable networks  also available due to cable subscriptions). Many evenings I do not go beyond my Roku box for watching television.

This raised another thought. When traveling I prefer either a Roku box, or my Roku stick to travel more lightly, as it has all the streaming services I use set up conveniently. It includes Amazon Prime, while some competing devices do not. I also do have both a Google Chromecast and an Amazon Fire Stick. (This comes in handy when staying in friends’ condos in Florida which have televisions in the bedroom and living room).  I have also found the Amazon Fire Stick essential when traveling to hotels which require a sign on to use their WiFi. Only the Amazon Fire Stick can handle this without resorting to making a hot spot with a travel router.

Danielle Panabaker of The Flash was on The Talk (video above). She discussed her transformation to the villain, Killer Frost.

All of the DC comic based shows have been off to a good start this season. Arrow, which just brought back Sara Lance to lead into Legends of Tomorrow, is much stronger this season, including a much bigger big bad. The flash backs are also more interesting with the return to the island. Plus someone will die in six months. Supergirl officially starts this upcoming week. The pilot, which has been available for months, was excellent and those who like The Flash and Arrow should also like this show. Over at Fox, Gotham has turned much darker, and is showing more potential than in the first season.

Also notable in the past week, You’re The Worst, while it has not been as  good as the first season, has had many excellent moments. This included the revelation of  what is wrong with Gretchen last week.

Hulu has renewed Casual for a second season. I highly recommend that show. I have not watched The Whispers, but I note that ABC has canceled it. CBS has ordered a full season pick up of Limitless. It is a lighter but entertaining show with a genre element.

Bernie Sanders Back To The Future

I previously posted the video of Bernie Sanders on Jimmy Kimmel Live last week. Christopher Lloyd (Doc Brown) was also a guest, along with Michael J. Fox,  for an opening skit for the date he came into the future in Back To The Future 2. Bernie Sanders posted the picture along with this caption on his web page:

“Tell me, future boy, who’s President of the United States in 2017?”
Bernie Sanders.
“Bernie Sanders?! From Vermont?”

So this our destiny. I think this is a fixed point in time which cannot be changed.  The skit with Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox is below:

Speaking of time travel, Simon Berry has provided some information following the  Continuum finale. I will hold off a little longer to discuss the finale a second time to allow more time to see if further material of interest becomes available.

Gilmore Girls revival

Plus we have something else from the past to look forward to. Netflix is planning a revival of Gilmore Girls. The current plans are for four episodes, ninety minutes each, which take place in real time, eight years after the finale. We will finally see the final four words planned for the show by Amy Sherman Palladino.  While not finalized, Lauren Graham, Alexis Bledel, Kelly Bishop and Scott Patterson, along with many of Rory’s suitors, are expected to appear. Edward Herrmann obviously will not appear but perhaps the funeral for Richard Gilmore, taking place after the actor actually died, could be a good point at which to reunite the other characters. The series ended with Rory Gilmore covering Barack Obama’s campaign in Iowa. Might she now be covering  Bernie Sanders?

This will not be the only case of Lauren Graham being united with a star from a previous show. She will reunite with Mae Whitman of Parenthood in an adaption of the The Royal We, a book on the courthouse of Prince William and Kate Middleton.

Maureen O’Hara died at age 95. From The New York Times:

Maureen O’Hara, the spirited Irish-born actress who played strong-willed, tempestuous beauties opposite all manner of adventurers in escapist movies of the 1940s and ’50s, died on Saturday at her home in Boise, Idaho. She was 95…

Ms. O’Hara was called the Queen of Technicolor, because when that film process first came into use, nothing seemed to show off its splendor better than her rich red hair, bright green eyes and flawless peaches-and-cream complexion. One critic praised her in an otherwise negative review of the 1950 film “Comanche Territory” with the sentiment “Framed in Technicolor, Miss O’Hara somehow seems more significant than a setting sun.” Even the creators of the process claimed her as its best advertisement.

Yet many of the films that made the young Ms. O’Hara a star were in black and white. They included her first Hollywood movie, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (1939), in which she played the haunted Gypsy girl Esmeralda to Charles Laughton’s Quasimodo; the Oscar-winning “How Green Was My Valley” (1941), in which she was memorable as a Welsh mining family’s beautiful daughter who marries the wrong man; “This Land Is Mine” (1943), a war drama in which she was directed by Jean Renoir; and “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947), the holiday classic in which she played a cynical, modern Macy’s executive who tries to prevent her daughter from believing in Santa Claus…

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Limitless; Supergirl; Gotham; You’re The Worst; Alison Brie; Continuum

Doctor Who Missy and Clara

Doctor Who returned with The Magician’s Apprentice. Does this mean that the Doctor is the Magician and Clara the Apprentice? This was a true Moffat episode, including both the strengths and weaknesses which that implies. The strengths include dealing with big issues, and a strong connection to the history of Doctor Who. The episode returns to the question raised in the classic 1975 episode, Genesis of the Daleks: “If someone who knew the future, pointed out a child to you, and told you that that child would grow up totally evil, be a ruthless dictator who would destroy millions of lives, could you then kill that child?”

The episode started with a child endangered by a war. The Doctor appeared to try to save him, with the advice, “Your chances of survival are about one in a thousand. So heres what you do, you forget about the thousand and concentrate on the one.” Then, before trying to save him, the Doctor asked his name. “Davros. My name is Davros.” Davros, the creator of the Daleks

From the start we saw another characteristic of a Moffat episode–many interesting ideas thrown in. Davros was threatened by the hand mines. When there was an effort later to get Clara’s attention, it was done by stopping planes in the air–a simple time trick from Missy, who is not dead as appeared last season: “Not dead. Back. Big surprise. Never mind.” This led to a quick scene with Clara at UNIT, meeting with Kate Lethbridge-Stewart, and then the actual meeting between Clara and Missy.

The season began somewhat similar to how last season did, with the Doctor not around. It also felt like a repeat of an old theme with the Doctor preparing for his death, with the added twist this time of the Doctor sending Missy his confession dial, the Last Will and Testament of the Doctor. He hosted a rock party and, without regard to how it might change human history, “I’ve also introduced the word ‘dude’ several centuries early.”

Missy’s role was never entirely clear, other than for the Moffat tendency to try to find a way to bring back favorite ideas from previous episodes. It did make little sense for the Doctor to walk into such an obvious trap. If he did not see it himself, he even had his frenemy Missy to warn him, noting “I know traps. Traps are my flirting.” She was a little upset to find that she was not the Doctor’s number one enemy:

The Doctor: “Now, explain. Politely. Davros is my archenemy. Why would I want to talk to him?”
Missy: “No, wait, hang on a minute. Davros is your archenemy now?”
The Doctor: “Hush.”
Missy: “Not as much as I am.”

But the Doctor did walk into the trap, and apparently saw the death of both Clara and Missy, along with the destruction of the TARDIS. Of course there was never any question as to whether it would really end this way. If Davros is killing the Doctor’s friends (or friend and favorite enemy) because of remembering how the Doctor did not save him, this leaves two options. He could return to save him, or could make sure Davros did not survive.

I suspect that there is more Moffat misdirection, but the episode ended with the impression that the Doctor did go back time to make certain that Davros died. Or maybe he exterminates the hand mines. In the final scene, the Doctor again appeared in the hand mine field. “I’m from the future.” He then said to young Davros, “I’m gonna save my friend the only way I can: Exterminate!”

We will have to wait until next week to see how this really turns out, with Moffat mixed in providing satisfactory conclusions to the set-ups in two-part stories. Two part stories area also reportedly to become the norm this season. There will be twelve episodes and then a Christmas episode which includes the return of River Song.

Doctor Who Daleks Abbey Road

The return of Doctor Who was a major event. My favorite publicity picture is the one above with the Doctor and Clara along with two Daleks replacing The Beatles on Abbey Road. Steven Moffat discussed the entire season with Radio Times, possibly providing too many spoilers. Just like last year there were rumors that Jenna Coleman would be leaving the show, ultimately with confirmation that this will be her last season. There are also two Doctor Who Extra videos for this week’s episode which can be viewed here.

Supergirl

CBS made the pilot for Limitless available through there All Access service, and in this day and age that means a copy was quickly available all over the web. The pilot was enjoyable in setting up the series, essentially being an origin story for someone with superpowers. From here I fear that it might drift into a typical CBS procedural, with the setup for that type of storyline contained in the pilot. Maybe we will be pleasantly surprised, like with Person of Interest. While the pilot does appear to set up a procedural, it also left open questions about the drug which gave the protagonist his powers.

Originally reports also suggested that Supergirl would be more of a CBS procedural also, however watching its pilot (which leaked out weeks ago) it appears to be more similar to The Flash, with Supergirl having super-enemies who escaped from Krypton similar to the metahumans who provide conflict for Barry Allen. Pictures of the Red Tornado were also recently released, further suggesting that the show is headed in the direction of fighting super-powered foes.

Season two of Gotham will be a more serialized story, and it sounds from this interview like they might have fixed some of the problems with the first season.

The second episode of You’re The Worst, Crevasses, showed dilemmas including Jimmy and Gretchen having to make their own Bloody Mary’s when Edgar was out with Lindsay. Most important discovery of the episode: Jimmy’s kitchen has a Bloody Mary drawer.

Alison Brie of Community and Mad Men will be staring in  Julian Fellowes’ first  post-Downton Abbey show for ITV, a television adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s Doctor Thorne.

It is hard to believe that Continuum is half over, with three episodes having already aired on Showcase (two shown in the United States). I will avoid any spoilers for those who have only seen the first two episodes. It should be no spoiler to note that the questions I had after the first two remain after watching the third, even if the third did advance the storyline more than the first two episodes did. As is usual for Continuum, finding out a little more information often leads to even more questions.

The first episode included a scene which was later revealed to be a simulation created by Kiera’s  CMR after she was knocked unconscious. Kiera felt as though she woke up in 2080 after spending three years in a medically-induced coma after the explosion which actually sent her back in time. Kiera saw her family, and afterwards had regained the desire to return home. (I suspect this came about here due to the need to condense the series and wrap it up this year–otherwise I suspect Kiera might not have regained this interest until later in the series). This raises a huge question after seeing how the future changed after Kellogg had taken control of Piron.

If the future has changed, how does Kiera think she can return home? While not explicitly stated, does this mean she intends first to correct the time line? Is she envisioning a means of returning to one of multiple possible time lines? It is also hard to believe she will just consider her job done when the Time Marines are running around in the present. There is also the question  of what is their goal, and how this will affect the future. It is apparently only need to know for Brad, and we do not know if the soldiers returned from just after Brad left, from a time later on when things have changed, changing the mission, or if this is even the same exact timeline Brad came back from.

Kellogg should also have questions about the soldiers which his future self sent back. The Kellogg of the present would much rather live in luxury as a corporate CEO than become a future warlord. Everyone should wonder what Curtis is up to, as he might know more than anyone else, but appears to be playing each side off each other.

In other events of interest, Dillon is somehow still alive, and now working for Piron. We have seen since the start of this series that alliances change, and I would not write him off as one of the bad guys yet. Poor Emily has both been kidnapped, and after escaping being told she is not the mother of Alec’s son, leading her to pack up and leave. I’m not sure that it makes sense for her to expect to be Jason’s mother considering how the timeline has changed since Jason traveled back in time, and how in the original timeline she was killed. The whole point of Emily’s character is that she might keep Alec from turning out to be how we have seen his future self.

If you are watching the episodes as presented in the United States, you might feel that too little has happened so far, considering how close we are to the end of the series. The action does pick up in the third episode, but it certainly feels like there is far too much to fit into only three more episodes.

SciFi Weekend: Under the Dome; Extant; Jessica Jones; Doctor Who; You’re The Worst

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It is a shame that CBS cannot handle genre on the main network as well as they do on The CW Network. The third season of  Under the Dome totally forgot what made the show interesting, even if the stories were highly flawed. Initially the show was of some interest for showing how relatively normal people would react to an implausible but interesting situation. The third season was basically a third-rate alien invasion story, stealing heavily from Invasion of the Body Snatchers with a touch of the least interesting aspects of The Matrix. Earlier seasons threw in all sorts of mumbo jumbo for the show’s mythology. These are even less interesting in retrospect than at the time as there was no real pay off.

CBS announced the cancellation of the series before the finale aired so I hoped that maybe they had a cut ready which was a clear finale. Instead the dome came down well before the end of the episode, with the major characters next captured by the government until they agreed to keep the alien invasion secret. Then the episode ended with signs that the danger was still there. As usual on such shows, if there is no body when a character appears to have been killed, they will show up again–this time in a scene clearly intended to lead into another season.

extant_taalr

Extant started threatening to be an alien invasion series, but then turned into a story of misunderstood aliens who wanted to live in peace. Virtually every science fiction and many other television troupes were thrown in, including a human gaining powers, artificial intelligence, an evil super-computer, and evil versus foolishly-acting evil government officials. Unfortunately none of this was handled very well, substituting the use of  such troupes for good writing

The episode at least tied up all the plot lines for the season, working well as a series finale, but included a final scene to tease a third season. Apparently TAALAR has taken the form of a Humanick and goes out to coffee shops. No decision has been made on a third season, but the second season renewal was not announced until October last year.

Netflix has announced that Jessica Jones will be released on November 20. Trailer above. Time has more on the series.

The reboot of The X-Files doesn’t premiere until January, but it will be shown on October 10 at the New York Comic-Con.

With Bryan Fuller moving on from Hannibal to American Gods, David Slade, one of the directors of Hannibal will be joining him.

The BBC and BBC America will broadcast a prequel to series nine of Doctor Who the day before it premieres on September 19.

Youre The Worst Sweater People

A couple brief notes on two (quite different) television series which premiered last summer which are returning this fall and are worth catching up on if you haven’t seen them:

You’re The Worst has already returned for its second season with Sweater People. Jimmy and Gretchen now must admit they are in a relationship after moving in together but they are still as self-destructive.

WGN has released more information on season two of Manhattan .

 

A Great Injustice Finally Reversed–Tatiana Maslany Nominated For Emmy Award

Tatiana Maslany Three Clones

Over the last couple of years we have seen a grave injustice as Tatiana Maslany was totally snubbed when the Emmy nominations came out. Finally, this year Maslany has been nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. The reaction from the clones can be seen here. Fans are celebrating on Twitter. Despite her Emmy snubs, Maslany won two Critics’ Choice Television Awards and a TCA Award for her performance in the series. She was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress, losing out to Robin Wright of House of Cards. The Emmy nomination this year is an excellent start, but considering all the roles she plays in Orphan Black, she should also receive at least one additional nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. Her roles even included one guy(actually one of her weaker characters) and the voice of a talking scorpion.

The nominees in the categories are below and the full list of nominations can be found here.

Hey, what is this??!!   You’re The Worst not nominated for Outstanding Comedy Series and Aya Cash not nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series?? At least many of the other shows which I regularly cover on this blog have made the list. I guess I better catch up on Bloodline, having only seen the first episode so far. Did I make a mistake in giving up on Ray Donovan after the first season?

Outstanding Drama Series

“Better Call Saul” (AMC)

“Downton Abbey” (PBS)

“Game Of Thrones” (HBO)

“Homeland” (Showtime)

“House Of Cards” (Netflix)

“Mad Men” (AMC)

“Orange Is The New Black” (Netflix)

Outstanding Comedy Series

“Louie” (FX)

“Modern Family” (ABC)

“Parks And Recreation” (NBC)

“Silicon Valley” (HBO)

“Transparent” (Amazon)

“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” (Netflix)

“Veep” (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Kyle Chandler, “Bloodline”

Jeff Daniels, “The Newsroom”

Jon Hamm, “Mad Men”

Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”

Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan”

Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Claire Danes, “Homeland”

Viola Davis, “How to Get Away With Murder”

Taraji P. Henson, “Empire”

Tatiana Maslany, “Orphan Black”

Elisabeth Moss, “Mad Men”

Robin Wright, “House of Cards”

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson, “black-ish”

Louis C.K., “Louie”

Don Cheadle, “House of Lies”

Will Forte, “Last Man on Earth”

Matt LeBlanc, “Episodes”

William H. Macy, “Shameless”

Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Edie Falco, “Nurse Jackie”

Lisa Kudrow, “The Comeback”

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”

Amy Poehler, “Parks and Recreation”

Amy Schumer, “Inside Amy Schumer”

Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie”

SciFi Weekend: Hannibal Canceled By NBC; Humans Premieres; Catastrophe And Other Summer Television Choices; Death Of An Avenger; Another Superhero Crossover; Heroes Reborn

Hannibal Aperitivo

This season forth episode of Hannibal, Aperitivo, dealt more with aftermath of the second season finale.  The biggest surprise was that Dr. Chilton is alive, and out for revenge against Hannibal. It even turned out that many of the lines initially shown to occur between Will and Abigail earlier in the season actually happened when Chilton visited Will in the hospital. Chilton also compared notes with Mason Verger on making up their face–if you show yours I’ll show you mine. Jack and Alana are also both alive. Will confessed to Jack that he had called Hannibal hoping he would flee. Alana met with Verger, warned by Margot,  “If my brother offers you chocolate, politely refuse.” Hannibal was not seen in the episode, but the the set up has now been completed to have each of these characters come after him.

This week NBC announced plans to cancel Hannibal after this season and there is a scramble to find a replacement network. There has been talk about both Netflix and Amazon but it does not sound likely that Netflix is much of a possibility due to the deal with Amazon to stream previous seasons. Hopefully Amazon will be interested in picking up the show. If not, The Food Network sounds like a good match.

Even if Hannibal is renewed, Bryan Fuller will have a reduced role due to becoming show runner of American Gods.

Humans

Humans premiers in the United States on AMC tonight but the first three episodes have already been shown on Channel 4 in the U.K. After downloading episodes I highly recommend it. Unlike far too much science fiction on television, this show is not satisfied with a clever idea. It handles both characters and plot well, and as a result is likely to be enjoyed even by people who do not normally watch science fiction. This review avoids major spoilers but those who want to be entirely surprised in watching the show might not want to read this before watching the first episode as some minor events are mentioned.

Humans looks at the implications of something which could really happen in the not so distant future. The premise is that synthetic humans, known as Synths, start doing our mundane work, both in industry and the homes. This leads to issues such as a wife, played by Katherine Parkinson, whose many television roles included Jen from the IT Crowd. I see a certain irony in her having played Jen, the computer-ignorant woman placed in charge of the IT Department, to now play a woman who is skeptical about the Synths. Her daughter questions the point in studying if Synths could do anything. A man with Alzheimer’s uses his Synth to help him remember the past. The twist is that his Synth is a first generation one, slated for replacement, which has memory problems of its own.

Naturally the sexual implications are also explored, including Synths used as prostitutes. In one scene Parkinson’s husband looked at the directions which came with their beautiful Synth for those 21+ , and in another scene his son received a warning about inappropriate touching.

Besides looking at the sociological ramifications of the Synths, the show is also a thriller. Some of the Synths are secretly self-aware and communicating with each other. Also, while most of the Synths act in a characteristic way, don’t be so certain that everyone who appears human really is.

Catastrophe

Incidentally, besides Humans, another recent show from Channel 4 has become available in the United States. Catastrophe recently became available on Amazon. Think of it as if Welcome to Sweden took place in the U.K. and was written by the people who wrote You’re The Worst. While not genre, it did include one genre reference. In one scene a character is wearing a shirt saying, “Where is Jessica Hyde,” referring to a genre show on Channel 4, Utopia. I have also watched Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell from the BBC beyond what has been available in the United States and recommend this miniseries based upon the book.

In other summer television news, Extant returns this week, reportedly with major changes from the first season. Under the Dome returned last week, but I have not had time to watch the two-hour season premiere. I also have not had time to watch Mr. Robot yet. Apparently Humans is about robots, but Mr. Robot only has humans and no robots. I have held off on watching True Detective following poor reviews. The first season was only worth watching, despite a weak plot, due to the excellent work by Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

Over on Syfy, Defiance is much better in its third season. I still couldn’t call it a must-watch show for science fiction fans, but if anyone has seen the first two seasons was undecided about watching the third I would say to go ahead. It is much better having eliminated some of the characters and bringing in a new big-bad for the season. I have not watched their other Friday night show, Dark Matter, after hearing from several people that it is awful.

Avengers BBC

The “original Avenger” has died. Patrick Macnee of the 1960’s British spy series, The Avengers, has died at 93. Initially the show is well known for the role played by Diana Rigg.

Marvel Studios and Warner Brothers might not be the only ones with a superhero universe including crossovers from other characters. Marvel Studios has The Avengers (obviously different from The Avengers  pictured above. Warner has separate universes of DC superheroes both on television, and in with Justice League of America.   20th Century Fox, which owns the rights to X-Men and Fantastic Four, is rumored to be doing a crossover of these two franchises.

Emma Watson and Tom Hanks will be staring in the movie adaptation of The Circle, an excellent novel about current trends in social media going too far.

The Guardian looks inside Amy Schumer.

Joel McHale has been interviewed by Esquire, including about Community and his upcoming appearance on The X-Files. He has been predicting a Community movie but not a seventh season. #sixseasonsandamovie

A trailer has been released for Heroes Reborn:

SciFi Weekend: Orphan Black; DC vs. Marvel Movies; SHIELD; Why You Should Watch The Americans; Big Bang Theory On Leonard Nimoy; The Last Man On Earth; The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt; House of Cards and Hillary Clinton

The Orphan Black Season 3 trailer is above. Following is the official season synopsis for the third season, which starts April 18:

No sooner has Sarah caught her breath after a stealthy escape from DYAD and the ruthless clone Rachel (Maslany), she is called upon to face the crazed, captive Castor clone, Rudy (Millen). But it is the discovery of Helena’s disappearance that spurs Sarah into action, rallying her sisters in the quest to reunite their clone family, and find peace once and for all.

Their greatest threat is a band of highly trained soldiers – identical brothers dubbed Project Castor. Unlike the sisterhood, Mark, Rudy, Seth, Miller and others (Millen) grew up together, fully aware of who and what they are. Developed by the military, this wolf pack was raised as regimented clones – singular in thought, movement and allegiance. Hell-bent on kicking up dirt, they’re dispatched to tackle their mission from all sides. But differences in approach betray cracks in their armor, and may be the very thing the sisters need to escape their clutches.

The sisters will need all the help they can get. With Cosima’s fluctuating health and no known cure for the mystery illness that ails her, she is holding onto life by a thread while nursing a broken heart left by her scientist lover Delphine (Evelyne Brochu).  Can she find a cure in time to save herself and her sisters? As the turbulent world of Alison turns, she faces fresh suburban woes and new marital challenges with lovable oaf of a husband Donnie (Kristian Bruun). How far will Alison go to keep up the façade of her cookie cutter life?  Sarah’s torn between her desire for a life with daughter Kira (Skyler Wexler) and Kira’s father Cal (Michiel Huisman) and the urge to protect her foster family – loyal and feisty brother Felix (Jordan Gavaris) and mother Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy). But Mrs. S’s betrayal may cause her to turn her back on the only mother she’s known.

The hits keep coming for the girls but their commitment to this new family is as important as ever. No clone can do it alone, and Sarah must align with unlikely bedfellows in order to take on what is yet to come… and hopefully, discover the truth – her truth – along the way. How far are they willing to go to save each other and protect their families?

More on the upcoming season at The Mary Sue

Superman Warner CEO Interview

There are a lot of superhero movies planned making some wonder if viewers will have sufficient interest.  Warner CEO Kevin Tsujihara says that the DC movies will be edgier and more steeped in realism compared to Marvel’s movies:

“The key thing is that the movies and the television shows and the games, everything looks very different …you have to be able to take advantage of the diversity of these characters,” said Tsujihara.

Not everyone seems to agree. The comic book movie pile-up was the subject of numerous jokes at this year’s Oscar ceremony, and the eventual best picture winner, “Birdman,” is a satire of the craze for superhero films.

However, Warner Bros. is making a big bet that the comic book phenomenon won’t fizzle out just as the craze for disaster movies, biblical epics and other once-hot genres cooled off. The studio is using sister company DC Comics’ stable of masked vigilantes and villains to make roughly two superhero movies a year beginning in 2016 with the release of “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “Suicide Squad.” Other films include bigscreen adaptations of “The Flash,” “Aquaman” and “Shazam.”

The idea is to create a connected cinematic universe in which characters from one film interact with those from another, partnering, warring and creating super-teams such as the Justice League, DC’s answer to Marvel’s “The Avengers.” It’s a strategy that owes a lot to Marvel, but Warner Bros. chief Tsujihara stressed that characters like Batman and Deadshot are very different from that company’s signature Iron Man, Spider-Man and Captain America brands.

“The worlds of DC are very different,” he said. “They’re steeped in realism, and they’re a little bit edgier than Marvel’s movies.”

The major DC comics programs were on hiatus last week and Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD returned. While Agent Carter was well-received, and people thought it was a good idea to use it to fill a hiatus in SHIELD if there is a hiatus, there have also been a lot of complaints that the hiatus destroyed the momentum of the show. It was also a bit confusing for those who were forgetting the events of two months ago, and haven’t been reading up on the significance of adding the Inhumans. Bleeding Cool has a good summary of six key events from the return of SHIELD, which might be especially helpful if anyone is a bit lost.

Saturday Night Live has coverage in the video above of the Avengers beating Ultron.

Chris Evans spoke with Collider about Captain America in Avengers: Age of Ultron. ComicBookMovie.com has more on the movie from Joss Whedon.

The Americans 69 Scene

The Americans continues to have excellent episodes week after week. Many critics agree that it is the best scripted drama which continues with the same cast from season to season, but very few people are actually watching. Many reviewers have pointed out that more should watch. Uproxx presents a good argument for watching which might get more attention than favorable critical reviews abut its smart story telling:

It’s a show about sexy spies doing sexy things, with wigs and intrigue and great music and a teenage daughter who isn’t Dana Brody and violence and 69’ing. Maybe that’s the problem. The Americans is too vague a title. For the rest of Season 3, and hopefully into Season 4, FX should start promoting the series as The Show Where Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys 69.

There really was such a scene–see picture above. Plus their daughter walked in on it. Maybe that is what drove her to going to church. Paige is still a much better television daughter than Dana Brody.

I have mocked NBC for trying to copy The Americans with Allegiance. It has been canceled after only five episodes.

Big Bang Theory Nimoy Tribute

The Big Bang Theory ended with a tribute to Leonard Nimoy last week. I couldn’t read the text as my DVR popped up the window asking if I wanted to save or delete at the end of the show. In case anyone missed it, I have obtained and posted a screen grab above.

NBC has announced that Hannibal will return on June 4. Zachary Quinto will be guest staring on an episode. I hope someone Slaps him.

There was a reason for all those rumors that Jenna Coleman was going to leave Doctor Who after last season, along with all those hints in various episodes. Steven Moffat has confirmed that Coleman did plan to leave after last season but was persuaded to stay.

kimmy23f-6-web

It feels like the number of quality sit-coms had dropped tremendously by last season. Then last summer we got You’re The Worst, one of the best ever. Three new sit-coms worth watching have premiered recently. I discussed The Last Man on Earth in a separate post here. Also worthwhile are Fresh Off The Boat on ABC and Netflix released the first season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Friday. The last was developed by Tina Fey, originally to air on NBC. It would have fit well on Thursday night on NBC with shows such as Community, 30 Rock, and Parks and Recreation. Now that all of the shows of this type are gone from NBC’s lineup, it is far more likely to survive on Netflix. Netflix also plans a second season, which will be produced without concern for the standards of network television. Tina Fey has claimed it primarily consist of shower sex.

Some have criticized The Last Man on Earth for being totally unrealistic, but the same can be said about many events in other shows such as House of Cards (as I’ll discuss in the future). If all the unrealistic aspects of Last Man On Earth bother you, pretend it is just a bizarre dream. Who knows, maybe that will be the explanation in the end. Regardless, it is funny enough to get away with an unrealistic view of how things would be after most people die of a plague.

As people are watching at different rates, I’ll wait a little longer to discuss Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt along with the third season of House of Cards. While avoiding any spoilers, I will mention that watching House of Cards did have me wondering who would make the worse Democratic president–Frank Underwood or Hillary Clinton. Saturday Night Live also tied Hillary Clinton to House of Cards in this skit, following her Nixonian email problems.

The Last Man On Earth Is The First Original Network Sitcom In A Long Time

Last Man On Earth

The Last Man on Earth is something rare, a single cam sitcom which feels entirely original. Nothing is entirely unique on television. You’re The Worst was in many ways unique, but did so by showing a romantic comedy in a new way. There are plenty of post-apocalyptic television science fiction shows, but none done as comedy as Will Forte has. This post has spoilers regarding the events of the first two episodes.

Being a comedy, it can get away with a preposterous set up. In the first episode we learn that a virus has seemingly killed everyone on earth but one man. Three are no rotting bodies, and no signs of civilization collapsing. Forte’s character, Phil Miller (whose name comes from the writer and director pair of  Phil Lord and Christopher Miller), went to all fifty states in an RV, searching for other living people, with no difficulty getting gas. He raided the Smithsonian and other museums for decorations for his ultimate home and shouted in every state asking if anyone was around. Of course the show is not entirely implausible. Phil realized that he could have missed some living people in his ride through each state so he spray painted the message “ALIVE IN TUCSON” around the country.

Phil ultimately moved into a neighborhood in Tuscon which is much like my neighborhood (other than for the different climate). After traveling around the country, an area where air conditioning would be preferable, and there is limited precipitation, hardly seems like the best idea. If not staying in his own home for the sake of familiarity, a less affluent house which has practical measures such as an out house would seem preferable to cutting a hole in a diving board to make the world’s biggest toilet. Perhaps he could find the home of a survivalist who had everything he needed. If I didn’t stay in my home,  I might also consider a facility such as a hospital. I could tolerate sleeping in an on-call room or former patient room in return for an emergency generator system (assuming I had any idea as to how to run it).

The Last Man on Earth has a simple solution for its implausible situation–keep the viewers laughing continually. Phil does everything you’d expect a single guy with nobody to judge him to do, and more. He started with simple outdoor bowling with pins, progressing to knocking down aquariums full of water and making cars explode. He spent time in a kiddie pool filled with the ingredients for a giant Margarita, even with salt all along the rim.

If it was me, I would stock up on batteries for notebook computers, tablets, and/or smart phones and use them to view DVD’s plus media in digital form. I’m sure that with a bit of searching of abandoned homes, Phil could have found plenty of portable hard drives which were well stocked with porn and other movies. He did use a generator one day to view Castaway, and mocked Tom Hanks for talking to a Wilson volleyball. Months later he had an entire group of imaginary friends and drinking buddies made out of balls.

The first half hour was fine with only Phil. He periodically spoke with God, in addition to all the balls, to make up for the lack of others. While the first episode was quite funny, it was hard to see how they could make an entire television series out of this. Before viewers got bored, Phil got bored with his life. Fortunately, just before killing himself, Phil saw a fire. Not only had someone seen his signs, it was someone who had a bra hanging up to dry. Unfortunately, after a rather funny scene in which they met which included fantasies and wetting of pants, Phil found that it was someone he wouldn’t sleep with if she was the last woman on earth (as she appeared to be).

Carol, played by Kristen Schaal, is the opposite of Phil. While Phil would leave even more destruction beyond him than was necessary to get supplies, Carol followed all the old rules as if there were still others around. She even objected when Phil ran though stop signs.

At least Carol is more practical than Phil. She is not content to live on canned goods and Twinkies, and realized they should come up with a way to grow fresh fruits and vegetables. She also thought the two were meant to repopulate the earth, and eventually Phil became horny enough to go along. This relationship was not consummated by the end of the second episode which aired as Carol insisted upon getting married before having sex.

Schaal had to keep her role secret so that viewers wouldn’t know that a last man on earth didn’t preclude a last woman. In addition, January Jones, Mary Steenburgen, Mel Rodriguez, and Cleopatra Coleman have been cast for undisclosed roles. Forte is vague as to what their roles will be:

“There are twists and turns,” Forte recently told E! News. “Other people show up, and we do have flashbacks and dreams, so we do have some exciting people involved. Kristen Schaal, who’s one of the funniest people around, January Jones, Mary Steenburgen just signed on. I don’t want to give away what roles they play, but it’s an amazing group of people.”

Carol was added to the show before Phil’s solo antics lost their humor, and the banter between the two added a new element to the show. Another woman could shake things up. Carol probably wouldn’t accept having Phil also sleep with someone such as January Jones after they are married. However, if she is serious about repopulating the earth, this would be the obvious thing to do, along as an irresistible act on Phil’s part.

There is no way to know if this show will still be as funny after running for weeks, but at the moment it is one of the funniest and most original comedies on television. It won’t be the only sitcom with a post-apocalypse idea in its premise. I’m now rushing through the third season of House of Cards, which became available on Netflix last Friday, to save time for  Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, which premiers on Netflix this week. It is the latest comedy from Tina Fey, originally planned for NBC before NBC essentially ended its run as the network home for quality programing. The premise is that the Kimmy Schmidt, played by Ellie Kemper, has been held captive by a doomsday cult for fifteen years. She escapes into the world, but instead of the expected post-apocalyptic world she is a person who has become out of place in our world.

SciFi Weekend: The 100; Agents of SHIELD; Guardians of the Galaxy; Jessica Jones; Casting News and Rumors; Gotham; The Psychology of Batman; Whether The Doctor Had Sex With Queen Elizabeth I; Better Call Saul; Fresh Off The Boat; American Sniper; Boyhood; Bob Dylan

The 100 Coupe de Grace

The 100 continues to be one of the best science fiction series on television today. Last week’s episode, Coupe de Grace, had power struggles both among the Sky People and at Mount Weather as on this show no group is without internal conflict. Ever since the parents landed on earth there has been a question as to whether they would take control, or whether their kids who are far more familiar with the situation would continue to lead. Clarke made it clear when told her mother, “You may be the chancellor, but I’m in charge.” Alexander Haig couldn’t have said it any better. Kane has shown that he has learned a lot since the events of the first season as he accepts Clarke as leader. We also saw that Clarke is not one to be messed with when she partially emptied the Mountain Man’s oxygen tank just to make sure he hurried back with her message.

The power struggle at Mount Weather also demonstrated that on this show people and groups are never all good or all bad. President Wallace wasn’t going to go as far as his son, but he had been willing to preside over a system of using Grounders for forced blood transfusions. While his actions were not entirely good, they were understandable. While the actions of his son and Doctor Tsing were far worse, their motivation was also understandable. Despite their actions, the Mountain Men are not show as all evil, both with the actions of Maya and with Bellamy seeing the innocent children. It was a little sappier than usual for this show to have Bellamy meet the son of a man he had just killed.

There are also other complicated characters. Indra dislikes most people and has little use for the Sky People as a group, but also accepted Octavia for her strength. Lincoln has shown complexity as a character when he deviated from the views of the other Grounders. While generally displayed as a strong character, he also gave into the drug addiction used by the Mountain Men to control him. His fate remains a big question for the remainder of the season as, unlike other shows, we cannot just assume he will easily overcome the addiction and it will be forgotten.

Agents of SHIELD returns March 3. Trailer above. New cast members have been added for the Inhumans story line.  Interviews with returning cast members Adrianne Palicki, Nick Blood, and Clark Gregg here.

James Gunn discussed how Marvel is taking risks with Guardians of the Galaxy 2:

 “It’s not really based on anything. The story for Guardians 2 is an original story that I came up with that I started working on actually while I was shooting Guardians 1, and it’ll answer some of the questions that were put forth in the first movie about Peter Quill’s father and who he is and what’s going on with that. We’ll get to know some of the characters a little bit more and then we’re going to meet a couple of new characters who will be very important to Guardians movies and probably important to the Marvel Universe as a whole.” […]

“It’s different than what’s in the comic books. Peter Quill’s father is somebody different in the comics. So then when the movie came out, we got green-lit on the sequel right away. I went in and I sat down with those guys and I’m like, ‘Okay, here’s what I think the sequel should be.’ And they were like, ‘Oh, whoa. That’s risky, but okay.’ Now I’m going to turn over the story in a few short weeks and we’ll find out how well it works.”

But do we get a second awesome mix tape?

AKA Jessica Jones

ComicBookMovie has the first set pictures of Krysten Ritter in filming in A.K.A. Jessica Jones. The do not reveal anything meaningful about the story. I posted more news on Jessica Jones, along with the Daredevil teaser trailer, earlier in the week.

Among the more interesting casting rumors floating around this week, Bryan Cranston of Breaking Bad might play the villain in Star Trek 3. Will there be a blue meth problem aboard the Enterprise? Tatiana Maslany of Orphan Black is testing for a role in a Star Wars movie. How many roles will she play?

IO9 has an interesting look at what went wrong with the third season of Star Trek.

There are some big changes coming in DC Comics. More information here, here, and here.

milo-ventimiglia-39156_380_280

Variety reports that Milo Ventimiglia of Heroes and Gilmore Girls will appear in a multi-episode arc on Gotham:

Ventimiglia will play Jason Lennon, aka “the Ogre,” beginning in episode 19 of the Fox hit’s freshman season.

Handsome, wealthy and seductive, the Ogre is a serial killer who has been preying on the young women of Gotham for nearly a decade, luring them into his web and confronting them with a series of “tests” as he searches for his perfect mate. When the women fail to live up to his impossible standard, Lennon disposes of them quickly and viciously.

His obsessions, combined with the determination of Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) to bring him down, send both Gordon and Lennon — as well as those around them — on a course toward tragedy.

Reps for the show note that while Ventimiglia’s character shares a nickname with a villain from the DC Comics pantheon, the “Gotham” Ogre is unrelated to previous versions.

I am glad that Oliver returned on Arrow last week. With all the other spin-offs being made from the show, now there is talk that John Diggle might turn out to be John Stewart, the successor to Hal Jordan as the Green Lantern. With the television and movie universes being kept separate on television, we might ultimately see a second version of the Justice League of America on CW and CBS.

The Psychology of Batman is discussed in the video above.

Russel T. Davies and Steven Moffat debated an important question from Doctor Who: Did the Doctor ever have sex with Queen Elizabeth I?

Better Call Saul premiers tonight. Here is a review at The Guardian. Some critics have questioned the show. While they have pointed out good reasons why it will probably never be as good as Breaking Bad, few if any shows have ever been that good. With Vince Gilligan and the writing crew who finished up on Breaking Bad working on it, I am certainly going to give it a try. Considering the built-in  fan base from Breaking Bad, along with the lead in tonight from the return of The Walking Dead, I’d expect the pilot to do well.

Fresh off the Boat aired two episodes last week and the show looks quite promising, especially with the performance of Constance Wu and writing led by show runner Nahnatchka Khan (of Don’t Trust the B—- In Apartment 23, which stared Krysten Ritter.) The same night, Aya Cash of You’re The Worst had a brief appearance on Modern Family, playing a character with an attitude similar to Gretchen’s.

Looking at recent movies, I enjoyed American Sniper, but it did present a distorted view of the Iraq war. On the other hand, for a movie taking place in Texas, Boyhood surprisingly contains more accurate commentary on the war and recent politics. Plus he went to a book store event to purchase one of the Harry Potter books, just as my wife and I once did (without the costumes).

With Bob Dylan’s music coming up in last week’s post, it is worth mentioning that he stole the show at the Grammys’ annual charity gala on Friday.The Los Angeles Times has the full text of his speech. He began:

I’m glad for my songs to be honored like this. But you know, they didn’t get here by themselves. It’s been a long road and it’s taken a lot of doing. These songs of mine, they’re like mystery stories, the kind that Shakespeare saw when he was growing up. I think you could trace what I do back that far. They were on the fringes then, and I think they’re on the fringes now. And they sound like they’ve been on the hard ground…

From there he thanked those who helped him early in his career and many of the artists who performed his songs.