SciFi Weekend: The Magicians and Counterpart Season Finales; Star Trek Movie Scripts; CW Arrowverse Renewals

Last week featured the season finales of two excellent shows, The Magicians and Counterpart. While I rarely watch fantasy as opposed to science fiction, I found The Magicians to be an excellent show from the start, and the past third season was the strongest yet. The third season does depend upon knowledge of earlier events, and I would recommend that those who have not watched start at the beginning. The sections on both of these shows will have major spoilers beyond the introductory paragraphs recommending both shows.

The second season of The Magicians (finale reviewed here) ended with magic being turned off, leading into a season-long quest to find the keys which would allow magic to be turned on again. My (minor) disappointment in the finale comes from seeing that they technically succeed, but there is no time to enjoy the success. Instead the finale leads into what is presumably the plan for next season. Magic is back, but under the control of the Library. Brakebills is again teaching magic, but is being severely rationed. The memories of  Quentin, Julia, Eliot, Margo, Kady, Josh, and Penny 23 were wiped as part of a deal which left them alive. Julia temporarily had goddess powers, but had to give them up. Alice is a prisoner of the Library as punishment for breaking their deal.  Eliot is under the control of the Monster, has found Quentin, and wants to play.

Entertainment Weekly discussed the finale, and what comes next, with showrunners Sera Gamble and John McNamara:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The theme of sacrifice was really big in the finale. Why did you decide to focus on that in the finale?
JOHN MCNAMARA: I think that theme is very much in all three of Lev Grossman’s books. It felt like we had reached a point in season 3 where sacrifice is, in a way, unavoidable because the situation is so dire and so enormous and involved a lot of well-meaning but flawed people, as happens in life, and that sacrifice really is one of the key ways in which you make changes to the world in the real world. We always start with, “What would happen in the real world without magic? What if this show was just a drama about college kids? What if these college kids were in an extremely high-stakes situation? Now let’s layer in fantasy as a kind of metaphor for depression, or conflict, or fascism, and then tell the story through that lens.” As Rod Sterling discovered with The Twilight Zone, you can say a lot of serious things about the world but keep it really entertaining if it’s through the lens of fantasy.

With this finale, what did you want to say about the world? 
JOHN MCNAMARA: It’s weird. [Laughs]
SERA GAMBLE: Well, we always had in mind that they would heroically succeed in their epic quest this season, but that they would also lose. Part of the point of telling the story about these particular young magicians is that they have just a little bit of power at their fingertips as they try to move through a world that is so much bigger and more powerful than they are. That’s how it feels to be stepping out in the real and adult world. Sometimes it feels like you have just enough strength to make a little bit of change or to do a little something for yourself and the people around you, and sometimes it feels completely f—ing futile. The tension between those two, I think, is actually part of what defines feeling like an adult. That’s something that tends to organically enter into their stories. When they have a victory, especially when that opens up a door into more life, there’s usually a sh—y part to it, and this was finale was no exception.

At what point did you guys come up with the idea that the season would end with their minds/personalities being wiped?
MCNAMARA: Pretty early on we had this idea of magical witness protection. Although I don’t think we were totally sure of where and when and how we’d use it, but I just know it was an idea we all liked. Once we sort of figured out it would be the coda for the season finale, it felt like it was the right plan. Structurally, you get a satisfying, successful ending to the quest, which I, as an audience, would really want, and then you just get all these ripples, tsunamis of complications that result from that. “Be careful what you wish for” is one of the most common themes of fairy tales, and here we are: Be careful what you wish for, magic is back, and you have no idea who you are.

The biggest twist of the finale was that this monster has taken over Eliot’s body. How did you land on Eliot being the one it takes over?
GAMBLE: We know that the actor who plays Eliot is amazing. When you’re fortunate enough to produce a TV show for a few seasons, hopefully you’re learning lessons along the way about things that work. One lesson we learned in season 1 is that if you have a great actor, really think about that. We learned that when we cast Mackenzie Astin to play Richard. We had it in mind that we would kill Richard when Reynard entered the story and we would have to cast Reynard, but very quickly when we started seeing the dailies of Mackenzie, we realized we were never going to be able to top him. It was hard to imagine someone doing more with the role. At the risk of patting ourselves on our backs, we were right. That was really the inspiration. We talked about that in the room, about how it just meant so much more to us when we were watching Reynard on the screen. There was just this little extra wistful feeling of unfairness that came from the fact that he was inside of the body of this character who was so good and was really being violated.

The stakes are so much higher with this monster being inside of Eliot, someone they care so much about. It really changes their whole approach. It’s not as simple of a question as, “How do we kill this f—er if this f—er is in fact killable?” There’s also the equally important question: “How do we save Eliot, if he can still be saved?”

One of the late-season twists was the Penny from our timeline being replaced by a Penny from another timeline. What went into deciding to introduce this new Penny instead of coming up with a way for our Penny to be resurrected?
GAMBLE: We didn’t want to do the same thing we always did. We assumed that the audience would expect us to save Penny. Of all the characters, I have to double-check the statistics here, but I’m pretty sure we’ve had him near death as much or more than anybody else. We’ve saved him from certain doom several times over the last few years. To be completed honest, when we entered the season we were like, “He’s got the super cancer and we’re gonna have to find a way to fix that [in a way] that feels fresh and feels different.” Because we ask these questions in the writers’ room, one of the questions we asked was, “What if we just don’t save him this time?” Of course, first there’s silence and fear and your stomach drops because you can’t kill Penny; Arjun Gupta is a series regular and we like Penny!
MCNAMRA: And Arjun!
GAMBLE: And both are important to the story. But the beautiful thing about working on a show like Magicians is that you can ask that question and very weird answers will start to present themselves, and very soon we started to realize that the best thing we could do for the character of Penny would be to kill him, and that was a way that we could end the season with something that, we like to think, nobody would ever see coming, which is that a completely different Penny is now walking around with our crew. Someone from a different timeline who has, for the past couple of years, been living an utterly different life than the Penny that we knew…

Looking ahead, what can you tease about what you have planned for season 4? 
MCNAMARA: Most of the cases of the new identities of our characters, their professions, are not what you think they are or what they look like. It looked like one thing, but in about half of the cases, it’s something completely different. We’ve only shown you a sliver of who or what they are, and that sliver is misleading.

Counterpart is part Fringe and part John le Carré  as there is now a new Cold War between two versions of the earth which split apart. There are differences in each. In one there are no iPhones and in the other Prince is still alive, with an attempt to smuggle over his most recent album to our earth. The more significant differences are between different versions of characters from each earth, with some having taken paths which are quite different from their counterpart. The series was picked up for two season, and the season finale leaves mid-story off after key events to be continued in the second season as opposed to being a finale of an arc as on The Magicians. Major spoilers to follow.

For most of the season the show was primarily about the the two Howard Silks (J.K. Simmons), with Simmons doing an excellent job of playing two different characters. The series showed added depth when it devoted an episode to secondary characters. Rather than feeling cheated that the main character wasn’t present, as often occurs when series give the main character a break in this way, the conflict between the two earths was better defined by giving Clare’s backstory and more fully developing other characters.

Over the course of the season each Howard, while having some degree of contempt for the other, wound up becoming more like their counterpart in some ways–which is hardly surprising considering that they are versions of the same person. The season became more compelling when each was in the other’s earth, and the season ended with each trapped, and having to make new alliances. The diplomatic crisis after the attack leads to a look at the control of each side, raising the question of whether the same Management is in control of both sides, or whether both evolved in a similar manner.

The Hollywood Reporter interviewed showrunner Justin Marks:

Howard Alpha kills Pope. How does that change him?

It’s a very big moment for Howard. In a lot of ways, the whole season has been about the areas of overlap between Howard Alpha and Howard Prime. Pope taught Howard Prime everything he knows about the spy trade. And he was blind to the truth about Pope early on in the season. There’s something fitting to the fact that Howard Alpha, in killing Pope — albeit in self-defense — was able to do what Howard Prime couldn’t ever bring himself to do, which is acknowledge that Pope has been manipulating him and that he’s the enemy.

Emily Prime warned Howard Prime about Pope — even giving him the news about his rendition order coming from Pope, and it still didn’t sway Howard Prime.

Yes. And you have to consider the source when it comes to Emily Prime because Howard Prime seems to have such a difficulty forgiving her for past transgressions. When it comes to the relationship between Emily Prime and Pope, there’s no love lost there. So, for her to be the siren warning him, it’s hard for Howard to believe someone like that.

The two Howards are slowly moving closer to the core characteristics of the other. Howard Alpha is becoming more hard-boiled and Howard Prime is showing more vulnerability than he ever has. Is that the whole character arc for them at this point?

Yes. It’s the question that we have always wanted to do: explore this question of which Howard is the true Howard. The answer is it’s a combination of the two and where the center is, is a question that the series wants to figure out by the end of its run. We don’t ever want to place a pin on that map firmly as we go through. At the beginning of the series, the two Howards are very different. One has more empathy, while the other has a little more of a brutal honesty with himself and with the world around him. As the season goes on and they begin to inhabit each other’s lives, they begin to cave in the direction of their other, whether it’s conscious or unconscious. And as they do that, the question is, where do they meet? Do they meet closer to Howard? Or do they meet closer to Howard Prime? So far, it’s unknown. We always saw this show as this Darwinian battle, and Pope even calls it that; it’s between two versions of the same self when it comes to the survival of the fittest. In some ways it’s two sides of the same soul that are fighting to occupy the same real estate and where they land is an anyone’s guests at the end of the first season, except to say that they’re closer together…

Would the old Howard Prime have made the deal with the assassin Baldwin (Sara Serraiocco) when he first crossed over?

No, not at all. And would Baldwin have made the deal with him?

Being in our world has profoundly changed her as well, especially since she witnessed her doppelganger being killed. She now wants this storybook life. But can she truly find that? Just who is the real Baldwin?

When it comes to Baldwin and her counterpart Nadia, she saw in Nadia someone who clearly at the beginning of that second episode, had a somewhat of a contempt for her other and we play with it a lot in these characters. There’s an extent to which they covet what the other has, or what the other has done or has endured or not endured. The reveal is that both of them suffered that same trauma and Baldwin questions why her other was able to overcome that trauma of watching their father die and essentially being complicit in the act by not trying to save him. How is it that Nadia was able to do what she did and then the reveal that Baldwin had turned her pain outward to the world as a killer. She wears her scar on the outside of her clothes, so to speak. Nadia had turned her pain inward toward herself and Baldwin realizes at that moment that you are born back against your own trauma; that there is no escape from it. And if there is no escape from it, then isn’t it likely that she can possibly fight against that and erase it and create a new identity for herself. That’s what she’s doing: She’s going to try to build a new identity and that’s what she tries to do, to mixed success, in the first season.

When Clare meets Peter in the hospital after the intentional car accident, she realizes he has cast his lot with her, that the accident was his way of setting up an alibi for them, so in a way she owns him now. As a result, putting Peter in charge of the Indigo investigation is like the fox guarding the hen house.

Yes. Clare becomes what she needs to be in order to survive. If she needs to be Baldwin’s lover. she’ll be Baldwin’s lover; if she needs to be Quayle’s wife, then that’s what she’ll be. She is at a bit of a crossroads when it comes to the birth of this child. A child born of two worlds is a very complicated thing that she probably did not see coming when it came to stretching her loyalties. Quayle is the father of her child and he is the reason she is still alive because it’s her mission to handle him, to run him, to siphon intelligence from him. So she is just as much a victim in this marriage as he is. They’re both victims of this pretentious idea of a marriage where they were both using each other for their own separate needs. For Quayle it was ambition, and for Clare, it was this man who is well connected, who she was going to steal intelligence from. Moving forward, both of them have a lot to learn when it comes to finding a truth. But they are moving toward each other in a strange way. And the power dynamic continually shifts as it does in every marriage.

Let’s talk about what is probably the most unusual conference call in the history of TV between the two worlds.The very unusual tech involved is virtually identical. Are the members of management on both worlds the same people?

That is something that is potentially being suggested. The answer is a lot more complex and it’s an answer that our second season really wraps its arms around: Who is management? What is their history? What is the history of the crossing and the history of the Office of Interchange? How did it really form in the first place and why? And how it developed over the decades. We understand why Indigo is driven toward some sense of revenge against our world. What we haven’t yet seen a lot of is how Indigo also came about and what its connection with management is. At the end of the first season, we wanted to introduce the idea of management in a way that wasn’t what we would otherwise expect because in the second season management is a kind of character of their own.

The show is a metaphor for the Cold War, and the crossing is very similar to Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin in the early 1960s, especially when the infiltrator dies in the no man’s land in between. Is the crossing your modern version of the Checkpoint Charlie scenario?

Yes. The whole season, allegorically speaking, I would call Berlin 1961, right as the wall was about to go up. That’s the story of the first season, where there’s clearly a Cold War brewing in every respect, but the wall hasn’t quite officially been drawn. The second season is the Cold War after the Berlin Wall has been formed and how people start to draw battle lines and how they escalate the spy game in light of the fact that diplomatically we are more hostile toward each other.

More in an interview with The New York Times:

This is a show which would benefit from freeze-framing, especially when it comes to the Crossing. Or even with the zany Management set-up in the finale.

I really hope people do freeze-frame. I want to invite people to watch it on that level of detail. I wanted the show to feel like a Robert Altman version of science fiction more than Fritz Lang. Altman left all these windows open where you could see Lyle Lovett wandering around in the bushes back there, and you’re like, “What is he doing and why is he doing that?” It feels like the frame is alive more than just its four borders. One of my favorite things to look at in freeze-frame are all the Interface documents, all that code. That’s the kind of stuff we really live for, because the weirder, the more out there, the more zany the concept is, the more rigid the execution has to be.

For the Crossing, everyone wanted to turn the lights up and let it be seen. I said, “No, let’s pull out all of these lights, and make it really dark, and leave people craving more detail.” If you freeze-frame it, look at the dead center of the Crossing the details on the walls speak to the origins of the Crossing. Management, we had so much fun with that. We found the two strangest, most brilliant actors to play the respective Operators on either side in the finale. What kind of governing body protects the Crossing between two parallel worlds? The second season focuses in large part on the history and origins of Management…

The reveal that Claire Prime had taken this deep cover assignment to impersonate Claire Alpha was a major shock, not least of which to her husband, Peter Quayle, which continues that theme of men underestimating women.

I don’t think there’s anyone less qualified to have the job that he has than Peter Quayle. The person whose job it is to look for people who’ve infiltrated the organization doesn’t realize the woman he’s been sleeping with [is a mole]. There is a black comedy here, in Peter Quayle’s character, because Quayle — this philandering, underqualified, good-looking young guy — is a manifestation of privilege. We get to turn that inside out. And in the satirical manner of the last episode, Peter Quayle gets everything he ever wanted at the worst possible time.

I want to fill in Mira, the woman who trained Claire at the Indigo school for sleeper agents, because their ideology is a very important story for us in Season 2.

What about Emily Alpha? She figured out all the intrigue before anyone else did, and then spent the season in a coma. But now she’s starting to wake up.

There is always a temptation when you have that wife in a coma to idealize her, which is a little misogynistic, too. The only way we could convince Olivia Williams to do this show was to pitch her the two-season plan of who both Emilys are, and that the woman in the coma is in fact much more complex than any other character. Both Emilys, those are job descriptions that are typically reserved for the George Smileys of the world, the James Bonds of the world. [During filming] Olivia was walking through one scene with another male character, whose position is actually underneath her in the hierarchy of the show, but even then, the background actors look at the male she’s walking with and sort of nod, “Yes, sir” to him, not realizing that she’s the one who’s actually in charge in that scene. The clichés that abound, they speak to a certain gender norm that we didn’t want the show to reflect.

There are also interviews with J.K. Simmons here and with Harry Lloyd (Peter Quayle) here.

It is not certain if there will be (or even should be) further movies in the current Star Trek series. There has been talk recently about a script from Quentin Tarantino, which might provide a change. Zachary Quinto revealed on Entertainment Tonight Canada that there are actually a few scripts under consideration. From Dark Horizons:

Right now the future of the films are uncertain. The current cast contracts reportedly ended with the underperforming “Star Trek Beyond” in 2016, though several have expressed a desire to return including Karl Urban and Zachary Quinto.

Speaking with Entertainment Tonight Canada this week, Quinto offered an update on what’s going on with the films at the moment and revealed there’s up to three scripts in the works for the film:

“First of all, I think there’s a couple of scripts. Because there was a script being written before Quentin Tarantino came up with his idea for a potential film. And so I think they are kind of developing more than one. So I don’t know what is going to happen. Quentin is off doing another movie.

So, I feel like we are in a state of anticipation. All of us are really excited about the idea of working with Quentin on a Trek film, but I know Simon Pegg and Doug Jung, who wrote the last film, are writing a script and there are another set of writers writing a script. So I don’t know. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Before the Tarantino reports, there was talk for a fourth film effectively closing out this alternate timeline “Star Trek” and would do so by bringing back Chris Hemsworth’s dead George Kirk from the 2009 film – the destruction of his ship the U.S.S. Kelvin being the incident that caused the alternate timeline.

I wouldn’t mind if the alternate timeline was dropped for future movies.

The CW Network has announced the renewal of most of their shows, including the entire Arrowverse:

ArrowThe FlashSupergirlDC’s Legends Of Tomorrow and Black Lightning have all be renewed, as well as Supernatural, which is currently the network’s longest running series with Season 14 on the horizon.

Non-genre shows that have also been given another season include Jane The VirginCrazy Ex-GirlfriendRiverdale and Dynasty.

In a statement, CW president Mark Pedowitz said: “As The CW expands to a six-night, Sunday through Friday schedule next season, we are proud to have such a deep bench of great returning series for 2018-19.

It is noted that iZombie and The 100 are missing from the list. They might be waiting until iZombie completes its current season which is now airing. The 100 has not started its season yet so the lack of an announced renewal is not surprising.

Hopefully it is not a sign that Amazon is moving away from quality shows. They have announced the cancellation of Mozart In The Jungle after four season.

Killing Eve begins tonight on BBC America. It sounds like it might fill in the gap on the television schedule for spy shows with The Americans soon coming to an end and Counterpart being done for the season.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Discovery Season Finale; Sex Ed On The Magicians; Roswell; Constantine on Legends of Tomorrow; Black Panther

Star Trek: Discovery had the best first season for a Star Trek sequel/prequel series, but the season finale, Will You Take My Hand, was somewhat of a disappointment. Some aspects of the episode did work, but it was an overly simple and unrealistic ending for a season-long arc. While many individual episodes of other Star Trek series have relied on similarly simplistic endings, I had hoped for more with Discovery. On the other hand, Star Trek does have  a history of disappointing conclusions of arcs, such as with the finale of Deep Space Nine.  I wonder if the loss of Bryan Fuller resulted in setting up the season long story line, but if he left before the ending was totally fleshed out.

Last week they set up the ruse that Georgiou was the Prime Georgiou, despite it being unrealistic that the crew of the Discovery would be fooled. This was immediately abandoned this episode when Mirror Georgiou did not act like a Federation officer. It was also unnecessary for the plan initiated in the finale for her to have tried to fool anyone.

While weakly plotted, the scenes on  Qo’noS had multiple treats for fans, including a fourth role for Clint Howard going back to The Corbomite Maneuver. There were Orions, and we learned more about the Klingon penis in a season which previously showed Klingon breasts. (If everything, including the penis, is duplicated in Klingons, shouldn’t they have four breasts?) By the time they revealed that the package was really a bomb and the plan was to destroy or cause major destruction to  Qo’noS, I assume that most viewers had already caught on.

While a rather simplistic conclusion for the Klingon war, this provide the opportunity for Burhnam to raise the issue of sticking to Star Fleet principles, and give her reason to mutiny for a second time. The parallels to the start of the season were obvious. Besides returning to the theme from the start of the season, this season was unique in both starting and ending without the main ship’s captain being present.

Burnham came up with a solution preferable to mutiny, but I don’t see how she sold Star Fleet on her plan and returned before Georgiou had time to set off the bomb. Although it was established that L’Rell’s main goal was Klingon unification, there was hardly good reason to be so certain that L’Rell wouldn’t have tried to accomplish this by leading the Klingons to victory after taking over. It is also questionable that Klingons would have believed she could blow up the planet and very likely would have decided to attack her first and think about matters later (if at all).

Even if L’Rell could get the Klingons in the room to give her the power, I also found it unrealistic that Klingon ships on the verge of attacking earth would have turned around. It would have been more realistic that the Klingons would have abandoned the war if, instead of being on the verge of victory, they were engaged in a space version of trench warfare from World War I with no victory in sight for either side. Having the Klingons be so dominant at this stage of the war also makes it less believable that the Federation seemed so dominant again by the time of the original show. Perhaps the resurgence of the Federation will be dealt with over the next few years on Discovery.

With the war over, there was time for a family reunion and an awards ceremony. Many questions already remained open. How will they deal with the spore drive, which now seems fully functional, but which needs to be forgotten within the next ten years? What is the meaning of the spore which landed on Tilly? Georgiou, L’Rell, and Tyler are all around in this universe, providing possibilities for a return. The Prime Lorca and perhaps the Mirror Burnham could also turn out to be alive.

After leaving the awards ceremony, the next question raised was the identity of the new captain. While the captain would be picked up on Vulcan, this may or may not mean that the person will be a Vulcan.

Then came the big surprise. The Discovery encountered another ship. The call letters began NCC17…

By then most fans probably knew what was coming next. They certainly could not tease this and then show the NCC1776, The USS Independence Day, or some other starship. It was NCC 1701, the original USS Enterprise, the flagship of Star Fleet, currently under the command of Captain Pike.

The episode then went into a new rendition of the original Star Trek end credits music, and we will have to wait until next season to see what happens with the Enterprise. This is the type of a cliff hanger I prefer for a series which will not return for months. Conclude the main story arc of the season, and then tease something from the upcoming season, as opposed to leaving the main arc unfinished.

For all but purists, the ship we saw did look like the Enterprise, regardless if there were slight changes. Matters will be more difficult if they show the interior, or the uniforms, considering how much Discovery has been updated. It would be an easy matter to recast Captain Pike, and most of the crew are unknown to us with one notable exception–Spock. While it would be amazing if Zachary Quinto were to play Spock, I doubt this is likely.

There are other difficulties. If Spock and Burnham interact, it would be a little more difficult to believe that Spock never mentioned his half-sister. There would be an even greater contradiction if Sarek and Spock see each other considering that, as established in Journey to Babel, the two were estranged for eighteen years. Of course it is possible that the two could avoid any contact with each other as they are estranged, or Spock could be elsewhere.

TVLine  discussed the episode with  Discovery executive producers Gretchen J. Berg and Aaron Harberts

TVLINE | Let’s start at the end, with the Enterprise reveal. What kind of storytelling avenues does that open up for you in Season 2?
AARON HARBERTS
 | I think one of the biggest things it’s going to allow us to do is start to develop how Discovery fits into canon. One of the big things that’s been polarizing for fans is, “We’ve never heard about Discovery! How does it fit? She’s related to Spock?” All those things. And what it’ll allow us to do is hit that straight-on. We see it as an exciting opportunity to say, “This is exactly how Discovery fits into the timeline. This is exactly how we can reconcile the choices we have made.” Because at this period in time, the Discovery and the Enterprise are the crown jewels in the fleet, so they should be face-to-face.

TVLINE | So does that mean Christopher Pike is a full-fledged character next season? Because we don’t know a lot about him, outside of “The Cage” and “The Menagerie.”
GRETCHEN J. BERG | Yeah, we can’t talk about specifics too much, but I think that because we are in canon, we look at things we know, and things we don’t know… and then there are the things we don’t know about the things we know! And there, often, you’ll find great opportunities for storytelling. But it is intriguing. It’s one of the fun things about playing within this box that is the timeline where we are.

HARBERTS | If there ever were to be a captain from canon that one could explore… Christopher Pike would certainly be that one.

TVLINE | So I guess you can’t tell us if we’ll see a ten-years-younger Spock next season, then?
BERG | [Laughs] No, we can’t!

HARBERTS | I can tell you: All you have to do is look at Michael Burnham and Sarek, and the look they exchange at the end of the show, and ask yourself what that could be about.

TVLINE | Maybe it’s safe to ask you about this: How great did it feel to lay down the old-school theme song over the closing credits?
HARBERTS | That was [executive producer] Akiva Goldsman’s idea. He is a huge Trek fan, and from the very beginning of his involvement in the show, he’s always been the guy who’s like, “And then the Discovery and the Enterprise will meet up!” And we’re like, “OK, Akiva, yes, yes…” [Laughs] It was his ultimate fanboy geekgasm… and it was a great idea. And then it was his idea to do the old theme at the end of the episode. I was at the scoring session, watching [composer] Jeff Russo lay that down. Tons of people were there, and you could have just heard a pin drop, and then there were smiles on everyone’s faces. It was very cool.

TVLINE | Oh, so that was totally re-recorded? That wasn’t just the original theme replayed?
HARBERTS
 | Oh yes, that was re-recorded. We had a vocalist come in. They had a bongo player in an isolation booth to play the bongo part. [Laughs] It was legit…

TVLINE | There’s always a chance she could run into Tyler and Georgiou again, right? It’s a big universe, but not that big.
HARBERTS | Oh yeah. One of our goals was: We wanted to create a universe, and play in that universe. And it’s only fun if you’ve got a cast of characters who can continue to come and go…

TVLINE | You did leave us hanging on who the next captain of the Discovery will be. What kind of personality type are you looking for to fill that spot?
BERG | Well, I don’t think we could bring back a Lorca [type] again, just because he was a captain perfect for wartime. I think the crew would be suspicious of that again. [Laughs] Discussing who’s next in that chair is a big topic in the writers’ room, and we certainly have landed somewhere… but I think we’d like you to stick around and watch and find out who it is, and why.

ET Online also interviewed them:

ET: Why did you want to introduce the USS Enterprise now on Star Trek: Discovery?

Gretchen J. Berg: From the beginning, it was something that we knew that folks who are fans of Star Trek know the Enterprise is out there and it was kind of the elephant in the room. We knew eventually that we would want to address that and deal with it. Even though it’s a giant, giant universe, it’s something that’s on everybody’s minds. So we were glad to be able to take the whole season to get to know our crew because the storytelling is going to be told from the point of view from Michael Burnham and Discovery. Let everybody get to know our characters and our show and what we were doing before we brought in the Enterprise. We knew it would be exciting and provocative, for sure.

Aaron Harberts: We also knew that we couldn’t hold off on this because there are so many questions about Burnham in regards to the notion of Sarek and Spock’s family, which is not to say that we’re introducing Spock at the moment. We don’t want to spoil anything. But it’s certainly time to get the audience understanding that we fully intend to respect the original series and respect where Discoveryfalls in that. To do that, we have to show the Enterprise and at least have these ships cross paths.

What is your intention with establishing the Enterprise in this way? What are you comfortable saying with regards to its place in season two?

Berg: Usually, we like to say sit back and enjoy the ride because it’s one of those things… You know, as a writer, you work on something and work on something, and you’re always like, but wait! We’re working on it and we’re going to show it to you and you’ll see. We’re certainly acknowledging that they exist in the same time. But always, always, always, the story on Discovery will be told from the point of view of Disco and our Disco crew. I think it’s fair to expect something, but we probably couldn’t go too much into detail about what it is.

Harberts: More than anything, it is about what new stories does this provide for our crew, for Michael Burnham, for Saru, for Tilly. Our main interest is Discovery. However, if the presence of the Enterprise can show us new things about our crew, the better.

It’s notable that it’s Captain Pike who sent the distress signal for the Enterprise. Is he a character we could meet in season two, along with Enterprise crew members?

Harberts: The thing to consider about Captain Pike is, from an audience and writer’s point of view, there is something very exciting about a key character from [Star Trek: The Original Series] who’s only been explored in two episodes of the original series — three if you consider how [the rejected pilot for the original series] “The Cage” works into the puzzle in TOS. When we think about the idea of Captain Pike, it opens up some large possibilities. We will never say never to exploring him a little bit more…

Are you suggesting that the nine-month period in Prime during which Michael and crew were stuck in Mirror Universe won’t be revisited?

Harberts: To be honest, Episode 14 [“The War Without, the War Within”] was all about what had happened. With the destruction that was wrought by the Klingons and the Federation during those nine months, we tried to paint the picture of that. I think what’s exciting about moving into season two is we’ve got a fresh new palette. We’ve put the war behind us and we’re excited to move on into some things that Trek fans have been longing for, which is more exploration, more diplomacy, more planets, more away missions. We’re focused on serving up some new stuff.

What does this mean for the future of Jason Isaacs, whose Mirror Lorca was killed but the whereabouts of Prime Lorca are still unclear, or Michelle Yeoh, whose Mirror Philippa is still roaming the galaxy?

Berg: If they’re out there, the possibilities are endless. Never say never. That’s the great thing about this universe: there are so many more different ways to go. I can’t confirm or deny anything, but…

Harberts: If we find Prime Lorca, I sort of want to find him making artisan sourdough bread in a bakery in San Francisco. That’s how that storyline could start and we’d just build from there. (Laughter.)

Because it seems the Mirror Universe isn’t a destination you’ll go back to anytime soon, what about Paul Stamets and Hugh Culber’s future? Wilson Cruz told us recently that their story isn’t over.

Berg: Wilson’s correct. We have just begun to tell the love story between Culber and Stamets, so I would just say hold tight.

Harberts: Stamets has got a lot to process that he hasn’t had time to process yet, in terms of not being in charge of the spore drive and having lost Culber. We’ve got to take Stamets on a journey as well and then we’ll see. But Culber is a character who is part of this Star Trek world, no doubt.

You’re already knee-deep on season two planning. What are you looking to achieve thematically and creatively?

Harberts: Chapter 1 of this novel was war, and right now, we’re thinking about Chapter 2. One of the themes we continue kicking around is the conflict between science and spirituality, and that’s something that we’re very interested, particularly after you finish a war. How do you rebuild yourself? What’s required for that? What we’re most excited to do is to continue thematic exploration and philosophical exploration and debate, and these characters are perfectly primed to carry storylines like that. That’s one thing that we’re thinking about. We have a few things up our sleeve, but we’d be lying if we knew everything, because that’s the fun of it is as well. You go into it, you see what’s working and you see what’s interesting, and you build from there.

Berg: The joy is in the journey for us as well in creating it.

This week’s episode of The Magicians was significant for introducing Poppy Kline, played by Felicia Day, but regular Summer Bishil (Margo) certainly held her own. Margo wound up in an undesired marriage to young Fomar, and turned to her version of sex ed to attempt to turn him off to the idea. While she pulled out a thick volume which contained female anatomy, her suggestion of the presence of teeth provided the title for the episode.

As usual, The Magicians did an excellent job of combining such amusement with advancing the plot. While Fumar was knocked out (later to be told he did great), Eliot and Margo found a massive field of the Fairy Queen’s mushrooms, which turned out to be fairy incubators to grow a fairy army. It will be interesting to see what happens now that Margo has taken hostages.

More also happened in this episode, including a look at depression with Felicia Day’s story. Inside The Magicians video below:

The CW Network rivals Syfy in the number of genre shows. They have announced that they will be expanding their programming to six nights a week, adding Sunday. This should increase the chance of their bubble shows returning and provides room for new shows. Next season this includes remakes of Charmed and Roswell.  Jeanine Mason (Grey’s Anatomy) has been cast a the lead for the Roswell reboot.

The highlight of the past week on CW was an appearance by Constantine on Legends of Tomorrow. It has been confirmed that Constantine will return later in March.

The biggest genre news of the week was the record smashing opening weekend of Black Panther.

SciFi Weekend: Mr. Robot; Hannibal; The Flash; Sense8

Mr Robot Angela

Mr. Robot began with a flashback showing how Elliot first met the character who was killed last week, but overall the episode concentrated more on the other characters. (The initial scene did have me puzzled for a moment until I realized it was a flashback.) Angela is proceeding with her plan, but now must face the fact that it will put her friends out of work. Tyrell is increasingly looking like he is a far more warped character than Elliot, as one more character, although a minor one who was only introduced recently, has been  violently removed from the cast.

Earlier in the season there was a fan theory, suggested in the pilot, that Mr. Robot is an imaginary character, present only in Elliot’s head. Some have suggested that nobody was interacting with him other than Elliot, but more recent scenes have cast doubt on that theory. Another theory is that he is “real” but another manifestation of Elliot. For example, Alan Sepenwall noted:

Both of Mr. Robot’s scenes take place independently of Elliot, which can be read as a clear sign that he’s meant to be an independent character, or just more examples where we’re seeing Mr. Robot as an Elliot stand-in. And when Darlene and Trenton discuss what motivates the other members of the group, they don’t mention either Elliot or Mr. Robot, which makes more sense if they’re meant to be the same person — and the group’s leader — than if Elliot is just another guy recruited to fulfill Mr. Robot’s anarchic vision.

Hannibal Will and Hannibal

Hannibal continues the Red Dragon storyline, and returned Bedelia (Gillian Anderson) to the mix. During …And the Woman Clothed in the Sun, Will met with both her and Hannibal, and even had a chance encounter with Dolarhyde. While the Tooth Fairy doesn’t eat people as Hannibal does, he did show a strange appetite of his own. Hannibal is still locked up, but this is not enough to keep him with interacting with the outside world. Bedalia also was shown with a former patient of Dr. Lecter, played by Zachary Quinto, showing us the true story of the patient who died under her care. Plus there was a tiger–and we saw inside its mouth.

>The-Flash-Season-two

The Flash‘s new costume was displayed at Comic Com, and there is further news about the second season. Both Wally West and Jay Garrick have been cast, with Jay Garrick’s Flash foreshadowed in the first season finale. Entertainment Weekly also reports that we will not only see the Earth 2 Flash, but also see glimpses of the alternate Earth:

Well, it sounds like that singularity leads to a pretty familiar place. In speaking about the great care they took with making their version of time travel both easy to digest and complex enough to be exciting for the diehard fans in season 1, executive producer Andrew Kreisberg says, “We’re trying to do the same thing this year with Earth 2 and the concept of the multiverse and the concept of dopplegangers. We’ve been having a lot of fun with that and getting glimpses of Earth 2 probably sooner than people would’ve thought.”

Sense 8 Finale

Netflix finally announced that they are renewing Sense8 for a second season last week, which provides a good excuse to write a bit about the show. I’ll try to avoid significant spoilers, but those who want to go into the show without knowing anything about it might look away.

The story does develop slowly, with the first few episodes primarily being devoted to introducing the characters and setting matters up. The story centers around eight people from different part of the world: Nomi (Jamie Clayton) a transgender character played by the transgender actress, Will, a Chicago cop (Brian J. Smith), Lito, a telenovela star who is secretly gay (Miguel Ángel Silvestre),  Icelandic DJ Riley, who started out the series living in London (Tuppence Middleton), Korean business executive Sun (Bae Doona), Indian pharmacist Kala (Tina Desai) who is engaged to her boss, German safecracker Wolfgang (Max Riemelt), and Nairobi bus driver Capheus (Aml Ameen).

What is remarkable about the series is that each character has a life of their own, with supporting cast, and their scenes are actually filmed where they are said to occur. This includes former Doctor Who companion Freema Agyeman in rather explicit lesbian love scenes with Jamie Clayton, and a rather fun threesome in Mexico City. Plus there is ultimately an orgy involving most of the cast. Did I forget to mention that this is an R-rated series?

The combination of all these characters gets even more complicated as the characters find they are tied to each other and can interact with other Sensates in other parts of the world. A character involved in a fight might be helped out by another who is a better fighter, along with taking advantage of other skills processed by others. After watching the final episode it is worth watching the show on Netflix as to how the series was filmed. (I watched this immediately after watching the final episode as I was not ready to leave this world or these characters.) Rather than filming the show chronologically, the entire cast traveled together around the world.When a scene involved a connection between characters in two (or more ) parts of the world, the scene was filmed at separate times in each location and later put together as viewed.

The plotline might be simplified to a group of people with a special power who wind up being chased by an evil group. While this has done many times before, it has never been done like this. The show goes far beyond this concept in the development of each character and location. Instead of superpowers, the characters have normal abilities, other than their ability to connect with other Sensates. While sometimes slow, I found this to be definitely worth watching. If anyone is tempted to give up midway through because of some episodes which deal more with explanation than action,  the action does pick up tremendously in the last few episodes.

Sense8 Will and Riley

Just prior to the renewal news, J. Michael Straczynski was interviewed about plans for the second season, and working with the Wachowski brothers:

On whether the characters will take on each other’s abilities…

J. Michael Straczynski:
Yeah, we’re looking at expanding that as far as logic goes. What’s kind of fun about the characters is that what they’re sharing are not necessarily superpowers. They have ordinary abilities, and we’re trying to say that there is value and merit and power whether you’re an actor or you are a martial arts person or a bus driver. You have something to contribute. Some of the hardest parts of making that process work visually was in choreographing this entire thing. So, for instance, in the scenes with Sun, we had to stage her fights both in Korea and in Nairobi twice. She would literally start a punch in Korea and then finish that punch in Nairobi. That process of really making that work visually was very involved, very detailed, but sells the illusion of it…

On whether, if they are renewed for another season, there is a five-year plan for the show…

JMS: The way that the Wachowskis and I tend to work, as we created the show together, wrote it together, we are long-game kind of people. We look down the road to say, “Okay. We’re setting this up now. Where is this going to go?” That doesn’t guarantee we’re going to go five seasons, but for ourselves, for the writing process, we need to, kind of, know where we’re going, where this all pays off, what this means. So season 1 is like the origin story. Season 2 has its own particular arc. And we’ve figured it out from there. But to spoil that here would not be in the best interest of the surprises we have in mind.

On collaborating with the Wachowskis…

JMS: If they have their strengths, first it’s action and character, then plot and structure. I think they would agree that’s kind of their dynamic. I’m a structure demon, so I’m really focused on keeping the story going from here to here to here so it all makes sense in the end. Light on action, decent on plot. So the good thing is that you lay our two skills over one another, and it’s a perfect fit. So the collaboration process was a great deal of fun for all of us. We learned from each other’s strengths and compensated for each other’s weaknesses.

The full post includes also questions for some of the cast members.

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.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Outlander; Extant and You’re The Worst Finales; Pineapple Mystery From How I Met Your Mother Solved; Gillian Jacobs Gets New Show; Supergirl; Suicide Squad; Star Trek

Doctor Who Time Heist

Saturday night featured The Wedding on Outlander while Doctor Who combined at least two old plot ideas. On the surface, Time Heist is a classic Ocean’s Eleven bank robbery, plus throw in a little of The Bourne Identity. It was obvious something big would happen after the Doctor said, “It’s just a phone Clara, nothing happens when you answer the phone.” Suddenly there were four people in a room with their memories wiped (with their consent) and placed in a position where they had no choice but to go through with robbing a bank. (“I’m an amnesiac robbing a bank.”) The Doctor led the gang. Why? “Basically, it’s the eyebrows.” Plus the Doctor has experience as a thief, dating back to when he stole the TARDIS.

But this is Doctor Who, not Bonnie and Clyde. In the end it turned out not to really be a bank heist at all, but a plan arranged by the Doctor and initiated with a call from the future from the head of the bank, Director Karabraxos, who took the Doctor’s phone number on a note saying he is a Time Traveler, with the advice, “You’ll be old and full of regret for the things you can’t change.” In a way, Director Karabraxos is this episode’s Sally Sparrow, as Doctor Who repeated an idea from Blink and Listen, with the events of the story being a self-contained wibbly wobbly timey wimey time loop. Instead of “Don’t Blink” the warning is “Don’t Think” when The Teller is around. It is not entirely clear how the Architect/the Doctor, managed to set this all up, or why it had to be this complex, but this week’s plot holes are still not as bad as Robot of Sherwood’s golden arrow.

To pull of the non-heist, the Doctor and Clara had the assistance of two recruits, Psi and Saibra . I wouldn’t be surprised they show up in a future episode (perhaps in their past), like the Paternoster Gang. Once again Doctor Who also took advantage of paying homage to its past. When Psi reviewed the universe’s worst criminals, several old Doctor Who villains were included. The new, less flashy Peter Capaldi Doctor also looked back and mocked earlier regenerations played by Tom Baker and Matt Smith: “Big scarf. Bow tie. Bit embarrassing.” Plus the episode began with answering a phone, which led to a reminder of the still-unanswered question of who gave Clara the Doctor’s phone number in The Bells of Saint John.

Above is the Doctor Who Extra for Time Heist.

The Heist is the last episode which leaked out before the start of the season, so the only spoilers out now are those officially released. Next week we return to where it all began for the Doctor on earth, and Clara’s current place of employment, as the Doctor becomes The Caretaker at Coal Hill School. Time Heist did little to advance the storyline between Clara and Danny, but presumably this changes next week. For someone who has spent so many years traveling through space and time, often on his own, the Doctor sure has a tough time figuring out what to do when Clara and Danny are out on a date. For someone who has spent so much time on earth, he also has a difficult time understanding both women and dating:

The Doctor : Are you taller?
Clara : Heels.
The Doctor : What, do you have to reach a high shelf?
Clara : Right, got to go, going to be late.
The Doctor : For a shelf?

Outlander The Wedding

The consummation of the marriage was far more important on Outlander than the wedding this week. Sam Heughan discussed filming the sex scenes with The Hollywood Reporter:

Those who have read the first Outlander book have been anticipating Jamie and Claire’s wedding episode for a while. Was this an episode that you circled on the calendar? How important was it to get the intricacies of the wedding and the aftermath right?

The wedding is a big episode for Jamie and for Claire. There are many big moments we have to get right and going back to the flogging that was another big one that we have to mark right. How we get from one to the next the writers have a bit more freedom in the way we portray it. Yeah, we got to get it right. But the subject matter — Caitriona [Balfe] and I have never done anything like this before, so it was a bit of a learning curve. We were lucky that the director, Anna Foerster, was good. We did a lot of rehearsals. We discussed how we wanted it to work. When you watch the episode there is a progression in the way that Jamie and Claire get to know each other. Their relationship grows quite quickly so by the end of the episode, you can see that they’re basically making love, it’s not just consummating the marriage. Their friendship and their relationship is really bonded, but is also left in a place where Claire is reminded of her husband, Frank, back in the future. That leaves a wonderful discord at the end of the episode.

You mentioned that you had never really done an episode like this before. How comfortable were you with the nudity? 

Caitriona and I had already filmed a scene from episode 10. When we were filming, we shot two episodes ahead so we did a scene after [the wedding] — a big breakup. It was very physical and lustful. To do this somehow felt easier, but more intimate because this was more about discovering each other. Yeah, we were both slightly nervous, which I think helps. In the scene, it’s part of them finding each other. We worked it out in rehearsals what we wanted the viewer to see and not see and how we wanted it to be portrayed. Again, we don’t want [the sex] to be gratuitous but it’s very important for the characters and what happens to their relationship.

We get a sense, too, of Jamie’s naivete when it comes to sex, which is a source of humor. Plus, it’s a nice role reversal to see Claire being the one who is more experienced sexually rather than Jamie, who hasn’t reached that level yet.

In most TV dramas and films, it’s normally the other way around. It’s the guy [with more experience] than the woman, so it’s kind of turned on its head. Jamie’s very willing to learn and Claire is a very good teacher. (Laughs.) He couldn’t ask for better really. But it’s wonderful that they do have that kind of relationship. It’s very physical; there are no barriers. That’s what made their bond even stronger. I think he grows up very quickly and learns a lot, but it is lovely his humor. He’s learned a lot from looking at farmyard animals [which] is slightly disturbing. (Laughs.)

Now Claire has two rings and two husbands, and after all that sex finally remembers that she is supposed to be trying to return home to her first husband.

Extant-Ethan-about-to-explode

There were finales of some summer shows this week, including Extant and You’re The Worst. Extant‘s end was not spectacular but did a decent job of concluding the story. The entire series could have been better if a few hours had been cut (and those which aired were better written). The show did tie together the two big story lines of Halie Berry’s impregnation in space and the artificial intelligence kid. I was wondering if they were going for some sort of high concept ending, showing two possible successors to the human race, or at least do more to question what it means to be human. Instead they tied them together in a simpler manner, having Ethan be the one “person” immune to the alien’s mind control as he is not  human. The anti-AI terrorist plot with Odin played into this as it created a new dilemma when Ethan decided to warm himself up to appear human to override the computer control on the spaceship Halie Berry was on.

The series was billed as a single season show, but we have seen such shows turn into multi-year series as with Helix and Under the Dome. I doubt this will happen due to Extant‘s poor ratings, but they left open the possibility with both the alien kid and Ethan’s’s mind still around at the end. While these loose ends were clearly intentional, presumably to leave open the possibility of a sequel, I suspect other loose ends were more from sloppy writing. For example, Molly and Sean should both have been infected by the alien spores, and now infecting others on earth. We also don’t know what happened to Yasumoto. Did he wind up dying after running out of that alien substance?

That’s too many questions. I don’t want anyone to get the idea of doing a second season to attempt to answer them.

You're The Worst Finale

While Extant was seriously flawed, You’re the Worst was the best, including the season finale. The finale was the perfect ending for what has turned into the best new sit-com in years. If the show is not renewed, it turns the ten episodes into what would feel like an excellent romantic comedy movie if watched in one sitting–which I would recommend for those who have the time and have not seen it yet–even if you don’t normally like romantic comedies. If you are above romantic comedies, think of what would happen if Dan Harmon wrote one. The show has very sharp writing and excellent performances by the cast, led by Chris Geere and Aya Cash, which manage to explode many of the clichés of the genre and television in general, while being extremely funny.

The episode shows how the series has begun to create its own universe, rather than relying on the stars alone. It provides what could serve as and end for the stories of both the main characters and side kicks (who in one episode even went meta and recognized their role). Besides altering the relationships of the various couples on the show, we saw the consequences of Gretchen’s habit of plugging her vibrator into a chain of Christmas lights, as well as what happened to the cat in the book store. While it works as a conclusion for the series, preferably this season finale will be a lead in to a second season, having introduced some changes in the situation of the characters to keep things fresh.

After You’re the Worst, I fear that the upcoming season’s new romantic comedies, such as A to Z and Manhattan Love Story, will seem quite lame.

how-i-met-your-mother-pineapple

How I Met Your Mother is another sit-com which developed its own universe, and a complex mythology. One mystery which was never solved occurred when Ted woke up with a hangover and no memory of the woman in bed with him or how a pineapple wound up on his nightstand. A deleted scene from the entire series DVD explains this. BuzzFeed has the scene, with the explanation involving the Captain who placed pineapples outside his homes: “It’s an old sea captain’s tradition, you put a pineapple on your porch as a symbol of hospitality. I keep one here and one outside my townhouse in the city.” Drunk Ted picked up the one outside his townhouse in the city. I imagine it was a matter of time, as this scene both resolves a long-standing mystery and contains a threat that fits in so well with the dynamic between Ted and the Captain.

Gillian-Jacobs

Gillian Jacobs of Community appears on the upcoming season of Girls. Working with Judd Apatow led to her being cast on a new show he is producing for Netflix:

Netflix has given an eye-popping two-season commitment to a comedy series from Judd Apatow and “Girls” alum Lesley Arfin that offers an unvarnished take on a modern relationship.

“Love,” produced by Legendary TV, will star “Community” player Gillian Jacobs and Paul Rust in the lead roles of Mickey and Gus, a couple in the throes of experiencing the “exhilarations and humiliations of intimacy, commitment, and other things they were hoping to avoid.” The series is targeted for debut in 2016.

“Love” garnered Neftlix’s biggest upfront commitment to an original series since drama “House of Cards’ went on the market in 2012 and landed a two-season order. Since then, the netcaster has built up a solid roster of original series.  Netflix has ordered 10 episodes for “Love’s” first season and 12 for the following season a year later.

It sounds like it might be more serious than You’re The Worst, but I wonder if it can do as well in providing its take on a modern relationship.

CBS has decided to pick up Supergirl.

The Suicide Squad, seen last season on Arrow, is being considered for a movie.

Zachary Quinto says that filming might begin on Star Trek 3 in the next six months.

Update: Emma Watson is even more awesome than Hermione Granger. Check out the link to her speech before the United Nations on gender equality.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who; Sherlock; Atlantis; SHIELD; Arrow; Last Week’s Revelation on Homeland; The Blacklist; Once Upon A Time In Wonderland; Star Trek; Star Wars; American Blackout; X-Men; Time Travel; Dealing With A Zombie Apocalypse

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Matt Smith and David Tennant worked very well together during filming of The Day of the Doctor according to Steven Moffat:

Matt Smith and David Tennant got on so well while filming the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special that they hatched a plan to continue working together on the show, says Steven Moffat.

“They got on like a couple of old women. They just say in the corner and gossiped the entire time,” revealed the Doctor Who showrunner.

“By the end of it, Matt told me that he’d worked out this plan that they’d both continue in Doctor Who: do five individual episodes each and three together – would that be ok? It was a nice plan. I think if I’d said yes they’d have gone for it.”

However, Moffat admitted that neither star had started out completely confident about bringing their two Doctors together.

“David and Matt, I think… were both quite apprehensive of the other,” Moffat told the audience at a Radio Times event earlier this month. “David’s continued to watch Doctor Who like the sad old fan he is and so as far as he’s concerned Matt’s the Doctor. And of course for Matt, you don’t believe yourself you’re the Doctor, you just think David’s the Doctor. So they were both slightly nervous and slightly apprehensive.”

Steven Moffat also told Radio Times that John Hurt would steal scenes with his eyes:

“It was great fun,” said Moffat. “You’d have David and Matt, they’d be leaping around the set and doing every form of physical comedy with each other – and, you know, slightly competing about who could be slightly more insane than the other – and then John Hurt would come along and do this [tiny movement] with his eyes and you go ‘That’s it – he’s got the scene now hasn’t he?'”

Moffat has also discussed the return of the Zygons:

Steven Moffat says bringing back the Zygons has been an ambition since he took over Doctor Who – and that the classic monsters are so well designed he hardly had to change a thing for their return in the 50th Anniversary Special.

“Every year since I took over I’ve been trying to get the Zygons in,” says Steven Moffat, “and then I thought ‘Well, it’s the 50th…’

“The Zygons are beautifully designed monsters, they are so wonderful… We barely changed the design at all because it was so good.”

The classic Who foes have appeared just once before, in 1975 adventure Terror of the Zygons, yet remain a firm fan favourite.

Cult Box interviewed Doctor Who composer Murray Gold. H:ere is just one question on the show’s theme, which has changed with the lead actor:

Have you started thinking about what the 12th Doctor’s theme will sound like? Are you going to miss using the 11th Doctor’s wonderful theme?!

“I’m not 100% certain they will let me drop that theme entirely… but yes, I have started to think about it. I really need to see Peter in the role to get it all firing up.”

Peter Salus looked at the history of computers in Doctor Who.

Sherlock season 3 will premiere in the United States on PBS on January 19 at 10 p.m. This means it will air back to back with Downtown Abbey, which starts on January 5 in the United States. Downton Abbey is already well into the season on ITV (with a rather major event for Anna at one point during the season so far). The BBC has not announced when Sherlock will return in the U.K.

Atlantis (the replacement for Merlin) will premiere in the United States on November 23, after The Day of the Doctor.

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Agents of SHIELD and Arrow are extending further into the Marvel and DC universes respectively. SHIELD has come up against Centipede, plus expect more connections to Captain America: The Winter Soldier. On Arrow, Oliver was saved by the Black Canary, who turns out to have been working in the past for Ra’s al Ghul, ultimately tying into Batman. We will see more of this Black Canary next week, and will have to wait and see  how things play out regarding the discrepancy with her identity in the comics. Situations and characters do tend to evolve gradually on Arrow.

Arrow, while well-done and quite entertaining  for its genre, does trace back to the teen/young adult form of genre common on CW. In this vein, CBS is considering a reboot of Charmed.

Anastasia and Will Wonderland

I think that Once Upon A Time would have worked better if they stuck to the first season’s story as opposed to trying to stretch it out into a conventional multi-year television series. American television often is of a lower quality than British television due to the usual format requirements in the US.  Once Upon A Time In Wonderland shows promise partially because it is planned as a single season story. Last week Alice learned more about the White Rabbit but the story is not limited to Wonderland. Any Disney fan has to just love to see Robin Hood and his Merry Men rob Maleficent’s  castle, as occurred on last week’s episode. Then there was the revelation that Will’s girlfriend Anastasia becomes the Red Queen.

I was happy to see that last week’s episode of The Blacklist delved more into Elizabeth and her husband, with implications that more is to come next week. I do hope the series concentrates more on this mythology as opposed to being a villain of the week series. According to E!, episode eight is also major:

Episode eight is a big one. Don’t miss it. Oh, you want more than that? Fine. Not only does someone on the team get severely injured in the episode, but Red comes face to face with one of his mortal enemies. Someone Red is scared of? This we can’t wait to see!

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Showtime has renewed Homeland and Masters of Sex. The big revelation on Homeland last week didn’t come as very much of a surprise. In many ways it is more plausible that Saul and Carrie are working together consider the past working relationship between the two and the fact that Saul knows that Brody’s confession tape had to be a set-up. On the other hand, Carrie sure played her role at all times she was seen on television. I would have to go back to past episodes to verify this, but I believe this includes times in which there was nobody else watching her beyond the television audience. Alex Gansa discussed the revelation with TV Guide:

In your mind, when did Carrie and Saul hatch this master plan?
Alex Gansa:
 I think they decided the very next day after the bomb went off. Carrie and Saul were culpable in what happened, and they were looking for some way to make good, to make it right, to get the guy who was ultimately responsible. They began to hatch the plan right then to figure out how to lure the bad guy of the season, Javadi, out of his anonymity in Iran.

So, Dar Adal (F. Murray Abraham) and Quinn (Rupert Friend) don’t know about this?
Gansa: For the first four episodes they were totally outside the circle. This was a ruse and a plot that was hatched just between Carrie and Saul.

There were a lot of machinations to this plot. Saul continued to pursue Javadi on his own, for example. Was that just to throw the audience off or was it a backup plan?
Gansa:
 One of the things that our intelligence officer consultants [told us] is that the most effective intelligence operations are 95 percent true. Carrie and Saul were largely to blame for what happened and [they knew] the CIA would be looking for a scapegoat to take the blame. How would they turn that into a silver lining? This was a huge gamble, and Carrie was asked to sacrifice a lot in that gamble. It’s not a sure thing, so Saul was really playing all sides of the equation here. And you will see that he’s got a Phase 2 of the operation in mind, which he is not sharing with Carrie. Saul is very much the puppeteer here. He’s the maestro.

Why would Carrie react the way she did to Saul “outing” her during his senate testimony if she knew this was all a scam?
Gansa: 
Saul is the one who leaked the idea that she was having a sexual relationship with Brody to the committee. Carrie was aware that he was doing that. However, it doesn’t diminish the reality of it when it’s actually presented in front of you. When we were shooting it, we were talking to Claire about, “This moment is going to have to play two ways. It’s going to have to play one way if the audience is watching it for the first time not understanding that this is a ruse.” But when you go back and look at it again, you’ll understand that she’s not surprised by what she’s hearing. She’s amazed at how it affects her to understand that she is to blame for what happened. That’s where the emotion catches up with her in an unexpected way.

There’s more at The Hollywood Reporter, including how Brody will fit into the storyline:

How will Brody figure in to all of this?

I will say that Brody becomes a principal player in the architecture of the last sweep of episodes. His predicament down in Caracas and his separation from Carrie and Saul is really paramount as we move into the next two movements of the season.

Did you have any reservations about having an episode (“Tower of David”) that was almost exclusively from Brody’s point of view?

It was really a function of how much story was to be told there. Just anecdotally, some people felt we were with him too much and others felt we were with him too little. It felt right to us to establish his predicament and to parallel his plight with Carrie’s. These are two people in some very desperate circumstances. The show has paralleled their stories before and some of the most successful episodes that we have done have drawn comparisons between their predicaments.

I just saw this commercial from May. It has to be the best car commercial ever. Spock v. Spock. May the best Spock win.

I don’t find it to be a good sign when there is a need to change writers for Star Wars VII.

The National Geographic Channel is airing a fictionalized account of the consequences of a catastrophic ten day cyberattack:

As the power grid goes down across the country, the streets quickly descend into chaos while consumers ransack stores for bottled water and canned goods.

Those without sufficient cash handy are quickly in dire straits, since no electricity means no credit cards or ATMs, either.

Meanwhile, the heroes of the day are “doomsday preppers” who have had the foresight to stockpile a couple years’ worth of bottled water, batteries, and military-style meals-ready-to-eat in secret underground bunkers.

This is the scenario explored in “American Blackout,” the National Geographic Channel’s fictionalized account of a 10-day-long power outage precipitated by a cyberattack.

What Culture has ten alcoholic drinks from Mad Men which you must try.

Screen Rant reports that X-Men: Days of Future Past’ Trailer Preview Includes a Time-Traveling Wolverine

Is time travel even possible? See the above video from TED-ED. No X-Men but it includes plenty of scenes with a TARDIS. It only deals with time travel into the future. No hope we will be visited by Kiera Cameron of Continuum.

Some people think that TED Talks fail to deal with real problems. The above DED Talk might be more practical after a zombie apocalypse.

SciFi Weekly: Doctor Who; SHIELD; JK Rowling Exposed as Mystery Writer; Star Trek3; Summer Glau; Kristen Bell; The Newsroom

A prom apparently has a different meaning in the U.K. than in the United States. There were rumors that the identity of the next Doctor would be revealed at a prom this weekend. That didn’t occur, but there was an appearance by Matt Smith and Jenna Coleman in the video above.

Entertainment Weekly interviewed Steven Moffat. Following are some of the more interesting/news worthy answers:

Are you hoping the new Doctor will appear in this year’s Christmas special?
Yes. That’s not the hope — that’s the plan. It’ll be the traditional regeneration. You know, the eleventh will fall and the twelfth shall rise. And you’ll see that in the closing moments of the show. I mean, you sometimes sit and think, “Are there better ways of doing it? Is there a different way of doing it?” But quite honestly what could be better than that? It’s just too exciting. [Laughs]

Am I right in thinking that the new series—the first post-Matt shows—will be broadcast in late summer 2014?
I think that’s probably right. But these things change so often.

What can you tell us about this November’s Doctor Who 50th anniversary show?
[Laughs] Oh, well, very, very little. It will feature of course Matt and Jenna Coleman, but in addition there’ll be Billie Piper and David Tennant and John Hurt. But we’ve been really quite careful. We have a philosophy that anything we shot outside we had to own up to but the rest of it…You’re just going to have to wait until November to find out about.

What is the format of the 50th anniversary special? Is it movie-length?
It’s a special episode. I think you could call it movie-length, yeah. I mean, I’m saying that with a slight hint of vagueness because I don’t know the finished running time. [Laughs] It’s certainly well over an hour.

How much longer do you yourself intend to stay with the show?
I think a year at a time. I’ve signed up for this next year, with the new Doctor. It’s one of those jobs when you know when you’ve had enough. At the moment I haven’t had enough and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I’m very excited for the challenge of the new Doctor and establishing that new Doctor. So, no plans to leave as yet. But that doesn’t mean I’ll be here for 20 years. There will come that day when I think it’s time someone else had a go and it’s time I did something else.

You’re also the executive producer of Sherlock. Have you finished shooting the new series yet?
Oh, I wish! We’ve done two. But we’ve now got a small gap — a small gap? A large gap! — while Martin (Freeman) goes back to New Zealand to film a bit more of the Hobbit and then he’ll return to us. Hopefully, by that time, I’ll actually have finished the Sherlock script I’m writing and we’ll make another one.

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Entertainment Weekly has picked up some news on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in preparation for their Comic-Con panel. Here are a couple of the top items:

1. The pilot hints at how mild-mannered kick-ass bureaucrat Agent Coulson (Clarke Gregg) was resurrected  to lead the team after being killed off in The Avengers (his S.H.I.E.L.D. colleagues say he must “never know the truth” about his death). Yet you’ll have to keep watching to learn the full story. “We can’t wait to pull the curtain back on that,” says co-creator Jed Whedon. “[But] we’re going to take our time.”

2. The S.H.I.E.L.D. story will work in tandem with the Marvel films, both past and upcoming. In fact, the first episode will pick up a storyline that’s familiar from one of the Marvel hits — and it’s not The Avengers. “We plan on trying to weave in between the films and try to make them more rewarding on both ends,” says Jed Whedon, who points out the trick is to make the audience not ask a certain fanboy-bar-fight-style question: “In any of these [episodes], you can always ask: ‘Why don’t they just call Iron Man?’” Yeah, that would be annoying! So our next question is: Why don’t they just call Iron Man? “They are aware of each other,” Whedon says of the S.H.I.E.L.D. team and the metal-suited Malibu playboy, “but they do have to have their own lives.”

Cuckoo Calling

J.K. Rowling had a detective novel published under the name of Robert Galbraith earlier this year, with her identity leaking out this week. io9 has a rundown of reviews of the novel, which sound quite favorable. Conveniently, the book is scheduled for paperback release later this month.

Zachary Quinto has this speculation regarding the next Star Trek movie:  “Star Trek 3 should be filming, I suppose, next year. It’s going to be made a lot quicker than the last one. That’s the plan, although nothing is confirmed yet.” That would make it difficult for J.J. Abrams to direct as he will be busy with Star Wars. Presumably they will want to release the next movie for the 50th Anniversary in 2016.

With J.J. Abrams directing movies for both franchises, and with the recent Star Trek movies in many ways being more Star Wars than classic Star Trek, the old Star Wars vs. Star Trek fan wars seem to have died out. George Lucas provides more reason for peace between the two:

The documentary “Trek Nation” chronicles Rod Roddenberry’s personal journey to explore the importance of the legendary sci-fi franchise dreamed up by his father Gene.

The film comes to DVD on Tuesday, and among the bonus materials included in the release is an interview with “Star Wars” creator George Lucas talking about the important role “Star Trek” played in paving the way for his own space opera.

“‘Star Trek’ softened up the entertainment arena so that ‘Star Wars’ could come along and stand on its shoulders,” Lucas said in an interview.

While Star Trek worked far better as a weekly show than as movies, it also must be kept in mind that Star Trek probably would have never been released as a movie, reviving the franchise, if not for the success of Star Wars.

Summer Glau

Summer Glau has been cast for a recurring role on Arrow:

Glau, who has amassed plenty of genre street cred in TV series like Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Dollhouse, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles and most recently as a recurring on Syfy’s Alphas, is set to play the dangerous Isabel Rochev, Vice President of Acquisitions of Stellmoor International, a company looking to take over Queen Consolidated.

Entertainment Weekly reports that Kristen Bell (currently busy filming the Veronica Mars movie) will have a guest appearance on Parks and Recreations next season, in an episode to air in early October:

After shooting the Veronica Mars movie, Kristen Bell will guest-star in an episode of NBC’s Parks and Recreation as Ingrid, a snooty City Councilwoman from Eagleton. “She’s Leslie’s equivalent, but richer and better dressed,” executive producer Michael Schur tells EW. The two will first meet up at the annual Pawnee-Eagleton high school basketball game. Bell and Parks actor Adam Scott previously worked together on Party Down and Veronica Mars, and she currently stars with frequent Parks guest Ben Schwartz on House of Lies.

A lot happened in last week’s True Blood–the type of changes and revelations we might not have expected until towards the end of past seasons. The show certainly has its flaws, and I almost gave up on it a few times, but enough is happening this season to keep my interest.

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The Newsroom returns for a second season tonight. Oliva Munn discussed preparation for her role on The Newsroom with Vanity Fair:

“I write a lot of notes in my scripts,” she explains. “It’s important for me to have them there as a reference so I can keep on track for what I’m wanting to convey. Sometimes, no matter how much I prepare, I can let my emotions of the day affect my choices in a scene, so I like to have my notes with me to remind myself of what track I should be on. And with scripts as complicated and rich as Sorkin’s, it’s vital for me. My notes become my sheet music.”’

Netflix is quickly establishing itself as a service worth subscribing to for its original content now that there are multiple choices for on-demand movies. Orange Is The New Black premiered this week and is up to premium cable standards, and they are negotiating for a second season of Arrested Development. Besides their original series, Netflix recently released the excellent BBC2 series The Fall before it completed its run in the UK.

SciFi Weekend: The Name of the Doctor and Star Trek Into Darkness

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This was a weekend steeped in tradition with the two oldest science fiction franchises both having a major event. The season of Doctor Who concluded with The Name of The Doctor, which leads directly into the 50th anniversary episode, and a new Star Trek movie was released. As usual, the review of Doctor Who contains spoilers but it is posted a day after the episode aired.  Fortunately those who received the episode early in error kept quiet. Movies are harder to deal with as people view them at different times. There are also major spoilers for Star Trek Into Darkness, many of which have been revealed in other reviews.

After a season of near-misses, especially in the second half, Moffat really delivered with The Name of the Doctor. The episode dealt with the entire history of the Doctor and events in recent episodes were important in making the episode work. Now that we have seen where Moffat was headed, the season as a whole looks much better as a long story arc in retrospect, even if each chapter was not perfect. Obviously Asylum of the Daleks and The Snowmen were necessary to see Clara die while saving the Doctor.  It was important to show Vastra, Jennie, and Strax as friends of the Doctor in The Snowmen and The Crimson Horror to believe the Doctor would take such a great risk to try to save them. It was part of her story for Clara to learn of her significance and then lose the memory in  Journey To The Center Of The TARDIS.

The introductory sequence might be the best ever seen on Doctor Who. It begins on Gallifrey with the question, “What kind of idiot would try to steal a faulty TARDIS?” Clara appears telling the first Doctor, accompanied by Susan, “Doctor, sorry, but you’re about to make a big mistake.”  The episode also includes glimpses of the other Doctors. There was the return of The Great Intelligence along with a new monster, The Whispermen.

Clara Letter

The story initially centers around leading the Doctor to Trenzalore, including a clever way to have Vastra, Jenna, Strax, Clara, and River Pond communicate over time. “Time travel has always been possible in dreams” makes no sense, but is accepted to propel the story.

We already knew that Trenazlore was connected to the fall of the eleventh, but it also turns out to be the site of the Doctor’s tomb and apparently the fall of Doctors beyond the eleventh. As the TARDIS resisted taking the Doctor to this one place in the universe where he should never go, there was also a literal fall to the surface.

We saw both what happens to a TARDIS and to a Time Lord following their death. The Doctor’s real name was necessary to open his tomb, but was spoken by River Song without the viewer hearing it. It was no surprise that we did not learn the name and the title of the episode was mild misdirection on Moffat’s part. Moffat also deceived us in other interviews about the episode, but Moffat’s lies are always forgiven when he delivers a great show. A character did die, but was also restored to life. Or perhaps he was referring to River Song. The episode appears intended to her final meeting with the Doctor, but does not prevent her from returning, especially from an earlier point in her time line. The very nature of her appearance in this episode raises questions which may or may not be answered beyond the simple explanations provided.

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The claim that this would be a season of stand alone episodes was also not completely true. Besides the finale being largely a chapter in a story which must include prior episodes of this season, The Name of the Doctor ends on a cliff hanger.

By the end we did learn both the explanation for Clara Oswald and the Doctor’s greatest secret. Nobody would have figured out Clara’s explanation without the events of The Name of the Doctor as she was fragmented over time after entering the Doctor’s time stream. I do have a couple of nitpicks with what we learned here.

Echoes of Clara were with the Doctor throughout his life, often saving him from the changes to the Doctor’s time stream created by The Great Intelligence. When Clara told the Doctor he was making a mistake when first stealing a TARDIS, the mistake was merely in the TARDIS he planned to take and she directed him to another in which “the navigation system’s knackered” and he will have more fun.  This conflicts with The Doctor’s Wife in which it was the TARDIS who influenced the Doctor to steal her. The scene would have worked better if the Doctor went on to take the TARDIS he first tried to steal despite Clara’s warning. This would have also provided an explanation for the TARDIS disliking Clara earlier in the season. Maybe this was even intended and it is just not clear that he ignored Clara’s advice but I do believe he took the one which Clara recommended.

Clara Time Stream

My other complaint is that Clara spoke of seeing all eleven  Doctors, but if this was the remnant of his entire time stream after he died she should have seen versions of the Doctor beyond the eleventh. They could have shown glimpses of others without faces and refrain from having Clara specify eleven. Ultimately one other version is shown with a contradiction present. He is presented as a version which does not deserve to be the Doctor for his actions but the episode ends with the caption, “Introducing John Hurt as The Doctor.”

We have until November 23 to find out what this means. There was mention of the Valeyard, the evil version of the Doctor from between the twelfth and final regeneration, during the episode, yet more evidence of Moffat’s respect for the entire history of the show. While John Hurt could be playing him, interviews so far suggest he is a regeneration from between the eighth and ninth Doctors (added when Christoper Eccleston declined to appear in the 50th anniversary episode). He is apparently the Doctor’s greatest secret for what he did. So far we only know that “broke the promise” which comes from choosing the name of the Doctor. This might be referring to actions during the Time Wars, or perhaps to events we are not yet aware of.

However this ends, Moffat has given us a tremendous season and appears to be on the way to making a major addition to the Doctor’s history and mythology.

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We will be anxiously awaiting the 50th anniversary episode, and the eight season since the reboot has been officially announced.

The Behind the Scenes video is above.

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Star Trek Into Darkness is an entertaining movie well worth seeing but it is not great Star Trek. J.J. Abrams knows how to make a great action movie (even if there is too much lens-flare) but he does not really understand Star Trek. The plot is a series of contrivances for a series of action scenes, lacking Gene Roddenbery’s vision which made Star Trek great. Wil Wheaton has already responded to Abrams’ failing to understand the importance of philosophy to Star Trek. This was far more Star Wars than true Star Trek.

Partially in Abrams’ defense, Star Trek should be a television series, not movie. It takes a weekly television series to develop the characters and show the philosophy of Star Trek in a series of smaller stories as opposed to big action scenes. Unfortunately the movies thrive on big action scenes, and the original movie series also failed to live up to the quality of the television shows. A movie which was true to Star Trek would have to be directed more towards Star Trek fans than a mass audience. Star Trek The Motion Picture did avoid the big action scenes and was not a great success, but it also had other flaws.

Abrams depends even more on the big action scenes than the original movie series, moving from one to the other at the expense of a logical plot or really dealing with issues. Thus we have a few lines of explanation for Khan’s motivations (including a reference to Section 31 which I did enjoy) but Abrams did not develop the character as well as in either Space Seed or Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. Benedict Cumberbatch did play an excellent villain with the material available.

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Admiral Marcus turned out to be a second villain but his motivations did not seem realistic. It s one thing to bend the rules to get Star Fleet to prepare for a war you feel is coming. It is another thing to attempt to destroy the Enterprise or to directly try to provoke war with the Klingons. The movie also had one thing in common with the other recent blockbuster, Iron Man 3. Both include a character who is influenced into betraying others to help their child.

There is some degree of political controversy and references to current events in the movie. Khan was the terrorist on Kronos in an analogy to today’s terrorists in countries such as Afghanistan and Pakistan. The morality of using drones to kill a terrorist versus taking the terrorist into custody for a fair trial was raised. This was dealt with too simply with Khan being in an unpopulated area where capturing him seemed to be a more realistic option.

I do wish the timeline could be fixed as it was on The Name of the Doctor, but we must deal with the J.J. Abrams alternative timeline for now. I did not object, as some fans did in response to rumors of Khan’s appearance, to this retelling of the story. It was plausible that Admiral Marcus might have found the Botany Bay at an earlier point in history, and after the destruction of Vulcan might tried to make use of Khan.

There were other changes in this timeline compared to the original timeline. For example, they actually thought to put seat belts on the bridge.

Carol Marcus

While obviously it relates to changes in our culture as opposed to Nero’s changes in the timeline, sexual attitudes are different. On one hand, Kirk is still the womanizer, and they added a young, beautiful, and scantily clad Carol Marcus (Alice Eve) to the movie and trailer to increase interest in the movie. In other ways things were different. Kirk started on his five year mission to go “where on one has gone before.” It took us from the original series to Star Trek The Next Generation to update from “where no man has gone before.” Uhura had a far more active role. For the most part I liked this, except in the scene where Uhura was beamed down to join Spock in fighting Khan. This should have been a big guy whose primary job involved fighting, not a communications officer. Of course the original Star Trek would have been unrealistic in its own way. Captain Kirk would have been the one to beam down, simultaneously placing the Captain and First Officer in danger.

A surprise in this movie which is an obvious consequence from the previous movie was how  Spock took advantage of his counterpart from the original timeline to obtain information about Khan. This did allow Spock to figure out that Khan could not be trusted, but there were plenty of other clues even without contacting New Vulcan. This does present the danger of providing an easy way to get answers in further adventures, which might be avoided by facing different dangers or by being too far out into deep space to contact the original Spock. It was a surprise to see Leonard Nimoy in this movie, and it is questionable as to how much longer he will be able or willing to put on those Vulcan ears and appear on screen. They also met up with Tribbles earlier in this timeline and a Tribble played a key role.

Compared to The Wrath of Khan, this movie reversed Kirk and Spock making the sacrifice and screaming out the name of Khan. For a moment I feared they might be leaving the resurrection of James Kirk to the next movie as was done with Spock in the original series. Thankfully everything was resolved in this installment.

Spock Uhura

I did not like some of the changes in technology from the original timeline.  I did not like having Khan being able to easily transport himself from earth to Kronos. This is not Doctor Who. I disliked even more having Star Fleet build bigger ships for battle. The Enterprise is already much larger. While the Enterprise was built primarily for exploration, it is still the flagship for Star Fleet. Military threats should be handled by the Enterprise and other similar star ships, and there should not be bigger, more powerful ships to rely on.

Ultimately The Name of the Doctor will be remembered as significant and rewatched by fans. Star Trek Into Darkness provided a very entertaining night at the movies, which isn’t all bad, but it was a one-shot affair without much significance to Star Trek history. I just hope it is successful enough to eventually lead to a new television series. A cable television show does not need the mass audience of a blockbuster movie to succeed.

SciFi Weekend: Star Trek Into Darkness; Firefly; Doctor Who; Watching British Genre Shows; Community Returns

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There are more rumors that Benedict Cumberbatch’s character in Star Trek Into Darkness is really Khan based upon the Entertainment Weekly cover story on the movie. At one point (since changed) the listing for sales of back issues described the cover featuring Kirk and Cumberbatch’s character as Kirk and Khan. (A second cover has Kirk and Spock). This hardly proves anything as whoever set up the orders page might have simply been influenced by the rumors as opposed to having any inside information.

There initially was a lot of speculation that the villain of the second movie under Abrams (as with the second movie of the original movie series) would center around Khan. When initial previews came out, further similarities to Gary Mitchell were noticed. It is certainly possible that the movie might be influenced by one or both stories from the original series, or perhaps neither. If the Khan stories are used as an influence for this movie, the story would most likely be more along the lines of Space Seed, when Khan was first found during the original series, than Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. There probably would be some major changes from the original story to reconcile the original Khan story and what we have seen in the clips so far.

Regardless of whether the character is based upon Khan and the aftermath of the Eugenics War, we can be certain that J.J. Abrams will be more careful in not tying himself to a history of the near future. When the original series was released in the mid 1960’s, it did not seem likely that people would still be watching Star Trek in the 1990’s and beyond when the Eugenics Wars were written to occur. (I have not read the books, but I have heard that they do attempt to reconcile this inconsistency between the Star Trek history and what we have observed by having the Eugenics War be more clandestine than the open all-out war I previously imagined). Abrams has already taken large steps to free himself from Star Trek canon by having a time line independent of the previous shows and movies. I question whether he would want to tie himself to a back story of a war in the 1990’s making me suspect that even if the character is modeled on Khan the back story will be different.

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It was only in response to questions on the subject, but Joss Whedon has kept speculation alive about a return for Firefly:

Cancelled by Fox in 2002 before its first season had even run its course, the sci-fi western Firefly frequently lands on lists of TV shows that fans would love to see resurrected. But more than a decade on, there’s obviously no hope Firefly will return. Is there?

“I’ll never really accept it,” Whedon said of the end of Firefly, when I spoke to him during his stop in Toronto a while back. “And I always, in the back of my head, think, ‘What if I could get the old gang back together?’ ”

OK, you’ve got my attention now. Get the Firefly gang back together? Do go on.

“Well, you know, it’s something I would love to do,” Whedon said. He even admits to being a sucker for this sort of punishment: “When I made Serenity (2005’s feature film continuation of Firefly’s storyline), I said here’s one thing I’ll never do again — a movie based on something that some people know about and some people don’t, with tons of characters who all know each other and who you have to introduce.

“And then my second movie was The Avengers.”

Of course, there are all kinds of obstacles preventing any television or film resurrection of Firefly. Not the least of which is — spoiler alert! — fan-favourite character Wash (Alan Tudyk) was unceremoniously killed in Serenity. (One diehard fan recently analyzed Wash’s death in an attempt to prove the Reaver harpoon that impaled him could never have penetrated Serenity’s hull. Unfortunately, the movie math held up)…

Firefly’s flame has not been fully, irrevocably extinguished — “Part of me is like, ‘God, it would be great when I finish Avengers 2 to do that,’ ” Whedon said — but given the mountains of exhausting work Whedon already has on his plate, the odds don’t look good for Capt. Mal and company.

Cyberman Clara

Neil Gaiman’s episode of Doctor Who for the second half of this season is to be entitled The Last Cyberman. Although Matt Smith has a role in an American movie, Steven Moffat denies that a regeneration is imminent.

The BBC is talking about offering episodes of some shows on line on their iPlayer before the shows are aired. This is yet another reason to get the Hola Unblocker add on for Firefox or Chrome which, among other things, allows people outside of the UK to access iPlayer. It also allows people to view Netflix in countries where it is not available. Yes, there are other ways to do this, but this appears to be the simplest.

Don’t bother doing this in hopes of catching Being Human any earlier–it has been cancelled after the fifth season.

I don’t know which shows will be available ahead of the broadcast date, but the latest BBC genre show worth getting (whether by downloading or iPlayer) is Utopia. I don’t want to give anything away (and I’ve only seen some of the episodes) but it involves a graphic novel which appears to contain secret information and a government conspiracy to get more information about it, among other evil activities.

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Community returned this week, once again up against The Big Bang Theory, showing why VCR’s and DVR’s are essential. The two questions coming into the season were whether the  show would be turned into a more conventional sitcom and whether it would suffer quality-wise without Dan Harmon. The answer to the first question appears to be no, with the first episode even including a safe place in Abed’s head which showed the difference between Community and conventional sitcoms.

The show is still filtered by different show runners and it will be necessary to see more to determine how the show stands up to Dan Harmon’s work. One difference from the start of the season is that there is now a relationship between Britta and Troy. The lack of such relationships between main characters did differentiate Community from most other sitcoms, but this does not mean that continuing this absence is essential. What matters is how the relationship is handled, and whether it does open new avenues for stories this season without looking like every other sitcom relationship. I was glad to see that Chang was just seen briefly at the end. His character works best in small doses.

New show runners Moses Port and David Guarascio were interviewed by The Hollywood Reporter. They are hopeful that Community might get a fifth season since NBC is losing 30 Rock and The Office. They did find the delay in airing to be a disadvantage since all the episode are now filmed and they could not take fan reaction into account, which might have been helpful with the changes this season.

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Gillian Jacobs and Alison Brie were asked about their relationship on the show and their love of porn:

TWoP: It’s been fun to watch how Britta and Annie’s friendship has evolved over the course of the show. Has that been equally enjoyable for you both to play?
Gillian: I like that it flipped at a certain point and Annie started mentoring Britta.
Allison: Yeah, it’s always been a sisterly relationship. It was a bit competitive at first with Jeff, but we got that out of the way very quickly and then it was always Annie looking up to Britta. And now it’s flipped around and it’s like, “Maybe I can give her some advice.”
Gillian: Yeah, it took Annie a little too long to realize that Britta didn’t know what the hell was going on. I really enjoyed the “Blade” episode last season where she was calling me a lying junkie and locking me in her bedroom. And it’s interesting to see that dynamic play out this season with Britta joining the Troy/Abed/Annie household sometimes.

TWoP: Community is a big target for ‘shippers, who have paired up pretty much every study group partner at this point. Have you ever seen any Annie/Britta shipping?
Alison: Oh yeah.
Gillian: Yeah, definitely. Alison and I did a photo shoot for GQ that probably prompted a lot of that shipping. I think we’ve seen every possible fan combination. Donald [Glover] sent me some fan porn of Troy and Britta that someone had sent to him.
Alison: I saw some with Troy and Abed.

TWoP: So you do read Community fan fic?
Alison: Just the porn. [Laughs]
Gillian: I read enough to know what it was and then I was like, “Oh my!”
Alison: I just saw pictures! Mine was like pornographic cartoons.
Gillian: Oh, mine was a written-out thing. I just scanned it.

TWoP: Maybe someone can go through and change all the names, publish it and it can become the next 50 Shades of Grey.
Gillian: Yup — Seven Shades of Weird.

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SciFi Weekend: Fringe; Sherlock; Doctor Who News; Spock and The Big Bang Theory

Fringe started out the season slowly as it introduced another time line in which Peter had died as a child. The story built up gradually, leading to Peter coming into this timeline. Finally, in what was supposed to be the fall finale but was delayed until January due to baseball, Peter went over to the other universe seeking Walternate’s help in returning home. This week’s episode followed up on this storyline, where Walternate appears to be a good guy but alternate Broyles and the Nina Sharp of our universe appear to be behind the shape shifters as well as the experiments on Olivia. Apparently running away from Walter’s experiments in this time line wasn’t enough. Olivia was perhaps always fated to be the subject of experiments (as well as being fated to die in that time line according to the Observer with a gunshot wound).

Fringe very gradually developed a complex story line about two alternative universes which are closely connected because of Walter going to the alternate universe and bringing Peter over here. Suddenly, after a lot of trouble keeping track of the details of this back story, everything has changed with the story moving to an alternate time line. Now we  must also consider how each universe would be different in an alternative time line where Peter had died. It seems like overkill to not only have alternate universes but to throw in alternate time lines. An interview with Lance Reddick suggests they never planned to make things this complicated:

When you look back at ‘Fringe’ now versus where it was three and a half seasons ago, it’s become one of the most complicated shows out there in between the alternate universes and what’s happening with Peter right now. When you were starting out on the show, did you ever see any of this coming? Did [the producers] give you some sort of roadmap?

No. As a matter of fact, I think the show took a bit of a turn in the second season. I honestly don’t think they were necessarily going to build alternate universes from the beginning. If they were, they just didn’t tell me — which is also possible. My character changed quite a bit from the first season to the second season — honestly I feel like he became a lot less mysterious. So in the middle of the second season, you kind of knew that he was a good guy.

So in the second season we had the alternate [Colonel] Broyles, and then he died [in the] third season. And now he’s back.

Jeff Pinker and J.H. Wyman responded to fan criticism of the move to an alternative time line

TVLINE | There is one recurring knock against this season…. What would you like to say to the fans who feel they have “lost time” with the characters they know and love? That outside of Peter, in this timeline we’re kind of watching a bunch of posers?
WYMAN | Jeff and I are huge fans of television, and the biggest thing that stuns us is that our fans are actually thinking that we would pull the old, “Nothing you knew is true!” We would never do that. There is a very specific reason why we’re doing this story right now, and why we took this turn that we did. Traditionally, what goes on with our show is that fans may have an opinion about something, like, “Oh, why did you do that?!” — but then they realize, “Oh yeah, OK, I get it.” Hopefully they’ll feel the same way now, now that things are starting to come to fruition and things are starting to happen a bit more.

TVLINE | But isn’t Peter the only character going through any development that will stick?
WYMAN | If way back when, you got some scoop that Peter was going to have an affair and be involved in a love triangle, and you didn’t know about Olivia and Fauxlivia, you would never have imagined that there’d be two versions of Olivia. That’s why Fringe is great, because you can take a very traditional thing and do something extraordinary with it. It’s the same with this. Peter’s journey and finding out how he feels, what he’s doing, is really important to us. When we first went over to the other side, don’t forget, a lot of people said, “Oh, I don’t want to know about those characters. They’re not our characters.” And fortunately, people came around to like them and actually feel invested and compelled by them.
PINKNER | And at the same time, I think that the [complaint’s] premise is slightly faulty, the idea that our characters are not going to change. Peter has been in their lives now for three episodes that have aired, and he’s going to be in their life certainly for some amount of time longer, and one of the things that we’re most interested in is how he is affecting them, how he is changing them. Walter’s been refusing to acknowledge him, both out of emotional reasons and also because of Walter’s own mental instability, but that’s not to say that’s not going to change. And Olivia is also dealing with this person who in another timeline is love with her, while she’s somebody who has sort of empty heart when we met her this season.

Hopefully we will get any planned payoff from this idea before the show is cancelled. Renewal sounds questionable, but talks are underway. At least they are talking about making a fourth season finale which would work as a series finale in case the show is not renewed as opposed to running a cliff hanger.

Sherlock has two major threats this year–Moriarty and CBS. The second season has concluded on the BBC but will not air in the United States until May. Like the first season, the first and third episodes were the most memorable. The third episode ended with a cliff hanger which was far better than the first season cliff hanger. Those who have not seen it might want to skip the next paragraph to avoid  major spoilers:

MAJOR SPOILERS:

The first episode of Sherlock this season had some aspects which felt very much like Doctor Who. (“When I say run, run.”) Sherlock ended the season much like Doctor Who, with the lead character having to fake his own death in The Reichenbach Fall. Unlike the first season cliff hanger, where we just assumed Sherlock would find a way out, fans will be speculating for the next year as to how Sherlock pulled this one off. There is little doubt that Molly Hooper assisted him. She would have the ability to cover up a fake body substituted for Sherlock’s. Alternatively, Sherlock might have had a clever way to survive the fall with Molly helping him sneak away and appear dead. There is little doubt that the bicycle hitting Watson was part of a plan to distract him. Even if Sherlock were to jump (or fake jumping) to his death to prevent the deaths of his friends, what reason would he have to tell Watson that he is a fake. Could the fact that Sherlock even talked to Watson on the phone, as opposed to texting, be meaningful? I am even more puzzled by Moriarty. While he wanted to see Sherlock disgraced, would it be worth committing suicide to ensure that Sherlock was not able to force him to call off his assassins? If Moriarty really was dead, perhaps it was really Moriarty’s body which was thrown off the building, but I also wonder if they would eliminate such an important character. Perhaps there is a connection to the previous episode, The Hounds of Baskerville, with Watson again being drugged to imagine something.

END SPOILERS

Regardless of how the cliff hanger plays out, it has been announced that a third season of Sherlock was ordered at the same time as the second. There might even be more of a modern day Sherlock Holmes on television. After first looking into making an American version of Sherlock, CBS has commissioned their own modern Sherlock Holmes adaptation. The Independent reports:

In a move which has caused concern at Hartswood Films, the BBC show’s producers, CBS has commissioned Elementary, described as a new Sherlock Holmes adaptation set in modern-day New York.

Sue Vertue, Sherlock Executive Producer at Hartswood Films, said: “We understand that CBS are doing their own version of an updated Sherlock Holmes. It’s interesting, as they approached us a while back about remaking our show. At the time, they made great assurances about their integrity, so we have to assume that their modernised Sherlock Holmes doesn’t resemble ours in any way, as that would be extremely worrying.” She added: “We are very proud of our show and like any proud parent, will protect the interest and wellbeing of our offspring.”

Conan Doyle’s creation has been subject to numerous screen incarnations, including Guy Ritchie’s all-action Hollywood version. Holmes’ sleuthing skills and character quirks also inspired House, Hugh Laurie’s medical detective.

But it is Elementary’s relocation of the character to a modern setting which may closely impinge on the BBC series, which has made laptops and text messaging an important element of its plots.

Margaret Tofalides, a copyright specialist at law firm Manches, said: “The concept of a new Sherlock Holmes is unprotectable. But if the unusual elements of the BBC series – the modern settings, characters, clothes, plots and distinctive visual style – were closely reproduced in the CBS version, that could form the basis of a potential copyright claim.”

While it is understandable that the producers of Sherlock would be concerned, my guess is that they have nothing to worry about. It is very doubtful that a weekly American network television series could compete with Sherlock in terms of quality. If the CBS show is a success, it very well might generate more buzz, encouraging people to watch the far superior BBC version which they stole the idea from.

The cast of Doctor Who continues to be interviewed frequently, including a spot on the cover of Radio Times for Karen Gillan. The Daily Record has had frequent interviews on their Scottish actress, including an interview today.

LEAVING Doctor Who, the show that made her a household name, holds no fear for Karen Gillan.

The feisty 24-year old from Inverness, who played Matt Smith’s companion Amy Pond is relishing what life has to offer.

“My greatest fear is saying, ‘what if?’ she admitted. Being in Doctor Who has been so amazing. I don’t think I will ever have a job quite so fun ever again. I feel sad because I am going to leave, but with any story, it has to come to an end.

“It was a mutual decision with me and Steven Moffat. We had this lovely dinner and decided when the best time for me to go was. So I’m excited and slightly scared.”

Karen will leave the show this year after “a few really good episodes”.

Only “a few” good episodes? Sad. The story then goes on to discuss her staring role in We’ll Take Manhattan which airs Thursday.

Matt Smith was interviewed by Australia’s ABC Television (video above).

TV Line has the story on how The Big Bang Theory got permission to use Zachary Quinto’s image in their 100th episode, quoting Bill Prady at the Producers Guild Awards:

In order to use that prop, which is a cardboard cutout of Spock [as seen] in the new movie series, you needed three approvals. You needed Paramount [Pictures], and you had to get Zach to approve it and you had to get J.J. Abrams to approve it…. The problem is we wanted to say, “Suck it. Zachary Quinto.” Normally when you send something out [for approval] you send the pages, and we’re going, “Are they going to like this?” So we called Zachary’s agent, we called Paramount, and we call J.J.’s office. I [told them], “We need to, at some point, let Sheldon begin accepting there is a new Spock in the world, and we’re going to have him start by not liking it at all. So if you’re game, and you let us use it, we will begin the process of him coming to grips with Zachary Quinto as Spock.” And we got a message back immediately from Zach and J.J. saying they loved the idea.

I think we can expect to see Zachary Quinto show up on the show some day.