SciFi Weekend: Timeless, Doctor Who, Rainn Wilson’s Short Trek

Timeless ended too soon, but at least in the streaming television age it now exists as a more complete story which will remain available, and possibly lead to yet another revival. The finale had to compress many ideas into the space of two episodes, but did manage to tie up many of the loose ends of the series. As expected, it saved Rufus, and did so quite quickly by taking advantage of a change in the timeline. Lucy’s diary provided a means to speed up the story, and to give a sense of coherency to the entire two seasons. Flynn had a major role, completing his redemption arc. While this was expected after the second season, there was also an unexpected redemption for Lucy’s father, Benjamin Cahill.

Not all loose ends could be tied up in this short a time. While it worked to have Rufus be brought back so easily, it would have been less realistic for Lucy’s sister Amy to be suddenly brought back to life. Rather than attempting to deal with this in this short a time, there was a sensible argument for no longer playing with time. Of course, should the show return, this could also be a good plot line.

Deadline spoke with Shawn Ryan about the finale:

DEADLINE: From being canceled twice and then resurrected for a big movie finale, Timeless has been on quite a journey. Were the emotions high while shooting the finale?

SHAWN RYAN: I’m the kind of producer that’s not upset about it when we film. Our two writers, in this case, Arika Mittman, who is a co-showrunner with me, and Eric Kripke last season really carry the burden for this two-hour event. (laughs) She and Lauren Greer, the other writer, were the ones that were on set and I was getting reports back from them that it was very emotional. I stopped by a couple of times, but not at the end. But yeah, I was talking to Abigail (Spencer) this past weekend, and she was talking about the various goodbyes and how hard it was, especially since there are no immediate plans to do the show. And we’ve opened the possibility that maybe the show will be resurrected in one form or another somewhere down the line, but you never know for sure so this could be the end. It was always a very difficult show to make, and this two-hour event was similar, but there was a lot of joy that went into making it. This was the most pleasant shooting experience that the cast and crew had at any point along the journey. So it was a really good experience for everyone, and so, as a result, it was kind of hard to end and to leave.

DEADLINE: That’s good to hear. You mention how this may not be the ending, but we’ll get to that later. The fate of the show was always up in the air and it was canceled after season 2 and then it was announced that you guys were doing this two-hour movie. Would you say that this movie finale is a compact version of what you wanted to happen in season 3?

RYAN: I would say that’s partly true. We had some ideas for things we wanted to pursue in season three and we definitely put them into this movie — some had to be in a compressed way. There are certain aspects, I think, that if we had had a 10,13 or 16-episode season three, we would have taken some more time with. We did have to adapt a little bit more of a movie mentality than an ongoing TV-show mentality because we knew that we had to get a lot of story in the hour and 25 minutes or so, and so you look for inspiration. Back to the Future told an amazing, full story in two hours, and other movies have as well. So we just had to change things, but yes, there were definitely ideas and aspects of the show that we had in mind for season three, and even beyond, that we sort of put into this ending.

DEADLINE: In the finale, the gang travels back to the California gold rush era in 1848 and then North Korea in the ’50s during the Korean War. What was it about those two eras that spoke to you for the movie?

RYAN: One of the mandates that we got from NBC when they picked up the movie was they said, “We think this is going to air right around Christmas time, and we love it to be Christmas-themed if you can make that work.” So we started looking for historical events and time periods that had something to do around Christmas time. We looked at George Washington crossing the Delaware on Christmas Eve — but we’d already done a George Washington episode, so I was reluctant to do another George Washington thing. And Arika and Lauren, and Logan, our writer’s assistant, came upon this miracle-of-Christmas story from the Korean War that none of us had ever heard of. And the more we dug into it, the more we realized it was sort of perfect. So that was actually the first time period that we agreed to do, but we soon realized that they’re probably wasn’t enough story to fill all two hours, and we thought that we’d need something different for the first hour, especially as it related to saving Rufus.  When we get into the second time period, if Rittenhouse was low on funds, they might want to gold rush, but really it was more the character of Joaquin Murrieta that interests us the most and made us want to go back to that time period, because there were such parallels to his journey and to Flynn’s journey about men who had violence committed against their families, and their search for vengeance, and what it does to a person. That’s the way we always approach finding the time period…there’s a character that allows us to really learn something about one of our main characters. It took us a while to come up with those two time periods. That was not the easiest thing to come up with.

DEADLINE: There is one particular scene which is game changer for the whole finale — it’s the scene where Flynn goes back to 2012 and has a no-holds-barred fight with Jessica. What was the conversation that led to Flynn sacrificing himself and then him being the one to take out Jessica?

RYAN: Well, I think it was a result of our conversation of where do we want the arc of Garcia Flynn to go? He was somebody who was seemingly a straight-up villain early in season one. Then he became a little bit more of a complicated villain in the middle of season one. Then he became a misunderstood, slightly sympathetic villain at the end of season one. And then he became a reluctant, cautious ally at the beginning of season two, and then someone who loosely began to see the good sides of him to the point that there was almost a little romantic triangle between her and Wyatt and Flynn.

Having said that, we never forgot that he really did some bad stuff in season one — and how do you “redeem” someone like that? Their actions of penance have to be almost as large in scale as their misdeeds, and so the conversation that he has with Joaquin Murrieta, just prior to the campfire discussion, where he tells him that a quest for vengeance ultimately leads nowhere, and Joaquin asks him why he does it…he looks over at Lucy and you get the sense that he really is kind of in love with Lucy and yet knows from the journal that it’s not something that’s going to end well. He decides to make a choice to essentially pay penance for all his actions — that he sees a way where he can do something that will make the lives of these other people better and will help stop Rittenhouse, the group that killed his family. It will allow him to actually witness and look at his family one last time. It just seems very poetic to us to do that. It’s a very difficult, selfless choice on his part, and it’s a choice that really brings his character full circle to the point that Lucy, at the end of the movie, in Brazil, says, “You may be the greatest hero of us all.” There’s just something beautiful in that.

He spoke more with TV Guide, including about the relationship between Flynn and Lucy:

My eyes popped out when Flynn revealed that he and Lucy were having an affair in the future. A potential relationship was hinted at in Season 2, and fans have been curious about it. Why did you decide to give them that relationship now?
Ryan: I always thought there was really great chemistry between Abby [Spencer] and Goran [Visnjic] on our show. Even in Season 1 when they were adversaries, there was always something electric about them. In the story we chose to tell in Season where Wyatt’s (Matt Lanter) wife Jessica comes back from the dead, and he feels obligated to try to make that work, Flynn being the sort of lonely island in the storm for Lucy, you felt moments there where something might happen. Really this finale talks about two different paths that could have been taken, one in which Lucy and Flynn have their romance and relationship and it goes bad and five years later everyone is still fighting Rittenhouse and future Wyatt and Lucy come back, but there seems to be some pain and coldness there. And there’s the ending we show in the end.

We certainly know that there are fan bases supportive of both different relationships, there are Lucy-Wyatt fans and Lucy-Flynn fans. This was a way to explore both those, and pay homage to both. Storywise, it felt like it worked well for us.

If Timeless had been given a Season 3, would you have shown that relationship?
Ryan: I think it’s possible, it was something we talked about, that we didn’t really feel like we earned to get there in Season 2. I don’t know if we would have felt like we had earned the right to get there in Season 3, but it was something we were moving closer to. We didn’t have too many sessions where we sat down and mapped out Season 3, so it would be hard to say without sitting down and going through that exercise with all the writers. But it was something we wanted to make more understandable and more palatable with each and every episode.

There is more at The Hollywood Reporter:

The endings you gave to Wyatt and Lucy (and their twins) and Rufus and Jiya were very happy, but they were also very feminist — Lucy is a tenured professor who teaches her students about female historical figures, and Jiya is a famous scientist. Was that on purpose?

I think that’s on purpose. Listen, we had two women who wrote this finale. But I’d like to think that Eric and I supported this vision. One of the things we stumbled upon on this show [was that] all of our earlier episodes were about famous people like Abraham Lincoln and JFK, these powerful, iconic male characters. As the series went on we got more and more interested in telling the lesser-known people of history: Women, people of color, people that historically were pushed back to the margins but actually had a big impact. That comes full circle, really, when the last half of the movie focuses on this pregnant Korean woman who is not famous at all. But that doesn’t mean she’s not important. We consider ourselves a show that certainly doesn’t ignore or downplay the famous historical figures that everyone has heard of, but there’s definite a sense to this show that we wanted Lucy to be a true heroine. Not a sidekick to a hero, a true heroine. Wanted Jiya to have her own license to be a successful woman in 2023, et cetera.

And in the final scene of the little girl coming up plans for her own time machine, was that you leaving the door open for a potential sequel or spinoff or continuation of some sort?

There’s definitely a door open if someone is interested in opening it further, absolutely.

Entertainment Weekly has more on the question of whether Timeless might return:

When Ryan thinks of Timeless‘ possible future, he thinks of a different sci-fi franchise. “I keep thinking about how Star Trek was a TV show in the ’60s, and then became movies in the ’80s, and became a TV show again in the ’90s, and then became movies again,” he says. “I don’t know what form [Timeless] might take [if it were to continue], but…we’ve been killed twice, and we’ve come back both times, so we’ll see.” In the meantime, fans can always turn back the clock and rewatch the series.

Of course the Timeless finale isn’t the only time travel show this time of year. The third season of Travelers is now available on Netflix, having to handle a major cliff hanger from the second season (no spoilers here). The Doctor Who New Year’s Day Special is coming up with a lot of hype from Chris Chibnall via Radio Times:

“You want the Special to feel like an event. It always performs a slightly different function to the rest of the series – you want it to be like an opener and a finale all rolled into one.

“You want it to be accessible to those who’ve missed the series, but you also want to reward the audiences and fans who’ve been there for the whole ride.

“Most of all, you want it to feel like a treat: a big, thrilling, explosive, moving, cheeky, surprising treat,” he concluded.

“Basically, you want the Special to be epic. And I promise, it’s going to be epic.”

That’s a LOT of exciting adjectives to throw around – though as it turns out, Chibnall still missed a few out, with episode guest star Nikesh Patel revealing that we could also expect some seriously scary parts in the festive story.

“The script read like a really tense thriller, with elements of horror,” Patel said.

“I had an awareness that Doctor Who was a show where episodes can be tonally very different to each other. This felt like a psychological thriller in some ways, and that was on the page when we got into it. Then obviously it lightens up with all the wit that the four regulars bring to it.”

“What I hope is that everyone enjoys the Special for what it is because it’s incredibly fun,” added episode director Wayne Yip.

“And I hope that new fans have a great time because it’s such a popcorn, blockbuster version of Doctor Who.”

Bleeding Cool has a detailed analysis of the trailer for the episode.

A trailer for the final Short Trek was released. The official synopsis of The Escape Artist:  “Harry Mudd (Rainn Wilson), back to his old tricks of stealing and double-dealing, finds himself in a precarious position aboard a hostile ship – just in time to try out his latest con.” Rainn Wilson previously had this to say about the short:

“There’s going to be that 10-15 percent of fans that go, ‘Oh, no way. I’m not going to watch a short film about Star Trek. This isn’t how it works.’ But I love that they’re breaking molds and breaking new ground, and it’s a terrific mini Harry Mudd adventure,” Wilson teased. “It goes to a lot of different places, from different aliens, lot of fun situations, some great twists and turns, and I get to direct it and star in it. It’s like a dream come true. It’s like, ‘Write me a dream job.’”

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who, The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos; Star Trek Discovery; Elseworlds CW Crossover; The Good Place; Agents of SHIELD; Timeless Finale

The Battle of Ranskoor Av Kolos was rather weak as a season finale of Doctor Who, but at least they get a second chance on New Year’s Day with an episode widely assumed to involve the Daleks. There were a number of interesting ideas, including loss of memory and characters being fooled into believing another is their God, but it never really flows into a coherent episode. This might be said about the first season as a whole. Being the season finale, the stakes were increased with the earth itself being in danger.

Chris Chibnall decided to do stand alone episodes. This might have been a good idea in terms of bringing in new viewers if executed better. There is certainly an argument for getting away from the more complex story lines of the Moffat era, at least for Chibnall’s first season. Russel T. Davies might have been a better template, but Davies did add season long subplots when he revived the series. Seeing the various clues to Bad Wolf pay off in the season finale was far more rewarding than just seeing the return of Tzim-Sha from the first episode. It is not surprising that Chibnall turned the Stanza into more than a single-episode villain, but they were hardly developed enough to make their return a significant season-ending event.

Again, fortunately we do have one more episode in which to redeem the season, followed by a wait for an entire year to see if some of the problems of Chibnall’s first season are corrected. Fortunately the cast, including both Jodie Whittaker and her three companions, all did a fine job. While the season did have its problems, the switch to a female lead was not one of these problems.

The above trailer for Star Trek: Discovery season 2 has been released. There previously had been speculation that Burnham and Spock never meet in light of his failure to ever mention a sister, but the two are seen together in the trailer. Spock has also smiled in trailers released to date, consistent with the Spock of The Cage as opposed to his behavior later on the original show. Michelle Yeoh seen in her new role at Section 31, which might receive its own spin off.

A second video released last week shows both the more cinematic mood of the show, along with its continued concentration on the characters:

Alex Kurtzman has spoken with Entertainment Weekly about the planned series staring Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard:

The mysterious upcoming Star Trek series bringing back fan favorite Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) is going to be very different in tone from previous shows in the franchise, and below, executive producer Alex Kurtzman explains exactly how.

The writer-producer has worked on J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek films and is the current showrunner of CBS All Access’ Star Trek: Discovery, as well as an executive producer on the Picard series. We asked Kurtzman how the spin-off will compare to Discovery and Stewart’s previous Star Trek series, The Next Generation.

“It’s an extremely different rhythm than Discovery,” Kurtzman told EW exclusively. “Discovery is a bullet. Picard is a very contemplative show. It will find a balance between the speed of Discovery and the nature of what Next Gen was, but I believe it will have its own rhythm.”

Continued Kurtzman: “Without revealing too much about it, people have so many questions about Picard and what happened to him, and the idea we get to take time to answer those questions in the wake of the many, many things he’s had to deal with in Next Gen is really exciting. ‘More grounded’ is not the right way to put it, because season 2 of Discovery is also grounded. It will feel more… real-world? If that’s the right way to put it.”

This season’s Arrowverse crossover, Elseworlds, was limited to three episodes. Each episode was partially a self-contained story, with the three combining into a more complete story. Elseworlds did a better job of providing fun interaction between the characters with lots of Easter Eggs, and perhaps setting up next year’s cross over episode, than it did in plotting this year.

Smallville and the 90’s Flash series were both brought into the Arrowverse. John Wesley Shipp was Barry Allen on Earth 90, most likely a reference to him playing the role in 1990-91. Shipp’s character warned of a Crisis to come, and expressed surprise that Diggle wasn’t wearing his ring. Arrow showrunner Beth Schwartz says that an episode with a version of Diggle as the Green Lanturn is, “To be continued.” We will not see this in the immediate future as it was confirmed that this has not actually been written yet.

The Arrowverse is finally able to make references to Gotham City with Gotham near the end of its run, but still cannot show Batman. Instead we were introduced to his cousin, Batwoman, who might be getting her own series.

The episode ended with an announcement that next year’s crossover event will be Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Flash has been teasing a Crisis since the beginning, but showing this as occurring in 2024, making it unclear if this is the same event. I also wonder if they might collapse the television multiverse, placing Supergirl on the same earth as Arrow and The Flash.

In other genre news, The Good Place, which once again rebooted itself in the most recent episode, has been renewed for a fourth season. Before going on hiatus for the holidays, for the first time the cast has made it to what appears to actually be the real Good Place.

Mack will be taking over as head of SHIELD when Agents of SHIELD returns. The series has already been renewed for a seventh season, with season six to air this summer.  Clark Gregg is not listed as part of the cast. This might mean he really has died after last season, but it is also possible that they are purposely not announcing his return to the series to hide future plans for him.

NBC will air the two-hour finale of Timeless this Friday, with fans hoping the show will once again return following cancellation. The episode is left open-ended to leave the possibility open of a return.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Final Two Episodes Of 2018; Star Trek Shows Saru’s Backstory

It Takes You Away provided three stories in one episode of Doctor Who. Unfortunately this meant that none of them were fully developed.

The episode started out looking like a “cabin in the woods” horror story. Once again there was misdirection when we learned it was about something else entirely. By the end, the real monster of this portion was the blind child’s father. Erik abandoned his daughter in the cabin and used recordings of a monster (with a primitive sound system as opposed to Wifi as Ryan discovered) to keep her from leaving. He mostly got away with this, but Yaz did chastise him for this: “That’s a shocking bit of parenting.”

The second portion of the story in the Anti-Zone was the weakest, and could have been eliminated in order to spend more time on the other portions. Ultimately we wound up with the Solitract, which required far too much explanation, based upon an old Gallifreyan fairytale. This episode fit in well with the overall theme of this season of loss–continuing from Chibnall and Whittaker’s work on Broadchurch. The science fiction trope of dead people appearing to have returned first showed Erik back with his wife, and then tried to lure Graham with faux-Grace.

The decision to part from the Moffat era hurt the episode. Instead of ending with a frog, it could have been much stronger if the Solitract had tried to lure the Doctor with the form of River Song.

There was an homage to past Doctor Who. Following the recent homage to Matt Smith and Fez hats, in an homage to Jon Pertwee, Yaz offered the advice to “reverse the polarity.” There was also a major progression of character development between Ryan and Graham.

This was followed by The Battle Ranskoor Av Kolos. As usual, I will avoid spoilers until after it airs legally in the US. Unfortunately this is not likely to be a memorable season finale for Doctor Who. Hopefully they do better on the New Year’s Day special, which appears to be teasing the Daleks in the preview: “This is the DNA of the most dangerous creature in the universe.” Then there will be no Doctor Who until 2020. The BBC released this statement:

THE DOCTOR AND HER FRIENDS WILL LAND AGAIN ON BBC ONE IN 2020

As series 11 came to a close on BBC One tonight (Sunday 9th December) the show announced that series 12 is on its way and will be returning to BBC One in early 2020.

Series 11 marked a brand new era for Doctor Who with Showrunner, Chris Chibnall, taking control of the TARDIS. With Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor, viewers saw the Doctor and her friends travel through space and time on adventures fighting monsters and conquering battles. Series 12 will see Jodie reprise her role as the Doctor and she will once again be joined by Bradley Walsh (Graham), Mandip Gill (Yasmin) and Tosin Cole (Ryan).

So far, from the first eight episodes, series 11 of Doctor Who has averaged a 4-screen consolidated audience of 8.4m.

Jodie’s first episode as the Doctor launched with a consolidated audience of 11 million making it the second biggest drama this year across all channels, while also placing it among the top 10 programmes in 2018 so far across all channels and genres. The episode received 3.7 million requests through BBC iPlayer.

Speaking of the return Showrunner Chris Chibnall said “We’re off again! Well we never actually stopped – as Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and friends have been winning the hearts of families across the nation this autumn, we’ve been busy with a whole new set of action packed adventures for the Thirteenth Doctor. We adore making this show and have been blown away by the response from audiences, so we can’t wait to bring more scares, more monsters and more Bradley Walsh, Mandip Gill and Tosin Cole to BBC One. Brilliant!”

Charlotte Moore, Director of Content added, “We’re delighted that the Doctor and her friends will be returning to thrill audiences in 2020. I know Chris and the whole team are already working on a whole new set of exciting adventures. In the meantime we’ve got a very special episode on New Year’s Day for everyone to enjoy.”

 

 

The Brightest Star shows Saru’s backstory in the third Short Trek. We see the life of Kelpians, and how Saru met Philippa Georgiou. It was somewhat reminiscent of Pen Pals, an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which Data came into contact with a girl from a pre-warp civilization. It was a bit surprising that, while the Kelpians were victims, they were not shown to be the constant prey I had come to expect from the little which was said about them on Discovery.

Syfy Wire has information from the writers of the episode as to how it fits into the rest of the Star Trek timeline:

…the final moments of “The Brightest Star” depict Saru (Doug Jones) and Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) meeting for the first time, it begs the question of when exactly this all happened in the future-history of Star Trek. At this point in time, Georgiou is not the captain of the USS Shenzhou, just a lieutenant. So, by the time we get to the era of Discovery, just how long have she and Saru known each other?

The answer it seems is about 18 years.

“Burnham is brought aboard the Shenzhou for the first time in a flashback in ‘The Battle of the Binary Stars,’ and the events of this short took place about a decade before that,” Lippoldt tells SYFY WIRE. “Saru would have needed time to acclimate to this new worldview outside of his home planet; he’s only just learned that humans exist, after all! So he wouldn’t have entered [Starfleet] academy right away.”

In terms of Trek chronology, “The Battle at the Binary Stars” happens in the year 2256, and the flashback in which Burnham first beams aboard with Sarek is eight years before, in 2248. So, if “The Brightest Star” is “about a decade” before 2248, then we’re somewhere in the 2230s. For hardcore completists, this means we’re in a decade where Kirk and Spock are little kids, meaning Lt. Georgiou was out contacting alien races with Kirk and Spock literally in diapers!

They also looked at the questions raised about the Prime Directive:

“As we began exploring Saru’s backstory in the writers’ room, ‘Pen Pals’ did, in fact, come up a lot as it dealt with a pre-warp species,” Kim says. “We talked at length (days? weeks?) about the complexity of the Prime Directive, and how each Star Trek series has approached this iconic notion: How do our characters do the right thing, adhering not only to Starfleet’s values but also its governing laws? What are the exceptions, the loopholes?”

Lippoldt adds: “Part of the fun of developing this story is that we’ve — hopefully —created a scenario that presents a juicy moral quandary. Here, Georgiou made a case to make an exception for Saru based on several factors.

“First, that Saru is the one who initiated contact, and directly asked for help. Second, that during their interaction, Georgiou came to see that Saru displayed an understanding and knowledge of technology. And third, that Saru was only asking for himself. His people, and specifically his father, showed no interest in changing their ways. So by accepting to help Saru leave Kaminar without the rest of his people’s knowledge, Georgiou is not, in fact, interfering with the normal development of the planet’s civilization.”

Even so, this moral quandary leaves Mr. Saru in a situation where he cannot legally return home to visit his people. But will he ever? Does he want to?

“In the first few years of joining Starfleet, Saru had always intended on learning everything he could and returning to Kaminar to help his people,” Kim says. “But over the years, he realized that the Prime Directive exists for a reason, and breaking it would bring about serious repercussions, not just to his Starfleet career but to his people. So that is the weight of Saru’s burden.

In other Star Trek news, it was also announced this week that Patrick Stewart’s series reprising Jean-Luc Picard will debut in late 2019.

SciFi Weekend: Doctor Who Continues To Improve, Looking At The Most Recent Three Episodes; Elseworlds; Daredevil Cancelled; Responses To Bill Maher’s Attack On Stan Lee; Handmaid’s Tale Sequel; Big Bang Theory/Young Sheldon Crossover

This season of Doctor Who will not be remembered for its any big episodes, but the show is getting on track. Chris Chibnall has stayed away from the big, outlandish ideas of past seasons, timey wimey twists, or multi-episode stories. Instead we have a series of stand alone episodes which do work well to keep the show accessible for new viewers and show the variety of types of stories possible with Doctor Who.

There have been three more solid episodes since my last review of Doctor Who. Kerblam! was a science fiction story which could have worked well with some of the previous Doctors. We got to see the Doctor wearing a Fez once again. As with some other episodes this season, the air date fit in well with current events, but wasn’t limiting for future viewers. We went into the week leading up to Black Friday with a look at some of the problems with Amazon (which did not prevent me from putting in lots of orders later that week).

Beyond the social commentary about the problems of replacing humans with machines, and the treatment of human workers, there was a strong story. One measure of its success was that I was totally fooled by who turned out to be the villain, while the more obvious villain was, as has been common this season, more misdirection. In previous seasons we have been led to fear common place actions such as blinking. This week the danger was in breaking bubble wrap.

The major faults of the story were primarily understandable due to budgetary constraints. This hardly seemed like a company which employed ten thousand people when we only saw a few. It was also a little disappointing to see how easily they killed off characters. Dan’s death seemed sort of unnecessary. Kira’s death was the saddest, and in other episodes equivalent characters would have been saved by the Doctor. I would even have expected the Doctor to resolve the problem without Charlie getting killed. The message of the episode was also diluted by having Charlie turn out to be the villain of the episode. However, having a rebel who goes too far for a desirable goal is hardly unprecedented, and does not contradict the underlying message.

After Kerblam! we got another historical episode with The Witchfinders. The episode checked off many boxes: time travel, social commentary, a historical figure, an alien threat, and even zombies. If the episode had any flaws, it was throwing too much into one episode. While taking place in England, the witch trials had the same warped logic of the American version:  “If she dies she’s innocent, and if she lives, she’s a witch and we’ll hang her.” The  Pendle Hill witch trials seen in this episode were based upon real historical events (but, to avoid any confusion, there were no mud zombies).

Once again there was misdirection as to the villain, with Alan Cumming, initially seen looking menacing in a mask, turning out to be more comic relief than the villain of the episode. The Doctor was also shown to have a new power–bobbing for apples without getting her hair wet.

This episode finally addressed the difference in having the Doctor regenerate as a woman. She had trouble being taken seriously due to her gender, as King James denied that a woman could possibly be the Witchfinder General.  Jodie Whittaker made a rare reference to her gender this episode in protesting: “If only I was still a bloke, I could just get on with the job without having to constantly defend myself.” There was this commentary on the times:  “These are hard times for women. If we’re not being drowned, we’re being patronized to death.”

It was inevitable the a woman who appeared and acted differently, and even used a magic wand, would be accused of being a witch during the episode. As the Doctor was told, “Do you know why the Ducking Stool was invented, Doctor? To silence foolish women who talk too much.” Fortunately the Doctor had also learned some tricks from Harry Houdini.

Kerblam! included a reference to the Doctor meeting Agatha Christie.  The Witchfinders quoted Arthur C. Clark’s Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

This week’s episode, It Takes You Away, was another success, taking place in the present on earth instead of in space or the past. I won’t say much about it to avoid spoilers as it has not aired in the US yet, but the episode also works well to continue the back stories of a couple of the companions, and move their relationship forward. The episode also includes monsters, with one again being based upon misdirection (but without WiFi). While it avoids getting seriously timey wimey, there is also a strong science fiction element going back to an old Gallifreyan fairytale. Following the recent homage to Matt Smith and Fez hats, in an homage to Jon Pertwee, Yaz offered the advice to “reverse the polarity.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ebyWI3sljg

The above trailer is out for Elseworlds, the three night crossover on CW, which premieres next week. The official synopses are out:

EPIC ELSEWORLDS CROSSOVER KICKS OFF TONIGHT — When Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) and Oliver Queen (guest star Stephen Amell) wake up one morning and realize they have swapped bodies with each other, the two set off to find out what disturbed the timeline to cause such a shift. However, things quickly go from bad to worse when they present their case to Team Flash and the gang doesn’t believe them. Barry and Oliver realize they need Supergirl’s (guest star Melissa Benoist) help and travel to Smallville on Earth-38 where they end up meeting Kara’s cousin, Clark Kent (guest star Tyler Hoechlin), and intrepid reporter, Lois Lane (guest star Elizabeth Tulloch). LaMonica Garrett guest stars as The Monitor.

THE ELSEWORLDS CROSSOVER CONTINUES IN GOTHAM CITY WITH BATWOMAN (RUBY ROSE) — With Oliver (Stephen Amell) and Barry (guest star Grant Gustin) still stuck in the other’s bodies, the two get a lead on John Deegan (guest star Jeremy Davies) and head to Gotham City with Supergirl (guest star Melissa Benoist) to figure out why their reality has changed. While there, they meet the mysterious Kate Kane (guest star Ruby Rose) who provides them with information that leads the group to Arkham Asylum.

THE BATTLE CONCLUDES — Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), The Flash (guest star Grant Gustin), Green Arrow (guest star Stephen Amell) and Superman (guest star Tyler Hoechlin) engage in the battle of their lives.

Stephen Amell tweeted the above picture, posed in front of the bat signal.

Entertainment Weekly has more on the episodes from the stars, including this from Grant Gusten and Stephen Amell:

“You’re not going to see me playing Oliver Queen’s mannerisms, or Stephen playing Barry’s mannerisms. It’s more being aware that for some reason we’ve switched lives and destinies. It’s more the fun of the situational comedy that we keep finding ourselves in, and less us having a complete role reversal,” Gustin tells EW. “We get to see Stephen do some of the more goofy speed stuff I have to do on a regular basis, and I get some actual combat as Green Arrow. So, we just see different colors for each of us.”

“Having superpowers is crazy! Wearing the Flash suit is crazy!” says Amell, who, like everyone else involved, sounds genuinely thrilled about the crossover’s story. “The idea is that in order to be the best version of Barry Allen, which I have to be because we face a threat, there are elements of his personality I have to embrace, and there are elements of my personality that he has to embrace.”

Besides including characters such as Batwoman, Superman in black, and Lois Lane, Comicbook.com reports that the episodes will include “alternate versions of Ricardo Diaz (Kirk Acevedo) serving as a Central City police officer — alongside alternate versions of Joe Wilson (Liam Hall) and Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman).”

Daredevil joins the growing list of Marvel series being cancelled by Netflix but Disney apparently has more planned for the character with their own streaming service starting soon. Third season showrunner Erik Oleson also discussed the news on Twitter. 

Stan Lee’s company has responded to Bill Maher’s attack on Lee’s legacy with this letter:

An Open Letter to Bill Maher from Stan Lee’s POW! Entertainment

Mr. Maher: Comic books, like all literature, are storytelling devices. When written well by great creators such as Stan Lee, they make us feel, make us think and teach us lessons that hopefully make us better human beings. One lesson Stan taught so many of us was tolerance and respect, and thanks to that message, we are grateful that we can say you have a right to your opinion that comics are childish and unsophisticated. Many said the same about Dickens, Steinbeck, Melville and even Shakespeare.

But to say that Stan merely inspired people to “watch a movie” is in our opinion frankly disgusting. Countless people can attest to how Stan inspired them to read, taught them that the world is not made up of absolutes, that heroes can have flaws and even villains can show humanity within their souls. He gave us the X-Men, Black Panther, Spider-Man and many other heroes and stories that offered hope to those who felt different and bullied while inspiring countless to be creative and dream of great things to come.

These are but a few of the things we the fans of Stan Lee also consider “adulting,” because life both as a child and grown-up can indeed be a struggle. Stan is the author of millions of happy childhood memories and the provider of so many of the positive tools of adulthood.

Our shock at your comments makes us want to say “‘Nuff said, Bill,” but instead we will rely on another of Stan’s lessons to remind you that you have a powerful platform, so please remember: “With great power there must also come — great responsibility!”

-Team Stan

Comicbook.com has compiled arguments, beginning with a quote from  Barack Obama from 2013:

I grew up loving comic books. Back in the day, I was pretty into Conan the Barbarian and Spiderman. Anyone who reads comics can tell you, every main character has an origin story — the fateful and usually unexpected sequence of events that made them who they are.

They concluded by quoting these words from Stan Lee:

Let’s lay it Let’s lay it right on the line. Bigotry and racism are among the deadliest social ills plaguing the world today. But, unlike a team of costumed super-villains, they can’t be halted with a punch in the snoot, or a zap from a ray gun. The only way to destroy them is to expose them — to reveal them for the insidious evils they really are. The bigot is an unreasoning hater — one who hates blindly, fanatically, indiscriminately. If his hang-up is black men, he hates ALL black men. If a redhead once offended him, he hates ALL redheads. If some foreigner beat him to a job, he’s down on ALL foreigners. He hates people he’s never seen — people he’s never known — with equal intensity — with equal venom.

The television version of The Handmaid’s Tale has gone beyond the events of the original novel. Margaret Atwood has tweeted that she is writing a sequel:

The Arrowverse doesn’t have the only shows with a huge crossover planned. CBS has revealed how they will handle the Big Bang Theory/Young Sheldon crossover episode: “Sheldon and Amy are still down about their theory being disproven, but a VHS tape from Sheldon’s past inspires him not to give up.” When I first heard of the crossover, I was hoping for time travel.