SciFi Weekend: The Leftovers; Under The Dome; Community; Arrow; Better Call Saul

Leftovers Living Reminders

Two shows based upon novels about a change to a small town  premiered, The Leftovers and the second season of Under the Dome. Both have aspects which are bound to be frustrating to viewers who prefer to see hard science fiction.

The Leftovers, based on Tom Perotta’ novel, is about a town in upstate New York three years after a rapture-like event in which two percent of the world’s population suddenly disappeared. Perotta is a religious skeptic, and his story is not about the Biblical rapture. It appears to be random as to who disappeared, having nothing to do with religious conviction. He is also not a fan of typical science fiction and was not interested in creating an explanation for what happened. Instead he dealt solely with how people would react to an event they could not explain. The pilot did appear promising, provided viewers are content to follow the drama related to the people involved.

Under the Dome, based upon the Stephen King novel, picked up at the point of the cliff hanger from the first season. The Dome showed yet new powers including effects on magnetism and brain waves. One of the more curious elements was when Junior was unconscious and he dreamed he spoke with his mother, who we thought had committed suicide. Later in the episode there was a scene in which it did appear that she is actually alive. There were also new characters introduced, old characters killed, and the possible conversion of  Big Jim from evil to good due to influence from the Dome.

Under the Dome is much closer to science fiction than The Leftovers, but the ability of the Dome to change how the characters behave by the sudden, and unexplained, development of new powers is even more frustrating than Perotta’s decision to offer no explanation at all for the event. At least I feel that The Leftovers is playing more fairly with viewers, setting up an unexplained event but sticking with reality in how people dealt with it from that point on. Under the Dome can, does, rewrite the rules at any point. Yet despite all its faults, there remains something compelling about Under the Dome which keeps me watching.

Community - Season 5

Just when it appeared that Greendale would not be saved, an unexpected source gave Community a sixth season. After negotiations broke down with Hulu, Yahoo picked up the show, with Dan Harmon and the full cast returning. The episodes will be supported by ads, have the same budget as the network episodes, and might have the freedom of running longer than twenty-one minutes.

While Community might not have done well by network standards, its following is quite large by the standards of a digital programing source trying to establish itself as yet another alternative to conventional television like Netflix and Amazon are doing. I would expect that Yahoo might want more than just thirteen episodes, but it now looks like a movie is being considered before a seventh season according to Sony’s president of programming and production,  Zack Van Amburg:

What are the prospects for Community beyond season six? Is this a final season? Could it hit seven seasons?

I don’t know, let’s see how our movie does! Isn’t that our plan? There’s no way we’re not making the movie now! I think once we make the movie, let’s look up and decide how much more Community the world wants. We promised six seasons and a movie, how much more do you want?! [Laughs.] … I’d be lying if I told you that we have not had some very early and preliminary conversations that are very exciting about what a potential movie could be and who might direct it. It’s early but it’s completely in our thought process.

Could the movie stream on Yahoo or are you looking for a theatrical release?

I don’t know; that’s the part that is preliminary. It was not part of our Yahoo conversation. We were singularly focused on getting the series picked up but I think anything is possible.

Arrow Devon Aoki

There is further casting news regarding Arrow:

Devon Aoki has landed a major recurring guest role on the hit CW drama Arrow from Warner Bros TV. Aoki will play Tatsu Yamashiro, a character that first appeared in the Green Arrow origin series graphic novels published by DC Comics. She is a Japanese martial arts expert who wields a deadly sword, a blade from which her codename Katana is derived. In Arrow, Tatsu will be one of Oliver’s mentors in the flashbacks and a critical influence on his journey to eventually become The Arrow of present day.

Georgina Haig, who played Etta Bishop in the final season of Fringe, has been cast as Elsa from Frozen on Once Upon A Time.

Better Call Saul will jump between several decades and might include the era during Breaking Bad, possibly allowing for the return of Walter White. While the series will not air until 2015, AMC has already picked it up for a second season.

After HBO passed on doing an adaption of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, Starz has announced plans to make a series based upon the novel.

SciFi Weekend: Continuum; Orphan Black; Fargo; Game of Thrones; Sin City; DC Movie Schedule Rumors; HBO Passes on American Gods; Casey Kassem Dies

Continuum_3.11_image

Continuum, Orphan Black, and Fargo are all heading towards their season finales and all had major events this week. Continuum had a real game changer with 3 Minutes To Midnight. While the most significant revelations happened at the end, a lot also happened earlier in the episode. The storyline about Halo raises further questions about both the abuse of technology and as to whether Kiera chose the right Alec. We saw the other Alec still alive in one of those Freelancer glass cages. They make for interesting scenes, but they don’t look all that practical for long term incarceration. How do the prisoners even go to the bathroom? Jason went out in search of the time travel device from the Alex from the original time line, but how did he know where to look? Julian, now the Vice President of Social Responsibility at PIRON, finally learns about all the time travel going on. I loved how Kellog thought Brad was a car jacker when it turned out that Brad was turning to Kellog for help–as it turned out that a future Kellog had sent Brad back in time. Kiera ultimately caught up with Brad when he went to a hiding place at an old home and saw his younger self, apparently with no negative repercussions. He did confess to Kiera how he shot the other Kiera, and was fortunate that at this point she didn’t really seem to mind.

The climax was set up with, as Travis described it, “It’s like Wylie Coyote finally catches the roadrunner.”  There are further comparisons to the Terminator series. It is not clear as to why Liber8 was going after capturing Kiera at this point, or if they even knew about Brad. Once captured, Brad’s story did become the main matter of interest. Liber8 learned that they were successful in preventing the development of the Corporate Congress, but the result was worse in the time line which Brad came from. They also found that they were all pawns. Garza was working for Sadler, Kellog had his own agenda, and Chen was working for the Freelancers.

Simon Berry gave a clue as to what this might all mean in this interview with the Canadian TV Guide. The second paragraph is essential in considering  how time travel plays into the story:

TV Guide Canada: Last week you told us this Sunday’s episode was going to have people talking and you were absolutely right. When did you guys decide you were going in this direction and have no one able to control the future?
Simon Barry: When we were breaking Season 3, the idea that this new timeline–were it to be exposed beyond just Kiera and Alec to Liber8 would kind of create an existential crisis–was something we loved the idea of as a concept. We realized as Kiera was coming around and waking up about her reality that at the same time she was able to sort of come to terms with the truth about where she came from, we could also allow Liber8 to learn the truth about their circumstances so that everyone would at the same time go through this mental reality check. Here’s what the rules really are, here’s what is actually going on.

In terms of time travel, when you believe that you’re the last time traveler, you have this assumption that you’re in control of the situation. When you discover that someone else has actually time-traveled after you, you realize you’re a pawn in someone else’s game. It can be a profound and very disturbing realization that your efforts have been trumped essentially. The time travel trump card is whoever has traveled most recently. [Laughs.] For Liber8, it was important for them to have a catharsis and for reasons that will be revealed in Episodes 12 and 13, this moment of realization fundamentally shifts Liber8′s perspective.

So where do we go from here? Does Kiera and/or Liber8 try to fix this time line? Can that even be done? If it is the last time traveler who is in control of the situation, it is not clear if Kiera or Brad is the last. Will next season move on to yet another time line where Kiera or someone else is in control of the situation? This week’s episode opened up so many possibilities.

Orphan Black Bone Marrow

On Things Which Have Never Yet Been Done, Orphan Black advanced the story lines for most of the clones (although no sight of Tony, who was introduced last week). It appears that Alison watched Dexter but not Breaking Bad when she discussed the disposal of Dr. Leekie’s body. She rejected Donnie’s idea of dumping him under water (“Do we have a boat?! Have you ever seen Dexter? Random scuba divers are finding everything!”). She didn’t consider destroying the body with acid. She decided upon burying him in their garage, but this does mean that the evidence will always be around and there should also be a difference in the concrete the shape of a burial plot. Just when it looked like Donnie was of little value, he suddenly grew up and took on both Vic and Angie.

Helena remains a psychopathic killer, but this season has been a psychopathic killer for the good guys/clones. I almost feel sorry for Henrick, and we don’t know the fate of most of the people at the Prolethian compound. Helena certainly would not have left the kids to die, and reportedly there was a scene which was cut for time in which she did help them escape. We also don’t know for sure whether Helena, Gracie, or both really are pregnant, and if they will keep the babies if they are.

Back at Dyad, Rachel continues to manipulate Delphine (the new Leekie) and Cosima. Poor Delphine tried to help Sarah but turned out to have been manipulated by Rachel (who has an awesome media room). There was yet another scene in which one clone impersonated another–this time Rachel playing Sarah to kidnap poor Kira following the bone marrow donation. In a way the penultimate episode placed us where we incorrectly assumed we were at the end of season one with Kira captured by Dyad.

John Fawcett answered some questions for Entertainment Weekly heading into the season finale:

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: This episode was very heavy on insemination and people in stirrups. What’s up with that?
JOHN FAWCETT: It wasn’t something that we were purposely trying to do, but there is a nice mirroring thing of Helena at the beginning and then kind of matching that and having Gracie have the same procedure happen. It just gets to this creepy ongoing saga of the Proletheans and their grand plans for Helena.

EW: Speaking of people in stirrups, I suppose it’s time to offer a eulogy for the dearly departed Henrik. Why decide to take him out and in such a painful fashion?
FAWCETT: He kinda got what we deserved, don’t you think? Listen, it’s a fun and a sick way to dispatch one of your villains. And I think Helena has had a little revenge on her brain for a while.

EW: The Proletheans have been such a big part of this story for the first two seasons. With Helena torching that place and taking out their leader, are they now not going to be a big part of the show? Are we sort of done with them, or will they continue to be a part of this saga?
FAWCETT: We have not seen the last of the Proletheans. What this represents is a kind of a win for our team. But it’s definitely not a “we’re done with them.” It’s not the end of the empire. Darth Vader’s still spinning off into space.

EW: Is this kidnapping a case of Rachel trying to recreate her lost childhood and have the family unit she felt she never did?
FAWCETT: Rachel’s a little creepy, there’s no question. That could be an aspect of it. It seems to me from all the conversations that Kira is very important to Dyad, from a biological point of view. But also, this has become personal between Rachel and Sarah, and we begin the season with a war between Sarah and Rachel and this war is basically coming to a head with Rachel taking Kira. So you can imagine that this is not going to go well at this point. Especially considering that this ongoing war is really the framework and A story of season 2.

EW: Okay, now’s your chance to tease the finale. We still have a lot of balls in the air. What can we expect next week?
FAWCETT: Sarah is obviously going to have to deal with Rachel. We know who took Kira. It’s not like we’re trying to figure out who took her. We know who took her. So this is going to come to a bit of a showdown between Sarah and Rachel and that’s going to be the exciting thing to watch next week.

EW: There are some people we have not seen in a while. We haven’t seen much of Paul, who is off somewhere. Might he pop back up again?
FAWCETT: We’ve done a lot to bring all the storylines all together for the season finale, so there’s a chance you might see him.

Fargo s01e09 Malvo

Fargo’s penultimate episode, A Fox, A Rabbit, and a Cabbage, sets up what is billed as a bloody finale. Lester both remain foolish and ethically descends into a full Heisenberg. Flashbacks brought us up to date on why Malvo was pretending to be a dentist in order to track down the brother of a dentist in witness protection. His plan was disrupted when Lester appeared, insisting he knew  him. Malvo gave him the same choice he gave him in the first episode: “Yes or no?” Lester showed he learned nothing in answering “Yes,” leading Malvo to kill everyone else in the elevator. “That’s on you.” Lester made another foolish mistake in making a dangerous enemy out of Malvo by hitting Malvo but leaving him alive. This led  Malvo to warn him, “See you later, Lester. See you soon.”

Until this point it appeared that Lester could get away with everything he did a year earlier. Of course, unknown to him, there was again danger from Molly solving the case now that the two FBI agents were taking her seriously. Plus there were new suspicions with Lester having been in Las Vegas at the time of the murders in the elevator.

Lester returned home, hoping to leave the country with his wife Linda. After hearing Linda tell Lester how she always loved him and felt like Cinderella, it was obvious that she was doomed. Suspecting that Malvo was waiting for him at his office, where their passports were stored, Lester had Linda wear his parka with hood up. I doubt that Malvo really confused Linda for Lester when he shot her. If there was any doubt that Lester deserves to either be captured by Molly or killed by Malvo, this resolved it.

In comparing the television adaptation with the movie, I initially saw Lester as more being the victim of circumstances and, despite killing his wife in a fit of rage, not being evil in the sense that William H. Macy’s Jerry Lundegaard was. While things got totally out of hand for both Lester and Jerry, the difference was that Jerry had planned a crime from the start. Lester, like Walter White, became more evil as the series went on, previously framing his brother for his wife’s murder, and now setting up poor Linda.

Lester’s fate might have been determined by the poor decision he made in this episode. Poor decisions often wind up influencing the direction of television shows. For example, tonight we will probably learn the fate of Tyrion on tonight’s season finale of Game of Thrones. He has been sentenced to death after Oberyn was killed by the Mountain in the trial by combat two weeks ago (but I wonder if he gets off on a technicality if both are dead). It was clear that Oberyn would be killed when he made the terrible decision not to kill the Mountain when he had him down, instead demanding a confession. While Oberyn was a fool in that episode, it was good to see Sansa mature, and finally act in control of her fate (somewhat similar to how Donnie acted on Orphan Black).

The above trailer has been released for Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

Current rumors regarding upcoming DC superhero movies:

May 2016 – Batman v Superman
July 2016 – Shazam
Xmas 2016 – Sandman
May 2017 – Justice League
July 2017 – Wonder Woman
Xmas 2017 – Flash and Green Lantern team-up
May 2018 – Man Of Steel 2

HBO decided that an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s book American Gods was too much to take on:

I think we’re all huge fans of the book, and I think the script just didn’t — we couldn’t craft the script as good as we needed it to be. I think we knew going in that it would be a challenge; every good book is a challenge to adapt it and find the level you need for it. The bar is high now for great dramas. And to find that bar — we tried. So it was a huge disappointment […] We tried three different writers, we put a lot of effort into it. Some things just don’t happen. We have to trust at the end of the day, if you don’t have a star with a great script, you’re just not going to go through with it.

In other entertainment news, Casey Kasem has died at age 82.

SciFi Weekend: Hannibal; American Gods; Dexter; Under The Dome; Terminator; Nudity in Game of Thrones; Catwoman; Put A TARDIS In Space

Hannibal - Season 1

Bryan Fuller has offered David Bowie a role in Hannibal, and revealed more about his plans for the second season:

“We have reached out to David Bowie to see if he’s interested and available,” Fuller reveals. “We would love for him to play Hannibal’s uncle, who is a character from the literature and in the books.”

Fuller explains “we don’t have an answer yet,” but is hopeful Bowie can join the NBC series, which resumes production in August in Toronto.

Hannibal’s uncle, Count Robert Lecter, was killed by Nazis in the books, but “since our timeline is a little more present,  there’s a little bit of J.J. Abrams-style alternate universe storytelling where he could still be alive,” Fuller explains.

Another pivotal role in season two will be that of Barney, an orderly at the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane, where Will Grant (Hugh Dancy) will be kept captive. “That will be some fun stunt casting,” says Fuller. “I would love to bring in Chi McBride, if he’s available. There are so many great actors I would love to work with.”

Not much of season two will be taken from the literature, according to Fuller. “We’re going to see Will Graham [Dancy] institutionalized and what we know from Red Dragon, the backstory that is given, which is very, very thin, explains that Will Graham was so psychologically compromised from investigating the Minnesota case that he had to be institutionalized. And that’s sort of one sentence that we can do quite a bit with. As you can see from the first season, we held true to that backstory in a very faithful way, but obviously we took huge liberties in how we interpreted that one sentence. So right now, for season two, we are in fresh territory with a chapter that hasn’t even been written by Thomas Harris. It’s exciting.”

SIT Blog

I’m pretty much limiting to links for now as I’m on vacation and will be at our summer offices at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island this weekend through next. Considering where SciFi Weekend is currently coming from, I must note the recent death of Richard Matheson. Among his many works is Bid Time Returns which was turned into Somewhere in Time which was filmed here at Grand Hotel.

HBO plans to devout six seasons to an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. This makes me wish that Bryan Fuller had taken Hannibal to HBO. It is hard to see it surviving on NBC to complete Fuller’s seven year plan.

Michael C. Hall interviewed on the end of Dexter.

Under the Dome will (not surprisingly) differ from Stephen King’s novel.

The Terminator series is being rebooted as a new trilogy. This isn’t encouraging:

Another interesting factoid added by Deadline is that the rights to Terminator will eventually revert back to James Cameron in 2019, who has yet to be satisfied with any of the follow-ups and spin-offs that came after his two films. So they’re hauling ass to make three movies before that happens. Always a recipe for a quality product.

The Mary Sue recommends thirteen independent science fiction and fantasy movies.

Lena Headey on nudity in Game of Thrones:

I’ve said from day one that I’ve got no problem with nudity. I’ve done it throughout my career. But for this character, it’s been better for her regality and her feistiness to not bare her flesh until she has to. When it’s out of her control. And if that ever happens, it won’t be Cersei being seductive or sexy. She’ll be stripped. That kind of a scene will have more power if it’s not an everyday occurrence.

Here’s a rundown as to how the third season of Game of Thrones differed from the novel.

Starz has ordered a full season of Ronald Moore’s series Outlander.

I’m certainly not surprised that Catwoman isn’t really dead.

Here’s a device to convert your currency from different genre sources.

There’s a Kickstarter campaign to put a TARDIS in orbit.

Modern Family is considering a gay wedding following the recent Supreme Court ruling