Challenge accepted: Inventing a plausible far-flung future for ST: Discovery S3

Sonequa Martin-Green plays Michael Burnham in the third season of <em>Star Trek: Discovery</em>, which is set over 900 years in the future from the first two seasons.

Enlarge / Sonequa Martin-Green plays Michael Burnham in the third season of Star Trek: Discovery, which is set over 900 years in the future from the first two seasons. (credit: CBS All Access)

Star Trek: Discovery started out as a prequel to the original series, set roughly 10 years before Captain Kirk and his crew took over the USS Enterprise and boldly went where no man had gone before. But we’re now in uncharted territory with ST: Disco S3, which rocketed the ship and her crew over 900 years into the future. That posed a considerable creative challenge to stay true to the ethos of the franchise while reimagining its future—a challenge facing not just the writers, but series prop master Mario Moreira and science consultant Erin MacDonald as well.

(Some spoilers for S2 and the first five episodes of S3 below.)

The series stars Sonequa Martin-Green as Michael Burnham, an orphaned human raised on the planet Vulcan by none other than Sarek (James Frain) and his human wife, Amanda Grayson (Mia Kirshner)—aka, Spock’s (Ethan Peck) parents. So she is Spock’s adoptive sister. As I’ve written previously, the S2 season-long arc involved the mysterious appearances of a “Red Angel” and a rogue Starfleet AI called Control that sought to wipe out all sentient life in the universe.

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George Clooney is a grizzled Arctic astronomer in The Midnight Sky trailer

George Clooney directs and stars in The Midnight Sky, based on the the novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton.

Netflix has bet heavily this year on high-profile feature films starring A-list talent: first with Chris Hemsworth in Extraction, and then with Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron in The Old Guard. That bet has largely paid off. Now the streaming platform has tapped another Oscar winner, George Clooney, to direct and star in the post-apocalyptic science fiction film The Midnight Sky. It’s adapted from the critically acclaimed 2016 debut novel, Good Morning, Midnight, by Lily Brooks-Dalton, which has been compared to Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora and Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven. The official trailer just dropped, and it’s giving us some strong Away vibes (which, alas, has been canceled by Netflix after just one season).

In the novel, a brilliant astronomer named Augustine is posted to the Arctic, scanning the night sky for clues about the birth of the universe. Then a mysterious global apocalypse occurs, prompting all his fellow scientists to evacuate. But Augustine remains behind, dedicated to continuing his research, even as the airwaves go silent. Meanwhile, a team of astronauts aboard the spaceship Aether is set to return to Earth after a mission to Jupiter. On board is Sully, who sacrificed her marriage and left her daughter behind in order to become one of the first humans to travel so far in our Solar System. The astronauts are unaware of the catastrophe that has befallen Earth, and it falls to Augustine to warn them not to return.

Snow is white, space is black

Clooney’s film adaptation looks like it will hew closely to the novel. Per the official premise: “This post-apocalyptic tale follows Augustine (Clooney, Syriana, Argo), a lonely scientist in the Arctic, as he races to stop Sully (Felicity Jones, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and her fellow astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.” The cast also includes David Oyelowo (Selma, Don’t Let Go) as Commander Tom Adewole, Ethan Peck (Star Trek: Discovery), Sophie Rundle (Peaky Blinders), Kyle Chandler (Bloodline, First Man) as Matthew, Tiffany Boone (The Following) as Maya, Demián Bichir (A Better Life) as Sanchez, and Caoilinn Springall as Iris, a mysterious child that Augustine befriends in the Arctic.

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The future of the Belt has begun in first trailer for The Expanse S5

The fifth season of the sci-fi series The Expanse will begin streaming on Amazon Prime on December 16, 2020.

Amazon Prime debuted the first trailer (embedded above) for the upcoming fifth season of The Expanse during the series panel at the New York Comic Con’s Metaverse today. And the stakes are high. According to the official premise, “The future of The Belt has begun as Marco Inaros (Keon Alexander) wages Armageddon against the Inners for a lifetime of oppression and injustice.”

(Some spoilers for prior seasons below.)

As we previously reported, The Expanse is based on a series of novels by James S.A. Corey (the pen name for writing team Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck), exploring interplanetary tensions that are breaking out all over a Solar System long since colonized by humans—mostly between Earthers, Martians, and “Belters.” Part mystery, part political thriller, part classic space opera, The Expanse has earned almost nothing but praise from critics and its devoted fans alike, not just for its gripping storytelling, but also its excellent use of accurate physics. The third and fourth seasons earned a rare 100 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes (seasons one and two earned 76 percent and 96 percent, respectively).

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Mission to Mars: Hilary Swank leads an elite team in trailer for Away

Hillary Swank stars as an elite astronaut preparing for a crewed mission to Mars in the new Netflix sci-fi drama series Away.

An elite international team of astronauts must leave family and friends behind for a three-year crewed mission to Mars in Away, a new science fiction drama from Netflix, starring Hilary Swank. Created by Andrew Hinderaker (Penny Dreadful), the 10-episode series was inspired by a 2014 Esquire article by Chris Jones about astronaut Scott Kelly’s year-long sojourn aboard the International Space Station with a Russian cosmonaut—the longest space mission in American history.

Per the official synopsis:

Away is a thrilling, emotional drama on an epic scale that celebrates the incredible advancements humans can achieve and the personal sacrifices they must make along the way. As American astronaut Emma Green (Hilary Swank, I Am Mother, Boys Don’t Cry) prepares to lead an international crew on the first mission to Mars, she must reconcile her decision to leave behind her husband (Josh Charles, The Good Wife) and teenage daughter (Talitha Bateman, Countdown) when they need her the most. As the crew’s journey into space intensifies, their personal dynamics and the effects of being away from their loved ones back on Earth become increasingly complex. ​Away shows that sometimes to reach for the stars, we must leave home behind.

The trailer opens with Emma’s NASA engineer husband Matt playing the opening bars of Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” on a piano, as she presents their daughter Alexis with a gift: a necklace with three stones, representing Earth, the Moon, and Mars. “And the string is me making my way back to you. So just remember, the further away I get, I’m actually getting closer to being back to you.”

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Trailer for Ridley Scott’s Raised by Wolves is giving us strong Alien vibes

Executive producer Ridley Scott’s sci-fi series Raised by Wolves is coming to HBO Max in September.

Androids struggle to raise human children on a mysterious planet in the first trailer for Raised by Wolves, a new sci-fi series coming to HBO Max, courtesy of none other than Ridley Scott (Blade Runner, Alien, etc., etc.). Created by Aaron Guzikowski, who also penned the script for the 2013 thriller Prisoners, the ten-episode series was initially a straight-to-series order for TNT, but moved to HBO Max last October. Scott even directed the first two episodes, making this his US TV directorial debut.

“I’m always searching for new frontiers in the sci-fi genre and have found a true original in Raised by Wolves— a wholly distinct and imaginative world, full of characters struggling with existential questions,” Scott told Deadline Hollywood in 2018 about what drew him to the project. “What makes us human? What constitutes a family? And what if we could start over again and erase the mess we’ve made of our planet? Would we survive? Would we do better?”

The tagline for the series gives little away: “Mother was programmed to protect everyone after Earth had been destroyed. When the big bad wolf shows up, she is the one we must trust.” But the basic premise revealed during development is that the story involves two androids serving as Mother (Amanda Collin) and Father (Abubakar Salim) figures on a strange virgin planet. They are programmed to raise human children to rebuild the population. However, the people of the fledgling colony develop stark religious differences, and “the androids learn that controlling the beliefs of humans is a treacherous and difficult task.”

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Back to kick some demon derrière: Wynonna Earp S4 trailer is finally here

Melanie Scrofano returns as the titular gunslinging, demon-hunting heroine in S4 of SyFy’s Wynonna Earp.

The SyFy series Wynonna Earp has trod a rocky road on the way to its fourth season, much to the frustration of its loyal fanbase (“Earpers”). First, the start of S4 production was delayed until late 2019, due to financial troubles at IDW Entertainment. Shooting finally commenced this past January in Alberta, Canada, and was nearly complete when the coronavirus pandemic led to the shutdown of all  film and TV productions. Showrunner Emily Andres and her determined team have nonetheless managed to complete the season, and we now have the first trailer (uncensored, with colorful language fully intact), and an air date: July 26, 2020.

(Some spoilers for first three seasons below.)

The original comic book series created by Beau Smith in 1996 had Wynonna roaming the world hunting down revenants and other demons; the TV series mostly keeps her in her hometown of Purgatory (primarily for budgetary reasons). As I wrote when S3 wrapped way back in October 2018, Wynonna is the the Anti-Buffy: “She’s a hard-drinking, foul-mouthed, promiscuous, bar-brawling free spirit with a chip on her shoulder. She never even had a shot at being Homecoming Queen in high school.”  

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Good timing: Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone S2 trailer drops on Twilight Zone Day

The Twilight Zone season 2 trailer.

It’s national Twilight Zone Day (no one knows why), and what better way to mark the occasion than with the official trailer for the second season of Jordan Peele’s reboot of The Twilight Zone? We got our first look at still photos a few days ago, and, combined with the trailer, we’re optimistic that Peele can pull off another strong season and do this classic science fiction series proud.

(Some spoilers for S1 below.)

Rod Serling created the original Twilight Zone anthology series for CBS in 1959, and it was an instant hit with viewers. Serling was a fan of both pulp fiction and science fiction, and he combined those passions with a strong interest in social commentary on topics such as nuclear war and McCarthyism. And he loved a good twist ending. The series was successfully revived in the 1980s and again (less successfully) in 2002. There was also a 1983 feature film, notorious because star Vic Morrow and two child actors were killed in a freak helicopter accident during filming.

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The train’s social order is threatened in latest Snowpiercer trailer

Daveed Diggs and Jennifer Connelly star in the new TNT series Snowpiercer.

Earlier this month, TNT announced it would be moving up the release of its new science fiction series, Snowpiercer, by a couple of weeks in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And now we have a new full trailer to give us a closer look at what we can expect: essentially a reboot of the critically acclaimed 2013 film by Oscar-winning director Bong Joon-ho (Parasite), fleshed out into a full-length series.

Bong’s film itself was an adaptation of a 1982 French graphic novel Le Transperceneige, about remnants of humanity trying to survive an ice age inside a 1,001-car train. The train is run by a reclusive transportation magnate named Mr. Wilford, who has separated the passengers according to class and has a nefarious plan to ensure life on the train remains sustainable.

The film starred Chris Evans as revolutionary leader Curtis, with Tilda Swinton as second-in-command Minister Mason. Bong shot much of it on a specially constructed set: a train mounted on a giant gyroscopic gimbal, the better to mimic the movements of an actual train. Snowpiercer earned critical raves and went on to gross $86 million worldwide against a roughly $40 million production budget.

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