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Whispers, Spoilers & Speculation Corner: 02/06/17


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Sci-fi Spoilerpalooza
By Heather S. Vina

BIG news for Doctor Who fans: After a lot of rumors swirling around, Peter Capaldi has confirmed that he’s leaving the show. This year’s Christmas special will be his last as the Doctor. No word if the other rumor is true that Pearl Mackie, AKA new Companion Bill, will be leaving as well. The radio announcer who helped Peter announce it said it was a very emotional time for them both.

As to when the new Doctor will be announced, Radio Times has up an interview with new showrunner Chris Chibnall. The rumor is that he will be leading the hunt for a new Doctor beginning the middle of this year. He officially takes over the reins when Steven Moffat steps down at the end of this coming season.

As for my thoughts on who the new Doctor should be? I’m not sure. No one will top Matt Smith for me. As much as I like Peter, he never reached Matt’s heights. But I do hope the Doctor isn’t changed to female. I’m all for more female Timelords and female characters in general, but bring back the Rani or Romana or create a new Timelord. The Doctor is the Doctor. For over fifty years, he has firmly identified as male. That’s the Doctor for me.

12 Monkeys: EW has up a preview of the new season and its trippy 80s episode.

The 100: TV Line has up a recap and an interview with Jason Rothenberg on why that Clarke/Lexa moment in the season opener was so important. The TV Addict has up an interview with actors Eliza Taylor, Bob Morley and Richard Harmon on what is coming up for the show in season four. TV Line also has up a preview of the new season’s stories.

The Defenders: Comingsoon.net has up a set photo of Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones) and Charlie Cox (Daredevil) as their characters.

Doctor Who: BBC America has announced that season ten will premiere on April 15, 2017.

Emerald City: EW has up an interview with producer Shaun Cassidy, on episode six, which aired this past Friday.

The Expanse: io9 has up a preview with interviews for season two.

The Flash: TV Line has up the promotional photos for episode 12, which show Iris in some dire straits. TV Line has up some details on the songs that will be sung in the crossover with Supergirl.

Game of Thrones: UFC fighter Conor McGregor has debunked the rumor that he will be appearing in season seven of the show.

Legion: IGN has up an advanced review of the pilot episode.

Once Upon A Time: It’s official: The show is doing a musical episode.

Outlander: The show has cast actors Gary Young (The Shannara Chronicles) as Mr. Willoughby, a confidant of Jamie’s, and Charlie Hiett as Captain Thomas Leonard, an inexperienced captain of the ship that Jamie and Claire take.

Powerless: The new DC comedy show premiered this week. While it didn’t do very well in the ratings, what aired is a big departure from the original pilot that premiered back at Comic-Con 2016. io9, which saw the original pilot, has up a list of the biggest differences between the two versions.

Preacher: Per Dominic Cooper’s Twitter, filming for season two has begun.

The Shannara Chronicles: TV Line is reporting that four new actors have been added to the cast. Malese Jow (The Flash, Vampire Diaries) is Mareth, “an unpredictable young woman with magical abilities.” Vanessa Morgan (Finding Carter) is Lyria, “a mysterious woman who is romantically linked to Eretria.” Gentry White (UnREAL, TURN) is Garet, “a sly and charismatic bounty hunter known throughout the Four Lands as ‘The Weapons Master.'” Caroline Chikezie (Footballers’ Wives) is Tamlin, “the cunning queen of Leah, the only human Kingdom in the Four Lands.” Actor/writer Desmond Chiam is Riga, “a once revered general in the Eventine’s army, now the leader of an extremist group of Elvin soldiers known as The Crimson Austin.” Actors Austin Butler, Ivana Baquero, Manu Bennett, Aaron Jakubenko and Marcus Vanco from season one will be returning.

Per MTV, production on season two has begun in New Zealand. The season two synopsis: “The re-emergence of magic has the populace of the Four Lands terrified, and an organization called The Crimson is using fear and intimidation to sow discord among the races. Wil, scarred by the loss of Amberle and his separation from Eretria, has turned his back on his magical destiny to become a healer – until Mareth convinces him to rejoin the fight. After reuniting with Eretria, Wil and Mareth seek out Allanon, only to learn that Bandon is on a mission to resurrect a creature of darkest evil: The Warlock Lord.”

Star Trek Discovery: There’s a new teaser out for the show, with some glimpses of the new uniforms!

Supergirl: The show has cast former Lois Lane Teri Hatcher (Lois and Clark) as this season’s mysterious Big Bad. They’ve also cast actor Kevin Sorbo (Hercules, Andromeda) as one, as well. No details yet on either character. TV Line has up some details on the songs that will be sung in the crossover with The Flash. EW has up an interview with David Harewood on the upcoming J’Onn-featured episode.

Timeless: TV Line has up the promotional photos for Misha Collin’s guest appearance as Eliot Ness.

The Vampire Diaries: TV Line has confirmed that actor Steven R. McQueen will be returning to the show for the series finale. David Anders hinted on his Twitter that he might be making a return appearance as well. The character that exited Friday night might be killed off, but apparently the actor isn’t gone yet. And finally, there’s a cute set photo of Nina Dobrev reunited with Paul Wesley and Kevin Williamson.

The Walking Dead: EW has up an interview with Sonequa Martin-Green about where Sasha’s head is this season. IGN has up an exclusive preview for the second half of season seven, which premieres February 12.

Zoo: Actor Aleks Paunovic (Van Helsing) has been cast as Dallas, the “leader of a shadowy group looking to stop the spread of the hybrids.” The show has also cast Athena Karkanis as Abigail, an “operative who does not shy away from dangerous situations and has a surprising tie to Jackson,” and Hilary Jardine (Van Helsing) as Tessa, “Jackson’s girlfriend who is instrumental in helping refugees to safety.”

Over at E!Online, the latest Spoiler Room has a spoiler on Timeless.

At TV Line, Matt’s Inside Line has spoilers on shows Once Upon a Time, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and The 100.


Supernatural (Thursday nights, 8pm, CW)
By Paula R. Stiles

Check out my Patreon page. Help me keep this column going, pay Heather, and start doing Supernatural reviews again.

It’s official! The show has been renewed for a 13th season. This may well be (by a couple of weeks) the earliest renewal Supernatural has ever received.

The show has moved to 8pm.

The Season 12 line-up (23 episodes) so far: “Keep Calm and Carry On” (12.01) official photos and press release; “Mamma Mia” (12.02) synopsis and photos; “The Foundry” (12.03) synopsis, official photos, sneak peek, and promo; “American Nightmare” (12.04) synopsis, official photos and promo; “The One You’ve Been Waiting For” (12.05) synopsis, promo and set photos; “Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox” (12.06) synopsis, photos and promo; “Rock Never Dies” (12.07) synopsis, photos and promo; “LOTUS” (12.08) synopsis, photos and promo; “First Blood” (12.09) synopsis, photos, promo and sneak peek, as well as an extended promo; “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” (12.10) (this is the one with Alicia Witt) synopsis, photos and promo, and sneak peek; “Regarding Dean” (12.11) tech survey card, synopsis, set photo, promo and official photos; “Stuck in the Middle (With You) (12.12) tech survey card, synopsis and photo (this one’s directed by Richard Speight Jr.); “Family Feud” (12.13) synopsis; “The Raid” (12.14) tech survey card; “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” (12.15) tech survey card; “Unnamed Episode” (12.16) tech survey card; Unnamed Episode (12.17) tech survey card.

The promo and official photos for this week’s ep, “Regarding Dean,” are up.

The synopsis for “Family Feud” (12.13) is up. Oh, look. They decided to remember the plothole known as Gavin:

“Family Feud.”

SAM AND DEAN ASK ROWENA TO FIND CROWLEY’S SON – When Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) look into a murder at a museum, they learn a ghost from a merchant ship that sunk in 1723 may be at the heart of the mystery. After realizing “The Star” was the same ship that Crowley’s (Mark A. Sheppard) son Gavin McLeod (guest star Theo Devaney) should have been aboard, they enlist help from Rowena (guest star Ruth Connell) to track Gavin down. Kelly Kline (guest star Courtney Ford), still pregnant with Lucifer’s child, takes refuge with a demon after an angel attempts to kill her. PJ Pesce directed the episode written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming (#1213). Original airdate 2/23/2107.

From the above date, it appears we won’t have any mini-hiatuses before March.

The longtime (26 years) Internet Movie Database is ditching all of its message boards, including the one for Supernatural. Fans are not at all pleased. It won’t affect the show, but it will definitely affect the fandom.

Ratings for “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” (12.10) remained steady in demo at 0.6/2 and went up slightly in audience to 1.73 million.


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Killing IMdb: It’s the End of the Fan World as We Know It – And I Don’t Feel Fine


By Paula R. Stiles


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Yesterday, 26-year-old movie and TV series database IMDb (Internet Movie Database) announced that it was closing its message boards as of February 20, saying that they were “no longer providing a positive, useful experience for the vast majority of our more than 250 million monthly users worldwide.” It said that it was giving two weeks notice to allow fans to say their goodbyes.

Fandoms all over the internet promptly exploded. And it wasn’t pretty. People were angry, upset, even grieving. The announcement was an across-the-board fandom apocalypse and it was as unexpected as a city-sized asteroid suddenly appearing in the sky.

The passionate response may seem like an overreaction on the part of a few nerds, but IMDb wasn’t just another site. It was a major way for fans of film and TV media to meet other fans. I have several friends and artistic colleagues that I met there with whom I have worked on various projects over the years. It was a real hotbed for artists to meet and then scamper off to collaborate. IMDb itself even encouraged this by creating a fees-supported pro area and doing its best to turn the whole place into an industry site.

I’ve been lurking on IMDb since the late 1990s and finally registered in October of 2002. I’ve been hanging out there on nearly a daily basis for over a decade. I even had a Pro account that I won’t be renewing at the end of this month, and a page as a producer of various indie horror flicks. That’s close to two decades with the place. And now they’re turning out the lights.

Yes, there were trolls, but that was in large part due to IMDb’s hands-off and impersonal reporting policy that got everyone’s stuff deleted at times. The trolls came in because they knew IMDb wasn’t going to do jack. In fact, they’re now arriving in droves to get their last licks in before the lights go out, like looters in a city before a nuke hits.

On the other hand, the site’s impersonal nature avoided the pitfalls of crazy Big Name Fan moderators that choked off participation and reduced the range of opinions on other sites like the late, lamented Television without Pity. IMDb blaming the closure on troll activity was like an indifferent bystander blaming a sexual assault on a victim for not fighting back hard enough and then shooting the victim. It’s not as though IMDb tried very hard to correct the problem.

The most insulting thing is that IMDb wasn’t originally a corporate site. It was ours. And the message boards reflected that. IMDb began life as lists of actors and directors on a British Usenet group (remember them?) back in 1990. Yep, it predates the World Wide Web. It spent most of the 90s as a database on a server in Cardiff, Wales, then was bought out by Amazon in 1998.

Amazon, perhaps out of sheer laziness and cupidity, continued the fan participation by creating the message boards and allowing the site’s entries to be built via user-generated content (unsurprisingly, that lucrative database spanning a century of Hollywood and world media isn’t going anywhere, just the people who created it for free). It began to turn IMDb more into an industry site with the establishment of IMDbPro in 2002, but since this largely helped indie filmmakers who were themselves essentially fans, it didn’t change the nature of the beast.

Over the years, IMDb has increased user participation (and tried to claim copyright over everything generated on its site) while also becoming increasingly indifferent to moderating or fostering discussions on its boards. The site began cutting off the older ends of archives of the busier boards around the mid-to-late-2000s and even started to “prune out” archives of older films and canceled TV series around 2009. The apparent reason was a lack of server space to house so many old discussion threads.

It was well-known that the reporting system was automated and that bots, not people, made the decision to delete a post or thread if it had enough reports. Naturally, this led to abuse, bullying and stalking by trolls of other users. Really popular boards like those for HBO show Game of Thrones and AMC’s The Walking Dead, or films like The Dark Knight, became bywords for out-of-control troll activity. In recent times, African American movie boards like the one for hit film Hidden Figures, as well as boards for feminist films and television shows like the CW’s Supergirl, were targeted by racist and misogynistic trolls straight out of 4Chan and StormFront by way of Reddit.

The writing was on the wall for years. Like Naples, we all knew Mount Vesuvius would blow eventually. But the end, when it came, was sudden and unexpected.

Theories on the cause ranged from the site’s losing money on the boards, to the influx of toxic trolls (both proferred as causes by the site itself, so therefore probably not the real reasons), to threatened libel suits by Big Name Actors over criticism on movie boards, to Donald Trump.

The most likely cause is dumber, more mundane, and buried in the site announcement’s second paragraph. Currently, only about 10 million of their vaunted 250 million users patronize their social media and it seems they want to strong-arm the site’s users onto their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, Tumblr, and Snapchat accounts. This attempt will almost certainly fail and may well kill the whole site in the end, but, like Yahoo’s ill-fated and clumsy revamp of its Groups section a few years ago, Teh Stupid will still be permanent.

The larger ramifications for fandoms, as well as artists, worldwide, will be unclear for a while. Other sites have come and gone, and are much missed, but fandom moved on. Nothing lasts forever and it certainly doesn’t last forever on the internet.

But IMDb’s fan participations predate social media. They even predate the World Wide Web. The site, however inadvertently in its latter years, had become an incubator for social interaction and discussion, even creation, of artistic endeavor. Now those fans and creators will scatter to the four winds to who knows where – but it likely won’t be to IMDb’s social media sites the way it hopes. It’s not the end of the world, but still, there is no joy in Mudville this February. IMDb has struck out.


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Whispers, Spoilers & Speculation Corner: 02/01/17


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Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee.

You can access previous spoilers columns at Innsmouth Free Press here.


Sci-fi Spoilerpalooza
By Heather S. Vina

We seem to be losing a lot of greats lately. A sad “rest in peace” for actor John Hurt (the War Doctor, Doctor Who) and actress Mary Tyler Moore. They will be missed by this fan.

On to news … for fans of CW’s Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, and The Flash, EW has up an interview with executive producer Marc Guggenheim about more crossovers and spoilers for all three shows.

In other CW Superhero show news, actor Darren Criss (Glee) has been cast as the lead villain Music Meister in the Supergirl/The Flash musical crossover. EW has a list of the actors slated to sing in the episodes. The musical performers will be Grant Gustin, Melissa Benoist, Jesse L. Martin, Victor Garber (now on Legends of Tomorrow), Carlos Valdes, Jeremy Jordan, and John Barrowman (Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow).

Moving from DC Television to Marvel Television, Fox is officially moving forward with an X-Men show that will be connected to the movies! It will be about two normal human parents who discover that their children have the mutant gene and are then forced to go on the run with them. Movie vet Bryan Singer – who also serves as an executive producer – is directing the pilot episode, CNET has up some details from showrunner Matt Nix.

And finally, great news for fans of TNT’s The Librarians: The show has been renewed for season four!

Arrow: TV Line has up the promotional photos of the episode introducing Talia al Ghul (AKA Lexa Doig). They also have up some spoilers courtesy of co-showrunner Wendy Mericle.

Beyond: TV Line has up a video interview with the cast where they try to explain the realms in their show.

Colony: The Hollywood Reporter has up an interview with Carlton Cuse on the show’s latest casualty.

The Flash: TV Line has up a midseason preview courtesy of co-showrunner Aaron Helbing. They also have up the promotional photos for episode 11, which sees Vibe suiting up and Gypsy arriving.

The Leftovers: The final season finally has an air date and a trailer. The show will premiere on Sunday, April 16.

Legends of Tomorrow: TV Line has up an interview with co-showrunner Phil Klemmer on some of the things to expect in the second half of the season.

Legion: Variety has up an interview with Noah Hawley on how the show came to be. For those interested in the comic book version of the character, IGN has up a nifty little history lesson for you!

The Magicians: The Blastr site has up a video interview with the cast on season two. Executive producer Sera Gamble gave some spoilers to TV Line on season two, with warnings of a death and promises of a musical episode.

Once Upon A Time: The show is teasing a musical episode. Well, I guess, in the Disney movies, they all sing. Why not in the show?

Shadowhunters: Showrunner Todd Slavkin spoke with TV Line about last week’s shocking, non-book-canon death. The show has cast actor Will Tudor (Game of Thrones) as Sebastian, a popular character from the book. Showrunners Todd Slavkin and Darren Swimmer explained to TV Line how TV Sebastian will differ from Book Sebastian.

Supergirl: TV Line has up the promotional photos for episode ten with the villain Livewire. For fans of the Alex/Maggie romance, EW is spoiling that the couple will be featured for Valentine’s Day.

Stranger Things: Hollywood Life has some scoop for season two, including the news that actor Sean Astin has been cast as Winona Ryder’s character’s boyfriend.

Timeless: Showrunner Eric Kripke is enlisting two of his former Supernatural co-workers to guest star on his show. Actor Misha Collins will be guest-starring as Eliot Ness in the episode “Public Enemy No. 1.” and Jim Beaver will be guest-starring in a recurring role as an NSA agent. The show has also cast General Hospital actor Brandon Barash as Ernest Hemingway.

The Vampire Diaries: Nina Dobrev announced on her Instragram that she will be returning for the series finale as Elena.

The Walking Dead: EW has up an interview with Andrew Lincoln on the show. They also have one up with Danai Guria. Executive Producer Scott Gimple gave EW a bit of a preview for the new season.

Over at E!Online, the latest Spoiler Room has spoilers on shows Supernatural, Timeless, The Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Legends of Tomorrow, and Colony.

At TV Line, Ask Ausiello has spoilers on shows The Leftovers, Grimm, The 100, Supergirl, and Zoo.


Supernatural (Thursday nights, 8pm, CW)
By Paula R. Stiles

Check out my Patreon page. Help me keep this column going, pay Heather, and start doing Supernatural reviews again.

It’s official! The show has been renewed for a 13th season. This may well be (by a couple of weeks) the earliest renewal Supernatural has ever received.

The show has moved to 8pm.

The Season 12 line-up (23 episodes) so far: “Keep Calm and Carry On” (12.01) official photos and press release; “Mamma Mia” (12.02) synopsis and photos; “The Foundry” (12.03) synopsis, official photos, sneak peek, and promo; “American Nightmare” (12.04) synopsis, official photos and promo; “The One You’ve Been Waiting For” (12.05) synopsis, promo and set photos; “Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox” (12.06) synopsis, photos and promo; “Rock Never Dies” (12.07) synopsis, photos and promo; “LOTUS” (12.08) synopsis, photos and promo; “First Blood” (12.09) synopsis, photos, promo and sneak peek, as well as an extended promo; “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” (12.10) (this is the one with Alicia Witt) synopsis, photos and promo; “Regarding Dean” (12.11) tech survey card, synopsis and photo; “Stuck in the Middle (With You) (12.12) tech survey card, synopsis and photo (this one’s directed by Richard Speight Jr.); “Family Feud” (12.13); “The Raid” (12.14) tech survey card; “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” (12.15) tech survey card; and “Unnamed Episode” (12.16) tech card.

The synopsis for “Stuck in the Middle with You” (12.12) is up:

RICHARD SPEIGHT JR. DIRECTS – Mary (guest star Samantha Smith) asks Sam (Jared Padalecki), Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Castiel (Misha Collins) for help on a case she’s working but neglects to mention the British Men of Letters are involved. When Mary is double crossed, everything is revealed. Richard Speight Jr directed the episode written by Davy Perez (#1212). Original airdate 2/16/2107.

According to the promo, Ian Tracey is returning in this week’s episode, “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” (12.10), though apparently as a different (angelic/Grigoric?) character than his previous one, Lee Daniels (who later died offscreen).

EW teased that Lucifer’s storyline will be continued with his unborn child. Since his character apparently isn’t already played out enough.

There was a new con in Houston this past weekend.

Jensen Ackles made a quick video and group acceptance speech from the crew on the set (a motel) for the show’s PCA Award. He accidentally showed the actor who plays Mick (from the LoL) standing right behind him. Whoops, inadvertent spoiler.

Ratings for the show’s return with “First Blood” (12.09) remained steady in demo at 0.6/2 and 1.72 million, despite the move to 8pm.


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Whispers, Spoilers & Speculation Corner: 01/25/17


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Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee.

You can access previous spoilers columns here. You can also still catch our latest Whispers, Spoilers and Speculation Corner here.


Sci-fi Spoilerpalooza
By Heather S. Vina

The 100: EW has up an interview with showrunner Jason Rothenberg on Clarke’s Lexa grief and the coming season.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: EW has up an interview with Patton Oswalt on Koenig’s return. Spoiler TV has up the promotional photos for episode 11.

Beyond: The show has just been renewed and season one isn’t over yet, but already there’s a teaser promo for the new season!

The Defenders: EW spoke with Finn Jones on how Iron Fist fits into the new Defenders world. Krysten Ritter spoke with EW on the relationship Jessica Jones has with Daredevil.

Emerald City: EW has up an interview with Shaun Cassidy on the latest episode.

The Flash: Big news: Actor Rick Cosnett (Eddie) is returning to the show. EW has up the details on who is singing in the new musical crossover with Supergirl.

Lucifer: The show has cast actor Timothy Omundson (Psych, Galavant) as God Johnson, a patient in a psychiatric hospital who thinks he’s God.

Legion: IGN has up an interview with producer Lauren Shuler Donner on how the show fits with the X-Men movie universe. The show’s Twitter account put up a new promo, as well. Both TV Line and Spoiler TV have up advanced previews for the first episode. Neither one is too spoilery.

Timeless: Executive producer Eric Kripke spoke with TV Line about the possibility of a romance between Lucy and Wyatt.

Game of Thrones: While HBO has not yet renewed the show for an eighth and final season, word has it that when it does, that season might consist of more than ten episodes!

Once Upon A Time: The show has found its Tiger Lily in Native American actress Sara Tomko (The Leftovers).

Powerless: Spoiler TV has up the cast photos for the new show. They also have up the promotional photos and official synopsis for the premiere episode. It’s set to air on February, 2.

Shadowhunters: EW has the first look at Alec and Magnus’ first date.

Star Trek Discovery: Bad news: The show has been delayed again. Cool news: The show has cast actor James Frain as Spock’s dad, Sarek. IGN has up a nice breakdown of all of the known characters.

The Vampire Diaries: TV Line has up an interview with Ian Somerhalder on Damon’s feelings for Elena.

Over at E!Online, the latest Spoiler Room has spoilers on shows Arrow, Timeless, Once Upon A Time, The Flash, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Colony.

At TV Line, Matt’s Inside Line has spoilers on shows The Leftovers, Grimm, The 100, Supergirl, and Zoo.


Supernatural (Thursday nights, 8pm, CW)
By Paula R. Stiles

Check out my Patreon page. Help me keep this column going, pay Heather, and start doing Supernatural reviews again.

It’s official! The show has been renewed for a 13th season. This may well be (by a couple of weeks) the earliest renewal Supernatural has ever received.

The show is moving to 8pm when it comes back tomorrow night.

The Season 12 line-up (23 episodes) so far: “Keep Calm and Carry On” (12.01) official photos and press release; “Mamma Mia” (12.02) synopsis and photos; “The Foundry” (12.03) synopsis, official photos, sneak peek, and promo; “American Nightmare” (12.04) synopsis, official photos and promo; “The One You’ve Been Waiting For” (12.05) synopsis, promo and set photos; “Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox” (12.06) synopsis, photos and promo; “Rock Never Dies” (12.07) synopsis, photos and promo; “LOTUS” (12.08) synopsis, photos and promo; “First Blood” (12.09) synopsis, photos and promo, as well as an extended promo; “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” (12.10) (this is the one with Alicia Witt) synopsis; “Regarding Dean” (12.11) tech survey card, synopsis and photo; “Stuck in the Middle (With You) (12.12) tech survey card and photo (this one’s directed by Richard Speight Jr.); “Family Feud” (12.13); “The Raid” (12.14) tech survey card; “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” (12.15) tech survey card; and “Unnamed Episode” (12.16) tech card.

The synopsis for “Regarding Dean” (12.11) is up:

SUPERNATURAL 12.11 “Regarding Dean”: Sam (Jared Padalecki) enlists Rowena’s (guest star Ruth Connell) help to track down an old world, powerful family of witches after Dean (Jensen Ackles) gets hit by a spell that is rapidly erasing his memory. John Badham directed the episode written by Meredith Glynn.

There’s a new interview out with the current showrunners, in which they double down on the LoL and Lucifer Baby Daddy storylines. Because those have been so popular with the fandom [/sarcasm]. In addition, it seems we haven’t actually yet met the much-ballyhooed Mr. Ketch, who will be recurring for our sins, starting this week.

There’s another Shaving People, Punting Things video out.

The CW has a new midseason sizzle reel out.

The show won in its category for the People’s Choice Awards, though Jensen Ackles did not.

The second con in Jacksonville, FL was last weekend. Video for the morning Gold panel is up.

Jim Michaels teased that episode 12.16 will end on a cliffhanger. Hopefully, that cliffhanger won’t suck like the one for “LOTUS.” The episode will be directed by new director Aymn Kaderali. On the tech card, Robert Singer and Andrew Dabb have reappeared as mysteriously as they disappeared a tech card or two before.

There’s a new interview with show creator Eric Kripke in the print version of TV Guide.

Rerun ratings for “LOTUS” (12.08) held the course in demo at 0.3/1 and 0.86 million.

In Live+7 ratings, the first “LOTUS” airing rose from 0.6 to 1.1 and from 1.734 to 2.804 million.


Like this column? You can help keep it going by contributing monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), making a one-time donation through Paypal, or buying us a coffee.


Whispers, Spoilers & Speculation Corner: 01/16/17


We need your help!

Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee.

You can access previous spoilers columns here. You can also still catch our latest Whispers, Spoilers and Speculation Corner here.


Sci-fi Spoilerpalooza
By Heather S. Vina

Great news for several genre shows this week! FX has renewed American Horror Story for two more seasons, while Freeform has renewed Beyond for a second season, and the CW has renewed Arrow, The Flash, Supernatural, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow.

In “back from the dead” news, the CW has picked up Constantine as an animated series on the CW Seed. It will be voiced by Matt Ryan.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Patton Oswalt is set to reprise his role as twins Sam and Billy Koenig in the January 31st episode.

The 100: There’s a new promo for season four.

Colony: EW has up some spoilers for season two from executive producer Ryan Condal.

The Defenders: EW has an interview up with showrunner Marco Ramirez on balancing the series. They also have up a sneak peek of their cover and issue devoted to the show, as well as a first look at Sigourney Weaver as Alexandra, the villain of the series.

The Librarians: The site io9 has up an interview with Lindy Booth on Cassandra’s recent big episode.

Gotham: The show has cast actor Raymond J. Berry as Shaman, a mysterious figure who enters Bruce’s life to “help him” become the man the city needs him to become. Or so he says.

Legion: EW has up an interview with showrunner Noah Hawley on the potential for crossover.

Lucifer: Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for episode 13, the winter finale. TV Line has up the first look at Tim Dekay as Dr. Jacob Carlisle.

The Flash: The show is casting Music Meister for the crossover with Supergirl. The character will be the crossover’s “Big Bad.” The show is also seeing the return of Robbie Amell as Ronnie, the Black Flash (speedster Reaper) and GorrillaGrodd.

Once Upon A Time: The show is casting Peter Pan’s Tiger Lily for an upcoming episode. They are also bringing back Rose McIver for a guest appearance as Tinker Bell.

The Originals: Showrunner Michael Narducci is exiting the show. If it’s renewed, Julie Plec will be taking over.

Powerless: Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for the show’s first episode. The official Twitter account also put up a sneak peek.

Sleepy Hollow: TV Line has up an interview with Tom Mison on the identity of the new Witness.

The Vampire Diaries: EW has up an interview with Paul Wesley and Candice King on how they think the series should end.

The X-Files: Sounds like there might be news of an 11th season coming soon.

Over at E!Online, the latest Spoiler Room has spoilers on shows The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, The 100, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Colony.

At TV Line, Matt’s Inside Line has spoilers on shows Arrow, Timeless, Legends of Tomorrow, Once Upon A Time, Lucifer, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., iZombie, and Supergirl/Flash.


Supernatural (Thursday nights, 9pm, CW)
By Paula R. Stiles

It’s official! The show has been renewed for a 13th season. This may well be (by a couple of weeks) the earliest renewal Supernatural has ever received.

The official cast and crew photo for season 12.

The show is moving to 8pm when it comes back next week on Thursday. Repeats are currently in progress. This week’s is “LOTUS” (12.08).

The Season 12 line-up (23 episodes) so far: “Keep Calm and Carry On” (12.01) official photos and press release; “Mamma Mia” (12.02) synopsis and photos; “The Foundry” (12.03) synopsis, official photos, sneak peek, and promo; “American Nightmare” (12.04) synopsis, official photos and promo; “The One You’ve Been Waiting For” (12.05) synopsis, promo and set photos; “Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox” (12.06) synopsis, photos and promo; “Rock Never Dies” (12.07) synopsis, photos and promo; “LOTUS” (12.08) synopsis, photos and promo; “First Blood” (12.09) synopsis, photos and promo, as well as an extended promo; “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” (12.10) (this is the one with Alicia Witt) synopsis; “Regarding Dean” (12.11) tech survey card and photo; “Stuck in the Middle (With You) (12.12) tech survey card and photo (this one’s directed by Richard Speight Jr.); “Family Feud” (12.13), “The Raid” (12.14) tech survey card; and “Somewhere Between Heaven and Hell” tech survey card.

The synopsis for “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets” (12.10) is up:

SUPERNATURAL 12.10 “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets”: Lily Sunder (guest star Alicia Witt) steeps herself in black magic, honing her powers for over a century, waiting to exact revenge on a band of angels that murdered her family. Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) must work quickly to stop Castiel (Misha Collins) from becoming her next victim. Thomas J. Wright directed the episode written by Steve Yockey

Jensen Ackles and the show have been nominated for the People’s Choice Awards. The ceremony will be this Wednesday, January 18.

Ackles was home for a while longer post-Christmas than the others to be with his family (snarking between him and Jared Padalecki, who was filming on episode 12.14 alone without any of his male co-stars, quickly ensued on Instagram), but is now back on set and … uh … bowling. It doesn’t appear Ackles completely missed filming 12.14, though, since he was back in Vancouver by January 11 and filming for 12.15 began on the 13th.

Ackles, Padalecki and Misha Collins (with help from a cheeky monkey) will guest star on this week’s season finale of Kings of Con, out tonight/tomorrow at midnight on Comic-Con HQ.

There’s a rumor out, thanks to a new tech survey card put up by Jim Michaels, that Jeremy Carver may be returning as showrunner as of 12.15 (here’s the tech survey card for 12.14), which is currently filming as of last Friday. A solo showrunner (since Phil Sgriccia has been exclusively on the production side). Keep in mind this is still just spec based on his being on the title card, and Andrew Dabb not being on the card, while Robert Singer is listed as an Executive Consultant, the usual term for an ex-Executive Producer.

There’s an interview out with Post Production Coordinator Mary Manchin.

For repeat ratings, “Rock Never Dies” (12.08) got a 0.2/1 in demo and 0.79 million in audience. I sense a theme in the generally increasing ratings from the LoL eps through Mary to Lucifer (or at least Sam and Dean in black leather jackets).


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Whispers, Spoilers & Speculation Corner: 01/09/17: The New Year’s Edition


This will be the last week the Whispers, Spoilers & Speculation Corner appears on Innsmouth Free Press. It is moving to The Historical Meow (this week’s column will appear at both sites).

You can access previous spoilers columns here.


Last Week in Innsmouth

You can still buy our all-woman Lovecraft Mythos anthology (the first one ever), She Walks in Shadows, which has won the 2016 World Fantasy Award. As well as our other books, such as Orrin Grey’s past columns in his new book Monsters from the Vault.

You can also still catch our latest Whispers, Spoilers and Speculation Corner here.


Sci-fi Spoilerpalooza
By Heather S. Vina

Happy Holidays, everyone! Wishing you joy, peace and prosperity! And Happy 2017, everyone! Fingers crossed the beginning of this year improves VASTLY on the troublesome end of last year.

The official episode synopses are out (click on the show title) for the Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow crossover. TV Line also has the most recent promotional photos of the characters interacting with each other.

The CW is changing up their 2017 schedule: New show Riverdale will debut Thursday, January 26 at 9 pm., which sees Supernatural moving to Thursdays at 8 p.m. Legends of Tomorrow will move to Tuesdays at 9 pm. starting January 24. iZombie will premiere with a two-hour episode on Tuesday, April 4 at 8 p.m. before then moving to its regular time period at 9 pm. The 100 will return on Wednesday, February 1 at 9 pm. The Vampire Diaries series finale will air on Friday, March 10, with The Originals returning the following week on Friday, March 17 at 8 pm.

The CW also announced that there will be no more additional episodes ordered for Frequency and No Tomorrow this season. The shows’ fates remain unclear.

However, good news for fans of Westworld: The show has been renewed for a second season. Ed Harris also confirmed he will be back for season two.

After the big DC/CW crossover event, a few sites have some interview roundups. TV Line spoke with executive producers Andrew Kreisberg and Marc Guggenheim. EW spoke with executive producer Andrew Kreisberg on what didn’t make the cut. Variety has an interview with producer Marc Guggenheim on what the fallout will be. And the Dominators will be returning to one show soon.

TV Line has up some more scoop about the Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow crossover. There’s also another promo out for it.

TV Line has up a preview for the best upcoming winter shows in 2017.

Great news for fans of Netflix’s Luke Cage: Marvel has announced a second season.

TV Line has up spoilers for the returns of thirty plus shows!

12 Monkeys: The show has cast actor James Callis (Battlestar Galactica) in a mysterious role. According to executive producer Terry Matalas, his character is a “rebellious and enigmatic time-traveler raised throughout history by the Army of the 12 Monkeys, one whose conflicted personal and emotional path will change everything for James Cole and Dr. Cassandra Railly.” Also from Matalas, the mystery character is “a highly anticipated and pivotal new character to our series’ mythology.”

The 100: There’s a new trailer out and a new promo for season four. EW has up some spoilers and promotional photos for the new season as well. Executive producer Jason Rothenberg has some scoop on Octavia’s journey post-Lincoln’s murder.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Looks like Adrian Pasdar is returning to the show. Episode is unknown right now. Spoiler TV has up the promotional photos and official synopsis for episode seven.

TV Line has up an interview with Clark Gregg about the events of the midseason finale. EW has up an interview with Gabriel Luna about what has happened to Ghost Rider. EW has up an interview with executive producers Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen about what’s next after the events of the midseason finale. TV Line also has up a solo interview with Whedon on what’s coming up in the second half of the season.

EW has up an interview with Ming Na on the latest Agent May twist. Collider has up an interview with Clark Gregg and Jason O’Mara on the second half of the season. Spoiler TV has up the promotional photos and synopsis for episode nine.

American Gods: EW has up the first promotional photo of Corbin Bernsen as Vulcan.

Arrow: TV Line has the dish on Oliver and Susan’s romance. There’s also a new, very spoilery promo out for the second half of the season. TV Line has up the promotional photos for episode 10.

Bates Motel: The show will be returning on Monday, February 20.

Class: Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for the season finale.

Colony: There’s a new promo for season two. The show is adding three new faces to its cast in the forms of William Russ (Girl Meets World), Keiko Agena (Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life), and Paolo Andino (The Last Ship). They will all have recurring roles in season two. The show has also cast actress Laura Innes (ER) in a recurring role as Karen. The show will return on Thursday, January 12, 2017.

The Defenders: Superherohype has up some set photos of the actors filming.

Dirk Gently: The BBC America show has been renewed for a second season.

Doctor Who: There are a a new sneak peek out, new video featurette, and official trailer for the Christmas special. The official Twitter account also put up a new photo for the Christmas special. BBC released a new wallpaper for it.

Take it with a grain of salt, but the Daily Mirror (a British tabloid) is reporting that when new showrunner Chris Chibnall takes over in 2017, it will be with a clean slate. Meaning both Peter Capaldi (Twelve) and Pearl Mackie (Bill) will be gone, and the show will cast a new, younger Doctor. The magazine’s “sources” report that the BBC wants to revitalize flagging merchandise sales with a younger Doctor and get back to having a season a year instead of another year-long break as we are experiencing this year. Peter Capaldi is also teasing the idea that he might not be on the show much longer.

With the Christmas Special having aired, there’s now a trailer out for season ten, with a lot of new companion Billie. The official ratings for the Christmas special are out, and the show had 7.83 million, placing it at 9th for the week. The AI or Appreciation Index came in at a score of 82, tying it with last year’s special “The Husbands of River Song.” The BBC site has up a list of “10 Things We Know” about new Companion Bill.

The Exorcist: Deadline has up an interview with creator/executive producer Jeremy Slater on the season finale and the chances for a second season.

The Expanse: Spoiler TV has up the promotional photos and trailer for season two.

The Flash: Actor Greg Gumberg (Alias) has been cast in the recurring role of Detective Tom Patterson. SpoilerTV has up the official synopsis for episode nine, “The Present.” TV Insider has up an interview with Candice Patton on Iris’ relationships and the epic crossover. There’s a HUGE spoiler for the show over at Canadagraphs Twitter. Be warned, though; it’s pretty big.

TV Line has up some scoop from executive producer Andrew Kreisberg on the fallout from the crossover episode. The show has found its “Gypsy” in actress Jessica Camacho (Sleepy Hollow). TV Line has up the promotional photos for episode ten.

Frequency: Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for episode nine, “Gray Line” and for episode eight, “Interference.”

Game of Thrones: EW has an interview with Sophie Turner on what’s coming up for Sansa in season seven. The show has cast mixed martial arts Fighter Conor McGregor in a mysterious role.

Gotham: The show has cast actor James Remar as Frank Gordon, Jim Gordon’s uncle.

Grimm: TV Line has up some scoop from the producers on the final season of the show. TV Line has up an interview with Sasha Roiz on the final season. TV Line has up some behind-the-scenes photos of the cast filming the final season.

Legends of Tomorrow: Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for episode eight, “The Chicago Way.” EW asks after the December crossover whether Sara given up on trying to save Laurel. TV Line has up some photos from the fall finale. The show has cast actress Elyse Levesque (The Originals, Orphan Black) as Guinevere. Caity Lotz posted a photo of her and the guest star in costume.

EW is reporting that actor Matt Angel (Grimm) has been cast as a young George Lucas in an episode that will find Ray and Nate deeply affected by the time changes.

Legion: There’s a new promo for the show.

The Librarians: Executive producer Dean Devlin spoke with EW about this season’s arc and the influence Doctor Who has had on it. Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for the Christmas episode, directed by Star Trek’s Jonathon Frakes and written by star Noah Wyle.

Lucifer: Actor Tim Dekay has been cast as Dr. Jacob Carlisle, a brilliant neuroscience professor whose appearance in episodes 12 and 13 will have “deadly ramifications” for someone Lucifer cares for. TV Line has up some spoilers on Charlotte’s plans now that she knows Chloe’s secret.

The Magicians: There’s a new trailer out for season two.

Once Upon A Time: EW has up the first promotional photo of the alternate universe episode. TV Line has up an interview with Emilie de Ravin on Belle’s painful decision.

Canadagraphs has up some set photos and descriptions of scenes being filmed with actors Josh Dallas and Colin O’Donoghue, with new guest star David Cubitt (Medium). Faran Tahir announced on his Twitter that he will be returning to the show as Captain Nemo. EW has up an interview with executive producers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis. Canadagraphs also has up some set photos with Lana Parrilla, Sean Maguire and Will Traval.

Executive producer Adam Horowitz debunked to EW a fan theory on Emma’s prophesized death. TV Line has up the first promotional photos of August’s return. EW is reporting that Ariel (actress Joanna Going Swisher) will be making a return appearance. Actor Gil McKinney’s Prince will also be returning.

The Originals: TV Line is reporting that Matt Davis, AKA Alaric, will be making an appearance on the show in the eighth episode. TV Line has some scoop on Hayley and Elijah’s romance.

Outlander: EW has up an interview with Caitriona Balfe on what is coming up in season three.

Powerless: The show finally has a premiere date: Thursday, February 2nd at 8:30pm ET. There’s a new promo for the completely revamped DC series. They no longer work in an insurance office but a super hero gadgets research and development department of Wayne Industries. Too bad. The insurance bit sounded funnier to me.

Salem: The show is officially ending with season three.

Sense 8: Netflix has announced it will air a Christmas version of the show on December 23. Season two is set to premiere Friday, May 5, at 12:01am PT. There’s a trailer out for the two-hour special for Christmas.

Shadowhunters: Spoiler TV has up the latest promotional photos and clips for season two. Spoiler TV has up the promotional photos and synopsis for episode two and episode one. Comicbook.com has up an interview with Harry Shum Jr. on what’s coming up for Magnus in season two.

TV Line has up an interview with executive producer Matt Hastings.

Sleepy Hollow: TV Insider has up the first promotional photos of Ichabod’s new team and the season synopsis. Actor Robbie Kay has been cast in a recurring role as a “handsome Internet star.” TV Line has up “10 Things You Need to Know” about the season premiere and an interview with newcomer Janina Gavankar. They also have up the promotional photos for episodes three and four. TV Line has up a video interview with Tom Mison on the new, Abbie-less season. They also have up an interview with Lyndie Greenwood on Jenny in the new season.

Star Trek Discovery: The show has found its Captain in actress Michelle Yeoh. She will be playing Han Bo. Her ship won’t be the Discovery but the Shenzhou, another ship. Bryan Fuller is now reporting that he will no longer be involved with the show at all. The show has also added two new cast members: Doug Jones (The Strain) will be playing Lt. Saru, a “Starfleet Science Officer and a new alien species,” and Anthony Rapp (Rent) will be playing Lt. Stamets, an “astromycologist, fungus expert and Starfleet Science Officer.” The show has officially found its female lead in The Walking Dead actress Sonequa Martin-Green. Reports have her staying with The Walking Dead as well. IGN has up an interview with actor Doug Jones on his new character, Lt. Saru.

Supergirl: Chyler Leigh spoke with TV Line about Alex’s coming-out story and the importance of this story right now. EW has up an interview with executive producer Andrew Kreisberg on what is coming up after last week’s crossover storyline. TV Line is reporting that villains Livewire and Metallo will both be making a return appearance. EW has up some spoilers from executive producer Andrew Kreisberg on where the show goes after that winter finale.

Teen Wolf: TV Line has up a preview for season six. TV Line has up an interview with executive producer Jeff Davis on what is coming up for Malia. Actor Matthew Del Negro (Scott’s dad) announced on his Instagram that he will be making a return appearance.

Timeless: Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for episode eight, “The Space Race.” They also have up the official synopsis for episode nine, “The Last Ride of Bonnie and Clyde.” The show has cast their H.H. Holmes with actor Joel Johnstone. Spoiler TV has up the synopsis for episode ten, “The Capture of Benedict Arnold.” The show has cast actress Annie Wesching (24) in a recurring role as Emma Whitmore, a woman important to Flynn. TV Line has up an interview with executive producers Eric Kripke and Shawn Ryan on what is coming up in the second half of the season. The show has cast actor Jim Beaver in a recurring role as NSA Agent Neville.

The Vampire Diaries: Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for episode seven, “The Next Time I Hurt Somebody, It Could Be You.” TV Line has up an interview with Zach Roerig about Matt’s father issues. They also have up an interview with actress Kristen Gutoskie about Seline’s intentions. TV Line has up the first promotional photo of the latest Big Bad, Cade. EW has up an interview with actress Malese Jow on her favorite scenes as Anna.

Get ready, fans. There’s another “painful” death coming, warns Julie Plec. Actress Alexandra Chando (The Lying Games) has been cast in a guest role as a character named Tara.
Van Helsing: Spoiler TV has up the official synopsis for episode 11. BIG spoiler in the synopsis though.

The Walking Dead: Spoiler TV has up the brief official synopsis’ for episodes seven and eight, and for episode six as well. EW has up an interview with Andrew Lincoln on Rick’s Baby Judith admission from last week. EW has up an interview with Lauren Cohan on Maggie’s big move. Comic Book.comis speculating that a recent post by actor Chandler Riggs’ dad is hinting at the young actor leaving the show.

EW has up an interview with Tom Payne on what Jesus is up to. Variety has up an interview with Alanna Masterson on Tara’s secret. The Hollywood Reporter is theorizing that Tara’s run-in will have future implications for Negan’s survival. However, Jeffrey Dean Morgan is reporting he will be around for season 8.

Variety has up an interview with actor Chandler Riggs on Carl’s relationship with Negan. The Hollywood Reporter has one with him as well. TV Line has up a first look photo of the main crew confronting new character Gregory. EW has up an interview with Andrew Lincoln on the second half of the season.

Westworld: TV Line has up an interview with Jeffrey Wright on the Bernard reveals and what’s to come. EW has up some promotional photos for the finale.

The Hollywood Reporter has up an interview with Evan Rachel Wood on what she would like to see in season two. EW has up an interview with Ed Woods on the events of the finale. TV Line has up an interview with executive producers Jonathan “Jonah” Nolan and Lisa Joy. EW has one as well. TV Line has up some spoilers for season two.

Great news for fans of Syfy’s Z Nation: The show has been renewed for a fourth season.

Zoo: The show has promoted actress Gracie Dzienny to regular in season three. She played Mitch’s daughter Clementine in the season finale.

Over at E!Online, the spoiler rooms have spoilers on shows Once Upon a Time, The Vampire Diaries, The Flash, The Walking Dead, Timeless and Supergirl; also on shows Once Upon a Time, Arrow, Teen Wolf, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl; on shows The Vampire Diaries, Once Upon a Time, Legends of Tomorrow, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., 12 Monkeys, Supergirl, and Supernatural; on shows Once Upon a Time, Supergirl, Shadowhunters, and Timeless; on shows Once Upon a Time, Supergirl, 12 Monkeys, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Arrow; and on shows Once Upon a Time, Supergirl, The Originals, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Colony.

At TV Line, Matt’s Inside Line has spoilers on shows Arrow, Lucifer, Once Upon a Time, Supergirl, The Flash, and Timeless; on shows Lucifer, Supernatural, Once Upon A Time, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and The Flash; on shows Once Upon A Time, Westworld, The Vampire Diaries, Gotham, Lucifer, and Arrow; on shows The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, Emerald City, Once Upon a Time, Zoo, Grimm, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Lucifer, and Arrow; and on shows The Flash, Once Upon a Time, Supernatural, Grimm, Lucifer, Sleepy Hollow, The 100, Supergirl, and Timeless.


Supernatural (Thursday nights, 9pm, CW)
By Paula R. Stiles

Check out my Patreon page. Help me keep this column going and start doing Supernatural reviews again.

It’s official! The show has been renewed for a 13th season. This may well be (by a couple of weeks) the earliest renewal Supernatural has ever received.

The show is moving to 8pm when it comes back on January 26. Repeats are currently in progress. This week’s is “Rock Never Dies” (12.07).

The Season 12 line-up (23 episodes) so far: “Keep Calm and Carry On” (12.01) official photos and press release; “Mamma Mia” (12.02) synopsis and photos; “The Foundry” (12.03) synopsis, official photos, sneak peek, and promo; “American Nightmare” (12.04) synopsis, official photos and promo; “The One You’ve Been Waiting For” (12.05) synopsis, promo and set photos; “Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox” (12.06) synopsis, photos and promo; “Rock Never Dies” (12.07) synopsis, photos and promo; “LOTUS” (12.08) synopsis, photos and promo; and “First Blood” (12.09) synopsis, photos and promo, as well as an extended promo.

The synopsis for “First Blood” (12.09) is up. This will be the first episode for 2017:

“First Blood” – (8:00-9:00 p.m. ET) (Content Rating TBD) (HDTV)

THE HUNTERS BECOME THE HUNTED – After being arrested for the attempted assassination of the President of The United States, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) must find a way out of an underground, government-run, detention facility in the middle of nowhere. Determined to find her sons, Mary (guest star Samantha Smith) and Castiel (Misha Collins) seek assistance from an unlikely source. Robert Singer directed the episode written by Andrew Dabb (#1209). Original airdate 1/26/2017.

TV Line has some spoilers out about the returns of Eileen, Claire and Donna later in the season. We’ve already seen Rowena and Jody come back.

The article also discusses 12.11, which involves a “de-aged” Dean. More accurately, he will be suffering from a magical condition similar to Alzheimer’s where he loses his memory over a period of time. There’s also a cute photo from the episode involving a bunny.

The showrunners apparently didn’t get the hint that the LoL have gone down like a lead balloon with the audience, as they promise a whole lot more of them in the second half of the season. God help us.

TV Line talked about the departure of Rick Springfield in 12.07, as well as the return of the LoL. Ugh.

There’s a new interview out with show AD John MacCarthy about the crew side of the show’s production.

There’s another Shaving People, Punting Things video out.

Jensen Ackles and the show have been nominated for the People’s Choice Awards. The ceremony will be on Wednesday, January 18.

Ratings for “Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox” (12.06) went up a little in demo to 0.7/3 and 1.80 million, dropped a bit in demo to 0.6/2 and remained steady at 1.80 million for “Rock Never Dies” (12.07), and remained steady in demo at 0.6/2 and dropped a bit to 1.73 million for “LOTUS” (12.08).

For repeat ratings, “Keep Calm and Carry On” (12.01) got a 0.2/1 in demo and 0.66 million in audience; “Mamma Mia” (12.02) got a 0.2/1 in demo and 0.72 million in audience; and “The Foundry” (12.03) got a 0.2/1 in demo and 0.80 million in audience.



A Christmas Cat Calendar


BLACK FRIDAY SALE

Buy a calendar, get a free Kindle copy of one of my Kindle books. Buy more than one, get more than one Kindle book.


A Message from the Kitties
You want a cute cat calendar to cheer you up this Christmas? Of course you do. I’m making a calendar about my cats and dog (all rescues), including their forever home stories. 10% of the sales will go to Tarboro Trap Neuter Return, with whom I volunteer, and the rest helps feed my beasties.

It’s been a rough year, as some of you who follow me on Facebook have heard, so every little bit will help. You’ll donate to a good cause and get a 12-month calendar full of charming little rogues, who are pros at mixing naughty with nice. Meet, Kenny, Buddy, Conan, Gilda, the Action Kittens, and the rest of the gang.
209


The Nitty Gritty
The price is $15.00, which includes shipping and handling within the continental U.S. (if you live outside it, email me at thesnowleopard(at)hotmail(dot)com). For the rest, click the donate button below to order by PayPal and include your contact details (as well as number of calendars you want) when prompted for your address.


The order deadline is December 2 for Christmas delivery.

edgecombecats-026


Horror: The Cult of Exotic Death


By Paula R. Stiles


One day when I was 14, my maternal grandfather bit into a burger and nearly choked to death in front of me and my cousin. It was fall and our extended family was passing through Lebanon, NH, so we had stopped at the A&W Root Beer restaurant there (sadly, now long gone) for supper.

Beloved and much-missed Grandpa Van was not eating too fast. He hadn’t taken too big a bite to eat. No. His throat muscles had atrophied thanks to his recent diagnosis of Lou Gehrig’s Disease, now known as ALS. He died a few months later. Ever since, I dread whenever water or a bit of cracker goes down the wrong pipe. You see, ALS can have a genetic component. And it can skip a generation.

We all fear what Stephen King once called “the bad death.” What’s funny, though, is what kind of bad death we want to see in our horror stories. The more exotic, the less likely it is to take us, the better.

Zombies? Check. Vampires? Sure. Werewolves? Absolutely. Flesh-eating bacteria? Uh-huh. World-killing flu? Why not? Balloon-carrying, clown serial killers? Alrighty-then.

Heart attack? Cancer? MS? Alzheimer’s? Not so much. At least, not straight up with no chaser.

Sure, good horror does often evoke real-life horrors in a metaphorical way. We see a lot of domestic abuse in horror (and yes, domestic abuse is very common in real life), especially in the vampire sub-genre. And there’s body horror, which often mimics what a parasite from some hot and far-away part of the world can do to an unsuspecting First World body. In fact, some things (like rape) are not only very common, they are portrayed in many works as universally happening to female characters in a tone-deaf way. It’s a free-for-all of gender violence aimed at women in a lot of horror.

But let’s face it – your odds of being whacked by a killer clown while at summer camp are much less than getting lost and dying of exposure, or being killed in a car crash on the way home (or sexually assaulted). But what do we see in theaters and on our bookshelves? Endless movies about hot, young teens whittled down by some chainsaw-wielding maniac. Or zombie horror. Or vampires, sparkly and otherwise.

Admittedly, some of this has to do with the target audience – complacent, social-anxiety-ridden teenagers who think they’re physically invulnerable, for the movies; young, white men for books and graphic novels. When the genre does bother to target other groups, it splits off to paranormal romance for women (young women, of course, because why would older women read books, am I right?) or magical realism/literary for People of Color, both writers and readers. Horror writers and fans look down on these two categories, even though paranormal romance, like most things romance-genre-connected, sells like hotcakes while horror is considered a genre ghetto. Older people who actually buy a whole lot of books might as well not exist in the eyes of those selling them, at least when it comes to horror.

Still, I think a lot of it boils down to simple escapism. King talked at length in his two non-fiction books, Danse Macabre and On Writing, about how he put a lot of his early struggles with poverty and alcoholism into his books. And those elements definitely ground his books in a way that lesser books by lesser authors are not.

But even there, these themes are distanced by the supernatural element. Jack Torrance struggles with his alcoholism and isolation (and being so broke that taking a caretaker job with his wife and son at an off-season hotel in the middle of winter and nowhere is a great opportunity), but those are just the elements of his personality that make him vulnerable to the ghosts. The ghosts are what push him over the edge.

If he went over the edge due to the drinking and isolation, that would be drama. In horror, the ghosts aren’t just metaphors. They are real. So, there’s always an external element of threat in horror that doesn’t exist in straight drama that perhaps makes the threat easier to connect with emotionally.

It’s much easier to deal with things like genocide in The Martian Chronicles when it involves Martians and hypothetical spacemen than when it involves your direct and not-so-distant ancestors (or cousins). Dementia and mental illness are more tolerable in the context of The Twilight Zone than a hospital room. And nuclear holocaust, despite attempts by Hollywood to make it “respectable” drama, was monopolized by the horror genre early on. Nobody ever wanted to think about nuclear bombs in a “realistic” context.

This may be why people seek out horror despite its dark themes. And it may be why some themes (which can be given a horror spin more easily) are more common that others. The fantasy element is like a shield that allows you to see Medusa without being turned to stone.


Happy Halloween, everyone!


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God in “Supernatural”: Asking the Big Question and Getting a Big Answer


By Paula R. Stiles


For a long time, there has been great speculation about which character was God in the show Supernatural. Many candidates for the post have come through, including pagan gods, archangels, Death, and ambitious angels souped-up on monster souls or powerful tablets. The show’s big initial stab at answering the question came at the end of season five, when it hinted that the Prophet Chuck who was recording the lives of the Brothers Winchester was actually God Himself. Fandom reaction was mixed and the original showrunner, Eric Kripke, left soon after, whereupon the storyline was dropped, unconfirmed.

Part of the problem was that even when they first made the suggestion that a writer within the story was actually writing the story and was therefore God (in Chuck’s first appearance in “The Monster at the End of This Book” near the end of season four), the writers acknowledged that this was probably a bit too meta even for the show and more than a little self-indulgent (The Writer Is God!). Probably the biggest problem, though, was that it was too simplistic.

The show had taken multiple stabs at the question of the nature of God and divinity in its universe for years, some of them quite contradictory. There were, for example, pagan gods who gave favors in exchange for human sacrifices. There was the idea embodied in the first such episode (season one’s “Scarecrow”) of Hunters coming out of nowhere as saviors in the middle of the night. There was the deadbeat dad concept beaten to a pulp in seasons four and five. There was the aforementioned idea of the Author as God.There was Lucifer as the embodiment of Evil. There was the personification of Death. Jesus was occasionally mentioned as someone who had permanently broken the monsters and pagan gods’ hold on humanity. Prometheus came up in a similar vein in season seven. Things got complex and picking one idea was always bound to disappoint people.

I wrote an article a few years ago for Innsmouth Free Press on the nature of Jesus in the show. In it, I suggested that Jesus and God the distant Father in the show might not be one and the same. In fact, they are not the same aspect of God in the Christian Trinity, so they shouldn’t be the same in a fictional story based on the Trinity concept, either. Yet, it’s not uncommon for shows to ignore the Trinity completely and go with a completely monotheistic God the Father (or Mother) figure.

Then the show introduced the concept of the Darkness at the very end of season ten. While this was likely based on a DC comics “character” known as The Great Darkness from Swamp Thing back in the 80s, the show took it in a pretty different direction. For one thing, on the show, the Darkness was female. She was a character named Amara who wore an outfit that hearkened considerably toward bare-breasted Minoan snake goddesses and who appeared to be in large part inspired by references to a goddess figure in the Bible (Jeremiah) called the Queen of Heaven.

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For another, she was God’s sister – in fact, she was significantly more powerful than God (who turned out to be Chuck the Prophet) Himself. For a third, unlike the comics, she wasn’t actually evil. And for a fourth, she had a significant and unique connection to one of the show’s two protagonists, Dean Winchester, who had previously been portrayed as a human Christ figure frequently expected to be responsible for the welfare of the entire world.

This started to open up some possibilities for a far more complex and compelling treatment of divinity than television generally gets. Mind you, the writing got pretty broad in the way of Star Trek: TOS films like The Motion Picture and The Final Frontier, but it “went there” with admirable sincerity. The awkwardness of talking heads in sports bars, gardens and children’s parks did not actually negate the depth and heft of the material being addressed.

When Chuck initially came back in “Don’t Call Me Shurley” toward the end of season 11, it appeared the show would have him and him alone be God. This meant it would therefore never address the fact that he was a master of many atrocities, the ultimate absentee father. But then a remarkable thing happened – first, Dean called Chuck out on being a deadbeat dad and lousy brother, on behalf of both humanity and Chuck’s sister, Amara. Second, the hints that Chuck was actually perhaps the bad guy in the story with his sister coalesced in the show actually allowing her to take her revenge on him. And then, once she finally had regained the upper hand and punished him, she came to realize this wasn’t what she wanted. Having gone through her own journey, she was ready to listen to Dean’s help in finding out what she did want, which was to reconcile with Chuck and find her own way in this new world.

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This was a pretty powerful thing. Not only did it finally play out and defuse the deadbeat dad aspect by forcing Chuck to own up to it and pay for it, but it also defused the usual misogynistic overtones in the story (around which the show Lucifer on FOX is dancing with its own version of this trope) by making Amara, not the bad guy but the ultimately vindicated, triumphant and merciful party. She won by being the bigger person in the exchange. Chuck could have just come out, faced her, apologized, and let the chips fall at the beginning of the season, but instead, he chose to be a coward and work through his very confused “Firewall between Light and Dark,” Dean, instead. Dean was confused because, as far as he knew, he was only human and a nobody, despite the recurring tendency of everyone around him to hold him responsible for the weight of the world.

It turned out Dean was wrong.

And that brought in the third aspect of divinity. In Chuck, we had the biblical creator God, the cruel judge, the deadbeat dad. In Amara, we had the primordial chaos of Genesis and Mediterranean/Mesopotamian origin stories, like a very intense and pagan version of the Holy Spirit rather than the biblical Queen of Heaven in the Book of Jeremiah. In Dean, we had a human Christ figure who directly helped and interceded for the world with the other two figures, almost like a combination of Christ and the medieval version of his semi-divine mother Mary. The Firewall. Only, as Chuck hinted, perhaps not entirely human. And probably not so mortal. Definitely unique.

For obvious reasons, the writers never “went there” because you can’t admit that a main character is effectively immortal and throw him into situations where he might be killed by the monster of the week. So, they fudged, but if Dean is the only Firewall that has ever been (and it appears he is), then yes, he’s basically immortal.

This role is especially interesting in that Dean and Amara’s stories were in parallel, which also brings in the role of the Mega Team Free Will this season, AKA Chuck’s “Chosen.” Dean was able to intercede with Amara due to a mysterious “connection” whose origins remain unclear. That connection felt sympathetic and real because he had experienced the same level of betrayal from his family and friends, had a similar feeling of isolation, and was himself working through it to an unclear goal. In fact, he spent a great deal of the season trying to get other people to kill Amara because he couldn’t bring himself to want to and felt others were blaming him for not stepping up to the plate in his usual role as killer and blunt instrument. For a long time, he failed to recognize that he was actually growing beyond that limited role.

Meanwhile, other people simply felt this was an Achilles Heel Amara had put in him and not an actual signal that perhaps he needed to seek another, gentler route. Well, except for Chuck, but as I already said, Chuck was being a coward about it all and doing a lot of hinting rather than explaining. He of course justified this as Dean having to be the one to make his own decision. Because he’s Chuck.

Some fans have complained that neither Dean or Amara turned out to be as terrible and destructive as advertised, but I think that was ultimately the point. The fear that others felt about either of them losing control created more conflict and destruction than either of them actually did. And they both ended the cycle by taking the high road together.

So, TFW was influencing both Dean and Amara throughout the season, for good and for ill, in ways that helped them grow and figure out what they wanted, and help each other figure it out, too. Dean told Amara near the end that she simply saw in him a substitute for her brother, but I think Dean was underestimating himself. Amara’s connection to Dean was significantly different from her connection to her brother and it still is.

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Sam’s role in this is pretty interesting. At the beginning of the show, Kripke wrote him wanting to live a normal, human life, but worrying about his demon blood, about not being quite human. Meanwhile, Dean was human but feral from a life in the supernatural world. Each brother has his own way in which he is human, but Sam is the one who has sought out normal and has a connection to it. Sam is also the one who has always prayed to God and who is in awe of Chuck when Chuck’s true nature is revealed to him. Never mind that Chuck doesn’t care enough to intervene when Sam is infected (either time) by the Darkness, only when Dean finally asks for help. Sam still has faith.

Sam also struggles with conflicting feelings over loyalty and betrayal regarding his brother, whereas he has no relationship with the Darkness. His terror when Amara explodes at her brother in “We Happy Few” and takes back the Mark is the extent of his reaction to her.

The rest of TFW, not all of them human, are also important. Castiel (a rogue angel), Crowley (King of Hell) and Crowley’s mother Rowena (a powerful witch) are all outcasts who are either outcast by their association with the Brothers or who acquire a purpose and family by their association with the Brothers. Meg forlornly attached herself to Dean in later years, seeking someone new to whom she could ally. It’s like the oft-stated motif in the Bible that God doesn’t choose the great and mighty as His instruments but the broken and the downtrodden, the better to show His glory. Similarly, Chuck’s Chosen are outcasts who coalesce around the Brothers Winchester, especially Dean.

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The big question is where do they go from here? There is no possible way to go back without some epic plot-holing. Chuck left Dean in charge when he and Amara went off on their road trip and both cliffhangers turn on Dean’s suicide mission to save the world. If the world has been saved, then Dean should be dead. If he’s not, then those “happy few” in the know will immediately realize that something has changed. The sun didn’t die. Dean didn’t blow up. And Chuck has disappeared. Plus, Dean shows up with his mother who has been dead for over thirty years, clearly rewarded for his labors. There’s no way Dean can hide being on the same level with Chuck and Amara, or at least the question of whether he is.

Supernatural returns tonight at 9pm on the CW. We’ll see what happens next.


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Templars Are to Blame: Dating the Shroud of Turin


By Paula R. Stiles


Today is the 709th anniversary of the arrest of the Knights Templar in France in a pre-dawn raid. Let’s explore one of the artifacts and legends that have been connected to them after that date.

I’ve long been fascinated by the story of the Shroud of Turin. I’m a medievalist and most medievalists find the period of the Black Death (starting with the latter half of the 14th century) compelling in a ghoulish sort of way. It was a huge world-wide demographic change, the best-recorded example of one of Nature’s rare attempts to wipe us humans completely out.

It’s therefore equally intriguing that in the middle of this huge societal eruption, one of the most unique, strange and controversial relics of the Middle Ages appears — a piece of linen almost fifteen feet long and over three feet wide with an image of a naked dead man superimposed on it, front and back. In other words, a shroud. Since the late 14th century, this shroud has been linked to Jesus Christ.

It’s interesting to note that the first confirmed record of the Shroud is a report to the Pope in 1390 stating that it was a fake relic and the creator of it had confessed. Since then, the provenance (also known as “chain of custody”) of the Shroud has been remarkably solid. “Provenance” is the documentary history of where an object has been and what’s happened to it. For example, we know that the Shroud was in the middle of a church fire in 1532 that burned so hot it melted holes in the silver reliquary, singing holes right through the folded-up Shroud in a line down each side. Subsequently, a small and dedicated group of nuns patched these holes with new cloth.

The trail grows a lot more iffy prior to 1390. We have some documentation of it in either 1353 or 1357 related to the display of the Shroud by the widow of Geoffroi de Charny, a French knight who died at the Battle of Poitiers in 1356. Geoffroi has been more tentatively linked to a possible uncle, Geoffroi de Charney, the last Grand Marshal of the Order of the Knights Templar, who was burned at the stake for heresy in 1314. Even more tentatively, some have speculated that the Shroud fell into Templar hands after it was pillaged from a famous Byzantine collection of crucifixion relics during the Sack of Constantinople in 1204. This theory was put forth by popular Templar historian Ian Wilson in The Turin Shroud in 1978. Academic Templar historian Malcolm Barber thoroughly examined these claims in a 1982 article, “The Templars and the Turin Shroud,” and came up with a verdict of inconclusive.

The Pray Codex
The Pray Codex

The Byzantine relic, known as the Mandylion (or the Image of Edessa) was a cloth upon which Christ’s face had miraculously appeared. It was part of a collection of crucifixion relics such as wood and nails from the Holy Cross. The record trail for it goes back to the sixth century and a tradition goes back to the early fourth century. After that, even the spottiest provenance goes cold.

The Mandylion is also related to an acheiropoieta (icons or other holy images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary not made by human hands) tradition in which a pious woman known as St Veronica wiped the face of Jesus while he was carrying the cross to Golgotha. His image was then impressed on the cloth by miraculous means. Images related to this tradition began to appear in the 14th century. The Shroud is unique in that it is a full-body acheiropoieton image rather than just a head and appears to reflect older traditions such as that in the late-12th century Pray Codex from Hungary.

The main problem with the Shroud of Turin is that even though it has excellent provenance back to the Middle Ages, its origin point (known as its “provenience”) remains unknown. All we know is when it was first displayed and even that’s in the murk before 1390. The Pray Codex and the St Veronica tradition give us some hints, but again, don’t really date it. And that’s important because if it does date to the early 1350s (or earlier), the story of the forger’s confession starts to fall apart. It’s unlikely that person had survived to 1390.

And that brings us to the iffy science. Numerous tests have been done on the Shroud, giving it a date ranging all the way back to two thousand years ago. The most famous one, of course, is the carbon dating of sampling from 1988 that dated the Shroud to between 1260 and 1390. Much ink has been spilled and shouting done over the test. Its proponents (who were basically debunkers and people anxious to promote carbon dating, which was then still rather a young science) insisted it was the best possible way to date the Shroud and everyone else doing other tests was biased. Its critics complained that the science was faulty, the sample too small, the Shroud was contaminated by extra carbon (remember that fire?), the sample had been taken from a smaller patch, and so on.

The basic science, all things considered, was pretty solid, but the other criticisms have validity. It was only one test done 28 years ago. Carbon dating has moved on and that one test did not account for things like the fact the Shroud has been handled a great deal over the past six hundred years, and that yes, there have been patches, as well as that it has been subjected to a major fire. And there is one other major issue.

Now, I want to say that while I lean toward the romance of the Shroud really going back to ancient times, I don’t think it can ever be anything but a matter of faith whether it was the shroud of Jesus Christ. Even if we could date it to the first century CE, let alone from Palestine, there’s no real way to prove that it was wrapped around the Son of God.

But it would be good to know a fairly solid origin point so we could get that provenience and establish some other things about the Shroud’s origins, especially the alleged Templar connection. I mean, we’re still trying to figure out how it was made (assuming you don’t buy the acheiropoieton theory). Was an actual bleeding dead body involved (and how chilling is that idea, especially if it was created in 1353, during the first wave of the Black Death)? Was it a standard shroud or was someone killed to make it? Or was it very cleverly painted, which would make it an amazing masterpiece of medieval art?

Also, what about the story of the Widow de Charny? While early medieval women had a pretty strong influence on Church cultic practice, this was largely frowned upon by the 14th century. A secular woman, especially an unmarried/widowed one, creating a cult center involving a major relic (or icon, as the Church officially terms the Shroud), especially during the initial period of the Black Death, was highly unusual.

The carbon dating doesn’t answer any of these questions. In fact, despite their claims of having no bias, the proponents of the carbon dating test knew perfectly well that any dating post-1390 would have no legitimacy in light of the very strong documentary provenance from that point, and even the more-iffy dating to the middle of the 14th century. It’s not just the issues with the possibility of contamination from other sources. These could be resolved (albeit the Church is not thrilled by the idea of allowing testers to rip up the Shroud, especially in order to debunk it as an ancient relic) by more testing. The problem is that the century the 1988 test gave is precisely the century that requires the most clarification in the Shroud’s history. If testing makes it older than the 14th century, and especially the 13th century, that gives some solidity to the proposed chain of evidence involving the Charnys and the Templars. But by just saying it’s somewhere in the 14th or late 13th century, the carbon dating test gave us absolutely no new information. Thanks to the provenance, we already knew that.

Unfortunately, those engaged in the carbon dating project didn’t care. They wanted to “prove” that the Shroud was no older than its documentary provenance. They wanted to debunk, to shut down the debate. They most certainly had a bias there. The problem was that they didn’t prove anything (the dating range went back 130 years before the confirmed documentary trail) and they didn’t help with confirming any of the previous stories. And they certainly didn’t shut down the debate. Even if the carbon dating was accurate, it wasn’t accurate enough.

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