The Magicians Renewed by SyFy Before Fourth Episode Airs

SyFy has announced that before its fourth episode has even aired that The Magicians has been renewed for a second season.

The Magicians - Season 1

SyFy has announced that before its fourth episode has even aired that The Magicians has  been renewed for a second season. This early approval is  not too dissimilar to the recently finished The Expanse, which the network also approved for a second season, of 13 episodes, before the series had concluded.

The network stated on Feb. 8, 2016  that they would be showing another 13 episodes of the Universal Cable Productions program will air in 2017. The show’s production team has an illustrious roster of names that includes: Executive producers  John McNamara (Aquarius), Sera Gamble (Supernatural), Henry Alonso Myers (Covert Affairs) and Groundswell Productions’ Michael London and Janice Williams (Milk).

The series is adapted from the bestselling literary franchise  written by  Lev Grossman. The Magicians has only just started airing its first season, it started in December 2015 and will air episode 104 tonight at 9PM ET/PT.

SyFy & Chiller President Dave Howe said in the released statement that  it was down to an  “extraordinarily  gifted creative team of executive producers” and the networks’ Universal Cable Productions partners that the new show had become such a “buzzed-about” hit. Howe went on to say that the adaptation had caught up the fans of the books and is helping to bring new, younger viewers to the network.

In terms of viewing figures, the series has pulled in, during its first three episodes, an average of  1.7 million viewers per episode. Demographically, out of this number of viewers,  853K  were Adults 18-49 and 910K were Adults 25-54 (based on L3 data). The Magicians has also pulled in an impressive amount of a younger demographic, with Adults 18-34 increasing exponentially per episode to average 180% over Syfy’s prime time delivery in that demo.

According to the press release from SyFy Feb 8, 2016, the show’s first episode was digitally,  sampled more than 6.7 million times during its pre-linear launch (January 8 to January 25) across and  other select partner sites, as well as On Demand cable, satellite and telco TV platforms.

The Magicians stars Jason Ralph (Quentin Coldwater), Stella Maeve (Julia), Olivia Taylor Dudley (Alice) Hale Appleman (Eliot), Arjun Gupta (Penny) and Summer Bishil (Margo). The series is focussed upon  Quentin, a brilliant grad student  picked to attend Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy, a secret upstate New York university that specializes in magic.  Once he begins the young man and his friends  learn that the fantasy setting of magic from their childhood is all too real. This lesson is hammered home when they inadvertently bring an evil entity from the “other side” into the real world.

Two other cast members will be returning for season two;  Rick Worthy (Dean Fogg) and Jade Tailor (Kady).

The Magicians  is yet another popular addition to an impressive 2016 lineup on SyFy that includes the previously mentioned space mystery/thriller The Expanse as well as the upcoming new scripted series Hunters (which was just plugged on another SyFy series Face Off)  from “The Walking Dead” executive producer Gale Anne Hurd. Hunters will debut on April 11.

12 Monkeys, a critical success for SyFy is also coming back on April 18 and the science fiction thriller Incorporated, created by  Matt Damon, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Todd’s Pearl Street Films will air in the Fall of 2016.  SyFy has more scripted projects on the burner, including an adaptation of Aldous Huxley’s classic novel Brave New World by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Television; and David Goyer’s Superman prequel, Krypton.

The Magicians airs Mondays on SyFy. Tune in and see just why the network has approved a second season before episode number four.

The Expanse: Season Finale – Wholesale Carnage (Review)

The last few episodes of The Expanse, including the two episode season finale of Critical Mass/Leviathan Wakes featured an amped up amount of wholesale carnage.

The Expanse - Season 1

The last few episodes of The Expanse, including the two episode season finale of Critical Mass/Leviathan Wakes featured an amped up amount of wholesale carnage.  Unlike the start of the series, where death came in small doses, against a squalid and bleak background of suppression and racism, the end of season one offered up death in economy sized quantities.

A few questions are answered amidst all this morbidity.  Not least of which being who was behind the destruction of the Cant and the Martian vessel (Donnager)  that Holden and his small crew escaped from by the skin of their teeth. The horrific death of Julie Mao is also revealed as is the connection between the Earther who became an honorary Belter and Anderson Dawes.

The pacing of the show increased as Holden and his survivors discover the Anubis with its deadly cargo from Phoebe (in the episode Salvage). They also learn of the existence of Lionel Polanski (Mao) and that the lone crew member to escape the Anubis was headed to Eros; the place where the U.N.N. plans that James Holden (Steven Straitwill die.

The Expanse - Season 1
Julie Mao, aka Lionel Polanski

The Expanse may not manage to top that huge shoot-em-up aboard the Donnager, where the entire crew of the Martian vessel fought ferociously for Holden and his crew  to escape the stealth fighters attacking the ship, but it comes close in the final three episodes. In terms of death count, the carnage may not be as bloody or spectacular but the body count, in the season finale,  is massive.

After Mao’s body is found, lying on the floor with the Phoebe organism infused throughout her corpse, the dead girl’s father gives his scientist (Dresden) the go ahead to infect all of Eros while irradiating the entire populace as well.  In Salvage,  Miller (Thomas Jane)  teamed up with Holden, Naomi, Alex and Amos in the middle of the tech shootout set up by the Tycho spy, who gets away before the battle starts.

This new team stick together and once the Dresden experiment begins, where the population are herded into shelters for infection and death,  Holden and Miller scramble to escape Eros as Namoi and the rest head to the Roci.

As the finale moves to its conclusion, the former cop and the Earther team up to learn what is happening in the shelters and receive fatal doses of radiation for their trouble While  Naomi, Alex and Amos, along with Semi, head toward the Roci,  The two dying men fight their way to the ship hoping to get there before Naomi takes off.

They have three hours.

Amid all the carnage on Eros, quite a lot of it actually; with denizens killed wholesale in shelters, criminal gangs killing those who refuse to go into the areas, Holden, Miller and Naomi killing off a number of baddies and the Phoebe organism consuming everyone else, there is a moment for poignancy and a chance to consider poor Julie Mao.

The Expanse reveals the lonely death of Lionel Polanski (Florence Faivreand it is horrific as it is tragic. As this world moves toward war, players in this drama are scrambling to stay safe. Christen Avasarala decides to hide in plain sight while everything unravels around her.

Some questions are answered about the less important curiosities in the series. For instance Miller’s hat has a backstory (turns out to be Semi’s hat and not Miller’s at all) and a small slice of the ex cop’s childhood is revealed.  (A brilliant scene that takes place in a pachinko parlor.)

The Expanse - Season 1
Miller got backstory…

By the end of the season finale, The Expanse sets things up for its second season with finesse.  Miller has joined forces with Holden, Amos has shown he follows Naomi without question when it counts and that Julie Mao’s father may have shed a tear when she died, but her death will not stop his plans to exploit the Phoebe organism.

The cast have all performed impeccably in terms of fleshing out their characters and making them memorable. Kudos to Cas AnvarWes ChathamDominique Tipper and Shohreh Aghdashloo who gave their roles moments of splendid truth. 

SyFy have approved the series for a second season and one can only hope that it entertains as thoroughly as this one.

The Expanse: Rock Bottom – Death Times Three (Recap/Review)

In The Expanse, Rock Bottom death strikes three times during the episode

The Expanse - Season 1

In The Expanse, Rock Bottom death strikes three times during the episode. At least one character came dangerously close to becoming a fourth fatality, when  Det. Miller is almost taken out by tow of Anderson Dawes’ people. The Belter cop is saved at the last minute by Octavia Muss, who shoots the couple who were trying to snuff out the Ceres detective. Later in the episode, an asteroid miner becomes casualty number three when he challenges the MCRN.

The UN Security Council officer  Christen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) pushes to get the Tycho spy to look closely at Fred Johnson (Chad L. Coleman).  On Tycho, Holden and Amos stand off the Colonel while Naomi and Alex set up an offer that Johnson cannot refuse. 

Miller is questioned by Dawes after his people kidnap him and Anderson reveals that Filat Kothari was let go when the cop expressed no interest in getting the man who nailed his partner to a wall.   As Dawes interrogates Miller, Lida and Kaipo, the two who took the cop,  tase the detective and in the end, the information that the detective found in Mao’s apartment is not not discovered by the OPA rep.

Anderson (Jared Harris)  tells Miller (Thomas Jane) the real story of what happened to his sister Athena; he murdered the girl when her sickness got worse and could not be treated.  After relaying this information, Dawes tells Miller that it is possible to cry so hard that tears can turn to blood.

Dawes then sentences the cop to death.

Lida and Kaipo shove the detective into an exit shaft, but before Miller can die, Octavia shoots the two and rescues her colleague. The asteroid miner shoves his nephew out of his ship and flies a suicide mission to prove a point. This is death number three.

Miller shows Muss the information he discovered in Mao’s apartment. The recovered drive shows that the scientists on Phoebe Station discovered something alien, powerful and worth killing for, or in their case, dying for.  The detective shows the information to his boss, Captain Shaddid (Lola Glaudini).

Once the captain learns of what Miller has uncovered, she asks whether there were any copies made of the drive he found and puts it into her safe. She then eradicates the detective’s files and fires him. Miller realizes that Dawes has “bought” the Captain. She has the former detective  escorted out of the station and threatens to have Miller shot if he refuses.

The Expanse - Season 1
Miller fired by Captain Shaddid

Back at Tycho, the Butcher of Anderson Station makes a deal with Holden and his small crew of survivors. They agree to get someone for Johnson and he will help them in return.  Although it does look like someone else is keeping an eye on the small band of Cant refugees.  As Naomi and Holden have a few drinks, someone is recording their activities.

More backstory is revealed about Alex (Cas Anvar) and Amos (Wes Chatham) and the crew find out that the earther Holden logged the distress call on the Cant and Amos is annoyed to find the Naomi knew this. 

By the end of this episode of The Expanse, the survivors take their renamed ship (the Martian Corvette) out of Tycho dry dock and Miller’s future is uncertain.  It is clear though that Fred Johnson is an enigmatic character that both the UN and the crew of the Rocinante  are right to doubt his motives.

The Expanse - Season 1
Chad L. Coleman as Colonel Frederick Lucius Johnson

The Expanse airs Tuesdays on SyFy, tune in and watch this mystery/thriller and see where Miller and the Cant survivors head next.


The Expanse: Back to the Butcher (Recap/Review)

In the Expanse: Back to the Butcher, the only person not upset at the attempted murder of Havelock is his partner Miller.

The Expanse - Season 1

In the Expanse: Back to the Butcher, the only person not upset at the attempted murder of Havelock is his partner Miller.  The five survivors from the Donnager vote on whether to take Fred Johnson’s offer of help while Det. Miller continues his obsessive hunt to learn more about Julie Mao’s disappearance.

Anderson Dawes offers up the man who skewered Havelock to a wall  as an offering to Miller. This is an attempt to forge an allegiance with the Ceres cop and there is also  a history lesson in why Fred Johnson is known as the Butcher of Anderson Station.

As pointed out by IGN this episode was a real change of pace from the previous all action shoot-em-up and explosive episode CQ8.  That is not to say there is no violence, far from it.  The video footage of Havelock (Jay Hernandez) getting “nailed” to the wall is shown, after being uploaded by the perpetrator and  added to that violence the destruction of  Anderson Station is shown. 

Sidenote: One of the more beautiful/horrible images is that of the lead miner; Marama Brown (played by Billy MacLellan  who played Lt. Bebe in “Defiance”) clutching his little girl while their dead bodies float through space;  past the UN Marine ship.

Miller (Thomas Jane)  is under a bit of stress. A scene in the Ceres version of a subway where the power stops momentarily shows how paranoid he is becoming about the issues on The Belt.  Another character in the show comes under stress of a different sort when Earther  survivor from the Cant and Donnager, Jim Holden (Steven Strait),  learns he  has become the poster-child  for revolt after his pronouncement that Mars blew up his ship.

Meanwhile back on Ceres, despite being almost literally handed the man who skewered his partner to a wall, Miller appears to destroy the information given  to him by Dawes (Jared Harris) before going in to learn more about where Julie Mao was really headed.

Once the detective finds what he is looking for he leaves and is abducted by a man and woman team who bag his head and tase him.

This episode moves things along nicely and allows a bit of backstory to show just why Nagata (Dominique Tipper) distrusts Colonel Johnson (Chad L. Coleman) so much.  After learning the fate of the striking miners and their children, the viewer feels much the same as Naomi.  This does not stop Nagata from being talked into heading to Tycho and Johnson by Amos (Wes Chatham) later.

The Expanse with ‘Back to the Butcher’ also shows the further deepening of Miller’s obsession with Mao, up to his asking his source whether the man had been sleeping with her, and it is apparent it has nothing to do with money.  Octavia Muss (Athena Karkanis) suggests that this is the reason Joe is not avenging her partner’s near death, but she is way off the mark. 

Several things are obvious by the time the end credits roll. Miller is in trouble, Nagata is disturbed by her decision to let Johnson help, Holden gets his coffee and the viewer learns that life is very cheap on The Belt and 11 years ago the UN Marines, in the guise of Col. Johnson,  thought so too.

The Expanse airs Tuesdays on SyFy. Tune in to see why this series has already been approved for a second season.

The Expanse: CQB – Shocking Death…Not

Okay, so somewhat amazingly, Dimitri Havelock, the earther partner of Miller, survived being skewered by a large metal pole, shocking death was not, at least yet, on the cards for Jay Hernandez’s character in the last episode.

The Expanse - Season 1

Okay, so somewhat amazingly, Dimitri Havelock, the earther partner of Miller, survived being skewered by a large metal pole, shocking death was not, at least yet, on the cards for Jay Hernandez‘s character in the last episode.  Still there was enough edge of the seat action, regardless of Havelock’s living through being literally pinned to the wall, to make this episode enjoyable. 

Some of the action was a bit signposted, the Martian commander was a tad too confident that the mighty Donnager was going to kick the approaching bogies’ butt.  Despite this the scene in the holding cell, with Naomi, Kamel, Shed and Amos was damned impressive. That sudden  heavy metallic clank, or if one goes by the closed captions on the episode “Thunk” where the suddenly headless corpse of Shed sits upright,  with the cell’s atmosphere rushing out and blood drifting up and  out the new hole was a show stopper.

Almost as impressive is the Miller “autopsy” where Thomas Jane’s character re-inserts a probe into the leg of a mystery dead man, who was, apparently, a successful career criminal, repeatedly. After the third, or fourth time Miller shoves the probe into the dead man’s leg, Octavia Muss (Athena Karkanis) gives the detective a look. 

“Well, it’s not like I’m hurting the guy…”

The action on the MCRN counterbalances Christen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo) laying on the roof watching falling stars (meteorites) streaking across the night sky.  Avasarala’s  grandson joins her and relates that Appa says she should not  be on the roof. After a brief discussion about meteors, asteroids and dinosaurs, Avasarala tells her grandson:

“I worry about people who throw rocks.”

The Expanse - Season 1

On Ceres, Miller is unaware that his partner has almost died.  He is still looking for answers in regards to Julie Mao. After attempting to contact Havelock a few times and not getting any response, he leaves a message and asks Muss to keep it between them.

On the MCRN Donnager the Martians are getting their a**es handed to them on a plate. Whoever these ships are that have attacked the larger vessel, they have very advanced technology and powerful weapons.

It is interesting to note that the “Latter Day Saints” aka Mormons have been mentioned twice. In the episode before Havelock gets stuck to the wall, there was a humorous moment where a Mormon standup comic is given the cops’ commander’s number to ring about tickets. (Havelock tells the comedian his name is Captain Shaddid and to “keep calling the number” given.)

One of the episode’s  highlights had The Walking Dead‘s Chad L. Coleman, aka the late Tyreese Gibson, as Col. Frederick Lucius Johnson. The colonel has a tense moment with a Latter Day Saints’ rep who questions his attachment to the OPA.  Coleman looks a little different from his TWD days, and does not carry a hammer, but that look of danger is still there, even if the rep did not pick up on it.

The Expanse CQB spends  a good bit of time destroying the big Martian ship and apart from the show’s makers having sound in space, the noises inside the vessel were impressive. The show has, from the start, given an ambiance that literally screams space, although they let the side down  bit with the space noise of the external battle, i.e. outside the Donnager.

While this series has, thus far, been more about the missing woman and the cold war threatening to become the real thing, this episode moves everything up a notch and we get some real battles and, as mentioned above, a real show stopper of a sequence in that holding cell.

The Expanse - Season 1

We have finally learned what all the fuss has been about Phoebe, all charred remains in the ice tunnels and computer cores destroyed and no one to blame the action on equals everyone pointing fingers.  The Martians seemed pretty determined to pin the action on The Canterbury or the OPA.

The episode ends on an impressive footrace  to escape the doomed Mars vessel, a lot of gun fire, near misses and loss of gravity kept things interesting. The fact that Alex (Cas Anvar) appears to have wildly exaggerated his role in the Martian militia, adds an amusing spin on  Holden and his remaining crew members fleeing the Donnager.

Sadly, the Mars commander murmuring that she “didn’t think we could lose,” failed to be too heart wrenching for the viewer as it was obvious that the woman was miles too confident in the vessels capability to blow the bogies to pieces.  While we do not feel too deeply for the commander there is obviously another player in the game, apart from Earth, Mars and Ceres.

Not having read the source books, The Expanse is based on the novels by “James S.A. Corey,” my money is on the Latter Day Saints. The rep, in the scene with the colonel, implies that this group has lots of money and resources.

The series airs Tuesdays on SyFy and the first four episodes have been aired on Hulu and on demand.  The Expanse may not be high “space opera” but Thomas Jane is always worth a watch and the plot thus far is entertaining enough to keep viewing the science fiction program. Tune in and see if Detective Miller finds the girl…

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