Sci Fi Friday


While not much goes on in television SF over the summer, there’s a few recent news items.

Battlestar Galactica has an upcoming episode, The Story So Far, which recaps the first two seasons. It will air on some NBC affiliates and on Universal HD. (I wish Universal HD aired BSG episodes as they are broadcast on the SciFi Channel rather than months later). If you have not watched the first two seasons, I recommend that you do not, repeat, do not, watch this. If you haven’t seen the first two episodes, the only sensible thing to do before the third season starts is to pick up the DVDs of the first two seasons. They were just too good to settle for a quick recap. Just make sure you get Ron Moore’s remake, and not the dreadful original show this is loosely based upon.

Dr.Who will also resume with the second season in the US this fall, but the Christmas episode, which first shows the regenerated Doctor in action, will be held back until Christmas. I’m sure glad I downloaded the Christmas episode (as well as some of the second season) with bittorrent. Meanwhile, fans in Great Britain are getting ready for the third season–and I hope they continue to upload the episodes to the internet.

The Prisoner will return. A while back there were stories of a remake of the television show but I haven’t heard anything on this lately. Now Sci Fi Wire reports that Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins) will be directing a movie version.

Under the fold I’ll reprint some of my older posts on science fiction television, including Karl Rove with the Cylons.

Daleks of Mass Destruction?

Posted by Ron Chusid
December 14th, 2005 @ 1:31 pm

Dr. Who

The British science fiction (and American cult favorite) show Dr. Who features an anti-war Christmas show per reports on various blogs and the BBC. In this anti-war story, the British Prime Minister does not go along with the American President, and reportedly in one scene say, “He is not my boss and he is certainly not turning this into a war.”

There’s no word yet when this will be available in the United States. The first season of the new Dr. Who series recently revived in Great Britian will be available in the United States on DVD in March.

Mid Season Television

Posted by Ron Chusid
January 7th, 2006 @ 2:47 pm

The resumption of the 2005-6 television season in January is off to a stronger start than the initial premier of the season in September. Last night saw the return, after too long a hiatus, of what Time recognizes as the best show on television, Battlestar Galactica. The midseason cliff hanger was followed by a yet better cliff hanger leading up to next week’s conclusion. (My bet is that the show ends with Odama and Cain, each having a gun pointed at them, decide to fly off in separate directions, with Admiral Cain being too fascinating a character to kill off rather than leave around for a return episode).

Regardless of whether one agrees with Time’s ranking of BSG as the best show on television, I don’t think anyone who has watched would argue with my assessment that Ron Moore’s remake of Battlestar Galactica is the most extreme case of a remake far exceeding the quality of the original. I suspect things would have turned out much better for Star Trek if Ron Moore was given control of the franchise after The Next Generation. I also wonder if the shot of Victoria’s Secret model Tricia Helfer as Number Six lying in Baltar’s bed would have made it past the censors of the original show. (She shouldn’t be hard to pick out of the cast photo above).

Battlestar Galactica is but one example of how cable is beating network television in terms of quality if not ratings. The writing on shows such as BSG, and even more so on Six Feet Under, possibly the best written show to ever appear on television, far surpasses network television writing. It would be like comparing a Tolstoy novel to an Archie comic, or comparing the political analysis of a Theodore White to Daily Kos.

On Sunday we have the first episode of West Wing since the death of John Spencer, with Leo being prominent in the episode. And, of course, next week, Jack is Back with four hours to start this year’s run of 24.

There are also attempts to revive the sitcom on network television. Scrubs returned from hiatus with a pair of excellent episodes. Several new sitcoms are also scheduled. The initial episode of Four Kings on NBC was disappointing, but I’ll give it another chance as weekly stories might be more entertaining now that the premise has been established in the pilot. Emily’s Reasons Why Not, staring Heather Graham who previously appeared on Scrubs, has been receiving the most hype, and some initial favorable reviews.

[More on West Wing and 24 in future posts. Emily’s Reasons Why Not is notable only for being cancelled after only one episode and the network executives saw what they had been promoting so heavily the previous few weeks.]

Dr. Who Comes to America

Posted by Ron Chusid
January 13th, 2006 @ 8:22 am

Dr Who

The BBC has reached an agreement with Sci Fi Channel to air the first season of the new Dr. Who series starting in March. It will air at 9:00 p.m. on Fridays as part of Sci Fi Friday, along with shows such as the remake of Battlestar Gallactica. The original Dr. Who series was a cult favorite when it aired in the United States on PBS. The new series was success on BBC both in terms of critical review and ratings.

Sci Fi Channel also has an option on the second series. As part of the arrangement, release of the DVD set of the first season has been delayed until July 4, 2006 rather than around March as originally planned.

Overall this is better for the show as it will have more exposure to build an audience among those not familiar with the show if broadcast on cable before the DVD’s are sold. Personally, as I do not get the Sci Fi Channel in high definition, I would have preferred to be able to purchase the DVD rather than watching weekly on television.

Galactica Spoilers

Posted by Ron Chusid
March 11th, 2006 @ 12:29 pm

The season finale of Battlestar Galactica has been a common topic of discussion all over the blogosphere. Assuming he left the cosmic reset switch behind from his Star Trek days, and Baltar isn’t just having a bad Pamela Ewing moment which he’ll wake up from, Ron Moore has really shaken things up in this cliffhanger.

It is often said that science fiction places events in a fictional universe to allow writers to say things about contemporary society which they might otherwise not be able to say on television. On BSG, New Caprica has a new President who is not up to the task and is largely responsible for the success of their enemies. You can’t trust Gaius Baltar with colonial security any more than you can trust George Bush with our national security.

Blogonymous has the best photo-comment to tie Battlestar Gallactica into contemporary America:

Rove and Cylon

In his image, Karl Rove has assumed the Presidency and reasures the American people as the Cylons take over.

Dr. Who Returns to United States Tonight

Posted by Ron Chusid
March 17th, 2006 @ 10:14 am

Sopranos fans had a hard time waiting eighteen months, but this is nothing compared to what Dr. Who fans have had to endure. Fans of Dr. Who have had to wait since 1989 (pretending the 1996 movie doesn’t exist, similar to Star Trek fans and Star Trek V). Dr. Who is a timelord from the planet Gallifrey who, at various times, hung around earth either do to being exiled or just because of a particular fondness for humans. The Doctor travels in the TARDIS, an acronym for Time and Relative Dimensions in Space, which is capable of going anywhere in time and space. It was designed to be able to blend with its surroundings, but became damaged and from the outside appears to be a 1950’s police box. Fortunatley there is far more room inside than would appear from the outside–the physics of which would be beyond most of our readers.

The show has been able to survive so long as when one actor is finished with the role Dr. Who regenerates into a new body, with new appearance and personality. Of course he always has at least one female sidekick (and sometimes a robot dog). Dr. Who began in November 1963, and was revived a couple of years ago in Great Britain. Christopher Eccleston stars as the ninth doctor in the critically acclaimed BBC revival of the show which the Sci-Fi Channel starts showing tonight.

Battlestar Galitica Beats O’Reilly

Posted by Ron Chusid
June 10th, 2006 @ 3:35 pm

One of the many controversies surrounding Bill O’Reilly is his false claim that he won a Peabody Award. Although totally unrelated, I did think back to that when reading that Battlestar Galactica has won a Peabody this year. It was a much deserved honor for the show–an honor Bill O’Reilly is not deserving of.

Remake Planned of The Prisoner

Posted by Ron Chusid
November 19th, 2005 @ 11:08 pm

This is London reports that Sky One in Great Britian plans to remake the 1967 television show The Prisoner. The Prisoner, which defended “the right of the individual to be individual” was a show considered ahead of its time. It provides a message which we need in this time in which the Republicans have become outright authoritarian and hostile to individual liberties while striving to form a permanent majority one party government. While Americans are increasingly rejecting the Republicans, shows such as this may help increase opposition to the increased government intrusion in individual’s lives which they promote.

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