SciFi Friday: Fall Premiers, Doctor Who and Torchwood

The Bionic Woman was the most hyped genre show premiering this week, and it even beat the second season premier of Heroes in the ratings. Just as Battlestar Galactica was transformed from a camp show of the past to a more modern, edgy show, The Bionic Woman is a total remake of The Six Million Dollar Woman. The first episode was mixed, and hopefully will improve after it doesn’t have to spend time setting up the story. Typical of modern television shows of this genre, the remake centers around a government agency with a questionable agenda. David Eick, also Executive Producer of Battlestar Galactica, brought in a new character played by BSG’s Starbuck, Katee Sackhoff. Sackhoff (above) plays an earlier bionic woman who has gone bad, and who steals the scenes from the current version of the heroine, Jaime Sommers.

The most highly hyped new genre show, Pushing Daisies, doesn’t premier until next Wednesday, and is reviewed by Variety:

Series creator Bryan Fuller previously explored the great beyond in “Dead Like Me,” but this is a far more impressive construct, built around Ned (Lee Pace), who discovers at an early age that he possesses the power to bring the dead back to life with a single touch.

The tradeoff: If he touches that person again, they die forever — and leaving the resurrected alive causes someone else in the vicinity to drop dead, achieving a weird kind of cosmic balance.

Ned has found a way to eke out a living from this talent on two fronts: His dazzling pies, where his touch invests the fruit with tremendous flavor; and moonlighting with a detective (Chi McBride) who inadvertently witnessed his gift first-hand, reviving murder victims long enough to find out who killed them and split the reward. Still, it’s a detached, emotionally frigid existence, as his coworker Olive (the ever-adorable Kristin Chenoweth) points out.

Enter Chuck (Anna Friel), the girl Ned loved as a child before she moved away. When Chuck turns up murdered, Ned brings her back for the sizable payout but can’t bring himself to kill her, creating this conundrum: Although strongly drawn to each other, they can never, ever touch..

While it’s hard to imagine “Pushing Daisies” becoming a major hit, the best hope is that a cultish audience will become enormously attached to it (which is almost inevitable) and the series finds a way to sustain its initial charms. Those are both tall orders, but as the premiere makes clear, hope really does spring eternal; this is one pilot that truly deserves to postpone death’s embrace.

Heroes returned with a solid first episode. After ending last season together in New York to save the world, most of the heroes are split up four months later. A lot happens in the episode. Mohinder is researching a virus which is deadly to those with powers, and infiltrates The Company. We find at the end that Peter Petrelli lost his memory after blowing up. Clare Bennett and her father are trying to blend in while hiding in California despite a contending with mean girl cheerleaders and a stalker who can fly whose interested in Claire, and a boss on a power trip who gets on the wrong side of Noah. Hiro finds out that his hero is not what he believed. They even managed to introduce some new characters, while eliminating others.

Kristen Bell will be joining Heroes for an arc later this season, and is rumored to play Clare’s sister. Her television and film career is apparently taking up too much of her time, causing her to change her mind on appearing as the lead in Legally Blonde on Broadway.

Doctor Who has another strong episode tonight for those following on the SciFi Channel as they finally reveal what The Master has been up to behind the scenes all season in The Sound of Drums. I previously reviewed the episode here, along with a video clip.

The BBC also presents some information on one of next season’s episodes, Rome Sweet Rome:

The Doctor and his new companion Donna are set to travel back in time to the Roman Empire for the fourth series of Doctor Who.

In one of the most ambitious episodes to date, The Doctor, played by David Tennant and Donna (Catherine Tate) arrive in Pompeii in AD 79, on the eve of the historic eruption of Mount Vesuvius.

The Time Lord and his companion are posed with an immediate dilemma; should they warn the residents of Pompeii of the forthcoming catastrophe or leave them to fend for themselves?

“Arriving in Pompeii marks the start of another exciting adventure for the Doctor and Donna,” said Doctor Who’s Executive Producer and Head Writer, Russell T Davies. “Donna is stunned to find herself in the midst of history’s most famous volcanic eruption. Viewers can expect many more ambitious storylines and a whole host of guest stars in 2008.”

TV Squad reports that some episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures are available on YouTube. There’s no word yet on when this Doctor Who spin off will be broadcast in the United States.

The premier of Torchwood might have given Pushing Daisies the idea of bringing people back from the dead to solve murders. The second episode of Torchwood shows why the show has a reputation of being the “adult” spin off of Doctor Who. An alien arrives on earth which requires orgasmic energy to survive. It takes over the body of a young girl who obtains this energy from engaging in wild sex which causes her partner to explode at climax. When trapped, she even attempts some girl on girl action with Gwen. Yes, it is worth waiting a week to catch this show in High Definition.

Edwards’ Hedge Fund Foreclosed On Iowa Borrowers

The scandals surrounding John Edwards’ association with Fortress might jeopardize his position in Iowa. TPM Election Central reports that “Fortress companies foreclosed on sub-prime mortgage borrowers in Iowa — 107 of them, to be exact — while Edwards worked with the firm.”

Once again, Edwards denied knowledge of the foreclosures by Fortress. As I previously noted, Edwards’ defense based upon pleading ignorance of the activities at Fortress only reinforce questions that he is a lightweight who is unqualified to be president. Edwards has claimed he worked for Fortress “primarily to learn” the business but came away without much knowledge of what the company was doing.

Edwards has attempted to reduce the political harm from this scandal by claiming to assist those harmed by Fortress but his trivial response looked far more like attempted damage control for PR value than a meaningful response. Today’s response from Edwards does not help his cause:

Edwards told the Des Moines Register that he did not know about the Iowa foreclosures until they told him about it. “If you look at the context of everything I’ve done since the last election, it’s absolutely clear where my heart is and what I care about,” he said.

Yes, in observing Edwards’ career it is very clear what John Edwards cares about: Making money for John Edwards and acquiring political power for John Edwards, and he is willing to say or do anything to achieve these goals.