SciFi Weekend: Torchwood to US; Kissograms on Doctor Who; Rebooting An Old Roddenberry Series; Caprica Premiers; Rob Lowe Leaving Kitty

The Hollywood Reporter has a story on the possibility of Fox picking up Torchwood. Russell T. Davis would write it and John Barrowman might still star, but I still have my doubts about this working as an American television show. Many shows with science fiction aspect have had difficulty making it in the United States. One of the features which makes Torchwood special is being a more serious show taking place in the Doctor Who universe which would be unfamiliar to many American audiences. Even under the best of conditions, far too many genre shows such as Firefly and Dollhouse have died quickly on Fox.

It also does not always work to try to translate successful British television series to the American networks. Some such as The Office have been successful but there have also been many flops. Two examples of such failures in recent years have been Life on Mars and Coupling. The American version of Coupling also showed that having the writer of the original BBC version does not guarantee success. Coupling, which NBC had hoped to be the replacement for Friends (and which was in many ways more like a combination of Seinfeld and Sex in the City) failed for several reasons in the United States. They used the same scripts as were used on the BBC–written by incoming Doctor Who show runner Steven Moffat.

The article also mentions the possibility of also rebooting Doctor Who for American television. That would be far, far worse than doing this with Torchwood. It isn’t clear if the idea for Torchwood is to pick up the series where it left off but with a more international background or if they would reboot it.

I’ve been impressed with Steven Moffat for doing such a great job on such different television genres. I’ve sometimes joked that I would like to see some of the characters from Coupling become The Doctor’s next companion. We don’t know very much about The Doctor’s actual upcoming companion, Amy Pond (Karen Gillan). TV Overmind has picked up a report that “everyone thinks she is this prim and proper policewoman… it’s going to be revealed early on that she works as a kissogram.” Reading that, she just might be a Steven Moffat character of the Coupling variety!

Personally I think this whole trend towards reboots is going a bit too far. I would primarily reserve it for shows which were so bad that they should be done entirely differently (such as Battlestar Galactica) or for shows which never made it and we have no emotional investment with the original. One such show which is being talked about for a reboot is an old Gene Roddenberry idea, The Questor Tapes. His son Rod has said, “My father always felt that Questor was the one that got away. He believed that the show had the potential to be bigger than Star Trek.” has some information on the show:

Now 36 years later “Questor” is back. Gene’s son Rod Roddenberry will develop the project along with Roddenberry Productions COO Trevor Roth and Imagine Television’s President David Nevins and EVP of Development Robin Gurney. The team is currently in negotiations with writer, producer and show runner Tim Minear (Lois & Clark, The X-Files, Angel, Dollhouse) to produce. Of course there still is no guarantee that the new “Questor” will get picked up as a series either, but Imagine Entertainment, which was founded by Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, has a good track record on TV. Imagine developed shows like 24, Friday Night Lights, Lie To Me; Arrested Development, and many more (including JJ Abrams Felicity)…

Gene Roddenberry may never have got “Questor” as a series, but he didn’t forget the idea of that android on a quest. “Questor” influenced the creation of the character Data in Star Trek The Next Generation.

John Kennith Muir has more background, including a review of the original movie.

Caprica premiered on television this week. My original review from when it came out on DVD was posted here.

Rob Lowe, who left The West Wing before the series was completed to attempt to make it on his own show, has now decided to leave Brothers and Sisters at the end of this season. While his previous attempt with his own show failed it is more understandable that he wants to try again as opposed to remaining where he is as his role on Brothers and Sisters is not as substantial as his role as  Sam Seaborn on The West Wing. There is no word as to how he will exit the show. Possibilities include his character having another heart attack or a divorce from Kitty.

Facebook App Spam

Facebook is a peculiar site in which people might most about anything from what they are having for dinner to insightful comments on politics. If not careful the page will also be filled up with lots of comments automatically generated from  “apps” such as The (Lil) Green Patch shown above which are sent to all of one’s friends. This has become such as common occurrence on Facebook that even Time makes mention of it.

It is possible to block each application as they show up but many of us wish there was a way to keep all of this type of stuff from showing up. At present I count 116 applications which I have blocked under my Facebook settings, and a new on pops up almost every day. Among the friend requests I also wind up with numerous requests every day to send them a pet for their zoo or to assist them in Mafia Wars. So many people were even sending me “blessings” that I totally blocked that app. Maybe I’ll go to Hell for this but I do not believe that their is a God who intervenes in our lives based upon blessings posted on our Facebook wall.

Pre-Existing Conditons Must Not Be Forgotten

In recent posts I’ve seen it as a favorable sign that David Plouffe is now advising Barack Obama. I’ve also supported reintroducing health care reform and winning back the support of the American people before feeding into hypocritical Republican complaints regarding abuse of power by ramming through the flawed Senate plan. I’ve supported making some changes in the current legislation, and might even accept a scaled back program if this turned out to be the best way to incrementally improve health care.

One thing I would not like to see is abandoned is the elimination of restrictions on pre-existing conditions. As Jon Avarosis points out, Plouffe writes that “Parents won’t have to worry their children will be denied coverage just because they have a preexisting condition.” In addition to being limited to children in Plouffe’s op-ed, some recent news coverage also suggests this might be the current plan.

Plouffe also does write, “Workers won’t have to worry that their coverage will be dropped because they get sick.” However this leaves open the question of people who do not currently have coverage.

This might be motivated by the opposition to the individual mandate which is coming from many on both the left and the right. The danger is that if insurance companies have to cover everyone  many healthy people will not purchase insurance until they become sick, knowing they cannot be denied. There are other solutions to this free rider solution other than the individual mandate. It could be handled comparable to how Medicare handles the voluntary prescription drug program where there are open enrollment periods but otherwise those who fail to purchase coverage cannot buy it at any time they choose.

We could have such an open enrollment period in which everyone could purchase insurance despite pre-existing conditions after passage of the bill and upon reaching an age where they are no longer covered by their parents, but if they fail to take advantage of this they remain subject to insurance company rules on coverage for pre-existing conditions. Other incentives could also be granted to those who decide to purchase insurance, such as vouchers or subsidies for coverage which are limited to those who sign up after passage of the bill.

People over forty have the hardest time obtaining insurance coverage on the individual market due to pre-existing conditions. Another consideration might be to allow such people to buy into Medicare. The one drawback to this is that it might lead to sicker people buying into Medicare while healthier ones continue under private insurance, making it more expensive to care for Medicare patients. Perhaps it would be simpler and fairer to lower the age of Medicare for everyone, with premiums paid into the Medicare system instead of paying for private coverage.

There is also one very simple measure which at very least should be considered. At present if someone is covered by a group plan and changes to another group plan exclusions on pre-existing conditions do not apply. However people purchasing insurance on the individual market have to start all over with exclusions for pre-existing conditions should they desire to change insurance companies. We should make the rules for individual policies the same as for group policies so that there cannot be exclusions for pre-existing conditions for going from one policy to another.