SciFi Friday: Somethings New

For the beginning of August there is a surprising amount of new material. Masters of Science Fiction premiered last week, but it is hard to see a show aired on Saturday night during midsummer surviving. The concept is certainly worthwhile as four short stories by established science fiction writers will be presented. The first episode, A Clean Escape, was mixed. The story centers around a psychiatrist and a patient who has blocked out his past. We learn a little at a time, and the final result certainly has relevance in a world with an out of control president who endangers our national security.

The problem I had with the episode was that the ultimate revelation was dramatic but left me wondering if it was really worth all the effort the psychiatrist put into such a transient victory. Even more puzzling was the suggestion at the end that they were repeating this. I also might have been a little disappointed in the episode as recently I’ve been reading some novels by Richard Powers who uses his background in neuropsychology to do far more than what can be done in a one hour television show.

I also picked up the direct to DVD Lost Tales from Babylon 5. It was nice to see the old station again, with the stories taking place after the events of the major arc but before its destruction. Unfortunately the stories could have remained lost. If they were shown as part of the regular series, both stories on the DVD would have been seen as below average episodes.

The latest remake of Flash Gordon premiers on SciFi Channel tonght. Reviews have not been very good, but at least I’ll record it and see how the buzz about the show is tomorrow. Weeds returns on Monday, followed by the premier of Californication, staring David Duchovny, on Showtime.

Doctor Who will be new to many in the United States tonight. Tonight’s episode, The Lazarus Experiment, is average but does contain elements which are important in the three part season finale. There are also some reports regarding next season. Catherine Tate, returning in her role of Donna from the Christmas episode, searches out The Doctor following an alien threat to London, and remains with him for the season. During the season they will meet Agatha Christie, and will go to the home planet of the Ood from the second season.

Freema Agyeman returns to Doctor Who midseason as Martha Jones, but first appears on a few episodes of the Doctor Who spin off Torchwood. The more mature nature of the show required some rewrites to clean it up for children who follow Doctor Who should they turn on Torchwood when Agyeman is on. Previously there were plans to air Torchwood on BBC America later this year and sell it on DVD in January. There was some great news this week from Mark Cuban as he’s going to pick up the show on HDNet starting September 17.