Welcome to CINESCAPE's new weekly television column "Remote Patrol." Designed to give you an overview of the current week's genre television (with a dose of self-serving cynicism), this new addition to our site is set up to be your one-stop shopping for what to look for, what to avoid and what you can't miss in the week ahead. As always, we welcome your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. And now on with the show:
Television can be two-faced.
It gets a lot of crap for the dumbing down of America and other lame arguments, but since the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., television has really shined.
With the around-the-clock news coverage, television has educated, informed and brought this nation together. By airing the footage of those planes crashing into the World Trade Centers, television made us all witnesses to the attacks. It's like watching the attack on Pearl Harbor live.
By bringing the nation together and educating us during a time when this country will very likely go to war, television rose above the petty arguments and reminded everyone of what a powerful tool it can be.
At the same time, however, television reminded us of what a plain ol' tool it can be. I mean, BIG BROTHER 2 remained on the air. Then there's other mind-boggling reality fodder like FEAR FACTOR and LOVE CRUISE getting ample airtime. Honestly, I don't have enough time to get into all the things that are wrong with some of these shows, but it does scare me.
So that's what I mean when I say TV can be two-faced. One face is brilliant; the other very often contradicts the first.
That said, almost all of the networks pushed back their fall season premiere dates due to the recent tragedy, but some new shows have made their appearances. WOLF LAKE started up last week, as did second helpings of the reality series LOST and THE AMAZING RACE. Consider yourself lucky if you missed them.
Starting this week, the networks are beginning to ease into business as usual, so here's a breakdown of what's coming. Of course, check your local listings because things will constantly be changing as America prepares for war and network news organizations prep for more full-time coverage in the very near future.
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 2001
Check how it all started as BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER jumps into syndication at 7 p.m. on FX with the very first episode "Welcome to the Hellmouth." This one introduces Buffy (and us) to Sunnydale, Willow, Xander, Giles and Angel. Good timing with the new BUFFY season kicking off Oct. 2.
Speaking of BUFFY, ANGEL is all by his lonesome over on the WB. The season premiere -- airing at 9 p.m. -- finds Angel still grieving over the loss of Buffy. Unfortunately, his mourning is interrupted when he kills a female vampire and her vamp boyfriend swears revenge. It seems after a couple of centuries of being together, he wasn't quite ready to end the relationship.
TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2001
Watch the WB's fantastic GILMORE GIRLS at 8 p.m. while you can, because it starts going up against BUFFY next week. This one is a rerun, but it's still a good one. Lorelai rekindles her relationship with Max, while Rory deals with fellow classmate Tristian.
FOX has a whole night of season premieres with THAT 70'S SHOW at 8 p.m., UNDECLARED at 8:30 p.m. and LOVE CRUISE: THE MAIDEN VOYAGE at 9 p.m. THAT 70'S SHOW and UNDECLARED (created by Judd Aptow, the man behind FREAKS AND GEEKS) are good shows. As for LOVE CRUISE, I have a feeling James Cameron wouldn't make a movie about it if this ship sank.
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2001
With THE WEST WING pushing back its premiere a week (to trot out not only the hotly anticipated season premiere, but also a timely stand-alone episode addressing many of the concerns we're facing in the wake of the terrorist attacks), that gives the new STAR TREK franchise a chance to demonstrate whether it will boldly go where no other TREK series has gone before or merely be more of the same. Premiering on UPN with a special two-hour installment starting at 8 p.m, the first episode -- set more than 100 years before the first STAR TREK -- stars Scott Bakula as the captain of the first Enterprise as the ship blasts into space on a very special mission to return a Klingon to his home planet. Awwwww. There's also a really hot Vulcan for those Trekkies and/or Trekkers who really miss Seven of Nine.
Oh, and the second episode of CBS's WOLF LAKE is at 10 p.m. I think some people turn into wolves or something.
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 27, 2001
It doesn't get much better than this. Tonight, CBS has two hours of CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATORS. The 8 p.m. episode is a rerun in which Grissom and Catherine probe into the death of a woman in a swimming pool. At 9 p.m. is the season premiere, which focuses on the investigation of a missing college girl.
The original pilot episode of THE AGENCY, which focused on some terrorists planning to bomb a London department store, has been pulled in light of the recent attacks, but CBS plans to air another episode in its place at 10 p.m., which I guess makes it the acting season premiere.
FYI: The season premiere of CHARMED, which introduces Rose McGowan into the witches brew, has been postponed until Oct. 4.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2001
FOX has an interesting line-up tonight which kicks off with the season premiere of DARK ANGEL at 8 p.m. This episode looks suspiciously like someone at the studio said, "Let's make it more like X-MEN."
Meanwhile, the series premiere of the strange primetime soap PASADENA at 9 p.m. focuses on a rich publishing family and the deep, dark secret that could bring them down. Setting this apart from last season's laughable soap redux TITANS is a top-notch cast including Dana Delaney, Martin Donovan and Phillip Baker Hall.
And file this one in the "In case you care" file: THE MOLE II: THE NEXT BETRAYAL season premiere is at 8 p.m. on ABC.
John Stamos just can't stay away from ABC's Friday night line-up. First it was FULL HOUSE. Now it's THIEVES (9 p.m.). Stamos and Melissa George star as a couple of thieves (hence the show's title) who are forced to work together -- and for the feds no less. Of course, they've got this whole MOONLIGHTING thing going on where they love and hate each other.
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2001
Unless you really like COPS or movies edited for primetime broadcast (i.e. all the best stuff is cut out) then you are really doomed on Saturdays.
There's MIMIC at 7 p.m. on the Sci-Fi channel. This 1997 horror movie stars Mira Sorvino and Jeremy Northam as scientists investigating a mutated bug that's growing bigger and stronger under New York City.
And for those who don't take their horror so seriously, there's IDLE HANDS at 7 P.M. on USA. This cheesy little number focuses on a teenage boy (FINAL DESTINATION's Devon Sawa) whose hand gets possessed and starts killing people, including his two best friends (played hilariously by Seth Green and Elden Henson), who then turn into zombies because they were just too lazy to go up to heaven. You know, I've known lots of teenage boys who've claimed their hands were possessed, but they never killed people.
SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2001
There's plenty of debuts tonight, if you are into that sort of thing.
ALIAS one of the best new shows of the fall season is getting a special commercial-free airing on ABC at 9 P.M.That's right. You read that correctly. No commercials. What will the networks think of next?
When are big time movie actors going to stop thinking that working on TV shows is slummin' it? It's Oscar-winners galore on THE EDUCATION OF MAX BICKFORD with Richard Dreyfuss and Marcia Gay Harden on CBS at 8 p.m.
Of course, if you don't get enough LAW & ORDER what with it running practically every hour throughout the week, not to mention the regular network broadcasts and LAW & ORDER: SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT there's always LAW & ORDER: CRIMINAL INTENT. This one's different. It's got Vincent D'Onofrio.
Then there's UC: UNDERCOVER on NBC at 10 P.M. It stars ... ummm well ... it's about ... never mind.
Remote Patrol is our weekly Television column.