By:Michelle Erica Green Date: Tuesday, June 26, 2001
Summer has arrived, and with it comes a whole spate of genre movies: the very successful SHREK and the less-than-exceptional EVOLUTION, ATLANTIS for the kids and TOMB RAIDER for the grownups, THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS for teen-agers and DR. DOLITTLE 2 for the family. In the wake of the summer deluge, networks inevitably race to find shows that capture the qualities of the season's cinematic blockbusters, so it will be interesting to see whether mid-season replacements more closely resemble streaming video or live-action computer games. A few years back, we got lots of MATRIX-type stop-action and MEN IN BLACK look-alikes. This year, however, will the legacy be CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON's magnificent flying martial artists, or FINAL FANTASY-style animation, which looks phenomenal in the movie trailer?
Anything has got to be better than the ongoing spate of reality shows, originally put together in anticipation of a strike by the Writer's Guild a strike that has since been averted. But while fall teleplays have been assured, the performers may not be around to appear in them. Negotiations between the Screen Actors' Guild and the Hollywood studios are going slowlyless than a week remains before the current contract expires, although union negotiators suggested last week that a temporary extension might be possible. If a strike occurs, it will affect all the shows mentioned in this column and dozens of others, plus production on all but a handful of movies slated for 2002. Let's hope the sides can work out their respective demands. Otherwise, everyone had better prepare for future summers when we could be subjected to SURVIVOR 21, TEMPTATION ISLAND 69, and lots of WEAKEST LINKs.
IN THE NEWS
ANDROMEDA's guest cast list for the fall is shaping up to be pretty impressive. Last week, Ain't It Cool News warned that X-FILES' Cigarette Smoking Man, William B. Davis, will play a scientist determined to find out nefarious purple chick Trance Gemini's secrets. Davis will follow Lone Gunman Bruce Harwood; the man who played sweet, geeky Byers will appear on ANDROMEDA as a contractor working with Rommie in the episode "All Too Human," which will also star FIRST WAVE's Roger Cross.
Will Final Fantasy be the summer film that sets the style for the next round of TV ripoffs?
And executive producer Robert Hewitt Wolfe (formerly of DEEP SPACE NINE) told Zap2it that BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER's Spike, James Marsters, would appear in the November sweeps episode "Into the Labyrinth" as the Nietzschean leader who married Captain Dylan Hunt's onetime lover Elssbett from last season's "The Honey Offering." Marsters will play Charlemagne Bolivar, who would make a valuable ally for the Andromeda crew but could prove a dangerous enemy if they misread him.
Wolfe told Zap2It that Charlemagne believes Tyr's pride has taken the Nietzschean ideal of physical perfection too far, when they should have been concentrating on more Machiavellian pursuits like diplomacy and charm. The exec also said that the role was originally written for Kevin Sorbo's former HERCULES co-star Bruce Campbell, who was unavailable to play it; at one time DEEP SPACE NINE's Alexander Siddig was also considered. Marsters will play the part without his familiar British accent from BUFFY, and Wolfe assures fans, "We got his shirt off."
SlipstreamWeb adds that Kevin Sorbo still hopes to bring aboard another former HERCULES colleague, Michael Hurst. The actor who played Iolaus may appear when his schedule and the show's casting requirements make it possible.
This week in ENTERPRISE gossip, the Dark Horizons web site is reporting that the new show's uniforms will bebrace yourselfpurple. They may have yellow stripes, though an earlier report stated that yoke colors would vary according to rank. With the exception of the new Vulcan first officer's catsuit, they are reportedly less form-fitting than the uniforms worn by previous STAR TREK crews. The official site said they would not sport the foot straps that made previous casts uncomfortable.
Missing Spock? Leonard Nimoy (who can be heard in theaters everywhere as the voice of the King in Disney's ATLANTIS) has a cameo in the upcoming MEN IN BLACK sequel. No word yet on the rumors speculating that he'll have a role in STAR TREK X.
The WB announced last Thursday that Rose McGowanwho appeared in SCREAM and JAWBREAKER, but is nearly as well-known for her past relationship with shock rocker Marilyn Mansonwill play the long-lost sister of Phoebe, Piper and the late, lamented Prue on CHARMED during its fourth season.
Famed for playing vixens, McGowan will undoubtedly increase the onscreen tension among the bewitching sisters of CHARMED. Let's just hope she gets along better off screen with the other actresses than Shannen Doherty reportedly did before her unexpected departure at the end of this season. Jordan Levin of The WB said that Alyssa Milano and Holly Marie Combs have set "a high bar," adding that the network was fortunate to have the opportunity to work with McGowan.
WHAT'S ON THE TUBE
THIS WEEK'S PICK
BLAIR WITCH and FREAKYLINKS fans, take note: the SECRETS OF THE DEAD series on public television kicks off its second season with "Witches' Curse," in which modern science probes past supernatural-themed mysteries. This week, a behaviorist from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute suggests among other things that the 19 witches hanged in Salem in 1692 were wrongly accused because their hallucinating victims may have accidentally ingested the fungus from which LSD was derived some 250 years later. Trippy! Check your local public television stations for air times.
MONDAY, June 25
At 9:00 on the WB, ANGEL reruns "Reprise," giving our hero a chance to send bad lawyers straight where they deserve to goto Hellwhen Wolfram & Hart brings in a "senior partner" from the depths. If you prefer extraterrestrial drug dealers to urban vampires, Sci Fi will show the Dolph Lundgren movie I COME IN PEACE at the same time.
This is the night for new WITCHBLADE episodes on TNT at 9:00. In "Diplopia," Sara and Jake investigate the murder of a Soho art dealer who may have ties to the Witchblade. Meanwhile, Fox returns DARK ANGEL to its rerun slot with "Rising," in which genetically altered Red soldiers kidnap Original Cindy with the hope of attracting Max and her potentially life-saving DNA. UPN once again will show back-to-back SEVEN DAYS episodes at 8:00 and 9:00, while Sci Fi offers another Dolph Lundgren movie, RED SCORPION.
WEDNESDAY, June 27
Prime time kicks off with double VOYAGER reruns on UPN. First, Jeri Ryan does a hilarious turn playing the Doctor inside Seven's body in "Body and Soul" at 8:00, then Janeway negotiates to save the ship from "The Void" at 9:00. Over on The WB, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER features one of this season's best reruns, "I Was Made to Love You," in which Buffy decides to go on a date with Glorious Ben, while a robot programmed for irrevocable passion searches for her missing boyfriend. On Sci Fi, check out John Carpenter's remake of THE THING at 9:00 to see an alien engage in disgusting torture of scientists in Antarctica.
THURSDAY, June 28
It's Halloween at 9:00 on the WB, as CHARMED reruns "All Halliwells' Eve" and sends Prue, Piper and Phoebe back to 1670 to protect an unborn child. But if you caught this episode during the season, you may want to take a break from genre to see Cher's cameo on NBC's WILL AND GRACE, which also features a guest appearance by THE PRACTICE's Camryn Manheim as Psychic Sue. Otherwise, it's a great night for movies. At 8:00, AMC is showing Hitchcock's THE BIRDS, the classic thriller that makes people fear pigeons. If you have Disneychannel on cable, you can catch a science fiction double feature with the kids, HONEY, WE SHRUNK OURSELVES and INNERSPACE. Or if you want to be thrilled, TNT is showing I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER, followed by JOHNNY MNEMONIC, in which Keanu Reeves gets chased by thugs who covet the chip in his head. At 9, Sci Fi will show TREMORS 2: AFTERSHOCKS, which makes man-eating worms seem hilarious.
FRIDAY, June 29
Sci Fi's hottest night features a new episode of INVISIBLE MAN. In "Brother's Keeper" at 8:00, Darien has the memories of his dead brother placed in his own mind in the hope of finding a way to remove the Quicksilver implant. At 9:00 on FARSCAPE (this year's Saturn Award-winner for Best Syndicated Series), the crew of Moya is "Losing Time" when parasitic Energy Riders try to plant themselves inside their bodies. Then at 10:00, Showtime launches Season Eight of STARGATE SG-1.
Or it's another good night for cable movies. Cinemax shows X-MEN at 9:00. FX airs STARSHIP TROOPERS at 8:30, which should thrill both fans of intergalactic arachnids and people who didn't get enough Dina Meyer in JOHNNY MNEMONIC the night before. TNT reruns WOLF, Jack Nicholson's wonderful turn as a hairy predator when the moon gets full.
SATURDAY, June 30
Didn't get enough werewolves last night? Well, take heart: at 8:00, the Cartoon Network is showing SCOOBY-DOO AND THE RELUCTANT WEREWOLF. But most fans would rather be watching Sci Fi, which will show the modern classic BLADE RUNNER at 7:00, followed by ALIEN at 9:30.
SUNDAY, July 1
BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER makes an encore appearance at 8:00 on the WB. In "The Real Me," Dawn's meddling interferes with Buffy's vendetta against ditzy gang leader Harmony. In the same time slot, Fox reruns THE SIMPSONS' "Homr," in which Bart's dad must choose between scientifically enhanced intelligence or popularity and charm. An hour later on THE X-FILES, Doggett learns "Patience" when Scully tries to convince him a giant bat-like creature has committed murder.
Movies? For those missing Hercules and Xena, Sci Fi has CLASH OF THE TITANS at 5:30. At 9:00, the network will play the 1984 feature film version of DUNE. Many fans prefer the longer mini-series adaptation, but the movie was directed by David Lynch and stars Patrick Stewart as well as Kyle MacLachlan, so if you've never seen it before, it's well worth checking out.
SYNDICATED AND CABLE
Rerun doldrums continue in the U.S., with new material primarily airing on cable. Still, it's worth checking the far ends of the channel-changer. Summer's a good time to catch up on syndicated shows such as EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT and SHEENA, both of which had pretty solid seasons last year. This week on ANDROMEDA, Dylan discovers that a warship in love can be a dangerous thing in "The Mathematics of Tears."
If you'd like to know how the special effects and Lara Croft's costumes were tailor-made for Angelina Jolie, look for THE MAKING OF 'TOMB RAIDER' on Showtime several times this week. If you're looking for martial arts excitement, the USA network is having a prime-time action-fest this week that includes two Dolph Lundgren movies, then Jean-Claude Van Damme's SUDDEN DEATH, LIONHEART, DESERT HEAT, STREET FIGHTER and KNOCK OFF, the latter two back-to-back on Saturday night.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Yancy Butler stars as the comic book turned TV heroine Witchblade
"I think STAR TREK series often garner more respect upon reflection. So I think that if viewers watch the reruns, they'll experience entirely different feelings than they did in the moment. In the moment, it's very competitive. People are more demanding. They're more relaxed upon reflection. But I was proud of VOYAGER, in the moment. I never counted the [ratings] numbers. That would have been very counterproductive. All I can say is that I gave VOYAGER everything I have, and I'm deeply proud of it."Kate Mulgrew, to Sci Fi Wire, June 20