Musings of a TV Junkie (Mania.com)
Date: Monday, August 14, 2006
Well, ladies and gentlemen, I'm taking a vacation. If you don't know me, this will not seem an unusual thing for me to say. Trust me, it's unfathomable. Usually, I define "vacation" as working from somewhere other than my place of residence. This time, on the occasion of my high school reunion (may it be as eventful as John Cusack's in GROSS POINT BLANK), I am going to leave the work behind. Don't worryI'll be committing next week's column to the hard drive before I go, but if it smells a little strange when you read it next weekit's not as fresh as it ordinarily would be. In the meantime, I've been thinking about a few things and decided to share with you an assortment of random thoughts this week.
In the wake of my column comparing and contrasting LOST and THE PRISONER, I found myself thinking about other parallels between current series and bygone classics. I'm sure it's escaped no one's notice that VERONICA MARS not only filled BUFFY's timeslot on the now defunct UPN network, but it also seems to share a sensibility with its more monster-laden antecedent. Perhaps less obvious is another Tuesday night series that owes a substantial debt to a slightly older text. I'm speaking, of course, of Sherlock Holmes. For me, the world's most famous consulting detective will forever be inextricably linked to the late Jeremy Brett (sorry Rathbone fanswhat do you want from me? I'm a TV columnist!). Though, of late, I've seen shades of the great detective on Fox. Sure, Vicodin has replaced cocaine. There are three Watsons instead of one. Oh yeah, and the criminals are microscopic, but the hero's still a genius at sussing out their game and putting things to rights. Dr. Gregory House is Sherlock Holmes and I love it. If you've not watched Fox's HOUSE, M.D., you are missing out on one of the most enjoyable hours on TV and I commend it to you without reservation.
Next on the agenda is the purchase, by the Sci Fi Channel, of a vast array of defunct Paramount TV productions. I applaud this maneuver as I'm not 100 percent sure I ever caught all the episodes of HAUNTED (starring LOST's Matthew Fox) or JAKE 2.0 (produced by ANGEL co-creator David Greenwalt). It's nice to see the network back in the business of running one-season wonders that we might have missed the first time around. JOHN DOE and DEAD LIKE ME have been a refreshing change from the torturous movies of the week that have held sway for so long and I can only hope that this renaissance of re-runs signals a new golden age. And if there's any way we could get a quick run of VOYAGERS! or MISFITS OF SCIENCE in the wee hours after the latest NIGHT STALKER or THRESHOLD I would be forever grateful. Speaking of NIGHT STALKER, don't miss BABYLON 5's Mira Furlan in one of the upcoming episodesthe one that "borrows" the plot from Richard Matheson's 1973 Kolchak yarn THE NIGHT STRANGLER without so much as a "based on a story by" credit. The final produced episode, by the way, is actually quite an interesting look at where the series was headed. Had Darin Morgan's unfilmed script made it before the cameras, I think the show really might have had a chance at taking off.
Now, I'll toss out a few feelers for future discussions so you guys can fill the talkbacks and my in box with the things that interest you. Someone mentioned ROBOTECH some weeks back, and while I know the anime purists would have me drawn and quartered for such sentiments, the 1985 series remains my most beloved experience with Japanese animation. I'm roughly 24 episodes into re-watching the series and still get entangled in the soap opera romances and bloody battle sequences. It occurred to me, perhaps four years later than anyone else, that FIREFLY is named after the type of ship rather than the ship itselfthis strikes me as exceedingly odd and I found myself ruminating on the matter for an absurd period of time. Season four of QUANTUM LEAP has hit DVD and it looks like the UK is now suffering the same blight of music replacement that has been the lot of us Stateside since season two. On August 22nd, BBC Home Video is releasing to the US market a further collection Charles Dickens adaptations produced as part of BBC 1's CLASSIC SERIAL. Though I've yet to plunge into the latest offering, the quality of the previous volumes allows me to offer a preemptive commendation. Dickens' serial novels are well served by this style of presentation and the presence of classic DOCTOR WHO producer Barry Letts in the driver's seat (as well as an excellent cast) makes these programs a worthy addition to your DVD shelf. That's all for now. The Fall season is nearly upon us and the coming weeks will find me making haste to stay abreast of all the matters of interest upon the speaking box. I shall now slip forward in time seven days and write next week's column. See you in a fortnight.
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MONDAY, AUGUST 14
KYLE XY (8 PM PST, ABC Family) "Memory Serves" Haven't seen this show yet, but I have to tell youthere's a building in Burbank which must be owned by ABC Family because every week I drive by and a different bloody ABC Family show is plastered on the street facing side of the building. So, I'll acknowledge their dedication to drawing my attention and mention the show. Thanks also to the reader who's e-mail reminded me as I was assembling this column.
LIFE ON MARS (10 PM PST, BBC America) Episode 4 A particular favorite of mine, Ashley Pharoah's script finds Sam coming face to face with the compromises inherent in 1973 law enforcement. And that's not even the best part of the episode...
TUESDAY, AUGUST 15
DEAD LIKE ME (7 PM PST, Sci Fi Channel) "Sunday Morning" If anyone who saw this series on Showtime (or DVD) is watching SFC's broadcast, drop me an e-mail to let me know how heinously the censor's scissors are trimming this little gem. I'm curious.
DEAD LIKE ME (8 PM PST, Sci Fi Channel) "A Cook" One of my favorite season one episodes finds Mandy Patinkin's Rube stepping behind the counter at his favorite eatery. His speech about the patty melt is brilliant!
EUREKA (9 PM PST, Sci Fi Channel) "Invincible" I am behind on this one, but will catch up as soon as I get back to town. I promise.
WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 16
BLADE: THE SERIES (10 PM PST, SPIKE TV) "Turn of the Screw" This installment takes its title from one of my favorite novellas. If you've never read Henry James' masterpiece, give it a looka public service announcement promoting literacy from your friendly neighborhood TV columnist. More on BLADE: THE SERIES next week...
THURSDAY, AUGUST 17
An apology is due to anyone who tuned in to BBC America last week expecting a new episode of HEX. I regretfully failed to check Lee Whiteside's marvelous SFTV.org wherein all televisual scheduling knowledge resides (go there often and support the guy who's been keeping track of these things since before I had Internet access!) and thus, I did not note that BBC America had gotten sneaky and decided to lock the rest of the series in a cupboard until next Summer.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 18
SCI FI INSIDE (8 PM PST, Sci Fi Channel) "STARGATE: SG-1 - 200" A special documents the creation of the longest running US SF series' 200th installment.
MONK (9 PM PST, USA) "Mr. Monk Gets a New Shrink" I love MONK. You never have to look up the episode to write up a logline. Hell, you don't even have to write a logline. The titles are so incredibly self-explanatory. The show's rather like FRIENDS in that regard.
STARGATE: SG-1 (9 PM PST, Sci Fi Channel) "200" Not the most original title for a 200th episode, but I guess it's worth shouting it out if your show makes it this far. Congrats to the cast and crew.
PSYCH (10 PM PST, USA) "Who Ya Gonna Call?" It's a show about a con man invoking the catchphrase of a film about four guys everyone believed to be con men...interesting. Tell me about the Twinkie.
STARGATE: ATLANTIS (10 PM PST, Sci Fi Channel) "The Real World" I really hope this isn't a purposeful reference to the MTV "reality" series...
SATURDAY, AUGUST 19
I attend my 10-year high school reunion and explain to everyone that I watch TV for a living. This should be interesting...
SUNDAY, AUGUST 20
THE 4400 (9 PM PST, USA) "Terrible Swift Sword" I'm curious to see what will happen now that Jordan Collier has returned. The title of this episode, however, does not inspire thoughts of a happy return.
DEADWOOD (9 PM PST, HBO) "The Cat Bird Seat" The title for this penultimate regular episode of HBO's foul-mouthed Western eludes my deciphering prowess. I have no $^@&ing idea what a "cat bird seat" is.
THE DEAD ZONE (10 PM PST, USA) "Into the Heart of Darkness" I am wary of this title having just reviewed APOCALYPSE NOW for another publication. I just want to stay out the dark places of the soul for a couple weeks, then I'll be ready to plunge back in just in time for GALACTICA.
BROTHERHOOD (10PM PST, Showtime) "Job 31:5-6" We're back to the Bible with this week's title from Jobthe most cheerful and life affirming scripture in Christianity...not. "If I have walked with vanity, or if my foot hath hasted to deceit; Let me be weighed in an even balance, that God may know mine integrity."