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Stardate 07.09.01: The Miniseries of AVALON

Plus: BUFFY, BATTLESTAR, and What's on TV This Week

By Michelle Erica Green     July 09, 2001


TNT's miniseries of The Mists of Avalon based on the book by Marion Zimmer Bradley.
© 2001 TNT

Though this week brings several new and returning series, perhaps none is as highly anticipated as TNT's original miniseries THE MISTS OF AVALON, based on Marion Zimmer Bradley's best-selling version of the Arthurian legend told from the perspective of its women. The production stars multiple Oscar and Emmy nominees including Anjelica Huston, Joan Allen and Julianna Margulies as members of a family sworn to protect the sacred Isle of Avalon during a tumultuous era for Britain.


The High Priestess Viviane (Huston) uses ancient magic to manipulate the passions of her family members in order to produce a royal heir, and trains her niece Morgaine (Margulies) to succeed her. But Viviane betrays Morgaine's trust in her efforts to ensure the safety of Avalon. As young King Arthur grows and takes a bride, his plans to build a strong nation come into conflict with the destiny of Avalon, which recedes further into the mists that protect its secrets.


Stunning location photography and music by contemporary Celtic composer Loreena McKennitt (THE MASK AND MIRROR) lend authenticity to THE MISTS OF AVALON. The sword and sorcery of

Edward Atterton as Arthur in The Mists of Avalon.

Camelot serve as backdrop for the themes of conspiracy and betrayal running through this epic tale. At ita core, this is a story of spiritual growth and the discovery that the will of the Goddess often takes unexpected paths.


But of course, this is also the tale of the passions of Igraine and Uther, Morgause and Lot, Launcelot and Gwenhwyfar, Arthur and Morgaine. TNT's ads for the miniseries contain warnings about the explicit sexual content. Whether you're a fan of EXCALIBUR or you only know the music of CAMELOT, THE MISTS OF AVALON is a must-see.


IN THE NEWS


SPOILER WARNING! Many of these news items reveal information about upcoming plots, casting and events on genre-related television.



  • Jeph Loeb, executive producer of the upcoming BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER animated series along with Joss Whedon, revealed to Comics Continuum's web site that BUFFY staff writers have begun work on the first several scripts. He said that writers Jane Espenson and Steve DeKnight have done such a good job that he and Whedon may "just let them have the show."


    "They are funny, bright, intelligent, true to the mythos and are going to make great animation," he added of the scripts.


    The cartoon is targeting a fall 2002 airdate on Fox Kids and Loeb said the producers were currently working on the budget. "Joss and I are still very confident this will be an awesome series and a worthy match for the live-action show," he concluded.



  • STARGATE SG-1 executive producer Brad Wright is very excited about the show's upcoming 100th episode. "It's the second series I've helped take to 100 episodes I did OUTER LIMITS as well," he told Sci-Fi Wire. "Wormhole Extreme, [which will air in September, will be] something of a parody of ourselves, kind of a GALAXY QUEST version of STARGATE SG-1," he said. "It is a balls-out comedy."


    In January, Wright added, the series will air a two-parter, "Summit" and "Last Stand," that will bring all the System Lords together. The fifth season will feature more of the villainous Goa'uld. Wright had no news yet of a sixth season, but considered it a strong possibility.

    Leni Parker as Da'an in Earth: Final Conflict.



  • First XENA, now EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT. Fans unhappy with the latter series' direction have launched a protest against the producers, according to Sci-Fi Wire.


    The letter-writing campaign objects to EFC's fourth-season finale, which heralded cast and storyline changes upsetting to the campaign organizers. Taking a cue from ROSWELL fans' successful tactic of enclosing small bottles of Tabasco sauce with their notes, fans have been asked to enclose blue glitter along with their letters to Tribune Entertainment.



  • Is she or isn't she? Conflicting reports emerged last week about Gillian Anderson's future X-FILES plans. The same day they were reporting that Pierce Brosnan would remain as James Bond, British papers quoted Anderson as saying that she intended to leave the series at the conclusion of this season.


    "Physically, psychologically, I don't think I could do another season," E! Online reports the actress telling the LONDON TIMES. "After sacrificing the first seven years of my daughter's life, she has to be the priority."


    Anderson complained that the hours she put into THE X-FILES had taken her away from her child, and said that "the stuff I am going to do [next] is as far from Scully as humanly possible."


    But Anderson's manager, Connie Freiberg, quickly told Reuters that the actress "is happy to be going back to do the ninth season," adding that they could only speculate on whether she might return for a tenth after they find out if the series gets renewed. "We can only face that when it happens."


    Anderson's longtime co-star David Duchovny recently declared that he would never make a cameo appearance on THE X-FILES, only to add later that if the right script came along, he'd consider it.



  • It's official, at last: Fox has ordered a two-hour BATTLESTAR GALACTICA pilot from Studios USA to kick off a run during the 2002-3 TV season. The series will run jointly on Fox and Sci-Fi, according to Sarah Timberman, President of Studios USA programming division.


    "We're tremendously excited to be bringing the originality and immense talent of Bryan Singer, Tom DeSanto, Dan Angel and Billy Brown to bear on reinventing what was clearly such a pop culture phenomenon," Timberman added. More good news: the new GALACTICA series will be set after the time frame of the original series, and will apparently erase GALACTICA 1980 from canon.



  • Can't wait to see ENTERPRISE's new Enterprise? TV Guide features the ship on this week's cover. Trek Today reported last week that a large pullout collectors' poster would feature the ship on one side and images of all 34 past TV Guide STAR TREK covers on the reverse.


    The special pullout reportedly only appears in newsstand copies, along with an interview with Rick Berman in which the executive producer hypes the new series' technology.


    WHAT'S ON THE TUBE


    All airtimes given are Eastern Daylight Time. Most network shows will broadcast in the same timeslot elsewhere in the United States, but cable movies may begin earlier. Please check local listings.



  • THIS WEEK'S PICKS


    In the midst of rerun doldrums, two new genre series worth mentioning make their debut:

    Night Visions



      NIGHT VISIONS (Thursday, July 12): Fox offers a surrealistic successor to THE TWILIGHT ZONE that tells tales of psychology pushed to the edge. In its premiere, the show offers four episodes about haunted characters played by such well-known actors as Aidan Quinn, Samantha Mathis and Lou Diamond Phillips.


      THE CHRONICLE (Saturday, July 13): Sci-Fi Channel introduces a witty FREAKYLINKS-type series about a tabloid covering sensational tales that turn out to be true. Chad Willett plays a journalist nearly ruined by scandal, who finds himself working with a half-man, half-pig researcher in pursuit of an elusive bloodsucking lizard.




  • MONDAY, July 9



      For the next two nights at 9:00 p.m., Sci-Fi rebroadcasts Stephen King's THE LANGOLIERS, in which a group of passengers on a red-eye flight (including Bronson Pinchot and Patricia Wettig) survive a space-and-time-warping experience. Kathleen Turner also does some time traveling when Bravo airs Francis Ford Coppola's fantasy PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED at 8:00 p.m.


      ANGEL experiences "Disharmony" in a rerun on the WB at 9:00 p.m., when the crew tracks down a cult of vampires led by a former motivational speaker and Cordelia thinks her old pal Harmony is coming on to her. If that's not titillation enough, check out Angelina Jolie in CYBORG 2 at 11:00 p.m. on Cinemax and see how this summer's Lara Croft combats a rival robotic corporation.




  • TUESDAY, July 10



      Many of us will be watching the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, which preempts a DARK ANGEL rerun on Fox. But there are also lots of movie choices, plus regular series: SEVEN DAYS finds Parker consumed with basic needs in back-to-back reruns on UPN at 8:00 p.m., while a new WITCHBLADE finds Sara investigating a priest played by The Who's Roger Daltrey on TNT at 9:00 p.m. Tonight's BIOGRAPHY on A&E exposes the WWF's "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, who survived on a diet of raw potatoes during his formative years.


      Movies? Well, I didn't say they were good choices. SPECIES on USA at 9:00 p.m. introduces Natasha Henstridge as a stunning alien hybrid that brutally murders erotic conquests who fail to satisfy her. ALMOST AN ANGEL on HBO at 7:15 p.m. has Paul Hogan playing a dead robber working for God (Charlton Heston). BATTLEFIELD EARTH follows on HBO with John Travolta as an alien chief of security who abuses enslaved humans so he can get rich. SHORT CIRCUIT at 10:00 p.m. on Disney gets Steve Guttenberg and Ally Sheedy to protect a lovable sentient robot.




  • WEDNESDAY, July 11

    Captain Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) is borgified in the "Uniimatrix Zero" two-parter of Star Trek: Voyager.



      At 8:00 p.m., UPN shows both parts of STAR TREK VOYAGER's "Unimatrix Zero," in which Seven of Nine falls in love and Janeway gets assimilated by the Borg. If real space science interests you more, The Learning Channel has a documentary at 9:00 p.m. called ASTEROID IMPACT about potential devastating collisions between comets and Earth. Or, you can watch Joey lose her virginityagain!on DAWSON'S CREEK before a rerun of the devastating "Forever" episode of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER in which Dawn tries to resurrect her mother using dangerous magic.


      Also at 9:00 p.m., TBS airs AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY, Mike Myers' hilarious spoof on spy flicks with a cryogenically thawed title character and a nuke-toting villain. If you didn't get enough Natasha Henstridge last night, USA has SPECIES II in the same slot. Sci-Fi continues Stephen King week with IT, in which a horrible creature menaces a group of old friends, tonight and tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. Finally, at 11:00 p.m., HBO offers WHAT PLANET ARE YOU FROM?, portraying alien men arriving on Earth to procreate.




  • THURSDAY, July 12



      NIGHT VISIONS premieres on Fox with four half-hour stories of the occult. If real ghosts interest you, Discovery's REAL GHOSTHUNTERS documentary explores technology that may enable people to track events in the spirit world. On the WB's CHARMED episode "Pre-Witched," the sisters take turns battling a demon that won't be stopped.


      If ALMOST AN ANGEL and BATTLEFIELD EARTH made your night on Tuesday, you won't want to miss MICHAEL, starring John Travolta as an angel with a dubious M.O., on TNT at 8:00 p.m. Or catch Eddie Murphy as a VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN, Wes Craven's comic bloodsucking flick on Cinemax. And since it's Thursday, there are some pretty strange creatures on UPN in WWF SMACKDOWN!




  • FRIDAY, July 13



      The INVISIBLE MAN goes up against a "Den of Thieves" on Sci-Fi at 8:00 p.m. An hour later on FARSCAPE, Scorpius tells Crichton the secrets of his past in "Incubator." Over on Showtime at 10:00 p.m., STARGATE SG-1 experiences an "Ascension" as Carter falls unconscious and wakes in strange company. Meanwhile LEXX's crew visits Earth in the fourth season premiere, "Little Blue Planet," on Sci-Fi at 10 p.m.


      The new thriller WW3 on Fox at 8:00 p.m. stars Timothy Hutton and Vanessa Williams as a pair of FBI agents trying to stop a deadly germ warfare plot. But there are many older movies to watch as well. At 6:30 p.m., Cinemax unleashes GHOSTBUSTERS II with most of the original cast chasing newer, funnier ghosts. At 8:30 p.m., Disney shows a lonely girl transforming a fashion doll into a LIFE-SIZE woman.


      At 9:00 p.m., The Movie Channel airs SLEEPY HOLLOW, Tim Burton's striking adaptation of the classic horror legend. Then, at 11:00 p.m. on USA, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddie Prinze Jr. get a message: I STILL KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER.




  • SATURDAY, July 14

    The T-Rex attacks in Jurassic Park.



      In anticipation of the third sequel, dinosaurs stampede on NBC at 8:00 p.m. in JURASSIC PARK, which won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. ABC presents a different kind of zoo in ESCAPE FROM L.A., which has become a giant prison in an America controlled by right-wing extremists, and from which Kurt Russell tries to save the rest of the country. Kevin Kline and Will Smith have similar goals in WILD, WILD WEST on Cinemax when a madman threatens to blow up the country.


      FARSCAPE makes an unusual Saturday night appearance with "Meltdown," in an episode reported to feature a guest appearance by INVISIBLE MAN Vincent Ventresca on a desperate mission to save his ship. Sci-Fi follows this at 9:00 p.m. with new drama THE CHRONICLE, in which a journalist nearly ruined by scandal takes a job with a sensationalistic tabloid. Speaking of tabloid fodder, The Learning Channel has produced two documentary specials based on it: HAUNTED LIGHTHOUSES explores ghosts at lookout points up and down the East Coast, while SCREAM TEST puts four contestants in a haunted house with video cameras to record their experiences.


      Looking for late night movies? Showtime has the recent thriller PITCH BLACK at 10:00 p.m., putting a spaceship crew at the mercy of murderers and man-eating creatures. At the same time, Cinemax broadcasts DEMOLOTION MAN, with Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes and Sandra Bullock in a violent struggle for futuristic dominance. At 11:00 p.m., Fox Family airs Carl Reiner's sci-fi spoof THE MAN WITH TWO BRAINS, in which a brain surgeon (Steve Martin) takes an unorthodox approach to saving a marriage.




  • SUNDAY, July 15



      THE MISTS OF AVALON debuts on TNT at 8:00 p.m. and reruns at 10 p.m., retelling the legend of King Arthur from the perspectives of the women who surrounded him. Those in the mood for hardcore science fiction TV will have to make do with Sci-Fi's broadcast of the 1996 production of DOCTOR WHO, featuring Paul McGann as the scientist trying to save the world from The Master.


      In episodic reruns, Fox's THE SIMPSONS offers "Tennis the Menace" starring the voices of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Serena and Venus Williams. Later at 9:00 p.m., THE X-FILES' "This Is Not Happening" introduces Agent Reyes and finds Mulder somewhat worse for wear. Over on the WB, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER's "Spiral" sends the Scooby Gang fleeing home to hide from Glory. Want to scream for the third time? At 8:00 p.m., Showtime repeats SCREAM 3, in which a movie based on Sidney's life begins to echo life a bit too closely.




  • SYNDICATED AND CABLE



      Public television's SECRETS OF THE DEAD series looks at "Death at Jamestown," which ponders the possible reasons for widespread settler deaths in Britain's first permanent American colonycould Catholic agents have poisoned Protestant settlers? Another PBS documentary, NATURAL HISTORY OF THE CHICKEN, sends Mark Lewis of RAT chasing roosters who survived with their heads cut off and farmers who do chicken mating dances.


      XENA gets the tabloid treatment herself in "You Are There," when a reporter (Michael Hurst) tries to figure out whether the warrior princess has it in for Odin...and whether she and Gabrielle are lovers. On SHEENA, "Tyler Returns" to help Sheena track a bomber. RELIC HUNTER finds Sydney and Claudia on a "Roman Holiday" looking for the impervious magical armor of Caesar.


      EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT explores "Sandoval's Run" when their former ally turns on the Taelons after his mind-control implant degenerates. And Captain Hunt gets some "Forced Perspective" on ANDROMEDA after he returns to a planet where he once took part in a shameful crime.



    QUOTE OF THE WEEK

    Anjelica Huston in The Mists of Avalon.


    "Usually I find myself playing the darker, more evil character. So it's very nice to be on the side of good." -- Anjelica Huston to TNT's web site on playing Viviane in THE MISTS OF AVALON.



  • Frequencies is our weekly TV column.

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