ROBOCOP is back in a new four-part miniseries, PRIME DIRECTIVES, from Fireworks Entertainment of ANDROMEDA and F/X fame. Producer Julian Grant described the new series to Sci-Fi's promotional site as "hard-hitting, true to the original ROBOCOP feature film, and the very best project I have ever made."
Promising that the new show will not be "the politically correct, light ROBOCOP series you've seen on TV" but closer to FRANKENSTEIN, Grant warns that viewers may be shocked and repulsed. In "Dark Justice," the first episode, which airs tonight at 9, Page Fletcher plays cyborg cop Alex Murphy as he battles the deadly vigilante known as the Bone Machine. Robocop is feeling his age after ten years on duty and the discovery that his grown son may be involved in dangerously evil plans.
In the second installment, "Meltdown," Murphy begins to suffer from nightmares about the death of his former partner John Cable. But Cable achieves "Resurrection" in a manner Murphy understands all too well, and the two work together to protect Delta City as their enemies plot mass murder in "Crash and Burn."
ROBOCOP: PRIME DIRECTIVES promises to restore the themes and aura of Paul Verhoeven's original feature film. For comparison and contrast, HBO is airing Irvin Kershner's ROBOCOP 2 several times on late-night television this week.
IN THE NEWS
∑ Emmy nominations announced this week contained good news and bad news for genre seriesmostly the latter. While STAR TREK: VOYAGER was recognized in many technical categories, the show failed to end its run with any nominations for acting or writing awards. More surprising to many was the absence of attention to the critically acclaimed BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, which failed to garner a single nomination.
THE X-FILES' "This Is Not Happening" received a nod for outstanding cinematography for a single camera show, but gone are the days when Duchovny and Anderson vied for acting honors. XENA's final season earned a citation for its music, but not directing or special effects. Those nominations went to the excellent DARK ANGEL pilot; to two VOYAGER two-parters, "Endgame" and "Workforce"; and to two STARGATE SG-1 episodes, "Small Victories" and "Exodus."
Sci-Fi's miniseries production of Frank Herbert's DUNE was cited for both cinematography and special effects, but again, not any of the major dramatic categories. In fact, the two happiest nominations for genre fans went to actors who are not currently on science fiction shows: Rene Auberjonois of DEEP SPACE NINE as outstanding guest actor on THE PRACTICE, and frequent STAR TREK guest star James Cromwell in the same category for ER.
∑ Many spoilers appeared this week for the ENTERPRISE pilot "Broken Bow," as ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT aired a short set tour and TV GUIDE put the new Enterprise on its cover. Trek Today quoted a review of the script by Julius Funkenstein of Screenwriters Utopia, which revealed that the ship would have "talking controls a lot like the ones in the Original Series with huge flashing lights and such." Funkenstein also said that the weapons resemble primitive phasers, and the crew isn't thrilled about using the transporter that only recently was approved for use with live beings.
Meanwhile rumors continue to circulate about the tenth STAR TREK movie, with Ain't It Cool News reporting that Jonathan Frakes would direct the film, tentatively titled NEMESIS. Much of the plot revolves around cloning and genetic manipulation, with Data discovering an unknown "sibling" and Riker and Troi finally tying the knot (at a ceremony where Leah Brahms is Geordi LaForge's date). Ain't It Cool also confirms that Kate Mulgrew will appear in the film as Janeway, reportedly in a position of authority. Ain't It Cool hasn't said anything about the ongoing rumor that Sean Connery will play the villain...
∑ THE LONDON OBSERVER reports that the BBC is going ahead with plans for a sequel to BUFFY: THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, starring Anthony Stewart Head as Giles. The paper quotes Head as saying that THE WATCHER would be "a slightly more adult show," set in Britain where "there will not necessarily be so many vampires around."
THE LONDON TIMES followed up the report with an interview with Head in which he compared the tone of THE WATCHER to the British series CRACKER. The BBC said that the project is still in the very early stages, but Head expected the series to commence with six feature-length episodes.
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.
Nickelodeon presents RUGRATS: ALL GROWED UP on both Saturday and Sunday night at 8. This 60-minute episode lets Tommy and the other kids spend a single day as grownups after a decade of toddler-hood. Series creators Arlene Klasky and Gabor Csupo project the characters into the future to reveal what happens when the babies get sick of Angelica's bullying and imagine being adults so they can escape from her deviousness.
After the anniversary episode, Nickelodeon offers a 30-minute RUGRATS RETROSPECTIVE, showing the series highlights beginning with its 1991 premiere. RUGRATS spawned numerous rip-offs, and though some parents blame the show for their children's bad manners, many adults and kids alike have gotten years of enjoyment from the franchise.
∑ MONDAY, July 9
Tonight at 8, TNT airs the conclusion to the highly anticipated THE MISTS OF AVALON telefilm. But fans planning to watch ROBOCOP: PRIME DIRECTIVES on Sci-Fi can take heart, for TNT repeats the MISTS episode at 10 and again later in the week. ROBOCOP, too, airs again at midnight, so your VCR can work overtime saving both miniseries. If you'd rather stick to the Camelot theme, Disney offers KIDS OF THE ROUND TABLE at 7.
Also at 7, TMC shows the classy horror SLEEPY HOLLOW, followed by creepy adventure flick KALIFORNIA with David Duchovny and Brad Pitt. Meanwhile ANGEL comes to a "Dead End" on the WB at 9 in a rerun where Lindsay's new hand takes on a life of its own.
∑ TUESDAY, July 10
Fox has moved former Tuesday bright spot DARK ANGEL to Fridays, putting on episodes of MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE and TITUS in its place. But over on TNT tough babe Sara may have to trade the powers of the WITCHBLADE to save a victim kidnapped by militants in "Maelstrom." Meanwhile, back-to-back SEVEN DAYS episodes deal with mental hospitals and telekinesis.
ROBOCOP continues on Sci-Fi at 9, as Murphy battles female mercenaries hunting for a top-secret computer system. For movies, Fox Family offers THE BURBS at 8, with Tom Hanks and Carrie Fisher fretting over suburban vampirism. Showtime has SUPERNOVA with James Spader and Angela Bassett, in which a strange drifter hitches a ride on a medical spaceship.
∑ WEDNESDAY, July 11
Episodic TV reigns on Wednesday, with UPN's STAR TREK: VOYAGER rerunning the two parts of last November's "Flesh and Blood" starting at 8, while the WB's BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER has an encounter with the first Slayer and Spike gets it on with the Buffybot at 9. In the third installment of ROBOCOP, "Resurrection," Cable and Murphy fight villainous security forces. But they're not as evil as security chief John Travolta in BATTLEFIELD EARTH, on HBO at 7.
∑ THURSDAY, July 12
NIGHT VISIONS has two new installments on Fox, "View Through the Window" and "Quiet Please," starring Bill Pullman as an army major investigating a desert oasis and Cary Elwes as a camper being driven insane by a loud, insensitive neighbor. On CHARMED, the sisters fall victim to the Seven Deadly Sins in "Sin Francisco." If you're getting in the mood for PLANET OF THE APES and are curious about how and why the Neanderthal became extinct, the Discovery Channel has a special on LAST NEANDERTHAL at 8.
∑ FRIDAY, July 13
On Sci-Fi's biggest night of the week, the INVISIBLE MAN experiences "Bad Chi" at 8, then the FARSCAPE crew learn to "Scratch N' Sniff" at 9. LEXX is back in its regular slot at 10 with "Texx Lexx," set in the United States, where Xev heats up a trailer park, while Kai fits in perfectly with a doomsday cult. Over on Fox, DARK ANGEL moves to its new night for the fall, rerunning the romantic "Blah Blah Woof Woof." The WB offers a second consecutive night of CHARMED at 9 with a Barenaked Ladies cameo in "Honeymoon's Over."
For those who failed to tape it earlier in the week, TNT reruns THE MISTS OF AVALON in its entirety at 8. If you can't get enough of Angelina Jolie, Cinemax shows off her brutal assassin skills in CYBORG 2. Also at 8, TCM reruns the silent 1925 classic THE LOST WORLD, based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's story about a land of prehistoric animals that gave rise to dozens of homages in subsequent monster movies. Afterwards at 10, Bravo shows BLOOD OF HEROES, with Rutger Hauer and Joan Chen vying to survive in a brutal post-apocalyptic future.
∑ SATURDAY, July 14
A fine night for fans of animation kicks off with RUGRATS: ALL GROWED UP on Nickelodeon at 8, followed by a retrospective about the series' past ten years (as mentioned above). Meanwhile, starting at 7, the Cartoon Network offers SCOOBY-DOO ON ZOMBIE ISLAND, in which the meddling kids have grown up a little but keep running into bad guys. The main characters of THE ROAD TO EL DORADO have a similar problem on HBO at 7:30, trying to escape with the gold before the speaker for the gods finds a way to kill them. And the SUPER MARIO BROTHERS come to life as Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo on Disney at 7:30, fighting the villainous King Koopa in an alternate dimension.
Sci-Fi's second-biggest night of the week kicks off with FIRST WAVE at 8, which goes to "The Edge" as Jordan and Eddie try to decide whether to kill Foster to protect the Earth from his new alien DNA. At 9, THE CHRONICLE airs its second episode, "Here There be Dragons," followed by OUTER LIMITS' "Flower Child" at 10.
Also at 10, Cinemax finds Eddie Murphy trying to make it as a VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN. NBC precedes the 1986 blockbuster TOP GUN with a new half-hour special on the making of the film, featuring interviews with actress Kelly McGillis and director Tony Scott. But it's a dilemma for Tom Cruise fans, for Showtime will air MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2 in the same time slot!
∑ SUNDAY, July 15
Not much new, but lots of good reruns. THE SIMPSONS' "I'm Goin' to Praiseland," set at a Bible-based amusement park, starts off a Fox lineup that includes THE X-FILES' Emmy-nominated "DeadAlive," in which Mulder's corpse becomes the subject of strife for Scully, Skinner and Doggett. Nickelodeon repeats RUGRATS: ALL GROWED UP at 8. At 9, the WB's BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER feels "The Weight of the World" in the aftermath of her sister's abduction.
Tom Hanks stars as a prison guard influenced by a death row inmate with supernatural healing powers in THE GREEN MILE on Showtime at 8. On TNT at the same time, a band of outlaws hide out in a small town that turns out to be PURGATORY, where everyone's, well, dead. At 9, Sci-Fi offers Gus Van Sant's inferior but still fascinating remake of Hitchcock's PSYCHO, starring Anne Heche as the unfortunate girl in the shower and Vince Vaughn as the Oedipal creep with the knife.
∑ SYNDICATED AND CABLE
XENA tries to avoid the "Path of Vengeance" when her daughter Eve is taken prisoner by the Amazons. Fellow warrior woman SHEENA navigates an "Unsafe Passage" while RELIC HUNTER Sydney Fox takes a "Midnight Flight" to recover a stolen scepter.
Captain Hunt meets a Borg-like cybernaut with a heart of gold in ANDROMEDA's "The Sum of Its Parts." An alien that can appear human comes to destroy the Taelons in EARTH: FINAL CONFLICT.
Real-life mysteries get explored on public television's SECRETS OF THE PHARAOHS, with "Tut's Family Curse" getting investigated by modern DNA testing. And in SECRETS OF THE DEAD, war medicines including cannabis and hallucinogens enable warriors with spears to eradicate more than a thousand soldiers with rifles on "The Day of the Zulu."
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"Frankly, I don't think [the writers] really cared what happened at the end. VOYAGER has been the ugly stepchild of the STAR TREK family... and they took it out on us by saying, 'This show's no good. Let's get it over with as quickly as possible so we can fix it for the next one.'"Robert Beltran, VOYAGER's Chakotay, in Starburst Magazine as quoted by THE GREAT LINK.
Frequencies is our weekly TV column.