Some sparkly things that have captured my ever-drifting attention:
Everbody’s favourite transporter chief1, Colm Meaney, says he’s filmed the pilot episode of David E Kelley’s U.S. version of Life on Mars. He’s in the Gene Hunt role. I’m extremely interested to see what it’s like. The original BBC show, especially the first series, was excellent but there’s room for a different take on the concept. Relocating it to LA could just be enough of a difference.
Ben Goldacre’s seminal explanation in The Guardian of why homeopathy doesn’t make sense (it’s really good–read it) has won high praise from James Randi. Which is nice.
Galactica showrunner (and Trek alumnus) Ronald D Moore has a shiny new blog replacing his moribund one on the Sci-Fi Channel site. At present there are musings about Galactica and the Writer’s Guild of America strike.
Speaking of the shiny, in the wake of the terrifying number of Trek fan series underway on the internet, there’s now a Firefly fan series named Into the Black in production. As with most things in modern fandom, the production values are surprisingly decent. The cast… not so much. At least, not if the YouTube trailer is anything to go by. Also the song is quite scary.
Lastly, for the woman who has everything except a talking Stephen Fry clock: a talking Stephen Fry clock. Cool, but not quite as cool as Lego Batman: The Videogame.
1 Unless you favour Mr Kyle but, really, how geeky would that be?
Following the pretty pics from the new Babylon 5, AICN have a description of the rough-cut opening credits which gets all the nostalgic juices flowing. Whether B5 has anything more to offer the world than nostalgic remembrance of past glories is something that remains to be proven at this stage. The CGI image above has certainly got me keen to see what B5 can look like with modern effects work. The FX company’s showreel includes plenty of recent fare like Galactica and SG-1, and it’s sobering to remember that it’s nearly nine years since the end of the B5 series proper (five years since the distinctly low-rent Legend of the Rangers pilot). Where does the time go?
Still on our heap of TV to watch: six episodes of Studio 60, three episodes of Battlestar Galactica, three episodes of Waking the Dead, five episodes of Jericho, three episodes of Primeval, two episodes of CSI, one apiece of Time Team and Stargate SG-1 and a DVD of Doctor Who: The Aztecs. And those are just the ones I can remember. It’s possible we have a problem.
Part of the reason for our scary TV backlog is that we’re now fully caught up with Life on Mars, having watched every episode in one week from a standing start and liking it greatly. I thought the season 2 opener tripped over its feet a bit in its effort to re-establish the premise, but was otherwise as enjoyable as ever. I have to concur with the general opinion that Chris Chibnall’s episodes, particularly his second season offering, have been in a different league entirely from his Torchwood work (and featured not a single pterodactyl), so maybe his upcoming Doctor Who episode won’t be crap after all. Sadly our romp through Life on Mars has so far not been matched by our efforts with Primeval which I’ve yet to even start. Let’s hope I can summon up equal levels of enthusiasm for that series, although the opinions I’ve seen so far make this fairly unlikely.
Bones has delighted me by continuing to feature Stephen Fry in a recurring guest role which he was born to play, and if they’re laying on the Englishisms a bit thick, well, it *is* Stephen Fry. His scenes actually seem better written than the rest of the show. Which admittedly isn’t difficult.
EDIT: Sky One’s Continuity Announcer, before tonight’s episode of Battlestar Galactica: “Forget Sci-Fi, THIS is real drama.”
Having no internet did at least allow us to catch up on some TV. We just watched an episode of Bones which featured not only Bill S. Preston Esq. as a sleazy porn magnate but also Stephen Fry, playing
himself a psychiatrist. An English psychiatrist with a fondness for tea and esoteric trivia. Very entertaining, although as a TV show it does feel like an extremely friendly but not particularly bright puppy.
The second season of Rome is well underway, and is following the pattern of the first very closely, in that the episodes written by Bruno Heller are character-driven and interesting, and the others… not so much. However they do fling in random sex and violence in the hope of keeping your attention until the next good episode. Overall the good bits more or less outweigh the bad, even if it’s not quite the show it could have been. As a depiction of Ancient Rome in all its squalor and nobility it’s probably a good deal more true to the essence of the era than Richard Burton in a toga.
Heroes continues to dazzle with its momentum, although I occasionally have that second-season Twin Peaks feeling that some characters have outlived their storyline and are casting about for a new one. At times like these I suspect that the writers are not so much planning ahead as frantically paying out train track ahead of the locomotive. Nevertheless there’s a general feeling that they know where the season is going to end up; certainly the first half of the season made overall sense even if the finer details were a bit blurry. I remain optimistic for the rest of the season. An extremely entertaining series. (I think I’m
right entirely wrong in saying that Heroes started last night on the UK Sci-Fi Channel. fba notes that it starts next week with a double episode.)
Veronica Mars has so far impressed me greatly this year, striking just the right balance between the complexity of a story arc and the accessibility of weekly storylines. It also keeps the momentum going without sacrificing each episode’s individuality. The writers of Battlestar Galactica could learn a trick or two here. There’ve been a couple of clunkers, sadly, but overall the classic Mars spark is definitely present and I’m enjoying it more than Season 2. The worst I can say is that the supporting characters go AWOL so often that they’ve given up trying to explain their absence.
Spurred into action by a combination of Coalescent and a £15 Amazon deal, I’ve started watching season 1 of Life on Mars for the first time. Three episodes in and I’m enjoying it a lot. It’s an odd mixture of 95% crime show and 5% SF, but somehow it works. At times it reminds me peculiarly of Quantum Leap: on one level it’s an absolutely straightforward (even lightweight) pastiche of a 70’s crime show, but at the same time the time travel conceit adds a post-modern distance. Like Quantum Leap, the often nominal SF elements give you permission to enjoy the drama, and the show is able to highlight and exaggerate the differences between 1973 and the modern world. The constant hints that Sam may or may not be in a coma are becoming slightly wearing already, but again they add a level to the series and the central character that’s definitely interesting. Episode three managed to milk the ambiguity quite nicely for some fairly obvious metaphor in which the struggles in the past are a means to keep Sam fighting in the present. It’s hard to see, even at this early stage, how they can possibly resolve the ambiguity of the premise in any way which is satisfying. My preferred ending at the moment would be for both versions of reality to be true; Sam really is in a coma, but he’s somehow back in time as well, and having a verifiable impact on history. Alternatively they can leave things open, a technique I often enjoy but suspect might be simply infuriating here. Either way, I’m pleased that the second season is the last as it prevents the writers from having to string out the premise too far.