Geekgasm

Several coolish movie things:

Hot on the heels of the probably-very-good casting of Zachary ‘Sylar’ Quinto as the young Spock comes this simple but pleasingly retro poster for the new Trek prequel film.

A slightly naff yet iconic poster for the new Indiana Jones film. But more interesting still is the news that Karen Allen will be reprising her role as Marian Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

A nice new image of the Joker from Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight plus a pretty nifty teaser trailer (more audio than video, but good nonetheless).

A stunningly visual trailer for the Neil Gaiman / Roger Avary penned Beowulf film with CGI that you’d be hard pressed to tell apart from real actors for most of its length. I still want to see the characters do some real face acting before I’m convinced.

Lastly some interesting casting for Watchmen.

Oh, and as a bonus I’m throwing this one in just because I can’t tell how crap it’ll be: a trailer for The Last Legion a film that seems to mix the end of the Roman Empire and the legend of King Arthur with such certainty you’d think it was actually telling real history. Could be just as bad as the recent King Arthur but you never know.

Doctor Who – Season 3

Following last year’s exciting Doctor Who Season Report Card, here comes the inevitable follow-up:

BEST
1. Blink (5/5)
2. Human Nature (Part 1) (5/5)
3. The Family of Blood (Part 2) (5/5)

4. Daleks in Manhattan (Part 1) (4/5)

5. The Lazarus Experiment (3/5)
6. Smith and Jones (3/5)
7. The Shakespeare Code (3/5)
8. Utopia (3/5)

9. Evolution of the Daleks (Part 2) (2/5)
10. The Sound of Drums (2/5)
11. Gridlock (2/5)

12. Last of the Time Lords (1/5)
13. 42 (1/5)
WORST

I maintain that this year was a lot more solid than Season 2. If I total up my scores I gave both seasons 39/65, but that doesn’t really reflect how I feel about them. Last year saw very few episodes that weren’t marred by a silly ending or some moment that felt embarrassingly juvenile. It was that awkward feeling of having to squint slightly to ignore the bad bits in otherwise enjoyable episodes. This year the episodes that were solid were consistently solid from beginning to end, and it’s surprising how much that lifts the ‘felt’ quality of the show. Martha’s occasional slips into unrequited love were also a lot less annoying than the cloying Doctor-Rose dynamic of season 2.

Then of course was the run of three superb episodes in a row from ‘Human Nature’ to ‘Blink’, which showcased everything that works about the series and without which I’d be feeling less charitable about the overall lack of excellence that surrounded them. I suspect that these three episodes are pivotal to my enjoyment of the season, but they’re not the whole story. I was already feeling more positive about the year before they aired.

As for the dregs, while there were a few episodes that required squinting of Olympic proportions, there were actually no more stinkers than last year, and even a nominally poor offering like ‘Evolution of the Daleks’ was sneakingly enjoyable and nostalgic; unlike, say, ‘Rise of the Cybermen’. Only ’42’ failed to engage me on almost any level, although even there Martha’s scenes in the life pod provided at least something of interest.

I’m still trying to decide whether ‘The Last of the Time Lords’ falls into the stupid-but-fun category, or was a full-on unwatchable stinker of the ‘New Earth’ variety. Martha did significantly help the episode, as did the epilogue, but as the season finale it ended the year on an unfortunately sour note.

Arc of Infinity

There’s a trailer for the new Babylon 5: The Lost Tales DVD on the official website. The website has been given a facelift too, by someone without any noticeable design skills.

The DVD is set ten years after the series. Just seeing the familiar ships and hearing the music certainly gets my B5 juices flowing. For all its flaws, and they are many, Babylon 5 was a show that completely hooked me at the time. Although it didn’t make it to the end of its five year story as seamlessly as planned, it inspired subsequent science fiction series to seriously consider long-term storytelling as a viable proposition. My wife has managed to get one of her work colleagues into the original series and he seems to be having a hugely good time watching our DVDs. He’s right in the show’s heyday (mid Season 2) with plenty of good stuff ahead, and I can’t help but be a little envious.

Battlestar Galactica is a series that takes almost the opposite approach to story arc, preferring to make it up as it goes along. Nonetheless its producers are still bravely claiming that “This show was always meant to have a beginning, a middle and, finally, an end.” They simply have no idea what any of those things are. Hopefully they’ll make their minds up soon, since they’ve just announced that Galactica will officially end after its Fourth Season.

Calling all Heroes

There’s an interesting interview with Heroes creator Tim Kring over at Comic Book Resources, with spoilers for the entire first season. Having been spoilerphobic during the season I can now relax and indulge in some background reading. Part 2 is particularly good, with info about the writing process, the structure of Season 2, and the Heroes: Origins spin-off.

Part 1 & Part 2.

Spoiler-free quotes below.

“The biggest was we learned how not to be precious with information, with answers. We learned that no answer is so precious that we can’t tell you what it is. I think people really expect on a show like this to learn what’s happening and what the secrets are. Secrets, if you wait to long, are ultimately going to disappoint the audience. If you wait a year and a half for an answer, no matter what you tell your audience it will disappoint them because it just can’t be a good enough answer. So, you learn to give answers at a frequent rate.”

(This would be the anti-Lost approach to making television, then.)

Season 2:

“Volume two… …in no way has to be an entire season and it won’t be. The idea now is to tell volume two in a much shorter amount of time so that we are not dragging so much story behind us 20 episodes into the show… … what we’re doing is wrapping these stories up in shorter arcs so that you can hop on the train as a new viewer along the way.”

Origins:

“Right now it’s six episodes, they are stand alone episodes that have a kind of, for lack of a better way of describing it, a Rod Serling quality to them… …we’re very conscientious about the brand and trying not to harm it and trying not to diminish or take away anything from the mother ship of “Heroes” because everything is sort of begat from there. So, the second this feels like it’s doing any sort of damage, we’ll cut our losses.”

Nostalgia

Tonight I watched Frost and Pegg’s Perfect Night In on Channel 4, featuring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s stilted and under-rehearsed links between a random assemblage of clips from their childhood–but OMG what clips. At times it seemed that Simon Pegg and I shared exactly the same childhood. Monkey, The Incredible Hulk, Children of the Stones (I only saw one episode of that but it screwed me up for life), Box of Delights, Doctor Who, Blake’s Seven, Animal Magic… I now feel old and nostalgic. The links were quite endearing too despite their awkwardness but I couldn’t help but wish for a bit more of an in-depth geek-out about the contents.

The Sky at Night

Today I’ve watched a couple of programmes about the 50th Anniversary of The Sky at Night. It reminds you just how long the show’s been around (since before Sputnik) and how much of an institution Sir Patrick Moore is–and also how much of a twinkle he’s always had. He’s not one of those august celebrities who take themselves too seriously. We were even treated to a clip of him on an old episode of Wogan in which he jammed on the Xylophone with Hugh Laurie on the piano. Quite surreal. Patrick once played the piano for Albert Einstein, apparently, which is the kind of story you just can’t make up.

Despite the persistent promise of gloomy wet weather, we’ve actually had a lovely couple of days here. We had a very civilised Barbeque last night on the patio and despite the evening chill in the air it felt very summery. I think the rain’s now due tomorrow (and we certainly hope so or Janet’s Carnivorous Plants may be getting a bit thirsty soon.) And of course there’s no work tomorrow. Praise be for bank holidays.

I come from the future

We missed the final instalment of Face of Britain on Saturday on account of my brain being missing. I couldn’t find it in any of the usual places (the programme, not my brain). Then I remembered that we are all now living in Teh Future where everything in the world is available instantly, so I hopped decadently across to Channel 4’s 4 on Demand website and downloaded it. Big, crisp image, and the whole thing is completely free. Now that’s what I call progress.

It’s hobbled by Digital Rights Management so you can’t burn it to a disk and watch it on the TV, but that’s not unreasonable under the circumstances. Basically you have 48 hours from whenever you first press play to watch it as often as you like, in a rental-type way. The only downside is you have to use Windows XP, Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player in order to access the service, so if you’re a Gatesophobe this could prove awkward.

The BBC are introducing something that looks suspiciously similar later this year.

The future really is a shiny place. Although that may just be the global warming.

I’m certain I’m ambivalent

My review of Primeval is up at Strange Horizons today. I know there can be few people in the world today who wouldn’t rate this groundbreaking drama as their favourite show of all time, so I know you’ll all want to head over and take a look. Ah, go take a look anyway.

I’d comment on the Life on Mars finale but it’s been covered in many other places. It’s odd for such a lightweight–if extremely skilful and enjoyable–series to have such a controversial ending. Like The Prisoner, Twin Peaks and even Quantum Leap before it the conclusion casts a strange shadow over the series. Right now I feel fairly ambivalent towards the finale, but I suspect that in a week’s time I’ll either hate it or have come to regard it as a work of genius. At least it wasn’t dull.

Although there’s a dearth of good TV on at the moment until Veronica Mars and Heroes make their long awaited returns, I’m quite enjoying House, Bones and CSI: Original Menthol Flavour (although so far this year CSI is not matching its superb sixth season).

We’ve also been watching The Dresden Files, an entirely formulaic piece of television involving a down-at-heel P.I. who’s also a wizard, and his Tim Curry-esque mentor, who’s a ghost. It’s exactly what you’d expect: vampire of the week, werewolf of the week, skinwalker of the week. I’d place it somewhere above Charmed and occasionally up to the standard of below par Angel, riding on the rumpled charm of its lead performance and the feeling that everyone involved is giving it slightly more effort than the show strictly deserves. I have to say that the second half of the 12 episode season has shown a notable improvement with a lot of input from Robert Hewitt Wolfe and Hans Beimler of Deep Space Nine fame: the plots have become less obvious, and the story arc involving Dresden’s father has moved forward very rapidly. I would only recommend it if you’re in an undemanding mood and predisposed to like this kind of thing, but on those terms I *would* recommend it.

The one thing I can’t recommend about The Dresden Files is the main theme music, one of the most anodyne themes-by-numbers I’ve heard since the 1980s. They try to funk it up mid-season with some up-tempo trumpets in the background, but it’s the very definition of polishing a turd.

Holmesian

Haven’t seen anyone mention this but thought it might be of interest even though it’s a Children’s BBC programme:

Sherlock Holmes and the Baker Street Irregulars
4:30pm – 5:30pm, BBC1, Sunday 25th March

Part 1 of 2

Set amidst the sinister and foggy streets of late Victorian London, Sherlock Holmes And The Baker Street Irregulars tells a tale of murder, mystery and intrigue. When Sherlock Holmes is called in by Scotland Yard to investigate the mysterious death of one of their detectives, he enlists the help of the Baker Street Irregulars: a rag-tag group of street kids who have learnt to fend for themselves on the harsh streets of London town.

It stars Jonathan Pryce as Holmes and Bil Paterson as Watson.

Who, mainly

David Tennant is on board Doctor Who for the entire fourth season (following the upcoming third season)–according to the possibly unreliable Daily Mirror at least (via Outpost Gallifrey). This comes as a mild relief to me if true: as frustratingly variable as Tennant’s performance can sometimes be, the last thing the show needs is a succession of very short-lived Doctors. This way it gets the chance to settle down a bit.

I just caught Jonathan Ross on BBC1 praising the first couple of episodes of the new series following a press screening. I’ve no idea what this actually means about the quality of the episodes.

Meawhile those who want to avoid Doctor Who spoilers should avoid the Sci-Fi Wire website, whose idea of spoiler space appears to be putting “and (spoiler alert!) Darth Vader turns out to be Luke’s Dad” in the middle of a sentence. Not so much a spoiler warning as a spoiler sucker punch. (I should know better since they’re also one of those genre news sites who regard plot rumours as news).

Interesting snippet from Alfonso Cuaron on the Children of Men DVD in a brief interview over at www.aintitcool.com:

AICN: You had quite a few screenwriters on the movie. Can you talk about how that evolved?

ALFONSO CUARON: …I don’t want to say anything else about all this amount of writers… whoever has read a book by PD James has a credit as a writer here. This screenplay was written by Tim Sexton and myself. If I would credit another writer, it would be Clive Owen…From the moment that he got involved. Tim and I we worked with Clive a couple of weeks in a hotel room in New York, focusing his character. His instincts were so great that then we asked, “Can we pester you with the rest of the script?” He (worked with us) with that and he was amazing.

The Great Global Warming Muddle

Courtesy of www.badscience.net: I knew C4’s recent “polemic” The Great Global Warming Swindle had been roundly criticised for scientific inaccuracies, but I’m still flabbergasted by the extent to which the film-maker distorted the evidence – take a look at these graphs.

Of course, some scientists are now warning that some claims about the impact of Global Warming exceed what can be purely justified by the evidence. This is perfectly reasonable and indeed the basis on which the scientific community ought to operate, and the online story is fine. However it’s a bit of a shame that BBC News 24’s soundbite approach to the story left the impression that they were casting doubt on global warming itself, not merely the extent of it. (In fact one of the scientists explicitly says in the online version: “I’ve no doubt that global warming is occurring”.) So a story in which scientists warn against confusing the public ends up being itself a cause of confusion. Typical.

Hollyweird

Fans of Sherlock Holmes be afraid. It’s not that a big screen adaptation casting Holmes as a more “edgy” action-oriented hero is doomed to crassness but… well, quite. The quote about “playing up his skills as a bare-knuckle boxer and expert swordsman as he goes about solving crimes” does not fill me with confidence. Then again, the world has already witnessed the astonishingly poor yet strangely entertaining Young Sherlock Holmes.

Further weirdness: how does the inestimable Cate Blanchett in the fourth Indiana Jones movie sound? In other casting news for that film, has anyone ever seen Shia LaBeouf and immortalradical at the same time?

Meanwhile Stephen Fry is writing a script for Peter Jackson. The world has gone mad, I tell you. Sadly it seems Mr Fry didn’t have the time to write his promised episode of Doctor Who. Sniff. (The trailer for the new series of Doctor Who is now up at the official site and looks much more promising than the last one, once you get past the painfully hokey intro.)

Linkage

There’s a nice behind-the-scenes article on Babylon 5: The Lost Tales over at CG Society (Society of Digital Artists) with a lot of new photos and a few story spoilers.

AICN have a test image of Rorschach from the ever-mired-in-Development-Hell Watchmen movie. I’m still ambivalent about the movie, but the high-res image is very well-realised and faithful to the comic. Janet says that it just looks like a man in a cloth mask, but that in Watchmen this is probably part of the point.

A version of the image has been snuck into the middle of a new promo for 300 for some reason, a film which has just exceeded box-office predictions on its first day of release. The movie looks visually gorgeous and is getting very positive reviews, although I suspect it may be just a teensy bit OTT and hyper-macho for my sensitive tastes.

EDIT: For those who don’t read Neil Gaiman’s blog: Bob Dylan sings Dr. Seuss.

You see what they did there?

“Back with a Bang!” You see what they did there? Still it’s a nice promo image.

Doctor Who Season 3 Promo

Can’t say I’m enthused about a comedy Doctor Who skit on Comic Relief featuring David Tennant and Catherine Tate, though. Leaving aside the fact that they already did this for the Christmas Special, weren’t they going to great pains not to reduce the new show to a light entertainment parody of itself in the way that happened to the old series? (Or am I missing the point and it’s just David Tennant not Doctor Who?)

Sci-Fi, meet Drama

Sky Continuity Announcer after SG-1 this week: “Coming up next, sci-fi meets drama in Battlestar Galactica”. Because, as we know, sci-fi and drama are normally mutually exclusive. Last week the same announcer’s line was: “Forget Sci-Fi, this is real drama.” Bad enough he says these things over the end credits of Stargate SG-1, but what is this fascination with trying to promote Battlestar Galactica by simultaneously distancing it from and belittling other Sci-Fi shows?

Meanwhile this week’s episode of SG-1 included a not so subtle dig at the programme’s cancellation:

Not-really-spoilery cut for dialogue

Everything old is new again

Lots of snippets of news from the New York Comic Con. The B5 Direct-to-DVD release is proceeding apace and may be slated for a July release. Now it turns out that we may also be getting some Direct-to-DVD side-stories from Battlestar Galactica. Maybe they figured they had so many vital bits of plot left over from the actual episodes that they’d cobble together a movie from the missing scenes. Cough.

Meanwhile we’re getting another Serenity comic from Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews, again set between the series and the film. The first one was okay, I guess, but not quite the same as watching more Firefly proper.

And lastly, Paramount has finally confirmed that a new Star Trek prequel movie has been officially greenlit, with JJ Abrams (Alias, M:I3) at the helm. It’s clearly way too soon to resurrect Trek, but if they’re going to insist then a brand new set of writers and actors milking nostalgia in a fresh way is probably the best bet. More bizarrely, silly casting rumours abound. How about Matt Damon as Kirk (Hmmm), Adrian Brody as Spock (Hmmmmm) and Gary Sinise as McCoy (Genius!)

Lazily Drowning

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.”

We control the horizontal and the vertical

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.

Beer good pictures pretty

Buffy S8 - Xander and Buffy Buffy S8 - Willow

There’s a nice little interview with Joss Whedon over at geekmonthly.com focusing mainly on the “8th Season” Buffy comic he’s co-writing and ‘executive producing’: Part One, Two, Three, and Four. Spoilers for the comic, naturally.

In the ‘pretty pictures’ department there are also some lovely new CGI images from the remastered version of ‘The Doomsday Machine’, one of Classic Trek‘s best efforts. Although my affection for Star Trek has waned over the years, I somehow still get a kick from seeing images like these.

As previously mentioned I’m heading to London for my brother’s Stag Do this weekend, but sadly far too briefly to even consider meeting fellow denizens of the interwebs. It’s pretty much going to be arrive, booze, recover, leave. Hopefully in that order. As a result you’ll all have to survive the weekend without my dazzling LJ repartee. Much like every other weekend.

Pilfering other websites

A few things that caught my eye recently:

Joss Whedon is no longer writing the Wonder Woman film, a movie he’s been trying to script for months now. I can’t say I’m devastated since Wonder Woman is not the most exciting character in the world, but I feel reasonably certain that Joss’s take on her would have been more interesting than the alternatives.

The Buffy: The Vampire Slayer comic overseen by Joss Whedon as a hypothetical eighth season of the TV Series is due soon. He talks about it (with spoilers) on the extremely hyperactive MTV.com. The comic artwork at darkhorse.com looks rather nice, including this lovely painting of Willow.

Meanwhile Outpost Gallifrey have reported a couple of pieces of Torchwood ‘news’ recently. One is the potentially good news (on the relative scale of “good” in which Torchwood operates) that Sapphire and Steel creator PJ Hammond is writing another episode next year, following up on “Small Worlds” last year. Disappointingly he also mentions that talks with ITV about a new Sapphire and Steel series broke down, so I’m sure we can look forward to more of Jack and Gwen wandering around pretending to be David McCallum and Joanna Lumley. More bizarrely, there are proposals afoot to name Cardiff’s new Shopping Centre after Torchwood, a move that wouldn’t make the organisation noticeably less secret.

On the Doctor Who Audio Drama front the site also reports that: “The 100th Release of the Big Finish Doctor Who range is Earthstorm by award-winning author Stephen Baxter, which features the Sixth Doctor and is due to be released late September. Baxter is one of Britain’s most respected hard science-fiction novelists, his books include The Time Ships, which was an authorised sequel to H.G. Wells’ influential classic The Time Machine.”

In what I’m sure is a very patronising attitude to Doctor Who I find this slightly incongruous, not least because I’m currently reading Baxter’s Coalescent. No, not that Coalescent.

Televisual snippets

Scrubs has done a musical episode. Which looks fun, though I haven’t seen it yet. I haven’t watched a lot of Scrubs but Janet’s been catching some repeats recently and it’s always amiable and often very funny. The creator’s interviewed about the musical episode here and does namecheck Buffy‘s musical.

In a strange Mutant Enemy juxtaposition, Amy Acker is to be Nathan Fillion’s missing wife in Drive. They’ve currently ordered 12 episodes on top of the now re-cast pilot, making 13 episodes in total. For a Tim Minear series. I think we can all see where this is heading.

Heroes has been renewed for a second season. By the end of the first season we’ll know whether the show can possibly continue spitting out plot at a rate that would make most other shows tremble. I really hope it can: it’d be a shame to see a Lost-style consolidation into jealously hoarding a meagre store of ideas; one of Heroes‘ more compelling elements is its page-turning cliffhangers. It starts on the UK Sci-Fi Channel next month and BBC2 has it at some point after that.

Battlestar Galactica in ‘may upset its fans’ shock. No surprise there, you may imagine, but it does seem to involve a significant turn of events (general spoileryness in the link). Hopefully this will be one that’s integrated into the storyline a little better than most of the series’ recent games of character pinball.

Torchwood was apparently a ratings success after all. Hard to believe, I know. Okay, its BBC3 ratings fell by two-thirds but remained high for the channel, and the BBC2 ones fared a little better. In total it ranged from about 6.6 to 4 million. Still, it’s hard to see what it was about the show that actually warranted the attention of 4 million people. (My review of the finale *cough*shamelessplug*cough*.)

EDIT: Veronica Mars‘ shorter-than-hoped third season will end on five standalone episodes instead of a final arc. Not only that, but the final five episodes will air after an eight week break. No decision has been made about a fourth season yet, but reading between the lines I do wonder if that isn’t the distant whiff of cancellation in the air. I really, really hope not. VM is a strong contender for my favourite show at the moment.

Macho telly

BBC3 are making a spin-off from Spooks entitled Rogue Spooks, about a gritty bunch of MI:5 operatives who don’t follow all those namby pamby rule things. Presumably they’ll drive a big black SUV with “Rogue Spooks” embossed down the side.

This will be followed by Rogue Casualty, featuring gritty doctors who don’t use anaesthetic during operations, and Rogue Robin Hood, featuring outlaws who behave impeccably and show the proper respect to the Sheriff.

Random television things

Just as a quick heads up for those that consider Stargate to be a worthwhile waste of 44 minutes, it looks like Sky One have the world premiere of Stargate SG-1 10×11 (“The Quest, Part 2”) on Tuesday, and the same for Stargate Atlantis 3×11 (“The Return, Part 2”) on Thursday Wednesday. Neither show returns from its mid-season break in the US for a couple of months.

Edit: I forgot to mention that the third season of Battlestar Galactica starts its UK airing right after SG-1 on Tuesday. I’d say it’s well worth a look for those who haven’t watched it yet. Not as strong as the beginning of Season 2, but an improvement on the thin and patchy material that characterised the end of the season.

Meanwhile Series 6 of Waking the Dead starts tonight on BBC1 (with part 2 tomorrow). I’m not sure how we got into this show as we never watch UK crime drama, unless you count Spooks, but it’s an enjoyable and surprisingly consistent series. Trevor Eve’s character is a complete curmudgeon in a way that, like Hugh Laurie in House, teeters on the brink of parody but never quite goes all the way there.

House itself returns in the US next Tuesday, weeks before most other US series, although HBO’s Rome is also back on Sunday 14th Jan. We enjoyed the beginning and end of Rome‘s first season, but the middle was entirely trashy.

Golden Globes

Heroes has been nominated for Golden Globe in the BEST TELEVISION SERIES – DRAMA category along with 24 and Lost. I hope it wins, and that’s not just because I’m no longer watching 24 and Lost. (Non-genre contenders are Grey’s Anatomy and Big Love.)

Sadly Veronica Mars is nowhere to be seen, and perhaps surprisingly neither is the higher profile Studio 60, although Sarah Paulson gets a deserved nod in the BEST PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE IN A SERIES, MINI-SERIES OR MOTION PICTURE MADE FOR TELEVISION WHICH AIRS ON A MONDAY EVENING AND GETS MIDDLING REVIEWS. I’m also pleased to see a drama nomination for Hugh Laurie who deserves to win something for House before it inevitably jumps the shark, and for Kiefer Sutherland (hey, I’m no longer watching but Kiefer gives good angst). And in the mini-series category clearly Masi Oka should win for playing Hiro Nakamura. I mean, why not just give it to him now and get it over with? Between him and Jeremy Irons I know who I’d pick.

Meanwhile the Writer’s Guild Awards spurn Heroes in favour of a Deadwood nomination, which I have to say is fine by me, too, especially since they give a nod to Heroes in the Best New Series category. A certain Studio 60 also finally gets recognised, and for best episodic drama we have quite a line up including Election Day, Part II (The West Wing), Occupation/Precipice (Battlestar Galactica), Two for the Road (Lost), and Pilot (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip).

And, buried right at the end, is something at last for Veronica Mars. A nomination in the “Best on-air promotion category”. Seriously. It’s both welcome and depressing at the same time.

EDIT: LJ have tarted up their Update Journal page. Shiny.

Screens of Green

Behind-the-scenes photos from the new B5 stories which have just finished shooting for DVD release. The first pictures look like those exciting shots from behind-the-scenes on the new Star Wars movies, i.e. one huge green screen and a couple of bored people. However there are some more interesting ones further down the page, plus some updates on filming.

I’m still reserving judgement, but keen to see what the finished product looks like.

Gadgets

The generally entertaining Gadget Show on Channel 5 is running a campaign to get free wireless internet access on the streets of our cities, as has apparently already been done in, er, Norwich. While I remain sceptical that this is going to happen in any coordinated Government-led way, it does seem to have happened in Norwich so you never know. There’s a petition on their website if you’re interested.

Sad to say The Gadget Show is actually the closest thing to science programming on TV most weeks, and although it’s not always the most highbrow of shows its heart is in the right place. It’s that rarest of things, the genuinely IT literate TV show whose presenters know what they’re talking about and who actually geek out about shiny brushed aluminium gadgets and cool robots. Next week it looks like they’re testing stores like PC World to see if their staff actually know anything about computers. Seems like a foregone conclusion to me…