Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Smallville “Reckoning” 100th Episode

Or…I reckon this one was 50% good.

Do not read further if you don’t want to be spoiled by moi, ok.

First off, I want to say that this has been the best season of Smallville so far. I’ve always watched this series off and on through the years, but usually only found the season premieres, season finales, and a handful of episodes in-between to be anything special. This season, we have seen Clark and his friends head off to college, battle Brainiac, and Lex show his true colors.

Oh yeah, and Clark got laid.

But, alas, all good things must come to an end. This 100th episode (that I was actually looking forward to) greatly disappointed me.

Sniff, sniff. Not just because I’m sorry to see Jonathan Kent die. But, I must endure more of the Lana/Clark/Lex triangle. Grr, Argh. Make it stop!

I was nearly blown away during the first half hour (get it?…”I reckon it was 50% good”). We had Lana learning the truth (Finally! How dense is she anyway?), Clark proposing (Unexpected – well except one of the commercials showed it, but it led me to believe they might actually have the hazelnuts to kill her off.), and then Lana’s death (booyah!). This blew me away…I thought, “Wow, they actually went against canon. They completely surprised everyone. Did Joss Whedon write this episode?” Then I thought, “Wow, until this moment I didn’t realize how perfect it would be if Lana died. Clark would never want to tell his secret to someone else he cared about. No more Clark angst about Lana, someone who is starting to look really stupid for not figuring this secret out yet. And now a perfect reason for Clark to hate Lex and a tragedy that would drive Lex completely to the darkside.”

Ah, but who knew that the writers would pull a page from Star Trek or Witchblade. Clark whines to Jor-El about how unfair it is that Lana is dead (this is when I started to get worried). I thought, “No, don’t you dare.” Then Jor-El does the whole, “gee there is this crystal that can turn back time” thing. You see, he has been saving it for a special occasion. Saving his people from his homeworld BLOWING UP didn’t really count, but I guess saving Clark’s girlfriend would be the right time. Frak! What can’t Jor-El (aka Mr. Deus Ex Machina) not do? He can take Clark’s power away. He can give Clark’s powers back. He can give powers to other people. Oh, and he can turn back time…I don’t buy it.

So, then time reboots. Lana is saved, but breaks up with Clark because he won’t tell her his secret. Clark’s dad dies from that pesky heart damage. The only way, this episode’s Tru Calling moment could have worked was if Lana died in the end anyway. Man, that would have been shocking and would have made this episode the best of the whole series. Instead, I feel that Jonathan’s death is trivialized because of the time restart gimmick.

So, on one hand the writers made me care enough about this season that I truly got angry by this episode (kudos), but if they don’t shape up and either get rid of Lana or have her learn the secret, I don’t think I will stick with the series next season. Hey, why don’t they hook Clark up with the mermaid chick that was his college sweetheart in the comics? I’m just so tired of this Lana/Clark mess. Could you tell?

Monday, January 9, 2006

2006 Predictions: Part IV (Kill Switch / Midnighters / Pretty Little Liars / Pen and the Sword / Warehouse 13 / Skrull Kill Krew / Torchwood)

Kill Switch

The unlikely duo of Mark Cherry (Desperate Houswives) and Don Mancini (Child's Play - yes I said Child’s Play) are creating this pilot for ABC. No, the series won’t be about Desperate Killer Dolls living on Elm Street. Cherry describes the one-hour SF drama, Kill Switch, as Touched by an Angel meets Quantum Leap. An odd writing combo, with an odd example series amalgam, indeed. I would have personally stayed away from the Touched by an Angel example. I wonder if Tru Calling meets Quantum Leap would work? That is what I think of when I read this description: The series centers on a woman who is executed for killing her daughter's murderer and then enters a type of purgatory. Every episode she finds herself in the body of someone about to be killed. She must figure out who the murderer will be and prevent it from happening.

"Instead of a whodunit, it's a who-will-do-it," Cherry said. The series supposedly will have a tone similar to Desperate Housewives. "The tone isn't exactly like Desperate Housewives" he said. "But it has humor and wit in it. [It] seemed like something in his wheelhouse." I’m not sure how to take this one. This could be really, really campy or interestingly different. I would normally give this a low chance of making it, but Desperate Housewives is big - like Godzilla standing on King Kong’s shoulders big - so ABC will probably take a chance on it. Hmmm…lets give it a 75% chance of being picked up.

Midnighters / Pretty Little Liars

The WB is so pleased with Supernatural’s performance that two new one-hour supernatural dramas are in the works. The WB has ordered scripts for both of them. Pretty Little Liars revolves around four 16-year-old girls whose fifth best friend went missing two years ago. The girls then become haunted by messages that start appearing from her. Midnighters revolves around teens who were born at the stroke of midnight who have gained access to a 25th hour of the day. Both series are being adapted from their Alloy book series published by HarperCollins.

To early to give a prediction on either one of these yet, but I’ll keep my eye on them.

Pen and the Sword / Warehouse 13

Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) is developing these two series for NBC and the Scifi Channel. Pen and the Sword, being developed for NBC, is about a young man working in a building that is a portal to a medieval alternate universe. Warehouse 13, being developed for the Scifi Channel, centers on a pair of government officials that are banished to a storage facility in North Dakota in which every item has a supernatural or fantastical backstory.

It is waaaay to early too tell if these will make it, but with Ronald Moore’s success with Battlestar Galactica, I would be surprised if we don’t see one of these soon. I predict a 50% chance.

Skrull Kill Krew

There is little detail on this live action TV project at this time, except that Marvel mentioned it was in the works. I’m not sure who thought about this one. Of all things to pick, this wouldn’t have been my first choice. But, perhaps with a good showrunner, this project could be successful, or at least fun to watch. It could be sort of a funny version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers. Hmmm..I don’t know about this one.

But for those of you (which are probably many) who have never heard of Skrull Kill Krew here is a run-down on the comic. Skrull Kill Krew was a short lived 1996 Marvel comic book series. The comic book was created by Grant Morrison, Mark Millar, and Steve Yeowall. This comic book focused on a team of humans with the viral affliction Skrullovoria Induced Skrullophobia (SIS). The characters were infected with this virus after eating beef from Skrull alien shape shifters that had been trapped in cow form. Now, they have varying degrees of shape shifting powers and can recognize a Skrull no matter what form it takes. Unfortunately, the virus also damages their brains causing progressive episodes of neurological disease. The Skrull Kill Krew would travel across America, killing any Skrull shapeshifters they find in an attempt to stop them from taking over the Earth. Members include: Ryder (leader of the Krew with the ability to animate his dreadlocks and teleport), Catwalk (Kimberly Dee - a former supermodel with the power to take the form of a feline-human hybrid), Dice (Rob Fortune - surfer dude from LA with the power to transform his hands into various types of weapons), Moonstomp (a skinhead white supremacist from the UK whose skin is turning black), and Riot (Heidi Sladkin - a punk-rock chick that can turn into a giant insectoid creature).

It is still in the very early stages, but for now I have to predict a cloudy 30% chance of making it to TV.


The BBC has ordered 13 episodes for a spinoff series of its new Doctor Who series that will air on the BBC Three network. The new series, from Russell T. Davies, is called Torchwood—an anagram of "Doctor Who"—and will feature the character of Captain Jack (John Barrowman), a swashbuckling spacefarer who was introduced last season on Doctor Who. The series is set in modern-day Cardiff. Torchwood will launch in the Christmas special and second season of Doctor Who. The series will center on Torchwood, a renegade group of investigators. No stories will cross over between Torchwood and Doctor Who, the BBC said. "Torchwood is a British sci-fi paranoid thriller, a cop show with a sense of humor," Davies said in a statement. "It's dark, wild and sexy. It's The X-Files meets This Life. It's a stand-alone series for adult audiences, which will have its own unique identity. I have just begun working on the scripts with a team of writers and cannot wait to see the results."

I, like so many of my American friends, have not seen much of the new Doctor Who yet. Darn you DVD Regions! I’m eager to see it and hope to pick up the DVD in February. Sigh, but until then, what can I say? British SF is apparently taking an upturn with the success of Doctor Who, now this spin-off, and the recently announced The Prisoner remake. I look forward to hearing more about Torchwood, though, and chances are good it will do well. But I doubt it will ever make it to America’s (sometimes nationally egotistical) airwaves.

Hmmm…perhaps the British could remake Blake’s 7. Imagine that airing back to back with Battlestar Galactica.

The End...

That's all of my 2006 predictions for now. How many of these shows do you think will actually make it? Goodbye, paalom, hasta la vista, lehit, bai bai, tchau...later.

Friday, January 6, 2006

2006 Predictions: Part III (Eureka / Dresden Files)


"...federal marshal Jack Carter (Colin Ferguson) wrecks his car in the town of Eureka while transporting a teenage fugitive. Stranded, Carter quickly discovers that Eureka is not all it appears when a child vanishes in the catastrophic aftermath of an accident caused by a creation of one of the town's eccentric residents. Instinctively, he inserts himself into the investigation, working alongside the town's sheriff (Maury Chaykin) and an agent from the Department of Defense (Richardson-Whitfield). As the case unfolds, Carter is let in on one of the country's best-kept government secrets: Eureka is a haven created for the world's greatest minds to live, work and create. But, unknown to most, mystery, conspiracy and long-simmering secrets lurk just beneath the surface of this seemingly idyllic town." (The description given by the SciFi Channel on 9/28/05.)

SCI FI Channel has given a green light for the production of 13 episodes for a summer 2006 premiere. This series will be executive-produced by Andrew Cosby (Haunted) and co-executive-produced by Jamie Paglia.

I don’t know what to think about this one. When I first heard this I pictured a half campy SF show like Invisible Man (which I really enjoyed) or the even more campy Tremors: The Series (which I didn’t like so much). But as more info comes out, the more unsure I am about what kind of series this will be. For SCI FI Channel to give it a green for 13 episodes means someone thinks it has potential. SCI FI has become notoriously gun shy on new series. I wish they had been that way when someone green lighted Black Scorpion…yikes. Hopefully, this will usher in the return of more SF series on SCI FI Channel. Believe it or not, in Fall 2005 ABC was airing more new SF drama series than SCI FI (Lost, Alias, Night Stalker, and Invasion). SCI FI just has Scifi Friday, but perhaps I should count Tripping the Rift…maybe. Either way it is far from the high point, which was 2000-2001 I believe, when SCI FI was airing Black Scorpion, The Chronicle, Farscape, First Wave, Good vs. Evil, The Invisible Man, Lexx, and The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne. Not that all of those series were great, mind you, but it is nice to have choices. By the way, my favorites were The Chronicle (canceled far too quickly and seemed to reach a wider audience than the typical SCI FI Channel series), Farscape (classic, need I say more?), and The Invisible Man (season two’s writing was weaker, but the series had a great cast and a uniquely fun feel to it).

But we are now seeing advertisements for Eureka. It isn’t enough to get a real good gauge on it, but it is peaking my interest. This is an obvious 100% chance of being aired. The real question now is if it is good enough for a second season.

Dresden Files

This two-hour back-door pilot is scheduled to air summer 2006 on SCI FI Channel.

"Based on the best-selling 'Dresden Files' novels by Jim Butcher, this 2-hour backdoor pilot film will be executive produced by Academy Award(R) winner Nicolas Cage and Norm Golightly of Saturn Films. Erik Dresden is a detective with extraordinary powers, the kind that could belong only to the descendant of a long line of wizards. Where others see the typical crimes of assault, kidnapping and serial killings, Erik sees otherworldly forces at work -- which only he knows how to combat. Whether consulting for the police on inexplicable crimes or following his own cases, Erik has a unique outlook on the world, and wields a wry sense of humor as one of his most potent weapons. The project is produced by Lions Gate Television and Cage's Saturn Films (The Life of David Gale, Shadow of the Vampire), with Morgan Gendel (Law & Order, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: The Next Generation) writing; Gendel and Anthony Peckham (Don't Say a Word, 5 Days to Midnight) are executive producers." (The description given by the SciFi Channel.)

Another book series adapted for television. In the past these haven’t fared well (at least in the eyes of the PTB), like Scifi Channel’s Anonymous Rex or Riverworld. But I feel good about this one (70%-80% chance of series pick-up). I can easily see this making it. In many adaptations for novels the author isn’t pleased, but at least it appears that the Dresden Files is the exception.

"I saw the clips [of the movie] and thought my jaw was going to fall off my skull," Butcher said. "I'm very pleased with how well [screenwriters] Robert [Hewitt Wolfe] and Hans [Beimler] get the whole wizard detective concept, and I liked the movie script very much."

Butcher added, "I am in regular contact with Robert Wolfe, the show's producer, who has been great about letting me suggest things here and there and about asking for my thoughts on things."

Paul Blackthorne (24) has been cast as Harry Dresden and Valerie Cruz (Nip/Tuck) “…will play a hard-nosed Chicago police detective who handles violent crimes and works side by side with Dresden."

Thursday, January 5, 2006

2006 Predictions: Part II (Blade)

Spike TV has ordered a two-hour movie that will act as a pilot for a series based on the Blade movies. David S. Goyer is producing and co-writing the pilot with Geoff Johns.

“Tenacious vampire slayer Blade forms an odd alliance with Christa Starr, a woman who wants revenge upon the vampires' House of Chthon, and the powerful Marcus, for slaying her fraternal twin brother. But while Blade battles the vampires from the outside, Christa battles them from within -- after being changed into a vampire herself...”

It is believed that the pilot picks up where Blade Trinity left off. But don’t expect to see Abigail Whistler and Hannibal King; new supporting character will be introduced. Shen (played by Nelson Lee) will be making Blade his wicked vamp slaying weapons, while Christa will be working from inside Marcus Van Sciver’s vampire House of Chthon.

I’m eager to see what this series is going to look like. With David S. Goyer at the helm, it has potential. Although it won’t be as gory as the films, supposedly Goyer’s crew are going to try their best to get as close as they can. I don’t really care about the gore, I just want the martial art moves and overall action to still be there.

Wesley Snipes will not return as Blade, so success could hinge on his replacement. It has to be someone who looks and acts similar to Snipes’ Blade, but can add new layers to the character and make him his own. But hey, if James Bond can go blonde, then anything is possible. Recently, the actor/rapper Kirk Jones, aka Sticky Fingaz was chosen to be everyone’s favorite daywalker. Jones was last seen on television as a soldier in F/X's Over There, which I haven’t seen. What saye you? Is Jones a good pick? Other castmembers for the pilot include Jill Wagner, Neil Jackson, Jessica Gower and Nelson Lee.

I’m sorry to see them not use Abigail Whistler and Hannibal King. Even if they couldn’t get the actors back, it would have been nice to have continued developing these established characters.

So, will Blade slay the competition or be slayed? I’m forecasting 75% chance of the television movie being picked up as a series and clear skies tomorrow (somewhere in the world)...

Tuesday, January 3, 2006

2006 Predictions: Part I (Aquaman)

In previous postings (“Six and Counting” & “The Lucky Seven”) I spoke about the new SF series and the other ongoing SF series on TV. Fall 2005 introduced 6 new SF series. What is the count now? Two down (Night Stalker and Threshold), one in danger (Surface), and three likely to survive for the sequel (Supernatural, Ghost Whisperer, Invasion). But, except for possibly Supernatural, I am not sure how many seasons they have in them. And, except possibly for Supernatural, none of them have franchise potential like Star Trek or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So, what will next season bring us? I have gathered together some of the most buzzed projects. I’ll even give them my “forecast” for success, just like a weatherman or psychic…same thing really.

To keep updated on the latest news on them or other possible future SF shows, I would suggest checking out my Upcoming TV Shows page on Scifi 411.

“Aquaville” aka Untitled Al Gough and Miles Millar

The WB has made a pilot commitment and casting has begun. Who knew that Aquaman’s guest apearance on Smallville would lead to his own spin-off? But spin it has. No title yet, but the word “Aquaman” will never be uttered in the series. (It is rumored that the Producers will cut off the hand of any character who dares speak this cursed word). Producers Al Gough and Miles Millar (Smallville, Spider-Man 2) are creating and executive-producing this action drama series about a twenty something Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman. Greg Beeman (Smallville) will be directing the pilot. Alan Ritchson, the actor who played Curry on Smallville, will not play the role for the series. Which is probably for the best. I thought he did find, but I couldn’t see him being the lead for a series. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one.

"He did a wonderful job on the show, but this is going to be a different version of the 'Aquaman' legend," Gough told Variety . The pilot "will be different than what you saw on Smallville. That was our out-of-town trial version."

The casting call is: "Arthur Curry (aka Aquaman): 18-24 years old. Blond or light brown hair, drop dead handsome with an incredible swimmer's body...SERIES REGULAR" Curry will be able to breath underwater and have super-strength underwater, but he is only just beginning to understand his powers. Millar also told Variety that they hope to create "a grounded version of the Aquaman mythology," focusing on an Arthur Curry, who "knows what he wants to do with his life, which is protect the oceans."

Gough and Millar had actually been considering a Lois Lane series. But "this was the first idea where we really thought we had a franchise, where we could see 100 episodes.” Probably for the best, really. I like Erica Durance as Lois Lane, but I just don’t see how a Lois Lane series would work. Lois Lane without Superman, is like Superman without Lex Luthor.

But Clark has krypto freaks to fight every week. What the heck is Aquadude going to fight?

"There's a mystery surrounding the disappearance of (Curry's) mother and the Bermuda Triangle," Gough told Variety. He added that other weird occurrences related to the Triangle will provide many of the plotlines and Curry will be living with his adopted father.

Oh. Well that sounds kind of interesting. Since I recently saw Scifi Channel’s The Triangle mini-series (which was pretty good by the way), the Triangle spin actually sounds interesting.

Anyway, here is the casting call (who would you pick for these roles?):

[RACHEL STARLING - SERIES REGULAR] 18-24 years old. Rachel is a natural beauty with a radiant face and the perfectly toned body of an athlete. She has a sharp mind and a killer sense of humor. But if you look beyond her warm smile, you'll find something haunted about her. A drowning accident as a teenager has scarred her. While enjoying a "Semester at Sea", the boat capsized and she was stuck below deck. Although she blacked out, that last thing she remembers is being pulled free by a mysterious young boy wearing a seahorse necklace. Rachel comes from a well-heeled New York family. Her father was a successful newspaper editor, but he died when she was 14. She took his death very hard and decided to embark on the "Semester at Sea" as a way of getting over her grief. Her relationship with her mother, an award winning Broadway playwright, has remained strained. Her mother is an ultra liberal and doesn't approve of her joining the military. When she was selected to train at the Liberty Key West Naval Air Station, she achieved her dream of becoming a Top Gun, but she also has to face the fear of returning to the same area as her boating accident. Although there is a mutual attraction between Rachel and A.C., their relationship is complicated by the fact that Rachel is secretly engaged to another naval trainee, JESSE HICKS. Rachel finds herself torn between the safety and security that Jesse offers and the danger and mystery that seem to define A.C.

[JESSE HICKS - SERIES REGULAR] 18-24 years old. He's an incredibly good-looking, Top Gun hot shot. Jesse grew up in suburban Texas and was a high school football star. His father is a decorated three star General who is currently serving in Iraq. Jesse never considered any other career; he always knew he was destined to fight for his country. He fell in love with Rachel the very first time he saw her. Defying the rules, they embarked on a passionate affair. Jesse proposed a few weeks before the pilot episode and Rachel accepted his offer. They have to keep their relationship secret or face possible expulsion from the Top Gun program. Highly ambitious and competitive, Jesse is the kind of guy who wins at any cost. He is also reckless and sometimes dangerously aggressive.

[EVA TORRES - SERIES REGULAR] 18-24 years old. A fiery Cuban beauty. Eva hasn't exactly had an easy life. When she was six she fled Cuba with her family on a raft, which sank a hundred miles off the Florida coast in a devastating storm. She was the sole survivor. Although she was rescued, she has struggled to make a life for herself in America and was bounced from foster family to foster family. It was only when she finally turned 18 that she finally felt free. She came down to the Keys for a short break and never left. She manages a local dive shop, "The Old Man and The Sea" and counts A.C. as one of her best friends. Although they are from wildly different backgrounds they both felt an instant connection. Independent, sarcastic, strong-willed, Eva isn't afraid to express her opinion, even when no one's asking for it.

[MCCAFFERY - SERIES REGULAR] Star Name preferred. It's difficult to say how old McCaffery is. If you were to look at him, you'd probably guess 60ish. But you'd be way off. That's because McCaffery is from Atlantis. Since coming to the surface world, McCaffery has led a largely reclusive life as the lighthouse keeper at Atlas Point. He has watched A.C. grow up from afar, but always knew that one day their lives would intersect. This encounter leads to a long lasting friendship. McCaffery takes A.C. under his wing and explains not only his true origin but also his destiny. He is Obi Wan to A.C.'s Luke Skywalker. He is the voice of wisdom and experience who acts as a guide and mentor to the often hotheaded A.C. McCaffery is always bailing A.C. out of trouble and is someone A.C. can turn to when it comes to all things nautical. Having grown up underwater, McCaffery knows all the myths and legends of the ocean. He's also familiar with the creatures, both known and unknown to man, that inhabit the ocean's dark waters. Highly intelligent and fiercely loyal, McCaffery possesses an acerbic wit and doesn't suffer fools lightly.

[TOM CURRY - SERIES REGULAR] Late 30s to early 40s, A.C.'s stepfather. He was born and raised in Chicago but fell in love with Keys while he was a student at the University of Miami. He was an outstanding athlete and was a member of the gold medal winning US Water Polo team at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics. He joined the Coast Guard in 1986 and has made a good career out of it, rising to the rank of Captain. While he was still a rookie Coast Guard his life took a dramatic turn. While out on a routine night patrol he came across three people bobbing in shark-infested waters -- a woman, a baby and an old man. There was no sign of a boat or plane and the water was mirror still. When he got them back to land he discovered they had no ID and nowhere to go. Taking pity on them, Tom took them home. Tom quickly became enchanted with the beautiful woman, ATLANNA, and her baby son ORIN. Within a year Tom and Atlanna were married and Tom adopted her baby son as his own. They renamed the boy ARTHUR. The old man, McCAFFERY, took a job as the Atlas Point Lighthouse keeper, a position he still holds to this day. As Arthur grew up, Atlanna made Tom promise not to tell him about her connection to McCaffery. He reluctantly agreed.

I give this a 90% chance of being picked up. Reason: Smallville is doing great on the WB this season and “Aquaville” could be an excellent companion series. Plus, there is growing positive buzz about this project. Personally I would have gone with a Flash series, but I’ll give the fish whisperer a try.