Friday, September 07, 2007

Fired Up For 'Torchwood'

Ever since "Doctor Who" spinoff "Torchwood" debuted on the BBC last year, sci-fi fans have been eagerly anticipating seeing it across the pond.

The wait is over. "Torchwood" (BBC America, Sat., 9 p.m.) kicks off Saturday night.

The show is built around two storylines from "Doctor Who" - Torchwood is a super-secret British government agency established by Queen Victoria in the 1880s to combat alien menaces, and the project is currently being led by Capt. Jack Harkness (John Barrowman), a time traveler last scene being killed by the Daleks thousands of years in the future only to be revived by the Doctor's companion, Rose Tyler.

"Torchwood" (an anagram of Doctor Who, by the way) is described as having a more-adult tone than its predecessor, especially since Capt. Jack seems to find himself attracted to pretty much anyone - woman, man or alien.

What "Torchwood" shares most with its predecessor is its sense of whimsy; neither show takes itself too seriously when telling a story, and you get a sense that the cast and crew are having a lot of fun in their work.

You also get a bonus, since BBC America is debuting the second season of "Doctor Who" the same night, beginning at 7 p.m.

CALLIES OUT: TVGuide is reporting that actress Sarah Wayne Callies, who played Michael's love interest on "Prison Break," is done with the show. Her name is no longer on the credits, and a body double is used in the one scene she does appear. Callies is pregnant, so she would have had to leave the show for a stretch, but the reports are that this is a permanent move. ....

"Bionic Woman" and producer Glen Morgan ("The X-Files") have parted ways, not a good sign for a show that basically had to re-shoot its pilot and recast certain characters. Considering that David Eick ("Battlestar Galactica") is still running things, I still have high hopes for this show, but it'd be nice to hear some positive news from the set these days. ...

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Speaking of "Doctor Who" (Sci-Fi, 8 p.m.), the second part of a two-parter that began two weeks ago airs tonight. Probably not Sci-Fi's best move to air a break between the two parts. It's followed by new episodes of "Flash Gordon" and "Painkiller Jane."

With the U.S. Open down to its final rounds, USA's schedule returns to normal tonight with new episodes of "Monk" and "Psych" at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., respectively.

If fashion is your thing, "Fashion Rocks" (CBS, 9 p.m.) is a mix of pop music stars and the latest trends in fashion.

On Sunday, HBO is all-new with the season debuts of "Tell Me You Love Me" (HBO, 9 p.m.) and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" (HBO, 10 p.m.) I reviewed both shows earlier, giving high marks to "Curb." I was pretty disappointed with "Tell Me," but this is one of those shows you should probably watch for yourself and judge. They are followed by the documentary, "Alive Day Memories: Home From Iraq" (HBO, 10:30 p.m.), a moving documentary about troops who were wounded in Iraq and what their lives have been like since returning.

"Mystery" brings back a new series of "Inspector Lynley Mysteries" (PBS, 10 p.m.), which has been one of my favorite imports from across the pond.


Jonathan said...

I'm really looking forward to "Bionic Woman," and the Morgan news is a bit distressing. However, I haven't been a huge fan of Morgan for awhile (His movies for the most part have been terrible, and his last few years on "X-Files" weren't very memorable times for the series). And at least this happened before the show started airing; we're not going to have a "Commander in Chief" type shake-up six episodes into the season. Seems like there has been more producers leaving new shows this season than I can ever remember. It's a curious thing.

Not that I have much hope for season 3 of "Prison Break," I always found Calles to be a fairly bland and uninteresting character on the series, so this could actually be a good thing. I've heard a lot of people say that the second season (The DVD came out a couple of weeks ago) plays a lot better watching the episodes in a couple of sittings. I'm not curious enough to find out, but I found it an interesting observation nonetheless. A lot of shows of this type do tend to play out better in the DVD format, which I think is also a reason that a lot more shows are being made with season long story arcs.

UPN and CW for example had terrible airing schedules for new episodes of "Veronica Mars" which make the DVD compliations all that more exciting to own. The 2nd season, which was convoluted enough without having to go three weeks between new episodes, turned out to be a lot better when I sat down for a weekend and watched it all over again. I love what shows like "Lost" and "24" are doing by airing their seasons in a back-to-back style. We have to wait a little longer to see them, but I think it plays out better in the long run. I've always thought dividing the network schedules into three parts (Fall/Winter, Winter/Spring, and Summer) would be a great way to do it. You could still keep your single story episode shows the same as always like most sitcoms and procedural dramas. This is basically what cable stations like HBO, Showtime, USA, and F/X have been doing, and I think it's brilliant. The chances of this happening are less than a playoff system in college football, but it's a good idea.

Phillip Ramati said...

Morgan's brother, Darin, wrote some of the best episodes of the X-Files, but I also find Glen's work so-so. But you're correct, better the switch now than in midseason. Still, with the show set to debut in less than a month, it's a lot of change in a short time, which usually isn't a good sign.

I'm not a huge PB fan, either, and won't miss Calles that much. But it does leave a huge hole in the Michael storyline.

zodin2008 said...

A quick hello from the last leg of my vacation, Portland, Oregon.

I am excited as well about the premier of "Bionic" and as for the Eick vs. Morgan creative tiff, give me the guy who just made "Battlestar Galactica" one of the best shows ever, vs. the guy who contributed as much to bad seasons of "X Files" as good seasons - along with many other failures.

I am glad Eick is with the show - he's the one that matters.

Jonathan said...

Darrin Morgan was the man on "X-Files." He wrote two of the best episodes (The Host and Jose Chungs From Outer Space). I wonder whatever happend to that guy.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't get any better than "Curb." Black log cake, anyone?

Phillip Ramati said...

I'm never, ever sharing pastries with Larry David, Anon. :-)

Chester's Cat said...

David Eick is a corporate puppet with self-indulgence oozing out his anal cavity. Bionic Woman with a writer the caliber of Glen Morgan might have succedded, but now it will most likey be mindless action with hopeless one-liners.

Phillip Ramati said...

Well, Chester, no love for the Eick-ster. I see Eick and Ronald Moore doing great work on BSG, and hopefully it will carry over to Bionic. (I just got the revised pilot in the mail today, so we will see if the changes made to the show improved it.)

Morgan's work on the X-Files was inconsistent. Some of the episodes he wrote with James Wong were good, some not so much. His brother Darin was the show's top writer IMO, writing many of the classics.