Friday, June 20, 2008

In Praise Of The Grand Moff

Trying to break into the screenwriting business myself, there are certain writers who always get me jazzed when I know there names are going be in the credits.

As TV writers go, the UK's Steven Moffat is one of those guys. I'd put him in that rare category of TV's best, right up there with the likes of Joss Whedon, Aaron Sorkin and Shawn Ryan, to name but a few.

Moffat has made a name for himself in recent years, thanks to his phenomenal miniseries "Jekyll" that ran on BBC America last summer, and his work on "Doctor Who," contributing such classics as "Blink" and my all-time favorite, "Girl in the Fireplace."

Moffat is one of those rare writers who can blend humor, tragedy, romance and action, all within the same 42-minute span.

I bring Moffat up for two reasons. First, he was tapped by the BBC to take over the showrunning duties for "Doctor Who" from Russell T. Davies, who has shepherded the series since its relaunch in 2005. Most fans of the series have been pretty excited by the news. While Davies is a good writer (I think), Moffat is in a whole other weight class.

The second reason is that tonight's episode (Sci-Fi, 9 p.m.) is penned by Moffat, a two-parter called "Silence of the Library"/"Forest of the Dead." The episodes are among the best of the entire series, as Moffat deftly mixes humor and horror, creating a tale that will keep viewers on the edge of their seats. It also doesn't hurt that the guest cast includes Colin Salmon and Alex Kingston.

It's always nice to see a master at work.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Get a bunch of good-looking teenagers together, add a bunch of musical numbers and dance routines, and turn it into a TV movie. That's the formula Disney used to turn the "High School Musical" franchise into one of the most popular in the history of television.

We'll see if lightning strikes again as the Mouse presents "Camp Rock" (Disney, 8 p.m.), starring the Jonas Brothers as campers at a musical summer camp. If Disney can get even half the audience for "Camp" as it did for "HSM," expect to see "Camp Rock 2" by early next year.

ABC is presenting the Daytime Emmy Awards (ABC, 8 p.m.), also known as the Emmys that I don't handicap. It's followed by a rerun of the pilot of "MVP" at 10 p.m., for those of you who didn't catch it on SoapNet Thursday night.

On Saturday, "Robin Hood" (BBC America, 9 p.m.) is new as Marian has to adjust to life in the forest.

Those of you expecting to see Georgia continue its College World Series romp on Friday will have to wait until Saturday (ESPN2, 2 p.m.) thanks to rain in Omaha. The Bulldogs get set to face Stanford.

On Sunday, Alan Cumming takes over as the host for "Masterpiece: Mystery" (PBS, 9 p.m.), which will present the new "Inspector Lewis" series, featuring the former sidekick (Kevin Whatley) from the old "Inspector Morse" mysteries.

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