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by Lynnette Porter

4 Jan 2011


Torchwood: The New World

January is a time of promised fresh beginnings and new resolutions, for television executives and series creators as well as the rest of us. SF fans can only hope programmers’ and promoters’ resolutions go something like this:  “I resolve to support and promote highly anticipated TV series long enough for them to gather a fan base, to make sure my episodes and miniseries live up to all the hype generated by Comic-Con panels, and to value the existing fan base just as much as any new audiences I want to conquer.“ Whether you’re one of those greenlighting a series, thinking up new characters and apocalyptic experiences in which to embroil them, or taking a “snow day” to catch a series’ premiere or marathon, January ushers in a hopeful new year of original as well as re-imagined SF projects.

Before viewers resolve to watch or avoid new SF offerings, they might want to look carefully at the packaging. Among the shiny new series are also remakes and pilots being “re-gifted” to a new audience. Of course, some intriguing, unique characters deserve to keep coming back from the dead, but the industry also must initiate truly new ideas that, one day, will be worthy of being re-imagined for a future generation of SF fans.

Five series promised for a 2011 US debut on Syfy or Starz—Being Human, Alphas, Three Inches, Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome, and Torchwood: The New World—will be making SF headlines in January as they premiere, begin filming, or learn their scheduling fate. They also indicate the state of SF in a cable-friendly US market.

by Melissa Crawley

16 Dec 2010


In 2010, television brought us cops in Hawaii, bikers in California, British investigators and a different kind of situation at the Jersey shore. The shows on this year’s list however, gave us more than a few intriguing characters. They questioned our concept of family, tested our tolerance for violence and challenged our traditional notions of good and evil. One just gave us a weekly glimpse of paradise which is always a good thing.  Here are the Top 10 Television Shows of 2010:

by Nathan Pensky

9 Dec 2010


One of the great strengths of television as a storytelling device is its episodic, yet indefinitely framed sense of time. Television’s season format allows for longer-form storytelling, longer still for stories that span the length of an entire series, while individual episodes allow for more focused moments. The viewer experiences narrative time both in measurements of years and the present moment.
 
This effect of story experienced both in the long and the short term is evident especially in shows that do not slavishly follow a timeline, but instead shake things up through flashback or dream sequence, as in Twin Peaks and The Sopranos, or in allowing longer periods to suspend between picking back up at the beginning of a season, as with Battlestar Gallactica and Mad Men. One of the most inventive uses of the return from “summer break” at the beginning of a season was the addition of Dawn in the Season 5 premiere of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The sudden appearance of the Dawn character was instantly disorienting, but also interestingly significant of television’s standard practice of haphazardly inserting previously unknown characters into established narrative worlds.

by Melissa Crawley

7 Dec 2010


Sons of Anarchy is a family drama. Well, it’s a dysfunctional family drama where the family is a California motorcycle club and their business is gun running. Like many families, the Sons share meals, celebrate births and mourn deaths. They also shoot people, drink a lot and party with strippers and porn stars.

This season they take a family vacation to Ireland to visit S.O.A.—Belfast edition. We know it’s Ireland because everyone speaks with a really thick Irish accent and the Irish version of the clubhouse looks like the one in their hometown of Charming, only with overcast skies. Also, what would a trip to Ireland be without the IRA and a morally bankrupt priest? Both make strong appearances in season three as the M/C searches for the son of one of the Sons—Jackson ‘Jax’ Teller’s (Charlie Hunnam) kidnapped baby Abel.

by Lynnette Porter

3 Dec 2010


In the past year, several Sherlocks have arrived on the scene, most notably Robert Downey Jr.’s action hero and the BBC’s sociopathic sleuth, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, who recently made his way to the US via PBS.  If the current flavor isn’t to one’s taste, other varieties are readily available. Sherlocks have trod the boards in London, entertained crowds at fringe festivals, and taken on a dinosaur on “mockbuster” Asylum’s DVD.

Although fascination with Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s brilliant creation seems to be more fashionable than ever, the way Sherlock is portrayed says as much about today’s audiences as about this timeless character. In an age when opinion, rather than objective analysis of fact, seems to permeate everything online or onscreen, from supposedly hardcore journalism to reality-based entertainment, a character who dispassionately analyzes evidence and deduces logical conclusions is a welcome change. The latest incarnation, called Sherlock, certainly provides a way of looking at the world far differently than through the emotional filters and ratings-grabbing sensationalism bombarding viewers 24/7. This Sherlock is more single-mindedly focused than the most dedicated member of CSI, and deftly solves the requisite mystery, but Sherlock, more than the typical whodunit, gives viewers more to figure out.

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