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Friday, Jan 21, 2011
Syfy might have to imagine greater to distinguish their series from the BBC’s, but they’ve chosen a worthwhile story and seem to be committed to a high-quality production. Is Being Human a story worth being told twice, especially when the remake premieres days before the original’s third season? Yes.

Being Human sometimes involves suffering déjà vu. Fans of the cult-fave British series might focus on a few nitpicks or Britpicks, because they already know the plot of Syfy’s latest series. More important, though, the story didn’t get lost in translation, and the human dramas of the series’ protagonists—vampire, werewolf, and ghost—are well worth exploring, again or for the first time.


Fans of the British Being Human, now slated for a late-January premiere on BBC, already know the story, for the American series often matches the original scene for scene. A few details have been changed and the story somewhat compressed so that the pace of Syfy’s first episode is very fast indeed. It’s as if the writers assume that at least part of their audience already knows the plot and is busy making comparisons with the British version (which I found myself doing, despite my best intentions not to). Those with no prior expectations for characters or stories should be particularly intrigued—and those who know the plot will still find a lesbian kiss here, a Bon Jovi reference there that differs from the original script.


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Tuesday, Jan 4, 2011
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.

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.


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Tuesday, Dec 7, 2010
Sons of Anarchy took a trip to Ireland this season for a biker version of Banged Up Abroad.

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.


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Friday, Dec 3, 2010
The modern Sherlock Holmes is so compelling because he is a modern intellectual appealing to audiences who, for the most part, live in a world dissociated from intellectualism.

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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Thursday, Nov 18, 2010
The appeal of The Millionaire Matchmaker is that instead of just watching crash and burn date moments, you also get to watch Patti verbally lay out her clients.

The fourth season of The Millionaire Matchmaker, takes Patti Stanger and her matchmaking assistants from Los Angeles to New York City. While the location has changed, not much else has. There are still millionaires looking for love and awkward on-camera attempts at romance. Patti continues her firing squad approach to the line-up of potential dates for her millionaires, verbally shooting down men and women who don’t meet her grooming standards. They’re too tall, too short, too hairy, too bald, too fat, too frumpy. Patti is the dating dictator which makes the show less about unraveling the mysteries of finding your perfect match and more about Patti herself. In every episode Patti yells, scolds, grumbles or whines. For a woman who is supposed to be all about love, Patti is one stressed cupid.


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