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Hoses of the Holy in the Parallel Universe

January 16, 2006

Top Telly - news for the goggle-eyed

There's so much new stuff on at the moment that it's hard to keep up with, so here's a roundup.

We've already covered Invasion and Life on Mars.

Surface, which is about some kind of strange marine life (the monsters look like artist's impressions of Nessie) looked quite promising, though an awful lot happened in the first episode, so I'm afraid they're going to run out of plot. According to the Radio Times, we've seen the first of 11 so far, and 11 is suspiciously like a number you might get if something was cancelled halfway through. That said, the first seasons of Buffy and Seinfeld were very short, so maybe the big networks are just more conservative.

Anyway, the premise is that Something Big and Strange is lurking in the deep deep depths of the deep blue sea, but that something has caused it to come to the surface. OR it arrived from another place: an Invasion-style meteor shower suggested the latter. Between Invasion and Surface, I think that people who fall asleep in front of the telly (mentioning no names) are going to get very confused. Political Correctness score? 3/10 for having one, minor, light brown-skinned character.

Sleepwalkers was something different. Researchers who are no longer attached to a University (hints of a scandal at Stanford) have discovered a way of synchronising dreamers' deep REM cycles (oh, they've discovered a deeper form of REM sleep, too), which means that they can enter people's dreams. For, er, you know, research purposes. Who's paying for it, I don't know. Anyway, apparently this means they can talk to people who are in a coma, or help people solve psychological problems. One of the sleepwalkers is an expert in dream symbolism, and another one is, er, a twat.

First episode, they help an African American pilot with a mysterious illness - 10/10 for political correctness, because they then ask him to join their team. Qualifications? Not required, apparently. Anyway, it was all very cod-horror, not suitable for the under 10s, and I'm not sure how it will pan out, because horror clich├ęs (this week: the shadowy figure without a face) are a bit dull.

The OC, ER, and Smallville all kicked off again. I probably won't want The OC, because the "soundtrack album available soon" which constantly plays under/over the dialogue gets on my nerves. ER is still top, because Maura Tierney is still in it, but we'll see how it goes. Sally from 3rd Rock from the Sun makes an appearance in the 3rd episode. Smallville still has Kristen Kreuk in it, but I mainly watch to see how far they push the envelope of the Superman back-story.

Half-hour programmes hardly seem worth an appointment to watch, but new comedy My Name is Earl on Channel 4 is a good laugh. Jason Lee plays a ne'er-do-well who wins $100k on a scratchcard, loses the card, and then decides to put right all the bad things he has done in life. It's blue-collar comedy in the tradition of Roseanne and Grace Under Fire.

This week sees new Desperate Housewives, new House, and a new British SF thing on ITV1, Eleventh Hour, starring Patrick Stewart. But because it's British it's only 4 episodes, so not a major life commitment. The schizophrenic Crossing Jordan is on Tuesdays instead of Thursdays (as it was before xmas - I call it schizophrenic, because sometimes it's as good as a funny episode of The X Files, and sometimes it's kinda pants), and there's a load of other stuff, which I can't possibly get around to watching, unless someone wants to offer me a full-time job as a TV critic. There's one night of the week, I think you could easily enjoy watching something at 9 pm on any of - no exaggeration - 6 channels, possibly more.


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