Entry for February 06, 2009: “SciFriday” and rivals

"SciFriday" used to be a marketing campaign by the SciFi Channel for so-called appointment television around shows such as Stargate SG1 and Farscape. Before that, Fox briefly ruled the genre TV roost in the 1990s with The X-Files and shorter-lived companions such as Space: Above and Beyond.

More recently, there has been an embarrassment of riches for fans, despite worries of a dearth of quality programming. Those who like comic book superheroes have the charmingly campy Batman and the Brave and the Bold and the mutant melodrama of Wolverine and the X-Men, which draws on its cartoon predecessors.

Space opera enthusiasts have the computer-animated Star Wars: the Clone Wars, which has expanded George Lucas' universe with a nice balance of action and character development (and even a cameo by the original Star Trek's George Takei). I've criticized the revisionist Battlestar Galactica, but the postapocalyptic military show will have a spin-off in Caprica.

Speaking of darker dramas, Terminator: the Sarah Connor Chronicles is moving to Fridays, paired with Dollhouse, from Buffy: the Vampire Slayer and Angel creator Joss Whedon. I hope that Dollhouse will be more successful in terms of ratings than Whedon's space western Firefly/Serenity.

On a lighter note, I enjoy the bumbling sleuths on Psych, which manages to allude to 1980s popular culture even more than similar slacker comedies Chuck, Reaper, or the late, lamented Middleman. Psych is paired with the similar but even more quirky Monk.

The SciFi Channel and the Cartoon Network, like many of their cable siblings, have drifted from their core missions/audiences, with SciFi airing wrestling and schlocky "reality" shows and Cartoon veering into live-action. Fortunately, competition from USA, BBC America, and Nickelodeon has kept enough good programming alive.

Even with casting changes, I look forward to the eventual return of the British speculative fiction trifecta of Doctor Who, Torchwood, and The Sarah Jane Adventures. Canadian cryptozoology show Sanctuary was also decent in its first season, with cameos by alumni of swashbuckling fantasy Highlander: the Series.

Fridays also conflict with my multiplayer online gaming with David I.S., Dexter V.H., and other friends. But that's not all! With the return of spy spoof Chuck and metahuman ensemble Heroes, Mondays are busy (but conflict with my D&D4e "Vanished Lands: the Faith-Based Initiative" fantasy game).

It has been difficult to catch up on recorded programming on Tuesdays because of the conspiratorial Fringe, do-gooder capers of Leverage, and the soon-to-return Reaper. I've enjoyed Nero Wolfe's Timothy Hutton leading a crew of grifters on Leverage, which is reminiscent of the original Mission Impossible or the BBC's Hustle (or The Sting, one of my favorite movies of all time).

This season, the remainder of the week is relatively quiet for me, with only angsty (but increasingly faithful to the comics) Smallville on Thursdays and retro cool Spectacular Spider-Man and middling fantasy Legend of the Seeker on Saturdays. This coming weekend, Janice and I will be getting our taxes done, going to a classical music concert in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and watching the Westminster dog show, among other things.

Coming soon: Food and other fun!