Needless to say, recent events have knocked the fall TV schedule totally out of whack. Premiere dates have been moved back, terrorism-tinged plots are being reworked, and no one in America wanted to watch last week’s sizzling finale of Big Brother 2 … OK, the last one wasn’t the least bit unexpected, regardless of world events.
Who can think about stupid television shows at a time like this? Believe me, after two weeks of around-the-clock bad news, you need a little escapism right damn now. Reality TV has been taken to an ugly new level, making the “contestants” on programs like Survivor and Fear Factor look even more like whining pussies. Bring on the un-reality, and fast.
James Cameron’s epic sci-fi soap opera Dark Angel (Fox; returns Friday, Sept. 28) narrowly escaped the realities of network accounting at the end of last season, being renewed despite the freshman show’s infamous money-sucking production costs. It takes some serious scratch to make a 100 pound, size 2 waifette look like a butt-kickin’ superbabe of the post-apocalypse, you know.
When last we left Dark Angel, said superbabe Max Guevara (Jessica Alba) was dead—or at least so her magnificently unshaven boyfriend, crusading “cyberjournalist” Logan Cale (Alba’s real-life fiancé Michael Weatherly), was led to believe. Evil nemesis Lydecker (John Savage) had actually pulled a fast one to get Max back into Manticore, the genetic research lab/very intense orphanage she escaped from all those years ago. While Logan grieved for his pouty-lipped powerpuff girl, Max was really on her way back to the clandestine Manticore HQ in Wyoming. Dead … Wyoming … there’s a joke here somewhere.
In the Season 2 opener, after resisting Manticore’s repeated attempts at reprogramming (oh no!) and breeding (eww!), Max makes her expected escape from the clutches of Lydecker and—they actually call her this—Madame X (Nana Visitor), burning that mother down and setting free a gaggle of fellow genetic super-soldier experiments in the process. According to Fox, all of these new play pals have their own “unique abilities, physical appearance and hidden powers and proficiencies.” Hmmm, sounds as suspiciously close to last year’s Fox-produced X-Men movie as Mutant X, a new syndicated sci-fi series currently under legal fire from the company, but we’re veering off into serious geek territory here.
Meanwhile, Logan is so over Max that he’s now eyeing fresh hottie Asha (Ashley Scott), a fellow revolutionary sweetheart in the fight against whatever it is they’re fighting against in 2019 Seattle (possibly the Experience Music Project’s proposed Crazy Town wing). And Max is hanging with Manticore homie Joshua (Kevin Durand), a human-canine DNA splice who, amazingly, is still less hairy than Logan. Once reunited, however, Max and Logan discover a nefarious secret that may keep them apart forever. Hint: It isn’t Logan’s disturbingly extensive Liza Minelli DVD collection.
Dark Angel’s producers say the action will be kicked up a notch or 12 this year, a welcome contrast to the first season’s frequent refusal to put out and throw down the martial-arts mayhem Max is capable of in favor of personal politics and (big) lip service. Less talk, more rock, and Alba’s leather outfits are apparently getting smaller and sluttier—competing against Providence, Sabrina and The Ellen Show in this new Friday timeslot shouldn’t be much of a problem.
Kindred hipless überfemme Buffy the Vampire Slayer (UPN; returns Tuesday, Oct. 2) was also pronounced dead ‘n’ gone at the end of last season, even though phantom network UPN had just bought the show away from The WB for a cool zillion dollars. Dead … UPN … there’s a joke here somewhere.
(Good news for Salt Lake and Provo viewers: KPNZ 24 finally upgraded its signal last weekend, so you might actually be able to witness the return of Buffy before UPN goes out of business.)
Due to my ongoing non-communication with UPN, I don’t have much to report about the critical darling’s sixth season beyond this: Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) will rise again (duh), another Scooby Gang member is possibly going to die for real later in the season (odds are on Anya … damn), and there’s an all-musical episode coming in November (we’re talkin’ operatic genius if both happen in the same show).
The uninitiated who may be wondering if the Buffy-equals-genius hype is for real would do well to check out the nightly reruns which have just started on FX, as well as in syndication on the weekends. Buffy the Vampire Slayer really is that good, the best show a hell of a lot of people have never seen. Moving to the Unavailable Product Network won’t change that, but the resulting media storm has attracted mucho-needed attention to a spectacularly written action-drama-comedy that was consistently proving itself years before The West Wing came along.
Yes, Buffy is better than The West Wing—how’s that for some unreality?