Wednesday, 26 November 2008

I've been using the Acer Advent 4211 for a couple of months now and it's time to see if this little subnotebook is worth the money.
Acer Advent 4211
It's common knowledge that this is the exact same hardware as the MSI Wind U100 but in the UK the Dixons Sales Group (which includes PC World outlets) have lowered the retail price from £350 rrp for the MSI badged version to £279 rrp. I got lucky on a managers deal and managed to buy mine for £218.
So what did I get for my money ? A decent subnote with a 10" screen, 1GB RAM, 80GB hard drive (NOT flash), an Atom N270 CPU and a workable keyboard. There's much to love about this little critter. The CPU proved suprisingly efficient at crunching and rendering videos, the most CPU intensive task I do on a regular basis. The display is crisp and the backlight powerful, it's very light and its small formfactor makes it emminently portable, I could almost fit this into a large coat pocket, almost but not quite. The battery life is decent too, I've gotten two and a half hours out of it before now and I wasn't going easy on it either.
It's a tricky little machine though. The memory, drive space, keyboard and the supplied O/S (Win XP) often fool you into thinking you've got a fullblown laptop on your hands, but you keep banging into various brickwalls that remind you that this is a subnote at the end of the day. There's no optical drive, okay I can live without that but it has presented a few challenges in the past two months. There's only three USB ports which are often filled with an MP3 device, a memory stick and an external mouse. The big bugbear for me though was the display, and it's my own stupid fault. The screen's max resolution is 1024x600, it's mentioned in just about every place that reviews this machine but I kinda overlooked it. It's a handicap of unexpected signifigance.
A lot of my favourite apps and games (I know it's not a gaming rig but I figured turn based strategy games should be okay) won't run on this non-standard resolution, expecting 1024x768 as a minimum. I can bump up the rez on the graphics card to that no problem, but the screen itself won't run higher than 1024x600 which means I've got to drag the desktop around the viewing area to run these apps. Of course it makes gameplaying a huge hassle unless I can find something that'll run at 800x600 and say hello to 1995 again.
So why is the screen so small ? Take a look at the picture above, see that round dot in the middle of the top bezel ? That's a webcam, not a very good one either, but I reckon housing that crappy little camera caused a designer to shrink the screen size to accomodate it. That's my missing 168 pixels right there, that's what stopping this machine running at a standard resolution.
There's a few other gripes too; it runs pretty hot at times, the cooling fans take care of it but why would they kick in when I'm just browsing a single static web page in Firefox ? There's nothing exotic or power hungry running in the backround, indexing's been disabled as has system restore and yet the fans they do still whir and whizz.
The speaker output is incredibly puny, even with a battery powered external speaker you can struggle to catch all the dialogue from a TV show or movie. The keyboard controls for the speaker volume act oddly, when there's no AV apps running they'll control the system volume, but fire up Media Player Classic or (god forbid) WMP and they'll adjust the applications volume, not the systems. Odd and annoying.
It's a subnote so maybe I shouldn't bitch about this, but the only way to use Pg Up / Down, Home and End functions is by holding down the Fn key along with the appropriate arrow keys. It results in some quite contorted finger gymnastics when browsiing or editing, SHIFT-CTRL-END becomes Fn-SHIFT-CTRL-END as an example.
The 4211 comes with 1GB RAM on board and a single memory expansion slot, it only supports a max of 2GB RAM and in order to fit an upgrade you have to remove the entire backplate, which according to Acer invalidates your warranty. In their defense though, I've read a few blogs where customers have had to do this, something's gone pear shaped and they've had to return the unit to Acer, who to their credit haven't been anal about it.

Pros & Cons time

Very light and small form factor, ideal travelling companion in that respect
Decent battery life
Reasonable keyboard
80GB drive and 1GB RAM
Bright and crisp display
CPU performance well above expectations

Lousy screen resolution, apparently sacrificed in favour of a VGA webcam.....
Runs a litte hot
Needs a couple more USB ports
Pathetic speakers
Touchpad is overly sensitive at default settings

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Thursday, 26 July 2007

Jamie Sommers vs Sarah Connor

I've just seen the pilots for the new Bionic Woman and The Sarah Connor Chronicles, they both made for interesting viewing and there's enough common ground between them to invite some comparisons.

The 21st century Bionic Woman doesn't share much DNA with her 1970s ancestor. Our Jamie tends bar for a living, dates a professor, Will, ten years her senior and looks after her younger deaf sister. The sister's part will be rewritten for transmission, this was a pre-air copy we were reviewing, and she probably won't be deaf. 

I started off writing a plot synopsis but they'll be all over the 'net by now, so let's get to the real deal and find out if it's any good.

Watching this I got the feeling it was trying to epic. It was a small to medium story being stretched over a big canvas. David Eick and Glen Morgan have a track record of producing darkly epic stories, this one's certainly dark, well gritty anyway, but the stage is a little small for the epic grandeur of Battlestar Galactica or the quasi-mythology of the X-Files / Millennium.

That's not to say it was bad, I enjoyed it, but I wanted more and not in a good way. In the background of Jamie's tale of coming to terms with what she's become, shadowy players moved across a murky chessboard. There's a lot of backstory to be revealed here and Jamie doesn't know any of it which makes it hard for the audience to empathise with her situation. This is a story that tugs the brain and not the heart, that might well be it's undoing.

The mysterious machinations rumble on but the 'A' plot basically has Jamie in what boils down to a bionic powered catfight with Sara Corvus, the first bionic woman who's now gone rogue. It's trying to be epic, but it's not.

I think GEP have forgotten that part of the appeal of the 70s Bionic Family was its sense of fun. No matter preachy or patriotic they got, Austin and Sommers always got to flex their bionics and give some bad guys an ass kickin'.

Perversely I do like this show and would dearly like to see its various plot strands unwind to clarity. Jamie's rite of passage was the hook that got me watching but it's the backstory that'll keep me following the show.


Now we come to the Sarah Connor Chronicles. I was expecting to be a tad frustrated with this show, how wrong I was.

Like all three films in the Terminator series it adjusts its dates to conform with the times its viewed in, fanboys may weep but this makes sense to keep the franchise current. As the story's set between the 2nd and 3rd movies there wouldn't seem to be a lot of room for plot development so I wasn't really looking forward to this.

Kudos then to Josh Friedman who managed to write a plausible story that'll keep all but most anal of fans happy and bring a newly revived Terminator story bang up to date.  I'm sooo tempted to reveal how he does this, but if you ain't seen it yet I'm afraid it would be too much of a spoiler.

Fanboys aside this is a joyous romp through the Terminator universe. Some nice homages to the movies are there along with some iconic moments the series is making on it's own. Summer Glau, Lena Headey and Thomas Dekker sitting side by side, naked, in a pickup truck is just one. This is fun and yet it manages to hold a sense pf being an epic story without really trying, if you ignore the slightly annoying monologues from Headey / Connor that is.


Bionic Woman felt as though it was trying to be credible and struggled to be so. Sarah Connor on the other hand just feels like the creators are asking the audience to join their party and manages credibility in spite of that. I hope Bionic Woman lives long enough at least to last out a full season, Michelle Ryan is deeply impressive as Jamie Sommers and the supporting cast are almost pitch perfect.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles though might well be lightning in a bottle. I'm looking forward to Jamie's further adventures but I'm champing at the bit to see Sarah's.

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Saturday, 7 July 2007

The Tate Hate Support Group

While the Americans were waking up to the sound of fireworks and general merry making on the 4th of July this year, a very different sound could be heard in Britain. If you listened really carefully you might just have caught the thud of tens of thousands of jaws hitting the floor. Perhaps you heard a muttered "Oh no..." or an indignant "They can't be serious!" This is the day when Dr Who fans everywhere woke up to the news that Catherine Tate had been cast as The Doctor's regular traveling companion for the fourth series of the new Dr Who.

The Russell T. Davies Publicity Department, formerly known as the BBC, announced that the "comedic" actress would be reprising her role as Donna, the Runaway Bride from the show's 2006 Xmas special, because apparently she was such a hit last time. No honestly. I'm being serious. Incidentally this is definitive proof that trans-dimensional travel is possible, because in my world her performance was almost universally panned and only Mr Davies' most ardent apologists could muster anything approaching even a lukewarm response to her appearance.

Dr Who as we know it is dead and has been since the end of Davies' first season as ruling deity on the show.In all honesty the BBC should rebrand this series as "Russell T Davies' Dr Who", they've obviously lost all creative oversight and in its current incarnation it's about as far removed from the classic series as boy bands are from Beethoven.

"RTD's Dr Who" is ignoring most of the rules that helped make the original show the longest running SF series the world has ever seen. When he cast Tate he ignored what was probably the most important dictum from that era.

The companions are the most important part of the show.

They're more important than the TARDIS, the Daleks or any of the monsters and baddies. They're more important than the alien planets or even the character of the Doctor himself.

The series' both old and new have gone through phases where the TARDIS wasn't featured. The stories have been Earthbound for years at a time and yet the show flourished. At the height of "Dalekmania" in the 60s about half the stories were historical dramas, rubber tentacles, tin foil robots and Lego spaceships didn't get a look in. The Doctor was hardly on screen for the most highly praised story of the last season. The much lauded "flexible format" of the show can take all these changes and still deliver some cracking television, it's the audience that decides if a show is successful.

The viewers watch the show through the eyes of the companion. We identify with them, we share their sense of wonder and excitement. It's their perils that thrill us the most. They ask the questions that we want answered. They're our conduit to the worlds of Dr Who. So it really is vitally important for the success of the show that we have companions that we're sympathetic with, in a nutshell we should enjoy their company as much as the Doctor.

The show has had unpopular companions in the past, and the ratings have always dipped as a result. Jon Pertwee's era started off with relatively low ratings. Yet there was a new Doctor, the show was in colour for the first time and the stories centered around the popular UNIT concept, viewing figures should've been at their highest. His companion at the time, Liz Shaw, was a physics scientist intended to be the Doctor's intellectual equal, but the audience couldn't identify easily with her and the ratings stayed low. When her character was replaced with the much ditzier but more lovable Jo Grant, ratings started to climb, peaking at an incredible 25% improvement over Shaw's season.

It takes time to make that recovery though, years in fact. When the original series was canceled in 1989 ratings were actually starting to trend upwards slightly, the companion at the time, Ace, was popular with viewers and critics, who'd had to endure years of the spectacularly unpopular Mel (Bonnie Langford) and Peri (Nicola Bryant).

Tate's previous outing as Donna was almost universally detested so it's not as if her character or her take on the role are unknown quantities. As an actress her range is limited to shouty chav type characters, a sort of nightmare guest at a wedding reception.

Ah but this is New Dr Who isn't it ? We've got to move with the times, the companions have to reflect that, don't they ? Nope, not at all. Only six of Patrick Troughton's twenty one stories had contemporary companions. Tom Baker, the most popular Doctor ever, went for four and a half of his seven years in the role with companions from the far future or who were out-and-out aliens. When Dr Who tries to show that it's trendy and with-it, it usually fails, and those stories are the ones that go past their sell-by date first. Did we have a punk companion in the 70s or a skinhead in the 80s ?

We should spare a thought for Freema Agyeman who played Martha Jones. She's the one who's being replaced and for no sensible reason. She's a talented actress who's shown a maturity beyond her years and managed to wring decent performances out of the oft times woeful scripts she's had to work with. She's not leaving entirely, she will feature as recurring character in the fourth season's later episodes, but at the end of the day I can only imagine her sense of confusion and disappointment. She did everything right, pressed all the right buttons and jumped through all the right hoops, and she still gets kicked in the teeth for it.

We'll finish this by speculating why this decision was made. We know RTD is leaving next season, David Tennant has also said that he knows when he'll be leaving and it's an odds on bet it'll be next year. We also know that RTD has not been best pleased with the reactions of the fans, the dwindling viewing figures or the distinct lack of awards now that the honeymoon season is over.

His attitude to the fans of the classic show has been dismissive and borderline arrogant in interviews, he's been quoted as saying"if they don't get it that's just tough." So I'm speculating that this is a scorched earth policy that Davies' is operating. When he leaves the franchise will be in tatters, Dr Who will be a parody of its former self. He's probably hoping that history will look kindly on his tenure and focus on the first year or two, picking out the gems. If that's his aim then he's ignoring one other lesson from the classic series, we have long memories.

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Monday, 25 June 2007

Sci-Fi Now #3 - What Works and What Doesn't

Another month, another issue of Imagine's new SF title, and as day follows night, another review.

The Letters pages were very entertaining, on the face of it identical to the letters pages in almost every other genre mag, but SFN's seemed sparkier. Much fun to be had here.

The news section, Launch, does pretty much what it says on the tin, nothing new for fans tracking their faves online, but a lot to be learned anyway, we go into more detail here.

The Convention Report was a four page whopper on the Bristol Comics Expo and we liked this a lot. You got the feeling there wasn't all that much happening there but SFN made the most of it and wrote it up with some genuine enthusiasm. Even if cons aren't your thing this was a good read anyway.

The Spoilers pages again give you what it says on the tin. Four pages giving you detailed rundowns on Lost, Jericho, Heroes and Smallville. I really wish they'd include some sort of ratings but the synopsises are so detailed you can easily draw your own conclusions. Maybe that's a better way to go ?

New Series gives us a four page dissection of The Dresden Files. For a show that I'd written off after the pilot I found this informative and entertaining. I may just give this series a second look.

The Op-Eds were mixed, Danny Graydon's look at the UK scene probably could've been condensed into a single paragraph, a bit meh to be honest. Gray Nicholson's look at how our colonial cousins are faring was a much better read, I think his piece on the afterlife in American TV overlooked one point though, 9/11. Is it a coincidence that since that day a lot of high profile US shows have had death as a central theme ? Six Feet Under ? Dead Like Me ?

Now we come to the cover feature, which this month was focused on Heroes. I tried to like this, I really did, but in the end it felt like nine wasted pages. The feature was riddled with factual errors, it was grammatically questionable and personally I didn't care for the writing style at all. It was out of date ("As season one, now coming to a close as you read this...") when in fact season one had finished a full eight days before the issue went to press and at least four weeks before it hit the shelves. The Missing Links bit was neither informative or entertaining, and the whole feature felt like it was written by someone was paid to write it. Sorry if that seem obvious but there was no love, enthusiasm or even informed criticism of the subject matter here.

Top 10 was as ever a snorefest for me. This month we're told what are the ten best SF weapons, and five of the worst.

The Nicholas Cage Interview was interesting, good art, good layout, we liked this. It's a shame these interviews are sourced from syndication because they lack the personal touch.

Danny Graydon's feature on the second FF movie was pretty good, ticked all the right boxes and looked great. The only criticism here is that his writing tone seemed a bit "chummy" at times, a bit SFXy. On the whole it was an informed piece written with a dash of enthusiasm, for which he deserves a beer or three given the subject matter.

Robocop vs Predator oh Jim, oh Jim, oh Jim. I have the feeling this was a writer making the best of a bad idea and being told to run with it. Let's just say the Forum Feature on next season's TV look's a lot more interesting and worthwhile.

Now it's the meat and potatoes of every good SF mag, the Reviews section. When it's a bit a fallow period in the cinemas, most mags will try and big up one of the releases, adds a bit of feelgood factor I suppose. Not so SFN! Fair crack to you guys, you were watching turkeys, you called 'em turkeys, this is what the readers want. No pandering to PR hacks or studios wishes, call a spade a spade. Top marks for the cinema and DVD reviews, Tristan Burke made his critique's very entertaining. His reviews are the ones I'll be reading first next month.

Comics and books though.... I know you said in the letters page that books at least would be getting more coverage in future, but two pages ?? Three books ??? SF fans read a lot and from what I've read in other forums you're losing readers by not giving them more coverage.

Podcasts and Videogames, you got them pretty much right, can't fault them.

Ahhh Timewarp, how I've missed thy subtle charms... Darran Jones' feature on the Aliens movies was great, well written, good art, if I liked it any better I'd have it framed. If you guys are gonna do a "Year in Review" or "Best of..." special edition towards Christmas time this is a must-have.

The Taken article was another pleasant surprise, I haven't watched this since its initial US transmission and memory, being the fickle mistress she is, had confined this to Turkey department. I think I'll probably dig it out again and give it another whirl after reading your take on it. Cheers guys.

Lost in Space, B5, ahh the hits just keep on coming. Timewarp is now accounting for the fact it's taking me two days to review this issue. Manimal and Farscape, OMFG, I can't fault Timewarp at all, it's bliss, it's a fine wine in printed form.

Whatever you're doing in the Timewarp section at the moment, don't stop, don't change a thing, you've got it just right.

After the orgasmic bliss of Timewarp we get that strange burning sensation when you pee that is Dissected. FFS guys you have to label advertorials, sponsored sections or whatever the hell you call them, for what they are. I'll bet dollars to donuts the Advertising Standards Authority has some directives on this.

Fanboys is an area I've never been much interested in. The Collectors Guide to... Dr Who though made me blush a little when I realised how much tat I'd accumulated over the years. The Coventions section, like the Bristol Expo feature in Launch, was a real eye opener for me. A darn good read, and made me think I'd like to see a few before I emigrate. Memorabilia left me cold though, nothing against the article itself it just doesn't press any buttons.

The Nitpickers Guide to... Flash Gordon was a lot of fun, although it did feel like you were shooting fish in a barrel. I'm still waiting for a guide to RTD's Dr Who.

Literary SF felt like you were treading water this issue, just two more months 'til you get to the 1930s, when things get really interesting. In fact I think you'll have to break down the remaining decades because there was simply too much going on to fit it into Literary's page space at the moment.

TV-Guide...meh. It's there, a couple of the sidebars are nice.

Obsessed was okay, but I think you could use a little more pizaz in this section.

Overall this is a huge improvement over an already impressive debut. It feels like you're really finding your voice now and, it seems to me anyway, you're listening to your readers. I noticed the omission of the gadgets feature this issue, I think that was a good decision.

Fair crack to you guys, SFN's getting better, you're on the right course. First star to the right, then straight on 'til morning...

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Print Media vs Digital - Another Take

Just a quickie, but while I was reviewing the third issue of Sci-Fi Now when I had a small revelation about the impending doom of printed media and the rise of the web and all things digital.

The news section of that magazine is divided into various areas of interest, TV, movies, comics, cons, specific TV shows, etc. Now while the printed news is almost always out of date before it hits the shelves, reading Sci-Fi Now I found myself picking up tidbits of info about media I'm only peripherally interested in and wouldn't normally have bothered with. Wonder of wonders it's pretty fascinating stuff.

Now I didn't pick up anything new about areas I'm already tracking, Lost, BSG, etc. I get all that from my RSS subscriptions.

The revelation was this; my RSS feeds and my bookmarks are maybe a little too specific. I can zero in, with perhaps too much accuracy, on my areas of interest and tend to miss the tangential stuff. Sure it sometimes pops up on a page or a feed I'm reading, but I can rarely be bothered to click on the articles and read further. Whereas in a magazine that I've already bought, that I'm already reading, I will take the time to look a little over my horizons.

Though if the same information is only a click away on the web, why would I be more willing to read it in a magazine ? Most people would read this sort of information as part of their leisure time and there's an awful lot that can happen between that click and the reader actually getting the information they want. There could be a problem on the server, the reader's connection might be slow or have more serious issues, the browser may crash or any one of thousands of problems might stop the would be reader from getting the goods. Most of the potential audience will be under some sort of time pressure, it's a lunch break, they've got ten minutes before they have to get to work, or feed the kids, something is making demands on their time. Pressing that button and making that click is a bit of a gamble (in terms of time), they don't know if they're gonna get to the article or how long they'll have to wait and they don't even know if they're going to be interested in it anyway. Far better to gamble their precious time on going for material that they know they'll be interested in.

It's totally different with a printed magazine though. They've already invested, not just time but money as well, and the information's already there. They're much more likely to read it.

The online world could respond to this though. Back in the mid-90s a few flirtations were made with "push" technology, whereby the data would be delivered to the readers for them to peruse at their leisure. In the dark days of dial-up this wasn't really an option for most users and when the same thing was tried with WAP it didn't really work out there either. The reason being that in both scenarios the subscriber was paying, in the form of telephone bills, to have the data sent to them, it was also tying up their bandwidth when at those speeds every bit was precious. Broadband has removed the bandwidth problem but as most users are under some sort of data cap from their ISP they are again paying for every bit they receive whether they want it or not. This leads me to think that maybe net neutrality has a few pitfalls, because with QoS packet marking the cost of the data transferred could be factored into the reader's subscription price.

Let's say a reader spends £50 on an annual subscription to a digital magazine, it's a multimedia affair so let's say each issue takes up 250MB or so. Most domestic users will have data caps of around 10GB or so imposed on them by their ISP, obviously there's a whole raft of packages, but let's say on average 10GB. Now that 250MB, small though it may be, is still a chunk of that 10GB, and the reader has paid for it in addition to their actual subscription. Though with packet marking the magazine publishers, or distributors, could pick up the tab for the delivery. The ISP wouldn't count that download against the reader's quota. Economically it would work in much the same way paper subscriptions do now where the cost of mailing the magazine is part of the price.

That scenario is a long way off. It'd require cooperation on and ratification of standards between the distributors, the carriers and the ISPs. Given the amount of hostility there is towards moving away from net neutrality I'd say five years or so before such a system becomes viable.

In the meantime I'll just turn the page and have my horizons broadened a little further.

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Friday, 22 June 2007

Fall 2007 TV Outlook

Now that the dust has settled after the upfronts we thought it was time to take a look at the networks lineups for next season. There's a long hot summer between now and then of course so everything's likely to change, but for now this is how things are shaping up.


The peacock network might well be in trouble this year. It only had one new drama that survived to the end of last season, the runaway hit Heroes. It's bulking up on that show, with the addition of Heroes:Origins, to give us a full 30 episodes of the sci-fi hit next Fall. It's also ordered 30 episodes of its comedy smash The Office, if you include the smattering of double length installments it'll be airing. On the face of it that seems like good news for fans of those series, but it also seems like the network doesn't have a lot of faith in the rest of its lineup, especially the freshman shows.

The Bionic Woman

David Eick's reimagining (that's remake to you and me) of the hit 70s show has British actress Michelle Ryan leading the wave of what seems like an invasion of Brit talent on American TV screens this fall. From the few minutes of footage so far released this looks very good indeed and GEP Productions have a track record of confounding expectations and delivering series of excellent quality. Look no further than the critically acclaimed remake, sorry reimagining, of Battlestar Galactica.

The supporting cast of Miguel Ferrer, Mae Whitman and Will Yun Lee only add to the preseason feelgood buzz. The caliber of talent behind the camera looks good too, Jason (Lucky Number Seven) Smilovic, Eick himself, Glen Morgan and the pilot was directed by Michael Dinner.

Of all the new shows coming out this Fall, this is the one we're most excited about, but it's up against some very stiff competition. The CW's new "Sex & the City" clone, Gossip Girls is going to attract a lot of female viewers who might otherwise have liked to see The Bionic Woman. Criminal Minds is CBS' opposition and this was the show that had Lost running scared last season. ABC's Private Practice is the much anticipated Grey's Anatomy spinoff although Bones on FOX shouldn't give our girl that much to worry about.

If it stays in it's announced 9/8c Weds slot, The Bionic Woman might well be in trouble.


This is NBC's tale of an ordinary guy, Dan Vasser, with a great life, who suddenly finds himself traveling into the past for no readily apparent reason. The inevitable comparisons to Quantum Leap are mentioned in almost every preview of this show, though personally I think it has stronger links to the BBCs Goodnight Sweetheart, but without the laughs.

This show is being played straight. Vasser's actions in the past have direct results in his present day life. I can see this show getting tired very quickly. The premise lacks the variety of Quantum Leap and viewers will want answers and resolutions pretty quickly to maintain their interest.

The Monday night 10/9c time shouldn't present it with too much competition, except for CSI:Miami. We can't see this one lasting too long. The whole concept feels like a one-trick pony and if audiences didn't take to Daybreak we don't see them falling for this one either.


Speaking of Daybreak, it looks like the curse of Adam Baldwin is about to strike again, seriously this man is jinxed. He appears as John Casey, tough government agent (shades of Daybreak again) who recruits geeky Zach Levi to be his partner after our nerdy hero accidentally downloads a shedload of government secrets into his brain. As you do.

Played along the same lines as Jake 2.0, but without the special powers, this dramedy doesn't fill us with the joys of spring, or autumn. Sorry NBC, your Thanksgiving turkey has arrived early this year, we'll be rooting for CW's Reaper in the same time slot.

That concludes NBC's genre offerings this year, though fans of Scrubs will be looking forward to the series' swansong season and the US remake of Channel 4's The IT Crowd will help win over the geek crowd. The rest of their Thursday night comedy ensemble is made up of My Name is Earl, 30 Rock and The Office, so we're expecting them to do well with those shows.


The alphabet network's new genre offerings are thin on the ground this year. New comedy Cavemen may not be high concept but we think it'll press the right buttons and pull in the viewers. The 7/c Tuesday scheduling may keep the humour a little too family friendly though.

Pushing Daisies

This is the big one. The second part of the British Invasion features newly minted mum Anna Friel and Jim "Carry On" Dale waving the Union Flag, although the star, Lee Pace, is an Oklahoma boy.

Pace stars as Ned, an ordinary Joe, aren't they all, who finds he can bring the dead back to life with a touch. The twist is that the newly risen can only stick around for 60 seconds or someone close by has to die in their place. Expect some exposition about universal harmony and balance to explain that one. With his best friend, a private investigator and his resurrected ex-girlfriend (whom he can never touch again) urging him on, he tries to help the dead by solving their murders.

Behind the scenes we have none other than Barry Sonnenfeld directing and Bryan Fuller taking up the writing / producing duties.

High concept and high profile, this went down a storm at the upfronts which at the very least should give it time to find an audience, not that we think it'll need it. This one's got legs.

The rest of ABC's new series' are off the genre radar though Lost will of course return in Feb 2008.


Not much for genre fans on this network next season. Big Bang Theory is a been there done that bought the happy meal comedy about two geeky scientists who's lab bound life is disrupted by a beautiful girl who shows them what real life is like. We're not expecting much from this.



This looks promising although it's basically a remake of Forever Knight, or Angel, or [fill in the name of conflicted vampire here]. No big names attached to it and the Friday 8/c timeslot isn't going to do it any favours. The production values look good and they're playing it straight, so fingers crossed.


Our love-hate relationship with this network has devolved into a hate-hate one since their cancellation of Drive. We don't know of any other network that promises so much to fans of quality TV and delivers so very little. Their reputation for canceling shows before they've had a chance is such that most discerning fans and pundits will wait until a series has lasted at least one full season on Fox before they'll start to get interested in it.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles

sarahconor This is the wildcard entry in next season's genre fixtures. Starring yet another Brit, Lena Headey, as Sarah Connor, this story picks up The Terminator saga where the second movie left off. Sarah and her 15 year old son John try to make a new life for themselves knowing of the impending apocalypse and John's role in the aftermath. Life is complicated by Summer Glau who plays a Terminator sent back in time to protect the hero in waiting. FBI agent James Ellison gives them a hand against the worst that Skynet can throw at them.

Every entry into The Terminator canon since the first movies has rewritten continuity to suit the immediate goals of the story, and this will be no exception. I can't see the fanboys warming to that at all, so I'm wondering who are FOX trying to appeal to ? This could be brilliant, but I have a feeling it's a series that's being made at least ten years too late.

New Amsterdam

newamsterdamThis could be interesting. The premise is an immortal man living in NYC, and has been since the original colony, New Amsterdam, was founded in the 17th century.

Not an original concept but the 7/c Tues slot shouldn't give the show much trouble. We're tagging this as a possible sleeper hit.

Non-genre offering K-Ville is a new FOX cop show set in a post Katrina New Orleans, Tawny Cypress, late of Heroes, is part of the ensemble, so it doesn't look like her character is making a return to that show.


Bringing up the rear is the CW network. Old favourites Smallville and Supernatural will be returning into their regularly scheduled places and the very weak looking dramedy Reaper is their only new genre offering.

Upcoming genre magazine Sci-Fi Now asked their readers if we were entering a new golden age for genre TV. I'd have to say no to that. Of all the new series only The Bionic Woman and Pushing Daises look as though they might last any length of time. In fact I'd say that genre fans are entering a somewhat fallow period, BSG leaves us next year, Lost has a ticking clock, only Heroes seems like it could pick up the baton for us and run with it for any length of time.

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Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Heroes Season 2 News and Spoilers

Some more news of the second season of Heroes.

One of the new characters is an Irish mobster who goes by name Ricky, or possibly Will, or maybe Blackie. It depends on which source you believe. Anyhoo, his sidekick will be a guy called Tuko who's of West African descent.

David AndersDavid Anders (Alias' Mr Sark) will play a character called Kane, he was born in Europe over a thousand years ago but now lives in America.

Although Nathan Petrelli's fate seems safe enough, one of the Heroes who "was in jeopardy" at the end of the finale, won't be returning as a regular. A quote from Greg Grunberg (Matt Parkman) would seem to point the finger in his direction, when asked if he'd be returning next season, the actor refused to be specific but said viewers shouldn't assume anything about about his fate adding "This will be the hardest secret I have ever had to keep during a hiatus."

Personally though I'm expecting to see Peter Petrelli on the bench. His character is simply too powerful and it must be a bitch for the writers to put him in dramatic situations he can't get out of by drawing on his arsenal of powers. Another snippet which'd support this theory is that one of the regulars is now suffering from amnesia. This would dig the writers out of a hole with regards Peter's all powerful character.

Jayma MRiyo Moriays probably won't be returning as Charlie, despite the actress' recent pilot tanking. It seems our favourite time traveller's new girl is the current Miss Universe no less. Twenty year old Riyo Mori is a dance student and actress. She recently went to audtion for the role of Yaeko where she read in her native Japanese as well as English. Hiro's certainly got something to smile about now.

Another beauty queen, this time a former Miss World Aishwarya Raiis also joining the cast. Aishwarya Rai will play Mohinder's sister, Shanti, and yes she's got some special powers. Hey this is Heroes after all!

She starts filming in LA by the end of June and she'll be on screen this October.

The second season is shaping up to be something of a Dania Ramirez babefest. As well as introducing a gay cheerleader called April... sorry I just had to reread that a couple of times... former Sopranos and X-Men graduate Dania Ramirez will be playing a latin Hero called Maya, her powers are being kept under wraps at the moment though.

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