Here’s a little bit about shows we’ve all seen, and will be seeing again next season…
First, Lost: Lost has not quite lost the plot, so to speak, but it is getting there. True, creator JJ Abrams is more self-indulgent than Mr Creosote; true, Matthew Fox needs a great big smack in the face – almost as much as the character he plays; and yes true, the plot has become so convoluted that, unless you’ve watched every episode ever made, you won’t be able to tell your Dharma from your Others. But it hasn’t yet left behind all that made it great: Lost’s best technique is borrowed from the Jewish approach to discourse – answer every question with a question. The problem now is JJ Abrams’/Carlton Cuse’s/Damon Lindelof’s unrelenting appetites for nonsense; there’s a difference between Sci-Fi and fantasy, but they are clearly not interested in either. Look at the embarrassing bowl of bull-plop called Alias. Alias sucked balls. It started with a perfectly mundane premise – a father-daughter spy team – but devolved into a clumsy search for the fountain of youth which had been created by a fifteenth century architect who had also mapped the human genome and invented the neutron bomb. No, this isn’t science fiction or fantasy, this is magic, pragmatic magic of convenience. And Lost is the same, with the time travel, the black smoke, and the guys that don’t age. Mere magic.
From the island of no fixed address or place in linear temporal progression to Wisteria Lane. Desperate Housewives had admittedly become a little slow of late, despite the genius ploy of leaping half a decade into the future – psycho Dave was only a marginally better story arc than the black family with the monster-boy in the basement from Season 2. Obviously Dave was more believable as a Wisteria Lane resident than the Applewhites because he wasn’t just called white, he is actually white, just like 95% of “Eagle State” inhabitants. Even fictional states, it seems, are institutionally racist (but see this for the other side of the coin). Not homophobic, though – there are plenty of gays, and their screen-time is increasing. Quite right too. But we can only hope that the election to President of a man whose middle name is Hussein will pave the way for the portrayal of ethnic minorities who don’t carry guns. Anyway, if you don’t want to know the score, look away now: Edie’s dead; MJ isn’t (different MJ); someone’s marrying Mike; the Solises have a new jailbait houseguest to compete with Gaby; Lynette’s cancer hasn’t returned, but something is growing inside her; and did I mention that Edie is dead? For one horrible moment I thought that she’d be taking over from Mary Alice as the narrator, but we’re ok on that one. Ooh, and Douchebag Karl with Bree? Season 6 promises to be a cracker, starting in the States at the end of September.
Back to science fiction and the acclaimed Battlestar Galactica. This was, to my mind, the only recent science fiction show that worked as a drama. For a time, at least. At some point, I can’t quite pinpoint when, it got really heavy. Creator Ronald D. Moore previously worked on Star Trek Deep Space Nine and it seems like having his own show went to his head. At the risk of sounding like one of those kids that get beaten up at the end of Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, the so-called resolution of the series was fucking clown shoes. This guy’s obviously got a bone to pick with humanity and its relentless drive to make machines that could very well supplant humanity itself. (The bone is quite a mouthful.) And the moral of the story? Be kind to your toaster.
Moore’s bizarre fusion of science, religion, and mythology – already evident in DS9 – will be with us next season in at least two forms, both of which recently kicked off with feature length movie-style pilots. Caprica is a prequel to BSG charting the rise of the Cylons and introducing the young Bill Adama, with some silly religious ravings thrown in for good measure. Virtuality is somewhat more promising: the show’s setting is a spaceship from Earth of the not-too-distant future on a ten-year mission to find a way to save the planet from ecological disaster. It’s not Star Trek – they aren’t warping about the galaxy from world to world – so static ennui is avoided by a sophisticated virtual reality environment. But someone or something has invaded this VR realm and quite clearly means business…. That said, it probably won’t make it as a proper TV series. Caprica’s pilot is available on DVD from the States, and Virtuality just aired a couple of days ago so no news on when it hits these shores.
Check back in a few days when I will give you the pick of brand new shows just coming out in America. If you’re more interested in British TV, I can’t help you – I just really don’t like Alan Carr that much. Just watch Charlie Brooker’s new show next week. You probably love him.