Television science fiction will leave you pissed and confused, if you follow the wrong shows this spring. Some of the shows airing in the next few months will end abruptly, due to the writers' strike. You'll be left with a cliffhanger that was meant to last one week but hangs on for several months instead. Click through for a handy schedule, along with minor spoilers and details of how many episodes each show has in the can.
Last Friday: Flash Gordon. More stand-alone episodes are on their way. Rankol learns to control where rifts open and steals a whole lake from Earth. And a maniac tries to blow up the citadel on Mongo.
In the can: At least 3 more episodes.
Last Friday: Stargate Atlantis. The battle with the Replicators continues, and we learn more about the Wraiths. A quarantine lockdown traps Atlantis personnel in different parts of the city, and they "have no choice but to bond," says actress Jewel Staite.
In the can: 10 more episodes, the full run.
Jan. 14: Terminator: The Sarah Chronicles. Chances are you've already seen the first episode, which was available on Yahoo recently, and is still posted all over the place online. Summer Glau (Firefly) is the hawt Terminator sent back in time to protect Sarah Connor (Lena Headey from 300) and her son John. They travel forward in time to now-ish and decide to stop Skynet... again. Future episodes will probably have a lot of "trying to blend in" stuff, with John and his Terminator GF going to school together. Oh, and an FBI agent is chasing them too.
In the can: 10 episodes.
Jan. 14: Kyle XY returns with the second half of season two. We find out if the female version of Kyle survived her cliff dive last summer, and we learn more about Adam's past. Kyle finally comes clean with his family about his origins, and his family tries to protect him from Madacorp.
In the can: 10 episodes, which is the complete run of season 2.5.
Jan. 26: Torchwood. The champions of the future (and crazy xenophile sexuality) are back in another batch of this Doctor Who spinoff. Two extra reasons to watch season two: James "Spike" Marsters wearing a cool Adam Ant costume, and the Doctor's companion Martha (Freema Agyeman) in bondage. One cause for concern: this year's episodes will be designed so that special kid-friendly edits will still make a modicum of sense. In other words, the plots won't be all about shagging aliens and time travelers this time around.
In the can: 13 episodes, a full season. And here's a teaser:
Jan. 31: Lost. They finally get off the island! Well, some of them, anyway, and it turns out not to be such a great idea. The boat people who show up to rescue our heroes have some other agenda, and our heroes split up into opposing teams. This mini-season will feature "flash-forwards," showing our heroes in their post-island futures.
In the can: 8 episodes. The producers have gone on record that episode 8 will end with a frustrating cliffhanger that wasn't meant to wait months for a resolution.
Jan. 31: Smallville. Everybody realizes that Clark is really Bizarro. Or maybe that should be "Clark really am not Bizarro." And Brainiac (James Marsters without the Adam Ant duds) has a plan to help Bizarro stay as Clark forever. And Lana actually likes Bizarro better than the real Clark. Meanwhile, another Kryptonian, Dax-Ur, turns out to have a special blue kryptonite ring that lets him stay human.
In the can: 6 episodes, not the full season.
Feb. 12: Jericho, back for a short second season after tons of fan campaigns. The first season started out boring and paternalistic, and then simmered up to a boil by the end. Season two looks like it will be way more intense, with the future of the Allied States at stake. Our idol, Esai Morales, declares the feud between Jericho and New Bern over, and Hawkins finally makes his move against the nuclear conspirators. Sign us up!
In the can: 7 episodes, which was all they had planned anyway. Here's an extended season trailer:
April 1: Battlestar Galactica. Our heroes don't trust the back-from-the-grave Starbuck. And the four newly revealed Cylons don't trust themselves. (There are hints these new Cylons are different from the other human-looking Cylons.) We get to know a new ship, the claustrophobic Demetrius. Starbuck spends a lot of time in the brig, and also has more creepy Cylon encounters.
In the can: 10 episodes, which will end with an annoying cliffhanger. But the SciFi Channel had already considered ending the season there anyway. Here's a trailer: