This week's big news is the launch of the Sarah Jane Smith Adventures on the Sci Fi Channel. It's only taken a few decades since she left the cast of Doctor Who for Sarah Jane to get a successful spin-off series, but it's pretty much worth the wait. But that's not the only awesome thing on television this week by any means. We have the full picture in our weekly TV listings.
I'm going to experiment with a slightly different format for this week's TV listings. Instead of trying (and failing) to list every single thing on U.S. television, I'm going to try a format more like what Graeme does with his weekly comics recommendations. For each day, I'll single out one or two must-watch items and exhort you to watch them with all my powers of persuasion.
So tonight, the History Channel is re-running its ultra-controversial documentary "Last Days On Earth," all about seven possible disasters that could bring an end to the human race in the very near future. You'll be shocked to learn that one of the seven disasters involves global warming, and that's the main reason why it's so controversial. Just read the comments on this message board, including:
"The so-called #1 threat—global warming—was not only insulting, but also frightening. Why the History Channel would air such obvious political propaganda, thinly disguised as science, is shameful and irresponsible."
"The History Channel ought well might wish to rethink its propensity for fear-mongering of global catastrophe as has apparently become its wont. This network is sinking into a morass of such negativity and hysteria that it would not be surprising to hear of individuals viewing such programming to descend into clinical depression, or worse."
Here's a clip:
Also, at 9 on Fox, there's a new New Amsterdam, for those of you who consider it science fiction. John's first partner has been shot in the line of duty, and his dying wish brings back memories of John's early days as a detective. It even provides some clues to John's search for mortality. But it also leads to run-ins with the Russian mafia. The season (and probably series) finale of airs next week, so you could say his quest for mortality will prove quite successful.
Tuesday, the History Channel has our backs once again, with a new episode of The Universe, this time all about scientists studying the atmospheres of other planets. Unlike the "Last Days" special, nobody's accusing this episode of carrying water for Al Gore or trivializing the Holocaust. But it still might be pretty interesting. Also, TMC has Aeon Flux at 10 PM.
Wednesday — and I swear I'm not getting paid by the History Channel here — there's a new UFO Hunters on the History Channel at 10 PM. It's called "2008 Texas UFO," and it's about pretty much what you'd expect. It seems to involve the same sighting shown in this recent Texas newscast. But could it possibly be as entertaining as this clip?
Thursday may be your last chance to develop an appreciation for the canceled Flash Gordon TV series. The Sci Fi Channel is having a Flash marathon all day, so leave lots of room in your DVR. To be fair, it was a pretty horrendous show, but you have to admire the gutsiness of making a space opera without any space. And it's worth checking out some of the later episodes just to see the costumes get more and more ridiculous. Plus, bird men! And matriarchal women's societies that threaten to castrate Flash! Mutant almost-incest! This show wasn't afraid to go in some ridiculous directions.
And if that doesn't excite you, Sci Fi is also showing Asteroid at 7 PM, followed by The Abyss at 11.
Friday, Sci Fi has the first episode of the Sarah Jane Adventures, the best Doctor Who spin-off, at 7:30. I'm a huge fan of this show, which successfully channels a lot of old-school Doctor Who feeling, without quite so much soap opera as the new Who or Torchwood. I should caution, however, that the pilot episode, "Invasion of the Bane," is by far the weakest installment of the show. It features one of Russell T. Davies' least thought-out plots, about an evil soft-drink company that wants to take over the world or something. Also, one of the supporting characters is intensely annoying, but luckily she gets dropped after this episode. Here's a trailer:
And then at 10, Sci Fi has the second episode of the new Battlestar Galactica season. It's the beginning of a Cylon civil war, over whether to continue lobotomizing the centurions and raiders. And the Cylons start dealing with the issue of what to do about the final five, who are in the fleet. Meanwhile, Starbuck is still freaking out:
And then on Spike at 8, there's the basic cable premiere of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope, otherwise known as Star Wars.
Saturday, there's a new Spectacular Spider-Man on the CW at 10 AM. Spidey meets the Green Goblin. And then on the Cartoon Network at 10:30, there's the season premiere of Transformers: Animated, which comes just a week after the previous season's finale. (If only every show worked that way.) The Cybertron Elite Guard comes to Earth looking for the Allspark.
And then at 9 PM there's a new Torchwood on BBC America. The team gets caught in a nasty trap, and then everybody except for Gwen relives how they joined the team. It's actually quite a good episode, and leaves you feeling more interested in the gang than ever before. Shame it's almost the last episode of the season, and the third season is rumored to see some drastic changes in the show's lineup.
Meanwhile, Spike is showing Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back for the first time, at 8 PM. It's also re-running A New Hope at 5 PM.
Sunday, Spike finishes up its Star Wars marathon with Return of the Jedi at 8 PM. It all makes sense, if you watch all six movies back to back. You'll see facets and hidden depths you never glimpsed before. Actually, I'm just guessing that's what would happen.