Bottom of the Barrel Sci-Fi/Fantasy TV Series


Neverwhere  

A BBC fantasy mini-series that feels and looks like a throwback to the old Doctor Who series, without the memorable characters. Based on Neil Gaiman's book, this imaginative story creates a literal London underworld with angels, immortal killers, warriors, beasts, life-sucking velvets, and various people with powers and magic. London locations such as Knightsbridge are given literal meanings in this secret world under and on top of the city, existing in parallel with the ignorant upworlders (Harry Potter?). Richard finds himself in the thick of things when he helps a mysterious woman, and soon has to go through ordeals to get keys for angels and fight mythical beasts. Although the production values are very low and damaging to the story, unfortunately the worst part is the bland, cheesy acting and characters, and the cartoonish villians whose most scary scene is when they play golf with a live frog. A poor adaptation for a potentially fun fantasy.



Odyssey, The  

The word epic didn't even exist when this 3000-year-old classic was written, but I can see the word being invented just to describe this adventure. The tale takes decades, involves one adventure after another, from the war with Troy, to a cyclops, a witch, sirens of the sea, huge monsters, a trip to hell, as well as betrayal and greed at home, and romance in the form of a very dedicated married couple. So one can argue that even mentioning this epic tale in the same sentence as 'adapted for the small-screen', and 'mini-series', is simply wrong. To be fair, some of the special effects aren't bad for TV (like the sequence in hell, and the cyclops eating a man), but one simply expects much more than this for The Odyssey. The fact that it was crammed into 3 hours doesn't help either. But this may be overlooked by some (assuming you can get over the cheesy costumes as well). What can't be overlooked is the over-the-top acting by much of the cast, and the stiff, passionate Odysseus who isn't quite the wise man depicted in the poem. Also, some memorable scenes from the book were skipped, like the one where Odysseus ties himself to the ship to get through the dangers of the sirens. The truth is, I can't believe no one has adpated this into a big-budget modern movie yet (Peter Jackson?), and during the whole time that I watched this series I could only imagine how it should have been done.



Adventures of Brisco County Jr., The  
Based on most of the single season.

Chalk this one up to disappointment due to a mismarketed target audience and an overblown cult reputation. I expected a cult comedy sci-fi Western with Bruce Campbell with fun adult-oriented humor, instead I got a juvenile TV show. Bruce acts as Brisco County Jr. a bounty hunter with a law degree, son of a famous marshal who got killed by John Bly, an infamous criminal. He spends the whole season tracking Bly down, encountering his many gang members and fellow conspirators (who seem to populate the entire USA), with John Bly managing to get away every time due to some illogical writing and coincidences. He also keeps crossing paths with a mysterious golden orb possessing various sci-fi/magical abilities that can be passed on to humans and that seem to radically change with every episode. He is followed by a rival bounty hunter, the loud-mouthed and very cartoonish Lord Bowler, he talks to his horse, he shoots so well that he can calculate ricochet trajectories, he develops psychic abilities, and he wise-cracks. The silly humor isn't even at the low level of Army of Darkness, and many of the supporting actors over-act to cartoonish and campy effect. The world is one big anachronism, with badly inappropriate speech, attitudes, technology, dress, and treatment of blacks and women, and although this is on purpose because the show doesn't take itself seriously, it doesn't exactly help or add to the show either. In short, this is a campy, cheesy, illogical, silly, unrealistic show for kids and undemanding teenagers that is, at best, a mildly fun time-waster. Just because it has Bruce in it, that doesn't make it cult, guys.



10th Kingdom, The  

7-hour fantasy mini-series that, like some outings from the Sci-Fi channel, re-imagines classic fairy-tales and throws some contemporary heroes into the story. Virginia from New York and her father find themselves whisked away into a fairy tale of decrepit proportions through a magical mirror into the Nine Kingdoms where Snow White, Cinderella, Little Bo Beep, and many others are all past their prime, and all in danger of being taken over by an evil queen and her alliance with the Trolls. Prince Charming is turned into a dog, a half-wolf is after Virginia's grandmother, Cinderella is 200 years old and after much plastic surgery, and so on... The production, sets, locations and costumes are all quite good. But the biggest problem with this one is the tone. On the one hand, it doesn't take itself seriously, there are many cartoonishly silly scenes and unrealistic behaviour, and several of the actors (especially the trolls and the wolf) overact annoyingly to comical effect. In addition, the comedy is too silly and dumb to appeal to adults that want a fantasy comedy, and it desperately needs more wit to be categorized as such. To top it all off, the fantasy characters all behave like people from the modern world as if the lazy writers transported their own lives into a fantasy world instead of re-imagining a new one. All this would normally mean that it is aimed at very small children, except that there is also the occasional sexual and violent/dark content. So what were they thinking?



Sapphire and Steel  
Based on the first season and some scattered episodes.

An old British sci-fi show that has gained a cult following, and ITV's answer to BBC's successful Dr. Who. Two mysterious inter-dimensional agents called Sapphire and Steel appear mysteriously in various places when strange occurrences threaten to unravel the timeline. A boy's parents, dinner guests or ghosts disappear or get lost in time anomalies and it's up to the agents to solve the mystery and the disruption with their arcane skills. A slightly more mysterious and challenging show than Dr. Who but also a much less interesting one simply because the characters are flat and wooden, the plot sometimes moves too slowly, and the mysteries are solved without much logic, using ad-hoc supernatural skills instead.



Touch  
Based on scattered episodes of the first season.

The first episode intrigues with an interesting idea of interconnected lives and events through math, patterns and numbers. Except it does it through the cliche of an autistic kid. Martin (Kiefer) is a father of an autistic kid who is constantly seeing and drawing numbers and patterns, and one day Martin realizes that the kid is seeing the world differently and communicating to him the pain he sees and the things that need to be done to connect the dots. People in trouble around the world suddenly become connected, each in turn affecting the other, and when everything becomes aligned, their stories resolve themselves like dominoes. The structure is mostly episodic, setting up a new pattern of people and events, and having Martin chase down clues given to him by his mute son to connect the dots and try to do good. This is the only way he finds he can communicate with his son. There is also a longer story arc where dots from other episodes start aligning up for a larger story thread, this arc also involving various people and organizations that become interested in his son and his abilities. This eventually becomes a conspiracy thriller and feels out of place, except it's the only story in this show with a meaning to it. See, during the first episode the idea is intriguing, the second one already gets one's suspicions going that this is going nowhere and it's all random connections and lazy gimmicky writing, and by the fourth episode or so, it has already worn out its welcome and stops making sense completely. Just because the same number appears in different places, that doesn't make the connection meaningful in itself, nor does it make it interesting, and if the connection is already there, then why does it depend on Martin or his kid to tie the threads together with so much desperate running? In summary, this has good acting, but only a half-baked premise merely used for yet another gimmicky supernatural series.



Defiance  
Based on the first season.

Earth has been overrun by aliens that have wrecked the planet with attempts to terraform it to their needs. Now, years after the wars, aliens and humans are trying to live together. Defiance is one such town built on the ruins of St. Louis with a tense relationship between its various species, and a new sheriff: a renegade bounty-hounter recently convinced to work for them. Invading political and military organizations, as well as internal strife, tension and politics make life constantly difficult. In short, this is a Western with sci-fi species and gadgets. And not a good or interesting one. SyFy produces yet another bland and uninspired series, making me think that their CEO is an AI program designed to create as many commercial gimmicky shows it can generate. Most of the story in this show could have been told without any of the sci-fi, replacing the alien species with Natives, Mexicans and Chinese, their quirky behaviour with their obviously cloned human equivalents, and their weapons and space-vehicles with plain guns and horses, and not much would be lost. Which means two things: The sci-fi is wasted and merely a gimmick, and they have no imagination. And even the show as a Western is bland, uninspired, copied from other recognizable movies, and cliched. Most of the aliens behave so much like humans, that they feel like geeks play-acting in costumes rather than aliens. Some even call themselves 'aliens' in a really silly bit of writing. There is serviceable character development and a few story arcs, and it may distract you for a while, but that's all it is at best: Serviceable.



True Blood  
Based on the first season and scattered episodes of the second and third seasons.

HBO's popular vampire series is nothing but badly written pulp and soapy trash, albeit somewhat entertaining pulp. In this world, vampires have come out of the closet and are trying to integrate with society, with a bill trying to pass equal rights for vampires, and humans splitting down the middle whether to treat vampires with respect. Subtle metaphor eh? They don't really do anything interesting with this idea however and instead, inject new supernatural surprises and creatures every few episodes, killing the realism. The setting is a town in Louisiana where every crazy and violent thing seems to happen for no particular reason and every other human has a secret or supernatural power. Sookie is a telepathic barmaid whom everyone adores, worships or wants to protect for no good reason. She is over-confident way beyond her intelligence, constantly does and says stupid things, and is not likeable. And almost every other character in the show has similar likeability issues, and that is only when they aren't being unrealistic bundles of whimsical emotions and lusts straight out of a soap opera. Their emotions and personalities swing from one extreme to the other from one episode to the next; they hop from one fling, love or attachment to another; and loyalties, motivations, interests and beliefs are changed more frequently than underwear. One girl even has sex with a complete stranger before her cherished boyfriend is even buried, and she is supposedly one of the good ones. And then there is the sex: It's everywhere. Every gender and vampire/creature combination is displayed, and that's just for starters. Sex happens for any reason whatsoever, and when the quota starts to fall behind, they even bring in sex dreams. If two people meet after not seeing each other for days, they have sex; If they hate each other, they have sex; If they are having yet another emotional outburst, they have sex; And if they are bored, they have sex. And, for some reason, based on the fact that they all seem to enjoy getting their throat flesh ripped, they are all masochists too.

And then there is the sloppy writing that doesn't care about details or sticking to a stable storyline. One example is the way vampires seem to have complete control over humans to the point where they can make them think, forget or do anything they please, and yet somehow half of their problems involve unruly humans. Not to mention that this whole thing about needing an invitation to enter a house becomes completely pointless. In one episode a vampire says that they don't just burst into flames when the sun comes up, a few episodes later thay are doing exactly that. And so on... an endless stream of violence, gore, sex, emotional outbursts, betrayals, twists, new creatures, etc. all churned out by witless writing that is just there to keep you from switching off the screen while feeding you more and more junk. It's sometimes entertaining in a pulpy dime-novel way, but this kind of thing gets boring fast.



Pushing Daisies  
Based on most of the first season.

Bryan Fuller is really repeating himself now. This is partially a retread of his Dead Like Me show with a similar collection of characters that have to deal with death in a quirky way, by way of an Amelie clone, except it doesn't have the character and base in reality that those had. Ned has a gift for bringing things back to life with a touch of his finger, except that if he lets them live for more than a minute, something or somebody else has to die in its place. Ned teams up with a detective, and with his childhood crush that he brought back to life, in order to solve murder mysteries by bringing the dead back for a minute and asking them questions. This concept is almost as contrived as it sounds, and to make things worse, it isn't developed any further, with the writer giving him the illogical ability to turn back time and bring rotting fruits and leaves 'back to life' as well, which makes no sense (humans would grow young again if that were the case). The reactions from the zombies usually don't feel realistic either. But the show has quirk and cuteness on its mind, and isn't bothered by such details. And that's another problem: It's all cartoonishly and colorfully cute and quirky, which is mild fun for a couple of episodes, but then it wears out its welcome without something else to balance it: Something edgy, somebody that feels real for a change instead of these ridiculously perky and cute women, some drama, anything! Another significant flaw is the heavy use of a narrator to tell us everything we already know. In short, this is stale stuff that is only light entertainment at best despite its vibrant colors, and it desperately needs some life injected into it. Too much quirk and lightness is bad for a series.



Gates, The  
Based on most of the single season.

This starts as a mix of rich society soap opera and 90210-esque teenage high-school drama taking place in a gated suburbia community, except with vampires, werewolves and witches. Instead of housewives having affairs, they go off hunting humans with wild men of their past behind their husband's back, a vampire's bite bonds a couple and stands for fidelity, and teenagers, on top of having their usual angsty problems, now have to worry about sucking the life force out of their loved ones. There's a catty scheming back-stabbing witch, and both love triangles and quadrangles. In addition to this show being almost as bad as it sounds, I am not sure what kind of target audience would enjoy both soap and teenage drama together, and what they were thinking when they made this. As if that weren't enough, the writing is often poor and lazily makes up its own contrived drama, having characters do stupid things. For example, a vampire reveals himself to a human in order to save his life by killing a threat, but no one ever thinks of having the vampire simply kill with his bare hands instead of fangs. Just when I was about to give up, the writers start writing more interesting thrilling developments and dramatic crises towards the end of the season, gathering momentum, and then it suddenly ends. My guess is the execs told them to switch to another approach, then cancelled the show anyways.



Last Ship, The  
Based on the first season.

Within a few seconds of the show, and without looking at the credits, I knew this was a Michael Bay production. The soldiers were square-jawed patriot poster-boys spouting cliches to a rousing canned soundtrack, and soon things were blowing up and people were fighting for no reason other than to feed the show with regular, slick action scenes. If anyone watches this to see a thoughtful show or a dramatic thriller about a virus apocalypse, this is obviously not it. To be fair, some episodes are better than others dealing with a wide variety of crises, and one of the strengths of this show is the constant momentum and continuous story-lines, each episode picking up seconds after the previous. The plot is about a US navy ship at sea with over 200 soldiers and a couple of CDC scientists that become the last hope for humanity as a virus wipes out billions on dry land. But the stupidity keeps infecting the writing like a virus: To start with, much tension and war is made over the only two chances for a vaccine: A 'primordial virus' sample from the Arctic and one female CDC biochemist, except that they said themselves that the virus had already mutated, and there doesn't seem to be anything unique about her knowledge. Then starts the jingoism, and black and white view of the world: Evil Russians appear straight out of a cartoon, chucking nuclear bombs over people's heads on a whim without any seeming interest in their own survival, nevermind the human race. Then a Cuban dictator, and various other people that want the virus for a power trip, and these handful of square-jawed Americans never falter, fighting evil, working on a cure, and saving everyone they meet from themselves. It's downright ridiculous, if only for the lack of interesting, even 2-dimensional human characters. Tribute is paid to human emotions with some corny lines, they keep doing stupid things like walk in and out of infected areas without a safe quarantine procedure, or test a vaccine on six healthy humans instead of one sick one. In between all these stupidities there is some entertaining action and thrills as more and more things go wrong, then more insane people get in their way that don't seem to have any interest in basic self-preservation, just so that our heroes can have someone new to fight, kick-ass and kill. Enough said.



Resurrection  
Based on the first one and a half seasons.

Although this is based on a book written in 2013 and is not officially a remake of the French 'The Returned', the book is obviously plagiarized and stolen from that show. Not just because it deals with dead people coming back to a small town and causing many upheavals and dramas, but because it uses so many of the same ideas from the original, thus making it an obvious copy. As such, it doesn't deserve to judged on its own terms, especially since most the good aspects of this show are the ideas stolen from the original, and its original material is quite pedestrian. The original started very strongly with superb atmosphere and intense quiet moments as some long-lost dead family members come back (as normal people, not zombies), re-awakening forgotten, dead or repressed memories and feelings, and causing havoc with their relatives that have since moved on. And then it unravelled with poor writing. This one doesn't have that magic, and it seems to create a more solid story at first, working out some the details that the original left out, but then it unravels as well in the second season as it deterioriates into convoluted Lost-territory where more developments just keep happening without much rhyme or reason. So not only is it stolen, it doesn't have much to offer even on its own terms.



Saving Hope  
Based on most of the first season.

Another medical drama with the same template of many other similar shows, combining episodic little medical dramas with ongoing relationship drama between the doctors. The only difference with this one, is that the drama with the patients continues even when they go into a coma or die, since there is a resident doctor in a coma whose spirit wanders the hospital talking to the passed-out or dying patients. There is also a bit of a 'Ghost' element here with the comatose doctor having a fiance nurse in the hospital who does everything she can to talk to him or wake him up. Otherwise, it's all kinda mawkish, emo and uninspired. The 2-4 patients per episode come in with a wide variety of emotional or personal problems as well as their medical crises, and the doctors have to deal with both. Most of the doctors are unrealistically cute and pretty, the relationships are dull, and the writing doesn't offer much in the way of intelligence or inspiration. It sometimes works in small doses in some episodes, but given that there are so many medical shows, this one simply isn't special enough.



Joan of Arcadia  
Based on many episodes of the first season.

Joan is an average teenage girl in high school who starts getting missions from God who appears to her as various people at random, and the missions, get this, often involve her doing something difficult in her personal life like dating and listening to a jerk at school, or getting her driving license, because, if she does these things, they cause a chain reaction that ultimately results in something good. And, she gets to learn life-lessons. This premise isn't always as bad as it sounds, as some episodes manage to evoke some good and touching drama, but it's bad enough to sink the show in general. For starters, why would God need to appear and instruct these actions, thus interfering with free will, in order to get the result he wants instead of just engineering it in a million other ways. And then there's the stupid and unimaginative way of communication via flawed humans instead of a much more effective and direct method. There's also the fact that there is nothing special about her that would deserve this kind of communciation. And finally, there's the life lessons that sometimes are nice, but mostly feel like a talk your mom would give you. The dialogue is pretty good, and can even be sharp and fun at times, but the premise and plots make it impossible to enjoy the show as a whole. Other elements include the usual high-school teenage drama, parenting woes, a recently crippled brother, and a cop-father who finds himself fighting incompetence under him as well as corruption over him, all of this adding many more life lessons for everyone to learn.



Early Edition  
Based on most of the first season.

The premise of this one is that some dude gets tomorrow's newspaper every day along with a mysterious cat, and, since he is a nice guy, this forces him to spend all of his life saving people and averting disasters foretold in the news. His friend wants to use it for financial gain, but soon learns that this tends to backfire, and yet, somehow, saving people in danger and interfering in crimes never backfires. In fact, disasters and huge mistakes are fixed often with a simple well chosen words, because, this show wants us to believe that things like kindness, faith, warmth and selflessness can save any situation in an instant, and the rest is taken care of by some kind of benign karma. Because, in addition to quick and easy solutions, this show also wants us to believe in endless coincidences, where people you just met turn up in the headlines the very next day, and news events turn out to be connected if this helps you perform a good deed. This is the kind of show where street hoodlums turn out to be kids stealing for their suffering mothers. In short, this is the Hallmark version of super-heroism. It's about heroism without superpowers, unless you consider a magical newspaper, kindness and good luck to be superpowers. Sure, the hero is reluctant and suffers doubts and the loss of his personal life, but that's OK, because, according to this show, self-preservation is evil. What a load of fuzzy, sentimental crap. I can't say that it's all bad, and some episodes are somewhat entertaining. But, in general, the warmth of the show tends to get too cloying too often, and, otherwise, there is no surprise, character or personality to keep one watching.



Chuck  
Based on most of the first one and a half seasons.

Although not billed as such, this is a sci-fi spy-comedy series with the fantastic ability to store and retrieve knowledge in the brain via images, not to mention the supernaturally indomitable ninja spies. One of the biggest problems with this show is that everything about it is ridiculously unrealistic to the point that it is impossible to switch off your brain and enjoy the comedy. Chuck is a nerd working in gadget-support who is sent a complete database of everything the government knows, which is promptly stored in his brain, and the original is somehow lost, instantly making him the most important person in the world as far as spies are concerned. He is assigned two agents, one from the NSA and another from the CIA, to protect him, or to get rid of him if he ever becomes a threat. To keep his secret, they go undercover and work with him at the Buy More store, and the CIA agent becomes his girlfriend. This premise is so ridiculous and full of technical and logical holes, that it would take a whole page just to list the errors. Suffice it to say that even the little fact the most important database in the world didn't have three offsite backups is impossible to ignore. But then we wouldn't have this show and the chance to show a nerd with a super-hot model in skimpy clothes that fights ninjutsu style. And that's all this is about. Because, besides Chuck himself who kinda acts human, everyone else is cartoon and cardboard, including his caring sister, her jock boyfriend, his cartoonishly silly co-worker nerds, and all of the spies. The constant fights are bad, and the actors obviously have no fighting talents, but who notices that when you have a half-naked girl jumping around the room, right? In between the episodic 'spy-crises' that are quickly solved with a few action scenes, the ridiculous story arcs keep bringing in more and more exs, friends, and relatives into the conspiracy and builds an evil and powerful spy organization as the nemesis. Eventually I figured that this is a show that doesn't take itself seriously, and is just having fun with the setup, but the show's writing was too dumb to allow enjoyment even at that level.



Fringe  
Based on most of the first season.

I should really just skip J.J. Abrams TV creations. He is obviously a commercial hack with no respect for his audience, presenting only manipulative, brainless, uninspired writing engineered only for commercial success. This cut-and-paste job is a blend of Alias, X-Files and Eureka. There is the clique working within the government assigned to bizarre cases involving what seems to be supernatural or weird science, and Abrams gleefully chooses populist cases involving gross-outs or horrific strangeness, except they are always reduced to pseudo-science and have no sense of mystery and intelligent complexity as with the X-Files. Also, this time it is the brainy man who is the skeptic, and the female agent that just goes with it. The story arcs involving an all-too-powerful corporation, its many agents and motivations, its relationship with the government, other traitorous individuals and their criminal gangs, and the surprise, inbreeding relationships between all of these people, are all reminiscent of Alias, and aren't much better in terms of plausibility or intelligence. Once again, the writers constantly demonstrate that they are making things up as they go along, contradicting previous details. As if that weren't enough, the story arc moves at a snail's pace with a symmetrically engineered distance between key episodes. And then there are the Eureka elements: An insane but quirky and childish scientist that helps the investigations, and the endless stream of impossible gadgets and technologies that keep appearing out of nowhere for the episodic thrill of the week. Although Dr. Walter Bishop is acted well and provides the only lively personality of the show, the writers obviously have no clue what to do with him, assigning new childish quirks-of-the-week for comic relief that are here one day and gone the next, turning him lucid or incoherent as convenient plot devices only, and never allowing him to develop into a real person. Of course, the canard of geniuses knowing everything about everything is abused once again. The rest of the cast are capably acted but are quite forgettable as personalities. In short, it may seem entertaining and thrilling for a while, but this is just another unrewarding, skin-deep, commercial hack job.



Event, The  
Based on the single season.

Comparing a show to Lost dooms it from the start. Fortunately, this show doesn't have much in common with that one despite the many comparisons by reviewers. Unfortunately, this show resembles a weaker 24 season, except it ends with an unresolved cliffhanger, and it has 'aliens'. Just replace terrorists with 'aliens' that are identical to humans and who have some advanced scientific know-how and weaponry (which only makes 4 or 5 appearances in the whole season). They think, look and act like humans, they have no unique capabilities, just more advanced scientific knowledge, and the only thing that separates them is that they have their own agendas which conflict with the human race. So, yes, basically just advanced terrorists. The President of the US, his entourage and army, and some untrained programmer kid who somehow magically turns into a Jack Bauer, have to fight the endless crises, several attempts to kill various people, plots against the human race, secret agendas, double and triple agents, conspiracies within conspiracies within conspiracies, and so on. People sway from one extreme to another without rhyme or reason, they switch sides, change agendas, repeat mistakes, make stupid decisions, perform despicable acts for minor selfish motives, all to propel the action and messy plot forward with constant momentum, and it all collapses under its own weight within a few episodes. Add to this the casting: A handful of people in the President's entourage are passably OK, the rest are either awfully miscast or terribly bland. In summary, this is addictive and entertaining like a bad season of 24, but you will regret watching it given the terribly messy writing, the lack of character and surprise, and the cliffhanger finale.



Brimstone  
Based on most of the single season.

A tormented, dead police-man who got sent to hell for killing his wife's rapist gets a second chance. He is given the mission to recover over 100 escaped dangerous souls that are currently hiding with the living, and to send them back to hell. This is an episodic show, and the writing is so pedestrian and uninspired that it feels like a cookie-cutter old-school cop-show, except the cop and criminals have random supernatural powers and cannot be killed. The writing has the mentality of a video-game, with obvious and neat little clues always leading the cop on a predictable track to the evil soul, and then a tattoo is magically erased off his arm every time he succeeds in order to keep track of his points. Yes, it's another monster-of-the-week show. The charming devil appears as his boss to tease and play sadistic games with him, which lightens up the show a bit, but even this aspect lacks imagination. Personality-wise, the leads are passable, but never stand out. So all-in-all, there isn't anything bad here, but it is forgettable, uninteresting entertainment.



Taken  
Based on all 10 episodes.

Spielberg presents X-Files: The Drama. 10 long episodes covering four generations and three families whose lives were changed due to alien abductions and UFO sightings, from the Roswell incident to today. At first some characters are interesting, especially the brutal, calculating soldier and strange aliens, but as soon as we get to know them they are replaced with weaker characters, then replaced yet again with uninteresting children and teenagers. The effects are passable, the spookiness of abductions was covered much better in X-Files, the conspiracy and government angle was more interesting in X-Files, the magic of encounters was handled much better in Close Encounters, the cheesy and heavy narration is ludicrously delivered by a child, and the drama, which is the main focus of this series, is very soapish and overlong. Spielberg, please stop using children to carry your flicks.



Twilight Zone, The (2002)  
Based on most of the single season.

This third incarnation of the Twilight Zone series is closer in tone and content to the original than the fun 80s version, but its heart is all wrong and it's a painfully mediocre effort. The fact that the opening theme is by Korn should give you a clue: This often feels like an attempt to rejuvenate and remake the series with a parade of hot young actors, except that they forgot to hire talented writers. The trail-blazing original and the even better 80s version are hard acts to follow, and this makes the mediocrity even harder to take. The original, even when it was cheesy, approached moral twists from a human angle and usually involved at least some thought or character. This one seems to enjoy pulling out weird twists from left field and give the protagonists moral choices that are completely random or very superficial. The writing in general isn't very satisfying or well thought out either. In other words, the writers seem to think that the only thing needed to make a Twilight Zone episode is something supernatural or weird that puts the protagonists in a difficult and bizarrely unusual position, then throw some hot young actor at it. In addition, Forest Whitaker is miscast as the narrator. As with any anthology, there are some better and entertaining episodes, but the hit ratio here is quite low and the rest are only slightly above average.



Paradox  
Based on the single season.

Less flashy British CSI with a sci-fi twist: Clues are given to the detectives and a scientist as images from the future. The detectives have to race against a ticking clock to solve a murder mystery that will take place in the future by trying to piece together a puzzle out of the cryptic images, sometimes involving themselves in the events that unfold. Unfortunately, this is too contrived to enjoy. You could take any detective episode from any show, collect 8 random images from the episode that don't give anything away too easily, then show these images at the beginning of the episode and you'd have this show. And since the writers didn't even get close to the part where the source of the images is revealed in this first season, nor do they give us a theory as to why the images are so cryptic, I found it unenjoyable.



Blood Ties  
Based on most of the first season.

Although this show is based on books that predate Buffy, the adaptation is post-Buffy and therefore has to deal with not being original. In addition, the acting and writing have severe flaws of their own. Vicki Nelson is an ex-cop gone PI who finds herself specializing in supernatural cases, a wide variety of killer monsters, and criminals with superpowers, especially after teaming up with a mostly moral and helpful handsome vampire. Her ex is a cop (who, for some reason, never seems to have a backup when he goes investigating), and her secretary is a goth-librarian who finds supernatural solutions in books. Any of this sound familiar? The structure is mostly monster-of-the-week with some longer character development and two-parters. All the leads are only partially OK: They have presence, personality and looks, but never materialize as three-dimensional people due to superficial acting. So they all come off as dull and unmemorable even though the writing occasionally gives them something to do. The writing, too, seems like it has potential at times, but is mostly bland, features awkward attempts at humor (which may be the actors/directors fault) and has its brief moments of good drama, only to constantly disappoint by not developing them. It's like there is one person in the team with some talent, and everyone else doesn't have any. A show that never comes to life, and ends up feeling like a bland copycat.



Fear Itself  
Based on the single season.

Masters of Horror season three, transported to another network that imposed reduced gore and nastiness. It's a horror anthology directed by several names in the horror movie industry, including John Landis, Stuart Gordon and Ronny Yu. All anthologies offer episodes that vary greatly in quality, except the 13 episodes here are mostly mediocre, weak or poor entries, with a small handful of watchable ones, and no great ones. Many of these episodes seem to be aware that they are making a quickie horror flick and don't bother much with plausibility, development or character, or even feature some brainless plot twists that make no sense. The enjoyable ones are 'Family Man', the funny 'Something with Bite', and maybe Gordon's 'Eater'. Very lacking in creativity and definitely not one of the better anthology series.



Tomorrow People, The  
Based on most of the single season.

Yet another copy-cat uninspired super-hero series that is a bland retread of several other ideas. It also features very poor writing. As with X-Men and its clones, people find they are evolving into super-humans, some turn towards crime, others form a group to fight the evil government organization that was put together to control or destroy them. Conspiracies and secrets keep emerging, and the people in charge turn out to be one of those inbred Alias-type of circles where everyone is related or linked via one conspiracy or another. The chief nemesis at first is a one-dimensional cold-blooded killer, then the writers pile on the secrets and personal agendas, not realizing that these contradict what he did at the begining of the season. Similar dramas are constantly inserted into the show for some very artificial and contrived character development. The writers also keep making up rules then break them all the time, making this show unwatchable. For example, there's the rule that both sides agreed on for some reason to not show their powers to civilians, and the agency takes this extremely seriously, instantly killing anyone who has been exposed, but then everyone constantly teleports almost anywhere without a care over who may accidentally see them. Their powers at first are 'the three Ts: telekinesis, telepathy and teleportation', but then the writers keep adding more and more powers to a select few whenever it is convenient, and conveniently forget to use these powers numerous times later on. And it's no wonder these powers disappear, since obviously if someone has all these powers in addition to being able to stop time, predict the future and turn back time, then he becomes completely unbeatable and omnipotent. Which brings us to the most ridiculously obvious and repetitive mistake: The fact that these people with super-powers are always physically fighting instead of doing 100 other basic things with their powers, like teleport themselves or their enemies away, or block their punches with telekinesis. And why do they walk or run every time they teleport? Later episodes start getting more creative with it, but these only serve to emphasize the question of why they didn't use these things before. There's another random rule about them not being able to kill humans which makes no sense, especially given that they harm humans all the time, or even kill them by mistake, and all these powers can be easily removed using chemicals, even though they are supposedly genetic. And so on. Get a clue, guys. This show was unwatchable, and also uninspired to begin with.



Tru Calling  
Based on most of the first season.

Brainless, high-concept, episodic TV show that always feels like its made for simple teenagers, as demonstrated by the show's silly name. Tru Davies, who works at the morgue, is called on to help people by having some of her days rewound so that she can fix whatever went wrong and caused one or more deaths. The episodes quickly feel repetitive, with a dead person asking for help before she starts her day over again, racing against a clock to fix things both big and small, with some unexpected dead-ends, twists and turns. Her sister and brother have got to be the biggest losers on the planet, forcing her to save them from various crises and disasters that always take place coincidentally on the same days that she is trying to save a life. Her experienced and wise co-worker at the morgue is slowly turned into her mentor, and a muddled story arc starts to appear at the end of the season regarding a man who seems to have the same ability. Eliza Dushku is surprisingly bland and not at her intense best, the concept is never developed, the writers never take risks or show an interesting imagination, and the episodic structure gets old fast. Watch Day Break instead.



Phantom, The  

Sci-Fi Channel re-imagines yet another oldie, this one a superhero fantasy as a possible series pilot. It's a pity they didn't actually think things through instead of just re-imagining the look and feel into a hi-tech 24-esque thriller. The costume is updated into some kind of hi-tech suit that amplifies strength and stops bullets without even a nod to Newton's basic laws of science. The supernatural scenes are silly, especially when juxtaposed with all the hi-tech. The bad guys live in a nonsensical and cliched evil boardroom that think up pointless conspiracies for their own sake. The plot that uses hypnotic TV signals is cliched and never believable. The lead is yet another instantly forgettable and bland hunk. The dialogue is awful. There is some action entertainment here and there if you switch your brain off, but this not only fails when compared to all the great superhero movies of the last decade, it also fails on its own right.



Masters of Science Fiction  
Based on the single season.

Short-lived attempt at another Outer Limits type of show with short stories containing a moral message written by prominent sci-fi authors. The liberal moral bent is painfully preachy and insulting, perhaps suitable for 5 year olds, and it isn't delivered in the form of a speech or twist at the end of the episode, choosing mostly obvious and predictable stories instead. Hopefully, these flaws were not in the original stories. Out of the six episodes, three are very poor and weak, and three are only mediocre or moderately entertaining, covering things like how the nuclear bomb or violence is bad, and acceptance of all people as equals, all in futuristic settings of course. The high production values and good casting help, but most stories end up disappointing.



Langoliers, The  

3-part Stephen King adapatation of a novella. The story contains a fascinating sci-fi/horror hybrid concept involving time and a group of airline passengers caught in a very strange mystery where everyone seems to have disappeared during their flight. But some of the characters are reduced to cliches, and this movie makes it much worse by approaching them in a very infantile way with very broad strokes. As the group slowly unravel what has happened to them, Craig Toomey unravels into cartoonish psychotic madness, and the cliched little blind girl somehow knows what is about to happen. Finally, the special effects for the monsters turn out to be pathetically poor, slamming the lid down on yet another poor King adaptation.



Primeval  
Based on most of the first season.

A British Stargate involving primeval beasts and dinosaurs by the makers of the Walking With... documentary series. Anomalies are opening up that are portals in time, allowing creatures from the past to step into the present. Scientists, geeks and soldiers combine forces to study or fight this phenomenon. A good setup, and the effects are pretty good, but the implementation is poor. This is a show where writers can write phrases like 'the anomalies are concrete proof that the past exists' without even realizing what they are saying. The characters are either cliches of 'driven scientist', 'evil beaurocrat' and 'knowledgable nerd', or outrageously dumb, or the actors simply don't fill in their shoes convincingly. The monsters are unstoppable when it comes to extras, but laughably ineffectual when it comes to our heroes, rendering the fight scenes impotent. The writing is weak, mind-bogglingly artificial, or secondary to coming up with new monsters of the week, and the science is either based on too much guesswork and fantasy, or very lacking, as evidenced by the fact that they never even run basic tests or take readings when the anomalies appear, and they never bother to explain how time-portals always connect only with a moving planet Earth. Entertaining at times due to its subject matter, but the flaws are bad enough to leave me very bored.



Riverworld  

2-part mini-series by the Sci-Fi channel (I refuse to accept their silly name change) that is set-up to become a potential TV series but I doubt this will happen. It is based on the classic sci-fi books by Philip Jose Farmer that are full of thoughts and ideas, but these writers stupidly decided to re-imagine it as a Lost clone. This alone is enough to sink this show. Some people die in a terrorist bomb and find themselves in the strange afterlife of Riverworld where innumerable dead people from various places and times on Earth hang out, including historical figures like Mark Twain and Tomoe Gozen the female samurai. Some are given missions by mysterious blue creatures, and when they die, they come back to life again in seemingly random times in the future like some kind of computer game. The writers stray very far from the books, cram some elements from many of the books into 3 hours, and reduce a thinking man's sci-fi story to an action-adventure with simplistic good vs. bad men, and an elusive mystery Macguffin of the new world a la Lost. Good acting (except for the badly fake Japanese accent by Goossen), mildly entertaining, but quite pointless, and very insulting to fans.



Knight Rider (2008)  
Based on most of the single season.

What's funny about this show is that it isn't a re-imagination, only an upgrade. A lot of the cheese, the fantastical car super-powers, the bland acting with the car out-acting the humans, the implausible action, and the minimally dressed sexy female technicians and damsels in distress are all here, except they have been upgraded for the new millenium. This time, Michael Knight's army ranger son drives the new and improved car and fights the usual wide variety of criminals and terrorists, with some government interference. It's all entertaining and action-packed, until the howlingly implausible solutions start popping up, neatly solving every crisis in a single episode, and the car turns out to be ridiculously powerful. This show has more sci-fi than Transformers and Star Trek put together, and seeing as it takes place in our world, this is ridiculously impossible to swallow. The car transforms into other cars with the help of 'nano-technology', it creates objects from nothing in a 3D generator, hacks into any system in milliseconds, even non-networked machines like locks, cars and cameras, it can scan anything anywhere in seconds, has a mini-surgery compartment, and on and on, with more silly and impossible abilities popping up with every episode only to be forgotten in the next. A bit better than the original, and at least it knows how silly it is, but this is still kids stuff.



Knight Rider  
Based on most of the first season and scattered episodes.

An 80s mainstay with an all too 80s look and notoriously cheesy action, not to mention that it features Hasselhoff as the hero. Michael Knight is an ex-cop with a strong drive for justice who gets shot while fighting crime. He gets rehabilitated by the Knight Foundation which provides him with a super-car for fighting crime. The car has many weapons and gagdets, is indestructible, has surveillance capabilities, and an AI with a very human personality, programmed to serve and protect Michael. The show features episodic thrills and campy action, usually featuring Knight saving a damsel in distress as she gets in over her head with a criminal element. All this may sound like a terrible show, but this is somewhat campy and cheesy fun if you can stand the implausibilities and silliness, and it's mostly fun for the same reason we watched it as children: The car is super cool. The bad guys are too easily defeated, their willpowers seem to fade away at the end of each episode after Michael Knight pulls a car stunt on them, the car mechanic is a beautiful girl who never gets dirty, Hasselhoff is a dull actor who seems more interested in posing, it's all too easy to point out that the car has more character than the hero, and the car is always way too human, making jokes, sporting insecurities and playing mind games. The car may be irrepressibly cool, but its abilities frequently go way past plausibility into juvenile fantasy. Good for kids only.



Star Trek: Deep Space Nine  
Based on the third season, most of the fourth, and some scattered episodes.

A stand-out in the wave of Star Trek spin-offs that attempted relatively more mature, realistic and complex writing involving a stationary space station, developing a political and protectional relationship with a single abused race of beings while trying to maintain a power balance, or fighting with other aggressive neighbours (Cardassians, Klingons). This is in contrast to all other Trek shows that were about exploring new worlds. And even this single-minded focus is often overshadowed by an emphasis on character development and human drama. This approach is taken to such an extreme, that nothing really happens for two whole seasons except for some ongoing, banal human dramas and episodic dangers. During season three, the ominous Dominion rear their heads, threats from shape-shifting aliens grow, some spiritual themes develop, tensions rise with Klingons, etc. but it takes another two seasons to grow properly into a gripping story, the vast majority of episodes being a variety of stand-alones ranging from dull sci-fi, to moderately watchable. The actors are not bad relative to other Star Trek shows but still stiff and still missing that color and warmth from the originals. The occasional humor is mostly juvenile. In summary, this show has good elements in the form of more mature writing, actors and character, but is still bogged down by stiffness and too much banality, its alleged story arcs are very overrated, and the show is very hard to get into due to its tiring slow pace and lack of inspiration.



Hex  
Based on the first season.

A girl in a boarding school finds she has supernatural powers and is hounded by a demon, her best friend turns into a ghost, all making her life terribly complicated. Comparisons to Buffy are not altogether wrong as they do share quite a few elements: The capable blonde heroine who finds herself with inherited supernatural powers and a fate not of her choosing, complex relationships and even romance with evil, a school setting, horny friends, strong character development, and a balance of comedy and drama. Differences include the lack of action, a lack of creativity and risk-taking, and not enough strong characters. The real flaw however is the inconsistent and lazy writing, the most egregious involving the mechanics of a ghost who inconsistently interacts with the real world, and the deterministic and therefore weakening approach to characters and plot development. Fatalism is always boring.



V (2009)  
Based on the first one and a half seasons.

Like Battlestar Galactica, this remake tries to upgrade an old 80s show with mixed results, and is ultimately a failure due to constant poor writing. Unlike BSG, this show is a remake of a great show, and the remake is a mixture of mediocre, bland and bad, as opposed to BSG's mix of great and terrible. We all know the V aliens that visit Earth have a devious, brutal agenda and are reptiles hiding behind masks this time, so the pilot gets this over with quickly (too quickly) and sets up the series with a handful of people that get together to fight the aliens whom everyone thinks are saviors. The effects are upgraded, and the writers now have the job of re-imagining an alien invasion of human psychology across the whole planet - a very promising sci-fi setup. But the stupidities, bad writing contrivances, and blandness start from day one and accumulate with every episode. Here are some off the top of my head:

Firstly, all of the actors seem to have been cast for looks over personality. This is a world populated by models, not exactly helping plausibility. I presume the queen alien rules over them due to biological dictatorship, otherwise it would be hard to imagine how such a bland creature lacking personality could become a supreme leader. The idea that she convinced the whole human world based on her expressionless and obviously masked face is very implausible, and doing this without extreme censorship (as with the original series), and blaming it on the humans 'needing a savior' is pathetic writing. Then there is the alien agenda: They don't seem to have any, except to want to play petty power-games just to pad out the series. In the original, their priority was on getting supplies. And why would they carefully manipulate the whole planet for decades only to bring in an invading armada? What possible grand purpose could they have to spend weeks and weeks of work on a single teenage boy's state of mind? And then there is the resistance: In the original, it was a growing network, here it's four people. Pathetic. Other miscellanea: The traitorous reporter character makes no sense as he suddenly swerves from scheming skeptic to devoted follower. Ultimate stupidity: The resistance brands all their members by cutting into their scalps. In one episode, a traitor blames his actions on 'we cannot win', in the next he says that he believes in the visitors. Then there is the same contrivance of BSG where we don't know who will turn out to be an alien. Then there is whole confusing thing about the aliens being emotionless all their evolutionary lives, but then they develop emotions just by talking to humans or wearing synthetic skin. Ridiculous. And if the majority of visitors are emotionless, then why do they need 'bliss', a purely emotional state of mind imposed on them by their queen like a drug? All of this shows the writers are making it up as they go along and have no consistency control or an inkling of discipline to think things through. Season two, as expected, only gets worse, with the show reduced to a petty soapish struggle between a handful of people and catty aliens, and lots of nonsensical, poor writing dealing with emotions.



Caprica  
Based on most of the single season.

An extremely poor Battlestar Galactica prequel spin-off featuring the worst of that show's severe writing flaws made even worse. It takes place about 60 years before the Cylon attack and explores the rise of the Cylons, the company and family that created them, the circles of conspiracies, religious nuts and criminals that revolve around this new technology, and an attempt to portray the cultures and religions of the original worlds from BSG. The biggest problem with this show is very simple: The writers are terrible. Sure, the show is based on story arcs, complex storylines, high drama, tragedies and a unique sci-fi setup. But the brainless writers decided to make all the worlds depend on some bratty and obviously dumb teenagers, giving them not only super-intelligent talents that are never believable, but also magical abilities to control virtual worlds, create souls, and whatnot, all straight out of a bad, undisciplined fantasy outing. The character motivations are so terrible, they seem random and never make any sense. The approach to religion is laughably bad and superficial. And the culture of Caprica consists of duplicating the USA and just changing some names for things. The Tauron culture does better, but half the time it feels like they just think they are in a mafia movie. After watching this, I feel like re-reading some Frank Herbert or Asimov to remind myself of what sci-fi is all about.



Jeremiah  
Based on most of the first season.

A poor post-apocalyptic series by the maker of Babylon 5. The setup is that a virus has wiped out every human past the age of puberty (can viruses be that effective?), leaving behind children to fight for survival. The show takes place 15 years after the event, with various pockets and groups of survivors, each with their own problems, attitudes, goals and methods of survival. Two men travel the countryside in search of a mysterious Valhalla Sector that may have something to do with the government and the virus, using a group of people in a nuclear shelter with many resources as their base of operations, going on missions of information-gathering, alliances and aid while inevitably coming across many adventures amidst the general anarchy. This is a good setup for a show, and the wide variety of survivors is plausible, ranging from morally bankrupt narcissists in charge of military weapons, to Mad Max style bartering towns, to people training from books to bring back civilization. But that's where the good stuff ends. The leads are OK but very forgettable, and many of the leaders are poorly cast, with the worst example being Theo: a skimpily dressed bitch who would most probably be raped and left for dead in a world like this, yet this show thinks hundreds would see her as their leader. There is a very implausible lack of starvation, malnutrition, diseases, and hygiene problems, with everyone looking too clean and healthy. The lead has an annoying habit of preaching to everyone in the country, sure of his moral superiority. The plot moves along slowly trying to hook an audience with hints of a convoluted mystery, while most of the episodes are filler drama. And even the better episodes are sometimes let down by poor attention to detail and quality in the writing. One example is a military outfit which for some reason saw fit to wire up their own base with explosive so that anyone could blow them up with a press of a button thus conveniently ending an episode neatly. Jericho this isn't.



Crusade  
Based on most of the single season.

A short-lived Babylon 5 spin-off by the same creator taking place in the same universe. Numerous rumors were spread about its cancellation, but since the show isn't much good, these are irrelevant. The setup is a weak contrivance: An alien species has infected Earth's atmosphere with a virus that will take effect in 5 years and a captain in his special space-ship has to roam the universe in search of a cure. And then there is the strangely unfocused wandering of the ship spending too much time with adventures that seem insignificant when compared with the pending deaths of billions. The show promises story arcs but, like Babylon 5, seems content mostly with various episodic adventures that come up while exploring unknown areas of space, most of which we have seen in many other shows. The approach to cultures, aliens, politics and humor is simplistic, just like Babylon 5. The leads are all passable but most never come to life and are therefore forgettable. The general tone of the show is unique, attempting a fusion of juvenile fantasy and sci-fi by having a telepath, a thief, and a wizard... I mean technomage and using names like Excalibur and Galen. But this comes off more like an engineered attempt to draw in a larger audience rather than a well-thought out world. And finally, many of the special effects look cheap and unreal, like an old computer game. In short, there are many other much better sci-fi shows out there about the exploration of space in a space ship.



Revelations  

Religious-apocalyptic horror mini-series nonsense about the end of days and a nun and physicist that try to stop it. A Satanist with special powers is on the other side, stirring up a prison riot, trying to kill a comatose girl struck by lightning for wearing a slutty outfit who is suddenly channeling messages from God and the physicist's dead daughter. In the meantime, there are politics between various factions of the church, Satanic feline twin fashion models that don't do anything useful, a Satanic conversion of a troubled youth related to the physicist, virgin births, both holy and evil, and more. Pullman is bland as the physicist, Rhys-Davies is wasted, and McElhone never registers any religious conviction as a nun, and her character is supposed to be a skeptic investigator yet she believes everything without proof. Somehow, this series manages to turn off all its viewers: Christianity is preached, but scripture is misquoted and twisted, and most of the movie features gleeful violence, horror and sadism from the Satanists, and yet the Satanists are only typical Hollywood bad guys with no raison d'etre without Christianity. The series as a whole fails to excite or horrify, going for implausible Hollywoodized dramatizations and sets, designed to pull in Da Vinci fans but it doesn't do anything interesting, reminding me of The Seventh Sign. If you want a humorous treatment of this topic with muscle, try Day of the Beast instead.



Blade  
Based on most of the first season.

The movies were only above-average superhero entertainment, focusing on a lot of cool techno-dark vampire action and over-the-top shenanigans with blood, and by the third one I had had enough. This series is just a cash-in that looks like it should be entertaining but never is. For starters, the lead they got to replace Snipes has zero personality, maintaining a grim look on his face throughout the show and droning monotonously in a menacing whisper-snarl as if he were trying to channel Batman. He simply never registers as anything and is instantly forgettable. For the story of Krista, a revenge-driven female ex-soldier forced into a life as a vampire who becomes Blade's ally, they got another non-human performance, but she at least makes up for her flat delivery with very non-flat eye-candy. None of the rest of the cast stand out, and although this isn't as bad as Mutant X, it is almost in the same category. The continuous story lines involving complex machinations and agendas amidst the hierarchy of vampire houses helps but although it seems like it should be interesting, nothing surprising ever happens, as if a factory had churned out a vampire series. In short, action-packed entertainment and it does look cool at times, but this is generally dull as dishwater.



Demons  
Based on the single season.

Yet another attempt by the British to copy Buffy, this one so blatant that it gives the college warrior a foreign (American) 'watcher', also by the name of Rupert. The warrior, a Van Helsing descendant, is male this time, and his assistants include his girlfriend and a blind psychic, as they battle supernatural monsters in every episode, with only hints of character-development and story arcs. Despite its unoriginality, it could have been fun, except the protagonist is bland and looks bored, the watcher has a terribly fake American accent, the blind woman forgets she's blind, the rest of the characters don't register much personality, the writing is predictable and pedestrian, the monster masks are silly, and the effects are cheap. The British are typically much better than this. Shows what can happen when you copy instead of finding your own inspiration, I suppose.



Dead Zone, The  
Based on the first season.

Cronenberg directed this story to great satisfaction in 1983. Do we really need to see it again padded out to multiple seasons? Johnny Smith becomes even more psychic after an accident that put him in a coma for 6 years, seeing dangerous and traumatic events in the past and future. Lots of inner torment and drama ensues. His visions are shown (too) vividly with great special effects and computer graphics, and the acting and direction are strong. This is all moderately interesting but the episodic nature of the show, the repetitive Kassandra complex drama and the coincidences where he always happens to be in the right place and see amazing things all gets repetitive and unrealistic after a while. It very quickly becomes like a psychic CSI rather than about the personality, dread and the burden of living with such a gift as in the book. Uninteresting.



Collector, The  
Based on half of the first season.

The setup is that a 14th century fallen priest has been recruited by Satan to collect souls for him, only recently, Satan has given him permission to try to save them before he collects them. This sounds like a morality show in the vein of Quantum Leap, and it does sometimes plod through the same kind of simplistic preaching, but mostly, it is just a childish, game-like take on morality, ethics and karma. The contestants (AKA human beings), like in a computer adventure game, have to find the right combination or push the right ethical buttons within 48 hours to be saved and go on to the next round. The good news is that each episode ends unpredictably, with some people finding redemption through an unexpected angle, others refusing or continuing to do the wrong thing due to personal fears or arrogance, and others resulting in different conclusions and twists. The bad news is that the setup is too silly and the writing is too immature. Satan appears in different forms and ages and has a wicked sense of humor even though the Collector is humorless which is OK, but when the episodes range from comically silly to melodramatic, it alienates the audience. Although the show is episodic, there is an annoying story arc involving his attempts to help a bitchy crack-whore, and there's a reporter with an autistic child with cliched mystical abilities. Badly done.



Quantum Leap  
Based on the first season.

Typical simplistic, mildly entertaining 80s show that, at first, seems conceptually reminiscent of Sliders. The hero leaps through time, taking over other people's bodies during a pivotal period in their life and has to correct a momentous mistake they will make in the future/past in order to be able to leap back. This formula is contrived crap both scientifically and conceptually and having to fix other people's 'mistakes' is wrong no matter how you look at it. Add to this the sanctimonious and politically correct moral attitude of the show and it becomes unbearable. Also, although it's based on time-travel, there is no sci-fi, and every episode merely features a different human drama story during the limited range between 1950 and 1980. It's still got amusing characters and entertaining situations, balancing action, comedy and some interesting historical detail, but this is mild at best and the preachy moral bent ruins it.



Person of Interest  
Based on most of the first season.

Although labelled as sci-fi, this is actually just another in a long line of detective, crime-solving series. You see, the sci-fi setup of this show is that a brilliant computer programmer working for the government, set up a system that searches all e-mails, phone conversations and video footage in the whole country for threats. A system that actually exists, except that the makers of this show decided to make it a kind of all-knowing program that can find crimes before they are committed, and with 100% accuracy. Besides never making any mistakes, or never just warning about potential crimes with probabilities, this program is even psychic. In one episode, it warns that a police officer is now in serious trouble. Can you imagine a program that examines the life of a police officer who is always in danger and under threats, and decides that today she is in real trouble? Neither can I. Because it would have to be omniscient. A program would even have difficulty telling apart an explicit threat from a joke with any sort of reliable accuracy. In any case, this programmer, ever since he was ousted from his job, only gets information from this program written in god-code through a back-door, in the form of social security numbers of people who may commit crimes or be victims in crimes. So this show would have us believe that this hacker, who throughout the show has no problem accessing and breaking into any system in the world and bringing up exactly the file they need in seconds, cannot get any more information than that from his own system. And why? Because this show wants him and his action-figure partner to investigate the person until they come up with a reason for the trouble. Which brings me back to what I said: It's just a crime-solving show. Replace the god-computer with a private investigator who gets leads, jobs or investigates any suspicious activity, and you basically have the same show. Except in this show we also get a Bond-like action-man (without the charm) who is ex-military and whatnot, who uses his skills to save ordinary people from ordinary crime thanks to the pointers by his hacker friend. Sounds familiar? Do yourself a favor and check out The Equalizer first - it was done better the first time around, with more personality and without insulting the audience this much. Or check out any other crime-problem-solving show for that matter. The writing is also mostly episodic crime-of-the-week with the occasional paranoid conspiracy or cases that involve their friends and their past, some of them entertaining, except that it's impossible to get past the premise. This show even pulls out that old canard and Hollywood fantasy of a super-hacker better than everyone else who is a female, and a hot one at that. Why do all J.J. Abrams produced shows insult their audiences?



Total Recall 2070  
Based on scattered episodes of the single season.

Sci-fi show that is a blend of the Blade Runner/Total Recall worlds of Philip Dick, a noirish cop show (without a narrative), and some elements of Star Trek's Data, the android in search of humanity and his maker. The writing explores themes of mind-manipulation, memory, androids that dream and aspire to be human, evil corporations, Mars colonies, dystopian future, and man vs machines in an atmospheric recreation of Blade Runner that is too low-budget to be immersive. The structure is mostly episodic with some two-parters and occasional hints of a story arc. Unfortunately, it's not as interesting as it sounds. The dialog is very cliched, especially at the beginning of the show, as if they copied-pasted from other movies without transporting the rest of the environment to back the words. The wooden actors don't help either, the writing rarely does interesting things, and all this together with a dark, monotonously soft-spoken and dreamy atmosphere, constantly threatens to put you to sleep.



Cold Lazarus  

Dennis Potter's follow-up series to Karaoke, exploring what it would be like for people to pick his brain, thoughts and writings after his death, necessitating the use of sci-fi to explore such fantasies. It's several hundred years into the future in a dystopian society of ubiquitous commercialism with entertainment tycoons running the world, and a population that lacks any meaning or real experiences, with the expected terrorists that demand 'reality or nothing'. A group of scientists have managed to tap into the preserved brain of Daniel Feeld from Karaoke, extracting memories and thoughts as digestible entertainment and experiences. Two powerful, arrogant and eccentric American moguls compete for what they see are huge commercial possibilities while the scientists and rebels grapple with the social and personal consequences of using a human being in such a manner. The concepts and ideas make it sound interesting, but the actual product is mostly awkward and inauthentic sci-fi and characters probably more let down by the production and direction than the writing, some tedious dialogue, endless scenes of watching another person's memories as if they were movies (a ridiculous idea feebly justified in some of the dialogue), and many badly faked American accents, with the occasional interesting scene or idea.



Andromeda  
Based on the first season and some scattered episodes.

An inferior Farscape clone with healthy doses of Gene Rodenberry's bleeding heart idealism and racial conflict, and some Blakes 7. In terms of Farscape characters we have the resourceful, idealistic human who came from a different world through a black hole, a fiery female fighter, a spiritual, preachy alien, a weird-behaving colored alien, a huge warrior with a chip on his shoulder, and character-driven drama and humor. The main story arc is somewhat interesting with a captain of the Commonwealth getting stuck in a black hole for 300 years only to find that the Commonwealth has disintegrated and the universe turned to chaos. The race of humans known as Nietzscheans who follow Nietzsche's writings, self-interests and evolutionary gene pool superiority morals serve as the interesting opposing force, but the writers often seem to be in over their heads when it comes to keeping their behaviour consistent. But the real problems are that the writers periodically serve bad science fiction (especially an all-too-human AI), deus ex machina solutions by a brilliant engineer who seems to be able to invent anything only to forget about it later, some cheesy cliches, some painfully badly delivered humor, and too much bleeding-heart preaching. The acting and personalities are weak relative to Farscape, and the makeup effects are sometimes laughable. Some episodes show traces of the Farscape magic but they only make me want to watch Farscape again. This show gets points for not being another stiff Star Trek show but unfortunately they didn't pull it off.

The first season starts out horribly cheesy but soon becomes more acceptable, showing occasional potential and more character. Subsequent seasons soon revert back to cheese however and by the third season, the show discards logic, story arcs and personality drives and becomes a ridiculously cheesy action show revolving around the main character's ego.



Time Trax  
Based on scattered episodes of the first season.

Instantly forgettable time-travel series that opts for the cheapest sci-fi plot device: A man from the future who travels to the present time. He is a cop tracking down criminals that escaped him using the only method possible: time-travel. Even culture-shock and social adjustment is supposedly made irrelevant by making him a student of history, as if that would help anyone adjust to another century. And that is the biggest problem with this show: A lack of imagination. He has several almost super-human abilities which come into play during the physical action sequences, but his supposed super-intelligence never makes an appearance. In fact, he does many rather dumb things. His assistant, in the spirit of Knight Rider, is a computer with an all-too-human personality, in this case a mother-figure know-it-all with several hi-tech tricks up its sleeve. Except that it isn't as entertaining or cool as in Knight Rider, and a holograph computer with hokey anthropomorphisms is never interesting. The rest of the characters are forgettable, and the writing is pedestrian. Some light story arcs regarding an arch-nemesis and a love interest make for a backdrop to the episodic evil plot or criminal-of-the-week structure that often make use of future technology for their nefarious deeds. Nothing really bad, but neither is there anything of interest.



Listener, The  
Based on scattered episodes of the first season.

There are dozens of shows about psychics using their gifts to solve mysteries, so what new angle does this show have to offer? None whatsoever. This is a tired show in a tired genre featuring yet another psychic whose gifts seem to include many different supernatural abilities based on writers' whims, who works as a paramedic, forms ties with law enforcement, and just happens to witness a whole lot of crimes and mysteries which only he can solve. Yawn. To make matters worse, the show is mostly episodic mystery of the week, with a really poor and uninteresting longer story arc about his past which makes minimal appearances. There is nothing even close to a compelling character, and everyone is pretty, including the doctors and horribly unconvincing cop. Nothing to see here.



Being Erica  
Based on scattered episodes of the first season.

This is about as 'chick-flick' as it gets. For starters, this is for people that thought that the best thing about Ally Mcbeal was Ally heself, despite the fact that she was often annoyingly neurotic and made a mountain out of every romantic molehill. If you want to see a show that dedicates itself to similar dramas without the balance of the legal aspects and male characters in that show, then this might just be for you. It's about Erica, a thirty-something that has made a series of 'bad decisions' all her life and now finds herself a mess of anxieties, romantic complications and confusions, and a life that is going nowhere. In short, your average modern woman. A god-like therapist enters her life and starts helping her to fix her problems one by one by using time-travel: Sending her back to pivotal moments so she can see if she can change her life for the better, which, more often than not turns out to be impossible, yet she emerges from it with a valuable life-lesson. And that's another thing: Some shows shoot themselves in the foot by inserting corny life-lessons into their endings, but this show is almost only about life-lessons. I wouldn't mind it if the lessons were deep, insightful, unusual or interesting in some way, but the ones here are self-empowering pop-psychology cliched nonsense that weekend writers were crapping out into women's magazines for decades. Things like 'it only matters what you think', or learning how to go after what you want, being honest with your friends, and so on. And then there are the men: If you ever needed proof that this one is only for chicks, the many guys in this show are about the only ones undressing for the camera, they are all hunks and smooth models, and they have that impossible one-dimensional fantasy-male character that you often find in chick-flicks: They're either just jerks, or ultra-sensitive to Erica's every need and emotion. So, basically, feminists complain about how women are often portrayed in movies, then they do exactly the same. To be fair, this show does have its moments, but they're eclipsed by all the above.



Firestarter 2: Rekindled  

Sci-Fi mini-series sequel in name only, completely violates the original's story, characters and themes. Charlie McGee is now a charmless teenage brat, still on the run from the men in black behind the experiment that gave her superpowers, and having difficulties with her sex life due to an uncontrollable connection between her lust and her pyrokinesis. When a naive young investigator tracks her down, things become complicated again, with Malcolm McDowell as an insane scientist, Dennis Hopper as a fatalist with time-vision, and a slew of evil 'X-Boys' with superpowers, the next experimental generation. Thus, instead of the horror of psychic superpowers and the human drama angle of the original, the story has now become a fantasy-superhero action movie with sloppy writing. McDowell and Hopper are wasted powerhouses here, the writers seem to have no idea what to do with Charlie, and the ending is so nonsensical, it's bizarre.



Torchwood  
Based on most of the first two seasons.

A Doctor Who spin-off series. Torchwood is a not-so-secret Earth institute formed to study, capture and use alien technology to defend the planet. Week after week, their hi-tech radars discover dangerous alien devices, threats, alien attacks, or monsters that need to be captured, thwarted and hidden from public view. The team is very loose and informal, to say the least, trying to have fun with a job that keeps them so busy. The result is a blend of Men in Black, and fast moving episodic X-Files thrills. The approach is more adult-oriented than Doctor Who, employing a touch of violence and gore, and lots of sexual content, but the stories are the same blend of populist sci-fi, entertaining action, and comedy, with frequent forays into drama and emotion.

As a concept, and given the success of Doctor Who, this should be a great show. But there are so many things wrong with this one I hardly know where to start: The sci-fi rules are obviously made up as they go along and sometimes contradict themselves even in the same episode. The writing is sloppy, the sci-fi gadgets keep coming out of nowhere as lazy plot devices, many crises often revolve around a 'time-rift' which is just another weak plot device that seems to be able to change the universe in any way the writers please. Emotional scenes almost always feel forced, overwrought and too melodramatic. The sexuality is so obviously a forced gay agenda on the part of Russell Davies despite his protests otherwise; The problem is not the homosexuality, but the sacrificing of character and writing just to insert yet another scene of rampant snogging, flirting and shagging, the characters' slutty bisexuality and omnisexuality seemingly drifting like the wind from one creature to another, constantly undermining the show and any attempts at drama. The lead character is an unlikeable arrogant slut that seems to think he is a gift to the universe, his immortality removing any sense of danger and replacing it with annoying I-can't-die angst. Another character is an annoying over-emotional woman who constantly bosses and mothers people around based on her whims. The team is so incredibly sloppy professionally that they make it impossible to believe that these people are trusted by a government, have lasted for decades, and are able to survive so many crises. Etc. The restrictions set by the fanbase in Doctor Who are probably what made the comeback so successful, but this unrestricted show is a mess.



Fallen    

A mini-series released as three TV movies. A teenager realizes he is not quite human when he starts to understand animals, and angels either try to kill him or protect him, and he is made to understand his destiny which may involve saving angels or something more sinister. This fantasy series is based on the Bible with its setup of God, angels, Nephilim, etc. As such, it should be criticized by its adherence to Biblical lore rather than on its imagination. For one thing, it sticks to the Christian version of angels that claims they can rebel and fall, which never made sense to me. The angels I know have no free will, thus undermining this show's raison d'Ítre. But even after accepting this viewpoint, it fails on a logical level: Why are angels sent by God on a mission suddenly killing humans indiscriminately and behaving like jerks and bitches? How did they become so human? Why are all fights reduced to fists and sword-fights instead of something more powerful or supernatural? Why does the Redeemer seem immortal one second then mortal the next? Although the show does become hammy at times, the real problem is that it is impossible to enjoy the story since one can't get past the ridiculously illogical setup. Other low points include preaching to Azazel about feminism and respecting women, and blaming Satan for all wars and humanity's mistakes. At least Dogma was fun because it knew it was being funny.



Grimm  
Based on scattered episodes of the first season.

Bland, uninspired and nonsensical Buffy follower. A cop, as part of the Grimm family, finds that he comes from a long line of hunters of supernatural evil. Only he can see their true faces, and he uses some kind of super-fighting genes to take them down. So far it's like Buffy, except it's a policeman instead of a high-schooler, it has almost no humor, and the actors are almost all forgettable. Even the switch to a cop format is a big mistake, since they basically combined cop-show with Buffy, and this is very uninspired considering that there are hundreds of cop-shows using this very limited crime(monster)-of-the-week format. Another big problem is that they didn't bother in the slightest to make this remotely plausible. For one thing, every single case of his somehow involves a monster, which means that every criminal is not human. In additon, his partner is somehow oblivious to all of this, even though he witnesses one bizarre case after another with superhuman feats of physical strength, impossible deductions by his Grimm partner, and very bizarre deaths. As far as characters go, they are all as bland as they get, except for Monroe, who lends some humor and sarcasm as a rehabilitated monster that helps the Grimm-cop, but he isn't enough. The creatures are also largely silly, all of them flashing yet another unconvincing CGI beast-face every time they get emotional, before reverting back to their human self with only a bit of fighting skill. Even the mythology that typically moves at a snails pace is uninteresting. Definitely not worthwhile.



Merlin (2008)  
Based on most of the first season.

Of all the shows to model after, why would a show pick a bad one like Smallville? The laughably contrived setup is that Merlin, Arthur, Lancelot, Morgana, Guinevere et al are all teenagers living in the same town, and, like superman, Merlin has to hide his superpowers from a law by Uther Pendragon who banished sorcery under penalty of death. Episode after episode features a crisis brought about by magic and monsters, and Merlin has to secretly save the day with the help of Arthur's sword and the guidance of his father.. I mean a wise old mentor. In other words, a cheesy teenage fantasy show in a castle, where even a historically challenged person such as myself could spot dozens of anachronisms in the speech, dresses, and attitudes towards class, gender and race (Guinevere was a black woman?). The CGI effects are bad, the characters don't seem to learn or grow much, the fight scenes are masked by rapid cuts, and the writing is mostly episodic and repetitive. At least this show isn't whiny and has more humor than Smallville, making it slightly better, but this is basically just juvenile cheese.



Storm of the Century  

A Stephen King mini-series, by-the-numbers and full of recycled latter day King cliches. Some good moments but over-stretched to 4 hours, and the ending makes no sense. The tale is about an evil man that knows the town's dark secrets, manipulating everyone and causing havoc until the final evil ultimatum.



Tommyknockers  

By-the-numbers mini-series adaptation of Stephen King's last good book. A woman finds an alien object on her grounds and starts digging it out, releasing powerful forces into the town that converts everyone into evil geniuses, slowly transforming them physically as well. Jim Gardner, a local alcoholic poet, is immune to these effects, but can he fight a whole town and his own inner demons? Mostly robotic direction and weak acting, capturing none of the heart of the novel.



Pretender, The  
Based on most of the first season.

Vastly overrated cult show. The concept here is the biggest problem: A man can pretend to be anyone else. But the show can't seem to make up its mind what this means exactly, and the various abilities this man has aren't entertaining or interesting. One ability seems to be to just know how to do things without training or study. This is hardly impressive and it doesn't exactly celeberate ingenuity. Another is to know what happened to a certain person using some kind of supernatural super-empathy visions. Another is the ability to lie about being someone and have everyone believe him in seconds, using mind-control maybe? Add to this an additional big problem that most of the episodes in the first season are formulaic and repetitive (he takes on a new career, helps someone, then escapes in the nick of time before the Centre catches him), and you have one very uninteresting show. As if that weren't enough, add a female character that is so over-the-top bitchy and dull, she seems to have come from a soap opera. There is some story arc regarding his background, parents and the mysterious agency called the Centre that is constantly after him, but most of the show consists of him adopting a new career every episode, doing good deeds helping little people with their problems which somehow always involve a bad person that needs to be put in his place.



Invisible Man, The  
Based on half of the first season.

A thief is manipulated into volunteering in a scientific experiment where a gland is inserted into his brain that allows him to be invisible. He is then forced to work for the government in miscellaneous jobs while playing cat and mouse games with his arch-nemesis who killed his brother and who wants to reproduce the experiment. The show is mostly episodic, involving hi-tech FBI crime-solving thrills or spy action mixed with some light humor, and feels often like a throwback to the cheesy 80s action shows. Somewhat entertaining but the writing is very weak and unoriginal, the science fiction is inconsistent and unconvincing, and the actors are all uninteresting.



Merlin  

Mini-series with an impressive cast attempting to retell the Arthurian legends through the life and eyes of Merlin. Unfortunately, the writing is terrible, the approach is mostly for children yet contains violent battles, the legends have been twisted and simplified into a dull fairy tale, there is too much cuteness and forced comedy, the special effects are weak, and most of the actors chew the scenery. Sam Neill brings class and strong character to the show and there are some good moments but this is just another failure in the long line of bad Arthurian adaptations.



Knights of Bloodsteel  

Lame fantasy mini-series. Recently, fantasy has gotten a big boost in popularity with a depth that appeals to adults, but this feels like a throwback to the cheesy geek fodder. The plot involves a world of humans, elves, sorcerers, goblins and dragons and a designated group of four reluctant warriors sent on a quest to retrieve the magical crucible that holds great power, while the evil Dragon Eye and his minions fight with them and compete at every stage. Sound familiar? The biggest problem with this series however, is that it never feels like another world. Between the politically-correct casting, the cheesy dialogue that can't decide whether it wants to be flowery or a modern-day spoof, the cardboard leads that hold no character, the constantly bitchy female warrior, the surveillance and robotic gadgets that feel out of place, and the really bad CGI effects, this never transports you to a world of magic.



Harsh Realm  
Based on half of the single season.

A rapidly cancelled and very incomplete sci-fi series by Chris Carter of X-Files fame about a virtual reality world, with several amusing parallels to Matrix (which came out in the same year). The military has invented a virtual world for training, but it has taken on a life of its own, and Santiago, a renegade soldier, has taken over this world with brutal dictatorship and idealism, and even threatens to annihilate the real world to ensure that his own world becomes dominant. Soldiers are sent into the Harsh Realm to attempt to bring Santiago down and they find they cannot go back until they complete their mission. Since this is a Carter show, complex conspiracies, alliances and double-crosses start piling up. But the insurmountable problem with this series is that the concept is ridiculous and the writers consistently demonstrate a lack of even basic understanding of computers. For starters, this takes place in our world and time, and the world is created by the military, but somehow they have managed to invent super-computers that can recreate the whole world and all of its occupants in absolute detail, as well as recreate all humans with their complex emotions and consciences intact. And why is this necessary for military training in the first place? And why can't they simply switch it off, disconnect people, or simply fight a program with programmers from the outside? The Matrix and the Otherland novels explained the mechanics properly, but this show never bothers. Then there are the constantly laughable details that make no sense: 'zipped files of testosterone' used for fighting, black 'unprogrammed' voids, 'glitches' that neatly allow people to walk through fences and nothing else, etc. And then there is the lead soldier, who is so bland and stupid that he risks real lives for virtual people and dogs, and constantly makes bad decisions. The first few episodes start revealing aspects of this bad setup, the rest wander off into more interesting stand-alone episodes, then the show ends abruptly.



Prisoner, The (2009)  

Mini-series 're-imagining' of the original cult series. The original didn't really need a remake, and even if it did, to improve on it would take much talent bordering on genius. This one features Ian McKellen, and limited itself to 6 parts, so I was interested in giving it a shot. The story, once again, involves a man who finds himself trapped in the 'Village', where everyone is a number and doesn't seem to know about another life outside, or do they? #2 is the psychologically manipulative near-god of the village, and beyond the village there is only desert, glass towers in a mirage, and the surreal bouncy spheres as protection mechanisms that somehow stop people from escaping. Unfortunately, this is modeled after Lost: Throw a confusing bunch of metaphysical nonsense and possibilities including dreams, the supernatural, the subconscious, Matrix-like hi-tech manipulation of reality, drugs, alternate realities, conspiracies, etc. make the characters utter things that could be construed as deep and mysterious and make them seem like they know more than they let on, draw superficial parallels between random objects, and finally, throw in some parallel backstory that supposedly reveals things inch by inch about the reality they are in now. In other words, this is purposely muddled writing carefully designed to impress a lazy and undisciplined audience into thinking the show is made of genius. Add to this the fact that the first episode right away makes it very clear that we are not dealing with reality, so all the paranoia and suspense is undermined. The ending seems ambitious and doesn't provide a simple cliched twist ending, but neither does it clarify anything, because it can't and doesn't want to. If you are going to explore a world of dream-logic or the inner minds of people, then the only thing of interest is to explore their inner minds, not a plot about escaping, Big Brother corporations, and paranoia. But what did we learn about our characters? Almost nothing.



Night Stalker  
Based on half of the first season.

An attempt to recreate X-Files based on characters from the original Night Stalker show. Kolchak is the Mulder character, a reporter who always assumes supernatural causes for one bizarre mystery after another and there's the skeptic female partner who tags along and helps. Strange crimes, mostly murders, uncover beings with supernatural powers, ghosts, psychic evil, mysterious cult leaders, and other unexplained phenomena. But the leads are dull as dishwater, the stories are predictable, recycled and bland, and the show structure is episodic monster-of-the-week with monotonous weak attempts at deep dark atmosphere. Even though the X-Files took a while to get started, it had variety, intrigue and some charm. This feels like X-Files leftovers.



Haven  
Based on most of the first season.

I'm really sick and tired of Sci-Fi Channel shows. It seems they have been using the same template for the past 10 years for all their shows. This may sound familiar: Come up with a nonsensical reason for strange things, objects, gadgets or superpowers to happen, then have new things, objects, gadgets or superpowers happen every episode while someone has the job to chase or investigate these new things, objects, gadgets or superpowers. Add a stretched-out story arc involving this someone's past, and progress this story arc as slowly as possible while distracting audiences with constantly new things, objects, gadgets or superpowers. SyFy have dumbed down science fiction for kids addicted to their cellphones, and the channel's name suits them. In this show, an FBI agent without a past arrives at Haven, where strange things happen. People's emotions and secrets lash out in violent supernatural ways, and it's up to her, and her local police friend who pines for her, to track down the culprit as fast as possible, and solve his emotional problems with a flick of the writers' pen, while she tries to figure out her convoluted connection with this place. So we get endless things like killer shadows, or butterflies that appear right before killer bedsheets, all the while SyFy tries to keep you watching to see what happens with her constantly twisting backstory which they are obviously making up as they go along. Dumb entertainment.



Bionic Woman (2007)  
Based on half of the single season.

I'm getting really sick and tired of shows about female ass-kickers that have nothing else to offer except a woman in tight clothes fighting. This one is a remake about a woman converted into a superwoman cyborg by the government and asked to complete missions, and commits the popular sin of casting an extremely dull protagonist, albeit not an annoying one like with Alias and Dark Angel. The structure of the show is the same as Alias, with a mixture of story-arcs dealing with family, angst, politics and some problems with the government Bionic project that keeps catching up with them, as well as episodic action-oriented thrills as the Bionic Woman is sent to save people and the world, while head-bashing with her own team and an annoyingly angsty sister. There's some entertaining action, but the writing is cliche and dull as well as sloppy, the characters are all instantly forgettable, and the fights use shaky cameras and dizzying editing to hide the fact that the fights aren't any good.



Earth 2  
Based on half of the first season.

A group of colonists land on an Earth-like planet and it's nothing but conflict, problems, sabotage, and double-crossings from then on as they travel across the planet to find the rest of their team and a place to stay. This colonization idea could have worked, but the writing always plays it safe and is therefore uninteresting, the characters aren't addictive to say the least and don't develop much either, and there isn't much sci-fi. There's also too much drama going on with kids. The only really good thing about this is that it feels like an ongoing arc instead of an episodic space ship show. But in the end it's a very mediocre show about people with a robot and some gadgets travelling across what is obviously Earth, occasionally interacting with a couple of alien species (one humanoid wearing a terrible suit). Not exactly a show that will take your mind places.



Battlestar Galactica  
Based on half of the first season.

Attacked for being a Star-Wars ripoff, and indeed many of the characters, gadgets and costumes seem to be inferior variations, but the story is original. Using the bible as inspiration, this series attempts to tell the origins of the human race as a colonial race scattered over several planets, all of the distant non-Earth inhabitants waging war against the Cylons who recently tricked them into accepting peace only to mass exterminate the humans. The remaining humans escape on a battleship and some smaller ships on an exodus to the promised land, a trip full of hardships, starvation, adventures, battles and strange planets. Expensive but cheesy effects, silly dialogue and characters, and childish, simplistic writing.



Poltergeist: The Legacy  
Based on scattered episodes of the first season.

This has nothing to do with the movies, and I have no idea why they picked such a title seeing as it deals with anything that is supernatural. This re-uses the same old setup of a group of people investigating paranormal events, except that they work in secret and have a family history. The structure is strictly episodic featuring a monster-of-the-week, and the paranormal evil forces involving a variety of ghosts and evil spirits are mostly unimaginative. Perhaps some could have been made interesting or scary if the makers of this show didn't go for unimaginative theatrical special effects using wind, smoke and filters combined with some cheesy cheap 90s computer effects to try to create some excitement and nonsensical action sequences involving malicious spirits. Less is more, and take a page out of the X-Files book, guys. The characters are bland and instantly forgettable, and there is minimal development. The writing is braindead copy-paste material with no imagination or any realistic-sounding dialogue, and the crises are all solved by random things that the writers come up with, and the protagonists always come up with the exact thing to do that will work for no reason whatsoever just in the nick of time. I forgot about the show even before I finished writing this.



Star Trek: Voyager  
Based on most of the first season.

Another year, another increasingly poor Trek spin-off. This one feels like immature and stiff geeky sci-fi with a sprinkling of juvenile humor, combined with politically-correct casting at its worst. There are simply too many things wrong with this show and most of them have to do with the casting and acting, although the writing is mostly recycled or bland as well. The Voyager is a star-fleet starship that finds itself transported to a very distant galaxy by a powerful being along with its enemies in the middle of a battle. They then have to learn to work with each other on the long trek back home while exploring many new worlds, cultures and aliens and surviving various imaginative dangers. Janeway is the stern female captain who constantly has to make so-called noble choices to sacrifice something or another to save worlds and lives, but this often turns out to be annoyingly repetitive as well as twisted, high-horse, bleeding-heart morality, and she is too stiffly acted. Torres is a constantly angry female Klingon with uncontrollable emotions and there is a boring black Vulcan, and probably the most stupid thing the PC execs ever did since it would be dumb to assume Vulcans developed the exact same variety of skin colors that humans did. Ironically, and in a Star Trek tradition, the most humanity and humor is given to a holographic Doctor, a program, who is acted well, but given that he is a program and not even there, this is utterly ridiculous. The rest of the cast are so bland they are instantly forgotten and the holograph deck is abused yet again. Also the show is episodic and doesn't really go anywhere, has more humanoid aliens with silly makeup, and it's infamous for a later character used to attract fans using revealing outfits: Seven of Nine, a female Borg who verbally dismisses beauty and sexuality, but obviously spends hours working on her hair, makeup and skin-tight outfits.

P.S. I just realized that Star Treks are the most hypocritically racist shows ever made. They idealize the humans and Vulcans to the point of nauseating political correctness, but when it comes to dealing with many other races like the Klingons, Andorians, Ferengi, et al, they almost always reduce them to a single defining characteristic, and human interactions with them are usually based on this alone.



Earthsea  

Based on LeGuin's novels which I have not read, but I have as many complaints as the fans seem to have. It starts like a Harry Potter clone with a young, new wizard in training, sometimes reminiscent of Dragonslayer but without the atmosphere. Then it sinks to fantasy cheese with plot details and characters that don't make much sense, whimsical treatments of magical powers, weak CGI, and mostly miscast or bad actors. There's an evil self-proclaimed king who wants immortality, helpful wizards, an evil unleashed creature, an order of women led by a hopelessly incompetent mother, and of course, silly romance and cliched dialogue. Still fun at times, but bad overall.



Stephen King's Kingdom Hospital  
Based on all 13 episodes.

Based on Trier's brilliant Riget series, King dumbs it down for American audiences and adds his by-now severely hackneyed trademarks. Where the original had naturally acted, quirky and very funny characters, this one has forced acting that is never believable and an overused little girl; Where the original had gripping mystery and over-the-top entertainingly bizarre developments, this one hits you over the head with simple ideas and an anteater; And many of the scenes that are copied from the original were obviously never understood as they are taken out of context and their motivations removed. The show has some good moments when it goes for darkly funny and some characters hit their stride mid-season, but otherwise it serves hokum horror and typically lazy writing from King who forgot how to write a good scary yarn 15 years ago.



Shining, The  

King never seemed to like Kubrick's version of his classic novel so he authorized this mini-series to be more faithful to the book but like almost all King adaptations, the result is disastrously weak. Lame special effects instead of real scares, acting that ranges from dull to annoying, and too many weak scenes that could only work in a book but not in a movie. Oh, the plot? A man takes a job as the winter caretaker in a hotel during which time it closes down to guests, and he brings along his family and psychic son only to find evil in the historical building that takes over his personality with violent results...



Smallville  
Based on most of the first season and many scattered episodes.

Superman is an angsty teenager in school and Lana is a pretty but vapid girly girl. Superpowers and evil creatures create havoc with his studies and life in general as he is forced to save the town day after day while hiding his powers. Lex Luthor, an heir to a mogul's fortune and power, develops a complex relationship of secrets, power and respect with Clark. A potentially good show developed poorly as an annoyingly angsty, teenage touchy-feely series with horribly dull and whiny leads. The structure consists of mostly monster-of-the-week plots with uninteresting teenage high-school drama arcs, with matters almost never changing between episodes. Only the actor in the role of Lex Luthor provides charm, intelligence, and a fascinating character that is miles above anything else in the show and the bottom line is that such a silly teenage show doesn't deserve him.



Legend of the Seeker  
Based on most of the first season.

Well, the first episode starts like a TV version of Lord of the Rings, with wonderful scenery, a chosen hero to save the worlds from impending doom from a growing evil lord, and plenty of magic and effects. But it soon deterioriates into D&D cliches and cardboard characters, and, by the third episode, it becomes a modern version of Xena/Hercules with a focus on episodic fights, girls, quests and magic. Which is no surprise seeing as Sam Raimi produced all three shows, evidently still letting his love for silly fantasy-action-cheese loose and keeping his real talents for the movies. This is based on Terry Goodkind's novels which I haven't read, but, based on reviews, this hasn't been faithful to the books. And I should hope not, as the writing is devoid of imagination, discipline and inspiration. As an example of poor writing, a 'Confessor' is said to have such powers of observation and truth that people follow her blindly, and yet only last episode she failed to see who the hero really was and lied about him helping her. The first episodes launch the important and mission-critical quest to kill Darken Rahl, but then they wander about the countryside for the whole season distracted by one little quest, monster or task after another, even finding time to visit a birthplace, as if they were on vacation rather than trying to save their people. And, as an example of the mentality of this show, the highest rated episodes feature the Mord-Sith, a gang of Dominatrixes in tight leather outfits equipped with a phallic magical weapon that deals both masochism and sadism to the wielder. The characters are unreal cardboard cutouts straight out of a D&D quest, and the hero has all the personality of a hood ornament for teenage girls. Like I said, much more Xena mentality for fanboys and D&D nerds rather than LOTR. But at least it looks good, right?



First Wave  
Based on most of the first season.

Simplistic, amateurish, poor man's version of X-Files by way of Nowhere Man. An ex-thief discovers that aliens are experimenting on humans and making preparations as the first-wave of their invasion. They kill his wife and ruin his life, forcing him to go underground as a fugitive from both aliens and humans, tracking down alien encounters and experiments to foil their plans as much as possible, partnering with a conspiracy-freak-nerd straight out of X-Files with many hi-tech resources and useful knowledge. They uncover many strange experiments involving gene splicing, cloning, psychic powers, and invasive, brutal psychological tests, fighting one discovery per episode as well as slowly uncovering more about the aliens in a story arc. This sounds like a potentially good setup, but the execution is poor. The two leads are acceptable but never develop character, many of the guest stars are very bad actors, and the writing, dialogue, directing, and acting very often combine to create frequent hokey, laughable, implausible, cliched and artificial moments. It doesn't help that the writing looks down at the audience and explains everything to death either. In short, the amateurish feeling of the show is too pervasive to allow enjoyment. It's hard to believe that Coppola produced this.



Eleventh Hour (US)  
Based on some episodes of the single season.

Another American remake of a superior British show, this one by Bruckheimer who turns the original into more of his typically plastic over-produced bores. An FBI scientific advisor works on cases involving science and nature gone wrong or weird, helped by an FBI bodyguard. The original show was like a non-supernatural X-Files, but this feels more like CSI without the flashy forensics. Both leads are not only laughably implausible in their roles and hired only for their looks, but are so bland that they are practically non-existent and make Mulder and Scully look passionate. The writer, imported from the British show, does come up with some interesting scenarios that frequently dips into science-fiction, but the show is simply too mechanical and plastic to maintain interest.



Alien Nation  
Based on a few episodes from the single season.

Preachy political correctness, the TV show, in the form of a 'sci-fi' cop show. A space-ship of alien slaves lands on Earth and humans have to learn to live with this new species and assimilate them into society. Unfortunately, the aliens are as humanoid as can be, with extremely unimaginative writers giving them only an 'alien' cranium, some different eating habits, and the occasional alien custom. 99% of the time they are all-too-human, and the show uses the setup to explore culture clash and racism, drawing parallels to the treatment of blacks or even the Holocaust any chance it gets. The fact that this is a cop-show gives them the chance to uncover different inter-species crimes every episode, but this aspect of the series is just another boring and cliched cop drama. Terrible sci-fi, but worse liberal preaching.



Salem  
Based on a scattered episodes from the first season.

The Salem witch trials have been portrayed several times before, usually as a case of religious hysteria, sometimes portraying the people as twisted monsters, often also in horror movies about twisted people and evil fanatics, or, alternatively, as a movie about men that victimize poor old Wiccans or women. This movie takes the approach that there were really evil witches in Salem creating real black magic, and makes a horror show out of it, except it wants to be several things at once and ends up being none. The priests are cliched hypocrites killing women on flimsy evidence, except they don't seem to believe in their own religion much and seemingly have no motivation. The 'level-headed' atheist for some reason keeps denying that it has to do with witchcraft, except it actually does according to this series, and he even saw it with his own eyes since magic is quite widespread, thus ending up as another character that makes no sense. The female protagonist is another character that seems to have been written by several unsynchronized writers or one schizophrenic producer: She freely does evil to innocent people and has many killed, then cries about how she is 'possessed' by some evil and is suddenly free to follow her more human whims extensively, and she switches back and forth often like this in every episode as if they wanted us to like her. This is obviously a case of commercial decisions being forced into the show whether they make sense or not. And if you still aren't convinced, there are rampant sex scenes with modern attitudes, witches that behave like catty, scheming soap-opera queens, a witch in bondage gear, and a modern whore-house right in the middle of a puritan town. I would ask what were they thinking, except it's obvious they weren't. This is a show that doesn't even begin to work.



Impact  

Disaster mini-series based on a meteor impact, but not in the way you expect. This one rips off the basic plot from movies like Armageddon, but has ambition in the science department, coming up with scenarios that would introduce things like loss of gravity, an exploding moon, loss of electric devices, the complete destruction of Earth, etc. Unfortunately, the physics here wouldn't even convince a child, with a long list of mistakes and impossibilities, some of them so bad, they are embarrassing. Apparently, there are no time-zones on Earth, the electromagnetic force can affect gravity and vice versa, brown dwarfs have super-dense mass, moon debris is not affected by gravity, ships are held down by gravity whereas the sea-water isn't, and gravity is the force that "attracts smaller objects to larger objects". Personally, I really enjoy watching even weaker disaster movies, but this one is so bad, and the human drama is so cliched, that, despite some good moments towards the end, it was too painful even for me.



Meteor  

Extremely dumb disaster mini-series about pieces of a huge smashed meteor causing havoc worldwide, with bigger pieces threatening to destroy the whole planet. Most of the movie consists of the adventures of an assistant with social chaos, evil men, power and satellite failures, and whatnot, as she tries to get critical information that can save the world to the meteor disaster center. This brings to mind a bad episode of 24 as contrived coincidences and bad timing stretch out a plot device to hours on end, and I half expected a mountain lion to stop yet another attempt at transferring trajectory data. The fact that something as basic as the algorithm to plot out meteor trajectories would only be in the hands of one person is bad enough, but when they keep forgetting to transfer the program itself to the center, have no redundant systems for something as important as a planet-wide disaster management center, when the world's resources and scientists seems to consist only of two Americans, and the meteor is so huge you can see it with the naked eye yet they have no clue how to hit it... the IQ level of this show drops under zero. What kind of idiot doesn't think of backtracking a few meters to regain cell-phone coverage? The useless lengthy side-plot about a corrupt cop gone nihilistic only makes things worse.



Lost  
Based on the first season.

A few dozen survivors of a plane crash find themselves deserted on a mysterious island with no savior in sight. Strange animals, monsters, artefacts and people are discovered on the island that don't make any sense. Their back-stories are shown while they try to survive, the mysteries and circumstances growing stranger and more puzzling all the time. This is one of the most manipulative but well-directed shows ever made that only introduces mysteries and doesn't reveal an inch, getting viewers hooked while the more soapy drama unfolds. For example, many people have obviously seen the monster but we don't get to see it and nobody ever talks about what they saw. When a character gets kidnapped, the victim comes back and should reveal some interesting secrets, but the writers give her amnesia. The show starts off amazingly well but soon it's obvious that the writers are more interested in endless, incredulous and overly dramatic flashbacks than the more interesting action, survival practicalities and secrets of the island. One story is so stupid it tells how a character robbed a bank and killed people just to get a toy with sentimental value. This show isn't an adventure with a MacGuffin; the adventure IS the MacGuffin and the real show is just meandering soap. Even the huge mythology arc of the X-Files progressed at high-speed compared to this. They lost me after half a season.

Reading reviews on subsequent seasons only confirm what I felt during the first year: that the writers never had a plan, that they are making things up as they go along, that there is no way they could come up with satisfactory explanations since they don't know what it is themselves, and that the only goal was on pulling in an audience using every trick in the book, not on writing a solid story that makes sense. The show simply makes up more and more convoluted nonsense involving sci-fi, mystical mumbo-jumbo, time-travel and magic to keep audiences on its hook, because there never was a plot and they have to keep covering this up with more drawn-out lies and tricks. This show is so despicably manipulative, that any temporary entertainment value in its individual episodes is destroyed. Now that the show is over, am I allowed to point at all of you that kept watching it and laugh? A J.J. Abrams hack-job.



Starhunter  
Based on half of the first season.

Bad sci-fi show that aspires to be the next Farscape, Firefly or even Andromeda. A bounty hunter in search of his kidnapped son travels through space hunting and picking up criminals for a price while trying to take care of his bratty niece who serves as the technical wizard and engineer for the ship. The story arcs take forever to even start and involve an uninteresting search for his son mixed with a mysterious organization that performs experiments on people and a 'Divinity Cluster': genes that allow people to gain God-like powers. Most of the episodes consist of a fugitive-of-the-week who makes their lives difficult, very often with unexplained super-powers, thus shifting this show into deus-ex-machina fantasy realms. The writing is a cut-and-paste job from other shows, and often shows signs that the writer has no grasp of a situation he is creating with developments sloppily put together. The CGI effects are terribly cheap, the actors range from dull to terribly artificial, and the humor is the worst, often feeling juvenile and awkward.



Intelligence  
Based on the first four episodes.

By picking that title and not living up to it even remotely, the makers of this show are obviously setting themselves up for ridicule. This one doesn't even get off the ground, as it starts with insultingly stupid ideas, and goes downhill from there with insultingly stupid writing. The sci-fi gimmick here is that someone invented a super-chip installed in the mind of a spy with a specific 'genetic mutation' that gives him hi-tech super-powers. The basic super-power is... are you ready... a Google search. That's right, he can search for information on anything instantly, or upload pictures for analysis and get information on anything that he sees inside his head. Granted, he also has access to international top-secret databases and many other sources of information not normally provided to the average person, but it's still a Google search. The only advantage he has over, say, an agent with a laptop and an internet connection, is that the search happens in his head and is therefore faster. Which isn't exactly something that spy agencies are going to fight over. Actually, if you think about it for a second, his mind obviously isn't actually part of the internet, so he still has to access it via a search program and internet connection, so his instant rich multimedia search results must be, in actuality, the result of a program that could just as easily be accessed via a computer device. Also, the fact that he has access to top-secret information wherever he goes is the equivalent of sending someone with a laptop constantly logged into CIA's secret files, into the field. Who in their right mind would do that? Another super-power is the ability to recreate scenes in 3D in his mind so that he can examine the evidence in great detail. Once again, obviously a program that could be shown on a computer screen since his mind obviously wasn't capable of doing this beforehand. Except this turns out to be a 'bonus' feature that the chip makers didn't know existed. I kid you not. Obviously no one here has any basic understanding of computer programming. The one aspect of this feature that actually makes a unique use of the interface with his mind, is that it uses his imagination and subconscious to help fill in the gaps or to create an imaginary image from scratch. Imagine that: Evidence that has been altered according to the whims of a subconscious. How on earth can that ever be useful?! And so on, each episode offers a dozen more offensive stupidities like these, with the producers assuming that the audience will be distracted by the slick special-effects enough not to notice how badly the sci-fi was thought-through. The fact that this super-agent is physically protected from all manner of assassins by a gorgeous female model is just another nail in the coffin of this DOA show. The Knight Rider for the dumb internet and smartphone generation, except this one makes that show look brilliant.



Dark Angel  
Based on the first season.

With James Cameron at the helm you would expect something special. And indeed it starts off well, offering some cutting-edge ideas and portrayals of the future. Politics, economics and morals have long gone rotten and cyber-revolutionaries are fighting an evil government that genetically alters humans into fighting machines. But that's where the good stuff ends. The ear-grating dialog and characters are all 'hip' and cool in a very annoying way, the plots develop into ridiculous childish nonsense, none of the characters are memorable, but the worst is the lead female actress who is ultimately boring, can't fight, and portrays an extremely uncharismatic and bitchy character yet somehow everyone fawns over her because she supposedly looks good.



Bitten  
Based on scattered episodes from the first season.

This is as bland and forgettable as it gets. It's a werewolf series with a super-warrior blonde werewolf chick, an ongoing feud between wolf packs, and a doomed romance. Are they still trying to copy Buffy nowadays? There is a girl who is the only female that has been successfully converted into a wolf, she hates her ex-boyfriend for biting her and is trying to separate from the pack, except he still loves her, and there are rival gangs and various individuals with ongoing complicated agendas that keep them on their toes. There are plenty of rules on how to obey the alpha or hide from humans, but of course there will always be trouble-makers. The biggest problem here is the acting: It's as if everyone takes medication before thet get on set. Almost all of them recite their lines in a near-monotone, their faces every once in a while fake an emotion or two, but otherwise they may as well be zombies. They would be very listless as humans, but as feral werewolves, they are ridiculous. The writing is quite bland and uninspired as well, except you can't really tell if the writing is doing something interesting thanks to the tedious and sleep-inducing acting. I also didn't like that the writers approach being a werewolf as if it were an arsenal of super-powers that they can use whenever they want with complete control, and the super-strength powers seem to come and go incnosistently. The syrupy emo-soundtrack doesn't help either.



Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles  
Based on some scattered episodes from the first season.

This is all wrong. It's impossible to watch this show without expecting it to be a continuation of the movies and it fails miserably in this aspect, as well as failing on its own right. This is an action-oriented show following the crazy life of Sarah and her son John as they continuously fight against cybernetic organisms from the future, evade the law, while being helped by the future resistance, all this while trying to make friends and go to school. Failures are almost too many to mention: The character of Sarah is nothing like the movies and looks like she spends lots of time in a beauty parlor rather than with survivalists and soldiers. John is a whiny weak-willed teenager that is always complaining and doing stupid things. The robots are given random superman skills that don't make sense. Their main protector is in the form of a petite young girl who takes off her clothes every chance the writers get, manages to beat every inferior robot twice her size sent by the machines even though the machines should obviously be technologically ahead of the game, and she is given human characteristics like smiling, understanding emotions and eating for no good reason other than to make the fanboys relate to her before she kicks some more ass. The writing is bad and lazy and often doesn't make any sense, with sloppy time-travel plot devices and bad logic. In short, the action scenes may be entertaining, but this is too terribly insulting to watch.



Being Human (US)  
Based on most of the first season.

Presumably, I should be reviewing this show objectively on its own terms even though it is yet another US remake of a UK show. But it doesn't have its own terms, and the only reason this was made was for money, so fairness goes out the window. The British show was very good and did not need a remake. To re-use the same scripts and story two years after, solely to be able to cast American actors with American accents and dialogue is simply pathetic. If it were a straight remake of roughly equal quality, then that would at least be something. But it is inferior in every way: The IQ level is lowered, the plot developments, at first, are copied, but then they add padding, extra elements and changes that only detract from what should be the focus of this show: humanity as lived by non-humans. The casting is mostly bland. Witwer is cast for his 'vampiric' looks and is passably good, but he is the best of the lot. Josh, with a permanent deer-caught-in-headlights-look that represents personality, doesn't hold a candle to the original George who lent the original show most of its comedy, personality and intelligence. And Sally's presence is as ghostly as her character. They have no chemistry, and the reduced comedy mostly comes off as artificial thanks to the blandness. Most of the humanity, heart and personality of the original is gone. So, in summary, there is no point in watching this when you have the original, except in order to appreciate the original more. Unless you prefer gloss over heart.



Believe  
Based on scattered episodes from the single season.

Although this nonsense is only partially produced by J.J. Abrams, it has his fingerprints all over it. Taking its cue from Firestarter, this involves a little girl with super-psychic powers that is on the run from the government with the help of some dedicated rogue agents, scientists, and her father whom they helped escape from death row. They run, fight, run again, but in between all this running and hiding, they manage to focus on little dramas helping ordinary people using her special powers. The biggest hurdle with this show is the fact that the writers give her every and any psychic power ever imagined, but allow her to use them only at random based on the needs of the plot, drama and momentum. One minute she is in complete control and can do specific things with specific powers, the next she can't do anything even while emotional, just so that the danger can accumulate and cause more drama. Imagine a super-hero movie where he has every super-power from every superhero movie ever made, only he can use each power based on the writers' lazy needs. This is both incredibly lazy and insulting. And this laziness is not only concerning her powers. Other characters keep doing stupid senseless things just to further the plot, like hand over their prize girl to a guy who is being chased by every law-enforcement group on the planet. And the bad guys don't seem to even have their own interests in mind, doing 'bad things' that are deterimental to their own agenda. Another problem with this show is that it over-indulges in her angelic properties of wanting to help everyone, having her protectors believe in her as if she were Jesus, except she acts more like a spoiled brat that uses and risks everyone for her good deeds, and throws a tantrum when she doesn't get her way. Of course, the thrilling plot-arcs of the government conspiracy is always put on hold while she pursues her episodic good deed of the week. In short, a very lazy, boring, insulting and manipulative show.



Automan  
Based on a handful of scattered episodes from the single season.

Another highly cheesy 80s creation by Glen Larson, maker of Battlestar Galactica, Knight Rider and Manimal. Like his other creations, it doesn't age well and is only fondly remembered by people that watched it as kids, and this one is so wildly fantastic that it doesn't even begin to be plausible even for kids. Automan is obviously copied from Tron, except that it illogically transfers the computer simulations into the real world for crime fighting purposes. Walter is a computer wiz that invented a perfect crime-fighting man in his computer, which has somehow come to life and acquired an independent, cocky attitude of its own. It/he appears to save the day together with Cursor (Bit), another simulated being that, among other things, can create super-vehicles from energy for getting around the city. Other impossible powers come and go as reality is thrown out the window to allow Automan to do anything and everything as needed, making him a very boring being with seemingly every superpower in the world. The impossibility of this setup is bad enough, but the cheese and typically bad 80s TV action don't help make it watchable either.



Forbidden Science  
Based on three episodes from the single season.

I never understood the appeal of softcore sex flicks. If you are looking for sex, then just watch porn; if you want an entertaining movie, then just watch a normal movie. But this kind of crap with its focus on casting for looks and creating sexy sex scenes is neither here nor there. This TV series attempts to blend sci-fi with softcore flicks, placing the drama in the future where cloning, replaceable body parts, androids, and virtual reality are all available. But the writers do nothing interesting with these concepts, opting for cliches and messy, almost incomprehensible plot developments. Imagine what a cheap soap opera would do with sci-fi and you basically have this show. Backstabbings, corporate wars, scandals, lust, crimes of passion, all weave their convoluted and laughably implausible threads while the bad actors flatly recite their lines and fake their moans and groans during the sex scenes.



Rose Red  

Stephen King plagiarizes the cliched story of a group of people staying in a haunted mansion to study it, as well as his own ideas used in previous stories. Violent and mysterious historical flashbacks merge with modern horrors awakened by the group of psychic characters, all come to help prove psychic phenomena exist while illogically ignoring the obvious phenomena they create themselves every day. King sledgehammers his way through 3 long hours of unsubtle horror, forgetting that less is more.



Roar  
Based on very few episodes of the single season.

I don't see how people can claim this is better than cheesy tripe like Xena and Hercules. The 'setting' is a Celtic rebellion against Romans, as a young leader (Ledger) tries to join the warring tribes together to fight against the evil occupiers. But there isn't much serious history, there's cheesy magic and sorcerers, the people, costumes and settings never convince you for a second that they are medieval, the scope is tiny, usually only involving a handful of people, the episodes usually revolve around hammy fight scenes, and yes, there are many scantily clad women in full modern revealing dress, hairdos and makeup wielding swords and beating men twice their size. There's even a token black man amongst the medieval Celtics and the writing never does anything interesting. That just about sums up this cheese.



Lost World, The  
Based on a handful of episodes from the first season.

An action-adventure series inspired by a story by Arthur Conan Doyle doesn't sound bad, but when, in the first episode, you get a girl flying through the jungle with a perfect hair-perm, makeup and shaved legs pretending to be tough, you know you're firmly in Xena territory. If you like that sort of thing, that is, and even then, how much of this cheese can one watch? This series features a varied group of explorers that embark to a lost land high up in the mountains where they promptly find dangers like dinosaurs and ape-men and a ridiculously high number of tribes and people for an isolated land in the clouds. As with Xena, the story is both continuous and episodic, and the adventures can vary from dinosaur chases to bridal trades or warring 'reptile-men' in bad reptile-suits that speak English. In between the never-believable action scenes (where the bad guys always miss) and fights with badly-rendered dinosaurs (where the much faster and bigger beasts never seem to catch anyone), we get skimpily-clad women that take the time away from their beauty salons to wear loincloths. What's not to like you ask? Be my guest.



Birds of Prey  
Based on 5 episodes of the single season.

Girl-power super-hero series with some teenage angst featuring, yet again, bland, instantly forgettable protagonists with zero personality and poor writing. The daughter of batman and catwoman (was this written by children?), is the Huntress, a crime-fighting bitchin' superhero who gets her supernatural powers from either her parents even though they had no supernatural powers, or from the fact that she is a meta-human along with dozens of other meta-humans (who are rip-offs of X-Men/Heroes), because the writers can't seem to make up their minds. She also is another in the long line of bland and pretty female actresses to think that having a personality means acting like a bitch. A crippled batwoman serves as the brains and computer/gadget wiz, and a psychic teenage Dina serves the horrible whining even though she has absolutely nothing to whine about. All three are complete airheads and can't convince anyone of any talent besides the fact that they just got off the makeup chair and never have a hair out of place even after climbing up buildings and fighting. The writing never does anything interesting and even gets sloppy often, there is only minimal seasonal developments, and the structure is episodic villian-of-the-week. Terrible.



Lost Girl  
Based on a handful of episodes from the first season.

Yet another cookie-cutter fantasy series, this one about a succubus and her plucky assistant running a P.I. gig with the help of a policeman and a slew of supernatural beings, both good and evil, barely just hidden from human eye. This setup has been done so many times before, it's beyond tired. The structure is mostly episodic supernatural mystery or evil creature of the week, with extremely lazy writing, convenient clues and developments so it can all be wrapped up by the end of the episode. If this didn't have the supernatural angle, it would be a bottom-rung detective show. There is also lip service paid to a very boring story arc which progresses at a snail's pace about her finding her mother who abandoned her. So the writing is painfully bland or dumb, but what about the characters? Well, the succubus uses her sexual powers to manipulate anyone she feels like, basically raping people, she uses even her friends and lovers, sucks them dry, then throws some kind of moral tantrum at them while throwing herself at everyone else that has what she wants, and she is so stubborn and selfish that she obliviously causes trouble or pain to everyone around her. So, basically, not very likeable. But that's OK because she is a feminist symbol of success, refusing to join any clan or commit to any man, and is most definitely in charge of her sexuality. Her assistant is a walking cliche of sassy, cutesy girl, except she is a thief, so she doesn't do much better. The rest of the cast are better, but they are in strictly supporting roles in every sense of the word. In short, skip it.



Defying Gravity  
Based on the first four episodes.

For a show supposedly depicting a realistic futuristic space mission, they couldn't have come up with a worse implementation. The show is supposed to tell the tale of a six-year manned mission to several planets in the year 2040, with the drama provided by the crew and an endless series of misadventures. For starters, the cast looks like they were selected from a reality show, with a token Asian and black man, women selected for looks over anything else, and the rest being either cliched, or terribly bland. The drama is somewhere between a soap and a reality show, meandering between endless banal relationship issues and sex-oriented shenanigans. The science is full of amateurish and lazy errors (using nano-technology to explain why everything isn't floating is just pathetic), the writing is poor, and the dialogue is full of endless male-bashing. On top of it all, they make use of an alien/sci-fi/supernatural/mystical mystery that moves at a snail's pace, and mix endlessly annoying and pointless flashbacks into every episode, both ideas taken from Lost. In short, a compilation of everything that is bad on TV.



Ghost Whisperer  
Based on a handful of episodes from the first season.

Extremely formulaic and repetitive episodic show. What's worse is that even what it repeats is painfully cliched and crassly touchy-feely. Melinda (a pretty but thoroughly unconvincing Jennifer Love Hewitt) sees and interacts with ghosts all of her life. There are no tricky psychic powers here, ghosts are simply depicted as plainly visible people with pale faces and emotional problems that only she can see. Almost every episode is the same: Something spooky/scary happens until she quickly realizes it's just another ghost that needs help (when will she learn?), some quick and easy research reveals everything there is to know about the ghost and its problems, she faces rude disbelief before going through some emotional crisis with the friends and relatives, solving both the ghost's and relatives' psychological problems in a matter of days before sending the ghost off into the light in an overflowing display of emotions. Her husband is so idealistically supportive that he almost doesn't exist as a real human being, and the rest of her friends and family get some light and insignificant drama.



Leftovers, The  
Based on most of the first season.

This show's only creativity is in finding new ways to be terrible. It's like some emo kid thought for 5 seconds and came up with a fantasy event to get everyone emotional, then made a TV show about it. The event, is that 2% of the world's population suddenly disappears into thin air. Somehow, instead of just making a whole lot of questioning people that get over their loss after a few years, three years later the world becomes populated by an organization that asks relatives a whole bunch of stupid questions, a cult of people (mostly women) that don't talk, dress in white and appear everywhere to remind people of what they lost, another cult forming around an obnoxious, sleazy, bisexual idiot that spouts platitudes and somehow convinced his followers that he knows something, and a whole bunch of depressed people that make dramatic mountains out of molehills. Lots and lots of drama and tension is made over the white cult, even though they are easily ignored, and their ideas and mission never make sense, changing from episode to episode. Pseudo-mystical things keep popping up to add to the 'mystery' like dogs gone wild, coincidences, visions, and a deer that smashes its way through houses, all blatantly trying to make the show deep and meaningful accompanied by terrible touchy-feely music. The mystery of the event is never explored or discussed with any intelligence, and several people claim to know what it was about but never reveal anything, of course. After watching the show, I looked up the credits, and was not in the least surprised to find that the creator also made Lost.



Vampire Diaries, The  
Based on many scattered episodes from the first season.

Flat, pedestrian, teenage soap drama with vampires. That just about sums this up. There are two vampire brothers, one evil, one on the wagon, both falling for Elena. There's a witch with growing powers. And then there is a whole bunch of secrets, vampire rivalries, several other love triangles and unrequited loves, power games, and plots. If the above sounds like a soap, it's because that's basically what it is. The entire cast consists of forgettable hunks and pretty airheads, the writing is cliched and always predictable and never brings anything new to the table. Even the vampire powers are used brainlessly, with a convenient ring that allows them to walk in sunlight (otherwise how could vampires go to high school?), and various other superpowers used or forgotten at the writers' whims. One episode even has a vampire working out, which makes no sense if you think about it for more than two seconds. Vampiricism is handled exactly the same way as drug dealing and drug addiction, demonstrating yet again the lack of imagination, and even Damon, who is at first chaotically evil in sometimes unpredictable, but simple ways, is softened up for yet another love triangle. Even the trashy True Blood had some texture and character, but this is just a barbie-doll teenage vampire show.



Originals, The  
Based on the first five episodes.

It only takes a couple of episodes to see that this is a spin-off of Vampire Diaries and more of the same glossy garbage. Granted, the actors are tiny bit older in their 20s, improving it slightly over the silly teenage vibe in that show, but it's still the same approach. All characters are never convincing in the slightest and look exactly like what they are: Vapid, bratty, pouty and pretty models with 100% attitude and zero personality, pretending to have witchy or vampiric powers and acting like a younger cast of Bold and Beautiful in a glossy 'gang war'. Plotting and betrayals fly in every episode as they fight over control for New Orleans and over some hybrid wolf-vampire baby, with law-enforcement nowhere in sight. One would think that after 1000 years, they would have learned something, but they're just a bunch of catty young brats with badly fake accents, including the '1000-year-old' boys.



Mutant X  
Based on a handful of episodes from the first season.

Laughably bad superhero show that rips off X-Men, pitting groups of mutant young heroes with various genetically engineered superpowers against each other for 'cool' looking fight scenes. This show and its actors focus only on looking cool. There is no character development because they don't have personalities. No one is likeable because they don't exist. They over-use wire-work in fight scenes because they can't fight. The writing is childishly simple and takes no account of logic, consistency or any plot developments that make sense. This one is for children only. Stupid ones.



Nine Lives of Chloe King, The  
Based on a handful of episodes from the first season.

Yet another clueless, cliched, cookie-cutter, empty-headed show about a blonde superheroine, this one obviously targeted at 15 year old girls, featuring a teenager who finds out she's some kind of catwoman. She has a chummy, cutesy relationship with her adoptive mom, she has cutesy friends, and she is all angsty because of her powers, her destiny and the fact that she loves two hunks. Oh, and she can kill guys by kissing them. Enough said. The story arc is boring as hell, the writing is so dumbed down, your brain will melt into bubble-gum, the personalities and developments never rise above the level of a soap opera, and the fighting is so bad and her physical skills so obviously non-existent, that even the terribly choppy editing job that does everything it can to spice up the fight scenes can't hide this. During the first episode, she tells her Mom: "Do not cry, squeal or hug me". This is exactly what I feel like telling this show.



Roswell  
Based on a handful of scattered episodes.

So, like, this cute chick gets saved by an alien with super powers who looks just like a hot guy and now her life is gonna become complicated in addition to her wanting to be more popular, and she has to hide this secret from her friends, but, like, the alien is so lonely even though he has two alien friends, and they all are so like, alien-like you know, because they pour tabasco sauce over everything they eat and they can listen to CDs without a CD player, but everything will be OK because the alien thinks she is beautiful, but then the UFO-obsessed FBI-sheriff guy starts suspecting things, and his son, who was dumped by the cute chick, also starts making her life difficult, so her life is so gonna suck, OMG right? No, really, even as a teenager I didn't want to watch these dumb teenage shows. It gets a little more complicated as it progresses, dealing with alien hybrids, secret destinies, various competing government agendas, etc. but still with the same angsty teenage base, and with writing that takes itself seriously, designed to appeal to dumb superficial teenagers.



American Horror Story  
Based on the first five episodes.

Absolutely terrible 'horror' series with a different 'story' per season. Except that it isn't a story in any real sense of the term, as a story needs to be constructed, whereas this is just a bunch of randomly slapped together horror-movie elements. It's as if someone watched 100 Hollywood horror movies in a month then tried to see how many things they can squeeze into every single episode of this series. At one point in an episode, all of the following was happening simultaneously: A home-invasion by psychotic murder-obsessed teens, a supernatural pregnancy, a vengeful ghost, an evil house, a killer ghost, a hysterical past flame looking for revenge, a mad killer-stalker who killed his family, a husband who may or may not be killing when he passes out, and a Down's syndrome girl who warns of impending death (as if it wasn't obvious already). And this only takes up part of an episode. Of course, the characters never make any sense or come close to resembling real people's behaviour. How could they? Perhaps this is horror for an ADD person with a single-digit IQ, but the real horror is in how many people are watching this show and rating it so highly, and how it managed to hire so many good actors. And it is no surprise that Lady Gaga joined this show, since the writing is as disciplined and tasteful as her dress-code.



Tripping the Rift  
Based on the first four episodes.

Another unfunny attempt at 'adult' comedy animation a la South Park, this one with a sci-fi theme that throws random references to Star Trek and many other sci-fi movies and staples. Except this isn't adult, this is juvenile from the mind of precociously filthy 10 year old boy, or a man who never mentally matured past that age. The height of wit in this show is having God duck in front of a space ship to cause someone behind him to die then call out 'suckers', waving bouncy big boobs and butt every other minute in front of the screen, kidnapping a chainsaw-sportsman by shoving something up his butt, having a spaceship call someone a whore, and calling someone 'Harry Ballsack'. Enough said.



Mists of Avalon, The  

A Feminist-Pagan reconstruction of the Arthurian legend based on the popular book by Bradley which justifies its revisionism because the myth of Arthur is steeped in contradictions and unknowns as well as Christian-male alleged twisting of facts. Not having read the book, and knowing that the fans of the book hate this movie, I will stick to criticizing the movie, but I can't help but feel that at least some of the problems have been passed on from the original story. Firstly, where the book supposedly bashes Christianity, this series commits the serious sin of being new-age, politically correct claptrap, whitewashing both religions and their questionable practices, and claiming that all religions are equal and valid. Not only that, but some of the Pagan women here seem to be Christian moralists at heart and aren't consistent with their Pagan ethics. Secondly, by making all men into pathetic submissive pawns of the women, they have committed the same sin they accused men of doing: that of one-sided twisting of facts and hogging of credit. On top of all this, although this is supposedly a feminist statement, the movie proves that putting women in power would be a huge mistake as most of them act like soap-opera, selfish, catty, fatalistic drama queens. In summary: Good acting and production values, but the screenplay is as bad as it can get.



Charmed  
Based on scattered episodes of the first 2 seasons.

A dumb Buffy-wannabe show that is strictly aimed at the teenage crowd, a boring deus-ex-machina fantasy about girl-power, a purely girly show with insufferable girly behaviour, and a show that seems to care more about sex appeal than writing, acting or anything but artificial emotional resonance and annoying forced angst. I suppose the creators thought all they had to do was create a supernatural show where teenagers have difficult love affairs and moan about being witches with a destiny to save the world and the rest would take care of itself. Avoid it like the plague.



Witches of East End  
Based on the first 5 episodes.

Strictly for dumb teenage girls, also because they are the only ones young enough not to remember Charmed. This is pretty much a carbon-copy of that show, which was a terribly dumb and girly show to begin with. This has less annoying characters, but that's not saying much, and its unoriginality lowers its score some more. Two young women discover they are witches from a family of witches, and have to fight both romantic dramas and triangles as well as a variety of evil curses and warlocks. Like Charmed, the approach to magic is completely chaotic, with powers and rules that come and go as needed by the writers. Some spells have consequences, others don't, usefull spells and powers sometimes work, or don't work, and anything can be resolved with a new magic spell when it's time for the climax. The boring casting is strictly the local flat modelling factory (except for Julia Ormond, what is she doing here?), some of which look and behave like they were stolen from a soap opera, and the guys are fantasy-hunks as imagined by teenage girls, that never resemble or behave as in reality. Throw in some Twilight-style romantic entanglements and the picture should be complete.



Eastwick  
Based on the first 5 episodes.

Let's compare this turkey to the greatly underrated movie Witches of Eastwick with Nicholson: Where the original had real women, this one has soap queens acting like 14 year old girls, the mysterious and scary magic of the original is replaced with some kind of comic book mentality where each woman gets only one superpower, the complex and devilish Nicholson is replaced by an obvious and dumb fratboy, the wickedness of the original is replaced with soap opera bitchiness, and the superb dialogue, rants, witty provocations are all replaced by stupidity. In addition, the women commit murderous acts on anyone that annoys them with only an oops and a gasp as a reaction, and the people are all cartoonishly scandalous because, obviously, this show wants to be the next Desperate Housewives. There is a developing story arc, but who cares when the show is this terrible. Despicably bad.



Beauty and the Beast (2012)  
Based on a handful of episodes from the first season.

I wasn't expecting much and got much worse. It's the romantic magical story updated with a very misguided sci-fi twist for modern 'feminist' airheaded teenage girls. The 'Beauty' in this version is a kick-ass super-detective woman who looks like she just had her hair brushed perfectly even seconds after beating up two guys three times her size. And she somehow combines detective work with gossip, as her cases often involve a romance gone bad. A sample of her 'brilliant' detective work is that she concluded that a woman must be pregnant because she had a used pregnancy test box in her bag. The 'Beast' is even worse: A heatthrob hunk with a scar on his face, who turns into a strong monster, more often voluntarily than not, whenever he has to save women. Obviously the writers of this show are missing the point of the original story and its broad appeal by a few light years and the 'Beast' is a joke. Much angst is made over whether he will heal or not, and their not-so-challenging romance, while a secret (and very incompetent) military group try to kill him and everyone involved with him. Except the acting is as superficial and fake as the ideas behind this show. A complete waste of time.



100, The  
Based on the first 3 episodes.

The list of stupidities in this show in the first episode alone would take a couple of pages. Let's start with the premise: Nuclear war wiped out Earth, leaving 4000 survivors in a space station 100 years later, except that their resources are running out, so they decide to send 100 juvenile delinquents back down to a supposedly radioactive Earth to test the survivability of such a move. It's like a teenage fantasy come true: Teenagers get the planet to themselves without adults to supervise them. Except that it looks like the same stupid teeangers wrote this show. If you were running out of options, would you send criminal teenagers that are only interested in themselves to test your only chance of survival? And with only last-second instruction on where to find food? And no equipment or survival instructions or training? And without even a Geiger counter? And would you send 100 of your youngest from a dwindling 4000-strong human race, including a couple of young children? And let's talk about the rules on the space station: The rules are death for any minor criminal infraction, even if it means killing a very valuable doctor for a minor crime. And the method of killing? Ejecting them along with a room-full of precious oxygen. No wonder the teenagers can't wait to get out. The adults are stupider than they are. And the characterizations... let's see: The leader seems to be the only black man on the station, the doctor is female, the star engineer is a hot chick, while the white men are stupid troublemakers. On Earth, the only level-headed leaders are female and black, the tech-wizard is Asian, and the white men are testosterone-fuelled troublemakers. Got it. It also doesn't help that resource-hungry survivors on the ship look like they just got off a modelling set, even after crashing on a planet and living in the jungle for a few days. An attack by a huge monster only results in a few scratches that heal in a day. They all seem to be more interested in partying than in surviving, and this is no Lord of the Flies as most are irresponsible criminals to begin with, so obviously the outcome won't be pretty, or interesting in the slightest. Not to mention the yellow 'radiation clouds' that somehow attack people instantly but can be avoided by going into a cave. And on and on, the list is endless. Frankly, they couldn't all die fast enough.



Spooks: Code 9  
Based on the first 3 episodes.

Dreadful side-project by the maker of Spooks, supposedly designed for a younger crowd and the result is horrible. Some actors of 24 and Spooks are already implausibly young, but here they look fresh out of high-school and act like it too. So what's the excuse for making them into spies for MI-5? Nothing less than a nuclear bomb. See, new terrorists are dynamic and therefore need a new generation of spooks to counter-attack after the failure of the old regime. Yes, the show actually argues this incredibly stupid point. Nothing interesting is made of post-nuclear London, the budget is much smaller than Spooks, and the show is as lame as it sounds. Kids playing spies in a show that takes them seriously. What's next, a West Wing with 16 year olds running America?



Kindred: The Embraced  
Based on the first 3 episodes.

A short-lived vampire mafia show, based on a role playing game with a large fanbase, that looks, feels, sounds and smells like a soap opera. Various vampire clans are clashing under the ultimate leadership of Julian, with a cop on their tail who got sucked into their circles via a vampiric love triangle. This wallows in the soap opera staples of lust, jealousy, betrayal, melodrama and beauty, only with fangs and glossy clan wars. The casting and acting are glamorously wooden, but the cheesy 'romantic' dialogue is the true offender, making it impossible to watch this trash for more than 10 minutes. By the producer of Melrose Place and Beverly Hills 90210 and it shows.



Angels in America  

Gay fantasy mini-series about the 80s, the AIDS scare, being gay in America, homosexuality and religion, the ozone layer, and angels and ghosts. Perhaps if I cared about the subject matter it would be more interesting, but personal disinterest aside, the characters are all unlikeable and even annoying, the drama is stretched, crude and overwrought, the writing bashes your head with left-wing propaganda, the fantasy scenes are silly and pointless, AIDS is blamed on everyone and everything except homosexual life-styles, and religious concepts are raped.




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