New Sci-Fi on TV

I’ve been watching a few new sci-fi shows recently, specifically the pilots of the Bionic Woman and Flash Gordon remakes, and the pilot of the Sarah Connor Chronicles, a spin-off from the Terminator movies. And my opinions?

I have to say that all three were… okay… not bad to watch, but nothing special either. I was actually slightly underwhelmed after all of the hype. The Bionic Woman, by the same guys who produced the excellent remake of Battlestar Galactica looks promising, despite the relatively low-key start. The bionic babe herself is played by the always nice on the eyes Michelle Ryan (formerly of Eastenders), while Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica manages to look a lot less butch, much sexier, and positively radiating menace as the nasty original Bionic Woman.

Flash Gordon updates the original story to the present day, and replaces the original (quaint but fun) dildo-shaped rocketships spewing sparks and smoke with a Sliders-like wormhole thingy to provide travel between Earth and the planet Mongo. There are lots of sexy babes (Ming’s daughter and Dale in particular), Dale is now a very Lois Lane-like newspaper reporter, and the story is now much more based around Earth and Flash’s family. On the negative side, the guy playing Ming seems a lot less suited to his role than his predecessors (Max von Sydow and Charles Middleton in particular). Overall, it was watchable, but with lots of room for improvement.

The most disappointing of the three was, funnily enough, the most action-packed, and the one that should’ve had the most potential of them all. The Sarah Connor Chronicles is a spin-off of the second Terminator movie, and each episode features Sarah and a more adult (mid-teens) John, running and hiding from a constant stream of Terminators while under the protection of a “teenage girl” Terminator. There was a lot more action and thrills in this pilot than in the other two, but, strangely enough, I reckon that there’s a lot less potential for improvement than for the others. How many times will we be able to watch Sarah and John survive yet another attack by the umpteenth tenth-rate Arnie clone before the series starts to get really monotonous and tiresome? Not too many, I’d reckon. This is the sort of thing that is more suited to the occasional movie, not a regular weekly TV show. I’m really hoping that I’m wrong, ‘cos I was a big fan of the Terminator movies. Time will tell.

Overall, so far, all three shows are watchable, but nothing special. Definitely nothing approaching the quality of Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who or Heroes. But it is early days yet, so here’s hoping all three pick up a bit. I’m still waiting for someone to do a Battlestar or Babylon 5-level quality series adaption of E.E. “Doc” Smith’s classic Lensmen stories. Pretty much every space opera series or movie (Star Wars, Babylon 5 and others) have shamelessly ripped off the Lensmen and (to a lesser extent) Lord of the Rings. LOTR has had the big movie treatment. It’s about time that the Lensmen also got the movie or TV honours. Why it hasn’t been done a long time ago beats me.