Following in the footsteps of Asimov and Marion Zimmer Bradley, science Fiction author Orson Scott Card launched his own fiction magazine this month. But unlike the others, this magazine is a “webzine” – which is accessible only via the Internet.

Called the InterGalactic Medicine Show (click here to visit), the webzine focuses on fiction in the sci fi and fantasy genres. In doing so, Card’s publication is looking to break new authors and is paying $0.06 a word (6 cents) up to $500 per story for each story chosen for publication.

The pub pays artists $200 for black and white illustrations, $400 for color.

For readers, registration to the website is free, allowing a preview of each issue (including a preview of each story). To get full access, readers must pay $2.50 via PayPal, which is handled automatically then sends you back to the webzine with full access of the issue purchased.

For people who do not enjoy reading from a computer screen, after purchase, an option exists to print out each story individually on a home printer.

The first issue, October 2005, features the following stories:

  • Respite by Rachel Ann Dryden (art by Nate Pinnock)
  • Loose in the Wires by John Brown (art b Mike Roush)
  • Night Walks by Robert Stoddard (art by Jin Han)
  • Eviction Notice by Scott M. Roberts (art by Jin Han)
  • A Rarefield View at Dawn by Dave Wolverton (art by Michael Graham)
  • Trill and the Beanstalk by Edmund R. Schubert (art by I-Wei Huang)
  • Taint of Treason by Eric James Stone (art by Glen Bellamy)

For writers and artists looking to submit work, click here for the submission guidelines for InterGalactic Medicine Show (this includes how this publication defines “science fiction” and “fantasy”).

In a move to cut its losses and to bolster two of its newest dramas, The WB network will stop airing new programming during the timeslots dominated by ABC hit shows Lost and Desperate Housewives.

In a massive shuffling of programming at WB, the network is overhauling its Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday lineups. Two of its new shows, Supernatural and Related, will air twice a week.

Two shows, Blue Collar TV and Living with Fran join Just Legal in hiatusville. Although the network is continuing production of new episodes of Blue Collar and Fran shows and plans to bring them back with nine new episodes each – probably in the summer.

In its biggest show of confidence, the WB is moving repeat episodes of creepy thriller Supernatural, the best performing new show for The WB, to Sunday nights at 9 p.m. Replacing the outgoing Blue Collar TV, the so-called “encore” episodes of Supernatural will immediately follow the aging Charmed series (and take on ABC’s Desperate Housewives).

The WB says it will continue to air new episodes of Supernatural Tuesdays at 9 p.m. But the move to Sunday is sure to feed the rumor mills that Supernatural has been chosen as the successor to Charmed, which is considered to be in its last season.

If that happens, look for the Supernatural-Charmed switcheroo after May sweeps.

The New WB Primetime Schedule:
Sundays (starting October 23)
5/4c – Charmed (Repeats)
6/5c – What I Like About You (Easy View)
6:30/5:30c – Twins (Easy View)
7/6c – Reba: Beginnings (Repeats)
7:30/6:30c – Reba: Beginnings (Repeats)
8:/7c – Charmed
9/8c – Supernatural (Repeats)

Mondays (starting of October 31)
8/7c – 7th Heaven
9/8c – Related (New Time)

Tuesdays (no change)
8/7c – Gilmore Girls
9/8c – Supernatural

Wednesdays (starting of November 2)
8/7c – One Tree Hill
9/8c – Related (Repeats)

Thursdays (no change)
8/7c – Smallville
9/8c – Everwood

Fridays (starting October 21)
8/7c – What I Like About You
8:30/7:30c – What I Like About You (Repeats)
9/8c – Reba
9:30/8:30c – Twins (New Time)

Painkiller Jane
SCI FI Channel
December 10, 9/8c p.m.

After letting it sit on a development shelf for more than two years gathering dust (and after some last-minute tinkering and re-shoots), the Sci Fi channel has finally set an air date for the pilot of the abandoned series, Painkiller Jane. The show was originally set to air in 2003.

The storyline is based on the Event Comics series of the same name. It follows the life of the character “Jane Browning,” a marine who is transformed into a super hero after an accident with a biochemical weapon. He powers include incredible self-healing as well as increased physical strength and mental abilities.

The title character is played by modern B-movie scream queen, Emmanuelle Vaugier (Saw II, Wishmaster 3, Smallville, Andromeda). Other cast member include Tate Donovan (The O.C.), Richard Roundtree (Se7en, Q: The Winged Serpent), Eric Dane (X-Men 3) and Michael Eklund (House of the Dead).

Surface became the latest science fiction TV success story when NBC announced Monday it had ordered a full season of the series. The program has been a solid ratings performer for the network, helping it win the 18-to-49-year-old demographic for the night it airs.

In the past NBC has struggled with scripted series in the 8 p.m. Monday “family hour” slot. With this announcement, the sea monsters in Surface will be appearing in new episodes throughout the 2005-2006 season.

(Although there will be a three-week break in February when NBC is scheduled to air the 2006 Winter Olympics from Feb. 10-26.)

Airing at 8/7c p.m. on Monday nights, Surface is now a permanent replacement for the NBC gross-out reality series, Fear Factor. Surface also has multiple same-week repeat airings on NBC Universal’s Sci Fi channel.

Related previous stories:
TV Review: ‘Surface’ intrigue marred by too-cute kiddie and skiffy moments
Update: SF/F TV Ratings – Oct. 17, 2005

OK time to look at 18-49 demo ratings changes for science fication and fantasy genre shows comparing the week of Sept 24 – Sept 30 through the week of Oct. 10 – Oct 16.

NOTE: Ratings of “2.3” means about 2.3 million households with 18- to 49-year-olds were tuned in. A “#2” behind a program’s name means it was rated as the second-most-watched show that night for 18- to 49-year-olds

Monday

  • 8 p.m.
    Surface – NBC (steady to growing)
    9-26: #11 rated with a 2.9
    10-3 #11 rated with a 3.0
    10-10 #10 rated with a 3.3
  • 10 p.m.
    Medium – NBC (Picking up from last week’s dip)
    9-26:#3 rated with a 5.0
    10-3: #5 rated with a 4.6
    10-10 #4 rated with a 4.8

Tuesday

  • 9 p.m.
    Supernatural – The WB (Solid performer)
    9-27 #15 with a 2.1
    10-4: #14 with a 2.4
    10-10 #14 with a 2.3

Wednesday

  • 9 p.m.
    Lost – ABC (Solid ratings winner)
    9-28 #1 rated with a 9.4
    10-5 #1 rated with a 9.0
    10-10 #1 rated with a 9.1
  • 10 p.m.
    Invasion – ABC (Finding footing)
    9-28 #2 with a 5.4
    10-5 #2 with a 4.7
    10-10 #2 with a 5.0

Thursday

  • 8 p.m.
    Alias – ABC (Time period disappointment)
    9-29 #11 with a 2.4
    10-6 #9 with a 2.4
    10-10 #11 with a 2.2

    Smallville – The WB (Steady in new timeslot)
    9-29 #10 with a 2.6
    10-6 #8 with a 2.6
    10-10 #11 with a 2.2

  • 9 p.m.
    CSI – CBS (Dominant)
    9-29 #1 with a 9.1
    10-6 #1 with a 9.5
    10-10 #1 with a 7.6

    Night Stalker – ABC (Hurting against CSI)
    9-29 # 9 with a 2.7
    10-6 #11 with a 2.2
    10-10 #12 with a 2.0

Friday

  • 8 p.m.
    Ghost Whisperer – CBS (show is skewing old – #1 in the over 50 demo, but bleeding younger viewers)
    9-30 #2 with a 2.6 (probable bump from Prison Break guest star)
    10-7 #3 with a 2.9
    10-10 #5 with a 2.3
  • 9 p.m.
    Threshold – CBS (Finding an audience despite the fall off of its lead-in)
    9-30 #5 with a 2.3
    10-7 #4 with a 2.5
    10-10 #7 with a 2.2
  • 10 p.m.
    NUMB3RS – CBS (steady Friday night hit)
    9-30 #1 with a 3.2
    10-7 #1 with a 3.2
    10-10 #1 with a 3.0

For those of you Firefly/Serenity fans who just can’t get enough, my friend Grace tracked down the names of the two music tracks that were used in the promotional trailers for the film.

Here’s what she found in her (slightly) edited words:

“The main theme is a song by Kasabian, called ‘Club Foot,’ the most recognizable part of which is at the end of the teaser-trailer, the ‘ahhh-ah-ahhh-ah-aah-ah’ bit. (Come on, you know we’ve all watched and re-watched the trailers enough to know exactly what I mean.)

“The smaller bit is what plays in the longer trailer, original one, when River is taking off her jacket in the bar. Just before she kicks butt, there’s a woman’s voice over a techno beat, going “Everybody say hell yeah”… That one is a song that was originally on the Blade: Trinity soundtrack. ‘Skylight’ by Overseer.”

Ghost Whisperer

8 out of 10
Ghost Whisperer
(CBS, Fridays 8/7c p.m.)
{NO SPOILERS}

Premise: Young married woman sees dead people and helps them cross over to the other side.

OK, before I start this review, I have a few things I must come clean with: I am not a Jennifer Love Hewitt fan, I think the title of this show is stupid and I think the premise is tired and subject to devolving into smarmy cliche after a few episodes. Also, I have been known to make snide comments about this show before it began, calling it “Touched by a Medium” and such.

But despite all of that, I actually liked the new CBS series Ghost Whisperer enough to recommend it (and added it to my TiVo season pass at least until Stargate:SG1 comes back with original episodes in January). Because as a light fantasy show, it works.

The premise is a little too familiar as psychic woman sees dead people while her family and friends cope with the consequences. Sounds an awful lot like Medium, right? Yep. It does.

The show then throws in big heaping helping of Touched by an Angel and a smattering of Dead Like Me all in a guest-star-of-the-week format.

That format is fairly predictable. Each episode starts with some sort of crisis where Hewitt’s character meets a ghost. Hijinks ensue before an inevitable conflict. Then it all ends with a “touching” Hallmark moment. Ugh.

It is suprising when you consider how much I was ready to hate this series that upon watching Ghost Whisperer, I was pleasantly surprised. The show is good despite itself. I blame the writers and directors for this.

The cast

Jennifer Love Hewitt plays psychic “Melinda Gordon.” She pulls off the role well enough. She is s competent actress – although kinda goofy looking in a prematurely aging, but endearing way.

(It’s been a decade since she became the resident pin-up girl from the FOX teen soap opera Party of Five. I have to tell you, that I never understood why she was considered a great beauty of the mid-1990s. Sure at the time, she fulfilled any girl-chasing teenage boy’s requirements: clear skin, thin waist and huge breasts. But now, at age 26, as Hewitt’s two biggest assets are starting to sag, her other physical flaws are intensified. She has a pinched nose, gigantic ears and the beginnings of major sun damage to her once flawless skin.)

Melinda’s husband, “Jim Clancy,” a paramedic, is played by a young-looking 38-year-old David Conrad (Wedding Crashers, Boston Public, Roswell). It’s always nice to have a paramedic husband around to help a ghost-whispering psychic deal with those near-death revival experiences, right? Conrad plays his role as the understanding hubby well.

The stand-out performance is by actress Aisha Tyler (CSI, Friends, Talk Soup) as “Andrea Moreno.” In what could have been a throw-away smart-mouthed minority sidekick part, Tyler fully inhabits her role; easily moving from drama to comedy within the same scene. Her one-liners are inspired. She should be the star of this show.

Resembling a younger Vanessa L. Williams (former Miss America), when it comes to the eye candy factor. Hewitt pales in comparison to Tyler. Add in her acting talents (which are many), if there is any justice in the universe, Aisha Tyler will be a household name in a few years.


RATINGS
Overall: 8 out of 10
V-Chip Rating: TV-PG
Genre: Fantasy
Sex: Adult situations.
Violence: Minimal.
Special Effects: Fair.
Eye Candy: Everyone is attractive, but the guest stars and cast regular Aisha Tyler win in this category.

CAST
Jennifer Love Hewitt … Melinda Gordon
David Conrad … Jim Clancy
Aisha Tyler … Andrea Moreno

Night Stalker

7 out of 10
Night Stalker
(ABC, Thursdays 9/8c p.m.)
{NO SPOILERS}

Premise: In this re-imagining of the 1970s classic, journalist Kolchak investigates and reports on not-so-run-of-the-mill crimes.

As you may know, the 1990s FOX hit science fiction series X-Files was loosely based on a failed 1974 series called, Kolchak: The Night Stalker which only ran for one season.

Last year Frank Spotnitz, the Emmy-nominated writer and producer of the X-Files convinced ABC network officials to re-make the failed 1970s series for a modern audience. This is not unprecedented. The Sci Fi channel remade the failed 1970s series Battlestar Galactica for a modern audience and achieved critical and ratings success.

There are quite a few drastic changes between the original Kolchak and the new Night Stalker. Gone are the gritty Chicago locations, the lone wolf mentality the 50-something almost-washed-up antihero and the slow, thoughtful pace of the original.

Those have been traded in for the seamier side of Southern California, a 20-something pretty boy with a reluctant partner (or two), and the fast pace and quick editing that modern audiences apparently require.

For those who remember the original or watched its reruns on the Trio or Sci Fi channels in recent years, the first Kolchak was a thoughtful, sometimes pondering potboiler with a healthy influence from both H.P. Lovecraft and 1970s pop cultural camp humor.

The new series is also a product of its time. Today’s Night Stalker continues the Lovecraftian practice of the original where merely scratching the surface of the obvious uncovers a hidden, darker influence on today’s evils. But adds in the post 9-11 seriousness that has come to mark most modern American drama.

Furthermore, Spotnitz was obviously still in X-Files mode when he created this update of the series. In most of the scenes, the new Kolchak approaches most situations exactly like Mulder would. And the newly added character of “Perri Reed” is just as doubting and just as intelligent and witty and beautiful as Scully ever was.

The Cast

The Character of Carl Kolchak has Irish 32-year-old actor Stuart Townsend (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Queen of the Damned) reprising the role made immortal among cult fans by the gruff Darren McGavin (who was 52 when he played the character in 1974).

Physically, Townsend has a waifish, Johnny Depp-like look and feel to him. He is not physically intimidating, but projects an air of danger or possibility. This is probably why he tends to land vampire roles in films.

Speaking with a perfected American accent, Townsend plays Kolchak as a scrappy optimistic who occasionally reveals hints of his painful past.

Townsend’s character is unwillingly partnered with “Perri Reed,” as played by American actress Gabrielle Union (City of Angels, Star Trek: DS9).

If you do a stylistic comparison between X-Files and Night Stalker, Union’s “Reed” looks, dresses and talks like an African American “Dana Scully.” But somehow it works since Union does it so well – and in a way that does not look or feel derivative to audience.

The Competition

So, we have a nicely-remade and very well-written series with capable and attractive actors. There is one big problem.

ABC scheduled Night Stalker to air on Thursday nights at 9 p.m. where it faces competition from ratings juggernauts, CSI and The Apprentice. Those two series are at their creative peak and steal so much of the Thursday night viewing audience; hardly any show could stand up to their competition.

Unless ABC moves the show to a new day or time, Don’t be surprised if the new Night Stalker has a shorter lifespan than the original series and its 20-episode run.


RATINGS
Overall: 7 out of 10
V-Chip Rating: TV-14 LV
Genre: Fantasy
Sex: Adult situations.
Violence: Realistic gore, blood. Violent deaths.
Special Effects: Very well done.
Eye Candy: The lead male and female are attractive.

CAST
Stuart Townsend … Carl Kolchak
Gabrielle Union … Perri Reed

According to reports, the following is a list of Nielsen’s top-rated science fiction and fantasy-themed programs for the 18-49-year-old viewers on U.S. TV for Thursday, October 13, 2005:

Key: Rank, Title, Network, Timeslot, (Rating/share of audience)
1. Smallville, The WB, 8/7c p.m. (2.4/7)
2. Alias, ABC, 8/7c p.m. (2.2/6)
3. Night Stalker, ABC, 9/8c p.m. (2/5)


By far the success story of the group is Smallville, which is succeeding in its new timeslot. The young Superman-to-be had no problem facing ABC’s Alias, knocking the spy-fi show to last place in the ratings.

That is horrible news for ABC and Alias. As a member of one of the original “Big Three” networks, to be trailing networks like UPN and WB (which aren’t even broadcast in many U.S. cities) in the ratings is crippling the network’s entire night’s lineup.

Of the audience that is watching Alias, more than half were over age 50, a no-no when trying to attract the Thursday night advertising dollar. It would be shocking if Alias is not pre-empted for November sweeps.

Conversely, for a startup TV network like The WB, the ratings goal is simply NOT to be in last place in the 18-49 demographic. Here, Smallville succeeds, and seems to be picking up steam as its audience grows week-on-week.

At 9 p.m. the performance of Night Stalker, the lowest-rated genre show of the night, may not be as bad as it seems. Excluding baseball playoffs, Night Stalker was third in the ratings – trailing only CSI and the Donald Trump version of The Apprentice, two network TV powerhouses.

Compared to other Thursday ABC programming, Night Stalker also attracts a younger audience and is the only show with higher ratings when compared to the programming ABC was airing in the same timeslot last year. But the show is making no headway against the similarly-themed CSI on CBS.

So ABC had the odd situation of explaining how Night Stalker, the lowest-rated genre TV show, is their best-performing show for the night. Still, its ratings performance is marginal; not the undisputed success ABC had wanted.

CBS has picked up a full 22-episode season order of Ghost Whisperer, the Friday night paranormal program starring Jennifer Love Hewitt as a psychic who sees dead people.

Ghost Whisperer is consistently raked as the No.1 watched program among all TV households on Friday nights at 8 p.m., averaging 11 million viewers with a week-on-week audience growth of 5 percent.

But among the coveted 18- to 49-year-old demographic, the show ranks as No. 2. This means the show is skewing older in its audience. A similar trend killed off popular CBS shows Judging Amy and Joan of Arcadia last year as CBS sought to attract a younger audience.

The network also ordered three more episodes of freshman sci fi drama, Threshold, which immediately follows Ghost Whisperer. Threshold also ranks as the No. 1 show for its 9 p.m. timeslot on Fridays, although it has fewer viewers than Ghost Whisperer. CBS said weekly gain in audience for Threshold is at a rate of about 4 percent.

With sophomore series NUMB3RS at 10 p.m. also winning its timeslot, a sci fi and fantasy-themed Friday night has CBS winning in the ratings, according to network press releases.