According to a report on SCI FI WIRE, the BBC has decided to snub U.S. television audiences as far as the new Doctor Who series is concerned.

The series already has aired 13 new episodes in the U.K. and Canada. U.S. fans have long speculated that the new series starring Christopher Eccleston as The Doctor would have made a natural fit on either the Sci Fi Channel or BBC America.

But that is not to be.

BBC officials decided instead that Doctor Who would fare better as a direct-to-video release in the U.S. The network has no plans for the show to be broadcast on any stateside media outlet.

The DVD set, scheduled for February 14, 2006 will be almost identical to the British version, which already is for sale if you have a DVD player that converts UK PAL-TV and DVD Region format to North American formats.

In what is probably the worst-kept secret in sci fi TV, CBS confirmed what 1001-or-so fan sites already knew: Threshold, Brannon Braga’s latest science fiction TV show, is joining ABC’s Night Stalker in the dustbin of history.

CBS sited low rating of the show in its new Tuesday at 10/9c p.m. timeslot. It aired there once, when the competition included the final hour and biggest awards of the “American Music Awards.”

ON average, Threshold attracted about 7.7 million viewers, according to TV industry press reports. That made it the lowest-rated hour-long drama on CBS.

Four finished but unaired episodes of the show remain. CBS has no plans to show any of those episodes on the network. Instead, the network plans to air specials or repeat episodes of of other CBS programs in the timeslot.

The show no longer appears on the ABC network. Almost all traces of it have been cleansed from the ABC website.

But fans of the recently cancelled remake of Night Stalker have been thrown an Internet-flavored bone by the network.

Although the network TV ratings were too low to justify continuing the Night Stalker story for free on TV, apparently sales on Apple’s iTunes store are good enough for at least one more episode of the series – for a price.

Two weeks ago, ABC abruptly canceled Night Stalker after airing a mere six episodes.

The unlikely series ender was an episode entitled The Source, a cliffhanger meant to be part one of a two-part episode. The “To be continued…” that whetted millions of appetites was not to be for the millions of fans who tuned in each Thursday at 9/8c p.m.

After the abrupt cancellation, fansites quickly took ABC to task for leaving Night Stalker fans in the lurch, not knowing if one of the major characters of the show would survive what looked like an impending death.

ABC was silent. Fans were furious.

The network merely said Night Stalker was no longer being produced. It gave no hint as to whether the three remaining unaired episodes – including the one-hour finale of the cliffhanger episode – would ever be aired.

Then quietly over the Thanksgiving holiday, a seventh episode, The Sea appeared on the iTunes store. The 43-minute, 31-second episode is on sale for $1.99 for playback on a video iPod or home PC or Mac with QuickTime player installed (free with iTunes registration).

There is no word if the two remaining unaired episodes of Night Stalker also would be made available for download on iTunes in upcoming weeks.

For: Fandominion

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

8 out of 10
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)

Before I begin this review, I have to admit that although I am an avid reader, I have never read any of the Harry Potter books. And, although I have seen all of previous three films, I would not consider myself to be a Harry Potter fan.

Although I am a fan of good juvenile fiction, the Potter series always struck me as … well … to juvenile. The stories were a little unoriginal and dealt way too much with the fictional sport of quidditch… ugh. (I’m not a big sports fan either.)

But for some reason (yet another one of the things we do for our spouse when we are married!) I found myself standing in a VERY LONG LINE on opening night a couple of Fridays ago. In the brisk autumn air, I tried my hardest not to be annoyed by the throngs of giggly school girls who also were standing in line, gossiping loudly and obnoxiously about boys and the weird “nerd” fan adult types who made up the other large portion of Potter premiere night in-line standers.

After we finally made it into the theatre and were seated, the movie started.

Now, not being a Potter fan and not having much in the expectations department for this flick, I sat there underwhelmed… for about the first 4 minutes.

Director Mike Newell, (best known for chick-flicks starring Hugh Grant or Julia Roberts like Four Wedding and a Funeral and Mona Lisa Smile) deftly used his chick flick creds to pull the emotional strings befitting a tale involving teen angst. It’s been more than two decades – not since John Hughes’ Brat Pack-era triumphs of Sixteen Candles and The Breakfast Club has a film involving teens been so entertaining.

But it didn’t stop there. The action of the film was superb. The dark moments were very dark Newell even added a few frights that one would not expect in a children’s film. He made the dangers seem real – and dangerous.

The best praise I have for this film is that for a two-and-a-half hour film, it didn’t feel like a long movie. I was interested throughout.

The weakest part of the film, I’m sad to say was the writing, which was consistent with the rest of the series. I know J.K. Rowling has made millions of dollars on the back of the Potter franchise. But I found the story to be on the contrived side and a tad derivative.

The young cast and director did wonders with what they had to work with and pulled off a film that not only pleases fans. But also reaches out to people like me who do not consider themselves to be Potter fans … yet.


RATINGS
Overall: 8 out of 10
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre:Fantasy
Sex: Minor adult themes and mild sexual innuendo situations when Harry is taking a bath and is being “chased around the tub” by a randy spirit.
Violence: Fantasy violence. At least one well-known character dies a violent death on screen.
Special Effects: Very well done
Other: This film – darker in tone, may not be appropriate for children prone to nightmares.

CAST
Daniel Radcliffe … Harry Potter
Emma Watson … Hermione Granger
Rupert Grint … Ron Weasley
Michael Gambon … Albus Dumbledore
Ralph Fiennes … Lord Voldemort
Alan Rickman … Severus Snape
Robbie Coltrane … Rubeus Hagrid
Maggie Smith … Minerva McGonagall

In what can only bee seen as a mercy killing by all but the show’s most rabid fans, ABC gave early notice it was pulling the plug on low-rated cult spy fi series, Alias. The last original episode will air in April or May of 2006.

The show, coming of record series high ratings as the show the immediately followed Lost last year on Wednesday nights, was moved this year to the 8/7c timeslot on Thursdays and never found its footing on a new night and new time.

ABC hasn’t had a hit TV series at 8 p.m. on Thursdays since Mork & Mindy in the early 1980s. Many of the Alias’ fans found this move to be the kiss of death by ABC.

Sure enough, in the prized 18-49 age demographic, Alias has occasionally ranked dead last in the ratings, being beaten by Survivor on CBS, Joey and Will & Grace on NBC, baseball on Fox, Smallville on the WB (which also moved to Thursdays, but successfully) and Everybody Hates Chris on UPN.

Instead of yanking the show off the air altogether, ABC acknowledges Alias’ strong DVD sales and syndication potential in letting the show run its course. The network says its move is not a cancellation, but an early notice the program will not be renewed for 2006-2007.

Alias’ producers have promised a big series finale for the fans who have stuck with the show for the past five seasons.

A report in the Futon Critic shows CBS has yanked sci fi action series Threshold off the air next week and replaced it with a repeat airing of crime procedural drama, Criminal Minds.

Nov. 22 was the debut of Threshold in the 10 p.m. Tuesday night time period, where it faced stiff competition from the final hour of the American Music Awards on ABC and a November sweeps episode of Law & Order on NBC.

Threshold failed in attracting a sizable audience, it had a 2.1 rating in the prized 18-49 age demographic, less than half of the competition. The ratings number also was a series low for Threshold and the lowest rating CBS has had in the timeslot all year.

Reports say CBS has ordered production of the show shut down, canceling its previous order of three additional yet-to-be-filmed episodes. CBS has not yet officially release a statement on the series fate, but for Threshold fans, the future looks rather bleak.

After weeks of unofficial announcements, the Sci Fi Channel made it official Wednesday as it announced the renewal of its hit series Battlestar Galactica. It will keep its Friday 10/9c p.m. timeslot.

Rumor is the delayed announcement had to do with contract negotiations with the series main stars and the producer/writing team of executive producer and writer Ronald D. Moore and executive producer David Eick.

Network officials already told series creators back in August to not to plan to end the series with the current season. This was needed as the final episodes were in process of being filmed at that time and would have had to be altered to give the series an appropriate ending for future DVD sales.

The network also said all of the primary cast members will be returning, including Edward James Olmos, Mary McDonnell, Katee Sackhoff, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Tricia Helfer and Grace Park.

In the November 16 press release, the Sci Fi network said production for a third season of 20 episodes is scheduled to begin in February. Like the current tradition, the new season will be broken into two 10-episode arcs.

Summer “Season” Preliminary dates
Sci Fi will show the first 10 episodes starting on July 7. New episodes will be shown each week with the exception of the Labor Day holiday weekend.

Winter “Season” Preliminary dates
The second half of the third season is scheduled to begin airing on January 5, 2007 with four news episodes each week. The series will air in repeats during the month of February when the broadcast networks are in their sweeps period. The final six episodes will resume in March with the season finale in late April.

Because of the production schedule needs, fans will know well in advance of the winter season episodes if there will be a fourth season of BSG.

It looks like Time Warner finally knows how to fully integrate AOL into its media offerings. The company plans to use AOL to launch six new advertising -supported on-demand Internet TV channels under the brand name In2TV. Each of the channels will feature programming drawn from more than 4,800 episodes from the Warner Brothers television library.

None of the shows will be available in TV syndication when they are offered on for free viewing on the Internet.

The new rerun channels scheduled to debut in early 2006 are:

LOL TV – Sitcoms
Dramarama – One-hour dramas
Toontopia – Animation
Heroes and Horrors – Science Fiction and Fantasy (mostly)
Rush – Action
Vintage – Misc. classic TV

Of the channels, three are of major interest to fans of science fiction and fantasy.

  • Heroes and Horrors is obvious, it will feature such shows as Wonder Woman, Babylon 5, Lois & Clark and The Adventures of Superman.
  • Toontopia will air reruns of animated fare such as Pinky and the Brain and Beetlejuice.
  • Rush, along with mundane police dramas, will feature spy-fi fare such as The Fugitive and La Femme Nikita.

For the service AOL says it has developed a new way of encoding video called “AOL Hi-Q,” which it says will allow DVD-quality full screen video. In2TV also plans to have computer-based games and viewer polls designed to accompany the series.

According to press reports and a company press release, AOL will be offering about 300 new episodes a month of about 100 TV series in the first year of operation.

AOL did run into one major hurdle in its effort to rebroadcast some of the old Time Warner shows on the Internet. The company said the complex nature of music copyrights forced it to re-master some of the series to replace some of the soundtrack music with new, original music because there was a problem with royalties in some instances.

So, even though some of the oldies may look the same as when they were first broadcast, they may not sound the same.

According to a report in Variety Wednesday night, the FOX network has ordered a pilot for a new science fiction series based on the Terminator movie franchise.

The show is being produced under the working title, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, although that may not be the final name actually used for the series if it is picked up for the 2006-2007 season.

According to the report, the series will focus on the Sarah Connor character and her son, John Connor, in the time period set after Terminator 2 as they battle to save the world and themselves from an onslaught of killer machines.

None of the actors of any of the original films are expected to be involved with the TV series.

Network officials at CBS are doing triage to the weak link in an otherwise wining Friday night lineup. They have taken an unusual move and pulled a scheduling switch after the beginning of November sweeps.

For now, the network is pulling Threshold off the air for two weeks. The show will return Tuesday, November 22 at 10/9c p.m. airing after lead-in Amazing Race.

Starting this week, Threshold‘s current 9/8c Friday night timeslot will be taken by drama Close to Home, which has been struggling at 10 p.m. Tuesdays against older-skewing television programs, NBC’s Law and Order and ABC’s Boston legal. The move also will mean Threshold will not be competing against the Sci Fi Channel’s primetime Friday lineup.