TV Science Fiction & Fantasy

by Michael Shonk

   October means Halloween and Halloween means monsters. Fiction is full of scary monsters, evil monsters, but hero monsters? TV alone has more than its share of stories with humans fighting monsters. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, KOLCHAK THE NIGHT STALKER, SPECIAL UNIT 2 and X-FILES are just a few of the TV series with monsters as the villains, but what about the shows with a monster as a good guy? Its time we scream for those monsters willing to change sides.

   If you are going to mention monsters you have to begin with vampires, and what is it about cops and PIs that attract vampires?

ANGEL. (WB, 1999-2004) Buffy didn’t slay all the vampires as the vampire with a soul, Angel (David Boreanaz) was on her side from the beginning. At one point he moves to Los Angeles and opens his own PI agency.

BLOOD TIES. (Lifetime, 2007-08) Female ex-cop turned PI, Vicki Nelson (Christine Cox) gets help from a cute Vampire, Henry Fitzroy (Kyle Schmid) as they solves crimes and she deals with her jealous boyfriend and former police partner Mike (Dylan Neal). Based on books by Tonya Huff.

FOREVER KNIGHT. (CBS, 1992-96) Vampire Nick Knight (Geraint Wyn Davies) who wants to go straight becomes a Toronto Homicide cop on the night shift. The link is to the first episode.

MOONLIGHT. (CBS, 2007-08) Vampire PI Mick St. John (Alex O’Loughlin) solves crimes as he tries to resist falling in love with human reporter Beth (Sophie Myles).

   Where would monsters be without mad scientists seeking answers Man is not supposed to know, those scamps are the stuff of horror legends…and crime fighters. H.G. Wells’ Invisible Man has been a popular choice for a TV good guy.

THE INVISIBLE MAN. (CBS, 1958-59): Imported British series featured scientist Peter Brady. Brady’s experiment turns a rat invisible but there is a leak and he becomes invisible as well and unable to return to his natural visible state, thus cheating the actor whose face is never seen out of an on air credit (reportedly he was Tim Turner). Brady would use his invisibility to fight crime and help the government. Link is for the first episode.

THE INVISIBLE MAN. (NBC, 1975): Scientist (David McCallum) creates a machine that turns things and people invisible. He destroys the machine to keep it out of the hands of the military but his antidote fails and he is unable to become visible again. He and his scientist wife (Melissa Fee) go to work for the Klae Corporation where he handles security missions for the company while he and his wife search for a cure to his invisibility.

GEMINI MAN. (NBC, 1976): Government agent Sam Casey (Ben Murphy) works for the U.S. agency Intersect. While on a mission he is exposed to radiation that turns him invisible. Scientist Abby Lawrence (Katherine Crawford) creates a DNA stabilizer that allows Sam to control his invisibility. But if Sam stays invisible for longer than fifteen minutes he will remain that way forever. The link is for Part One (of Five) of the episode “Minotaur.”

INVISIBLE MAN aka I-MAN. (Sci-Fi aka Syfy, 2000-02): Comedy action series. A mad scientist uses his brother, career criminal Darien Fawkes (Vincent Ventresca) as the test subject for a government funded experiment. Things go wrong (don’t they always?) and Darien, who now has the ability to make himself invisible, is forced to work for a secret agency in exchange for regular doses of an antidote that keeps him from going insane. The link is for the pilot episode.

   Sure, we all overcome obstacles every day in our lives, but these characters didn’t let a little thing like death stopped them from fighting evil.

BRIMSTONE. (Fox, 1998-99): Dead Damned good cop Zeke Stone (Peter Horton) murdered the man who escaped justice after raping Stone’s wife. Stone ends up in Hell. He is offered a deal by the Devil (John Glover), recapture 113 escaped demons from Hell and Stone gets a second chance on Earth. The link is for episode three.

G VS E aka GOOD VS EVIL. (USA, 1999/ Sci-Fi aka Syfy, 2000): Dead Cop Chandler Smythe (Clayton Rohner) joins “the corps,” God’s police force. With his dead partner Henry (Richard Brooks) a cop from the 70s, they hunt “Morlocks,” demons from Hell who are on Earth disguised as humans. The link is for Part One (of Five) of the first episode.

   Witches and Wizards, like humans, can be found on both sides of the line between good and evil.

DRESDEN’S FILES. (Sci-Fi aka Syfy, 2007): Loosely based on the books by Jim Butcher. Wizard and PI Harry Dresden (Paul Blackthorne) solve crimes involving the supernatural with curious cop Connie Murphy (Valerie Cruz) trying to discover the truth.

TUCKER’S WITCH. (CBS, 1982-83) Married couple Amanda and Rick Tucker (Catherine Hicks and Tim Matheson) work together as PIs solving mysteries with the help of her yet to be totally mastered witchcraft. Mystery*File review here.

   There are times a monster rises above our prejudices and remind us that not all scary ugly monsters are alike.

SWAMP THING (USA, 1990-93). Professor Alex Holland (Dirk Durock) is a victim of a murder attempt by mad scientist Anton Arcane (Mark Lindsey Chapman). Turned into a monster that is part man-part plant, Holland protects his swamp home and friends from Arcane and various other evildoers.

   Saturday morning TV has been a place for an endless number of good guy monsters including SWAMP THING (Fox Kids 1990-91). The link is for the episode “Un-man Unleashed.”

FANGFACE (ABC 1978-79) was one of the endless cartoons inspired by Scooby Doo, this one with a werewolf.

MONSTER SQUAD. (NBC 1976-77) was a live action show done in a style similar to the 1960s BATMAN TV series. The night watchman at a Wax Museum brings Dracula, Frankenstein’s Monster and Werewolf back to life so they can do good and make up for their earlier bad behavior.

   Today we have no shortage of “monsters” fighting evil including Grimm’s monster sidekick Monroe in GRIMM (NBC), the risen from the dead Ichabod Crane in SLEEPY HOLLOW (FOX) and a growing groups of clones in ORPHAN BLACK (BBC America).

Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         

“NO TIME LIKE THE PAST.” An episode of The Twilight Zone, CBS, 7 March 1963 (Season 4, Episode 10). Dana Andrews, Patricia Breslin, Malcolm Atterbury. Radio adaptation: The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas, syndicated, circa 2002-2003, starring Jason Alexander.

    “No Time Like The Past” is a Twilight Zone original series episode starring Dana Andrews (Laura, Where the Sidewalk Ends) as Paul Driscoll, a time-traveling physicist who comes to realize that, no matter how much you may want to, you simply can’t change the past. It’s one of those Twilight Zone episodes, which, apart from the somewhat clunky-looking scientific equipment one sees in beginning, does not seem remotely dated.

    Indeed, the plot of “No Time Like The Past” and its theme of fatalism seem as timely as ever. That is one reason why Jason Alexander’s (Seinfeld) portrayal of Driscoll in the radio and audio drama version works so well.

    We begin with Paul Driscoll (Andrews) in conversation with his colleague, Harvey (Robert F. Simon). They’re in a laboratory. Driscoll is standing in a crude time machine that he invented. Light and shadow play prominent roles, both literally and figuratively, in this scene. A man of both academic knowledge and unbridled humanism, Driscoll has an incredibly bleak view of the twentieth-century and he’s not remotely reluctant to make his views crystal clear:

    “We live in a cesspool, a septic tank, a gigantic sewage complex in which runs the dregs, the filth, the misery-laden slop of the race of men.”

    It’s Driscoll’s intention to travel backward in time so as to change the present. He chooses three destinations: Hiroshima, in order to evacuate citizens before the atomic bomb is dropped; Nazi Germany before World War II, so he can assassinate Hitler; and on board the Lusitania, to halt the American entrance into the First World War. (In the radio play, Driscoll visits the same three points in time but in reverse order.) In all three situations, he fails to complete his task. He returns, disappointed, to the present and once again meets up with Harvey in the laboratory.

    Driscoll now has a new plan. Rather than trying to change the past, he opts for living in it. Specifically, he wants to go back to 1881 and live in Homeville, Indiana where he can enjoy band concerts and lemonade. He’s read a book about the Midwest in the nineteenth-century and decides he wants to live in simpler times, before world wars and atom bombs. His naivety is galling.

    When Driscoll gets to Homeville, he soon realizes that the past may not be all that great either. He ends up living in a boarding house with an armchair warrior who advocates for American imperialism in East Asia and, within a couple of days, President James Garfield is shot. Complicating matters is the fact that he begins to have romantic feelings for a schoolteacher, Abigail Sloan (Patricia Breslin) but soon realizes that he can’t do anything about it, lest he change the course of History.

    Things get even worse for Driscoll when he realizes that some of Sloan’s schoolchildren are going to die in a fire. He read about it in the history book he carries with him. A man divided against himself, he can’t decide if he should intervene. In a sadly ironic twist of fate, Driscoll inadvertently ends up causing the very historical event he intended to stop. One of the perils of time travel, no doubt. Driscoll finally accepts that the past, as Harvey told him all along, is indeed inviolate.

    Dana Andrews, best known for his film work in the 1940s, skillfully conveys the conflicted emotions the hopelessly tormented Driscoll. He convincingly portrays a man who is angry and sentimental, fearful and hopeful. In the slightly modified radio show version, Jason Alexander successfully pulls off the quite difficult feat of bringing this episode to life without the benefit of visuals. Alexander’s voice acting never once reminds you of his portrayal of George Costanza on Seinfeld.

    In conclusion, “No Time Like The Past” is a classic Twilight Zone episode that stands up to the test of time. The themes of nostalgia, sentimentalism, and wishing one could change the past so as to change the present remain poignant today.

    While some contemporary listeners might be less familiar with the Lusitania than with the Second World War, the points in time that Driscoll visits remain alive in the American public consciousness. One could imagine a future reworking of the script to include references to the Vietnam War and to 9/11, but that might have to wait another couple of decades. It’s an episode both worth watching and listening to.

NOTE: The TV episode can be watched in its entirety on IMDb here.

Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         

“STEEL.” Episode of The Twilight Zone. CBS. Season 5, Episode 2. October 4, 1963. Lee Marvin, Joe Mantell, Tipp McClure. Director: Don Weis.


   Stories set in a future that have long since passed are often particularly fascinating to read. They do not merely portray imagined futures. They also provide critical insight into how writers understood their own eras within the context of History’s tripartite realms of past, present, and future. Most significantly, many of these stories revolve around man’s complex relationship with technology.

   Consider, for instance, George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), Nevil Shute’s On The Beach (published in 1958, but set in 1963), and Arthur C. Clarke’s, 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). The years in which those novels are set have long since come and gone. When we read these novels, we are reading fiction set simultaneously in the future and in the past. True, they are works of fiction; the books’ authors did not intend them to be prescient renderings of what was yet to come.

   Still, it’s worth reflecting on the fact that humanity did not usher into existence the most compelling aspects of these novelists’ imagined futures. More countries have democratically elected governments than ever before. Humanity avoided a nuclear holocaust. Man hasn’t traveled to Saturn. Scientists have not created an artificial intelligence nearly as advanced as HAL. Well, not yet, anyway.

   Similar to the aforementioned novels, The Twilight Zone episode, “Steel,” based on a Richard Matheson story of the same name (published in the May 1956 issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction), also takes place in a future date that is now past.

   Originally aired on October 4, 1963, “Steel” is set in a future 1974 in which human boxing is no longer permitted. Android-like robots are the only ones allowed to box; human boxing was criminalized in 1968. Rod Sterling’s narration provides context and instructs the viewer that such a law was passed in an attempt to abolish one facet of human cruelty:

   “Only these automatons have been permitted in the ring since prizefighting was legally abolished in 1968. This is the story of that scheduled six-round bout, more specifically the story of two men shortly to face that remorseless truth: that no law can be passed which will abolish cruelty or desperate need — nor, for that matter, blind animal courage. Location for the facing of said truth: a small, smoke-filled arena just this side of the Twilight Zone.”


   The episode begins with Steel Kelly (Lee Marvin) and Pole (Joe Mantell) escorting a shrouded figure off a bus and into a small town diner. We soon learn that the mystery man accompanying them isn’t a man at all. Rather, he — it — is a fighting android answering to the name of Battling Maxo (Tipp McClure).

   Steel Kelly and Pole are in need of some prize money. Maxo, a B2 unit and a heavyweight, is set to fight a more advanced B7 unit named Maynard Flash (Chuck Hicks). Problem is, Maxo experiences mechanical failure right before the big fight.

   That’s when Steel Kelly, a former boxer, comes up with what he considers to be an ingenious plan. He’ll pretend that he’s Maxo and will go in the ring against Maynard Flash. Pole urges against this idea. Steel, portrayed with gusto by Lee Marvin, is not about to be swayed. He’s determined to see this through. All too human, Steel is both courageous and foolish. As one might guess, he doesn’t win the fight.


   Sterling’s ending narration emphasizes that the main theme of the episode is man’s relationship with technology:

   “Portrait of a losing side, proof positive that you can’t outpunch machinery. Proof also of something else: that no matter what the future brings, man’s capacity to rise to the occasion will remain unaltered. His potential for tenacity and optimism continues, as always, to outfight, outpoint and outlive any and all changes made by his society, for which three cheers and a unanimous decision rendered from the Twilight Zone.”

   Upon hearing these words spoken and seeing Steel collapsed on the floor, I initially felt a sense of disappointment at how the episode ended. Lee Marvin was excellent, the androids appeared both plausibly human and uncannily creepy, and the writing was tight and without sentimentalism. But something was missing.

   That’s when I realized that “Steel” is best appreciated within the context of stories set in the past, but which take place in the future, similar to the novels I alluded to previously.


   In order to appreciate this particular Twilight Zone episode, one has to imagine oneself watching it when it was first aired, some two years after President Kennedy’s moon speech and two months after Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream Speech” in which he declared that, “1963 is not an end but a beginning.” Indeed, “Steel,” when considered within dual contexts of advancing technology and changing legal norms, packs more of a punch than when viewed without reference to contemporaneous political issues.

   The episode’s theme of man’s relationship with technology, however, is a far more universal one. Ever since the Gothic horror of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818) and Victorian-era science fiction, the relationship between man and machine has been a constant theme in the genre. In this light, “Steel” isn’t a bad episode. It just seems as though it would have been a much better episode to watch and to ponder in 1963 than in 2014.

Reviewed by JONATHAN LEWIS:         

“NIGHTMARE AT 20,000 FEET.” Episode 123 of The Twilight Zone (CBS TV). Original air date: October 11, 1963. Starring William Shatner. Written by Richard Matheson. Directed by Richard Donner.

TWILIGHT ZONE Nightare at 20000 Feet

   Much has undoubtedly been written about “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” an iconic Twilight Zone episode. The show, however, is well worth revisiting, particularly in light of writer Richard Matheson’s passing last year and of director Richard Donner’s recent announcement that he hopes to film a sequel to his 1985 cult classic, The Goonies.

   This 25-minute black & white episode is not merely a vivid small screen representation of psychological torment. It also serves as an excellent reference point for those seeking to connect seemingly disparate elements of twentieth-century science fiction, horror, and popular culture, from airplanes to zombies.

   The plot of “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” based on a 1961 Richard Matheson short story of the same name, unfolds as follows. A salesman named Robert Wilson, portrayed with great dramatic effect by a youthful William Shatner in his pre-Star Trek days, spots a bizarre creature — a gremlin — tampering an aircraft’s engine while the plane is in flight.

TWILIGHT ZONE Nightmare at 20000 Feet

   It’s a Twilight Zone episode, so of course there’s a twist. Months earlier, Wilson had experienced a “nervous breakdown” while on an airplane. Now, he is back on a plane for the first time since his stay in a sanitarium. Accompanying him is his wife, played by Christine White. But who is going to believe a man who has suffered from mental illness, especially when he’s the only one who sees the gremlin (Nick Cravat in furry suit that now looks more silly than scary) out on the wing, attempting to tamper with the plane?

   Gremlins, of course, have not been the most prominent of monsters in twentieth-century popular culture. Unlike vampires and demons, which have a long pedigree, the notion of creatures called gremlins likely originated in the 1920s as the figment of British pilots’ collective imaginations. They were prone to mechanical mischief and blamed for tampering with aircraft.

   The best-known literary work about these modernist monsters is Roald Dahl’s children’s book, The Gremlins (1943). Dahl, of course, would go on to write numerous children’s books, screenplays, and short stories.

TWILIGHT ZONE Nightare at 20000 Feet

   Gremlins, of course, had their moment in the sun (pun intended), in the 1984 film, Gremlins. Written by Chris Columbus and directed by Joe Dante, with Steven Spielberg as the film’s executive producer, Gremlins went on to become an American cult classic.

   In the Twilight Zone episode, the character of Wilson mentions gremlins during the flight and alludes to their role in tinkering with aircraft “during the War.” But the gremlin in “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is, in many ways, peripheral to the episode. It’s a human story, one that remains compelling to this day. It touches on the deep-seated human fear of being, or feeling, completely alone in the midst of chaos.

TWILIGHT ZONE Nightare at 20000 Feet

   Sure, Wilson is with his wife, the pilot, and other passengers. But no one believes him. That’s when, of course, he decides to take matters on his own hands. Without giving away how the story ends, I’ll just mention that there’s an easily accessible gun on the airplane and the emergency window gets opened. Matheson’s story is still incredibly fresh. Optimists take note: there’s a redemptive aspect for Shatner’s character at the very end.

   This leads me to the March/April 2014 issue of Famous Monsters, which includes an extensive tribute to the episode’s writer, Richard Matheson. In a compelling passage, Richard Christian Matheson, the author’s son, wrote as follows:

   “My father could almost see to the core of others in a blink, undistracted by their presented selves. With a sleuth’s calm, he listened, and asked polite questions, until they wandered into the light, often relieved to finally be seen. That genuine curiosity didn’t judge, his empathy for human drama boundless. As a writer, his respect for mazes of human psyche deepened his characters, made them real.” (Page 7)

TWILIGHT ZONE Nightare at 20000 Feet

   Although Richard Christian Matheson doesn’t specifically allude to any particular characters, I can see how this characterization of Matheson’s thinking could apply to the aforementioned Robert Wilson. Indeed, one can hardly watch Shatner’s performance without feeling for his character.

   In conclusion, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is more than just a singular episode in the Twilight Zone corpus. It is a cultural artifact in its own right. Aside from Rod Sterling, a legend all his own, the three main men involved in this particular episode’s creation — Shatner, Donner, and Matheson — collectively went on to create a vast body of work that includes some of the best late twentieth-century works in science fiction and popular culture.

   And even though the episode is over fifty years old and the gremlin looks a bit goofy, “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is an extremely well-written story and an episode worth watching again, if you haven’t done so recently.

Reference: Famous Monsters #272, March/April 2014.

by Michael Shonk



ABC: CASTLE returns for its sixth season in its same time slot at 10pm starting September 23rd.

CBS: HOSTAGES begins its limited series run starting September 23rd at 10pm. The series is about a Doctor who is scheduled to operate on the President of the United States when she learns kidnappers have her family and demand the President dies or her family will. February 24th the promising cyber-thriller INTELLIGENCE is scheduled to take over the time slot.

CW: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST returns on October 7th for its second season as cop (Beauty) and Doctor (Beast) continue their romance while trying to solve the murder of her mother without attracting the attention of Muirfield, a mysterious organization.

FOX: BONES returns September 16th for its ninth season at 8pm but will stay only until November 4th when it moves to Friday and new buddy cop show ALMOST HUMAN takes its place. From the people behind FRINGE, ALMOST HUMAN teams a reluctant human cop with an android cop that has feelings. Starting September 16th at 9pm will be the hour-long SLEEPY HOLLOW (which will be repeated on Friday). Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman adjust to the 21st Century as they resume their fight, while Crane’s new partner, a female black sheriff, tries to find out who is behind their return and why.

NBC: THE BLACKLIST debuts on September 23rd at 10pm, starring James Spader as a super criminal who has turned himself into the FBI to help stop another super criminal, but he will only deal with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), a rookie FBI agent.


ABC: MARVEL’S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. premieres September 24th at 8pm. A special team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, lead by Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) who was last seen dead in the hit movie THE AVENGERS, solve strange cases.

CBS: NCIS returns for its eleventh season September 24th at 8pm, last year’s top rated series will bid farewell to character Ziva David (Cote de Pablo). The same night has NCIS–LA back at 9pm for its fifth season. Followed at 10pm by my personal favorite PERSON OF INTEREST beginning its third season.

CW: THE VAMPIRE DIARIES spinoff THE ORIGINALS will premiere on Thursday October 3 then move to its regular spot Tuesday at 8pm on October 8th. SUPERNATURAL will start its ninth season on October 8th at 9pm.

FOX: BROOKLYN NINE-NINE premieres September 17th at 830pm. The new half-hour ensemble comedy focuses on the conflict between irresponsible but great cop (Andy Samberg) and his new by the book boss (Andre Braugher).

NBC: CHICAGO FIRE second season begins September 24th at 10pm.


CBS: CRIMINAL MINDS returns for its ninth season on September 25th and will air at 9pm. The same day CSI: CRIMINAL SCENE INVESIGATION will air at 10pm. Its fourteenth season will be highlighted by a special 300th episode.

CW: ARROW, based on a comic book superhero begins its second season on October 9th at 8pm followed by new SF action series THE TOMORROW PEOPLE based on British TV series, about paranormal teens on the run from paramilitary group of scientists.

NBC: REVOLUTION debuts September 25th at 8pm where it hopes to find that spark that made it an early hit last season before it began to fade. LAW AND ORDER: SVU will begin its fifteenth season on the same day at 9pm. New remake IRONSIDE will join the schedule on October 2nd at 10pm.


ABC: ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND begins its limited series run at 8pm. The first eight episodes of the hour-long fantasy adventure start October 10th. January 2nd new reality series THE QUEST takes over the time slot until WONDERLAND returns for its final four episodes of the season. At 10pm the political thriller SCANDAL is back for its third season October 3rd where it will air 12 to 13 episodes, be replaced by another to-be-named limited series, and then return for its final 12 to 13 episodes.

CBS: ELEMENTARY, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Joan Watson return for a second season on September 26th at 10pm.

CW: THE VAMPIRE DIARIES rises for its fifth season on October 3rd at 8pm.


CBS: HAWAII FIVE-O will start its 4th season on September 27th at 9pm. BLUE BLOODS return for its 4th season at 10pm.

FOX: BONES will move from Monday to Friday at 8pm on November 8th. SLEEPY HOLLOW reruns end (original episodes continue on Monday) and is replaced by comedies.

NBC: GRIMM third season debuts October 25th at 9pm with new limited series DRACULA on at 10. When DRACULA run finishes, period pirate limited series CROSSBONES will take over.


CBS and NBC will feature repeats on Saturday, with CBS 9 to 10pm called ENCORE CRIMETIME.


ABC: ONCE UPON A TIME is back for its third season beginning September 29th at 8pm with the third season of REVENGE following at 9pm. Both will air 12 to 13 episodes then be replaced by a limited series to-be-named and return March 9th for another 12 to 13 episodes. Also on March 9th new series RESURRECTION about the dead from Arcadia Missouri beginning to return alive at the age they died, starts its 12 to 13 episodes run.

CBS: THE GOOD WIFE starts its fifth season on September 29th at 9pm. THE MENTALIST follows with its sixth season at 10pm. The cop show will return with major cast changes and some suspects, one of who is (maybe) the Red John.

  Confused yet? Wait until the networks start cancelling shows and shuffling series around.

  As you can tell the limited series (aka mini-series) is back on the major networks. The reasons range from movie actors such as Kevin Bacon (THE FOLLOWING) and Greg Kinnear (RAKE) willing to do a TV series but only 15 episodes rather than the usual 24 to the networks wanting to eliminate rerun breaks during serial series as well as extend original programming for the entire year. Oh, just because it is a “limited series” doesn’t mean there are not plans for a second season (even with HOSTAGES).

  Among the yet to be scheduled limited series are CW’s NIKITA (final six episodes), FOX’s THE FOLLOWING and new lawyer series RAKE




CW: THE 100 is a post-apocalyptic adventure based on Kass Morgan’s book.


NBC: HANNIBAL (returns for season two), BELIEVE, CRISIS, and CHICAGO PD.

      CABLE TV

ABC FAMILY: RAVENSWOOD, spin-off from PRETTY LITTLE LIARS about a town under a deadly curse. Premieres in October.

A&E: BONNIE AND CLYDE, mini-series airs over two nights sometime in October on A&E, History and Lifetime network.

AMC: WALKING DEAD season 4A begins Sunday October 13th at 9pm, followed by the recap show called TALKING DEAD at 10pm.

BBC AMERICA: LUTHER returns for a short third season airing September 3rd through 6th at 10pm. ATLANTIS, a fantasy series based on Greek mythology, airs Saturday starting November 23rd, the same night the special DOCTOR WHO episode celebrating fifty years of the time travel adventure series airs. RIPPER STREET second season begins Sunday, December 1st at 10pm.

FX: SONS OF ANARCHY season six starts Tuesday, September 10th at 10pm. AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN season three airs at 10pm starting Wednesday, October 9th.

HBO: BROARDWALK EMPIRE season four airs Sunday, September 8th at 9pm. TREME begins it fourth and final season December 1st, Sunday at 9pm.

LIFETIME: WITCHES OF EAST END, based on the book by Melissa de la Cruz, starts Sunday, October 6th at 10pm.

PBS: FOYLE’S WAR season seven airs on MASTERPIECE MYSTERY at 9pm, September 15th through 29th.

SHOWTIME: HOMELAND season three airs Sunday at 9pm beginning September 29th.

SYFY: HAVEN season four starts Friday, September 13th at 10pm.

TNT: COLD JUSTICE, Dick Wolf’s reality show about solving real unsolved cases, begins Tuesday September 3rd at 10pm. MAJOR CRIMES is back for season 2B Monday November 25th at 9pm. BOSTON’S FINEST returns for its second season Tuesday at 9pm on November 26th. MOB CITY debuts December 4th Wednesday at 10pm. Based on the book, L.A. NOIR: THE STRUGGLE FOR THE SOUL OF AMERICA’S MOST SEDUCTIVE CITY by John Buntin, the series is developed by Frank Darabont (WALKING DEAD).

USA: WHITE COLLAR returns for season five on October 17th Thursday at 9pm. COVERT AFFAIRS season 4A ends September 17th and returns with season 4B Thursday at 10pm on October 17th. PSYCH: THE MUSICAL, a special episode of the series PSYCH airs Sunday December 15th at 9pm.


LINK TV: BORGEN season three begins October 4th.

MHz NETWORKS: Every night in September the network offers a different international mystery:

  Sunday: DETECTIVE MONALBANO, Italian mysteries.

  Monday: HALF BROTHER a Norwegian family drama.

  Tuesday: ANTIGONE 34, a French action series

  Wednesday: SEBASTIAN BERGMAN is a Swedish series about a police profiler.

  Thursday: DOLMEN is a French gothic drama.

  Friday: BLOOD ON THE DOCK, a gritty French police procedural.

  Saturday: ARNE DAHL, Swedish thriller.


Network websites


“Collateral Damage.” From Stargate SG-1: Season 9, Episode 12 (185th of 214 installments). First aired: 13 January 2006. Regular cast: Ben Browder (Lt. Colonel Cameron Mitchell), Amanda Tapping (Lt. Col. Samantha Carter), Christopher Judge (Teal’c), Beau Bridges (Major General Hank Landry), Michael Shanks (Dr. Daniel Jackson), Gary Jones (Chief Mst. Sgt. Walter Harriman). Guest cast: Anna Galvin (Dr. Reya Varrick), Warren Kimmel (Dr. Marell), Benson Simmonds (Dr. Amuro), Ian Robison (Frank Mitchell), William Atherton (Emissary Varta). Writers: Joseph Mallozzi & Paul Mullie. Director: William Waring.

STARGATE SG-1 Collateral Damage

   Our galaxy is on the verge of complete destruction, as a race of super-powerful beings called the Ori equipped with hypertechnology have begun their campaign to force all sentient beings to succumb to their will or be exterminated . . .

   . . . but you’ll see none of that in this particular show. Instead, “Collateral Damage” is one of those series episodes which back away from the main story arc to do a little character building. The character being built in this case is Colonel Mitchell. He is, in fact, the focus of the entire show.

   Mitchell and his SG-1 team are on another planet trying to establish diplomatic relations in hopes of stopping the Ori advance. These people have developed an educational device which could drastically reduce learning times — and its potential for military use against the invasion isn’t lost on the Earthmen.

STARGATE SG-1 Collateral Damage

   The very first scene, a flashback, however, shows Mitchell committing a cold-blooded murder and being arrested for it. The victim is the very research scientist who developed the learning device, only to have it taken away from her by her government — specifically, by the military. Mitchell is sympathetic to her situation, and it isn’t long before he and this woman become romantically involved.

   The next morning the SG-1 team is informed that the colonel has been taken into custody, with the victim’s blood on him, his fingerprints on the murder weapon, and a confession on his lips.

   Although Mitchell instinctively knows better, he must reluctantly admit that he remembers killing her, but his hosts want only to send him back home to Earth. Incensed, he stubbornly refuses their offer to sweep the whole disruptive thing under the rug and demands the matter be cleared up, one way or another.

STARGATE SG-1 Collateral Damage

   Exactly how the crime was committed and how well the actual killer’s identity is submerged will come to light only when, in a nice bit of irony, the victim’s learning machine is employed to ferret out the real murderer.

   The whole plot of this show is an ingenious riff on detective fiction’s Golden Age trope of “the least likely suspect,” and in this instance could only be played out in a science fictional setting.



Transcript with SPOILERS:

And here is a review by someone who didn’t like it, also with a SPOILER alert:


“All the Time in the World.” An episode of Tales of Tomorrow (ABC-TV, 1951-1953). Season 1, Episode 37 (37th of 85). First broadcast: 13 June 1952. Cast: Esther Ralston (The Collector), Don Hanmer (Henry Judson), Jack Warden (Steve), Lewis Charles (Tony), Sam Locante (Bartender), Bob Williams (Narrator). Writer: Arthur C. Clarke (story, 1951). Director: Don Medford.

TALES OF TOMORROW All the Time in the World

    “No criminal in the history of the world had ever possessed such power. It was intoxicating…” — From the original short story.

   In his stuffy office Henry Judson does no apparent work — which is understandable, since Henry is a mid-level criminal sometimes referred to as a fixer. Like middle management in legitimate business, Henry arranges for things to be done, usually without much personal involvement on his part. Whenever he sees an opportunity for criminal “enterprise,” he fixes things with still lower-level thugs who then do the dirty work.

   But on this hot afternoon, he gets very personally involved with a strange but beautiful woman who is willing to give him a hundred thousand dollars to do a job, with another hundred thousand when he completes it.

   The job? She gives him a laundry list of things to steal, which includes not only rare books but also some of the most valuable paintings in the world. Just walk in, pick them up, and walk right out. Piece of cake.

TALES OF TOMORROW All the Time in the World

   Henry’s skepticism is understandable, of course — until the woman, who insists on being called “The Collector,” shows him how it’s done.

   When Henry woke up that morning he never remotely suspected that before the day was through he would be using a bracelet to break into a museum and — even more importantly — agonizing over how to spend the last few precious moments of his life.

   Along the way, this story quietly raises a question: Can it be regarded as a crime if someone steals something in order to save it?

   Retrovision has “All the Time in the World” archived here.

   Arthur Clarke’s original story is online here. In his book, The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke, he writes: “This was my first story ever to be adapted for TV — ABC, 13 June 1952. Although I worked on the script, I have absolutely no recollection of the programme, and can’t imagine how it was produced in pre-video-tape days!”



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