TV Newsround: Dollhouse Reopens, Prison Break Locked Down, Fringe Benefits


VIEWERS in the UK will get their first glimpse of Buffy The Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon‘s new show Dollhouse on Tuesday (May 19) when the Sci Fi Channel starts to air the show.

It stars Eliza Dushku as Echo, one of many “actives”, or “dolls”, people who have had their own personality and memories erased so that they can be reprogrammed with new identities and skills to serve rich clients who hire them out from the mysterious, illegal Dollhouse.

It’s a very dark show at heart – although the dolls sometimes help people by being programmed as bodyguards or hostage negotiators, they are just as likely to be hired out to perform robberies or, most controversially, for sexual liaisons.

The 12-episode first season (a 13th episode was produced and will be included on the DVD release but no US broadcast is currently planned) ended last week in the US after a run on the Fox networkplagued by poor ratings, which raised fears that the show was sure to suffer the same fate as Whedon’s last Fox show, Firefly, which was axed after a single season.

However, against all odds, multiple TV news sources are reporting that the show has been given a 13-episode second season. So far all reports are unofficial, though Fox are expected to confirm the renewal on Monday at their upfronts presentation.

Apparently, though the low ratings are a worry (some say that Dollhouse will be the lowest-rated new show ever to get a second season), other factors, such as projected DVD sales and relatively high DVR numbers (people who record the show and watch it later) and online viewing figures, have helped tip the balance in favour of renewal.

Also said to be a big factor is the fact that the 13th episode was shot on a shoestring budget and is said to have helped convince the network that the show’s quality can be maintained on a lower budget, making it somewhat more cost-effective despite the low viewing figures.

Personally, I’m somewhat ambivalent about Dollhouse. It’s a decent show which, after a very shaky, slow start, kicked into high gear around episode six. However, the season-one finale was a major disappointment, for my money, after the build up. And a badly written and acted one at that.

Hopefully, it will get better in season two – but I’d much rather have seen its low-rated Fox stablemate Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles get a third season. A decision on that show is yet to be made but, sadly, a third season seems highly unlikely.

TALKING of Fox, the network’s one-time darling Prison Break has finally run out of steam. Except it hasn’t

The final two episodes of season four, the show’s last (which UK viewers will also see this coming Tuesday, May 19, on Sky One), aired on Friday. Except they didn’t.

You see, a further special two-hour episode – Prison Break: The Final Break – has already been produced.

Without giving too much away, Fridays final episode ended with a somewhat shocking “Four Years Later” epilogue. The Final Break, we are told, will reveal the events that happened during that four-year gap, while also closing a few of the other plot holes left gaping at the end of Friday’s finale.

Viewers in the US will have to wait for the DVD release in July to see this special post-finale finale – but the news is better for UK viewers, as Sky1 will be airing it a week on Wednesday (May 27).

IT has been confirmed that Fringe, the new sci-fi detective drama from J.J. Abrams which completed it’s first season on Fox last week in the US and is currently airing on Sky1 in the UK, will be back later in the year for a second season.

The show, somewhat reminiscent of The X-Files, is about a Boston-based FBI agent (Anna Torv) investigating “The Pattern”, a series of possibly connected crimes involving unorthodox “fringe science“. She’s aided by a mentally-unbalanced scientist Walter Bishop (John Noble), who may or may not have been involved in scientific research in the past that evolved into The Pattern, and his estranged son (Joshua Jackson).

It’s another show that started off a little slowly – initially held together mainly by a fantastic performance from Noble – but has gone from strength to strength as the series progressed and the underlying conspiracy began to emerge.

Unlike The X-Files, which had alien invasion at the heart of its mythology, it appears that a threat from an alternate reality may be at the centre of the Fringestory.

Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy guest stars in the season finale in a pivotal role.

 

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