August 10th, 2008



British science fiction television has come a long way since Ian and Barbara first stepped into the TARDIS and the Tomorrow People fought a spray-painted cardboard robot in space. New shows like Torchwood and the revamped Doctor Who have set the bar pretty high in terms of everything from writing and acting to special effects.

The latest BBC science fiction adventure, Primeval, which had its US premiere on BBC America last night, clears that bar admirably. It's got the same snarky humor and "science = awesome" sensibility as Who, only with characters I don't quite care as much about. (To be fair, this takes time to establish. When the new Who started up again, I didn't care a whit for Mickey or Rose's mom, but they soon became two of my favorite characters.)

The missing wife angle is a bit cliche (as is the team's conflict with a government agency), but it does set up a nice through line for the plot that will help keep viewers like me, who need their mysteries solved, coming back (it's the only reason I watched all of the first season of Desperate Housewives!). The cast here is great, particularly Douglas Henshall as Professor Nick Cutter and former pop star Hannah Spearitt as "lizard girl" Abby Maitland. The CGI effects are average but not so awful as to make me cringe (though I do think the time anomaly looks a bit silly). The mysteries of where the anomaly comes from, what happened to Cutter's missing wife, and who the people are who might have passed through the anomaly before are all enough to keep me watching.

And I already want my very own Rex as a pet.

The TV Nerd says: quite good!

Goodbye, Children...

Oscar-winning soul singer Isaac Hayes who, along with Al Green, James Brown and Stevie Wonder, was one of the dominant black artists in the early 1970s, died in Memphis on Sunday, his friend and former manager, Onzie Horne, said. Hayes was 65.

No word yet on what happened, only that, according to Reuters, he was "found unconscious at his home, and rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead."

Sad news. He was an amazing musician. His soundtrack to Shaft -- perhaps the album he was best known for -- is still a fantastic listen even today. And of course he was great as Chef on South Park, before leaving the show a few years back over their skewering of Scientology, of which he was a member.