Trek Guide To New, Returning and Cancelled TV Shows

Today the US networks finished up their week of ‘upfront’ presentations announcing their 2008/2009 schedules and there is a lot of Trek vets in the mix. The JJ Abrams crew and Colm Meaney are headed back to network TV with new series. Plus we have news on which Trek vets are coming back next season and which ones are not. Plus an an important update on Shatner’s Boston Legal.


JJ Abrams Fringe
JJ Abrams Lost is already a lock at ABC for two more seasons, so no news there, but he has another show headed to network TV. Fox has picked up the one-hour genre drama "Fringe" produced by the Star Trek team of JJ Abrams, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, and Bryan Burk. Fringe will air Tuesdays at 9PM starting this Fall. From the official synopsis:

A new drama that will thrill, terrify and explore the blurring line between science fiction and reality. When an international flight lands at Boston’s Logan Airport and the passengers and crew have all died grisly deaths, FBI Special Agent OLIVIA DUNHAM (newcomer Anna Torv) is called in to investigate. After her partner, Special Agent JOHN SCOTT (Mark Valley, "Boston Legal"), is nearly killed during the investigation, a desperate Olivia searches frantically for someone to help, leading her to DR. WALTER BISHOP (John Noble, "Lord of the Rings"), our generation’s Einstein. There’s only one catch: he’s been institutionalized for the last 20 years, and the only way to question him requires pulling his estranged son PETER (Joshua Jackson, "Dawson’s Creek") in to help. When Olivia’s investigation leads her to manipulative corporate executive NINA SHARP (Blair Brown, "Altered States"), our unlikely trio along with fellow FBI Agents PHILLIP BROYLES (Lance Reddick, "The Wire"), CHARLIE FRANCIS (Kirk Acevedo, "Oz") and ASTRID FARNSWORTH (Jasika Nicole, "Law & Order: Criminal Intent") will discover that what happened on Flight 627 is only a small piece of a larger, more shocking truth.

Promotional images from Fringe:

Meaney in Life on Mars
ABC has picked up the USA adaptation of the BBC series Life on Mars with Colm Meaney (DS9: Miles O’Brien) as one of the lead stars. The show was brought over to the US by David E. Kelley (Boston Legal), but he is reported to be leaving the show (and apparently the pilot is also going to be re-shot). Regardless Mars is on the fall schedule for Thursdays at 10PM. The official synopsis:

"Life on Mars" is based on the BBC series created by Matthew Graham, Tony Jordan and Ashley Pharoah. The series revolves around Sam Tyler, a modern-day police detective who, after a car crash, mysteriously finds himself transported back to 1973 and still working as a detective. "Life on Mars" stars Jason O’ Mara as Sam Tyler, Rachelle LeFevre as Annie Cartwright, Colm Meaney as Gene Hunt, Stephanie Jacobsen as Maya, Lenny Clarke as George Randall, Patrick Wenk-Wolff as Colin Raimes and Richard Benjamin as Milton Kornboll.

Promo from “Life on Mars,” featuring Colm Meaney

Moore’s Virtuality moving forward
The recently announced sci-fi show Virtuality written and produced by Trek vet (and new Battlestar co-creator) Ron Moore, still doesn’t have a pilot so it cannot be picked up yet. However it appears it is still moving forward and this week Variety reports it has ‘shot up the radar’ at Fox and they have named a Peter Berg (Hancock) as the director for the back-door pilot TV-Movie (likely to air in early 2009). Also on board as a writer/producer is veteran DS9 and VOY writer Michael Taylor.

Stewart show adapted for US
Although he isn’t coming a long, a UK show that starred Patrick Stewart  (TNG: Picard) is headed to the US. CBS has announced Eleventh Hour "a dramatic thriller from producer Jerry Bruckheimer about a special advisor to the government who investigates scientific crises and oddities" will join in mid season. Rufus Sewell will be playing Jacob Hood, the role Stewart played in the UK version.


Shatner’s Boston Legal back for shortened last season
On Sunday TrekMovie reported the good news that William Shatner’s Boston Legal was taken off the bubble and renewed for a fifth seasons. However when ABC made their official announcement this week they brought a bit of bad news. Although it will be back in the Fall (now Mondays at 10PM), it will be BL’s last season and it will only be 13 episodes long. This will bring the total up to 101 episodes, a new record for Shatner.

24 back with more Enterprise vets on board.
The ‘seventh day’ for Fox’s action-packed 24 will kick off in January 2009 (airing Mondays 9PM), this time based in Washington DC. Trek vet writer/producer Brannon Braga is now on board as a writer/producer, joining his former Enterprise colleague Manny Coto who has been with 24 since Enterprise went off the air. Also joining the cast in a recurring role will be John Billingsley (Enterprise’s Dr. Phlox) who will be playing security specialist Michael Latham in at least two episodes.

Voyager vets Russ, Picardo, Fuller, Dawson McNeill all back this fall
Star Trek Voyager continues to be well represented on the tube next season. Firstly, ABC has renewed the sitcom Samantha Who? co-staring Tim Russ (Tuvok). Another Voyager vet, Robert Picardo (The Doctor) has also joined the cast of Stargate Atlantis, which starts its next season on the Sci-Fi channel in July. Earlier in the year ABC gave Pushing Daisies (created by VOY writer/producer Bryan Fuller) a second season. NBC has renewed Chuck, which has VOY’s Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris) as one of the producers and regular directors. Another Voyager actor who has moved behind the camera still has a job as CBS has renewed Cold Case, which has Roxann Dawson (B’Elanna Torres) as one of its producers (and regular directors). Sadly, one VOY vet will not be coming back, as CBS has pulled the plug on Shark which co-starred Jeri Ryan (Seven of Nine).

Quinto’s Heroes is all about Villains
Of course Heroes, featuring Star Trek’s new Mr. Spock, Zachary Quinto, was picked up long ago and the show is already into filming. The third season which kicks off this fill with a three hour special is subtitled ‘Villains.’ It isn’t known if TOS stars George Takei or Nichelle Nichols will be reprising their roles this season, but on Heroes anything is possible. In the Access Hollywood video below Quinto and his co-stars talked about the upcoming season at a New York at a ‘upfront party’ this week, with Quinto noting how the Star Trek shoot affected his role on Heroes:

Echevarria’s Medium back
Back in April NBC announced that Medium (which has TNG/DS9 writer/producer Rene Echevarria as an executive producer) will be back for a fifth season in early 2009, now on Sunday’s at 9PM.


Goodbye ladies
It isn’t all good news. Three series featuring some of Trek’s star actresses have been given the ax.

  • Women’s Murder Club (ABC), co-starring Linda Park (ENT: Hoshi Sato)
  • Shark (CBS), co-starring Jeri Ryan (VOY: Seven of Nine)
  • Wildfire (ABC Family), co-starring Nana Visitor (DS9: Kira Nerys)


Complete schedule to the 2008/2009 season at the futoncritic.


Coming up Saturday: Genre show news
Our Sci-Fi Saturday column will have a special section on all the new sci-fi genre shows and those that are (or are not) coming back.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I dont get this title ‘virtuality’. cant he come up with something more imaginetive? its sounds several years out ov place as well.

If Fringe is gonna be open-ended like Lost, I’m out.
I wish JJ would recognize that it’s exhausting to follow some of these shows, good as they are. I’m invested in Lost, Heroes, and BSG. Even when those finish, I don’t think I’ll actively shop for a new open ended extravaganza.
Make a good movie, though.

Great to see Colm coming to network TV. He’ll bring some class, or kick some butt. Either way is good for us. 1973? I was 11. Yikes.

Ah, yes. “Virtuality,” in other words:

Holodeck – THE SERIES

Starring Reginald Barclay as the show’s holoadddict!

So now, one of my favorite shows, a show that seemed to be on its last legs last year with a very lackluster season, has added Braga to their ranks as writer and producer.

Just cancel it now and get it over with.

Nice article; thanks for all the updates. I really like Colm Meaney and I think it’s great he has a new show. Looking forward to Fringe. Sounds like LOST, lots of questions and very few answers. Another show that will make my head hurt. :-)

Glad to see so many Trek exes are show runners and/or actors on successful shows. Nice to see the “family” doing so well.

Still fuming about WMC being cancelled; what were they thinking.

One person is missing form the list: :René Echevarria – Medium has been renewed and Rene worked on DS9.

Its 1973, almost dinner time…. I’m having ‘oops…

Colm Meaney is a great actor and its good to see him back,
but the American version wont hold a candle to the original.
Philip Glenister was amazing in that part.

Lame why redue a brand new “AMAZING” show (shot in English mind you) that does not need to be redone?? Life On Mars was one of the best Dramas (with a bit of Twilight Zone) tossed in I have seen in years. It aired on BBC America here in the states. I see that besides Meaney they felt the need to recast all the leads with pretty underwear model types. Extremely lame. I love Colm but come on talk about a creative vacume and dumbing down a brand new show

The narrator makes the new Life on Mars sound TERRIBLE. And did he say 1972, and not 1973 like the BBC original?

And where’s the David Bowie stuff? They do realise that’s the whole point behind the name “Life on Mars”, right?

I hope it’s better executed than he makes it out to be; the British original and spinoff “Ashes to Ashes” was/are FAB.

Colm Meaney’s good, but he’s definitely got a tough act to follow! Should be interesting…though it does bother me that Gene isn’t taller than Sam…

Eleventh Hour on the other hand was terrible in the British incarnation, and I can’t wait to see what it looks like with an American budget!! =D

Then there’s Heroes, SGA, Virtuality…

Lots to get excited about here!

Regarding ’24’ – I can’t wait for Jack Bauer and Chloe O’Brien to de-evolve into lizards and have babies – or de-evolve into cavemen – or de-evolve and become babies. The possibilities are endless…

Also – regarding ‘Life on Mars’ – the clip on looks terrible. The BBC version is one of the best things I’ve watched in the last several years, and from the looks of these clips, those ‘adapting’ it haven’t a clue as to why the original was so good.

Heh. Lenny Clarke is definitely not an underwear model. He’s a comic from Boston who’s been in a bunch of shows such as The Job and Rescue Me.

He used to do stand-up in the 70s and 80s at the restaurant where my dad worked, the Ding Ho at Inman Square in Cambridge, MA.

I’ll give the new “Life on Mars” a shot, but the original was so good …

It’s good to see Lenny Clarke, though. Loved him on “The Job.”

LOL at #4 & #9!

Can Braga write without using technobabble and a holodeck?

I can’t believe how excited I am to see the Heroes gang again!

I’m gonna miss my Boston Legal. It was part of my Tuesday,….er Wednesday night. Or whatever wierd scheduling system ABC’s doing. I have no idea what they’re doing most of the time. There’s no show out there hitting topics like public education the way it does.

When does the new season of Heroes start up?

Braga is burned out and way too egotistical.

I’m excited about Robert Picardo joining Stargate: Atlantis next season, but I thought that Atlantis’ next season premiered this July, not September. A type-o?

I’d like to see a link on canceling Shark :(

I really liked that show. Big James Woods fan.

I see they canceled Moonlight too, what a bunch of asshats.

As long as they got those two crazy women from West Virginia interviewed on the Daily Show after the primaries there watching their reality sacks like “Who Wants to Rub Themselves With Glue?”, they’ll be all setup.

Eleventh Hour…good concept, but there were only four episodes in the UK and only two of those were good. Patrick Stewart was good and so was his sidekick. Hope it comes off better here.

And I checked out of long form serial dramas after the X-Files wandered off. So no Lost or anything else for me, I’ve learned my lesson.

I’m glad Braga has got a new tv show, well done Brannon! He came on these forums a few months ago and seemed like a really nice guy, i wish him all the best.


Cannot wait for Fringe and Heroes – my finger is already itching to set my TIVO.

Im glad that all the star trek alums are doing good. I like robert picardo on Stargate atlantis. he has a realy great charicter and tim russ doing funny on gis comedy. A far cry from the stoic vulcan. Sad to see jetti ryan being canceled. She is the hottest of all the Trek stars. Not sure on colm meaney on life on mars. Ill wait to see the show. But all in all great for the trek vets to be doing so well. Raly lookinjg forward to heroes. The second best scifi show. Next to trek of corse.

I saw Anna Torv in Richard III, The Credeaux Canvas and The Cherry Orchard. Talented actor with loads of promise. Hopefully Fringe will be her big break-out role.

Can’t believe Colm Meaney is gonna be Gene Hunt, what a mad mad world we live in. Can’t imagine Chief O’brien doing all those nasty things to those crims. Can’t see him being as good as Phil Glenister. Don’t know why British Shows always have to be reshot for US audiences, seems a waste of resources to me. It’s in the same language for christs sake.

“101 episodes, a new record for Shatner.”

HARSH. But fair. :D

On Life on Mars… “Is something wrong, Sam? Is it Chief O’Brien? Is he kicking a nonce?”

Do you know they tried to persuade John Simm and Philip Glenister to come to the US to reprise their parts with American accents? How weird would THAT have been?

Anthony Pascale wrote:

> This will bring the total up to 101 episodes, a new record for Shatner

Are you including the 185 episodes or so of Rescue 911 that Bill Shatner hosted?

Hi Kroll (26)

In fairness, Life on Mars, as a concept, is extremely flexible. While Sam’s journey to the past and some of the initial setup might be the same, the US Sam is going to be in the world of Dirty Harry and Streets of San Francisco.

The music used on the promo sounds a bit like a library track picked because it resembles some of Bowie’s ‘Life on Mars’ song. Chances are, there was a copyright issue with using the actual track on the promo!

This is going to be set in a completely different world from the British one with different stories to tell about a different culture. The only similarity between 70s Britain and 70s America is some of the English language. It’s noticeable right away that Annie is already a detective in the US version, where as it was a big issue in the UK version when she was ‘made up,’ for example!

Also, it’s not unknown for the UK to remake US shows (eg The Brighton Belles, The Upper Hand, the later episodes of Porridge), so I won’t get riled at the US for taking a superb, short-lived (16-episodes) UK show and trying to make it run for 150-odd episodes. If the show fails, so be it; the original is still there. If it’s a success, then great – roll on the US Ashes to Ashes!

I’m intrigued to see how Colm Meaney’s performance develops as the show goes on: he said he hadn’t seen the UK version when he made the pilot but has done since!

Personally, I’m looking forward to season two of Ashes to Ashes and kind of hoping they might consider a ‘Gene Hunt in the present day’ series after that. They could call it ‘Heathen,’ ‘Reality’ or ‘Never Get Old!’ ;)

The other thing that surprises me is that they haven’t published any spin-off ‘Life on Mars’ or ‘Ashes to Ashes’ novels. there’s ample scope for more stories that could fit in to the continuity. Doubtless the US version, it it’s successful, will get some!

You forgot to add: The much-maligned remake of Simon Pegg’s UK sitcom “Spaced” was NOT picked up by Fox. And there was much rejoicing.

Just another reason for me to hate American television. I don’t think even Colm Meaney can drag this out of the crapper. What happened to the gritty feel? It looks like ****!

Eldon L.

I don’t know what country you come from, but, living in the UK, I can assure most TV here is garbage when compared with America’s best shows. Many people don’t even bother looking up listings to find out what’s on broadcast TV here anymore: they just buy DVD sets and pass them around.

In the 1980s, getting five million viewers on a UK TV show was enough to get it dumped. Nowadays, they’re thrilled to get even those figures! And that’s not just because of there being more channels. It’s actually because fewer people bother to watch it anymore.

But remarks like ‘Just another reason for me to hate American television’ imply not only ignorance, but also a disturbing level of racism!