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.
NEW SHOWS WITH TREK VETS
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.
RETURNING SHOWS WITH TREK VETS
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.
SOME TREK VETS AREN’T COMING BACK
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.