In Sci-Fi TV this week, we have news on ABC cutting one episode from both FlashForward and V, including comments from Robert J. Sawyer and David S. Goyer on the extended hiatus. We’ve also got some new details on the Lost season six premiere and the upcoming third season of Chuck plus new time-travel and werewolf-themed series in development at CBS and Fox, respectively. All that and more, including a look at The Phantom (Syfy) and the latest television ratings, casting bites, images and videos. [UPDATE: Stargate Universe and Sanctuary have both been renewed.
GENRE TV NEWS
Syfy Renews Both Stargate Universe and Sanctuary
Although ratings have been weak for both the freshman season of “Stargate Universe” (1.95 million viewers and a 0.8 A18-49 rating average) and the second season of “Sanctuary” (1.60 million viewers and a 0.5 A18-49 rating average), Syfy has gone ahead and ordered new seasons of both shows. Both series have commenced production in Vancouver, Canada on 20 new episodes set to air next fall. Live + 7 day viewership was likely a big factor in Syfy renewing both shows. “Stargate Universe” improves to 2.6 million viewers on average (not including the numbers from the 12/4 episode) and “Sanctuary” improves to about 2.1 million viewers on average (not including the 12/4 and 12/11 episodes) in the Live + 7 Day numbers. You’ll find more ratings analysis in the Sci-Fi Ratings section at the bottom of this column.
ABC Cutting Episode Order for FlashForward an V + Robert J. Sawyer and David Goyer Talk About Extended FlashForward Hiatus
ABC has cut the episode orders for both "FlashForward" and "V", although not by too much. The Futon Critic reports that ABC will shave one episode off of each series’ initial order, with"FlashForward" going from 25 hours to 24 hours and "V" going from 13 hours to 12 hours. The moves are obvious reaction to the downturn in ratings for both shows (specifically for "FlashForward", which ended its first-half run with a series low 7.07 million viewers and a 2.1 A18-49 rating.). "V" dropped in weeks two through three, but held steady for its fourth episode which drew a 3.1 A18-49 rating. Both shows will return with new episodes in March 2010. Speaking of that hiatus, both Robert J. Sawyer (author of the novel "FlashForward" which the ABC series is loosely based on) and co-creator of the series David S. Goyer discussed the extended hiatus in seperate interviews. Sawyer, who is writing the upcoming 19th episode, is happy with the extended hiatus because the new schedule will allow for all the remaining episodes to air straight through without interruption:
"A lot of people are spinning this online as a bad thing, or a sign of lack of faith in the show on the part of ABC. I suspect the announcing of the scheduling change could have been handled better, but, in fact, it’s a very good thing overall."
"There probably was no ideal solution to the scheduling issues, and getting fuller information out earlier might have been helpful, but I like the idea very much of us letting our last half of the season unroll like the juggernaut it is without interruptions."
Goyer echoed Sawyer’s comments in regards to the extended hiatus:
"The answer is simple. We originally planned to come back in January, but about three weeks ago we sat down with ABC scheduling and looked at what our programming schedule would be like. And I think on serialized show like 24, Lost, and Prison Break the most important thing is to air consecutive episodes without repeats or preemptions. To be brutally honest, our programming schedule in January was going to be awful. We were going to be off for four or five weeks [through December and into January], then back on for two weeks, then off for two weeks because of the Olympics, then back on four weeks, off for two weeks again, back on three, off for two again… Our first 10 episodes had one preemption; our last 13-episode arc was going to have four. I just think when we saw that, the studio and the network and all the producers looked at each other and said, “This is crazy.” We’d rather bite the bullet, come back in March, and air all 13 episodes consecutively without preemptions."
Goyer also downplayed the recent one-week production shutdown, insisting it was done to work out a shift in the production of episodes:
"…We only shut down for one week. And I’ll tell you why: we were given the reins to speed up the storytelling, and we had broken episodes 15 and 16 and done some very major moves in those episodes. When the network and the studio saw the scripts for those everyone looked at each other and said “Let’s move those up to 13 and 14.” So we swapped those out and moved episodes 15 and 16 into the 13 and 14 position. In the process, we needed to take a week to re-prep."
On the casting front, there are a total of 26 characters listed on casting call sheets for episode 15 and episode 16, although just four are listed as may recur/possible recurring. "FlashForward" returns to ABC on Thursday, March 4th with the 11th episode "Buddha In The Reins". "V" follows with its fifth episode on Tuesday, March 30, 2010.
Lost Season Six Premiere Details
We’re only a little less than two months away from the two-hour sixth season premiere of "Lost" on ABC — Tuesday, February 2nd from 9:00-11:00 p.m. — and although ABC is continuing to hold firm to their "no promos with new footage" policy, some story details are beginning to come out. E! Online, for example, reported on what will be presented in the premiere:
The sixth-season premiere will present us with two seemingly incompatible storylines: One in which we find out someone we thought was dead is actually alive (a certain very pretty someone) in the same time that we last saw him or her, and the other in which we will see Flight 815 again (which I’m pretty sure all of you have heard about by now). It’s a head-scratcher, for sure. But an awesome head-scratcher, nonetheless. And these two storylines will go on for a little while (in different decades) from what I hear.
In other news, here are some story bits relating to the Man in Black, Jacob and Richard Albert [ DarkUFO]:
1)Jacob and the Man in Black are connected with Richard Alpert
2)Richard Alpert has met MIB in his Flashback
3)Richard Alpert has met Jacob in his Flashback
4)Jacob and Richard Alpert are involved in a fight which involves a "special" knife
5)This fight occurs in the 1800’s
And on the casting front, E! Online reports that Rose (L. Scott Caldwell) will be back and will be featured in a scene with Jack while Sheila Kelley told E! Online that she’ll be appearing in at least 4 episodes next season but wouldn’t reveal who she’ll be playing only to say it won’t be the character Kendall (an "intellectual beauty who commits corporate espionage" ) whom she was rumored to be cast as. More casting bites below:
- Fionnula Flanagan, who played modern day Eloise Hawking, confirmed that she’ll be back for season six and will appear two episodes. [ DarkUFO]
- A casting call for episode 11 contains three roles, all listed as guest stars. [ DarkUFO]
Season six cast promo images [more at DocArzt]
Season six promo #3 [ YouTube]
CBS Developing Time Travel Drama; Fox Developing Werewolf Drama
It appears Anthony was right about Time Travel being the new in thing, as CBS has given a script commitment to a time-travel drama called "Murmors", from writer Jason Smilovic and producer Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas. According to THR, the project "is set in a world where time travel is a reality and centers on the Commission, an agency that detects and corrects alterations in time called murmurs, ensuring that history remains unchanged." (sounds a little like Temporal Integrity Commission)
Meanwhile, Variety reports that Fox is developing a werewolf-themed series called"Howl" described as "an epic family saga about warring families of werewolves in a small Alaskan town."
Added Chuck Episodes Will Feature New Story Arc
Zachary Levi says that the extra six episodes NBC added to the third season of "Chuck" — going from 13 episodes to 19 episodes — will be the start of a new story arc:
"We were only going to do 13, so the writers wrote an arc for 1-13," Levi added. "They were basically done writing them, and then the network said, ‘Hey, we’d like to do six more,’ and they’re like, ‘Well, great. We can’t rework the first arc, so we’ll just make these six stand alone.’ They’ll be based on the 13 that we do in the first part of the season, but it will be its own little mini-arc."
While more episodes may be a good thing for us fans, Levi says he wasn’t too terribly concerned about the original 13-episode season. In fact, he actually prefers that:
"To be perfectly honest, I like 13 episodes," Levi said. "I like how cable does it. Thirteen episodes allows you to really make it lean and mean. You focus on those 13 episodes, and you make them all great, as opposed to the traditional 22-episode network season, which, if we’re all being honest, there tends to be a couple episodes that are like the packing peanuts. They’re the filler. ‘We didn’t really know what we were going to do this week, so everybody just vamp for a little while, and then we’ll come back for an episode that really means something.’"
Meanwhile, in a separate interview with TV Guide, Levi talks about the upcoming season including his new love interest played by Kristen Kreuk of "Smallville" fame. Here’s an excerpt:
TVGuide.com: Tell us about Chuck’s new love interest in Kristin Kreuk.
Levi: Kristin may well be one of the most adorable girls in the world. She’s a, super nice, and b, really talented. It’s tough when you only have one thing to go off of when you’re watching somebody to get a feel for what their acting level is. It’s only Smallville—and not to downplay Smallville— but she’s got more range than you can even see from her previous stuff. I saw a whole different color and shade to her when she came in to play Hannah on the show. Last, but not least, just gorgeous. She’s Dutch and Chinese, so I guess that’s how you make ’em. Wooden shoes and chopsticks…both wooden, though! So I guess it’s a wooden thing. Also, her and Rachel Bilson, just put me in your pocket small. She did a great job and I felt like we had a great chemistry.
Be sure to head on over to TV Guide for the complete interview. Rounding out the week’s"Chuck"-related news, TV Guide reports that we’ll get more details on Yvonne Strahovski’s character Sarah next season, including her real name and ChuckTV.net relays news that the 11th episode will be titled "Chuck vs. the Final Exam". "Chuck" returns on Sunday, January 10th at 9:00 p.m. with a two-hour premiere followed on the following night — and subsequent Monday’s — at 8:00 p.m.
Six-minute season three preview [ NBC]
Season three promo #8: "A Whole New Chuck" [ YouTube]
Ashes to Ashes Will Explain the Life On Mars Ending
"Ashes to Ashes" co-creator Mathew Graham promises that the final episode of the series will also explain the ending to the British sci-fi drama "Life on Mars", which was the predecessor to "Life on Mars". Digital Spy writes:
The ambiguity of the storyline – as well as the questions raised in its sequel show – will all be resolved by the end of the upcoming third series of Ashes. "The idea is to unify the two shows," Graham told DS. "Series three unifies Life On Mars and Ashes To Ashes and makes them one show. By the time you get halfway through series three of Ashes To Ashes, you will actually feel like you’re watching series five of Life On Mars!"
He added: "In a way what we’re saying is that we’re going to finally explain the mythology we’ve created. And in theory, there will be no mystery left."
Graham also confirmed that there are no plans to make a another spinoff series:
"This is it, this is the end and I’ve written the last ever lines I will ever write for Gene Hunt. There’s no way we could do another series after this. There would be no mystery left."
Battlestar Galactica Top Timeshifted Program of 2009; Other Sci-Fi Also Ranks Highly
"Battlestar Galactica" was the the top timeshifted program of 2009. According to Nielsen, the Syfy series received the biggest boost in viewership from DVR viewing for the year, notching a whopping 59.4% increase in viewership levels. ‘BSG’ was joined by fellow sci-fi/genre fare including "True Blood" (46.9%), "Stargate Universe" (46.9%),"Sanctuary" (45.9%), "Heroes" (45.9%), "Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles" (45.5%) and "Dollhouse" (44.9%). The chart is below. SF&F shows arebolded.
Top 10 "Timeshifted" TV Programs (Network % Increase of Timeshifted)
- Battlestar Galactica (Syfy) – 59.4%
- Mad Men (AMC) – 57.7%
- Damages (FX) – 56.3%
- Rescue Me (FX) – 53.2%
- True Blood (HBO) – 46.9%
- Stargate Universe (Syfy) – 46.9%
- Sanctuary (Syfy) – 45.9%
- Heroes (NBC) – 45.9%
- Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Fox) – 45.5%
- Things I Hate About You (ABC Family) – 44.9%
- Dollhouse (Fox) – 44.9%
- Melrose Place (CW) – 44.9%
Alice Two-Part Miniseries Draws 2.3 Million Viewers
The first part of the Syfy miniseries "Alice" drew 2.45 million viewers and a 1.0 A18-49 rating, before dipping to 2.12 million viewers (-13%) and a 0.9 A18-49 rating (-10%) for part two. The overall audience figure of 2.29 million viewers (with 1.3 million viewers within the A18-49 demographic) marks the best performance for a Syfy original movie since 2007’s "Tin Man". In writing that may sound impressive , but in reality, the numbers are very, very disappointing. In 2007 that three-part "Tin Man" series drew an average of 5.3 million viewers with a breakdown of 6.3M for Part 1 (which still holds the record as the most-watched telecast in Syfy history. For historical perspective, #2 is part 1 of "Taken" which drew 6.1 million viewers), 4.4M for Part 2 and 5.0 million for Part 3. And what about in comparison to other Syfy events? Still not even close. Here are a few to compare against: "Taken" (5.0 million), "Dune" (4.6 million), "Battlestar Galactica" mini-series (3.5M). Put another way, the difference between the total audience of "Tin Man" and "Alice" (5.3M-2.3M = 3.0M) is more than 30% more than the total average audience of "Alice".
Character images [more at Syfy]
Day of the Triffids (BBC)
Promotional stills [more at Den of Geek]
Promotional stills from "The End of Time" [more at BSCreview]
Season two finale – "The Last Dragonlord" [more at MerlinSite]
In-costume still [ PhantomSite]
- Irish actress Orla Brady has been cast as Walter’s wife/Peter’s mother on "Fringe". The character, described in a previous casting call as "strong, smart and likeable" will make her appearance in early 2010. [ EW]
- Mark Sheppard ("Battlestar Galactica") will guest star in episode 13 of the upcoming third season of "Chuck". [ @Mark_Sheppard via SpoilerTV]
- Kristin Bauer, who plays the vampire Pam on HBO’s "True Blood", has been upped to series regular for the upcoming third season. The actress has appeared in 11 episodes total through the first two seasons of the show. [ THR]
- A casting call for the series finale of "Dollhouse" is looking for an actor to play T, "an adorable, precocious and somewhat fearless 6-year-old with mixed Asian and Caucasian heritage". [ E! Online]
- Aleks Paunovic has been cast as William Adama in "Caprica". The character is the father of Joseph Adama (played by Esai Morales in "Caprica") and grandfather of Edward James Olmos’ William Adama in "Battlestar Galactica". He’ll play the character in a flashback scene and his role is listed as recurring. [ battlestar_blog]
- A casting call for episode 15 of "Supernatural", called "My Bloody Valentine", is looking for two guest stars including one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. [ SpoilerTV]
"The End of Time" Trailer #2 [ YouTube]
"The End of Time" clip: OAPs Attack [ YouTube]
Watch another clip here
Featurette on The Observers: The Many Months of Fringe [ YouTube]
Interview with Anna Torv (Olivia) [ MTV]
Q&A with Amanda Tapping (Dr. Helen Magnus) [ SCI FI Wire]
Q&A with Lou Diamond Philips (Col. David Telford) [ SCI FI Wire]
- In a recent episodes of "FlashForward", characters on the show hinted that the flash forward may have been caused by the physics research facility in Palo Alto, but physicists at the Stanford Linear Accelerator, or SLAC for short, are refuting the science used to make the claims. [ SLAC via io9]
- If you’re interested in some spoilers relating to David Tennant’s final "Doctor Who" special "The End of Time", the blog Fanatical for Who has a nice round-up of what we know thus far about the two-part special.
- Madeline Zima, who plays Clarie’s college friend Gretchen on "Heroes", says that we haven’t seen the last of her character: ""… [ TV Guide]
- …Dawn Olivieri, who plays newcomer Lydia on the show, brushes aside rumors that the show will be canceled after this season: "Everybody talks about it losing momentum and not being so great in the ratings, but honestly, this show makes so much money for NBC that I don’t see it gong anywhere. It’s had No.1 DVD sales every year it’s been on – internationally – and I don’t think it’s going anywhere. I think it’ll keep going."… [ Digital Spy]
- …And lastly, the show’s 19th episode — the fourth season finale — will be called "Brave New World". [ HeroSite]
- Victor Fresco, creator of the ABC comedy series "Better Off Ted", talks about what’s in store for the show during its second season in an interview with E! Online.
- BBC has confirmed that they’ve commissioned a second season of the sci-fi drama series "Survivors", but don’t say when the show will air. [ BBC via Survivors BBC TV]
- Alexander Skarsgard, who plays Eric on the hit HBO series "True Blood", says that the upcoming third season will further explore his character’s history: "…there will be another flashback. We’ll see Eric and someone else as a tag team – I don’t want to reveal from what era, but it’s a couple of really fun scenes." Skarsgard also revealed that Don Swayze, brother of the late Patrick Swayze, will guest star on the show. [ TV Guide Magazine]
SCI-FI TV RATINGS (Based on final national numbers unless otherwise noted) [ @TravisYanan]
The brand new Disney special "Prep & Landing" drew an impressive 12.04 million viewers and a 4.1 A18-49 rating on ABC, good enough for #2 on the evening among adults 18-49 and #4 among viewers. The second season premiere of the ABC comedy "Better off Ted", however, debuted to weak numbers. The episode drew 3.82 million viewers and a 1.5 A18-49 which was down a steep 31 and 29 percent, respectively, from its series/season one premiere last season (5.50 million viewers and a 2.1 A18-49 rating).
The only sci-fi/fantasy-themed programming this past Wednesday was another repeat of the special "Shrek the Halls" on ABC. The program grabbed a solid audience of 8.43 million viewers with a 2.6 A18-49 rating.
After hitting a post-season premiere high, Fox’s "Fringe" took a slight step backward this week (more than likely due to the added competition of a fresh episode of "CSI" on CBS). The series drew 6.32 million viewers (-9%) and a 2.3 A18-49 rating (-8%). Elsewhere on the evening, ABC aired a repeat of "FlashForward" which drew a below-average (although that’s almost always the case with sci-fi programming in repeats) 3.96 million viewers and a 1.0 A18-49 rating. The CW also aired repeats of "The Vampire Diaries" (1.74M/0.7 A18-49 rating) and "Supernatural" (1.40M/0.7 A18-49 rating).
Friday [Dec. 11th episode numbers are based on preliminary fast affiliate data]
"Dollhouse" saw a fairly nice increase in viewership for its second week of back-to-back episodes, particularly for the 8 p.m. hour (Note: percent changes are based on changes from the previous week’s hour). The 8 p.m. episode drew 2.72 million viewers (+27%) and a 1.0 A18-49 rating (+25%). Hour two, however, was only slightly above the week prior with 2.09 million viewers (+5%) and a 0.8 A18-49 rating (n/c). Boosted by the first hour, the overall average — 2.40 million viewers and a 0.9 A18-49 rating — was up 17% among viewers and 13% among A18-49 (2.05 million viewers and a 0.8 A18-49 rating). Rounding out the evening, a 9PM repeat of "Medium" on CBS drew 4.08 million viewers and a 1.1 A18-49 rating, while The CW aired two hours of "Smallville" repeats, good for 1.36 million viewers and a 0.5 A18-49 rating.
Select Sci-Fi/Fantasy shows on cable and syndication [SGU and Sanctuary numbers are for the December 4th episodes. SGU is on mid-season hiatus and numbers for the 12/11 episode of Sanctuary won’t be known until next week]
"Stargate Universe" had seen a slow up-tick in audience over its last two episodes, but last week’s episode (the final one before next year) came crashing back down. "Justice" drew a series low 1.34 million viewers (-29%) and a 0.5 A18-49 rating (-38%). The season average stands at 1.95 million viewers and a 0.8 A18-49 rating (Note: The two-hour series premiere drew 2.35M viewers and a 0.9 A18-49, but the series high came in week two which drew 2.45 million viewers and a 1.0 A18-49 rating). The bad news extended to "Sanctuary" which hit another low of 1.34 million viewers (-7%) and a 0.4 A18-49 rating (-20%).
"Ghost Hunters" is slowly fading, but still drew a respectable 2.26 million viewers (-7%) and a 1.0 A18-49 rating (-9%). And in what’s becoming a trend, lead-out "Ghost Hunters Academy" hit a new series low of 1.50 million viewers (-8%). The episode held steady in A18-49 rating with a 0.7 rating (n/c).
In syndication, the fourth episode of season two’s "Legend of the Seeker" drew 2.41 million viewers (-4%), which was down only slightly from the week prior and in-line with the current season average of 2.43 million viewers. Breakdown — 2×01 = 2.58M, 2×02 = 2.24M, 2×03 = 2.50M, 2×04 = 2.41M). [ TV by the Numbers]
CHART (11/30/2009 to 12/6/2009)