The Televisionist 

Fiennes in 'Flashforward'
  • Fiennes in 'Flashforward'

7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 22

As I have stated in this column many times before while gushing over flicks from “Terminator” to “Timecop,” I love movies and television involving time travel. Maybe it's just my own anxiety over how many things in my past that I've royally screwed up and wish I could change, but there's just something about the idea of people getting a cosmic do-over that really appeals to me. While ABC's new show “FlashForward” ain't quite time travel, it's close enough for gubmint work, and gives the idea a nice spin. Very loosely based on a 1999 novel of the same title, the show is built around the idea that one day, for just under 3 minutes, the entire population of the world simply blacked out. This, of course, causes some problems for folks driving in cars or flying on airplanes. What's more, when they wake up, everybody in the world realizes that they've caught a just-shy-of-3-minute glimpse of their own future – their future exactly six months from that moment, to be exact. From there, FBI agent Mark Benford (“Shakespeare in Love” actor Joseph Fiennes) is on the case, trying to find out what the FlashForward was, and how to prevent another one. The result so far is a really slick, interesting thriller, though you probably don't want to think too hard about the paradoxes involved.

8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 23

While watching a beauty pageant – sorry, that should be: “Scholarship Competition” – on TV, there's no foul if you find yourself thinking: how hard can it possibly be? I mean, come on, take a bunch of girls who obviously won the Good Genetics (and Great Plastic Surgeon) Lottery, tease their hair up, tell 'em to smile pretty and that's about it, right? Well, it apparently ain't that easy. See, while the folks who watch pageants at home are just poor schlubs like you and me, the people who judge pageants are scrutinizing the contestants from elbows to appetite, and they've got a certain set of criteria. That's where a guy like South Carolina pageant coach Cyrus Frakes comes in, as seen in TLC's new reality show “King of the Crown.” I've watched the show twice now, and I'm completely hooked. For one thing, there's Cyrus himself. As you might have guessed, given that he runs a pageant coaching service, he's gay. Not only that, but he's South Carolina Gay, which makes him act and sound like a cross between Truman Capote and Scarlett O'Hara. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Between his sidekick and interview coach Shane (who is even MORE Scarlett O'Capote than his boss), and the line of Cinderellas who seek out their help, the show runs the gamut from hilarious to heartwarming. Week to week, it's a real treat.

8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25

Ever since the original film came out, I've really enjoyed the “Stargate” franchise. For those not familiar with it, the basic premise is that somebody (or something) scattered big stone hoops called Stargates all over the universe millions of years ago. Using these stargates, one can travel billions of miles across the galaxy, from one stargate to another. It's a pretty cool premise, and opened up opportunities for all kinds of interesting storylines for the SyFy shows “Stargate: SG1” and “Stargate: Atlantis.” Still, those shows got a bit stale after awhile, especially when viewed in recent years next to the revamped and much edgier “Battlestar Galactica,” Now, however, it looks like the holders of the Stargate keys have decided to give the franchise the BSG treatment, with “Stargate Universe.” What they've come up with is a much darker show, more focused on character development and less on aliens in rubber suits. As a guy who frackin' misses “BSG” like crazy, “SGU” is looking pretty good so far. It follows the adventures of a ragtag group of scientists and soldiers trapped on board an ancient spaceship called Destiny. Stationed at a far off secret base built around a stargate, they were forced to randomly dial up another gate when they are attacked without warning. This desperation drunk-dial lands them on the crumbling ship. With Destiny's systems failing and the stargate onboard unable to dial home, they're stuck, both in space and with each other. Check it out. It's definitely worth a look.


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