A R C H I V E S
Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Really bad news for the fall... :(|
|08/26/05 at 09:17:05|
|This is really bad........all these shows are going to make it worse for Muslims. If there was only one like that "sleeper cell" maybe we could do something but all of these!! Ughhhhhhhhhh|
Post 9-11 dramas on tap for fall TV
By JOHN MCKAY
Dennis Haysbert (centre) and members of the cast from Fox TV's The Unit are shown in this undated handout photo. Jack Bauer from 24 will be getting some help this coming TV season. From Steven Bochco's Over There to David Mamet's The Unit, U.S. network television will be going after Muslim terrorists in a big way this fall, signalling an opening of the floodgates on post-9/11 drama themes. (CP PHOTO/HO)
TORONTO (CP) - Jack Bauer from 24 will be getting a lot of help this coming TV season blowing away terrorist villains.
From Steven Bochco's Over There to David Mamet's The Unit, U.S. network television will be going after extremists in a big way, signalling an opening of the floodgates on post-9-11 drama themes. The Unit, a new Fox TV series, stars Dennis Haysbert (the tough-as-nails president for two seasons on Fox's 24) as the leader of a special anti-terrorist squad.
The show begins with an airliner sitting on the tarmac, wired with explosives by terrorists who've hijacked it. With cold-blooded stealth, a U.S. special forces operative gains entry, makes his way into the cabin and begins to blow the bad guys away, pausing at one point in the aisle to smile slightly as he gives a quaking passenger, an innocent Middle Eastern-looking businessman, a pass before continuing his killing.
The FX-channel drama Over There (debuting this fall in Canada on History Television) tells stories of ordinary soldiers serving in Iraq. In one scene, a soldier is recording a video e-mail back to his darling wife in the States. The camera then pulls back from a screen to reveal the wife committing adultery in the background.
In another scene, an insurgent is struck in the chest with a shoulder-fired missile. The top half of his body is blown away while the trunk and legs continue walking a few steps before collapsing.
Other series that will no doubt be heavy with terrorism themes are ABC's Commander-in-Chief with Geena Davis as a female president of the United States, NBC's E-Ring with Dennis Hopper as, of all things, a Pentagon general, and Showtime's Sleeper Cell, about Muslim extremists in Los Angeles.
Showcase will air The Grid, a collaboration between the BBC and Ted Turner's TNT network and starring Dylan McDermott and Bernard Hill, about a joint U.S.-British anti-terrorist squad. It begins with a sarin-gas attack on the London subway and the discovery of plans for another attack on New York City.
Even Disney is getting into the act with the TV movie Tiger Cruise starring Bill Pullman, airing Sept. 9 on the Family Channel. It's about the kids of the crew of a U.S. aircraft carrier who learn, during an onboard family visit, what their dads do to protect the country as the ship goes on full alert after the twin towers are struck.
"There's been sufficient time since some of the catastrophic events of 9-11 that we're starting to be comfortable with telling some of the stories of that time and of the war," says Kevin Knight, chief programmer for the Movie Network, which is considering picking up Sleeper Cell.
Even the spate of space-alien series - Threshold, Surface and Invasion - is seen as a thinly disguised metaphor for the fear of terrorists lurking among us.
In recent years, conventional American television networks have tried to close the gap with unrestricted pay-TV-channel fare - such as HBO's The Sopranos and Six Feet Under - by programming envelope-pushing concepts like the sexy Desperate Housewives and the violent 24. But then they ran headlong into a morality wall, with the fallout from the infamous Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident. Cloaking graphic drama in the nobility of anti-terrorism and war themes just might be the solution thought up by programmers and producers. The jury is out on whether viewers want to see their innermost fears and insecurities played out as prime-time entertainment.
CTV programming executive Susanne Boyce says that, in a topsy-turvy world, viewers seek a quality shared experience and a catharsis, not escapism.
"Movies are down this summer, significantly," Boyce notes. "A lot of people are coming to television because the writing and storytelling has improved. . . . Really good drama can take you places on an emotional level."
In Canada, meanwhile, the emotional focus will be on our own recent history.
While domestic networks are largely giving the series format a pass, there will be plenty of movies-of-the-week looking at the lives of such newsworthy real-life figures as Tommy Douglas, Rene Levesque, a young Pierre Trudeau, Conrad Black, Shania Twain, Terry Fox and such events as the 1972 Canada-Russia hockey duel and the October 1970 FLQ crisis.
CTV boasts that it is the number 1 Canadian network in terms of ratings, with such ongoing hits as Degrassi: The Next Generation, Corner Gas and Canadian Idol. Global TV concedes that it is number 2 but, like those old Avis car commercials, is determined to try harder.
The CBC, schizophrenic as always - a public broadcaster with obligations that go beyond ratings but which still wants to be embraced by the viewers en masse - will have its work cut out for it recovering from the disaster of last year's NHL lockout and this year's lockout of its own unionized employees.
Even if the latest lockout is resolved in time for the fall launch season, some producers aren't sure they want their pet projects, like the prequel miniseries Trudeau - Maverick in the Making (the latest of several proposed titles), to go to air in September without a proper network buildup.
"We don't want them to show it on Sept. 26 if it can't have its five-or six-week promotion," says executive producer David Macleod of Halifax-based Big Motion Pictures.
"If it's gonna draw 110,000 people, what's the point? It would be such a shame," adds co-producer and co-writer Wayne Grigsby.
Still, the CBC has that ingrained penchant for wrapping itself in the flag as the only broadcaster prepared to tell our stories.
"Our number 1 challenge here is to make Canadian drama that Canadians want to watch," Richard Stursberg, CBC-TV president, said in an interview before the CBC lockout. "There's no way the privates are going to do that. That's not how they make their money. They make their money buying U.S. shows."
But to accomplish that, Stursberg maintains, public money is required, the kind of money that will make domestic programming look as good as "super-smart" American shows like The West Wing, Law & Order and CSI (all carried on CTV, incidentally).
"If the government is serious about wanting to build up a big-time drama strategy in English Canada, then there's only one possible locomotive. We're the only one."
But Boyce says she's surprised to hear Stursberg say that.
"At CTV we pride ourselves on both our Canadian and American (shows). And we make money on our Canadian."
Some of the trends emerging in this fall's network television season:
The walking wounded: There will be the usual crime procedurals and dysfunctional family sitcoms. But watch, too, for lead characters who have suffered and whose friends and co-workers aren't convinced they're ready to go back to work. That's the way it is for Nicky Katt, who used to teach in the dungeon on Boston Public and is now a cop recovering from his wife's unsolved murder. On Close to Home, Jennifer Finnegan must convince her law-office co-workers that after giving birth, she's ready to resume her practice. Even her own party wants her to quit but Geena Davis has no intention of being convinced she's not up to the job of Commander-in-Chief. Mandy Patinkin is back at Quantico as an FBI profiler while colleagues wonder if he's over his nervous breakdown. Chris O'Donnell is a lawyer recovering from a breakdown on Head Cases.
Of course, Dominic Da Vinci must always be on the alert that he doesn't fall off the wagon again, especially now that he's Hizzoner on Da Vinci's City Hall. And does anybody believe that Gen. Dennis Hopper is equipped to run the Pentagon in E-Ring?
Few Canadian series: Don't expect much in the way of full-blooded dramatic series on Canadian television this year. The CBC continues to invest in what it calls high-impact programming (miniseries and TV movies-of-the-week), or six-episode limited series. And CTV offers Whistler while Global has Falcon Beach. There will still be those generic made-in-Canada shows designed mainly for international syndication, usually of the sci-fi genre, such as Stargate Atlantis. And a few international co-productions, such as CBC's Dragon Boys.
Canadians on U.S. TV: Once again, Canucks rule the Yank airwaves, even if they can't do it at home. Kiefer's dad Donald Sutherland co-stars in Commander-in-Chief, but so do Natasha Henstridge and Leslie Hope. Montrealer Jennifer Finnegan stars in Close to Home and Kari Matchett of Saskatchewan and Brampton, Ont.'s Tyler Labine in Invasion. Jay Baruchel co-stars with Don Johnson in Just Legal. And London, Ont.'s Luke MacFarlane is in Over There.
But home-grown talent also shows up in Sex, Love and Secrets (Lucas Bryant and Tamara Taylor), Killer Instinct (Kristin Lehman) and How I Met Your Mother (Cobie Smothers).
Terrorists and alien invaders: Americans' feelings of being under siege are echoed in many of the new fall shows. The Grid, The Unit, Commander-in-Chief, The E-Ring, Sleeper Cell and Over There are just some of the new series that will be battling terrorism at home and insurgents abroad. But alien invasions have always been a metaphor, too, and there's no shortage in the likes of Threshold, Invasion and Surface.
U.S. producers "borrow" Canadian themes: First it was Cold Case, bearing an uncanny resemblance to CTV's Cold Squad. This year, The Closer has a crime-show premise similar to Global's Blue Murder, while Kitchen Confidential recalls the homemade B.C. chaos-in-the-restaurant-kitchen theme of Godiva's.
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