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Australian TV News
Second Half, 2000

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19th December, 2000

This is my last update for 2000. I'll be back online around the middle of January. In the meantime, I hope you all have a great Christmas and New Year.

I've had a bit of a dig through the online Foxtel guide, uncovering a number of changes in the first half of January (there's not yet any info beyond the 17th January).

TV1 is running a "Pilot episode marathon" on New Year's Day, including Xena at 8:30am and Mad About You at 2:00pm. I also noticed Early Edition has been screening on Wednesdays at 11:00pm -- I'm not sure how long this has been going on. Saturday's Xena repeat timeslot is also moving, to 5:30am.

FOX8 has most of the changes. First, there's an X-Files marathon on New Year's Day, from noon to midnight, featuring selected episodes from Season One. This pre-empts any other airings during that time.

The X-Files is further modified insofar as all of its weekend timeslots are being bumped to a day later, though at the same time (except repeat timeslots). Hence, Saturdays move to 10:30pm Sundays with no repeat, and Sundays move to 9:30pm Mondays, repeated 3:15am.

As a result, Monday's Buffy and Highlander: The Raven both move an hour forward, to 7:30pm (and 1:45am) and 8:30pm (and 2:30am), respectively.

Other changes include a pre-repeat timeslot for Futurama, now airing 8:30am and 6:30pm Saturdays. Buffy moves an hour earlier on weekends, to 1:00pm. Earth: Final Conflict gains an additional stream, 5:00pm Saturdays, which will be showing Season One from the beginning. And sadly, Millennium disappears from our screens completely. It's a pity such a well-made show hasn't attracted a larger audience. Actually, it may not be gone from FOX8 for good -- we'll have to wait and see.

On free-to-air, I can confirm that the following shows should continue, uninterrupted, in their current timeslots for the next few weeks: Stargate SG-1, First Wave, The Pretender (both Saturdays and Tuesdays), Farscape, Will & Grace, Two Guys and a Girl and Red Dwarf. Dilbert's survival depends on ratings (fans unite!), while Party of Five is subject to a possible New Year's Eve concert.

One other thing to note is the surprise return of Space: Above and Beyond. The two-part pilot will apparently air on Seven on Christmas Eve. However, this is probably a once-off, and appears not to hold for Melbourne viewers, in any case.

I wish you all a great holiday season. Thanks for visiting in 2000.

14th December, 2000

Tomorrow night sees Seven airing the last episode of Harsh Realm at 12:10am, but on Sunday night at 11:20pm, Seven is unbelievably bringing Lexx to free-to-air. This science fiction series is a Canada-Germany coproduction (there may be other countries also involved). It features an epic story-line, incredible computer-generated backgrounds, and lots of sexy women. The show has a somewhat organic, frequently sex-related, undercurrent to it, so it's not for kids, but it also features excellent science fiction elements. Worth a look for any fans of the genre. All three seasons so far have been repeatedly shown on Foxtel's arena over the last few years.

8th December, 2000

Turns out there was a late change on FOX8 that I've only just detected. Party of Five is, in fact, continuing its strip at 9:00am, showing Season Three episodes now and continuing into Season Four in January. Melrose Place has been bumped back to 10:00am and Silk Stalkings has been dropped.

Meanwhile, some people have noted that Highlander: The Raven is to be pre-empted from the 18th December. I've confirmed that it will return on the 8th January.

7th December, 2000

This week on the networks: Dilbert makes a welcome return to Ten on Fridays at 8:00pm; Party of Five also returns to Ten, 7:30pm Sunday night; Rex the Runt (hilarious, British claymation) premieres on SBS after South Park, Mondays at 9:00pm; and The Pretender is again pre-empted by The West Wing in its Tuesday timeslot on Nine (but I'm told The Pretender will regain this second timeslot on the 26th).

I've also updated Mad About You to reflect its new schedule on TV1.

All pretty straightforward, really.

30th November, 2000

With ratings well and truly over, the FTA schedules are settling down a bit, and as one letter to the "Green Guide" pointed out, it is in many ways a better crop than in ratings season.

First up, though, the ABC is showing the French period adventure comedy, D'Artagnan's Daughter (La fille de d'Artagnan), tomorrow night at 10:55pm. It's a little bit corny at times, but this is a great example of one of French film-making's strengths: swashbuckling in the 17th and 18th centuries.

On to the series changes, and Farscape returns to Nine, after The Prentender, on Saturday night (though be aware, the cricket may go long). Seven is bringing back new episodes of That 70s Show, 8:00pm Sunday, after Dharma & Greg repeats. To complicate matters, however, That 70s Show will also be airing at 8:00pm Wednesdays, after Two Guys and a Girl, and The Pretender will also be on Tuesday nights at 8:30pm. I guess the networks have a number of shows with more backlog than they'd like.

With Ten repeating selected episodes of The X-Files on Wednesday nights at 9:30pm, Seven is also adding to its repeat list, bringing Season Three of The Practice back on Monday nights at 8:30pm, to lead into the Buffy repeats.

In a surprise move, Seven's bringing back Ellen from Monday, 4th: 3:00pm weekdays. They're starting at the end of Season Four, with the episode immediately after Ellen's coming out. Apparently it's a repeat, though I didn't think Seven ever got through the whole series (unlike Foxtel, which is near the end of its second run through, on FX).

And then there's the cricket. The Second Test from Perth starts tomorrow at 1:00pm (ironically a much better viewing time for East Coast office workers).

It's also a good week for claymation, with a threefold coup for fans of the genre: an excellent documentary on the Aardman Animation studio (birthplace of Wallace & Gromit and Chicken Run) on SBS, Sunday night at 8:30pm; then the return of Gogs to the ABC, weekdays at 5:55pm, starting tonight; and finally the announcement that Rex the Runt is coming to SBS, Monday nights at 9:00pm (after South Park) from the 11th December. All great comedy, all great animation!

27th November, 2000

Foxtel in December: Most Foxtel subscribers would have realised there's some channel reorganisation in store for December. I won't go through the details, but for anyone who may have considered getting Foxtel in the past but thought the packages too expensive, it might be worth reconsidering, particularly since Fox Kids and FX Movies have both been moved into the basic package.

As you might imagine, the channel rearrangement has brought about a few changes, although perhaps not as many as one might expect.

FOX8: On Monday, 4th December, the strips for both Dharma & Greg and Party of Five disappear. On Sunday, 10th, The Practice is pre-empted and both The X-Files and Millennium pushed back half an hour (the former repeat timeslot pushed back to 3:45am). On Monday, 18th, Highlander: The Raven is pre-empted.

The big changes are on Christmas Day. On the 24th, The X-Files will feature Christmas Carol (5X05) and Emily (5X07) instead of the expected episodes. These were held earlier in the year, and fit in with the Christmas theme. Millennium will do likewise, screening Midnight of the Century (5C11). These, along with other Christmas episodes from FOX8's most popular shows, will continue throughout Christmas Day.

Finally, FOX8's entire Sunday night line-up will be pre-empted by specials on New Year's Eve.

TV1: Of course, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine is the big news, starting on the 2nd December, Saturdays at 9:30pm, repeated Sundays at 11:30am, and again Thursdays at 11:00pm and Fridays at 7:30pm. I imagine the weekday timeslots will at some point either separate from the weekend or start to operate in tandem, but not for now.

On Monday, 4th December, the Mad About You strip disappears, moving to a single timeslot each week, Thursdays at 7:00pm (repeated 10:30pm). This timeslot will continue from where the strip left off, at the end of Season Three. Furthermore, a new, lone Mad About You timeslot will appear Saturdays at 6:00pm from the 9th December. This appears in the Guide as 5:30pm, but that's a misprint. Episodes will start from the beginning of Season Three. TV1 doesn't seem to be doing anything special for either Christmas or New Year's Eve, although the Xena Christmas episode will be airing on the 30th, perhaps coincidentally, perhaps not.

FX: The new FX is being promoted as a women's channel, but it's a little hard to see how it differs from what was there before. In fact, one of the new arrivals, The Practice, surely appeals as much to men as women? Regardless, having discarded Classic Movies, there's now a lot more time for series to feature.

First up, Caroline in the City gains extra timeslots at 1:30pm and 11:30pm Saturdays (though the former timeslot not until the 9th). New episodes will air first at 6:00pm Saturday and Sunday, then the Saturday episode will repeat at 11:30pm, and the Sunday episode will repeat at 1:30pm the following Saturday.

On Monday, 4th, Ellen starts stripping at 5:00pm weekdays (repeated 11:30pm), starting from the beginning, and The Practice starts stripping at 8:30pm weekdays, also starting at the beginning. A good opportunity to catch up for those who got in late.

Other Channels: Black Adder returns to UK TV on the 3rd December, Sundays and Mondays at 10:30pm. However, UK TV takes its holidays seriously, with a Goodies marathon on the 24th and 25th, followed by Kenny Everett on the 26th, then Benny Hill for the New Year.

Season Two of Stressed Eric comes to thecomedychannel on Monday, 4th, stripping weekdays at 7:00pm.

On Fox Kids, Starship Troopers gains an extra, once-off timeslot this Friday at 6:30pm, in order to finish off the series -- with the channel moving into the basic Foxtel package, they didn't want new viewers to find themselves at the end of the series. Unfortunately, that means the clip shows are skipped once again (though only one of them has any new material). Starship Troopers is also pre-empted on Christmas Day.

Finally, something else I noticed: a Hercules and Xena animated movie on New Year's Eve! What a strange concept! Although I hear BASEketball, from the creators of South Park is even stranger (premieres the 16th December).

23rd November, 2000

Industrial action leaves us without a Green Guide this week, but I'm told it may be included in tomorrow's paper. In the meantime, I was surprised to find that ninemsn has a TV guide that covers all channels right through to next Wednesday (unlike Sofcom, which won't update until tomorrow -- different cycle). It's ironic, then, that there's so many changes on FTA next week!

Tomorrow night, Xena's no longer on Ten, but Nine's showing an episode of It's Like, You Know... after 4:00am (nothing Sunday night, though).

Saturday, no Pretender, probably a result of all the cricket -- except Nine won't deign to show highlights packages, which is very sad for those of us who work. On the plus side, the TV commentary is available over the Internet, which isn't as good as radio, but great if you can't receive radio in your building (hands up, anyone else who has this problem). You can access this via CricInfo.

Sunday, everyone seems to be screening double episodes at 7:30pm: Just Shoot Me! on Ten, Dharma & Greg on Seven. All repeats, of course, and we'll be seeing a lot more of those with the ratings period finishing at the end of this week.

Next Monday, Friends comes back to just one episode (and back to Season One), with Jesse back at 8:00pm and Suddenly Susan at 8:30pm. Seven is also bringing back Will & Grace at 8:30pm -- with a double episode. Red Dwarf (Season Eight) is also back on the ABC, at 10:00pm (unfortunately clashing with Highlander: The Raven on FOX8).

Tuesday, Just Shoot Me! is replaced by Becker, and Deep Space Nine is gone until next year! Apparently it's a ratings winner for Nine, worth holding for ratings season, but not worthy of a better timeslot. Bastards -- I was just getting into it! Oh, well. Next Tuesday, we will see the first two episodes of Voyager repeated as a one-off special. But if you're afraid of missing your SF fix, TV1's starting Deep Space Nine from the beginning next weekend, and Farscape will be back on Nine soon.

Finally, on Wednesday, The Simpsons repeats are replaced by Becker on Ten, but Seven brings us Two Guys and a Girl, the renamed third season of Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, starting with a double episode. This finished on a great cliff-hanger, and it's a better show than its non-ratings status indicates.

21st November, 2000

One of my spies has informed me that Red Dwarf will be returning to the ABC next Monday, 27th November. They'll be replaying Season Eight. Good job!

16th November, 2000

Basically just a lot of minor things this week, mostly on free-to-air. On Foxtel, however, don't forget the premiere of Highlander: The Raven on Monday night at 9:30pm. If you're sorry to see Roar replaced in this timeslot, don't despair, as it's keeping it's 7:00am Saturday timeslot.

A couple of shows on FTA wrap up over the next week. Xena ends with an earlier-skipped episode from the middle of the previous season tomorrow night. BackBerner, The Fat and Good News Week each finish up for the year -- sadly forever, in the latter case (or so their advertising suggests). A Fork in Australia and Now & Again also wrap, on Tuesday. The latter was cancelled in the US, so that's it, I'm afraid.

Saturday, we only get one Simpsons episode, but Dharma & Greg are back on Seven, Sunday nights at 8:00pm (these repeats were brought back at the last minute, last weekend). It's Like, You Know... seems to have found itself a timeslot of sorts on a Sunday night around 3:00am, though I've no idea how many episodes remain. Deep Space Nine is pre-empted next Thursday.

Finally, the West Indies' tour of Australia starts with the First Test next Thursday morning. Sadly, Nine seem to have done away with highlights completely; a pity for those of us not at home during the day.

9th November, 2000

On FTA over the next week: the movie Starship Troopers is on Seven tomorrow night -- the 3D-animated series arose from this film, but the movie is far more of a spoof (reminded me a lot of Robocop, when I first saw it).

Ten is screening another old, first-run episode of Xena, also tomorrow night. I think it's a clip-show, but is belongs at the end of Season Four, between the two angel episodes. If I recall correctly, there's one more old episode to screen -- all three held episodes couldn't be shown in the early timeslot Ten was using for Xena due to their rating.

You may have noticed that Seven pre-empted Profiler last night. This episode will be shown next week (remember it's part two of a two-part cross-over with The Pretender), despite what The Green Guide says. In better news, Nine is bringing back The Pretender this Saturday night at 8:30pm. However, they're most of a season behind Profiler, so I suggest taping next week's Profiler and handing onto it for a couple of months. My apologies for thinking Ten had The Pretender rather than Nine.

The final episode of It's Like, You Know... will air on Nine on Sunday night, at 2:15am. At least, I think it's the last episode.

Finally, Stargate SG-1 returns to Melbourne screens on Thursday, 16th November at 8:30pm (an unfortunate clash with the second-last episode of Now & Again). And about time, too!

On Foxtel, just a belated reminder that Ally McBeal started a new season last Sunday, and so did Third Rock From the Sun on Tuesday.

Looking ahead a bit, the Dharma & Greg strip on FOX8 reaches the end of Season Two on Thursday, 23rd November. The next day, it will jump back to the fourth episode of Season Two, before being replaced by The Nanny after Friday, 1st December.

3rd November, 2000

I didn't mention it yesterday, but Ten's new show, Live This, had a short report on Digital TV last night. They were actually pretty good -- a lot better than most other reports in recent times. They correctly pointed out that "there's been a lot of hype and misinformation" in the media, but they did themselves get some of the technical details wrong: they claimed SDTV would be 16:9, which I believe is incorrect; and that ITV stood for Information TV, rather than Interactive TV. Outside interviews were with Sony, who claims HDTV sets will be available for $8000 by early(?) next year, and with some guy at Ten, who said Ten planned much more than the required 20 hours a week of HDTV by 2003 (my guess is they'll be sourcing a lot of HDTV material from the US, where some shows are already taking advantage of the expanded format, despite relatively poor consumer take-up). Of course, 2003 is a long time from now. The other interesting note was their claim that STUs are going to be between $800 and $1500 when they're first introduced, a bit more than I expected. But the prices will naturally come down, and probably fairly quickly.

As for my own article on Digital TV, its size has somewhat stifled my progress. Sorry guys.

2nd November, 2000

There's quite a few things to watch out for on FTA over the next week. Tomorrow night, Harsh Realm starts at the earlier time of 11:40pm, while Xena stays at 4:00am but jumps back to a previously skipped episode (so don't expect the plot-lines to line up). Saturday's Simpsons timeslot has also been extended by half an hour.

On Tuesday, despite the lack of an announcement, Nine will start airing Star Trek: Deep Space Nine at 11:00pm Tuesdays and 11:15pm Thursdays. In other words, two days ago was the season finale of Voyager and Nine won't be continuing directly into the next season.

Also on Nine and late at night, It's Like, You Know... will continue to appear around 4:30am, tomorrow, Sunday and Monday nights.

On Wednesday, Profiler (Seven, 10:40pm) will actually be airing the second episode of a two-parter "begun" on The Pretender. Hence worth watching for Pretender fans. Unfortunately, Ten has the rights to that show and hasn't yet deigned to air it, so no-one's going to get to see the first part of the double episode until next year. Sigh.

Thursday at noon, Seven is again showing the movie, Babylon 5, the place where the amazing science fiction series by the same name first began. Worth setting the VCR for, particularly for those who may have joined the series late.

Foxtel November Update: Turns out Hercules on Fox Kids will start with the first episode of Season Four (it's first airing on Foxtel), hence skipping over the last half of Season Three (where FOX8 were up to).

Also on Fox Kids, Starship Troopers: The Series concludes its first run-through on Sunday, 12th November (apart from a couple of clip-shows). The following weekend, it will move to 1:30pm Saturdays and Sundays, half-hour timeslots, two episodes each weekend (hence, not repeated), and go back to the very beginning. The clip-shows were actually prepared to compensate for a truly bizarre airing order in the US, caused by production delays on some episodes. Only one of the three has new footage. These should be dropped onto the end of the weekday strip at 6:00pm, in December.

30th October, 2000

I had time to look through the November Foxtel Guide over the weekend. Compared to the past couple of months, November's looking pretty dull in terms of changes, though the programmes are just as good as ever.

This week sees the premiere of Deep in the City on FOX8, taking over Party of Five's old timeslot (the latter having reached the end of Season Four). Next weekend, Hercules moves to Fox Kids, airing Sundays at 7:30pm. The series should pick up from where it left off on FOX8. Also next weekend, thecomedychannel is having a Monty Python weekend, featuring both the various movies and Flying Circus.

Wednesday, Mad About You goes back to Season Three on TV1, the rights to this season having been regained after a long hiatus.

This Friday there's something of a misprint in arena's TV guide -- rather, Friday is a verbatim reprint of Thursday's programme. The following two weeks, however, The Games will be pre-empted on Thursday (9th and 16th) but not the Friday "repeat". Effectively, episodes will be shown just once, the series concluding on Thursday, 30th November. It will show up again in January on thecomedychannel. In the meantime, thecomedychannel is not showing The Games at all in November.

Next week (starting Monday, 6th), Dharma & Greg on FOX8 relinquishes its evening timeslot to Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place, weekdays at 8:30am and 6:30pm. Dharma's world will continue in the morning at 7:30am. Also worth noting is that the strip for Third Rock From the Sun has returned to Season One.

Later in the month, from Saturday, 18th November, Starship Troopers is moving to a single episode at 1:30pm Saturdays and Sundays. Sunday's episode is expected to be a repeat of Saturday's. I'll confirm this as soon as I can.

Finally, on Monday, 20th November, Highlander: The Raven starts on FOX8 at 9:30pm (and 3:15am), replacing Roar at the end of its season. The Raven features Amanda from the Highlander TV series (played by Elizabeth Gracen, a past Miss America), together with some hunk from Melrose Place. So that's hot people, great sword-fights and incisive scripts, I'm expecting. Worth a look even for non-fans, what with the new Highlander movie coming to our screens fairly soon (April, I hear).

27th October, 2000

Back from my holiday, had lots of fun, but no time to do a proper update. I'll just flag that It's Like, You Know... is airing various nights on Nine, around 4:30am. I think I missed one episode, but for the next week, it's on tonight (clashing with Xena), Monday night and Tuesday night.

19th October, 2000

Just a couple of changes over the next week. Sex and the City returns to Nine on Monday at 9:30pm. Harsh Realm is pre-empted by golf tomorrow night. And Now & Again is pre-empted by the ARIA Awards next Tuesday.

12th October, 2000

Jesse's Back on FTA: There's some good movies on this weekend, but not many series changes on free-to-air. Friends is back to one episode, repeats Mondays at 7:30pm, followed by new episodes of Jesse. And that's just about it.

The only other things worth noting are an interesting-sounding documentary series called, The Celts, on SBS, Sundays at 7:30pm. And the start of the Paralympics, the Opening Ceremony at 8:30pm Wednesday the 18th, on our ABC.

Deep Space Nine Coming to TV1 (Updated): A treat for Star Trek fans is in store in December with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine coming to TV1, Saturday, 2nd December at 9:30pm (after The Next Generation). In related Star Trek news, TV1 won't be airing Season 2 of The Original Series or Season Three of The Next Generation until early next year (that's the current best guess). Hence we see Star Trek returning to the start of Season One on the 22nd October, and the Saturday timeslot of Star Trek: TNG to the start of Season Two on the 4th November. Also on the 4th November, Xena will continue into Season Two.

9th October, 2000

New seasons on FOX8:

Dharma & Greg33rd October
The Practice48th October
Futurama1 & 214th October
The Simpsons1114th October
The X-Files715th October
Ally McBeal329th October
Earth: Final Conflict22nd November
Highlander: The Raven1November
Third Rock from the Sun3November

5th October, 2000

The Networks are taking the opportunity to adjust their schedules for the rest of the year, now that the Olympics are over. Ratings will continue until November, but most series have reached the end of their seasons, so expect a little bit of mopping up and a few new series in the near future. Some of them might even be good!

Friday nights, Seven has dropped Sabrina and Family Guy for now, but they've picked up Chris Carter's unsucessful, virtual reality series, Harsh Realm, screening at 12:15am. On Ten, meanwhile, The Simpsons is on at 7:30pm, and Xena at 4:00am. Four episodes remain in the season for Xena, plus one that was skipped earlier.

Saturdays seem as devoid of entertainment as ever on FTA (save Yes, Minister for some nostalgia, at 6:30pm on the ABC). Sundays sees Seven drop Dharma & Greg and Will & Grace, while Ten's playing Just Shoot Me! at 7:30pm. This weekend's a new episode (the last of the season), but repeats will follow in subsequent weeks. Just Shoot Me! also retains its Tuesday timeslot, but not Wednesday. This Sunday, Nine is showing the movie, Contact. Although it's not as good as the book and the ending could have been filmed better, it's worth a look for some real science fiction (ie: something other than space-craft blasting each other to bits).

The pattern for Mondays was mostly set this week. Changes next week include the two-part finale of Friends, the start of new episodes of South Park at 8:30pm on SBS, and another new timeslot for It's Like, You Know... on Nine, at 4:20am. Good thing I warmed up my VCR over the Olympics! Rove Live debuts at 9:30pm on Ten.

Nothing much new on Tuesdays, but The Simpsons slots in at 7:30pm on Wednesdays, working together with Friday's timeslot in Season Ten, for now. And don't forget First Wave on Seven at 10:30pm Thursdays.

2nd October, 2000

Well, the Olympics are finally over. And wasn't Seven's coverage of the Closing Ceremony simply atrocious?! We didn't see the flame go out, they cut away from the Harbour Bridge just before every burst of fireworks... Heads must roll! Maybe that will help Sydney-siders get over their post-Olympic depression: abusing broadcasters! Anyway, it's over now, and we can all get some sleep.

There's a few changes on FTA this week, as you've probably noticed. Xena finishes its noon strip today (as it's a public holiday in NSW), then moves to 4:00am Saturday mornings (not sure if that's Friday or Saturday night). Before everyone starts complaining about the timeslot, be thankful it's being shown at all -- time to learn how to set the VCR. I know Ten hasn't been kind to Xena, but knowing that, I'm thankful they're showing it sooner rather than later. There's plenty of examples of shows being treated even worse, a mild one being that Melbourne's still waiting for the last few episodes of Millennium.

Also of note is that Party of Five won't return just yet, the Thursday timeslot filled, instead, by Now & Again. The series only managed a single season in the US, so Ten's trying to get through it as quickly as possible. Ten's also dropped Dilbert, returning to its previous line-ups on Tuesday and Wednesday. Dilbert will continue to appear as an early-evening filler rather than getting a late night timeslot, simply because the show cost them too much to buy. It's a cost they can only recoup during prime-time. Disappointing, I know.

The Season One repeats of Friends are over. Today we get a double from Season Four, followed by the Season Six finale next week. After that, I'm guessing they might come back to Season Four, but don't forget to watch next week.

On Seven, Buffy's back on Monday, Profiler on Wednesday.

Seven has also picked up First Wave, which aired on arena last year. The show is about a secret alien invasion predicted by Nostradamus, and will air on Thursdays at 10:40pm (or thereabouts in coming weeks). Only one guy (and his mates) know about the invasion, so he travels the country, guided by prophecy, fighting the aliens. This is the kind of show that gives back quite a bit so long as you don't expect too much. It's slow-paced, with a Canadian feel, but it explores issues in more depth than, say, The X-Files, and is hence intellectually rewarding. The late timeslot is just about ideal, as it makes for a good story before bed-time.

The weekend should see the return of a number of other shows; I'll update the changes on Thursday.

Just one Foxtel addendum: The Tuesday 8:30pm timeslot for Dharma & Greg will start airing Season Three from tomorrow.

27th September, 2000

Foxtel in October

As I mentioned yesterday, there's lots of changes. I've grouped them by channel, including FOX8, Fox Kids, TV1, arena, thecomedychannel, UKTV and Fox Sports.

FOX8 is revamping much of its line-up. I'll only mention changes that affect the shows I monitor, so if you're into soapies, I advise careful perusal of the Guide. Also be aware that some repeat timeslots have changed. Most shows on FOX8 are continuing from where they left off in September.

The Simpsons Fanfest ends at midnight on the 1st October, but normal programming doesn't resume until 6:00am on the 2nd. The gap is to be filled with a number of one-off episodes, including two Season Five episodes of The X-Files and episodes of Ally McBeal and The Practice (the two-part cross-over, "The Inmates" and "Axe Murderer").

From Monday, 2nd October, Party of Five is stripping at 9:00am weekdays (Season One), and Season Two of The X-Files is stripping at noon weekdays (and will pick up a repeat timeslot at midnight from the 9th October).

In addition to its weekday strip, Third Rock from the Sun is picking up a weeknight timeslot at 9:00pm Tuesdays (repeated 2:50am). Actually, it may have had this before, since both timeslots are picking up mid-season, probably from where they left off.

Buffy hangs on to its Monday and weekend timeslots, but loses Thursdays to Earth: Final Conflict (7:30pm & 1:45am) and Psi Factor.

On Friday, 6th October, FOX8 will air a special entitled, "Behind the Fanfest." I expect this will be a semi-documentary of the Simpsons Fanfest currently running 24 hours a day.

Saturdays see Hercules shifted to 6:00am (also on Sundays), Roar at 7:00am, then The Simpsons by Request at 6:00pm and Season Two of The X-Files at 10:30pm, repeated at 4:15am (just one episode each time).

Sundays: Ally McBeal at 7:30pm (repeated 3:45am), Season Four of The Practice at 8:30pm (repeated 4:30am), Double X-Files at 9:30pm (repeated 2:00am) and Millennium at 11:00pm (no repeat). Note that the X-Files Double has been split again, showing Season Seven episodes at 9:30pm for the first time on cable, followed by Season Four repeats at 10:15pm (roughly).

On Saturday, 14th October, FOX8 has something of a treat for animation fans, with the premieres of Futurama at 6:30pm and Family Guy at 8:00pm. In between will be repeats of King of the Hill at 7:00pm and Season Eleven of The Simpsons at 7:30pm. Sadly, no repeat timeslots for now.

Fox Kids: The only show I watch on Fox Kids is Starship Troopers: The Series, and we're in for a treat in October. Firstly, it's back to a single, new episode each Friday night from the 6th (we've been seeing two repeats during September). Then on Saturday, 7th, Starship Troopers: The Movie screens at 6:30pm (repeated Sunday at noon and the following Saturday at noon). Technically, this is just the next four episodes cut into a single sequence, but it's an event, nonetheless. The following week, we settle into a new pattern, with two episodes at 6:30pm, repeated Sunday from noon and again the following Saturday at noon. We'll be reaching the end of the show's two seasons in no time! As if that weren't enough, Starship Troopers: The Series will also start stripping, right from the beginning, weekdays at 6:00pm from Monday, 16th October. If you haven't started watching this show yet, this is the perfect chance, and I do recommend it.

TV1: This Sunday, 1st October (and only this weekend), the repeats for Star Trek and Star Trek: The Next Generation will be an hour early, at 8:30am and 9:30am, respectively.

From Saturday, 7th October, Xena will move to 7:00am (repeated 4:30am). Xena will also lose its Monday/Tuesday timeslot to Charlie's Angels from 9th October. My guess is it might return in November, but I'll have to confirm that presumption.

arena: Lexx will not air on Monday, 9th October, and will complete its run on Friday, 13th October. Season Three started today.

Meanwhile, Drop the Dead Donkey recommences at 9:30pm, Thursday, 12th October.

thecomedychannel: If you like Australian stand-up comedy, be sure to catch the best of Australia during the Headliners marathon, this Sunday, 1st October, from 8:30am to 8:30pm.

UKTV: The third and fourth seasons of Black Adder will air from 6:30pm Sunday the 1st and 8th October, respectively. Then, from Tuesday, 17th, UKTV will be premiering The Ben Elton Show, Tuesdays at 10:30pm and Sundays at 11:00pm (presumably a repeat of Tuesday's episode). I don't know if this show's any good, but Ben Elton is usually very funny.

Fox Sports: There's a new, half-hour cricket show, premiering on Fox Sports at 7:30pm, Wednesday, 18th October (repeated Thursday at 4:00pm). I don't know any more about it, but it might be worth a look if you're a fan. More certain to be a hit is the ICC Cricket Knockout Tournament, starting Tuesday, 3rd October. The NBL competition (Australian men's basketball) will also start appearing on Fox Sports in October, in case the Olympic basketball has you excited.

That's all folks!

26th September, 2000

I may not have time to update FTA scheduling changes on Thursday, so keep an eye out. I do, however, have my October Foxtel Guide, and was going to point out some of the changes, at least for next week. Unfortunately, I don't have it with me, so I'll have to post another update tomorrow. For now, be aware that there's more scheduling changes to the shows I care about than in any other month over the past year. Most of those are on FOX8, particularly weekend evening line-ups, but other channels are also in on the act. More details soon.

21st September, 2000

A couple of things to note this week. First, Nine is running two hours of Friends on Monday and Tuesday -- all Season One episodes. Second, Nine is again showing three episodes of Farscape, one episode tomorrow at 8:30pm, then two from 8:00pm Saturday, 23rd. I suggest taping it and catching up after the Olympics. :)

A Comment on Seven's Olympics: Apart from the opening ceremony -- which was truly spectacular -- Seven's coverage of the Olympics has simply not been up to scratch. There's two areas where Seven has, in my opinion, stuffed up. The first is its coverage choices, being more jingoistic than Atlanta. The second is its use of computers -- much worse than Atlanta.

The question of coverage is a difficult one, and my main criticisms are the lack of a truly comprehensive wrap-up of the day, and the misuse of pay TV. Initially, each of Seven's three channels were completely isolated from the others, so each continually repeated the same footage of the same sports over and over -- in news, in highlights, in replays. Fortunately, this has changed somewhat, though people without the subscription C7 channels may not have noticed.

Actually, this alludes to the one area in which Seven really has excelled: reacting to viewer feedback. Of the half-dozen suggestions I made to their Olympic hotline (1300-138-777) over the first weekend, four were at least partially implemented two days later. This is phenomenal, and people like Foxtel could really learn from Seven on this one.

This brings me to Seven's use of computers and technology. To all appearances, we're back in the early 90s. Four years have elapsed since Atlanta, suggesting a sixteen-fold increase in technological capabilites, yet Seven's graphics are considerably worse than Atlanta. Note that I'm not talking about their appearance -- rather the lack of information being presented. We should be seeing time clocks always on the screen for team games, scores and other statistics constantly shown, points and time summaries for swimming and gymnastics, etc. Compared to Seven's AFL coverage, the graphics for the Olympics are a disgrace. Again fortunately, some of this has improved, but Seven really missed an opportunity in the Opening Ceremony: zooming maps during the Parade of Nations would have been so much better than commentators trying to understand from their notes where some of the smaller nations were located.

The other big area where the technology has fallen down is in providing swift updates to schedules. Initially, neither the Olympics Hotline nor the website were being told about scheduling changes, and even last night the Hotline had no idea what effect the one-hour delay on C7 Olympics was going to have. In the coverage itself, they're not providing enough scheduling information, and I believe Foxtel still think C7 is running according to the original schedule. On the plus side, the website does now have some details on the overnight highlights schedule, making it possible to watch the Australian basketball games in full, through the magic of the VCR (Seven's been cutting them, both down and completely out).

Incidentally, if C7 were really serious about their coverage, they would have provided six channels rather than two, along with enough up-to-date programming information to help viewers accurately plan their viewing.

On the basketball, none of the Olympics websites I've seen provide any details about how the Finals draws are going to be determined for any of the team sports. On the basketball front, a phone call to Basketball Australia eventually revealed that the quarter finals are not going to be scheduled until we know who's playing; a somewhat dubious decision obviously inspired by television concerns. The draws are going to initially involve a cross-over for the quarter finals, the first team in Pool A playing the fourth in Pool B, 2 vs 3, 3 vs 2 and 4 vs 1, respectively. As I understand it, the semifinals will then involve the winners of the 1st and 3rd of those games playing, and the winners of the 2nd and 4th in the second semi. Once a team is out of medal contention, it simply plays the equivalent-ranked loser for placings. Hence, the last teams in the two pools will play off for 11th and 12th place, the two 5th place teams will play off for 9th and 10th, etc.

I want to finish on a positive note. A lot of people have been talking about Roy and H.G.'s The Dream, but although a relaxing way to end a day's viewing, this is not the best way to get good and concise information. I've been very impressed with Olympics Sunrise, each morning from 6:00am to 8:30am on Seven, both for their overview of the previous day and their fantastic interviews (obviously, I set the VCR and watch it after work).

If you have C7 and like roughly the same sports I do, here's a guide to optimising your TV viewing:
6:00amOlympics Sunrise Record, and watch first thing after work.
1:00pmToday at the Games Useful overview of the morning, don't bother except on weekends.
5:00pmToday at the Games Good overview of the day, but not on weekends.
Also during the dayVarious sports Record anything of interest from C7, but don't bother with Seven.
7:00pmSwimming and Cycling Watch in between other things, but don't make too much effort, preferring team sports during the evening. Also, spend this time catching up on any events you recorded.
11:00pmThe Dream and Swimming Highlights C7 Olympics has full highlights of the day's swimming finals, cutting out all the waiting, though sometimes it starts at midnight. If you've already seen an event, flick across to The Dream for some light entertainment.
OvernightBasketball Don't watch Seven's abbreviated coverage. Opt instead to record the (near-)complete replay of Australia's match on C7 Olympics and watch it the next day. Just be sure not to find out the result before you watch, or you'll lose all the tension.

14th September, 2000

Olympics Changes: Channel Ten seem to be changing their schedule the least, apart from the addition (since the start of this week) of new Xena episodes at noon each day. Actually, it looked like there was a trend to fill the Olympics with "unpopular" science fiction shows, but fortunately that's not happened to the extent it might have done.

Other changes on Ten during the Olympics include the dropping of Good News Week and Party of Five. The Simpsons loses its Sunday timeslot, but gets temporary, half-hour timeslots on Saturday at 8:00pm and Wednesday at 7:30pm. Tuesdays remain largely intact, while Wednesdays have been reshuffled, following The Simpsons with the return of Dilbert at 8:00pm (hooray!) and Just Shoot Me! bumped to 8:30pm; The Panel remains.

On Nine, Farscape returns in a timeslot apparently prone to warping around the schedule unexpectedly; three episodes will air in the week to come, the first tomorrow (Friday) night at 8:30pm, the next two from 7:30pm Saturday. Nine's also keeping Voyager in place, and Friends will play its very first episode next week.

On Seven, it's wall-to-wall Olympics, starting with the Opening Ceremony tomorrow night from 6:30pm. We'll have to see if the bastards cut away to an ad just as the Lithuanian team marches in, as they've done the last couple of times. :)   My advice is to find a full Olympics schedule on the Web (the official site at is probably not a bad place to start), pick the sports you're actually interested in, draw up a grid of when they're on using tables in Word, the set the VCR in the hope they'll actually air. This worked for me in Atlanta, though I'll admit the times there were more friendly for an office worker.

The ABC and SBS seem to be making only small changes to their schedules, though repeats of The Games conclude tonight, and the new episode timeslot on a Monday night (8:00pm) is ceding to Wallace & Gromit, everyone's favourite claymation characters.

Some reminders on Foxtel: A full schedule of FOX8's Simpsons Fanfest marathon appears here. Xena-rama is on TV1 each weekday, running through Season One of Xena from 5:00pm and 11:30pm. And UK TV's holding Black Adder marathons each Sunday night from 6:30pm to 9:30pm, starting this Sunday, 17th, with all of Season One. You might also be interested to see Hugh Jackman (recently a.k.a. Wolverine) in the romantic comedy, Paperback Hero on Showtime from this Saturday at 8:30pm. It's going to be an interesting couple of weeks -- enjoy it!

7th September, 2000

As we approach the Olympics, most stations are rearranging their schedules, trying to fit things in before Seven gets its shot at global ratings. Hence you can expect some anomalies over the next couple of weeks.

I'll start with Channel Nine, where the two-episode season finale of Friends has been bumped till after the Olympics (my guess is the 9th October). Next week, we get the next two episodes in Season Four, followed by the first season pilot on the 18th (not sure after that). The other thing to note on Nine (which I should have mentioned last week) is the return of Caroline in the City, weekdays at 10:00am (not every day, though, due to sports-related pre-emptions). If you're only hearing this now, I'm sorry to say you've missed four episodes, picking up from where Nine last stopped this series.

A more timely alert relates to the return of Xena to Ten, airing at noon weekdays from next Monday, 11th. Obviously, the time-slot's not very friendly, but at least they're new (Season Five) episodes.

There's a few other bits and pieces to look out for, like Good News Week debates, pre-opening ceremony Olympic competition, etc, but that's most easily found without my assistance. Just note that the Emmy's are on Monday, 11th (on Ten).

Also a couple of things to note on Foxtel. First, Starship Troopers scores a double episode tomorrow, so make sure you're watching half an hour earlier. Next Wednesday, 13th September, Party of Five airs an hour later (the repeat similarly) on FOX8 to make way for a double episode of 90210.

On Thursday, 14th September, FOX8 will air a Movie Magic special from 7:30pm to 8:30pm instead of the scheduled programme (which was cancelled some time ago). Buffy will still air at the later-than-normal time of 8:30pm. But Ally McBeal and The Practice will not.

28th August, 2000

Before I get into September's Foxtel schedule, I've updated the episode lists, making some more predictions and removing old airdates. Note that a number of episodes of Mad About You will be skipped in October and November. The one's skipped were played as part of an earlier special, using up one instance, and TV1 is trying to equalise the number of plays they have of each episode.

Foxtel in September:
On thecomedychannel, Almost Perfect premieres on Friday, 1st September, 11:00am and 6:30pm weekdays. Starring Nancy Travis, this was worth a look on FTA a few years ago. On the same channel and day, Season Two of The Games starts up, 7:30am and 8:00pm weekdays. Perfect for those, like me, who got in late.

Meanwhile, The Games is also screening on arena, Thursdays at 8:30pm from the 7th. This is Season One, which will also be picked up by thecomedychannel once arena's done with it.

On FOX8, the only change is the big one: The Simpsons 24 hours a day during the Olympics. All regular programming will be suspended from 4:00pm on Friday, 15th September, resuming at midnight the evening of Sunday, 1st October. However, note that before that, The X-Files Double is airing Season Five episodes, but skipping over Christmas Carol (5X05) and Emily (5X07).

TV1's making the most changes in September, starting with The TV1 Games, most days at 11:00am and 6:00pm from 2nd to 15th September, featuring a selection of the best episodes from some of TV1's shows.

Less ambiguously, from Sunday, 3rd September, Star Trek is picking up an additional timeslot at 7:30pm and 1:30am Sundays. This timeslot will operate in tandem with the current one (7:30pm Saturdays, repeated 9:30am Sundays), effectively getting through the episodes twice as fast.

Then from Monday, 18th to Friday, 29th September, Xena-rama will screen two episodes of Xena each weekday from 5:00pm, repeated 11:30pm. The timeslot will screen Season One from the beginning nearly to the end. The show's other two timeslots will continue to operate independently.

Fox Kids has also decided to double your action, screening double episodes of Starship Troopers: The Series on the 8th, 15th and 22nd at the earlier time of 7:30pm (the repeats will air the following day from 1:30pm). The following week, it's back to single episodes, though the repeat will retain its earlier timeslot.

Finally, UK TV is showing Black Adder marathons, featuring a season at a time (six episodes) from 6:30pm to 9:30pm on a Sunday night. The first two seasons will air on the 17th and 24th September; the other two will presumably follow in October.

24th August, 2000

FTA Footy Has Little Effect: Footy finals are disrupting next week's viewing somewhat, starting with the NRL final this Sunday, and including special editions of The Footy Show in Melbourne on Thursday. Mostly, though, the schedule's pretty stable.

Of particular note is Gogwana tomorrow at 5:30pm on the ABC. If you've never seen this amusing (if crude) claymation series, make an effort to check it out. Also, from the week after next, BackBerner is moving to Monday nights.

More Digital TV Deception: Monday's Four Corners report spread even more misinformation about Digital TV, picking an easy-to-hit target and sticking with it. I found the whole thing painful to watch. What's worse, someone in today's "Green Guide" wrote in having clearly bought the whole thing! My own article is about half-finished -- it's taking a lot more time than I expected.

Foxtel during the Olympics: I received my September Foxtel Guide on Tuesday. I haven't had time to analyse every detail as yet, but I can outline a number of highlights, starting with a reminder that Season Three of Lexx begins stripping next Wednesday at 4:30pm and 4:30am.

In short, thecomedychannel picks up a bunch of new shows and makes some adjustments. The Games will screen on both thecomedychannel and arena. Star Trek gets an additional timeslot, speeding up progress through the episodes. Starship Troopers: The Series scores a couple of double timeslots. And during the Olympics, FOX8 drops everything to screen 24 hours of The Simpsons, TV1 features two episodes of Xena each day, and UKTV screens Black Adder marathons each Sunday.

More details, and updates to screening times, next week.

21st August, 2000

This is kind of late notice, but I hope at least some of you get this in time. Tonight, Four Corners is showing a report on Digital TV at 8:30pm on the ABC. I thoroughly recommend watching this, but be aware that everyone has a very strong agenda on this issue, and no-one is truly representing the long-term interest of the consumer. So be informed, but don't believe everything you hear.

17th August, 2000

FTA seems to be entering the off season, with a number of semi-rating shows returning to our screens. First off, E! News is back on Ten (8:00pm Tuesdays). If it's anything like last year's version, it's hard not to watch but there's not a thing worth seeing. Avoid if possible. At 10:30pm the same day, Seven's bringing back repeat episodes of Buffy (from Season One).

On Wednesday, Profiler's back at 10:30pm on Seven, with a new actress for the leading role. Since I don't watch the show, for me the most important aspect is that there'll be a cross-over with The Pretender ten episodes into the season (entitled, Clean Sweep). Since this is part two and Ten's not currently playing the latter show, taping to watch when they do, seems wise.

Oh, and Ten's pulled The X-Files for now, the season having ended last night.

On Foxtel, one of my readers reports FOX8 have started Psi Factor with the second season. Personally, I lasted about 10 minutes before turning it off.

Oh, blast it! I haven't had any time at all to work on my Digital TV article. Next week, I'm afraid. I'll announce it's eventual arrival on the front page.

10th August, 2000

New Science Fiction: Ten premieres a new SF series next Tuesday at 8:30pm. Called Now & Again, the ads are unconvincing, but it's always worth watching the first couple of episodes of series like this to see if there's any hidden surprises. (One character who appears in the ads is played by the actor for Prince in Lexx.)

FOX8 has already premiered one of its new SF series (actually more fantasy): Roar debuted on Monday night, and I must say I was quite impressed -- I'd forgotten how good this series looked before Ten dropped it from their schedule. What's more, there's only thirteen episodes, so a small commitment. If you missed it, the first episode will air again at 8:00am Saturday morning. Finally, Psi Factor starts tomorrow night on FOX8 (8:30pm & 2:30am). This looks decidely, well, bad. I'll be watching, but probably not for long.

The Real Story on Digital TV: Melbourne readers would have noticed a highly derogatory article about digital TV in today's Age "Green Guide", written by Ross Warneke, TV critic and ratings analyst extraordinaire. I've been meaning to write an article about Digital TV for the website for some time, but it's been in the queue somewhere after restructuring the whole site. But you can't be topical without also being timely. I'd like to say I've already written the article, but the truth is it's getting ever longer. Therefore, I'll post it next week. My basic point, though, is that politics and a lack of knowledge have resulted in lots of misinformation, leading to bad consumer response and decisions about HDTV that will be to the significant long-term detriment of the TV-viewing public.

Lots of cricket: As you might know, the South African cricket team is in town next week, playing three matches at Colonial Stadium. Nine will be screening the matches live (probably all three, including in Melbourne -- certainly the first). What's more, Fox Sports will be screening the complete matches the day after they're played (in case you missed something) and one-hour highlights packages (a bit short, but good if you wanted to know what happened without watching the whole thing). To whet our appetites, they'll be starting with highlights from the first three matches of the Challenge Series, played in South Africa in April. That starts 4:00am next Tuesday night, so set your VCRs.

A note on Mad About You repeats: It turns out that TV1 rearranged their Mad About You repeats at the start of August. So now, each episode first airs at 6:30am, then repeats at noon, both on the same day. Sorry for not picking this up earlier.

3rd August, 2000

Turns out the info I reported last week about FOX8's Sunday repeats wasn't exactly followed on the weekend, a result of the biographical special (whoever it was about) being repeated and running over time. The moral is: take care. Official word is that the Guide is wrong, but that may vary.

FTA viewers should note that, although Sarah leaves for New York (and her own spin-off series) on Party of Five next week, Ten will not be screening Time of Your Life, at least not for a while. Plot idiosyncracies should therefore be expected. Also, Quantum is back on the ABC, 8:30pm Thursdays, from next week. And Sex and the City is taking a rest next week (at the least) -- I won't be mentioning this show again until it comes out of repeats.

On Foxtel, viewers beware all the changes. I'll particularly flag the new, double timeslots of Ellen on FX, Saturdays at the later time of 11:00am. Then Caroline in the City, also on FX, weekends at 6:00pm. Roar premieres on FOX8 next Monday, at 9:30pm and 3:15am. Finally, Third Rock from the Sun at 6:30am weekdays on FOX8, followed by Dharma & Greg at 7:30am.

Happy Second Birthday to Me! Tomorrow, The Oz TV Gazette turns two. Sadly, it hasn't changed a whole lot in that time, but I do have some plans -- if only I could find time to implement them, in between all the TV I watch! (Ah, the irony.)

28th July, 2000

Here's the detail on the post-midnight changes on Sunday night. These have been in operation for the last two weeks and will continue throughout August.

0:30Ally McBeal
1:30Double X-Files
3:30Jerry Springer
5:00Battle Dome

I hope no-one was inconvenienced by the delay in getting this information.

27th July, 2000

First note that on Nine, It's Like, You Know... seems to have its own timeslot on Thursday nights, after all. Meanwhile, on Ten, Party of Five returns tonight at 8:30pm.

On to Foxtel, and a warning about FOX8 after midnight Sunday. For the past couple of weeks, Ally McBeal and The X-Files have both screened about 45 minutes early. I'm trying to get further info on this, but in the meantime, be aware you need to set your VCR somewhat earlier (and run it later, just in case).

On TV1, JAG is being advertised as "Coming Soon", though I didn't notice it in the August Foxtel Guide (of course, I might have missed it). Also, if you're following Mad About You, it turns out TV1 gave me the wrong information (I apologise for not picking it up earlier). In fact, the 6:30am timeslot is a repeat of the previous day's episode.

Finally, a big welcome to any new visitors from the "Highlander Downunder" fan club. I recently joined up, and was able to point some people this way. Hope you like the site!

24th July, 2000

More Foxtel Changes in August: Before I start, note that the Friday X-Files stream finished last week, making way for Psi Factor in August. Further into the month, Lexx concludes Season Three on arena on Sunday, 13th August, but returns on the 30th, stripping the same season, Monday to Friday at 4:30pm and 4:30am. Drop the Dead Donkey also returns to arena, Season Five repeating at 8:00pm Thursdays from the 24th August. The only other thing to note is the conclusion of Ellen on FOX8 on Tuesday, 15th August. At that point, FOX8 will have shown every episode, in the correct order -- something even the Americans cannot claim.

More Detail on August FOX8 Changes: Here's some additional detail on the changes I mentioned earlier on FOX8.

  • First, the two Buffy timeslots (Mondays and Thursdays) will be running together, hence airing two episodes each week, each repeated after midnight.
  • Highlander Seasons Two to Five are not currently licensed, so the show is to be rested for a while. I'll let you know when it's about to return.
  • Morning episodes of Third Rock from the Sun (6:30am) will start at the beginning of Season One.
  • Morning episodes of Dharma & Greg (7:30am) will be the same episode airing that evening at 6:30pm.
  • Only one episode of Roar will air each week, at 9:30pm Monday. It will be repeated twice, at 3:15am Tuesday and 8:00am Saturday.
  • On FX, Caroline in the City (6:00pm weekends) will start with Season One and should continue into later seasons without interruption.
  • For Simpsons changes, check out my Simpsons News page.

21st July, 2000

More info on what's happening on TV1 in August. First up, the Friday stream of Star Trek: The Next Generation (7:00pm) returns to the start of Season One on the 4th August.

Second, the Monday stream of Xena (7:00pm and 1:00pm) also returns to the start of Season One, on the 14th August. The new stream of Xena (Saturdays at 8:00am and 1:30am) kicks in half-way through Season One, with episode twelve (Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts). The reason for this is they only have a limited number of airings of each episode available to them.

However -- and this is an exclusive -- TV1 will be running two special weeks of Xena in September, from the 18th to the 29th. Two episodes will air each weekday, from 5:00pm to 7:00pm, covering all of Season One. If you're like me and have missed a couple of episodes in the past, this will be the perfect opportunity to catch up. Or if you're a huge Xena fan, you've now got lots of time to prepare. Note that this is during the Olympics, so some schedule juggling might be needed. (I'm not sure where the other two episodes will fit in, but we'll find out when the September Foxtel Guide comes out.)

Foxtel Picks Up C7 Olympics: In other news, Foxtel have negotiated with Channel Seven to carry C7's two Olympics channels! This is great news for sports fans, since Foxtel already carries the best cable sports coverage in Australia (I know that's arguable, particularly if you're into AFL), and the only other option would have been to pay $300 for an OptusVision connection and be forced onto a 12 month contract. Ironically, with this change, OptusVision is suddenly less attractive than Foxtel (I believe) if you don't currently have cable and want to pick up the pay TV Olympics coverage, so OV isn't doing themselves any favours with their excessive contract conditions. Regardless, I'm happy again, because I love watching Olympic competition -- but I can't stand Seven's FTA focus on Australians only.

20th July, 2000

Lots of scheduling changes to report, both on Foxtel and free-to-air. I'll start with the latter.

Ten, Nine, Seven, ... This weekend sees the welcome return of Xena to Channel Ten, airing two episodes on Saturday from 7:30pm. On Sunday, Dharma & Greg (Seven, 7:30pm) is going into repeats, from the beginning of Season Two. Just Shoot Me (Ten, Tue 7:30pm) is also in repeats. Next Thursday, Party of Five returns to Ten for its sixth (and final) season at 8:30pm. And another episode of It's Like, You Know... will air on Nine next Thursday, at 11:30pm.

Melbourne's Millennium: I spoke to Seven Melbourne about returning Millennium to our screens, now that Buffy and Angel are over for the year. It turns out, it's very much in their minds, because it rated surprisingly well last summer, despite the late timeslot. After the bad ratings of the previous run, they were caught off guard and hence didn't have enough space in the schedule to run to the show's conclusion. Although it's not likely to return before the Olympics, look for Millennium in a suitably late timeslot shortly thereafter.

Changes on the Big 8: There's lots to report here, but I don't yet have much in the way of episode-related specifics. Starting generically, all of the weekday post-midnight timeslots have been rejigged, right from the first of the month. Basically, repeat timeslots have been pushed back to make way for strips of Cold Squad and Silk Stalkings. Weekday mornings will also change, though not until the 7th August. The line-up from 6:00am will then be: MASH, Third Rock from the Sun, The Nanny, Dharma & Greg, and The Simpsons at 8:00am. To make room for the changes, The Simpsons loses one of the three distinct episodes that were showing each weekday.

Thursday nights are gaining an extra episode of Buffy from 7:30pm (repeated 1:45am). I believe this will operate together with the Monday night timeslot, showing two episodes (both repeated once) each week.

Two new shows debut in August on FOX8: Roar (Mondays at 9:30pm and 3:15am) and Psi Factor (taking over from X-Files Originals, Fridays at 8:30pm and 2:30am). Both shows start in the second week of August. Roar also scores a Saturday 8:00am timeslot, which I'll find out more about later.

Finally, Highlander is replaced by The Crow, weekends at 3:00pm, from Sunday, 6th August. Perhaps FOX8 only had the rights to the first season of Highlander remaining -- I'll have more to say about this when I get more details.

TV1 Gets in on the Act: Xena gets an extra timeslot, Saturdays at 8:00am, repeated 1:30am. I'm not yet sure which season will air.

Caroline on FX: Last, but not least (for now), Caroline in the City is putting in an appearance on FX, 6:00pm Saturdays and Sundays. Season One, I expect.

18th July, 2000

It is a turbulent time for the free-to-air networks. Some series are coming to an end, others are returning from hiatus, while still others have episodes left to run. What's more, with the Olympics looming -- a two-week interruption to normal programming, it's been decided -- time pressures are keenly felt. Fortunately, it's business as usual on Foxtel. :)

Seriously, Seven (in Melbourne) is running repeats of Buffy, picking up (I think) from where they stopped earlier in the year. Also on Seven, we saw the season finale of Third Rock From the Sun Sunday a week ago, then the finale of Dharma & Greg two days ago, followed by the mid-season return of Will & Grace. It's just possible we'll be seeing repeats of Dharma & Greg from next weekend.

While I'm writing about Seven, I should mention that despite my misgivings about the first episode of Family Guy, I've actually been quite impressed with subsequent instalments; it really is a very funny show! I particularly like the rapid-fire flashbacks.

Meanwhile, Nine has pulled Caroline in the City's morning strip mid-season. Conspiracy theorists might suppose it's to prevent Foxtel picking up the most recent episodes, but it's probably just an innocent change to the schedule. Sadly, the result is disappointing either way. It's not clear when the remaining episodes will air. Nine have also pulled It's Like, You Know... on Thursdays, suggesting it was a once-off filler rather than an actual timeslot allocation. Disappointing, again, is that the episode which did screen last week wasn't the next in the sequence by my reckoning, suggesting the series has been used as unannounced filler a lot (although I'm having trouble confirming this). Nine again makes it difficult for fans of shows that aren't overly popular. Ironically, the show was described in The Green Guide as an L.A. version of Seinfeld, and I liked it a hell of a lot more than the New York original.

Of course, Nine rarely treats popular shows any better, but they're making something of an exception with Sex and the City. Last night, we saw the very first episode repeated; the second season finale will air next week, followed by episode two. The reason for delaying the finale is amazingly sensible: they knew Celebrity Who Wants to be a Millionaire would run late. Congratulations, Nine! If you missed Sex and the City the first time around, it's worth watching the repeats -- it's a good laugh, but probably not worth a second viewing.

More changes to report, I'm sure, on Thursday.

Incidentally, I've started watching The Games, Mondays at 8:00pm on the ABC. After hearing reports that the first season uncannily predicted many of the scandals that arose for SOCOG in real life, I thought I'd check it out. It's too early to tell about John Clarke's further precognitive powers, but it's full marks for humour! The style is dark and subtle, but very sharp and not at all obscure (that's my way of saying it's better than Frontline). Thoroughly recommended.

Addendum: It's been pointed out to me that the episode of Ally McBeal that aired a couple of weeks ago (the musical) was the last in the season. I apologise for not noticing this sooner -- I've been working from an old print-out that had spaces for more episodes. So, it's possible Seven will bring back Ally as repeats, but we won't see new episodes (Season Four) until around February next year.

6th July, 2000

A few more changes in our FTA schedules next week, including the pre-emption of Dharma & Greg by Third Rock From the Sun on Sunday, and Ally McBeal by The Practice on Monday, both for double episodes. The difference is, Ally probably won't return the following week, and probably not until after the Olympics.

On Nine, Voyager returns on Tuesday night, but more exciting is the return of It's Like, You Know... on Thursday at 11:00pm on Nine. I really liked this comedy and was sad to hear of its cancellation in the US. Luckily, Nine still has some catching up to do.

I was less impressed with The Family Guy on Friday. I admit it was very funny and had some great gimicks (like the baby's mind control ray), but it was so horribly, dreadfully American that it really took all the fun out of it. I apologise to American readers, but middle-American values just don't play well in Australia. On the other hand, the reviewer in the Green Guide didn't notice at all, so perhaps I'm on my own.

Expect more changes in the schedules over the next couple of weeks. However, I won't be able to update next week, so pay attention to your local guides. I'll be back around the 18th July.

Australian TV News Archive: First Half, 2000.

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Last Updated: 13-February-2001