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Australian TV News
Second Half, 2002

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29th December, 2002

Sorry for the late update. Unfortunately, next week's update will be missed entirely.

I hope no-one missed the Farscape double episode last night. It looks like Nine's trying to get through this series as fast as possible before ratings return, so keep an eagle eye on those guides. The coming week has episodes scheduled for 10:00pm Tuesday and 9:30pm Thursday. Otherwise, we seem to be pretty much back to normal on FTA -- even on New Year's Eve, for the most part.

On a technical note, I've finally had time to set up some JavaScript across most pages. Unfortunately, that means that if your browser doesn't support JavaScript, you won't be able to see most of the navigation links. If there's any problems, please let me know at my new email address: . The old address still exists on some pages, but won't work any more.

Foxtel in January

arena seems to feature the most changes in January, the best of which is the coming of Friends. That actually kicks off on New Year's Day with all of Season One airing between noon and 9:30pm. Quite the day of hang-over comedy on Foxtel, flicking freely between The Simpsons, Red Dwarf and Friends.

The next day, arena will start stripping Friends, Monday to Friday at 9:00am, 7:30pm and 11:30pm. Unfortunately, I don't have time to monitor this stream in any detail. I will try to pick up season starts, but if you're after a particular episode, you're best off looking at Foxtel's website.

arena will also air a La Femme Nikita marathon on Monday, 27th.

TV1: From the 6th to 10th January, TV1 will be airing Science Fiction movies at midnight, somewhat pre-empting the Sci-Fi Sector and pushing back at least one repeat timeslot.

On Saturday, 11th, all of the Star Trek sequence will be moved around to make space for The Making of Star Trek: Nemesis at 8:30pm and 11:15pm. The following week, all of the timeslots will be slightly adjusted again, this time more permanently. So take care to note the earlier starting times of Voyager, Deep Space Nine, etc. Xena will air five minutes late on Sunday, 19th.

FOX8: Two main things to note. First, Angel will be airing as double episodes on Saturday's throughout January, pre-empting Buffy. However, Buffy gets its own back with Slayerfest 5 over the Australia Day weekend, noon to 6:00pm on Saturday 25th, Sunday 26th and Monday 27th.

thecomedychannel: I just noticed that Caroline in the City is airing at 2:00pm weekdays.

That's all for now. I'll have more in a week and a half or so. In the meantime, I hope you all had a happy Christmas and enjoy a fun New Year!

19th December, 2002

Christmas inevitably brings changes to our TV schedules. Next week on the Networks, Stargate SG-1, Friends, Boston Public, Ally McBeal, The Simpsons and Just Shoot Me! are all pre-empted, amongst others. But Futurama is back on Seven next Thursday (10:25pm), and Nine unexpectedly brings us Season Three of Farscape, Thursday the 26th at 9:30pm. This is almost the perfect timeslot for the show, and brings hope that we might see episodes in full (at least until ratings start up in February).

Incidentally, I keep forgetting to mention the impending arrival of Friends on arena, weeknights at 7:30pm from Monday, 6th January.

I also managed to figure out what happened to Xena on TV1. The original intention was, indeed, to start Season Five in December. However, changes to the summer schedule and promotions necessitated a rethink. The current plan is to keep the Sunday timeslot running as it is now and reintroduce the Monday timeslot with Season Five in February. Unfortunately, that will mean the transition from Season Four is considerably less smooth than originally planned.

18th December, 2002

Melbourne cricket fans (I assume there's at least a couple in my readership) would have noticed Nine fail to show scheduled highlights after Sunday's match at the MCG. Once upon a time, Nine would show these after every match, but for a couple of years, now, they've only featured as a sort of stop-gap for the ACB's policy of not allowing a match to be broadcast in the city it's played unless there's a sell-out (not very likely at the MCG). Last year, the poor visual quality of those highlights suggested they were being produced on inferior VHS tape. This year, it seems even fewer resources are available.

In perhaps my first piece of real journalism, I was able to put together a more concrete picture of what actually happened.

Live coverage ceased in Melbourne just after 4:30pm. Nine Programming claimed the next day that a "technical problem" was detected with the highlights before 5:00pm and the timeslot rescheduled. At 12:15am, when the highlights were meant to air, Walker, Texas Ranger hit the airwaves and Nine's phones started ringing off the hook with complaints. I eventually got through around 1:00am and was told by Nine security only that the programme seemed to have been rescheduled and probably wouldn't air that night -- something I'd already figured out for myself.

This is where the story gets a bit murky. Originally, it appeared most likely that the normal process for delivering highlights was somehow disrupted (perhaps someone forgot to press record on their VHS machine), and Nine refused to commit the necessary man-power to overcome the problem. This interpretation is supported by a conversation with Fox Sports, whose representative suggested that all of the equipment and footage necessary to assemble highlights is available at the ground if systems at the studio fail, so it becomes simply a matter of finding the staff to put the highlights together. In other words, there is no technical excuse.

It now appears that the situation is even worse. Nine has officially cancelled all broadcasts of cricket highlights. It was no technical problem detected at 5:00pm, but rather a management decision. It seems that Melbourne may be the only city where highlights have been shown in recent times, and Wide World of Sports felt there was no longer good enough reason (presumably financial) to put together a highlights package.

The thing that really gets me about this is Nine's duplicity. There was no announcement of the scheduling change, their own reception staff were not told, and there was no apology during the next match (or at any other time). When I called Nine for comment, I was given three different pseudo-explanations from three different people before finally reaching someone with more substantial details. Still no apology, though.

There's one final piece to this puzzle. Fox Sports have been trying to get the rights to broadcast cricket highlights from Australian matches for over two seasons. Nine has, to date, refused. Although not an ideal solution due to pay TV's limited availability, surely it would be better for cricket if Fox Sports were given the go-ahead? And if Nine values the highlights so little, what reason do they have not to give up something worthless to them?

Fox Sports has repeatedly shown a solid commitment to cricket broadcasting, above and beyond purely commercial considerations, introducing their own weekly cricket show and airing tours of only specialised interest (India in New Zealand, for example). I believe they deserve the support of the ACB and the Australian cricket-viewing public in securing rights to the highlights.

Shame on you, Nine.

12th December, 2002

The Rock Eisteddfod final is on Ten, Saturday night at 6:30pm -- always a lot of fun. Nine has the making of The Two Towers (cleverly titled Return to Middle Earth) on Sunday night at the premium time of 10:45pm. On Friday, The X-Files is perhaps more accurately listed this week as airing at 11:40pm on Ten. Voyager is half an hour earlier on Tuesday, though cricket throughout the day could shift that time either way. Just Shoot Me! is back into repeats. And Seven has shown its commitment to the superb Futurama by dropping it from Thursdays after only two weeks.

In other words, lots of small changes from our ever-consistent networks. On the plus side, there's lots of cricket! (That may be a matter of opinion...)

7th December, 2002

I hope no-one missed The X-Files last night on Ten. It didn't help that it aired an hour after it was scheduled. In theory, though, Ten's moved the timeslot to Friday nights, scheduled somewhere between 10:30pm and 11:00pm, but likely to air much later.

Ten's not the only one to be reshuffling timeslots. Seven's moved Stargate SG-1 to Saturdays at 8:30pm, starting tonight.

Also worth a reminder is the premiere of Queen of Swords on FOX8 tomorrow night at 11:00pm.

In other FOX8 news, it seems Andromeda may continue straight on into the second season. Certainly, the first episode will air, as the conclusion to a cliff-hanger, but it's possible further episodes are not yet available.

Finally, I've discovered what Foxtel has in store for New Year's Day. FOX8 is running a Simpsons marathon, TV1 is showing pilot episodes of some of their shows, and UK TV is continuing with their Red Dwarf marathon from the night before. All good hang-over viewing!

28th November, 2002

There hasn't been much to report the last couple of weeks, but that all changes now. First, free-to-air, but don't forget to read further down for all the changes on Foxtel in December.

Tomorrow is the last episode of The Glass House on the ABC for the year. Saturday, Ten's pre-empting The X-Files. Monday, Nine's doing the same for Friends.

Tuesday's when we see real changes, starting with the premiere of Mr Bean Animated at 8:00pm on the ABC. Then Seven screens new episodes of Boston Public at 8:30pm (moving from Thursdays) and Ally McBeal at 9:30pm (moving from Mondays).

Wednesday sees the return of The Practice (8:30pm on Seven), though it's only mid-Season Three repeats. Ten's resumption of new, Season Six, episodes of Just Shoot Me! at 8:00pm is for real, however, if somewhat belated.

Thursday, despite pre-empting Stargate SG-1 again (in Melbourne), Seven's playing catch-up as well, resuming Season Four of Will & Grace with two episodes from 9:30pm. They're probably feeling the pressure from arena (on Foxtel), who've been happily stripping Season Three. Seven's missed the boat on Futurama, however. It's nice to see them finally showing Season Three to the general public (two episodes from 10:25pm), but the entire Season's been on Foxtel for over a year. Of course, if you're not lucky enough to have cable, you might feel it's unfair for Foxtel to get these episodes first, but keep in mind that it's entirely Seven's own fault. They've had access to the episodes all along, simply choosing not to show them. A shame, for such a superb series. (I hear Season One is now available on DVD!)

Foxtel in December

TV1: Most exciting is the arrival of Season Two of both Babylon 5 (Mondays at 11:00pm & 3:10am from the 16th December) and Stargate SG-1 (Thursdays at 11:00pm, 3:10am & 7:30pm Fri, starting the 5th December).

Xena moves to Sundays from this weekend (6:30pm & around 1:20am, the exact time of the repeat depending on the length of the Groovy Movie), but surprisingly doesn't move into Season Five, instead reverting to early Season Four (where it left off before jumping forward in November). Surrounding rearrangements mean Mad About You will no longer air on Sundays.

FOX8: On Monday, 2nd December, Seven Days premieres at 8:30pm, largely unannounced. More exciting (at least for Highlander fans) is the arrival of Queen of Swords on Sunday, 8th December at 11:00pm. Many of the talented production staff and some of the actors from Highlander moved on to this series after that show concluded, and it's certainly worth a look. From what I've heard, there's some great characters and great sword fighting.

On Monday, 16th, Simpsons Summerfest kicks off, 8:00am to 10:30am, Monday to Friday, screening 5 episodes each day. That's followed by even more Simpsons on Christmas Day, with five Christmas episodes in The Simpsons Christmas Special (7:00pm to 9:30pm, repeated 3:30am to 6:00am). That same day, the X-Files and Buffy strips will both be screening out-of-sequence, Christmas episodes.

There's three holiday pre-emptions listed in the December Guide: Buffy and Angel on the 25th, and Farscape on the 31st. But I don't expect New Year's Day to be wholly ordinary, either.

UK TV: Fawlty Towers is the Christmas viewing of choice, with the show's two seasons screening on the evenings of the 24th and 25th, respectively (incidentally pre-empting one episode of Blake's 7). Then get ready for lots of Red Dwarf on New Year's Eve, the eight seasons running in reverse order, just to confuse you.    :)

Christmas: I've mentioned Christmas arrangements for a couple of channels, but most are poised to do something special on Christmas Day, New Year's Day, and in some cases, the respective Eve's. Check your Foxtel Guide if you're likely to be near the box.

One final thing. Thanks to Karen for pointing out that my Season Nine X-Files dates were accidentally a day out. Sadly, mistakes like that propagate and can be difficult to detect in my current, Excel-based system. I'd better get to work on the upgrade!

10th November, 2002

New episodes of South Park premiere on SBS tomorrow night at 8:30pm, back in its old timeslot. Saturday repeats will also continue at 9:00pm.

Meanwhile, tennis pre-empts Ally McBeal and Boston Public on Seven next week.

On FOX8, the X-Files strip is back to Season Three tomorrow, kicking off with Anasazi (2X25).

1st November, 2002

Double episodes seem to be a short-lived experiment that's now been aborted on the Networks. Boston Public screened only a single episode yesterday, at 9:30pm, and the same is expected next week. The X-Files, pre-empted completely the week after an excited announcer proclaimed "only six weeks to go!", returns tomorrow with a lone episode at 10:20pm (which is actually a much better time for me!). And Voyager's been officially shifted to after Nightline on Tuesdays (Nine, 11:00pm). Of course, the cricket starts up next Thursday, though Nine's priority on "news" will safely keep it from interfering with their schedule, reliably truncating the final overs. Oh, and Band of Brothers wrapped on Monday -- an excellent series about the little-known, final days of the Second World War in Europe.

Foxtel in November

FOX8: Surprisingly little to report, with the main changes involving new seasons rather than new timeslots. Nonetheless, The Simpsons picks up a new repeat timeslot at 1:00am Saturday night (repeating the 6:00pm episode), starting tomorrow, while the Earth: Final Conflict repeat moves to 2:15am tomorrow night. The weekday repeat timeslot for Buffy has already moved forward 15 minutes, to midnight (somewhat unannounced).

On Thursday, 7th November, That 70s Show returns to its first episode, while Two Guys and a Girl and Dharma & Greg disappear entirely, replaced by single-season unknowns, Oh Grow Up and Titus (the former looks amusing).

Season Thirteen of The Simpsons premieres this Sunday at 8:00pm and 3:00am, with a Hallowe'en episode, appropriately enough. We'll have to wait until Wednesday, 20th for Season Six of Buffy and Season Three of Angel, but this still beats the DVD releases.

TV1: Tomorrow at 5:30pm, Mad About You goes right back to the pilot; in case you've forgotten, this stream includes 5:30pm Saturday and Sunday, with a 1:50am repeat on Sunday night, though either or both timeslots are frequently pre-empted.

Xena jumps to but a few episodes from the end of Season Four on Monday, presumably in anticipation of a Season Five premiere (it's nice of TV1 to give us a bit of continuity, especially as these two seasons are intricately connected). But it loses its repeat timeslot.

Deep Space 9 reaches the end of Season One in its 11:50pm strip, screening the last two episodes concurrently on Thursday, 7th. Total Recall is pre-empted for the next three weeks, but returns on the evening of the 28th. The following Monday (11th November), Babylon 5 moves into a double strip, screening two episodes each Monday to Thursday night from 11:50pm. That done, Season Three of Star Trek: TNG picks up the strip on the 28th November, bringing it back to just one episode each day.

ST: TNG also gets a whole weekend to itself, screening all of Season Three and Four from 8:30pm on Friday, 22nd November to 3:30pm on Sunday, 24th. Deep Space 9 wraps Season Three on Saturday, 9th, then goes back to the start of Season Three again.

UK TV: Next Saturday, the 9th, Red Dwarf changes timeslots, subsequently screening at 8:30pm Saturdays, repeated 11:30pm Sundays, as it moves into Season Seven. A corrollary is that there won't be a Wednesday screening next week.

And that's pretty much it for Foxtel in November!

25th October, 2002

Huge news for FOX8 viewers: the watermark's been fixed! After nearly 3 years of colour clashes and obscured detail, FOX8 has gone back to a colourless, nearly see-through watermark!

I know many people don't care or don't notice, but for those of us who do, this is a very big deal, as the watermark can be very obtrusive. If you're one of those people, call up Foxtel and thank them for the change!

Only one thing to report on FTA: no X-Files this weekend. Oh, and Seven in Melbourne is screening the episode of Stargate SG-1 that they skipped, next week.

18th October, 2002

Nothing to really report on FTA, but there's an extra episode of The Simpsons this Sunday at 7:30pm (and 2:30am) on FOX8, allowing a move into new, Season Thirteen episodes a week earlier (2nd November). New-to-pay episodes of Buffy and Angel are also coming to FOX8, starting Wednesday, 20th November. Oh, and the extra, Daylight Savings-inspired episode of Angel next weekend seems to have been a misprint.

13th October, 2002

My apologies for not updating the last two weeks. A computer upgrade turned into something of a nightmare and I only recovered my Internet access a few days ago. Here's most of what I missed:

On FTA, Voyager has replaced Enterprise on Tuesday nights, and the second season of Boston Public has started up on Seven, Thursdays at 8:30pm (double episodes). Why do I get the feeling the Networks are trying to get rid of a few shows, now that the footy's over?

Foxtel in October

Lots happening on Foxtel in October, although some of it is quite subtle.

UK TV: I just have to start with the big news: Blake's 7 is back on UK TV! With three episodes a week (at midnight on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights), this is a great opportunity to see some truly classic, British science fiction -- I haven't seen the early episodes myself, yet! Just one tip from the last time UK TV had this series: it can take a couple of episodes to get used to the 1970s pace of the series. Thereafter, it's well worth watching.

FOX8: The other big news is the coming of Farscape Season Two to FOX8. This Tuesday, FOX8 will air the last two episodes of Season One from 7:30pm, before Season Two settles into a regular, 8:30pm Tuesday timeslot. After Nine's unforgivable mistreatment of this show, it'll be nice to see it intact. So perhaps I shouldn't mention that only the lack of a repeat timeslot mars an otherwise perfect situation.

Over the weekend just passed, Foxtel have resynchronised some previously independent streams of a number of shows. From what I understand of TV rights, this makes a lot of sense, as any episode can be repeated for "free" within 24 hours of an initial screening. The result is that the Saturday afternoon (4:00pm) timeslot of The Pretender has jumped ahead to line up with the 1:30am timeslot that night, Earth: Final Conflict (Saturday, 5:00pm) has gained a repeat at 5:00am, Futurama at 8:30am Saturday is now a repeat of the previous Sunday's episode, and there's some changes to The Simpsons I haven't quite figured out. The Saturday morning timeslot of Dharma & Greg (7:30am) has also jumped ahead, into Season Four.

Finally, FOX8 is restarting the first season of Boston Public in The Practice's old timeslot, 10:00pm and 5:00am Sundays. The first episode airs tonight.

TV1: All of the 11:00pm weekday shows now have 3:10am repeat timeslots, though Stargate SG-1 also keeps its 7:30pm Friday repeat, as well as gaining a brand new timeslot at 11:30pm and 4:40am Saturday nights, starting back at the beginning yesterday.

arena actually picked up Season Three of Will & Grace about a month ago, but I kind of missed it. This week is the second week of the second time through, Monday to Friday at 9:30am, 8:00pm and 11:00pm.

thecomedychannel: Lots of rearrangements, including the arrival of Third Rock From the Sun and Family Guy, and Dilbert being moved to Fridays at 8:30pm and Saturdays at 3:00pm (not sure if it's the same episode). There's other changes, too.

Fox Sports: With the Australian cricket season looming, Inside Cricket returned last Thursday (7:30pm, repeated variously the next day). One wonders if the astonishing two-day Test just completed will provide enough fodder to fill the next show!

Hallmark: I'd heard that Hallmark were looking to expand into series that complement their telemovies, and now it's happened. Their weekend line-up includes Party of Five at 11:00am and 7:30pm Saturday and Sunday, two episodes each weekend. They're currently at the end of Season Two, but I don't know how many seasons they have rights to.

Daylight Saving: I've found the Foxtel Guide to be a great reminder of the coming and going of Daylight Saving. This time around, on Saturday night, the 26th October, we get a bonus screening of Angel and lose the repeat of Star Trek: TNG.

26th September, 2002

The Networks seem to be keen on double episodes of science fiction next week, so it's worth checking your local guide. The X-Files returns to Ten on Saturday, the 8:30pm to 10:30pm timeslot annoyingly clashing with TV1's Sci-Fi Sector (this is what repeat timeslots are for, in case you were wondering -- well done to TV1: you can catch it all repeated from 1:10am on your VCR). Later that night, Smack the Pony returns to the ABC at 11:10pm -- good, adult comedy, though it's only repeats.

No Friends on Monday (new eps should return in February), and Band of Brothers is at the later time of 9:45pm. New eps of The Simpsons are back next week -- Monday at 7:30pm on Ten -- as is Enterprise, at 10:45pm Tuesday on Nine. But after just two weeks, Seven is already pre-empting Stargate SG-1 next Thursday.

For sports-lovers, it's finals time. The AFL Grand Final is on Saturday (Ten lists it at 2:00pm), the NRL preliminary finals are on Saturday and Sunday (only the latter is live -- Nine in Melbourne has it from 3:00pm), and Australia play Sri Lanka in the ICC Champions' Trophy Semi-Final tomorrow night from 6:25pm; the Final, against India, will be on Sunday at the same time. You can be excused for not knowing this huge tournament is on, as only Foxtel have dared so much as mention it -- even ABC Radio have eschewed rights. Of course, personally, I'm much happier watching this without Nine or Seven's obsession with ads after every over!

Finally, the general TV part of the website has been fully updated, so all airdates are now current. Many of the episode links point to GEOS, which is about to move to a new domain, but no problems are expected. More details after the move.

17th September, 2002

Hi again, all. Great to see you found me again.

Sorry about the over-long break: there's always so much to get done. For now, I'm only reactivating the news page, so I'm afraid the airdates are not always going to be accurate. Luckily, many of these shows are listed at GEOS, which is up to date.

The big news for Melbourne viewers is that Stargate SG-1 is back on our screens this Thursday, 19th September, at 7:30pm! Seven will be picking up from the middle of Season Four, where they left us. Now that the AFL has moved on, let's hope we can catch up to other states. You might even consider giving Seven a call and asking them to make it a priority...

For Foxtel subscribers, a couple of new series started up on the weekend. Season Three of Earth: Final Conflict kicked off again on FOX8, Saturday at 5:00pm. The comedy, Grosse Point, premiered on Sunday at 7:30pm (repeated 2:30am), also on FOX8 (it's a behind-the-scenes satire on the soapy-making process).

The next three weekends, TV1 is airing Cheers marathons, indirectly pre-empting Stargate SG-1, but not Saturday night's Sci-Fi Sector. Stargate SG-1 will be back on the 10th October.

Earlier in the month, Roswell premiered on FOX8, Mondays at 7:30pm and 5:00pm, from the 2nd September.

More news soon.

Australian TV News Archive: First Half, 2002.

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Last Updated: 14-October-2003