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24th June, 1999
I can't believe June is nearly gone. I guess I've been watching so much cricket (and getting so little sleep), the time has just flown by. Nonetheless, pretty soon I should be putting up a "July in Foxtel" item, as soon as I receive my Foxtel Guide. In the meantime, I can give you a bit of a preview.
Mad About You: The Web has finally caught up with the end of the last season of Mad About You, and I've updated my episode list appropriately. Meanwhile, TV1 has skipped three episodes (Mad About You parts 1 and 2, and Just My Dog) which should have aired Monday to Wednesday this week. For some reason, TV1 seem reticent to explain what's going on, but my guess is that this forces Season Three to end at the end of a week, and that's when they implement a bunch of scheduling changes (or skip to Season Five or something).
Red Dwarf back on UK TV: On Wedneday, 7th July, Red Dwarf returns to UK TV, presumably from the beginning. I expect the 10:30pm timeslot will be supplemented by another on Saturday, as before.
Changes to FOX8 and TV1: I hear TV1 has completely restructured their schedule, although we won't see the effects for another month or two. I don't know the details yet, but I suggest you pay close attention to your August Foxtel Guide.
FOX8 is also making some changes, though a bit sooner. Highlander's 7:30pm timeslot is to be vacated in favour of some new show, but the former occupant is also to be rescheduled. Dharma & Greg is also expected to return to a weekday timeslot before long.
10th June, 1999
A Belated June on Foxtel: By now you've probably dissected the June Foxtel Guide yourselves, though to be honest, there's few enough changes. We had a Phantom Menace Special on Wednesday, 2nd June at 7:30pm, Season Two of Buffy started on Tuesday, 8th June at 7:30pm, World Movies screened the classic, French comedy, Les Ripoux, on the first two days of the month and the period action, On Guard (Le bossu), during the week, and Black Adder entered its fourth season on Monday, 7th June. Apart from that, lots of superb cricket, some great movies, and great series, just like we're used to (along with a lot of crap I wouldn't touch with a 60' pole).
Coming up this weekend, TV1 is running a "Super Space Cadets Weekend", although that just means the first two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation are being screened in succession, and a third episode on Sunday. Add in a science fiction movie and some Star Trek specials, and we're in for a very full schedule.
Also on Saturday night, thecomedychannel is screening an HBO Special featuring one of my favourite comedians, Bill Maher, at 8:30pm. Sadly, this clashes with arena's mediaeval whodunnit, Cadfael -- One Corpse Too Many, a brilliant mini-series based on some great novels (perfect for long flights). Oh, and look out for the return of Star Cops on UK TV, Saturday at 3:00pm and Sunday at 10:00am. This isn't a totally riveting series, but has some clever ideas, including the future of personal assistants -- according to a well-known, humorous author (I can't remember if it's Mr Pratchett or Mr Adams) -- the Box.
Sadly, two of my favourite series wrap it up towards the end of the month, though both will return soon after. Dharma & Greg halts at the end of the first season, Saturday, 19th June. Highlander completes its first full run in Australia on Friday, 25th June and loses its timeslot to a new, mystery show. It will continue to screen on weekends at 1:00pm and should also receive a new weekday timeslot in July.
27th May, 1999
I've added some more episode titles for the current seasons of Millennium and Mad About You (the latter don't seem to be available anywhere on the Web).
Millennium Returns to Sydney: It looks like Season Three of Millennium commenced on Tuesday at 10:30pm in Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane. The rest of us will just have to wait.
Millennium Cancelled: For those who haven't heard, Millennium has been officially cancelled in the US due to low ratings. It is to be replaced next season by Chris Carter's new series, Harsh Realms (about which I know nothing). For fans of the show, this is a real disappointment, as it has consistently delivered unprecedented atmosphere and mood along with intricate story. I guess it's just not mainstream enough to be a success.
Just Shoot Me! Returns: Season Three of Just Shoot Me! starts on Ten next Thursday, 3rd June at 8:00pm. The first two seasons were very well written, with a tone noticeably different from most sitcoms currently on TV.
Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place Comes to FOX8: In a preview of other changes on FOX8, this year's "sitcom with the longest name" starts on FOX8, Sunday nights at 8:00pm (after Sunday Roast), on 6th June (I think). This show has been nearly as funny as Dharma & Greg, which it has followed on Seven on Thursdays.
20th May, 1999
Not much to report today. On Foxtel, The Critic returns to arena on Thursday, 27th May at 7:30pm (repeated 8:30am Friday). FOX8 has been advertising a red carpet special for the premiere of The Phantom Menace, which I presume will air on 3rd June (the Australian premiere). Of course, no-one will be home to watch it, as we'll all be at our local cinema!
In the Green Guide today, there were four letters (presumably selected from many more) responding to last week's article, Cutting to the Quick. All three were extremely well written. Some of the points made included that fans of the shows often have them on tape and we know cutting still goes on; the comments of network people interviewed were seen to range from entertaining to political; and the issue was raised of play-off stills obscuring the action (especially on Ten), worded far better than I've managed to date. I also recall reading somewhere, during the week, about the influence of the Internet on people's knowledge of TV, but I can't remember where.
13th May, 1999
The Green Guide: Cutting to the Quick: There's a very interesting article in today's The Age, in the Green Guide, discussing the how (and a little bit of the why) of the free-to-air networks' treatment of their programmes and their viewers. The writer mentions cutting, late-night scheduling, mid-season termination and other common practices, but ends up pulling all his punches, failing to draw any sort of conclusion. The quotes from network personnel make them appear completely unrepentant, as if it's their right to do whatever they wish with the programmes they buy. There's even a couple of things mentioned that I hadn't heard about, such as frame deletion (Ten used to do this to The Simpsons) and the interaction between the length of an ad-break and memory span. Definitely worth a read.
Scheduling Stuff: Season Eight of Red Dwarf concluded last night on the ABC, with a clear indication there's to be a Season Nine or equivalent in the future. Next week, the ABC goes back to the beginning of the show with The End screening in the same timeslot. This should be the remastered version. Meanwhile, UK TV is repeating the two Red Dwarf specials, The A-Z of Red Dwarf and Can't Smeg, Won't Smeg, at 10:30pm Wednesday and 11:00pm Saturday, starting last night.
Also, Season Two of The Adventures of Lano & Woodley starts this Saturday at 6:00pm on the ABC. There's apparently seven episodes in this season, so if you're recording, use a four hour tape.
Starting this week on FOX8, the midnight stripping of NYPD Blue has been extended to six nights a week, so don't expect a repeat of Highlander tomorrow. It's not all bad news though, as there's apparently been a number of viewers phoning up and complaining about the missing repeats (keep making those calls!). So with any luck, the repeat timeslots will return before too long.
With the cricket World Cup starting tomorrow night, Nine's mediocre coverage will nevertheless interfere with its normal programming from time to time over the next month or so. Next week, Babylon 5 will be pre-empted. But that's fine by me, as I'll be trying to catch as much as I can on Fox Sports.
Finally, Ten is screening a behind-the-scenes look at Star Wars: The Phantom Menace this Saturday night from 7:30pm to 9:30pm. I recommend recording this and watching it only after seeing the movie -- the risk of spoilers is too great. (As an aside, am I the only one to have noticed how much is being given away in TV show trailers? It's getting so bad I'm making an effort not to watch them.)
6th May, 1999
Last Episodes: Two great series are coming to the end of their respective runs over the next week. Red Dwarf completes Season Eight on the ABC at 10:00pm next Wednesday. It's been an interesting season, with a number of readjustments. On Foxtel, the last episode of Space: Above and Beyond will air this Sunday at 10:15pm on FOX8 for the last time. A seriously underrated series that takes some initial patience to truly appreciate, it will be sorely missed.
Stuff on Ten: On free-to-air, no night is so strongly associated with a particular channel than Wednesdays are with Ten (at least, for me). The full running order reads: The Simpsons, E! News, The X-Files, The Panel. Often enough, I'll stick around for Ten Late News to pick up on an interesting headline, despite the inefficient presentation format adopted by most of today's television news services. (The Internet spoils us.) Last night, I picked up on a couple of things worth mentioning.
For the second time in a row, E! News ran a story about a console games developer, this time turning their attentions to Crash Bandicoot. I believe this sort of coverage is a positive move, and interesting even to those already hooked on games: the opportunity to see how they're made. But I reckon they could stand to branch out into PC games, which have a much more varied industry.
That wasn't what caught my eye last night, however. Rather, the interview was apparently conducted by Nick Bennett in the USA. It seems to me Ten would do better to look around closer to home. There are some large and successful games developers in Australia, companies like Auran in Brisbane ("Dark Reign"), Beam in Melbourne ("MDK") and Melbourne House (I think they're still around). I'd much rather see Ten interviewing Australian games programmers than giving Nick Bennett a free trip to the US.
E! News also had a quick look at Will Smith's new movie. The writers excelled themselves, coming up with a surprisingly clever truism: "It's the roles Will Smith rejects that make him the best."
More disturbing was a story that appeared in Ten Late News, talking about "renewed warnings from astronomers" that the Earth could be hit by an asteroid. Actually, the hyped leader was even more alarmist, suggesting a comet had been found actually on a collision course! You'd think such a story would get top billing, but it got relegated to after the first ad break. And rightly so. It was the worst piece of science reporting I've seen in a very long time. For a start, the warnings are nothing new -- there's a four or five year old documentary on National Geographic Channel making exactly the same points. As far as I can work out, astronomers are trying to use facts about the number of undiscovered, Earth-intersecting asteroids to get more funding. Which is perfectly reasonable, as they've got a valid point. But Ten's news editor obviously thought this was too boring a story, and hyped the whole thing beyond recognition. The entire story was plastered with scenes from Hollywood's Deep Impact -- a bit like adding spooky music to a family video, the story and the images had almost nothing to do with each other.
I suppose Ten might be forgiven for some of the hyping -- they do it all the time. But the story itself was seriously flawed. Perhaps the most obvious transgression was the reporter's insistence on talking about comets. The Mt Stromlo astronomer interviewed talked primarily about asteroids, but I got the impression the reporter didn't know the difference. Maybe she missed some classes in primary school.
29th April, 1999
Another Season of Lano & Woodley: The Green Guide reports that the second season of The Adventures of Lano & Woodley will commence on Saturday, 15th May, in the earlier timeslot of 6:00pm. The seven-episode season has already been sold to the UK and is currently airing in Canada.
26th April, 1999
Foxtel in May: I was very pleased to receive my May Foxtel Guide on Friday. There are a number of changes to FOX8's schedule next month (in particular), so it's worth paying attention.
Highlander is moving from 4:00pm to 1:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays, starting Sunday, 2nd May (it will still screen at 4:00pm on the 1st May). Dharma & Greg retains its 5:00pm weekend timeslot, followed by Box Office at 5:30pm.
As mentioned earlier, Space: Above and Beyond finishes its run on Foxtel on Sunday, 9th May, replaced by a show called Cold Squad the following weekend. I've heard rumours that Space: Above and Beyond is to reappear on Channel Seven, but I'm unable to confirm.
Probably the most significant change in May is the apparent pre-emption of the midnight repeat timeslot (repeat from 7:30pm), Sunday to Thursday, by NYPD Blue stripped. I'm actually hoping this is a misprint, but without much confidence. Given the number of clashes this is likely to cause, both with FTA and other cable channels, I suggest those who are affected call Foxtel and tell them you don't like it. Eventually, they might get the message. Personally, I think repeats are part of the essence of what makes pay TV attractive, and manageable.
From 1st May, My So-Called Life starts screening Saturdays at 11:00am, starting from the beginning. The Monday stream will continue to the end of the series, concluding Monday, 24th May, to be replaced by Hot Summer Down Under the following week.
Amongst the shows I'm now monitoring for GEOS, Star Trek: The Next Generation and Battlestar Galactica lose their Sunday repeats on 9th May, but an extra episode of Xena will screen at 2:30pm that day (not sure which one). Xena, in turn, loses its Saturday timeslots on 1st May. Hercules starts Season Two on 7th May.
On thecomedychannel, South Park returns to the start of Season Two on Sunday, 16th May. South Park's other stream completes Season One on Tuesday 25th May. At least I think that's what will happen. The prehistoric, claymation short called Gogs has been allocated its own timeslot, Monday to Saturday at 10:20pm, from 1st May.
Finally, the two Red Dwarf specials are slated to reappear on UK TV in May, The A-Z of Red Dwarf on Wednesday, 12th at 10:30pm and Saturday, 15th at 11:00pm; Can't Smeg, Won't Smeg on Wednesday, 19th at 10:30pm and Saturday, 22nd at 11:00pm.
23rd April, 1999
Heavy news week, this week. I forgot to apologise for not spotting Ten's deviation in the X-Files screening order. That's been fixed, now. Before I forget, the weekend stream of Highlander will be moving to 1:00pm in May, where it should remain for some time to come.
Foxtel Rights to New Seasons and New Shows: As something of a teaser for the rest of the year, here's info on a bunch of new seasons and new shows that FOX8 will be picking up throughout the rest of the year:
There's Something About Comedy: As many of you would know, Melbourne's been hosting the International Comedy Festival throughout April. I've been fortunate enough to attend a few shows, and to party with the comedians afterwards (sort of). Last night, after seeing a couple of shows, I headed down to the Festival Club, where the Scared Weird Little Guys came on after midnight with their SWLG Superband. Ironically, they weren't doing their comedy songs (I've been trying to get to one of their shows for some time), but rather some great 80s rock. Every other song, they picked a comedian out of the crowd (actually, it was pre-planned) to do a number, and some were just hilarious. Best of the bunch was Frank Woodley (the gangly one from Lano & Woodley), unshaven, wearing a beanie borrowed from the audience, doing all the moves for AC-DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long". Classic stuff! If you're up for a good time on Saturday night, the Superband will be playing the Hi-Fi bar, so catch a couple of acts (I recommend Tripod, James O'Loghlin, Peter Berner, and Ed Byrne), show your ticket stubs at the door to get in half-price, and boogie on down!
Just to bring this all back to television, I've been watching a bit of stand-up on Foxtel recently, and here's my recommendations. Pick of the bunch is Live at Jongleurs, weekdays at 11:00pm on UK TV. Three international acts, carefully selected to be the best of what's out there, and a friendly, half-hour format. Next on the list is the HBO Comedy Hours and Half-Hours on thecomedychannel. Not every comic will suit every viewer, but there's some great material. My favourite is Bill Maher (he'll be on again in early June), but the popular favourite is apparently Andrew Dice Clay (of The Adventures of Ford Fairlane fame). Andrew's a bit less, shall we say, sophisticated than Bill. Also on thecomedychannel, The Standing Zone airs nightly (weeknights?) at 7:00pm. I'm told The Smallest Room in the House is one of the better series in this line-up.
22nd April, 1999
E! Has Some News: In an uncharacteristic move, E! News showed some interesting news stories last night. Okay, so perhaps they weren't that interesting. But it seems that Ten knows about Futurama, Matt Groening's new animated series, even if they can't pronounce his name. Nothing was said that wasn't in the Wired story I mentioned before, but the pictures were pretty cool.
Also on E! News, they mentioned a group of Australian Star Wars fans filming a 25 minute short film set a couple of days before A New Hope. It sounds really awesome, but you can make up your own mind at The Dark Redemption website. These are clearly fans, as they're basing the story around Kyle Katarn and Mara Jade from the PC games Dark Forces and Jedi Knight: Mysteries of the Sith.
I was watching The Making of The Matrix last night and I finally figured out why Carrie-Anne Moss, who plays Trinity, looks so familiar: she was the gorgeous Lucinda Scott in FX: The Series, and also made a guest appearance in an episode of Due South (as Ray's childhood sweetheart in Juliet is Bleeding). At the time, I was so taken with her I'm disappointed I didn't recognise her with short hair and a dark demeanor in The Matrix.
21st April, 1999
Stuff on the arena: I found out a bit of information about some shows on arena (channel 14 on Foxtel). The second season of Lexx starts this Sunday at 9:30pm. Sadly, this clashes with The X-Files on FOX8 and there's no repeat timeslot for this run, but I'm promised Lexx will air again in the future. This show is worth watching just for the remarkable graphics, though the hot actors are also pleasing to the eye. I found the first season's storyline to be a bit dark, but that won't stop me checking out the second. High quality science fiction series are so rare, when they do come along, they're all worth watching.
Lexx fills the timeslot previously allocated to First Wave, an excellent show that adds a new twist to the X-Files/Dark Skies genre, without descending into stupid, American conspiracy theories. Fortunately, although arena got it first, even screening the last few episodes before they aired in the US, Seven now have the rights and will eventually be bringing it to FTA. However, at this stage, they've no idea when that might be (presumably before the second season starts in the US in October, but you never know).
Also on arena, Season Five of Drop the Dead Donkey is likely to screen before too long. And the excellent, mediaeval whodunits called Cadfael will continue, once a month on a Saturday night, at least until August.
More on Seven: Buffy returns in Melbourne next Tuesday at 10:30pm (or thereabouts). Note that Sydney started Season Three on Monday. Meanwhile, Season Three of Millennium will return, along with Stargate SG-1, some time mid-year.
A bit on Star Wars: I finally watched the 60 Minutes report on The Phantom Menace the other day. But that's not what I want to talk about. Is it just me, or is the dude with the big ears who gets zapped by the pods just a new incarnation of Snarf from SnarfQuest? Anyone else remember this great adventure comic from the back of Dragon Magazine? The more I think about it, the more I'm convinced someone's been copying...
16th April, 1999
Ten Launches a Real Website: Ten have finally launched a proper website. Welcome to the Nineties! Actually, it's very good, with episode synopses, season information, etc. There's still a few quirks (such as figuring out how to show all occurrences of a particular show), but hopefully they're still receptive to ideas -- now's probably the best time to suggest improvements, before it all stagnates. The site's still not quite complete (eg: they only have guides to Seasons Nine and Ten of The Simpsons), but I'm impressed. I just hope it's not all a big, one-off investment that won't be maintained.
15th April, 1999
A couple of changes to the FTA schedule next week: Friends is pre-empting Jesse with a double episode on Monday, and Red Dwarf is scheduled for 11:40pm on Wednesday (pushed back by NBL coverage, it seems). I would be cautious about Red Dwarf's start time, though -- it could end up starting either earlier or much later. Also of interest is the welcome return of Babylon 5 on Thursday nights on Nine. It's scheduled for 11:30pm, but I wouldn't count on it starting on time.
This weekend, Space: Above and Beyond concludes on FOX8 (though the Sunday night stream will continue through to the end of the season), allowing Highlander to return on Sunday in the 4:00pm timeslot. Looks like Premiere, with Antonia Kidman has been replaced by Box Office, though the content is the same.
In other news, I've been appointed the Australian (Foxtel) Liaison at GEOS. This might motivate me to clean up some of my own pages, though fewer updates may also result. I intend to update these pages at least once a week, on Thursday, as I've been doing.
More Star Wars: Episode I Trailers on FOX8: Following on from two weeks ago, here's seven more screening tmies for the Star Wars: Episode I trailer. This is the last batch I'll be posting, so make the most of it:
8th April, 1999
Hopefully I'll have more details about last-minute Foxtel changes next week. For now, I just wanted to point out that where South Park is listed as screening on thecomedychannel every weeknight at 1:00am, this is a misprint. In fact, this only happens on Monday nights, as another repeat of the Sunday 7:30pm Season Two screening.
1st April, 1999
I finally received my April Foxtel Guide on Tuesday (not impressed!). There's a lot to cover, and I'm sure I'll miss a few things. I encourage you to scroll down to look for scheduling changes to your favourite shows, and a surprise at the end...
Ten Returns to Normal (Sort of): Ten is returning to new episodes of some series a week early. So next week, we'll be able to see new episodes of Xena (Sunday), The X-Files (Wednesday) and Mad About You (Thursday, but at 10:00pm). The last is being moved to the later timeslot to make way for Ten's new science fiction series, Seven Days, which commences with a movie-length premiere Easter Sunday at 8:30pm before moving into the Thursday 7:30pm timeslot.
April on FOX8: A number of things are happening on FOX8 in April, mainly to do with some rejuggling on Saturday and Sunday evenings (which we've already seen the first signs of).
For starters, Highlander won't be seen this weekend or next, returning on Sunday, 18th April at 4:00pm. The next weekend, it should screen at 4:00pm on Saturday as well, but I've been promised more changes in May before everything settles. The Friday stream will continue, undisturbed.
Part of the reason for the Highlander juggle is the end of Space: Above and Beyond. The show's Sunday evening run will continue for a few weeks longer, but the 5:00pm stream reaches its conclusion on 17th April. As mentioned before, this is your last chance to see these episodes (I wish I'd known earlier in the run).
Replacing Highlander in the 5:00pm timeslot is Premiere with Antonia Kidman (movie news) and the second run of Dharma and Greg. The latter screens its last episode in Season One tonight before moving to the Saturday timeslot this weekend (I can't remember if it's on at 5:00pm or 5:30pm). Sunday at 5:00pm is to air a series of Movie Magic specials.
Dharma and Greg's Thursday timeslot (8:30pm and 1:00am) is to be filled with a new US sitcom, called Partners. The Green Guide has a short review of Partners, the salient points being that it's not particularly novel, it's reasonably funny and it only managed a single season in the US. That is, watch it if you're at the TV, but don't speed home to catch it.
Finally, the Sunday night run of The X-Files reaches the end of Season Five on 11th April. In subsequent weeks, two sequential episodes will air in the two-hour timeslot from the end of Season Three and then Season Four.
Other Changes on Foxtel: TV1 is holding the Kahuna awards next week, which will pre-empt a bunch of shows in the 7:30pm/11:30pm timeslot. They're also holding a Seinfeld marathon tonight, which pre-empts tonight's episode of Mad About You. Incidentally, this may be the last run of Seasons One to Four of Mad About You on TV1.
On UK TV, Fawlty Towers commences on Monday, 5th April at 8:30pm, pushing Black Adder back to 9:00pm. The two shows will continue to air in tandem, Mondays from 8:30pm, Saturdays from 7:30pm, Sundays from 10:00pm and Monday mornings from 2:00am [I might be 30 minutes out on some of these]. Last week's note that Black Adder had gained a timeslot at 2:00am on Sunday mornings was a one-off to fill the extra hour due to Daylight Savings ending.
On thecomedychannel, South Park is being stripped from Monday, 5th April, weeknights at 1:00am. I imagine they'll start at the beginning and work their way through to the end of Season Two. And The Adventures of Lano and Woodley returns, this Sunday at 8:00pm.
Neon Genesis Evangelion, take two: If you've been following Neon Genesis Evangelion, which aired its final two episodes on SBS last weekend, you'll know the whole series is being rescreened, Mondays at 9:30pm (South Park's old timeslot). The last couple of weeks, only one episode was aired each Monday, but that's now been increased to two.
Star Wars: Episode I Trailer on FOX8: Here's a treat for all of you with Foxtel. I couldn't believe it when, a couple of days ago, I saw the complete Star Wars: The Phantom Menace trailer shown on FOX8! It's being shown as an Entertainment News story, which are used as filler at the end of the hour. The trailer plays as a complete story, with no voice-over or anything. And it'll blow you away!
Trailer screening times for the next week or so are:
25th March, 1999
No Ratings Over Easter: As they did last year, Ten is pulling most of its ratings winners over the two week, Easter non-ratings period. That includes dropping Xena on Saturday, The X-Files on Wednesday and Mad About You on Tuesday, and scheduling a Season Nine repeat of The Simpsons on Wednesday. Nine gets into the action by screening a repeat of Friends on Monday.
Daylight Savings Ends This Weekend: An extra hour of sleep on Sunday morning is a wonderful thought. Incidentally, if your computer's been telling you that Daylight Savings is over for a couple of weeks now, there is a solution: a little program called TZEDIT that allows you to create the correct timezones for Australia (or anywhere else).
Last-Minute Changes on FOX8: As occurred last weekend, Highlander will not screen on Saturday this weekend (27th March) to make room for Premiere with Antonia Kidman. This time period will remain somewhat unsettled into April, at least until Space: Above and Beyond finishes its run. I'll provide full details once I get my April Foxtel Guide (hopefully soon), but I can say now that some of the slack will be filled with the hilarious Dharma & Greg.
Battlestar Galactica Marathon: This weekend, Richard Hatch (who plays Apollo) presents his thirteen favourite Battlestar Galactica episodes on TV1. The marathon starts at 12:30pm on Saturday and repeats from 4:30am Sunday, both times running for 11 hours!
Hitch-hiker's Return: The Hitch-hiker's Guide to the Galaxy returns to UK TV at 10:30pm on Wednesday, 31st March -- the perfect complement to Season Eight of Red Dwarf on the ABC at 10:00pm. An extra timeslot has also been added for Black Adder, Sunday morning at 2:00am. And Fawlty Towers is apparently "coming soon."
23rd March, 1999
As mentioned on my Simpsons News page, I had my hard drive replaced nearly two weeks ago and was sadly Internet-free for more than a week. Now I'm back, and nearly every page of the Oz TV Gazette has been updated.
Pre-emptions, pre-emptions, pre-emptions... On the weekend, The X-Files and Space: Above and Beyond were pre-empted, as expected, on Sunday night on FOX8. However, that's not all that happened. The Screen Actors Guild Awards didn't run as long as expected, so the extra hour was filled with a rescreen of Star Wars: The Magic and the Mystery, about the making of the Star Wars special edition.
More importantly, on Saturday technical difficulties (?), or perhaps something more intentional, pre-empted the screening of Highlander at 5:00pm. The scheduled episode (Counterfeit) was bumped to Sunday and presumably the remainder of the stream has also been delayed an episode as a result.
Finally, for the free-to-air viewers, Friends and Jesse were pre-empted yesterday in favour of the Academy Awards.
Skipping the ads on FOX8: I should really put up a whole page on this topic, but that will have to wait. For now, viewers of FOX8 will have noticed some changes in the way ad breaks are being treated. Where before bumpers were played either side of each ad break (technically called play-offs and play-ins), the play-ins have now all been dropped and the play-offs recut. This is advantageous in that many of the old play-offs obscured part of the action in the feature (which should be familiar from FTA broadcasts -- Xena, for example, is especially badly treated by Ten). The problem is there's now no warning on the recommencement of the feature (and hence it's difficult to restart the video in advance if you're trying to remove ads). For now, I have it on good authority that every ad break should start and end with a promo for shows screening on FOX8. Usually, restarting the video on the "FOX8" of "Wednesday, 7:30, FOX8" at the end of the promo will capture all the programme material. However, there are exceptions, especially where another line appears at the end of the promo (such as one each of the Buffy, Simpsons and Sunday Roast promos). On one occasion, the NRL poetic promo apparently counted as a FOX8 promo.
As a final guide, note that most ad breaks on FOX8 last roughly two minutes (about four or five ads). The first and last ads will be FOX8 promos, and in the last ad break for each show, the first will tell you what's coming up next. However, compressed shows (such as Space: Above and Beyond on Sunday nights, and possibly The Simpsons on weekend mornings), will have only a single ad played. Hence, beware. More on this later.
The Wave Files: I've been watching arena's screenings of First Wave and I've been very impressed. The show is, inevitably, about aliens subtly invading the Earth. That's even less surprising when you consider it shares much of its production staff with The X-Files. What surprised me, over the weekend, was that it also occasionally shares the same actors! I was watching Ghost in the Machine (1X06) on Friday night and noticed that the "evil businessman" also featured in one of last week's episodes of First Wave. What's more, the computer genius was none other than Crazy Eddie, Cade's "brains behind the operation." For those who haven't been fortunate enough to see the show, it's a Canadian production, features Francis Ford Coppolla as an executive producer, and asserts that a lost text of Nostradamus contains guide-posts to stopping the alien invasion. Cade is driven to follow these and destroy the experiments that form the aliens' first wave.
4th March, 1999
New X-Files repeat timeslot on FOX8: FOX8 has scheduled a new repeat timeslot for their Sunday evening stream of The X-Files. The episodes will be repeated the following Saturday night (actually Sunday morning) from midnight.
Sunday night pre-emptions on 21st March: On Sunday, 21st March, The Screen Actors Guild Awards will be pre-empting FOX8's normal Sunday lineup from 8:30pm. Hence neither The X-Files nor Space: Above and Beyond will air that night. However, the March Foxtel Guide suggests that this night's episodes will be skipped in the screening order; this is not true. Rather, the 'skipped' episodes will air the following Sunday, while those listed for that time will air the Sunday after that (confused yet?). Basically, although The X-Files has been pre-empted, no episodes will actually be skipped.
This does, however, leave the subsequent repeat timeslot unpopulated, so on Saturday, 27th March (actually Sunday) from midnight, the Season One episodes, Ghost in the Machine (1X06) and Ice (1X07) will air.
Space: Above and Beyond to vanish into the depths of space: I'm annoyed that I didn't have more warning, but it seems the two streams of Space: Above and Beyond currently airing are to be the last screenings of this show on FOX8. Anyone got Ray Butts on video?
Apollo's 13 on TV1: On Saturday, 27th March, as previously announced on this website, Richard Hatch (Apollo on Battlestar Galactica) will be presenting his favourite thirteen episodes of Battlestar Galactica on TV1. The marathon will last from 12:30pm to 11:30pm on Saturday, repeated 4:30am to 3:30pm Sunday. Everything normally scheduled for this period (and in surrounding timeslots) will be pre-empted (or rearranged). Incidentally, Daylight Savings also ends on this night.
24th February, 1999
Shakespeare in Love: I saw this movie last night and found it very uplifting. But the thing which caught my eye, and which merits a mention here, is that The Benford Falls Company was involved in its production. This is the same people that produced My So-Called Life and Relativity. Although I've no real idea of the extent that individuals from one project were involved with the others, the company's involvement is no real surprise. If Benford Falls have some sort of signature, it's the telling of intricate stories about emotive characters and extensive use of background music to tailor the mood. This last I noticed in the movie even before I saw their logo in the credits. When all's said and done, though, Shakespeare in Love is simply a very good movie.
22nd February, 1999
Back in the Red: Season Eight of Red Dwarf is apparently set to commence on the ABC on Wednesday, 24th March at 10:00pm. Reading the synopses at GEOS, it sounds like an interesting season.
Due South Concludes: The final episode of Due South aired last Monday on Seven. With all the new episodes exhausted, I'd naturally like to see Seven play it again from the beginning. Realistically, this is unlikely (but ringing them and asking for reruns can't hurt). More likely is a pay TV station picking up Due South; after all, it's popular enough for TNT to pick it up and show it five nights a week in the US. If anyone can think of a channel on Foxtel for which Due South would be appropriate, let me know (and ring Foxtel to request it), as I'm stumped!
A couple of episode guides (eg: Red Dwarf with the above) have also been updated.
11th February, 1999
Due South Concludes in Melbourne: The final episode of (Season Three of) Due South screens on Monday in Melbourne. If you're a fan, be sure not to miss it!
Red Dwarf in August? One of my patrons seems to have extracted some real information from UK TV (there's a first!). Season Six and Seven of Red Dwarf won't be seen on UK TV until August at the earliest, and then only if they decide to buy the rights. Sounds like some lobbying might be in order.
Mulder in Springfield: Those of you who caught the return of The X-Files last night, might have noticed it was partly set in a nuclear power plant. And the supervising technician's name? Homer, of course. Homer was just as lazy as our animated favourite, and was even listening to a song that has featured on The Simpsons in the past. His grisly end, however, suggests this was not G-rated viewing!
Scheduling Blindness: I mentioned earlier that FOX8 is moving their midnight repeat timeslots back to midnight as of next week. I also mentioned that there seemed to be a problem with the scheduling, as one hour shows were being squeezed into a half-hour. Well, apparently I'm going blind. There's no such problem at all, and the Guide is just fine. Sorry if I misled anyone (I've deleted the offending paragraph).
3rd February, 1999
It's official. UK TV don't have the rights to Seasons Six and Seven of Red Dwarf ... yet. So, at the end of Season Five (next week), it's off the air at least until May. I apologise for passing on erroneous information.
In case you hadn't noticed, Seven have moved Buffy permanently to Tuesday nights at 10:30pm (or thereabouts). As pointed out on aus.tv, this means the more confronting episodes won't have to be cut. If you don't like the late timeslot, I recommend the use of one's VCR.
2nd February, 1999
The following episode guides have been updated with new season information:
For those following FOX8's Friday night stream of The X-Files, remember that Season One starts screening this Friday, 5th February. Those coming late to this series should be interested in seeing where it all began.
29th January, 1999
I don't have time for a thorough update of the affected pages, but here's some upcoming scheduling highlights.
Due South will return on Monday, 1st February, following the two-hour return of Ally McBeal. This run-on scheduling might see a few more viewers discovering Due South!
Buffy is either moving or has gained an additional timeslot on Seven. Apart from the Monday episode at 7:30pm, it will also screen at 10:25pm on Tuesday, 2nd February.
The official ratings season commences next week (probably Sunday, 7th February), so pay close attention to your next couple of TV guides -- you wouldn't want to miss your favourites!
February on Foxtel: There's some notable highlights, changes and new shows on Foxtel in February. Here's my take.
Black Adder is coming to UK TV, screening 8:30pm Monday, 7:30pm Saturday, and 10:00pm and 2:00am Sunday. Apparently, all four timeslots will be screening the same episode each week. If not, I'll note the real situation here. (Take note of the following.)
The person I spoke to at UK TV last week apparently didn't have the full story. It turns out (according to the February Foxtel Guide), that screenings of Red Dwarf will cease at the end of Season Five, on Friday, 12th February. I'm not impressed.
The Comedy Channel have restructured some of their schedule. I noticed that Good News Week isn't on quite as much and some of the HBO Comedy Specials have been dropped.
From Monday, 15th February, FOX8 are moving the start of weekday repeats back to midnight by halving the 10:30pm timeslot.
I'm pleased to see Arena has grabbed the rights to at least some of the Cadfael series of mediaeval whodunits. I'm not usually a fan of the genre, but these are pretty cool (not quite as dark as Name of the Rose). The first one screens on Saturday, 27th February at 8:30pm. BTW: the books make great airport reading!
That's all for now.
22nd January, 1999
A few updates and some corrections for this week.
Space: Above and Beyond Restart: It turns out that my dates for the weekend stream of Space: Above and Beyond weren't quite right (I was showing dates for Sunday and Monday rather than Saturday and Sunday -- sorry!). Rather than fixing them, I've changed the dates to the new screening run, which starts this Sunday at the new time of 4:00pm. So if you haven't seen Space: Above and Beyond before, this is a great time to start. A warning though: the first episode is a bit slow, but things pick up pretty quickly. The thing I like most about the show, since I've gotten into it, is the atmosphere of each episode -- you can also see this in the second season of Millennium, as it's the same producers.
Red Dwarf Scheduling: Some news on Red Dwarf, both on the ABC and UK TV, gathered in response to a visitor's email. There's still no information on Season Eight in Australia; the ABC simply says it will be screening some time this year.
However, I did find out some more details about UK TV's screenings. First, the current run will indeed include Season Seven. What's more, it will then wrap around to the beginning, so if you think you might miss something (or already have), it will be back in a couple of months. Finally, the two specials which screened around Christmas time (Can't Smeg, Won't Smeg and The A-Z of Red Dwarf), will both also be rescreened at some time in the future, though when has not yet been determined -- watch your Foxtel Guide (and this website).
Also a reminder that the official Australian ratings season recommences soon. I'm not sure of the exact date, but I'm guessing the second week of February, from Monday the 8th. But I may be wrong, so watch your local guides.
Oh, and Due South has been pre-empted again. The tennis apparently finishes at the end of January, so I'm guessing we might see Due South back on the 1st February (I hope).
14th January, 1999
Happy New Year!
There's been a few things going on in the world of TV recently:
And, of course, all the commercial stations are telling you what's "coming soon" or "returning soon". (My favourite was Nine telling us a completely new show is "returning soon.") What they actually mean is that the ratings season starts up again at the beginning of February, so rating shows will be screening new episodes again, about four months behind the US. Examples of shows I expect to return are: Friends, The Simpsons, The X-Files and Ally McBeal. Buffy will most likely continue, but Felicity is being dropped mid-season (don't listen to Seven's "season finale" hype).
Another New South Park: The last outstanding episode of South Park, called Merry Christmas Charlie Manson!, airs at 9:30pm this Monday, 18th January on SBS. The second episode will be the repeat, Conjoined Fetus Lady.
Australian TV News Archive: 1998.
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Last Updated: 10-September-1999