Mike Olshansky in Hack

David Morse - Hack

Vancouver Sun September 13, 2002 Friday Final Edition

Copyright 2002 CanWest Interactive, a division of CanWest Global Communications Corp. All Rights Reserved

September 13, 2002 Friday Final Edition
SECTION: Fall TV Preview; Pg. B4
LENGTH: 710 words

It's sci-fi and crime on freaky Friday nights

SOURCE: Vancouver Sun

The strangest night of the week just got a lot stranger, thanks to the debut of yet another sci-fi candidate to replace The X-Files -- Firefly, the untested space adventure from the creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and the advent of no fewer than three tough new crime dramas (Hack, Robbery Homicide Division and The Shield), each hoping to follow in the tracks of Miami Vice more than 10 years ago.

Miami Vice and The X-Files disproved the notion that anyone with an active social life would refuse to stay home and watch TV on a Friday night, but in the past nine years, no fewer than seven sci-fi shows have tried and died on Fridays at 8 p.m. -- Adventures of Briscoe County, Jr., M.A.N.T.I.S., Strange Luck, Sliders, The Visitor and, the last two years, Dark Angel.

The crime dramas may have a better chance, if the (modest) success of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is anything to go by. The testosterone-driven Hack, Robbery Homicide Division and The Shield all have style and energy to burn, if not much to offer female viewers.

- Robbery Homicide Division Rating 3 1/2

Fridays, 10-11 p.m., New VI and KIRO-CBS, beginning Sept. 27

"You think I took a stupidity pill on the elevator up here, " Los Angeles Police Detective Sam Coleman (Tom Sizemore) says in film-maker Michael Mann's (Heat, The Insider) first foray into television since his Miami Vice changed the way the medium looked in the late 1980s.

There's a visual snap to Robbery Homicide Division, a cool, detached feel of serious men going about serious business. It takes a basic cop-show formula -- the family terrorized by home invaders in the middle of the night -- and turns it inside out.

Sizemore has a ferocious presence as the lead investigator, and the show is exceedingly violent and brutal, with the visual intensity and high-tech sheen of Mann's big-screen thrillers.

- Hack Rating 3

Fridays, 9-10 p.m., Global and KIRO-CBS, beginning Sept. 27

Critics have been lining up to lambaste Hack, a vigilante-style mystery anthology featuring David Morse as a down-on-his-luck ex-cop forced to drive a cab to make ends meet, but I see solid potential for a long-running series. It could become the modern-day equivalent of The Equalizer, which made an unlikely star and thinking woman's sex symbol out of the fine Australian actor Edward Woodward in the late 1980s. Morse has a natural empathy as a performer and the supporting cast includes Andre Braugher, late of the unfairly cancelled Gideon's Crossing, and George Dzundza (Law & Order).

- That Was Then Rating 1 1/2

Fridays, 9-10 p.m., New VI and KOMO-ABC, beginning Sept. 27

Thirty-year-old Travis Glass, a part-time door-to-door salesman, wishes for a chance to do it all over again, and wakes up the next morning as his 16-year-old self. Every change he makes from here on will affect the present, in unpredictable and unexpected ways. The tone veers all over the place in its first hour, from whimsical to mawkish.

Firefly (Unavailable for review)

Fridays, 8-9 p.m., Global and KCPQ-Fox, beginning Sept. 20.

The biggest new series of the fall, between $10 million and $20 million US to make, is also the season's biggest question mark. According to a reel of highlights made available to reviewers (a full episode was not available) Firefly takes several Western archtypes, locks them inside a claustrophobic space freighter, nicknamed Serenity and turns them loose on an unsuspecting galaxy. The creative spark is Joss Whedon, who turned a forgettable time-waster of a movie, 1992's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, into one of the most lovingly crafted and unforgettable TV series of its day.

The Shield Rating 3 1/2

Fridays, 10-11 p.m., Global, beginning Sept. 20

Making its network TV debut, this FX cable network show is gritty, violent, profane and deeply disturbing. Its central character, Detective Vic Mackey is played by Michael Chiklis, head shaved and body considerably buffed from his Vancouver days on The Commish, who has been nominated for an Emmy for his performance (the awards will be handed out on Sept. 22). The real surprise is that The Shield is being shown uncensored and uncut. Next week's first episode has the most startling twist ending you'll see on TV this year.

GRAPHIC: Color Photo: Bette MacDonald (right) is the governor-general and Fiona Reid her ultra-conservative assistant in the CBC sitcom Rideau Hall.

LOAD-DATE: September 13, 2002



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