Out of the Box UK TV highlights for December 2000

selected from
Cult Times #63

Jump to:
Week One: 2nd - 8th December
Week Two: 9th - 15th December
Jump to :
Week Three: 16th - 22nd December
Week Four: 23rd - 29th December

All highlights this month by Paul Spragg (PS)

For full day-by-day listings of all UK TV channels, see magazine.
For Christmas week details, see this issue and revisions in the new
Cult Times Christmas Special, coming soon

Red Dwarf VIII Highlight of the Month Red Dwarf VIII
Complete series
From Monday 4th, 22.20
Sky One channel logo

After a long absence they were back, and things were getting back to normal in several different ways. Red Dwarf VIII was something of a return to form for the show after the half-hearted Season Seven.

Firstly it featured the return of Rimmer, a Rimmer every bit as irritating as he’d been in the beginning, mainly because this was the Rimmer from the beginning. Secondly, it featured the fantastic Mac McDonald as Captain Hollister, Norman Lovett back as Holly and had a fun and interesting premise. Thirdly, it had laughs galore, something that didn’t really come thick and fast in Season Seven.

For long-term fans it’s got some neat links back to the early days and while not every episode may be to everyone’s taste, there’s something for everyone here. Although there were still elements that didn’t quite work (parts of Only the Good... seem rushed and inconclusive, for instance), this was a big step up, and makes the still-on-the-drawing-board movie look like an extremely good idea. If only they’d get on and make it... (PS)

2nd - 8th December • Back to top

Cult Times LogoSelected from
Cult Times #63

BBC2 logo

BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Something Blue
Thursday, 18.45

 

Poor Willow. It's not easy to get over a relationship where your boyfriend cheated on you at the best of times, but when he did so with another werewolf and then left town, you might be expected to feel a bit emotionally fragile. What you don't do if you're of the Wiccan persuasion is cast a spell intended to help your pain, but which instead causes it for others.

A backfiring spell causes Giles to lose his vision, Xander to become a demon magnet and, best of all, Buffy and Spike to start making wedding plans.

There's laughs, tears, strong emotions and some really quite unpleasant moments as Willow tries to rebuild her life, and it's good to see trouble coming from within rather than without, something of a theme in Season Four. (PS)

 
Channel 5 logo

XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS
Locked Up and Tied Down
Saturday, 20.05

Starting this week
THE X-FILES
Season Seven - first terrestrial UK showing. Well, not exactly starting this week, but as news of its return came too late for us last month, it's worth noting Mulder and Scully's return to BBC2 on Wednesdays at 21.00

Continuing its descent into darker and darker storylines, this week sees Xena thrown in prison for a crime she committed many years earlier: the murder of a young girl. It's only when she's been through the usual manacle-related fun that she finds someone on the inside who is rather familiar...

Xena has always prided herself on the reasonableness of her murdering days, only killing men and not women and defenceless children. To see her giving in to the unpleasantness of Shark Island Prison is very moving, but naturally Gabrielle is on hand to get her friend back out. An important episode for Xena's emotional development. (PS)

9th - 15th December • Back to top

Cult Times LogoSelected from
Cult Times #63

BBC2 logo

ROSWELL
Blind Date
Thursday, 18.00

 

Liz is having troubles with Max. In her usual helpful manner, Maria has taken it upon herself to make Liz cheery again and has entered - and won - a radio competition that will provide Liz with a blind date. Using a description that seems suspiciously like Max, Liz is provided with an out-of-town hunk. However, when Max has a sip of alcohol and gets instantly plastered, he enlists Kyle's help to win Liz back.

This is an episode that shows off all of Roswell's strengths: it centres on Max and Liz and the amazing chemistry of Jason Behr and Shiri Appleby. It has lashings of humour, especially with the drunk Max and Kyle, where Kyle keeps seeing alien powers in action without realizing it. And it has some lovely sequences where Liz and her kind and sensitive date attempt to avoid the privacy-busting cameras, following them around to cover their date for the papers.

This is why the show was picked up for a second year: the alien aspect of the series' premise is merely a slightly more unusual teenage problem that causes hassle for the course of true love rather than being treated as a huge difference between two people. The cast are all on fine form, Kyle in particular being involved more than he has been in many recent episodes and Alex is coming into his own. It's all uphill from here, kids! (PS)

 
Sky One logo

STARGATE SG-1
Chain Reaction
Wednesday, 20.00


Season Four - first UK showing of episodes not yet transmitted in the US

The SGC is turned upside down when General Hammond suddenly decides to turn in his resignation.

Now, we're going to have to be a bit cagey about this one, as Sky 1 have once more overtaken the US transmissions of Stargate. Therefore, no preview tapes are currently available of this episode. However, after three years it's good to see Don S Davis finally being allowed a turn in the spotlight. We're promised a look at the general's home life, something we rarely see of most of the characters and some strong scenes as he says goodbye to SG-1, his surrogate family. But why has he resigned? You'll have to watch and see. Although, maybe slightly disappointingly, it's unlikely he'll be taken to The Village... (PS)

16th - 22nd December • Back to top

Cult Times LogoSelected from
Cult Times #63

BBC2 logo

FARSCAPE
Liars, Guns.../Die Me Dichotomy
Monday/Tuesday, 18.25/18.50

 

Y'know, this is starting to get annoying. I mean, I really want to see these shows, but when TV companies show them before the networks Stateside, it's impossible to see them before we go to press.

Anyway, enough of my problems: Farscape. The last four episodes are showing on BBC2 this month prior to their transmission in the US, which means that you, yes you, can send e-mails to Americans spoiling the plots for them for a whole month!

It's all been building to this. Crichton and Aeryn's on-off relationship, building troubles between D'Argo and Chiana as they realize they're not particularly compatible; Zhaan's probably glad to be well out of it. And then there's Scorpius nestling quietly in Crichton's brain. With the final two episodes this week, it's time to see where it's all been going and, if Season One's final few stories are anything to go by, you can expect some big surprises, the return of some old friends and foes and a large amount of death and destruction. I can't wait. Miss it at your peril. (PS)

 
Channel 4 logo

ANGEL
To Shanshu in LA
Sunday, 00.00

 

As Wesley attempts to translate a scroll Angel has 'liberated', Wolfram & Hart send a demon to distract Angel from their plans, a demon which starts his campaign by incapacitating the vampire's friends.

Showing just what it's made of, the first season finale of Angel is simply superb. Without Buffy's crutch of providing closure at the end of the year, To Shanshu in LA is free to build up Wolfram & Hart's role in the series without tying up all the loose ends. What works best, though, is the use of the characters. With all the recurring cast on hand (a concept one of them will find curiously ironic), there are enough fights, twists and huge explosions to keep anyone happy.

Plus, after a season of relatively mild injuries, we get to see just what can happen if someone's really after the Angel Investigations team. Much of what happens here impacts on Season Two, where it gets even better... (PS)

hIGHMore highlights, with full UK broadcast and merchandise listings for
December, in Cult Times #63
Cult Times