Angel: Season Five
What lies ahead Buffy The Vampire Slayer is no more, and Angel almost bit the dust after poor ratings for its fourth season (ironically, the finest to date). There’s much at stake in the show’s revamp. Sharp-tongued Cordelia Chase (a strong presence who dates back to the pilot episode of Buffy) is no longer a regular (but may make guest appearances), while James Marsters joins the cast as bleach blond Vampire Spike – last seen sacrificing himself in the Hellmouth.
Enterprise: Season Three
What lies ahead We’ve been here before: a few seasons into its run, a Star Trek series undergoes a shakedown in an attempt to attract the flagging mainstream audience. While Deep Space Nine added Worf (Michael Dorn) to its line-up, and Voyager sought popularity in the sparkly skin-tight catsuits of Seven of Nine (Jeri Ryan), Enterprise seeks acceptance with big guns – as a squad of Military Assault Command Operation soldiers (MACOs) come aboard. Oh, and T’Pol (Jolene Blalock) gets a new, sexier look.
Charmed: Season Six
What lies ahead One of the few returning shows that isn’t undergoing a complete makeover, Charmed is sticking by its enchanting blend of romance and spells.
Smallville: Season Three
What lies ahead The smalltown boy has certainly changed: influenced by red kryptonite, Clark is living the high life in Metropolis under the alias Kal – Armani clothes, bachelor pad… the whole works. Falling in with crime lord Morgan Edge (played by Blade Runner’s Rutger Hauer), he’s even hired to break into LuthorCorp – but Clark has other concerns when Lana comes to town.
We like Dushu’s undeniable star quality, the distinctive direction of film-maker Phillip Noyce (Dead Calm, The Quiet American, Clear and Present Danger) and the casting of Final Destination 2’s lovely AJ Cook. Former Buffy writer Douglas Petrie is co-executive producer.
Joan of Arcadia
We like It’s quirky ("God is being snippy with me!"), slightly edgy – there’s critical mention of the Catholic Church – and the show’s male sex symbol is a paraplegic. The pilot is surprisingly enjoyable, and the movie stars (Mantegna, Steenburgen) are a seal of quality.
But The wall to wall soundtrack by the likes of Coldplay doesn’t rock, and the title sucks.
We like Trust HBO, home of acclaimed hits like Six Feet Under and The Sopranos, to devise this year’s most stimulating new show. Some viewers might turn off from the opening glimpses of chronic illness and viscera, but they’ll be missing out: Carnivàle isn’t comfortable viewing, but much of its allure lies in the challenge.
But Infant death, rape, disfigurement… it’s not pretty.
by David Richardson