General News

CHANNEL SURFER: Are You a 'Survivor'?

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Mar 19, 2001 | 11:50am EST

Well, the 1999-2000 TV season is finally, officially over. But don’t worry, that doesn’t mean you have to go out into the sunshine or pick up a good book to read at night. There’s no need to panic. TV has not deserted you. Just think of summer as your chance to watch all the shows you missed while watching “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” or “The 10th Kingdom.”

Here's a look at the tube the week ahead:

Showtime comes aboard the miniseries train with “On the Beach” (8 p.m.-midnight EDT/PDT, Sunday). Armand Assante (“Odysseus”) stars as the commander of a nuclear submarine left to wander the planet after a catastrophic nuclear war in the near future. Based on the novel by Nevil Shute, “Beach” is not just scary scfi-fi fare. It also grows into a love story, as Assante’s sub picks up some Australian survivors (including Rachel Ward), and they all head off for the less contaminated shores of Alaska to go about the business of repopulating the species. The film is not rated, but it’s Showtime, so at the minimum expect "strong language."

Network television may not have abandoned you, but it has abandoned 16 other people, as CBS presents “Survivor” (8 p.m. EDT/PDT, Wednesday). The premise of this death-defying-docu-gameshow features eight men and eight women who actually asked to be marooned on a real desert island for 39 days. They are given only a few coconuts and bamboo shoots, with which they must build spacious homes, fully functional golf carts and a stage so Ginger can put on her little skits. Oh, wait … that’s the wrong show. The difference is, “Survivor” is “Gilligan’s Island” for real. And it’s a competition. As a well-fed, well-rested camera crew documents their struggle to survive on this genuine desert isle, contestants vote each week on which of them should leave. After 13 weeks, it will come down to one person walking away with a million dollars. That’s quite a concept. Seriously… Wow.

Also on Wednesday: "A Supernatural Evening with Santana" (9 p.m. EDT/PDT, Fox). The title kind of says it all, but if you’re wondering, it’s a solid hour of live performances featuring virtuoso rock guitarist and Grammy darling Carlos Santana, as joined by fellow Grammy darlings Lauryn Hill and Sarah McLachlan, Everlast and Rob ("Smooth") Thomas of Matchbox 20.

It’s a Wednesday-heavy week, as yet another potential little gem, "Clerks," debuts on ABC at 9:30 p.m. (EDT/PDT). This is an animated series based on the 1994 film of the same name by director/writer/comic-book-aficionado Kevin Smith. Smith (who also lends his voice to the character of Silent Bob) has griped that the network is dumping this long-in-the-works toon, but if the network is ready to get in the animation game, Smith might just be the guy to get the ball rolling for them.

And, finally, for you folks who like your sci-fi with a heart to go along with the form-fitting outfits, you might want to give "Farscape" (8 p.m. EDT/PDT, Friday, Sci-Fi Channel) a look. Produced by Robert Halmi Jr. (yes, the son of the guy who brings you network mega-spectacles such as "Gulliver’s Travels"), "Farscape" is not only a visual smorgasbord of otherworldly images, but also it's unexpectedly well written. For fans of the genre, this is the show that "Star Trek: Voyager" wants to be. Give it 15 minutes to hook you, and you’ll see that there is nothing cookie cutter about "Farscape." The characters are all well defined, and the plots are unique. This week, Capt. Crais (a cool recurring villain) kidnaps the "child" of the intelligent biomechanical spaceship Moya, which will one day grow to be a mighty Leviathan warship. See what we mean? Cool, huh?

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