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Mid-summer TiVo meanderings

While summer is a blockbusting big-screen smorgasbord, it’s usually a season of slim pickings for the small screen. But here are a few nuggets for your TiVo—from two Duval westerns to some upcoming highlights from the sci-fi and UK options mentioned earlier.

Broken Trail (June 25 & 26, AMC 8/7c). This two-part miniseries (which this blog’s been eagerly anticipating) follows, as described by TV Guide, “a couple of hard-bitten cowpokes who plan to drive a large herd of horses 1,000 miles from Oregon to Wyoming. Their arduous trek gets complicated when they come across a passel of young Chinese women who’ve been sold as sex slaves and are being transported to a mining town. Naturally, the gentlemen try to save the ladies.” A more recent TV Guide says, “Print Ritter is the latest in a line of damaged men in Duvall’s repertoire. The character is reminiscent of his Oscar-winning turn as MacSledge, the has-been country singer from 1983’s Tender Mercies, as well as hotheaded preacher Sonny Dewey from Duvall’s 1997 film, The Apostle. ‘They’re guys who have histories but can’t make things work,’ he says. ‘I always try to find the contracitions in a character, a moment of vulnerability in the guy. That’s what makes drama.’” Both Mercies and Apostle are wonderful God-talk films—and a character reminiscent of MacSledge or Dewey is a good-enough reason for this blog to tune in to Broken Trail.

Lonesome Dove (July 2, Hallmark 4/3c). If you can’t get enough of good westerns and Duval, tune into Halmark next Sunday afternoon. As TV Guide describes it, all eight hours will run of “the landmark 1989 miniseries that landed Duvall an Emmy nomination for his enthralling portrayal of complicated ex-Texas Ranger Augustus McCrae. Duvall cites McCrae as his favorite role—and, set against a storied half century of acting, that’s saying something. ‘I’d rather play Augustus McCrae than Hamlet or King Lear,’ he says.” The miniseries also boasts Tommy Lee Jones, Diane Lane, Rick Schroder, Danny Glover, Robert Urich and Tim Scott.

Hustle (AMC, June 28 10/9c). TV Guide says of this kicking-off-the-second-season episode of the UK imported con-man series, “Director-comic Mel Smith is perfectly cast as obnoxious pub owner Benny Frazier, who is eager to turn his untalented son into a rap star. This makes them easy pickings for Albert (Robert Vaughn), who convinces Benny that he has contact in the record industry—Danny.” Why is a con-artist TV-show on a God-talk blog? As I mentioned before, the series is a somewhat witty take on Romans 1.

And now for that sci-fi stuff:

Battlestar Galactica (SciFi, June 30 5/4PMc; July 14, 21 and 28 2/1AMc). SciFi is rerunning second season episodes this summer. Upcoming are The Farm, Home (Parts 1 and 2—with the second containing a great deal of faith-talk) and Final Cut (with guest star Lucy Lawless). Why is this show on a God-talk blog? As I mentioned before, SciFi’s BG follows the survivors of a polytheistic humanity as they struggle to survive the jihad of the monotheistic, now soul-burdened Cylons who are indistinguishable in appearance from humans. What’s the God-talk angle? This century’s BG seriously (and impressively) explores (among other things) why we fight and kill each other. Faith plays heavy in this on-going exploration, so it gets quite a bit of air-time, both in the personal lives of the characters as well as a larger movement and motivation in the battle between the two groups. Not only does this show deal with faith issues more often, but I think it does a better job of exploring the issues than many other shows out there, including Lost. The show is arch-heavy (storyline continues from one episode to the next), so catch up on the past seasons at SciFi’s site or try Wikipedia. Also, use viewer discretion, as this series does contain scenes with graphic sexual and violent content.

Dr. Who (SciFi, June 25, July 16 and 23 11pm; July 5 8/7am-3/2pm). SciFi is also rerunning first-season episodes of this UK-import, including a marathon of the first eight episodes on July 5. Blogwise, check out OT Space, who has a post on a second-season episode (they're ahead by one season in the UK) that smacks of God-talk. Be warned, however, that the episode he’s blogging hasn’t aired in the States yet. Why is Dr. Who on a God-talk blog? Well, like I’ve said before, mostly it’s just plain, campy fun (which will grow on you if you give it a chance). But occasionally an episode strikes a chord with this blog, like this one from earlier in Season 1.

Firefly (SciFi, July 14 8/7am-5/4pm). This is one of the best darn sci-fi shows ever to exist on television as well as a September 2005 big-screen film (Serenity) which follows up the characters after show’s untimely demise. Why is it on a God-talk blog? Heck, this Emmy-nominated series had good writing, good characters and good storylines (most of the time)—and it took for granted that God existed, mostly through the character of Shepherd Book (a preacher man). SciFi is running a mini-marathon, showing back-to-back the last 10 episodes of the one-season series. Of those, my favorite line from the whole series comes from Jaynestown. Shepherd Book comes upon River (a savant running from the big gov folks) cutting out parts of the Bible that don’t make sense to her. He stops her, telling her: “It’s not about making sense. It’s about believing in something and letting that belief be real enough to change your life. It’s about faith. You don’t fix faith, River. It fixes you.” Check out this series—it’s well worth it. (For more info on the series, check out Wikipedia.)

As for the big-screen on the small one, tonite Windtalkers is on A&E (8/7c), a film with a lot of God-talk imagery and allusions. Or there’s Forest Gump on TNT (8/7c), which contains (recent-visitor-to-this-blog) Annie’s favorite movie portraying a God-moment. Next Thursday (June 29), you can catch back-to-back showings of Superman and Superman II if you are lucky enough to have Cinemax (7:30/8:30c and 10/9c). Superman Returns (a film this blog’s been following), which hits the big screen on June 28, is said to be set five years after the ending of Superman II.

For one last morsel, Camassia posts some Lilo & Stitch musings in A bug’s life, and death. I’ve been dying to do something like this on Jimmy Neutron. Ah, someday.

(Images: TNT, SciFi and SciFi)