Battlestar Galactica (Sci-Fi, currently Fridays 4c; returns to regular time in October when new season begins.) Light years from last century’s campy and kitsch Battlestar Galactica, Sci-fi’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. Read more about why I TiVo this show here. The show is arch-heavy (storyline continues from one episode to the next), so catch up on the past seasons at Sci-Fi’s site or try Wikipedia.
Bones (FOX, Wednesdays 7c, reruns return July 5). New last season, this crime drama currently has 21 episodes under its belt. Officially, Bones is “a police procedural with humor and heart—a darkly amusing series that porbes the humanity behind the scientists who probe the inhumanity behind horrific crimes.” Unofficially, it’s a unique take on the crime drama genre starring Buffy-verse’s former-Angel David Boreanaz as a former Special Forces turned FBI agent Seeley Booth who often pulls Jeffersonian forensic anthropologist (and novelist) Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) into his homicide cases. It mixes dry and wry humor in with serious crime investigation—which, to the relief of this blogger, usually skips the gore and graphic crime reenactments associated with the CSI genre. What’s the God-talk angle? Brennan is cut-and-dried what-you-see-is-what-you-get. Her worldview is that everything works according to anthropological drives and needs, leaving no room for God or faith. That view, however, is periodically challenged by Booth’s belief in God, and every so often his faith works it way into their lives and conversations. Surprisingly, it has played out in some thoughtful ways.
Doctor Who (Sci-Fi, Fridays 8c). This BBC-regenerated series focuses on the Ninth Doctor and is concluding its first season here in the States (tomorrow, in fact) while the UK is on its Tenth Doctor and concluding its second season this summer. Sound a bit confusing? Just who is the Doctor and what does he do? If you’re new to this sci-fi classic (which began back in the 1970s)—or you just want to catch up—check out the BBC site, Wikipedia or Shannon Sullivan’s site. Basically (using Sullivan’s neatly done summary) the Doctor is “an alien Time Lord from the planet Gallifrey who, by virtue of his people's unique physiology, is able to recover from mortal injuries by 'regenerating' into a new body with a new personality. In direct contravention of his people's edicts, the Doctor fled Gallifrey in a stolen time machine -- a TARDIS -- which is now stuck in the shape of a blue British police box due to a malfunction. The Doctor traverses the universe, usually in the company of companions he meets along the way, aiding the oppressed, fighting injustice, and putting his unique and indelible mark on the broad canvas of time and space.” What’s the faith angle? Well, 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. Give it a go, bloke! (Ack, that was even more pathetic than my attempts at an English accent.)
Hustle (AMC, Saturdays 9c). Another BBC import, this delightful series just concluded its first season here in the States and its third in the UK. According to AMC, the drama is “follows the exploits of a group of London-based con artists who pull off daringly intricate stings to swindle money from 'respectable' but despicably greedy marks. With plenty of suspense, style and humor, an occasional touch of romance, and always a series of unforeseen twists, each episode takes the viewer deeper into the hidden world of scammers and grifters to reveal the personalities and perverse artistry of the high-end confidence game.” Its got an old-time feel, like the 1960 Ocean’s Eleven, and it's peppered with periodic winks-and-nods and character asides directed to the viewer. What’s God-talk and con men (and women) have in common? Well, I really couldn’t articulate that until the end of Season One finale, when the characters addressed the viewer with some quippy advice: In a nutshell, they tell us that you can’t con an honest man but someone who wants something for nothing is an easy mark. The crew only goes after this sort, so most shows are entertaining and somewhat insightful looks into how one’s sin leads to an eventual downfall—resulting in a somewhat witty take on Romans 1. (One note of advice: I put subtitles up when watching this one. While my husband—who spent some time in England in his college days—has no trouble with the accents, I can’t keep up, ack.)
Smallville (WB, Thursdays 7c). Just finishing its fifth season, Smallville chronicles the years of a young Clark Kent—as well as the younger years of arch-villain Lionel Luthor, ace-reporter Lois Lane and other legendary characters—before he becomes Superman. What’s the faith angle? Read why this blog likes comic-book movies and TV shows and thinks they’re relevant to both Christians and our culture. Also, you can read this blog’s take on an episode earlier this season. Since this series, like BG, is rather arch-heavy, you can catch up on the previous seasons at the WB’s site, Wikipedia or KryptonSite (which is also a killer site for spoilers, if you like that kind of thing).
Of course, as I’ve mentioned before, there’s always Lost, Law & Order and Stargate SG1. Or you can just give that little black box a break for the summer. It’ll all be there when you get back.
(Image: Patrick Q at flikr.com)