TV in Review: Black Books and Stargate:Universe

TV in Review: Black Books and Stargate:Universe

Black BooksRating:  PG Distributor: ABC2 Release Date: Tuesdays, 8:00 PMEveryone knows of at least one television series that their friends are always raving about, but which they are yet to find time to see. Sometimes it’s the very enthusiasm they display that is a little off-putting. It can’t be that good, right? Let me assure you Black Books […]

By Mark HadleyMonday 7 Mar 2011TV and StreamingReading Time: 3 minutes

Black Books

Rating:  PG
Distributor: ABC2
Release Date: Tuesdays, 8:00 PM

Everyone knows of at least one television series that their friends are always raving about, but which they are yet to find time to see. Sometimes it’s the very enthusiasm they display that is a little off-putting. It can’t be that good, right? Let me assure you Black Books is – and it’s about time you listened to your friends and took in a few episodes.

Black Books is built around the comic talents of Dylan Moran who plays Bernard Black, the owner of a doomed book shop, and his only employee Manny Bianco, played by fellow funny man Bill Bailey. Bernard is an anti-social alcoholic who hates nothing more than people inquiring about books; Manny is a mania-driven obsessive who has an uncanny ability to rub Black up the wrong way. Together they are the odd couple of comedy. The laughs push the boundaries of believability in much the same way as other British classics like The Goodies and Fawlty Towers but it’s an exercise in lunacy well worth the watching.

ABC2 is currently airing the second series of Black Books, but you can trust the third and final is certain to follow. The entire three series only produced 18 half-hour episodes but they still managed to earn two BAFTAs for Best Situation Comedy. If there is a spiritual side to the series it’s the quite believable moral that dissolution delivers its own just desserts. Black is a comic-tragic character: he will never get the things he longs for because his own faults keep getting in the way.

 

Stargate: Universe

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Rating:  PG
Distributor: Eleven
Release Date: Thursdays, 8:30 PM

Science Fiction fans will breath a sigh of relief; the rest of the country will wonder what the fuss is about. However I am happy to say that the latest and long awaited Stargate spin-off series has finally hit the Australian airwaves.

If you fall into ‘the rest’, let me catch you up quickly. Stargate was a not-so-bad 1994 flick staring Kurt Russell and James Spader. They were the point men on a team that discovered a system of interstellar gateways connecting earth with a forgotten alien empire. Three years later Sony Pictures Television launched Stargate SG-1, a spin-off series that manufactured ten seasons worth of entertainment out of a secret military team exploring just how far the stargates could take humanity, and how many conflicts they could become embroiled in. Stargate: Atlantis, the spin-off of the spin-off, gave viewers another five seasons about the adventures of a permanent base in the Pegasus Galaxy where scientists discovered …you guessed it, a new system of interstellar gateways.

Stargate: Universe is the latest child of writer/director Roland Emmerich’s original idea. A little understood symbol has been hanging around at the bottom of all these stargates called the ninth chevron. Scientists realise that it actually leads to an ancient space ship nick-named ‘Destiny’ that has been on an epic voyage for thousands of years. When a motley team of scientists and military personnel transport aboard they discover that they don’t have the power to return to earth. They must solve the mystery Destiny presents or spend the rest of their lives trekking across the unknown reaches of space.

Stargate: Universe is a return to the well-written science fiction of the Star Trek era with imaginative futures providing the settings for some very present day problems. Robert Carlyle plays the dangerous Dr. Nicholas Rush and Louis Ferreira the stalwart Colonel Everett Young. Their talent gives real presence to plots that examine questions like the value of human life, might vs. right and the purpose of the individual. Stargate: Universe is also full of the mystery that cloaks the real powers behind the universe. However you can bet that every puzzle will have a decidedly scientific rather than a spiritual solution.