There's actually a lot of great science fiction TV coming up — unfortunately, it's almost all at the end of the week. Doctor Who returns to the Sci Fi Channel, Ben 10 starts a new series with a more grown-up hero, and Smallville comes back from hiatus with an episode that will change everything. (Or at least some things.) There are also new Battlestar, Sarah Jane and Torchwood episodes for American viewers. But what can you do to pass the time until Thursday comes around? We've got you covered, with possibly the most ridiculous time-travel show of all time, plus UFO dogfights. Minor spoilers ahead.
Another exciting movie: AMC is showing The Reluctant Astronaut starring Don Knotts at 10 PM. He has a fear of heights, and somehow gets roped into joining the space program. Dude, it's Don Knotts. It'll rule!
Tonight is also the start of "Ben 10 week" on the Cartoon Network, as commenter Dustin L. points out. (Thanks!) It's all designed to help you get up to speed with the story of Ben, a kid who can transform into 10 superpowered aliens, before his new show Ben 10: Alien Force starts Friday. Tonight is Ben 10: Interactive at 8 PM.
Also, the Sci Fi Channel is showing its alien abduction miniseries, Taken, every day at noon and 1 PM this week. And tonight is the season (and probably series) finale of New Amsterdam, the show about the guy who lives forever thanks to a magic spell. In this episode, he investigates the death of a drowned woman, which may be tied in with a string of robberies of wealthy men, connected to a dating service. This causes John to have a flash back to the time he stole a diamond from his lover in the 1920s.
There's another new episode of The Universe featuring the "Biggest Things In Space," on the History Channel at 9 PM. I was sold as soon as I found out about the Lymann-Alpha Blob. Here's the official description:
We can't compare anything on earth to the biggest things known in space. The Lymann Alpha blob is a bubble like structure containing countless galaxies—perhaps the biggest object in the entire universe. Regions of radio-emitting gas called "radio lobes" could be even bigger. Then there are super galaxy clusters which are hundreds of galaxies merged together due to cosmic collisions. Discover which is the largest planet, star, star cluster, constellation, black hole, volcano, galaxy, explosions, moon, storm, impact crater and "void" in space.
And Ben 10 week continues on Cartoon Network, with a never-before-seen episode at 8 PM.
The Cartoon Network is re-running Ben 10: The Secret of the Omnitrix, a 90-minute movie, starting at 8 PM, as part of Ben 10 week.
Every week I question whether I should keep mentioning UFO Hunters as a must-see bit of sci-fi-ish TV. And every week, the show sucks me in with another insane episode title. This time, it's "UFO Dogfights." Yes, that's what you think it is. U.S. military jets had engagements in the 1970s and 1980s with objects that were moving too fast to be anything terrestrial. Did our jets shoot it out with an alien spaceship? It's a fair question. That's Wednesday at 10 on the History Channel.
IFC is showing two great movies in the afternoon. At 2:35, they're showing Primer, one of the weirdest and most cerebral time-travel movies of all time. And then at 4, they're showing C.S.A.: Confederate States of America, a bizarre and provocative alternate present, where the South won the Civil War and modern inventions like antidepressants are used to keep slaves in line.
Meanwhile, the Cartoon Network is showing the live-action Ben 10 movie, Race Against Time, at 8 PM, continuing Ben 10 week. Apparently it's directed by Alex Winter, star of Bill and Ted, so you know it'll be awesome.
The Sci Fi Channel's Friday night lineup starts to take shape, and it's looking pretty unbeatable. At 8 PM, you have a new half-hour episode of the Sarah Jane Adventures, "Revenge Of The Slitheen Pt. 1." Despite featuring one of the less thrilling monsters from the new Doctor Who series, this episode is actually quite good — much better than the iffy pilot which aired last week. The cast starts to click a lot more with the substitution of Clyde for Kelsey. And the whole subversive teachers-are-evil subplot reminded me of Buffy, in a good way.
Also on Friday, at 12:45 in the afternoon, TMC is showing Brother From Another Planet, the classic John Sayles film about an alien stranded in New York.
There are two reruns of the Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon on the CW, starting at 9:30. But no new Transformers: Animated on Cartoon Network — it'll be back next week.
I'm drawing a blank, sorry. There just doesn't seem to be anything on Sunday. Oh, Spike is rerunning Star Wars Episode 1 a couple of times. That's about it.