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My 2013 Television Wish List

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Hope you all had a splendid New Year’s celebration, reveling with friends or spending a quiet evening at home (maybe watching an annual Twilight Zone or Marx Brothers marathon on television). I thought (as Twilight Zone plays in the background) I’d share with you my own rather idiosyncratic and stream of consciousness thoughts for the new year in television while wishing you all a happy, successful and healthy 2013.

These are in no particular order:

Rumbelle’s Tale as Old as Time…

My wish for Once Upon a Time is to see more “Rumbelle” (the relationship between Belle and Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold). I freely admit it; I’m a Rumbelle shipper. In fact, any time we can get more of Rumple (Robert Carlyle) on screen, the better. I love the way Belle (Emilie de Ravin) brings out Gold’s (and Rumple’s) vulnerability. I also love the interactions between Rumple and Regina (Lana Parrilla) and Emma (Jennifer Morrison). So, I suppose I’m advocating for more Rumple in general.

I’m also looking forward to Hook’s (Colin O’Donoghue and Cora’s (Barbara Hershey) entry into the Storybrooke fray and the chaos they’ll cause. Might Regina and Rumple with their manipulative magic turn out to be this year’s heroes in confederation with Charming (Josh Dallas) and Emma to defeat them the even eviler bad guys?

Novel Adaptations for Television…

A television series surrounding Charles Todds’ post-WWI police inspector Ian Rutledge would be high on my list. Rutledge is a great entry in the long history of brooding British detectives. I would love to see a Masterpiece Theater series based on this mystery series. Ian suffered greatly during WWI, coming out of the war suffering from PTSD and plagued by an ever-present hallucination, one of the men under his command, the Scottish Hamish, whom Rutledge had to execute while in the trenches. The novels are very visual and Rutledge is one of the most interesting characters to grace an English mystery series. He deserves a series (or a movie, at least).

There have been rumblings for months about a forthcoming HBO adaptation of Stephen King’s Dark TowerAn adaptation of Dark Tower has been in the works forever in various forms for a few years, and it looks like HBO will be the likely venue. Javier Bardem and Russell Crowe’s names both have been mentioned for the lead of Roland, King’s Byronic gunslinger. I would vote for Crowe by a slight edge, especially given his starring turn this year as Javert in Les Miserables. Crowe brings the toughness, presence, and vulnerability needed to pull off the lead. Either actor would be a good choice, but I always pictured Crowe when I first read The Gunslinger

I would also like to see the much-discussed adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series see the light of day. Her time-travel-ish historical novel series is very visual (albeit very complex), and it would make a great long-form cable television venture.

The State of Genre Television…

One of the problems with trying to analyze the popularity of science fiction series is inherent in the ratings system itself. Sci-fi fans are much more likely (I believe) to watch series on the Internet or other new media platform, and not watch live. It makes evaluating the true reach of a series nearly impossible using the conventional ratings system. So, I suppose my biggest wish is for the ratings powers that be devise a more relevant ratings system for the 21st Century.

I’d also like to see Syfy to really get back to its roots as a safe destination for scripted genre television. Too many of its well done science fiction series have bitten the dust long before the NBC-owned network should have given up on them. It’s distressing when Syfy has become more about reality TV than about serious sci-fi. I’m hoping that Syfy’s innovative series/game hybrid Defiance, which premieres this spring, will get a chance to find itself and an audience and not fall victim to too much focus on Nielsen numbers. 

And speaking of Syfy series that were pulled before their time…

I would love to see a conclusion (via movie, graphic novel or written novel) to Stargate Universe. Cancelled by Syfy, Stargate Universe ends with the crew of Destiny in stasis as the ship crosses the void between galaxies (which will take three years, give or take a thousand or so). 

The critically acclaimed series starring Robert Carlyle, Louis Ferreira, and David Blue (which I only discovered after it went off the air) suffered from being too different than its Stargate franchise predecessors, and it deserves a proper ending. The series creators envisioned a five-year story arc, and I strongly hope Syfy (or whomever) eventually gives the story a fitting resolution (maybe even scheduled for 2014, when we can pick up with the crew three years after the series ended, just in time for them to wake up in their stasis pods). 

As wary as I’ve become of Syfy, I’ve really become a fan of The Science Channel (formerly Discovery Science). It has really blossomed as a viable Syfy alternative. Airing Firefly reruns (with extras), and now becoming the home (again with extras) for Fringe and other quality sci-fi, including its series Prophets of SciFi, the network does a great job as well of exploring the nexus between science fact and science fiction, discovery and speculation. 

The mainstream networks also continue to dabble in offering genre television, but they need to give those shows a chance to develop an audience. (To its credit, Fox has historically kept faith with its quirkier series, often staying long after another network would have cut them.) ABC was unwilling to do that with its excellent (and now cancelled) Last Resort, which takes its final bow at the end of January. With its intriguing political brinkmanship premise, Last Resort is an intriguing show with many possibilities. I would love to see it get a new life elsewhere, either on television of in some form of alternative media. 

In addition, the networks also have to allow the genre shows they do attempt to breathe and flourish without trying to shove these square pegs into the round hole of conventional primetime fare. NBC’s Revolution is an unfortunate victim of this tendency, and suffers a bit of an identity crisis as a result. I hope during its long hiatus (it returns at the end of March) it finds itself and gets to keep its dark roots while losing some of its less interesting family drama elements.

Elementary, my dear 21st Century Sherlock…

I look forward to CBS’ new hit series Elementary continuing (and even intensifying) its exploration Sherlock Holmes’ (Jonny Lee Miller) troubled psyche.

What distinguishes Elementary from other current Sherlock Holmes adaptations is that it is as much about Holmes as it is about the challenging cases he solves. I would like to see more of that as the series goes along, picking away at Holmes’ inner turmoils, his drug addiction, his music (which elicits from him such an emotional response in one episode earlier this season), and his relationships (especially with Irene Adler). I also confess I wouldn’t mind Holmes and Watson growing closer, but please (although I know I don’t have to plead for this), no sleeping together. I’m just fine with the lovely unresolved sexual tension between the characters (reminds me of Mulder and Scully in the early years).

 

Perceptually Speaking…

I would like to see Eric McCormack’s (Will and Grace) TNT series Perception to break out of its police procedural pigeonhole. I love McCormack’s Daniel Pierce: a sensitive genius neuropsychaitrist dealing with his own schizophrenia, hallucinations and all.

It’s a fantastic premise, riffing on Sherlock Holmes, Wire in the Blood‘s Tony Hill, and Dr. Gregory House as Pierce aids the FBI with cases that require his expertise in psychological profiling. So, yes, it’s nothing especially new (except maybe the hallucinations), but that doesn’t detract from what it’s trying to do.

Season one ended with a poignant two-parter with Daniel confronting face to face the most horrific of his delusions. I hope that promises more emphasis on the characters and less on the cases as the series moves into season two later this spring. 

And, Finally, How Did House and Wilson Spend New Year’s Eve?

I suppose it’s appropriate for me to include a few House-related New Year’s wishes for a show that has meant a lot to me both personally and professionally over the past several years. No, I don’t wish for a sequel, or even a follow up movie. I really believe that House, M.D. ended just about perfectly.

Of course, I wouldn’t mind seeing (or even writing myself) a novel that picks up with House and Wilson six months or a  year later… But I wish the actors and creative minds behind the series find new success in all their endeavors. A couple of the writers have already landed on Elementary (and Lisa Edelstein did a quickie guest spot on the same series).

Hugh Laurie’s life after House has been mostly about the music (and the release of a couple of movies), but there are indications that he will return to series television in NBC’s Crossbones playing Blackbeard the Pirate. I hope that comes to fruition and that we see Hugh on our small screens again very soon. For those of you who are feeling a bit of House withdrawal, be sure to stop by my House re-watch, part of my Let’s Talk TV LIVE radio show, beginning January 15. 

And what, dear readers, are your 2013 wishes?

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.