This Week's TV: Giant Rats, Alien Sex, And Stuart Gordon's Ultimate Horror

Illustration for article titled This Week's TV: Giant Rats, Alien Sex, And Stuart Gordon's Ultimate Horror

Cancel those Fourth of July plans! This is going to be a totally righteous week of science fiction television. First, there's a new Middleman, featuring those Mexican wrestlers we showed you a while back. And then, giant human-eating rats are going to fight environmentalists, to see who rules science TV. There's a new journey into the heart of horror from Reanimator director Stuart Gordon. You've seen Autobots hazing each other, now you can witness a Decpticon initiation. We finally learn exactly what makes "sex-starved aliens" happy, not to mention where Marina Sirtis has been lately. (Those two things have nothing to do with each other, sorry.) Click through for some juicy television listings.



As usual, the week's TV highlight is a new episode of superhero show The Middleman, at its new time of 10 PM on ABC Family. This time around, the Middleman's sidekick Wendy is supposed to learn fighting from Sensei Ping, but he's kidnapped by a band of Mexican Wrestlers - who also get their hands on the Middleman himself. If you like fun, then I highly recommend The Middleman - I had high hopes for the series, but it's actually surpassed them, mostly thanks to Natalie Morales' engaging performance and the incredibly high-density clever scripts. But don't take my word for it, here's what Henry Jenkins has to say. He's a professor, after all:

The scripts for the series, not to mention the comics, are full of one laugh out loud one-liner after another, most of them playing on precise and pithy references to popular culture: I haven't seen a script this dense with injokes since early Joss Whedon... The performances consistently live up to the quality of the script: everyone gets a few memorable lines and moments in the spotlight in the opening episode and I can't wait to see where the characters go from here.

And here's a trailer for the new episode:

Also tonight, Spike is showing Star Wars Episode II: Attack Of The Clones. The six Star Wars films are appearing almost every night on Spike this week, so if you missed their earlier showings, you can stop panicking and start watching the rise and fall of Anakin.

And at 3 AM (!!) the Sci Fi Channel is showing a new (to Americans) episode of dimension-shifting noir show Charlie Jade. Charlie Jade thinks that 01 Boxer, the dimension-jumping psycho, killed Elliott Krogg, who's become the scapegoat for a bombing that killed a lot of people. Meanwhile, back in Charlie's dystopian home dimension, Jasmin is grappling with the fact that a woman of her social rank is not supposed to be self-sufficient, and she has to decide whether to use sexual favors to survive.

At almost the same time Tuesday morning (3:15), Cinemax is showing My Super Ex-Girlfriend, to get you in the mood for Hancock. Marvel at Hollywood's cluelessness, and maybe get a few chuckles out of an airborne Uma Thurman.



The ever-reliable History Channel is serving up yet another dose of paranoia and mega-science, with a new episode of Mega Disasters at 10 PM. It's about "airborne attack," and it may make you want to wear a breathing mask if you live in the city. Here's the description:

Anthrax is the most feared of all the biological weapons-spores entering the body through the lungs are lethal. In 2001, a simple letter, sent through the US mail, paralyzed a nation, when anthrax spores were found inside. Experts predict that anthrax released over a populated area would result in unprecedented loss of life-a few pounds of anthrax released under the right conditions could kill hundreds of thousands of people. Will anthrax be used to create a worldwide disaster?


There's also a rerun of The Universe, focusing on the moon, at 8 PM.

AMC is showing the Don Knotts space comedy, The Reluctant Astronaut, at 3:45. Here's a giant chunk of that movie:


Tonight it's the battle of the science programs! Two different shows are airing at 9 PM - will you watch the respectable, highbrow science of Nova ScienceNow on PBS? Or a new MonsterQuest on History, focusing on "Super Rats"? Well, let's see... Nova ScienceNow includes segments on personal DNA testing, pulling excess carbon out of the atmosphere, which are sort of hot-button topics right now. On the other hand, MonsterQuest has evidence that rats used to be huge - and these massive, cat-sized rats are making a comeback. And they have an appetite for anything... even human flesh!!


Hmmm... serious science. Or cat-sized people-eating rats. What will it be? Does this sample of Nova ScienceNow help?

Another scheduling smackdown: FX is showing I, Robot (the Will Smith movie) at 5:30, and TMC has Starman, the movie about a widow and an alien on the run, at 6:30. Somehow, I'm not guessing that's much of a dilemma, for anyone who gets TMC.



Tonight at 10 PM, there's a new episode of horror anthology series Fear Itself: "Eater," directed by Stuart Gordon. (Director of everything from Robot Jox to Reanimator.) In "Eater," a rookie cop has to watch over a serial killer called the "Eater," but her fellow cops start acting weird and she realizes nobody is whom they seem. (This website says "Eater" already appeared June 5, but the TV listings and IMDB both say it's a new episode as of this Thursday.)


The Sci Fi Channel is showing episodes of the classic Twilight Zone all day today and tomorrow. I wonder if they'll show that one with the twist ending? And the aliens?

We've talked a lot about how much we love C.S.A.: Confederate States of America, the alternate history movie about a world where the South won the Civil War. It's a wicked satire, but also a sharp-edged mirror on our real world, because it shows how different its alternate world isn't in many ways. And now you can check it out for yourself, on IFC at 7:45.


After showing the first two Planet Of The Apes movies a bunch lately, AMC is finally showing a different one, Escape From The Planet Of The Apes. Unfortunately, it's at 5 AM. Get up early and psych yourself up for work with some ape-action.

At 12:10 Friday morning, Encore has 12 Monkeys, Terry Gilliam's weird time-traveling plague movie starring Brad Pitt and Bruce Willis. I'm probably the only person who didn't like this movie - I found it a little too precious, and felt like it was an inferior remake of Gilliam's Brazil. But maybe I'll take this chance to watch it again and see if I was too harsh. And your chance to watch it again and remind yourselves how wrong I am.


And then at 12:30 AM Friday, Cinemax has Alien Sex Files: Aliens Gone Wild. Here's the plot description: "Lusty extraterrestrials explore human sexuality." It doesn't actually mention anal probes at all. Also, the HBO page says the movie features "gorgeous, sex-starved aliens" who cause an "explosion of erotic activity."

And at 3 AM, TCM is showing the 1941 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. See where the Hulk came from, and brace yourself for some classic 1940s science horror. Or you could just hold out for an hour and watch Mortal Kombat on TNT at 4 AM.



Tonight at 7 PM, ION Television has Gadgetman, starring Marina Sirtis from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Admit it, you wondered what she'd been up to apart from the Trek movies and occasional Voyager cameos. And just look at this great synopsis: "When a gadget-inventing professor is kidnapped for his latest invention, a wallet computer, his son enlists the help of a detective who is not all she appears to be." Marina probably shows whole new facets of her personality here. Or you could just watch The Fantastic Four and Spider-Man 2, back to back on FX.


Also, the Sci Fi Channel has more Twilight Zone all day today, plus all evening until midnight. Clear lots and lots of space on that TiVo, and then cancel those weekend plans.

Continuing its excursion into the later Apes movies, AMC is showing Battle For The Planet Of The Apes, at 9 AM.



At 10:30 AM on Cartoon Network, there's a new Transformers: Animated, the first half of a two-parter called "A Bridge Too Close."

In his plan to take over Cybertron, Megatron captures Bulkhead. The Autobots plan a rescue party and discover that the Blue Racecar is actually an Autobot called Blurr.


And here's a chunk of the episode, complete with a funny Decepticon initiation ceremony:

Also, Encore has the underrated RoboCop 2 at 10:50, followed by Stargate, the movie that launched a huge TV franchise, at 1 PM and 10 PM. And Sci Fi is showing Resident Evil at 5 and Resident Evil: Apocalypse at 7.



We'll never get Robert Rodriguez's version of Barbarella, but at least you can watch his movie The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lava Girl today at noon on the Disney Channel, and you can try and picture Rose McGowan in silver lame kinky boots in the middle of all that. Rodriguez collaborated with his kids to create this superhero fantasy, which is supposed to be one of the worst movies ever, but I've never seen it. Maybe it's only really in the bottom 20 percent.


There's another new Venture Bros. tonight at 11:30, called "What Goes Down, Must Come Up," but no other info is available. And then at midnight there's a new Metalocalypse, called "Dethsources." Those are both part of Cartoon Network's Adult Swim lineup.


Charlie Jane Anders

@btgoss: DId you see I mentioned that Charlie Jade is on at 3 AM tonight?

Also, they're making Sarah Jane Adventures season two right now... so I'm guessing it'll be on Sci Fi eventually...