If there’s one reason I hate not having cable other than not having HBO, it’s not having BBC America. And chief among the reasons I want BBC America is so that I can see Life on Mars, the time-traveling police procedural that combines two of my favorite tastes – cops and science fiction. (Although I hear that BBC America edits their episodes, so I should probably be complaining about not having a region free DVD player instead.) Life, about a 21st century cop transported back to 1973 Manchester, wrapped up its two-season run on the BBC last week, and Zap2It recently reported that a spin-off, also titled after a David Bowie song, is in the works. 

Ashes to Ashes will once again focus on a 21st cop partnered with Phillip Glenister’s DCI Gene Hunt, but there are enough changes for this to excite fans of the series: The cop will be female, Ashes will jump eight years to 1981, and will take place in London, where Hunt has transferred. Ashes is described by executive producer Jane Featherstone as “a touch of Moonlighting teamed with a measure of Miami Vice”, and is currently in pre-production. I haven’t even seen Life on Mars, and I’m already excited for this – if anything, the soundtrack should be spectacular. 


Author John Updike is one of the Great American Old Dude Authors (yes, I’m twelve), alongside Norman Mailer, Gore Vidal, and, until recently, Kurt Vonnegut (R.I.P.). His latest novel, Terrorist, was about a young boy pulled into a plot to blow up the Lincoln Tunnel and the race by his mother and a teacher to stop it. Sounds perfect for Lifetime, which has signed a deal to adapt the novel for an original movie. Sony Pictures Television optioned Terrorist, and the project has yet to find a writer or a director. I say get the guy who did Mother, May I Sleep With Danger? If he’s unavailable, get whoever wrote Stalking Back, Eye of the Stalker, or A Child Too Many. And is Valerie Bertinelli perfect for the mom? How about Patricia Richardson as the concerned teacher? I smell Emmys! 


Oh, NBC. You break my heart. You picked up 30 Rock recently and word on the street is you’re about to do the same with Friday Night Lights: Good. But then the “ever reliable” New York Post reports that you’re going to record your worst ratings in history this year, despite showing a profit overall. You’ve lost your cache as being able to attract the most affluent viewers – that’s ABC now – and you’re ranking fourth in the oh-so-coveted 18 to 49 demographic. While some of this certainly can be chalked up to the juggernaut of American Idol, the fact remains that Heroes is NBC’s one hit of the season, and that doesn’t even come back until April 23rd. To put this into perspective: The flagging fortunes of ABC and CBS were turned around by a couple new massive hits – CSI, Lost, Desperate Housewives. NBC needs at least three or four Grey’s Anatomy-sized successes when it comes to its shows in order to put it back on top. A tall order for any network. Still, I think NBC realizes that, given their fate over the past couple of years, they’re going to need some time to come back from this. Hence the new motto – “be best first, then be first” – that’s apparently making the rounds at the network. Let’s hope they stick to it. Oh, and NBC? Freaks and Geeks reunion movie. Make it happen. 


John Cho, star of American Pie, Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, is starring in a Showtime adaptation of Lanford Wilson’s brilliant play Balm in Gilead, about the hookers, drug addicts, and heels that occupy a late-night café. I say he’s perfect for the role of Dopey, played by Gary Sinise in the original production. For all the theatre nerds (what up, my homies?) who just flipped their shit over that news (in a bad way), I’m lying. However, Cho will be starring in an untitled comedy pilot for CBS that’s basically Balm in Gilead with quirky yuppies instead of aforementioned hookers and drug addicts. Cho will play a guy who conducts business at the diner from midnight to six a.m. via his laptop, says the Hollywood Reporter. (And my girl card demands that I remind you Cho was the best part of an annoying-even-for-them episode of Grey’s Anatomy where his character suggested a whole different, more interesting world outside of the richies who work at Seattle Grace.) 


Question: Are any THUD readers watching The Tudors, the critically acclaimed and hit Showtime series starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as King Henry VIII? I hear it’s supposed to be quite good – a Sopranos in the sixteenth century – and it’s giving Showtime some of its best ratings in years. In addition to Rhys Meyers, The Tudors has a wonderful supporting cast – CHUD favorites Sam Neill and Jeremy Northam (as Sir Thomas More, the philosopher-saint my Catholic friends won’t shut up about!), as well as Maria Doyle Kennedy (from The Commitments) and Gabrielle Anwar (who I had a huge crush on in her For Love or Money days). Originally, The Tudors was supposed to be a ten-episode miniseries, but Showtime recently ordered a second season of the historical drama for 2008. The second season will begin shooting in Dublin later this year, and will feature the marriage of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn, the Reformation, and the eventual beheading of Anne Boleyn. (Variety already made a “spoiler alert!” joke.) 

Showtime also ordered a second year of Ira Glass’ documentary series This American Life, which has gotten mixed reviews (including a pretty funny one in The New Yorker) and I haven’t yet gotten a chance to see. If anything, based on episode descriptions, it seems like Glass is playing it safe in terms of what he’s choosing to cover – TAL ‘s radio series did some pretty daring stuff – so maybe the fact that Showtime has faith in him will let him stretch a little. And hopefully get Sarah Vowell to do a segment – because, you know, she’s fucking awesome. Also renewed earlier this season were a third year of Weeds, starring all-time-hot mom and brilliant thespian Mary-Louise Parker (and her breasts), and a second season of Dexter, the Michael C. Hall serial killer show. I only saw the pilot of Dexter, but it was pretty great.