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Sci-Fi
May 30th, 2005, 09:35 PM
From San Jose Mercury News:

Summer channel-surfing (http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/living/11773236.htm)

Charlie McCollum
Mon, May. 30, 2005

'Battlestar Galactica'

Return: 10 p.m. July 15, Sci Fi

Since it made the jump from miniseries to weekly series last year, ``Galactica'' has been one of TV's most pleasant surprises. Well written, nicely acted and energetically produced, it has evolved into a top-flight drama, willing to tackle complex issues (such as the nature of terrorism). And as pure science fiction, it's the best television has had to offer since ``Star Trek: The Next Generation'' nearly two decades ago. It returns with new episodes on what should be a great night of sci-fi, along with fresh installments of ``Stargate SG-1'' and ``Stargate Atlantis.''

Other series:

`The 4400'

Return: 9 p.m. Sunday, USA

This will be a weekly version of last summer's well-made miniseries about ``alien abductees'' who return to Earth in a blaze of light. The men, women and children have not aged physically and have strange powers. The first six installments pulled a big, network-size audience. The finale frustrated some fans by resolving very little, but TV viewers can be a forgiving lot, so there's no reason to believe there won't be big viewership for Sunday's episode. The installment begins 18 months after the return to Earth with the 4400 trying to make lives for themselves under the watchful, paranoid eye of the U.S. government. At left: Chad Faust, Patrick Flueger.

`The Comeback'

Debut: 9:30 p.m. Sunday, HBO

A scripted series about unscripted TV, ``The Comeback'' follows 40-ish actress Valerie Cherish (Lisa Kudrow), right, after she agrees to star in a new reality show where cameras will record her every move. Kudrow is one of our best comic actresses (don't expect this to be ``Phoebe: The Later Years''), and she is co-writing the series with Michael Patrick King, who did most of the heavy lifting on ``Sex and the City.'' With that kind of pedigree, ``The Comeback'' should pair nicely with ``Entourage'' (9 p.m.), the inside-Hollywood comedy that had a fine first season, to create a strong Sunday night comedy block.

`Six Feet Under'

Return: 9 p.m. next Monday, HBO

This Emmy-nominated series about the dysfunctional but loving Fisher family returns for its fifth and final season. Once one of TV's top dramas, ``Six Feet'' went into a creative slump last year, losing a large measure of its sardonic wit and fantastical charm while letting its dark side take over. Still, the ensemble remains one of the best in television, and one hopes that creator Alan Ball (``American Beauty'') will pull things together for the series' last outing. At left: Richard Jenkins, Peter Krause.

`Into the West'

Debut: 8 p.m. June 10, TNT

You can say one thing for this six-part, 12-hour miniseries: It doesn't think small. Executive- produced by Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks Television, it's a sprawling, beautifully photographed epic about the opening of the West as told from the viewpoints of both the settlers looking for new lives and the Indians seeking to protect the lives they have. Among the historical touchstones: the California Gold Rush, the construction of the transcontinental railroad and the Indian wars leading up to the ``battle'' of Wounded Knee. At right: Zahn McClarnon, Michael Spears.

`The Closer'

Debut: 9 p.m. June 13, TNT

TNT dropped out of the original drama game a few seasons ago, though it had good series in ``Bull'' and ``Broadcast News.'' Now it's back, and ``The Closer'' is a good start. Kyra Sedgwick (``The Woodsman''), left, stars as Brenda Johnson, a police investigator from Atlanta brought to Los Angeles to head a unit specializing in high-profile murders. But she has come with a fair amount of baggage and, and her arrival is not greeted warmly by the LAPD's robbery-homicide squad. The opening episode is thoroughly engaging, with a wonderful performance by Sedgwick, a good supporting cast and nice atmospheric touches.

`Rescue Me'

Return: 10 p.m. June 21, FX

In its first season, ``Rescue Me,'' created by and starring comedian Denis Leary, emerged as one of TV's best dramas as it explored the profane, sex- and booze-drenched world of the New York City Fire Department. As the series resumes, firefighter Tommy Gavin (Leary, right) has been ostracized by his NYFD buddies and transferred to a backwater firehouse on Staten Island while his wife has split town with the kids. That leaves the troubled Gavin trying to regain the respect of his colleagues, the love of his family and some emotional equilibrium in his life. A summertime must-see.

`Monk'

Return: 10 p.m. July 8, USA

While this series about a brilliant but phobia-ridden detective is still very popular, it experienced a real falloff in quality last season. Most of the problems had to do with the writing and storytelling, but there's still a lot to like about the acting from Tony Shalhoub, left, as Adrian Monk and Traylor Howard as Natalie, his new assistant. Let's hope the new episodes -- which include the return of John Turturro as Monk's agoraphobic brother -- will give the cast more to work with.

`Over There'

Debut: 10 p.m. July 27, FX

FX continues its string of gutsy dramas with a series set on the front lines in Iraq, produced by Steven Bochco (``NYPD Blue'') and Chris Gerolmo (HBO's ``Citizen X''). This is the first show ever to deal with an American armed conflict while the fighting is still taking place, so it'll be interesting to see how it handles the developments in -- and shifting attitudes toward -- the Iraq war. Having seen chunks of the opening episode, I can safely say that this series looks like a real grabber. At left: Sticky Fingaz, Erik Palladino, Nicki Aycox.

`Weeds'

Debut: 10:30 p.m. Aug. 10, Showtime

Showtime keeps looking for a real breakout series, and this could be it. Created by Jenji Kohan (``Friends''), this half-hour comedy concerns a single mom (the always watchable Mary Louise Parker, right) who takes to selling marijuana after her husband dies. The first episode has a lot of laughs that emerge organically from the situation, and nice supporting performances by Elizabeth Perkins (``Big'') and Kevin Nealon (``Saturday Night Live'').