Sci-Fi Takes Over Friday Night TV

The cast of Joss Whedon's new FOX series 'Dollhouse', including Tahmoh Penikett (far left)

Dig science fiction? Make plans to stay home Friday nights.

Fox has announced its midseason schedule which means returns and changes for its genre shows, including Dollhouse and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse will finally debut on Friday, February 13th at 9:00 pm. While the evening proved to be the kiss of death for Whedon’s Firefly, Fox is supporting the new sci-fi series starring Eliza Dushku by moving Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles to the same night in the 8:00 time slot, where it will live for the remainder of its sophomore season.

While the pairing sounds like it makes logical sense, it seems to suggest an instability in Fox’s scheduling. Originally, Dollhouse was to be paired on Monday nights with the ratings powerhouse 24, while the troubled Sarah Connor Chronicles was due to go on hiatus, despite being picked up for a full season by the network. Likewise, Dollhouse has had its share of pre-season problems, which culminated in Whedon shutting down production for two weeks in early September.

The x factor in all of this, of course, is Friday. While the night was the final resting place for Whedon’s Firefly, it was also the orginal home to both Fox's The X-Files and Millennium, and could possibly be seen as a “nerd sanctuary,” that is, a place to offer shows that have the potential to develop a cult following which can then be cultivated into a larger audience. Also to be considered of course, is the fact that Sci Fi will begin the final ten episode run of Battlestar Galactica on January 16th at 10pm, giving science fiction fans a solid three hour block of programming.

Speaking of BSG, Sci Fi has announced that it will air BSG: Essential Elements at 11:00pm EST, a half-hour special leading up to the final episodes of the fourth season; and will debut the latest Galactica webisodes Thursday, January 15th during the network's presentation of Pitch Black.

Also in Fox’s announcements - 24 will return Sunday and Monday, January 11th and 12th for two, consecutive two-hour engagements. The two-hour prequel movie 24: Redemption setting up the new season, and starring Jon Voight as the antagonist for the season will air on Fox Sunday, November 23rd.

The new season of 24 will open with the CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit) shut down and dismantled and Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) on trial. Carlos Bernard, who plays Tony Almeida, returns to the series, though he was presumed dead.

The debut in January will mark the first time new 24 episodes have been aired in nearly two years. Filming on the new season was shut down late last year due to the Writer’s Strike, which led Fox to hold the season back until midseason 2008-2009. Work stopped on the season this past September due to quality-control issues with scripts.

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