Fun Sci-Fi Shows Next and Swamp Thing Round Out Fall Premieres
- Swamp Thing. The CW. Tuesday, October 6, 8 p.m.
- Next. Fox. Tuesday, October 6, 9 p.m.
At last, a TV show especially for Hillary Clinton. In one of the lesser-remembered themes of her dismal 2016 presidential campaign, Clinton used to mutter apprehensively about the sinister aspects of artificial intelligence and technology. Voters, more interested in where all those classified documents from her computer had gone, noticed little. But her campaign aides were increasingly fretful that Clinton was losing it. As Clinton admitted in a book after the election, “My staff lived in fear I’d start talking about ‘the rise of the robots’ in some Iowa town hall.” And, she added, “Maybe I should have.”
No need; Fox’s Next does it better than she could have, so much better that you’ll soon find yourself racing about your house just like the characters on-screen, driving nails through smoke detectors and security cameras, smashing computers with Luddite glee.
Next is just half of a splendid Tuesday night of sci-fi as the networks start to wrap up their abbreviated fall season of premieres. The other half is The CW’s Swamp Thing, a black lagoonish-ish piece of reptile goth that was unaccountably canceled after a single episode last year on the now-defunct DC Universe streaming service. The CW has retrieved all 10 episodes, snipped a few bare butts and naughty words here and there, and the result is a wonderful if slightly-out-of-season piece of Summer Popcorn TV.
Both Next and Swamp Thing riff on a traditional sci-fi theme, that of science running amok. I almost expected John Agar or Richard Carlson to step out of either one to solemnly warn us that “there are some things man and Siri were not meant to know.”
But Next, with its deranged riffs on the existential threats of coffee pots and cell phones, seems more of the here and now than the proudly old-fashioned Swamp Thing, a television adaptation of the DC Comics character first introduced in the 1970s.
Hollywood has been poking sharp sticks at AI for at least five decades, ever since the computer HAL 9000 lost its marbles on a mission to Saturn in 2001: A Space Odyssey. And in terms of technology becoming self-aware, it’s hard to top 1977’s Demon Se
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