Paranormal series are plotting to take over the prime-time airwaves this fall.
CBS has "Threshold," starring Carla Gugino as a scientist who assembles a team of experts to figure out whether the extraterrestrial craft the U.S. Navy has discovered in the mid-Atlantic is the start of an alien invasion or a marketing campaign for a new James Cameron flick.
ABC's "Invasion" is about a hurricane that cuts off a town in the Everglades, where the park ranger's little daughter sees small lights seemingly unaffected by the mayhem and his wife is found wandering around naked, which may be a smoke screen for something far more ominous leading to a fight for survival of the human race, or just another family vying for its 15 minutes of fame on "Dr. Phil."
And NBC's "Surface" (formerly "Fathom") stars Lake Bell as an oceanographer who discovers a new form of sea creature that starts popping up all over the world, the babies being so cute that people take them home for their aquariums, which does not bode well for the pet goldfish.
What are the odds, we wondered, of three aliens-in-the-water series -- two of them featuring a bunch of geeky guys revolving around buxom-babe scientists -- being hatched at exactly the same time and right after ABC's tropical island paranormal series "Lost" became a hit?
On Wednesday at Summer TV Press Tour 2005, "Threshold" executive producer David Goyer sniffed at the connection, conceding only that the success of that series "didn't hurt." Which is just another way of saying:
"Do you know who I am -- I'm David Goyer, you idiot, I don't need no stinkin' 'Lost' to open the door for me at a TV network."
At the age of 22, when most people working in the entertainment industry were presidents of comedy development, Goyer was selling his first script, for an action flick that became the 1990 Jean-Claude Van Damme thriller "Death Warrant." But his really big break came a little later, when he wrote the script for "Blade," based on the Marvel comic about a vampire hunter and starring Wesley Snipes. Goyer also wrote and executive-produced "Blade 2" and wrote and directed "Blade: Trinity," which maybe he'd just as soon forget about, since that one wasn't on his bio. His status as a god among sci-fi geeks was sealed when he co-wrote "Batman Begins." He's now developing a film based on the DC Comics series "The Flash" and is producing a remake of "Soylent Green."
"For my money" (and I'm just betting he's got a lot of it), "it's a reaction -- there's a lot of anxiety in the world right now," Goyer said by way of explaining the incredible coincidence.
"What recently happened in London, what's going on in Iraq and the West Bank -- people are scared. Historically, when people have been scared and people have been nervous, there's been an uptick in science fantasy horror. It happened in the '50s with the Red Scare and the space race. . . . You're telling allegorical tales and shining a light back on society. . . . It's a way to talk about what's going on, but from a sideways angle."
That said, he admitted that four sci-fi series probably could not survive on the broadcast networks and forecast that only a couple would. Given that "Lost" is an established success and that Goyer no doubt thinks highly of his own project, that leaves the others out in the cold.
"Threshold," Goyer explained, is about many events that may or may not be perpetrated by aliens and examines the question "Why now?"
"One of the reasons why this may be happening now is because we've reached a place technologically, in terms of our civilization, where it's actually making it possible for the other entities to do what they're doing. They're going to be exploiting our cellular phone networks, our TV signals. They're going to be using our own technology against us. It's going to sort of spotlight how we are really quite vulnerable in ways we hadn't anticipated."
Plus, "Threshold" has a really cute dog. At some point during the show's development, Goyer decided it had to be a French bulldog.
"We had a hard time finding a French bulldog and the dog was actually quite flatulent," Goyer explained to critics.
"Why did it have to be a French bulldog?" asked one critic, speaking for the entire room.
"Because there's a certain element of whimsy involved. I just decided French bulldog and that was it," he said.
One critic, apparently a fan, wondered whether the dog would have special powers and help the characters "see beyond."
"The dog has special powers," Goyer said. "Episode 4, the dog starts talking."