Super Soaker

Salt Lake City Weekly | January 30, 2006
Super Soaker

Forget the rest of NBC’s schedule: What’s going to happen to Surface?

By Bill Frost

All the news you can use, NBC-wise:

NBC will not be merging with Fox to form a new, more cost-effective network called The Nox (though “We’re Nox-ious!” would have been a great branding slogan).

NBC has, however, canceled The West Wing after seven seasons; the series finale will air during May Sweeps. Spoiler: The GOP’s Arnold Vinick will be elected president and, in one last hyper-dramatic rejection of all things Republican, America will be engulfed in flames of hellfire as Vinick sprouts horns and laughs maniacally, “They’re all Red States now!”

The network has renewed My Name is Earl and The Office for the 2006-07 season, giving Thursday viewers who like their comedies, you know, funny, something more to look forward to than leftover episodes of Joey (not canceled, not picked up, just, appropriately … there), another possible season of Four Kings (somebody’s actually watching it—yeah, I know!), and the gaping hole soon to be left by Will & Grace (insert “gaping hole” joke at Will and/or Grace’s expense here).

After the Winter Olympics, NBC will move Monday-night hit Las Vegas to Fridays, thus killing it dead (note restraint from using a “rolling snake eyes” reference). Unless, just spit-balling here, some Morally Outraged Pinheads can draw attention to it with a Bible-thumping boycott, a la The Book of Daniel, which otherwise would have died viewer-less after one episode instead of three. (MOPs: “Praise Jesus! We’ve scored a moral victory!” Reality: “No, you’ve just performed a partial-birth abortion—happy?”)

And, most distressing of all—well, to The Only TV Column That Matters™ and maybe a couple hundred other viewers—is the undisclosed fate of Spielberg-ian sci-fi soaker Surface (season finale Monday, Feb. 6). Sure, it’s been panned as everything from “dumber than a box of mackerels” to “NBC’s most cross-eyed nautical farce since CPO Sharkey” (that one might be mine—if not, it should be), but damned if I haven’t gotten hooked on this fishy tale. What if Surface is dry-docked and there’s no Season 2? Got a sinking feeling about it. And what if I can’t stop making oceanic puns? It comes and goes in waves … ack!

Surface 101 for those who haven’t caught it in various repeats and repurposes on NBC, the Sci-Fi Channel, iTunes downloads and blatant MSNBC (it’s some sort of cable news network, I believe) cross-promotions: Hot oceanographer Laura Daughtery (Lake Bell) accidentally discovers a breed of massive sea monsters in the briny deep, as does redneck diver Richard Connelly (Jay R. Ferguson) thousands of miles away—when they eat his brother. Meanwhile (several characters and storylines at play here, some of which have yet to intersect), teen geek Miles Barnett (Carter Jenkins) happens across one of the creatures’ eggs and brings it home, where it hatches into a cute kinda-iguana and becomes Miles’ secret pet—until it eats a neighbor’s dog and starts attacking people.

Laura and Richard meet, compare notes and set out on the lam to document the creatures themselves, since Laura’s been discredited and booted from her job and Richard’s gone nucking futz with a revenge agenda. Sightings and attacks begin happening all along the eastern seaboard, and a clandestine government arm goes into full X-Files cover-up mode while hunting down the erstwhile Scully and Mulder (or Mulder and Mulder, in this case). Back in the teen demographic, Miles has caught Sea Monster Disease and he’s turning into one himself—and just when he’s finally got a girlfriend! Angst!

Somewhere between road-tripping and never bathing (Bell is easily the most de-glammed, greasy-haired female lead in primetime TV—not counting Cops perps), Laura and Richard are contacted by a scientist who tells them that the sea creatures are man-made lab creations, not aliens. Not that it matters, because they’re out of control and poised to bring about The End of the World by Monday’s episode. Now there’s a definitive series finale.

If NBC doesn’t renew Surface, that is. I say bring it back for a second full-frontal sci-fi season, where the sea monsters are in charge and the humans are plotting la resistance. Hey, makes more sense than Lost.

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