with Yvonne Lai
Children of all ages, overgrown ones included, will have their pick of new shows in this week's TV line up, starting with Star Wars: The Clone Wars (TVB Pearl; a two-hour premiere tonight, then half-hour episodes on following Sundays, at 8pm), a visually ambitious animated series from George Lucas' 30-year-old intergalactic drama franchise. The series picks up where the animated feature film, released last summer to lukewarm reception in Hong Kong, left off - chronicling the events that take place between Episode II (Attack of the Clones) and Episode III (Revenge of the Sith). Reportedly, more than 300 digital artists (many at the Lucasfilm studio in Singapore) worked on the animation, with final assembly done at Skywalker Ranch, in California.
The overall look is impressive - convincingly 3D and grand enough for the widescreen. In the rendering of characters, the non-humans get the best treatment, while Anakin (pictured in blue, voiced by Matt Lanter) and Obi-Wan Kenobi (pictured with beard, James Arnold Taylor) look more like dolls than respectable Jedi masters. Characters to watch are new addition Ahsoka Tano (pictured left, Ashley Eckstein), Anakin's feisty 14-year-old padawan (apprentice), and the agents of the dark side - including Count Dooku (Corey Burton) and Dark Jedi Asajj Ventress (Nika Futterman) - who provide most of the fun.
In a surprisingly entertaining reboot of the original 1980s series, Knight Rider (Star World; Thursdays at 9pm) makes clear from the start who the real star of the show is - the sexy, black, modified Shelby Mustang that fans know as Kitt. This secret weapon has been in development since the original Knight Rider, Michael Knight, retired. Now, almost two decades later, his estranged, grown-up son, Michael Traceur, has been called upon to take the driver's seat. While the past 20 years has seen little change in the world of military-industrial conglomerates that must be stopped from ruling the Earth - plots are thin on the ground - Kitt has undergone extensive improvements thanks to 21st-century CGI. Fans of the original super car will not be disappointed with the new model. The two-hour premiere this Thursday is worth a test drive.
If you are interested in where the wild things are, you might want to peek into the Sanctuary (Monday at 11pm), one of the headlining series on the newly launched Sci-Fi Channel. Dr Helen Magnus (the mesmerising Amanda Tapping, Stargate SG-1) is a champion of all manner of monsters, beasts and misfits. She believes some of these 'abnormals' need protection while others need to be studied as missing links to the past or future. For this task, she enlists the help of her ghoul-hunting daughter, Ashley (Emilie Ullerup), and the brilliant but misunderstood forensic psychiatrist Will Zimmerman (Robin Dunne). It's a freak show with a heart of gold and Tapping's unwavering sincerity is a torch for truth in the most unlikely of places - such as a sci-fi drama.