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wil wheaton

The Syfy channel, which recently achieved the unenviable record of having not a single original series worth watching – Continuum doesn’t count, it’s a Canadian show – will look to rectify that programming error with the premiere of The Wil Wheaton Project at 10pm this Tuesday.

The actor, writer and blogger will do a weekly roundup of the things that he loves on television and the Internet focused on science fiction and other areas of general geekdom. Described as ‘funny and fast-paced’, which is the only thing that worries me, it sounds like Wheaton will just be riffing on what catches his attention each week. How quickly the show gets comfortable in itself will, I suspect, decide whether The Wil Wheaton Project is a success or not.

Wheaton remains best known for his role as Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation, which frankly seems somewhat unfair given the oodles (technical term) of work he has done since in film and television, not least a wonderfully comic turn as a fictionalized version of himself in The Big Bang Theory.

Online the now 41-year-old actor has become something of a web presence over the years with one of the better blogs on the net where he is honest and forthright about the issues he encounters in his daily life, the projects he works on and the conventions he attends. Opening up about, for example, his bouts with depression is a phenomenal thing to do for someone in the public eye when it is done with the integrity and compassion that Wheaton brings to the subject. This isn’t some narcissistic self-promotion, but rather a genuine engagement with the community and in many ways should be considered a template for such. Wheaton’s description of an encounter he had with a fan at MegaCon, and her battle to walk again, is one of the more inspiring celebrity stories you will read this or any other year.

It so happens that I ‘met’ Wheaton online some years ago when I was running a Sports site for an online service and Wil joined one of our fantasy hockey leagues. He was gracious and charming, and more importantly a huge hockey fan, with no sense of entitlement that can become common in stars. As such I’ve always unabashedly rooted for him in the projects that he takes on and look forward to The Wil Wheaton Project.

Friday NBC rolls out their new show Crossbones, which must have had the easiest four-word elevator pitch in history. ‘John Malkovich as Blackbeard’ is just so deliciously perfect that I’m almost afraid to watch it for fear that the Peacock Network will mess it up. The recent poor performance of Believe and Crisis, both of which were given bad time slots by the network and not surprisingly did not make the cut in something of a self fulfilling prophecy, does not bode well for Crossbones even if a 10pm placing on a Friday sees little overall competition.

- Wallace Poulter

 

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