GENE RODDENBURRY'S EARTH: THE FINAL CONFLICT
THE DATE: EARTH: THE FINAL CONFLICT returns for its third year the week of October 4. Check local listings.
THE PLAYERS: Robert Leeshock (Liam Kincaid), Lisa Howard (Captain Lili Marquett), Von Flores (FBI Agent Ronald Sandoval), David Henblen (Jonathan Doors), Richard Chevolleau (Augur), Leni Parker (Da'an), Majel Barrett (Dr. Julianne Belman), Jane Heitmeyer (Renee Palmer) Gene Roddenberry (Creator)
THE SCOOP: The third season opens as a mix of the first and second. Last year opened with the aftermath of the main character's death (William Boone, played Kevin Kleiner who was fired from the show after some rough on-set fireworks) and the arrival of Robert Leeshock (half Taelonian/half human hybrid Liam Kincaid). This year the story remains firmly set around Kincaid and his struggle to liberate Earth from the clutches of the outwardly benevolent, but inwardly sinister Taelons.
Joining him will be SNAKE EYES co-star Jayne Heitmeyer as Renee Palmer, businesswoman/spy working with Kincaid and his Resistance.
Says executive producer David Kirshner, who was absent most of last year making movies, but is returning for season three, "In the second year what they really did is become like BABLYON 5 and as a result of that our numbers kind of dropped. When I say BABYLON 5, I mean I loved that show but it wasn't really episodic. It really became important arcs all through the series and so if you tuned in you were kind of lost. The first year [of EFC], we had more stand-alone episodes and we have a phenomenal first year. That's what we've gone back to in this third year. We're going back to those stand-alone episodes with a through line that goes through for the hard-line viewer, but not so much that the person who's watching for the first time will be confused by it."
THE GOOD: One of the guiding forces in the original inception of the show, Kirshner, is returning to the fold, along with new cast member Heitmeyer, who's hoped to bring some spark and fire to her relationship with Kincaid.
"I was really taken with the character from MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE- Pepper, remember her?" says Kirshner. "And Emma Peel from THE AVENGERS TV show. Really strong women who you really believed they were involved in cloak and dagger if you will. It's been important for me. I was reading a bunch of notes from Roddenberry and I saw the term spy-fi and I thought that was so cool. We kind of touched on it before but this year there's much more of a notion of espionage and of how that world
played against sci-fi. You know, plots within plots and characters that are not really what they seem. That's really where Jane Heitmeyer comes in."
THE BAD: The change of the lead was rough on the fans who were already used to the show as it was in the first year. While they did warm to new lead Leeshock, that change, coupled with the extended storylines, led to lower ratings.
But the difficulty for the cast, according to Kirshner, was that the lead change wasn't made fast enough. When he left, Kilner professed to not knowing why he was being replaced. Kirshner disagrees, and speaks out for the first time here.
"He said he was just fired without anyone speaking to him and he was shocked and hurt," vents Kirshner. "I thought I'd be a gentlemen until something untrue happened. And the truth was it became very difficult to make the show with this guy. He had no tolerance at all for one of the women in craft-service and just yelled and screamed at her in front of a bunch of people. I did call his manager and agent and we all sat down and discussed what he needed to do to change and he really wanted to. In the end, he kept ordering different departments to do different things...an actor. So you know, that's what happened. He was destroying the entire morale of the show."
And despite the period of transition, Kirshner is much happier with new lead Leeshock. "He seems much more internal than he was before," says Kirshner. "He seems to come from a much deeper and darker place than he was last year. I've made 16 films and it's been rare to see an actor do a turn around as strong as this. I'm pleased that whatever got him there is showing up on film. I also think the scripts are 100 times better this year."
THE PROSPECTS: Good. Last season, saw fan interest, while dropping, remain relatively high, while production house Alliance-Atlantis Entertainment has already renewed the show for two more years.