‘Pandora’ star Oliver Dench follows great aunt Dame Judi’s path

Pandora | Tuesday, 8 p.m., The CW

The CW’s sci-fi drama “Pandora” is more than “Riverdale” in outer space, but you can count on the photogenic cast to face amorous dilemmas. “There’s potential for many romantic entanglements,” executive producer Thomas Vitale said of the show, created by Mark A. Altman (“The Librarians”). “Seeing where the characters and their relationships go is going to be part of the fun.” Set in 2199, the series follows Jax (Priscilla Quintana), a galactic defense student at the Space Training Academy on Earth who is making new friends and investigating why an alien race killed her researcher parents on a far-flung planet. She’s helped by teacher’s assistant and intelligence agent Xander Duvall, played by 26-year-old Oliver Dench, whose great-aunt is Oscar winner Dame Judi Dench.

The Post recently spoke with New York-based Vitale, a former programming executive at Syfy and Chiller networks, and the London-based Dench.

After her parents’ death, what is Jax searching for?
Vitale: She’s looking to reset her life. Why were her parents killed? She just wants answers. That’s a driving motivation for her throughout this season. We’re going to peel back the onion; every episode we will reveal secrets about Jax.

Is working in sci-fi fun?
Dench: One of my first thoughts was of 10-year-old Oliver, given the opportunity to shoot a laser gun at aliens. But when I was 10 I was allowed to make these little [laser] noises. So I was running around on set and making noises and our director saddled up to me and said, “You can’t be doing that.” [Laughs.] That’s not an uncommon problem in sci-fi, with light saber noises or whatever.

Is the show more about relationships than lasers?
Dench: As much as I love lasers, they aren’t what hooks people. It’s relationships and characters that keep people there and stand the test of time.

Like other CW shows, how does “Pandora” metaphorically explore issues such as diversity?
Dench: The era of not having even a nod to those issues is over. And dealing with something through metaphor and allegory is more evocative than hitting nails on the head.
Vitale: We’re trying to make a future that’s not really about labels. Right now diversity is talked about, but many generations from now it’s just going to be a way of life. It’s where we hope the world is going.

Does it help that the show is filmed in Sofia, the Bulgarian capital?
Dench: Bulgaria is a bit of an unknown quantity. If we were to go to an alien planet and showed you shots of Tuscany, lots of people would recognize it … We’ve got these places that truly look like nothing on Earth, which is a golden field ripe for plowing for sci-fi.
Vitale: There are landscapes that you’ve never really seen before on US television. There’s a gorgeous cave in the first episode that is incredible.
Dench: That cave was crazy! There’s a brief shot in the pilot that shows what is called the “Eyes of God,” these great openings in the shape of eyeballs that throw shafts of light down into the cave underneath. It’s absolutely stunning.

Oliver, what do you admire about your great-aunt, Dame Judi Dench?
Dench: People of that generation are wonderful actors who tend to be able to slot themselves into shows in a very unique, personal way. I saw her in the Shakespeare play “The Winter’s Tale” in London. When Judi walked on stage, it was like she had been written into the play. She has a great sense of self and then forms that into the character. That’s what Judi’s so brilliant about. That’s what I’ve found inspiring about her.

— Eric Hegedüs

And here’s what else to watch this week:

City on a Hill | Sunday, 9 p.m., Showtime

Jackie (Kevin Bacon) and Decourcy (Aldis Hodge) hunt down the weapon connected to the armored truck robbery. Local reporter Michaela Freda (Samantha Soule) gets a tip that takes her down a treacherous path.

Queer Eye | Friday, Netflix

Season premiere. Jonathan Van Ness returns to Quincy, Ill., to do a makeover for high school music teacher Kathi Dooley, who hasn’t changed her hair in 30 years. Does he improve her look?

Snowfall | Wednesday, 10 p.m., FX

Teddy (Carter Hudson) uses Gustavo (Sergio Peris-Mencheta) to help broker a new deal in Mexico, then receives a visit.

Sweetbitter | Sunday, 9 p.m., Starz

Season premiere. After being put to the test, Tess (Ella Purnell) finally has the restaurant job she wanted but knows that success means more than knowing the difference between wine from Bordeaux and Burgundy. Meanwhile, Simone (Caitlin FitzGerald), Jake (Tom Sturridge) and Howard (Paul Sparks) are all trapped, both by the restaurant and each other.

Big Little Lies | Sunday, 9 p.m., HBO

Celeste (Nicole Kidman) is blindsided by Mary Louise (Meryl Streep). The Monterey Five feel the pressure of increased scrutiny of Perry’s (Alexander Skarsgård) death.

Pearson | Wednesday, 10 p.m., USA

Series premiere. Recently disbarred New York lawyer Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres) adjusts to Chicago politics in this “Suits” spinoff. Newly appointed as Mayor Bobby Novak’s (Morgan Spector) fixer, Jessica is quickly embroiled in a crooked and dangerous new world where every action has far-reaching consequences.

Suits | Wednesday, 9 p.m., USA

Season premiere. Harvey (Gabriel Macht) realizes he doesn’t want to lose Donna (Sarah Rafferty) after Robert Zane (Wendell Pierce) takes the fall for him with the bar association. With Patrick J. Adams.

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