Editors note: If you’ve been around this site for a while, you may remember that there was a period of a year when I was trying to turn this place into an io9 or a Dread Central with a staff of writers and a steady stream of content. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to find the balance that Brutal as Hell and Bloody Good Horror managed to discover and an inability to give my writers incentive enough to keep writing led to each one of them sneaking off and writing for other sites with the exception of Larry Clow who still files a review every once in a while when I supply him with something. After this attempt to go pro crashed and burned, I swore off third-party writers and writing for other sites and said I’d never try it again. Thing is, I’ve tried so many times in the past to blog TV and I just can’t seem to find the rhythm on my own but friend of the site, Tony Nunes, a budding screenwriter who is the pen behind some of my favorite Scorpio Film Releasing movies, hit me up, offering to write and I sent my TV idea his way and, well, here we are. The first volume of a weekly series spotlighting whatever’s happening in genre television. Tony’s going to be hitting you every monday with a new batch of recap and commentary on what you may have missed.
Genre TV was once great, with shows like The X Files, Tales From the Crypt, Masters of Horror, and Twin Peaks plugging the airways with horrifyingly original shows that twisted our sensibilities. Horror and Science Fiction programming were the norm along the prime timeslots of network and cable television, and the followings these shows formed quickly maintained cult status. Nowadays however, we have far and few between when it comes to definable genre television. Sure, there are some refreshingly original shows out there, like Dexter, True Blood, and Fringe, but then there are numerous middle of the road shows, and endless takes on the perpetual, and tiresome mystery genre popularized by Lost. My job in this new weekly feature is to cover the week prior in genre television. Every Monday, I’ll be here to give you the recaps and reviews on the best, and err, worst, shows currently in season.
Arguably, Fall is the breeding ground for the best of the horror and Science Fiction shows, new and old. Here we are however, in the middle of a sweltering summer, with one really great show and a few scattered good and inexcusably shitty ones. While we all know that the true horror of summer programming is the onslaught of tanning gun fodder in Jersey Shore, I will stick solely to the shows that maintain the more easily definable archetypes of their genre. This week; Scream Queens, Warehouse 13, Eureka, and True Blood.
SCREAM QUEENS – Fay Wray is turning over in her grave once more, as VH1’s Scream Queens premiered its second season on Monday. The reality competition which sets out to find the next great Scream Queen introduced its cast of buxom girls all vying for the top prize, a role in the new Saw film, Saw 3D. Saw 3D? Really? Host Jaime King, unknown for such unmemorable roles in films like My Bloody Valentine 3D, led the girls to the challenges that determine if they get cut. Get it? Cut? Clever word play and horror kitsch strain on the intelligence of the viewer, novelties which continually make the show an ironic joke. Challenges included a sad version of Freddy Krueger, a pumpkin smashing exercise in rage, and a role in a faux trailer called “Kiss of the Devil.” The girls, all similar in their overwrought attempts to achieve the sexy/scared stereotype of Scream Queen acting all gave it a try, most coming off annoying above all else. The worst acting came when the girls, at the behest of the shows producers no doubt, pretended to be surprised at a severed hand popping out of a bowl of candy. Ironically, in the end, Lana, daughter of the director of Tremors got the axe. Get it? The Axe?
WAREHOUSE 13 – For those who don’t know, Warehouse 13 is a fun little show about a government warehouse filled with countless supernatural artifacts collected throughout history. This SyFy channel gem is a clever, goofily acted nerdfest that maintains a consistent level of campy intrigue week to week. On Tuesday’s episode, the character Douglas Fargo from SyFy’s other quirky hit show Eureka was a special crossover guest on the show. While reconfiguring the Warehouses computer systems, Fargo, Warehouse tech Claudia, and agent in charge Artie are locked down by a HAL 9000 like hologram of the systems designer. Against the threat of robotic fire spewing spiders, Warehouse 13 agents Pete and Myka, track down the systems inventor in a mental institution. Seemingly lost in a childlike state, the inventor turns out to have used one of the Warehouse’s artifacts, the Wertheimer Zoetrope, to transfer his right brain into the computer, leaving him the innocent left brain shell we see. In the end, all is predictably put back to normal. The constant pop culture references in the show, from Fargo’s lightsaber like laser, to the obvious HAL 9000 references, keep the show fresh, saving it from its sometimes predictable formula.
EUREKA – Each season, Eureka carries one main storyline highlighted by weekly events that almost always threaten the existence of the shows namesake town, a haven for the brightest scientists in the world. If I lived in Eureka, I probably would have moved by now. This week’s major event, the materialization of items from 1940’s Eureka, dropped right into the buildings, and stomachs of 2010 Eureka. All of this is caused by the core storyline of the season, which finds main characters Allison, Henry, Jack, Fargo, and Jo sent through a wormhole in time to an alternate version of the Eureka they know. James Callis, perhaps best known as Gaius Baltar from SyFy’s Battlestar Galactica, guest stars this season as Eureka founder Charles Grant, also sent through the wormhole. How did they get to this reality? The MacGuffin of the season is the Einstein time bridge, of course. Cue Warehouse 13’s Claire Donovan, who visits Fargo, whom she connected with in this week’s episode of 13. In the end, she takes the bridge device back to the warehouse with her, which leads us to believe our heroes are trapped in this new reality indefinitely. I love Eureka for its simple storytelling and great characters, but can’t help but compare this season’s alternate universe story to this past season’s Fringe.
TRUE BLOOD – In the most violent and action laced season of True Blood yet, I can’t help but wonder what the point of all of this action will turn out to be. There are a lot of things being thrown at us this season, from Vampire kings, vengeful Vikings, shape shifters, and werewolves. I have to admit; the whole werewolf angle bothered me at first. As a vocal hater of the Twilight movies, I couldn’t help but draw the obvious comparisons. The past couple of weeks, the wolves have grown on me, but this week’s episode took me right back into my doubts. The obvious love triangle between Sookie, vampire Bill and werewolf Alcide can’t help but signal the annoying recollections of a summer filled with Team Jacob and Team Edward references. Let’s not pollute the most adult horror series on television with such adolescent nonsense. Anti Twilight rant over, sorry. Tonight’s episode saw Sookie fearful of Bill, who drained her almost completely in the last episode. Bill shows some compassion when he releases Jessica, only to realize she needs him. Cut to some high-speed vampire fight training between the two, a pretty cool moment in an otherwise mediocre episode. Over terrorized Tara for once got to relax a little, and Jason’s vengeful streak showed once more as he pulled a box of Fellowship of the Sun weapons out of storage. Eric, my favorite character on the show, and my wife’s too (eye roll), killed Vampire King Russell’s longtime lover Talbot in the beginning of what’s sure to be an entertaining reign of retribution. At the end of the episode, Sookie and Bill were back together, screwing on a dirtied floor to the sounds of some heavy music. Whatever she may be, fairy, angel, X-man, we got our first hint that Bill may soon extinguish Sookie’s mysterious light.
Until next week.