Labor Day has passed, and summer is over. Popcorn flicks fade from screens, and explosions clear the firmament for richer storytelling, and heady awards season films. The same can be said about our Television screens, where the small offering of decent programs and abundance of throwaway shows step aside for the obviously superior Fall lineup. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some cheese, on the big and small screens alike. This year however, it seemed that on the Big Screen even the cheese reeked more than usual. On TV, even the best was weakened to its most adolescent extremes (Yes, I’m talking to you True Blood).
Is it just me or does TV get a bad rap to begin with? I mean, TV will be forever shunned as the younger less attractive sibling to Film; it’s just the way it is. Detractors will always label it an ill to society, a medium whose resonance they claim festers under the minds of its viewers, siphoning away logic and individuality. I say Fuck That! I see far better TV in our near future than interesting films set for release. And while I’m at it, to hell with all those pretentious Asses who look down at the medium with a casual brush off of “I don’t watch TV.” Sorry to say guys, but you’ll be missing some great stories, intricately layered characters, and downright enjoyable moments as Fall TV approaches. Sure, there’s still some crap, and a pleasant amount of quality cheeses to feed on, but even the most cynical detractor can’t doubt that Fall is the Spring of the small screen; a time for the rebirth of old favorites, and new possibilities.
So without further ado (rant aside) I present the TV Eye Fall 2010 Preview. Here are the best new and returning shows with Sci-Fi, Horror, and Comic Book sensibilities.
I’ll begin with the most unforeseen end I can remember. Who wasn’t rocked by the image of Rita lying dead in a blood red bathtub, Dexter’s baby boy sitting in his mother’s blood just like his father had as a child? This is where we will pick up on the premiere of DEXTER (09/26). It’ll be really difficult for the series to top last season’s Trinity Killer arc. John Lithgow’s Emmy award winning role as Arthur Mitchell rocked this Showtime favorite to its deepest core, and Michael C. Hall absolutely shined as a Dexter tormented more than ever before. Season five promises an exploration of Dexter’s trial with the laws of the universe. Will the guilt take Dexter further out of his perfect game? Will he reveal his true self to his sister Deb? At the end of the first book of the Darkly Dreaming Dexter series on which the show is founded he does, and this is season five so it’s bound to happen soon. Jennifer Carpenter’s Deb is a far more tough-nailed cop than the novels version, so the dynamic that this revelation would have on the show would be a nerve-racking exercise in TV watching. Joining the cast this season is Julia Stiles and Peter Weller, this time playing a less robotic, dirtier cop than he’s used to.
Peter Weller had a fantastic guest role on last year’s season two of FRINGE (09/23) as well. Like Dexter, last season’s Fringe was one of the strongest of any show in recent memory. Here’s a show that I liked from the start, but didn’t love. At its beginning it was so similar in its format to The X-Files, that I couldn’t help but draw constant comparisons. Then somewhere in its second season it found greatness. No longer was it a show that followed a new Sci-Fi Horror case each week. Now it tied them all together into one core storyline that introduced an alternate universe story arc rivaling all others. We were taken into this universe where John Noble’s superbly acted Walter Bishop is Secretary of Defense, and Olivia and the other agents have alternates they must avoid. Alternate Walter is on an emotion fueled journey to find Peter, the son that our universes Walter took as his own. Such great drama! The science of the show is well though out and endlessly interesting. The effects are the best on television. Last season ended with Alternate Olivia locking the other Olivia away and journeying back to our universe with the others. Secrets are out of the bag, and the existence of each fragile universe is in jeopardy. Sounds confusing, but it’s really not. On September 23rd Fringe begins its 22-episode season. The coolest thing about this new season is that during its first half, every odd numbered episode will be set in the alternate universe while the even numbered episodes are set in ours. Can’t wait!
The best looking new show premiering this Fall is Frank Darabont’s television incarnation of Robert Kirkman’s epic Walking Dead comic series. THE WALKING DEAD (10/31) television series is truly unprecedented and huge. Fanboys (including myself) are reaching a fervent level of anticipation as its Halloween premiere approaches. The Walking Dead comics are an ongoing series that more than any other zombie film, book, or comic have created an entire world of zombie apocalypse proportions. Show-runner, and pilot writer/director Darabont (Shawshank Redemption), promises a cell-by-cell accurate adaptation of the comics. While the first season will only be a short, six episode run, rumors have it that the show may have been already picked up for a second season twice as long. (Darabont has since defeated this rumor – Ed.) From the promo trailer on AMC, Greg Nicotero’s effects look spot on, and casting couldn’t be more perfect, especially Lennie James (Jericho) as Morgan Jones, just who I pictured while reading the comics. With the rumors of a second season also come talks of a Thomas Jane involvement and early introduction of Michonne, a favorite character amongst avid readers of the comic. Be sure to tune in to AMC for this epic premiere.
The Networks, once Television’s Fortress of Solitude, the previous boob-tube safe haven from the weak offerings of cable, have now collapsed under that which they once shielded us from. Cable is where it’s at nowadays, with original programs on AMC, FX, HBO, Showtime, etc. destroying the Network Megalopolis with quality programming that caters to a more mature demographic of television viewer. The Networks still try, and sometimes greatly succeed at delivering unique and riveting programming. Lost has gone, and with it, so has some of the patience of the viewing public. People are hesitant about investing the time it takes to get involved with a new perpetual mystery like Lost. Jericho was great, but failed to find viewers. Last years Flash Forward suffered a similar fate. NBC is holding out for one last hope in its new Sci-Fi Thriller series THE EVENT (09/20). Like Lost, The Event is centered on a grand mystery. Premiering at Comic-Con to mostly positive reviews, producers addressed some of the issues Lost fans had, promising The Event will be a perpetual mystery relying on less ambiguity in it’s storytelling. We’ll see!
The other offerings scattered across the networks include a duo of Super Hero inspired family dramas. NBC will be premiering it’s father/son superhero drama THE CAPE sometime mid season, a risky move after the failure of Heroes. The other, ABC’s Michael Chiklis led NO ORDINARY FAMILY (09/28) is basically a live action version of Pixar’s The Incredibles, following a family with super powers. In mid-November ABC will also be premiering season 2 of the re-imagined Sci-Fi series V starring Elizabeth Mitchell. The consistently good supernatural crime drama MEDIUM (09/24) returns to CBS, and NBC’s spy comedy CHUCK (09/20) returns to a season chock-full of guest stars like Robert Englund, Eric Roberts, Timothy Dalton, and Sarah Conner herself Linda Hamilton. For those like me who miss the pop-culture referencing comedy of Edgar Wright’s Spaced, check out NBC’s hilariously underrated Joel McHale/Chevy Chase led COMMUNITY (09/23).
For the younglings looking for their Sci-Fi fix this Fall, there is no better place to start than the fantastic STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (09/17) third season premiere. I’m a HUGE Star Wars nut, and like others take major issue with the prequels. This Cartoon Network show which takes place between the 2nd and 3rd prequels actually holds up pretty well. It’s a cartoon, so don’t expect high dama, but do expect a somewhat poignant look at war and an always fun trip deeper into the Star Wars universe. Another animated show of interest is TRANSFORMERS: PRIME (10/10). This launch title for Hasbro’s new channel The Hub is produced by Fringe and Tranformers movie writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman. For the tweens out there, skip the usual crop of CW nonsense like VAMPIRE DIARIES or SUPERNATURAL and check out their final season of SMALLVILLE (09/24). In it’s tenth season, the much loved Superman saga will come to an end.
The Sci-Fi Horror fans television harbor, Syfy has a number of fine offerings for Fall as well. Syfy tends to play its better shows like Eureka and Warehouse-13 as summer runs, but look for Christmas specials from both shows this December. The third incarnation of the popular Stargate saga, STARGATE UNIVERSE (09/28) returns along with the high concept third season of SANCTUARY (09/28). The Fall season of GHOST HUNTERS, another Syfy favorite, began a couple of weeks back. It remains to be seen whether or not Syfy’s remake of the BBC hit BEING HUMAN, a show following a ghost, a vampire, and a werewolf who live together, will premiere this Fall, or we’ll have to wait until 2011.
There you have it! A lot of choices for the Horror and Sci-Fi fan alike this Fall season. Be sure to follow TV Eye here on Cinema Suicide as we cover the better of these shows week by week.