Saturday, March 3, 2012

SF TV TUBE TALK

First published in ConNotations NewsZine - Issue #5 - October/November 2011

Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC
The new season is underway and we've got a few new genre shows hitting the broadcast networks as well as a few new shows and shows with new episodes on cable and elsewhere.

ABC has debuted their new take on Charlie's Angels, and while the debut was OK in the ratings, the general reaction has been lukewarm at best. None of the main characters seem to have struck a chord with the viewers and unless the ratings hold steady or the writing improves, I don't expect it to stick around for long. Debuting later in October on Sundays nights on ABC will be Once Upon a Time, in which Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), a 28 year old bail bonds collector, is reunited with her ten year old son she gave up for adoption. Her son tells her he has learned that she is the missing daughter of Snow White (Gennifer Godwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) from an alternate universe where FAIRY TALES ARE REAL (gasp)! She was sent away to protect her from the Evil Queen's (Lana Parrilla) curse and the fairy tale world was frozen in time. The other escapees are living in Storybrooke, but don't have their memories of the fairy tale world and when Emma goes there with her son, she starts to learn more about her past and the dangers she may be facing. The show does have some producers and writers with a good track record behind it, including Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis from Lost, plus Jane Espenson (Buffy, Angel, Torchwood: Miracle Day) as well. So it may be worth checking out since it appears to be taking an approach that might result in a good ongoing story, not unlike Bill Willingham's comic series Fables.

Over at NBC, their take on FAIRY TALES ARE REAL is Grimm, which debuts in late October on Friday nights, and focuses on Nick Burkhardt (David Guintoli), a homicide detective who learns from his ailing Aunt Marie (Kate Burton), that he is the latest in a long line of Grimms, hunters who keep the supernatural monsters at bay and protect humanity. As he learns more about his Aunt's past, he "will have to shoulder the responsibility of his ancestors -- and contend with a larger-than-life mythology of the Brothers Grimm that is now all too real." Other cast includes Bitsie Tulloch as Juliette Silverton, Reggie Lee as Sgt. Wu, Russell Hornsby as Hank Griffin, Sasha Roiz as Captain Renard, and Silas Weir Mitchell as Eddy Munroe. Jim Kouf ("Angel") and David Greenwalt ("Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "Angel") are the creators/executive producers of the series, so there is some experience with making this type of show and hopefully make it more than just a "Monster of the Week". If they can do more than just the standard cliches, this show might have a chance, but it's Friday time slot doesn't give it much of a starting point, but with NBC is in such dire straits, OK ratings may be good enough for Grimm to survive. Returning to NBC on Friday nights in late October is Chuck, for its fifth and final season. With Chuck and Sarah now married and having started up their own spy company, they find out that things aren't less complicated than they were before. Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix) turns up as Gertrude Verbanski, who runs a competing spy agency and also generates some sparks with Casey. Morgan has ended up with the Intersect, and his life gets more complicated, while Big Mike hooks up with Morgan's mom, and Jeff and Lester have relationship issues.

CBS has two new shows with some genre elements, A Gifted Man, on Fridays, is about Michael Holt (Patrick Wilson), a work-obessed surgeon to the wealthy, begins to be visited by the ghost of his deceased ex-wife, Anna (Jennifer Ehle), who was an idealistic free clinic doctor, who convinces him that he needs to take over for her. As described by CBS, Michael is "touched by those in need and accepting of Anna's compassionate "presence," Michael's attitude toward serving the rich and poor is turned upside down, and he begins to see that there's room in his life for everyone." CBS seems to be trying to cater to fans of The Ghost Whisperer with this one. On Thursdays CBS has Person of Interest, which stars Michael Emerson as Finch, a wealthy inventor who has created a program that uses pattern recognition to identify potential victims of violent crimes. He recruits Reese (Jim Caviezel), an ex-CIA operative who is believed to be dead, to join him in a crusade to take justice into their own hands and prevent these crimes from happening. The executive producers have a good track record, and include J. J. Abrams, Bryan Burk (Lost), Jonathan Nolan (Momento), David Semel (Heroes) and Greg Plageman (Cold Case) and if the pilot is any indication, this could be the hit new show of the season..

FOX has what is probably the most expensive new genre show with Terra Nova, which will air on Monday nights this fall. The basic premise is that the Earth of the future (2149) has been screwed up enough, that a group of colonists are sent back in time to try to start things over and do it right, effectively setting up an alternate timeline (which, of course, allows them to keep interacting with people from the future). The series focuses on the Shannon family, part of the group of settlers in the Terra Nova colony. Led by Jim Shannon (Jason O'Mara) and his wife Elisabeth (Shelley Conn), they are joined by their 17 year old son Josh (Landon Liboiron), their fifteen year old daughter Maddy (Naomi Soctt), and their five year old daughter Zoe (Alana Mansour), who has a secret that may endanger the Shannon's future with the colony. Also starring are Stephen Lang as Commander Nathaniel Taylor, Allison Miller as Skye (who hooks up with Josh), and Christine Adams as Mira, the leader of a splinter colony of renegades. It has Steven Spielberg as Executive Producer (Jurassic Park, etc.) with Rene Echevarria and Brannon Braga as EPs actually running the show and a host of others getting their fingers into the mix. As of press time, I've not seen the pilot, and reports of behind the scenes production issues haven't given me much hope that the series will actually be any good. But, it will have DINOSAURS!, and that may be enough to keep it going, although as expensive as it reportedly has been to produce, the ratings will likely need to be outstanding before FOX will invest in another season beyond the 13 episodes being produced for the first season. FOX also has Fringe returning to Friday nights, following on from the game changing season finale. Reports are that the new season will be a good starting point for new viewers who might be concerned about the very complex back story. Initial ratings were decent (comparable to the season finale), so it should stick around for the full season, but whether it will get any more will depend on how the ratings hold up.

Over on The CW, with Smallville gone, Nikita has moved to Friday nights and a new series, The Secret Circle, based on a novel series by Vampire Diaries creator L. J. Smith, pairs up with Vampire Diaries on Thursday night. it stars Britt Robertson as Cassie Blake, a high school girl who moves in with her grandmother Jane in the small town of Chance Harbor, Washington, after her mother dies in a (possibly suspicious) fire. Cassie soon finds out she is a witch, and has special powers and that she has a destiny to fight the rising dark powers (or something along those lines). She teams up with a group of classmates, and form The Secret Circle to contend with the opposing forces. The first couple of episodes have paired up well with Vampire Diaries, so it may stick around for a while. Vampire Diaries executive producer Julie Plec has said about the new season "we are fortunate in that this season, as a result of where we ended last season, there's a lot of new roads to travel down, both for our characters who we think we know, and also in the supernatural world that we had only previously tapped into, which is werewolves and vampires."

Supernatural has picked up from the sixth season finale, dealing with Castiel's revelation that he is God and the ramifications of that. Sam and Dean will also continue hunting down other supernatural threats including a doppleganger, ghosts, a witch, and more.

Sanctuary is returning to Syfy on Friday nights, following Wrestling, for its fourth season of 13 episodes. With the arrival of the Hollow Earth refugees, the balance between Abnormals and humans is severely upset. In order to keep the peace, Magnus and team must throw out the rulebook. But forging their own way means they're not just dodging dangerous Abnormals anymore, now they've got world governments and new villains nipping at their heels. As part of their 31 days of Halloween event, Syfy will debut the original movie Zombie Apocalypse on Saturday, Oct 29th, which stars Ving Rhames as part of a group of survivors of a Zombie Apocalypse who fight their way cross country to a rumored refuge on the Catalina Island. For Halloween night, Oct 31, Ghost Hunters will once again be live, this time from the streets of New York City.
Syfy's big miniseries this year will be Neverland, airing over two nights on Sunday and Monday, Dec 4 & 5. Syfy describes it as "an original prequel to author J.M. Barrie's classic Peter Pan, sweeps in time from the turbulent seas of the pirates of the Caribbean and the back alleys of Dickensian London to a world of pure imagination." It stars Rhys Ifans as James Hook, Keira Knightley as the voice of Tinker Bell, Anna Friel as Captain Elizabeth Bonnie, Bob Hoskins as Smee, Raoul Trujillo and Charlie Rowe as Peter Pan.

Walking Dead returns to AMC on Sunday, October 16, with a 90 minute episode, followed by six more episodes in the fall, with the show returning for the rest of the season in February. The second season will see Rick and the survivors venture out of the cities and find a refuge on Hershel's Farm. According to Walking Dead creator/producer Robert Kirkman "that'll be a place that they stay in for a while, and so we'll be introduced to Hershel, who is a big character from the comic book series, and Maggie, who in the comic book series has a relationship with Glenn. So we'll possibly see a little bit of romance between Glenn and Maggie as we move forward into the second season." Joining the show will be Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene, Lauren Cohan as his daughter, Maggie, and Pruitt Taylor Vince as Otis. In addition to the cable series, AMC is also producing a web series focusing on Bicycle Girl, telling her origin story and how she became the Zombie that turned up in the series. Also airing on AMC will be The Talking Dead a weekly half hour after show hosted by Chris Hardwick (The Nerdist) and will feature interviews with cast and crew as well as fans of the show. It will air each Sunday night following the encore airing of that nights new Walking Dead episode.

New to cable is BBC America's Bedlam, about a group of residents in a housing project who discover that the building's past as an insane asylum now means that there's lots of unhappy spirits to contend with in their residence.

The series stars Charlotte Salt, Theo James and Ashley Madekwe. It is only six episodes and reports are that it has not been renewed for a second series by its UK home, ITV.

Walking Dead Photo Credit: Greg Nicotera/AMC
FX debuts American Horror Story on Wednesday, October 5, and it might be the next big thing on cable. It revolves around The Harmons, a family of three who move from Boston to Los Angeles as a means to reconcile past anguish. Unfortunately, the house they move into has been the scene of multiple murders and appears to be haunted, really haunted. It was co-created by former Nip/Tuck executive producers and current Glee co-creators/executive producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. The cast includes Dylan McDermott as Ben Harmon, a psychiatrist; Connie Britton as Ben's wife Vivien Harmon; Taissa Farmiga as Violet, the Harmon's teenage daughter; Jessica Lange Constance, the Harmon's neighbor; Evan Peters as Tate Langdon, one of Ben's patients; and Denis O'Hare as Larry Harvey. Also appearing is Alexandra Breckenridge as Moira O'Hara (Young) and Frances Conroy as Moira O'Hara (Old), their housekeeper who keeps changing back and forth between an old lady and a young woman. There's not been much revealed about the series itself, although critic reaction from a press screening indicates that there is lots of gore and blood and might be a "fetishist's and horror fan's dream." In any case, it's likely to stir up a lot of interest, especially for horror fans.

In the cartoon realm, the Cartoon Network has finally started showing new episodes of both Young Justice and Batman: The Brave and the Bold as well as the fourth season of Star Wars Clone Wars. Sometime in November, they will also start airing Green Lantern: The Animated series. It focuses on Hal Jordan's Green Lantern as he is sent off to deep space to fight the evil Red Lanterns. Joining him is Green Lantern Kilowog and other heroes as they work to keep the Red Lanterns at bay. Bruce Timm is Executive Producer, so fans are expecting similar quality as was seen with the previous Batman, Superman and Justice League Unlimited that Timm was in charge of.

2 comments:

Patti Hultstrand said...

You really have nothing to say about Zombies or television shows coming this season.

Patti Hultstrand said...

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