O HAI, Fall TV Season!
By A Real Person on August 31, 2010
It’s the Labor Day holiday this weekend, which means the fall TV season is almost here! Even though television programming in the 21st century doesn’t adhere to the same strict schedule as it did decades ago, when September meant actual salvation from a constant stream of re-runs. (Many of the best shows on TV air during the summer now – and before you say anything, yeah I haven’t been using blog time to trumpet Mad Men or Breaking Bad, because to be honest I have a lot of catching up to do with both those shows. I will get to them. TV nerd penance forthcoming… eventually. </flog>)
Anyway, before autumn kick-starts our internal DVR’s, I thought I’d run down my own personal highlights coming up – some returning shows I love, some brand-new ones I’m hoping will tickle my boob-tube fancy… and others that I’m iffy about but am hoping will surprise me. (Warning – there will be SPOILERS for the returning shows, so scroll past if you must):
The Walking Dead: No, I’m not about to stop flailing about Frank Darabont and Robert Kirkman’s forthcoming zombie saga, and neither should you. It promises to push the envelope of television on the horror front, the human drama front, the filmmaking front (They shot on Super 16! How geektastic is that?!), and probably 15 other fronts we haven’t discovered yet. We’re only getting six episodes in the first season, so it’ll be shorter than most but it should still be a hell of a ride. Everything about The Walking Dead promises must-see TV, particularly as it could be the show that blows open the possibilities for long-run comics and graphic novels being adapted for television, where they are infinitely better suited rather than a two-hour feature film which doesn’t give them room to breathe. Exciting times. (October 31, AMC)
Undercovers: Long story short: I love J.J. Abrams. I love spy shenanigans. Even though I have lingering nerd gripes about that last season of Alias, it was one of my favorite shows in its time and I miss it like burning, yo. Pre-premiere buzz has been mixed, but for those reasons listed above I’m still anticipating Bad Robot’s latest, about a married spy team re-kindling their romance by coming out of retirement to kick some international-espionage ass, despite the fact that it seems a lot like familiar ground. I do hope the quality of the scripts and plots offer more than just Boris Kodjoe and Gugu Mbatha-Raw being very pretty and stuff going “BOOM!” real good, but who are we kidding, I’ll probably still be entertained. (At least until NBC cancels it. I keeed! Really, watch it with the itchy trigger finger, Peacock…) (September 22, NBC)
Boardwalk Empire: HBO presents a Martin Scorsese production. Read that sentence again. Do I really need to say anything else? Really?! Okay, it’s a Prohibition era gangster epic, penned by Sopranos writer Terrence Winter, and stars a tremendous cast (Kelly Macdonald, Michael Pitt, Michael Shannon… Dabney Coleman! The Dabster is back!!), lead by master scene-stealer Steve Buscemi… Want me to go on? If you’re not already slavering in anticipation, check your pulse. (September 19, HBO)
Fringe: I geeked out about the awesome potential that Fringe is offering us in its third season already, but we’re about to find out just what new and exciting alternate-universe mayhem the show has in store. After the Season Two finale, it promises some hairy dilemmas for Anna Torv’s heroine in particular; Olivia’s still stranded in the “other” universe while her counterpart has taken her place in our world. Can’t wait to see John Noble continue to prove the Emmy voters thoroughly inept with his performances as both the batty, tragic Walter Bishop of our world and the alt-verse’s devious, ruthless “Walternate.” Only real drawback is that apparently, Leonard Nimoy is definitely retired and won’t be back as William Bell, though I have a feeling his Svengali-like presence will still be felt in other ways. Bring it on. (September 23, Fox)
Dexter: It’s exciting, and a little bit scary, when a show you love reaches a completely game-changing moment, and that’s exactly what happened at the end of season four. His wife’s murder in their own home presents implications that make it impossible to imagine Dexter Morgan being able to return to his previous clandestine-killing ways without some very, very tricky negotiations, let alone whether or not he’s even going to get the urge for a while after finding baby Harrison in a pool of Rita’s blood, mirroring his own “birth” in the killing way. And don’t forget that now that she knows about his biological family, sister Deb is closer to finding out the truth than ever before. It feels like the beginning of the end for Michael C. Hall’s definitive anti-hero, so here’s hoping the show continues to surprise and shock as it always has. (September 26, Showtime)
Community: In general, I’m a much bigger drama watcher than I am sitcom regular. Yet I’m as excited for Community’s return as I am for any hour-long thriller, because quite simply it’s gag-for-gag the funniest show on TV. I felt like it took a few episodes to really find its legs, but by the time I’d finished the first season I was totally sold; if you’re not watching, you’ve probably still heard plenty about the paintball episode, and every bit of it is true. As ingeniously geeky as any five episodes of The Big Bang Theory put together – my god, the John Woo and Die Hard references alone. Superb! (September 23, NBC)
On-the-Fence New Shows
The Event: Call it the FlashForward effect, but when I started hearing the “It’s the new Lost!” rumblings about NBC’s upcoming conspiracy thriller, I slammed the “caution” button with both fists. Then they screened the pilot at Comic-Con, and though I didn’t get to see it, my interest was suddenly piqued by the enthusiastic responses on the interwebs. No, everyone seemed to agree, it really is good and very promising. Okay, you’ve got me, I’ll give it a shot. Advantage in that it co-stars Laura Innes, who from when ER was good through when ER was laughably bad and I stopped watching, she was always consistently excellent and underrated. (September 20, NBC)
Hawaii Five-0: Yeah, not the kind of show I usually get excited about. Reboots are difficult enough to pull off, and Hawaii Five-0 doesn’t immediately scream “Yeah, I can see the potential for bringing something original to the table.” That said, the creative involvement of Alias, Fringe and Star Trek vets Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci indicates some promise. (Pilot director Len “Underworld” Wiseman… well, less so.) Probably not a guaranteed weekly watch, but the promos make it look as though it might be a lot of relatively brain-free fun. Plus, it’s got Daniel Dae Kim and Grace Park; out of nerd loyalty, I feel obliged to check it out just to see Jin Kwon and Sharon Valerii kick ass in tandem. (September 20, CBS)
On-the-Fence Returning Shows
V: Typically, if a show fails to completely captivate me by the end of the first season, I won’t be back for more. In the case of V, however, I’m giving it a second chance, partially because I still have hopes that it might be able to pull off a remotely Battlestar Galactica-level of depth and relevance via a known but previously quite cheeseball sci-fi franchise. It never really got there in the first season, which I found wildly uneven, but now that the Visitors are primed to really start their global invasion it is do-or-die time. On a nerdy note, I’m definitely intrigued that they are bringing the original series’ big bad, Jane Badler, onto the new show as an as-yet-unconfirmed even-bigger-bad. (Richard Hatch seemed like stunt casting on BSG 2.0 at first, and look how great that turned out. Of course there is the rumor that Badler will be playing the exact same character, evil vixen Diana. Too meta?) (November TBA, ABC)
Which of these shows are also high on your must-see list, readers? And are there any other shows I missed and should check out? Have your say in the comments.