Fall 2013 Season’s Best Bets for Science Fiction and Fantasy Television

By | September 13, 2013

23 shows!  23!  That’s how many new and returning science fiction and fantasy shows will debut in Prime Time between tonight (with The Legend of Korra at 7 PM EST on Nickelodeon plus Haven at 9 PM EST on Syfy) and November 23rd (when the BBC/BBC America newbie Atlantis has its bow).  23!  And that’s not counting the dozen plus shows scheduled to hit the airwaves at mid-season.  And sci fi fans claim that there’s nothing to watch on television?!?!

Of course you can make an argument that there’s nothing good in the genre to watch, but even there you are stretching it a bit because this Fall has some pretty decent options if you’re looking for sci fi.  But then watching 23 shows over the next few months presents a pretty arduous task for even the most dedicated couch potato.  I gave up on trying to follow all of the sci fi/fantasy shows on television several seasons ago, though I do try to check out at least a few episodes of each of the new shows.  Following is my list of the Fall shows that I’m excited about or at least plan on tuning in for to see if I will add them to my (ever-expanding) must-watch list.  Feel free to chime in with your recommendations in the comments section below.  And you can check out my renewal/cancellation predictions for all of these shows at this link, and be sure to follow my regular Cancellation Watch column and my Cancellation Watch Twitter site to see how these shows are doing in the ratings as the season progresses. 

New Shows:

Definitely excited about:

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC, Tuesdays 8 PM, Premieres Sept 24th):  Come on, what’s not to like about this one?  It’s a spin-off of last years stellar Avengers movie.  It brings back Agent Coulson.  And it brings Josh Whedon back to television (my understanding is that his involvement will be somewhat limited beyond the pilot, but his troupe of regulars which will include Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen will be at the helm).  I’ve pegged this one as a sure hit for the season and its already close to the top of my must-watch list for the season.

Dracula (NBC, Fridays 10 PM, Premieres Oct 25th):  Sure, it’s another vampire show, but it goes back to the most famous of the blood suckers and it has Daniel Knauf at the helm who created one of my all-time favorite shows, the under-appreciated Carnivale (more on that one at this link). I’m hopping he brings a similar moody atmosphere to this show, and I think he has a good chance of making it stand out from the other vampire TV entries.

The Tomorrow People (The CW, Wednesdays 9 PM, Premieres Oct 9th):  Finally!  A remake that makes some sense.  The original 70’s British series had some interesting ideas that were unfortunately lost amidst  exceptionally poor production values (this one made classic Doctor Who look like a big budget affair!).  Let’s hope The CW version taps into the story potential of people who represent the next stage of evolution without retreading on territory already explored (The X-Men, Alphas, etc.) and without too much mugging and humping from attractive young faces (the network’s trademark).

Will give a look to:

Once Upon A Time in Wonderland (ABC, Thursdays 8 PM, Premieres Oct 10th):  I gave up on this show’s parent series a while back, but the spin-off looks like it might deliver a roller-coaster ride side trip into the surreal (mind-altering substances recommended to enhance the viewing experience).  It’s at least worth a look, and it’s only planned for a single season run, so it won’t leave us hanging (and they have additional stories reserved for future seasons in case it does well in the ratings).

Almost Human (FOX, Mondays 8 PM, Premieres Nov 4th):  The trailers make this one look like a pastiche of genre cliches (sci fi and cop show), but the premise of humans cops working with androids in the near future has some potential.  I’ll give it a look at least. 

The Originals (Tuesdays 8 pm, Premieres Oct 3rd):  I was never a Vampire Diaries fan (sorry, wrong demographic), but this one is billed as a more adult spin-off.  The trailers piqued my interest, so I will probably try out a couple of episodes.

Atlantis (BBC America, Saturdays 10 PM, Premieres Nov 23rd):  The BBC tries to fill the fantasy gap left by Merlin (which wrapped up after five seasons) with this show which will offer a healthy dose of Greek mythology characters.  There’s so few fantasy shows on television (and fewer good ones) that I have to at least check it out.

May tune in for:

Sleepy Hollow (FOX, Mondays 9 PM, Premieres Sept 16th):  Ichabob Crane travels from the past to the present day to team up with a cop and try and stop the apocalypse?  Shouldn’t he have sought out Sam and Dean Winchester instead?  The trailer actually makes this look good, but then that’s what trailers are supposed to do.


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Returning Shows:

Can’t wait for the return of:

The Walking Dead (AMC , Sundays 10 PM, Season 4 Premiere Oct 13th):  Not only did this show break all sort of ratings records last year, it continues to push the bounds of series television with its no-holds barred approach.  I have to admit that the Governor started to get on my nerves last year and I didn’t like a few of the plot turns of Season 3, but those are just nitpicks.  This is hands down the best sci fi show on television in past few years.

Looking forward to catching up with:

Supernatural (The CW, Tuesdays 9 PM, Season 9 Premiere Oct 9th):  Sure, this show has leaps of logic so large that a five year old could call them out (Sam and Dean have left a trail of bodies from one side of the country to the next, yet the authorities are not on their tail?).  But the characters and mythology are great and show delivers some damn good stories.  My top guilty pleasure for now.

Arrow (Wednesdays 8 PM, Season 2 Premiere Oct 9th): All of the soap opera shenanigans with uber-pretty people started to wear on me during the first season, but apart from that, this show does superheroes for television right.  And the Lost-like flashbacks to the island (no, a different island) are the best part of this show.

Person of Interest (CBS, Tuesdays 10 PM, Season 3 Premiere Sept 24th):  Jim Caviezel and Michael Emerson are the ones that make this series worth watching, but I really wish the writers would delve deeper into the premise of the show with stories that address the implications of a surveillance-dominated society as well as the moral quandaries of a machine that can predict crimes before they happen.  If it starts to do that, then it could go from a good show to a great one.

May give a look to:

The Neighbors (Fridays 8:30 PM, Season 2 Premiere Sept 20th):  Yeah, I know I railed on this show pretty bad for much of last season, and it deserved it based on its early episodes.  But the season finale acted as kind of a reboot and was actually not too bad (and it had George Takei and Mark Hamill).  So maybe I will check out a couple of episodes to see if they keep that momentum going.

If I’m completely board, I might watch:

Revolution (NBC, Wednesdays 8 PM, Season 2 Premiere Sept 25th):  Supposedly, the second season of this show will act as a kind of a reboot.  But the first season was such an awful mess (even the later, allegedly “improved” episodes) that I can’t see how they could course-correct at this point.  I’ll probably watch the season premiere, but unless that shows a drastic improvement from last year, I’m out.


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The Plight of Science Fiction and Fantasy Television in the Face of the Unforgiving Nielsens and Networks

Ever wondered why your favorite science fiction and/or fantasy show disappeared from the television schedule, never to deliver anymore new episodes? The reason why, most likely, is that it was cancelled because its ratings were low. And this book looks at those many cancelled sci fi/fantasy shows as well as the Neilsen ratings and television networks that dictate their fates. Available now for only $2.99 on Kindle from Amazon.com.

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