Below are the official synopses for the new sci fi / fantasy shows that the broadcast networks announced at the upfronts for the coming 2015-16 seasons. Interestingly, ABC has no new genre entries this time around despite being the one Big Four network that has championed sci fi / fantasy the most the last few seasons. But then they are bringing back four shows from the current season (Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter, Once Upon A Time, and Galavant), and they do have another Marvel show in the works, though no word on when that one will hit (and the SHIELD spin-off is not completely dead). Plus, ABC is bringing the Muppets back, and you can debate all you want on whether it is a genre show, but you should be watching it. Also of interest, sci fi-averse CBS has three new entries on its schedule, which is the most it has had in years. FOX has the most new shows with five (that’s counting The X-Files revival as a “new” entry), whereas NBC has only one (if you count Heroes Reborn as new) plus Blindspot that may prove to have some genre elements. And The CW only has two new sci fi shows on the way, but seeing as they are carrying over eight (!), I don’t believe that we can complain too much.
Following is the info on each of the new genre shows (sorted by network) with my comments below each. You can see the initial schedule for Fall 2015 at this link with my comments and I will be giving my cancellation predictions on these shows as its gets closer to the beginning of the Fall season.
The Muppets (ABC): The Muppets return to primetime with a contemporary, documentary-style show. For the first time ever, a series will explore the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships, both at home and at work, as well as romances, breakups, achievements, disappointments, wants and desires. This is a more adult Muppet show, for “kids” of all ages.
Johnny Jay Says: This looks like The Muppet Show meets The Office, which could be a ton of fun if done right (ABC, you better not mess this up!). I would have preferred that they just bring back the old Muppet Show variety format (that could have worked great, and it already had a behind the scenes feel to it), but I will definitely be tuning in for this one.
Angel from Hell (CBS): Golden Globe and multiple Emmy Award winner Jane Lynch stars in a single-camera comedy about Amy (Lynch), a colorful, brassy woman who insinuates herself into Allison’s (Maggie Lawson) organized and seemingly perfect life, claiming to be her “guardian angel.” Allison is an intense, driven doctor who is sure that Amy is just an inebriated, outspoken nut, until every one of her warnings proves true. Cautioned by Amy not tell anyone about her, Allison can’t discuss this over-the-top oddball with her father and business partner, Marv (Kevin Pollak), a sunburned dermatologist who shares an office with Allison, or her younger brother, Brad (Kyle Bornheimer), a pharmaceutical sales rep who lives over her garage. As Allison tries to push Amy away, Amy makes her final pitch: her sole mission is to provide Allison with helpful guidance that nudges her in the right direction in life – and it’s her final chance to prove herself as an angel. With that, Allison agrees to this unlikely relationship because maybe a weird friend is exactly what she needs… and what if Amy really is her “guardian angel”?
Johnny Jay Says: The trailer for this supernatural comedy looks interesting and I enjoyed sci fi sitcom The Last Man on Earth a lot more than I expected. I will give it a look.
Limitless (CBS): (Based on the feature film) A fast-paced drama about Brian Finch (Jake McDorman), who discovers the brain-boosting power of the mysterious drug NZT and is coerced by the FBI into using his extraordinary cognitive abilities to solve complex cases for them. Working closely with Brian in the major case squad in New York City is Special Agent Rebecca Harris (Jennifer Carpenter), a formidable investigator with a dark past, and Special Agent Boyle (Hill Harper), a former military officer and Rebecca’s confidante. They report to Special Agent in Charge Nasreen “Naz” Pouran (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), a canny manipulator of the reins of power. Unbeknownst to the FBI, Brian also has a clandestine relationship with Senator Edward Mora (Academy Award nominee Bradley Cooper, recurring), a presidential hopeful and regular user of NZT who has plans of his own for his new protégé. Fueled now with a steady supply of NZT that enables him to use 100% of his brain capacity, Brian is more effective than all of the FBI agents combined, making him a criminal’s worst nightmare and the greatest asset the Bureau has ever possessed.
Johnny Jay Says: Never got around to seeing the movie, but the TV spin-off looks worth checking out. Seems real close to 2014’s Intelligence, though, with a drug enhancing the hero’s brain this time around rather than a computer chip. And it’s getting the same timeslot that killed that show, so that is concerning (more on that at this link).
Supergirl (CBS): An action-adventure drama based on the DC Comics character Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist), Superman’s (Kal-El) cousin who, after 12 years of keeping her powers a secret on Earth, decides to finally embrace her superhuman abilities and be the hero she was always meant to be. Twelve-year-old Kara escaped the doomed planet Krypton with her parents’ help at the same time as the infant Kal-El. Protected and raised on Earth by her foster family, the Danvers, Kara grew up in the shadow of her foster sister, Alex (Chyler Leigh), and learned to conceal the phenomenal powers she shares with her famous cousin in order to keep her identity a secret. Years later at 24, Kara lives in National City assisting media mogul and fierce taskmaster Cat Grant (Golden Globe Award winner Calista Flockhart), who just hired the Daily Planet’s former photographer, James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks), as her new art director. However, Kara’s days of keeping her talents a secret are over when Hank Henshaw (David Harewood), head of a super-secret agency where her sister also works, enlists her to help them protect the citizens of National City from sinister threats. Though Kara will need to find a way to manage her newfound empowerment with her very human relationships, her heart soars as she takes to the skies as Supergirl to fight crime.
Johnny Jay Says: The first trailer was more girl and less super in this superhero / Ally McBeal hybrid (okay, I never watched Ally McBeal, but Supergirl does have Calista Flockhart). It should be worth checking out, but don’t care for the scheduling (directly against FOX’s Gotham), and I go into more detail on that at this link.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (CW): When heroes alone are not enough… the world needs legends. Having seen the future, one he will desperately try to prevent from happening, time-traveling rogue Rip Hunter is tasked with assembling a disparate group of both heroes and villains to confront an unstoppable threat – one in which not only is the planet at stake, but all of time itself. Can this ragtag team defeat an immortal threat unlike anything they have ever known?
Johnny Jay Says: This is the 2015-16 season show that I am most pumped about from the broadcast networks and looks like it could be the most expensive show that The CW has produced to date. It appears to be bringing along more of the fun elements of The Flash and less of the dark-and-gritty of Arrow and could deliver a decent superhero team-up romp!
Containment (formerly Cordon) (CW): When a mysterious and deadly epidemic breaks out in Atlanta, a vast urban quarantine is quickly enforced, forcing those stuck on the inside to fight for their lives while local and federal officials desperately search for a cure. Trying to keep the peace on the streets is police officer Lex Carnahan, who has quickly risen through the ranks of the Atlanta PD. But Lex’s job becomes even harder when he learns that his longtime girlfriend, Jana, and his best friend and fellow officer Jake, are trapped within the cordoned area.
Johnny Jay Says: I’m always a sucker for a good pandemic tale, though I wonder if TWD prequel series Fear the Walking Dead might cover the same territory much better. The trailer makes it look like it has less of The CW’s trademark soap opera diversions, but you have to wonder how they will pad this out into a thirteen episode season (it bows mid-year) and then into more seasons beyond that. Still, I will have it on my watch list.
The Frankenstein Code (FOX): A modern reimagining of the Mary Shelley classic, about a man brought back to life by two scientists playing god. Seventy-five-year-old JIMMY PRITCHARD is a shell of his former self. A drinker, a womanizer and a father who always put work before family, Pritchard was forced to resign as L.A. County Sheriff for corrupt conduct more than a decade ago. Now, some 15 unkind years later, he is killed when he stumbles upon a robbery at the home of FBI Agent DUVAL PRITCHARD, one of his three children. But death is surprisingly short for Jimmy, who is brought back to life by billionaire tech-genius twins MARY GOODWIN and her brother, OTTO, founders of the social networking empire, Lookinglass. Resurrected as a younger version of himself, with physical abilities of which he never dreamed, a re-animated Pritchard is given a second chance at life. What will he do with it? Will he seek vengeance against those who killed him? Will he try to repair the damage he did to his family? Will he embrace a new sense of purpose or fall prey to old temptations?
Johnny Jay Says: There were several Frankenstein pilots making the rounds across the networks (one starring Sean Bean), and this is the only one that stuck. The premise seems rather tired, though, and it throws in the title of Mary Shelley’s book to get some name recognition. I’ll check it out, but don’t have high hopes.
Lucifer (FOX): Based upon the characters created by Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth and Mike Dringenberg for DC Entertainment’s Vertigo imprint, LUCIFER is the story of the original fallen angel. Bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell, LUCIFER MORNINGSTAR has abandoned his throne and retired to L.A., where he owns Lux, an upscale nightclub. Charming, charismatic and devilishly handsome, Lucifer is enjoying his retirement, indulging in a few of his favorite things – wine, women and song – when a beautiful pop star is brutally murdered outside of Lux. For the first time in roughly 10 billion years, he feels something awaken deep within him as a result of this murder. Compassion? Sympathy? The very thought disturbs him – as well as his best friend and confidante, MAZIKEEN aka MAZE, a fierce demon in the form of a beautiful young woman.
Johnny Jay Says: I never read the Neil Gaiman comic book, but the trailer makes it look like a ton of fun! Seems like it would have been a better fit on one of the cable channels (and a great pair up with Constantine), but hopefully FOX won’t water it down too much.
Minority Report (FOX): Based on the international blockbuster film by executive producer Steven Spielberg and the first of his films to be adapted for television, MINORITY REPORT follows the unlikely partnership between a man haunted by the future and a cop haunted by her past, as they race to stop the worst crimes of the year 2065 before they happen. Set in Washington, D.C., it is 10 years after the demise of Precrime, a law enforcement agency tasked with identifying and eliminating criminals…before their crimes were committed. To carry out this brand of justice, the agency used three precogs – “precognitives” Dash, Arthur and Agatha – who were able to see the future. Now, in 2065, crime-solving is different, and justice leans more on sophisticated and trusted technology than on the instincts of the precogs.
Johnny Jay Says: There’s a ton of potential with this one and maybe they could dive into the pre-crime moral quandaries that Person of Interest has only skirted around. But I’m worried that this will turn into another procedural with a few sci fi twists.
Scream Queens (FOX): FOX has ordered SCREAM QUEENS, a new genre-bending comedy-horror anthology series. The series, produced by 20th Century Fox Television, is from Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, Ian Brennan and Dante Di Loreto, the executive producers of GLEE and “American Horror Story.” The first installment in the new anthology series revolves around a college campus which is rocked by a series of murders.
Johnny Jay Says: Not really sci fi, but genre fans may find something to like here. The trailer sure makes it look fun.
The X-Files (FOX): Thirteen years after the original series run, FOX has ordered the next mind-bending chapter of THE X-FILES, a thrilling, six-episode event series which will be helmed by creator/executive producer Chris Carter, with stars David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson re-inhabiting their roles as iconic FBI Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. This marks the momentous return of the Emmy- and Golden Globe Award-winning pop culture phenomenon, which remains one of the longest-running sci-fi series in network television history. (Premieres Jan 24, 2016)
Johnny Jay Says: Holding out hope that they will do justice to the original series. That show really slipped in quality its last few years, but with just a few episodes (six total) the creative team can hopefully focus their energies and deliver a good addition to the show’s legacy.
Blindspot (NBC): A vast international plot explodes when a beautiful Jane Doe is discovered naked in Times Square, completely covered in mysterious, intricate tattoos with no memory of who she is or how she got there. But there’s one tattoo that is impossible to miss: the name of FBI
agent Kurt Weller, emblazoned across her back. “Jane,” Agent Weller and the rest of the FBI quickly realize that each mark on her body is a crime to solve, leading them closer to the truth about her identity and the mysteries to be revealed.
Johnny Jay Says: Another one of those shows with conspiracies and mysteries padding out each hour. It may have some sci fi elements, but it will have to hook me quick to keep my attention.
Heroes Reborn (NBC): The saga behind the 2006 breakout series “Heroes” will continue this fall as creator Tim Kring returns to the fold and develops new layers to his original superhero concept. This highly anticipated 13-episode event series will reconnect with the basic elements of the show’s first season, where ordinary people were waking up to the fact that they had extraordinary abilities.
Johnny Jay Says: We’re all hoping that the revival will be more Season 1 Heroes and less Seasons 2 thru 4. This could be great continuation (that gives some resolution to the Season 4 cliffhanger) or it could be yet another derailment for that once-promising show.