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Anticipating Fall’s Primetime Season: An Abundance of Genre Riches

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The Emmys are over and the network primetime season is about to begin. I’ve spent my summer being captivated by Ray Donovan (Showtime) and delighted by HBO’s Newsroom (congratulations to the great Jeff Daniels for his Emmy!). Disappointed by TNT’s Perception (what a great concept, poorly executed by mediocre writing), and excited to have discovered Downton Abbey (yes, I’ve seen them all now!) and Hannibal. I’ve been introduced to Michael Hirst’s Vikings (History Channel) and underwhelmed by AMC’s White Queen.

onceSo now I’m ready for the fall primetime season. What will I be watching? What’s exciting to me for the 2013-2104 season? One thing you’ll not notice in the list is the lack of situation comedies, procedural drama and an overabundance of sci-fi/fantasy genre television. It’s where my heart lies and what tickles my fancy.

One thing I have to say: the primetime schedule is full of great genre promise with both new and returning series on network television:

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (Tuesdays on ABC): “Investigate the new, the strange and the unknown around the globe”: that is the mission of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division). Agents are assigned to protect  the ordinary from the extraordinary. The series opens just after the existence of superheroes and aliens becomes publicly known and everyone is trying to cope with this extraordinary new reality. This new ABC series is from Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and one of the season’s most highly anticipated series. Watch for my review tomorrow!

Sleepy Hollow (Fox, Mondays): A great premise. Some plot holes and missed opportunities in the pilot, but it has some strong potential as the story weaves back and forth from the 18th Century to present day (I’m a sucker for historical premises and for fantasy/scifi). It’s one of those series I’ll put in the keep watching column and hope it finds its footing. (I did that with Revolution last season and it took virtually all season to work, but ultimately, it did!)

Revolution (Wednesdays on NBC). When I spoke to Eric Kripke, Billy Burke and the Revolution team at Comic-Con this past summer, all acknowledged that season one was a bit of a roller coaster. Kripke admitted that they really didn’t quite know what they had in the Revolution premise, and it took quite awhile to really get the series on track.

When season one ended, the power was finally back on, and in a very real way, both for the characters and the series itself, it was an opportunity to start afresh.

This season, the series, promises Kripke, will be more focused. With the lights on, the characters are confronted with a bit “what’s next?” The kids, who’ve never really known the power (so to speak) of electricity will have some surprises. But how long will the power stay on? That is another question to be explored. Rather than taking viewers on a journey, season two will hone in on a small Texas town where we meet Rachel’s father (played by Stephen Collins) and how everyone copes with the aftermath.

Although I was lukewarm about season one, I am really excited for tomorrow night’s premiere. Look for my review later this week.

Elementary (Thursdays on CBS, premiering this week). Moving the story to London offers a lot of interesting possibilities for Sherlock Holmes and Joan Watson. The introduction of Holmes brilliant brother Mycroft (the wonderfully eccentric Rhys Ifans!) in a recurring role for season two will give viewers new opportunities to explore Sherlock’s psyche. The show is best when it blends the procedural with little insights into Sherlock and I hope we get more of these this season. I will post my review of the season premiere after the episode airs.

Once Upon a Time: Once premieres Sunday night on ABC as our intrepid heroes have set sail on the Jolly Roger to save Henry from Peter Pan’s malevolent clutches. Each of the characters has his or her own agenda, and Rumple, who knows Henry is to be his undoing realizes very quickly that he is likely not to come out of this adventure alive. Yet, believing that Baelfire is dead, Rumple (actually in the guise of Mr. Gold) he forges ahead on this suicide mission:

I will publish a separate preview of Once Upon a Time’s premiere later in the week, but I will say for now that I am excited to see how this season plays out, hopeful that the series doesn’t fall prey to last season’s tendency to scatter its storylines too far. Based on conversations with the producers, I am confident that the series will hone in on the main cast and its immediate quest. I am also delighted that the series will split its third season, airing 11 episodes from September through early December and then coming back in March to air the back end uninterrupted!

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC, Thursdays, beginning October 10): The troubled Alice, committed to an asylum lives in a land on the other side of a rabbit hole. But is it fantasy or an alternate reality? Alice knows this world is real, and we travel with her to encounter the Cheshire Cat, genies, and all the other characters familiar from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass in this new series from Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitstis (Once Upon a Time, Lost).

Almost Human (premieres on FOX in November): Sci-fi with a very Phillip K. Dick vibe. Androids with human emotions, humans with android parts. The pilot is promising and this is one I’m really anticipating on FOX.

Intelligence (doesn’t premiere until February on CBS). This is an intense sci-fi suspense political thriller I can’t wait to see. A spy implanted with a microchip in his brain that makes him the ultimate hacker. If CBS allows the intrigue and suspense to overrule its propensity for flat out procedurals, this could be a great, taut series.

Hannibal (NBC, premiering mid-season) Based on Robert Harris’ novel Red Dragon, the show is a pyschological thriller that centers around the cat and mouse game played by Hannibal Lecter (the really scary Mads Mickelsen) and FBI profiler Will Grant (Hugh Dancy). Laurence Fishburne stars as the head of the FBI Behavioral Science Unit at Quanitco. The series premiered in a limited run of episodes last spring and I confess I missed it (airing against Elementary, it eluded my radar, so bad on me). I caught up over the summer and I have to say it is a daring bit of television for a big-three network. But it is compelling TV with excellent writing and fantastic performances. At the end of season one, the beleagured Will Grant is arrested as a serial killer just as he realizes it is his own psychaitrist Lecter responsible. But with Will at a psychological breaking point (put there by Lecter and a bout of encephalitis, which Lecter diagnosed and did not report to his patient), who knows what the future holds. Although it will not debut until later this season, I strongly recommend this series, and you can catch up online in the meantime.

Yo-Ho-Ho and a Couple of Pirates: This must be the year of the TV pirate: From Once Upon a Time‘s Captain Hook to Starz’ Black Sails (January 2014) to NBC’s midseason series Crossbones.  Crossbones is an action-adventure series with “unexpected moral center where one can’t be sure whether the pirates or the British crown are the villains,” according to NBC’s press release. Set in 1715, the story revolves around the pirate Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard. Black Sails centers on the tales of Captain Flint and his men and takes place twenty years prior to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic “Treasure Island.

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • Anastasia Klimchynskaya

    Wow! There are more exciting shows happening this year than I realized! I’m actually quite excited for TV season this year.

  • Connie Standish

    Also excited for season 3 of Once Upon a Time. Season 2 wasn’t terrible but I agree with your statement on the storyline; it became a little scattered when the show was nearing its season finale, plus I thought some elements of the story, such as the introduction of the Home Office and Belle briefly becoming Lacey, seemed a little rushed; but overall it was a good season (I heard that sophomore seasons are usually kind of rocky anyway) and I am looking forward to Season 3 :)

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