Rick Leonardi Wolverine posterPosted on September 5th, 2015 | By: Bert Ehrmann
Today in history: Fay Wray of King Kong and The Most Dangerous Game would have turned 108 today.
There’s quite a few new series to look forward to on TV this fall. In fact there are FIVE series/mini-series based on influential novels set to premiere later this year on cable and streaming services and a few other interesting shows to boot!
Unfortunately, the outlook for new series set to debut on network TV doesn’t look good. There’s only a few show there that I’m interested in, and that’s only because they’re a genera series that, truthfully, I don’t have very high hopes for.
Those two network shows are Supergirl on CBS and Minority Report on FOX. Supergirl follows the Man of Steel’s cousin who must balance her life and the fact that she has the same superpowers as the Man of Tomorrow while Minority Report is a sequel of sorts to the 2002 movie where one of the twins from the film who could see crimes in the future goes off with a cop to try and stop more crimes.
I’d have more faith with Supergirl if it were on ANY network other than CBS while Minority Report sounds a lot like another FOX show from a few years ago, Almost Human from 2013, that also took place in the future but partnered a robot with a cop in order to solve crimes. Almost Human only lasted a single season which with how FOX tends to treat its sci-fi series is also probably in store for Minority Report too.
On cable things are a lot more interesting.
On The CW is the superhero Legends of Tomorrow show that takes place in the same universe as their already popular DC Arrow/The Flash series. In Legends, a whole group of superheroes/supervillains from Firestorm, the Atom, Hawkgirl and Captain Cold to name a few team up to try and stop some future world ending event. Legends sounds a bit like Justice League meets Suicide Squad which could be interesting.
A TV version of the Evil Dead film franchise Ash vs Evil Dead is set to take on the Deadites starting Halloween on Starz. The trailer for this one looks to be a crazed blood-spattered gore-filled continuation of the story from the movies with Bruce Campbell returning as Ash in the title role.
What’s got me REALLY excited this fall are those five sci-fi series based on books; Westworld, Childhood’s End, The Expanse and, what I’m looking forward to most next season, The Man in the High Castle.
Based in the Philip K. Dick novel, The Man in the High Castle is produced by Ridley Scott and will stream November 20. The first episode of this alt-history series has already debuted where a post WWII victorious Japan and Germany occupies the United States. Their response to any rebellion is a fiery death and even owning alt-history material in High Castle that tells of a victorious US in WWII is a crime punishable by death.
The first episode of High Castle was so good after watching the first free episode I went out and immediately subscribed to Amazon Prime in order to be able to see the rest.
A mini-series based on the Arthur C. Clarke novel Childhood’s End (1953) premieres on SyFy Monday, December 14. The Childhood’s End story has colossal alien spacecraft arriving at the earth ala V (1983) and the inhabits within, who just so happen to look the stereotypical version of the devil, promising to bring peace and tranquility to the planet. But their gift comes with a very large caveat.
Another Syfy series based on a novel is The Expanse which also debuts December 14. The Expanse takes place several hundred years in the future when mankind has spread out from the Earth, is living all around the solar system and is mining the asteroid belt for resources when a deadly secret is uncovered that puts the future of humanity in doubt.
A TV version of the Michael Crichton novel/film Westworld is set for HBO sometime after the new year. The original Westworld story followed guests at lavish themed resorts staffed by robots that turn on them who have to fight for their lives. Reportedly, in this updated version the robots/beings of Westworld don’t know that they’re living in a simulated reality and think what they’re experiencing is real.
Though it doesn’t always seem that way during slow months, but at times modern TV is an embarrassment of riches. Nowadays there are quality series not only during the fall and winter but spring and summer months too both on television and the various streaming services too. So many so that even though I watched a lot of TV last season there simply wasn’t enough hours and I couldn’t keep up with everything so I was forced to skip quite a few shows I’d normally check out.
There are so many riches that I’ve come to the realization that some series that I think are just alright are really very good. It’s just that when an “alright” show is being judged against future-classics they come off more pale in comparison than they would otherwise.
First up this fall is the ninth modern (35th if you include the classic) season of Doctor Who on Saturday, September 19 on BBC America. This second season with Peter Capaldi starring as the title role will run 13 episodes including the traditional Christmas episode. From its reboot a decade ago Doctor Who has been a solid sci-fi show with a lot of heart.
ABC’s comedies Fresh off the Boat and Black-ish return Tuesday, September 22 and The Goldbergs Wednesday, September 23. These comedies aren’t great but they usually funny and sometimes that’s enough.
The second season of The Last Man on Earth premiers Sunday, September 27 on Fox. I thought the first season was good, abet maybe not enough “last man”, but I’m honestly interested in where this one picks up after the events of the first season finale.
The drama following the creation of the atomic bomb Manhattan returns to WGN Tuesday, October 13. I’m not sure many watched this show but I genuinely liked a lot of Manhattan where the secrets the people keep who are developing the a-bomb are almost as destructive as the weapon itself.
The second season of The Knick on Cinemax about the hospital of the same name in New York at the turn of the last century, debuts Friday, October 16. The first season was produced and entirely directed by Steven Soderbergh and was one of the best things on TV last year. And Soderbergh’s again returning to the directing chair and is filming each and every episode this season too. The Knick is the rare show that takes a look at a mostly forgotten time on our history where the world was moving to a time of scientific wonders and horrors too.
I’m a huge Star Wars fan and am excited about the return of the animated series Star Wars Rebels Wednesday, October 14 to Disney XD. This series takes place between episodes III and IV in a time where the Empire was the unequivocal ruler of the galaxy and the crew of the ship the Ghost are just trying to make a legal if they can, illegal if the must, buck. But as the first season progressed and the rebellion agains the Empire began to spark the question becomes does the crew join up and fight and put their lives on the line or do they play it safe and try and stay small and under the radar of the Empire?
I very nearly included the upcoming reboot of The X-Files as a new series since the show’s been off the air 13 years at this point, but decided that it’s a returning show since it features all the same cast and writers from the classic show returning to this new one on Sunday, January 24. Honestly, I can’t wait for the return of The X-Files even though late in its original run the series became overwrought in trying to maintain its conspiracy storylines and had an unremarkable ending for a remarkable show. Yet the first time I saw Mulder and Scully in the new promos and heard the eerie theme again I got goosebumps.
And sometime after the new year two of the best shows on TV returns; The Americans on FX and Better Call Saul on AMC.
Now in its fourth season, The Americans looks to pick up after the devastating events of the third season that left the Jennings’ family in ruins. Is there hope for the Soviet spies in 1980s Washington DC when members of their own family want to defect to the other (our) side?
Better Call Saul was a revelation to me last winter. I was never one that was able to get into the TV series Breaking Bad. All of my friends who watched that show loved it and I’ve tried watching it several times but for whatever reason I could just never get into it. So I almost didn’t watch Better Call Saul since it’s a prequel of sorts to Breaking Bad but luckily I did. Better Call Saul traces how sad-sack lawyer Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) one day becomes ambulance chasing do whatever it takes to win a case/make money law be damned Saul Goodman.
Everything about the first season of Better Call Saul was wonderful and its the rare show that when one episode ended I’d spend the next week waiting with excitement for the next one to start.
You will believe Chopper can FLY!
Last spring the TV series Game of Thrones ended its fifth season on HBO. While I’m usually a huge fan of the series I didn’t much care for last season. I think that’s partly because this season seemed to be building up to … something. Previous seasons of the show told a long, complex story whereas this season seemed to be leading to another season.
To be sure this year there were stories of characters consolidating power and others where they made plans but a lot of the story felt mostly static. I’m not one of those people who demands action and battles from series like Game of Thrones but I think there should be something interesting happening to keep the viewer’s interest. Which I think was sorely lacking most of this season.
I do wonder how much the creators of Game of Thrones series were hurt that they had to follow the Game of Thrones novels? What I mean is that if they weren’t following the story set by the novels I think this season would’ve gone in a different direction altogether. That rather on focusing on a lot of lead up and not a lot of payoff they could have instead told something else altogether.
I don’t think it helps matters that each episode of Game of Thrones tells stories of multiple characters. Since there were many different storylines and characters that were being followed meant that most characters only got a few minutes of screen time each episode. Meaning their season-stories probably only covered an hour or so of television at most per character.
And how can characters grow and change in just an hour each year?
Worst of all I don’t think it had to be this way. Looking back on the season it seemed that several storylines could’ve easily been cut. These stories had no value other than to take characters from A to B then back to A again without much happening. I get the sense that some of this were in place just to keep all of the actors working and having equal screen time but I think that really hurt the overall quality of the show.
All of which is bad, but what just might have turned me off to Game of Thrones for good was the cruelty on display this season.
To be sure Game of Thrones has always been a show that depicted humainty’s cruelty towards humanity. The series has never shied away from characters being killed, maimed and mutilated. In fact this has been one of the hallmarks of the show. But recently some of that cruelty seemed to be in place for shock value alone.
This season character of Sansa Stark (Sophie Turner) was raped by her cruel and malevolent husband Ramsay (Iwan Rheon). Which was upsetting especially since we’ve known the character of Sansa since the actress was 15. And the creators of the show didn’t shy away from depicting the act on screen, later defending themselves by saying that these sorts of things happen in real life.
Which is true. Except that of all the acts of cruelty that happened OFF-screen over the years why was did one have to be ON-screen?
And then another character Shireen Baratheon (Kerry Ingram) whom we’ve known since the actress was 14 was taken by her father and burned alive at the stake this season. She screams for him to stop but he won’t since he’s seeking to be granted a favor from the gods. Ugh.
Which makes me think of a show like The Walking Dead. I used to like The Walking Dead just fine and was a big fan of the show up until a few seasons ago. That’s when I realized that it’d become little more than “bad things happening to good people” the TV series. If you like becoming invested in characters only to see them meet a brutal, gory end then The Walking Dead’s for you! It’s a series where characters are seemingly introduced one week in order to die screaming the next.
And that’s kind’a where I think Game of Thrones is right now. For some reason the creators of that show think that showing bad things happening to good characters makes for good TV, but it doesn’t. It’s a cheap way to get people talking about a series for all the wrong reasons.
I lost the stomach for this sort of thing with The Walking Dead and stopped watching it and feel like I’m starting to lose my stomach for it with Game of Thrones too.