When it rains, it pours.
This doesn’t have anything to do with anything, since it’s definitely not raining fantasy programming on television this fall
Still, when you throw in sci-fi programming (which we figure our readers might also be interested in), there is a smattering of interesting shows.
And on Thursday nights, we do have something approaching a downpour, with four — Flash Forward, The Vampire Diaries, Supernatural, and Fringe — fantasy/sci fi shows (often at the same time, running against each other, naturally).
Let’s take a look at each in turn — and also get the take of TheTorchOnline’s resident, all-knowing Oracle on each show:
The Vampire Diaries (The CW)
What It’s About: Teen vampires, from Kevin Williamson, the creator of Dawson’s Creek and the Scream movie franchise.
When It’s On: The show premieres Thursday, September 10th at 8 PM (The CW).
The Oracle Speaks: Yes, it’s a Twilight rip-off (although the network and the producers claim it isn’t, since the series is based on a series of YA novels from the 1990s). But the Oracle has seen the pilot, and it’s better than you think. “The premise is the same, you know, girl meets vampire,” Williamson says of the similarities to Twilight. “When I read the first book [in the series], I was like, ‘No way, this is Twilight.’ But with second book, you start to realize, ‘Boy, this is a fork in the road.’ It really does separate. So we’re getting to that fork in the road really quick.”
Supernatural (The CW)
What It’s About: Brothers who probe the supernatural.
When It’s On: The fifth season bows on Thursday, September 10th at 9 PM (The CW).
The Oracle Speaks: The show’s last season was its best ever, ending with a cliffhanger where Sam mistakenly releases Lucifer from hell. Incidentally, earlier this year, creator Eric Kripke was making noises about making this the last season, but all indications are that Kripke and company will return for a sixth season.
A recap of the last season:
Robin Hood (BBC America)
What It’s About: Duh.
When It’s On: The show returns for its third season on Saturday, September 12th at 9 PM (BBC America).
The Oracle Speaks: Is Marion really dead? Sadly, yes, and it’s up to Brother Tuck, making his first appearance on the show, to convince Robin that England is still worth fighting for.
What It’s About: J.J. Abrams’ series about two paranormal investigators picks up from last spring’s cliffhanger, where Olivia confronted the fact that there really are parallel universes — and guest star Leonard Nimoy lives in one of them.
When It’s On: The show returns for its second season on Thursday, September 17 at 9 PM (Fox).
The Oracle Speaks: The Oracle was a big fan of this show, especially the second half of last season and the terrific season finale. Leonard Nimoy already appears in at least one more episode, and the producers would love for him to come back for more. “We want him back as much as he wants to come back,” says executive producer Jeff Pinkner. Meanwhile, star Anna Torv tells TheTorchOnline.com, “I love that Olivia was a bit more masculine [than other shows]. This second season is shifting a bit, and the character of Peter is becoming a lot more proactive.”
What It’s About: Ordinary humans develop superhero-like abilities.
When It’s On: The show returns for its fourth season on September 21st at 8 PM (NBC).
The Oracle Speaks: After a disastrous second season, the producers furiously tried to get their groove back last year (with some success). Still, first season writer Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies), brought in to revitalize the series last year, has now left to pursue other projects. Additions to this year’s cast include Robert Knepper (Prison Break’s T-Bag) as an “earth-mover” and Ray Park (Star Wars‘ Darth Maul Toad, G.I. Joe’s Snake Eyes) as a super-fast henchman with a knack for knife-throwing.
Here’s the season preview:
Smallville (The CW)
What It’s About: Superman “before he was famous.” But does anyone still watch this show?
When It’s On: The show returns for its ninth season on Friday, September 25th at 8 PM (The CW).
The Oracle Speaks: No, seriously. Does anyone still watch this show?
What It’s About: A TV adaptation of the 1987 movie (and the John Updike novel), The Witches of Eastwick.
When It’s On: The show premieres Wednesday, September 23rd at 10 PM.
The Oracle Speaks: Frankly, the Oracle is confused as to exactly what genre this project is. Some sort of supernatural chick lit? As in the movie, three beautiful women are brought together by the arrival in town of the mysterious Daryl Van Horne, who brings out in each of them witch-like powers. But there’s a catch. “You know, there are many different kinds of devils,” says Paul Gross, who plays Van Horne. X-Men nemesis Mystique, Rebecca Romijn, plays one of the witches.
Flash Forward (ABC)
What It’s About: The entire world loses consciousness at the same time for just over two minutes, during which they all have a vision of their lives six months in the future.
When It’s On: The series, which is based on a novel by Robert Sawyer, premieres on Thursday, September 24th at 8 PM (ABC).
The Oracle Speaks: With its ensemble cast and an over-arching central mystery, everyone is comparing the show to Lost — something the producers aren’t exactly shying away from either. But pilot is quite good, setting up the all-important question for the season — namely, can the future be changed? Best of all, the producers promise no convoluted Lost-like non-answers. “By the end of the first season, most of the questions raised in the pilot will be answered,” says creator David S. Goyer.
A video preview:
The Ghost Whisperer (CBS)
What It’s About: A woman who isn’t Haley Joel Osment, but who still sees dead people.
When It’s On: The returns for its fifth season on Friday, September 25th at 8 PM (CBS).
The Oracle Speaks: The Oracle has tried several times to watch this show, but unlike Jennifer Love Hewitt’s character on this show and dead people, it just doesn’t speak to him.
What It’s About: A woman who has bad, but uncannily accurate dreams.
When It’s On: The show returns for a sixth season on Friday, September 25th at 9 PM (CBS).
The Oracle Speaks: This “comfort food” show has never been particularly cutting edge, but the Halloween episode definitely sounds intriguing: the producers are inserting star Patricia Arquette into footage of the original Night of the Living Dead movie, to create sort of a landscape of her dreams. “I love a good monster movie,” Arquette says. “Here I am in a monster show. I’m the monster, but it’s exciting.”
What It’s About: Joss Whedon’s latest, about programmable humans-for-order.
When It’s On: The show returns, improbably, for its second season on Friday, September 25th at 9 PM (Fox).
The Oracle Speaks: The Oracle was phenomenally disappointed with this show when it debuted last spring: the plots were shockingly simplistic, and Eliza Dushku simply didn’t have the acting chops to portray a different “character” every week. The show got marginally better in the second half of the season — but only marginally. Still, Joss Whedon honestly believes in the show, and has been hinting lately that some of its suckiness may have come from network interference. So perhaps its worth another look.
What It’s About: Aliens comes to earth — but are they friendly, as they claim, or do they have more nefarious ends? A remake of the 80s mini-series and series.
When It’s On: The show premieres on Tuesday, November 3rd at 8 PM (ABC).
The Oracle Speaks: The pilot is flat-out terrific: both surprisingly faithful to the 1980s original, but also seeming very contemporary. “There was a huge awareness of the original,” says creator Scott Peters. “There are a lot of people who haven’t seen it, but by the time we get to air, we feel like [the alien's true intentions are] not the big surprise that everyone is going to gasp over. We really want to tell that story that is sort of already known out there so that we can leap forward in very quick manner. … Hopefully, we do it in an artful way and in a twist-filled way that will make folks who haven’t seen the show before jump a little bit.”
Alice (The SyFy Channel)
What It’s About: From the folks who brought you Tin Man, the 2007 retelling of the Oz stories, comes this like-minded mini-series retelling of the Alice in Wonderland story.
When It’s On: December (The SyFy Channel).
The Oracle Speaks: Naturally, the producers say this is nothing like any of the other adaptations of Wonderland you’ve seen — that it’s “racier, tougher, and sexier” — and it’s also nothing like the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp feature film, now in production. “I’ve always wanted to play the Queen of Hearts,” says co-star Kathy Bates. “I’ve always been a fan of the original books. [But] in the original version she’s screaming, ‘Off with her head’ all the time at everybody. And this queen has multi-layers — she has the same evil streak that the queen has in the original version, but for different reasons.”