Leadership optimize

Previews of the new Fall 2011 geek TV shows

American broadcast TV networks will be debuting their newest pilots in short order. We break down the programs that might interest geeks.

Autumn is creeping in on the Northern Hemisphere once again, which means the American broadcast television networks will be debuting their newest pilots in very short order. So what new genre shows can sci-fi and fantasy geeks look forward to? We break down the new nerd-worthy programs you might want to catch this fall.

Monday

Terra Nova [FOX: 8pm] Steven Spielberg teams up with veteran Star Trek producers Brannon Braga and René Echevarria to bring us the most high-concept and sensawunda offering this fall. The distant future Earth has suffered an eco-catastrophe but has developed one-way deep time travel. The solution is to send human colonists back to the age of dinosaurs to restart the human race (though how we're going to avoid the Cretacious-Tertiary Extinction that wiped out the thunder lizards is just one reason the premise is a bit sketchy). It's Jurassic Park meets Avatar, right down to Steven J. "Colonel Quartich" Lang playing basically the same character as expedition leader Frank Taylor. The presence of Life on Mars's Jason O'Mara as the series family-man lead, however, shows promise. If there's one geek show everyone is going to watch at least once, this is it. Terra Nova premieres Sept. 26. [Preview video]

Tuesday

Unforgettable [CBS: 10pm] Without A Trace's Poppy Montgomery plays an NYPD detective with hyperthymesia, an extreme autobiographic memory, who is called in to solve the most difficult homicide cases. The meta-plot involves her trying to recall the one murder she can't remember: the death of her sister. Most of the producing team are Without A Trace veterans -- in fact, the pitch session was probably Without A Trace meets House or Without A Trace meets Bones -- so if you liked those series you'll probably like this one. Unforgettable premieres Sept. 20. [Preview video]

Wednesday

Wednesdays are strangely bereft of geek-centric network fare. If you're looking for a good night to catch up on the old DVR backlog, this would be it.

Thursday

Person of Interest [CBS: 9pm] Just when you think No Ordinary Family or The Cape proved that network television has no clue how to produce a decent superhero series, along comes the geek show with the most quietly confident buzz. Granted, we're pretty sure the network doesn't know it's producing a superhero series. The premise is that a billionaire software genius played by Lost's Michael "Linus" Emerson has developed a Echelon-style system for predicting crime, sort of like a combination of Asimov's psychohistory and Minority Report's precogs. The billionaire hires an ex-CIA agent played by Jim Cavaziel to track down and stop his predicted crimes, usually by thwarting the pre-criminals themselves. Imagine if Batman and Bruce Wayne were two different people, and neither felt the need for Dracula cosplay. That's Person of Interest. Oh, and did we mention the show is produced by J.J. Abrams? Yeah, we're excited, too. Person of Interest premieres Sept. 22. [Preview video] The Secret Circle [CW: 9pm] Another attractive teen genre drama, this time from Scream creator Kevin Williamson. It's basically The Vampire Diaries meets Charmed, with a huge chunk of Twilight influence (mostly from the Pacific Northwest setting). A young girl moves back to her mother's hated hometown to discover she's descended from a cliquish coven of witches. Species's Natasha Henstridge and The Sarah Connor Chronicles's Thomas Dekker try to class up the joint, but you know what you're getting with a CW formula show. If you like the other cotton-candy fare from the network...well...we're trying not to judge you. The Secret Circle premieres Sept. 15. [Preview video]

Friday

A Gifted Man [CBS: 8pm] The Ghost Whisperer meets Grey's Anatomy, by way of The Lovely Bones. Patrick Wilson, best known to geeks as Nite Owl from the film version of Watchmen, is a brilliant surgeon haunted by the ghost of his recently deceased ex-wife who coaches him through the grieving process. Is he insane, or does he have a guardian angel? If the Friday night timeslot didn't give it away, this one is aimed squarely at the female and family demographics. A Gifted Man premieres Sept. 23. [Preview video] Grimm [NBC: 9pm] The newest genre sacrifice to the Friday Night Death Slot, Grimm is the latest attempt by creator David Greenwalt to recapture the magic of his days as producer of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff, Angel. He's tried this before with Moonlight, which didn't work out so well. Grimm follows a Portland homicide detective descended from the Brothers Grimm who has inherited their ability to see storybook creatures hiding in plain sight. The series lead, David Giuntoli, is best known as a contestant on MTV's Road Rules who backed into acting. Yeah, don't get too attached to this one. Grimm premieres Oct. 21. [Preview video]

Saturday

Actually, I find it comforting that no genre show has been sentenced to slow demise on a Saturday night. The networks may finally have realized that even geeks go out on Saturdays. (It may be to D&D game sessions but still, we go out.)

Sunday

Once Upon a Time [ABC: 8pm] NBC has clearly ponied up serious cash for this project, considering the cast includes House's Jennifer Morrison in the lead, along with Big Love's Ginnifer Goodwin and Stargate: Universe's Robert "Dr. Rush" Carlyle. The show also has a dynamite writing staff, including Lost's Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz teamed with Buffy and Battlestar Galactica uber-producer Jane Espenson. (It makes you wonder why the network didn't go all-out and just option Bill Willingham's awesome Fables comic book series for the small screen, the concepts are so similar.) So what's the premise? Fairy tales are real, and the Evil Queen won by exiling the good characters to mundane lives in a repressed New England town, Storybrooke, where they will never remember their fantastic natures and never age. The series follows Morrison's character, who is the earthborn daughter of the amnesiac Snow White and Prince Charming. She's drawn back to Storybrooke to perhaps free her family, or join them in ageless imprisonment. Very dark and very well produced, this one is swinging for the fences. It may fail, but not for lack of effort or resources. Once Upon A Time premieres Oct. 23. [Preview video]

Which genre show are you most excited to catch this season, and which do you think will survive past episode three? Pronouncements welcome in the comments section.

Note: TV.com and TechRepublic are CBS brands.

About

Jay Garmon has a vast and terrifying knowledge of all things obscure, obtuse, and irrelevant. One day, he hopes to write science fiction, but for now he'll settle for something stranger -- amusing and abusing IT pros. Read his full profile. You can a...

13 comments
swjslj
swjslj

"He???s tried this before with Moonlight, which didn???t work out so well." Actually Moonlight was doing very well .......until the writers strike. The strike killed several good shows.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Sept. 22nd, I believe. Network TV doesn't get any geekier. 'BBT' will give a bump to 'Person of Interest', but who knows how long that will last.

metaphysician
metaphysician

There's no way to compete with Dr. Who on BBC America.

jsaubert
jsaubert

... who's bright idea it was to put Grimm on opposite Supernatural. (Not to mention Fringe! Supernatural is just more inline with the audience they would likely attract.) They might not have a huge audience but they are pretty loyal.

tezdread
tezdread

Person of Interest and Grimm Geeks in this city don't go out lol you'll find us in an on our games consoles!

Dr. Solar
Dr. Solar

Here's how I heard it. OUaT is on ABC. Disney owns ABC. Disney also owns Marvel Comics. Fables is published by DC Comics.

Billb114
Billb114

A lot there I've never seen and I don't have to put up with commercials! As far as I'm concerned network TV has been swirling around the bowl for years now... should hear that "flush" sound anytime now.

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...both are scheduled as midseason replacements. I'll cover them as part of a midseason review/preview.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

I completely agree. Though here in AU Dr Who has just returned on a Saturday Night starting last week. Today being Saturday I know where I'll be tonight. Now all I have to hope for is that I'm never wheelchair bound as I'll have to have a Davros Wheel Chair to scare the nasty kids when I'm at the Mall. :^0 After all what could be more fitting that the creator of the Darleks singing Happy Birthday to you? :^0 Col

swjslj
swjslj

Supernatural is great. Any show on opposite it will not get a glance from me. And I don't tivo or record in any other way. I just don't have that much time on my hands to spend watching the boob tube.

starridge
starridge

According to Wikipedia it's been renewed for 3 years