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The Geekend's fall 2012 sci-fi and fantasy TV preview

Which fall 2012 sci-fi/fantasy TV shows should earn time on your DVR hard drive, and which are unworthy of even Internet forum scorn?

The major U.S. broadcast networks have set forth their fall 2012 program schedules, and more than a few sci-fi and fantasy shows have made the cut. The question remains: are any of them worth watching? Your faithful Geekend media snob lays out his cynically educated guesses for each show on the following scale, from worst to first: Skip It, TBD, Wait for DVD, DVR It, or Watch It Live.

Sunday

Once Upon a Time [8pm | ABC]

Against all odds, the fairy-tale-characters-exiled-to-a-Desperate-Housewives-suburb series got renewed, and this season all the fables know they've been cursed to normalcy--and who is responsible for it. That should up the melodrama nicely.

Geekend rating: Wait for DVD

Season two of Once Upon a Time begins Sept. 30. [Video preview]

666 Park Avenue [10pm | ABC | New]

Locke from Lost and his wife, Vanessa Williams, own a cursed but irresistible Park Avenue condo complex that eats souls (or something). Could be an awesome Tales from the Crypt successor if it wasn't on broadcast TV, where it looks to be tamed into bland oblivion.

Geekend rating: Skip It 666 Park Avenue premieres Sept. 30. [Video preview] Do No Harm [10pm | NBC | New]

The latest Jekyll & Hyde riff, this time chronicling a neurosurgeon with an evil alternate personality that can no longer be suppressed with experimental drugs. It would remind you of the similar 2008 Christian Slater series My Own Worst Enemy--except no one watched My Own Worst Enemy. And you know what they say about those who forget history....

Geekend rating: Skip It

Do No Harm premieres Sept. 14. [Video preview]

Monday

Bones [8pm | FOX]

The sci-fi-in-everything-but-name science detective show is still kicking, but whether it can survive the consummation of sexual tension between the lead characters played by David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel is anybody's guess.

Geekend rating: Wait for DVD

Season eight of Bones begins Sept. 17. [Video preview]

Revolution [10pm | NBC | New]

It's enough that creators J.J. Abrams (Fringe and Lost) and Eric Kripke (Supernatural) are tag-teaming for a genre show, but when Jon (Iron Man) Favreau is directing the pilot and the concept is apparently "inspired" (read: ripped off) by S.M. Stirling's Emberverse book series, this becomes the must-see geek TV debut of the year. Short version: A mysterious event shuts down all electronics on Earth, leaving warlords and militias in charge of the retro-industrial aftermath. The story centers on a young girl who may hold the secret to turning the power back on, and the cadre of irregulars keeping her alive to pull it off.

Geekend rating: Watch It Live

Revolution premieres Sept. 17. [Video preview]

Tuesday

Nothing on the nerd-o-scope, so this is your weekday DVR catch-up evening.

Wednesday

Arrow [8pm | CW | New]

A reboot of the superhero Green Arrow that thankfully has nothing to do with the wretched version that appeared on Smallville. Of course, this is the same network that inexplicably kept Smallville on the air for a decade, so don't get your hopes too high.

Geekend rating: Wait for DVD

Arrow premieres Oct. 10. [Video preview]

The Neighbors [8:30pm | ABC | New]

A typical suburban family moves into a gated community that is actually the beachhead for extraterrestrial invaders. Awesome idea, except it's a sitcom. Could be 3rd Rock from the Sun, more likely to be ALF.

Geekend rating: Skip It

The Neighbors premieres Oct. 3. [Video preview]

Supernatural [9pm | CW]

The CW continues its tradition of refusing to let shows die even after the creators and cast are ready to stop, which is ironic given this show's concept of demon hunters fighting an endless battle against evil they can never give up but never win.

Geekend rating: Wait for DVD

Season eight of Supernatural begins Oct. 3. [Video preview]

Thursday

The Big Bang Theory [8pm | CBS]

Still not sure if this chronicle of modern geekdom is laughing with us, or laughing at us. Still not sure it matters.

Geekend rating: DVR It

Season six of The Big Bang Theory begins Sept. 27. [No preview yet]

Last Resort [8pm | ABC | New]

An American missile sub that refuses to launch a nuclear attack on the Middle East is forced to go on the lam--by taking over a Caribbean island. That high-concept spy-fi is enough to merit interest, but the fact that it stars Andre Braugher and showrunner Shawn Ryan is the man who brought us The Shield seals the deal.

Geekend rating: Watch It Live

Last Resort premieres Sept. 27. [Video preview]

Save Me [8pm | NBC | New]

Anne Heche stars in this Joan of Arcadia-as-a-sitcom concept as a suburban housewife who believes she's the next Biblical prophet. Because the public loves it when Hollywood mocks a mainstream religion.

Geekend rating: Skip It

Save Me premieres Sept. 6. [Video preview]

The Vampire Diaries [8pm | CW]

The emo teen rip-off of Twilight by way of Gossip Girl continues to give its fans exactly what they want. I have no idea what that is, but c'est la vie.

Geekend rating: Skip It

Season four of The Vampire Diaries begins Oct. 11. [Video preview]

Beauty and the Beast [9pm | CW | New]

Smallville's Kristin Kreuk resurfaces to play the Linda Hamilton part in this reboot of the classic 1980s fantasy-romance series, but she does so alongside an unbeastly Tiger Beat-handsome beast designed to appeal to the CW's teen-soap demographic. If you like The Vampire Diaries, you'll like this.

Geekend rating: Skip It

Beauty and the Beast premieres Oct. 11. [Video preview]

Person of Interest [9pm | CBS]

The superhero-in-everything-but-name show with a surveillance society twist made it to season two and, like all J.J. Abrams series that clear that hurdle, is threatening to hit its stride. It's worth watching to find out if the retired CIA assassin/reformed panopticon hacker/idealist cop trio can keep saving New York from itself, and say something along the way.

Geekend rating: DVR It

Season two of Person of Interest begins Sept. 27. [No preview yet]

Elementary [10pm | CBS | New]

As soon as Steven Moffat wowed critics with his modern-day BBC reboot of Sherlock Holmes, you knew at least one American network would steal the concept. Right on cue, we Yankees cast Jonny Lee Miller as Holmes and, either boldly or bizarrely, Lucy Liu as Dr. Watson. As with most U.S. remakes of British hits, the fact that we didn't bring Moffat along for the ride means we're stealing the music, but not the musician, and we all know how rarely cover songs are as good as the original tune.

Geekend rating: DVR It

Elementary premieres Sept. 27. [Video preview]

Friday

Touch [8pm | FOX]

The tale of Kiefer Sutherland and his super-genius autistic son heads into season two with both on the run from the law. Yes, this is quickly turning into Rain Man meets The Fugitive by way of Numb3rs and, no, we have no idea how that's going to work.

Geekend rating: Wait for DVD

Season two of Touch begins Oct. 26. [No preview yet]

Fringe [9pm | FOX]

The final season for J.J. Abrams's The X-Files rip-off that somehow turned into the most intriguing and ambitious sci-fi show on mainstream TV no longer has to hold anything back. The final season promises more time travel, more alternate universes, more invading post-human overlords, more John Noble out-acting everyone this side of Peter Dinklage and, above all, more evil Leonard Nimoy. Buckle up.

Geekend rating: Watch It Live

Season five of Fringe begins Sept. 28. [Video preview]

Grimm [9pm | NBC]

The surprise survivor of last season's genre sacrifice to the Friday Night Death Slot, the story of a cop cursed with the family gift of hunting monsters from the original, un-Disney-fied fairy tales has found its cult audience and is threatening to become the new Supernatural. Which, given it's got Angel and Buffy alums on the production team, shouldn't be surprising.

Geekend rating: DVR It

Season two of Grimm begins on a special day and time: Monday, Aug. 13 at 10pm. [Video preview]

Saturday

Nothing geek-centric to be found here, but it's kind of nice that no geek shows have been sent to Saturday to die a slow, lingering, unwatched death.

Midseason replacements

These shows will be dropped into weekly schedules after the Super Bowl to replace cancelled series or to fill time when it's once again safe to program timeslots now dominated by the NFL.

Crossbones [NBC | New]

The story of a spy sent to the Caribbean isle of New Providence in 1715--the first democracy in the Western Hemisphere--to assassinate the country's ruler, Blackbeard the pirate. Yes, seriously. No cast yet, so the jury is still out, but color us intrigued.

Geekend rating: TBD

[No preview yet]

Zero Hour [ABC | New]

Anthony Edwards stars as the editor of a skeptics magazine who becomes embroiled in an actual, honest-to-Crowley paranormal conspiracy. More simply, this is The Da Vinci Code, the series, with a heavy dose of Lost wannabe-ism. Approach with caution.

Geekend rating: Wait for DVD

Zero Hour premieres Feb. 13, 2013. [Video preview]

Which fall TV shows will earn space on your DVR hard drive, and which are unworthy of even Internet forum scorn? Statler and Waldorf await your predictions in the comments section.

Disclaimer: TechRepublic, TV.com, and CBS.com are all 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...

17 comments
TBone2k
TBone2k

Geekenders don't wait for and buy DVDs of TV shows. We watch them on Netflix. Actually, IMO "wait for DVD" implies that you would want to keep them for re-watchability. Probably not something you want to do with a show ranked so low in this rating system.

TBone2k
TBone2k

What about The Almighty Johnsons? I have recorded the first couple of episodes, but not watched yet. Have also been enjoying Continuum, but being as its set in future/present Vancouver BC, I'm guessing its Canadian and nobody has heard of it.

pgit
pgit

I'm intrigued by your assessment of Fringe. I'd be curious to know what you made of the show when it first came out, and how you saw it developing over the first couple of seasons. The wife and I tried to follow it early on but thought that warehouse idea was a bit lame, a lazy way of introducing the plots. You changed my mind on DS9, which we're nearing the end of the 5th season in out end-to-end viewing of the whole series. Perhaps you can sell us a set of Fringe disks as well? (ie "what are we missing here?")

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...and I'm still peeved Eureka didn't get renewed. Unfortunately, SyFy, AMC, HBO, TBS, TNT and a host of other stations don't feel the need to unveil their new shows at the Fall Upfronts, premiere them all in the fall, or even tell us when their schedules will shift. I'd be glad to include them if I had any good idea what they are up to.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

She's a big Holmes fan, although she didn't like the recent Brit reboot. She felt the character was portrayed as unfeeling, unempathic, almost autistic in his interactions with others. 'Last Resort' sounds like another 'Twin Peaks' or 'Lost', another sprawling drama that the production crew has no idea where it's going after the first or maybe second season. Sorry, but a renegade sub with a known home base is ridiculously vulnerable. I'm not recording 'Big Bang' to watch this live.

owner
owner

Alphas and Lost Girl on SyFy are awesome...you do know most people have cable or dish, right? It's this cool technology that has been around since the 1980's...

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

I used to call this "rental" but that confused people, too. Rental/Streaming/On Demand is a bit onerous. Not sure there's a good shorthand here. Stupid technology with options.

Jay Garmon
Jay Garmon

...basically a "freak of the week" X-Files ripoff based on the very thin premise that "pseudoscience has basis in fact" and there's a secret pattern that explains it all. All that really held it together was John Noble's out of this world acting as Walter Bishop. He is seriously one of the most unappreciated gems on TV. At the end of season one, there's a major plot reveal that brings the whole show into focus. I won't spoil it, but it's the single revelation that changes the whole direction of the show. You can almost hear the writers saying "what if X was actually Y?" and then the whole concept not only clicks into place, but kicks into a higher gear. When I watch Fringe, I don't watch for the science (what there is of it is truly awful) or the ideas (almost all of them are old hat to sci fi guys) but the character interplay. When Anna Torv, Jasika Nichole and especially Noble start playing multiple versions of the same character, often in the same scene, it is truly extraordinary television. The Fringe writers really understand that they're using off-the-shelf sci-fi tropes to put the characters in interesting places, and to that end, they succeed really well. Of course, when you mention the "warehouse" I can't help but think you're actually talking about Warehouse 13, the quasi-spinoff of Eureka from Jamie Paglia and Jane Espenson. Like Eureka, W13 is bubblegum-and-cotton-candy TV meant to be goofball, disposable fun and nothing more. It suffers from the two leads being the least interesting people on the show; Saul Rubinek and, in later seasons, Allison Scagliotti steal every scene they're in. The plots (as such) are utterly forgettable, I just want to watch the actors snark there way through the perfunctory "find the cursed object" hoops each episode. I DVR W13 just to have something to watch during lunch once a week (I work from home). I wouldn't tell you to go out of your way for W13 but it's a harmless distraction that's charming in its own way.

bruce_calvert.
bruce_calvert.

Besides not premiering their shows, it seems DishNetwork and AMC don't give a flying fig about their viewers either. I would much rather loose ESPN and the rest of the jock channels and keep AMC, but my opinion doesn't matter...

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I haven't looked at it since the early years, when it would have been more appropriately named 'Slasher Movie Channel'. 90% horror flicks didn't fit my definition of science fiction, and I haven't given it a fair chance since.

lehnerus2000
lehnerus2000

"Alphas" is OK (I've only seen the first season). "Lost Girl" is one of my favourite "new" shows. Anna Silk, ay caramba! I find that a lot of Fantasy/Sci-fi shows have slow first seasons (introductory).

pgit
pgit

You are correct, I had the warehouse confused. I agree with your assessment of W13. We also watched Eureka a few times, there was one robot deputy sheriff character that was very funny, but the actor was replaced the following season, that replacement sucked. Sounds like Fringe is worth picking up. This gives me an idea, too: there ought to be some way to reward people who 'sell' something to another, perhaps similar in fashion to google ads. I buy the complete set of Fringe and somehow flag you (or some account of yours) as the reason... you get 2 cents and some rating or other goes up, itself attached to some future benefit. (to you)

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

What have these entities done, separately or combined, that earned your wrath? I've been moderately happy with Dish, except when the weather is really bad. Happy enough to not consider going back to Time-Warner and their semi-annual price raises.

pgit
pgit

We were thinking of dropping cable for dish. We hadn't heard anything negative about them, whereas directv and cable have complaints galore, like dropping channels in mid season over contract renewal disputes. I appreciate hearing of dish's particular turd sandwich. Now it looks like we'll stay with cable, our only other complaint besides the aforementioned hissy fits is they don't have ala carte coverage of certain sports my wife likes to follow. (eg soccer, complete NFL package...)

kymikee
kymikee

Hell On Wheels starts this Sunday, so because of Dish not giving a flying leap about their viewers (Best customer service to their watchers, Yeah RIGHT!!!), I'm going to miss the whole season. I'm really pi**ed that I'm going to miss The Walking Dead, so much that I'm REALLY thinking HARD about switching to DirecTV. I'll have to find out, thought, if they are still having their little argument with Viacom who owns channels like Nickelodeon. Gee, maybe I just ought to switch to cable??!!!

pgit
pgit

Time Warner has changed our 'plan' so many times I lost count. They claim it's due to channel shake-ups, contracts they've lost or picked up etc. Of course every time the bottom line has crept up ever so slightly. They also had a heck of a time getting to the bottom of a problem, a big one: HD channels were intermittent at best. I guess this would be a customer service complaint. We haven't had any satellite service but those we know who do have indicated dish was the better of the two local options.