Sci-Fi Fridays, Episode 48: Top 5 New Genre Shows of the Fall TV Season

With the muted response following Fear the Walking Dead’s early debut (gangbuster ratings are trivial at this point), are hardcore genre fans going to end up totally disappointed by the Fall TV slate? I’m crossing my fanboy fingers that won’t be the case. Let’s take an in-depth look at five hybrid genre shows that have the potential to elicit the type of weekly excitement that had rabid Lost fans constantly post their latest theories and queries on message boards.

Scream Queens (FOX)

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No other show this fall season has me as amped or intrigued. From the casting of veteran “Scream Queen” herself, Jamie Lee Curtis, to the acting debut (for many a non-Nickelodeon channel folk) of Ariana Grande, I think I might be more obsessed with this assembly of talent than many would care to admit. Fan favorite American Horror Story actress Emma Roberts headlines this show as president of a sorority house under gruesome attack by serial killer “Red Devil,” who’s returned twenty years later to continue his/her killing spree. With Ryan Murphy serving as co-creator, you know at least the first season is going to be bloody spectacular. My only reason to be concerned is that without the prestige accompaniment of thespians like Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates — all of whom managed to engage on Horror Story even when the narrative floundered — we might be in store for another depthless teen “shock value” show.

Heroes Reborn (NBC)

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The first season of NBC’s Heroes was such a revelation for the superhero genre on the small screen that it even put the similar X-Men franchise in check. And yet, we all know the disastrous reputation that followed the near-perfect inaugural season. Storylines went further south than Antarctica, the creators went Sylar overload, Hiro’s prominence of as a character was significantly diminished, and every big promise was never fulfilled. Here’s to hoping creator Tim King addresses many of the problems that plagued the first show, using this “miniseries” platform as a launching point to resurrect a property that didn’t deserve such a disreputable demise. HRG and Hiro’s return — along with a promising new cast that includes Chuck alum Zachary Levi — is enough of a reason to give this universe another chance.

Minority Report (FOX) 

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I’m not a fool — I fully do not expect this sequel adaptation of sorts to come anywhere close to the top-tier quality of, in my opinion, Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise’s greatest film of their careers (it’s an all-timer for me if you don’t remember). However, I still can’t deny how enthusiastic I am to revisit this futuristic landscape that the great Philip K. Dick brought to fruition. I’ve been a ardent admirer of Meagan Good ever since witnessing her sublime performance in Eve’s Bayou, so I know she’ll at least bring strength and believability to this lead part. I’m also curious to see how much life has changed for the remaining Precogs that exist, and whether or not their clairvoyant abilities can sustain audience engagement for a full season. As long as Meagan Good and lead actor Stark Sands have a chemistry that nearly rivals Tom Mison and Nicole Beharie’s from Sleepy Hollow, we’ll have reason enough to venture down the sci-fi rabbit hole with them.

Limitless (CBS) 

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Yet another movie-to-television sequel adaptation, Limitless is likely to be another ratings king in CBS’s arsenal…but that doesn’t excuse it if the show is another run-of-the-mill procedural crime drama. Bradley Cooper’s “special guest star” inclusion in the pilot, and possibly in more episodes depending on the A-lister’s schedule, keeps me optimistic that there’s more to this superhero via experimental drug television program than meets the eye. Jennifer Carpenter, who was by far my favorite aspect of Dexter thanks to her balls-to-the-wall onscreen naturalism, co-stars alongside Jake McDorman and is sure to balance out the show’s fairly ridiculous premise with some grounded acting. Marc Webb and Bradley Cooper have a lot invested in this television series, so here’s to hoping their big investment in a non-cable setting was worth the gamble.

The Expanse (SyFy)

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The only cable show on this list, The Expanse looks to bring SyFy back to its Battlestar Galactica glory days by focusing on a galaxy-spanning human conflict driven by nuanced and compelling characters. Based on a series of award-winning novels, the show centers on a detective who uncovers a conspiracy during his investigation into a young woman’s disappearance. The concept appears very by-the-numbers, cliché noir at first glance, but given the extremely positive early reception the pilot has received, we’re in for a thematically dense sci-fi extravaganza. Production values are one thing, but without a spellbinding storyline and characters that stay with you forever, your “ambitious” science fiction show might as well drift off into the black abyss of space. My gut tells me The Expanse won’t meet such a fate.