Tuesday, 20 October 2009: Second takes on genre TV

Fringe wallpaper
The truth is still out there…

The most popular genres of fiction on television right now are the perennial
favorites of murder procedurals, ensemble dramas, situational comedies, and so-called
reality shows. This season, paranormal conspiracies, exemplified in the past by
shows such as Friday the 13th: the Series and The X-Files, are again all the rage.

So far, Fringe is arguably the best of the bunch, with a good balance of “monster of the week” episodes and an overall story arc. The actors and characters are quirky and sympathetic, the dialogue is clever, and the science fiction/horror aspects aren’t too
unbelievable, if frequently explicitly grotesque.

I’ve been watching Sanctuary, but I hope the SyFy’s cryptozoology show can successfully blend the steampunk tone, globe-hopping adventures (thanks to computer-generated backdrops), and a dysfunctional family-based team better than it did in its shaky first season. Over the summer, the artifact collectors of Warehouse
proved to be fun to watch because the writers didn’t taking themselves too seriously despite some heavy themes of betrayal and fate.

I may drop Flash Forward, in which people try to figure out how and why almost everyone on the planet blacked out at the same time, in the interest of time. The Lost wannabe isn’t bad, but with programs like Heroes, V, and the aforementioned shows, I’m already watching enough large casts pursuing numerous plot threads.

Eastwick is one of the few new shows that I’ll probably continue to follow. The frothy witchcraft soap opera is more like early Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, Reaper, or Pushing Daisies than later Charmed or Supernatural. Upcoming conspiracy shows in which I’m interested include the remakes of action decoy Human Target, alien invasion V, and espionage paranoiac The Prisoner.

In nonfiction, Janice’s and my DVR is filling up with the PBS documentary on Latin
music and this week’s IFC profile of the “Monty Python” British comedy troupe of the 1970s. More to come!