Autumn 2011 genre TV, Part 3

Cartoon Network's Young Justice
DC/Cartoon Network's Young Justice

In the first two parts of my look at the new television season, I looked at the mysteries and thrillers that fill many weeknights. Fridays are different, however, with more speculative fiction than any other night. Cartoons, conspiracies, and fantasy worlds abound!

Cartoon Network has been burning off the final episodes of the fun and retro Batman and the Brave and the Bold, followed by the darker Young Justice, lone space opera Star Wars: Clone Wars, and the cool reboot of Thundercats. There have been decent reboots of G.I. Joe (Renegades) and Transformers, but I haven’t had time for them.

I’ve been less impressed with G4’s late-night Wolverine and Iron Man — they have many of the worst weaknesses of both Marvel and anime, such as static scenery, long internal monologues, stereotypical (and worse, bland) villains, and improbable action scenes punctuated by shouting. I’ll give the latest incarnations of the X-Men and Blade a try, however.

I lost Marvel’s Iron Man: Armored Adventures and Fantastic Four in the scheduling shuffle, and I still miss the canceled Spectacular Spider-Man and Sym-Bionic Titan. Cartoon Network/Boomerang has been rebroadcasting Samurai Jack, and the Hub has been showing the superlative Batman: the Animated Series.

In yet more animation, I’m looking forward to Nickelodeon’s fantasy Avatar: the Legend of Korra and the computer-animated Green Lantern and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, as well as to the recently announced Beware the Batman. The computer-animated Tron: Uprising, How to Train Your Dragon, and Kung-Fu Panda movie tie-ins should also be coming soon.

As I’ve noted before, Disney/Marvel may have the lead in print comics and live-action movies (see The Avengers trailer), but Warner Bros./DC is holding on with TV series and direct-to-video releases such as the upcoming Batman: Year One and Justice League: Doom. To be fair, Marvel‘s Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and Super Hero Squad have been renewed, and Ultimate Spider-Man (and a live-action Hulk, Cloak & Dagger, and A.k.a. Jessica Jones) is in the works.

Speaking of live action, spy spoof Chuck, cryptozoological Sanctuary, and alternate reality drama Fringe have all moved to what used to be called “SciFridays.” My DVR will be working hard from 8:00 to 11:00 p.m.! As with Smallville, I’ll enjoy the cameos on NBC’s Chuck to the show’s approaching end. SyFy’s Sanctuary has been uneven in tone, but Fox’s Fringe is still going strong, in my opinion.

Torchwood is over for now, and I haven’t yet caught A Gifted Man. I’ll try to see Grimm, which combines the modern supernatural aspects of Once Upon a Time with the procedural spoof elements of Dylan Dog (which I recently rented and enjoyed). Less fantastical but more gruesome is Spartacus: Vengeance, which lost its original star Andy Whitfield and whose third season I plan to watch.

On Saturdays, other than the annual Christmas special, Whovians will have a long wait for new Doctor Who episodes — until late 2012. I’m also looking forward to the eventual return of BBC America’s Being Human, if not the Americanized SyFy remake.

A few updates: After my previous posts on the current TV season, I saw that laid-back Southern crime drama Memphis Beat has been canceled, as well as the latest Charlie’s Angels, which I had already dropped. David I.S. has picked up Terra Nova and American Horror Story just as I’ve dropped them from my busy schedule, but there are only so many hours in the week!

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!