Broadcast It, And The Geeks Will Come: Four New Sci-Fi Shows For Fall

Know what we nerds love to do right before every Fall TV season? See which sci-fi shows get touted as the next Big Event at Comic-Con in July, and then make big, authoritative predictions about them before they even air. We claim to know which shows will survive to November sweeps, and which will get euthanized before Halloween, all before the pilots even premiere. (Awesome of us, yes?)We have high expectations for our geek pleasures.We're harsh on the shows that don't rise to our expectations, and we mourn the quick demise of the ones we know will be too brainy for a culture weaned on Jersey Shore. Basically, we end up feeling superior either way. It's win-win for us.

Here's what the nerds are waiting for this Fall… and some baseless predictions.**

Terra Nova

Fox Mondays, 8:00 PM
Premieres Sept. 26

In 2149, humans have screwed up the planet so much that the only option for survival is to go back in time to the Cretaceous era, colonize primeval Earth, and start screwing it up fresh. At the center of the drama is a family of five who must both survive a prehistoric world, and presumably deal with day-to-day family issues like whose turn it is to take out the trash, feed the Brontosaurus, etc. It sounds one part Land Of The Lost, and one part Lost In Space to me, which could be perfectly entertaining, but...

I don't trust this show. Partially because it's being promoted as THE major kick-ass mammoth-budget must-see series of the year, which always makes me skeptical. And partially because Fox tried to get buzz going for it over a year ago. I remember hearing about this at Comic-Con 2010, people. We were told it would premiere last January. Then we were told there would be a sneak preview premiere in May. Then we were told that wasn't happening, and it would make its bow this Fall. (Delays have been attributed to new writers, special effects issues, and one dinosaur that got loose from the set and ran rampant around Westwood for three days before Pet Control got a collar around him).

My prediction: It all depends on the writing. Great dino-effects can't cover up thin stories and poor scripts. Even putting Steven Spielberg's name all over a show won't help. I say we'll get a couple bombastic episodes up front, and then this baby will start to sink under its own weight, and eventually go the way of... well, the dinosaurs.


The CW Tuesdays, 9:00 PM
Premieres Sept. 13

Sarah Michelle Gellar returns to TV playing a set of twins: rich sister Siobhan faking her own death and poor sister Bridget running from both the law and the mob, who mix up identities and engage in what's described as a neo-noir suspense thriller with a lot of twists and hairpin turns to keep the plot intricate.

I want to like this. I hope it works. Like most members of the Cult of Whedon, I remain fiercely loyal to Buffy. She's got the chops to pull off dual roles. I will watch this, and I will follow along as best I can. But plot descriptions from The CW make this show sound... well, really complicated. Complicated is not bad, of course. It's good. Stories that require us to pay attention are good. Unless you're making a show for American audiences who are way, way too into Dancing With The Stars. They may not be prepared to handle stuff like, um... plot.

My prediction: Buffy loyalists like me will keep this show going for half a season. But I worry that unless one of Gellar's characters starts throwing down some Krav Maga moves on monsters, viewers won't stay.


NBC Fridays, 9:00 PM
Premieres Oct. 21

Fairy tales meet police procedurals in NBC's new hour-long about a detective who learns he has the ability to "see"supernatural creatures straight out of our favorite fables who are walking around the big city in human disguises, committing crimes.

I totally dig this premise. I like the idea of the Big Bad Wolf prowling around a metropolis preying on victims, or Rumplestiltskin as the head of the mob. There's a lot to work with here, and much for nerds to love. Crossing noir with storybook lit has real potential. Plus, this show's lineage has some good geek cred: it was conceived by Buffy writer-producer David Greenwalt and Jim Kouf. A show like this may take some time to grow and figure itself out, but Greenwalt and Kouf know how to write meaty mystery stories and sharp dialogue, which could be enough to keep us on the couch.

My prediction: Normally, I'd worry that the show's Friday time slot (The Slot of Doom) would push it into an early grave... but between the magic of DVR and the success of shows like The X-Files that flourished on Friday nights, you just never know. I'm optimistic that we'll get a full season, as long as the show evolves quickly enough.

Person Of Interest

CBS Thursdays, 9:00 PM
Premieres Sept. 22

In the near future, technology is used to help the CIA prevent crimes right before they happen. Lost's Michael Emerson plays a quirky billionaire who teams up with The Prisoner‘s Jim Caviezel to do what Tom Cruise seemed to do in Minority Report: collar bad guys before they become bad guys, with all the philosophical complications that entails. This one's getting a lot of press attention because it's created by powerhouse executive producers J.J. Abrams and Jonathan Nolan (The Dark Knight).

I trust J.J. He's my buddy. Mostly. I'm one of those Lost watchers that wasn't troubled by its finale, or the endless list of unanswered questions leading up to it. (Don't start with me. This is not the time. We'll talk later.) With Lost, I found myself thinking about the implications of each episode the next day. And that's really what I want in a head-scratching thriller. Person Of Interest seems to have that potential.

My Prediction: They have an big obstacle in their really boring title. It sounds like the name of any boilerplate police procedural. But if they can get the word out, and keep a taut wire of suspense running through the first few episodes, they could grab their audience for the whole 2011-2012 season. To last beyond that, Abrams and his merry gang of geniuses will need to walk that line between Smart and Needlessly Confusing.

**In the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that when I make predictions like this, I'm usually completely wrong every year.

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