From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

2009 Fall TV Preview: Fantasy and Science Fiction Shows

Now that August has come to a close and the television doldrums are just about over (though, with fare like Harper’s Island, Eureka, Wipeout, and True Blood, the doldrums are mostly imaginary), it is time to look to the future. It is time to look at the Fall 2009 Television Season.

We’re going to take this day by day and we’ll tell you what is coming up in the world of science fiction and fantasy programming. We won’t talk about the themed reality programming. All we’re going to focus on is people telling us lies for money. Also getting short shrift will be prime time animation on The Cartoon Network. Sorry folks. If we’ve missed anything or you really want to talk about some of that Cartoon Network animation, please show us some love in the comments. Tell us why we should have talked about Ben 10: Alien Force or anything else coming up. We’d love to hear about it.

Heroes (NBC, Sept 21, 8:00 PM EST): Here comes Season 4 of Heroes, subtitled Redemption. We begin with a two hour premiere and will launch into the usual superhero soap opera. Ernie Hudson guest stars this season, so that’s a plus.

V (ABC, Nov 3, 8:00 PM EST): Here’s something to get excited about, a revamping of the 1984 NBC miniseries (and subsequent single season series) of an alien invasion by reptiles. Don’t ask me, I haven’t seen the original but it is very much part of the genre-television zeitgeist, so there is something to live up to here, at least compared to the original miniseries. V will star Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost) and Joel Gretsch (The 4400) and other people. Premiering in November, we have some time to wait before this one starts. ABC will likely not let us forget about this show.

Eastwick (ABC, Sept 23, 10:00 PM EST): ABC will premiere Eastwick this September. The show will update John Updike’s novel as well as the 1987 movie. Eastwick features three women who meet in a park, become fast friends, and discover that they have powers they never suspected. Eastwick has the potential to connect with an audience and find a Desperate Housewives level of success, or, it may just sink into obscurity as befits a campy mess. Time will tell.

Flash Forward (ABC, Sept 24, 8:00 PM EST): Flash Forward is poised to be the fall season’s big debut show. Based on Robert J. Sawyer’s bestselling novel, the premise is that for two minutes and seventeen seconds every person on Earth will black out and have a vision of their future six months from now. What does such a vision mean? Flash Forward will star John Cho, Joseph Fiennes, Sonya Walger (Penny, from Lost), and Courtney B. Vance. If this show hits, if the audience gives it a chance, if the writing is as smart as it promises to be, Flash Forward will be the must see debut of the season.

The Vampire Diaries (CW, Sept 10, 8:00 PM EST): It’s Vampire High! I shouldn’t mock, though. The Vampire Diaries is based on a series of books from L.J. Smith and features a pair of siblings who have lost their parents in a “tragic car accident” and are dealing with their grief at Mystic Falls High. Introduction: Stefan, a new student who is attracted to Elena (and she to him) and is also a vampire. Drama and angst are sure to ensue. The Vampire Diaries will likely appeal to fans of Twilight, and to a younger (and female) audience.

Supernatural (CW, Sept 10, 9:00 PM EST): After Sam and Dean Winchester break the final seal and free Lucifer, Supernatural is set to have an apocalyptic fifth (and potentially final) season. If you’ve been following the show, you won’t want to miss this.

Fringe (FOX, Sept 17, 9:00 PM EST): With a Season 1 finale showing viewers that there is a multiverse out there and introducing one particular alternate reality, Season 2 of Fringe has to deliver some seriously solid programming to live up to its self-generated hype. That was a hell of a finale, and we’ll see what Olivia Dunham, Peter, and Walter Bishop will face in this new world and what William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) brings to the table. If Flash Forward is the new show to watch, Fringe is the returning show to watch. It’s a show that just got better with each episode.

Ghost Whisperer (CBS, Sept 25, 8:00 PM EST): Now entering its fifth season, Melinda (Jennifer Love Hewitt) will continue to help ghosts cross over into the light. Melinda will give birth to her son in the first episode, and we’ll find out if that rumored five year in universe time jump will actually happen.

Medium (CBS, Sept 25, 10:00 PM EST): Moving from NBC to CBS, Medium returns for a sixth season with psychic Allison (Patricia Arquette) in a coma with a brain tumor. New Network, New Season, and the writers / producers will surely have something in the bag for Allison DuBois.

Smallville (CW, Sept 25, 8:00 PM EST): Season 9 of the story of young Clark Kent (Tom Welling) continues with Zod (Callum Blue) as a major villain. The Sarah Connor Chronicles’ Brian Austin Green is cast as Metallo)

Dollhouse (FOX, Sept 25 9:00 PM EST): Fox gives Joss Whedon a second season of Dollhouse. Joining the cast in roles of varying sizes are Whedon vets Summer Glau (Firefly,Serenity) and Alexis Denisof (Buffy, Angel), as well as Jamie Bamber (Battlestar Galactica), Michael Hogan (Battlestar Galactica) and Keith Carradine (Dexter). I don’t know anything about the show, but K. Tempest Bradford did review the entire first season. Here’s her article on the finale “Omega” You’re welcome.

Stargate: Universe (Syfy, Oct 2, 9:00 PM EST): The first season of the third Stargate series “follows a band of soldiers, scientists and civilians, who must fend for themselves as they are forced through a Stargate when their hidden base comes under attack.”

Sanctuary (Syfy, Oct 9, 10:00 PM EST): The show about finding and studying the monsters and creatures that secretly live among us is back for a second season. Starring Amanda Tapping, Robin Dunne, and Emilie Ullerup, Sanctuary returns to bring more of the true mysteries of the world to light.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon Network, Oct 2, 8:00 PM EST): The one exception I’m making to the “No Cartoon Network” statement I made earlier is the animated Star Wars series, The Clone Wars. Season 2 is subtitled The Rise of the Bounty Hunters and will likely feature the bounty hunter Cad Bane as he makes a major power play. The series is set between The Attack of the Clones and The Revenge of the Sith. Season 1 introduced Ahsoka, a previously unknown padawan of Anakin Skywalker.

There we have it, the SFF shows of Fall 2009. There doesn’t seem to be anything on Saturday or Sunday, and we’re not thinking about the midseason replacements in January (Lost, anyone?) The question is, what are YOU going to watch? Any stinkers here? Anything you really, really want to watch? Still mad that Dollhouse was renewed and Sarah Connor Chronicles got the axe? This is the place to let it all out.

Joe Sherry lives near Minneapolis. He blogs at Adventures in Reading.