Revisiting Next Season’s Genre Offerings

Last week I was watching the fall network announcements and wrote lamenting the absence of successful-looking genre offerings but in decrying the failure of The Event and the loss of comics-derived programming, I missed the softer trend. Thankfully, one commenter and The New York Times stood ready to help me see the error of my ways.

Apparently, the five major networks seem happier by dialing back the genre elements, matching the incredible interest among readers in the paranormal.  The schedule for next fall appears touched by an angel as we get telepaths and elements of the supernatural.

While there are the obvious genre offerings such as man vs. dinosaur in Terra Nova and the Fables-inspired Grimm and Once Upon a Time, we’re also getting a lot of less obvious fare. NBC offers up Awake, described this, “Lone Star creator Kyle Killen takes another stab at a button-pushing series with this Inception-style thriller about an injured cop (Isaacs) who wakes from an accident to find himself living in two separate realities.”  Of course, it also sounds more like Fringe, but Inception was the box office darling.

Fox has Touch and come mid-season Alcatraz. The latter sounds like it has a genre aspect: “In this series exec-produced by J.J. Abrams (Lost, Fringe), Garcia plays “the world’s foremost expert” on the titular island lock-up, who joins an investigation into the sudden reappearance of prisoners and guards who mysteriously disappeared from the prison some 30 years prior.”

ABC suggests we remember Once Upon a Time, which also dips into the fairy tale box of ideas. “Lost producers Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz are at the helm of this new fantastical new drama, where Snow White and the Evil Queen actually exist — unbeknownst to them — and Anna holds the key to giving everyone their happily ever after.” Ad execs have already consigned this and Grimm to the prime time scrapheap so maybe they know something we don’t.

The CW is deeply mining the paranormal romance genre, pairing its successful adaptation of The Vampire Diaries with The Secret Circle, about hot, teen girls descended from witches.

Interestingly, of the 11 new sitcoms vying for attention none touch on the genre at all. Maybe the box office dud that was Bewitched scares them off to this day. On the other hand, NBC is still not declaring the notion of rebooting The Munsters (with geek fave Kristen Bell as Lily) which would work best if played for laughs.

The purer genre offerings continue to thrive, though, on cable with people eagerly looking forward to new seasons of True Blood, Warehouse 13, and Walking Dead. Game of Thrones’ popularity has certainly inspired the premium channels to investigate adapting larger-than-life works that are better suited to episodic offerings than a watered down two hour film. The hottest trailer of the week has to be our first look at Torchwood, now an international production and coming to America via Starz.

Beyond that, fringe shows about larger-than-life heroes but without the traditional genre trappings continue to fill the schedule, with Michael Emerson as a Person of Interest, among others. We’re getting a shortened final season of Chuck and it’s nice to see the CW give Nikita a second go-round. You can decide if the remake of Charlie’s Angels will reignite “jiggle television” or be an asterisk.

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