SFX Blogger Steven Ellis is underwhelmed by the new crop of US telefantasy shows
I’ve blogged about shows taken from us before their time. I’ve blogged about giving up on shows. And I’ve blogged about game changing episodes that alter shows beyond recognition. But what about falling for a new show? Do new shows come quickly to your affections? Do you fall for them easily?
Is there anything new on the telly at the moment that you really love? In my house we’re watching a whole bunch of new US shows, including Lost Girl , Alphas and Terra Nova but none of them are setting us on fire; none of them have to be watched as soon as they’re on. A few of them are sitting in the Sky+ box waiting on us and we really aren’t rushing to watch them.
My other half really likes Lost Girl, but I’m finding it a bit wearing, mainly because Bo strikes me as a bit thick and seems to make the same going-off-half-cocked mistakes over and over again. The ongoing arc plot clues seem very predictable. The fact that the show really reminds me of Buffy a lot could be a good thing if only Buffy didn’t do it all so much better. The character Kenzi is by far the best thing about the show.
Terra Nova seems to be starting off by taking as many sci-fi and monster/dinosaur tropes as it can and throwing them at the wall to see what sticks. Why, oh why, do all renegade groups in shows like this have to look like they’ve watched far too much Mad Max ? The family dynamic thing has been done to death in Spielberg projects before and this is bringing nothing new to the table so far. Right now the most interesting thing about the show is Stephen Lang.
Of the new shows I’ve tried Alphas interests me most. It has a great cast and some interesting ideas but it still has a ways to go if it wants me to stop thinking about Heroes (when it was good). Still, at least we had Callum Keith Rennie back on the screen even if it was only for a few episodes.
I don’t know if it’s us; with a young child in the house we have significantly less adult TV time than we used to and far too much CBeebies . We have around 2 ½-3 hours a night when the boy’s in bed and we aren’t, and in that time we have to fit in our TV and an evening meal. So maybe the TV we watch is changing because we only have time to watch what we really want to watch. The less engaging stuff gets to wait until the weekend or until we just give up.
Or is the quality of the shows at fault? All three shows I mention above suffer the shadow of having a basic premise or story lines that have been done before and been done better, and until they get out of that shadow and find their own identity then they run the risk of just reminding us of that fact with every episode.
A third reason could be that we’ve had some really good TV in the last ten years (and before that) and we’ve been spoiled. I do admit that to some degree I have less patience with shows than I used to and there does seem to be evidence of others thinking the same way from what I read on the forums here. Several TV studios seem to have the same idea as they don’t seem to let underperforming shows last very long these days. There are plenty of shows that have been cancelled that I could have seen myself falling for, but alas they were taken from me too soon. Shows I’ve really loved in the past have usually needed at least a season to find their feet, sometimes longer. So, do we give new shows less time to win us over? There are a lot more sci-fi and fantasy shows around than there used to be and this means we can afford to be a little more picky with what we watch, but is this wider choice making us too picky?
I’m not being all doom and gloom. There are a few great shows still on, but most of them seem to be returning shows rather than new ones. Season six of Supernatural was excellent and I still love Eureka (why did they have to cancel it? Why? Why?) and Warehouse 13 . Fringe and The Walking Dead are solid entertainment; unfortunately both seem to be in a bit of a holding pattern at the moment. Neither show is terrible, but then neither is at its best at the either. They need to get a move on and have something happen. I still have enough confidence in both shows to know that they will get better… Hmm, maybe I am being all doom and gloom after all.
There have also been some great new and returning shows from our side of the pond lately too. The Fades was an excellent show; the recent run of Doctor Who has been brilliant and I’m really enjoying the return of Misfits , although if I’m honest I’m starting to see the endless puerile humour as being a bit of a turn off. The show is good enough to hold my attention without constant cock and fart gags. I’m not saying get rid of the crudeness – Misfits has always leaned a bit that way – but it seems far more forced than it used to. The show has been, and can be, far more intelligent than that. Heh, I didn’t intend to be quite so negative about so many shows, maybe I am just getting picky in my old age…
Finally there are the shows we’re looking forward to and again they are mostly returning shows such as the return of Game of Thrones and True Blood . One new show we have high hopes for is the news JJ Abrams show Alcatraz . The other half is also looking forward to a few of the other new US shows ( Once Upon a Time is top of her list) but they all seem a bit too fairy tale/fantasy for my liking and that’s really not my cup of tea. I’m still just yearning for some space ships back on the telly.
So, what TV shows are setting you on fire at the moment? Are they new or old? What shows do you just have to watch when they’re on? Are there any? And if not why do you think that is?