FALL SCI-FI TV PREVIEW: Your guide to 28 new and canceled shows

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Dec 17, 2012

Fall TV is finally upon us as we get to explore new frontiers, reboots and reality programming while saying goodbye to some old friends. In part one of our three-part 2012 Fall TV Preview, we'll take a look at canceled and new shows.

The shows that left us included series that never really got a chance (or failed) to live up to their potential (Alcatraz, Awake, Terra Nova) and shows that we will miss because they took us on a journey with characters we won't soon forget (Chuck, Eureka, Sanctuary).

As for the new shows, there's some promising sci-fi (Revolution, Last Resort), some tempting horror (666 Park Avenue), and some tantalizing non-sci-fi (Arrow, Hunted, Elementary).

Here's our list of series that were canceled or ended, and new shows, some of which may just give us hope for the new season.

Canceled or Ending Shows

  • Alcatraz, Fox
  • Awake, NBC
  • Batman: The Brave and The Bold, Cartoon Network
  • Being Erica, Soap
  • Ben 10: Ultimate Alien, Cartoon Network
  • Chuck, NBC
  • Death Valley, MTV
  • Dragon Ball Z Kai, Nickelodeon
  • Eureka, Syfy
  • A Gifted Man, CBS
  • The Nine Lives of Chloe King, ABC Family
  • The River, ABC
  • Sanctuary, Syfy
  • The Secret Circle, The CW
  • Terra Nova, Fox
  • Wizards of Waverly Place, Disney

New Shows

666 Park Avenue, ABC

Premieres Sunday, Sept. 30, at 10 p.m.

What it's about: Lost's Terry O'Quinn gets all mysterious on us again as Gavin Doran, the owner of The Drake, a place where all your dreams can come true ... for a price. This supernatural soap follows an idealistic young couple from the Midwest who take on the job as the building's managers. Jane Van Veen (Rachael Taylor) and Henry Martin (Dave Annable) quickly find themselves drawn into the seductive world of The Drake, which will put them at the center of an epic battle of good versus evil. Vanessa Williams also stars as Doran's equally mysterious wife. From creator David Wilcox (Fringe, Life on Mars), Matt Miller (Chuck), Alex Graves (Fringe), Gina Girolamo (The Secret Circle) and Leslie Morgenstein (The Vampire Diaries).

What Terry O'Quinn says about 666 Park Avenue: "If you ask me if I'm the Devil, I have no idea. I don't know where [the show] might go, because the possibilities seem to be limitless."

Our take: The pilot is filled with rich visuals, an intriguing premise and, of course, Terry O'Quinn and Vanessa Williams. Initially we get loads of mythology and plenty of chilling moments. There also seems to be a touch of Lost in the walls of The Drake, so we're hopeful. Still, the series is going to have to offer more than a "deal with the devil" every episode, and we're not sure about the soap opera aspect of things. But the biggest concern is whether this series will last long enough to give us any answers at all.

Here's a preview:

Arrow, The CW

Premieres Wednesday, Oct. 10, at 8 p.m.

What it's about: The CW's answer to the vacuum left by Smallville is a dark take on the Green Arrow's story that reimagines the comic book hero. The story follows billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), who is shipwrecked on a deserted island and rescued after five years. Returning to Starling City, Oliver becomes a vigilante called the Arrow who is determined to right the wrongs of his family while playing the familiar part of the playboy to the outside world. Haunted by his ordeal on the island, his father's death, and the state of things with Starling City, Oliver struggles to keep those who love him at arm's length, while embracing his new mission in life. The series also stars John Barrowman, Paul Blackthorne, Susanna Thompson, Colin Donnell, David Ramsey and Katie Cassidy. The story comes from Greg Berlanti and Marc Guggenheim (Eli Stone), with the teleplay being written by Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg (Warehouse 13), who wrote many of the Green Arrow/Black Canary comic books. David Nutter (Smallville) also executive-produces.

What co-creator Andrew Kreisberg says about Arrow: "I think Oliver's superpower is that he's not afraid to die. We see him as more Jason Bourne, more Ethan Hunt than superhero. When you're not afraid to die, you can do pretty amazing things."

Out take: This promising new take on The Green Arrow has a little bit of Dark Knight attitude and might just be the ticket to draw men to The CW's new Wednesday action night, with the help of the aging but still potent Supernatural. The pilot is filled with flashbacks, something Kreisberg said will be present in every episode, and Amell makes a terrific Arrow, so we're willing to give the show a chance. Besides, who doesn't want to see Torchwood's John Barrowman and The Dresden Files' Paul Blackthorne back in action?

Here's a preview:

Beauty & The Beast, The CW

Premieres Thursday, Oct. 11, at 9 p.m.

What it's about: This Beauty and the Beast reboot follows the story of police detective Catherine Chandler (Smallville's Kristin Kreuk), who's on the trail of a mysterious man who may be connected to a murder, but who may not be human, according to DNA tests. The man, however, is a hunky doctor named Vincent Keller (Terra Nova's Jay Ryan), who was reportedly killed in action while serving in Afghanistan in 2002. However, Vincent has a beastly secret, and Catherine knows it's not the first time they've met. He saved her life when her mother was murdered years earlier, but he wasn't exactly himself when he killed her mother's two assassins. As the two become closer, they discover how very dangerous their relationship is, and yet neither is willing to let go. Beauty and the Beast comes from creators Jennifer Levin and Sherri Cooper.

What co-creator Jennifer Levin says about Beauty and the Beast: "We're not classic sci-fi geeks and yet it taps into something that we care about and we relate to and feels like it could really happen. It felt relevant to us. For both people who are sci-fi people and for people who aren't."

Our take: It's hard to imagine it's taken Kreuk so long to find a vehicle, and a CW take on Beauty and the Beast seems like a good fit for her. She's definitely the best thing about this series. As for the beast being created by genetic manipulation, that's an interesting take. Levin and Cooper worked with the guys who created the original series, and the one thing that seems intact from the original is the romantic longing. It's too bad The CW wasn't willing to have a Beast that was as beastly as Ron Perlman in the 1987 original series. The too-good-looking Ryan is fine in the role of Vincent, but the premise has lost some of its teeth.

Here's a preview:

Destination Fear, Travel Channel

Premieres Sunday, Sept. 30, at 11 p.m.

What it's about: Mix Destination Truth with Scare Tactics and you've got Destination Fear. A skeptic or "mark" is chosen, thanks to being submitted by a family friend or relative, to journey to a famous location with connections to paranormal activity, cryptozoology or other fantastic events. Then the mark is put through a series of meticulously staged events which bring the supernatural possibilities to life. In the end, the truth is revealed, along with the person who set them up.

Our take: This sounds like a Scare Tactics reboot with pretty scenery. And since Scare Tactics returns on Monday, Oct. 29, it looks like there's an endless array of people out there willing to set up and scare the heck out of their "friends" for a good laugh and to get on TV. Still, does Destination Fear have a host like Tracy Morgan? Noooo. We don't think so.

Elementary, CBS

Premieres Thursday, Sept. 27, at 10 p.m.

What it's about: Sherlock Holmes has never been more popular, and here is another modern-day reimagining (along with the outstanding Sherlock from BBC). In Elementary, Eli Stone's Jonny Lee Miller stars as Sherlock Holmes and Lucy Liu is Dr. Joan Watson. This Sherlock ends up in New York after a fall from grace in London and a stint in rehab, and Dr. Watson is hired as his handler. Sherlock begins work as a police consultant, and Joan tags along and ends up being an asset to him. The brilliant and eccentric detective and the loyal Watson quickly begin solving impossible cases and become the team they were meant to be. Elementary also stars Aidan Quinn as Capt. Tobias Gregson. The series comes from creator Rob Doherty, Sarah Timberman, Carl Beverly and Michael Cuesta.

What creator Robert Doherty says about Elementary: "Sherlock Holmes is arguably the smartest and most interesting and most successful character in popular literature over the last 150 years. He sustains. At the end of the day, it's all about what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did with the characters in his original stories. ... There's room for all of us."

Our take: Miller and Liu make an appealing if less edgy modern-day team than Sherlock offers, but it's a good fit for CBS. The pilot is a bit darker than the rest of the series will be, according to Doherty. So expect a lighter Sherlock by the second episode and some worthy mysteries for him to solve. Still, while Miller is quirky and charming, imagine the possibilities if Liu been CBS's new Sherlock Holmes. Now, that would have been a twist on the original. Instead, CBS played it safe, giving us as much a new take on The Mentalist as Sherlock Holmes.

Here's a preview:

Hot Set, Syfy

Premieres Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 10 p.m.

What it's about: The producers of Face Off take on the world of extreme set design with this new competition series that pits two Hollywood production designers and their teams against each other to create sets inspired by sci-fi, fantasy, horror and adventure settings. The designers and their teams will have just three days to create an original set design based on a description in a script, which is built around an unusual prop, character or animal. The winner, of course, wins fabulous prizes. Ben Mankiewicz hosts a panel of judges that includes Barry Robison (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), Curt Beech (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen) and Lilly Kilvert (Valkyrie).

Our take: If you like competition shows based on creativity, and you'd like to get a glimpse at what's involved in making a Hollywood set work, this show is for you. While Face Off focuses on personalities as much as the amazing makeups, this series will have different people each week, so it won't be as likely to give you a chance to root for one person or another. Instead it's mostly about the finished product, which, judging from the sets we saw in the pilot, they are pretty amazing.

Here's a preview:

Hunted, Cinemax

Premieres Friday, Oct. 19, at 10 p.m.

What it's about: From The X-Files' Frank Spotnitz, this spy series follows Sam Hunter (Melissa George), an operative who works for an elite private intelligence firm. When she survives an attempt on her life that may have involved her own team, the question is, who can she trust? The series also stars Stephen Dillane, Morven Christie, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Morven Christie, Lex Shrapnel, Uriel Emil, Patrick Malahide, Stephen Campbell Moore and Oscar Kennedy.

Our take: This looks like a terrific, edgy addition to Cinemax's action shows, which include the upcoming Banshee from Alan Ball. Eight episodes have been ordered, and with a story about a beautiful, dangerous spy with nothing to lose who's on a mission to find answers, and with Spotnitz at the wheel, what's not to love? Only maybe the fact that you have to pay to watch it.

Here's a preview:

Last Resort, ABC

Premieres Thursday, Sept. 27 at 8 p.m.

What it's about: What happens when one of the most powerful U.S. subs on Earth is given a suspicious order to fire its nuclear weapons at Pakistan? When Capt. Marcus Chaplin (Andre Braugher) refuses to fire without confirmation, XO Sam Kendal (Scott Speedman) is put in charge. However, when he refuses the order too, the U.S. Colorado is fired upon. Chaplin and Kendal go on the run with the sub and end up at an exotic island. Realizing there must be a conspiracy at the very depths of the U.S government, Chaplin takes drastic action to protect himself and his crew. The crew of the Colorado take refuge on the island hoping that one day they can clear their names and get home to their families. The series also stars Robert Patrick, Dichen Lachman, Autumn Reeser, Camille de Pazzis and Daisy Betts.

What co-creator Shawn Ryan says about Last Resort: "This is a show about an ongoing situation. Active problems as opposed to passive mysteries. And so one of the things that we're concentrating on is what would really happen in these situations. After the events of the pilot, what would the United States really do? What would our crew members do? What would the people on the island really do? And we found, at least so far, that there seem to be a lot of stories there that propel the plot forward."

Our take: Of all the new shows, this has the freshest premise, and it feels like it's happening five minutes in the future. Braugher is brilliant and makes us believe that the situation in the pilot is a real possibility. His Capt. Chaplin is a great character that surprises, and yet his actions make total sense. If Last Resort can pull off a compelling weekly series and not make this feel like a soap opera, this show has the potential to be the next great series from the network that brought us Lost. Fingers crossed.

Here's a preview:

The Neighbors, ABC

Premieres Wednesday, Sept. 26 at 8:30 p.m.

What it's about: Marty and Debbie Weaver and their three kids move into the exclusive gated community of Hidden Hills hoping one thing, that the neighbors will be normal. Well, not so much. It turns out the residents of Hidden Hills are aliens from the planet Zabvron who've been on Earth for 10 years waiting for instructions from home. In the meantime they've taken to all wearing golf clothing, raising alpacas and adopting names like Larry Bird, Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Dick Butkis. After quickly discovering their neighbors' shocking secret identities, the Weavers soon learn that their neighbors have more in common than they ever could have imagined. The series stars Lenny Venito, Jami Gertz, Simon Templeman and Toks Olagundoye, and comes from Dan Fogelman (Crazy, Stupid, Love).

What creator Dan Fogelman says about The Neighbors: "We want to keep the science fiction fans excited while at the same time appealing to our parents with the comedy and the family dynamics. What it's really doing is analyzing the dynamic of a human family both through the eyes of the aliens and how strange we all are."

Our take: There's some humor to be had in The Neighbors, but whether there's enough for this comedy to succeed depends on how broad you like your humor. The series is colorful, has a solid cast and has some sweetness about it. Still these days successful family comedies tend to take a more grounded approach, so it may be hard for The Neighbors to find the audience it needs.

Here's a preview:

Paranormal Paparazzi, Travel

Premieres Friday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m.

What it's about: You've got to love the title. Paranormal Paparazzi bring to mind ghostly paparazzi harassing movie stars. Instead Aaron Sagers (editor of Paranormal Pop Culture blog) has assembled a team of reporters who travel around the country tracking down current, bizarre and unsolved paranormal stories, such as Will Ferrell's haunted trailer in New Orleans, a UFO sighting at the Jersey Shore, a teenage exorcism squad in Arizona and a zombie survival camp in New Jersey. Eight half-hour episodes have been ordered. From Ghost Adventurers Zak Bagans.

Our take: This cross between Destination Truth and Fact or Faked seems like it's been done to death. But maybe it's the missing link of paranormal shows. And it does have a celebrity twist.

Revolution, NBC

Premieres Monday, Sept. 17, at 10 p.m.

What it's about: What if all the electricity around the world stopped working? That's the premise of this ambitious new series from über-producer J.J. Abrams and Supernatural's Eric Kripke. The series opens with the world blinking out into darkness and then skips 15 years into the future as a young woman named Charlie (Being Human's Tracy Spiradakos) tries to save her brother with the help of an uncle (Twilight's Billy Burke) she hasn't seen since she was a child from the militia that has kidnapped him. Along her journey to save her brother, she finds herself hunting for answers as to why the electricity went out, what her own connection is to the event, and whether the electric can ever be turned back on again. Beyond that, there's a revolution at foot against the militias that run the country and she's right in the thick of it all. The series also stars Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost, V), David Lyons (The Cape) and Giancarlo Esposito (Once Upon a Time).

What creator Eric Kripke says about Revolution: "Supernatural is in so many ways a procedural. It's sort of like a procedural from Mars. And I was just really interested in my next turn at that, just diving into a show that doesn't even have those procedural elements and you can just tell the pure saga of it. I needed to delve neck-deep into the Joseph Campbell hero's journey."

Our take: We're really rooting for Revolution. It's pure sci-fi, and how many true science fiction shows with this kind of scope are there on TV right now? A couple, maybe. Add into the mix Abrams and Kripke, who both know how to build a TV show, throw in a fantastic pilot, a good cast and a cute girl with a bow and arrow a la The Hunger Games, and there's some real potential here. While we're more than a little worried about Revolution being stuck in NBC's deathly Monday at 10 p.m. timeslot, and about the poor track record of these kind of world-bending shows (The Event, Terra Nova), we're hopeful the series will live up to its potential and that audiences will embrace it.

Here's a preview:

Viral Video Showdown, Syfy

Premieres Tuesday, Oct. 30 at 10 p.m.

What it's about: The producers of Jersey Shore have come up with a new competition show that involves two teams going head to head to create the more viral videos based on the week's theme. Kevin Pereira (Attack of the Show) hosts the competition, which will offer a cash prize to the winner, which will be determined by an expert panel of viral video judges.

Our take: Another competition show? Well, it might be fun to see how viral videos go viral and what an expert panel of viral video judges looks like.

Tomorrow, check out part two of our Fall Preview, which covers fall's Returning Shows. And then for part three, we'll glance into our crystal ball to see what's coming up for Movies, Specials and Midseason and Beyond.

What show are you sad to see go? What new series will you check out?

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