The big fall premieres are almost here, and this week we've got a big Syfy original movie to tide us over.
Tonight, Bryan Fuller returns to science fiction with the pilot for his now-dead Syfy series High Moon, which has been repackaged as an original movie featuring lots of intriguing ideas. Plus Extant's season finale, a bank heist on Doctor Who, a look at ratings for Outlander, The Lottery, and The Strain, and much more.
Check out the week in TV below. What's on your watchlist?
Highlights of the Week
High Moon (Syfy) Monday, 9 p.m.
Original movie premiere! - It wasn't so long ago that we were very close to another new genre series from Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls creator Bryan Fuller, but High Moon didn't quite make the cut at Syfy. Luckily for us, Fuller's pilot found new life as a TV movie on the network, and now we finally get to see the longtime sci-fi writer's (he got his big TV break writing for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager) take on what would happen if the nations of Earth set up mining operations on the moon, then fought over the discovery of a new life form. After High Moon's finished airing tonight, you might be lamenting that we don't get more, or you might see why Syfy didn't want a full series. Either way, it'll make for an intruiging couple of hours of television. Check out a preview below.
Extant (CBS) Wednesday, 10 p.m. - "Ascension"
Season finale! - When it premiered a little more than two months ago, Extant was poised to be the next big CBS summer event series, after the triumph that was Under the Dome last summer. It had a major star in the lead, it had Steven Spielberg's name (as executive producer) splashed across every promo, and it had promising early reviews. Then Extant began its run, and it ... struggled. Its premiere numbers were solid, but not nearly as powerful as Dome's were in the summer of 2013, and throughout the season it's faced ratings drops, rescheduling, two-hour blocks and more. Last week's penultimate episode was the least-watched of the series by nearly 1 million viewers, and though the show's numbers have never veered into catastrophic territory, they've also never really wowed. You can blame the climate of broadcast TV these days, you can blame the story itself, you can blame the network, or you can blame a combination of things, but even if it does get renewed, it's plain that Extant never really caught fire for CBS this summer. That said, there's still hope for the show. The finale could give it a boost to viewers, and it's part of a CBS agreement with Amazon to stream shows through Amazon Prime, so its eventual (potentially lucrative) viewership there could convince the network to keep it around. This week, Molly must make a difficult choice to protect the Earth.
Outlander (Starz) Saturday, 9 p.m. - "The Wedding"
We've already checked in this season on Outlander's post-premiere numbers, but after looking at the viewers the show's pulled in since the last time we had a peek, it seems worthwhile to note a very encouraging trend the series is seeing. Outlander was renewed before it had even aired a second episode because of the massive total viewers number the series premiere pulled in. That high number was thanks, in part, to the premiere being made available for free in advance of its air date. The response to episode one was overwhelmingly strong, but even though Starz was confident, we were all wondering at the time just how strong the show could stay. Well, it turns out Outlander hasn't just maintained its strength in recent weeks, but increased it. The actual Live+Same Day number of viewers who tuned in to watch the series premiere was 0.72 million viewers, a respectable number for Starz, and the network touted the episode's total viewers who watched both before and after the premiere broadcast as proof of its popularity. What happened next proved they were right. The following week the show picked up more than 100,000 more Live+Same Day viewers, and in week three it drew 1 million viewers for the initial Saturday night broadcast. We still haven't seen the numbers for the Sept. 13 episode, but all four previous episodes sported viewer numbers a good deal higher than even the series premiere mustered, and that's not even counting the viewers who are DVRing or streaming the show in subsequent days. Outlander started strong, and then got stronger, something a lot of shows that get big premiere audiences followed by big episode two drop-offs only dream about. This week, Claire is torn between two men in two times. Check out a preview below.
The Lottery (Lifetime) Sunday, 10 p.m. - "Mr. Torino"
Since we recently checked in with Lifetime's other major genre drama, Witches of East End, we thought it would be fitting to also check in on freshman sci-fi drama The Lottery before Premiere Week grabs up all of our attention next week. A high-concept series set in a world ravaged by infertility, The Lottery premiered in late July behind Witches, and picked up more than 1 million viewers in its premiere. The series dropped below the 1-million-viewer mark with episode two, and hasn't come close to reaching it again since, though it does seem to have leveled out in recent weeks at around the 0.6 million mark. In contrast, Witches has only dropped below 1 million viewers once in two seasons, and though it's certainly trending down from where it was in season one, its viewership regularly tops The Lottery's by about half a million. So, does that mean The Lottery won't hit that season-two jackpot? Not exactly. After all, we aren't privy to the same DVR numbers Lifetime is, so it's possible this is a show that's much healthier when you look at its Live+7 numbers. Still, Witches has declined in ratings, and it's still well up on its network mate. Lifetime has yet to make the renewal or cancellation call on The Lottery, and the show still has two more episodes to prove it's worth keeping around. We'll see if it survives. This week, the President confronts Gabrielle over a deal she's made.
The Strain (FX) Sunday, 10 p.m. - "The Third Rail"
Often, when we check in on a series just to take a peek at the ratings, we do so wondering if the show will be renewed or canceled. That's not the case with The Strain. It's one of the biggest cable debuts of the year, and it's already got a second season renewal. So, we're not here to worry, but we are here to take a quick look at the ratings trends this show is going through as it heads into the final episodes of season one (because, hey, Premiere Week isn't here yet, and we're numbers nerds). Back when The Strain premiered, FX made a point not to release episode one's ratings until after the Live+3 numbers were in, to prove just how strong the show's DVR contingent is. We watch TV differently now, after all, and as a guy who watches The Strain on Monday morning (because sometimes vampire carnage isn't the best thing right before bed), I can appreciate the thinking there. The Strain has a very healthy multi-day bottom line when it comes to ratings, but still, sometimes the number of people who tune in to see the show live can tell you a good bit about how viewers are thinking about the series. We can't read the minds of viewers, but it is interesting to see that, over the last few weeks, The Strain has dipped a bit in terms of Live+Same Day viewers. On Aug. 31 it dipped below 2 million for the first time, and on Sept. 7 it hit a series low of 1.87 million. Now, that's certainly still not a bad number. That doesn't mean people have lost interest in the show, or that season two is doomed or anything like that. But I have seen both viewers and reviewers complaining that the show is doing a bit of wheel-spinning, and the show is now going head to head with perennial ratings juggernaut Sunday Night Football, so maybe those combined forces are taking a bit of a toll. But hey, The Walking Dead gets accused of wheel-spinning, too, and it always comes through with the big numbers when it counts. Ultimately, The Strain is doing just fine for now, but it will be interesting to see how the season finale fares in October, when it's surrounded by fresh fall Sunday night programming. This week, Setrakian leads a hunt for the Master's lair. Check out a preview below.
Monday, September 15
Under the Dome (CBS) 10 p.m. - "Turn"
A new threat from the Dome puts the residents of Chester's Mill at risk of being crushed to death. Meanwhile, Melanie's health continues to deteriorate as the fate of the egg remains unknown.
Tuesday, September 16
Face Off (Syfy) 9 p.m. - "Serpent Soldiers"
The artists create snake-inspired supersoldiers who would fit into the world of G.I. Joe.
Wizard Wars (Syfy) 10 p.m. - "Battle of the Vegas Strip"
Garden gnomes and neckties must be used when a Texas charmer competes against three Vegas vets.
Wednesday, September 17
Apart from Extant, the night's pretty quiet.
Thursday, September 18
Haven (Syfy) 8 p.m. - "Speak No Evil"
A death strikes a hard blow to Duke; Nathan refuses to believe Mara has defeated Audrey; Dwight is left keeping Haven together.
Teen Titans Go! (TOON) 6 p.m. - "Caramel Apples"
Trigon seeks to wreck Earth and ends up spending time with Starfire.
Steven Universe (TOON) 6:30 p.m. - "An Indirect Kiss"
Amethyst cracks her gemstone and Steven and the Crystal Gems search for a way to heal her.
Friday, September 19
Z Nation (Syfy) 10 p.m. - "Fracking Zombies"
In New Jersey, the survivors run out of fuel and embark on a dangerous mission to replenish their supply. Meanwhile, Cassandra's past comes back to haunt her.
Saturday, September 20
Doctor Who (BBC America) 9 p.m. - "Time Heist"
The Doctor attempts to break into the most dangerous bank in the Cosmos.
Intruders (BBC America) 10 p.m. - "The Shepherds and the Fox"
Madison's instincts gain strength as she begins to make sense of Marcus' memories; Jack gets a terrifying confession out of Gary; Richard comes face to face with Marcus.
Sunday, September 21
Witches of East End (Lifetime) 9 p.m. - "The Fall of the House of Beauchamp"
Joanna takes drastic measures after being devastated by Tarkoff's actions; Dash's secrets begin to spill out; Wendy and Joanna reconnect with their father.
Manhattan (WGN) 10 p.m. - "Spooky Action at a Distance"
Frank and Charlie hatch a plan.
(Episode synopses via TV Guide)