Here in the Midwest we are feeling a chill in the air, and seeing the leaves change color and fall from the trees.
What that means is that summer is over, and with it ends the summer television season. So let’s take a look at the sci-fi/fantasy genre series that premiered this past summer.
This series premiered on July 19 on the cable network TNT. It starred Noah Wyle, Moon Bloodgood and Will Patton. It is described in news releases as “'Falling Skies' opens in the chaotic aftermath of an alien attack that has left most of the world completely incapacitated. In the six months since the initial invasion, the few remaining survivors have banded together outside major cities to begin the difficult task of fighting back. Each day is a test of survival as citizen soldiers work to protect the people in their care while also engaging in an insurgency campaign against the occupying alien force, whose nature and purpose remains a mystery.”
I think this series started a bit slow, but saw improvement as each episode passed. It did a good job laying down the background information, and if the Internet buzz is any indicator, provided plenty of questions for fans to obsess over.
While I think Noah Wyle looks a bit young to have a son in his late teens, actors do play older than their age. Maybe it’s just that he has such a baby face. Moon Bloodgood really had a chance to shine here, and she did not disappoint. I hope people watching this now realize she is more than a pretty face. Will Patton’s character started out feeling like the typical angry military commander, but even he grew and evolved as the series went on.
Writing was good, but science was a bit lacking. But I guess when dealing with an alien invasion you have to make it up as you go. As long as the universe remains consistent, it’s all good.
TNT saw the potential in this series, and renewed it for a second season, to air next summer.
On July 11, Syfy brought us "Alphas" starring David Strathairn, Malik Yoba and Laura Mennell. The news releases say “'Alphas' follows a clandestine group of average everyday citizens with amazing abilities operating within the U.S. Department of Defense. Led by preeminent neurologist and psychiatrist Dr. Lee, the team investigates cases that point to others with abilities like theirs, and as they work against the clock to solve this new brand of crime, they must prevent their own personality differences and disparate backgrounds from interfering with their missions.”
I have to admit I didn’t take to this series right away. The pilot, while hitting all the marks necessary for a pilot, didn’t hold together well for me. But week after week, as the back story made itself evident, it started to all fall into place.
David Strathairn is competent in his role of team leader and team analyst. He does come across as somewhat detached, and I haven't decided if that due to the demands of the role or his own acting. To me the breakout character has been autistic Gary, played by Ryan Cartwright. He is our comic relief character and he does his job well. His autism allows the character to say anything and get away with it within the context of the show.
It takes a lot of hits in the fan communities as being either a “Heroes” rip-off or derivative of the X-Men. I suppose I can see where the critics are coming from, in a most general sense. But I say take it as it is, don’t try to equate it to something else.
Syfy gave this show a second season order, and it too will be back next summer.
This summer, MTV of all networks brought us "Teen Wolf," starring Tyler Posey, Crystal Reed and Dylan O’Brien. In the MTV news releases, it’s described as “Always an outsider and often unnoticed, Scott McCall yearns to be recognized in some small way that takes him out of his typical state of high school anonymity. When his best friend, Stiles, convinces him to go into the woods one night to join a police search for a dead body, Scott encounters a creature in the darkness. Narrowly escaping an attack with a vicious bite in his side, the next day brings strange surprises for Scott at school and his life will never be the same.”
Let me say this series impressed me. I was expecting so much less from the home of “Teen Mom” and “Jersey Shore.” This series build a very interesting werewolf mythology, something the wolves have desperately needed. And wolves stand on their own here, no vampires in sight. Yes, there is high school teen drama, but for the most part it’s minimal, and can easily be tolerated in order to enjoy the werewolf goodness.
Tyler Posey is Scott, our werewolf. Initially after being bitten, he is using his curse to become a starter on the lacrosse team, and its confidence allows him to approach a girl who is totally out of his league. But he begins to fear and respect the power, and tries to find a way to rid himself of it. Crystal Reed is the new girl in town love interest who has a family with a secret. She is competent in the role, but I hope for more from this character next season.
The best character on the show, in my opinion is played by Dylan O’Brien. Forget whatever you may remember of Stiles from the Michael J. Fox movie. This Stiles supports his friend 110 percent. He is the one trying to impress upon Scott how important this is, and helps him protect his secret and does the research. He is clever, quick witted and loyal. I love this character.
Many fans, just like me, were surprised at how good this series is. MTV however is paying attention. They ordered a 12-episode second season for next summer. But recent talks are that they may make it 24 episodes now. That is confidence.
The Nine Lives of Chloe King
This series was brought to us by ABC Family, and starred Skyler Samuels as the title character Chloe King. It is described as “drama follows Chloe King, who is looking forward to celebrating her 16th birthday with her friends and single mother -- just like every other year -- that is until she starts developing heightened abilities and discovers she's being pursued by a mysterious figure. Chloe soon learns she's part of an ancient race called the Mai, which has been hunted by human assassins for millennia -- and that she may ultimately be their only hope for survival.”
It is based on the book series of the same name by Celia Thomson. It was a very heavy teen drama series. It had a lot of interesting backstory, but they didn’t pay it the attention I feel they should. It was heavily focused on Chloe’s romances. The show would have been more accurately titled “The Love Life of Chloe King.” I watched it to the end hoping something would happen. It did in the last episode as they built their cliffhanger.
Skyler Samuels was the only member of the cast with even a spark of talent, but was not given anything to sink her teeth into. I hope she resurfaces in something that can stretch her talents. To be nice, I won’t talk about the other members of the regular cast. I will say Alicia Coppola, cast as the Mai matriarch of San Francisco was great in her role, but she appeared far too little.
This series produced decent ratings for ABC Family, but the network did not pick up a second season. They did renew a lower-rated show, which fits they audience demographic better. This just showed a total lack of confidence in Chloe King.
So there we have it, four new series introduced this summer, three making it to a second season. That’s pretty good for genre series. I only hope the genre series released in the fall can do as well. But I’m not betting on it.
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