In what is sure to be a record in the history of television, the major broadcast networks are rolling out no fewer than 10 new science fiction and fantasy-themed series this year. Add those to the line-up of returning shows, plus a smorgasbord of cable series, and it makes for the biggest year of genre television programming … ever.
A few of the new series are being held back for mid-season, so wait until after Christmas before you look for shows like Believe, The 100, Star-Crossed, and Resurrection. (We’ll be ramping up our coverage of those shows and launching their episode guides later in the year.)
Just when will these shows arrive on your TV screen? The old strategy of a single “premiere week” is pretty much dead and gone, with premieres now spread out between mid-September and late October. One highly-anticipated new show — FOX’s Almost Human — actually won’t arrive until November 4, in part to allow the network to make it all the way through the Major League Baseball playoffs and not have to preempt a new series that is just getting off the ground.
We’re tracking four genre premieres in September, eight in October, and another two in November.
Here’s the day-by-day schedule for genre programming this fall in the U.S. (In other countries, check your local listings to find the premiere dates.) If you’re like me, you’ll want to at least sample nearly every show on this list. While a few may not keep your interest for more than a week or two, with so many new shows on this year something is bound to become must-see TV!
FOX, 8/7c (November 4)
Maybe the new show we are most excited about, Almost Human is pure science fiction: Set in the near future, it tells the story of Detective John Kennex (Karl Urban), who returns to duty after losing his leg and his partner. Kennex objects when he is partnered with an artificial life form — but the out-dated “Dorian” model (Michael Ealy) may in many ways be more human than Kennex himself.
FOX, 9/8c (September 16)
More than two centuries after the Revolutionary War, a soldier named Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison) awakens in twenty-first century Sleepy Hollow — the result of an immortality spell cast by his witch of a wife. Crane finds himself partnered with Sheriff Abby Mills (Nicole Beharie), as the two track a supernatural serial killer: the Headless Horseman, who Crane fought centuries ago. (Encores will air on Friday nights, if you miss the Monday episodes.)
AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
ABC, 8/7c (September 24)
A TV spin-off of Marvel’s incredibly successful movie franchise (including Iron-Man, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, and The Avengers), this series follows the agents of the defense organization who don’t have superpowers. Led by Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), mysteriously back from the dead, the team tracks down those with superpowers — protecting the world from them, or sometimes protecting them from the world. We’re particularly excited about this show, especially because its creative team includes the legendary Joss Whedon (Buffy, Firefly, Dollhouse), as well as Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen.
The CW, 8/7c (October 8 – Special Premiere Thursday, October 3 at 9/8c)
The Vampire Diaries is The CW’s biggest hit in a lot of years, and this fall it gets a spin-off series in The Originals. The show follows Klaus (Joseph Morgan) and Elijah (Daniel Gillies) back to their hometown of New Orleans — a city they helped build, but from which they were exiled long ago. Now they attempt to recover the power and influence once enjoyed by the “original” family of vampires.
The CW, 9/8c (October 8)
The Winchester brothers are back for an astonishing ninth season, with actor Misha Collins (“Castiel”) back on board as a series regular. This is a big year for the fantasy series, with a backdoor pilot for a spin-off planned for late in the season (story). Series leads Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles are both on board should the network want a tenth season of Supernatural, as well.
The CW, 8/7c (October 9)
In last season’s finale of The CW’s new comic book hit, Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) failed to stop the destruction of the Glades, the poorest sector of Starling City. This year he and his family will face the consequences of those events (particularly his mother Moira, who has been arrested for her part in the conspiracy). Also look for Oliver to expand beyond his father’s revenge list to become the hero that the city really needs — and for more appearances by DC universe characters, including lawyer Jean Loring (Stargate‘s Teryl Rothery) and Barry Allen (a.k.a. the Flash). Roy Harper (Colton Haynes) should also be moving closer to his own destiny this year.
NBC, 8/7c (September 25)
NBC’s break-out hit of last season moves to a new night, where it will face some genre competition. The show started with a great premise but had to kick around a bit to find its creative legs. It made some smart decisions in bringing stronger characters (including Elizabeth Mitchell’s Rachel Matheson and Giancarlo Esposito’s Tom Neville) to the fore, while killing off or side-lining some who just weren’t strong (I’m looking at you, Danny). The show still has lots of potential — so here’s to a growing mythology and plot points that aren’t caught standing still in Season Two.
THE TOMORROW PEOPLE
The CW, 9/8c (October 9)
Another hotly anticipated, pure sci-fi show is The CW’s remake of a fairly obscure British kids’ show from the 1970s. Now the Tomorrow People — evolutionarily advanced humans with superpowers — are slick and sexy teens and twenty-somethings. The group lives in secret, pursued by a paramilitary group of scientists called Ultra. At the head of the show is new team member Stephen Jameson (Robbie Amell), who may end up being the most powerful of them all … once he learns how to control his new powers. You’ll also recognize Mark Pellegrino (the evil Ultra leader Jedikiah Price) from his roles on Supernatural, LOST, and Revolution.
THE VAMPIRE DIARIES
The CW, 8/7c (October 3)
Elena (Nina Dobrev) is off to college as The Vampire Diaries enters its fifth season. With the vampire Stefan (Paul Wesley) temporarily out of the picture, his brother Damon (Ian Somerhalder) is putting the moves on Elena — while Silas aims to take control of the town of Mystic Falls.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN WONDERLAND
ABC, 8/7c (October 10)
Alice (Sophie Lowe) believes that Cyrus (Peter Gadiot), a genie from Wonderland and the love of her life, is dead — until her friend the Knave of Hearts (Michael Socha) turns up to tell her that he is alive and spring Alice from a mental asylum. With help from the White Rabbit (voice of John Lithgow) they’ll travel down the rabbit hole to Wonderland on a mission to get back her heart. This spin-off of Once Upon A Time looks very promising. Check out our Wonderland pre-pre-review for more about this one.
NBC, 9/8c (October 25)
The Wesen-fighting team has grown a lot over the last two years, with more people in on Portland Police Detective Nick Burkhardt’s (David Giuntoli) secret: he is a Grimm, with the ability to see monsters disguising themselves as ordinary people. The little Friday night monster show has become a significant hit for the struggling NBC, and even got a shot at Tuesday nights last spring. It’s back on Fridays this fall, though with a premiere delayed until the week leading up to Halloween.
NBC, 10/9c (September 13)
Syfy’s only fall entry into scripted drama, Haven returns with its fourth season on Friday nights. Audrey Parker (Emily Rose) is missing and presumed dead after charging into the mysterious barn and saving the town at the end of last season. It’s up to William (Eureka‘s Colin Ferguson) not only to find Audrey, but to help her remember who she really is. Here’s hoping that the aging series will make it to a fifth season, which is when Syfy Channel tends to cancel its scripted series.
BBC America (November 23)
Magic, monsters, and an ancient lost city! Atlantis is a new fantasy series from the creators of the BBC’s Merlin, which features the heroes Jason (Jack Donnelly), Pythagoras (Robert Emms), and Hercules (Mark Addy) — before they became legends. It’s a sort of “prequel” to classic Greek mythology, giving the show a chance to tell stories like how Medusa became a snake-haired villain and to give an original take on the ancient myths. In the U.S. watch for it on BBC America, where it will air alongside the special Doctor Who 50th anniversary episode.
ONCE UPON A TIME
ABC, 8/7c (September 29)
Henry has been kidnapped! This season Emma, Mr. Gold, Mary Margaret, and David join Captain Hook on a mission to Neverland, where they hope to rescue Henry before he is handed over to the Lost Boys and a very dark version of Peter Pan. ABC’s fantasy series is great viewing for the whole family, and this year will add more Disney favorites to the town of Storybrooke … starting with Ariel, the Little Mermaid herself. Once is a fun show with well-drawn characters and a rich mythology. If you’re not watching it yet, now’s the time!
THE WALKING DEAD
AMC, 10/9c (October 13)
Last season ended in an important victory for Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and his friends, with the Governor (David Morrissey) on the run and the citizens of Woodbridge joining them in the safety of the prison walls. Expect new characters to be introduced … and that relative peace to be quickly interrupted. After struggling with pacing issues in Season Two, The Walking Dead really seems to have found itself last year. And the ratings speak for themselves: with 11 million viewers it’s the highest rated show on cable, regularly crushing even its broadcast network competition.
For a full list of new shows in development, including mid-season replacements, visit SciFi Stream’s aptly named In Development page! To find out when your other favorites will return, browse our list of shows On Hiatus.
* NOTE: There are a few series that may or may not be deemed “science fiction” or “fantasy” that aren’t on this list, including The CW’s Beauty and the Beast, CBS’s Person of Internet (a personal favorite!), and the new show Intelligence. If you want to make a case for coverage of these shows on SciFi Stream, we’d love to hear from you.
Which new shows are you most excited to check out? And which returning series is your favorite?