The summer is so packed with new TV that I had to split my post into two long pieces!
The summer is so packed that there are actually two shows about teenagers who find out that they are part of a secret world of animal beings. Teen Wolf is a relatively serious take on the old Michael J. Fox movie from the 80s. Young Scott discovers that he’s been bitten by a wolf and cursed with red-eyed bouts of animalistic savagery which he struggles to suppress (How’s that for a thinly veiled metaphor for the hormones of a teenage boy?) but is also blessed with superhuman athletic prowess and enhanced senses. Nevertheless, he still has to juggle school, parents, dating, etc., like any normal teen (plus, his girlfriend’s family is secretly hunting werewolves). There is a bit of humour in the show, but mostly it’s a serious supernatural soap (part of the same breed as The Vampire Diaries) with horror overtones — unfortunately the CGI werewolves don’t look too great, so that diminishes some of the fright. For the gals, there’s a similarly premised show called The Nine Lives of Chloe King, which (as you might guess from the title) has our heroine, Chloe, realizing that she’s part of a feline race known as the Mai. (Do not ask me why canines are men and felines are women, they just are, OK?) Instead of it being a curse, Chloe finds that along with her new cat-like abilities, she also gets a unique destiny as “The Uniter”, who is supposed to bring all the Mai together. She also has the added bonus of having 8 extra lives — too bad nasty people are trying to take every last one of them from her. As you’d expect from a teen supernatural soap, Chloe has her BFFs and her boy troubles, which are only aggravated by her moonlighting as a messianic cat person. Nevertheless, she just wants to be a normal teenage girl. (Sigh.) Both these shows are fun if you can stomach the teen angst, cheesiness, and melodrama.
For the more grown-up sensibilities, we have the supernatural soap True Blood. Sookie comes back from faeryland quite disillusioned (to say the least) and, Surprise: time jump! Apparently the fact that time passes slowly in faeryland was a plausible enough explanation for a time jump, which is good because a lot has changed in a year. Bill and Sookie’s breakup has allowed him to become King of Louisiana. Lafayette’s boyfriend Jesus has gotten them involved with some powerful witches. Tara has gone all girlfight, and also became a lesbian — wow, that Franklin really messed her up! Sam is now frolicking in the woods with other shifters. Poor Jason … that clan of inbred were-panthers that he was caring for now want to turn him into one of them so they can mate with him to stave off extinction (There’s a sentence no one in their right mind would ever have conceived of typing!). So you can see that the wildness of seasons 2 and 3 were just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this crazy sexy show!
Another grown-up genre show to return to the small screen is Torchwood (subtitled Miracle Day). This time around, the action is set mostly in the US, and a whole bunch of new American characters are brought into the picture, including Mekhi Phifer as the incredibly bull-headed FBI agent, Rex Matheson. Y’see, Rex should have died in a car accident when he was run through with a metal rod. However, lucky for him it was “Miracle Day” when death seemed to be eliminated across the entire planet. So where does that leave Capt. Jack Harkness, gallant leader of the now-defunct Torchwood Institute and resident immortal? So far, the episodes have been doing a lot of set-up, including introducing a smugly evil child rapist/murderer (played by Bill Pullman) who is also saved from execution by the Miracle. Plus we get to see lots of doctors dealing with the new reality that they are facing as the global population continues to grow. The best scene so far has been Gwen Cooper kicking butt with a gun in one hand and her baby in the other.
Warehouse 13 returns after a pretty cataclysmic finale. The agents have split up after Myka left. The rest of the gang are trying to pick up the slack with the artifact hunting, but it’s just not the same. Enter Aaron Ashmore (remember him as Jimmy Olsen on Smallville) as Steve Jinks, the Warehouse 13 newbie and a guy who can tell when someone is lying. I’m really glad to have him on board. I think he’ll add a great new dynamic to the show. I was getting a bit tired of Pete and Myka’s lame channelling of Moonlighting‘s David and Maddy. Haven is also back after a big season-ender, beginning with the biblical Ten Plagues if you can believe it. To top it off, the mystery of Audrey’s backstory deepens when a second woman arrives claiming that she’s the real Agent Audrey Parker (and they both have the same memories — oooooo!). I can’t wait to see how that plays out. Who’d have thunk that the X-Files could have been successfully transplanted to sleepy, creepy, smalltown Maine?
Last (but definitely least) is the highly-anticipated (by me) series, Alphas. This show, about a group of superhumanly gifted people who use their abilities to deal with cases for the government, was going to be a palate-cleanser after the tragically bad crash-and-burn that was Heroes. While this show takes people with super-strength, perfect aim, the ability to control minds or read electromagnetic signals and tries to make them more “real life” (at least that’s part of the premise), it fails miserably in being enjoyable. The characters, including Malik Yoba as the aforementioned strong man, and David Strathairn as their fearless leader (sorry, his last name starts with R, not X) are both broad yet uninteresting. I’m going to stick with the series a while longer to see if it picks up, but if Heroes and X-Men 3 have taught me anything, it’s that just because its characters have superpowers, doesn’t guarantee that a show or movie is going to be any good.