Sleepy Hollow, premiered 9/16/13. How do you make a TV series out of a seemingly one-off villain? You mix it up with a muddled plot involving the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and a soldier, hand-picked by George Washington to fight evil, who has been time displaced by a curse placed on his my his witch wife. The contrivance makes my head hurt. What saves this show for me are the characters of Abbie and Ichabod. They have great chemistry while remaining not-a-couple. Abbie is a good cop without being uber perfect or uber flawed, which is nice to see in a female character. Her normality is required against the background of ghosts, witches, and demons. To be honest though, I’m a sucker for fish-out-of-water. Ichabod ranting about the amount of tax on a bag of doughnut holes buys a lot of amity with me.
The Blacklist, premiered 9/23/13. For a show with no true speculative fiction aspects, The Blacklist had a pretty substantial presence at San Diego Comic Con, asking the question: Who is Red Reddington? Well, Red Reddington is James Spader and he’s the reason to watch this show. Reddington is a spy and master criminal. After eluding law enforcement for the entirety of his career, Reddington turns himself in as a gambit to clear his own blacklist. Spader is delightfully menacing and manipulative in the role. My concern is whether the series will keep the base plot fresh and semi-believeable. It’s already had a few problems.
American Horror Story: Coven, premiered 10/9/13. What I like most about American Horror Story is that each season is self-contained. Presumably, the writers know where the story is going to end and can actually construct an arc rather than spinning a plot that can potentially run (too) many seasons. Speculative fiction seems to lend itself to formats that are not the usual for US television. I can’t recall an anthology series, like The Twilight Zone or Tales from the Crypt, that isn’t genre. In its third season, AHS: Coven takes on witchcraft in America, in an utterly fictitious, non-historical, non-politically correct way. So far, the first three episodes offer the requisite amount of squicky sex and violence that is pretty much a hallmark of the show. The cast, with some returning faces from previous seasons playing new characters, seems overly large. I do like that one aspect of the plot involves a YA-ish plot involving a school for “special” girls while another involves the elder stateswomen of the local covens.
Dracula, premiered 10/25/13. After only seeing the premier episode, I haven’t quite decided what I think about this series. In an odd reversal, this Dracula arrives in England under the identity of vaguely Southern gentleman and industrialist Alexander Grayson. This Dracula only drinks blood…and whiskey. There are twists to this plot. Dracula isn’t in England only to expand his culinary horizons, but as part of a revenge plot with a bit of Victorian sci-fi technology thrown in. Thus far, I’m annoyed by some seeming anachronisms. In London, 1896, is it viable to take individual photographs of 100 guests as they arrive at a party and have their photos developed later that evening? Is it possible that a large black man could gather in-depth information about guests in a matter of minutes, no matter how well dressed he is? Would two “friends” kiss (non-peck-on-the-cheek) in public? Dracula is already on the bubble for me.