Zombies, and Ghosts, and Fairies, Oh My!
TV Networks bring on the fairy tales, haunted houses and zombies this month
The fall season has been in session for three weeks now and while some shows are already getting cancelled—I’m looking at y'all, The Playboy Cluband Free Agents—other shows have still yet to premiere. This month, a wave of horror/sci-fi shows will join the season and make their mark on your fall viewing schedule. Here’s a glimpse at four shows set to premiere this month and the differences between the:
American Horror Story – FX – October 4, 2011 – Wednesdays 10/9c
Story: American Horror Story tells the tale of a family from Boston who moves into a seemingly haunted Los Angeles mansion where the previous owners died in a murder-suicide. Psychotic patients, creepy neighbors and a whole lot of scares ensue. Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) and Dylan McDermott (The Practice) star. Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck, Glee) executive produces.
What the critics are saying: The series may be one of the scariest things on television right now, but just because it’s the scariest doesn’t mean audiences will necessarily connect with it. TV Critics like Ed Martin have been discussing whether or not a series like this, one which as he puts, “fits so squarely in the horror genre,” can survive on television. Still, the series shows promise and will offer “all scare, all the time,” as Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly put it. All scares can sometimes be bad though – some critics have pointed out that the show is full of horror movie clichés and leaves little to no room for depth.
The difference: American Horror Story has been described as sadistic, violent and a psychosexual thriller. It’s not for the faint of heart but if you’re interested in haunted house stories, this one is for you.
The Walking Dead – AMC – October 16, 2011 – Sundays 9/8c
Story: The Walking Dead is what you would expect from a typical zombie apocalypse story and then some. Officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) wakes from a coma to find his whole town deserted except for these odd disfigured humans (zombies) roaming the streets. He later finds a group of people who have managed to survive, a group that includes his wife and son, and together, they set off to find other survivors all while trying to continue surviving themselves. The Walking Dead is based on the popular comic book series of the same name.
What critics are saying: While The Walking Dead isn’t a brand new show, the second season will, in a sense, be like a brand new series. Right as the first season ended, it was reported that the entire writer’s staff would be fired and even more recently, the original showrunner, Frank Darabont, was let go in a controversial series of events that involved disputes between him and AMC executives. The newest showrunner, Glen Mazzara along with executive producer, Robert Kirkman (the creator of the original comic) promises this season will be “a much bigger season than the first season.”
The difference:The Walking Dead focuses more on zombies and less on any other supernatural entity out there. The show at its core tells a powerful story of human survival. Gore, zombies and intense action is what will set this show apart from the others.
Once Upon a Time – ABC – October 23, 2011 – Sundays 8/7c
Story: Unlike the previous two series mentioned, Once Upon a Time is less fright and more fantasy. The show follows Emma Swan (Jennifer Morrison), who happens to be the daughter of Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas). There’s only one problem – Emma has no idea of her real identity and all the people in the town of Storybrooke are unaware they are actual characters from fairy tales as well. They have all been banished to the town by the evil queen some years ago and it’s up to Emma to free them all.
What critics are saying: E!’s Kristin Dos Santos claims “The characters are intriguing in both worlds,” and chose this series as one of the top five to watch this fall. She also goes on to compare the show as a mix between Lost and Pushing Daisies, which makes sense seeing as how the series was created by two former Lost writers.
The difference:Once Upon a Time seems to be your more traditional fairy tale show. What’s interesting about this show is that there are two universes that viewers are pulled into – one that takes place modern day in the town of Storybrooke and one that takes place in another world where fairy tale characters exist in the flesh. Seeing these characters come to life will be half the intrigue.
Grimm – NBC – October 28, 2011 – Fridays 9/8c
Story:Grimm has shown up here at CultureMap before – I included the show in the “The 10 new TV shows to check out this fall” and I still stand by that claim despite what critics have been saying. Grimm focuses on homicide detective, Nick Burkhardt. In the first episode, he learns he is a descendant of a group of hunters known as “Grimms,” destined to protect humanity from the evil creatures that come straight from the Grimm Brothers fairytales. These creatures pose as everyday human beings and only Grimms are able to see their true form.
What critics are saying: Unfortunately, Grimm is one of the shows critics don’t believe will last this fall season. Friday night has already become a night of sci-fi with Fringe on FOX and Supernatural on the CW and critics just don’t see there being any room for Grimm to find an audience. Seeing as how this is one of the few pilots I have been able to see before its premieres, I hope this is not the case.
The difference:Grimm seems like it will follow a monster-of-the-week formula with a small dose of back story for the lead character. In that sense, it will be more like a detective show mixed with fairy tale elements.
To recap, American Horror Story and The Walking Dead are a lot heavier with the horror, gore and explicit content. The shows are on cable networks so that explains that. If you’re looking for a good haunted house story, go with American Horror Story. On the other hand, if you’ve ever thought about what you would do in the event of a zombie apocalypse, even if it was just once, check out The Walking Dead.
Now on the flip side, Once Upon a Time and Grimm are on broadcast networks, meaning their explicit content factor goes down remarkably. Once Upon a Time can appeal to viewers who are looking to escape into fantasy and the show will also be fun to watch to see how they bring fairy tale characters to life. Grimm plays more like a procedural cop show with a supernatural mythology. The fairy tale characters in this show won’t be as fantastical as the ones in Once Upon a Time, in the sense that they are a lot darker and grittier.