As the year 2013 has come to a close it is time to make up the balance and see what the year has meant for Science Fiction on TV. I will also be giving a preview of the Sci-Fi shows that will make their return or début during 2014. After a cursory view of the dates listed below you will also see that many shows will be back during the course of next week. I won’t be reviewing them all but I’ll cherry pick the best.
2013 saw the return of Simon Barry’s Continuum starring Rachel Nichols as time traveler Kiera Cameron. Though I had high hopes for the second season, sadly it felt underwhelming compared to the tightly choreographed first season. The increase in the number of factions such as Mr. Escher, the Freelancers and the Liber8 split made this season difficult to watch as alliances changed rapidly and the story became more muddied. Also a lot of the character development felt forced and the motivation of some characters such as Inspector Dillon and young Alec Sadler became hard to follow. The second season did have more drama, with mixed results. The acting of show lead Rachel Nichols ranged from praise worthy to wooden throughout the season. I found that I suffered from a certain fatigue in keeping up with all the plot developments. Successes from season 1, such as Luvia Peterson as Jasmine Garza and Lexa Doig as Sonya Valentine continued to be successful with their epic villainous.
Season 2 did not fear to introduce a considerable amount of violence, often gory, or complicated character development such as the strange relationship between Julian Randol and his step-mother. It also introduced a fair amount of nudity as was the case of Luvia Peterson’s character Jasmine Garza when she tried to assassinate old Alec Sadler in the future. As such season 2 made good on some promises of season 1 which at times felt too clean. The little bit of ‘Game of thrones’ was welcome. Show creator Simon Barry has commented on some of the problems met during its second season and has promised to rectify them. At the end of the second season changes were already becoming clear and I find myself already looking forward to the third season which started filming in November and will air in March. So, while keeping my fingers crossed I say that I hope Continuum will live up to its promise.
Sadly after its third season this show really took a turn for the worse. It was never really a good show to begin with, the premise was just absolutely ridiculous but it could be fun at times. The banter between Jaime Murray, Joanne Kelly and Eddie McClintock was especially memorable. However, with Jaime Murray being virtually underused during its fourth season and the plots becoming more ridiculous, more procedural and sadly less humorous the show had seen better days. Warehouse 13 will be back for a 6-episode season to tie up all the plot lines (not holes). I may watch the last few episodes but I doubt I will review it. There were rumours that Jaime Murray might get her own show for her character H.G. Wells. It’s a promising idea but I haven’t heard much about it since over a year. I have no idea when season 5 will start airing, maybe in April. Fans are still irate over a lack of Christmas special this year. So much for what was once Syfy Channel’s most successful show.
After a mediocre first season Revolution was back with a vengeance during its second season. despite having the odds against it with regards to a disheveled plot and unbelievable antagonists the show seems oddly captivating. The first half of season 2 ended with a cliffhanger as Miles is dying from an infection while Aaron learns the true nature of his powers. I am still game for more Monroe and Charlie acting as Bonny and Clyde. I will leave you to think about who is Bonnie and who is Clyde. Revolution will be back on January 8th with the episode ‘The Three Amigos’.
Michael Ealy and Karl Urban continue their crime fighting spree into the new year after the mid-season break is over. The show seems inspired by Fringe but had also developed a flair of its own with the provocative relationship between the two lead characters Dorian and Kennex. Almost Human is suffering under steadily lower ratings and fans have been quick to blame this on the fact that the episodes are being shown out of sequence. however, critics have continued to praise the show and the promise it brings to Science-Fiction on TV. With the first half of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s first season being underwhelming it has allowed Almost Human to shine. The show still needs to rectify a few problems though. The villainous organizations that is meant to act as the primary antagonists has remained ominously absent for too many episode. The character of detective Stahl played by Minka Kelly has also remained underused. Almost Human will return to air on January 6th with the episode ‘Simon Says’. See you on the day after for the review!
Person of Interest
Jonathan Nolan’s show also took a mid-season break just after it had managed to reboot itself in a spectacular 3 episode story arc. This Dark Knight Trilogy of PoI as fans refer tot it promises to give the show a shot in the arm after it started to wane a little during season 2. Though the absence of Taraji P. Henson will be sorely felt her character detective Carter did often feel to be too much at odds with the nature of the show. Whereas Mr. Reese and Mr. Finch will readily admit that their crime-fighting will ultimately cost them their lives Carter did not see it hat way until the death of Cal Beecher. Only afterwards there was no way back for her character. PoI still has to deal with some of repercussion of Carter’s death but I am excited for the second half of season 3. There are plenty of factions and villains to keep the show interesting. Not to mention that the episode preceding the break ended on an almighty cliffhanger.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Fans have so far been divided about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It feels like a Josh Whedon show but sadly the master of entertainment has done little actual work producing it. The show feels a bit silly at times, with obvious leaps regarding the suspension of disbelief that has many fans demanding a reboot of the show. Personally I think the show has gotten better over the first half of season 1. There were noticeably fewer dumb moments that made me skip over scenes while the character development improved considerably. Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May is worthy of special praise. Her portrayal of May gives viewers a character they can easily relate to. At first it seemed that this task was for Chloe Bennett’s character Skye but that hasn’t yet worked out for me. The mid-season break ended with a spectacular cliffhanger as Coulson is abducted, Ward is shot and Peterson is blown up. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be back on January 7th with the episode ‘The Magical Place’.
The show starring Grant Bowler, Julie Benz and Stephanie Leonidas will be back for a second season on June 8th. That is almost an 11 month turn around between seasons. As the shows ratings weren’t particularly high I am worried that viewers will have long since forgotten about it. Season 1 was a rough diamond. The special effects ranged between laughably bad to quite spectacular as did the drama, the humour and the plotlines. Only near the end of the first season did the show really come into its own and keep my attention. In that regard it was similar to Farscape, the show that gained notable fame back in the late 90’s. Defiance ended on a considerable cliffhanger, I do hope that Jamie Murray and Tony Curran will be back for season 2 or else this show may not get a third season.
On January 10th Ronald D. Moore will be back with his first show since the Battlestar Galactica remake. I find myself intrigued by the setting of Helix. From what has been revealed so far the show will take place on remote research post in Antarctica, a setting that harkens back to The Thing and The X-files Movie. The connection between Helix and those two movies go even further, the black goo from The X-files looks to make a comeback on this show, though what properties it has beyond just being lethal is of as of yet unknown. Antarctica has of course also been featured in other Science Fiction works, most notably in Kim Stanley Robinson’s seminal work ‘Antarctica’. This ice-covered continent also has its share of mysteries such as a possible murder at the south-pole McMurdo research station. All this makes me very excited about Helix, about which we know very little besides some of the teasers that have been shown. Helix will start airing on January 10th on Syfy Channel and will start off with both the pilot and second episode on the same night.
No preview of 2014 can be complete without mentioning the 2013 hit Orphan Black. OB stars Tatiana Maslany in the role of about a half-dozen clones that are involved in a conspiracy of murder and intrigue. The show is refreshingly unconventional, it puts its characters in tough position for both dramatic and humorous effect while weaving a fine plot that is highly suggestive of greater issues. I did not review Orphan Black during its first season as I only learned of the show halfway through its schedule. Orphan Black will be back for its second season April 19th.
Other Syfy shows
Reader of this blog may remember that Syfy Channel made a big announcement last year saying it was ready to turn a page on what many perceived as a disappointing few years as they steadily moved away from Science Fiction and into reality ghost TV (yes that is a genre). Well, they certainly announced what amount to about a dozen or so new shows made in cooperation with large production companies and TV channels. However, only Helix is ready to air and it was already announced long before that. Descriptions for shows such as Sojourn, Orion and High Moon were certainly interesting but they also felt out of reach for Syfy Channel. It has only limited budgets for all those productions so I am rather skeptical. let’s hope Syfy can surprise us in 2014!