Sci-fi shows? They're everywhere now


Here's the story that wraps up my preview of the new season for broadcast networks. Officially, the season starts Sept. 21. Scroll backward here and you'll find the five stories I sent to papers -- an overview and sidebar lists of comedies, semi-comedies, dramas and this one, on fantasy or sci-fi:

By Mike Hughes

Science fiction and
fantasty shows used to know their place.

That was outside the
mainstream, outside the main networks. It was on CW or Syfy (of
course) or the edges of the cable universe.

And now? CBS –
which sometimes confines sci-fi to summers – has two new shows this
fall; NBC and Fox have one apiece. Typical of the upswing is
cable-giant HBO, which suddenly finds itself defined by “Game of
Thrones,” “The Leftovers,” “True Blood” (departed) and
“Westworld” (next year).

“I'm not a fantasy
guy to begin with,” HBO's Michael Lombardo said. “It's not my
natural inclination .... We probably have inadvertently programmed
more other-world series than we intended to. We respond to ... a
fresh, original idea from a really talented creator.”

Those creators grew
up in a Spielberg/Lucas world, so sci-fi keeps growing. Here are the
four new shows on broadcast networks this fall, rated on a 0-10
scale:

THE BEST

-- “Supergirl”
(7), 8 p.m. Mondays, CBS, but the Oct. 26 debut is at 8:30. The first
half of the pilot is a delight, as a bright and eager young assistant
(the superb Melissa Benoist) reluctantly uses her powers. The second
half gets kind of steel-hearted and militaristic, but we'll keep
rooting for her.

THE REST

-- “Limitless”
(5), 10 p.m. Tuesdays, CBS, Sept. 22. A drifting no-account swallows
a pill that gives him immense (and temporary) powers; then people run
around a lot. Bradley Cooper starred in the movie version; he
produces this one and shows up near the end of the pilot, offering
the starpower that the lead actor (Jake McDorman) lacks.

-- “Minority
Report” (3), 9 p.m. Mondays, Fox, Sept. 21. The Steven Spielberg
movie dazzled with its vision of a high-tech, ad-driven world ... and
with its imposing notion of arresting “pre-criminals.” Now this
sequel finds the program disbanded and a hapless young man cursed by
visions of future crimes. The visuals are still impressive, but the
story seems cold and distant.

TOO SOON TO TELL

-- “Heroes
Reborn,” 8 p.m., Thursdays, NBC, Sept. 24. The original series was
a delight, but imploded while trying to do 22 episodes a year. Now
the same creator is back; NBC promises fewer episodes (running on
consecutive weeks), with some old characters (Hiro, Matt, Horn Rimmed
Glasses) and a lot of new ones.