TV's new sci-fi/fantasy and beyond -- from werewolves to time loss to God

Any year with some fantasy and sci-fi and such is a good one ... even if none of the shows stand out. Here's the round-up I sent to papers, in the six-part season preview. To find the others, scroll up and down from here.


By Mike Hughes

Television likes to
visit the extremes, to talk about thinks dark (witches and vampires
and vanished time) and bright (God).

Now all of those
come up in some of this fall's fantasy shows. They include:

The best

-- “Manifest”
(10 p.m. Tuesdays, NBC, Sept. 25). A lot of small things can go wrong
on an airplane – bumpy ride, bad pretzels, late arrival. But this
arrival is REALLY late. The passengers and crew people think they've
been flying for a few hours; the airport says they disappeared for
five years. As a mini-series, this would be fascinating; as an
ongoing series? The big networks have sometimes failed to finish the
intriguing stories they start, but we'll hope NBC does better this

The rest

-- “God Friended
Me” (8 p.m. Sundays – but 8:30 p.m. for the opener, due to
football – CBS, Sept. 30). To the shock of his preacher father (Joe
Morton), Miles uses his podcast to disparage the idea of God. Then
comes a note that God has friended him on Facebook. Is it a prank?
Miles thinks so, but probes it with two helpers ... confronting fresh
surprises. The result is flawed, but fairly fun.

-- “The Haunting
of Hill House” (Oct. 12, Netflix). The 1963 movie, considered a
classic, had an invited group introduced to the supernatural, inside
a 90-year-old New England house. It was remade in 1999 and now
returns as a series that includes the talented Timothy Hutton.

-- “Charmed” (9
p.m. Sundays, CW, Oct. 14). This can be a lot to absorb shortly
after your mother's death: Two young women learn that there's a third
sister ... and that each of them is a witch with a separate power.
This reboot of an old series does a fairly good job of mixing dark
drama with some lighter moments, many of them from Rupert Evans as
their new mentor.

-- “Legacies” (9
p.m. Thursdays, CW, Oct. 25. In the final “Originals” episodes,
everyone focused on preserving Hope. As the daughter of Niklaus and
Hayley, she's the world's only witch-werewolf-vampire tribred. Now
she's 17 and back at the Salvatore School for the Young & Gifted
in Mystic Falls. Alaric is in charge; his twins are students. We
haven't seen this yet, but the producers have a strong track record
(via “Vampire Diaries” and “Originals”) and a likable star
(Danielle Rose Russell).

-- “Chilling
Adventures of Sabrina” (Oct. 26, Netflix). The cheery Archie comics
have already been transformed into the dark (but well-crafted)
“Riverdale.” Now it's the turn for Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
Many of the “Riverdale” people are involved, including producer
Greg Berlanti, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and talented director
Lee Krieger.

-- “Tell Me a
Story” (Oct. 31, CBS All Access). Some of old Grimm tales were
mighty grim. (Blowing houses down? ... Eating children? ... Carving
Grandma out of a wolf's stomach?) Now those three stories -- “Three
Little Pigs,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Little Red Riding Hood”
-- are blended together in modern New York. Kim Cattrall and Paul
Wesley are in support.

Also scary

Plenty of stories
can be creepy without being supernatural. Two examples are:

-- “The Purge”
(10 p.m. Tuesdays, USA, started Sept. 4). This uses the notion of the
“Purge” movies: For one night a year, laws don't apply. Rich
people hide behind their barricades, hoping the poor will purge each
other. On this nasty night, we follow three stories, each well-told:
A Marine tries to rescue his sister from a cult .... An ambitious
woman hires an assassin .... And a decent couple visits a mansion,
hoping to get a donation for charity.

-- “Into the Dark”
(Oct. 5, Netflix). This is a monthly anthology series, keyed to
holidays. Naturally, it starts with Halloween.