Fall TV Paranormal Pop Culture Preview

With the new fall TV season officially begun, it would appear the trend in paranormal pop culture is still scaring up interest. No fewer than seven shows, three of which are returning for another season, are premiering in the next few weeks on network TV. Thursday is shaping up to be the biggest of para pop nights with four shows, so supernatural superfans might want to clear out space on the DVR.

(These don't include the shows rolling out in November and December, which include the reptilian alien remake V in November, along with new episodes of A&E's Paranormal State and the Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures.)

Eastwick
ABC, Wednesdays at 10 p.m.
Premieres Sept. 23

Normal breakdown: In the seaside village of Eastwick, three very different women discover bewitching talents they never knew they had.

Paranormal take: Based on the John Updike novel and the 1987 movie, the series is about the supernaturally-inclined ladies who hang with devilish dude. The trailer is spiffy enough and could be Charmed for 30-somethings. Then again, it could also be Desperate Paranormal Housewives.




Flash Forward
ABC, Thursdays at 8 p.m.
Premieres Sept. 24

Normal breakdown: When the world’s population is given a glimpse of their future due to a mysterious global event, it forces everyone to come to grips with whether their destinies can be fulfilled or avoided.

Paranormal take: The concept of a global blackout where everyone sees their personal future six-months down the road (a possible future or not?) is engaging, but can it remain so for an entire season? With Lost wrapping up its run next winter, ABC needs a mythology-driven drama (but one that doesn't drive that audience insane). The clairvoyant experience won't be enough - nor will the disasters resulting from the blackout - so the payoff better be big, scary and rolled out quickly.




The Vampire Diaries

CW, Thursdays at 8 p.m.
Premiered Sept. 10

Normal breakdown:
Two vampire brothers - one good, one evil - are at war for Elena's soul in the small town of Mystic Falls, Virginia."

Paranormal take:
Yes, it's yet another high school vamp entry in paranormal pop culture, and yes, there are clear similarities to the Twilight saga. But this show is based on L.J. Smith's series from the '90s and is helmed by Kevin Williamson (Dawson's Creek, Scream). And based on the first episode, it's a fun, scintillating soap fit for the The CW. I'm betting we can expect more blood and actual vamp action than you might get from Twilight - and hopefully more character development.



Supernatural
CW, Thursdays at 9 p.m.
Premiered Sept. 10

Normal breakdown:
Sam and Dean Winchester are following in their father's footsteps, traveling the country and hunting down evil forces.

Paranormal take:
Now entering its fifth season, Supernatural is a road trip/horror show about two monster-hunting brothers driving straight into an angels vs. demons armageddon. The season appears to have the boy patching things up a bit, just in time to fight off Lucifer. For those devoted fans who have been following the show for some time, crap gets real this season. But it remains to be seen whether it's enough to attract new viewers to the mythology-heavy cult fave.



Fringe
Fox, Thursdays at 9 p.m.
Premieres Sept. 17

Normal breakdown:
The FBI's Fringe Division formed when Special Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) enlisted the help of institutionalized "fringe" scientist Walter Bishop and his son, Peter (Joshua Jackson), to save her partner and lover from a mind-bending death. Through unconventional and unorthodox methods, the Fringe team imagines and tests the impossibilities while investigating unbelievable events, macabre crimes, and mystifying cases involving pyrokinesis, neuroscience, cryonics, genetic engineering, astral projection, and other fantastical theories.

Paranormal take:
Fringe had a slow build, but The X-Files-lite show hit a stride without getting too swallowed in an impenetrable mythology. Created by J.J. Abrams (Lost), Fringe hit it out of the dimension with a parallel reality revelation and Leonard Nimoy in the first season finale. If it continues to build on the freakiness without losing the quirky humor, the show will have the stuff to win the Thursday paranormal pop wars.




Ghost Whisperer

CBS, Fridays at 8 p.m.
Premieres Sept. 25

Normal breakdown:
Melinda Gordon (Jennifer Love Hewitt) has a gift - she can communicate with earthbound spirits or ghosts who cling to the living because they have unfinished business in our world preventing them from "crossing over" or going into the light ... Melinda navigates between the dead and the living with her sometimes chilling, sometimes heart-rending and sometimes amusing actions as an intermediary between the ghosts and those they haunt.

Paranormal take:
At the end of the last season, Melinda got her dead hubby back after he took over Sam's body and they all eventually worked out the details and got hitched - again. This season picks up five years in the future where her son is starting to show abilities that exceed hers. The new season sounds like a more compelling , darker turn for the show when a whole new realm of spiritual beings is revealed. Typically the introduction of a kid to a show is the first sign of approaching jump-sharking territory, but this time it actually sounds like a good move.

Medium
CBS, Fridays at 9 p.m.
Premieres Sept. 25

Normal breakdown:
Medium is a drama inspired by the real-life story of research medium Allison Dubois (Patricia Arquette), an extraordinary young wife and mother who ... has gradually come to grips with her extraordinary ability to talk to dead people, see current events and the future through her dreams and read people's thoughts. Dubois works as a consultant to District Attorney Manuel Devalos, using her psychic abilities to solve violent and horrifying crimes.

Paranormal take:
After five seasons with NBC, the show was canceled and picked up by CBS. So the show has a lot to prove with this sixth season. To do so, it flashes forward (it appears to be a theme with fall para pop) four months to Allison out of a coma and back to crime solving. But if CBS wants to prove the show is worth saving, there's a lot of work to be done. Maybe a crossover with Ghost Whisperer would help.



-aaron sagers

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