Fall TV: Paranormal Pop Culture preview

Courtesy FX

The sun is setting earlier as the weather cools off, leaves are turning gold and brown, and bags of candy corn or other Halloween treats are dominating store shelves. It must mean fall is arriving, and with it is a bevy of new TV shows.

No surprise here, but the paranormal is still big business within pop culture, and there is no shortage of unexplained entertainment in the form of ghosts, vampires, aliens and fairy tale creatures in this fall’s 2012 television line-up.

Of course, some shows jumped the autumn gun by serving up their programming (along with a cup of pumpkin-flavored coffee) as early as August, but we'll include them as well. So whether you're interested in returning shows or just the newbies that TV execs hope will break out, it's time get your PKE meters and remote controls ready for the paranormal invasion...

Paranormal Witness
Syfy, returned Aug. 8, 10 p.m.
The docudrama kicked off season two with its first episode entitled "Man in the Attic." Whether it’s the scary music, creepy cinematic camera angles or suspenseful Paranormal Activity -esque authenticity, this show certainly ranks high on the creep factor. Incorporating witness testimony along with reenactment footage, and actual evidence, this is a show recommended for those who like their ghost stories real, and real spooky. Watch it with the lights on.

Grimm, courtesy NBC
NBC, returned Aug. 13, 10 p.m.
It’s the second time at bat for NBC’s fairy tale procedural, and fans are desperately hoping for a little wind in their hair on the upswing. Revolving around a cop who also serves as an investigator/hunter of folkoric creatures (and is aided in the process by a formerly big, bad wolf), Grimm comes from Buffy and Angel alumni David Greenwalt, Jim Kouf and Stephen Carpenter. Season one was enough to set the stage for a mythology-driven show, and features fun monster antics - and is conveniently part of the modernized fairy tale trend in TV.

Syfy, returned Aug. 21, 9 p.m.
McKenzie Westmore returned as the host of Syfy’s hit reality/competition series Face Off. As in previous seasons, contestants compete in the highly stylized realm of special-effects make-up at the hopes of winning the $100,000 purse and a brand new Toyota. Also returning is the rockstar panel of loveable, yet understandably hyper-critical, judges which include three-time Academy Award winner Ve Neill (Pirates of the Caribbean, Edward Scissorhands), the man with the quick wit and crazy hair Glenn Hetrick (Heroes, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files) and the quiet, yet insightful Patrick Tatopoulos (Underworld, Independence Day, Resident Evil: Extinction).

Ghost Hunters
Syfy, returned Sept. 5, 9 p.m.
The TAPS team continues on in their quest to document evidence of paranormal activity in some of the most haunted locations in the South when reality show Ghost Hunters returned two weeks ago. The show took an unprecedented turn when lead investigator Grant Wilson announced his retirement from the long running Syfy series. But, according to previews for the new season, the hunt continues and the team has no problem finding a few new ghosts to talk to. There is even a few exciting format (and cast) changes that keep the show fresh

Ghost Adventures
The Travel Channel, returned Sept. 14, 9 p.m.
The paranormal investigative reality-TV team of Zak Bagans, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin are back for an impressive seventh season of Ghost Adventures. The rockstar trio returned with their signature style of dusk-to-dawn lockdowns as they travel to new spooky locations across the country landing them in places such as California’s historic Point Sur Lighthouse, the Central Unit Prison in Sugar Lands, Texas and even finding time for Zak Bagans to pay a visit to his childhood home outside Chicago. This is high-octane paranormal TV, and the guys are still at the top of their game when it comes to investigating and pushing back on nasty specters.

NBC, series premiere Sept. 17, 10 p.m.
J.J. Abrams has sounded the alarm and assembled a super team of executive producers which include Supernatural’s Eric Kripke, Bryan Burk (Lost, Star Trek) and Jon Favreau (Iron Man) as co-executive producer for NBC’s latest post-apocalyptic drama about a world where all forms of energy have mysteriously ceased to exist. I know what you’re thinking, another survival “Lost”-esque drama from Abrams is bound to ignite the imagination of millions only to someday dash their hopes with an incredibly cryptic, confounding and ultimately disappointing plotline. Did I mention that Giancarlo Esposito who played Gustavo "Gus" Fring in AMC’s Breaking Bad stars in the series as a baddie? That’s enough for at least a trial period in my book, but the show has also been garnering great reviews and a lot of buzz.

Hot Set
Syfy, series premiere Sept. 18, 10 p.m.

In the vein of Face Off, this is a reality competition series revolving around rival set designers. Hosted by Ben Mankiewicz (grandson to Herman, writer of Citizen Kane, and great-nephew to Cleopatra scribe Joseph), the show gives contestants a script, three days and a $15 thousand budget to bring the script to life. Also, each contestant finishes the competition by actually shooting on set. Show judges include production designers Curt Beech (Star Trek, The Help), Lilly Kilvert (Legends of the Fall) and Barry Robison (X-Men Origins: Wolverine).

Haven, courtesy Syfy
Syfy, series returns Sept. 21, 10 p.m.
Loosely based on the novella "The Colorado Kid" by Stephen King, Syfy’s one-hour drama series will return for a third season. It is no surprise that this little Stephen King story that could is garnering such success, and also no surprise that it centers around a small town in Maine which, in King’s world, seems to be the epicenter of paranormal activity. The show stars Emily Rose (Jericho, Brothers and Sisters) as FBI agent Audrey Parker who investigates supernatural afflictions that plague the town of Haven.

The Neighbors
ABC, series premiere Sept. 26, 9:30 p.m.
(regular timeslot premiere Oct. 3, 8:30 p.m.)
If extraterrestrials ever decided to come to earth and set up residence, New Jersey is as good a place as any to blend in. ABC’s newest sitcom ventures into the paranormal by following the life of a family who moves to an upscale suburb in Jersey where they suspect that their - you guessed it - neighbors might be from outer space. Come to think of it, all my neighbors are weird too, maybe ABC is trying to tell us something…

Fox, series returns Sept. 28, 9 p.m.
It’s over, Johnny - almost. After low ratings and near cancellations, Fringe is back for its fifth and final season. This season has been touted as a love letter to the fans who have faithfully stuck with Fox’s science fiction drama through its darkest days. The loyalists will be there to see how things end for the team of fringe science investigators pursuing the mysteries surrounding the parallel universe. As for the uninitiated, without the pressure of aiming for renewal, the curious TV-commitment-phobes should tune in for the final season if only to watch as the writers and producers pull out all the stops to end their labor of love with a bang.

Paranormal Paparazzi
Travel Channel, series premiere Sept. 28, 7 p.m.
The only thing more elusive than pictures of Miley Cyrus’ new punk haircut is a photo of a full-bodied apparition of Aunt Sally making the walls bleed. Editor-in-chief of ParanormalPopCulture.com and pop culture pundit Aaron Sagers takes viewers on a paranormal road trip across the country as he tracks down the most current, bizarre and unsolved paranormal stories. Teams of reporters reveal their findings in a fast paced newsroom set-up for the entertainment news story - which is also heavy with celeb appearances. Season one will cover stories from Will Ferrell’s haunted trailer to a UFO sighting at the Jersey Shore and a teenage exorcism squad in Arizona.

666 Park Ave, Courtesy ABC
666 Park Avenue
ABC, series premiere Sept. 30, 10 p.m
Based on Alloy’s book series by Gabriella Pierce, ABC’s newest primetime soap series trades witches for Lucifer, and is sure to attract the attention of a loyal and vast community of fans of the paranormal. The show revolves around an exclusive NYC apartment building with a hell of a lease. You can move in anytime you like, but you can never leave - especially if you refuse to meet your end of a Faustian bargain. The show stars Terry O’Quinn (Lost), so you know the acting will be solid, and Vanessa Williams (Desperate Housewives).

Once Upon a Time
ABC, series returns Sept. 30, 8 p.m.
After the teaser ABC previewed at the 2012 San Diego Comic Con, audiences are already a-flutter about the premiere of season two. The show about a town of fairy-tale characters who forget their fantastical origins was a big hit last season, and it has been confirmed that Captain Hook will be an important character of the sophomore season. Also, creators Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis have promised viewers that they will finally reveal the identity of little boy Henry’s father.

Making Monsters
Travel Channel, series returns Sept. 30, 8 p.m.
If you’ve ever wanted a glimpse into the weird world of the effects gurus that make monsters come to life for a living, then reality series Making Monsters is the show for you. Viewers get an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek at all the wacky happenings at Distortions Unlimited, the Colorado-based animatronic and prop-making company run by Ed & Marsha Edmunds. Since this is the second season for the Edmunds and their staff, Distortions has taken on some of the most challenging projects to date including a stage mask for the rock band Megadeth, a 25-foot skeleton for an outdoor Baltimore attraction and a larger-than-life custom-made Gatekeeper for Hollywood legend Dick Van Dyke’s southern California home haunt.

The CW, series returns Oct. 3, 9 p.m.
Fans let out a collective sigh of relief when The CW announced that not only will Supernatural be returning for an eighth season, but it might possibly be renewed into a ninth. CW head honcho Mark Pedowitz confirmed, "I’m not looking at season 8 as the final year in any way, shape or form." So fear not super-fans, it seems the epic saga of the monster/urban legend/demon/angel hunters the Winchester brothers will continue on indefinitely as Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) battle every kind of supernatural being the writers can dream up.

The Dead Files
Travel Channel, series returns Oct. 5, 10 p.m.
A retired NYPD Homicide detective and a medium walk into a bar ... Okay, so this show isn’t a comedy, it is a reality buddy cop show that pairs Detective Steve DiSchiavi and medium Amy Allan. The duo travels from city to city trying to solve unexplained paranormal disturbances. Step aside, Chan and Tucker, Gibson and Glover, Murphy and Nolte, Tuner and Hooch…

Arrow, Courtesy CW
The CW, series premiere Oct. 10, 8 p.m.
After all this time, and so many superhero movies, finally those of us who have a hard time leaving the comfort of our own couches can watch men in tights beat up bad guys at home. Arrow is a modernized retelling of DC Comics character Green Arrow via the Batman Begins billionaire playboy origin story. The show stars Stephen Amell (Hung) - who looks a little bit like a young Chris O’Donnell back in his Scent of a Woman days - as a reformed rich kid who avenges the wronged, and seeks to correct the sins of his father via archery skills and crimefighting. Also expect to see other DCU characters like The Huntress and, likely, Deathstroke in the show.

Beauty and the Beast
The CW, series premiere Oct. 11, 9 p.m.
Linda Hamilton and Hellboy himself Ron Perlman blazed the path for a Beauty and the Beast show back in the '80s and The CW has remade it with more of a supernatural quality. This time, Vincent the beast, played by Jay Ryan (Terra Nova) will be pretty handsome and only reveal his beastly side when angry and provoked, a la Hulk and Grimm's Wesen. Smallville's Kristin Kreuk will be the beauty who gets saved by the beast, but it's still unclear what the rest of the show will entail beyond romance and tortured souls.

The Vampire Diaries
The CW, series returns Oct. 11, 8 p.m.
Time to get another round of VD (and it just cleared up), and luckily everyone is just as hot as they were back in season three. Any show that features a cast attractive enough to make even my withered old heart skip a beat, is worth watching in my book. And Oh yeah, there’s still enough vampire action, teenage angst and love triangle drama to suit the fickle temperament of the modern teenager. Besides being a modern-day vampire-themed Dawson’s Creek, the show is a delicious guilty pleasure that promises a lot more action this round.

The Walking Dead
AMC, series returns Oct. 14, 9 p.m.
Courtesy AMC
The Walking Dead premiere is likely one of the most anticipated dates in TV, normal or paranormal. Following a rather harrowing end to season two at the pile of ashes formerly known as the farmhouse, season three promises an even rockier road. There’s to be no more sweet tea and southern hospitality for Rick and his gang as they try to clean out a zombie-infested prison to make as their new home. As if that's not enough, they'll have to contend with the villainy of The Governor (David Morrissey) - the leader of the too-perfect survivor town of Woodbury. The return of Merle (Michael Rooker) and the introduction of fan-fave comic character Michonne (Danai Gurira) make this season look epic.

American Horror Story
FX, series returns Oct. 17, 10 p.m.
Last but certainly not least, the trippy horror anthology series by Ryan Murphy (Glee, Nip/Tuck), returns with a new setting and (mostly) new cast. After wrapping up the haunted happenings at the modern-day California home, Murphy jumps back to the '60s to Briarcliff Manor, an asylum for the criminally insane. There will be nun caretakers (including returning cast member Jessica Lange), in addition to nun Nazis, aliens, a nymphomaniac and a serial killer named Bloody Face who wears a Leatherface-esque skin mask and nightie. The series also stars Zachary Quinto, Adam Levine, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, James Cromwell, Chloe Sevigny and Joseph Fiennes.