New TV season a sure sign of fall

On the Ball column by Craig Lindsay, Sept. 23 Grand Forks Gazette

Can you believe it’s fall already? I can’t. Summer seemed to last a very long time. Normally that would be a good thing but I think with the early hot weather followed by  drought conditions and then wildfires and smoky skies—it just kept going. But now the cooler weather is upon us and the threat of fires is all but gone. In addition, school is back in session and hockey is back as well.

Another reminder of fall is the start of the new TV season and as usual there are plenty of exciting new shows to look forward to as well as some old favourites about to start up again.

One interesting new show is The Bastard Executioner on FX. It comes from the creator of Sons of Anarchy (SOA), the biker gang show that just ended its strong run. The Bastard Executioner is supposed to be even more bloody and violent than SOA and also stars Katey Sagal. Whether it can be as interesting and entertaining as SOA and Game of Thrones, which is also set in a medieval era, is yet to be seen.

Heroes Reborn sees the once-popular super-hero show return with a mostly new cast. The original Heroes was popular and a lot of fun, at least for the first few seasons. It also came before the super-hero movie and TV show explosion that we now see with the Dark Knight, Avengers and X-Men franchises. Hopefully it can capture some of that first season magic.

Limitless and Minority Report were fairly successful sci-fi movies that have returned as TV shows. Bradley Cooper, from the Limitless movie, is the executive director and apparently will reprise his character. Minority Report won’t have Tom Cruise on board but could be entertaining as a psychic cop tries to stop crimes after seeing into the future. I wonder if he’s seen the future ratings yet for the show?

A lot of people are looking forward to the return of the Muppets as Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie and the rest of the crew return. I enjoyed the show growing up but wasn’t crazy about the recent movies. Besides, I’m holding out for a Fraggle Rock reboot.

Of the returning shows this fall, the Walking Dead is one my most anticipated. The show has gotten better after a couple of shaky seasons out at the farm. Leader Rick Grimes is appearing more and more unhinged as the group faces more threats both from the zombies and from other survivors. Fan favourites Darryl and Michonne also appear ready to mix it up as panic sets in. There is also a new sort of prequel on AMC now called Fear the Walking Dead, which deals with Los Angeles right as the outbreak begins.

American Horror Story (AHS) returns as well with the latest season set at a hotel. Each season, AHS is set in a different setting with a completely different group of characters. The last season was set in a circus side show and featured some very scary characters including a really evil clown, a bearded lady and a killer in a bow tie.

This season features Lady Gaga, who some think is much worse.

I’m also looking forward to returning super hero shows the Flash and Gotham. Both had solid first seasons and have plenty of potential. Flash sometimes shows its CW roots and gets a bit angsty but is overall really fun. Gotham is about the origins of great Batman villains like Scarecrow and Penguin but, unfortunately, Batman isn’t around except as a young teenaged Bruce Wayne.

As for comedies, Brooklyn Nine-Nine continues to be comedy gold with the hilarious antics of a dysfunctional police station in New York led by Andy Samberg. This year Bill Hader takes over as squad commander from Andre Braugher. Venerable animated shows Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park also all return and should provide plenty of funny, if occasionally inappropriate, moments.

As for the cinema, while there’s a little movie called Star Wars – The Force Awakens due Dec. 18. After the debacle of the last three movies, which are actually the first three movies in the series, fans are anticipated as J.J. Abrams takes over the helm. Abrams was able to reboot the Star Trek franchises with a young Kirk and Spock in a pair of exciting movies. The Force Awakens takes place after Return of the Jedi and features many stars of the original movies including Mark Hamill (Luke Skywalker) and Harrison Ford (Han Solo) and zero Jar Jar Binks.

I was only a youngster when the first Stars Wars came out but I remember seeing it in the theatre and what a spectacle it was. Seeing the giant Star Destroyer come across the screen in the opening sequence and then the first appearance of the iconic villain Darth Vader. It was hard to believe a movie was capable of being that good and that entertaining. It wasn’t long before my bedroom wall was all adorned with Stars Wars posters and I had to have all comics, shirts and toys as well.

Although I’m not a huge fan boy anymore, I’m still excited, as I’m sure are many people, to see another Star Wars movie done right. If that happens, it will be a great Christmas present that’s for sure.

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