Following up on Part I of our Fall Science Television preview, we continue with some of our picks for best bets in comedy, drama, and even reality covering the scope of medicine, physics, forensics, fantasy and pure old-fashioned science fiction. Tonight, in Part II, ScriptPhD.com give you a sneak peek of the return of Dexter, House, MD, Grey’s Anatomy, MythBusters, The Big Bang Theory and the highly anticipated television adaptation FlashForward. Tomorrow night, our coverage concludes with a review of the V pilot and previews of programming from the holy grail of science fiction television, the SyFy Channel. Our reviews, under the jump.
Season premiere on September 27th at 9 PM on SHOWTIME.
He’s baaaaaaack! The ScriptPhD’s favorite show, and America’s favorite serial killer, returns with a whole new set of problems and a whole new set of victims. The theme of this season? A change is gonna come. Now living in the suburbs with Rita, the kids, and the newest addition to their clan, life just cannot get more complicated for Dexter (aside from the obvious). Oppressing Dexter’s “dark passenger” is a suffocating group of neighbors keeping a close watch on all goings-on. To make matters worse, there’s a serial killer on the loose and striking in Miami. John Lithgow joins the cast as Arthur Mitchell, an unassuming middle-aged psycho masquerading as the “Trinity Killer”, so named for his proclivity to kill in threes. His murders bear enough of a resemblance to a decades-old killing spree that they bring Special Agent Frank Lundy back into town. It’s not just the blood spatter that Dexter needs to watch, it’s also his back. Fellow odd duck Det. Quinn starts noticing Dexter’s peculiarities and asking questions. Could Dexter have an office nemesis, a la the late Sgt. Doakes? “I don’t want to lose my family,” he realizes out loud before plunging a knife into one of his guilty victims. But can he have it all?
All these changes are compounded with some genuine surprises in the first four, spellbinding, can’t-take-your-eyes-away episodes. There is a secret romance that you never saw coming. Dexter’s multiple pressures and responsibilities result in some uncharacteristic sloppy mistakes… both in his day and night jobs. Most importantly of all, something will happen in the first four episodes that is so shocking and unexpected, it will make you gasp. And it will change everything.
Watch the Season 4 Dexter trailer here
Two-hour season premiere on September 21st at 9 PM on FOX.
Call it House, interrupted. FOX’s popular medical procedural takes a slight detour as the sixth season commences, with an episode unique in style, format and content. Shot on location in New Jersey at the historic abandoned Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital, we pick up with House committed and uttering the three words we never thought we’d hear: “I need help.” House’s pain has long been both physical and mental, and the first ten (difficult-to-watch) minutes of the premiere detail him detoxing and learning to manage his pain without narcotics. The second part? Not so easy for a lifelong distrusting misanthrope. But House has met his match in Dr. Darryl Nolan (played by the impeccable Andre Braugher), a man hip to his tricks and one step ahead of every mischievous move. Holding House’s medical license over his head, Dr. Nolan cajoles him into checking in as a psychiatric patient. After exhausting every clandestine plot to avoid treatment, House begrudgingly begins to connect with Nolan, a beautiful weekly visitor (Franka Potente), and even his obnoxious roommate Alvie (seriously, if you though House was annoying…). His therapy sessions are the best window we’ve been given yet into how his mind words and what lies beneath the exterior we’ve come to know so far.
Of course, you can’t have a House episode without diagnoses, especially in a loony bin. Some are quite disturbingly hilarious (a game of basketball where House crosses the line medically) and some quite sweet (House figuring out how to help a mute woman talk again). But the ultimate diagnosis was self-imposed, as House admitted he was ready to stop being miserable and welcome the possibility of happiness. The season five finale ended with House walking into the mental hospital and season six begins with him walking out. Will he still be the same Dr. Crankypants that everyone knows and loves? Yes and no, says Executive Producer Katie Jacobs. “Season six is stretching in new directions,” she notes. “House won’t change. [His decision to get help] is adding to him, but not making him different.” She also emphasized the importance the producers placed on treating the issue of mental illness delicately, accurately and with respect, working in concert with the National Alliance of Mental Illness. The ScriptPhD’s good friend, clinical psychologist and Los Angeles consultant Dr. Tiffany K. Herbert of PsychThink was impressed. “I thought the episode was wonderful as far as accuracy, especially that they portrayed the patients without stereotyping or ridiculing them, as many television shows and films can often do,” she said. “I also really liked that they didn’t force [House’s roommate] Alvie to take his medication until he was ready to make that individual choice, which is something I advocate strongly.”
THE BIG BANG THEORY
Season premiere on September 21st at 9:30 PM on CBS.
Feeling a little down after watching such an intense episode of House? You probably need a dose of humor. The ScriptPhD recommends what is not only the most chic and hilarious tongue-in-cheek science show on the air, but also one of the most well-written. If you haven’t given this underrated show a chance, this would be a great season to jump in. The clever subversive humor and throwaway science jargon are still razor-sharp and pick right up in the third season premiere, entitled “The Electric Can Opener Fluctuation.” Back from their three-month expedition in Alaska, Sheldon, smarmy and arrogant as ever, is convinced that he is going to win a Nobel Prize for discovering the secret of String Theory. [A big ScriptPhD.com congrats to Jim Parsons for his Emmy nomination!] Instead of magnetic monopoles, Sheldon was recording static from an electric can opener, a ruse concocted by Leonard and the gang. Inconveniently for Leonard, just as he and Penny are finally going to give in to their feelings for each other, he is recruited to help retrieve a humiliated Sheldon from Texas and his racist, hyper-religious mother (an absolutely amazing Laurie Metcalf). Incidentally, a big thumbs up to the writers for throwing in a line about dark energy and Einstein’s cosmological constant, something we just discussed recently.
ScriptPhD.com had a chance to get down and geeky with stars Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco at Comic-Con this summer. Read our coverage, including Kaley’s views on scientists and geeks, and how Jim prepared to play one, here.
New world premiere episodes start on October 9th at 9 PM on The Discovery Channel.
Discovery Channel’s popular science series MythBusters is back for more myths, experiments, and unexpected results. As Season 7 continues after its hiatus, things even get explosive! Jamie and Adam tackle an age-old physics fable, “bullet fired versus bullet dropped”, which states that a bullet fired and one dropped from an equal height they will hit the ground at the same time. The experiment is so tough to test, that no one has tried it… until now. Using a high-speed camera to capture the bullets’ trajectory, constructing a scientifically-ideal enclosed environment at San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center, and some pretty nifty last-minute gadget wizardry, the boys show why your physics textbook was telling the truth. Meanwhile, Tory, Grant and Kari try to get to the bottom of whether someone or something can “knock your socks off.” Thanks to Tory and Grant’s industrial ingenuity, the gang constructs a dummy to take the perfect punch–straight into the wall. From a swinging pendulum. With dynamite. And while the team couldn’t confirm the myth, it was sure fun watching them try.
Seven is indeed a lucky number for MythBusters, who are plugging right along with another exciting line-up of myths waiting to be confirmed or debunked during the rest of the season. Does a muddy car get better mileage than its clean cousin? Does duct tape really have the strength and sticking power to lift a 5,000-lb. car into the air? Can you build a sailboat made entirely from the stuff? Or a working cannon? Will mixing your drinks really make your hangover worse than if you stick to one type of alcohol? (Looking forward to watching Jamie and Adam test this one!) If a car drives over a cliff, would it really explode in a fireball upon hitting the ground below, as in nearly every action movie with a car chase scene? Stay tuned. Incidentally, The ScriptPhD had the pleasure of interviewing Tory, Jamie, Adam and Grant this summer at Comic-Con. Read our coverage, including exclusive behind-the-scenes discussion of the bullet experiment seen in the October premiere episode.
Two-hour season premiere airs on September 24th at 9 PM on ABC.
All right. Let’s get this over with. Someone lives and someone dies, this you know. The big season five cliffhanger that wasn’t had some of the wind knocked out of its sails because of summer entrances and exits stage left, but we here at ScriptPhD.com are resolute in not posting direct spoilers. So, having screened the 2 hour season premiere, rather than revealing whether George or Izzie lives, we will simply post this and this and let you make up your own minds. There, now that that’s out of the way, the rest of the episode has some pretty decent highlights. For one thing, the show leaves behind some of the moribund tone of past seasons to bring the funny back. Even though the theme of the episode is the five stages of grief, humor permeates throughout. Never in my history of television has the line, “And I have cancer!” been so hilarious. Secondly, the patient stories, which had taken a backseat of late to some of the intra-hospital drama, once again come to the forefront with a couple of really compelling cases. A particularly poignant scene with Dr. Bailey and a team of transplant surgeons will make a lot of people rethink the sensitive subject of organ donation (a topic we will have more to say about when we review the new CBS drama “Three Rivers”). Perhaps this season is the reboot that Grey’s needs to get back to the staples that made it one of the more refreshing, quirky and genuine shows on the air. After the season premiere, I’m hopeful.
Series premiere airs on September 24th at 8 PM on ABC.
One of the most highly anticipated premieres of the fall season is ABC’s television adaptation of the Robert J. Sawyer science fiction novel FlashForward, one of two new sci-fi shows that will be premiering on the network. (The other is V and our review of that show’s pilot is below.) Lost and Battlestar Galactica fans need not lament about searching for a worthy sci-fi replacement, because if the FlashForward pilot is any indication, this show has the ScriptPhD all kinds of excited. Scenes of placid quotidian life are interchanged for post-apocalyptic chaos after everyone in the world loses consciousness for two minutes and seventeen seconds. However, strange post-blackout memories and hallucinations lead to further FBI investigation (headed by delightful duo Joseph Fiennes and John Cho), which reveal that rather than losing consciousness, people saw “memories” of events that haven’t happened yet on the same date, April 29th, 2010. A pregnancy. The end of a marriage. A reason to live. And in the case of Fiennes’ character, glimpses of a bulletin board full of evidence. [Conspiracy theorists and puzzle enthusiasts, pause those TiVos, because the the show’s creators said during their Comic-Con panel that all the answers for the show’s highly pre-planned ending are displayed here conspicuously.] Without revealing spoilers, suffice it to say that, much like the structure of Lost, each character’s “FlashForward” feeds into a personal weakness, fear, or moral failing that will drive their development over the course of the series.
Herein lies the heart and soul of this show. Each week, a different person’s “FlashForward” vision (sometimes a series regular, sometimes a story from around the world) will interweave with the continuing inter-agency task force investigation of what happened and who was behind it. An immediate shot of mystery is thrown into an ostensibly simple early theory when a piece of surveillance footage shows people around the world dropping like flies, except for one lone roaming figure. “Who is that and why are they awake?” asks the FBI team. Find out this fall.
Incidentally, if you want a little taste of FlashForward before the premiere on Thursday? Watch the first 17 minutes here.
Stay tuned for Part III of our preview tomorrow night, when we review ABC’s V, and original SyFy programs Stargate Universe, Truth Hunters and the exciting season finale of summer sci-fi hit Warehouse 13.