I was actually looking forward to the new Fall lineup of shows as it seemed the major networks had a lot of science-fiction shows in them! Well, now that I've seen some of it I'm not so jazzed about it all. Here's my run-down of what I've seen so far:
Masters of Science Fiction: Doing teleplays of short stories by the greats (or "masters" as they call them) of science fiction. Basically like a rehash of the Outer Limits, in fact could easily be mistaken for an episode of that show. Since the tales are based on the "hard sci-fi" (which some people prefer to call "speculative fiction" to differentiate it from the laser-space-battle kind) means this show is going to have a hard time keeping an audience. It's "too intellectual" for your average viewer (just as the stories on which the episodes are based are likely too heady for most casual readers). It had a horrible time-slot, ABC only ordered six episodes and then cancelled the airing of two of them. I highly doubt we'll be seeing any more of this show.
Eureka: The "smartest little town in America" is back with more stories of Global Dynamics and basement mad scientist experiments gone awry. I wasn't too happy with how they made Henry into a vengeful bad guy at the end of last season, and seeing him be so duplicitous with Carter (who *thinks* Henry is his best friend) is just sort of sad. As I write this it's already had it's "season finale" (in that way Sci-Fi Channel likes to show us half the season and then put it on hiatus until next spring) - the so-called last episode was something of a let-down really, compared to last year anyway. There really wasn't any kind of "cliff-hanger" to keep you salivating for the show's return. Makes me wonder if it WILL return, or if this show just went out with a whimper?
Reaper: Ok, not technically "science fiction" but you can definitely tell Kevin Smith's got his hands in it. Seems very much like a story that could take place in the same Universe as "Dogma." In fact, if you liked "Dogma" or "Clerks" you'll probably like this show. Basic gist is that there's a guy who works at a hardware store, college dropout, loser (you know the type) and his parents sold his soul to the Devil - not entirely intentionally, the Devil (of course) tricked them and takes possession of their son's soul on his 21st birthday. Good news! You can legally get drunk! Bad news: you work for the Devil now. If you remember the serious show "Brimstone" the premise is similar, except this is a comedy. Our hapless hero is charged with the duty of retrieving souls/demons who've escaped from Hell. Now that Eureka is done I'll be able to watch this without time-shifting my viewing. Speaking of time-shifting. . .
Journeyman: Kind of like a new version of "Quantum Leap" except he's not inhabiting the bodies of other people and he doesn't have an Al to tell him why he's there in the past. There's no mechanism explained for how he's travelling through time (even he doesn't know) but he's not the only one doing it. It's not necessarily a bad show, but the main character's time trips seem just as confusing and pointless for the audience as for him. At least with Quantum Leap we knew Sam had a mission to "set right what once went wrong." What Journeyman's purpose is could be anyone's guess.
Flash Gordon: If you read my prior review of the premier episode you already know I hate it. I have avoided watching any more of it, though from the ads and the few masochists out there who ARE watching it, I gather it did improve a bit (or their standard dropped, not sure). Still no spaceships in it, and based on what I've read in interviews with the show's creators there won't be. Sad. Really f---ing sad.
Bionic Woman: The premier episode was actually kind of boring until about the third act, which was only salvaged thanks to a half-way decent bionic battle between Jamie Sommers and a previous attempt at making a bionic woman soldier, now gone bad of course. I suppose there are plenty of young pups out there who weren't even alive when the original show aired, so the entire premise of a "bionic woman" had to be set up again, but it was just redundant for those of us who clearly recall the original series. After two episodes now I've seen THREE actors from the new "Battlestar Galactica" slumming it on this show (it's shot at the same studio in Canada, btw). Frankly I'd rather see more BG than BW on the menu, and if any more refugees from the Cylon Attack turn up I'm going to call this show "Battlestar Bionica." It *might* end up being a hit nonetheless, however, because it appears to have no real competition in it's Wednesday timeslot (which is why I'll probably keep watching).
Stargate: Atlantis: Picking up literally right where they left off last season, we finally get some resolution with the Replicator attack on Atlantis. Samantha Carter crosses over into the Atlantis storyline right off the bat, but so far only in a supporting role (though I'd generally describe the show as having an ensemble cast anyway). They not only resolve thier issues with flying the city, finding a new planet to hide out on that is unknown to either the Replicators or the Wraith, it appears they have even conscripted some unwitting allies into their struggle to stop the Wraith threat. I'm sure this season will have it's share of "filler" episodes establishing the character of the new additions to the cast, but it also appears to be advancing the overall plot nicely as well. Hopefully they're just getting going!
Heroes: Saving the best for last, Hereos is back for it's second season. They seem to be having a bit of trouble thinking up new powers for the "mutants" and I'm not feeling quite so anxious about the next episode as I was last season, but so far it's good. Especially the story with Hiro in fuedal Japan. I find it hard to believe that the Bennetts are really hiding out considering they have done nothing to alter their appearances, and Suresh seems rather careless in his communications with Mr. Bennett when they discuss their plans to bring down the "Company" (which Suresh has now infiltrated, but my bet is they're on to him already). Peter, thankfully, is NOT dead. Somehow, though, he's turned up chained inside a shipping container in Ireland with no memory of who he is or that he's got super-powers (though he finds out the latter soon enough). Sub-plots include a "plague" that kills people with powers and a serial killer who is taking out the "old guard" of the Company, like Hiro's dad and Mother Petrelli. Perhaps not as strong a start as last year, and certainly not quite the suspense and mystery now that we know the score, but entertaining nonetheless.