Guide to the New Sci Fi and Fantasy Show Pickups from the Upfronts

By | May 18, 2018

In place of my usual This Week in Sci Fi TV column, I am doing a rundown of the new sci fi and fantasy shows announced during the upfronts. But be sure to check back here each Friday for a roundup of the week’s sci fi TV news.

The Upfronts have passed and we now know the Fall schedule for the broadcast networks (you can get a preliminary look at this link) including the new shows that have been picked up for the upcoming season. And in addition, several of the cable and streaming services have announced new shows over the past week as well. Here is the rundown of all of those with trailers (where available) and my commentaries. Let us know which of these you plan on watching once the new season kicks off in the comments section below.

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10 After Midnight (Netflix, 2019 Start): In this new genre-defining anthology series, acclaimed Academy Award-winning filmmaker Guillermo del Toro will present a collection of personally curated stories, that are both equally sophisticated and horrific. In addition, he will hand pick a team of the genre’s best writers and exciting new filmmakers to bring his selection of stories to life.

Starring: TBD

Johnny Jay Says: Netflix is teaming with Guillermo del Toro on a horror anthology? Nothing but good can come from that, so sign me up!

Charmed (CW, Sundays 9 PM EST): “Stronger together.” That’s what Marisol tells her daughters, firebrand social justice warrior Melanie “Mel” Vera, and her sister, fun-loving Maggie, about their family. Mel is a graduate student in the women’s studies department her mother heads at Hilltowne University; Maggie is a freshman considering rushing a sorority (to Mel’s amused dismay) and going “on” again with her on-again off-again boyfriend Brian. But then, a shocking tragedy shatters their world and threatens their sibling bond: Marisol dies in a horrifying accident. Or was it? Three months later, we find Mel unable to accept the official explanation of their mother’s death, while Maggie accuses her of being morbidly obsessed. And then, another huge shock shows up at their front door: they have an older sister, brilliant geneticist Macy, whom their mother kept a secret all these years! Macy is new in town and doesn’t know a soul (except for Galvin, the cute fellow scientist who’s been showing her around). Macy is eager to connect with Mel and Maggie, but Mel can’t handle another shock, and shuts her out. With the emotions of all three sisters running high, each of the girls suddenly exhibit impossible new abilities: Mel can freeze time, Maggie starts hearing others’ thoughts, and Macy has telekinetic powers. But don’t worry, there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation…or so says Harry Greenwood (who as far as they know is the officious new chair of the women’s studies department), when he gathers the three sisters together to reveal they’re actually powerful witches, as was their mother. And he’s not really a professor, he’s their “Whitelighter,” a witch’s advisor and guide! Not only that, but Mel was right: their mother’s death was no accident – she was murdered by unknown dark forces. It’s a lot to take in, but ultimately the sisters accept their new destiny as The Charmed Ones…and their new duty to protect humankind from the demons that walk among us…one of whom killed their mother. With the Power of Three, they are stronger together… even if they have no idea what they’re really up against.

Starring: Melonie Diaz, Sarah Jeffery, Madeleine Mantock, Rupert Evans, Ser’Darius Blaine, Charlie Gillespie

Johnny Jay Says: I was never a big fan of the original series, and from what I have seen from the reboot it doesn’t interest me too much either. But I still believe this one has a decent chance of finding an audience on the younger skewing CW.

Cosmos: Possible Worlds (FOX, Mid-Season Start) — Co-created by the legendary astronomer Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan in 1980, COSMOS has transported a global audience to the farthest reaches and most deeply hidden recesses of the universe. In the course of those journeys, the series has examined the real stories of the forgotten searchers who helped us understand our place in the universe. Following the wildly successful second season, COSMOS: A SPACETIME ODYSSEY, seen by more than 135 million people worldwide on National Geographic and FOX, and the most-watched series ever on National Geographic Channels internationally, the new season, COSMOS: POSSIBLE WORLDS, will premiere in the U.S. on both FOX and National Geographic and globally on National Geographic in 180 countries and 43 languages. Continuing the legacy of its predecessors, COSMOS: POSSIBLE WORLDS will translate the revelations of science into a lavishly transporting experience, taking audiences on a series of spiritual voyages of exploration. We are living in the golden age of discovery of new worlds to explore and possibly inhabit. In the vastness of time and the immensity of space, their number and the stories they contain are virtually infinite. The new season will reveal previously uncharted realms, including lost worlds and worlds to come, and those that we may one day inhabit in a thrilling future we can still have.

Host: Neil deGrasse Tyson

Johnny Jay Says: I enjoyed the first revisit to Carl Sagan’s classic series and this looks like it will continue very much in that vein.

God Friended Me (CBS, Sundays 9 PM EST): This show stars Brandon Micheal Hall in a humorous, uplifting drama about Miles Finer, an outspoken atheist whose life is turned upside down when he receives a friend request on social media from God and unwittingly becomes an agent of change in the lives and destinies of others around him. After repeated pokes by God, Miles’ curiosity takes over, and he accepts the ultimate friend request and follows the signs to Cara Bloom, an online journalist. Brought together by the “God Account,” the two find themselves investigating God’s friend suggestions and inadvertently helping others in need. Miles is set on getting to the bottom of what he believes is an elaborate hoax, but in the meantime he’ll play along and, in the process, change his life forever.

Starring: Brandon Micheal Hall, Violett Beane, Suraj Sharma, Javicia Leslie, Joe Morton

Johnny Jay Says: News flash, CBS: Kevin (Probably) Saves the World bombed last season. It does not appear that today’s audiences are interested in an updating of Touched by an Angel. Could you please just find a decent show for Joe Morton to take the lead in? That I will tune in for.

Doom Patrol (DC Universe, 2019 Start): is a re-imagining of one of DC’s most beloved group of outcast superheroes: Robotman, Negative Man, Elasti-Girl and Crazy Jane, led by modern-day mad scientist Dr. Niles Caulder (The Chief). The Doom Patrol’s members each suffered horrible accidents that gave them superhuman abilities, but also left them scarred and disfigured. Traumatized and downtrodden, the team found purpose through The Chief, who brought them together to investigate the weirdest phenomena in existence — and to protect Earth from what they find,” the description continues. “Part support group, part superhero team, the Doom Patrol is a band of super-powered freaks who fight for a world that wants nothing to do with them. Doom Patrol will find these reluctant heroes in a place they never expected to be, called to action by none other than Cyborg, who comes to them with a mission hard to refuse, but with a warning that is hard to ignore: their lives will never, ever be the same.

Starring: TBD

Johnny Jay Says: Though I can’t tell you I was a regular follower of Doom Patrol’s adventures in comics, I did read the series from time to time and I did enjoy them (consider it DC’s answer to The X-Men in the 60’s). This should be a good companion piece to the upcoming Titans show that it will be tied to, and the DC Universe streaming channel is shaping up nicely with these shows on the way along with the return of Young Justice as well as animated Swamp Thing and Harley Quinn series.

The Inbetween (NBC, Mid-Season Start) — Cassie Bishop was born with a gift, though she may call it a curse. She can see and communicate with the dead, helping them with their unresolved problems … whether she likes it or not. When her longtime friend Det. Tom Hackett and his new partner, former FBI Agent Damien Asante, need help solving a darkly puzzling murder, Cassie agrees to use her abilities. Despite her reluctance, she may have found a way to keep her demons at bay, all while solving some of the city’s most challenging cases.

Starring: Harriet Dyer, Anne-Marie Johnson, Cindy Luna, Chad James Buchanan, Paul Blackthorne

Johnny Jay Says: Yet another show about a person who can contact the dead and uses that information to solve crimes? Has this premise not been done to death (pun unintended but accepted)? If you are bringing back Pushing Daisies, count me in. Otherwise I will pass on this worn-out speak-to-the-dead type shows.

Legacies (CW, Thursdays 9 PM EST): For the last decade, the iconic heroes and villains of The Vampire Diaries and The Originals have captivated audiences worldwide. They left an enduring legacy of love and family in their wake, which continues in LEGACIES, a thrilling new drama that tells the story of the next generation of supernatural beings at The Salvatore School for the Young and Gifted. It’s here that Klaus Mikaelson’s daughter, 17-year-old Hope Mikaelson; Alaric Saltzman’s twins, Lizzie and Josie Saltzman; and other young adults — including political scion MG and the mysterious Landon Kirby — come of age in the most unconventional way possible, nurtured to be their best selves…in spite of their worst impulses. Will these young witches, vampires and werewolves become the heroes they want to be — or the villains they were born to be? As they fight to protect their secret, their town of Mystic Falls and eventually the world, they will have to rely on ancient folklore and tales to learn how to battle their far-reaching enemies.

Starring: Danielle Rose Russell, Jenny Boyd, Kaylee Bryant, Quincy Fouse, Aria Shaghasemi

Johnny Jay Says: I was not a big fan of Vampire Diaries, though I did enjoy The Originals for a few seasons. I may tune in for this one, but if it delivers high school drama with supernatural elements in the background I’ll be tuning back out pretty quickly.

Light as a Feather (Hulu, Likely 2019 Start): Based on Zoe Aarsen’s story “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board,” which was originally published on Wattpad, the streaming version will highlight a slumber party gone wrong, as five girls begin dying off in the exact way the game predicts.

Starring: TBD

Johnny Jay Says: I can’t say that the premise excites me too much, but I usually check out the genre entries on the streaming services because they have been putting out some decent shows of late.

Manifest (NBC, Mondays 10 PM EST): When Montego Air Flight 828 landed safely after a turbulent but routine flight, the crew and passengers were relieved. Yet in the span of those few hours, the world had aged five years and their friends, families and colleagues, after mourning their loss, had given up hope and moved on. Now, faced with the impossible, they’re all given a second chance. But as their new realities become clear, a deeper mystery unfolds and some of the returned passengers soon realize they may be meant for something greater than they ever thought possible. From Robert Zemeckis and Jack Rapke comes an emotionally rich, unexpected journey into a world grounded in hope, heart and destiny.

Starring: Melissa Roxburgh, Josh Dallas, Athena Karkanis, J.R. Ramirez, Luna Blaise

Johnny Jay Says: Just call this one Reverse-Lost, or perhaps Found. It definitely sounds like it will draw heavily on the mystery-upon-mystery story-telling made so popular with Lost, but can it add anything new to that well-worn format? I’ll check it out, but will be bailing quickly if it heads into the same murkiness of previous clones like FlashFoward or The Event.

Nightflyers (Syfy, Fall Start): This series follows eight maverick scientists and a powerful telepath who embark on an expedition to the edge of our solar system aboard The Nightflyer – a ship with a small tightknit crew and a reclusive captain — in the hope of making contact with alien life. But when terrifying and violent events begin to take place they start to question each other — and surviving the journey proves harder than anyone thought.

Starring: Gretchen Mol, Eoin Macken, David Ajala, Sam Strike, Maya Eshet

Johnny Jay Says: Sure sounds interesting, coming from a George R.R. Martin story, and the teaser looks pretty good. But who wants to invest their energies in a Syfy show anymore seeing as they fail to support their own product?

The Passage (FOX, Mid-Season Start): Based on author Justin Cronin’s best-selling trilogy of the same name, THE PASSAGE is an epic, character-driven thriller written by Liz Heldens. Executive-produced by Emmy Award winner and Academy Award and Golden Globe nominee Ridley Scott and writer/director Matt Reeves, THE PASSAGE focuses on Project Noah, a secret medical facility where scientists are experimenting with a dangerous virus that could lead to the cure for all disease, but also carries the potential to wipe out the human race. When a young girl, AMY BELLAFONTE is chosen to be a test subject, Federal Agent BRAD WOLGAST is the man who is tasked with bringing her to Project Noah. Ultimately, however, Wolgast becomes her surrogate father, as he tries to protect her at any cost. Brad and Amy’s journey will force them to confront Project Noah’s lead scientist, MAJOR NICHOLE SYKES, and the hardened ex-CIA operative in charge of operations, CLARK RICHARDS, whom Brad trained. It likewise brings them face-to-face with a dangerous new race of beings confined within the walls of Project Noah, including former scientist TIM FANNING and death-row inmate SHAUNA BABCOCK. In seeking out any allies he can find, Brad also turns to his former wife, DR. LILA KYLE, for help. But as Project Noah’s scientists hone in on a cure that could save humanity, these new beings begin to test their own powers, inching one step closer to an escape that could lead to an unimaginable apocalypse.

Starring: Saniyya Sidney, Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Brianne Howey, Vincent Piazza

Johnny Jay Says: I’ve not read the books, but this pre-vampire-pocalypse tale sounds interesting enough that I will give it a look.

Pennyworth (Epix, Likely 2019 Start): This series follows Bruce Wayne’s legendary butler, Alfred Pennyworth, a former British SAS soldier who forms a security company and goes to work with Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s billionaire father, in 1960’s London.

Starring: TBD

Johnny Jay Says: This show comes from Gotham alums Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon, but it is not a prequel to Gotham (which was already a prequel) even though that series set up the idea the Alfred was once a secret agent (if that was ever retro-fitted in the comics, it was long after I stopped reading the Batman titles). This one really seems like a stretch, and I can’t see how much connection it would have to the DC Universe. I have very little interest in trying to track this down on its obscure cable channel.

Roswell, New Mexico (CW, Mid-Season Start): More than maybe anywhere else on Earth, Roswell, New Mexico is ground zero for those who seek proof that aliens exist. Roswell native Liz Ortecho left it all behind 10 years ago, after the death of her beloved older sister, Rosa. But with her father ailing, she reluctantly returns to her tourist-trap hometown to move back in with him. When Liz arrives, she reconnects with Max Evans, her teenage crush who is now a Roswell police officer. Their chemistry is instantly electric. But Liz soon discovers a shocking truth: Max is an alien who has kept his unearthly abilities hidden his entire life, along with those of his otherworldly siblings, Isobel and Michael. As the two grow closer after a decade apart, Liz finds it difficult to keep the truth from her best friend, Maria De Luca, and her trusting high school ex, Dr. Kyle Valenti. Also hiding their extraterrestrial origins are Isobel and Michael, with Isobel not even revealing the truth to her husband, Noah, and Michael keeping his identity hidden beneath a bad-boy exterior of hard living and casual hookups. Meanwhile, a long-standing government conspiracy spearheaded by Master Sgt. Jesse Manes, along with the politics of fear and hatred that run rampant in Roswell, threatens to expose Max and his family, and could endanger his deepening romance with Liz…as well as their lives.

Starring: Jeanine Mason, Nathan Parsons, Michael Trevino, Lily Cowles, Michael Vlamis, Tyler Blackburn

Johnny Jay Says: I didn’t follow the original series, but may check this out because it looks like it has moved beyond the teen drama format.

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