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The Strain Infects Your Free Time This Sunday Night: This Week’s Sci-Fi Television

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The thing I’m most excited about this week is The Strain, FX’s adaptation of Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s vampire horror books. The Strain was actually initially intended as a TV series, but del Toro couldn’t get any takers, so he partnered with Hogan to turn it into a trilogy of novels. Now that series is complete and The Strain has come full circle and del Toro’s got a five-season plan for the new TV series — he certainly doesn’t lack for ambition.

The Strain begins with the mysterious arrival of a passenger plane at JFK International Airport. All the lights are off inside, and the doors are sealed. Fearing a disease outbreak, epidemiologist Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and his team board the plane and find it full of dead bodies…and a handful of survivors. Unfortunately, that’s only the beginning, as an ancient evil is about to return in force.

This Sunday’s pilot episode was written by del Toro and Hogan, and directed by del Toro. In addition to Stoll, the cast also includes Mia Maestro, Sean Astin, and Kevin Durand, and Lost’s Carlton Cuse is aboard as executive producer and showrunner. The Strain premieres Sunday night, July 13 at 10/9c on FX.

MONDAY

Under the Dome (CBS, 10/9c) — “Infestation”

Barbie risks his life to help Rebecca save the Chester’s Mill food supply when she discovers an infestation of butterfly eggs on the town’s crops.

TUESDAY

Inside the Walking Dead (AMC, 10/9c)

A documentary exploring the making of the acclaimed horror drama, featuring behind-the-scenes looks at makeup and special effects.

The Wil Wheaton Project (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Mission to Moscow”
Along with the usual skewering of pop culture news and exhaustive nerdy references, this week former TNG-er Wil will be welcoming motion-capture maestro Andy Serkis to the show.

WEDNESDAY

Extant (CBS, 9/8c) — “Re-Entry”

Astronaut Molly Woods tries to reconnect with her husband, John, and son, Ethan, after returning from a 13-month solo mission in outer space. Molly’s mystifying experiences in space lead to events that will ultimately change the course of human history.

How the Universe Works (Science, 9/8c) — “Sun”

Sunlight is explored in the Season 3 premiere.

Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman (Science, 10/9c) — “Will We Become God?”

Could we become as powerful as God? Scientific breakthroughs grant our species seemingly divine abilities. Scientists are figuring out ways to grow new life, create artificial consciousness, use big data to solve any problem, or even travel at light speed.

THURSDAY

Defiance (Syfy, 8/7c) — “Beasts of Burden”

Nolan is ordered to hunt down and destroy those responsible for a vicious attack in the badlands on a badly shaken Pottinger and his caravan. Tensions flare when Nolan’s investigation turns up evidence implicating one of Rafe’s miners. Meanwhile, Datak sets his vengeful sights on reclaiming control over the family business.

MythBusters (Discovery, 9/8c) — “Fire in the Hole”

The MythBusters tackle some of Hollywood’s favorite explosive scenarios. Could a hero really shoot a live grenade in midair and thus render it useless? Could you really contain a TNT explosion inside an ordinary object like a file cabinet or aquarium?

SUNDAY

Falling Skies (TNT, 10/9c) — “Evolve or Die”

The 2nd Mass finds refuge in a Volm hideout, but tensions rise between humans and the Volm. Meanwhile, Tom teams with Weaver and Cochise in a search for Matt, and Anne reconnects with Lexi.

The Last Ship (TNT, 9/8c) — “We’ll Get There”

Days after a trying series of events at Gitmo, Chandler and his crew are put under extreme duress when the ship’s propulsion system suffers a catastrophic event. With Dr. Scott in danger of losing all her research on the virus and a crew overworked, overtired and desperately low on drinking water, Chandler’s leadership and ingenuity are put to the test.

The Leftovers (HBO, 10/9c) — “Two Boats and a Helicopter”

In the face of dwindling church attendance and threats on his life, Reverend Matt Jamison (Christopher Eccleston) continues to preach his gospel: that many who disappeared in the Departure were sinners and not saints. Matt’s campaign is detoured when he learns he may lose the church to foreclosure, forcing him to launch a desperate, last-minute plan to come up with the cash to keep it.

The Strain (FX, 10/9c) — “Night Zero”

When a plane lands in New York City with everyone on board dead, Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, head of the CDC’s Canary Project, and his team are called upon to investigate. Harlem pawnbroker Abraham Setrakian races to the airport, convinced that what looks at first like a mysterious viral outbreak might be the beginning of something infinitely more sinister.

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