Yesterday was officially the first day of fall, and here in GFR land that means one thing: new science fiction series seeking eyeballs, and returning shows hoping to hang on to the ones they already attracted. NBC’s Revolution falls into the latter category, returning for a second season after a freshman year that struggled to find its footing until around the halfway point. Once the show ceased to be a road trip in search of an incredibly annoying and unlikable character, it turned the focus on explaining the mystery of the blackout (which they did) and showcasing the broader scope of the world 15 years after everything electrical on the planet simply stopped working. It left off with an explosive cliffhanger — literally — and set up a new faction that will surely throw the geopolitical landscape of the Once-United States into even more chaos. Both Rockne S. O’Bannon (Farscape, Defiance) and Ben Edlund (Supernatural, Firefly joined the writing staff this season, so we’re hoping Revolution finally lives up to its potential this year.
And then there’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Normally we here at GFR leave the superhero coverage to our sister site, Cinema Blend, but this one is simply too huge to ignore. Disney and Marvel have shown that you can turn a beloved pantheon of comic characters into a big-screen shared universe worth billions in box office cash. Now they’re extending their experiment by expanding the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the small screen, with Avengers master and all-around geek god Joss Whedon executive producing the series. The not-quite-dead Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) returns to handle the crew of agents, and there’s already talk of other potential Marvel TV spinoffs. If Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a success, there’s no telling how big Marvel’s cinematic empire could grow.
Here’s what’s new This Week in Science Fiction!
“Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King
The words “a sequel to The Shining” are justifiably concerning. It’s the sort of idea you’d expect a room full of Hollywood execs to dream up, assuming they hadn’t already decided to just remake Stanley Kubrick’s classic adaptation of Stephen King’s creepy-as-hell 1977 novel. Instead, this one is a sequel to the original book, not the film. (King kind of hates Kubrick’s movie.) When it’s the original writer returning to his earlier material, I’m more optimistic than I otherwise would be, but it begs the question: can it live up to the legend the book and film have created over the past three and a half decades?
Stephen King returns to the character and territory of one of his most popular novels ever, The Shining, in this instantly riveting novel about the now middle-aged Dan Torrance and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from a tribe of murderous paranormals.
On highways across America, a tribe of people called the True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless — mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, the True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the steam that children with the shining produce when they are slowly tortured to death.
Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel, where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant shining power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”
Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, a gory, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers of The Shining and satisfy anyone new to this icon in the King canon.
Doctor Who: The Complete Seventh Series (Blu-Ray & DVD)
Who’s seventh modern season was a mixed bag. It started out with several self-contained episodes that were pretty forgettable, with the exception of the departure of Amy Pond and Rory in “The Angels Take Manhattan.” Thankfully the show rallied with the annual Christmas episode and the second batch of episodes. Matt Smith is in great form (for those of us who don’t hate him, that is) and new companion Clara Oswin Oswald (Jenna-Louise Coleman) is charming and a wonderful addition to the Doctor’s long history. It all wraps up in a hell of a cliffhanger that won’t be resolved until the 50th anniversary episode set to air on November 23.
Face Off (Syfy, 9/8c) — “Living Art”
The contestants are challenged to create new monsters based on various artistic movements. Plus, Elvira puts in an appearance.
Marvel’s Agents of Shield (ABC, 8/7c) — “Pilot”
The pilot picks up shortly after the Avengers’ epic battle in the heart of New York. The world at large can no longer deny the existence of both superheroes and the otherworldly forces that threaten it. Agent Phil Coulson has hand-picked a small team, and their first mission has them tracking down “an ordinary man who has gained extraordinary powers. Powers that could have devastating consequences.”
Person of Interest (CBS, 10/9c) — “Liberty”
Geek crush alert! Angel/Dollhouse’s Amy Acker is on board in a recurring role as the hacker/contract killer Root. Get plenty of crazy A.I. madness in this all-too-timely series about the ever-crumbling walls of our privacy.
“Liberty” — The Machine, now completely self-governed with its whereabouts unknown, resumes giving Finch its “irrelevant” numbers for people in danger, which include a U.S. naval officer in town for Fleet Week. However, with so many sailors flooding the streets of New York City, finding the officer in time presents an even bigger challenge for Reese and Shaw. Meanwhile, Carter has been demoted to a patrol officer as a result of her being set up by the corrupt police crime organization HR, and sets a plan in motion to eradicate them for good. Also, Root tests the boundaries of her new asylum surroundings.
“Steelheart” by Brandon Sanderson
Summary via Amazon:
Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.
But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his will.
Nobody fights the Epics…nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.
And David wants in. He wants Steelheart — the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David’s father. For years, like the Reckoners, David’s been studying, and planning — and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience.
He’s seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.
“Vicious” by V.E. Schwab
Victor and Eli started out as college roommates — brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.
Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find — aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge — but who will be left alive at the end?
In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.
Guardians of the Galaxy #6 (Marvel Comics)
The blockbuster new series hits hard as Marvel’s newest superstar Angela comes right for the Guardians! Round one is Gamora versus Angela…with an entire universe at stake! All that and comics legend Neil Gaiman joins the award-winning Ultimate Spider-Man team of Bendis and Pichelli in this one-of-a-kind comic book event.
Mass Effect: Foundation #3 (Dark Horse Comics)
This new ongoing series further explores the rich game setting of BioWare’s Mass Effect universe, and may help gamers fiending for another fix get through the long wait until the next game in the series is announced.
The loss of the human colony Eden Prime was the first in a series of catastrophes to mark the return of the Reapers—a race of sentient AI that would threaten all life in the galaxy. Now, in her own words, Gunnery Chief Ashley Williams reveals what she saw.
Revolution (NBC, 8/7c) — “Born in the U.S.A.”
Well, it seems like that whole “turning the lights back on” think didn’t go as everyone hoped. It’ll be interesting to see if the show can rise to the challenge of improving on its uneven first season.
IT’S A NEW WORLD FOR OUR HEROES, EVEN MORE DANGEROUS AND MYSTERIOUS THAN EVER — In last year’s finale, our heroes made the treacherous journey to the Tower and were able to turn on the power, but at what cost? The effects of this move prove to be catastrophic for everyone. Now, Miles (Billy Burke), Aaron (Zak Orth) and Rachel (Elizabeth Mitchell) have found themselves in a mysterious small town, in the great nation of Texas where Rachel unexpectedly encounters an important figure from her past. Charlie (Tracy Spiridakos) finds herself on a mission in the Plains Nation while Neville (Giancarlo Esposito) and Jason (JD Pardo) search a refugee camp for a lost loved one. Meanwhile, Monroe (David Lyons) has discovered a gritty role in his new environment.
Saga #14 (Image Comics)
“Gwendolyn and Slave Girl think about the future.” Well, that’s not much to go on, is it?
Star Trek #25 (IDW Publishing)
Continuing to explore the aftermath of Star Trek Into Darkness, the latest issue of the ongoing comic series focuses on a brewing war between the Klingon and Romulan empires. Given that the series is considered in-canon and is overseen by Trek writer/producer/public relations master Roberto Orci, don’t be surprised if the events here foreshadow whatever the storyline for Trek 3 will be.
Doctor Who: The Doctors Revisited — The Ninth Doctor (BBC America, 8/7c)
This ongoing retrospective series has finally reached the modern incarnations of the time lord with Christopher Eccleston’s Ninth Doctor.