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Outlander Blends Time Travel, Romance, And Men In Kilts: This Week’s Sci-Fi TV

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OutlanderFans have been eagerly awaiting Ronald D. Moore’s return to television for years now. Regardless of how you felt about the show’s ending, there’s no question that Moore and company accomplished something amazing with the Battlestar Galactica reboot, proving once again that there is an audience out there for smart, complex science fiction drama…if only the powers that be will actually greenlight it (and not put it on Fox). But of all the shows Moore could have chosen for his return to the small screen, I never would have guessed he would pick a time-traveling romance series about a World War I nurse dropped into 18th century Scotland. Yet here comes Outlander.

Based on author Diana Gabaldon’s best-selling book series, Outlander is the tale of Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), who passes out near some mysterious standing stones, only to awaken, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court-style, two centuries earlier in “an unknown world where her freedom and very life are at risk.” Soon she finds her loyalty to her 20th-century husband strained when she’s force to marry a strapping Scottish warrior named Jamie Fraser (Sam Heughan). Even if Claire can find a way back to her native time, will she still want to return when that would mean giving up the hot dude in the kilt? Time will tell.

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God Help Us, Sharknado 2 Is Upon Us: This Week’s Sci-Fi Television

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Sharknado2Remember how Sharknado was a thing last year? It was perhaps the most high-profile yet of Syfy’s abundant array of cheesy original movies such as Stonados and Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark. That classic piece of cinema starred Beverly Hills 90210 (the first one) alum Ian Ziering and Tara Reid as…well, let’s face it, their characters really aren’t important. It’s basically just Ian Ziering and Tara Reid fighting a tornado full of sharks. If you think that sounds preposterous, then Sharknado probably isn’t for you.

And sure, Syfy has been getting a lot of good press lately — from us, among others — for seemingly turning over a new leaf and greenlighting exciting sci-fi projects such as Ascension and The Expanse. But the Powers That Be clearly don’t want you Sharknado fans out there to think you’re being abandoned. No, dear friends, Syfy still has something for lovers of one dangerous thing being mashed up with another, unrelated dangerous thing. For proof, you need look no further than this week’s Sharknado 2: The Second One, which premieres on Syfy this Wednesday night at 9/8c. Once again, Ziering and Reid are teaming up to save the world from projectile sharks being flung about by high winds, but this time they’re trying to protect New York City instead of L.A. So it’s totally different.

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Manhattan Finds The Drama In Creating The Atomic Bomb: This Week’s Sci-Fi Television

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ManhattanThe gradual but steady advancement of the scientific method doesn’t always lend itself to the fast-paced needs of a TV show, but when the science in question is the development of the atomic bomb, that’ll tend to add a certain level of drama to the proceedings. At least in theory; this Sunday we’ll get the chance to see if that idea holds true for WGN’s Manhattan — as in “The Manhattan Project.” Created and written by Sam Shaw (Showtime’s Masters of Sex), Manhattan “enters the world of deception, danger and sacrifices that characterized one of the best-kept secrets of all time: the mission to build the world’s first atomic bomb.” The pilot was directed by Emmy Award winner Thomas Schlamme (The West Wing).

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Lifetime’s The Lottery Channels Children Of Men: This Week’s Sci-Fi Television

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Lifetime isn’t a network that pops up here on GFR very often. Unless we’re making fun of it, and even that’s a rare event: it’s just not a place that has traditionally trafficked in science fiction. That’s changing this week thanks to a new series called The Lottery. There’s no relation to the Shirley Jackson short story you probably read in junior high. Instead it’s a dramatic thriller in the vein of Children of Men, exploring a world where women have mysteriously lost the ability to bear children. When a scientist manages to fertilize 100 embryos, the U.S. government seizes them and decides to implement a lottery to decide which women will get the honor of bearing the children that could help save the world.

The Lifetime comes by those Children of Men comparisons honestly. The series was created and written by Timothy J. Sexton, one of several credited writers on Alfonso Cuarón’s dystopian classic. It’ll be interesting to see how he approaches such similar material in The Lottery, and Children of Men certainly set a high bar. If nothing else, The Lottery is the closest I’ve ever come to wanting to watch something on Lifetime, so that’s an accomplishment in and of itself.

The Lottery premieres this Sunday, July 20 at 10/9c on Lifetime.

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Under The Dome Returns For Season Two: This Week’s Sci-Fi TV

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DomeI wasn’t one of the folks who stuck with CBS’ Under the Dome last summer, as it shaved off my limited interest pretty quickly. Just for the sake of being informed, however, I sat back down and powered all the way through the first season a few weeks ago, so I can now honestly say: well, that was a mess. Just how much of a mess is doubly frustrating since that first season was under the guidance of Brian K. Vaughan, the otherwise brilliant comics writer behind Ex Machina, Y: The Last Man, and Saga. Frankly, I expected better from a show he was heading, and now this season he’s left to do other things. So the chances I’ll make it all the way through season 2 probably aren’t very good. Unless I get stuck under a mysterious dome and have nothing better to do. At any rate, Under the Dome returns tonight on CBS, so tune in and see what those pink stars are all about. (I’m presuming future seasons will address the question of green clovers, purple horseshoes, and and blue diamonds.)

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Defiance & Falling Skies Return: This Week’s Sci-Fi Television

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DefianceOrphan Black wraps up its second season on BBC America this week, and Continuum is in the final stretch of its third on Syfy. We need some more science fiction TV to entertain us during the brutal summer heat, when it’s too hot to go outside without one of those reflective suits from Sunshine. Thankfully both Defiance and Falling Skies are kicking off their new seasons this week

Defiance returns to Syfy this Thursday night, June 19. I’ve been rewatching the first season in preparation and I’m enjoying the show a lot more than I did initially. I still think it’s got potential it hasn’t reached yet, so hopefully season two is where it will really hit its stride. The show will also be growing its cast this year, adding several newcomers including Terminator icon Linda Hamilton, who will be guest starring as Pilar McCawley, the ex-wife of Rafe (Graham Greene). Showrunner Kevin Murphy said Pilar “will simultaneously make you cry and scare the crap out of you.” If you didn’t check Defiance out last year, it’s available for streaming exclusively on Amazon Prime. Here’s the official synopsis for Defiance season 2: