06 September 2012

13 SF/F TV Shows

It's a good time to be a fan of paranormal, fantasy and SF TV! Or a bad time, depending on how much you appreciate being glued to the tube. Back in the days before the ubiquitous 3000 channels of cable, you were lucky to get two or three stations clearly. Options were limited. Now, television watching is splintered into many channels, many methods, many preferences. You can watch it live on the aforementioned 3000 channels; you can tape it and watch later; you can stream it online; you can Hulu it; you can Netflix it; and so on and so forth.

What this means for fans of speculative stories -- like we all are here at Beyond the Veil! -- is that you actually have choices! Just ten years ago, I'd make lists of the (US-aring) shows that included speculative (SF/F/paranormal) content in a newsletter I used to edit. I could actually come up with a relatively complete list every year, with measurements of that show's sf/f and romantic content. Today, my own arsenal of shows on my TiVo plus ten minutes of web surfing provided me a list of names probably four times as long as what I used to report on...and it was just the tip of the iceberg.

So I thought, since today is Thursday, I'd list thirteen shows with a brief explanation of their premise and then a relatively neutral measurement (1-10) of their sf/f content and their romance content.

1) Lost Girl: The world is inhabited by a race of Fae who feed on or otherwise utilize humans while not letting humans know the Fae exist. Light Fae don't kill humans; Dark Fae are happy to kill anyone. Heroine Bo is an unaligned succubus torn between Light and Dark. SF/F content: 8. Very urban fantasy-style worldbuilding with Fae powers usually being crucial to each episode. The world of the Fae is the main world explored. ROMANCE content: 8. Bo as a succubus has a lot of sex and there are a number of romances on the show, both with Bo and her Fae or human friends. The romance is always there, simmering.

2) Warehouse 13: A secret branch of the government collects supernatural "artifacts" and stores them in a hidden warehouse to keep them from ruining the world and stuff. Main characters are the warehouse agents and others involved in the operation. SF/F content: 7. Steampunky/science fantasy. The agents are sent after various artifacts each week that could usually destroy the world if not controlled. ROMANCE content: 4. Not the main focus of the show, although the plots do sometimes touch on romancey relationships.

3) Alphas: Superpowered humans live amongst us, and a secret group involved with the government is trying to keep a lid on the ones who are destructive. SF/F content: 6. While the alphas' abilities get used every week, there is a huge dollop of human drama and interaction as well. ROMANCE content: 5-7. Some of the characters have romances, and judging by Season 2, which just started, these threads may become more influential. Season 1, I'd have said the romance was more like a 3-4 influence on the show.

4) Haven: A spooky Maine town (are there other kinds?) is inhabited by people with dire abilities and/or curses (the troubles), usually not in control of them; the police, who have abilities/curses of their own, realize that it's getting worse. SF/F content: 5. This show is mythology-heavy, with the characters' and towns' backstories influencing many episodes, and the backstories are troubles-laden. ROMANCE content: 7. The first two seasons, the characters dabbled in romances, but a swing at at the end of the last season showed that romance may be taking center-stage in the new season.

5) Being Human: Paranormal roomies live together and try to pass as human, or at least not kill people. SF/F content: 8. Like Lost Girl, this show has an urban fantasy vibe, but darker and angstier. The characters' non-humanness and other nonhumans frequently influence episode structure. ROMANCE content: 8. Finding love can be hard when you are tempted to eat people. This doesn't feel like the kind of show that will have a lot of HEA love stories, though!

6) Supernatural: 2 extremely good-looking demon-hunting brothers repeatedly go to Hell and back as they strive to save the world and each other. SF/F content: 7. Human foibles and personalities are not given short shrift, although the Winchesters do spend a majority of their time fighting supernatural evil, each other, etc. ROMANCE content: 5. The important relationships in the show are more familial, although legions of fangirls squee (with good reason) anytime the brothers engage in romantic escapades. Note: I haven't watched the show since Season 4 and may be off on this proportion.

7) Grimm: In a world where paranormals try to exist in secret amonst humans (anyone sense a theme yet??), special "Grimms" can see who's paranormal and have made it their purpose in life to take them out...until our hero, a Grimm, comes along. SF/F content: 7. Our hero confronts various realities of this hidden paranormal world in every episode as well as his heritage, which comes with a healthy dose of mythology and bigger story arcs. ROMANCE content: 4. Hero begins the show in a healthy relationship for the most part, but that relationship is tested by his secret knowledge.

8) True Blood: In a world where paranormals have started outing themselves to humans, a batch of characters in Louisiana continually find themselves in the middle of blood, sex and chaos. SF/F content: 9. This show, based on the Charlaine Harris books, is about what it's like to exist as a supernatural with a few humans thrown in for balance. ROMANCE content: 10. That's sort of what the show revolves around. Sookie's nookie. That and vampires biting people.

9) Game of Thrones: Fantasy-medieval setting and large cast of characters, all striving to coexist, or rule, the smallish kingdom where the majority of the cast lives or wants to live. SF/F content: 4. Much of the setting is medieval/historical, but more threads of the supernatural have begun filtering in. ROMANCE content: 4. While people, mostly females, get naked constantly on the show, all the romances feel doomed, and the main emphasis seems to be on the political struggles, with sexxoring mixed in to screw, haha, stuff up.

10) The Walking Dead: Post-zombie apocalyptic world where the survivors have to avoid or kill the zombies and keep from killing each other as well. SF/F content: 4. I gather the zombies are the only supernatural element. ROMANCE content: unknown. I don't watch the show, but I haven't heard that the romance is a draw.

11) Falling Skies: Post-alien apocalyptic world where the survivors have to avoid or kill aliens and keep from killing each other as well! SF/F content: 5. The fact that aliens took over Earth and kidnapped and harnessed kids and continue to kill humans has a huge influence on the plots, although the other aspects are more survivalist. ROMANCE content: 3. The relationships and human dramas do not revolve around romances, although there are romantic aspects I wouldn't want to spoil.

12) Doctor Who: Time-traveling beings who can reincarnate as different actors as needed take on human companions in their quest to protect the timeline and Earth and stuff. SF/F content: 8. ROMANCE content: 4. I do not watch Doctor Who, so if you want to fill in these blanks, please do!

13) Vampire Diaries: Angsty teens, old vampires who look like teens and other supernaturals mix it up in a small town, complete with lots of mythology arcs. SF/F content: 7. ROMANCE content: 8. I do not watch Vampire Diaries, so if you want to fill in these blanks, please do!

Arrow - new
666 Park Avenue - new
Beauty and the Beast - new
Defiance - new
Revolution - new

So what glues you to the tube? Anything? Nothing? Want to do a brief rundown on any shows I missed?

Jody Wallace
When is an alpha not an alph-ass?
Pack and Coven: http://www.jodywallace.com
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