Fall forward

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

This fall, true originals on your TV screen will be hard to come by, as many new series are remakes or they're borrowing heavily from shows already vetted by audiences. Regardless, we found a handful of upcoming premieres to get excited about. We've also rated the rest of the bunch, lining them up from the most intriguing to the most insulting.

"True Blood"

Premieres Sept. 7, HBO

Alan Ball's old show, Six Feet Under, took on mortality; it's only natural that he would tackle immortality this time out. Living forever isn't even among the ripest topics for exploration in True Blood, based on the novels of Charlaine Harris. The series is set in a world where vampires have "come out of the coffin" and are seeking integration into human society now that they can quench their bloodthirst with a synthetic substitute. At the story's center is telepathic roadhouse waitress Sookie (Anna Paquin), whose romantic entanglement with a fanged one (Stephen Moyer) puts a whole new spin on interracial dating.


Premieres Sept. 9, Fox

Fringe has been done before (see: The X-Files, The Twilight Zone, etc.), but castaway stories had been done before J.J. Abrams took a crack and ended up with Lost. The super-producer's venture into the paranormal teams ace FBI agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) with a kooky old scientist (John Noble) and his skeptic son (Joshua Jackson). The trio's chemistry is supposedly off the charts, and Abrams promises viewers will be able to jump in on a week-by-week basis without following the overarching mythology. (And you know an X-Files knockoff from the creator of Lost is going to have an overarching mythology!) Plus, any show featuring The Wire's Lance Reddick is worth checking out.

"The Life & Times of Tim"

Premieres Sept. 28, HBO

A hapless, skinny, deadpan-funny twentysomething with the look of an accomplished doodle, animator Steve Dildarian's Tim is a guy who can just end up in his living room one morning with an angry unpaid hooker and no clue how they both got there, then use the opportunity to give her some thoughtful career advice. Introduced in the most recent installment of The Animation Show, he and his super-tolerant girlfriend now have their own HBO series, which follows Tim through assorted misadventures at home, at work and on the streets of New York.

"My Own Worst Enemy"

Premieres Sept. 29, NBC

Henry is a suburban dad with a loving family, an office job and a weekend wardrobe of pastels and chinos. Edward favors black and makes his living as a secret operative who's multilingual and trained to kill. Both are portrayed by Christian Slater and, unbeknownst to each other, both exist in the same body, forming what's this fall's most fascinating yet ridiculous series premise. Credit - or blame, depending on how it pans out - goes to creator Jason Smilovic, who's angling to break out of the single-season rut of previous efforts Kidnapped and Bionic Woman.

"SNL Thursday Night Live"

Premieres Oct. 16, NBC

According to Entertainment Weekly, more Americans now turn to Saturday Night Live for their political information than any other source. (Suck it, Stewart!) To capitalize on that cultural currency, SNL is rolling out three half-hour installments on Thursday nights during the stretch run of election season. The miniseries looks to expand on the successful "Weekend Update" formula, which is great news for anyone who wishes SNL would cut some dead-weight sketches each week in favor of more fake news. Now if they would only bring Norm Macdonald back for a guest spot ...


Premieres Oct. 17, Starz

What kind of fall TV preview would this be without a mention of the series that promises Dennis Hopper with pants open, in conversation with his crotch? Playing a record producer whose drug use has him see-sawing between reason and violent racism, Hopper leads the ensemble of cops, immigrants and rich folk in this series very loosely based on Paul Haggis' Oscar-winning film of the same name. It's the first scripted drama from Starz, by a creative team with credits that include The Sopranos, Deadwood and The Shield, and part of an aggressive effort by the channel to build its subscription base.