By Susan JAMES
Taking advantage of 130,000 enthusiastic Comic-Con fans packed into San Diego’s Convention Center, Hollywood studios sent producers and casts of their best and brightest upcoming TV shows to screen pilots, answer questions and drum up support for their fall premieres. Two themes predominated: hardy band of warriors fight end of the world dystopia and quirky, out-of-the-box consultant helps law enforcement solve crimes. Heard those before? You’ll be hearing them a lot more come autumn.
On the hardy band side, J.J. Abrams’ “Revolution” premiering on NBC creates a world that has lost electricity and produced a landscape that looks like “Planet of the Apes” without the humans in primate suits. Lashings of “Lost” seem to have been stirred into the mix. Actors Billy Burke and the always riveting Giancarlo Esposito lead the charge as humans struggling to survive.
Also among the hardy band corps, the Fox poster promoting its new show “Last Resort,” starring Andre Braugher, flirted with fans without actually fielding a panel. “Last Resort” tells the story of a crew of a U.S. nuclear submarine that goes renegade when they refuse an order to use their nuclear weapons to begin World War III. Fired on themselves, they escape and, taking their WMD with them, find refuge on a tropical island. Can they get home? Will home still be there when they arrive? Will “Lost” have been miraculously renewed? Tune in this fall.
Even more popular with studios this season are shows featuring quirky consultants partnering with the law. “Monk” has a lot to answer for or maybe we should take it back to Sherlock Holmes, which is what ABC has done with its new show, “Elementary.” Jonny Lee Miller plays a modern Sherlock Holmes, a recovering drug addict who helps New York City police solve puzzles in crime. Accompanying him is Lucy Liu’s Dr. Joan Watson, guilt-ridden former surgeon and sobriety coach. The pilot looks promising but nowhere nearly as riveting as Stephen Moffitt’s modern BBC take on Sherlock starring the brilliant Benedict Cumberbatch. Is television big enough for two Sherlocks? “Elementary” will have to take it up a notch to be sure.
Quirky crime-solver/superhero is the beat for both of the CW’s new shows, “Beauty and the Beast” and “Arrow.” B&B stars Kristin Kreuk, formerly of “Smallville,” as beauty Catherine Chandler and “Terra Nova” refugee Jay Ryan as the not-so-beastly Vincent. A former doctor turned army experiment gone badly wrong, Vincent prowls The City, keeping an eye on Catherine and helping bring bad guys to justice. He also has super strength, agility and complete command over weaponry. The pilot has potential with the leads demonstrating an exciting chemistry that will be up to writers Sherri Cooper and Jennifer Levin to harness.
The debuting “Arrow” follows in the footsteps of other Marvel Comics when a vastly rich playboy hits a bump in life’s road and morphs into a secret superhero. Spectacularly spoiled Oliver Queen, played by the appealing Stephen Amell, is shipwrecked on an island for five years and returns to The City as an arrow thwanging vigilante who keeps an eye on former girlfriend Laurel Lance, played by Katie Cassidy, and helps bring bad guys to justice. Like B&B, “Arrow” has potential although it remains to be seen how just how many Marvel heroes with nearly identical back-stories fans will embrace.
If you’re into Sherlock or engaged by the end of the world, or have a Superman cloak in your closet, the upcoming television season has something just for you.