As the regular season ends, its almost time again for the summer science fiction series to return to tv. Some of my favorite new shows of last year were summer fill-ins, that represent a new tradition of shows that are as good, and in some ways even surpassed their regular season counterparts.
The tradition of replacing our regular season tv shows with short lived ten-episode long summer series is a time honored tradition on television, one that is comparable to substituting second string players in an athletic competition late in the game, but last summer something unusual happened, the summer series replacing the regular season shows were actually as good, and in some cases surpassed in quality the shows they were intended to merely fill in for, and became fan favorites based on the virtues of the quality entertainment they turned out to be.
As I have said before, this limited series format may be a good solution for the unpleasant surprise of shows that are suddenly cancelled because of nervous networks prematurely pulling the plug on shows based on a questionable ratings system. Because it offers an opportunity for the show’s creators to have a plan in place to wrap things up abruptly should the need arise, instead of having an unrealistic approach of their series lasting forever.
Last summer’s bumper crop of freshman series, specifically, three shows: Dark Matter, Killjoys (Syfy), and Mr Robot (USA) all got a strong response from fans of genre tv, and made a name for themselves as top quality genre series that became quickly established as shows whose episodes were eagerly looked forward to though the duration of their brief existences. As we once again find ourselves faced with the end of the season period for our regular season favorites like Gotham (Fox), Marvel’s Agents Of Shield (ABC), Arrow, The Flash (CW), and others, this time around, we are faced with a different prospect to pass the summer months that begins with the promise of June when most of the summer series begin.
Instead of having to settle for weaker series to fill in the gap for the summer months there’s a crop of shows to enthusiastically look forward to seeing again. We each have our favorites, but there’s no denying these shows are as good, or maybe better in some ways than the shows they are intended to stand in for as substitutes. Not only are they different, they represent a refreshing change and a sort of palate cleanser, that even though we may not realize it, is sometimes needed. This represents a new tradition of summer shows not just being a stopgap measure to fill in the off season time slots, but shows that represent a whole new season that stands on its own as quality entertainment. This is a big win for fans of genre tv.
The three shows all left off leaving us to ponder where the story will take us next. In the case of Dark Matter it was a cliff hanger as the crew was hauled off to the space jail after being betrayed by #6. Or were they? Things are not always as they appear to be, and this show may have some surprises in store when season 2 begins in June.
Likewise, in the finale of Mr Robot, we are left to wonder what is the aftermath resulting from Elliot’s and Fsociety’s hack of Ecorp, and what does the future hold for Elliot and the other characters that populate the show? In ten brief episodes, this series quickly established itself as one of the hottest shows on tv, and like a lot of fans, I am eager for the story to continue.
Even though, for me, Killjoys, while I did find the premise promising and appealing, was not as engaging or interesting for me, as the other shows mentioned here. Even so, based on a lot of comments I have seen, it did establish itself as quite popular with a certain group of genre fans.
I may be a little premature in my look at this summer’s shows, but it represents my enthusiasm for this genre that I admittedly obsess on, care about, and love.