Tube Talk: TV’s supernatural fall season: the dead and the undead

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-119136295623830.jpg’, ‘Photo courtesy of‘, ‘Moonlight debuted Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. on CBS (immediately after Ghost Whisperer).‘);

Not so long ago, The WB was the only place you could find dead (and undead) characters on TV. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel were—and for me, still are—the epitome of supernatural storytelling. Even after The WB and UPN merged into The CW, the trend continued as The WB’s appropriately named Supernatural found a home on The CW.

This fall, The CW is expanding that tradition with Reaper, a comedy-heavy show where the slacker-hero, Sam (Bret Harrison), gets the worst 21st birthday present ever: he learns his parents sold his soul to the devil before he was born. (In their defense, they had a good reason for doing it and were unaware that the devil tricked them into thinking they couldn’t have children.) The devil is perfectly played by Ray Wise, best known as Twin Peaks’ creepy Leland Palmer.

One show I’m really looking forward to is ABC’s Pushing Daisies. At first, it sounds a bit like Showtime’s former series, Dead Like Me, but Pushing Daisies’ twist is that Ned (Lee Pace) brings people back to life with a single touch while a second touch means they’re dead forever. And, in true TV fashion, Ned uses that skill to ask murder victims who killed them. Add in a great supporting cast including Swoosie Kurtz, Chi McBride and Kristin Chenoweth, and what’s not to like?

Even CBS has a supernatural entry this fall, Moonlight. A vampire/detective trying to atone for his sins by doing good and not killing people for food…where have I heard that before? Oh, yeah. Forever Knight, Blood Ties, and the most successful incarnation of the genre, Angel. Angel co-creator David Greenwalt dropped out as Moonlight’s showrunner, which could be good or bad. Good because it might reduce the obvious comparisons with Angel; bad since Greenwalt has a proven track record with shows like Angel, Eureka, Buffy and even The X-Files. Another stumbling block may be that CBS’s older-skewing audience might not be ready for supernatural fare. Still, I’m a sucker for the genre, so I’ll try to give it a fair shake.

Over the summer, you might have noticed ads for a show called New Amsterdam on Fox. It’s about John Amsterdam (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), a New York homicide detective who also happens to be immortal. And for those who didn’t pay attention to early American history, New Amsterdam was the name Dutch settlers originally gave what is now New York. Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait for mid-season to check out New Amsterdam. But with so many new supernatural series launching this fall, waiting until mid-season is probably a smart move on Fox’s part.

There are plenty of supernaturally-themed shows returning this fall, too. Supernatural, of course, returns to CW, Ghost Whisperer will be the lead-in to Moonlight, and Lifetime will debut the second season of Canadian-made Blood Ties in October.

Within a couple of months, I guess we’ll see whether CBS and ABC can do what the CW and its predecessor have always done so well.

Programming notes

The Reaper, 8 p.m., Tuesdays on The CW

Moonlight debuted Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. on CBS (immediately after Ghost Whisperer)

Pushing Daisies debuts Wednesday, Oct. 3, at 7 p.m. on ABC

Supernatural returns Thursday, Oct. 4, at 8 p.m. on The CW

Blood Ties returns Friday, Oct. 12, at 10 p.m. on Lifetime

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine, Variety and Television Week and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Advertising Age and TVGuide. Send in your suggestions to

from the Oct. 3, 2007, issue

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