Tube Talk: Vampires and zombies on TV

October 23, 2013

The Originals airs at 7 p.m. (Central), Tuesdays, on The CW.

By Paula Hendrickson
Contributing Writer

Vampires were a staple on TV long before HBO’s True Blood hit the small screen. The campy soap, Dark Shadows was probably the first vampire-centric TV show, and its ill-fated 1991 primetime remake (with a young Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the cast) may have been ahead of its time.

But The WB really set the tone for supernatural series with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff, Angel. The Buffyverse included witches, demons, werewolves and even Dracula in one of my least favorite episodes. Repeats of Buffy air at 6 and 7 a.m. Central weekday mornings on FX.

Buffy eventually moved to UPN, which later merged with The WB to become The CW. Supernatural — a long-running CW series that also started on The WB — and The Vampire Diaries have maintained the network’s foothold in the horror genre.

This fall, fans have two new vampire series to check out: The CW’s The Originals, a spinoff of The Vampire Diaries that debuted earlier this month, and NBC’s Dracula, starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and premiering this Friday immediately after Grimm. (Not so coincidentally, one of Grimm’s co-creators, David Greenwalt, previously worked on both Buffy and Angel.)

Grimm ended its previous season with hero Nick (David Giuntoli) apparently being turned into a zombie. While Nick probably won’t stay in a zombie state for long, that’s not the case for “walkers” on AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead, where a new virus has humans dying — and turning into zombies faster than ever.

Earlier this year, BBC America had a brilliant miniseries, In the Flesh, where zombies — suffering from Partially Deceased Syndrome — were rehabilitated and reintroduced to society thanks to a combination of medication, behavioral therapy, contact lenses and make-up. The good news is BBC America is repeating all three episodes on Halloween, but you might want to record it since it will air from 1:30 to 6 a.m.

While we have to wait until 2014 for new episodes of In The Flesh, but on Halloween Sundance Channel brings us The Returned, a limited series based on France’s hit zombie series, Les Revenants.

When I spoke with Sundance President Sarah Barnett a few weeks ago, she said The Returned puts a twist on the zombie genre. “We describe it as The Sixth Sense meets Truly, Madly, Deeply,” she said. “It has a version of zombies, but zombies unlike anything you’ve seen before, not least because they’re French. But underneath all that, it’s a smartly-layered human drama.”

If you think there are a lot of vampire, zombie and witch shows on TV, wait until next week when we look at the astounding number of unscripted series involving ghosts. (Please note, I said “unscripted,” not “reality.”)

Programming notes

The Originals airs 7 p.m. (Central) Tuesdays on The CW

Supernatural airs 8 p.m. (Central) Tuesdays on The CW

The Vampire Diaries airs 7 p.m. (Central) Thursdays on The CW

Grimm airs 8 p.m. (Central) Fridays on NBC

Dracula premieres 9 p.m. (Central), Friday, Oct. 25 on NBC

The Walking Dead airs 8 p.m. (Central), Sundays on AMC

The Returned premieres 8 p.m. (Central), Thursday, Oct. 31, on Sundance

In The Flesh repeats in its entirety from 1:30 to 6 a.m. (Central), Thursday, Oct. 31, on BBC America

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Follow her on Twitter at P_Hendrickson and send your suggestions to tubetalking-paula@yahoo.com.

From the Oct. 23-29, 2013, issue

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