The two new shows we're following right now, or at least felt like we should record, are Fringe (Fox) and True Blood (HBO).
Fringe is an X-Files clone, the latest from J J Abrams. The biggest difference is that there are now *three* people in the core group, one of which is a man with bipolar disorder who, despite a very strong cast, seems to be the only person who has taken acting lessons. I'd give a little more information on the show, but to be honest it was so bad that we took it off of the DVR. Admittedly, this was not the pilot episode (which mysteriously disappeared from the DVR), but the second episode. It was terrible. Zero chemistry with the actors, a plot line that seemed to rely more on gore than on anything remotely interesting, some of the most incredible deus ex machina I've ever seen since the final season of Alias. I wanted to give up on it after 15 minutes.
And I *loved* the X-Files. All nine years of it, even the crappy season 4 when the good writers all left and the last two seasons when even Sculley wasn't in the scripts. Fringe, at least this episode, made Bionic Woman look good. Even the 70's version Bionic Woman. J. J. Abrams should stick to keeping Lost from ending up like Alias did. Because this won't last 13 episodes.
True Blood is a modern Vampyre Gothic story set in the bayous of Louisiana, in a world where vampires have come out of the closet after the development of a synthetic blood drink that means they no longer have to hunt living creatures (and people) for sustenance. The main characters are a young blonde waitress who can read minds (and doesn't want to) and is fascinated by vampires, probably because she feels out of place herself, and a not-so-young vampire who has moved back to town when his last living relative (including him) dies and leaves him a house. The story revolves around a budding romance (or something) between these two characters, really an excuse to showcase stereotypes, racism, discrimination, etc, using the vampires in the role of the oppressed and semi-misunderstood class.
We've seen two episodes, and while I like the general tenor of the show I'm not sure that it will stand up well over time. Of course, I thought that about Dexter as well, which turned out to be a crackerjack program, both seasons so far, with some really thought-provoking social commentary. Hopefully True Blood will turn out the same.
I guess the series is based on one of the many many current vampire series where the main character is a vampire or does a twist on the classic story. Most of these are the usual serial trash, often just sexed up romance novels with a lot of skin and sex, and while True Blood does have it's sex (and some, ahem, vigorous sex at that, everything short of penetration), it's the social commentary that I hope will put it above the rank and file (which seems to have replaced the serial fantasy genre, such as Jordan's Wheel of Time or Martin's seemingly stalled Song of Ice and Fire - I know, he claims to be at work on the next book, but he said that three years ago right after he put out what has to be the least interesting book I've read in 10 years, A Feast For Crows).
Anyway, it's been interesting so far, and once I get used to the female lead's bad teeth and constantly flickering facial expressions, both of which I think are apropos to the character, but annoying regardless, this stands a chance of being another Dexter. Time will tell.
As it won't for Fringe. My God, that's an hour I'll never get back.