Jumping the gun on the official Nielsen-recommended mid-September fall start, FOX will begin rolling out its returning favorites this Monday (Sept. 1). Since FOX has been kind enough to send out screeners for many of its returning shows, I thought I’d take a look at the network’s dramas, where they left off and how well the shows have rebooted themselves for the new season.
[Obviously this is going to include spoilers, both of last season’s finales and of this season’s premieres, though only slight spoilers for the premieres. You’ve been warned.]
Returns Monday, Sept. 1
Where They Left Things: Having made it out of Sona, Michael (Wentworth Miller) was vowing revenge on Gretchen (Jodi Lyn O’Keefe) and Whistler (Chris Vance) and The Company for killing Sara (Sarah Wayne Callies). After a disorganized and strike-shortened season that strained to bring the core characters together, suddenly Sucre (Amaury Nolasco) was the only former Fox River inmate behind bars and everybody else was doing their own disorganized thing. Seriously, even after rewatching last season’s finale, I didn’t remember how anything really came together last year.
Where They Pick Up: Prison Break returns with two episodes dedicated to regrouping, consolidating and tying up loose ends. It isn’t necessarily pretty. Within the first 45 minutes, at least three regular or recurring characters are seemingly killed off and two former regular characters are just abandoned entirely. And, as has been so endlessly reported that it won’t surprise a soul, Sara returns from the dead with a reintroduction so matter-of-fact that it doesn’t have any emotional impact.
With the help of Michael Rapaport’s newly introduced government agent, most of the show’s main characters are brought back together as a sort of Injustice League and given a MacGuffin of a goal to help bring down The Company. While Michael’s particular skill set is well-established, I find it pretty ridiculous that this could be the best possible team to crush an all-powerful government cabal, but Prison Break fans have been suspending disbelief for three seasons. What’s another?
Does the reboot work? I don’t know about y’all, but I like Prison Break most when it’s actually about breaking out of prisons. The new Los Angeles locations keep things simple and the premiere episodes bring up a lot of things — Michael’s stripper wife, EuropeanGoldFinch.net, the tattoos — that will probably make fans happy. Plus, T-Bag (the brilliant Robert Knepper) does some very bad things. As always with Prison Break, the challenge isn’t how well the writers start the season, it’s how deep into the season their ideas go.
Returns Wednesday, Sept. 3
Where They Left Things: Wait. Zack (Eric Millegan) was Gormogon’s assistant, not Sweets? Really? Huh. That’s kind of sad. And Hodgins (T.J. Thyne) and Angela (Michaela Conlin) still aren’t married because of her missing first husband? That got swept under the rug a bit in the strike-shortened season, didn’t it?
Where They Pick Up: As much as I love Bones, the show’s shoddy LA-for-DC location (or "faux-cation") shooting has often been a drawback. The Bones/Booth half of the two-hour premiere was filmed in London and, as a result, the season starts with what is probably the series’ best-looking episode to date, featuring all manner of effective location work. The flirting and jokes about tea and driving on the wrong side of the road fly so fast most viewers won’t care that Zack is barely mentioned at all.
Since Bones is a character-driven procedural more than a serialized drama, don’t expect the Zack-blowback to be major, but the series will have some fun with his absence, using a revolving cast of interns including characters played by Carla Gallo, Joel David Moore, Michael Badalucco and, in the premiere, Eugene Byrd returning as Clark. It will be a fine distraction.
Meanwhile, viewers will get much more serialized satisfaction out of the first appearance by Angela’s hubby, who brings out an unexpectedly jealous side of Hodgins and putting the show’s most successful consummated relationship under new strain.
TERMINATOR: THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES
Returns Monday, Sept 8
Where They Left Things: OMG… Did Cameron (Summer Glau) just blow up?
Where They Pick Up: So what are the odds that a second-year series with ratings issues would kill off its most popular character? I’d say low. Don’t worry, then. Summer Glau is back, but did the explosion mess with her circuitry a little? You’d better believe it.
Because the finale of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles came at an unexpected point due to the strike, the show left fewer game-changing cliffhangers than several of FOX’s other dramas. Sarah (Lena Headey) and John (Thomas Dekker) are still on the run from Cromartie (Garret Dillahunt), while Agent Ellison (Richard T. Jones) is having a crisis of faith wondering why the Terminator let him live in the midst of last season’s Johnny Cash montage.
The biggest change in the new season is the introduction of Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson’s Catherine Weaver, whose interest in advanced robotic technology is slightly shady. The character has some pretty big secrets, but don’t we all?
Returns Tuesday, Sept. 16
Where They Left Things: Even though House (Hugh Laurie) had his head drilled out to try helping her, Amber (Anne Dudek) died, spinning poor Wilson (Robert Sean Leonard) off into a grief spiral. Meanwhile, Thirteen (Olivia Wilde) got her Huntington’s diagnosis and Chase (Jesse Spencer) and Cameron (Jennifer Morrison) continued to wonder why they were still on the show.
Where They Pick Up: Wilson returns after a leave of absence and gives serious consideration to leaving the hospital. Does he blame House for Amber’s death? Does House blame himself for Amber’s death? And if Wilson leaves, who will pay for his lunches and help him have diagnostic epiphanies?
Actually, the series had a bigger reboot with last year’s job search, which yielded regular roles for Wilde, Kal Pen and Peter Jacobson and left Morrison and Spencer wandering the hospital lost for several months. House’s search for a new best friend, while funny, doesn’t do much to shake up the paradigm of the show. It’s mostly business-as-usual in the season’s first two episodes and for House fans, that’s a good thing.
In the second episode, though, viewers should watch out for the introduction of the private investigator played by Michael Weston’s. The character is tremendously fun and David Shore is considering using him as the centerpiece for a semi-spin-off series.
Check in after the premieres and let us know how you think the shows are headed…