Film & TV

PopHampton: A Shiver Runs Through Fall Television

Autumn is in the air, which means new television shows are on the air! The 2015 fall television season is in full swing with some interesting new shows and returning favorites. I’ve already seen several new series, and so far I’m pretty excited about Scream Queens and the new seasons of ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder and Once Upon a Time.

Fox’s Scream Queens, a horror-comedy send-up of slasher films, centers on a serial killer terrorizing a stereotypically horrible group of girls at a university sorority. It’s not meant to be taken seriously—one character tweets instead of calling 911 while being stabbed to death—but it’s got a great cast and the central mystery is compelling. Most impressive are Jamie Lee Curtis as the college’s dean, who wants to end the Greek system on campus, and Emma Roberts as borderline-psychotic sorority “queen” Chanel, who refers to her inner posse of minions as Chanel No. 2 through Chanel No. 5. Spoiler alert: One of the Chanels gets killed in the first episode. My only criticism is that a whole lot of information gets revealed to both the audience and the characters in the pilot, so it’s going to be hard to maintain suspense. Watch Scream Queens Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on Fox.

A tense scene from ABC's
A tense scene from “How to Get Away with Murder” (ABC/Mitch Haaseth)

How to Get Away With Murder avoided the typical second season pitfalls many shows fall into by maintaining focus on the core characters, wrapping up threads from last season quickly and starting new mysteries. Starring Emmy winner Viola Davis as hotshot attorney/law professor Annalise Keating, the show focuses on Keating’s law firm and five law students she takes under her wing as interns as they take on seemingly cut-and-dry murder cases and manage to get “Not Guilty!” verdicts. Of course, the show also has a longform mystery (a device made popular by Twin Peaks) that unravels over the course of the season. This year’s main mystery, which I won’t reveal here, has the potential to be even more exciting than the first season’s infamous “Murder Night” saga. How To Get Away With Murder airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on ABC.

Jennifer Morrison as Emma Swan on ABC’s “Once Upon a Time
Jennifer Morrison as Emma Swan on “Once Upon a Time” (ABC/Tyler Shields)

Once Upon a Time premiered its fifth season on Sunday, September 27. Once Upon a Time is about Emma Swan, a young woman who moves to the sleepy town of Storybrooke to get to know Henry, a little boy she gave up for adoption 10 years earlier. Henry is convinced that the citizens of Storybrooke are actually fairy tale characters who are under a curse, stuck in the real world without their memories. Major characters include Henry’s ice-cold but loving adoptive mother/Storybrooke Mayor Regina Mills (Lana Parrilla), the “Evil Queen;” the soft-spoken Mary Margaret Blanchard (Ginnifer Goodwin, who starred in the Hamptons-set romantic comedy Something Borrowed), “Snow White;” and various other familiar princesses and princes. While the curse has since been lifted—all of Storybrooke now remembers their storybook personas—they still live in Maine and deal with both small-town crises (the central power generator went out during a storm!) to larger-than-life catastrophes (the Wicked Witch of the West was pretending to be a midwife and kidnapped Snow White’s baby!). This year, the heroic Emma has been consumed by darkness (quite literally, a dark twister more or less eats her alive) and the rest of the town is trying to stop her from turning fully evil. Once Upon a Time airs at 8 p.m. Sundays on ABC.

Joshua Jackson in
Joshua Jackson in “The Affair,” Photo: Mark Schafer/SHOWTIME

Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Affair, which returned this month. I recently re-watched the Golden Globe-winning first season, and while the show isn’t always easy to get through, it’s got fascinating characters and a talented cast. I found myself rooting for Cole, played by Joshua Jackson, by the end of the season—there’s something sad and cute about the sweet, slightly vague surfer hottie trying to cope with his crazy wife leaving him for a middle-aged college professor. Of course, Jackson’s character may well be the culprit in the series’ ongoing Montauk murder mystery—in which case a swooning jury would surely find him not guilty… The Affair Season 2 airs on Sundays at 10 p.m. on Showtime.

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