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The Fannish Life: Television Worth Looking Forward To

Ann Morris shares her must-see television list for 2014


There are a lot of websites with previews and editorial comments on the television shows coming up in 2014. Even with all the help from other geeks, you’re going to have to decide for yourself which are wheat and which are chaff.

These are my picks.

I have to give BBC America, which airs programs from the BBC, as well as some BBC and BBCA collaborative programs, a big thumbs-up for having the most shows I’m eagerly awaiting: “Ripper Street,” “Orphan Black,” “The Musketeers” and, of course, “Doctor Who.” You can find lots of information on the BBC America shows at BBC America.com.

Sadly, the word is that the BBC is not going to make “Ripper Street” after this second season. It’s not due to poor ratings. It’s a matter of money. They say the show is just too expensive to make with all the Victorian settings and costumes. Fans in the U.K. have been complaining to the BBC that the show should continue as that’s the sort of thing for which they pay for a television license. Maybe the pressure will move the BBC to make more “Ripper Street,” but for now, I’ll just enjoy the second season, which starts Feb. 22.

“Orphan Black” was a show I watched last year after having been on a press call with the star, Tatiana Maslany. I was intrigued by the actress, though I thought the plot might be a stale one. It turns out that the plot started with a rather hackneyed idea but quickly took it to new places and put an interesting spin on it that kept me watching. Maslany does a wonderful job playing quite a variety of characters. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in the series, which will return April 19.

There have been numerous versions of “The Three Musketeers,” but even so, I’ll be giving “The Musketeers,” which stars Peter Capaldi, our new Doctor, as the scheming, conniving and pretty much evil Cardinal Richelieu. There are quite a few photos on the BBC America website, and this looks like a great one for costume fans. I’m hoping for feats of derring-do, a bit of romance and more than a little intrigue — all the things the novel by Alexander Duma gave me. The Musketeers will begin showing in June.

Word has not come down yet on when “Doctor Who” will air, but we do know there will be no spit seasons for this year and next. Once the show starts, its season will run straight through. I think I like this idea better than the split seasons we’ve been having. You never quite feel you got enough of the Doctor when it runs six or seven episodes and then is gone. You also can forget what the thread running through the season is when it’s split.

The most important thing is that we have a new version of the Doctor. While nobody is telling all, it’s been said that this doctor, played by Capaldi, will not be a boyfriend kind of Doctor. He’ll be a little scary and more dangerous and maybe a little difficult, as were the first, fourth and ninth doctors. Well, the ninth did become the boyfriend doctor, but he was dangerous and a bit scary. Whatever his personality turns out to be, we have been shown that our new Doctor wears a lovely tweed suit.

The rest of the shows I’m awaiting all air on different networks.

“Da Vinci’s Demons” plays fast and loose with history and the distance between various geographical locations but man, it’s a fun show! This is one wild and crazy ride. There are kernels of truth in the character of Da Vinci, and there is plenty of action and intrigue, something of which I am quite fond. If you just want to see a lot of really nice looking men, this show has that element too. You’ll find it on Starz, starting March 22.

“Game of Thrones” didn’t entertain me quite as much in the third season as it did in the first two, but I’m hoping it will pick up again in the fourth season, which starts April 6 on HBO. I haven’t read the books, so I don’t know what’s coming. I hope it’s got more Starks, Lannisters and dragons, and good costumes.

While “Penny Dreadful” is not technically a science fiction show, it does have Dr. Frankenstein, so I think it counts. This is a new program on Showtime that debuts May 11. You can learn more about it at Penny-Dreadful.com

Syfy’s “Defiance” begins in June. This post-apocalyptic story has interesting aliens, a new frontier feel and likable protagonists. And, yes, there are plenty of action and intrigue, too. For those who are “Firefly” fans, I suggest giving “Defiance” a try. It’s got a lot of what you love in “Firefly.”

Last but certainly not least on my must-watch list is “Falling Skies,” which comes back in June on TNT. The network has a slogan, “TNT knows drama,” and with “Falling Skies,” they surely do. Like “Defiance,” this show has interesting aliens, but they are of a very different kind, and they have a really frightening agenda. Some of the people who worked on “Battlestar Galactica” also work on “Falling Skies.” There is some similarity in tone, but don’t think this is just another version of it. It’s not. “Falling Skies” has very much its own brand of science-fiction.

Well, that about does it for me for now. I hope you watch and enjoy some or all of my picks for 2014.

See ya next time!

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