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TV Wasteland: Into the Valley of Death
MTV puts a new spin on horror with Death Valley
By Rob Vaux
August 28, 2011
It’s a little early, but the fall TV season gets a quick start this Monday as MTV premieres a new horror-comedy show, Death Valley. The premise, like a lot of shows, borrows heavily from other successful series: a little bit of Cops, a little bit of True Blood, a smidge of Reno 911, and some of that Teen Wolf goodness that seems to have made genre programming desirable for the former music network. It’s hardly ground-breaking, but the previews make it look pretty amusing nonetheless, with a sustainable concept and an appreciation for horror fans that might serve it well.
Death Valley centers on the idea that various evil monsters – vampires, werewolves and zombies – suddenly become a very public menace in the San Fernando Valley. A special “Undead Task Force” is assembled to take care of them: dipshit cops with a modicum of training but who basically treat the various creatures like gangbangers with bigger teeth. A documentary camera crew follows them around and records their escapades: filled with loads of humor and even more hard-core gore, as befits its end-of-prime-time slot.
We could, of course, point out the continuing disparity of having a “music” channel playing horror shows, but that ship sailed about the same time The Real World debuted a decade and a half ago. We’ll snicker behind our hands at the network name – as we do with so many others – and tune into Death Valley anyway. It looks like it’s worth a look, and will hopefully help this fall season recover from a truly disastrous 2010. The first episode premieres this Monday, August 29, at 10:30 PM EDT on MTV.
Eureka (Syfy, 8:00 PM EDT)
The Astraeus mission goes forward with a mind probe of the various crew members. They probably turn up the location of some really cherry porn stashes in the process.
Warehouse 13 (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
That evil little FBI agent has been killing Regents, prompting the Warehouse 13 gang to nab her and put her under the hot lights for some answers.
Avatars (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
Hicks and Nina fall under the influence of a pernicious new Alpha, who leads an evil cult.
Death Valley (MTV, 10:30 PM EDT)
MTV premieres a new series that asks what Cops would be like if it were directed by George A. Romero. See the top of the article for more.
Waterworld (Cinemax, 7:45 PM EDT)
Remember when this was billed as the biggest Hollywood disaster of all time? It’s really not that bad, and even kind of fun if you can get past Kevin Costner’s terminal self-regard.
The Descent (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Neil Marshall’s terrifying underground horror film has been making the rounds lately. If you haven’t seen it, you’re missing a treat… though the frequent commercial breaks all but destroy the masterful atmosphere.
Forbidden Planet (TCM, 10:00 PM EDT)
This is one of the true classics of the genre – starring Leslie Nielsen, Anne Francis and the immortal Robby the Robot in an outer space reworking of The Tempest – that no sci-fi lover should ever skip.
Troy (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
Syfy presents a little post-wrestling homoeroticism, courtesy of Wolfgang Peterson. Not a great film, but it has its moments; Sean Bean makes a surprisingly effective Odysseus.
Ghost Hunters (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
The team heads for Hill View Manor, a former nursing home in Pennsylvania supposedly haunted by the ghost of a little boy.
The Mummy (AMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Brendan Fraser scored a surprise hit with this update of the classic Universal horror movie, complete with a fun-filled Indiana Jones twist.
Dragonball: Evolution (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
And this live-action adaptation of the popular anime stars a white kid because…?
Burn Notice (USA, 9:00 PM EDT)
Michael and Fiona head to South America, where a weapons expert needs help getting clear of a seemingly benign resort.
Futurama (Comedy Central, 10:00 PM EDT)
Bender gains the ability to see the future. I bet he’s still obnoxious in it.
Ugly Americans (Comedy Central, 10:30 PM EDT)
The second season ends with Grimes’s mother coming back from the dead. Awkward.
Wilfred (FX, 10:00 PM EDT)
Once again, a certain Very Bad Dog keeps getting in between Ryan and the hot girl he’s attracted to. This mutt really needs to be euthanized….
Swordfish (AMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
The story entails a superhacker helping a mysterious mastermind steal a huge amount of money. The stars include a couple of X-Men and a prominent Scientologist. The title comes from an old Marx Brothers routine about the password to a speakeasy. Halle Berry’s breasts are likely excised for commercial television. Any questions?
Naked Lunch (FMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
To quote Nelson Muntz, “I can think of two things wrong with that title.”
Predator 2 (FMC, 10:00 PM EDT)
Don’t you love those visions of the near-future from 20 years ago? They end up dating the film just as much as wide collars and disco soundtracks. That said, this is still a decent little guilty pleasure for lovers of gory action.
Anacondas: The Hunt for the Blood Orchid (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT)
Okay, I forget: is this Part 2 or Part 3? (I ask as if the answer makes the slightest bit of difference.)
Anacondas: Trail of Blood (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
This is, um, the one that comes after The Hunt for the Blood Orchid. Badly rendered CGI snakes are involved I think.
Torchwood: Miracle Day (Starz, 10:00 PM EDT)
The Torchwood team is on the run, and needs to make a deal with the devil if they hope to survive what comes next.
Haven (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
A seemingly passive banker releases an evil double who starts knocking people off. Been there, done that, I’m sorry to say.
ThunderCats (Cartoon, 8:30 PM EDT)
We don’t know what it’s about; we only know it’s not a rerun.
Friday the 13th (MTV, 10:00 PM EDT)
The 2009 reboot plays like a collection of Jason’s greatest hits… making it a good one-stop shopping experience for casual fans of the horror movie franchise.
Monsters vs. Aliens (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
Dreamworks’ fun-filled homage to 50s monster movies is running all night on FX.
Doctor Who (BBC America, 9:00 PM EDT)
A little boy is scared of monsters in his room… and since the Doctor is involved, he’s probably not just imagining it.
Megamind (HBO, 8:00 PM EDT)
This very funny parody of superhero films – featuring the voice of Will Farrell as a supervillain who finds himself lost once he finally does in his nemesis – has aged pretty well in the year since its release.
Scream 2 (Showtime, 8:00 PM EDT)
It’s just like Scream 1, only with new cast members to replace the ones who were killed. Funny how that works…
Piranha (Showtime, 10:00 PM EDT)
Frankly, I’m not sure how much this loses without the 3D – deployed as a drive-in gimmick here, as God intended – but I’m happy to watch it as many times as possible to confirm it.
The Road Warrior (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT)
George Miller’s follow-up to his groundbreaking Mad Max is still the high water mark for post-apocalyptic action.
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
A gentler, but equally intriguing follow up to The Road Warrior. “Who run Bartertown?”
Gods and Monsters (Sundance, 10:00 PM EDT)
Ian McKellan is stunning in this story of James Whale, the director of Frankenstein, and the gardener he befriended in the last months of his life.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (USA, 7:30 PM EDT)
Quick, explain the entirety of this movie’s plot in one paragraph or less. I tried, and my head still hurts…
True Blood (HBO, 9:00 PM EDT)
Sookie’s fairy blood comes back to the fore as the witches launch another all-out strike against the vampires.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (NBC, 8:15 PM EDT)
It finally arrives on network television, for anyone who actually cares.
Men in Black (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
What are the odds on the third entry in this franchise actually making it to the screen? I’m guessing not good.
Push (Showtime, 10:00 PM EDT)
Of all the X-Men rip-offs out there, this is the best. Of course, I can’t think of any others just now…
2012 (Starz, 7:21 PM EDT)
Of all the idiotic developments in this film, the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger is still the governor of California in 2012 galls me the most. I really can’t figure out why.
Blade Runner (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT)
Look, more actual sci-fi on Syfy!
The Fifth Element (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
I don’t think I need to tell you what the Fifth Element is at this stage…