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TV Wasteland: This Is The End...
We bid good-bye to the Wasteland in our last column.
By Rob Vaux
September 30, 2013
We have a passel of new premieres this week, but I’d like to focus briefly on The Vampire Diaries and its new spin-off The Originals. Of all the vampire projects released in the wake of Twilight, they’ve been the only ones to endure, mostly by capturing the same drippy mixture of supernatural angst and teen soapiness that drove Stephanie Meyer’s hit novels. By all reports, The Vampire Diaries has actually developed into something worth tuning in to, which makes its success much easier to bear.
But it also reveals the basis of a real fallacy among horror experts: that Twilight has engendered a whole new generation of horror fans. Nothing could be further from the truth. With the exception of Twilight, every vampire movie of the past five years has crashed and burned: Let Me In, Stake Land and the Fright Night remake among others. All three were terrific films. None of them made a dent in the huge fan base that turned out for Twilight. The Vampire Diaries seems to satisfy their itch; it’s clear that that itch has nothing to do with real horror, and everything to do with typical suds with a little supernatural spookiness thrown in for flavor. All well and good; just don’t go pretending that it represents some kind of a renaissance for the genre.
On a completely different note, it looks like this will be the last entry of TV Wasteland, at least for a while. The Powers That Be want to shift focus, and that means this weekly column will be bowing out. Don’t worry. I’ll still be here with movie reviews, interviews and stand-along articles, so if you need to tell me how full of shit I am, there will be ample opportunity. It’s been a lovely ride, and it will be continuing elsewhere on Mania, but for the time being, the Wasteland will be fading into the sunset. Thanks so much for taking the time to read!
Sleepy Hollow (Fox, 9:00 PM EDT)
Ichabod must take on the Sandman, returned to the 21st Century and now haunting Sleepy Hollow’s nights.
The Dark Knight Rises (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
Remember the Super Bowl last year when the power went out for like an hour? Did anybody else expect Bane to pop up at any moment?
Prometheus (HBO, 9:00 PM EDT)
Ridley Scott has said that the reason the Founders hated us so much is because Jesus was one of them. I so want to see that movie.
The Hills Have Eyes II (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Nothing like a quickie slasher film sequel to sour your taste for the whole medium.
House of 1000 Corpses (IFC, 10:00 PM EDT)
I wish Rob Zombie would stick to music. He’s better at it.
Underworld: Awakening (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
Not even Kate Beckinsale can get excited about this anemic sequel, which may finally spell the end of the Underworld franchise.
Drive Angry (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT)
It’s Nicolas Cage Night on Syfy! This is definitely the best of your two options.
Ghost Rider (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Because sometimes Marvel makes shitty movies too.
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD (ABC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Coulson heads to Peru and runs into Camilla Reyes. Possible love interest? Ongoing villain? We’re not sure, but she’s apparently a new addition to the Marvel canon.
Face Off (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
This week’s theme is “alien circus,” intriguing enough to raise an eyebrow here.
Fangasm (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
The household goes clubbing, which I suspect isn’t quite as much fun as they think it will be.
AVP: Alien vs. Predator (Cinemax, 8:15 PM EDT)
If you hate Paul W.S. Anderson, this won’t change your opinion… until you see the one they followed it with.
I Am Legend (AMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Yeah, Richard Matheson’s okay, but he can’t write an ending like that guy who wrote Batman and Robin. *rolls eyes*
Angels & Demons (AMC, 10:00 PM EDT)
I can’t tell you a single thing about this follow up to The Da Vinci Code. That should tell you everything you need to know about it.
Girl vs. Monster (Disney, 8:30 PM EDT)
You have to hand it to Disney: they’re not leading you on about what this one is about.
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (FXM, 7:00 PM EDT and 9:00 PM EDT)
Tired, formulaic and immensely successful, this sad testament to the power of money over creativity unfortunate ensured a steady stream of Ice Age sequels.
Machete (FX, 8:00 PM EDT)
I’m going to have to see the sequel, aren’t I? Repeats on Saturday at 8:00 PM EDT and 10:00 PM EDT.
District 9 (Sundance, 8:00 PM EDT)
South African aliens = best sci-fi movie of the last decade.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (Sundance, 10:15 PM EDT)
You’re going to have to pick between Guy Ritchie movies tonight. I’m not prepared to say which one is better.
Snatch (Starz, 10:05 PM EDT)
Guy Ritchie’s loopy crime thriller made for a terrific follow-up to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. The late Dennis Farina is one of many standouts.
Revolution (NBC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Miles is captured while Neville devises a scheme to sneak into the Patriots’ ranks. I suspect a serious sophomore slump with this one kids….
Arrow: Year One (The CW, 8:00 PM EDT)
The CW provides an hour-long retrospective of Arrow’s first season, in anticipation of the second.
Paranormal Witness (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
It’s back to basics this week: a Southern manor supposedly haunted by the ghosts of a witches’ coven.
Ghost Mine (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
Another blank descriptor this week. Your guess is as good as mine.
Wreck-It Ralph (Starz, 8:10 PM EDT)
Disney’s glorious homage to 80s video games is now on premium cable. Brave robbed this one of an Oscar.
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted (HBO, 7:45 PM EDT)
Here’s another brilliant animated feature from last year… one of the better years for animation in general.
Snow White and the Huntsman (Cinemax, 9:00 PM EDT)
Kristen Stewart should probably stay away from period pieces. That is all.
Doctor Doolittle (TCM, 8:00 PM EDT)
Not the Eddie Murphy film, but the notorious Rex Harrison bomb from the 1960s. Time has been much kinder to it than its initial box office failure would suggest.
The Mummy Returns (AMC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Nothing wrong with another round of CGI fun with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz.
Interview with the Vampire (BBC America, 9:00 PM EDT)
Everyone was so down on Tom Cruise as Lestat; I think he turned in one of the best performances of his career.
My Babysitter’s a Vampire (Disney, 8:30 PM EDT)
For bloodsuckers with a more family friendly feel, Disney has your hook-up.
Green Lantern (FX, 7:30 PM EDT)
Warners just doesn’t get it, do they? Repeats on Sunday at 8:00 PM EDT and 10:30 PM EDT.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8:00 PM EDT)
Raj plans a scavenger hunt which soon takes a turn for the ultra-competitive.
Elementary (CBS, 10:00 PM EDT)
A mathematician attempting to crack a complex equation is murdered. Holmes is on the case… and presumably finishes the man’s homework for him.
The Vampire Diaries (The CW, 8:00 PM EDT)
Season Five starts with college, thus ensuring that general youthful silliness will continue unabated.
The Originals (The CW, 9:00 PM EDT)
The Vampire Diaries has done well enough to merit this spin-off, following Klaus and the members of the original vampire family. See the top of the article for more.
Wrath of the Titans (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EDT)
Second in a pair of films that define the terms “3D folly” and “CGI run amuck.”
Planet of the Apes (FX, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:30 PM EDT)
The Tim Burton version, not the original version.
The Man with the Iron Fists (HBO, 8:00 PM EDT)
I won’t defend it, but neither will I condemn it. Because the armor… it shoots spikes!
Pulp Fiction (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Thanks to Quentin Tarantino, we now know exactly, precisely what they call a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in Paris.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (Showtime, 7:00 PM EDT)
The one good thing about ending this column: I never have to write another word about these wretched movies.
Total Recall (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
Unnecessary remakes make baby Jesus cry.
Underworld: Evolution (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT)
Not good by any means, but at least the star is into it this time.
Resident Evil: After Life (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Which one is it? I’m not sure, but I’m fairly certain Milla Jovovich kicks all kinds of ass in it.
Haven (Syfy, 10:00 PM EDT)
Duke and Jennifer try to hunt down Audrey while the boys in Haven PD track down a group of children who have mysteriously disappeared.
Warm Bodies (Cinemax, 8:15 PM EDT)
Cinemax unveils this better-than-average-zombie picture about forbidden love among the undead. Repeats on Saturday at 10:00 PM EDT and Sunday at 8:15 PM EDT.
TCM Horror Marathon (TCM, 8:00 PM EDT)
There’s nothing like Turner Classic for Halloween. The network unveils an eclectic marathon of fantastic horror movies tonight: Carnival of Souls at 8:00 PM EDT, the original Night of the Living Dead at 9:30 PM EDT, The Testament of Dr. Mabuse at 11:15 PM EDT, the immortal Bride of Frankenstein at 1:30 AM EDT, Frankenstein Created Woman at 3:00 AM and The Wasp Woman at 4:45 AM EDT.
28 Days Later (BBC America, 9:00 PM EDT)
If you need zombies, tonight is clearly your night, with the third great one arriving right on time.
Rio (FX, 7:00 PM EDT and 9:30 PM EDT)
I suppose it will do, but like a lot of Fox animated features, you wonder what all the fuss is about.
Hotel Transylvania (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
The fact that I don’t openly despise it ranks it in the upper echelons of Adam Sandler movies.
The White Queen (Starz, 9:00 PM EDT)
King Edward steps up to deal his rivals a fearsome blow.
A Clockwork Orange (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Stanley Kubrick’s disturbing masterpiece has lost none of its provocative powers over the years.
Children of the Corn (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT)
This isn’t the awful 80s version, but rather a new version from 2009 that adheres more closely to the Stephen King short story and does a much better job of capturing its creepy vibe.
Scarecrow (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
Syfy unveils a new original movie about a group of high school kids facing off against a supernatural scarecrow. Yawn.
National Treasure and National Treasure: Book of Secrets (ABC Family, 5:30 PM EDT and 8:30 PM EDT)
In case your need for mediocre Nicolas Cage family action movies overwhelms you.
Robots (Cartoon, 7:00 PM EDT)
Man, it looks great, but the story? Needs some work.
The Bourne Identity (Spike, 9:00 PM EDT)
Matt Damon’s troubled superspy always makes a reliable option for weekend viewing.
Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8:00 PM EDT)
We’re still in Neverland, I believe. That’s all we got.
Splash (Sundance, 7:30 PM EDT)
Ron Howard’s romantic fantasy has aged quite well: funny, gentle and very, very sweet.
Ghost (Sundance, 10:00 PM EDT)
It never deserved all the accolades around it, but it’s better than you may remember.
Psychosis (Syfy, 7:00 PM EDT)
Charisma Carpenter plays a horror writer who suffers a nervous breakdown… then goes to a haunted country estate to recover. Nice going, lady.
The Ninth Gate (Syfy, 9:00 PM EDT)
They were fine until they decided to burn the set down a second time.
Fantastic Four (BBC America, 8:00 PM EDT and 10:30 PM EDT)
I believe I mentioned Marvel’s imperfect track record earlier. Consider this Exhibit B.
The Da Vinci Code (FXM, 8:00 PM EDT)
And everyone was so obsessed with this novel because…?
Life of Pi (HBO, 6:45 PM EDT)
If you haven’t seen it yet, you owe it to yourself to set your DVRs.
Eyes Wide Shut (IFC, 8:00 PM EDT)
Stanley Kubrick’s swan song has much to recommend it, despite is strange and off-putting tone.
And that’s about it. Thanks so much for reading everyone. It’s been a grand five years!