Warning: There are some mild spoilers in this, so proceed at your own risk!

While the Mysterious Mr. C and I have a full queue of television shows set to record on our DVR this fall, I must admit, there aren’t too many series that I am really excited about seeing. Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly looking forward to having new shows and episodes to watch, but I would classify my feelings as more intrigued than anything else. 

Many of the shows I watched last season – some of which I have been following for quite awhile – had some crazy finales this past spring, and I’m not entirely sure how everything is going to shake out. In some cases, the moves could reinvigorate somewhat staid series. And in others, they could mark the beginning of the end. I will definitely be staying tuned to find out though, and will bring you reviews by network over the next couple of weeks. For now, here’s the list of returning shows that I’m watching mostly closely this fall.

iZombie

While the CW’s iZombie didn’t make last year’s fall television preview, that was mainly because I didn’t know that much about the show. Also, in my defense, it didn’t actually premiere until January 2015! Once I started to see ads for it though, I knew I had to check it out and I immediately fell in love with the protagonist, Olivia “Liv” Moore.

Admittedly, much of what drew me to iZombie were its similarities to another Rob Thomas-produced show, Veronica Mars, but what kept me tuning in every week were the interesting characters, the intriguing episode plot lines and overarching mystery, and the fact that it gave us a different take on the undead. Season two will likely include much of the same, though more people now know Liv’s secret (that she’s a zombie) and others are on the verge of finding out. The season finale also saw the destruction of the other zombies’ food supply, so we could end up with a pretty angry horde on our hands. And I, for one, can’t wait to see it!

The Flash

In last year’s preview, The Flash was a show I added mostly because it was something C was looking forward to. Though I thought the trailers looked interesting, Barry Allen wasn’t a character I knew that much about. However, with a set of terrific actors, interesting villains, and some solid writing, the CW show quickly became a family favorite and our Tuesday evenings stopped as soon as The Flash came on. I have a feeling this year will be no different.

First of all, just about all of the characters are returning to Central City and the finale opened up the possibility of parallel universes/timelines, so it seems like we’re actually going to have a slew of Flashes running around this year. While that could get a little unwieldy, the show-runners did a really good job managing the steady stream of villains in season one, so I’m sure they will do just fine on this front as well. Plus, like the folks over at Marvel, the team at DC seems very intent on getting this right – from the characters to their background stories to their costumes – so I think season two of The Flash is going to be one fun ride.

Gotham 

FOX’s Gotham (which is airing as I type) was the show I was most looking forward to last year, and it is likely the one I am most interested to follow this time around. As a life-long Batman fan, I was really intrigued by the premise of the show – introducing you to all of the Batman characters we’re familiar with, but before they’ve become the heroes and villains that we know. And while Gotham certainly delivered on that front, there were times that the plot seemed a bit non-existent.

Though Gotham didn’t end with any significant cliffhangers, I’m very curious about this new season for two main reasons: One, Jada Pinkett-Smith’s Fish Mooney made her triumphant return to Gotham in the season finale and seemed poised to take over the city’s underworld. However, Smith confirmed months ago that she would not be returning to the series. As such, I’m interested to see how they’ve written out her character and who has taken her place. And two, all of the promos for this season have been about the “Rise of the Villains,” which suggests that they will continue to be more of the focus than the newly-demoted Officer Jim Gordon, despite the fact that the show was billed as being about his early days as a rookie cop. If, like Batman: The Animated Series, this focus on the villains rounds them out – showing the motivations behind their actions – it could be a good direction for the show to take. But if they are turned into caricatures of themselves instead, I don’t really see Gotham getting picked up for a season three.

Once Upon a Time 

I have followed ABC’s Once Upon a Time since it first aired four years ago, and while I really enjoyed the first few seasons, I have experienced occasional character fatigue. Like Gotham, the show takes characters you are familiar with – in this case, those from popular fairy tales and Disney properties (Disney is ABC’s parent company) – and puts a different spin on their backstories. Snow White, for instance, is an outlaw who is very proficient with a bow and arrow, and Red Riding Hood is, in fact, the wolf. It’s a very fun concept and, for the most part, has been successful.

Sometimes though it has felt a bit like the writers are just trying to cram as many recognizable characters as possible into the world of Storybrooke. But while this season will see the arrival of more new characters – they have already teased the appearance of Brave’s Merida – OUAT is getting a bit of a shake-up as well since season four ended with Emma Swan, the tale’s “savior,” becoming “the dark one.” OUAT has always revolved around the idea that there is good and evil in all of us, but this is a pretty big shift for the show to make and I am excited to see where they go with it.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. 

As Marvel fans, C and I have been watching Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. since the very beginning. And since the very beginning, it’s felt a bit like we were watching the ABC show more out of loyalty to the Marvel brand – and because of our love for Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson – than anything else. With the exception of Coulson, the characters were all new and it took some time for them to gel as a team, and for us viewers to become invested in their storylines. Complicating matters was the fact that the episode plots were a little uneven and it often felt like the show was being used as an extended trailer for some of the Marvel films instead of as a stand-alone franchise.

Season three could change that since the focus seems to be on the emergence of the Inhumans (that film isn’t scheduled to come out until 2019), though I am sure there will still be a tie-in to Captain America: Civil War, which premieres in May 2016. But while I understand the need or desire to connect the different Marvel entities into one “universe,” it feels like the Marvel Cinematic Universe is starting to crumble under its own weight and S.H.I.E.L.D.’s creators would do well to forge their own path. If they don’t, they may end up going down with the ship.

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