Ranking Summer TV’s Sci Fi: What Sizzles, What Sinks?

Haven (Syfy)

Haven (Syfy)

As a wave of picnic blankets unfurl and BBQs are fired up for another summer of brats and burgers across the land, a post-season panache of sci fi and supernatural summer offerings will also be laid out before TV viewers. Bounty or bust? Depends on your palate – and how starved for original genre programming you are.

1. ‘True Blood
premieres June 13 on HBO
Season three. Hot show. Hot cast. Hot storylines. Really, if you need to have ‘True Blood’s appeal explained to you, then someone needs to check you for a pulse.
Summer Sizzle Factor: White hot. Or red hot. Any kind of hot – this is the summer supernatural experience. Nothing else will likely come close.

2. ‘Haven
premieres July 9 on Syfy
‘Eureka,’ Stephen King style (and yes, that can go either way). There’s a new sheriff (make that FBI agent) in town, and she’s got to navigate through a glut of closeted supernatural citizens to solve a murder mystery. The creators behind the series boast some significant if scattered storytelling cred, having worked on the likes of ‘The Dead Zone,’ ‘Tru Calling,’ ‘Hung,’ and ‘Shrek the Third.’
Summer Sizzle Factor: Potential fireworks here. Hotter than your average monster-of-the-week Syfy movie.

3. ‘Being Human
premieres July 24 on BBC America
Returning for a second season, BBC America’s show about mismatched monster roommates was a surprise summer hit. As with most Brit imports, it’s virtually guaranteed to surpass most American fodder in cleverness and creativity.
Summer Sizzle Factor: Pretty hot. Great writing, great cast, requisite BBC quality.

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4. ‘The Gates’
premieres June 20 on ABC
Exclusive gated community in which ‘Desperate Housewives’ appear to have been visited by certain ‘Vampire Diaries’ cast members – the pointy toothed ones, that is. Genre bad girl Rhona Mitra (‘Underworld: Rise of the Lycans,’ ‘Nip/Tuck,’ ‘Hollow Man’) makes the whole malevolent matriarch thing look marvelous.
Summer Sizzle Factor: It’s smoking – but we’ll have to take a closer look to determine whether that has more to do with its sizzle, or this is a crash and burn sort of thing.

5. ‘Warehouse 13
premieres July 6 on Syfy
Warehouse 13’s first season snagged impressive viewing stats for Syfy, and the show’s concept – centering around a pair of bantering feds, and a glut of literary and historical artifacts housed in a massive and mysterious warehouse – leaves ample room for some innovative episodes. Season one’s execution was solid, and the second season should continue to deliver.
Summer Sizzle Factor: This show generates more of a slow burn, as opposed to spectacular fireworks. But it’s quite consistently good.

6. ‘Eureka
premieres July 9 on Syfy
Town filled with (mostly) geniuses. Yocal local sheriff plays Forrest Gump to their physicists. You know the drill. Yet – it works, in a clever and non-controversial way. This show retains a devoted summer audience, and enters its fourth season with James Callis as a recurring character and guest stars like Wil Wheaton.
Summer Sizzle Factor: After several seasons, it’s still got some spark – especially with those great new cast members joining the townfolk.

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7. ‘Ghost Hunters Academy
currently airing (premiered June 2 on Syfy)
You too can learn how to stumble through the dark with a flashlight and befuddled facial expression while being filmed in nightvision! Steve and Dave (from the original GH cast) lead a second crop of “cadets” through ghostbuster school. Advanced students may progress to a point where they can say things like, “Oh sh**, dude, I think this is for real!” with a straight face.
Summer Sizzle Factor: Low-ish. Ghost-hunter wannabes, as coached by GH’s Jason and Grant’s sidekicks?

8. ‘Ghost Hunters International
premieres July 14 on Syf
More flashlights, more darkened rooms, more surprised expressions, more bumps in the night – which take place in more exotic locales than the garden-variety, regular season GH episodes. If you want to see what a cramped castle dungeon in Scotland looks like when filmed in nightvision, this is your show.
Summer Sizzle Factor: Lukewarm – unless you’re already a devoted fan.

9. ‘Mary Knows Best
premieres July 15 on Syfy
Dubbed a “docu-soap reality series” by TV By The Numbers, this show follows a working mom (psychic/radio host) who is apparently equal parts paranormal and PTA pillar.
Summer Sizzle Factor: Cold-ish. Not corpse-cold….but close.

10. ‘Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files
premieres July 15 on Syfy
Destination Truth meets America’s Funniest Home Videos? A crack team of paranormal investigators check out online photos and videos, and try to separate the fake from the phenomenal. As Syfy’s own website explains: “Have you ever seen a photo or vide online and wondered, “Is this real?” This is the show that will answer that question.” For those viewers who can’t grasp the basic premise of PhotoShop, the show could be a real eye opener.
Summer Sizzle Factor: Ice cold.

Which shows will have you coming back for seconds? Let us know in the comments section below.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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