Fall TV 2011 hits, misses and mehs: Week of October 3

By the Channel Guide staff

The 2011 Fall season continues its rollout this week, with the returns of such shows as Pop Up Video (after a 10-year hiatus); Brad Meltzer’s Decoded; The League; Sanctuary; and Rules of Engagement. Below we take a look at some of the new series and special debuting this week. For more comprehensive information on the new season, visit our Fall TV Preview website.


A Night at the Movies: The Horrors of Stephen King
Oct. 3, 8pm ET
What’s It All About?
Horror master Stephen King discusses how he discovered terror at the movies. The best-selling author and filmmaker takes viewers on a journey through many aspects of the horror genre, including vampires, zombies, demons and ghosts. He also examines the fundamental reasons behind moviegoers’ incessant craving for being frightened. Along the way, he discusses the movies that have had a real impact on his writing, including Freaks (1932), Cat People (1942), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), Night of the Living Dead (1968), The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), Jaws (1975), Halloween (1978) and The Changeling (1980), to name a few.

George Harrison: Living in the Material World
October 5
Airs: October 5-6, 9pm ET/PT
What’s It All About? This is the North American television premiere of Martin Scorsese’s documentary that focuses on the musical and spiritual voyage that was legendary musician George Harrison’s life, much of it told through his own words. The film traces Harrison’s life from his musical beginnings in Liverpool through his life as a musician, a seeker, a philanthropist and a filmmaker, weaving together interviews with Harrison and his closest friends, performances, home movies and photographs. Much of the material has never been seen or heard before, and the result is a rare glimpse into the mind and soul of one of the most talented artists of his generation. Interviews include Eric Clapton, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, George Martin, Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, Tom Petty, Phil Spector, Ringo Starr and Jackie Stewart.

American Horror Story (pictured at top of page)
Premieres: October 5
Airs: Wednesdays, 10pm ET/PT
Stars: Dylan McDermott, Connie Britton, Jessica Lange, Denis O’Hare, Frances Conroy, Alexandra Breckenridge, Zachary Quinto
What’s It All About? Executive producer Ryan Murphy was feeling a little more Nip/Tuck than Glee this time out, having created what he described to The Hollywood Reporter as a “psycho sexual thriller,” in which McDermott and Britton play a Boston couple relocating to Los Angeles in an attempt to rebuild their relationship following a miscarriage and an affair. Problem is, the house they choose is, like, way haunted. Murphy is working with his Glee co-creator Brad Falchuk on this series, which promises to be one of the more intriguing takes on the horror genre in quite some time.

Penn & Teller Tell a Lie
Discovery Channel
Premieres: October 5
Airs: Wednesdays, 10pm ET/PT
What’s It All About? Master magicians Penn & Teller just spent eight seasons debunking crazy conspiracy theories and misconceptions on their hit show Bull@#$%!. Now, the duo is ready to do some lying of their own. In Penn & Teller Tell a Lie, viewers will be treated to a collection of science-based, Ripley’s Believe It or Not!-type stories, one of which will be untrue. Or, as the laconic Teller (who speaks freely during interviews, but rarely on camera) puts it, “It’s unbelievable truths, and one believable lie.” The stories are presented in Penn & Teller’s signature aggressive, comic style — which Penn says will be illustrated by “smashing a lot of glass and blowing @#$% up” — all in the name of championing what they believe is a healthy sense of doubt for the viewer.

Brain Games
National Geographic Channel
Premieres: October 9, 8pm ET/PT
What’s It All About? In this very fun three-hour special (all episodes air tonight), David Copperfield and a team of experts entertain our brains as they help reveal the science of illusion. The program uses fun, interactive experiments to hack into the human brain. Each episode focuses on a different topic — attention, sensory perception and memory. Illusionists demonstrate how your brain can be manipulated to see things that aren’t there, or to miss details right in front of your eyes. See how these principles can captivate an entire audience so they fail to notice a giant penguin dancing on stage, or how Hollywood filmmakers create mind-bending sensory deception. You’ll experience how people can “feel” with their eyes and meet a blind man able to “see” with his ears. See for yourself why much of what we experience may be a mere fabrication, as our brains fill in gaps to complete a picture different from reality.


Mad Fashion
Premieres: October 4
Airs: Tuesdays, 10pm ET/PT
What’s It All About? Project Runway alum Chris March is the focus of this series that follows him and his eccentric crew from concept to delivery as they design and create one-of-a-kind fashions for his clientele. In the world of designer fashion, one of the biggest stress tests is the challenge to produce something to match — or surpass — the client’s vision. Whether it’s a Mardi Gras-float ensemble for Jennifer Coolidge or a gown for Chrissy Teigen’s appearance at the MET Costume Gala, nothing is too outrageous for March, his help and their collective ambitions. But will they be up to the task?

Fashion Hunters
October 4
Tuesdays, 10:30pm ET/PT
What’s It All About?
Second Time Around is a sassy consignment shop dealing in the highest end of high-end fashion, and dealing with a particularly demanding clientele. Savvy socialites, downtown hipsters and big personalities from all walks find their way into this shop, looking to make back some bucks on their Chanel suits or Jimmy Choos. Fashion Hunters follows four of the store’s eccentric employees as they search through the attics, closets and garages of New York’s elite in search of fashion gold.

Outback Wrangler
Nat Geo Wild
Premieres: October 5
Airs: Wednesdays, 9pm ET/PT
What’s It All About? This series follows the adventures of helicopter pilot and animal relocation expert Matt Wright, who was raised in the Australian Outback and has developed a unique set of skills to solve problems with animals that are too big, numerous, dangerous or close to people. Matt’s mission is to confront these animals head-on and relocate them. Whether wrangling deadly snakes, wrestling wild bulls or danging hundreds of feet below a moving helicopter to land inside a crocodile nest (while the mother croc is right there), Matt is at the center of the action in a show that is sometimes too reminiscent of Steve Irwin and The Crocodile Hunter.

Mad Scientists
National Geographic Channel

Premieres: October 5
Airs: Wednesdays, 10pm and 10:30pm ET/PT
What’s It All About? In this new half-hour series, host John Bowler meets a lineup of amateur inventors, weekend scientists and eccentric engineers, each with an idea that may be crazy enough to work — or just plain crazy. Using scrapyard metal, household materials and, of course, duct tape, they’ll “MacGyver” an array of oddball contraptions, including a rocket-powered office chair, a basketball-shooting robot and the “Leap-A-Tron” — a giant telephone pole seesaw. Not quite as fun as NGC’s similarly themed new series Rocket City Rednecks.


Kim’s Fairytale Wedding: A Kardashian Event
Premieres: October 9
Airs: October 9-10, 9pm ET
What’s It All About? A two-part special that goes inside the wedding of Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries. ‘Nuff said?


American Horror Story: Robert Zuckerman/FX

George Harrison: Living in the Material World: © Apple Corps Limited/Courtesy of HBO

Mad Fashion: © Bravo. Credit Miranda Penn Turin