FALL TV PREVIEW: Zombies, Jedi and more in 19 returning sci-fi shows

Oh, it's been a long, long summer, and we're about to get a big infusion of original programming, with 19 returning series. While there are still plenty of ghosts and spies to contend with, at least we have some real science fiction and cool supernatural shows to sink our teeth into.

We've missed the sci-fi stylings of shows like Fringe, The Walking Dead, Sanctuary, Star Wars: The Clone Wars and Chuck and the supernatural extravaganza of dramas like Supernatural and The Vampire Diaries.

So check out part two of our Fall Sci-Fi TV Preview to find out what the returning shows headed your way have to offer:

Returning Shows

Archer, FX

Season two returns on Thursday, Sept. 15, at 10:30 p.m.

The animated spy spoof returns with a three-part story called "Heart of Archness," which will complete season two. In the episodes, Archer goes missing when his financee is murdered on their wedding day, and Malory hires adventurer Rip Riley (voiced by Patrick Warburton) to find him. Beyond that, we know there's a tropical island, a pirate king and a rescue involved. FX has ordered a 13-episode third season, which will air in early 2012.

Here's a preview:

Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Cartoon Network

The second half of season three premieres Friday, Sept. 16, at 6 p.m.

Back for more exclamation points, Batman will face the Star Sapphire!, time travel and the Atom! Also premiering on Sept. 16 with the second half of their seasons: Young Justice at 6:30 p.m., Generator Rex at 7 p.m. and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien at 7:30 p.m.

Here's a preview of Batman: The Brave and the Bold:

The Big Bang Theory, CBS

Season five premieres Thursday, Sept. 22, at 8 p.m. ET

The gang returns for another season of shenanigans involving Penny and Raj, Leonard and Priya and Sheldon and paintball, and that's only in the first two episodes. Big Bang has been renewed through the 2013-2014 season, so the series will be around for a long time to come.

Here's the season-four recap to get you in a Big Bang mood:

Burn Notice, USA

Season five returns Thursday, Nov. 3, at 10 p.m.

Burn Notice may have literally just ended its summer run last night, but there's more excitement for Michael and his pals when the series returns for the remaining six episodes of the fifth season. As the season continues, Michael will work alongside his former spy agency and continue to hunt for the answers he so desperately wants. Guest stars will include Lauren Stamile, Jere Burns, Indigo, Andre Holland, Ian Anthony Dale, Carlo Gallo and Ptolemy Slocum. Burn Notice has been picked up for a sixth season of 18 episodes.

Chuck, NBC

The fifth and final season premieres Friday, Oct. 21, at 8 p.m.

There are only 13 episodes of Chuck left, and after that it will be gone forever ... or at least until the reruns start. Last season Chuck and Sarah got married and started their own spy company, and Morgan ended up with the Intersect. But "here in the last season in the show we're deciding to almost re-launch the entire show," said executive producer Chris Fedak. Just because they got married, "it doesn't mean that's the end of the story. You don't get to ride off into the sunset. ... It's a scary spy world out there, and I hope our young couple will make it."

Beyond the Chuck and Sarah of it all this season, Casey falls for a woman named Gertrude Verbanski who runs a competing spy business, played by The Matrix's Carrie-Anne Moss. Big Mike gets married to Morgan's mom, and Jeff and Lester suffer a relationship issue.

Covert Affairs, USA

The second half of season two premieres Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 10 p.m.

Annie Walker, the most kick-ass spy this side of Nikita, returns with six new episodes. While Annie was forced to tell her sister about her real gig, she'll return to face upheaval in her personal life while attempting to become a more seasoned operative. Guest stars will include Oded Fehr, Gregory Itzin, Devin Kelly and Santiago Cabrera.

Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files, Syfy

Season two returns with new episodes on Wednesday, Oct. 19, at 10 p.m.

Back with six new episodes, Ben Hansen and his team take on new investigations into the images and videos of unnatural phenomena found on the web.

Fringe, Fox

Season four premieres Friday, Sept. 23, at 9 p.m.

Oh, no! A world without Peter? Who will Olivia and Fauxlivia be in love with? But what about Fauxlivia's baby? Who will Walter and Walternate feel guilty and angry over? If Peter never existed, how did the two universes find out about each other in the first place? It was a head-spinning, game-changing season-three finale from the best series on television.

"We will absolutely be playing with the consequences of what the season finale promised," said executive producer Jeff Pinkner. "There will be plenty of surprises for both our audience and our characters. ... Nothing in Fringe is ever as it seems. We continue to get so much juice out of telling stories with these characters as they exist in both universes."

What we do know is that Joshua Jackson will appear in even FEWER episodes than last year, and we'll be seeing more of Seth Gabel's Lincoln Lee, the one from our universe. Beyond that, hold on to your seats. It's going to be one bumpy ride!

Here's a preview:

Ghost Adventures, The Travel Channel

Season five premieres Friday, Sept. 23, at 9 p.m.

As paranormal ghost hunter Zak Bagans and his team return, they'll investigate the Winchester Mystery House, Old Town San Diego and the former psychiatric hospital the Ashmore Estates in Illinois. "You're going to see things this season that you have never seen before as we further develop ourselves and develop the way we investigate," said Bagans. "It's just explosive."

Ghost Hunters Halloween Live, Syfy

New episodes are airing right now, and the annual Ghost Hunters Halloween Live premieres Monday, Oct. 31, at 7 p.m.

There's plenty of Ghost Hunters this fall, including new episodes on Wednesdays and the big six-hour live Halloween ghost hunt. In the new episodes, the hunters try to help a family that's tormented by a mother's suicide, and then they'll take on the spirits of Pittsburgh's Carnegie Library.

Here's a preview of next week's "Ghostly Evidence":

Nikita, The CW

Season two premieres Friday, Sept. 23, at 8 p.m.

Hoping to kick butt on Friday nights, Michael and Nikita are on the run with the black box that contains the government's darkest secrets in an attempt to right the wrongs Division committed over the years. Meanwhile, Nikita's former conspirator, Alex, has a new mission as she tries to hunt down the spies. But the real battle will be between NBC's Chuck and the CW's Nikita, two spy shows vying for the same audience. Who do you think will win?

Here's a preview:

RL Stine's The Haunting Hour: The Series, Hub

Season two premieres Saturday, Sept. 24, at 8:30 p.m.

The Hub has renewed this Canadian/American anthology horror series for an all-new season of frights.

Here's a promo from season one, which will give you a taste of what this series is all about:

Sanctuary, Syfy

Season four premieres Friday, Oct. 7, at 10 p.m.

With last season's arrival of the Hollow Earth refugees and the secret plot to invade the surface, everything will change as the Sanctuary team faces new dangerous Abnormals, world governments and more villainous villains. The good news: Sanctuary will air at 10 p.m. after wrestling and after other networks have battled out the sci-fi and fantasy of it all at 8 and 9 p.m. The bad news: Syfy has ordered 13 episodes, instead of 20, like last year. The other good news? We've got another season to look forward to.

Here's a preview:

Scare Tactics, Syfy

The second part of season four premieres Monday, Oct. 10, at 9 p.m.

Tracy Morgan returns as host as the season continues with all-new episodes of scares and the unsuspecting victims who experience them. Coming up, victims will face alien abductions, the living dead and a bloodthirsty mummy.

Here's a preview:

Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Cartoon Network

Season four premieres Friday, Sept. 16, at 8 p.m.

The rich animated series returns with 22 new episodes as the Jedi Knights and their clone army continue their battle to preserve order against the massive Separatist droid army. Season four kicks off with a three-part story arc involving the inhabitants of the watery world of Mon Calamari, who find themselves on the brink of civil war. As the season continues, the Jedi will realize they need the help of a powerful ally in an effort to drive out the Separatist invaders. Somehow we think it's not going to go well for them.

Here's a preview:

Supernatural, The CW

Season seven premieres Friday, Sept. 23, at 9 p.m.

Sam and Dean Winchester have a lot on their plate as the new season kicks off, especially since their best bud Castiel announced he was God in the excellent season-six finale. "It's an interesting situation keying up this season, because we're so cliff-hangery coming off of season six," said executive producer Sera Gamble. "We pick up right after we left off at the end of season six. I mean, we can't leave that cliffhanger just dangling. ... So something that was really fun for us is that our first order of business was to ask ourselves what we would do if we were God. Cas has a lot on his mind about that. The character, in a previous season, went on a direct quest to find God and was unsuccessful. He has a lot of opinions about what God should be doing. So a lot of smiting ensues. I'll put it that way."

However, don't expect the brothers to shirk their other duties. There's still plenty of hunting in their future as they deal with ghosts, a god with a lowercase G, a witch and a doppelganger. We'll also see the return of Death and Ellen's dead daughter, Jo.

Here's a preview:

Transformers: Prime, Hub

Returns Saturday, Sept. 10, at 7 p.m.

Optimus Prime, Bumblee and the gang continue their battle against the Decepticons. In upcoming episodes bulkhead has a data problem in his brain, Ratchet tries to perfect the formula for synthetic Energon, and the Autobots discover the Decepticon's plot to build a Space Bridge.

Here's a sneak peek of the episode, "T.M.I.":

The Vampire Diaries, The CW

Season three premieres Thursday, Sept. 15, at 8 p.m.

Oh my! If you thought last season was exciting, just wait. Stefan goes bad boy with Klaus on the "Riper Road Tour," Elena and Damon are left to fight their growing attraction, Jeremy's seeing dead people, and Caroline and Tyler get closer. "We are fortunate in that this season, as a result of where we ended last season, there's a lot of new roads to travel down, both for our characters who we think we know, and also in the supernatural world that we had only previously tapped into, which is werewolves and vampires," said executive producer Julie Plec. Joseph Morgan, who plays Klaus, becomes a series regular this season.

Here's a preview:

The Walking Dead, AMC

Season two premieres Sunday, Oct. 16, at 9 p.m.

The dead are going to walk again this October, and Rick and his little gang of zombie apocalypse survivors will have their challenges when the series returns for a second 13-episode season, which will be split up into two parts. Kicking off with a 90-minute premiere, the survivors will trek away from big cities and into the less-populated countryside. That means a trip to Hershel's Farm, which is predominantly featured in the comic book series.

"That'll be a place that they stay in for a while, and so we'll be introduced to Hershel, who is a big character from the comic book series, and Maggie, who in the comic book series has a relationship with Glenn," said executive producer and the creator of the comic book series, Robert Kirkman, "So we'll possibly see a little bit of romance between Glenn and Maggie as we move forward into the second season." Joining the cast this season will be Scott Wilson as Hershel Greene, Lauren Cohan (Chuck, The Vampire Diaries) as his daughter, Maggie, and Pruitt Taylor Vince as Otis.

The second half of the season with the final six episodes will premiere Sunday, Feb. 12.

Here's a preview:

Yesterday we ran part one of our Fall Preview, which covered New and Canceled Shows. On Monday, part three will dig into what's coming for Movies, Specials and Midseason and Beyond.

What returning shows have you been waiting for?

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