Series of Tubes: Hiatuses Coming to an End

FlashForward returns to the airwaves in an hour (at least, in the Eastern and Central Time Zones) after more than three months off the air (not counting Tuesday's recap episode), marking the beginning of the returns of a lot of sci-fi type shows, most of which had some level of critical acclaim in the fall, but also their fair share of problems.

So let's take a look at the upcoming schedule and see which shows are coming back to my TV schedule in the next few weeks.

Last episode: Dec. 3, 2009; Next episode: Tonight
The way this show was spiraling out of control, it definitely needed to take a break and get things back on track, but I think three and a half months was a little too long. For the first few weeks after the show disappeared from ABC's schedule, I was missing it, but at some point since 2010 began, I moved on. The characters were so one-dimensional that there was nothing keeping me hooked from week-to-week, outside of the main story of the blackout. And even that was handled poorly (with a fumbling revelation in one episode, then some conspiracy confusion). I think this show will survive the rest of the season, but a 2010-11 pickup seems unlikely at this point.

The Vampire Diaries
Last episode: Feb. 11, 2010; Next episode: March 25, 2010
This show hasn't been away that long, but because of the way the last episode ended -- with the revelation that Katherine wasn't in the tomb, which means she's probably alive out there somewhere -- I've been anticipating its return. After a disappointing start, this show has really picked up in its last few episodes, and I'm excited to see where they take the story from here, particularly if more of the vampires in the tomb can somehow awaken and escape. 

Last episode: Nov. 24, 2009; Next Episode: March 30, 2010
V had less time to work with in the fall than FlashForward -- only four episodes -- but I feel like we actually got more story from this show than from FlashForward. The long break was a production necessity, due to changing show runners and executive producers. Normally something like that doesn't bode well for the long-term success of a series, but "V" has a solid sci-fi background to work with, along with some current political undertones. I'm very excited to see what they do with these next 9 episodes, if only just to see a Visitor in full, non-human form.

Last episode: Feb. 4, 2010; Next episode: April 1, 2010
This show ended on a very interesting cliff-hanger back in February, and FOX seems to be a good job of promoting the next episode, even though it's still two weeks away. This show had gotten away from some of its multi-dimensional roots early in this season, but the revelation to Olivia that Peter is from the other dimension -- the one she visited and met with William Bell (Leonard Nimoy) --   moves things squarely back onto that plotline. I get the feeling that if "Fringe" focuses on that stuff for the last few episodes, it'll be at its strongest creatively, but also at its least likely to get picked up, because the mythology is so thick.

Last episode: Feb. 4, 2010; Next episode: April 1, 2010
Another victim of the return of "American Idol", "Bones" has felt kind of "off" this season. The aftermath of Booth's brain surgery has resulted in a show that doesn't quite click like it used to, and I hope the creators of the show are using the break to get things back on track. I'd also like to see a paring down of the intern rotation. It's hard for me to care about these characters, some of whom are involved in relationships with series regulars, when they only show up once every two months.