"Grimm." Witches, evil queens, fairytale favorites, Cheshire cats and Ichabod Crane -- it's a good year to be a fantasy fan with a flat-screen. This week NBC's terrific and trendsetting "Grimm" returns with its tantalizing mix of fantastic folklore and police procedural. The ominous skies and ancient forests of Portland, Ore., provide the requisite haunted yet modern backdrop for the camouflaged creatures known as Wesen, and the man born to keep them in order.
Rendered unconscious by the poison-spitting Baron, who had already turned many of Portland's citizens into ravening loonies, homicide detective/Grimm Nick Burkhardt (David Giuntoli) ended last season being stuffed in a box, which is where the story picks up. While Nick's Wesen beastie besties Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee (Bree Turner), human fiancée Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch) and police partner Hank (Russell Hornsby) struggle to fight off the wild-eyed victims to find Nick, the larger power-struggle among the Wesen advances. Gypsy spells and familial grudges fleshing out a history replete with hidden maps and ancient talismans.
Still, as epic as "Grimm" goes, it remains anchored by Nick's metamorphosis into a new kind of Grimm/cop/man, one that seeks justice rather than retribution and comes to understand the monster that lurks within it all. NBC, Fridays, 9 p.m.
FALL TV 2013: Watch the trailers
"Bones." Eight years and countless imaginatively mangled corpses later, Temperance Bones (Emily Deschanel) and Seeley Booth (David Boreanaz) are finally tying the knot. The pairing of a hyper-rational forensic anthropologist with an emotional FBI special agent/former Army Ranger to solve particularly gruesome crimes did not seem a match made in heaven; "Bones" struggled early on, only to hit its stride as a solid and enduring ensemble procedural with icky forensics and true love at its center. Having proved that patience is indeed a virtue, especially among television executives, "Bones" has more than earned its moment of joy, although it's difficult to believe the ceremony, or the happily ever after, will proceed without a hitch. Let's just hope there's not a severed hand in the bridal bouquet because that would be harsh. Fox, Mondays, 8 p.m.
"Dancing on the Edge." Capitalizing on our current infatuation with period British drama (how many weeks until "Downton Abbey" returns?) Starz brings us "Dancing on the Edge," a five-part mini-series set in the 1930s that follows a group of jazz musicians as they enter the cloistered ballrooms of British high society. Chiwetel Ejiofor heads a uniformly splendid cast as Louis Lester, whose band struggles against both racism and nationalism even after being championed by music journalist Stanley Mitchell (Matthew Goode) and all but adopted by the jazz-loving Prince George (John Hopkins.) All manner of aristocrats take up their cause, including the eccentric Lady Cremone (Jacqueline Bisset), as well as a troublesome American industrialist played by John Goodman.
Lush sets, lavish costumes, and the golden light favored by historical dramas make "Dancing on the Edge" a visual feast, while its overtones of racism, classism and general social turmoil gives it an edge too often lacking from "Downton." Also, great music. Starz, Saturdays, 10 p.m.
"The Walking Dead." If it's not one thing, it's another in a world turned inside out by a zombie apocalypse. Last season, against all odds, Rick (Andrew Lincoln), Daryl (Norman Reedus) and all the gang defeated the Governor (Mathew Morrissey) and the more murderous members of the Woodbury settlement (though the Governor got away), but does that mean they are now free to live in peace, cultivating Rick's victory garden and communing with Woodbury refugees in their groovy prison turned gated community? No, of course not. The minute Rick is lulled into believing he can lay down the albatross of leadership, beat his pistol into a plowshare and concentrate on keeping his son from becoming a full-blown sociopath, things take a turn for the worse. The zombie hordes seem drawn to the fence like it was made of brains, Michonne (Danai Gurira) gets hurt and people start getting sick. Real sick.
On the upside, Daryl is now an official hero, which is fun; Carol (Melissa McBride) has taken on some new and disturbing but kind of awesome duties and Hershel (Scott Wilson) becomes more Gandalf-like with every passing day. The Season 4 opener doesn't pack as big a punch as previous premieres but the point is clear -- there is no real sanctuary in a world where the dead still walk, and no return to normal in sight. AMC, Sundays, 9 p.m.