Time to ‘Scream’ in favor of anthology shows

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First Posted: 4/6/2015

The anthology series is shaping up to be the next big thing on TV.

“American Horror Story,” which airs on FX, started the trend of one storyline taking place over the course of a season. These usually have a different cast each season as well as a new script focus.

But it’s not an original idea. Nothing on TV ever is. Many old time radio series got their start as anthologies. Dick Powell came up with an idea for an anthology series on TV in 1952 called “Four Star Playhouse,” with a rotation of established stars every week.

The British gave us “Masterpiece Theatre.”

And now we have “American Horror Story” and “True Detective,” which premiered last year with Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson as Louisiana detectives Rust Cohle and Martin Hart working on a 17-year manhunt for a killer. The show was a huge hit last year for HBO, which promises a second season with new stars anda new storyline later this year.

So now “American Horror Story” will have even more competition.

But don’t worry, it will be from its own creator Ryan Murphy, also executive producer of “Glee,” which ended its run on Fox this year.

That show’s breakout star Lea Michele and “Break Free” singer Ariana Grande will be joining the new upcoming comedy-horror series titled “Scream Queens.”

The show will be set on a college campus where the students find themselves shook up by a series of mysterious murders. Sound like something you’ve maybe seen before? Like on a movie screen?

Also joining the cast will be Emma Roberts, formerly of “American Horror Story”; Joe Manganiello, Abigail Breslin and Keke Palmer. And, surprise, surprise, Jamie Lee Curtis, queen of the horror film genre, will also make an appearance. The series will air in October on Fox and feature 15 episodes.

This will be Grande’s return to TV since starring in Nickelodeon’s “Victorious” and “Sam and Cat.”

But don’t write off the competition.

“American Horror Story,” set to air its fifth season in the fall, recently signed Lady Gaga on as a guest star. How fitting that she calls her fans “Little Monsters.”

Series star Jessica Lange’s involvement as Elsa Mars is still unknown as this point. She wrapped the fourth installment “American Horror Story: Freak Show” and left her fate up in the air.

This could be a good move for Gaga. The singer had been struggling recently until she revived her career with a Grammy-winning album with Tony Bennett and a well-received Oscar performance.

Still her last solo album, “Artpop” in 2013, was widely regarded as a flop. Even though it went on to sell 2.5 million copies, it was a steep decline from her first two albums (2011 hit “Born This Way” and 2008 smash “The Fame”), which sold many more millions. Critics noted that “Artpop” only moved 258,000 copies in its first week — “Born This Way” sold a million in its first — and didn’t launch a single comparable to any of her previous hits. She still spent much of last year touring the world promoting the album, though LiveNation hit back at reports claiming the tour had poor ticket sales.

“American Horror Story” has some experience with pop stars rebranding themselves as TV personalities. Consider Maroon 5′s Adam Levine, who got his arm ripped off in the opening minutes of Season 2. Horrors! He later went on to become People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive.

Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell will join the cast of “True Detective 2.” Rachel McAdams, Taylor Kitsch and rocker Rick Springfield will join the second season which is still written by the show’s first season creator Nic Pizzolatto.

The new storyline is inspired by true crimes and events in California.

The beauty of the anthology series is its ability to lure major movie stars into exciting roles for a limited amount of time. They get crucial exposure, a great script and the freedom to go back and make movies. Best of all, they can command and get a huge salary.

As for the audience, we get a challenging storyline, the opportunity to see our favorite actors on the small screen and some fresh shows, even if they were recycled from a great idea a long time ago.