1. American Horror Story: Asylum (FX)
Stars: Jessica Lange, James Cromwell, Zachary Quinto, Lily Rabe, Chloe Sevigny, Joseph Fiennes, Sarah Paulson, Evan Peters, Adam Levine, Jenna Dewan, Franka Potente, Clea DuVall, Lizzie Brochere, Chris Zylka
Premiere date: October 17
Just when you thought American Horror Story co-creators Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk couldn't get any crazier, they go and announce exactly what the second season, subtitled Asylum, is all about: In a nutshell, the walls of the show's new setting, the Briarcliff mental institution in the 1960s, house not only loons but also a (possible) mad Nazi doctor, a serial killer named Bloody Face who wears victims' flesh as a mask, mutated ghouls, and, for the hell of it, aliens. That's certainly a far cry from a perverted ghost clad in all-black latex.
As it's been widely reported, Murphy's master plan for American Horror Story has been to treat each season as its own self-contained narrative, with key actors (here, Jessica Lange, Zachary Quinto, Evan Peters, Lily Rabe, and Sarah Paulson) returning each year to play all-new characters. Asylum is the first attempt to make such an unprecedented format work, and the decision to mine campy scares from religious imagery, including exorcisms and evil nuns, is definitely a step in the right direction.
Like any good horror sequel, Asylum promises to make last year's inaugural season look reasonably restrained by comparison. Watching every episode's bloody, sexually depraved insanity should make us all feel like inmates.