It’s not a stretch to say that Game of Thrones is a once in a lifetime television phenomenon. In the age of streaming and television on demand, it’s one of the few scripted television programs that can still be considered appointment TV.

It’s a show that may never be duplicated in its popularity.

But that hasn’t stopped other networks from trying.

Specifically, streaming services. Amazon made news a few months back that they would produce an adult fantasy drama set in middle earth, the fictional landscape of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Jeff Bezos has long wanted a program on his platform that could rival GOT and he thinks this might be it.

Netflix, in turn, is developing their own Adult fantasy series as well. Instead of hobbits, dragons, and rings, they will be adapting the popular video game “The Witcher”, in the hopes that those who have played the action-adventure game will be compelled to watching a live action version of the game series.

Starring Superman.

Not Your Father’s Monster Slayer

The games themselves are an adaption of a series of fantasy novels written by Polish author Andrzej Sapkowski. They tell the story of Geralt of Rivia. Witchers are Monster Hunters who, with a combination of training and body modification, develop supernatural powers at a young age to battle the beasts of this fictional world. Think Van Helsing of Dracula fame, or if you are of a certain age, Simon Belmont of the Castlevania Series of video games.

Andrzej created the series in 1988, as short stories published in the Polish Sci-Fi magazine FANTASTYKA. They precede George RR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series by a few years, and no doubt both series owe a debt to Tolkien’s epic Lord of The Rings series.

The Novels were very popular in Poland and around eastern Europe, but the character himself would not become an international star until DC Projekt RED, a game developer based in Warsaw, Poland, developed and distributed a series of games, featuring Geralt of Rivia, for the PlayStation and Xbox gaming systems.

The game’s popularity, along with its medieval setting and strong resemblance to GOT, made it ripe for an adaptation. And Netflix came calling.

Geralt of Rivia, as played by the Man of Steel

There isn’t a deep casting list as of this writing, but one major development has been Henry Cavill. Best known for playing Superman/Clark Kent in Man of Steel and Justice League, Cavill is no stranger to period piece drama (if you want to consider The Witcher as a period piece of sorts). His biggest role prior to Man of Steel was as   Charles Brandon in the Showtime drama The Tudors.

It’s a safe casting move, to be sure. If you have seen the computer-generated avatar that represents Geralt you can see the resemblance. And with all the training that Henry has done to stay in shape for the role of Superman, it’s obvious why they wanted a man of his stature in the lead role.

The casting isn’t without controversy, specifically with the role of Ciri, Geralt’s adopted daughter, however. A casting call was made for the character, with an emphasis on finding a minority female to play the part. Some felt that the character should stay close to the look of the character on the game, who is white. The counter to that argument is that the novels and game don’t do much in terms of diversity, which makes sense given that they were written by a polish author and it’s what he knows. Still, any opportunity for diversity in a cast is good. It’s all about who plays the part best.

The Potential to be an epic guilty pleasure

No one really knows if The Witcher can make the kind of mark on television that Game of Thrones has. No show can be asked to do that. But it’s quite possible that The Witcher can join a long line of Epic Fantasies that are violent, exciting, erotic, and just plain fun.

Netflix hasn’t yet created that type of show that could stand with some of the greater epic fantasies on Television today. But that may change once The Witcher premiers.

At the very least, it will be a great rebound relationship once GOT ends.

One of the only redeeming qualities of the fall season is the holidays that follow. First up is Halloween, which is the best of the three. Christmas brings hope. New Year’s brings renewal. Halloween brings darkness and terror, and laughs in the face of impending death. It’s the sexiest of the three. It’s the holiday that comes to the party dressed in black, and doesn’t give a crap about your happiness or joy.

Halloween is Punk.

Halloween is also that time when one can indulge in fictional horrors through television and film. Many of us try to get into the spirit of the holiday through horror films and scary tv.

With that in mind, here are some suggestions that help you celebrate the macabre. At the very least, you’ll get a good fright.

  1. THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS (with special shout out to “IT’S THE GREAT PUMPKIN, CHARLIE BROWN”)

For some of a certain age, Halloween didn’t kick off until you watched “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” The story of Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin to arrive is as timeless as it is simple. It was a great kickoff to the holiday season.

Now, thanks to Netflix, a new holiday tradition has begun for the wee ones. Released in 1993, The film tells the story of Jack Skellington, a resident of “Halloween town” who discovers a doorway to other holidays and, out of boredom, decides to take Santa’s place. It’s a delightfully dark film with memorable music and a fantastic score.

Netflix plays it every year now and Disney has caught on to its popularity. You can’t miss Nightmare products at the stores in October.

Watch it soon as the calendar changes. It will set the proper mood for the next 31 days.

  1. THE SHINING

For adults, Halloween often means two things: Dressing up as a “Sexy” Version of whatever’s hip in pop culture, and Scary movies. and while most often go for a slasher flick (like, say, “Halloween”) I tend to go for something with a bit more heft to it.

Something considered a classic of the cinema.

Something that originated from the mind of Stephen King.

THE SHINING has everything you would want in a horror film. A haunted hotel. A boy with the ability to see Ghosts. And a father consumed by madness until he becomes the lumbering monster with murder on the mind.

A suspenseful Classic, The Shining is the one to watch this Halloween . . . with the lights on.

  1. THE WALKING DEAD PILOT

Walking Dead is in its 8th season now, with no signs of slowing down. The Popular show has become the definitive Zombie horror story. And as story about survival against all odds

The Pilot episode stands out as a fantastic hour of horror television. It’s directed by Frank Darabont, and it’s the most cinematic episode of the series.

One scene stands out. Rick, walking down a dark corridor, with nothing to light the way but matches. It’s a close shot of his face, as he’s walking this hallway. Every few moments, the light extinguishes, and for a moment it’s pitch black. And then Rick lights another match. It’s the most suspenseful two minutes on TV. Seven years later I still remember it.

Watch the first episode for that scene alone.

  1. GHOSTBUSTER ‘84

It can’t be all Doom and Gloom, right? Sometimes you want something you can laugh at.

Ghostbusters (the 84 version) still holds up. Staring Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, and Harold Ramis, the film tells the story of three paranormal scientist who figure out how to contain the supernatural and keep them from pestering society. The film was wildly popular, spawning a sequel, a Saturday morning cartoon, and a remake. Kids still dress up as Ghostbusters today, asking “Who You gonna Call?”

  1. STRANGER THINGS SEASON ONE AND TWO

And speaking of the eighties, “Stranger Things” Season 2 starts in time to take advantage of the holiday. The Second Season builds on what happened before and specifically, what happened to Will.

If you haven’t seen the first season, get on it. If you’ve wondered what a collaboration between Stephen King and Stephen Spielberg would have looked like, this is the closest you may get.

There are many ways that one gets into the Halloween spirit, but these five films and television programs are staples. They are but a small selection of media that can chill you to the bone and get your heart rate up. I recommend watching with the lights off and remember, it’s only make-believe.

And that knock at the window? It’s only the wind.

Or is it?