It's geek central this week as John Byrne looks at three fantasy-adventure US imports that run on various satellite channels

Reviewed:  The Librarians (Monday, Universal); The Strain (Wednesdays, Watch); American Horror Story (Tuesday, Fox)

The one thing you can be guaranteed with American TV is that it'll keep coming up with something new. It mightn't be very good, or very good for too long, but you can't knock the creative process at work in terms of ideas, or even mixing a few old ingredients together to make something new.

Given the success of the BBC's rebooted Doctor Who across the other side of the Atlantic, it was only a question of time before the Americans came up with something similar of their own. The Librarians is kind of a cross between Matt Smith-era Doctor Who and Warehouse 13, and follows a successful couple of made-for-TV films from US satellite channel TNT.

Trailer Time: The Librarians

Those films starred Noah Wyle, and he played main man Flynn Carsen in the opening two episodes of the show, before departing to leave four others – including former X-Men star Rebecca Romjin, who played Mystique – to form a team that solves ancient mysteries and recover/protect historical artifacts.

Wyle, Jane Curtin, and Bob Newhart will recur in their roles from the movies, but basically it's about the new guys, who are the freshest faces of an ancient organisation hidden beneath the Metropolitan Public Library in New York. Hence the title . . .

Three episodes in and you can see exactly where this is going: there's an enemy/artefact of the week that keeps the team milling about for an hour before it's all wrapped-up. It's very Disney, so that means it's wholesome fun for all ages, doesn't lerave much blood on the carpet, or flex your mind too much. Distracting fun and that's about it. With Noah Wyle's Flynn Carsen sidelined it's basically Warehouse 13 with stabilisers. Lots of bright and exploding stuff.

Far better, despite a lot of internet criticism, is The Strain (Wednesdays, Watch), which ended its fun and gory first season with a bit of a flat finale. Like The Walking Dead, this show has a major body count as a vampiric virus turns New York into a ghoulish, dystopian death pit.

Trailer Time: The Strain

Created by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, and based on their novel trilogy of the same name, it stars Corey Stoll (who was great playing Peter Russo in the first season of House of Cards) as Dr Ephraim Goodweather, who leads a motley crew of battling survivors, including David Bradley (the shop owner in Broadchurch), as Professor Abraham Setrakian, a Holocaust survivor turned New York pawn-shop owner, and a man on a mission.

Without giving too much away, the finale was all about a battle between Goodweather's crew and The Master, the evil one responsible for the spreading of the virus. Both him and the strain has a long history and even took Setrakian's wife during WW II, which jusifies his outrage and desire to eliminate The Master.

This battle was never going to be more than a skirmish though, given that there's a second season on the way, and that's pretty much how it played out. Sure, there was a lot of running around and plenty of panicky moments, but ultimately this was an exercise in holding-off that lacked the tense drama of previous episodes. Ah, well. It's no Walking Dead but here's to next year . . .

One show that's back on form is American Horror Story (Tuesdays, Fox). Its first two seasons were stunning, but it lost the run of itself during a third that lacked real focus and, quite frankly, bored me to tears.

Trailer Time: American Horror Story

Many of the regulars are back in this fourth instalment, which tells the tale of a Florida-based carnival freak show in 1952, but so far this has been more about the new boys, not least Finn Wittrock. He has been magnetically malevolent as the spoiled, murderous, Dandy Mott, who's spent the majority of this tale being pampered by his mammy and hanging around the freak show as he explores his homicidal tendences.

But first, over to the freak show and two of this series' central actors, the awesome-as-ever Jessica Lange and Kathy Bates, who this time around play carnival owner Elsa Mars, while Bates is bearded lady Ethel Darling. Ma Petite – the show's midget – is found dead and that gets Ethel assuming that Elsa was involved.

One things lead to another – including a fantastic flashback showing how Elsa got her wooden legs - and ends with her killing Ethel and making it look like suicide. Elsa's one tough cookie.

The bizarre tone to this tale continues with the arrival of a morbidly obese woman with the stage name Ima Wiggles, and Penny's tar-and-feather revenge on her father, but the episode ends with Danny killing his mother Grace – played by another series regular, Six Feet Under's Frances Conroy – and bathing in her blood. Now there's a good boy!

Unlike little else on TV, maybe Hannibal in terms of its visual beauty and devotion to the macabre, American Horror Story is back to being a delightfully creepy, blood-soaked treat.

And it seems to glorify in killing off its impressive cast, which is admirable, given that they're all superb. Along with Bryan Fuller, creator/producer Ryan Murphy continues to make the most diverse and interesting TV shows of modern times.

Oh, and Glee.

John Byrne