Following on from our list of brand new UK geek-skewed TV shows to keep an eye out for next year is this gaggle of US counterparts. There are film adaptations from 12 Monkeys to Scream, comic book adaptations including Daredevil and Dark Matter, and a host of original projects.
All of the ones listed below are as certain as certain gets in the world of US TV commissioning, and as a bonus, there’s a wee list of sci-fi and fantasy pilots to look forward to should they be picked up by their respective networks.
You’ll find this one among our running total of movies currently being turned into TV shows, for obvious reasons.
A Syfy production that’s expected to arrive in January 2015, 12 Monkeys is based on the 1995 Terry Gilliam film (itself inspired by 1962 French sci-fi featurette La Jetée, not that the likes of you need telling that), though Terry Matalas, who co-wrote the pilot, calls it “a complete reimagining” of Gilliam’s film rather than an adaptation.
X2 and X-Men: The Last Stand’s Aaron Stanford plays the Bruce Willis role of a time-traveller chosen to save the human race from viral extinction, with Suits and Pretty Little Liars’ Amanda Shull as virologist Dr Cassandra Railly. Brad Pitt’s celebrated role as a psych ward patient? That’s been gender-swapped and gone to Emily Hampshire.
The show will have one more episode than it does monkeys, with a run of thirteen making its way to Syfy in the New Year. You can watch the first trailer, here.
This one needs no introduction from us, but here’s one anyway. Developed after the success of the Marvel one-shot of the same name (included on the Iron Man 3 DVD release), Agent Carter is to be an eight-episode period spy thriller set in the Marvel universe. The unusually short length for a US series is down to Agent Carter’s role as a gap-filler between the break in the much improved season two run of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Hayley Atwell reprised her role from the Captain America films for the series, which is due to debut on ABC in the US on the 6th of January 2015.
Ash Vs. The Evil Dead
UPDATE: As we’ve been reminded by the comments section (cheers chaps), this month Starz picked up The Evil Dead to series, yet another movie-turns-TV extravaganza due to arrive on US screens in 2015.
Yup, someone’s been reading aloud from that book again. 10 half-hour episodes of Ash Vs. The Evil Dead are coming to Starz next year, featuring the return of original Evil Dead actor Bruce Campbell to the titular role of Ash, who, we’re told, will be “back to kick some monster butt”. The official press release describes Campbell’s character as “an ageing lothario and chainsaw-handed monster who has spent the last 30 years avoiding responsibility, maturity and the terrors of the Evil Dead.”
Sam Raimi’s involved too, with longtime collaborator Rob Tapert. Raimi will direct the first episode (which he co-wrote with brother Ivan Raimi and Tom Spezialy) then step back to an executive producer role.
Another Marvel comics adaptation, this one, and part of the four original superhero series deal the publisher made this year with Netflix US. Daredevil is the first original Marvel series to come to the online streaming service, and hot on its heels are vehicles for Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, all designed to lead up to one big, hero-crammed Defenders series. All of which sounds a bit good.
Boardwalk Empire’s Charlie Cox is in the title role as Daredevil/lawyer Matt Murdock, which sounds like a fine bit of casting to us. Cox is joined by Rosario Dawson and Vincent D’Onofrio in the thirteen episode season, which was originally developed by Drew Goddard (Buffy, Angel, The Cabin In the Woods, Cloverfield), before he stepped away to concentrate on his Sinister Six commitments and was replaced as showrunner by Spartacus’ Steven S. DeKnight. Goddard is remaining on Daredevil in an advisory capacity, we understand.
Daredevil is set to arrive on Netflix in the US in May 2015.
Syfy’s reputation may not be what it was back in the glorious days of the BSG reboot (Black Market excepted, man, that was a slow fart of an episode), but the US network is currently upping its investment in original drama in a bid to win back fans. Dark Matter, a new sci-fi series from the producers of Stargate, is one such series.
Based on Joseph Mallozzi and Paul Mullie’s 2012 Dark Horse comics (originally conceived as a TV series), Dark Matter is the story of a crew on board a derelict spaceship who awake from stasis with no memories of their identity or what brought them there. It’s being sold as “an entertaining space opera” by Syfy, which has ordered thirteen episodes of the new show, due to air in the US in the next couple of years. We’ll keep our ears pricked up for any more news on this one as it develops.
Here’s a change of pace. Moving away from space operas, Galavant (which featured on our picks of 2014’s most promising comedy pilots) is playing a different kind of music altogether. A musical comedy set in a fantasy fairy tale world, you won’t be shocked to hear that ABC is using an eight-episode first season of Galavant to plug the gap left by Once Upon A Time’s winter break.
Galavant is the name of the show’s eponymous hero, a young man on a quest to avenge himself against an evil King who stole his one true love. Depending on the tone they hit here, this one could be a whole lot of grown-up Enchanted and Shrek-style fun. UK actor Joshua Sasse has the lead role, with support from model and actress Mallory Jansen, with support from Rutger Hauer, Anthony Head, Ricky Gervais, Hugh Bonneville, and “Weird Al” Yankovic, who plays a monk.
Dan Fogelman, the writer of Disney’s Tangled and very decent rom-com Crazy Stupid Love, is the man behind Galavant, which will feature original compositions from Disney legend Alan Menken. Look out for Galavant’s first episode on ABC in the US on the 4th of January 2015.
A repeat visit to Heroes after the diminishing returns of seasons three to four may not have been top of many sci-fi fans’ wish-lists, but NBC evidently believes that the super-powered world merits another go around. A thirteen episode season, which will be set after the events of Heroes’ fourth run and introduce a raft of new characters, is due to arrive on the US channel at some point in 2015, preceded by an online mini-series setting up the new cast.
The good news is that original series creator Tim Kring is on board to run things, and he’s not looking backwards so much as forwards. As yet, the only returning cast member confirmed is Jack Coleman’s Noah Bennet (HRG Man, if your memories needed jogging). Neither Hayden Pannettiere, Milo Ventimiglia, nor Ali Larter (Claire Bennet, Peter Petrelli, and Niki Sanders/Jessica/Gina/Tracy/Candice respectively) are planning to return to the Heroes world.
Details are still thin on the ground for this one, but the power of curiosity compels us to check it out, which must be precisely what NBC is banking on.
Held back until The CW’s 2015 midseason schedule is iZombie, a horror comedy crime drama (that’s a lot of genres) loosely based on Roberson and Allred’s comic book series of the same name, spearheaded by Veronica Mars’ Rob Thomas.
Rose McIver (Tinkerbelle on Once Upon A Time) plays Liv, a young medical student who becomes a zombie and has to transition to her new undead life. What makes morgue assistant Liv different to your average revenant is her ability to see visions of people’s deaths after she eats their brains. Cue a supernatural detective show with plenty of wisecracks. Best scenario? This one’s Veronica Mars meets Buffy meets Life After Beth.
Last Man On Earth
Another one we picked out for our list of 2014’s most promising comedy pilots, Last Man On Earth is a Will Forte project. Written by and starring the SNL and Nebraska actor (he’ll always be 30 Rock’s Jenna-impersonating Paul in our hearts), the title pretty much sums this one up. Forte plays the lone survivor of a catastrophic event that appears to have wiped out the rest of Earth’s population. It’s a frequently played-out sci-fi premise, to which this series brings a comic perspective.
Fox liked Last Man On Earth so much, they ordered a full season of it from the off, bypassing the pilot stage, and have pencilled it in for a March 2015 start date. Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs and The Lego Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are behind the pilot, from a script by Forte, all of which sounds like promising stuff.
Another from our steadily growing list of movies being made into TV series is MTV’s Scream, recently picked up for a ten-episode first season that’s due to debut in the US in autumn 2015.
Inspired by Wes Craven and Kevin Williamson’s four-film series, the Scream TV show was the alternative to a fifth feature in the franchise after the fourth picture failed to set the box office alight. Craven is thought to be involved in a producing capacity, while Williamson (who, with Dawson’s Creek, The Vampire Diaries and The Following all on his CV, knows a thing or two about creating longevity for the small screen) is unfortunately not part of the project.
On writing duties will be Harper’s Island and Ravenswood’s Jill Blotevogel, whose story focuses on a new group of teenagers in Lakewood and the “YouTube video gone viral which will serve as the catalyst for a murder that opens up a window to the town’s troubled past”.
Worrying for some fans of the franchise were rumours that Ghostface, surely the lynchpin of the film series, would not feature in the new show, which would be more of a supernatural horror than a serial killer story. Following the great work achieved in Teen Wolf though, in MTV we trust. We’re keeping an open mind about this one.
Were this list not alphabetical, Sense8, the forthcoming sci-fi series created, co-written and co-directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski, would be hovering at the top. Coming to Netflix in 2015, Sense8 is an interwoven story of eight diverse strangers from all over the world who find themselves mentally linked after a tragic death. The source of their sudden connection is down to a tech-based evolutionary leap, and leads to them running from assassins determined to hunt them down.
Tackling themes of empathy, evolution, identity, persecution, bigotry and fear, Sense8 sounds like proper, grown-up sci-fi stuff to us. Ten episodes of the new series, each one of which will focus on one member of the eight-strong group (with a couple left over for the multiple threads to join, we assume) have wrapped filming and are due to arrive on Netflix next year. As ever, we’ll keep you posted.
With a sci-fi and supernatural CV including Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Power Rangers, The Nine Lives Of Chloe King, Kyle XY, and I Was A Sixth Grade Alien, ABC Family isn’t necessarily thought of as a home of grown-up geek drama. Last year’s slightly older-skewed supernatural Ravenswood experiment was a disappointing attempt to cash in on the success of Pretty Little Liars, the less said about the better.
News then, that ABC Family has ordered its first paranormal procedural series sees the Disney-owned channel breaking new ground. Stitchers, pencilled in for an autumn 2015 start, is the story of a young woman “recruited into a covert government agency to be ‘stitched’ into the minds of the recently deceased, using their memories to investigate murders and decipher mysteries that otherwise would have gone to the grave.” In that respect, it doesn’t sound a million miles away from iZombie (see above), but then again, so little about a show’s personality is contained in its synopsis.
Overruled’s Jeffrey A. Schechter wrote the Stitchers pilot, and will be sticking around on it to executive produce. Granted, it’s mostly curiosity to see what ABC Family can do with an older-skewed paranormal premise that’s put this one on our list, but we’re intrigued.
Joining CBS’ raft of detective shows in 2015 will be its very own comic book property. Having tested the geek waters with Under The Dome and Extant, the network is following up those recent hits with a live-action Supergirl show from Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash, The Tomorrow People) and Ali Adler (Chuck, No Ordinary Family, The New Normal). It’s not hanging around either, but has ordered the show straight to series, presumably not wanting to get even further left behind the superhero trend.
The series will focus on 24 year old Supergirl and cousin to Supe himself, Kara Zor-El, who is busy on Earth using her Krypton super-abilities for the power of good. With the folk behind Arrow and The Flash behind this one, the possibilities for DC universe crossovers, both on the big and small screen, are enormous.
We’ll bring you casting news and more as soon as it arrives.
James S.A. Corey’s (the pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) award-winning series of The Expanse novels is getting a glossy Syfy TV adaptation next year. A first ten-episode season has been ordered by the channel, presumably with a view to continuation should it do well, seeing as there are four existing novels and plans for a further five in the series.
The Expanse is a thriller set two centuries in the future about “a hardened detective and a rogue ship’s captain” in their “race across the solar system to expose the greatest conspiracy in human history”. It’s thinking big, then.
The Mist and Hung’s Thomas Jane plays lead Detective Miller, “a native of the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter”, supported by 24’s Shohreh Aghdashloo, 10,000 BC’s Steven Strait, and more.
Should you wish to read ahead before The Expanse arrives, the first novel in the series is Leviathan Wakes, followed by Caliban’s War. Its authors, Franck and Abraham, are on board the series in a producing capacity, with Children Of Men and Iron Man’s Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby on screenwriting duties.
As soon as an air date is confirmed, we’ll let you know.
Like iZombie, The Messengers is another mid-season premiere for The CW, and while its ‘some folk mysteriously get super powers’ premise may not be the most original in the universe, that’s not enough to strike it off this list.
The show’s titular Messengers are five unrelated people – a bullied teen, a single mother, an undercover cop in a drug cartel, a scientist burying a past trauma, and er, another one – who experience all kinds of weirdness after that sci-fi classic “a mysterious object” crashes to Earth. As well as developing Heroes-esque super powers, the quintet are pursued by a scary naked villain (at least, he’s naked when he’s discovered at the site of the crater, we assume he gains clothes, Terminator-style, at some point after that), and find themselves pivotal to the future of humanity, as tends to happen in these things.
Reading the official blurb, The Messengers is supposedly about “the battle between good and evil in all of us”. And no, as far as we can tell, it has nowt to do with the dodgy 2007 movie of the same name. Worth a punt, though?
Originally called The Visitors, this one’s Milo Ventimiglia’s post-Mob City project, and it’s due to arrive on ABC in 2015.
Based on the Ray Bradbury short story Zero Hour (part of The Illustrated Man collection), it’s the tale of an alien invasion of Earth. We won’t say any more to avoid spoilers, save that said aliens find an unusual route in.
Ventimiglia stars alongside American Horror Story’s Lily Rabe, and Hollyoaks’ Barry Sloane in the invasion drama, which was brought to the small screen by writer and producer Soo Hugh. We’re not letting the fact that Hugh’s previous drama was CBS’ nonsensical but oddly compelling Under The Dome, which returns for its third season in summer 2015, put us off. Watch the spoiler-ish first trailer here.
Utopia (US Version)
Having been burnt before, we wouldn’t usually have high hopes for a UK-to-US drama transfer, but the names attached to the American remake of Channel 4’s bold, stylish Utopia are undeniably strong (which, unforgivably, won’t be returning for a third series in the UK). David Fincher (Gone Girl, Fight Club, Se7en) will be directing each episode of the remake, which tells the story of a group of oddballs who become tangled up in a global conspiracy.
On writing duties for the US version is Gone Girl author and Fincher collaborator Gillian Flynn, and the channel behind it? That would be HBO. Even the most seasoned remake sceptic has to admit that those ingredients are looking pretty robust.
Forget Gracepoint, forget The Inbetweeners US, and for the love of God, forget those dire Red Dwarf and The IT Crowd pilots. Utopia might just be one to pull this whole Atlantic-crossing thing off. We await its arrival on HBO in autumn 2015.
Recently picked up by HBO is another movie-to-TV-show adaptation, Westworld, based on Michael Crichton’s (apparently he also wrote a book about dinosaurs, or something?) 1973 film of the same name.
The movie star cast amassed for this one is particularly impressive, with Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, James Marsden and more all due to appear in the HBO show. The creative team is no less impressive, with Jonathan Nolan writing, directing and executive producing for JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions.
With a run of one-hour episodes on their way, this particular themepark-goes-wrong story will be extended into a “dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin”, according to the press blurb. Sign us up.
Promising pilot-stage projects
American Gods: Neil Gaiman, Bryan Fuller and Michael Green for Starz. Can’t really say fairer than that.
Preacher: could Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s small screen comic-book Preacher adaptation be a winner?
The Man In The High Castle: will Philip K. Dick’s alternate history novel finally find a decent TV home on Amazon Prime Instant Video?
The untitled Walking Dead spin-off: same universe, new characters. AMC’s Walking Dead spin-off could be a goer.
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