10 To Watch in 2012: Television

<i>by <a href=mailto:chris@chrisarrant.com>Chris Arrant, Newsarama Contributor</a></i> <p>In the past decade, television has gone through a renaissance. While formulaic situation comedies still exist, there's been a marked rise in the number of quality television programs both on network and cable television. We've seen genre shows like <I>Lost</I>, <I>Battlestar Galactica</I> and <I>Deadwood</I> spring up and raise the bar for what's possible and many new shows have followed in their path. <p>The same goes for animated television shows. While cartoons were once known only as trivial children's television, it's become a nuanced artform that adults, kids and adults-wanting-to-be-kids can enjoy. <I>Batman: The Animated Series</I> really changed the perception of comic book cartoons, and 2012 looks to be a gangbuster year for more in that rich tradition. <p>As we continue our look at the 10 Things to Watch for in 2012, we turn our attention to television. From cartoons to live-action, we've plotted the course and invite you to come with us on this countdown. <p>

Doctor Who

Finally, the British stalwart sci-fi icon is getting his due in America. Thanks to BBC America, the Matt Smith-era of <I>Doctor Who</I> has become an overseas sensation here in the United States and its about time. The intrepid Doctor and his erstwhile companion(s) have crisscrossed space, time and a couple other indefinable planes of existence over the years with this later series becoming some of the most imaginative yet. Series six concluded earlier this year with a special Christmas episode just airing, and fans of <I>Doctor Who</I>. can expect to see new episodes and new companions for the good Doctor in late 2012.

J.J. Abrams' Alcatraz

Alcatraz. It's an island prison that has entered into legend for it's impenetrableness and the many failed escape attempts while it was in service. And now creative mastermind J.J. Abrams is coming to live there. <p>Launching January 16 on Fox, <I>Alcatraz</I> is the latest in a string of Abrams shows mixing history and mystery in a compelling premise. In this one, a San Francisco police detective stumbles onto the disappearance of a group of Alcatraz inmates decades ago. But it's not a cold case, as those inmates have started coming back without aging a day. <I>Lost</I>'s Jorge Garcia returns to the Abrams' fold, playing comic-and-prison geek Dr. Diego Doc Soto, joined by acting heavyweight Sam Neill (<I>Jurassic Park</I>) as a secret government agent who knows more than he lets on. Up and coming actress Sarah Jones (<I>Sons of Anarchy</I>, <I>Justified</I>) plays the SFPD detective, with veteran actor Robert Forster playing her uncle. <p>After <I>Lost</I>, Abram's track record on new shows has been hit or miss, but this one looks like it is a formidable contender as a long-term drama.

Tron: Uprising Animated Series

Love it or hate it, you have to admit <I>Tron: Legacy</I> was an interesting piece of filmmaking. While the story might have been lacking, when it came to style, design and world-building it was top notch. And this summer, fans will get to see that in an inventive animated bridge between the first two films in Disney XD's <I>Tron: Uprising</I>. <p>In a stunning mix of 2-D animation and CGI, <I>Tron: Uprising</I> fills in the gaps between the two feature films and shows the ascent of Clu 2 and give more details on Tron's transformation into Rizzler. In this 10-part series, Tron mentors a young program named Beck (voiced by Elijah Wood) to fight for the user as Clu 2's machinations come to light. Bruce Boxleitner reprises his role as Tron, with epically gritty actor Lance Henriksen playing Clu 2's right-hand man General Tessler. <p>The widely released trailer says Before there was Legacy, there was an Uprising, and this new series promises to be all that <I>Tron: Legacy</I> was and then some.

Guillermo Del Toro's Hulk

Although we haven't heard anything about this series besides who's creating it, we can't contain our excitement. The Hulk has had a long and fruitful tradition in television, and Marvel has tapped Guillermo Del Toro and <I>Battlestar Galactica</I>'s David Eick to continue that in an all-new television series. <p>Announced late last year by Marvel Television head honcho Jeph Loeb, this speculative <I>Hulk</I> series would purportedly center on a young Bruce Banner as he deals with the tension with the two biggest forces in his life: girlfriend Betty Ross and alter-ego The Hulk. Not tied to the previous films or Marvel's Cinematic Universe at all, this new <I>Hulk</I> series could break new ground the same way the Bill Bixby show did over 25 years ago.

Game of Thrones, Season 2

Whether you've been reading the novels from day one or just caught up via the television show, <I>Game of Thrones</I> is an epic piece of filmmaking. It's like a feature-length fantasy movie serialized, complete with expert actors, Grade-A special effects, and a costuming budget that'd drive most filmmakers wild. HBO really pulled out the stops to make this medieval fantasy show work, and anticipation is building for its second season to begin in April. <p>Based on the novel series A Song Of Ice & Fire by George R.R. Martin, this serial drama takes the richness of a show like <I>The Sopranos</I> and transports it to a fictional Middle Ages. Political intrigue plus sword fights and the promise of dragons make is an all-around must-see for fans of fantasy storytelling.

Green Lantern: The Animated Series

Although the live-action film might have left green ring-bearers wanting, there's still a hope for Emerald Warriors in 2012 with Cartoon Network's <I>Green Lantern: The Animated Series</I>. Produced by <I>Batman: TAS</I> wunderkind Bruce Timm, the show promises to have Hal Jordan at the center of an intergalactic struggle that skips origins and goes straight into battle against Atrocitus and the Red Lantern Corps. <p>The 26-episode first season promises appearances by Kilowog and various members from the other-colored lantern groups including Saint Walker. There's no word yet on if house-cat-turned-Red-Lantern Dex Starr will make his animated debut.

Ultimate Spider-Man

There's been cartoons based on comics going back for decades including classics like the 1940s Max Fleischer <I>Superman</I> series. But this January sees what could be the most faithful and important series yet. Disney XD's <I>Ultimate Spider-Man</I> animated series takes cues from Brian Michael Bendis' comic series of the same name to bring fans a new modern vision of Peter Parker and the world around him. <p>The Animated <I>Ultimate Spider-Man</I> finds Peter one year into being Spider-Man, still rough around the edges and wayward as to what he does next. Nick Fury offers to help guide Spider-Man under the auspices of S.H.I.E.L.D., enlisting the all-too-familiar Agent Coulson to guide him on his super-hero education. Clark Gregg reprises his live action role here as Coulson, joined by Raimi-era <I>Spider-Man</I> actor J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson and <I>Iron Man: Anime</I> voice actor Adrian Pasdar (<I>Heroes</I>) as Iron Man. <p>On the creative side, Marvel Animation has gone to the source to ensure it sticks to continuity, enlisting Bendis himself as part of the writing team. Joining him is animation and comics veteran Paul Dini of <I>Batman: TAS</I> fame and the comics writing team behind <I>Ben 10</I>, Man of Action: Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, Duncan Rouleau and Steven T. Seagle. The familiar faces don't stop there: a number of Marvel artists were brought to do concept art, including Stuart Immonen, Humberto Ramos and Ed McGuinness. <p><I>Ultimate Spider-Man</I> seems to have all the pieces necessary to make a hit, so let's see what happens this January.

Powers

Brian Michael Bendis' has emerged as one of the most prolific and popular superhero comics' writers in the contemporary age. And although he's made that through his work on <I>Avengers</I> and <I>Ultimate Spider-Man</I>, when left to his own machinations he has a slightly different view. With artist Michael Avon Oeming, Bendis has created the long-running <I>Powers</I> series following a pair of police detectives tasked with uncovering and solving super-human related crimes. Mixing one part <I>The Shield</I> and one part <I>Marvels</I>, it's become a gripping piece of comics history and it's coming to television. <p>Set up through FX, the <I>Powers</I> television series finds <I>Losers</I> villain Jason Patric in the lead role of Christian Walker, relative newcomer Lucy Punch as Deena Pilgrim, and veteran TV actor Charles S. Dutton (<I>The Corner</I>, <I>Roc</I>) as Captain Cross. Aimed to be a crime drama similar to <I>Se7en</I> or <I>Zodiac</I>, FX shot a pilot in the summer of 2011 but announced that it was retooling and reshooting the pilot in January before they make a final decision on it. Bendis, who is actively involved in the production, says the reshoots were to adjust the tone and clarity of the show, still lending hope the series could make it. <p>Although FX hasn't given the final go-ahead for <I>Powers</I> to be on television just yet, Newsarama holds out high hopes we'll see the series premiere this fall.

The Walking Dead

What's the biggest threat from zombies? Not only can they kill you, but they can turn you into a zombie as well. And AMC's adaptation of <I>The Walking Dead</I> comic has turned an army of television-watchers into zombies themselves, feasting on the two seasons that they've been fed in the past two years. And just as you wouldn't rule out a new outbreak when there's zombies around, you shouldn't rule out more <I>Walking Dead</I> episodes as season two resumes this February with six more episodes and then a whole new season come Halloween.

DC Nation Block on Cartoon Network

Since Warner Bros. reshuffled the ranks at DC, it's engendered a whole new level of collaboration between DC Comics' and its sister companies under the WB umbrella. After a long history of hit animated shows based on DC titles, that's going a step further in 2012 as Cartoon Network plans a block of programming titled DC Nation. Airing alongside full-length shows <I>Green Lantern: The Animated Series</I> and <I>Young Justice</I>, DC Nation is the television equivalent to an anthology, featuring DC's finest. Cartoon Network has already confirmed that there'll be a series of shorts for <I>Teen Titans</I>, <I>Blue Beetle</I>, <I>Plastic Man</I>, <I>Doom Patrol</I>, <I>Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld</I>, and even a Supergirl/Batgirl/Wonder Girl trio series called <I>Super Best Friends Forever</I>. And we almost forgot to list one of the most intriguing of all: <I>Batman</I> shorts done by Aardman Animations. <p>Executive producer Sam Register promises that there will be new shorts ever week, with a few surprises in store for DC fans

TV

10 To Watch in 2012: Television

Date: 02 January 2012 Time: 12:50 PM ET