10 To Watch in 2013: TELEVISION

<i>by <a href=http://www.chrisarrant.com/>Chris Arrant, Newsarama Contributor</a></i> <p>While movies have their up and down years, television seems to get better every year, and 2013 is shaping up to be one of the best. Between the return of popular shows like <b>Game of Thrones</b> and <b>The Walking Dead</b> to the promise of potential new favorites like Joss Whedon's <I>S.H.I.E.L.D.</I> and <I>Beware The Batman</i>, if you don't have a DVR , you might want to invest to keep up with all the great shows this year. <p>After Wednesday's cavalcade of geek-centric comic book movies coming to the big screen, we turn to a screen in your home, and pick out 10 shows any comics fan won't want to miss. Some are just days away, some months, and some even further but all are worth watching out for. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>


Leave your inhibitions at the door, because CW's <B>Arrow</B> is something special. <p>Launched late last year as the latest in a line of CW shows based on DC characters, <B>Arrow</B> is well-conceived drama that shows a young Oliver Queen trying to navigate the world after the billionaire playboy was shipwrecked on an island for five years. <I>Robinson Crusoe</I> this is not; more like Katniss for the superhero set. <p>With new episodes of the first season set to start coming out on January 16, <B>Arrow</B> is quickly developing into something special. Between the titular star played by Stephen Amell and Paul Blackthorne as Detective Lance, it's a strong piece of work and that's before we even mention that <I>Torchwood</I>'s John Barrowman just showed up. Upcoming debuts include Roy Harper, the Huntress, and even the Blackhawks in the form of <I>Farscape</I>'s Ben Browder. <p>For those missing out, several of the episodes are online or you can just jump right in come January 16.


When the Hulk needs backup, then you really know the bad guys are badass. <p>In the upcoming animated series <B>Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.</B>, comics and TV vet Paul Dini (<i>Batman: The Animated Series</i>, <i>Lost</i> and more) makes a big green superhero group when Hulk teams up with She-Hulk, Skaar, the Red Hulk and A-Bomb to fight... well, everything. This enterprising new show has a great set of creative types, both with the Dini-led writing team and in the voice-recording studio. The epic Clancy Brown will voice Red Hulk and Thunderbolt Ross, Eliza Dushku is playing She-Hulk, with Seth Green as Rick Jones and his A-Bomb alter-ego. Veteran Hulk voice actor Fred Tatasciore returns to play the titular hero, after voicing him in nearly all of his modern animated and video game incarnations. <p>A lot of folks got a big kick out of the <I>Hulk Vs.</I> animated shows, and this looks like it could be all that and then some.


Fox has a long history of unique, cerebral dramas like <I>X-Files</I> and <I>House</I>, and now it looks to add another to that impressive legacy: <B>The Following</B>. <p>The series, created by Kevin Williamson (<I>Scream</I>, <I>The Vampire Diaries</I>) stars Kevin Bacon as an FBI agent who discovers a social network for serial killers, all designed by a secretive murderer played by James Purefoy. Bacon and Purefoy top an excellent cast which includes <I>Justified</I>'s Natalie Zea and Maggie Grace of <I>Lost</I> and <I>Taken</I> fame. <p>This is Kevin Bacon's first time leading a television series after a long career as a film actor, and could be a gripping piece of drama between Bacon, the cast and Williamson's already impressive string of television and movies.


<B>Game of Thrones</B> has quickly assembling a die-hard cult fanbase in addition to a large number of casual fans, making it one of the most watched shows on cable for the past few years. Thankfully, that ravenous fanbase has less than three months to wait for a new season. <p>Based on the fantasy prose novel series <B>A Song Of Ice And Fire</B> by author George R.R. Martin, <B>Game of Thrones</B>' third season has 10 extra-sized episodes set to traverse the first half of the events of the novel <I>A Storm of Swords</I>, possibly including the impending invasion of the Others as shown in the finale to season to last year. <p>Come March 31, you'd best be prepared for what awaits in the coming of the long winter.


Batman has a long history in television, from the slapstick comedy of the Adam West series of the 60s to the darker <I>Batman: The Animated Series</I>, then back to madcap adventure with the recent <I>Batman: The Brave And The Bold</I>. Now it looks like that pendulum is shifting back towards the shadows. <p>Set for launch sometime this summer, <B>Beware The Batman</B> is set to return a more serious tone for Batman and Gotham City, and expand the DC hero's rogues gallery past the notables to include more recent characters like Anarky, Professor Pyg and Mr. Toad. The series, developed by <I>B:TAS</I> alum Glen Murakami, will be fully computer-animated, akin to the recent <I>Green Lantern: the Animated Series</I>, but will focus on Batman more as a detective than a caped crusader.


This November, the BBC will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the (very) long-running series <B>Doctor Who</B>. Given the show's past history at celebrating special occasions, this should be momentous. <p>Scheduled to air sometime in November, the 50th Anniversary events for <B>Doctor Who</B> have been rumored to include deaths, old villains returning and even former doctors like David Tennant. <p>[Plans for <B>Doctor Who</B>'s 50th Anniversary] are immense, they are considerable," showrunner Steven Moffat said at a preview screening of the 2012 Christmas special. They will be full of tremendous surprises. But they wouldn't be surprises if I accidentally said them now, would they? But I promise you, we're going to take over television. Trust me. <p>Whatever it is, it's set to begin filming in April so look for more news then.


Did you watch the <B>Avengers</B> film last summer? What if you could see that sort of action and spectacle weekly, for free, on your home television? <p>That's the plan Marvel has with the upcoming animated series, <B>Avengers Assemble</B>. Taking the place of the already popular <I>Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes</I>, <B>Avengers Assemble</B> is intended to more closely echo the tone and feel of the 2012 live action movie, according to Jeph Loeb, head of Marvel TV. Using the six heroes from that show along with a new member the Falcon, who will act as the eyes and ears for the viewers, <B>Avengers Assemble</B> is set to premiere this summer on Disney XD.


The dead, they just keep coming. And thankfully, so does AMC's adaptation of <B>The Walking Dead</B>. <p>After a great set of episodes this past year, season three of <B>The Walking Dead</B> resumes on February 10 for eight more episodes. So far we've seen the introduction of the Governor and the revelations of what he's capable of, mixed with what Rick Grimes and company have to deal with when trying to eek out a living in an (almost) abandoned prison. And soon we'll find out what happens when those two forces, and specifically Rick and the Governor, come head to head. <p>Their clash in the <B>Walking Dead</B> comic was one of that series' most memorable moments, and fans have speculated how it'll be translated for TV. <p>Looking further ahead into the fall of 2013 you can expect even more of <B>The Walking Dead</B>, as AMC has already greenlit the show for a fourth season. That, unfortunately, will be done without showrunner Glen Mazzara who left the show after a disagreement with the network over the show's direction. Although recovering from that loss seems difficult, <B>The Walking Dead</B> did it once already when Glen Mazzara took over for Frank Darabont so they might have it in them to do it again.


The Marvel Cinematic Universe has dominated movie theaters for the past four years, and now it's coming to TV. <p>When news broke that Marvel had hired Joss Whedon to direct 2012's <B>Avengers</B> film, fans were overjoyed though some were a bit nervous given that Whedon at that time only had success in television. But now with the unprecedented success of <B>Avengers</B> last summer, Whedon's coming full circle back to television and bringing Marvel's signature spy outfit with him. <p>Tentatively set to launch (provided it moves past the pilot stage) with the fall 2013 television season on the Disney-owned ABC network, <B>S.H.I.E.L.D.</B> brings Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson and the might of that fabled spy organization to television screens. Set squarely in the same fictional universe as the Marvel movies, <B>S.H.I.E.L.D.</B> will show how these non-powered men and women do their job in a world of burgeoning superpowers, superhumans and super-threats. <p> What does S.H.I.E.L.D. have that the other superheroes don't? Whedon asked in <a href=http://splashpage.mtv.com/2012/09/12/joss-whedon-shield-new-cast/>an interview with MTV's Splash Page</A> back in September. And that, to me, is that they're not superheroes, but they live in that universe. Even though they're a big organization, that [lack of powers] makes them underdogs, and that interests me.


If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. <p>After the David E. Kelley <b>Wonder Woman</b> pilot from 2011 failed to earn a slot on television, DC is back at it this time at CW with a prospective WW-centric series titled <B>Amazon</B>. The news broke a few months back, listing former <B>Wonder Woman</B> comic writer Allan Heinberg a veteran of TV shows like <I>Grey's Anatomy</I> in line to shepherd the project to the small screen. If successful, this would be the third in a string of CW series to be based on DC characters that used stylized titles like <I>Smallville</I> and <I>Arrow</I>. <p>Heinberg is currently working on the pilot script, with casting directors currently hunting for an ideal woman to play the lead character. The casting sheet listed the main character's name as "Iris," causing a fervor amongst fans who thought they were changing Wonder Woman, who's named "Diana" in the comics. Heinberg piped up on Twitter to say that the name Iris was mere subterfuge to try to sneak the casting call under the radar of prying fanboy eyes. According to the casting sheet, this Wonder Woman comes from a remote, secluded country and until now has spent most of her life as a soldier and a leader on the battlefield. Because of relentless brutality of her life at home, Iris looks at our world with absolute awe and astonishment. <p>The description has <I>Amazon</I> positioned to show Wonder Woman as a bit of a fish out of water when she comes to America, taking advantage of the unique scenario provided by the character's origins. There's no word yet who will be cast for the title role or other supporting players, but this could very well be coming your way sooner rather than later.


10 To Watch in 2013: TELEVISION

Date: 03 January 2013 Time: 08:16 PM ET