9 to Watch in 2009: Television

The New Year is wide open with comics firing on all cylinders in the upper echelons of superhero comics to the vibrant field of modern comics. But who rests at the top? Who are the biggest and brightest – who are the ones who pose to make 2009 a breakout year for themselves? From characters to comics to creators, and even to the wider spectrum of television and movies – who will be the breakout stars?

Newsarama gathered the facts, analyzed the fiction and reviewed the rumors to delineate who we think will the top – the 9 to Watch in '09. All this week, we'll be picking out the 9 To Watch in '09 in five categories: comic characters, comic creators, comic series/books, movies and television shows. The first three are clearly comics-centric, while the last two are wide open.

In the previous days, we've covered all corners of the comic spectrum for what's to come in 2009: the characters, the creators and the new series. Now we broaden our focus into the wider world of television. From shows based on comics to shows who have their own comics and even shows that should have their own comics. And yes, we know the fickleness of televsion production, so take the entries on shows that are yet to begin production with a heaping helping of optomism. 

Star Wars live action show

Originally announced by Lucas in 2005, the series will be set between Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope and will cover the Empire's expansion over the Republic and the growing rebellion against it. In 2007, producer Rick McCallum said it could run up to 400 episodes and it will be the closest thing to get to the original trilogy. But people are hedging their bets for a 2009 release; the success of The Clone Wars animated series could push it either way.

Fables on ABC

One of Vertigo's biggest success stories throughout the years with fourteen Eisner Awards, it is now poised to take over the world of television in the 2009-2010 Television season - we hope. Announced on December 8th, it is to be shepherded by the creators of the underrated Six Degrees series Stu Zicherman and Raen Metzner, and director David Semel (Studio 60, Heroes) is onboard to direct. The shape of Fables is a perfect fit for comics – but could it work even better on television?

The Return of LOST

Not a new series but a must-see if you love serialized storytelling a la comics. The fifth season debuts January 21st with a three-hour premiere. Throughout the series there have been flashbacks and flash forwards to fill out the story, but in this season the action is primarily focused in the present as the people who escaped the island try to find their way back.

Kings

No, it's not a television adaptation of the movie Three Kings – it is a modern-day retelling of the biblical story of King David. The setting is a United States which is ruled by a corporate-run monarchy that's been under siege for many years. The cast is led by Deadwood's Ian McShane as King Silas, so expectations run high. The series is created by Michael Green (Heroes, Smallville, Superman/Batman) who is no stranger to comics. But I'm waiting it for Ian McShane as a modern-day King.

Stargate Universe

This present-day series finds a team of Earth explorers aboard an Ancient ship named Destiny as they fend for themselves in the far reaches of the universe, unable to return to Earth. Described as a user-friendly Stargate that will appeal to veteran fans as well as newcomers, and will rely less on stand-alone episodes but rather more serialized storytelling. This third Stargate series featured inspired casting of Robert Carlyle (Trainspotting, 28 Weeks Later) as head of this group of explorers. There were many heavy hearts with the cancellation of Stargate: SG-1, and this might fill that void for long-time fans while still attracting new viewers (and higher ratings) that an expensive show like this needs to survive.

Merlin

It's the story of a young Merlin, growing up in the Uther Pendragon's castle as he befriends a young Arthur. Originally aired in 2008 in England, the story is changed somewhat from the familiar Arthurian legends but an advance review of the series shows it finding its own footing early on for this new timeline. Bucking the trend of remaking British hit shows for American audiences, NBC is simply rebroadcasting this BBC hit with no changes to speak of. The featured cast is mostly unknown, but it does feature Buffy the Vampire Slayer's Anthony Stewart Head as King Uther and John Hurt voicing a dragon who acts as a sage to young Merlin.

The Philanthropist

"Vigilante Billionaire". That's the best way to describe this series by Homicide:Life On The Street producers Tom Fontana and Barry Levinson. Taking the lead is Rome's James Purefoy, with able assists by Jesse Martin (Law & Order) and Neve Campbell (Scream) in this London-based drama about a repentant billionaire whose son's death turns him from nefarious to selfless. On paper it seems edgy and captivating, but time will tell on what the series ends up looking like.

The Return of Battlestar: Galactica

Loved and hated by fans, Battlestar Galactica's return on January 16th is highly touted as its final season… but what will it be? When we last saw the BS:G group they had found Earth as a wasteland and questioning what happened to their paradise and salvation. Can it regain its heights of seasons 1 and 2 while staying true to the religious reach of the beginnings of season 4? Questions, questions…

Warehouse 13

SCI FI continues to branch out, this time with July debuting series is described as part X-Files, part Raiders of the Lost Ark, part Moonlighting (and a big part Friday: The 13th: The Series). The series centers around a government agency that is assigned to retrieve missing supernatural objects and investigate reports of new ones: Supernatural Lost & Found. Described as a dramatic comedy, it is written & created by Farscape creator Rockne S. O'Bannon, with assists from BS:G's Jane Espenson and D. Brent Mote. The cast is relative unknowns, but SCI FI has put a lot of weight behind this series to pick-up where BS:G ends so we're looking forward to it.

In The Corner Of Our Eye:

There's more television out there than even we can survey so far in advance, but we are keeping our eye on several other shows that could – and should – be good.

The Deadliest Warrior

Part of Spike TV's full-scale expansion into reality TV / documentary television shows, The Deadliest Warrior pits two groups of warriors in each episode to see who would win. Vikings vs. Samurai? I'd pay for that.

The Listener

A CTV creation that NBC picked up before it had even begun filming, The Listener is about a young paramedic with telepathic powers. His powers lead him into moonlighting as a "telepathic sleuth" while still trying to lead a normal life as a young adult. Advance reviews say that the crux of the series echoes Spider-man's mythos of "with great power comes great responsibility", and that could be a great thing if done right.

Castle

Serenity's Nathan Fillion stars in his own series as Richard Castle, a famous mystery novelist whose fictional storytelling makes him valuable in solving real-life mysteries. Shades of Murder, She Wrote maybe, but I'd love to see Nathan Fillion dressed up as Angela Lansbury.

Virtuality

Considered by some to be a spiritual follow-up to BS:G, Ronald D. Moore's one-hour Fox drama centers on an exploratory starship who pass the long travel time by getting engrossed in virtual reality worlds when something goes wrong. The announcement that Peter Berg has signed on to direct the pilot is a ringing endorsement, so it’s got at least one episode worth watching from the start.

But...that’s just us...and there are many, many close calls to this list - with Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse leading for some, but its production troubles keeping it off for others... What say you? What book is poised to make 2009 its year? Not just a name – get your reasons in there as well...

Related:

Final Battlestar Galactica Episodes to Start 1/16/09

Brad Wright Talks Stargate: Continuum

Star Wars: The Clone Wars Weekly:  Dooku's Day

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