WHAT WILL BE BIG ON THE SMALL SCREEN IN 2014?

The only thing better than what’s happening now is what’s happening next, and 2014 is shaping up to be a great year for fans of genre entertainment with a television set. Newsarama has counted over two dozen television series planned for release next year that would be of interest to our comics-lovin’ readership, and for our annual “10 To Watch For 2014” we’ve cut them down to the top ten and given you reasons why. <p>Our picks range from new original series coming out of superhero comics’ fertile landscape of ideas to stories based on fictional fantasy and science fiction stories from other mediums; there’s even a few original stories, if you can imagine that. If you liked <I>Arrow</I>, <I>The Walking Dead</I> or <I>Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.</I> in 2013, you’re going to love what’s coming for you in 2014. <p>More <b>10 to Watch in 2014</b> countdowns: <p><a href=http://www.newsarama.com/19898-10-to-watch-in-2014-comic-book-creators.html><li><b>Comic Book Creators</b></a> <p><a href=http://www.newsarama.com/19906-10-to-watch-for-2014-comic-book-series-ogns.html><li><b>Comic Book Series & OGNs</b></a> <p><a href=http://www.newsarama.com/19919-10-to-watch-for-2014-comic-book-characters.html><li><b>Comic Book Characters</b></a>

HOURMAN

Time is ticking down, and 2014 looks to be time for DC’s Hourman to clock in. <p>The time-tested hero of DC’s of comic book’s Golden Age is under development by the CW as a 2014 live-action television series to join <I>The Arrow</I>, already a certified hit. While Hourman isn’t the first name you’d think of at DC in terms of an obvious live-action adaptation, the uniqueness of his powers, backstory and themes looks like it could be an overlooked gem. <p>In comic books, Hourman is Rex Tyler (or sometimes his son Rick, or an android Matthew) who has superhuman strength, speed and senses – but only for a limited amount of time. He derives his powers from a miraculous formula (sometimes called a ‘vitamin,’ sometimes a ‘drug’) which gives him powers for a limited amount of time. Tyler puts it to good use, looking to ferret out the mysterious visions he’s had his entire life that he discovers are possible futures for him and his family. <p>This potential <I>Hourman</I> television series is headed up by <I>Sopranos</I> writer Michael Caleo, joined with up-and-coming movie impresario Dan Lin (<I>Sherlock Holmes, Terminator Salvation</I>). <p>The big question is how they will deal with the fact that the original concept of Hourman is essentially a drug-fueled superhero. Although Marvel’s Captain America could be similarly called the same, the methodology of Hourman’s Miraclo drug could be twisted into condoning the use of illegal drugs for personal use. Sounds like <I>Breaking Bad</I>. <p>Wait… <I>Breaking Bad</I> in the superhero universe? Maybe that could work.

WESTWORLD

They say westerns don’t work in modern live-action filmmaking – but what about a Western in the future… in an amusement park, no less? That’s what J.J. Abrams is thinking, as he’s developing a television remake of the 1973 sci-fi thriller <I>Westworld</I> for HBO in 2014. <p>The original, directed by <I>Jurassic Park</I> novelist Michael Crichton, is set in a high-tech future amusement park named Delos, which has multiple sections – titled “worlds” – themed around various time periods, most notably the American Wild West as Westworld. Populated by realistic androids playing characters from popular movies, television shows and mainstream stereotypes, people can visit these them parks for a premium fee and act out any of their fantasies in these robotic worlds. But with a computer virus infects the system, the park visitors find themselves at the mercy of theme park and its robotic characters – including a western gunslinger straight out of <I>The Magnificent Seven</I>. <p>Abrams is producing this drama for HBO, along with Jonathan Nolan and Jerry Weintraub.

CONSTANTINE

Ah, John Constantine. Never one to give up despite adversity. <p>DC/Warner Bros. are in development on a small-screen adaptation of John Constantine’s comic book adventures as seen in the current <I>Constantine</I> comic series and formerly <I>Hellblazer</I>. The project is being headed up by a unique dream team – experienced TV producer Daniel Cerone (<I>The Mentalist</I>) and DC’s de facto head movie writer, David S. Goyer. Could they figure out the formula to take the warlock/con man and translate it to a successful television series? We hope so. <p>Some of Constantine’s more ardent fans are hesitant to get onboard this series given that it’s not for an HBO-network and expect a more “all ages” tone similar to <I>The Arrow</I>, but given how dark Goyer’s <I>Man of Steel</I> script was I could see him pushing to bring that here to <I>Constantine</I>.

EXTANT

This summer, Steven Spielberg and Halle Berry are pairing up go out into space – and they’re doing it on television. <p>Spielberg produces and Berry starts in <I>Extant</I>, an upcoming CBS live-action series which follows the homecoming of an astronaut – played by Berry – after a year in outer space. Even if <I>Gravity</I> hadn’t come out in 2013 outer space would be big business, but <I>Extant</I> promises an added twist – mysterious events that happened during Berry’s character’s time in space affected her, and she’s bringing all of those experiences – and that baggage – back with her to Earth. <p>“<i>Extant</i> is a very original concept with layers of humanity, mystery and surprise that reveal itself throughout the script,” said CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler in a press release. <p>Spielberg has had a number of television projects in the recent years, including the recent success <I>Under The Dome</I> (showrun by comics alum Brian K. Vaughn). For Berry however, this will be her first starring role in a television series – having spent her career thus far working in movies.

CROSSBONES

There will be a flag of skull and crossbones flying on your television set in 2014. For its then that John Malkovich will step into the role of pirate Edward “Blackbeard” Teach in the NBC drama <I>Crossbones</i>. Created and written by Neil Cross (<I>Luther</I>, <I>Spooks</I>, <I>Doctor Who</I>), promises the sea shenanigans of <I>Pirates of the Carribean</I> but with a tighter grip on reality. Based on the book <I>The Republic of Pirates</I> by Colin Woodard, it promises to s how the inner workings of 18th Century pirates and the unique democracy the rose from it years before the foundation of the United States. <p><I>Crossbones</I> is currently being filmed in Puerto Rico, with <I>30 Days of Night</I> director David Slade helming the pilot. Look for this on television beginning in the fall of 2014.

OUTLANDER

<I>Battlestar Galactica</I>’s Ronald Moore is prepping for another whirlwind adventure, but this time it takes place in time rather than space. In 2014 Moore will shepherd the beloved historical romance/science fiction novel series <I>Outlander</I> from prose to the small screen in a live action series for Starz. Mixing historical fiction with romance, adventure and a dollop of science fiction, <I>Outlander</I> follows a World War 2 nurse named Claire as she travels through time to 17th Century Scotland where she befriends – and ultimately bethroves – a young Scottish warrior named Jamie. <p>In the prose novels, <I>Outlander</I> mixes the time-displaced romance of <I>The Time Traveler’s Wife</I> with more historical Scottish drama ala <I>Rob Roy</I>. Split between two times, two lives and two husbands, Claire is reminiscent of the strong-willed Princess Leia as seen in the original <I>Star Wars</I>, being much more than a damsel in distress but the anchor and action of the series. <p>Honorable mention goes to Moore's <i>other</i> 2014-launching TV show, <i>Helix</i>, which looks to revive classic 70s/80s sci-fi horror in a new self-contained season for SyFy.

BLACK SAILS

There’s piracy in the air – and on the TV screen – in 2014. Starz has commissioned its own pirate drama to go against NBC’s <I>Crossbones</I>, and taken their inspiration from the classic novel <I>Treasure Island</I>. <p>Set to debut on January 25, <I>Black Sails</I> follows the younger adventures of Captain Flint before Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, as he assembles a crew and sets sail into Caribbean and into history. Stocked with fictional pirates as well as real ones such as Anne Bonny, “Calico Jack” Rackham and others, it’s an interesting mix – especially when you consider they cast <I>Die Another Day</I>’s Toby Stephens as Flint and Zach McGowan as Captain Vane. <p>The crew off-screen is as interesting as the ones on-screen, as Michael Bay is one of the show’s executive producers. Leading up the project directly is the co-creator of <I>Jericho</I> and original showrunner for <I>Chuck</I>, Jonathan E. Steinberg. Starz showed off an early cut of the pilot episode at 2013’s Comic-Con International: San Diego, with it earning so much praise that the network greenlit the show for a second season even through the first hasn’t even aired yet.

THE FLASH

Even when you’re the fastest man alive, sometimes it takes Flash a little bit to get up to speed – but it’s been good to watch. After debuting earlier this year in the television series <I>Arrow</I>, Central City CSI Investigator Barry Allen (played by Grant Gustin) is now waiting at the starting line to race to a spin-off series of his own. <p>Set around a murder mystery, that of Barry’s mother, this new <I>Flash</I> series follows up from the character’s appearances in <I>Arrow</I> and the .S.T.A.R. Labs explosion which caused an accident in Allen’s lab. The series itself is being developed by the masterminds behind <I>Arrow</I>, Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg, along with David Nutter and Geoff Johns. Although elements of his origin were shown in <I>Arrow</I>, the full reveal of Allen and his story will be held for the <I>Flash</I> series itself. <p>Among the television series the CW is prepping based on DC Comics’ material, <I>Flash</I> has by far the biggest built-in fanbase – even bigger than <I>Arrow</I> before it’s launch. And thanks to the proven track record shown by <I>Arrow</I>, the <I>Flash</I> series looks to have a running start with the wind at its back to be a frontrunner when the show debuts in 2014. <p>Also, given Flash’s central role in the DCU and the connectedness to <I>Arrow</I>, this adds further credibility to the idea of a larger interconnected DCU universe in television – one that’s possibly connected to the DC movie-verse established by <I>Man of Steel</I>.

GOTHAM

Prepare to take a trip to Gotham City, but it’s not a Gotham you’ve ever been to before – in comics or on screen. <I>The Mentalist</I>’s Bruno Heller is hard at work on a live-action series titled <I>Gotham</I> for Fox set in the early days of Bruce Wayne’s life – years before he became Batman. <p>Described as a “Batman prequel,” <I>Gotham</I> is said to cover “the origin stories of Commissioner James Gordon and the villains that made Gotham famous.” Of all the new DC television shows announced in the past 12 months, <I>Gotham</I> scratches an itch that ardent Batman fans have been hoping for years to see; Gotham City as told by the people working in it -- <I>Marvels</I> for the DCU. Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker and others did it expertly in comics with <I>Gotham Central</I>, and after years of possible adaptation of that series it seems DC (and parent company Warner Bros.) opted for a take slightly left of center. <p>Given the brief plot premise and the involvement of Heller, <I>Gotham</I> seems to be a DC-themed police procedural, but given the comics history at play during this formidable time before Batman hit the scene there could still be other superhero elements, and if nothing else viewers will get to see Bruce Wayne as a boy, a period of this life that hasn’t yet been explored that much.

STAR WARS: REBELS

In 2014 fans will begin to see the first real products of this new era of <I>Star Wars</I> post-Disney buyout. And from the looks of it, it’s going to be pretty amazing. <p>This coming fall, Disney XD will debut <I>Star Wars: Rebels</I>, a new animated series set between the events of Episode III and IV. For many people that is one of the liminal highpoints in <I>Star Wars</I>’ fictional history, with the rise of Boba Fett, the culmination of the Empire, and the humble beginnings of the Rebellion. So far Lucasfilm has kept its cards close to its vest in terms of revealing the exact story of <I>Star Wars: Rebels</I>, but they have revealed numerous stills and videos that tell us the Empire is in full-form with TIEs and Destroyers from the original trilogy, as well as appearances by the Emperor and even Lando Calrissian. <p>One character Lucasfilm has pulled back the curtain on is what they call <I>Star Wars</I>’ “next great villain,” the Inquisitor. This menacing looking figure is a force-wielder who is “tasked by Darth Vader to hunt down the remaining Jedi Knights.” <p>And although this is a separate production from the previous animated series, <I>Star Wars: The Clone Wars</I>, executive producer Dave Filoni has gone on record saying he hopes that some of that series characters – specifically Ahsoka – would appear in <I>Star Wars: Rebels</I>. <p>So if you want your <I>Star Wars</I> fix, you don’t have to wait until J.J. Abrams’ film in 2015 – you can have it in animation, weekly, beginning in 2014.

10 To Watch For 2014: TV SHOWS

Date: 31 December 2013 Time: 07:37 PM ET