Ten for '10: Things to Watch in the New Year - TELEVISION

Television has become a fertile ground for the genre-style shows comic book fans know and love - from the big budget mind-bending stories of Lost to sci-fi epics like Battlestar Galactica and homegrown superheroes with Smallville. With the growth of cable television and all the opportunities it represents, what was once a handful of hours for many shows to fit has been expanded to be a near limitless field of dreams.

This year’s 2010 television season holds particular promise for comic readers, as four mature comic book series are being actively developed for the small screen. Human Target is the first out of the gate, followed up by potential shows for Fables, Powers, and The Walking Dead. They join long-time torchbearer Smallville as well as animated series that are aimed at the younger end of the spectrum. Besides the straight comics-to-TV adaptations, shows as diverse as True Blood and Doctor Who are leaving dyed-in-the-wool geeks looking for a comfy couch in front of a big-screen TV.

We continue out looks at Ten Things to Watch in 2010 with television as our focus...

The Walking Dead

Talked about for years as a possible movie, the announcement by AMC of a television series based on Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore’s Image Comics zombie survival tale could be a game-changer. A weekly fix of zombies – on AMC no less? AMC is still relatively new to the television biz, but the breakout success of Mad Men out of the gate and follow-ups such as Breaking Bad make this a potential coup. Walking Dead was reportedly days away from being secured by another network, so whatever AMC offered to make their station its home shows an immense amount of faith in bringing zombies to cable TV.

Read the entire The Walking Dead #1 right here at Newsarama...

The Return of Lost

The sixth and final season of one of the most intricate and just-plain-complicated sci-fi dramas is finally coming. Scheduled to debut on February 2nd, Lost shares many connections with comics – from early and frequent appearances of comics in the shows themselves to the comic superstars like Jeph Loeb and Brian K. Vaughn who have both written for the show. The show is far too complicated to even begin to explain here, but those in the know know that this final chapter could vault the show into being the greatest drama of all time. But an the promise build up in the five previous seasons live up to the hype that has grown in Lost’s fervent fans?

Fables

While it’s not a done deal until its first episode airs, all signs point to “Yes” for Bill Willingham’s Fables comic series to be coming to television. Originally optioned back in 2005 by NBC, ABC picked it up in 2008 and assigned J.J. Abrams’ colleagues Stu Zicherman and Raven Metzner (Six Degrees) to develop a Fables show as an hour long drama. Director David Semel (House M.D., Angel) has been brought onboard to direct the pilot, but not much has been heard since. Readers of the series know the potential that a story about storybook fables existing in the modern day world, but the only question is can they come up with a script – and a budget – to make it a Fables television show a reality.

Human Target

The latest in a long run of Len Wein creations to make it from comics to television, the Human Target is coming to Fox on January 17th. Leading up this spy action story is actor Mark Valley (Boston Legal, Fringe) and producers McG & Brad Kern. Part bodyguard and part man-of-1000-faces, the Human Target is a concept the owes a lot to classic TV tropes while being a potential avenue for some 21st century storytelling. Everyone’s hoping it’ll fair better than the 1992 short-lived adaptation with 80s singer Rick Springfield, and its positioning as a mid-season replacement at Fox looks like a big chance – and a big risk – for the lead character, Christopher Chance. But if the heavy rotation of commercials prior to the series’ debut is any indicator, Fox has high hopes it’ll catch on.

Fringe

The latest in the growing franchise of J.J. Abrams-produced serial dramas, Fringe has become a modern-day successor to X-Files and one of the best-looking shows on television. After the surprising twists seen in the season 1 finale, season 2 is currently underway and the plots of parallel universes, World Trade Center conspiracies and bleeding edge technology have left tongues wagging and some people dumb-founded about what’s going on. While not as confusing as it’s proverbial TV sibling Lost, Fringe relies heavily on the mysterious conspiracies and technological innovations and plots with no end in sight. If there’s a complaint to be made about Fringe it would be about the lack of in-depth characterization that Lost has, but recent developments show promise of a more detailed look into the lives of the lead characters.

Day One

The end of the world is a popular subject, and not just in the movie box office with 2012, The Road and The Book of Eli. Television jumps into the end-of-time biz with the upcoming NBC series Day One, which follows a group of apartment dwellers that survive a worldwide cataclysm. Rumored to take over the Heroes spot in early 2010, the pilot was directed by Alex Grave, who also did the pilots for Fringe and Journeyman. Although recently downgraded form a full television season to a four-part miniseries with an option to expand it later, Day One has the potential to be a breakout hit if it does its job right.

Smallville

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One of the longest-running live action superhero shows in decades, Smallville has really blossomed in recent years. The growth of a young Clark Kent into the adult-Superman has been a really interested and diverse story, and the inclusion of guest stars like Hawkman and Zatanna has been a welcome addition as the TV leads into a larger DC universe. The show returns on January 22nd with a show focused on Green Arrow, and following that up on February 5th with a double-episode movie about the formation of a Justice League called, aptly enough, “Absolute Justice”. If anyone can do Smallville right, it’s Geoff Johns. So we’re there.

Powers

One of the biggest creator-owned series to debut in the new century, Powers has long been the subject of Hollywood scrutiny. Just one year into the series’ run it had already been picked up for a potential movie. And although that deal fell through, Powers is now in-line to be produced as a TV series on FX as a full-hour drama. Co-creator/writer Brian Michael Bendis has even secured the spot of writing the pilot himself, saying in early 2009 Bendis that he had already handed over the first draft. Bendis has teased more news about it on his active Twitter account, we hope to have some real news on superhero crime detectives Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim on the TV beat in 2010.

Doctor Who Season 5

Although not scheduled for U.S. audiences for some time, the fifth Doctor Who series with an all-new doctor will be burning up the airwaves and illegal torrent sites when it comes out. BBC has dubbed it as “Doctor Who Series One, but its hard to keep track of the number of series – and doctors – in the franchise’s forty-seven year history. It’s not just a new doctor, but a new head writer behind the scenes as showrunner-since-revival Russell T. Davies departed and was replaced by Steven Moffat, who penned several episodes previously and also wrote the script for Steven Spielberg’s upcoming TinTin movie. Moffat has promised the return of several old favorites such as the Weeping Angels, as well as some new developments in the Doctor Who’s legacy. As long as they keep the theme song, I’ll watch it.

True Blood

More than just a television counterpart of the vampire movie/book series Twilight, True Blood has emerged as a vibrant and unlikely replacement for HBO’s Sopranos. The story of a telepathic Louisiana waitress and an assortment of supernatural suitors engaged in a sort-of supernatural race war has quickly surpassed viewers’ initial expectations, with it’s most recent episode’s ratings showing 300% increase from it’s original pilot – and it outdid the finale of Sopranos as well. Filming began just a month ago on the third season, but True Blood fans will be staying up all night waiting for the season premiere.

IN THE CORNER OF OUR EYE

Are ten TV shows enough? I think not. Although we couldn’t fit them in our 10 To Watch in 2010, there are a few others that we couldn’t leave out. While some may not fit squarely into the comics/sci-fi love that Newsarama normally purveys in, we do pay attention when good television comes out – no matter what genre.

Persons Unknown: Not much is known about this upcoming NBC show, which is strangely apropos given the mysterious nature of the story. Persons Unknown follows a group of strangers who are imprisoned inside a small ghost town. Dreamed up by Usual Suspects screenwriter Christopher McQuarrie, the series promises some mental gymnastics as the individuals struggle to find out more about the town and each other. One of many television shows in recent memory being produced outside of the U.S. to save money, that also gives Persons Unknown more room – and time – to make it a hit.

Mad Men: While not strictly in the genre-wheelhouse that Newsarama normally covers, you can’t deny the impact and quality that this AMC series has managed in its short tenure. Plus, one of the lead characters has been cast as Tony Stark’s father in Iron Man 2.

Treme: No, not Extreme (or even X-Treme), this upcoming HBO series holds a lot of promise from some well-known writers. As the spiritual successor to the underrated cop drama series The Wire, Treme follows series honchos David Simon and Eric Overmyer as they explore the musicians living in the titular New Orleans neighborhood that has been come to be known as a musical refuge.

Archer: Created by Adult Swim alum Adam Reed (Sealab 2021, Frisky Dingo), Archer is an half-hour animated comedy following a “suave master spy” that has troubles both at work and at home, complete with a domineering mother/boss and an ex-girlfriend agent. While it might be a better fit back on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim, it’s being put out by FX in a bold new move to expand its content.

But there’s more to TV than what we think – what are you looking forward to in the New Year? Pick up your television listings and tell us what new and returning shows you’re looking forward to most… and why.

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