Late Friday the Syfy Network announced a new slate of genre television programs that might see air this fall. Relevant to comic fans, among them was the premise of a program called Ball & Chain:
"After months of emotional tumult, Edgar and Mallory call their relationship quits. As they say their final goodbyes, the ex-lovers are nearly hit by a meteorite that, it turns out, imbues them with extraordinary powers. Unfortunately, the powers only work when they are in close proximity to each other. Though the last thing they want to do is stay together, they’ll need to try if they hope to overcome the newly arrived other-worldly forces that threaten to destroy them and anyone else who gets in the way."
If this sounds familiar, then you recall the early 2000s Ball & Chain mini-series by Scott Lobdell (X-Men, Galaxy Quest) and Ale Garza (Teen Titans) for DC Comics' Homage imprint. After leaving it languishing in ‘development hell,’ Syfy looks like it’s trying to seize on the popularity of super-heroics in the wake of Marvel’s theatrical hits and upcoming network dramas The Cape and No Ordinary Family.
If Ball & Chain ever makes it on air, the challenge for the producers and writers will be to keep the core conflict that powered the four-issue mini-series going for multiple seasons, and if they do, maybe some other nearly forgotten minis can fill out a cable channel’s roster in the years to come. Here are just 5. Let us know what else you think in the comments section!Firebirds (Image Comics, 2004, One Shot)
Background: A young mother, Rebecca Reed, AKA Firebird, sends her daughter Emily off to boarding school, unable to deal with raising a child while being a teenaged superhero. A health crisis, and Emily’s developing powers, brings the estranged daughter and mother back together and under one roof.
Premise: A Gilmore Girls-style relationship dramedy.
Network: Firebirds would fit in with a smaller network like The CW, or on a ‘woman’s’ network like Oxygen or Lifetime.
Jumps Shark When: Cute neighbor boy who’s been pining for Emily since day one discovers her secret and turns evil.Midnight Nation (Top Cow, 2000-2004, 12 issues)
Background: When a gang of otherworldly creatures attacks L.A. Police Detective David Gray, he wakes up in a shadow world parallel to reality and without his soul. With the help of a beautiful female guide with secrets of her own, he must walk across the United States within a year if he hopes to get his life back.
Premise: An epic TV mini-series in the vein of Roots or Shogun.
Network: Only a premium cable channel like HBO could air it without serious compromises to the content and concept.
Jumps Shark When: Executive meddling calls for the removal of any explicit reference to mainstream religions and ‘improves’ the ending.Noble Causes (Image, 2000-2009, 40 issues)
Background: Heroics take a backseat to the private lives of a prominent superhuman family. The Noble’s juggle money, power, a life in the media spotlight and both intra- and inter- family politics when they are not saving the world.
Premise: Daytime or primetime Soap Opera. Just like comic fans, the Soap Opera aficionados are able to understand the kind of universe where coming back from the dead is a regular occurrence.
Network: Midday on any broadcast network or alongside Grey's Anatomy or Parenthood.
Jumps Shark When: Recasting of the romantic lead splits the audience, and a hasty make-good alienates the balance of the fans.High Roads (Cliffhanger, 2002, 6 issues)
Background: Jaded U.S. Army Captain Nick Highroad and a motley crew consisting of a “former” kamikaze pilot, a diminutive British Actor and one of Hitler's mistresses get tangled up in a plot that might end World War II early while searching for hidden treasure. Plus, it's another Lobdell series!
Premise: Serialized action drama in the vein of The Wild, Wild West and Tales of the Gold Monkey. The team will get in and out of tough scrapes week after week, coming close but never achieving their goal of finding their fortune or ending the war early.
Network: Prime time network slot (in the Friday genre death spot).
Jumps Shark When: The show’s cult audience isn’t enough to support it, and new characters are introduced to skew the audience younger.Body Doubles (DC, 1996, 4 issues)
Background: Bonny Hoffman, a mafia princess and Carmen Leno, a former porn star, go into the assassin business as part of a master plan to become movie stars. Hijinx ensue.
Premise: Syndicated action comedy. After a quick ‘re-imaging’ of the original property's pair of murdering psychopaths, our now charmingly clueless anti-heroes bungle one hit after another. However, by some accident or trick of fate, their targets die anyway, dangerously raising their profile in the hitman community but never getting close to their true goal. Have it cross over with Human Target as either a launch or mid-season boost.
Network: Fox, primarily for the crossover possibilities.
Jumps Shark When: A serious relationship followed by a wedding ruins the pair’s dynamic and crushes loyal fans hypotheses about the show’s Xena-like “subtext.”What other lesser-known series would you bring to TV?