What to Expect When Expecting (New TV for Geeks)

The new television year is fast approaching, and that means the timeless tradition of the usual slew of mostly crap shows making their over-hyped debuts is upon us. Admittedly, this honor is usually reserved for sitcoms and dubious dramas, but this could prove a particularly interesting year for geeks. It’s possible, if things are handled exactly right, that we could emerge the luckiest audience of them all. Either all our shows will be highly entertaining, or just enough will be so utterly awful as to produce unintentional hilarity. Win win.

Several channels are weighing in with brand-spanking new geek programming, including NBC, ABC, and AMC. Let’s take a look at what’s on offer.

NBC’s The Cape
Billed by NBC as “an imaginative adventure about a dad who would do anything to protect his family,” this one straddles the fence between crime drama and geekitude. It’s the story of a police officer who’s doing his best to straighten up a dirty city, when he finds himself framed for murder and presumed dead. With his family torn apart he’s forced into hiding, where he turns all kinds of vigilante, inspired by a hero in his son’s comic books. Trained Karate Kid-style in what appears from the previews to be a three ring circus, by a man who looks like the love child of Mr. T and Houdini, he primes himself to fight crime like a superhero.

What to expect: At best, all the intrigue of David Morse’s Hack – which I’ll admit, to me, was pretty intriguing – with a dude in a cape. A cape that’s stronger than kevlar. It drew a lot of attention at Comic-Con, so, you never know. Preview

ABC’s No Ordinary Family
A police artist whose family is falling apart has a brush with death (notice a trend?) and gains vague superpowers that let him fall off skyscrapers without turning into goo. In fact, his entire family is superpowered, thanks to a plane crash en route to a family vacation that dumps them into radioactive water. The end result is said artist, played by Michael Chiklis, finds himself with some sort of super strength, his wife develops super speed, his daughter becomes a telepath, and his son goes from brink-of-special-ed to genius. Slated to premier in late September.

What to expect: Watch any of the Fantastic Four movies, and then tell us. Preview

AMC’s The Walking Dead
Note now how the tone of this post turns from pessimistic snark to near-pleading optimism as the rays of hope shine down on this zombie apocalyptic offering, based on the comic book of the same name. Quite simply, The Walking Dead is one of the best comic books on the planet, and it deserves no less than a stellar television adaptation. With the comic’s writer Robert Kirkman on board to help guide the show, it could very well be a revelation in comic-to-TV translation. And leaked images and video offer extremely promising zombie effects. The cast also seems, at least in appearance, to have been beautifully selected for the characters in the series.

In a nutshell, The Walking Dead chronicles the experience of a small band of survivors during a horrifying zombie apocalypse. It’s unclear exactly how the story will be told on the small screen, given the comic is rife with slow-to-unfold plots and endless cliffhangers. But you can expect a lot of interpersonal drama, because the tale of The Walking Dead is truly about the survivors, not the zombies themselves. Set to premier in October as part of AMC’s Halloween festivities.

What to expect: If it goes well, expect really epic awesome things. It if goes poorly, expect a lot of tear-stained comic book pages as fans everywhere pour over the source material in grief to figure out what the heck went wrong. Preview

Fox’s Terra Nova
Special mention goes to Fox’s Terra Nova, which is a time travel drama about scientists jumping from the distant future back to prehistoric time to try to save the planet. It’s a Steven Spielberg production, which means it’ll likely be over the top, and possibly involve velociraptors in a kitchen. That won’t be coming our way until May, however, so we’ve plenty of time to speculate.

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