With the recent announcement that Marvel is producing four superhero shows and a miniseries to air on Netflix, 2015 is already shaping up to be a banner year for fans of sci-fi and fantasy TV. But let’s not forget about the bevy of buzzworthy genre shows slated for next year, which include two new series from the creator of Battlestar Galactica, a “psychosexual horror series” starring classic literary monsters from the writer of Skyfall, and the Steven Spielberg-produced astronaut drama Extant.
These are our 15 most anticipated new sci-fi and fantasy TV series of 2014 (listed in alphabetical order):
Premieres midseason on the CW
The latest “pretty people” series from the CW strands a group of 100 juvenile delinquents on a post apocalyptic Earth in the not-so-distant future. Sent by crabby adults (like Lost‘s Henry Ian Cusick and Grey’s Anatomy‘s Isaiah Washington) who live on a space station that orbits the planet, which is deemed uninhabitable after a nuclear war, the kiddos are charged with securing the surface for mankind’s eventual return. Lord of the Flies-esque chaos and skinny dipping ensues. If you think the show’s premise sounds like a tween-baiting YA novel, that’s because its based on a popular and acclaimed YA book series by Kass Morgan. Booklist calls the novel “dark and riveting,” so here’s hoping the show sticks close to the spirit of the source material.
Premieres early 2014 on NBC
Believe marks Oscar-nominated filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón’s (Y Tu Mama Tambien, Gravity) first foray into TV, which makes this hour-long drama one of my most anticipated shows of 2014. Cuarón directed the pilot and is co-executive producing with J.J. Abrams. The show follows a death row inmate (Jake McLaughlin) tasked with protecting a supernaturally-gifted young girl (Johnny Sequoyah) from evildoers looking to abuse her telekinetic powers. Delroy Lindo, Jamie Chung and Kyle MacLachlan also star.
Premieres January 2014 on Starz
The first of two pirate-themed series on this list, Starz’s action-packed Treasure Island prequel promises to deliver big budget seafaring spectacle and a bit of the ol’ ultraviolence while speculating on the dirty dealings of “history’s most notorious pirate captains,” which is enough to get me to tune in. Jericho producer Joe Steinberg and Michael Bay are co-executive producing, and the show stars Toby Stephens, Tom Hopper and Jessica Parker Kennedy.
Premieres sometime in 2014 on NBC
The creator of Luther, Neil Cross, is behind this action adventure series that dramatizes the life of the pirate Blackbeard, played by John Malkovich in his first major starring role in a TV series. Crossbones, which takes place in 1715, is an interesting choice for Malkovich, who we all know usually plays jewel thieves, not pirates.
Premieres summer 2014 on CBS
Halle Berry stars as an astronaut struggling to reconnect with her family after spending a year in outer space in this future-set thriller produced by Steven Spielberg. The star power attached to Extant alone makes it a must-watch, and the show’s premise, which charts how Berry’s character’s exile in space changes the course of human history while isolating her from the world, sounds promising.
Premieres January 10 on Syfy
We wrote about our anticipation for Syfy’s Helix earlier this week. The intense sci-fi thriller from Battlestar Galactica creator Ron Moore follows a team of scientists who are stranded in a deadly Arctic base and must survive a horrific “evolving virus” that threatens to destroy all humanity. It’s good to see real sci-fi with horror elements back on Syfy, and while the show’s plot doesn’t exactly scream “original,” I trust Moore will deliver something innovative and interesting — and probably bleak as all hell — with Helix.
Premieres February 24 on CBS
This new spy thriller may finally answer the question of whether Lost‘s Josh Holloway — Sawyer to the ladies — can lead his own series and become a major star. We know he has it in him, but will Intelligence, which stars Holloway as a cyber-enhanced intelligence operative, be worthy of his awesomeness? The trailer makes the show look like fun, if a little cheesy, so the jury’s still out.
Expected to premiere sometime in 2014 on HBO
Lost co-producer Damon Lindelof is behind this quirky, high-concept series, which follows the folks left on Earth after the Rapture takes place. Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) is directing the pilot, and Lindelof will server as showrunner. The series, based on a book by Tom Perrotta, stars Justin Theroux.
Premieres summer 2014 on TNT
Game of Thrones star Sean Bean plays a CIA agent with a Zelig-like ability to adapt to any situation in this psychological thriller from Homeland executive producer Howard Gordon. Ali Larter (Heroes) and Morris Chestnut (Nurse Jackie) co-star in what looks like an excellent vehicle for Bean (Let’s just hope he doesn’t get killed off in the first season).
Premieres 2014 on STARZ
Another series from BSG‘s Ron Moore, Outlander is an adaptation of Diana Gabaldon’s epic historical romance novels about a nurse from the 1940s who travels back in time to 18th century Scotland. Expect lots of sword fighting, mist and tartan from this 16-episode limited series, which Moore says will hew very closely to the source material.
Premieres late 2014 on Showtime
Now this one sounds nuts, but in a “I gotta watch that” kinda way. This horror drama features classic literary monsters like Dracula, the Wolfman, Frankensten’s monster and Dorian Gray grappling with issues of identity and sexuality in Victorian London. Skyfall writer John Logan is producing with Oscar winning director Sam Mendes. The cast includes Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, and former Doctor Who companion Billie Piper.
Premieres March 9 on ABC
ABC’s new serialized mystery series centers on an eight-year-old boy from a small Missouri town who wakes up in China one day with no recollection of how he traveled across the world. When he returns home, he’s identified as a child who died thirty years ago. More presumed dead people start turning up in the town and, well … mystery! Resurrection‘s sprawling cast includes Kurtwood Smith, Omar Epps, and Frances Fisher.
Premieres spring 2014 on WGN
Nikita star Shane West leads WGN’s first original scripted series. 24 and Star Trek: The Next Generation producer Brannon Braga created this drama, which examines the 17th century witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts and looks to put a new spin on, and even inject a little romance into, the infamous witch hunting tale. Fringe star Seth Gabel plays Cotton Mather.
Premieres late 2014 on Netflix
The minds behind The Matrix, Andy and Lana Wachowski, and Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski are teaming up to produce this ten-episode sci-fi series, which centers on a group of people who are somehow physically linked and are hunted by unknown force looking to exploit their “unique gift,” which is an “evolutionary leap, which was caused by technology.” Straczynski will act as showrunner for what could turn out to be an innovative, challenging and exciting speculative fiction series from Netflix.
Premieres sometime in 2014 on FOX
The “event series” trend continues with M. Night Shyamalan’s ten-episode adaptation of the supernatural mystery novel Pines, which author Blake Crouch says was partially inspired by Twin Peaks. Matt Dillon leads an amazing cast that includes Melissa Leo, Terrence Howard, Carla Gugino, Jusitn Kirk, Juliette Lewis, Hope Davis, Toby Jones, and Shannyn Sossamon.
Honorable mentions and pending projects:
- FX has yet to pick up Guillermo del Toro’s vampire pilot The Strain, which Lost‘s Carlton Cuse would join as showrunner if a series is ordered. Fingers crossed!
- The CW’s Star-Crossed looks like a Starman redo but recast with pretty teens, slated to premiere midseason 2014.
- And Michael Bay is producing TNT’s The Last Ship, premiering Summer 2014, an intriguing post-apocalyptic drama about a naval destroyer crew searching for a cure for a global pandemic.