The New TV Shows of SDCC 2012: The Big Five Networks

Ballroom 20 (Chuck Panel)

As evidenced by the massive schedule challenges last year in Ballroom 20, the popularity of television shows at San Diego Comic-Con has reached a fever pitch and isn’t showing signs of cooling down anytime soon. We took a look at the slate of shows announced during this past month’s upfronts and put together our take on what you might expect to see at SDCC this July.

The list of shows across broadcast and cable networks is massive, so this year we’ve decided to split up our annual list of TV shows which might make an appearance at SDCC into a series of posts covering the new and returning programming across all networks.

Our first post in the series will run down all the new TV shows announced for the Big Five’s fall schedule.

ABC Television Network

ABC

ABC has three new shows on the fall schedule that may make an appearance at SDCC this year. The first is a strange one. Called The Neighbors, it’s as if the network thought previous Comic-Con series No Ordinary Family wasn’t funny enough, so they took what made Modern Family such a comedy smash and mixed the two together. That’s like saying, “I love ketchup and I love pancakes, so why not squirt a little Heinz 57 on my favorite breakfast food?” Yeah, we’re not feeling it either. However we have the sneaking suspicion it will be promoted at the con.

The next series, called Last Resort, is a little more in our wheelhouse. It’s about a US nuclear submarine cut off by its government, so the crew decides to take claim to a small tropical island. Part Lost, part Tom Clancy, and from the creator of The Shield, this one has us a little intrigued.

Finally, 666 Park Avenue clearly is taking a page from American Horror Story, but instead of a single family home in the suburbs it takes place in a New York City high-rise. Undoubtedly so there will be no shortage of ghost story plots to farm. If you’re familiar with Ryan Murphy’s FX hit horror series, you’ll recognize some familiar structure here; it just seems a little too saccharine in comparison. Still, it stars Lost‘s Terry O’Quinn, so it has something for us to like from the start.

CBS Television Network

CBS

Elementary has more than a passing similarity to the BBC’s Sherlock series. It takes the classic title character from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories and places him in a modern-day setting. In Sherlock, it’s London; in Elementary, it’s New York. Apparently the story goes, CBS asked Sherlock creator Steven Moffat to remake his show, and when he declined the network went ahead and made their own. Is that even legal? We’ll know for sure when we catch a sneak peak or even pilot screening of the show, starring Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu, this July.

The CW Television Network

CW

The CW had bad luck with last year’s crop of new shows, as Ringer and The Secret Circle were both cancled after their freshman seasons. The network is counting on an improvement in that department with three new series aiming for the Comic-Con crowd.

It’s been more than a year since Smallville went off the air, and since that time DC’s Green Lantern has floundered while Marvel’s The Avengers has flourished. CW hopes it can reproduce the the formula that made it’s ten-year run of “not-quite Superboy” so successful with Arrow, a fresh take on the classic DC character Green Arrow. It certainly looks to be going through the same checklist as its long-lasting predecessor. But then again, so did Birds of Prey, and that barely made it 13 episodes. Be sure you’ll be seeing Arrow on every hotel key and SDCC backpack, along with the requisite pilot screening and panel.

Beauty and the Beast seems to be everything but the classic fairy tale. It’s got a little Batman in it, in that the lead character witnessed the death of her parents and was rescued by some mysterious vigilante, driving her into a career in law enforcement. It’s got a little Hulk in it, in that a hunky doctor turns into a raging monster every time he gets angry (let us guess, she doesn’t like him when he’s angry). It’s got a little Angel in it, in that the cop and the beast join forces to fight crime. And it’s got a little forbidden love between the cop and the monster. Oh wait, now we see the connection! Another one to expect seeing all over SDCC this year.

Cult is a midseason pickup that is controversial from the get-go, in that it stole one of The Vampire Diaries‘ favorite hunks, Matt Davis, as its lead. The premise seems simple enough, in that a blogger investigates a hit TV show, also called “Cult”, which may just be an insidious front compelling legions of viewers to do nasty things. We’re most excited about this show because it reminds us of our favorite late-’90s/early ’00s shows like Freakylinks and Millennium, and it was created by Rockne S. O’Bannon who brought us the sci-fi/Henson team-up Farscape. Since it’s a midseason show, we don’t think it’s a shoe-in to appear at the con, but we really do hope it will be making an appearance.

FOX TV Network

FOX

Whenever we see Kevin Williamson’s name attached to anything, we take notice. That’s because after three seasons The Vampire Diaries is still the best-written show on television. Enter Williamson’s latest series, The Following. Now what if Williamson had some serious star power tied to his excellent material? That star is Kevin Bacon, who plays an FBI agent on an investigation where a rash of serial killings across the country may under the control of a single psychotic mastermind. It’s an interesting premise and with the two Kevins involved, we’re definitely checking this one out. We hope for a pilot and/or Q&A, but since it’s also scheduled for midseason it might be too early.

NBC TV Network

NBC

The third J.J. Abrams series on the schedule this year is the apocolyptic Revolution, which also has star power attached in director John Favreau and Supernatural creator Eric Kripke. Like NBC’s Grimm last year, Revolution seems to embrace the mash-up of several different popular stories. It’s got the “end of the world” thing from like, well, everything nowadays. It’s got a little Lost in it, in the way of a mysterious device that kills all electricity (and drops planes from the sky, Oceanic most likely). And then, it’s got a little Hunger Games in it. We guess that makes sense, now that every man must fight to survive. The preview didn’t wow us, but we’ll hold out for a likely-full episode screening at the con.

Do No Harm bears some similarities to the BBC’s Jekyll, but it goes for more of a psychological approach to alternative personalities instead of physical and monsterous. The conflict here is that Mr. Bad, Ian Price, is sick of being repressed by Mr. Good, Dr. Jason Cole, and now the uncontrolled Price is out for revenge. We have visions of the same actor punching himself in the face repeatedly, but we hope the show has greater aspirations than that. As this isn’t a straight horror series, we think NBC might opt to leave this one off the SDCC panel schedule. Time will tell.

To us, the best new show on NBC’s schedule is Hannibal, based on the characters made popular by Silence of the Lambs. However this series is based on the Red Dragon novel by Thomas Harris, which was made into a movie twice – first in 1986 with Manhunter, starring William Petersen as Will Graham, and again in 2002 with Red Dragon, starring Edward Norton as Graham. This time, Graham is portrayed by British actor Hugh Dancy, last seen in Showtime’s The Big C. It’s a smart move by the network to farm its licenses for popular characters to serialize. And like Jason Isaacs in Awake, they go for the gold and bring in a big-time actor in Dancy for the lead. No actor announced as the title character yet. David Slade (30 Days of Night, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) will be directing the pilot. Since the network is hush-hush with the details, we bet it’s saving the big announcments and unveilings for SDCC.

What new shows are you looking forward to seeing this year? Let us know in the comments!

Watch for our next post in the TV Shows of SDCC 2012 series coming soon!

About Jeremy Rutz