Happy New Year! Mike Underwood again with some thoughts on what lies ahead for Geekdom in 2014. There’s far more than I could possibly cover here, but please find below a few of the bits of Geekdom I’m most excited for in the first part of 2014.
Return of new TV
Three new SF/F series have caught my interest this season, which is more than I might have expected. I’ve talked about them before, but I’ll go over each, in brief, with my hopes for the back half of the season.
Agents of SHIELD
This show got off to a rough start, but has really found its rhythm in the last few episodes. It still has some growing to do to come into its own, but I’m finding the evolving character relationships to be getting to a cool place. The show is also building its own mythology and making good use of it now, though I wish the showrunners were allowed and/or encouraged to make more wide-spread use of Marvel continuity. A Marvel universe without mutants still feels a bit incomplete, but I think the show is in a place to start winning back some of the people who (rightly) walked away because it wasn’t delivering for them. Like many SF shows (Fringe, Buffy, Babylon 5), Agents of SHIELD has taken a while to find its footing, and that is a failure, but I hope that from here on, it’s nothing but up for the Agents of SHIELD.
For me, Almost Human is all about two things:
1) The buddy cop relationship between Karl Urban’s Detective Kennex and Michael Ealy’s Dorian (DRN). Without the great chemistry these two have, this show would have floundered. Chemistry between the leads is so important, with or without shipping.
2) The ‘technology out of control’ angle which lets the showrunners put real actual Science Fiction (androids, cloning, smart bullets, etc) on prime-time television. There’s precious little for-reals SF on network television, and I’m quite happy to have Almost Human for that reason as well.
The season so far has been odd, due to the fact that FOX seems to be airing the episodes out of order. The second episode aired was the fifth episode filmed, and they went 5-8, then back to #3, then to #10, and most recently, #2. This means that the development of the character arcs is somewhat off, with episode-to-episode implications all thrown off. Most affected, in my opinion, are the character relationships. Kennex and Detective Stahl make halting steps toward a romance, but those steps are more halting by being shared out of order. Kennex and Dorian’s relationship is also out of whack — in the most recent episode (#2 by production code), Kennex refers to *all* androids, not just the MX line, as not being cops, where in the previous episodes, he’d treated Dorian as a full and trustworthy partner.
Despite the scheduling weirdness, this is the kind of show that gets straight past my normal reluctance about episodic procedurals and has earned itself a place in my robot-loving heart. I hope that the back half of the season smooths out the continuity, rather than continuing the jumble-the-episode order.
I saved the best for last.
This show shouldn’t be good. It makes little sense that a show based on the Legend of Sleepy Hollow would become one of the 2013 season’s breakout hits, that it would be able to combine golems, witches, sin eaters, demons, headless horsemen, the secret magical history of the American Revolutionary War, and more into a mythology that’s even remotely intelligible.
It makes little sense that a network would support a TV drama driven largely by unknowns (with help from Orlando Jones), with a main cast that’s 50% People of Color, and where PoC frequently outnumber white characters on-screen at any given time — and that fact is never a big deal to the people on-screen.
Using normal Hollywood/TV development rules, this show wouldn’t happen. But it did.
And the show isn’t just good: it’s delightful. It embraces its ridiculousness, jumps the shark and never looks back, and presents laudable diversity while delivering action, a complicated mythology, and simply astonishing chemistry between the two leads, Lt. Abbie Mills and Icabod Crane (Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison, respectively).
It’s a show that has two highly capable women who are clearly distinct from one another. Where the Black Guy doesn’t die first. Where a man out of time tells love stories to an On*Star attendant. Where plot developments that would unfold over an entire season explode within two or three episodes.
With this rate of plot evolution, I’m very excited to see what happens throughout this impressive rookie season for Sleepy Hollow.
Captain America: Winter Soldier (Marvel Studios, April 4th, 2014)
I really like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And of the first wave movies, I was most surprised to really like Captain America. Cap is a hard character to get exactly right, since he’s so very much a man of his time. But Evans brought a great performance to the role, and he was supported by the excellent Hayley Atwell (*Fingers crossed for an Agent Carter show!*). The Phase 2 Cap movie is, unsurprisingly, Winter Soldier. Comics fans will know what that means, but I’ll try not to spoil it for MCU purists. Talking solely off the trailer, I’m interested to see if this will be the “Captain America vs. the USA’s Post-9/11 Foreign Policy” movie. Because that would rock.
Also, I love that #KristenFromStatistics has already become a meme and is being shipped. From one line in the trailer. Also, Falcon! Black Widow!
Speaking of which, can we give Black Widow her own movie yet? I’d also accept a buddy flick for Black Widow and Hawkeye called Budapest, as I’ve seen mocked up on Tumblr.
Ms. Marvel (Marvel comics, Feb 5th, 2014)
One of the bits of comic news I’m most excited for in early 2014 is the re-launch of Ms. Marvel, issue #1 coming February 5th. The relaunch introduces a new Ms. Marvel, a teenager named Kamalah Khan from New Jersey. Mainstream superhero comics are doing a woeful job of representing the diversity of backgrounds and life experiences of 21st century Americans, and hiring a Muslim woman (World Fantasy Award winner G. Willow Wilson) to helm this Ms. Marvel re-launch is a step in the right direction. I’m also excited to have another prominent teen hero of color, especially a Muslim character of Middle-Eastern descent.
With Wilson writing and Adrian Alphona as the artist, this Ms. Marvel will probably be the first physical comic issue I buy this year, because I think this kind of representation is crucial in helping young geeks from diverse backgrounds see themselves in popular media. After all, it’s reasons like that that the lead of my urban fantasy series, Ree Reyes, is a bisexual half-Dominican, half-Irish woman — geekdom is way more than just straight white males, and it’s far past time that our media reflected that.
What geeky things are you excited for in 2014? Please add your picks and thoughts in the comments, and here’s to a geeky 2014!