The best thing about TV and movies becoming indistinguishable is that you don't need a $20 ticket to see space adventures, wizards and fairies, swords and sandals, superpowers and spandex – more genre content than you'd ever be able to watch is already right there at home.
TV's production values have soared right along with its scripted offerings – there were more than 500 shows last year, with 2018 expected to bring a bigger haul – and while you'd think development money for high-concept, geek-friendly fare might finally be maxing with every costly stumble (Inhumans) or costlier success (Game of Thrones, now at $15 million per episode), the fandom-powered stuff just keeps coming through the wormhole.
This year's freshman series don't pack quite the super-punch of the past few cycles, when Marvel and DC and space-based shows were multiplying like Tribbles on the Enterprise. But there's plenty of new stuff to layer on top of the sci-fi, fantasy and other genre series already continuing (or returning, hi Westworld Season 2!) in the new year.
Here's a look at everything we're intrigued by that's new under the sun -- and in many cases, far beyond it -- that will plunge the joy-buzzers of any genre fan in 2018:
SPACE AND SCIENCE FICTION
The First (Hulu)
Now it's Sean Penn's turn to be an Oscar Winner on TV, in this case an eight-episode exploration of life on an early Mars colony. Penn does his best work when he's the most stressed-out -- and what could be more fraught with drama than trying to establish a foothold on alien shores? House of Cards creator Beau Willimon is writing, so you know it. Will. Be. Intense. Hulu hasn't announced a release date or dribbled out any first-look images, but promises The First will touch down sometime in 2018.
Altered Carbon (Netflix)
Based on the 2002 novel by Richard Morgan, Altered Carbon has a Blade Runner look and feel with a minor twist to the premise: Future humans don't die, they just have their consciousness and memories transferred into a new, synthetic body. Netflix announced last month that it's breathing life into Altered Carbon on Feb. 4.
Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams (Amazon)
Speaking of adaptations that make us think of Blade Runner, Amazon will release Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams in the U.S. after a Channel 4 debut in the U.K. late last year. An anthology in the vein of Black Mirror – art imitates art imitates art imitates art – this one will be loaded with stars (Bryan Cranston, Steve Buscemi, Vera Farmiga, etc. etc.) comes to Prime members on January 12.
Lost in Space (Netflix)
Danger, Will Robinson! (Sorry, you can't start any write-up of a Lost in Space, revival or otherwise, without a "Danger, Will Robinson!" or you'll tear the fabric of existence.) That out of the way, Netflix will ostensibly drop its reboot of the 1965 television cult classic sometime in May, with Toby Stephens and Molly Parker in lead roles. No trailers or art to speak of, but we feel safe in saying yes, there will be one very alarmed robot involved.
Galaxy Quest (Amazon)
Wait — is this really happening? Amazon set its sci-fi spoof show based on the sci-fi movie spoofing sci-fi shows for 2018 — but we've been hearing about this for many moons now. It was originally supposed to come in 2015, but issues with the original cast complicated matters, further complicated by the death of Alan Rickman. Last we heard, writer/showrunner Paul Scheer was planning to blend some old cast with new … and that it's still on track for this year. For real. Never give up, never surrender!
The Crossing (ABC)
"From the network that brought you Lost" is prominent in the marketing materials for The Crossing, because ABC wants you to know that this sci-fi mystery thriller thingy it's bringing in April is going to draw those comparisons right off the bat. Comparisons won't end there. Steve Zahn stars as a small-town sheriff who's up against a mysterious supernatural power that's got something to do with the kids … and probably a lot of even stranger things.
Let's face it, the best parts of Man of Steel took place on baby Superman's home planet, before and during its (possibly avoidable?) fiery cataclysm. So with David Goyer back around to explore that world, let's just say we're super stoked for Krypton, SYFY'S prequel series starring Cameron Cuffe as the father of Jor-El, grandfather of Kal-El (aka Clark Kent), who is furiously trying to restore the honor of his disgraced family name. Though Krypton is a prequel, word is that much of it will take place in the present, with some modern-day superhero cameos as part of the plan.
Black Lightning (The CW)
Technically, Black Panther won't be the first black superhero lead of 2018 when the Marvel film finally drops on Feb. 16 – because exactly one month earlier, The CW debuts Black Lightning, the story of a multi-generational family who use their superpowers to (mostly) fight street-level crime. Flashier than Luke Cage but more grounded than T'Challah, Black Lightning also has his two daughters to contend with, as they come into their own set of superpowers.
Cloak and Dagger (Freeform)
Because some weeks have passed since the last Marvel TV show debuted, it must be time for another, right? Sometime later this year, Freeform (formerly ABC Family, not ambiguously named enough apparently) will de-cloak Cloak and Dagger — not the 1984 film starring Henry Thomas, but Marvel's mid-'80s comic-book limited run of the same (but unrelated) name. The good news is that since there's no rabid fanbase around Tyrone Johnson (Cloak) and Tandy Bowen (Dagger), Freeform has a blank canvas for these two teens (to be played by Aubrey Joseph and Olivia Holt) who come by strange superpowers, use them to fight the drug trade and, duh, totally hook up.
The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)
Ten years after My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way won an Eisner Award for his debut Dark Horse graphic novel The Umbrella Academy, Netflix is making it into a television series. Ellen Page stars as the only member of a dysfunctional family who doesn't have some kind of supernatural ability and, if that wasn't bad enough, is its black sheep.
SWORDS, SANDALS & FANTASY
Emma Stone and Jonah Hill starring with Cary Fukunaga directing all 10 episodes is all we really need to know to take a flyer on Maniac — the rest is just gravy. The story of two patients at a psychiatric hospital who escape into a fantasy world (the kind with trolls, elves and fairies) is based on a Norwegian TV series from 2014, with Justin Theroux, Sally Field and Jemima Kirke also star. Production wrapped late last year, but Netflix hasn't yet announced a specific release date yet.
Queen of Shadows (Hulu)
Amazon boss Jeff Bezos infamously said in September that he wants his own Game of Thrones – and apparently Hulu listened. Queen of Shadows is the streamer's forthcoming adaptation of the young-adult-meets-fantasy Throne of Glass series by Sarah J. Maas, and though it's been promised for this year, production hasn't yet started and the main character, the assassin Celaena Sardothien, hasn't been cast.
Troy: Fall of a City (BBC/Netflix)
With a Game of Thrones-sized budget and scale, the BBC and Netflix are tackling the Trojan War in an eight-part series coming at an undisclosed date this year. All your Trojan War favorites will be there – Helen, Achilles, big wooden horsey, etc. – and the story will unfold from the perspective of the Trojan royal family. Will this be the show that launches a thousand new subscriptions?
Mermaids – not little, not silent and not all that friendly, it turns out. To even the score for an ancient genocide, one of these malevolent creatures Ariels herself some legs and pays a visit to a small town. The two-hour premiere comes to Freeform on March 29.
The year is 43, and the Romans have come to the British Isles to do their conquest thing – only to find powerful Druids and other creatures not too keen on colonialism. Patch up your kilts quick – the 10-part series will be available to Prime members in the U.S. on January 18.
The Simpsons and Futurama creator Matt Groening stepped out of the 20th Century Fox bubble to create the forthcoming Netflix 'toon Disenchantment, starring Broad City star Abbi Jacobson as a medieval princess with a taste for the dram. The 10-episode run will be animated by Groening's regulars – so it'll have a familiar look and feel – but has no announced premiere date.
A Netflix series based on a 1970s Japanese cult-classic television drama that's based on a 16th Century Chinese novel – got all that? Seriously, a very select group of people will go ape for this remake, also known as Journey to the West and Monkey Magic that's part camp, part mystical drama and part martial-arts actioner. No release date has been specified, but it's due this year.
Based on Luke Pearson's popular graphic novel series, Hilda follows the adventures of its blue-haired titular character as she explores a land populated by giants, trolls and elves.