JJ Abrams clinches seven-year superhero origin serial

NBC has purchased yet another superhero television project from Hollywood genre veteran J.J. Abrams.

The as-yet-untitled project tells the story of a young woman who will one day have special powers which will be needed to save the world. It’s going to take another seven years for those powers to manifest, however, and in the mean-time she needs a protector.

A dangerous ex-con is assigned to shield her from all of the terrible people who might want her dead. I can imagine that the plan is for at least seven seasons of character-heavy episodes – if the audience has the patience for it.

It sounds like a really fun concept, and I’m all for another superhero show, but a seven-year pay-off is pretty long for most audiences – even when they don’t know in advance there is such a long wait to resolve the primary conflict. Remember, genre shows rarely last this long, and when audiences get the gist of this project’s length, they may skip it in droves just for that.

Lately, one of the worst enemies of genre television has been the savvy genre audience itself, which can easily find other ways to watch the show – after they figure out if the series has any real staying power. A number of series have already failed due in part, at least, to this reticence. As cool as it is, this might be one of the most ratings-dangerous pitches I’ve heard for a genre show in a while. The pilot will likley be well-watched, depending on the cast. Perhaps it will have something unexpectedly compelling to bring us back for the next episode.

Alfonso Cuarón will co-write the pilot with Mark Friedman, and will direct the episode. Abrams, Cuarón, Friedman and Bryan Burk are slated to exec produce the series.

As you may recall, this isn’t the only show Abrams has recently landed. He’s also sold an untitled robot-cop drama to Fox, which will take the place being vacated by Fringe in Fox’s genre line-up. Oddly, it’s not the only robot-cop show hitting screens next fall, as NBC already has one which the network bought from Josh Friedman. We have a few details from Abrams’ show; we know that it will take place in a world where every NYPD officer and detective has an android partner.

Abrams’ other shows currently airing are the recently debuted, and well-received, Revolution and Person of Interest, a big-brother fantasy entering its second season later this year. He also is the current point-man for the Star Trek franchise, in control of the possible future films and series, after having made the new film reboot the success none of us expected it to be.

The untitled super hero project is still in development, and no production or premiere dates have been announced. We’ll likely start hearing about casting in the spring.