Microsoft Announces Xbox Originals, Including 'Halo' TV Series and Movie; We Rank the Show Ideas

By Alex Wolfe , Updated Apr 28, 2014 12:37 PM EDT
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Microsoft charges you $60 a year for Xbox Live Gold, but at least they're putting your money to good use.

Microsoft announced the details of Xbox Originals today, a line of programming coming from Microsoft exclusively to Xbox 360 and Xbox One Gold subscribers this summer. There are currently six shows that Microsoft has committed to, and six more projects under development. Here's the full list, in order of most awesome sounding to least awesome sounding:

Halo television series and digital feature

This is actually two of the projects coming out, but I lumped them together due to the common Halo link. The TV series will be live-action and executive produced by Steven Spielberg. The digital feature will be executive produced by Ridley Scott and David Zucker, President of Scott Free TV (a division of Scott's Scott Free Productions), and directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan, of Battlestar Galactica and Heroes fame.

A non-video game adaptation of Halo has been rumored for, like, ever. So it's refreshing to see that we're finally getting not one but two Master Chief-centric productions. Well, you figure one will feature Master Chief, at least. If I had to guess, I'd say the TV show might take place during the war, maybe more in the timeframe of Halo: Reach. That'll give you more characters, and ones who actually talk to boot (character development!). Either that, or it could revolve more around Halo: ODST, covering the non-superhuman regular dudes trying to keep us safe. My sleeper pick would be the series covering a young Master Chief at the beginning of the war.

As far as the digital feature, well, I think it'll be cool. I like the choice of Ridley Scott executive producing, and I'm thinking he'll do a good job with it. Those are my thoughts on that.

Deadlands

I could go ahead and describe this one, but I'll just let the description woo you like it did me:

"Xbox Entertainment Studios has committed to a script based on the successful pen-and-paper role playing game created by Shane Lacy Hensley. Deadlands is a genre-bending alternative history of the Weird West, filled with undead gunfighters, card-slinging sorcerers, mad scientists, secret societies, and fearsome abominations."

Dude, what? Yeah, that sounds really cool. I'm excited.

Untitled JASH Comedy/Variety Half Hour

So for those unfamiliar with JASH, it's a comedy troupe of Sarah Silverman, Michael Cera, Tim & Eric (Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim) and Reggie Watts. According to their site, JASH "is the first fully realized network to offer all its comedic partners complete creative autonomy. At Jash we always strive to offer a variety of content with a unique voice: boundaries will be pushed, and disorientation is sure to ensue." All of their works to this point have aired on YouTube.

I was a little skeptical at first, since I'm not a big fan of Tim & Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job! But after watching a few videos on JASH's site, such as "Food Club" and "Teach," I'd say I'm sufficiently sold on this being a funny series.

Signal to Noise/Atari: Game Over

This series is actually where the recent ET dig came from. A series of documentaries, these films "will expose little known stories of how modern technology has radically altered the way we interact with our world," beginning with Atari: Game Over. Game Over will focus on the legend of the ET burial in New Mexico, which we already know is true due to the coverage of the dig. But the documentary will have plenty of interviews with people close to the situation, which should make an interesting first installment.

Extraordinary Believers

Developed by Robot Chicken's Stoopid Buddy Stoodios, this will be a stop animation show executive produced by Seth Green and Matt Senreich. Just based off of the success of Robot Chicken, I'm intrigued by this show. They're calling it an "innovative, hybrid stop-motion show" with no mention of genre, so there's not a ton known about it yet. But again, just because of the guys behind it, I'm excited.

Winterworld

Winterworld sounds really neat. Rather than give a half-baked explanation, here's the full description from Microsoft:

"Xbox Entertainment Studios and IDW Entertainment are co-developing a limited event live-action series based on Chuck Dixon and artist Jorge Zaffino's seminal graphic novel series Winterworld, in which our world has been encased in ice from pole-to-pole. The surviving humans have formed tribes that war, enslave and trade with one another in an effort to survive the infinite winter. Ted Adams and David Ozer from IDW Entertainment, and Rick Jacobs and Dave Alpert from Circle of Confusion (Walking Dead) will executive produce."

So, like Walking Dead, but with ice instead of zombies? Count me in! I think that ultimately the "what will humans do once the humanity we know has been compromised" genre will ultimately get a little tired, but that time is not now. For what it's worth, I've never read the graphic novels, so I might be underrating this series.

Humans

"Humans is an English-language adaptation of Sveriges Television and Matador Film's acclaimed Swedish series, Real Humans. Humans is set in a parallel present where the latest must-have gadget for any busy family is a 'Synth' - a highly-developed robotic servant eerily similar to its live counterpart. In the hope of transforming the way they live, one strained suburban family purchases a refurbished synth only to discover that sharing life with a machine has far-reaching and chilling consequences."

Sounds kind of like I, Robot in TV series form, but I'd be down. 

Fearless

This one I'm not entirely sure about, but if it's as badass as it sounds it'll be phenomenal:

"Fearless, (working title) is an unscripted series currently in pilot production starring Paul de Gelder, an Australian Navy bomb clearance diver and shark attack survivor who takes on an adrenaline-fueled quest to aid individuals who risk their lives to make the world a better place. Fearless will be produced by Australia's International Emmy-Award winning production company, Cordell Jigsaw Zapruder (CJZ)."

Sounds sort of like Dirty Jobs, but instead of doing dirty jobs de Gelder will be doing badass jobs like rescuing people from burning buildings and stuff. It's definitely got some potential.

Bonnaroo

This idea kinda defeats the idea of live music, but I like it. For those unfamiliar, Bonnaroo is a huge music festival down in Tennessee. It's like a music mecca, with tons of different genres present. This year's headliners will be Elton John and Kanye West, just to give you an idea of how many music styles they cater to.

So why am I excited about this? Well, for one, I saw the Yeezus Tour live this year, and it'll be cool to see it again without having to pay for tickets. I'd strongly suggest you watch it on Live too, even if you're not a huge Kanye fan. It's more a performance art than anything. Also, I've never seen a lot of these acts in person, especially Elton John, so it could be cool to see them as well. And I certainly like my air conditioned home more than a sweaty field in Tennessee, so that's a plus too.

Gun Machine

"Xbox Entertainment Studios acquired the rights to Gun Machine, a hardboiled detective thriller based on the New York Times bestselling novel by Warren Ellis. Ellis will executive produce with Brett Conrad (The Killing, Sons of Anarchy, Netflix's upcoming Marco Polo) who has signed on to write the pilot script about a detective tracking a serial killer who is tied to a mysterious collection of guns used in infamous New York murders."

I want to get excited about this, I really do. But cop dramas are a dime a dozen. Here's hoping this one beats my expectations, though.

Every Street United

So in this show, famous footballers (soccer players, US folks) Thierry Henry and Edgar Davids will be going around the world trying to find the best street soccer players. The show will culminate with a four-on-four match between the eight best competitors during the World Cup this July. 

I want to get excited about this show, but I can't. These "find unheralded sports stars and give them a shot at the big time" shows just don't work. Maybe the streetball game will be cool, but ultimately it just won't compare to the final product. And none of these guys will end up good enough to make it to the pros. Just think of 4th and Long with Michael Irvin from a few years back.

That's all of them! Which project sounds most promising to you? Let us know in the comments.

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