There's lots of reason for optimism about the coming year — Game of Thrones! More Doctor Who and Fringe! Dozens of huge movies! But there are also reasons for apprehension. Here's what we're scared could happen this year.
Luckily, out of our list of things we were scared of in 2010 only about half came true. Let's hope even fewer of our nightmare scenarios come to pass this year. So here are the scenarios that make us scared of the new year:
Fringe might get cancelled. And it might take any hope of smart genre fare on network television down with it. Seriously, the more we watch other science fiction offerings on the major broadcast networks — and most of the basic cable channel fare, for that matter — the more we value the multi-layered family saga of Fringe. With the show coming back a week from Friday, now's the time to pimp it to all your friends. Otherwise, the major networks could decide once and for all that a show with brilliantly flawed characters and many dark layers of weirdness just won't work for network audiences.
The Buffy movie could go into production. And we could have to spend months and months reading dribblets of news about it. Imagine having to pretend not to care that they've cast Zac Efron as Angel, or Russell Brand as Giles. It could be months of sacrilege piled on sacrilege — and that's before we even have to see the first trailers and promo pics.
Colony collapse disorder could jump to humans. Whatever's killing all the bees could hit us next. (What if it's really a fungus rather than an insecticide, as some have suggested? And there's also a fungus killing tens of thousands of amphibians around the world? We could be the next species to have a deadly fungal outbreak.)
For that matter, we could start to see the food chain collapsing as a result of the bee scarcity, and it could hit our food supply — hard. This could be the year that we learn just what happens when the ecosystem breaks down.
River Song could actually turn out to be his wife. Knowing Doctor Who uber-writer Steven Moffat, it'll turn out to be something way, way more complicated and clever. But still, the odd hints that River Song actually marries the Doctor and they become coupley-woupley in timey-wimey could turn out to be real hints instead of misdirections. Let's hope we don't trade this trust-impaired, ambiguous, sparky relationship for something more conventional — as a wise Time Lord once said, "I don't do domestic."
Crap could win the summer movie pile-up. This coming summer will be the craziest ever for big-budget blockbusters, and there are likely to be some real gems among the tidal wave of high-priced sewage. But will the summer belong entirely to things like Transformers 3? Will off-beat projects like Cowboys and Aliens even stand a chance? And on a related note, will the summer's four huge superhero movies turn out to be too many — and will Marvel's two in-house productions, Thor and Captain America, fall flat, reducing buzz for The Avengers? The smart Inception stood out in the middle of a lackluster summer, but 2011 could be the opposite.
DC could close down its Vertigo imprint. Let's hope this one is just us fretting unnecessarily. But DC Comics already shuttered its Wildstorm imprint, and there have been a couple of worrying signs for Vertigo, which has long been the home of some of comics' most innovative, thrilling work. First DC announced that all of the characters who'd started out as DC Comics creations were moving back to DC — including Shade the Changing Man, Swamp Thing, Madame Xanadu, etc. etc. The only titles that will remain under the Vertigo umbrella will be creator-owned comics — and then DC changed its royalty policy for creator-owned comics late last month. DC will no longer pay royalties on trade paperbacks unless the monthly issues of a title have made enough money. This change, which affects titles going forward, is part of a "financial rationalization" for Vertigo, aimed at cutting costs — but it may drive more top-flight new creator-owned titles to Marvel or Image. That, in turn, could lead to more "financial rationalization" at Vertigo.
The survey of Near Earth Objects could find a meteor on a collision course. We're looking more carefully than ever before — but that means we might not like what we'd find. And that discovery could start us on a years-long or decades-long panic about finding a way to deflect our new friend before it's too late. (Image: Don Davis/NASA)
Joss Whedon could be fired from The Avengers. Let's hope this one is a long shot — but Whedon has already reportedly had some disputes with Marvel about the movie's budget, which Marvel wants to keep on the low end. And Whedon is known for being a quirky auteur, not a studio yes-man. Not to mention Robert Downey Jr.'s "funny" comments about wanting to tear Whedon's script "to smithereens." Let's hope Whedon is still able to herd these cats without getting clawed to death.
We could be bombarded with more books from the James Frey assembly line. Let's be fair — I Am Number Four was uninspired drek, but it's not the worst YA novel we've seen lately, by any means. But the recent articles about James Frey's production-line approach to creating new bestsellers left us worried we're about to be drowned in a flood of books by struggling authors who take flimsy ideas from Frey and put exactly $500 worth of creativity into them. There's a lot of money in young-adult lit right now, but there's also a lot of genuine innovation — let's hope this isn't the year the profit motive starts to overwhelm the spirit of invention.
AKA Jessica Jones could fail to capture the greatness of the comics. We have such high hopes for a show based on Brian Bendis' Alias, which could elevate the comics-to-TV adaptation to a new level of awesome. The comic was profane, and fucked up, and made us see the Marvel Universe in a disturbingly awesome new way. Let's hope we don't get a Birds of Prey-style makeover for the television version, being developed for ABC by Melissa Rosenberg, who's done a lot to make the Twilight movies snarkier and better than the books.
Artificial intelligence could emerge in a military robot or unmanned aerial vehicle. We all imagine that A.I. will come out of Google, or some game-playing machine someplace, or some benign robot taking care of elderly people. But with the number of military robots being deployed in the field skyrocketing, the chances that one of them will develop sentience instead goes up. This is a slightly more fanciful worry, so let's hope there's nothing to be concerned about here. After all, a robot that's already programmed to kill isn't exactly going to worry about Asimov's Three Laws if it does develop independent intelligence. Fingers crossed!
Thanks to Annalee, Cyriaque and Meredith for input.