According to The Hollywood Reporter, cable network WGN America is expanding its original programming ordering two new pilots: Scalped and Roadside Picnic.
Scalped is a crime story set in a present- day Native American Indian reservation. It centers around the community’s leader Lincoln Red Crow as he deals with the return of Dashiell Bad Horse after years away from the reservation. The show’s logline says it explores themes of “power, loyalty and spirituality,” comicbookmovie.com reports. The show is based on a DC Comic series of the same name that had 60 issues and ran from 2007- 2012. The original comic was partly inspired by the 1975 arrest of Native American activist Leonard Peltier after killing two FBI agents in a reservation shootout. The comics were penned by Jason Aaron.
Dark Blue and Banshee‘s Doug Jung will write and executive produce Scalped. DC Comics is already staked its claim on the television landscape with the Batman prequel series Gotham and Greg Berlanti’s Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl. NBC has also ordered the DC Comics workplace comedy (yes, that’s a thing) Powerless starring Vaness Hudgens.
The other pilot ordered is Roadside Picnic, which is also an adaptation, in this case of the 1975 Arkady and Boris Strugatsky novel. The bold science fiction tells the story of a near- future where aliens have come and gone from our planet, leaving behind strange remnants of their presence. Enter Red, an experienced “stalker” who illegally explores these areas that once held alien life. Jack Paglen will write Roadside as well as 2017’s Prometheus follow-up Alien: Covenant. Roadside Picnic was already adapted into a film Stalker in 1979.
The two projects mark the loose trend in visionary historical fiction dramas for WGN America. Their latest show Underground casts the forging of the Underground Railroad as a tense action thriller. The show, produced by John Legend, premieres this Wednesday.
WGN America’s first original programming effort started in 2014 with Salem, the story of powerful witch Mary’s fight for survival through the Puritanical Salem Witch Trials. Its third season begins later this year.
Despite the continuation into original content, the network canceled it’s second effort Manhattan after two seasons earlier this year (such is the Circle of Life). Manhattan was a cult favorite (it’s critic and audience Rotten Tomatoes scores are both in the 90’s) where WGN’s bold programming vision is entirely evident: a group of scientists move to New Mexico and work on the world’s first atomic bomb as they wade through the shifting dynamics of the world, their families, and their actions.
Time will tell how critically and commercially successful Scalped and Roadside Picnic are.