Never let it be said that J.J. Abrams doesn’t throw himself into new endeavors with an almost overwhelming sense of gusto. (Whether he maintains that stamina, or just sort of drifts away from project to project the second he gets bored with them is, of course, an entirely different query.) Now—in the wake of an exclusivity deal Abrams signed with Warner Bros. last fall, reportedly for something on the order of $250 million—the Rise Of Skywalker director has announced three new TV projects through his Bad Robot production label, all aimed straight at Warner’s new streaming effort, HBO Max.
The least immediately interesting of these is ’70s crime thriller Duster, which Abrams is co-writing with The Walking Dead’s LaToya Morgan—least interesting in the sense that it involves neither the works of one of the planet’s most rabidly read authors, or a media franchise containing many of its most beloved caped weirdos. Which is to say, the other two shows coming out of Bad Robot right now are a) Overlook, set in the world of Stephen King’s The Shining, and b) an as-yet untitled project set in the ever-gestating Justice League Dark universe.
Of the two shows, we know a lot more about Overlook, which certainly sounds—given the involvement of Bad Robot, King, and WBTV—like a spiritual successor to Hulu’s sometimes fascinating, mostly frustrating anthology show Castle Rock. The new series will center, obviously, on King’s infamous TripAdvisor disaster site, exploring “the untold, terrifying stories of the most famous haunted hotel in American fiction.” That sure sounds like an anthology series, too, because you know what they say: All work and no inter-season continuity makes J.J. a happy boy.
Justice League Dark, meanwhile, is one of those titles Warner Bros. and DC have been smacking their big ol’ heads against for the better part of the decade at this point, dating back to the days when Guillermo Del Toro was still cranking out scripts, focused on DC’s more magical roster of heroes. Doug Liman was attached to direct a feature film version that eventually fell apart a few years back, and now it looks like Abrams and his team are stepping up to bring the team to TV. (Although the presence of normal JLD mainstay John Constantine over on The CW might mean some of the team’s less prominent characters get more attention—bring on Detective Chimp!)
As is usual for Abrams, it’s a big, ambitious slate of stuff to drop on people’s heads, one backed up by the success Bad Robot has had with Westworld on HBO proper. There’s a lot of buzziness to all these projects—big, grabby ideas that probably made them an easy sale in the room. Whether they can maintain that heady momentum once the realities set it—well, that’s an entirely different question, too.