Microsoft's 12 New Original Shows For Xbox, Ranked

Microsoft is going to take its TV seriously. That's been clear ever since it established its own internal studio and dropped the bombshell that it was working on a live-action Halo series produced by none other than Steven Spielberg. Now, Microsoft is spilling the beans on the rest of its Xbox TV launch line-up, and the turn out's not half bad.

The shows are at various points of production, and run the gamut from drama to comedy, to reality to scripted, and series to feature. Some are exclusive to Xbox consoles, others will drip out across other Microsoft products. We've only seen bits and pieces of a select few; several barely even exist beyond a yet-to-be-written pilot script or pitch.

And given the general lack of information, we saw fit to rank them.


1. Signal to Noise

Description: A six-part series of documentaries that will "expose little known stories of how modern technology has radically altered the way we interact with our world."

Part one is Atari: Game Over (working title), a chronicle of the fall of Atari during the great video game crash of 1983, directed by writer/director Zak Penn (X-Men 2, Avengers)

Production status: Committed. Part One to air exclusively on Xbox One and Xbox 360 in 2014.

How it looks from what we saw: Rad! Atari: Game Over tackles an interesting story, features a great director, and is taking itself just seriously enough. It looks like a real movie. Hell, they just dug up E.T. And if the following parts tackle similarly interesting stories, the whole series stands to be great.

Excitement level: Stoked! Cautiously optimistic.


2. Some Jash show (Untitled)

Description: A show from the comedy collective Jash (Michael Cera, Tim & Eric, Sarah Silverman, and Reggie Watts). Each episode will feature a different comedian/funny person will curate a show of what they think is funny so you can pretend to get it.

Production status: Pilot commitment, shooting in June.

How it looks from what we saw: The (probably mostly unrelated) clip reel was pretty good. It had Louis CK in it, which isn't really indicative of much but it's nice to dream.

Excitement level: Proven funny people. Interesting and fairly unique premise. We're pumped.


3. A Halo Movie

Description: Um, it's a movie about Halo. Executive produced by Ridley Scott, directed by Sergio Mimica-Gezzan (Battlestar Galactica, Heroes). Some people (and aliens) will probably get shot. Master Chief will probably shoot some of them.

Production status: Committed. Prospective release date is late 2014.

How it looks from what we saw: ??? We ain't seen nothin' yet.

Excitement level: I'd watch Prometheus with Spartans.


4. A Halo TV Series

Description: It's a Halo TV series, executive produced by Steven Spielberg. ooooOOOOoooo. Aren't you excited!?!??! You are intended to be.

Production status: Committed.

How it looks from what we saw: ??? We ain't seen nothing.

Excitement level: Hopeful but nervous. "Game of Thrones except it's Halo" sounds equal parts awesome and impossible. Also I'm not sure I trust Steven Spielberg with anything anymore. But what do I know? (Not much)


5. Fearless (Working title)

Description: A reality show about an Australian Navy Seal (whatever that is actually called) who lost an arm and a leg to a freakin' shark. Bionic-man tags along with folks who do adrenaline junky stuff like smoke-jump, hunt poachers in Africa, and feed sharks. FEARLESS.

Production status: Reality series in development

How it looks from what we saw: Bionic man is about as bad-ass as you would expect of a guy who got his arm and leg bit off by a shark and then went off to go feed some other sharks on camera. Production quality looks solid! Totally watchable.

Excitement level: Sure, I'd watch this if it somehow happened to turn itself on while I was sitting on the couch and the remote was out of reach. And I'd like it more than I'd care to admit.


6. Extraordinary Believers (Working title)

Description: Soft-scripted comedy from the minds behind Robot Chicken. Three stop-motion animated fantasy characters are digitally inserted into partially improv'd Reno 911-type scenes as they crack wise and try to find some magic mushrooms that will take them home. Or something.

Production status: Series in development.

How it looks from what we saw: Not as funny as you would hope, but maybe better in context? Neat-ish premise. Also, man, Seth Green's voice is instantly recognizable.

Excitement level: I will give this a one-episode free pass because Robot Chicken.


7. Bonnaroo

Description: It's Bonnaroo, but through cameras. At least two stages of Bonnaroo, which are all that is rigged up for Xbox this year. But you'll get to pick the camera angles with your controller! And could get a chance to Skype with reluctant celebrities backstage!

Production status: Event in development.

How it looks from what we saw: Totally fine! It's like good live concert footage. Nothing you haven't seen before, or won't see again.

Excitement level: Sure why not I guess? Music is cool. I like music. I also like my couch and hate crowds. Limited stages is a huge bummer though.


8. Winterworld

Description: Based on the graphic novel of the same name. An ice-age has frozen over the world (as if), and the surviving humans have formed tribes that war, enslave, and trade with one another in an effort to survive the infinite winter.

Production status: Pilot script in development.

How it looks from what we saw: ??? We ain't seen nothin' yet.

Excitement level: Waterworld was pretty OK. I would watch it again except as a series and with ice.


9. Gun Machine

Description: A hardboiled detective thriller. A detective tracks a serial killer who is tied to a mysterious collection of guns used in infamous New York murders.

Production status: Pilot script in development.

How it looks from what we saw: Nothin' to see.

Excitement level: Uh, guns are cool I guess?


10. Deadlands

Description: A genre-bending alternative history of the Weird West, filled with undead gunfighters, card-slinging sorcerers, mad scientists, secret societies, and fearsome abominations.

Production status: Pilot script in development

How it looks from what we saw: Can't see what doesn't exist.

Excitement level: I am still recovering from Wild Wild West. Thanks though!


11. Every Street United

Description: I'm bored already so here's the description straight from the press release:

"Every Street United" is an unscripted series of eight, thirty-minute episodes and a one-hour finale, featuring legendary soccer players Thierry Henry and Edgar Davids, focused on the global search for soccer's most gifted and undiscovered street stars scouted across eight countries (United States, England, Argentina, Spain, Brazil, the Netherlands, Ghana and South Korea). The series culminates this July in a 4v4 street game finale in the shadow of the World Cup in Rio de Janeiro.

Production status: Committed and (probably) done. Eight thirty-minute episodes and a one-hour finale, available June 2014 through Xbox Video for Xbox One, Xbox 360, Windows 8 (PC and Surface) and Windows Phone 8.

How it looks from what we saw: Pretty good! It seems Microsoft did not pull any punches when it came to quality. It also releases simultaneously across the globe around World Cup time, which is cool. Sportsball fans will probably dig it, especially if footsball is their favorite flavor.

Excitement level: Ugh, sportsball. Put in some aliens and then we'll talk.


12. Humans

Description: It's the future and everyone has android slaves, and then some guy—ostensibly with a motivation of some sort, but not a clear one—teaches them how to feel or something? They have crazy eyes and look like sex dolls. They might actually be sex dolls.

It's an English-language adaption of a Swedish series called Real Humans.

Production status: Eight hour-long episodes in production.

How it looks from what we saw: Laughably bad. Like a soap-opera where half the cast are sex doll puppets and you're supposed to empathize with them. I had to stifle my laughter during the presentation.

Excitement level: Depends on how much you hate yourself. Masochists, get jazzed.