Mon
Aug 19 2013 12:05pm

What Does This Mysterious New J.J. Abrams Video Tell Us, If Anything?

JJ Abrams Believe Stranger teaser video

Bad Robot just released a teaser video through their Twitter account, simply titled “Stranger.”

Is this a Star Wars Episode VII teaser? It does begin with a field of stars... Or does it have something to do with Abrams’ most well-known TV property Lost? The music is certainly evocative of the early ’00s show. Hell, maybe it’s even something to do with Star Trek 3.

Watch the video yourself:

After careful Sherlock-style deduction involving nicotine patches and mind palaces, we think this is a teaser for Believe, a new NBC show that Abrams is producing which will debut in early 2014. NBC’s own synopsis reveals the show as a superpowered-savior-on-the-run drama:

Levitation, telekinesis, the ability to control nature, even predict the future... since she was two years old, Bo has had gifts she could neither fully understand nor control. Raised by a small group known as the “True Believers,” the orphaned girl has been safeguarded from harmful outsiders who would use her forces for personal gain. But now that she is 10, her powers have become stronger, and the threat has grown more dangerous.

With her life and future now in jeopardy, the “Believers” turn to the only person they see fit to be her full-time protector. That is, once they break him out of jail. Tate, a wrongfully imprisoned death row inmate who’s lost his will, is initially reluctant - until he witnesses one of her extraordinary abilities.

The footage in the teaser appears to be showing Tate succeeding in an Alcatraz-esque escape from prison. He emerges from the water, tears off ropes that are bound around his wrists, and gazes up at what seem like helicopter lights.

While we had hoped that this was perhaps some footage from The Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling’s never-seen final screenplay The Stop Along The Way, which Abrams acquired earlier this year, the timing and imagery in the teaser match up closest with Believe, which cast its principals back in March and began filming a few months later (now, essentially).

Believe arrives shortly after Almost Human, another Abrams project, debuts on Fox. With these two shows, Revolution, and the Star Wars and Star Trek movies in his hands, Abrams is going to be inescapable in the coming years. Tell your god to ready for blood.

[UPDATE 8/20: It's for a book!]

[via Coming Soon]


Stubby the Rocket is the mascot of Tor.com. It’s still waiting to hear whether its pilot for Your Neighbor The Rocket will be picked up.

10 comments
RobinM
2. RobinM
I saw the picture and thought of Sleepstalker the movie from the 90's with Jay Underwood and Michael Harris. Only I thought of it as Sandman because that was the name of Harris's character when he played the killer. IMDB is a wonderful thing.
Dave Thompson
3. DKT
Yeesh. Say what you want about Abrams, but he knows how to cut a teaser.
RobinM
4. Patrick Ramser
I actually don't buy that it's a teaser for Believe. It doesn't perfectly line-up. There's no image or mention of the main character who is a girl and supposedly the convict protecting her is broken out by the cast.

Not to mention, we already know enough details about that. This seems like something that hasn't gone public yet.

Regardless, count me in the excited camp. Abrams has consistently been knocking it out of the park for years. Should be good.
Emily Lind
5. Malana
Yeah, it's weird if this is for Believe, considering there's already a regular promo up for that.
RobinM
6. Fahrbot
I really don't get all the JJ Abrams worship in certain sections of the media. Some people calling him Spielberg's successor... Err... what?

Excuse me, but where is his Jaws, ET, Close Encounters, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park, Munich, Private Ryan and Schindler's List, to justify that?

We have two middle-good rated films to his name in Star Trek (which has alienated many fans who think the thematic differences are
irreconcilable) - and a show in Lost that, while very good drama, and very well filmed, many people think was a 6 season soap opera leading to the revelation "god did it".

I just don't see the justification for this fascination (vs, say, Joss Whedon, who has genuine grassroots respect from fans, and huge critical success across decades). I don't get why he was considered the go-to man for Star Wars. Am I missing something, or is this really a bandwagon?

Hopefully Star Wars: Episode VII will prove me wrong. He is a stated Star Wars fan, unlike Star Trek. Maybe, like other fans-turned-director, he will understand what made Star Wars the phenomenon it was. I'll be sorely disappointed if the opportunity is missed.
RobinM
7. urbandruid36
@fahrbot

did you ever watch Fringe, Super 8 or Cloverfield? All classics, IMHO
Kimani Rogers
9. KiManiak
Fahrbot@6 – You’re definitely welcome to your opinion. Your comparison between Abrams and Spielberg clearly shows a significant distinction (although, a “successor” rarely equals the body of work/success/accomplishments/achievements of those they have succeeded initially; in other words, Abrams should probably be allowed a little bit of time before you compare his all-time greats to Spielberg’s).

Your comparison between Abrams and Whedon is a little less clear, however. Being a fan of both, I don’t really see how you can say one has far surpassed the other in terms of earning “fascination” or a dedicated fan-following.

Abrams credits (Writer/Director/Producer): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JJ_Abrams#Filmography
Highlights include:
(Film) Regarding Henry, Armageddon, M:I 3 & M:I -Ghost Protocol, Cloverfield, Super 8, Star Trek & Star Trek Into Darkness;
(TV) Felicity, Alias, Lost, What About Brian, Fringe, Person of Interest, and the upcoming Revolution

Whedon’s credits (Writer/Director/Producer): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joss_Whedon#Television_credits
Highlights include:
(Film) Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Toy Story, Serenity, Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers, Much Ado About Nothing;
(TV) Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, and the upcoming Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

(One could bring in Whedon’s other media/entertainment contributions (Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Buffy Comic Books, various other comic books, etc.), but it seemed the point was to seek a more worthy comparison/successor for Spielberg, so those other contributions (except possibly Dr. Horrible) would be less of a factor.)

As far as “huge critical success across decades,” Whedon’s earliest credit appears to be writing for Roseanne in 1989; Abrams earliest credit appears to be writing Taking Care of Business in 1990. They’ve both been active for decades; critical success is slightly more subjective of a measure. (Personally, I liked Rosanne, and I also think Regarding Henry is a pretty good movie, so I would grant each of them some critical success for the last 20+ years.)


All this to say: I think they’re fairly comparable; neither clearly dominates the other nor has far surpassed the other. I can proudly be a fan and supporter of both.
RobinM
10. Fahrbot
Well, actually, your list says it all - Joss's body of work includes some of the most revolutionary and highly praised TV shows of all time - Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse - all cult classics. Not to mention some of the most critically acclaimed films of all time. The average ones were all ones where he was only a "script doctor".

Abrams films are mostly average, and often seem trite to me, at least. Super 8 - instantly forgettable contribution to the genre - Serenity - an all time great. Cloverfield - forgettable - The Avengers - best superhero movie ever made.

What he seems very good at doing is human stories, like the 'flashbacks' in Lost - and making things like polished - what he seems bad at doing, is everything else; thematic stuff, plot, etc. Star Trek, as the author China Meiville said, seemed like a cynical cash-in:

"I've never met . I am not a member of his fan club or anti-fan club. I disliked Cloverfield a very great deal. I disliked Star Trek intensely. I thought it was terrible. And I think part of my problem is that I feel like the relationship between JJ Abrams' projects and geek culture is one of relatively unloving repackaging - sort of cynical. I taste contempt in the air. Now I'm not a child - I know that all big scifi projects are suffused with the contempt of big money for its own target audience. But there's something about that makes me particularly uncomfortable. As compared to somebody like Joss Whedon, who - even when there are misfires - I feel likes me and loves me and is on some cultural level my brother and comrade. And I don't feel that way about JJ Abrams."

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