4 new sci-fi shows that aren't about superheroes

Janelle Monae in "Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams." (Amazon)
Janelle Monae in "Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams." (Amazon)
Published Jan. 3, 2018

Geek culture is everywhere these days, but we're over the summer's influx of superhero shows. For geek TV to grab a bigger audience, it needs to take some risks. Here are some shows that have us crossing our fingers.

Midnight, Jan. 12

On first look, this trippy sci-fi series is Blade Runner meets Black Mirror. But after four of the episodes sent to critics, it's clear these stories were written before the latter dark satire was even a thought. Philip K. Dick was a pioneer in science fiction and fantasy writing. He explored philosophical, social and political themes in his writing before it was cool. And with a collection of one-episode stories, Amazon brings some of these twisted, satirical tales to life — starring big names like Bryan Cranston, Anna Paquin and Steve Buscemi, to list a few. Electric Dreams makes us question what it means to be human.

Counterpart (Starz, 8 p.m., Jan. 21): This new series pairs post-Cold War espionage with a pinch of science fiction. J.K. Simmons plays a low-ranking employee of a Berlin-based United Nations spy agency who discovers his company is protecting a secret crossing into a parallel universe. The only person he can trust is his identical counterpart from the parallel world.

Altered Carbon (Netflix, 3 a.m., Feb. 2): Another book-based new series, this one inspired by Richard K. Morgan's 2002 cyberpunk noir novel. Altered Carbon promises murder, love, sex and betrayal set more than 300 years in the future.

Castle Rock (Hulu, TBA): Castle Rock is the setting for four Stephen King novels and a few of his short stories and novellas. But the goal of the new Hulu horror series isn't adapting another of King's works, but to tell an original story set in the fictional town in Maine. Stars Andre Holland (Moonlight) and Melanie Lynskey (Togetherness).