More than six years ago, AMC’s hit series The Walking Dead brought zombies back to life and back into public consciousness, paving the way for other shows in the genre like spinoff Fear the Walking Dead, Z Nation and iZombie. Each of these TV shows examines zombies existing in real life, but they all do it in different ways – from horror to comedy, action and crime drama. The same process is also currently happening with time travel series, too, like 12 Monkeys, Timeless, Frequency and this spring’s Time After Time. And the next science fiction and fantasy genre that seems like it’s going to be thoroughly explored is magic.
The Vampire Diaries and its spinoff The Originals have included magic for a while now, but in the past year we’ve also seen the rise of The Magicians, The Shannara Chronicles, and Shadowhunters. It’s also not surprising that as Harry Potter and Doctor Strange re-enter the cultural zeitgeist, we’re seeing a resurgence and interest in magical-based stories. Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas first captured viewers’ attention with his series following a high school student who is also a private investigator, before pursuing a series about a coroner’s assistant who eats brains, with iZombie. Now he’ll delve into something a bit more magical, himself.
The CW has begun development on Criminal Magic, an hourlong drama from iZombie writer Graham Norris and executive producers Rob Thomas, Danielle Stokdyk and Dan Etheridge. Described by Deadline as The Departed meets The Vampire Diaries, the series is set in present-day Los Angeles and revolves around two warring street gangs who fight the cops – and each other – to corner the market on the most lucrative contraband of all: magic. A young woman hiding spectacular magical powers and an undercover cop must try to survive this glamorous world of speakeasies, crime and dangers.
Criminal Magic is the third development collaboration between Norris and Thomas, who last year worked together on utopian drama The Tempest for The CW and in 2013 a drama inspired by Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables for Fox. Norris started as an actor, but he has since written or co-written all of the duo’s three projects together. He is currently on staff at iZombie as a writer and story editor. Meanwhile, Thomas is also the writer behind another high-profile project at the CW this season, a series based on The Lost Boys movie.
There’s certainly nothing currently like Criminal Magic on The CW or on TV, even with numerous magical or crime dramas across our airwaves. That may also be a problem. The series doesn’t seem to fit The CW’s mold, but then again the growing network’s entire lineup is made up of shows that weren’t popular until they became so. Indeed, if there’s one network that is up to trying new things, like The 100 or Jane the Virgin, then it’s The CW. They’re also more likely than other networks to give original shows a chance, factoring in not just TV ratings but also online views and fan buzz. After all, once you find a genre that’s popular, it’s just a matter of finding your niche within it. The Vampire Diaries is currently airing its last season, and this could be a great replacement in the same vein.
We’ll bring you more details on Criminal Magic as they become available.