Yahoo! is trying its hand at getting into the business of scripted entertainment, beginning with an animated sci-fi series titled Electric City: a new original show written by Tom Hanks, which the acclaimed actor/filmmaker will also produce (via his Playtone banner) and voice the main character on.

Electric City will stream exclusively on Yahoo!, beginning in the Spring of 2012; thereafter, should the show prove to be popular enough, the website intends to expand their property into other areas – including, TV, video games, and possibly even a feature-length movie, at some point.

The 90-minute long project will be split up into 20 segments (each 4-5 minutes long) and the intent is to attract the interest of some portion of the 26 million people who view Yahoo! news shows on a monthly basis. Additional information about Electric City will be revealed very soon, as Hanks is due to talk about the project at the International Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas, beginning January 10th, 2012.

In the meantime, here is how Yahoo! VP/head of original programming Erin McPherson describes the basic setup for (and ideas behind) the show to NPR and USA Today:

“On the surface, the Electric City is utopia and under the surface, Electric City is secrets and heavy-handed state control. What we found really compelling is that this is perfect for a highly digital audience, a lean-forward audience who likes to utilize the medium of the Internet.

“Tom [Hanks] actually created this. He wrote and he stars in the lead voice. It is animated and it has a science fiction bent and in that way, like all great science fiction, it definitely plays on what is the best type of society to live in and themes around energy usage, conservation and sustainability.”

Electric City sounds like another traditional variation on the dystopian genre, where a seemingly decent society ends up being exposed as a fraud – at least, in the eyes of one or more of its inhabitants (a la Brave New World, 1984, Fahrenheit 451, etc.).

Oddly enough, there is another animated project that deals with a similar narrative setup and conservation-minded themes: namely, Illumination Entertainment’s film adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax (take that as you will).

Thneedsville in The Lorax Tom Hanks Working On Yahoo! Animated Show Titled Electric City

Expect Thneedsville to be worlds apart from ‘Electric City’

Hanks’ previous writing efforts have varied from light-hearted movie fluff (That Thing You Do!) to straight-faced historical cable TV dramas (episodes of From the Earth to the Moon and Band of Brothers) so he has proven himself capable of delivering both good humorous and serious fare alike.

Hopefully, Hanks will bounce back from the disappointment that was his recent lackluster co-writing/directing effort, Larry Crowne, and make Electric City an intriguing new sci-fi creation that reflects recent advances in digital media – both literally and metaphorically, that is. Not to mention: Electric City sounds like a better wealthy celebrity-sponsored, conservation-minded program than Captain Planet, yes?

We will keep you posted on any future noteworthy developments concerning Electric City.

Source: NPR, USA Today

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