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National Geographic Channel has been home to a wide variety of programming over the years, but one frontier that has not yet been traversed on the network has been regular scripted programming. Now, Nat Geo has foregone the traditional pilot process and gave a straight to series order to Genius, a scripted drama that will tell the stories of the world’s greatest innovators.
Genius is set to be an anthology series with each season chronicling the life of one particular innovator, according to Deadline. Fittingly, the very first season is going to be all about famed physicist and tongue-wagger Albert Einstein. The content will be largely based on the biography Einstein: His Life and Universe by Walter Isaacson, which included a series of previously unreleased personal letters of Einstein himself, so Season 1 of Genius could bring an entirely new spin on the accepted history of one of the world’s most influential scientists.
Filming for Genius is scheduled to begin in Prague over the summer, and the first season should premiere on Nat Geo in the spring of 2017. The series is still short of a showrunner, but famed Hollywood director Ron Howard is already on board as an executive producer alongside colleague Brian Grazer, and he will direct the very first episode, so the premiere should at least look good.
Even though Genius still hasn't nailed down some of the creative team, Nat Geo already has big plans in place for the plot of the debut season. It will explore how the brilliant and imaginative young Albert Einstein struggled in his job as a patent clerk, before he unlocked the atom and developed the theory of relativity and changed everything. Genius is set to delve into more than just Einstein’s science, however. His political activism and complicated personal relationships will be highlighted as well to give a nuanced look at the man whose life and works changed the world.
Nat Geo producing a scripted series is not a huge surprise. An episodic show is the natural extension of the network’s successes with scripted content in the past. The Killing Kennedy TV movie based on Bill O’Reilly’s book of the same name was enough of a hit that it grew into a franchise, and the miniseries Saints & Strangers evidently also worked well enough for the network to greenlight Genius.
With filming set to begin this summer, we can only hope that Nat Geo has a very short list of candidates for the position of showrunner. Genius seems like a series that could be a huge success if it works but a huge flop if it fails, and it will take the right person at the helm to make sure that the first season manages to tell the tale of Albert Einstein well. Hopefully, we’ll also get casting news in the not-too-distant future. Whoever is selected to play the lead role has some very big scientific shoes to fill.
No matter how much news we get about casting and showrunning, it’ll still be a while before we get to see any footage from Genius. Check out our schedule of summer TV premiere dates to see what shows you can watch in the meantime.