Joss Whedon Sci-Fi Drama Ordered Straight to Series at HBO

Joss Whedon is returning to television.

The Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum has landed a straight-to-series order at HBO for the Victorian drama The Nevers. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the project landed at the premium cable network amid a competitive situation with multiple bidders, including streaming giant Netflix. An episode count and premiere date have not yet been determined.

The Nevers is described as an epic science-fiction drama about a gang of Victorian women who find themselves with unusual abilities, relentless enemies and a mission that might change the world. Whedon will serve as writer, director, executive producer and showrunner on The Nevers.

"I honestly couldn't be more excited. The Nevers is maybe the most ambitious narrative I’ve created, and I can’t imagine a better home for it than HBO," Whedon said Friday in a statement. "Not only are they the masters of cinematic longform, but their instant understanding of my odd, intimate epic was as emotional as it was incisive. It's been too long since I created an entirely new fictional world, and the HBO team offers not just scope and experience, not just 'prestige,' but a passionate collaboration. I could go on, but — I’m impatiently grateful to say — I have work to do."

The Nevers marks Whedon's return to the small screen and the first show he has created since Fox's Dollhouse. His credits include Firefly, Buffy spinoff Angel and serving as an exec producer on ABC's Marvel drama Agents of SHIELD, which is showrun by his brother, Jed Whedon, and sister-in-law, Maurissa Tancharoen. The news comes as the trio are poised to appear at San Diego Comic-Con for a massive 10-year reunion for their original web series Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog in Hall H.

The Whedon show comes a day after Netflix snapped HBO's 18-year streak as the most-nominated outlet at the Emmys, and as new corporate parent AT&T is eyeing a larger and broader expansion to better compete with media behemoths including Netflix, Apple and Amazon, among others. HBO will now have the first original series from genre favorites Whedon and J.J. Abrams. The latter has HBO sci-fi drama Demimonde, which is the first show he's written since Alias. The cabler is also developing Alan Moore's beloved graphic novel Watchmen with Damon Lindelof, with the pilot fully expected to be picked up to series.

"We have long been fans of the incredibly talented and prolific Joss Whedon and we can’t think of a better project than The Nevers with which to welcome him to the HBO family," said HBO programming president Casey Bloys. "We look forward to meeting the strange, multifaceted characters of The Nevers, to learn their stories, see them in action and share them with our viewers. We’re honored that Joss chose HBO as the place to build his ambitious new world and we are excited to get started."

While a premiere date remains unclear, HBO has a stacked 2019 with the returns of Big Little Lies, True Detective and Veep joining a slate that includes the final season of Game of Thrones, J.J. Abrams' new show Demimonde and Lovecraft Country (from Jordan Peele), Westworld, Barry, Ballers, Crashing, Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Deuce, Insecure, Silicon Valley, Succession, Camping and Nicole Kidman's The Undoing.

Whedon, repped by CAA and Ziffren Brittenham, counts features including The Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers and the sequel Age of Ultron.