I’m here to debut yet another new column on the final week of 2015. I’d wanted to start this way back in the beginning of October, when the 2015-2016 television season was getting ready to debut, but as I’ve mentioned before things got in the way.
Luckily, we’ve moved past that and I’ve taken part of the remains of the original article to discuss what’s come so far and what will debut this January and beyond into 2016. Some of the fall season will be discussed later this week in our “Best of 2015” round-up, but I’ll mention what I hope continues well into the spring here as well.
So what’s the next That 70’s Show, Quantum Leap or The Simpsons? Let’s take a look:
I don’t cover every show returning or new, only the ones I’m interested in, even slightly. I hope I don’t get too long-winded, but I’ve briefly discussed each show below, per network:
Galavant (returning, season two, Jan 3) – I am quite excited for this to return right away in 2016, as it was my surprise hit of 2015 right off the bat as well. Timothy Omundson, best known for Psych, turned his tough-guy persona on its head to play a foppish evil king in this Princess Bride meets Camelot. The scenario seems odd, especially since television has not been too kind to musical comedies, but it appeared to work in the method ABC rolled out the episodes. At first, the network seemed to dump two episodes at a time, fearful of the backlash and wasted money/energy on the show. Instead, fans flocked to the series due to its binge-worthy nature and clamored for more immediately. Given that the budget had been spent and schedules had already released the actors and crew, season two was picked up and further adventures of Galavant (the crusading but bumbling hero that goes up against Omundson’s evil King Richard) were able to continue – less than a week from now.
Agent Carter (returning, season two, Jan 5) – I only caught half of this short series that follows Hayley Atwell’s titular character following World War II with some fantastic spy intrigue stateside under the newly formed SHIELD. Given that ABC hit it big with Agents of SHIELD, it made sense to continue to try that luck with a show set deeper into their universe with a known commodity in Atwell and the Captain America world. With guest appearances from Dominic Cooper (Howard Stark) and mentions of other Marvel entities (her new secret friend is the namesake for Jarvis) the show is a lot of pulpy fun. I want to finish up season 1 and continue on with this when season 2 rolls around. Of course, that’s a week away, so I likely won’t catch up, but from what I’ve heard the show is fantastic, and a great companion piece to Agents of SHIELD. Marvel’s followed through with their promises for sure.
The Catch (new, March 24) – Another Shonda Rhimes show? Surely she can’t hit lightning a fifth time? Well, the only reason I have to check out this show is that one of my favorite actors, Peter Krause, will be one of the male leads. The show follows Mireille Enos’ fraud investigator Alice Vaughan as she races against time and a future case of fraud against her – set up by her fiance (Krause). Interesting enough premise, though will it be as soapy and powerful as Shonda’s previous shows? Time will tell, but I’m probably only going to hear about this one’s quality.
Of Kings and Prophets (March 8, 2016) – didn’t they do this on NBC in 2009?
Fall 2015 Shows:
The Muppets (returning Feb 2) – expected it to be much better, but it just turned out to be a weird mess. It’s like The Office mixed with The Larry Sanders Show mixed with 30 Rock, but with beloved nostalgic characters from The Muppet Show. Inexplicably, it got picked up for a full season, but with a strange caveat – the original showrunner has been replaced and the tone of the show is getting an overhaul for the final six episodes. Will it be better? An overhaul saved Parks and Recreation after a handful of shows, so maybe this can be as well. Really, anything that doesn’t make me uncomfortable anymore is great.
Blood and Oil (unofficially cancelled) – This appeared to be Don Johnson’s return to form, a new Dallas on the network that has specialized recently in soapy pulp shows, making the exotic out of mundane locales. Unfortunately the ratings didn’t show up to North Dakota along with the characters, and this will likely slip into distant memory.
Dr. Ken and Fresh Off the Boat (returning Jan 8 and Feb 2) – I didn’t lump the shows together because they’re both about Asians, you racist. I haven’t been able to catch up on FOtB since I fell in love with it last season, but I’ve heard it’s only gotten better. I’ve also heard great things about Dr. Ken, despite it being placed on Fridays with Tim Allen’s Last Man Standing, a show with which it shares a tone. That doesn’t seem promising to me, but I’ll give it a chance for star Ken Jeong and sidekick Dave Foley. I’m certain Fresh Off the Boat will at least get another season, while Ken may have to prove itself this second half. Either way I want to check them both out.
Angel From Hell (Jan 7) – I don’t know a ton about this, but it was moved from November to January right off the bat, which doesn’t show a ton of confidence. Perhaps they were trying to figure out what they’d keep (instead cancelling Mike & Molly before it’s now final season’s premiere). Anyway, Angel stars Jane Lynch playing an angel (or crazy person?) who guides
Shannon Maggie Lawson through her trials and tribulations of 20s life. Seems an amusing premise, but the move has been worried. It also looks like a rehash of the Joan of Arcadia show, but raunchier. Not sure I like that, especially after Blindspot blatantly ripped off John Doe.
Fall 2015 Shows:
Limitless (Jan 5) – Of the two new shows this fall season based on movies from a few years ago (Minority Report, FOX, pretty much already cancelled is the other), Limitless had the least promise but the best delivery. Taking Bradley Cooper’s character Edward Morra and placing him in the American government is a move that could have backfired, but instead works for this particular installment in what is now a series. This way they can establish the world at large as a bigger picture – our hero, Brian Finch (Jake McDorman) is our Neo, the one we follow through it. Cooper’s Morra has popped up thrice to guide our new protagonist through the world, and is actually producing the show in a bit of a meta turn. Along for the ride is Jennifer Carpenter, again in a cop role, but in comparison makes it look like she was utterly wasted for nearly a decade on Dexter. This is where she’s shined and actually allowed to use some sort of emotion. I’m hopeful that this show will last more than one season, but with rapidly sinking ratings, perhaps it needs a boost of NZT itself.
Supergirl (Jan 4) – I was vehemently against this existing after hearing such detrimental news out of Comic-Con and leaked episodes. However, after noticing it was getting as much buzz as another disappointing pilot (Blindspot, NBC, see below) I decided to give it one more chance. What I found was a bubbly, fun reaction to the recent dour Man of Steel. While superhero shows are du jour recently, with fantastic outputs from CW stalwarts The Flash and Arrow, and an interesting albeit biteless Gotham over on FOX, all of them have been generally serious. It’s a breath of fresh air to see a fun superhero show, let alone a great show starring a woman. I haven’t watched since the pilot, but I’ve heard it’s only gotten better. Catch up now as there’s only been 9 episodes heading into its midseason premiere next Monday.
Life in Pieces (Jan 7) – Similarly to Dr. Ken, I never got a chance to catch it out, but I’ve heard decent things. Maybe I’ll finally take a look, especially since I have a fondness for Colin Hanks. Seems like a typical family sitcom, but if it’s stuck around for a full season, it’s got a better chance than others from recent years. Looking it up, it’s sort of a Ran sitcom, which sounds better than it probably is. Still worth a gander.
Crowded (unknown) – While Superstore premieres this week to what I expect to be an audible thud, this atypical NBC 2010s show is still unscheduled in the network’s programming. The main reason I am intrigued by this is that Patrick Warburton (who mired for 100 episodes on CBS’ Rules of Engagement) is yet again trying his hand at a sitcom. Miranda Cosgrove is also back to television in her first project since ending iCarly on Nickelodeon, so it interests me to see her make her way to a more mainstream network. I’m more curious about the results of this show rather than the show itself though, much like NBC execs likely are. Kind of sad that this is the best NBC has to offer right now.
You, Me and the Apocalypse (Jan 28) – Strangely enough, this seems like a bold move from NBC, but then at closer glance, it appears that they are actually running a BBC miniseries that has already aired over there. Starting late January, the miniseries tells of an apocalyptic forecast overtaking the world and a handful of different stories this results in. Rob Lowe appears as a Vatican priest, and Megan Mullally pops up as a white supremacist. The humor, I gather, will be very British, which is good enough for me. I’ll give it a look when it comes out, but I don’t expect it to be picked up or anything, especially as it appears the actors did this as a lark and knowing full well British shows tend to last one series anyway.
Emerald City (unknown) – Have you noticed a lot of the NBC shows are unscheduled? Sad state of affairs over there at the Peacock. Here, they are taking another stab at the oft adapted Wizard of Oz series. Much like Peter Pan, I think this is a bit overdone, but with the right hands could turn into something better than its other iterations. Vincent D’Onofrio will appear as the Wizard, Joely Richarson as Glinda, and Tarsem Singh is directing. Promising talent involved, but will it matter since it’s NBC?
Fall 2015 Shows:
The Carmichael Show – Another show I didn’t manage to see in the fall season, I’ve just noticed this got renewed for a second season. I didn’t give it a chance because I’d heard about abysmal ratings and early cancellation, but Jerrod Carmichael was incredibly funny when I saw him interview on late night to promote this new show. I’m hopeful the show is as funny as he was that night, so I’m going to do my best to check it out now and let you know what the buzz is about, if there is any. Supposedly the second season hasn’t been slated yet, but my guess is it’ll be a summer series, since the first season of six episodes was contained entirely within August/September.
Blindspot (Feb 29) – I wanted to mention only shows I was interested in or actually had promise, but this show is too huge for some inexplicable reason to leave alone. I caught the pilot, and in a rare move, turned it off halfway through. The dialogue was too trite and plot too thin to continue on, so I want more than anything to warn you from this piece of under cooked garbage. Also, I’m a little miffed that the premise is basically ripped from a much better show, 2002’s John Doe, a horribly underrated FOX show starring Prison Break’s Dominic Purcell as a man who wakes up in similar fashion on the West Coast and searches for his past rather than helping the cops with the mysterious case tattoos. I just like that better, so I think I may dislike this for unnecessary personal reasons. Check it out if you must.
The X-Files (Jan 24) – Certainly this is the first big event of 2016. The return of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully has been heavily covered by our favorite reviewer, Cory, so I’ll leave it to him for how excited to be. I definitely can’t wait to see how the six episodes expand the X-Files universe though. Cigarette Smoking Man, Skinner and even Monica Reyes – the pair’s late series replacement – are back for more of the paranormal.
Fall 2015 Shows:
Grandfathered (Jan 5) – The first of two new shows starring ageless 80s and 90s stars, Grandfathered had a tenuously thin premise – John Stamos plays a restaurateur whose life is upended when the son he never knew he had shows up – alongside that son’s new daughter. Immediately becoming a grandfather seems like it would be an episode of one sitcom, so it appeared to be a stretch that anything would be able to flourish on the show. Luckily for the producers, they found a plethora of talent in the cast. Not only does John Stamos ooze chemistry (patching any holes left behind), but Josh Peck is adorable, Paget Brewster stabilizes the outlandish behavior the two engage in, and Christina Milian is the best enigma of the group. Her outward appearance suggests ditzy and unnecessary to the plot, but when related to the story as a whole, Peck’s baby mama has a fierce personality that lends itself to ongoing storylines.
The Grinder (Jan 5) – This other new show stars Rob Lowe as a talented(?) actor who has just left his highly successful lawyer procedural in Hollywood to retire at home in Boise. There he attempts to use the “skills” he learned as a lawyer and join his brother (Fred Savage) at the family law firm. The delight in this show is that the premise is very tongue in cheek. No rational person would take Lowe’s character seriously, but the ultimate irony here is that “The Grinder” is typically right in the end, despite no actual training. The show has already begun becoming meta, as the mid-season finale saw a spinoff of the previously mentioned in-show Grinder getting a spinoff starring Timothy Olyphant. The episode on Jan 5? “The Olyphant in the Room”. How wonderful is this show?
Bob’s Burgers (Jan 10) – It’s nuts that this show lasted as long as it did. Creator Loren Bouchard had attempted gold with shows like Home Movies and Lucy, Daughter of the Devil. His mainstream offspring has developed beautifully over the past five seasons, and it looks like there’s no sign of stopping. The highlights are typically episodes focusing on the relationship between H. Jon Benjamin’s Bob and daughter Louise (Kristen Schaal). Tina has been often cited as the main character, and despite my early dislike for the character, she has grown over the course of the series and I’ve grown to appreciate her as the heart of the show. Here’s to a few more years?
Gotham – The second half hasn’t been scheduled yet, but the second season seems to be chugging along strongly to me. The ratings are a bit down from last year, but all I’ve heard of the episodes are everything I’d hoped the show would eventually get to. Particularly strong work from Christopher Michael Smith as Edward Nygma is one of the highlights, I’ve heard. I expect the show still struggles from sluggishness, especially in its fear to really kill any main character despite high stakes set-ups. I’ve heard it’s begun to touch on that aspect a bit, but unless it really changes things up, Gotham won’t go much further than perhaps a third season.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Jan 5) – Certainly this show wouldn’t maintain the jolly demeanor from its first season? It absolutely has, and has unwound as much entanglements as any cop procedural can. Recurring baddies, inside jokes, and a memory much like Parks and Rec, this show is FOX’s weirdo cousin to the Michael Schur related projects over on NBC (Parks, Office). I don’t expect the show to last forever, but a modest season or two more would delight me to no end, as it likely would the main characters.
Scream Queens – This one’s actually already over. I missed the first season, though it was one I was highly anticipating after hearing Ryan Murphy was taking his brand of Hot Topic chic to FOX and bringing Emma Roberts along for the ride. Jamie Lee Curtis came back to the forefront and earned a Golden Globe nomination for her effort. Carrie Fisher’s daughter Billie Lourd made an appearance and seems to have come into a bit of the spotlight. Here’s hoping the diminishing returns weren’t too off-putting that the series doesn’t get a second chance (like the Red Devil did, zing!)
For the most part, I don’t watch anything on The CW. It seems geared towards a younger, less intellectual audience. That hasn’t always been the case, as Buffy and Angel were quality shows before the merger of UPN and WB. Supernatural and Smallville have also had stellar followings, and The Vampire Diaries I hear has been great (despite it seeming like a showcase for how pretty the already 40-year-old Ian Somerhalder is). Anyway, the network is at a crossroads as the shows have climbed in quality over the past few years. Arrow (Jan 20) and The Flash (Jan 19) have the market on fantastic comic book shows, while iZombie (Jan 12) continues the tradition of underrated Rob Thomas shows. Jane the Virgin (Jan 25) is leading the way in diversity, while also winning an Golden Globe for its newcomer lead Gina Rodriguez. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (Jan 25) was apparently a delight earlier this fall season (another Golden Globe nom for its lead), so perhaps all the bad news of the past decade is finally falling away in favor of critical acclaim. It happened for FOX 20 years ago, so now it’s CW’s turn. Legends of Tomorrow premieres on Jan 21 and I hope this continues the upwards trend for the network. I (and everyone else) will finally have to take notice.
Vinyl (Feb 14) – Of all the new shows this season, fall or winter, I was most excited about this. Produced by Terence Winter and Martin Scorsese, the masterminds behind Boardwalk Empire, Vinyl tells of a time when rock n’ roll was new and shiny. Bobby Cannavale stars as record exec Richie Finestra (the 60s Nucky Thompson) amidst all the drugs and booze and sex you can imagine that generation could consume. I expect the series to be as debaucherous as Boardwalk and The Sopranos were, so here’s to Richie and his gang. I didn’t even get to the part where Olivia Wilde and Ray Romano play supporting roles – Ray Romano! I’m so excited.
Westworld (2016) – Another I’m terribly excited about is this adaptation of the classic Michael Crichton novel. I’m surprised it got bumped back, but perhaps it was always supposed to end up in 2016. Either way, this is finally getting a release this year – hopefully. The update stars Ed Harris as the Man in Black, with Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Jimmi Simpson, Jeffrey Wright, Ben Barnes, Thandie Newton, Clifton Collins Jr and Tessa Thompson all making appearances. Not much is known of this other than the fact that it’s a reboot, but I’m sure excited about this too.
Game of Thrones (April 2) – Have you ever heard of this? I feel like it’s about dragons or knights or ice monsters or something, correct? Well, it’s coming back in April and where it’s going no one knows. The end of last season divisively split fans and this will be a pivotal season in the entire network’s future. Without The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire and Sex and the City, Game of Thrones quickly became the flagship show. If this season falters, it could be all downhill for the channel that isn’t TV.
Girls (Feb 21) – It’s been quite some time since I’ve watched the show, I left off halfway through season two. I’ve heard the quality has been maintained, which is difficult to do with any show, and I just read that the series will be concluded after a sixth season. This, in its fifth, should hopefully retain a lot of the shock value of previous seasons, but perhaps by now the bite won’t be as sharp with other shows coming to the forefront.
Togetherness (Feb 21) – I should get my act together on this – I caught two thirds of this slice of life comedy starring Mark Duplass and Melanie Lynskey. The highlight of the whole first season was Amanda Peet, who plays an adult child, yet female, who struggles to piece her life together alongside her sister’s floundering couple (Lynskey and Duplass). I’m excited to see where they go from here, as it was left off fairly bleakly.
The Young Pope (TBA) – Jude Law will be directed by Paolo Sorrentino (Youth) as the new Pope Pius XIII, mentored by James Cromwell and Diane Keaton
Lewis and Clark (TBA) – Casey Affleck and Matthias Schoenaerts will play the titular explorers. Production has been bogged down by delays, though, so will this even show up in 2016?
House of Lies (April 10) – This typically premieres in January, so I’m not sure what the network is doing, though they haven’t slated a lot of their veteran shows yet for 2016. Perhaps we’ll know in a week when this will debut, though we know it at least will have a sixth season. What will be in store for Don Cheadle’s Marty Kohn? Hopefully some sort of reconciliation with Kristen Bell’s Jeannie. In my opinion, this is the best show on Showtime right now, and the accolades and reviews don’t reflect that.
Episodes (unknown) – Equally interesting, Episodes is the actor-playing-himself where Joey from Friends tries to revamp his image. It’s worked wonders, as Matt LeBlanc earned a Golden Globe for the role and the taut British comedy lends itself beautifully to the holes needed filling in comedy slots over on Showtime. A fifth season is in order right now, and I bet it will be paired with House of Lies whenever they finish filming their respective seasons.
Shameless (Jan 16) – I’m not sure how this show has chugged along so long, but I’ve heard nothing but praise for William H. Macy and Emmy Rossum’s Gallaghers, let alone the rest of the brood. I left off way back in season 1, so by now I can’t imagine how the family is even surviving. I’ve heard this may be the show’s final or penultimate, so let’s hope they go out on top (or on bottom, as the Gallaghers likely always will be).
Billions (Jan 17) – This is a bit of a strange enigma – Cory and I are currently talking about the article as I write it, and he’s wondering why in the world would Paul Giamatti head to television? Now, he answered his own question: some of the best writers have flocked there as well. Damian Lewis, Malin Akerman and Maggie Siff join him in this tale of hedge funds and bank fraud, right on the heels of Oscar hopeful The Big Short. I expect this to at least be good, but this has the potential to save the network a little bit. Showtime has always run second to HBO, and with better networks nipping at its heels (AMC, Starz, FX) – will it stay second for long? Billions may be its best answer.
Roadies and Twin Peaks – Roadies is by Cameron Crowe and it isn’t slated yet, but it’ll likely drop in 2016. Like the title suggests, there will be a rock n roll background, and my guess is that it will be like a lite-version of Vinyl, totally dismantling my argument that Showtime will bounce back this year. After that, 2017 will bring another great revival (after X-Files) in Twin Peaks. What will the small Washington town hold for us after twenty years gone. Is the pie still good? What happened to the logging industry up north? Is One-Eyed Jack still in business? I can’t wait for that. * – also as I edited this I noticed Showtime ordered a six-episode autobiographical series to star Andrew Dice Clay, cleverly entitled Dice.
Black Sails (Jan 23) – Yet another cable show I haven’t really gotten a chance to look at, Black Sails seemed like an anomaly when it debuted two years ago. I thought a pirate show would never…take sail, what with the sour disposition many had taken towards the Pirates of the Caribbean series, and even the Assassin’s Creed video games floundering with their pirate installments. Yet somehow this show managed to stay afloat and it’s been a dark diamond in the sea of terrible shows Starz has put out. Luckily, the network has begun to produce higher quality shows, while recognizing those that actually deserve to remain there. With Da Vinci’s Demons done after December, I hope that this will be the flagship of the network. Time to take notice?
Ash vs. The Evil Dead – Season two was renewed three days before its first season premiere, so we’re assured another ten episodes of bloodbaths and zombie gore with hilarious performances from Bruce Campbell and co. Cory will be reviewing the finale this upcoming weekend!
Banshee (April 1) – Much like Black Sails, Banshee premiered on a network I don’t have in my cable package. Surely there were ways I could have viewed this, but I never really got around to it. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this cop in a small town mystery, and it’s produced by Jonathan Tropper (This Is Where I Leave You) and Alan Ball (Six Feet Under, True Blood) so I have high hopes for watching this finally someday. Season 4 premieres April (after being delayed from January 29th). Don’t worry about its quality though, they’ve put a cap on it at four seasons, so they’ll probably go out with one final scream.
Outcast (TBA early 2016) – Robert Kirkman found success over at AMC with his Walking Dead series, so naturally other cable networks would reach out to him in order to develop one of his other comic projects. Outcast, as far as I know, is an exorcist drama starring Patrick Fugit (Almost Famous, Gone Girl) so I’m a bit intrigued. I’m honestly heading into it knowing nothing else, so hopefully this is enough for you as well.
Quarry (TBA 2016) – Also commissioned based on work by a beloved comic writer, Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition) – Quarry tells of a Marine marksman (Logan Marshall-Green) who returns home to a disillusioned public after fighting over in Vietnam. Now stuck with nothing to do, he’s brought into the world of contract killers and corruption spanning the Mississippi River. Definitely into this premise, I highly anticipate its arrival.
Better Call Saul (Feb 15) – You’ll hear much about this program from Cory and I in Friday’s Best of 2015 podcast, and I anticipate season two to be much of the same. Career work from both Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks, as well as a stellar turn from Michael McKean, the episodes weren’t particularly involved with either character, instead focusing on the strange world we’d already fallen in love with in Breaking Bad. If this season continues the trend, we’ll be watching one of the best shows of the 2010s. Can it survive True Detective syndrome? At least there’s no Vince Vaughn in sight.
Preacher (summer 2016) – Oddly, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were the pair that finally got this to the screen (albeit the small one). Luckily, we’re in a golden age of television, so that may have helped – along with AMC’s predilection now to take gambles on comic-based properties. Dominic Cooper will take the mantle of the titular preacher, Jesse Custer, after decades of speculation who could handle the foul-mouthed answer to DC’s John Constantine. I, for one, have been waiting for this since first hearing of the premise way back in 1995, and I would love for the duo to deliver on the promise of one of the best shows of 2016. This will be at the top of my most anticipated early next year.
The Night Manager (2016) – This mini-series will air on both BBC and AMC at some point in 2016, so we’re not sure what to make of it yet. The impressive cast (Hugh Laurie, Olivia Colman, Tom Hiddleston, Elizabeth Debicki, Tom Hollander) will be involved in this spy drama that will span six episodes that follow the entanglement between Whitehall and Washington post-World Wars. I’m as excited for this as the other big mini-series, The Young Pope.
Baskets (Jan 21) – FX has become a strange beast. At first they were riding high on dramas like The Shield and Rescue Me when It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia came along and changed their future. No longer was the network about high-powered testosterone-fueled dramas, but the wacky sitcom had become its hallmark. Soon followed The League, Wilfred, Married, You’re the Worst and Louie. With this influx of weirdness came one of the strangest to debut, Jay Baruchel’s Man Seeking Woman. I think this trend of FX having a semi-famous comic stuck in a baffling scenario is interesting, and it continues here with Zach Galiafanakis’ Baskets. Here the formerly rotund star of The Hangover plays Chip Baskets, a clown who can’t find work in the circus and gets stuck hosting a radio show. We’ll see if it holds up to FX’s quality.
Man Seeking Woman (Jan 6) – Speaking of that strange show, Man Seeking Woman returns January 6th with some new outrageously intriguing premises. I still don’t know what to make of this, so I’ll have to check it out and let you know. If not, alternatively, let us know below in the comments!
Cassius and Clay (2016) – Another animated show created by Adam Bell (Archer) – this follows two bandits traveling around post-apocalyptic America – Cassius (It’s Always Sunny‘s Katilin Olson) and Clay (Lake Bell). I’ve seen a teaser for this and looks to be about as enjoyable as Archer, which is saying a lot. Archer is one of the funniest cartoons on the air today (alongside Rick and Morty and Adventure Time), so this seems to add to the great pantheon of 2010s animation. In fact, it’ll probably be paired with Archer whenever that show comes back in 2016.
American Crime Story (Feb 2) – Unlike ABC’s drama American Crime, this is an anthology series along the same lines as showrunner Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story. Simple enough, right? Well the first one the creator chose to cover is a doozy, as we’ll be viewing the case of the century – the OJ Simpson trial. Certainly this will drum up past feelings towards the case, as the whole ordeal will be turning 21 this year. A generation of youngsters will get their first history lesson (I remember this vividly) while a lot of us will just get a retread of the story. Will they do it justice? Will we learn anything new? Will the actors be as over the top as they are on AHS (the answer may be yes – the cast includes John Travolta, Cuba Gooding Jr, Nathan Lane and David Schwimmer)? Will the second season cover tabloid darling Jon-Benet Ramsey? I’m pretty intrigued by this.
Better Things (TBA) – I heard that this was being developed, but I hadn’t heard anything since last summer. Luckily, we’re finally getting a sitcom from Pamela Adlon herself. After spending many years as Louis C.K.’s paramour on his self-titled sitcom, Adlon is headlining her own show. Again, I don’t know too much about this, other than it’s likely to stem from Adlon’s own similar experiences of being a single parent comedienne in New York City. I’m increasingly excited for FX’s slate.
The Magicians (Jan 25) – This sounds immediately like a dark version of Harry Potter. When Quentin Coldwater (Jason Ralph) joins the Hogwarts like Brakebills College, his childhood friend Julia (Stella Maeve) is denied. The results of their experiences with magic will likely tear their worlds apart. Definitely intrigued by this premise.
The Expanse (Dec 14, airs Tuesdays) – This show has already begun on SyFy, with Thomas Jane playing Josephus Miller, an interstellar cop who patrols the solar system and maintains the balance between good and evil on all the planets. Steven Strait is the first officer of the Canterbury, an ice freighter that discovers an issue in the belt of asteroids between Mars and Earth. Meanwhile Shohreh Aghdashloo plays a UN officer trying to preserve the alliance between Mars and Earth before it devolves into a bloodbath. Definitely a show that seems up SyFy’s alley, perhaps they’re beginning to contain quality shows again?
House of Cards (March 4) – I’ve heard much about the controversial third season – it’s too slow; there’s been higher stakes; it’s a retread of the previous two seasons; etc – but I’ve always been a huge fan of Kevin Spacey. I don’t expect the series to go much further – and as I learned from our Best of 2015 podcast this past Friday, they’re going into re-election. With the way our government is set up, Frank can’t go much further in politics, so I can’t imagine the future going well. He’s at the tipping point, ready for a great fall. How did the British version go? Did that end well for him? I’m looking forward to the comeuppance season.
Marco Polo (June) – I’m five episodes into this show and a little stuck. While I really wanted to enjoy this show, being a history buff, it’s just sort of dull. Sure, the cinematography is grand, the actors doing some great work, and the choreography some of the best action of the past few years – but the plot is slow. I don’t think it’s because I know what happened when Marco Polo arrived in China for a few years, but even with this fictionalized version, it seems like they were trying to capture the lightning in a bottle that Game of Thrones was able to. Unfortunately, naked Asian bodies and massive armies don’t make a great show. Either way, I’m hoping season two can improve upon the idea and give us something even better. Plus this seems more like a summer show than a winter show. The slow pace bogs itself down in the winter.
Daredevil (March 18) – I only managed to watch the first episode of this show, and as Cory noted in the Best of 2015 Podcast, the first season is very much the Matt Murdock/Foggy Nelson law firm show. While that doesn’t mean there wasn’t any action, it wasn’t as much as he or I expected. Season 2 promises to deliver on that by way of adding two dynamic comic characters, Elektra (Elodie Yung) and the Punisher (Jon Bernthal). I expect this to lift the show to the level to which Jessica Jones eclipsed this.
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (March 27) – I have a love/hate relationship with this, but I’m certainly excited to see new episodes. I started to talk about how unconventional the writing was, how wacky the plotlines, how wonderful it was that the show tackled subjects like cults, rape, racism, broken legal system and the price of fame. I just don’t know how to convey in words how interesting the show really is, though. Ellie Kemper, Tituss Burgess, Carol Kane and Jane Krakowski are quite electric in their unique personalities, and it’s worth taking a look at the show, if not just for the pilot. At a half an hour, it’s quite easy to binge, so definitely one of the reasons I enjoyed the show – it’s snappy and witty. Anyway, I feel like I didn’t do the show justice, or as much as I did the one below this – but it’s coming back in the spring and we’re better for it.
Master of None – If you haven’t caught this, it’s actually something of an enigma. At first I thought it was sort of a ripoff of Louis CK’s style, but as the series went on there was something much deeper and more meaningful. Not to take away from the brilliance of Louie, but in a way a lot of comedians have that same strange way of looking at things, and while Aziz Ansari started off with a similar template, he’s diverted into some of the most profound television of the season. I’m only a few episodes in and I’m enraptured with the messages Aziz has decided to divulge to his audience. After the film Funny People I was quick to dismiss him as a one-note wonder, but he’s certainly blossomed into his own after being a member of one of the greatest sitcom ensembles in Parks and Recreation. Do yourself a favor and check this out. You can honestly start with any episode, it’s like a collection of short stories told by a comedic master.
Love (Feb 19) – Yet another show no one knows too much about, all 10 episodes of the comedy will drop right after Valentine’s Day, appropriately. What I do know is that it stars an actress from another NBC comedy I loved, Community. Gillian Jacobs will co-star with Paul Rust as their characters navigate the modern dating scene. Sounds typical to me, but I’m sold because Britta is in it. Hopefully it will be as insightful as Master of None.
Fuller House (Feb 26) – Now we come to the meat of the Netflix programs. Following in Disney’s footsteps (Girl Meets World), Netflix has revived another great TGIF show – Full House. Much like the update with Cory and Topanga, Fuller House finds DJ Tanner (Candace Cameron Bure) all grown up and struggling to raise her three sons. Along come friend Kimmy (Andrea Barber) and sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweetin) to help raise the kids. Sure, the formula has been done before, but it was well handled by the creator – who steps in again to see how the continuation of the Tanner clan will fare. John Stamos, Bob Saget, Lori Loughlin and Dave Coulier will all stop by to say hi, as will former DJ paramour Steve (Scott Weinger). The only thing that bothers me is that DJ Tanner married someone named Fuller, just so they could use this title for the show. Still, I’m so very excited.
As for the rest of 2016, Netflix looks to have several compelling shows, including the return of Bojack Horseman, Orange is the New Black, Bloodline, Longmire and Narcos. They’ll even be having a fifth season of Arrested Development (see, Netflix perfected the reboot). As for new shows, we’ll have more Marvel with Luke Cage and Iron Fist, as well as historical drama The Crown that will tell the story of a young Queen Elizabeth II, and musical drama The Get Down, brought to us by Baz Luhrmann. They’ll also have several more stand-up specials, documentaries and even original films – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny; War Machine; and one I’m particularly excited for: Pee-Wee’s Big Holiday.
The Man in the High Castle (already out) – I’d heard about this Philip K. Dick novel a while back, and was definitely intrigued. What if the Nazis and Japanese had won World War II and sliced up the United States for their spoils of war. What different history would have been written? As our young heroes discover, America wasn’t always so evil and Nazi Germany wasn’t always so perfect. This also stars Rufus Sewell, so I’m interested in that. I meant to catch it back when the pilot dropped, but I’ll have to catch up to it now.
Red Oaks (already out) – First off, a Paul Reiser and Richard Kind reunion? That’s a sell right there. The tone of the show is Ping Pong Summer and The Way Way Back, so I’m intrigued for the nostalgia factor we’re immersed in with the ’80s right now. Reiser plays the president of a country club in New Jersey where young David (Craig Roberts) works for the summer. Much like the kids in Groundhog Day, he’s expecting to have some wild times, but he’s in for more of a reality check. Still, there’s the Reiser-Kind connection. I’m hopefully going to be mad about you, Red Oaks.
Mozart in the Jungle (Dec 30) – The second season of this dramedy premiered on December 30th, just in time for the winter doldrums. Of course it was as hot as South America up by me, so I didn’t really take notice until this past Sunday when Gael Garcia Bernal and the program won two Golden Globes, beating out incumbent Jeffrey Tambor and his show Transparent (another stunning display, I hear). This follows Bernal as he navigates the musical world of New York City, conducting his own orchestra. It’s kind of like Whiplash-lite. I’ll try to check it out soon so we know better about it’s quality.
As you’ve noticed, most of Amazon’s content actually came out in the fall season of 2015. What’s coming hasn’t been scheduled, but it still sounds quite interesting. Sneaky Pete stars Giovanni Ribisi in a My Name is Earl-type situation, and it’s alongside Marin Ireland, my favorite guest actress from Homeland. Galaxy Quest is also being developed for a sequel series, which is fantastic. I love the film, and I want to see more of their world. Obviously, it shouldn’t be diluting the quality of that first film, but if they can make it seem like there’s a Next Generation type spoof, then it could be brilliant. And much like the Girl Meets World and Fuller Houses of the TV universe, this could have the stars of the film drop in rather than star.
The Shannara Chronicles (MTV, Jan 5) – I read the Sword of Shannara when I was in college, and it’s a total rip-off of Lord of the Rings. Even author Terry Brooks has said as much. In essence, this will likely be Game of Thrones-lite, so I’m not particularly looking forward to this. However, and this is a big what if, but if they manage to pull off a better telling of a ripped off tale, then perhaps MTV will have a massive hit on their hands. This is really just playing into the copycat mold though, with fantasy the big genre of the mid-decade. If you need some more fantasy, go find Outlander on blu-ray.
Mercy Street (PBS, Jan 17) – After the massive success of Downton Abbey, it was only natural for PBS to try their hand at original programming in the same vein. Mercy Street is undeniably American, and with Downton and other BBC shows covering the first half of the 20th century, we’re headed back to the Civil War for this historical production. Given my fascination with that war, I’m definitely in for this, but there’s some added bonuses in the cast for this one – Josh Radnor plays the lead, Dr. Jed Foster, as he leads a hospital in Alexandria, Virginia alongside his two nurses Mary Phinney (Mary Elizabeth Winstead!) and Emma Green (newcomer Hannah James). It also features AnnaSophia Robb, a young actress I’ve liked for nearly a decade now – called her being in a ton of stuff back when she appeared in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Anyway, look for this to hopefully become the stateside Downton Abbey. I know there’s an audience out there for this type of show, given that I’m one of them.
The Lion Guard (Disney, Jan 15) – There’s a strange occurrence in television these days – despite the golden age we’re living in, everyone is desperate to relive the past. Nostalgic for some of these shows, executives are quick to reboot the series or films and bring back some of the ideas and characters of the past. One of these has come from the Lion King franchise. While the series has spanned three films and a television show focusing on sidekicks Timon & Pumbaa, they’ve developed a sequel series for Simba and Nala’s son Kion, who heads up the Lion Guard who patrol the pride lands looking for interlopers and danger. They’ve introduced other animals into the fray, including a cheetah, a hippopotamus, an egret and of course, a honey badger. The only voice holdover is Ernie Sabella, the man behind the portly Pumbaa. Interestingly enough, a few of the voice actors from Lion King 2 are guesting (Andy Dick and Jason Marsden, so what else were they doing). James Earl Jones actually appeared in the pilot film back in November, so it’s nice to see some consistency. Hopefully this pulls off the charm that the 90s Disney shows had.
The Venture Bros. (Adult Swim, Jan 31) – Ah, saving the best for last. This show has one of the longest runs of any show I’ve watched, on this list or not. It also has insanely long hiatuses. During its tenure on Adult Swim, Venture Bros has been surpassed in animated hierarchy by programs such as Archer, Rick and Morty and Adventure Time. Well, this is the original clever, “adult” animated show that aired back in 2005. Heavily inundated with pop culture references, the show was utterly fresh in a television landscape begging for something of its ilk. Now that there have been copycat shows, including shows that have surpassed the original in quality, what will the Venture Bros. of 2016 look like? It’s going to have some kind of postmodern feel that only Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer could bring to the table. This is among my most anticipated of 2016.
Oh well. I ended up way too long-winded. Next year, I’ll split it into sections, and try to cover everything, even if I’m not terribly interested in it. And it’ll be out in the fall, not mid-January.