With the summer pretty much winding down in every way except the temperature, our thoughts are starting to turn towards the fall line-up. Over the next week or two as the festival season gears up, we're going to be casting our eye on what to expect not just from Venice, Telluride and TIFF, but also the rest of the movie season in general.
But of course, movies aren't all that will be available to watch. With TV going through something of a golden age (and our coverage of the medium growing), we wanted to kick off our fall preview week by looking at some of the most exciting TV shows that are set to debut over the next six months or so. Below you'll find ten shows that should premiere on the networks and cable channels in the near future. And given the increasing popularity of British shows like "Downton Abbey," "Luther," "Sherlock" and "Doctor Who" in the U.S., we've also added a bonus five from across the pond. Read on for more, and let us know what you'll be looking forward to yourselves on the small screen in the near future.
1. "Ray Donovan"
The latest movie star to make his way onto the small screen (something that you'll see being a recurring theme on this list) is Liev Schreiber. The excellent character actor (most recently seen in "Goon") dipped his toe into TV waters a few years back with a four-episode arc on "CSI," but has now plunged into the waters properly by taking the title part in "Ray Donovan," which will air on Showtime in the new year. The "Salt" star plays a South Boston native who tries to juggle his job as a fixer for LA's rich and famous with the needs of his troubled, tempestuous family. Schreiber tops off a pretty great cast that inlcudes Jon Voight as his father, Eddie Marsan and Dash Mihok as his brothers, Paula Malcolmson ("Deadwood") as his wife, and Elliott Gould as his mentor. That's certainly a cast we're prepared to watch every week. The premise seems a touch generic — somewhere between "Entourage" and "House of Lies" — and the previous credits of creator Ann Biderman ("Copycat," "Primal Fear," "Public Enemies") aren't glowing, but this is certainly one of the more promising shows in the works.
When? Most likely January once "Homeland" finishes its run.
2. "Masters of Sex"
"Masters of Sex" is Showtime's other big new drama of the year, and you can imagine from the title alone that it'll be controversial fare. Appearing like a mid-point between "Mad Men" and "Kinsey," and based on the book "Masters of Sex: The Life and Times of William Masters and Virginia Johnson, The Couple Who Taught America How To Love," it sees Michael Sheen (in his first regular TV gig, having replaced the originally cast Paul Bettany) and Lizzy Caplan play Masters and Johnson, pioneering researchers into the field of human sexual response, who also began an affair with each other during their work. It's likely to wind up the moral majority, but also more liberal types (the pair ran a program to convert homosexuals to heterosexuality), but there seems to be more than enough potential for drama in the premise that we can see this being fascinating stuff, particularly with two excellent actors (joined by Emmy-winner Margo Martindale and Beau Bridges) in the lead roles. The script comes from Michelle Ashford ("The Pacific," "John Adams"), while "Shakespeare in Love" and "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" director John Madden helmed the pilot.
When? Also January. We imagine Showtime will pair it with "Ray Donovan" on Sunday nights.
Given the popularity of serial killer procedurals on TV, and that Hannibal Lecter has led to four hit movies over the years (discounting the terrible prequel "Hannibal Rising"), it's surprising that no one has ever thought to put the two together. Until now, that is, as "Pushing Daisies" creator Bryan Fuller has been masterminding "Hannibal," a new NBC series that will do just that. And a movie-caliber cast has been assembled, with "Martha Marcy May Marlene" star Hugh Dancy as FBI Agent Will Graham (previously played by William Petersen and Edward Norton), Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford, Dennis Farina and Scott Glenn's old role, and, most excitingly of all, Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter himself. It appears that the plot will intially revolve around a pre-capture Lecter consulting on cases, before building towards Graham discovering his secret, and it's at least a side of things that hasn't been seen on screen before, and we certainly trust Fuller to give an interesting new twist on the material, although it remains to be seen whether it'll be elevated above your average crime procedural. David Slade ("30 Days Of Night") is directing the pilot.
When? Shooting hasn't started yet, and the 13 episode first season is intended for mid-season, so the new year seems like a good bet.
4. "The Americans"
The Cold War seems to be the new TV trend these days, and Aaron Paul is attached to star in a spy drama set in the period at HBO once "Breaking Bad" is done, but first up is this new drama on FX, a collaboration between Joseph Weisberg ("Falling Skies") and Graham Yost ("Justified"). "The Americans" stars Keri Russell ("Felicity") and Matthew Rhys ("Brothers And Sisters") as a seemingly ordinary married couple in suburban DC who are actually KGB spies. Technically an arranged relationship, the two are falling in love, but things are complicated both by his growing love for American values and capitalism, and by their new neighbor (Noah Emmerich), a spy-hunting FBI agent. It's certainly a potent premise and while FX's dramas can be inconsistent, the presence of Yost drama bodes well, as does the fact that the pilot was directed by "Warrior" helmer Gavin O'Connor. FX recently picked the show up for a full 13 episode first season, so they've clearly got a lot of faith in it.
When? Early 2013. It could well be paired with "Justified" on Tuesday nights when that show returns.
5. "Mockingbird Lane"
Bryan Fuller is a busy man. He doesn't just have "Hannibal" on the cards (as well as writing a "Pinocchio" movie for Tim Burton), but he's also looking after another mid-series show for NBC, namely a long-gestating reboot of monster sitcom "The Munsters" going by the title "Mockingbird Lane." You may sigh, and rightfully so, but the show is actually somewhat intriguing. Fuller is taking it in a darker, more dramatic direction, assembling a pretty interesting cast, led by Eddie Izzard as the vampire grandfather, with British actress Charity Wakefield as Marilyn, Jerry O'Connell as the Frankenstein-like Herman, and Portia de Rossi as his wife Lily. It's clearly going to be a tricky one to get the tone right on (hence the extended development process), but with Fuller involved, and Bryan Singer directing the pilot, we're certainly willing to check it out.
When? It hasn't technically been picked up for a series, but given the talent involved, we imagine it won't be long. Look for it in 2013.
6. "The Mindy Project"
From what we've seen and heard, it's not exactly a banner year for network comedy. Even with the caveat that sitcom pilots are rarely overwhelmingly successful (look at everything from "Parks & Recreation" to "New Girl" to see how shows can improve with a little time), this year's crop seem pretty weak. One of the exceptions, however, is "The Mindy Project," which sees "The Office" veteran Mindy Kaling graduate to write and star in her own pilot for Fox. The set up is pretty standard. Kaling plays a doctor with a train-wreck of a personal life — but the writer/performer is enormously winning and charming, and she's assembled a pretty great cast around her, including Chris Messina ("Ruby Sparks"), British comic Ed Weeks and the great Stephen Tobolowsky, plus Bill Hader and Ed Helms in cameo appearances. What we've seen of the pilot looks moderately funny, but this is here more out of the faith that it'll find its footing given half the chance.
When? Airs after "New Girl" on Tuesday nights from September 25th.
7. "Untitled Marc Maron Project"
The other comedy we're really excited for, albeit one at a very different end of the spectrum from "The Mindy Project," is IFC's vehicle for comedian and podcast host Marc Maron. The network have had some success with comedy of late with "Portlandia" and "Comedy Bang-Bang," and this seems to fall into a similar niche, being the semi-autobiographical tale of veteran stand-up Maron, who went through years of substance abuse problems and broken marriages before finding fame as the host of the popular "WTF" podcast, where he's interviewed everyone from Judd Apatow to Jack White. The series will see Maron play a thinly-veiled version of himself, a comic who records a podcast in his garage, but there are some slight differences, including veteran Ed Asner will play Maron's bipolar father, which should be fun. We're likely to get cameos from various celebrities in each episode too — Ken Jeong played himself in the pilot.
When? Early 2013, probably paired with "Portlandia."
8. "Low Winter Sun"
To be honest, the only reason this one isn't top of the list is because it's not clear if it's going to series yet, but on the basis of the talent assembled for the pilot, this could be the most exciting new shows of the coming year. "Low Winter Sun" is a remake of a 2006 Channel 4 British series involving a pair of Edinburgh cops who murder their partner, only to get drawn into the criminal underworld. The new version, written by "Criminal Minds" scribe Chris Mundy and directed by "The Wire" veteran Ernest Dickerson, is set in Detroit, but it's still keeping some ties with the original, with the great Mark Strong, who starred in the UK version, reprising his role as one of the cops. He's joined by another excellent British character actor, Lennie James, and "The Wire" star James Ransone, so thing are shaping up nicely. AMC, where the project is set up, tend to be very picky when it comes to actually commissioning series from the pilots, and even if it does make it through the process, the last time they remake a foreign crime thriller we got "The Killing," so this could be problematic. But it could also be the next "The Shield." Fingers crossed, then.
When? If it gets the pick up, our guess is that it'll fill the spring slot left vacant by "The Killing."
9. "Last Resort"
Speaking of "The Shield," its creator Shawn Ryan's subsequent shows haven't quite connected with audiences. The transcendent "Terriers" was cancelled after one season, and "The Chicago Code" lasted the same length of time. But his new ABC show looks like it could have a better chance at success. Landing somewhere between "Crimson Tide" and "Lost," the plot involves an advanced nuclear submarine that gets orders to attack Pakistan. The boat's commanding officer (Andre Braugher) refuses, and after surviving an attack from their own side, the crew set themselves up on an Indian Ocean island and declare themselves a sovereign nuclear nation. It's a killer set-up (although some critics who've seen the pilot have questioned how well it'll be able to extend the story), and we'd certainly take forty minutes out of our day to watch Braugher play a morally ambiguous, Col. Kurtz-ish submarine captain-turned-despot. Aside from Robert Patrick in what we'd describe as the Sam Neill role, we're not expecially enthused by the supporting cast, which also includes Scott Speedman and Autumn Reeser, but hopefully that means there's some exciting new faces in there.
When? Thursdays at 8 PM starting September 27th.
10. "Ben And Kate"
Again, it's by all accounts a weak year for TV comedy, so we're willing to give shows that display a degree of promise the benefit of the doubt if they're showing enough of it, and "Ben & Kate" seems to be on the upper tier of things. Created by Diablo Cody pal Dana Fox, the show is a sort of sitcom spin on "You Can Count On Me," with a hopeless dreamer ("The Descendants" co-writer Nat Faxon) moving back in with his sister, a young single mom played by Dakota Johnson. What we've seen of the pilot is warm and likeable, if not uproariously funny (with the exception of "Bad Teacher" star Lucy Punch, who's excellent), but former "Community" showrunners Neil Goldman and Garrett Donovan have come on since the series was ordered, so the potential is certainly there for things to improve. The basics are there, particularly with two very likeable leads, so this could turn out to be a pleasant surprise if the pieces fall into place.
When? Showing alongside "New Girl" and "The Mindy Project" on Fox starting September 25th
Honorable Mentions: The show that would certainly top this list if there was an obvious start date on it would be "True Detective," a real-life cop tale that's being directed by Cary Fukunaga, and will star Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey. But as far as we know, there's no indication of when the HBO series will go before cameras. There's a few other network shows that have our interest too: Dennis Quaid and Michael Chiklis in period crime drama "Vegas"; the JJ Abrams-produced apocalyptic sci-fi "Revolution"; Kevin Bacon serial killer tale "The Following"; Radha Mitchell as a reluctant crime matriarch in "Red Widow"; and Jonny Lee Miller as a contemporary Sherlock Holmes, with Lucy Liu as Watson, in "Elementary."And Five From Across The Pond:
Aside from very brief roles in things like "Love Actually" and "Four Lions," Julia Davis isn't especially well known in the US, but in the UK, she's become one of the most distinctive voices in British comedy, thanks to her collaborations with Steve Coogan, and her own, often dark and bleak creations "Human Remains," "Nighty Night" and "Lizzie And Sarah." She's gone over to Sky for this new show, a six part parody of Bronte-esque period dramas with an all-star cast. The story invovles the shipwreck survivor Helene (rising star Alexandra Roach from "The Iron Lady"), who marries a pastor (Alex MacQueen of "In The Loop") only to clash with his maniacal housekeeper (Davis herself). Familiar faces for UK comedy fans like Rebekah Staton, Alexander Armstrong and Kevin Eldon also feature, the production value looks strong, and between Davis' impeccable track record, and the impressive stuff that Sky have been comissioning recently, this could be a real gem.
When? It starts airing at 10pm on August 27th on Sky Atlantic in the UK. No word on a US airing yet.
2. "Dancing On The Edge"
Stephen Poliakoff is probably Britain's most lauded TV dramatist, but came unstuck a little with his venture onto the big-screen a few years ago, with the disappointing "Glorious 39." But he's back on TV soon with his first full series "Dancing On The Edge," a five-parter that focuses on a black jazz band in the 1930s, who get caught up in the murder of their singer. And Poliakoff has assembled a tremendous cast for the BBC production, with Chiwetel Ejiofor and Matthew Goode leading things, and John Goodman, Wunmi Mosaku, Jacqueline Bisset, Janet Montgomery, Tom Hughes, Anthony Head, Jane Asher and Mel Smith also involved. A trailer popped up briefly a while ago, and looked like handsome, sterling stuff, and while Poliakoff doesn't hit it out of the park every time, his work is almost never uninteresting.
When? It's been in the can for almost a year, but the BBC haven't yet indicated when they're showing it. Christmas might be a good bet.
3. "Peaky Blinders"
It seems that movie stars making a move into TV isn't just a US phenomenon. Even though he's featured in a couple of the biggest hits of the last few years, with "Inception" and "The Dark Knight Rises" (the latter admittedly only briefly), Cillian Murphy is set to topline "Peaky Blinders," a new six-part drama series for the BBC. And he's not the only one migrating from the movies. The show is created by Steven Knight, the screenwriter behind "Eastern Promises" and "Dirty Pretty Things," who recently made his directorial debut on Jason Statham picture "Hummingbird." Murphy will play the dangerous brother of a crime family in Birmingham in 1919 who has to deal with a police chief from Belfast, and a mysterious woman who are both new in town. It sounds somewhere between "Lawless" and "Boardwalk Empire" with a British spin, and Knight's skillset seems particularly well suited to TV drama, so this could be very promising indeed.
When? Shooting starts in September, so likely to air sometime in 2013.
4. "The Fear"
Despite many amazing performances, from his Cannes-winning turn in "My Name Is Joe" to last year's "Tyrannosaur," Scottish actor Peter Mullan isn't necessarily an actor who's had a lot of chances to carry things, particularly on the small screen, but that could change when he headlines Channel 4 drama "The Fear" later in the year. Penned by "Wallander" writer Richard Cottan, and directed by Michael Samuels ("Any Human Heart"), the series sees Mullan play a Brighton crime boss diagnosed with early onset dementia, just as Albanian mobsters try to muscle in on his territory. It's a dramatic, "King Lear"-like premise, and the supporting cast, including Paul Nicholls and "Game Of Thrones" star Harry Lloyd as his sons, and Richard E Grant as an old enemy, is very promising.
When? Shooting is currently underway, so perhaps by the end of the year, or in 2013.
Dennis Kelly isn't yet a household name, as far as writers go, but he's certainly one to keep an eye on. The playwright, who co-wrote excellent sitcom "Pulling," won acclaim for writing hit musical "Matilda," and this new TV series that he's created sounds extremely promising. Revolving around four strangers who find themselves with fragments of a mysterious and legendary graphic novel, and are forced to go on the run from a powerful conspiracy, Channel 4 have put together an outstanding ensemble cast, including Alexandra Roach ("The Iron Lady"), Paul Higgins ("In The Loop"), Nathan Stewart-Jarrett ("Misfits"), Neil Maskell & Michael Smiley ("Kill List"), James Fox ("Performance"), Simon McBurney ("Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy") and Geraldine James ("Sherlock Holmes"). Kelly is a tremendous talent, and with "The Crimson Petal And White" director Marc Munden at the helm, this could be something very special indeed.
When? Filming is just getting going now, so keep an eye out in 2013.
Honorable Mentions: After a few years of lagging behind, things are looking more promising than they have for a long time in British TV. The BBC are soon to offer up conspiracy thriller "Hunted," starring Melissa George and Stephen Dillane, from "X-Files" writer Frank Spotnitz," as well as period procedural "Ripper Street," starring Matthew MacFayden, Jerome Flynn and MyAnna Buring. On Sky, Marton Csokas stars as Spanish detective Falcon, with Hayley Attwell and Bernard Hill in support, while Chris O'Dowd created and starred in the upcoming comedy "Moone Boy," about a young boy with an imaginary friend. Finally, ITV are offering up the ten-part "Mr. Selfridge," starring Jeremy Piven as an American department store magnate in London.