“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
What is it? “After living in a cult for 15 years, Kimmy (Ellie Kemper, ‘The Office’) decides to reclaim her life and start over in New York City. Armed with just a backpack, light-up sneakers, and a couple of way-past-due library books, she’s ready to take on a world she didn’t even think existed anymore. Wide-eyed but resilient, nothing is going to stand in her way. She quickly finds a new job (working for ’30 Rock’s’ Jane Krakowski), a new roommate (Tituss Burgess, also of ’30 Rock’), and a new beginning.” — official Netflix synopsis
I’ll like it if I like… NBC comedies circa 2005-2010, or when “30 Rock” & “The Office” were in their prime.
Why should I care? Robert Carlock, the co-creator of “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” has worked as a producer on more than 18 episodes of “Friends” and 100 episodes of “30 Rock.” He’s also served as writer for three episodes of the legendary sitcom starring Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry, 26 episodes of the 2000s NBC comedy to bring Alec Baldwin back to the spotlight, and nearly 100 episodes of “Saturday Night Live.” In short, he is a behind-the-scenes god of comedy, and he’s only one-half of the team behind “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Though Carlock isn’t exactly a household name, his partner-in-crime is absolutely one of the most well-known and respected comedians of all time. Tina Fey is the second name behind the new Netflix series, and that alone should get your blood pumping for this new half-hour comedy stolen from NBC and handed to Netflix with a bow on it. In short, if you like comedy — nay, great comedy — then get excited for “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” But, you know. Don’t set your expectations too high.
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” is scheduled for release in March 2015.
READ MORE: Review: ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ Takes The Charms of ’30 Rock’ To a Darker Place on Netflix
What is it? “Set in the Florida Keys, ‘Bloodline’ centers on a close-knit family of four adult siblings whose secrets and scars are revealed when their black sheep brother returns home.”
I’ll like it if I like… “Arrested Development,” but always wished it was darker. “Bloodline” comes from the creators of “Damages,” so the odds are in your favor if you were a fan of the Glenn Close and Ted Danson-drama.
Why should I care? Frankly, if you saw the picture of Kyle Chandler above and didn’t immediately decide to watch whatever show, movie, commercial, web series or Vine video it was taken from, then I can’t help you. After seeing Chandler star as Coach Mother F’ing Taylor for five brilliant seasons of “Friday Night Lights,” I’d follow the man anywhere. And I did, from J.J. Abrams’ “Super 8,” where he played a gruffer but still good dad, to his ambitious CIA head in “Zero Dark Thirty,” to his show-stealing supporting turn in “The Spectacular Now.” He even added depth to the artificial and repetitive “Broken City” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” (respectively). He has yet to steer us wrong, and considering the writers behind his new one, it’s doubtful he will in what will hopefully be his triumphant return to TV.
“Bloodline” is scheduled to be released in March 2015.
What is it? “Blinded as a young boy but imbued with extraordinary senses, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) fights against injustice by day as a lawyer, and by night as the Super Hero “Daredevil” in modern day Hell’s Kitchen, New York City.”
I’ll like it if I like… Marvel movies. No, not the movie already made starring Ben Affleck, but the new series of Marvel pictures where they take impossibly terrible characters and turn them into edge-of-your-seat, spill-your-popcorn, buy-tickets-two-months-early superstars. Marvel proved once and for all their unique ability to create a franchise out of anything when they turned “Guardians of the Galaxy” into the highest-grossing film of 2014. Don’t doubt their odds on the small screen.
Why should I care? Honestly, it’s hard to come up with reasons to take a show about a blind man fighting crime seriously — not that they couldn’t do it, just that it’s ripe for PC pitfalls — but Marvel gave us at least a few reasons to care when they cast Rosario Dawson and Vincent D’Onofrio to support young Charlie Cox. It’s also notable that reports from New York’s Comic-Con described the show as dark — no surprise — but also grounded and morally ambiguous. While we all may be getting a bit sick of the anti-hero character showing up far too often on TV, seeing him in the role of a superhero — especially one who’s instantly sympathetic, given his disability — is an alluring concept if properly handled.
READ MORE: Review: ‘Marvel’s Daredevil’ Season 1 Brings Us as Close to ‘The Wire’ as Marvel Can Get
What is it? The official Netflix synopsis reads, “Created by Bill Burr and Emmy award-winner Michael Price as a half-hour animated comedy series, ‘F is for Family’ follows the Murphy family in the 1970’s, a time when you could smack your kid, smoke inside and bring a gun to the airport.” Sounds charming.
I’ll like it if I like… Foul-mouthed animated comedy with a knack for nostalgia. Think “South Park” meets “BoJack Horseman’s” Christmas special.
Why should I care? Mainly because of the latter show we mentioned. Sure, Bill Burr has appeared on “Breaking Bad,” “The Kroll Show” and even “Chappelle’s Show” back in the day, but it’s Netflix’s choice to stream this comedy that has our ears perked. Their last (and only) original animated series is “BoJack Horseman,” a show that we initially took a bit too lightly, in part because its first five episodes didn’t challenge the status quo like its latter half did. We will not underestimate the network again, so “F is for Family” better be ready for one thorough review.
What is it? “‘Grace and Frankie’ stars Jane Fonda (Grace) and Lily Tomlin (Frankie) as a pair of frenemies whose lives are turned upside down — and permanently intertwined — when their husbands leave them for each other. From executive producers Marta Kaufmann (‘Friends’) and Howard Morris (‘Home Improvement’), the funny and fearless series takes on aging with gusto, as Grace and Frankie face starting over in their 70s in a 21st Century world, from facelifts to Facebook, joint pain to joint rolling and blind dates to night blindness. The comedic drama also stars Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston, along with Brooklyn Decker, Ethan Embry, Baron Vaughn and June Diane Raphael.”
I’ll like it if I like… “Friends,” “The Golden Girls” and these two iconic actresses.
Why should I care? That cast. It’s terrific to see Marta Kaufmann back in the executive producer’s chair, along with “Home Improvement” veteran Howard Morris — though that luster has faded a bit after his involvement with “According to Jim” and “Sullivan & Son” — but the idea of Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin headlining a 21st century comedy series with Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston as support is an aging liberal’s wet dream. Talent is winning out with this show, at least when it comes to the actors, and that’s as refreshing as being able to binge every episode whenever we want. Here’s hoping the below-the-line talent matches up.
What is it? Created by Dan Franck, the co-writer of “Carlos,” “Marseille” is a “tale of power, corruption and redemption set against the rich backdrop of the French port city. […] ‘Marseille’ focuses on the story of Robert Taro, mayor of the city for 25 years. The coming elections have him face the man he chose as his heir, an ambitious youngster aiming high. Both candidates will fight mercilessly. Marseille stages a fight around revenge, animated by drug lords, politicians, unions and the political players of the city.”
I’ll like it if I like… “House of Cards,” but only for its subtle, low-key moments about plausible politics. Oh, and you should probably like the French language, as “Marseille” is told entirely in the Parisian tongue.
Why should I care? Netflix is making a big push in 2015 to expand into more territories than before. Technically, the movement began in 2014 when Netflix released the multilingual, border-crossing adventure “Marco Polo,” but we’re hoping the network’s efforts in the new year will be a bit closer to the Netflix brand (“Marco Polo” was originally ordered to series by Starz, and the final product feels like it belongs on the pay cable network more than Netflix). “Marseille” is targeted specifically at the French, but will be released across all territories in late 2015. Creator Franck describes the series’ setting as “‘House of Cards’ in French,” which is a good thing because the other Netflix Original starring Kevin Spacey isn’t available in France.
Netflix may be targeting French audiences specifically with its first original production told exclusively in a foreign language, in part because the country needs good reason to subscribe. There are other similar services available in France, and Netflix is hampered by unusual laws prohibiting new movies from being streamed until three years after their theatrical release. Knowing this, they marketed their service as one targeting TV fans more than cinephiles. That means they need a big hit to draw audiences to their service — much like “House of Cards” brought in more Americans — and they’re undoubtedly hoping “Marseille” is that show. Bonus: the rest of us who are willing to read subtitles can reap the rewards of a quality show as well.
“Marseille” is scheduled to be released in late 2015.
“Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones”
What is it? Part II of Marvel’s Netflix/TV takeover is “A.K.A. Jessica Jones,” starring Krysten Ritter as the titular former superhero. After a tragic end to her career in spandex, Jones opens up a detective agency in New York City, aiming to help others with remarkable abilities face their own difficult dilemmas.
I’ll like it if I like… “Daredevil” (the upcoming series, not the Ben Affleck film).
Why should I care? First of all, in-the-know sources tell us the casting of Krysten Ritter is spot-on, making a dream moment for comic book fans and an exciting pairing for the rest of us (who doesn’t like Krysten Ritter?). Secondly, and less enticingly, is the aptly epic plan Marvel has for these four new superhero TV shows (the later two starring Luke Cage and Iron Fist). After each show launches on Netflix within the next two years, Netflix and Marvel will bring us “The Defenders,” a crime-fighting team made up of the four heroes already on Netflix — Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist — as well as some film stars, as well. Thought it’s doubtful any of the Avengers would appear, stars like Paul Rudd (“Ant Man”) and Benedict Cumberbatch (“Doctor Strange”) have already proven their affinity for the small screen in “Parks and Recreation” and “Sherlock,” respectively. In other words, these Marvel shows are going to be a big deal, so it may be best to jump on the bandwagon early.
What is it? “‘Narcos’ is the true-life story of the growth and spread of cocaine drug cartels across the globe and attendant efforts of law enforcement to meet them head on in brutal, bloody conflict. It details the many, often-conflicting forces — legal, political, police, military and civilian — that clash in the effort to control cocaine, one of the world’s most valuable commodities.”
I’ll like it if I like… Drugs. Well, no. Not drugs. But if you like shows about drugs, then you will probably be on board with “Narcos.” Think “Traffic” meets “Carlos,” with a lot of “Elite Squad” mixed in — the last thing being a two-part Brazilian film directed by Jose Padilha, who helms “Narcos,” and starring Wagner Moura, who stars in “Narcos.”
Why should I care? “Elite Squad” received mixed reviews, but after hitting one out of the park in a brief stint on “Game of Thrones,” Pedro Pascal had plenty of opportunities in front of him. He’s chosen to co-star in a show about Pablo Escobar: That’s a gutsy move seemingly made by someone who believes in what he’s doing. Netflix is trying to build a global empire, and “Narcos” is going to be a big part of its targeted expansion. That means the company has a lot riding on its salability, if not its overall quality.
What is it? Starring Naveen Andrews and Daryl Hannah, “Sense8” is a science fiction series from Lana Wachowski, Andy Wachowski and J. Michael Straczynski about eight individuals spread around the globe who find themselves both emotionally and mentally linked after a tragic death.
I’ll like it if I like… Worst case scenario: “Cloud Atlas.” Best case: “The Matrix.” Though with the above synopsis, we’re leaning toward the former.
Why should I care? Even if you haven’t been sold on any of The Wachowskis films since “The Matrix” — though their latest, “Jupiter Ascending,” has yet to be seen by just about anyone — their sheer ambition is admirable in and of itself. They have never tried to scale back and tell a story someone else wants them to tell. Even “Speed Racer” carried their distinct visual and thematic touches, for better or worse. And so that kind of creative spirit belongs on TV, for better or worse.
Pre-Existing Netflix Originals Returning in 2015
“The Fall” Season 2 – January 16, 2015
“House of Cards” Season 3 – February 27, 2015
“Orange is the New Black” Season 3 – June 12, 2015
[Editor’s Note: At the time of publishing, “Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp” was not officially in motion at Netflix. Had it been, you better believe we would have had 10 shows to be excited about listed here.]
READ MORE: 7 New Netflix Shows to Binge Watch in March 2015 (And the Best Episodes of Each)