"American Crime" (ABC)
Why should I care? ABC asked John Ridley, the Oscar-winning screenwriter of "12 Years a Slave," to create a TV show. If you’re not already intrigued, then let’s try this: "American Crime" focuses on the investigation into the death of a young man, spiraling out to become an intriguing ensemble drama with a great cast, including the always-stellar Felicity Huffman and Oscar winner Timothy Hutton. It’s far from easy viewing, but definitely escalates the game for network drama.
I’ll like it if I like… "True Detective," with less existentialism and a far more diverse cast.
Premieres: Thursday, March 5 at 10pm
"Angie Tribeca" (TBS)
Why should I care? TBS hasn’t had the hottest hand when it comes to selecting its own original comedies, but we’ve got high hopes for the series that drew Rashida Jones away from "Parks and Recreation" (this and an offer from Pixar to write "Toy Story 4"). She stars in this half-hour comedy as quite possibly the only capable LAPD officer in the precinct; co-starring Hayes MacArthur ("Go On," "Perfect Couples") as her stylish partner and co-created by Nancy and Steve Carell, the series also sports an impressive couple of guest stars in its first trailer alone. "Angie Tribeca" seems like the best bet yet for Turner’s young originals department, especially with the talent involved.
I’ll like it if I like… The idea of a slightly goofier "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" with a female lead.
Why should I care? If you could have seen the trailer debuted for critics at the TCAs last week, "Aquarius" would be your most anticipated show of all time. Since it’s not online yet, here’s what you need to remember from the two-minute spot:
1) Open on David Duchovny faux-boxing with a punching box, shirtless.
2) Gethin Anthony as a super-creepy, guitar-playing Charles Manson
3) Drugs. Sex. Violence. Literally, these words are pasted across the screen between visual examples of each.
4) Duchovny mocking police procedures.
5) Duchovny missing a mustache.
6) Duchovny getting serious.
I’ll like it if I like… A ’60s-set "True Detective" starring David Duchovny, but minus the nudity, language and philosophical banter (probably).
Premieres: Summer 2015
Why should I care? Stephen Levinson, the creator of "Entourage," created this upcoming HBO comedy about former and current pro football players. Set in Miami and starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, "Ballers" reads like a sports version of "Entourage" on paper, having veterans Mark Wahlberg and Rob Weiss on as an executive producers (as well as Peter Berg, who also EP’d "The Leftovers"). But there’s one more big name to throw out, too: Denzel Washington: No, he’s not in this, but his son, John David Washington, is in it. Can you piece together the Kevin Bacon-esque connectivity between all these big names? (Hint: it involves "Pain & Gain" and "2 Guns.")
I’ll like it if I like… "Entourage" and The Rock (the man, not the movie). So basically if you’re a male between the ages of zero and 63.
"Better Call Saul" (AMC)
Why should I care? Because "Breaking Bad," son. But not quite "Breaking Bad" — instead, this prequel series set in the early 2000s covers the initial transformation of struggling lawyer Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk) into scheming Saul Goodman, future legal kingpin of Albuquerque. Technically, we know how this story ends, thanks to the final season of "Breaking Bad," but "Saul" promises to be both simultaneously slightly more sad and slightly more funny than its predecessor.
I’ll like it if I like… Well, "Breaking Bad," obviously. But there’s a little bit of "Louie’s" edge, too.
Premieres: Sunday, February 8 at 10pm (then Mondays at 10pm)
"The Brink" (HBO)
Why should I care? "’Dr. Strangelove, but today" is essentially the pitch for this upcoming comedy about the farce that is American foreign policy. A satire about an international incident fueled by the incompetence of Jack Black, Tim Robbins and Pornstache from "Orange is the New Black," "The Brink" has star caliber and something important to say — which, in comparison to other HBO half-hour series (yeah, that’s a not-so-veiled dig at "Girls"), makes it an exciting change of pace.
I’ll like it if I like… "The Naked Gun" movies, but more political. "The Daily Show," but with a story to it.
Premieres: Summer 2015
Why should I care? Sissy Spacek, the six-time Oscar nominee (and winner for "Coal Miner’s Daughter"), makes her TV debut as a series regular in "Bloodline," along with Pulitzer Prize winner (and Oscar nominee) Sam Shepard. If those two names don’t get you riled up for 13 episodes of binge-watching, I’ve got one more for you: Kyle Chandler. As we’ve thoroughly discussed on more than one occasion, the ex-Coach of the East Dillon Lions is making his return to television with this series. He had offers. He even made a Showtime pilot about a cardinal in the Catholic church that, somehow, wasn’t picked up. Its loss is Netflix’s gain — and ours. (Watch the trailer!)
I’ll like it if I like… "Damages." The new Netflix drama comes from the creators of the Glenn Close-starring thriller, and early buzz indicates it packs in plenty of twists, turns, secrets and lies. The story — a black sheep brother returns to his family only to expose the emotional demons within the family dynamic — sounds like another series, though: "Arrested Development." What a combo.
Premieres: March 20, 2015 (all episodes)
"Blunt Talk" (Starz)
Why should I care? We may or may not ever see another interpretation of Jonathan Ames’ brilliant HBO comedy "Bored to Death," but fans can rest assured that the creator with a PI’s spirit is hard at work yet again. His new series focuses on Walter Blunt, played by Patrick Stewart, who leaves his native Britain to take on the American late night talk show format, and impart his wisdom to the locals on how they should be living. What makes the series so appealing, other than learning how Brits think we Yanks should live, is the chance to see Stewart play against type as an unlikable, opinionated asshole with more ex-wives than fans. The former Captain Jean-Luc Picarad certainly has the comedy chops, so let’s see what he does with a platform.
I’ll like it if I like… "Bored to Death," Patrick Stewart’s Twitter feed and/or a darker version of "Frasier."
Why should I care? Marvel’s attempting to build a television empire to match its blockbuster film franchise, and "Daredevil" is the first entry in its Netflix initiative, kicking off an upcoming series of series focusing on lesser-known superheroes living in New York City. Unlike ABC sister series "Agents of SHIELD," the only pressure this series about a blind superhero who is also a defense attorney faces is being better than the 2003 Ben Affleck movie. And with original creator Drew Goddard and current showrunner Steven S. DeKnight on board (both of them proven Joss Whedon-trained talents), that probably won’t be hard.
I’ll like it if I like… The Marvel universe, sure, but "Gotham" fans will probably enjoy what promises to be a gritty, almost noir-ish series. It’s the show that will bring Marvel and DC fans together! (Maybe.)
Premieres: Friday, April 10 (all episodes)
"Evil Dead" (Starz)
Why should I care? Ash is back! The new Starz series isn’t piddling around with any sort of reboot, instead making the wise decision to bring back Bruce Campbell himself, reprising the role Sam Raimi created for him in the 1981 cult horror classic. Raimi returns as well, writing and directing the pilot episode and executive producing the rest of the season, which will revolve around quite the hero revival story. An aging Ash reluctantly comes back to fight the Deadite plague threatening to overtake Earth with his chainsaw arm and quick wit. There’s no way they stand a chance.
I’ll like it if I like… Um…the original "Evil Dead." Not that horrible, disgusting, unfocused and sloppy 2013 remake of "Evil Dead."
"Grace and Frankie" (Netflix)
Why should I care? Co-created by one of the founders of "Friends" and reuniting the stars of "9 to 5," "Grace and Frankie" sports another alluring crew and cast combination. Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin star in the Netflix series created by Marta Kauffman and Howard J. Morris, but they’re not the only two stars to return to TV. Martin Sheen ("The West Wing") and Sam Waterston ("The Newsroom") are also in there, playing the two leads’ husbands who announce they’re leaving their wives to be with each other, an intriguing development to base a show on to say the least.
I’ll like it if I like… "Friends," "The Golden Girls" and other progressive-minded comedies.
Premieres: May 8, 2015 (all episodes)
Why should I care? Buzz was huge around this series a year ago after clips screened for critics at the TCA winter press tour. Those clips starred Philip Seymour Hoffman, who passed away a month later, but Showtime was so passionate about the show it recast and reshot with Steve Coogan, a British treasure of an actor who’s never found a place in America (despite, arguably, many many chances). This comedy, about an ad man dealing with depression and a mid-life crisis (but, you know, in a funny way) has a great supporting cast (including Kathryn Hahn and Bradley Whitford) plus great directors like Ken Kwapis and John Cameron Mitchell on board. Hopefully, it won’t be too haunted by the initial tragedy of its creation.
I’ll like it if I like… Creator Shalom Auslander comes from the "This American Life" world, so let that be your guide. Alan Ball’s work exploring the concept of the mid-life crisis might be another good touchstone.
Premieres: Sunday, April 26 at 9:30pm
"The Last Man on Earth" (Fox)
Why should I care? "The Lego Movie." "21" and "22 Jump Street." "MacGruber." These are only a few credits associated with the men behind "The Last Man on Earth," a title which provides all the description you need for the upcoming FOX comedy created by Will Forte and executive produced by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller (who also directed the pilot). Forte stars as Phil Miller — a character name created as an homage to his EPs — who is the last man to survive a plague that wiped out the rest of humanity. Via flashbacks and possibly other yet-to-be revealed means, there are co-stars, including Kristen Schaal ("Bob’s Burgers") and January Jones ("Mad Men") and much of the story is being kept under wraps. But the talent of Forte, Miller and Lord should be enough to keep plenty of people amped.
I’ll like it if I like… Will Forte, the primary star throughout, and destruction. Forte recently said at a press conference one of his favorite parts of shooting the pilot was spending an entire day destroying various items on camera. And footage screened showed him crashing and exploding two cars, so think big people.
Premieres: Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 9:30pm
"The Slap" (NBC)
Why should I care? In this age of star-studded casts, this is one that’s genuinely impressive, featuring Peter Sarsgaard, Thandie Newton, Brian Cox, Zachary Quinto and Uma Thurman. It’s also being adapted from the original Australian series by acclaimed playwright Jon Robin Baitz and directed by indie great Lisa Cholodenko, and the premise — a family unravels after a birthday party’s dramatic ending — proves to be the kick-off for an intense drama rich with character potential. The whole "limited series" trend currently being embraced by networks has its downsides, but the perks include bringing great talent like this to television.
I’ll like it if I like… Awkward family conversations? Peter Sarsgaard? The show, on the surface, is straight-up family drama, but it’s executed on a premium cable-level. Think "The Sopranos," without the mob stuff. But with Sarsgaard.
Premieres: Thursday, February 12 at 8pm
"Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" (Netflix)
Why should I care? Originally set to air on NBC, "Kimmy Schmidt" made history when creators Tina Fey and Robert Carlock brought the show over to Netflix. But the reason you should actually care is plucky and adorable star Ellie Kemper as Kimmy, a young woman attempting to figure out the modern world after over a decade of living underground as part of a doomsday cult. It’s certainly an original premise, with tons of heart but also some real edge to it. This writer binge-watched the first three episodes, and can’t wait to see more when it premieres.
I’ll like it if I like… "30 Rock," of course, but if you’re more old-school, "Mary Tyler Moore."
Premieres: Friday, March 6 (all episodes)
"Wayward Pines" (Fox)
Why should I care? This comes down to one name: M. Night Shyamalan. The "Signs" and "Sixth Sense" director had his hands all over the series, as an executive producer and director of the first episode. He was also quite outspoken regarding his involvement and affection for the show at the series’ TCA panel. For anyone turned off by the director’s more recent failures ("The Happening," "Lady in the Water"), there’s still hope: "Wayward Pines" is based o a popular series of novels from Blake Crouch, so this isn’t Shyamalan’s unique creation. He’s just lending his skills to the project, which also involves big name talent like Matt Dillon, Terrence Howard and Melissa Leo.
I’ll like it if I like… "The Village." Based on the trailer, "Wayward Pines" shares most of its DNA with Shyamalan’s high-grossing but critically divisive 2004 mystery. Creators were eager to point toward "Twin Peaks" as an inspiration, but that lofty goal seems a bit high for a 2015 FOX series.
Premieres: Thursday, May 14, 2015 at 9pm
Why should I care? It’s tempting to say that the only reason we’re excited about "Westworld" is its cast. Because, seriously: Anthony Hopkins, James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, Miranda Otto, Rodrigo Santoro, Shannon Woodward and Ed Harris? Come on. But HBO’s ballsy move to adapt a pretty silly Michael Crichton movie about a futuristic amusement park populated by robots makes a lot of sense with Jonathan Nolan as a creator. "Westworld" promises to take Crichton’s original premise (which today feels like a first draft of "Jurassic Park") and make some truly interesting television about the technology of culture (and also robots).
I’ll like it if I like… That Fox show "Almost Human," but, you know, with Oscar-winning actors and much better odds of survival.
Premieres: Summer/Late Summer
What are you most excited about? Let us know in the comments!