Last week, we took a look at our 100 Most Anticipated Films of 2015, plus another 25 that we’ve already seen at festivals and can vouch for. Between these titles, that’s over ten days of continuous viewing set up for you in the twelve months to come. Spread across 365 days that sounds achievable, right?
Well, the trouble is that sometime in the last decade, television went and decided to get really good. Big-name filmmakers have moved to cable networks, A-list stars think nothing of flitting back and forth between movie and TV sets, and the cultural conversation increasingly treats the biggest and most acclaimed dramas and comedies with as much, if not more, respect than the quality films. That means that there’s more and more competing for our attention.
Some of the biggest shows of this so-called Golden Age are coming to an end (“Mad Men” says goodbye this spring), but as one falls, it seems like several others spring up, and the list of returning shows alone is intimidating (you can find it at the bottom of this piece), even when you discount all the new arrivals coming soon. So, to help you plan more carefully, we’ve scoured the shows that should debut before the end of the year, and picked out the 20 most promising newcomers to keep an eye on. Take a look below, and let us know what you’re most looking forward to in the comments.
20. “Man Seeking Woman”
Synopsis: After being dumped by his girlfriend, twentysomething Josh sets out to re-enter the dating scene.
What You Need To Know: Years of “Friends” knock offs, and with “How I Met Your Mother” running itself into the ground, has left most of us soured on the twentysomething relationship sitcom, but there’s been a spark of life in the genre recently, mostly thanks to FXX. Last year Fox’s new younger-skewing spin-off network debuted the first season of the excellent “You’re The Worst” (which returns for a second go-round in the summer), and are following it up with “Man Seeking Woman.” Produced by, among others, Lorne Michaels, it’s the screen debut of comic prodigy Simon Rich, the youngest ‘SNL’ writer in history, who’s gone on to be a regular contributor at the New Yorker, and a writer at Pixar, as well as the author of six books. Riffing on early Woody Allen, while still finding his own path, Rich is a real talent, and this show, which is based on his own dating experiences, looks to give a surreal spin to finding love (or just sex) in your post-college years. Jay Baruchel, returning to TV for the first time since “Undeclared,” stars with Eric Andre and Britt Lower, while “Portlandia” co-creator Jonathan Krisel helms the first couple of episodes.
Airdate: Wednesday, January 14th, on FXX at 10:30
19. “Agent Carter”
Synopsis: Set in 1946 after the action in “Captain America: The First Avenger,” Agent Peggy Carter must deal with the difficulties of being a woman in the SSR (Strategic Scientific Reserve) while she secretly works with Howard Stark.
What You Need To Know: Hayley Atwell’s Agent Carter–and her chemistry with Chris Evans–was one of the best parts of ‘Captain America,’ so Marvel and ABC were smart to give her her own eight-part series during the hiatus for “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” This is also Marvel’s first major lady-led property, beating “AKA Jessica Jones” on Netflix and the movie “Captain Marvel” in 2018. As such, there’s a lot of opportunity for vintage “We Can Do It!” feminism since Carter struggles with trying to stay relevant as the men from the World War II, but in 2015, it’s still a relative, and depressing oddity to see a network action show with a lone woman at its center. Surrounding Atwell is a solid cast of male actors–Shea Whigham, Enver Gjokaj, James D’Arcy, and Chad Michael Murray. We’re pleased to see Dominic Cooper reprising his role as presumed traitor Howard Stark, with Carter fighting off villains who have stolen the titan’s weaponry.
Airdate: The two-episode premiere was on Tuesday, January 6th, and proved to be a lot of fun. This leaves just six more episodes for fans–and six more hours of cross-promotional opportunities for Marvel.
18. “Wolf Hall”
Synopsis: Thomas Cromwell rises from humble beginnings to become King Henry VIII’s most trusted adviser and minister as he helps to facilitate the monarch’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon, and re-marriage to Anne Boleyn, causing Britain to break with the Roman Catholic Church in the process.
What You Need To Know: Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” books have been a literary phenomenon like few others in recent years in the U.K.. Winning rave reviews, two Booker Prizes, and a National Book Critics Circle Award, they’ve also spawned a Royal Shakespeare Company adaptation (heading to Broadway this spring), and now the BBC’s big drama hope for 2015. Adapted by the great Peter Straughan (“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” “Frank”), and directed by BAFTA-winner Peter Kosminsky, one of the most acclaimed names in British TV, the six-part series is a big-budget take on the first two novels in the series, with the sprawling cast and lavish locations you’d expect. The cast is strong from top to bottom, with Jonathan Pryce, Jessica Raine, Mark Gatiss, Claire Foy, and Thomas Brodie-Sangster. Damian Lewis, perfect casting as Henry VIII, heads things up, and acting legend Mark Rylance reprises his role as Cromwell. Word on the series is excellent, suggesting this should hit the sweet spot in the Venn diagram between “Downton Abbey” and “Game Of Thrones.”
Airdate: The series debuts on the BBC in the U.K. on January 21st. PBS will air it later in the year in the U.S., most likely in April.
Synopsis: A brutal and shocking murder turns an Arctic town upside down as a British detective arrives to help solve the case.
What You Need To Know: It might not be as omnipresent as it seemed a few years ago, in the peak of the mania around “The Killing,” “Borgen,” “The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo,” et al, but Scandi-noir remains consistently popular, and “Fortitude,” a U.S/U.K. co-production with a decidedly Nordic feel, looks to tap into that. Created by Simon Donald (“Low Winter Sun”—the excellent British original, rather than the disappointing AMC re-do from a few years back), and with a murderer’s row of directors from the likes of “Luther” and “Sherlock” lined up, early footage suggests a fresh spin on the ever-popular murder-in-a-small-town tale, with a mix of elements from some of the shows that have most grabbed our attention over the years, from “Twin Peaks” to “Lost.” Can it add up to more than the sum of its parts? Well, the insanely good cast suggests so. Stanley Tucci, in his first TV role since the golden age began, has the lead, with Michael Gambon, Christopher Eccleston, Sofie Gråbøl (Sarah Lund in the original “The Killing”), Richard Dormer (“Game Of Thrones”), Johnny Harris (“This Is England ’86”), Jessica Raine (“Call The Midwife”), Sienna Guillory (the “Resident Evil” films), Nicholas Pinnock (“The Keeping Room”), Luke Treadaway (“Attack The Block”), and Darren Boyd (“The World’s End”) also involved.
Airdate: Starts on January 29th on both Sky Atlantic in the U.K. and something called Pivot in the U.S..
Synopsis: Eight strangers scattered around the world find themselves forging a strange link after a mysterious death.
What You Need To Know: After Scorsese, Soderbergh, and company, the latest big-screen names to come to TV are the Wachowskis, creators of “The Matrix.” Their new movie, “Jupiter Ascending,” hits theaters next month, but they’ve been working on “Sense8,” a collaboration with “Babylon 5” creator J. Michael Straczynski that’ll hit Netflix later in the year. Ticking off several of the Wachowski’s particular interests (sci-fi, secret organizations, internationalism, the fluidity of gender and race identity), the show’s been shooting in nine locations —Chicago, San Francisco, London, Iceland, Seoul, Mumbai, Berlin, Mexico City, and Nairobi—with a cast that includes “Cloud Atlas” veteran Doona Bae and “Jupiter Ascending”’s Tuppence Middleton, along with actors newer to Lana and Andy’s world, like Aml Ameen (“The Maze Runner,”), Freema Agyeman (“Doctor Who”), Naveen Andrews (“Lost”), and Daryl Hannah. The Wachowskis are directing a couple of episodes together, while their pals James McTeigue (“V For Vendetta”) and Tom Tykwer (“Run Lola Run”) are also involved. As ever with the pair behind “Speed Racer,” this could be a trainwreck, or it could be our next great obsession. We’ll find out later in the year.
Airdate: Netflix hasn’t named a date yet, but it’s expected to be in the late summer or fall sometime.
15. “The Last Man On Earth”
Synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic 2022, Phil Miller searches the empty planet for the sign of another human being besides himself.
What You Need To Know: Having pretty much owned 2014 thanks to mega-hits “The Lego Movie” and “22 Jump Street,” directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller are returning to the small screen, where they started over a decade ago with short-lived MTV animated series “Clone High.” Given their current run of success, do you doubt they’ll hit another homerun? “The Last Man On Earth” sees the pair reteam with one of their longest-running collaborators, ex-SNL-er Will Forte, for a network comedy created by the latter. And though “network comedy” might have you concerned, there are high hopes for this one, which promises to be more experimental and visual than most of its rivals. It seems unlikely that Forte actually will be the last man on earth (actors including January Jones and Kristen Schaal appear alongside him in guest roles), but even so, expect something offbeat and individual, with the visual verve that Lord and Miller have made their trademark.
Airdate: Sunday, March 1st on Fox
14. “The Brink”
Synopsis: A geopolitical crisis in the Middle East causes the Secretary of State, a Foreign Service officer, and a Navy fighter pilot to come together to attempt to stop World War III.
What You Need To Know: Given the international crises that seem to hit with terrifying regularity, from downed airliners to Seth Rogen comedies, and that threaten to kick off the end of the world, it’s surprising that we haven’t seen something that does for foreign policy what “Veep” has done for domestic politics. But the wait is over this year, with this “Dr. Strangelove”-ish style comedy for HBO created by “Weeds” writer Roberto Benabib and his novelist brother Kim, and produced by and (initially) directed by Jay Roach. The latter’s had an interesting career alternating between big broad comedies like “Meet The Parents” and “Austin Powers,” and smart true-life political dramas for HBO like ‘Recount” and “Game Change.” This looks to fall somewhere in the middle, and has the requisite big-name talent involved, with Tim Robbins and Jack Black toplining, and Carla Gugino, Rob Brydon, John Larroquette, Jaimie Alexander, Pablo Schreiber, and ex “Daily Show”-er Aasif Mandvi (who’ll also write and produce for the series) also in key roles.
Airdate: Expected sometime this summer.
13. “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
Synopsis: After leaving an apocalyptic cult, a young woman moves to New York City.
What You Need To Know: A show moving, with relatively little notice, from NBC‘s mid-season schedule to a Netflix rollout might seem troublesome. But we have more confidence in “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” partly because it has a two season commitment from Netflix, and partly because the show was created by “30 Rock” team Tina Fey and Robert Carlock. Ellie Kemper of “The Office” and “Bridesmaids” stars as the titular woman who has just spent 15 years in a bunker and is let loose in New York City. She gets a roommate (Tituss Burgess) and a boss (Jane Krakowski, working with Fey again), and the show receives bonus points for actually being shot in New York City (ahem, “The Mindy Project”). With the first 13-episode season already lensed, there aren’t many adjustments that will likely be made before Netflix subscribers get the show, but it will be interesting to see if there are adjustments made in either content or length for the second season.
Airdate: All first-season episodes will be available on March 16th.
Synopsis: With his other senses superhumanly enhanced in an accident, a blind lawyer fights crime as a costumed vigilante in crime-riddled Hell’s Kitchen, New York.
What You Need To Know: Compared to the tone of “The Wire” and “The Godfather,” it sounds like “Daredevil” is going to be far less of a superhero show and more of a gritty, “Batman Begins”-type narrative where we learn who the character is, who his enemies are, and how he eventually becomes “the man without fear” (also akin to “Gotham,” hopefully minus the terrible campiness). In fact, we may not see the hero in full classic garb until the very end of the season. Drew Goddard, the “Cabin In The Woods” helmer, was originally set to play showrunner, but he left to go make that “Sinister Six” movie at Sony that now looks to be in limbo. Steven S. DeKnight, (creator of Starz’s “Spartacus”) replaced him, with Charlie Cox, Deborah Ann Woll, Rosario Dawson, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Ayelet Zurer starring.
Airdate: April 10th on Netflix.
11. “The Night Manager”
Synopsis: A former soldier is recruited by British intelligence for an undercover mission of vengeance against an arms dealer, but is put at risk by a turf war between spy agencies.
What You Need To Know: “The Walking Dead” continues to prop them up nicely, but AMC has otherwise struggled to fill the gap created by “Breaking Bad” (and, soon, “Mad Men”). Neither “Halt & Catch Fire” nor “Turn” set the word alight, and their roster of upcoming dramas is looking a touch thin. Except, that is, for “The Night Manager,” a highly promising miniseries adaptation of John Le Carre’s first post-Cold War novel. A co-production with the BBC, penned by “Hanna” writer David Farr, and following in the footsteps of excellent recent Le Carre adaptations like “TInker Tailor Soldier Spy” and “A Most Wanted Man,” it doesn’t shoot until the spring, but has already attracted some serious A-list talent, with the so-hot-right-now Tom Hiddleston in the lead role, and Hugh Laurie, returning (alongside a recurring role in “Veep” this year) to the small screen for the first time since “House.” No word on who’ll direct yet, but we imagine it’ll be a biggish name (or names).
Airdate: Filming doesn’t get underway for a few months, so it’s a bit touch and go if it’ll be ready for this year. If it is (and we certainly hope so), it’ll be in the late fall, most likely.
10. “Flesh And Bone”
Synopsis: Claire, a talented but emotionally troubled dancer, joins a company in New York City and soon finds herself immersed in the tough, cutthroat world of professional ballet.
What You Need To Know: “Flesh And Bone” creator Moira Walley-Beckett was responsible for writing and producing some of the best episodes of “Breaking Bad,” so that alone gives promise to this “dark and gritty” glimpse into the world of ballet. Much as we love Darren Aronofsky’s psycho-horror-drama “Black Swan,” which sounds on the surface like a spiritual cousin, we do hope this limited run miniseries—Starz announced the already completed eight episodes will be it for the show—is able to carve out its own unique path. That should be aided by by executive producer Lawrence Bender (a consistently major part of nearly every Tarantino film) and pilot director David Michôd who, after hist stunning debut “Animal Kingdom,” his 2014 sophomore effort “The Rover” (which made our staff best films of the year poll), and strong work on HBO‘s “Enlightened,” is a filmmaker we’d gladly follow anywhere, whatever the medium. Series lead Sarah Hay is relatively new to any screen, except for her work on “Black Swan,” but her classical ballet training should help with the show’s authenticity.
Airdate: All we know is it’s coming this year.
Synopsis: A dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.
What You Need To Know: The idea of a remake of Michael Crichton’s 1973 sci-fi/western hybrid “Westworld” has been kicking around for a few years now (Arnold Schwarzenegger almost did it at one point, and Quentin Tarantino flirted with the idea). But it’s the small screen that’s providing the avenue for the new version, if you could describe a project with this level of talent as being in anyway small. Penned by Jonathan Nolan (with his wife Lisa Joy), who co-wrote “The Dark Knight” and “Interstellar,” and produced by J.J. Abrams, this hopes to do for both science fiction and Westerns what “Game Of Thrones” did for fantasy, with a ton of money behind it, and an adult, complex take on the original concept, examining the ideas of AI, morality, and human nature. Nolan, who’s making his directorial debut on the project, has assembled a movie-quality cast, with Ed Harris taking over the Yul Brynner role, and Anthony Hopkins, James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright, Thandie Newton, and Rodrigo Santoro among the inhabitants, guests, or employees of the titular park.
Airdate: A brief Vine teaser confirmed that the show is coming to HBO in 2015. Our guess is it’ll be fall rather than summer, but we’ll see.
8. “Red Oaks”
Synopsis: A college student enjoys a last hurrah as an assistant tennis pro at at ritzy country club before summer comes to an end during the go-go 1980.
What You Need To Know: “Red Oaks” is the brainchild of Steven Soderbergh’s longtime creative partner Gregory Jacobs. He’s worked as a producer and first A.D. on most of “The Knick” filmmaker’s projects, but is a writer and director in his own right (Soderbergh executive produces). Co-written by Jacobson and Joe Gangemi, David Gordon Green directed the pilot episode last year, and more eps will shoot early this year. The show features a great little cast, with Craig Roberts (“Submarine“) as the lead, Richard Kind and Jennifer Grey as his neurotic Jewish parents, Paul Reiser as a wealthy adversary he trains on the tennis court, and excellent supporting work from relative newcomers Ennis Esmer, Gage Golightly, Alexandra Socha, and Oliver Cooper. The pilot is a funny, light-on-its-feet coming-of-age tale, and the cast has great chemistry, so we’re excited to see the rest of the series. Read our interview with Jacobs about the show here.
Airdate: TBD on Amazon
Synopsis: When the eldest brother and black sheep of the Rayburn family returns home, he exposes the emotional demons that lie at the core of the family, threatening to tear them apart.
What You Need To Know: Perhaps in part because it was a little early for the “golden age” of TV drama and still carried a certain sheen of basic cable trashiness (we mostly mean that as a compliment), “Damages” doesn’t quite get the plaudits it deserves today, which is a shame, as it was generally a gripping, twisty drama that, with the likes of Glenn Close, William Hurt, John Goodman, and Ryan Phillipe, was one of the first to help make movie stars shifting to the small screen more respectable. Netflix knows what’s up, though, as one of their big hopes for the coming year comes from the creators of the FX drama, Glenn and Todd A. Kessler and Daniel Zelman. Reportedly using a similar flash-forward murder-mystery structure, but delving into a complex family rather than the legal world, the Florida-set show sees Sam Shepard and Sissy Spacek as the parents, with Kyle Chandler, Norbert Leo Butz, Linda Cardellini, and, most excitingly, Playlist fave Ben Mendelsohn as their kids. Beyond that, not much is known at present, but the cast alone has us booking out the weekend it premieres for a binge-watch.
Release Date: All 13 episodes hit Netflix on March 20th.
Synopsis: Brett and Michelle are struggling to rekindle the spark in their relationship, which has sputtered out from the stresses of marriage and children. When Brett’s friend, Alex, and Michelle’s sister, Tina, move in with them, the foursome engage in a tragically comedic struggle to follow their personal dreams, while still remaining good friends, siblings, and spouses to each other.
What You Need To Know: After their acting roles on the likes of “The League,” “The Mindy Project,” and “Transparent,” the Duplass Brothers are going back to their filmmaking roots for the first time since 2011’s “Jeff Who Lives At Home,” for “Togetherness” on HBO, with Mark Duplass, Amanda Peet, Steve Zissis, and the great Melanie Lynskey. It’s another of the string of recent comedies looking at married life in early middle-age (see also FX’s “Married” and Amazon’s “Really”), but it also appears to be the best of them, taking the nuanced, loose feel of “The Puffy Chair,” “Cyrus,” et al, and transplanting it perfectly to the small screen. Kevin reviewed the show for us last week and pretty much flipped for it, saying that “Brimming with heart, humor
and a depiction of adult life that feels honest and real,
‘Togetherness’ is the next great HBO dramedy.”
Airdate: Now airing Sunday nights on HBO at 9:30 PM.
5. “Better Call Saul”
Synopsis: Set six years before Saul Goodman meets Walter White, audiences will meet the man first known as Jimmy McGill, a small-time lawyer searching for his destiny and hustling to make ends meet.
What You Need To Know: The history of the TV spin-off is a pretty dicey one. For every “Frasier,” there are a dozen more shows like “Joey.” But given that “Breaking Bad” is one of the defining shows of the era, there are more than a few people who are confident that “Better Call Saul,” a 2003-set prequel focusing on Bob Odenkirk’s low-morals attorney, will be closer to Mr. Crane than Mr. Tribbiani in quality. Created by “Breaking Bad” mastermind Vince Gilligan and one of the show’s key writer/producers, Peter Gould, and with Odenkirk joined by Jonathan Banks’ Mike Ehrmantraut (plus Michael McKean, Rhea Seehorn, and Kerry Condon, among others), trailers suggest that the show is cut from similar cloth as its predecessor, though perhaps leaning a little more obviously comic. It’s got the highest of expectations attached, and we’ve been worried that we’ll get diminishing returns, but word from critics who’ve seen the first couple of episodes for the TCAs is that the show’s a solid follow-up.
Airdate: Episode one hits AMC on February 8th, with the second following the day after. Netflix will air the show in much of the rest of the world.
4. “The One Percent”
Synopsis: A struggling organic farmer encounters a bizarre twist of fate that might save or ruin his family business.
What You Need To Know: With one fell swoop, Shyamalan-esque trepidation turned into pure anticipation for Alejandro González Iñárritu’s output after the director blew us away with “Birdman” last year. Luckily he’s using that restored spotlight to good use in the next twelve months. Iñárritu will release “The Revenant” with Tom Hardy and Leonardo DiCaprio at year’s end, but before then he’ll produce a new hourlong series for Starz entitled “The One-Percent”, two episodes of which he will also direct. Besides a modest premise hinting at a magical realist tone, the unlikely trio that forms the main cast also has us very excited. Ed Helms and Hilary Swank play Alfred and Laura Murphy, the farming couple at the center of the drama, while Ed Harris tackles his second TV role of the year after “Westworld.” Iñárritu’s frequent collaborators Alexander Dinelaris Jr., Nicolás Giacobone, and Armando Bo handle producing duties alongside the director, and while Starz may not have fully realized the heat-to-come around Iñárritu when they ordered the show straight to series in August, they—and we—are surely elated now at what’s in store.
Airdate: It’ll likely be late in 2015, as Inarritu has to finish shooting “The Revenant” before he can helm his episodes.
Synopsis: The die-hard fans of an iconic underground graphic novel uncover the author’s secret sequel and find themselves in the midst of a shocking conspiracy.
What You Need To Know: David Fincher is back on TV, but unlike “House Of Cards,” he’s getting fully immersed. Fincher will direct every episode of this remake of an acclaimed, award-winning British series, and his “Gone Girl” screenwriter Gillian Flynn will pen every installment. It’s extremely ambitious and will take Fincher off the film circuit for at least the next year (he has a few other shows in development too, though this is the first to go forward). Full disclosure, this show would be our #1, but whether it actually lands in 2015 or not is very touch and go. The plan was certainly to move forward early this year, but there’s been no casting announcements as yet. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are hoping to go along for the ride as composers, so lets hope it works with their schedules.
Airdate: Assuming Fincher does get before cameras sooner rather than later, it could be ready to air in the fall, but even then, the question will be where it ends up in the schedule.
2. “Show Me A Hero”
Synopsis: In the 1980s, a federal court orders the young mayor of Yonkers to de-segregate housing in his town, causing an uproar and the politician’s downfall.
What You Need To Know: Any discussion around the greatest TV show ever has to include “The Wire” damn near the top, and as such, any time David Simon returns to HBO is always going to be an event. His latest endeavor is a six-part miniseries, adapted from Lisa Belkin’s non-fiction book, about the attempt to build low-cost housing for poor, mostly black residents in an affluent, mostly white part of Yonkers, and the political fallout that followed. It’s a story that plays into most of Simon’s favorite themes—municipal politics, racial disharmony, and communities. That Paul Haggis is directing might be a bit of a warning sign to some, but as he’s not writing, we should get a much more nuanced and complex tale than, say, “Crash,” and he’s proved himself to be capable enough at the helm. And a cast this good should virtually direct themselves. Catherine Keener, James Belushi, MIchael Stahl-David, Daniel Stern, Clarke Peters, Winona Ryder, Alfred Molina, and Jon Bernthal are all in the ensemble, which is headed up by the great Oscar Isaac as the young mayor. Could there possibly be a better fit for Simon’s writing than the star of “Inside Llewyn Davis” and “A Most Violent Year”?
Release Date: Unclear: the project shot late last year, so it’s probably more about finding a space for it on the schedule at this stage.
1. “Untitled Rock ‘N’ Roll Project”
Synopsis: A struggling New York-based exec tries to resurrect his record label during the drug-and-sex-fueled 1970s when punk and disco are changing everything.
What You Need To Know: Conceived by Mick Jagger and Martin Scorsese, both of whom saw this exciting new cultural upheaval firsthand, the show is essentially a creative continuation of the same team who worked on “Boardwalk Empire.” Terence Winter, the showrunner and writer of the previous Scorsese TV effort, will resume the same duties, and “The Wolf Of Wall Street” director has again directed the pilot episode and will act as an executive producer. Bobby Cannavale (another “Boardwalk Empire” alum), Olivia Wilde, Juno Temple, Andrew “Dice” Clay and Ray Romano star. Our main concern is that ‘Boardwalk’ peaked early and ended poorly (HBO giving the team a truncated season where they had to quickly close down all storylines was really debilitating). But Winter and Scorsese make a formidable pair (the TV exec also wrote ‘Wall Street’), so we must give it the full benefit of the doubt, and the chance to see them unleashed on this time period and industry is a tantalizing one, especially with this cast.
Release Date: Seems like a good bet to take “Boardwalk Empire“‘s old slot beginning in September, though with “Westworld,” “Utopia,” and “Show Me A Hero” also jostling for position at the network, something has to give. This seems to be furthest along, though.
Honorable Mentions: Of course, we’re barely just scratching the surface of what’s still to roll out in the year to come. HBO also has “Bessie,” a TV movie starring Queen Latifah as blues legend Bessie Smith. As the return of “Pariah” director Dee Rees, it’d certainly have made our list if it was any more than a one-off film. The network should also finally debut miniseries “Crime,” a Richard Price-scripted remake of BBC‘s “Criminal Justice,” which was held up after the death of original star James Gandolfini. John Turturro ultimately replaced him in the lead, with Riz Ahmed and Michael K. Williams among the cast. Steve Zaillian and “The Theory Of Everything“‘s James Marsh are both directing. On the comedy side, Dwayne Johnson is starring in “Ballers,” which we hope is better than its pitch as “‘Entourage‘ with sports,” while Danny McBride, Jody Hill, and David Gordon Green return with “Vice Principals” (though that may or may not arrive this year).
Meanwhile, Showtime is expected to debut a Steven Spielberg-produced “Halo” TV series towards the end of the year, while AMC has robot-themed co-production “Humans,” starring William Hurt, on their slate, along with martial arts drama “Badlands” (which again, may be held until 2016). FX, meanwhile, has comedies “Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll,” starring Denis Leary, and “The Comedians,” from “Seinfeld“‘s Larry Charles and starring Billy Crystal and Josh Gad, set to debut in the months to come. A more intriguing proposition might be Ryan Murphy‘s ‘Horror Story‘ spin-off “American Crime Story,” telling the story of the murder trial of O.J. Simpson, and starring Cuba Gooding Jr and John Travolta.
As far as the streaming options go, Netflix has “Narcos,” which reteams “Elite Squad” director and star Jose Padilha and Wagner Moura for a series biography of Pablo Escobar, and “Grace And Frankie,” a sitcom from “Friends” creator Martha Kauffman toplined by “Nine To Five” duo Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. The next “Transparent,” or the next “The Millers?” Meanwhile, Amazon has cop show “Bosch,” starring the great Titus Welliver, and “Hand Of God,” with Ron Perlman as a renegade priest (the company asked for extra scripts, but haven’t yet picked up Whit Stillman‘s “The Cosmopolitans“—we hope it moves forward, but it’ll likely be 2016 if it does), while Playstation is getting into the game too, debuting comic book adaptation “Powers,” starring Sharlto Copley.
On the networks and other basic cable, there’s a handful of movie-to-TV transitions. MTV have a show based on “Scream” coming, while Syfy debuts their “12 Monkeys” effort this week. Long-delayed M. Night Shyamalan ‘event series’ “Wayward Pines,” starring Matt Dillon and Terence Howard, will finally arrive in the summer. The limited-series trend also encompasses ABC’s “American Crime,” from “12 Years A Slave” writer John Ridley, and two new shows from NBC: “The Slap,” a remake of an Australian show with Uma Thurman and Peter Sarsgaard, and “Aquarius,” a period drama that sees cop David Duchovny on the trail of Charles Manson (“Game Of Thrones” star Gethin Anthony). Also keep an eye out for “Battle Creek,” a generic-looking cop show created by “Breaking Bad“‘s Vince Gilligan; “Blunt Talk,” a Starz comedy from Seth MacFarlane starring Patrick Stewart; quirky policer “Backstrom,” with Rainn Wilson; plus cop spoof “Angie Tribeca,” with Rashida Jones, on TBS.
From the other side of the pond, you can also expect the long-awaited “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell” from the BBC at some point, plus the miniseries adaptation of J.K. Rowling‘s “The Casual Vacancy,” starring Michael Gambon and Minnie Driver. That’s alongside new Vikings-themed show “The Last Kingdom” with Rutger Hauer and Matthew MacFayden, Australian-transportation show “Banished,” a big-budget adaptation of “War & Peace” starring Paul Dano and Lily James, espionage thriller “London Spy” with Ben Whishaw and Jim Broadbent, and “River,” billed as a replacement for “Luther” from “The Hour” and “Shame” writer Abi Morgan, and starring Stellan Skarsgard. Plus Channel 4 has epic period drama “Indian Summer,” and “Cucumber,” “Banana” and “Tofu,” three interlinked series from “Queer As Folk” and “Doctor Who” writer Russell T Davies.
Then there’s all the many shows that are only just at the pilot stage, and as such are more likely to be 2016 debuts, but could theoretically sneak under the wire. Among the most profile of HBO’s projects along those lines are Steve McQueen’s “Codes Of Conduct,” starring Paul Dano, Helena Bonham-Carter, Rebecca Hall, and newcomer Devon Terrell. Showtime has some hot prospects coming up: “Happyish,” which was picked up to series before the tragic death of star Philip Seymour Hoffman, is being re-piloted with Steve Coogan in the lead alongside Kathryn Hahn, while “Rounders” creators Brian Koppelman and David Levien have financial drama “Billions” with Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti. Perhaps most excitingly, Cameron Crowe’s heading to TV with “Roadies,” which will star Imogen Poots, Luke Wilson, Rafe Spall, and Christina Hendricks.
AMC are likely to pick up their “Walking Dead” spin-off, currently known as “Cobalt,” starring Kim Dickens and Cliff Curtis, and also have another project from that show’s creator, Robert Kirkman, in the works, in the shape of exorcism-themed “Outcast”—“The Guest”’s Adam Wingard is helming the pilot, and Patrick Fugit will star. Much more exciting is Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s adaptation of legendary comic “Preacher,” which will hopefully move forward this year, North Korea allowing, while “Syriana” director Stephen Gaghan has helmed the Afghanistan-set “White City” for the network. Amazon’s next batch of pilots should roll out soonish too. Highlights look to be a Ridley Scott-produced adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s “The Man In The High Castle,” and gun-world comedy-drama “Cocked,” co-written by “Manhattan” creator Sam Shaw, directed by Playlist fave Jordan Vogt-Roberts, and starring Jason Lee, Brian Dennehy, and Laura Fraser. Plus there are all the many, many network pilots that may or may not get picked up, and various other potential surprises in the wings too.
Then, of course, there are all the returning shows. Perhaps the most high-profile, given that they’re a total shake-up of cast and setting, are hits “True Detective” and “Fargo.” The former, with Justin Lin now heading up directorial duties, has moved to California, with Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, Rachel McAdams, and Taylor Kitsch starring, while the latter takes a trip back to the 1970s, with Patrick Wilson and Kirsten Dunst among the headliners.
We’re also seeing the end of “Mad Men,” “Justified,” and “Parks & Recreation” in the months to come, sadly, while “Community” finally reaches its ‘six seasons’ thanks to a surprise renewal by Yahoo. Other Playlist faves returning some time in the next twelve months include “Peaky Blinders,” “Manhattan,” “The Walking Dead,” “Bojack Horseman,” “Bob’s Burgers,” “Jane The Virgin,” “Sherlock,” “Homeland,” “Masters Of Sex,” “Rick & Morty,” “Silicon Valley,” “Louie,” “Veep,” “The Americans,” “Transparent,” “The Knick,” “Hannibal,” “Review,” “Orange Is The New Black,” “Doctor Who,” “Rectify,” “You’re The Worst,” “Penny Dreadful,” “The Strain,” “Halt & Catch Fire,” “Turn,” “Orphan Black,” “The Leftovers,” “Game Of Thrones,” “Looking,” “Girls,” “Broad City,” and freshly-minted Emmy winner “The Affair.” How are we all going to find the time?….
– Oliver Lyttelton, Rodrigo Perez, Kimber Myers, Erik McLanahan, Charlie Schmidlin