1) “Derek: Special” (available April 3)
Why Should I Watch It? Written by, directed by and starring Ricky Gervais, “Derek” is attempting to be the third member of an impressive trilogy of TV trilogies. Both the UK versions of “The Office” and HBO’s “Extras” made it two seasons plus a Christmas episode, and now “Derek” is following the same mold. After airing two seasons on Channel 4 in the UK and Netflix stateside, the story of the slow-witted, warm-hearted nursing home aide will wrap up with an hour-long special.
Best Episode: Here’s hoping it’s the special. After a moving first season, “Derek” devolved into a shell of its former self in Season 2. Much of the show’s heart was lost after Gervais was forced to write out co-star (and friend) Karl Pilkington, who played the shy and nervous Dougie, after the longtime collaborator proclaimed his distaste for acting in Season 1. The focus then shifted to Kev (David Earl), even ignoring Derek himself for long stretches. If the special is able to find its groove again, then it could be the best of the bunch. If not, we could be in store for a crude disaster.
2) “Marvel’s Daredevil” Season 1 (available on April 10)
Why Should I Watch It? If you’ve seen more than four Marvel movies — be it “Iron Man 1-3,” “Thor 1-2,” “Spider-Man 1-5,” or any combination thereof – you have to watch “Marvel’s Daredevil.” You also have to call it “Marvel’s Daredevil,” not “Daredevil.” Really. You’re contractually obligated to do both under the strict Disney bylaws entered into when buying four (4) or more tickets to see these massively popular films. If you didn’t save your ticket stubs, then you don’t even have a way to fight it in court. So just bite the bullet, sit down late Thursday night/early Friday morning and watch “Marvel’s Daredevil” attempt to be as marvelous as its other superheroes.
Best Episode: Who knows? Marvel is so secretive of its content no one has been allowed to screen more than a few minutes of this hotly-anticipated series. Even Matthew Weiner shares the first episode of “Mad Men” every year, and it’s hard to imagine anyone more protective than the man who refuses to share proper “Next week on…” previews. Turns out, Marvel trumps even Weiner in the secrecy department. (Not that that’s a title anyone should want.)
3) “Sons of Anarchy” Season 7 (available April 25)
Why Should I Watch It? From what I’ve been told, the FX drama series is a modernized take on Shakespearan tragedy featuring bold, compelling performance from its cast — and its cast ain’t one to sneeze at. Ron Perlman, Charlie Hunnam and, most notably, Katey Sagal dominate the screen, making for an intense, addictive experience. But seriously — don’t sneeze at them. You won’t like what happens.
Best Episode: The best of “Sons of Anarchy” is actually well before Season 7, as Jax has gone too far down the rabbit hole by the last season to be as interesting as he was as a comparably innocent youngster. But anyone who’s gone this far is going to have to see the ending, so don’t give up before then. While certainly not a cheery hour of television, “Papa’s Goods” ends the series on a definitively dour note. “The Sopranos” this is not.
READ MORE: ‘Sons of Anarchy’ Series Finale: How Far Has Jax Fallen After 7 Seasons?
4) Video Game High School Season 3 (available April 13)
Why Should I Watch It? Basically, if you don’t have YouTube. This massively successful web series (words not often associated with one another) is a fun adventure from the brain of creator Freddie Wong. Its first two seasons were available on YouTube before Netflix scooped up exclusive distribution rights for Season 2. Now the third (and final) season is upon us, and Netflix is making it even easier than using your YouTube app to watch the six-episode bon voyage.
Best Episode: Clocking in at a series long 66 minutes, the season finale earns every moment. “The N64” has more twists and turns than many franchise goodbyes, but the drama is aptly amplified as the students of VGHS try to save the school in one final bid of badass-ery. Plus, who doesn’t like a good nod to the ol’ N64 gaming console?
5) All Hail King Julien: Season 1 (5 new episodes) – April 3
Why Should I Watch It? Well, really, you shouldn’t. Anything stemming from “Madagascar”-land immediately starts with two strikes against it. But the first five episodes of the animated tale’s first season proved the secondary character of those (dreadful) films is more worthy of the spotlight than lions, giraffes or penguins. It’s not anything to write home about for single adults, but parents could do far worse for family entertainment.
Best Episode: Believe it or not, I have not made time in my hectic schedule to screen the new episodes of “King Julien.” I know, I know. I’m slacking on the job. But between “Bloodline,” “Mad Men,” spreading soul-crushing “Game of Thrones” rumors (all the dragons are dead!), a new Indiewire podcast, and the NCAA Tournament, I just couldn’t find the time. Forgive me, and just go with your gut here.
6) “Wilfred” Season 4 (available April 7)
Why Should I Watch It? “Wilfred” is the definition of a cult TV show. It’s loyal viewers love it and its one-and-done crowd can’t understand what anyone else sees in it. Heck, the final season even incorporates a plot line about cults. Sure, there are outliers who may find parts enjoyable but largely unappealing on the whole. That’s where I land — mainly, I like the parts where Wilfred acts like a dog but doesn’t cross the line into crassness. I have the utmost respect for cults, though. You know, the non-religious ones.
Best Episode: Despite some midseason recasting (Mimi Rodgers stepping in for Mary Steenburgen and William Baldwin for Dwight Yoakam), “Wilfred” landed a few wholly good episodes before it ended its run. One of them is “Responsibility,” which had nothing to do with the ongoing cult mystery of the season, but did offer up a few genuine laughs. That’s all we’re looking for when bingeing on Netflix, making “Responsibility” the best of a small batch.
READ MORE: Kyle Chandler & Ben Mendelsohn on ‘Full Contact’ Acting in ‘Bloodline’
7) “Halt and Catch Fire” Season 1 (available April 8)
Why Should I Watch It? The talent in AMC’s latest bid at original content NOT tied to a pre-existing series justifies giving it a shot, even if there are far too many flaws to make it a legitimate contender for “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” or even “The Walking Dead”-level addiction. Everyone still owes Lee Pace for not helping “Pushing Daisies” stay on the air. Scoot McNairy should be a household name by now, after his excellent turns in “Monsters,” “Argo” and “Killing Them Softly.” Mackenzie Davis is a hot up and comer, in every sense of the word. And Toby Huss…ah, Toby Huss. You good ‘ol boy, you. how I wish I could hear that killer Texas drawl every day. Oh, and showrunner Jonathan Lisco comes from “Southland,” so he obviously knows what he’s doing.
Best Episode: No matter what anyone else tells you, the best episode of “Halt and Catch Fire” is the pilot. Though the season improved slightly after its disastrous third episode, AMC’s freshman drama (and wannabe “Mad Men 2: The Road Warrior”) never was able to top the intrigue, construction and mounting tension of its seductive first episode. It was a masterful showing and one any TV fan would be eager to see more of — now’s your chance, but temper expectations.
The Rest of Incoming TV:
“Baby Daddy” Season 4 – April 17