Synopsis: A teacher attempts to travel back in time to stop the assassination of JFK.
What You Need To Know: Though it’s popular enough for catching up on “New Girl” or whatever, Hulu’s original programming hasn’t yet had a breakout hit of the size of “House Of Cards” or “The Man In The High Castle” — last year saw “Difficult People” and “Casual” win acclaim, but seemingly not all that much buzz among the viewing public. But the network has some heavy hitters lined up for 2016, first and foremost this eight-episode adaptation of Stephen King’s best-selling time travel thriller. It’s the first foray into streaming drama for J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot company, which automatically bestows a certain “Lost”-like mystique on the show, while Kevin MacDonald, director of “Last King Of Scotland” and “Touching The Void,” helms a couple of episodes, including the first. Aside from the “Sound Of Thunder”-ish time travel setup, the biggest selling point might be the cast: James Franco somehow found time to play the lead role, while Chris Cooper, Sarah Gadon, Cherry Jones, George MacKay and Josh Duhamel join him.
Airdate: February 15th
Synopsis: A Paris-trained clown returns to the States, and can only find work at a rodeo.
What You Need To Know: Louis CK is more or less the crown prince of FX: while he’s taking a year or two off “Louie” to focus on a movie, he’s got three separate projects at the channel, including an animated pilot co-written with Albert Brooks, and “Better Things,” which stars long-time collaborator Pamela Adlon. The first to arrive, however, will be “Baskets,” which he co-created with Zach Galafianakis, who also stars in the title role. Seeming to fit nicely into the “Louie”/“Bojack Horseman” sad-com tradition, it’s the first small screen showcase for the “Hangover” megastar since since “Bored To Death,” and looks to be the strongest example yet of his particular comic voice, right down to a role for alter-ego/faux twin brother Seth Galafianakis. “Portlandia” and “Kroll Show” veteran Jonathan Krisel helmed the pilot, and the supporting cast seems to mostly involve newcomers, so Galafianakis is certainly the big draw here. The teaser trailer looks promising, and it hits in just a few weeks. First great show of 2016? Let’s hope so.
Airdate: January 21st
18. “Luke Cage”
Synopsis: A bartender with super strength and unbreakable city attempts to rebuild his life, but becomes embroiled in a battle for the city.
What You Need To Know: Marvel’s Netflix experiment got off to a pretty strong start in 2014: neither “Daredevil” nor “Jessica Jones” were perfect, but each had a lot going for them, particularly the latter, which was stealthily an examination of abuse and trauma disguised as a superhero noir. Jessica hadn’t even been hinted at in its predecessor “Daredevil,” so the third of five shows (“Iron Fist” will follow, with a “Defenders” team-up miniseries after that) is at an immediate advantage, as its central character was already a main character in “Jessica Jones.” The show, being run by Cheo Hodari Coker (“Notorious,” “Ray Donovan”), takes Mike Colter’s near-indestructible Luke to Harlem, with a predominately African-American cast including Alfre Woodard and Simone Missick. Arguably the best features of these shows have been the villains, and it’s too early to see whether villainous nightclub owner Cottonmouth can fill the shoes of Kingpin and Kilgrave, he’s got a very fine actor playing him, in the shape of “House Of Cards” veteran Mahershala Ali.
Airdate: September 30th
17. “The Night Manager”
Synopsis: A former soldier turned hotel concierge as recruited into British intelligence to help bring down an arms dealer.
What You Need To Know: Few novelists have remained as consistently filmable as John Le Carré, and after the recent “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and “A Most Wanted Man,” 2016 brings two adaptations, one big-screen — “Our Kind Of Traitor,” with Ewan McGregor, Stellan Skarsgard and Naomie Harris — and this tantalizing miniseries, a collaboration between the BBC and AMC. Adapted by “Hanna” scribe David Farr and with all six episodes directed by Oscar-winning Danish filmmaker Susanna Bier (“Open Hearts,” “In A Better World”), this builds Le Carré’s 1993 novel out into six hours (giving it room to breathe in a way that the films have sometimes been lacking, according to some). And the cast is positively movie-quality: Tumblr heartthrob Tom Hiddleston in the lead role, Hugh Laurie as his adversary, and Elizabeth Debicki, Olivia Colman, Tom Hollander, David Harewood and Douglas Hodge in support.
Airdate: Unclear yet, but we suspect it’ll take the slot of either “The Walking Dead” or “Better Call Saul” when their current seasons wrap up in the spring.
16. “War And Peace”
Synopsis: Miniseries adaptation of Leo Tolstoy’s epic novel of five aristocratic families around the Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.
What You Need To Know: Despite its sprawling 1200-page length, there have been multiple attempts to bring“War and Peace” to the screen, from the 3 1/2 hour King Vidor movie in 1956 to the acclaimed four-part Russian version in 1966 to a 1972 BBC miniseries. This new take, a collaboration between the BBC and the Weinstein Company, might be the starriest yet: Paul Dano and Lily James take the lead roles of Pierre and Natasha, while the supporting cast is a who’s-who of rising British names and established character actors, including James Norton, Tom Burke, Tuppence Middleton, Callum Turner, Greta Scacchi, Aneurin Barnard, Mathieu Kassovitz, Stephen Rea, Brian Cox, Gillian Anderson and, inevitably, Jim Broadbent. Emerging Brit director Tom Harper (“The Scouting Book For Boys”) is directing, and by reaction to the first episode, which aired in the U.K. this Sunday, he’s done a damn fine job with it.
Airdate: Airing in the U.K. now, it arrives in the U.S. in two-hour blocks over four weeks simultaneously on three networks — A&E, Lifetime and The History Channel — from January 18th.