Congratulations! We made it through the first third of 2019. Now, like a garden born from the ashes left by a fire-breathing beast flying through an arbitrarily placed cloud, there are plenty of new shows looking to take their share of TV headlines.
Per tradition, we’ve collected some of the more notable series premieres for the month of May, stretching across cable, broadcast, and streaming. A good number listed below are also limited series, set to close out before we get too far into summer, so enjoy them while you can.
“The Spanish Princess” (May 5, Starz)
After a pair of previous limited series rooted in 15th century Tudor history, this latest Starz outing looks at Catherine of Aragon and the union between two empires. Her marriage’s unexpected early end gave rise to one of the world’s most infamous monarchs, all playing out via royal court machinations from within and outside her court. As with those other Starz series, “The Spanish Princess” is based on the novels of Philippa Gregory, with this latest batch of episodes spanning the events of “The Constant Princess” and “The King’s Curse.”
“Chernobyl” (May 6, HBO)
HBO’s latest limited series is a tragedy in five chapters. Looking at the circumstances surrounding one of the greatest ecological disasters in recorded history, the events of the meltdown at the Chernobyl power plant are played out through the eyes of workers at the plant itself, the experts called on to help mitigate the physical effects of the crisis, and the officials who attempted to downplay the ramifications on a global scale. Jared Harris, Emily Watson, and Stellan Skarsgård star.
“State of the Union” (May 6, SundanceTV)
Marc Hom / Courtesy of Sundance Institute
As TV content finds new ways to downsize, SundanceTV’s experimental offering takes the on-screen chemistry of Rosamund Pike and Chris O’Dowd and turns it into a two-hander to show a marriage in turmoil. Stephen Frears and Nick Hornby directed and wrote (respectively) each of the 10 “State of the Union” episodes, which clock in at a tidy 10 minutes apiece. Following its Sundance Film Festival premiere, SundanceTV will air two entries for five consecutive nights, starting May 6.
“Klepper” (May 9, Comedy Central)
This is the latest Jordan Klepper-led project in the Comedy Central world, and this one features the former “Daily Show” correspondent closer to his real self. Jettisoning his Alex Jones-esque persona he had for “The Opposition,” this new comedy gives Klepper more of an opportunity to follow ongoing stories of activism across the country, similar to his recent Clinton family check-in.
“Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men” (May 10, Showtime)
Sacha Jenkins’ four-part series came right on the heels of the 25th anniversary of the iconic group’s debut album “Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers).” Now, months after the show’s Sundance premiere in January, the series will be a Friday-night companion to the network’s growing documentary slate. The show looks at the musical and interpersonal history of the group’s many members, past and present, with archival footage from early concerts and fresh interviews with the surviving members.
“My Dad Wrote a Porno” (May 11, HBO)
Following the fourth season of their global smash podcast, co-hosts Jamie Morton, Alice Levine, and James Cooper present this live special taped at a London theater back in March. Morton reads a special chapter of his real-life father’s amateur erotica, to the frequent delight (and occasional chagrin) of everyone else in the vicinity.
“L.A.’s Finest” (May 13, Spectrum)
The first official entry in Spectrum’s gradually expanding original programming slate, this drama series puts a new spin on the “Bad Boys” film franchise. Gabrielle Union reprises her role from “Bad Boys II,” starring alongside Jessica Alba as two women taking on the various criminal elements around the city of Los Angeles.
“Catch-22” (May 17, Hulu)
Philipe Antonello / Hulu
Joseph Heller’s classic novel gets a new screen adaptation, as George Clooney, Grant Heslov, and Ellen Kuras direct their own take on the book that did more than just coin the enduring phrase shared by its title. Christopher Abbott stars as the iconic protagonist Yossarian, a man trying everything he can to escape the daily horrors of World War II. Kyle Chandler, Hugh Laurie, and Clooney lead the rest of the show’s headline ensemble.
“Blood & Treasure” (May 21, CBS)
Right before summer, CBS is set to drop this new series that somehow manages to blend Indiana Jones-tinged artifact hunting with the network’s well-established, terrorism-fighting procedural format. Though the main characters most likely do not have the last names “Blood” and “Treasure,” “(500) Days of Summer” director Marc Webb is an executive producer.
“The Name of the Rose” (May 23, SundanceTV)
Umberto Eco’s most famous work gets a TV reevaluation, courtesy of veteran director Giacomo Battiato. The eight-part series stars John Turturro and Damian Hardung as two men called on to look into a series of deaths at a 14th-century abbey. Originally a production for the Italian television station Rai, the series had its European premiere back in March.
“The Hot Zone” (May 27, Nat Geo)
Based on the 1994 book of the same name, this series follows the detection — and subsequent attempt to eradicate — the first appearance of the ebola virus in the United States. Julianna Margulies stars as Dr. Nancy Jaax, an Army scientist and researcher whose discoveries surrounding the disease formed part of the basis of Richard Preston’s best-selling book. Liam Cunningham, Topher Grace, James D’Arcy, and Noah Emmerich also feature into the show’s ensemble.
“Good Omens” (May 31, Amazon Prime Video)
Neil Gaiman continues his broad excursion through his archive of published material with this new limited series based on the 1990 novel he co-authored with Terry Pratchett. Michael Sheen and David Tennant star as an angel and a demon who team up to prevent the arrival of the Antichrist and global apocalypse. Directed by “Doctor Who” and “Sherlock” vet Douglas Mackinnon, the series also features Frances McDormand (as the voice of God), Jon Hamm, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Brian Cox.
“Deadwood” (May 31, HBO)
Off the air for 13 years, the beloved HBO series returns for a film finale with many of its original cast reprising their roles (in some cases, the ones that made them famous). Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane are back in a story that seems to center on the return of George Hearst, as South Dakota enters its days as a state in the ever-expanding union.
“Swamp Thing” (May 31, DC Universe)
Over three decades after the character had its definitive arc in writer Alan Moore’s acclaimed mid-’80s run, the ghoulish tangle of branches and brawn gets his own streaming series. Set in Louisiana, the series follows the exploits of a woman who returns home to learn that her scientist friend, feared dead, may have taken on a strange new form. Len Wiseman directed the pilot, while James Wan is on board as an executive producer.