Tuesday, 1 January 2013

2013: Television To Look Forward To

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year! It's 2013, which can mean only one thing: lots of brand new and returning television shows! Below is a list of some notable shows that are soon to be hitting the airwaves (or internet in a few cases!) I'm sure I've forgotten some, and a few premiere dates may change, but this chronological list should give you a pretty good idea what to expect over the next six months or so. Feel fee to leave a comment about my choices, and add some of your own! (Updated: 09/01/13)

Justified (8 January, FX) The undervalued cowboy cop drama returns for a fourth season, where Deputy US Marshall Raylan Givens (Timothy Olyphant) will investigate a 30-year-old case with a connection to his criminal father; while ne'er-do-well Boyd (Walton Goggins) finds a rival in a charismatic preacher.

Primeval: The New World (8 January, Watch) If you like Primeval, you might enjoy this Canadian spin-off, but I had zero interest in watching it after the shoddy pilot. Good special effects, though.

Banshee (11 January, Cinemax) Alan Ball (True Blood) is producing this 10-episode drama about an ex-convict and martial arts expert posing as the murdered sheriff of a small town in Pennsylvania. Starring Antony Starr, Ben Cross, Cedric Stewart, Frankie Faison & Rus Blackwell.

Girls (13 January, HBO) The critically acclaimed drama returns from talented hyphenate Lena Dunham, as the Manhattan clique continue to fumble their way through modern life.

The Carrie Diaries (14 January, The CW) The long-awaited Sex in the City prequel finally debuts, with the talented AnnaSophia Robb stepping into Sarah Jessica Parker's louboutin shoes. One has to wonder if SATC lovers are going to enjoy what's essentially a high school drama set in the '80s, but maybe it will draw new fans. Co-stars Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who).

Utopia (15 January, Channel 4) Six-part thriller from Dennis Kelly (Spooks) about a group of internet forum members who find a manuscript for a graphic novel called "The Utopia Experiments" that predicted major disasters, which then brings them to the attention of a sinister organization known as The Network. Starring Paul Higgins, Nathan Stewart-Jarrett, Alexandra Roach, Neil Maskell, James Fox, Geraldine James, Simon McBurney & Michael Smiley.

Legit (17 January, FX) The first show to arrive on the coattails of FX's other low-budget comedy Louie, this stars Australian comedian Jim Jefferies as himself, alongside DJ Qualls as his wheelchair-bound friend and Dan Bakkedahl as Quall's sensible brother. Hopefully it will be another Louie-esque hit for the channel, but Jefferies has a smaller following in the US than his native Australia and the UK, so he may have to work that bit harder to win Americans over.

The Following (21 January, Fox) Scream scribe Kevin Williamson ditches his teen-friendly Vampire Diaries for something more adult, in this crime drama he's written for Fox. It stars Kevin Bacon as an FBI agent trying to recapture a serial killer played by James Purefoy (who bases his crimes on the works of macabre author Edgar Allen Poe—yeah, like that shitty John Cusack movie). Could be tosh; could be enjoyable bunkum. The cast have me interested.

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (22 January, Fox UK) The second series of this Anglo-American sitcom returns, following the exploits of the hapless Todd Margaret (David Chase) as he tries to launch an energy drink in the UK, but Channel 4 have washed their hands of it. It aired in the US months ago, and I heard very little positive buzz.

Spartacus: War of the Damned (25 January, Starz) The third and final season of the cable arriviste's acclaimed sword-and-sandals epic, with Liam McIntyre returning as the eponymous Thracian hero. Many fates appear to be sealed if you know your history, but I'm sure there will be some surprises in the telling from creator Steven S DeKnight. At the very least expect more sex, violence, gore, treachery, secrets, lies and revenge. Epic TV on the small-screen thanks to greenscreen technology and the tax benefits of New Zealand filming.

The Americans (30 January, FX) Falling Skies creator Joe Weisberg is behind this 1980s cold war drama about two Russian spies living deep undercover as Americans. Keri Russell (Felicity) and Matthew Rhys play the secret KGB agents, whose own children don't know their parents have secret identities and ulterior motives.

Dallas (28 January, TNT) A shadow hangs over the surprisingly enjoyable revival of the '80s soap, now the iconic Larry Hagman has sadly passed away. He did manage to film some episodes of the show's second season, and a tear-jerking funeral for JR Ewing is promised (which will almost certainly boost ratings considerably), but will Dallas manage to keep going without its biggest star and best-known character at Southfork?

House of Cards (1 February, Netflix) The famous movie rental firm have decided to make their own original content, and Netflix's first endeavour is a remake of a classic 1980s British miniseries based around the Falkland's War. This version is produced by David Fincher (The Social Network) and stars Kevin Spacey (Se7en) as a ruthless Washington politician, who often breaks the fourth wall to the audience. It will be very interesting to see if Netflix make this a money-spinner, because it could open the floodgates for more non-broadcast TV shows... and that's a brave new frontier for entertainment, indeed.

Community (7 February, NBC) The fourth season of this highly-acclaimed comedy begins, but without outspoken creator Dan Harmon at the helm. Will it be a pale imitation of its former self without Harmon's voice, or will it achieve a different kind of freshness with new showrunners? At least the excellent cast are all back, although Chevy Chase has since left the production under a cloud. Something tells me fans should enjoy what they can, because a fifth term at Greendale Community College doesn't look too likely.

The Walking Dead (10 February, AMC) The third season of this zombie drama continues for the final eight episodes, and hopefully it will retain the same level of quality as last year's first half. It remains to be seen if the fourth season will be as good, now that showrunner Glen Mazzara has been fired by AMC, but let's just hope whoever takes over doesn't change what's suddenly a winning formula. I've really enjoyed this season, having disliked the majority of season 1 and 2.

Zero Hour (14 February, ABC) Prison Break creator Paul Scheuring is behind this drama about an editor of a sceptics magazine (ER's Anthony Edwards) who finds himself pulled into a huge conspiracy concerning demons, numerology, Nazis, clockmakers and much more. Sound a little unoriginal and bonkers, but if it's half as fun as Prison Break was it could be a guilty pleasure.

Black Mirror (March, Channel 4) Series 2 of the satirical comedy-drama from Charlie Brooker, telling three more dark tales. I'd love to say more, but it's all embargoed.

Being Human (Winter, BBC3) Series 5 of the supernatural houseshare comedy-drama about a werewolf, ghost and vampire living together. There are no original actors left, so the story continues with the characters introduced last year: Hal, Tom and newcomer Alex (Kate Bracken). Phil Davis (Whitechapel) will be playing a disgusting villain.

Broadchurch (Winter, ITV1) A brand new six-part drama from Chris Chibnall (Doctor Who, Camelot) about a coastal town dealing with the death of a child and the media interest that provokes. Chibnall's work divides opinion, but hopefully this will be something worthwhile... and not just a pale imitation of The Killing's first series. A talented cast includes David Tennant, Olivia Colman, Vicky McClure, Jodie Whittacker, Andrew Buchan and Arthur Darvil.

Run (Spring, Channel 4) A drama telling four unrelated stories, including one about a heroin addict (Lennie James) trying to stay clean for the sake of his daughter, and another where a stripper (Jaime Winstone) discovers her dead boyfriend was cheating and in serious debt.

Count Arthur (Spring, BBC2) The Radio 4 comedy character is brought to the small-screen courtesy of Graham Linehan (Father Ted, The IT Crowd) and starring Rory Kinnear.

Red Widow (3 March, ABC) A Californian woman (Radha Mitchell) finds herself entering the world of organized crime after the death of her husband. Based on the Dutch drama Penoza. Co-starring Goran Visnijic, Clifton Collins Jr, Luke Goss & Rade Šerbedžija.

Revolution (25 March, NBC / Winter, Sky1) The high-concept sci-fi drama about a world without electricity resumes its first season in the US, and makes its debut here in the UK. I had mixed feelings about the first half-season, but there was something about it that kept me coming back. I think the pace helped and there were enough surprises and pay-offs to make it all feel focused enough. It's just a shame about the horrendous decision to cast wooden Tracy Spiridakos as the female lead.

Orphan Black (30 March, BBC America) Thriller about an orphan called Sarah (Tatiana Maslany) who witnesses the suicide of a woman identical to herself, which leads her to uncover a deadly conspiracy involving human cloning. Co-stars Jordan Gavaris, Dylan Bruce & Maria Doyle Kennedy.

Game of Thrones (31 March, HBO / 1 April, Sky Atlantic) The epic fantasy drama returns for a third season, which promises to be bigger and busier than ever before. It helps that the book it's adapting, "A Storm of Swords", is widely considered the best of George R.R Martin's opus (so far), but each episode has also been given a slightly longer running time. The impressive cast will also be joined by Dame Diana Rigg (The Avengers), Mackenzie Crook (The Office), Clive Russell, Thomas Brodie-Sangster and Ellie Kendrick.

Da Vinci's Demons (12 April Starz / Fox UK) David S Goyer (Batman Begins, Blade) has created this high-concept thriller that recasts Leonardo Da Vinc (Tom Riley) as a sexy 25-year-old. Co-stars Laura Haddock, Lara Pulver, Allan Corduner, Eros Vlahos & Gregg Chillin.

Doctor Who (April TBC, BBC1 & BBC America) The seventh series of the time-travelling family drama resumes, now with Jenna-Louise Coleman as The Doctor's brand new companion Clara—swathed in a typically complex mystery. Lots of great things are expected in series 7b, including the return of the Cybermen with an improved aesthetic and scarier behaviour (in an episode written by comic-book maven Neil Gaiman). Even better, it's Doctor Who's 50th year, so now is the time for showrunner Steven Moffat to pull out all the stops and ensure this year's episodes dazzle and amaze us all. What surprises does he have in store for us? The return of David Tennant would be my guess...

Defiance (15 April, Syfy) Sci-fi drama from Rockne S. O'Bannon (Farscape) about Jeb Nolan (Grant Bowler), a local law enforcer in a refugee camp called Defiance. The series is set in a near-future where aliens called Votans, who fled their destroyed star system and, in desperation, came to Earth and took over after waiting six years for human acceptance. Co-starring Julie Benz, Tony Curran, Jaime Murray, Stephanie Leonidas, Mia Kirschner, Graham Green & Fionnula Flanagan.

Bates Motel (Spring, A&E) TV prequel to Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, starring Freddie Highmore (Charlie & the Chocolate Factory) as a younger version of Norman Bates and Vera Farmiga as his mother. This comes from Lost co-producer Carlton Cuse, but we'll have to wait and see if it's any good. The trailers look promising at least.

By Any Means (Spring, BBC1) A new crime drama from Tony Jordan (EastEnders, Life on Mars) about a secretive police department led by a maverick cop, who catch criminals by setting up elaborate traps.

Hannibal (Spring, NBC) Bryan Fuller goes in a very different direction to his previous TV work (Star Trek, Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies), by crafting a deadly serious TV prequel to Manhunter and Silence of the Lambs. Mads Mikkelson is genius casting as a younger Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter, who in this instance is a psychologist helping FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) catch serial killers. The pilot is directed by David Slade (Hard Candy, Twilight: Eclipse) and I'm excited to see this drama, having read the surprisingly good script last summer.

Mad Men (Spring, AMC) The sixth season of the revered '60s drama returns, but little is known about what the characters will be facing this year... although we know that Peggy has been poached by a rival ad agency, of course. More classy character-based drama is guaranteed.

Arrested Development (4 May, Netflix) One of the past decade's most beloved sitcoms gets an unexpected reprieve, as a 14-episode long fourth season will be released on Netflix this summer. Get ready to catch-up with the crazy and eccentric Bluth family, seven years after they were last on our screens, and hopefully before a planned feature film. Interestingly, Netflix will make all 14 episodes available to stream at the same time, so there won't be any waiting around between episodes if you'd rather mainline the entire thing in half a day.

Breaking Bad (14 July, AMC) The final season resumes and Vince Gilligan only has a mere eight episodes to bring his masterful story to a conclusion that, I'm guessing, with be incredibly tense and very emotional. How will events match-up to the premiere's flash-forward where Walt (Bryan Cranston) was seen buying a machine gun on his 52nd birthday? How will it all end? "Happily ever after" isn't in Breaking Bad's vernacular...

True Blood (Summer, HBO) Season 6 of the vampire drama, which has now gone completely crazy and only really entices you back because of the sex, violence and handful of fun characters. However, this is the first year without Alan Ball at the helm, so there's a slim chance things will improve in terms of the storytelling. What can we look forward to? Well, Bill's now an evil super-vampire, the main villain is vampire-hating Louisiana governor Truman Burrell, and Sookie's getting a new love interest...

Southcliffe (Summer, Channel 4) Four-part drama about a shooting spree in a small town, written by Tony Grisoni (Red Riding) and directed by Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy May Marlene). Kaya Scodelario (Skins) has a key role alongside Joe Dempsie, Rory Kinnear, Eddie Marsan & Shirley Henderson.

Sherlock (Autumn, BBC1) Series 3 of the contemporary Sherlock Holmes update, starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Star Trek Into Darkness) and Martin Freeman (The Hobbit). It hasn't even started filming yet, but we're promised three more feature-length mysteries.

Inside No9 (Autumn, BBC2) A second project from Psychoville creators Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith, this anthology promises to be equally as good if not better. Telling unique stories each week, I'm sure we're in for some funny macabre treats when it starts getting dark outside again. Co-stars Gemma Arterton, Anne Reid, Anna Chancellor & Timothy West.

Vicious (TBA, ITV1) The words "ITV sitcom" send a shiver down most people's backs, but maybe there's hope for this one because of the talent involved. Derek Jacobi and Sir Ian McKellen headline as a gay couple living out their retirement by bickering.

Hinterland (TBA, BBC4) The Killing and Borgen have opened the floodgates for subtitled drama, so why not one that's Welsh? This S4C co-production concerns a detective recently moved to Wales from London and will flit between the English and Welsh languages. Amusingly, a Danish broadcaster has already bought the rights to show it over there.