Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2014: Television To Look Forward To

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

As has become tradition, I've compiled a list of the big new shows that will help make the loss of 2013 more bearable. 2014 looks to be shaping up rather nicely (if noticeably full of dark subject-matter), if the below mix of pilots and commissioned series make good on their potential. As always, I'm sure I've missed some gems, so feel free to add some of your own choices as a comment. If I strongly agree with any oversights, I will add hastily them and claim they were included all along.

Sherlock (1 Jan, BBC1; 19 Jan PBS) It's been an interminable wait to see how Sherlock Holmes (Benedict Cumberbatch) cheated death after leaping to his doom from a rooftop (apparently), but the third series is finally here. In fact, we're getting two episodes in less than a week—which means that 7 days after the premiere we'll be back to waiting years for another new episode. Oh joy.

Community (2 Jan, NBC) Fifth season of the geeky college-set comedy, with creator Dan Harmon back in charge after a disappointing fourth year. It already looks like a return to form, even with the loss of Chevy Chase (who was marginalised so much it feels like he's been gone awhile), but can it also endure the imminent departure of Donald Glover? Will it reach that elusive sixth season, with hopes for a movie (funded via Kickstarter)? Or will it cross the syndication threshold for NBC and be swiftly cancelled?

Intelligence (7 Jan, CBS) Josh Holloway (Lost) headlines this new sci-fi action drama about an agent with a microchip implanted in his head that gives him access to "the global information grid" (i.e. the internet, satellite feeds, communications signals, etc.) That inevitably comes in handy during lots of secret missions for the US government. It's Chuck without the nerds! Co-stars Meghan Ory, Marg Helgenberger, John Billingsley & P.J Byrne.

Justified (7 Jan, FX) Season 5 of the crime drama. Starring Timothy Olyphant, and new recurring stars Alicia Witt, Amy Smart & Michael Rapaport.

Revolution (8 Jan, NBC; 2 Mar, Sky1) Season 2 of the US sci-fi drama about a future world existing without electricity continues.

The Tomorrow People (8 Jan, E4) The US remake of the British sci-fi hit from the 1970s arrives in the country of its origin, with a new gang of sexier youngsters who can teleport, move things with their minds, and communicate telepathically.

Helix (10 Jan, Syfy; 20 Jan, Channel 5) A new sci-fi drama masterminded by Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica) about scientists from the Center for Disease Control investigating a bizarre viral outbreak at an Arctic base.

True Detective (12 Jan, HBO; Feb, Sky Atlantic) Ambitious crime drama spanning a 17-year case to find a serial killer, flitting between the present and the past, with each episode telling a story from a different character's point of view. Taking a leaf out of American Horror Story's playbook, each season will apparent tell a different story. Starring Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Kevin Dunn, Michelle Monaghan & Alexandra Daddario.

The Musketeers (18 Jan, BBC1) Adaptation of the Alexandre Dumas classic. Starring Luke Pasqualino, Tom Burke, Santiago Cabrera, Howard Charles and Peter Capaldi.

Black Sails (25 Jan, Starz) Imagined prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's nautical adventure classic Treasure Island, following the earlier adventures of Captain Flint. Interestingly, based purely on positive response after a screening at the San Diego Comic-Con last summer, Starz have already ordered a second series. Starring Toby Stephens (Vexed), Tom Hopper & Jessica Parker Kennedy. Produced by Michael Bay (Armageddon).

The Walking Dead (9 Feb, AMC; 10 Feb, Fox) Season 4 of the US zombie drama continues.

House of Cards (14 Feb, Netflix) Second season of the online streaming service's political drama, with Kevin Spacey returning as ruthless Democrat Francis Underwood.

The Americans (26 Feb, FX) Season 2 of the 1980s-set Cold War espionage drama about two Russian spies living undercover as a married American couple.

Hannibal (28 Feb, NBC) Return of the macabre serial killer drama, with everything turned on its head now criminal profiler "crazy" Will Graham's been sectioned, and his cannibal therapist Dr Lecter remains a free man. Starring Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen & Laurence Fishburne.

Bates Motel (3 Mar, A&E) Season 2 of the Psycho prequel, about motel-owner Norma (Vera Farmiga) and her oddball son Norman (Freddie Highmore). Guest stars Michael Vartan (Alias).

Resurrection (9 Mar, ABC) Adaptation of Justin Motte's 2013 novel The Returned, which has strong overtones of French hit Les Revenants/The Returned, where a small-town in Missouri bare witness to dead townsfolk coming back to life. [03/01/14: edited after publication]

The 100 (19 Mar, The CW) Sci-fi drama set in a post-apocalyptic future where 100 juvenile delinquents are sent back to the nuclear devastated Earth to repopulate it. Sounds like a plan! This is apparently aiming to be Hunger Games in Space, or Lord of the Flies in the Future. Starring Eliza Taylor. Henry Ian Cusick (Lost), Paige Turco, Isaiah Washington & Kelly Hu.

Game of Thrones (6 Apr, HBO; 7 Apr, Sky Atlantic) Season 4 of the epic fantasy drama.

Orphan Black (19 Apr, BBC America) Season 2 of the clone drama which certainly has a passionate fanbase, but left me cold after a great start last year. Tatiana Maslany's excellent (despite her shoddy British accent), but can't say this one's for me. Co-starring Peter Outerbridge & Ari Millen.

Unscheduled, at present...

The Good Wife (spring, More4) Season 5 of the excellent legal drama arrives in the UK, of which I know very little about, beyond the fact US reviews have been fantastic. Starring Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth, Archie Panjabi & Alan Cumming.

Mad Men (spring, AMC) The seventh and final season of the US advertising drama set in the 1960s.

Penny Dreadful (summer, Showtime/Sky Atlantic) Skyfall director Sam Mendes and screenwriter John Logan (Gladiator) join forces for this TV horror with a delicious premise that brings various fantasy figures from literature together: Dracula, Dorian Grey, the Wolfman, and Frankenstein's Monster. It's maybe just League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for the small-screen? We'll see, but the cast alone is impressive (Eva Green, Josh Hartnett, Timothy Dalton, Harry Treadaway, Billie Piper and Rory Kinnear) and a key director is Juan Antonio Bayona (The Orphanage).

24: Live Another Day (summer, Fox/Sky1) Revival of the Fox action hit that ended in 2010. This new storyline only spans 12 episodes (allowing the writers to jump ahead in time occasionally), and will relocate the action to London and Europe. Kiefer Sutherland and Mary Lynn Rajskub return as Jack Bauer and Chloe O'Brian, respectively. Judy Davis has joined the cast as a probably villain.

Outlander (Oct, Starz) Adaptation of Diana Gabaldon's book saga by Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica), about a married 1940s nurse sent back in time to feudal Scotland where she falls in love with a young warrior. Starring Caitriona Balfe, Sam Heughan, Tpbiaz Menzoes, Graham McTavish, Laura Donnelly, James Fleet & Stephen Walters.

Tyrant (autumn, FX) New drama about the son of a Middle Eastern dictator, who left his homeland to raise a family in America, who returns for a nephew's wedding and finds himself embroiled in a violent family drama.

Better Call Saul (autumn, AMC/Netflix) Nothing specific is known about this Breaking Bad spin-off, which may or may not be a prequel to the Emmy-winning phenomenon.... but we do know it'll focus on shady lawyer Saul Goodman (Bob Odenkirk) and be lighter in tone, with room for Breaking Bad cameos (suggesting it will be a prequel, if that's not too much of a spoiler). Much of the mother show's crew are working on this one, so expect good things.

Doctor Who (autumn TBC, BBC1/BBC America) Series 8 of the sci-fi drama, launching with the 801st episode and with Peter Capaldi as the new twelfth incarnation of The Doctor.

Fargo (FX) New drama taking inspiration from the cult hit Coen Brothers movie of the same name, once again set in the wintry mid-west. Starring Martin Freeman (The Hobbit), Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa), Colin Hanks, Kate Walsh, Oliver Platt & Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad).

The Strain (FX) Adaptation of Guillermo Del Toro's (Hellboy) co-authored comic-book about a vampire contagion infecting New York after a passenger jet touches down at JFK. The airwaves are full of vampires, but The Strain promises a return to making them appear violent, ruthless, monstrous and very scary.

The Flash (The CW) Having debuted in two episodes of Arrow's second season last year, speedy superhero Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) now headlines his very own show. Considering the brilliance of Arrow (which was working with a less-known character), hopes are high for this show considering the larger existing fanbase for The Flash. Gustin also proved to be very personable and engaging on Arrow, so I'm expecting good things.

Wayward Pines (Fox) The worrying thing about this new drama is how it barely tries to disguise the debt it owes to Twin Peaks, with a Secret Service agent investigating the disappearance of two colleagues in a spooky small-town. M. Night Shyamalan (The Sixth Sense) is also involved and directs the pilot. On the plus side, this is apparently an "event series" and will conclude its story in 10 episodes. Starring Matt Dillon, Melissa Leo, Terrence Howard, Juliette Lewis, Hope Davis, Carla Gugino, Shannyn Sossamon & Toby Jones.

The Last Ship (TNT) A pandemic kills most of the planet's population, leaving the crew of a naval destroyer as some of the only survivors. Starring Rhona Mitra (Doomsday), Adam Baldwin, Eric Dane & Tommy Savas. Produced by Michael Bay (Transformers).

Extant (summer, CBS) Sci-fi family drama about an astronaut (Halle Berry) struggling to reconnect with her family, after a year spent in outer space. Produced by Steven Spielberg, although that means much less in the world of television.

The Leftovers (HBO) Fantasy drama about the consequences of numerous people vanishing overnight, possibly as part of a divine 'Rapture'. The pilot is directed by Peter Berg (Friday Night Lights) with Damon Lindelof (Lost) as showrunner. Starring Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Carrie Coon, Christopher Eccleston, Ann Dowd, Liv Tyler, Michael Gaston & Charlie Carver.

Legends (TNT) Sci-fi drama about a CIA agent (Sean Bean) who has the ability to adapt to any given situation. So it's a modern-day version of The Pretender? Co-stars Ali Larter (Heroes) and Morris Chestnut (Nurse Jackie).

Sense8 (Netflix) Sci-fi drama about a group of people who are psychically linked and hunted by a unknown agency. Co-created by the Wachowski's (The Matrix) and J. Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5), so let's hope that pedigree overcomes what doesn't feel very fresh as a one-sentence summary.

Gracepoint (Fox) US remake of the British murder-mystery hit Broadchurch. David Tennant (Doctor Who) reprises his role as lead detective, working alongside home-town investigator Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad). Co-starring Nick Nolte.

Red Dwarf XI (Dave) Series 11 of the sci-fi comedy.