There’s an absolute belter of small-screen riches coming at us in the next twelve months. We’ve waded on in and picked out 25 new titles from those hundreds of shows that we are particularly excited about, just to hopefully give you guys a couple of lifesavers to cling to, before the wave hits.
25. “Big Little Lies”
Synopsis: Three mothers with kids at kindergarten become friends, a friendship that will end… in murder.
What You Need To Know: So far, prestige-y TV drama has mostly leant towards being quite male-driven. “The Sopranos,” “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad,” “The Wire” — most of the most highly praised shows of the modern era had memorable female characters, but were unmistakably dude-centric. That’s starting to shift, with shows like “UnReal,” but could “Big Little Lies” be the one that helps actually change the culture a but, and do for Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon what “True Detective” did for Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson? The stars were initially adapting this adaptation of Australian author Liane Moriarty as a movie before shifting it to become a HBO series, adapted by “Ally McBeal” creator David E. Kelley, and now “Dallas Buyers Club” director Jean-Marc Vallée has been brought on to direct all seven episodes, Cary Fukunaga-style. Production starts soon, and it’s now cast up, with Shailene Woodley signed on for the third lead, and Alexander Skarsgard, Adam Scott, Laura Dern, James Tupper and Zoë Kravitz in support.
Release Date: Production gets underway in January: with Vallée helming all of it, getting it done in time for a 2016 airing might be a little tricky, even if a hole in the schedule opens, but we think it’s doable. We reckon an “Olive Kitteridge”-style slot in the fall makes the most sense.
Synopsis: A woman tries to make a fresh start after a divorce.
What You Need To Know: Fans of bleak, testosterone-y “True Detective”-style HBO drama might run for the hills at the news that Sarah Jessica Parker is returning to the network, twelve years after “Sex And The City” wrapped up. But for one thing, they’re forgetting that before it was tainted by the terrible movies, that show was a groundbreaking and often terrific comedy. And there’s reason to believe that “Divorce,” starring and produced by Parker, could be something special. The cast is strong: Thomas Haden Church plays her ex-husband, Molly Shannon her best friend, and Talia Balsam, Robert Forster, Tracy Letts and Jemaine Clement all have roles. But the reason we’re really amped is that it’s created by the great Sharon Horgan, the Irish actress/writer who was behind both “Pulling” and the currently ongoing, absolutely brilliant “Catastrophe.” If “Divorce” can be half as raw, funny and charming about splitting up as “Catastrophe” is about getting together, we’ll be there every week.
Airdate: Not yet announced, but with “Girls,” “Togetherness,” “Veep” and “Silicon Valley” taking up HBO comedy slots until the summer, it could be paired with “Ballers,” but the fall seems more likely.
23. “Shots Fired”
Synopsis: An investigator and a special prosecutor investigate a series of racially charged shootings in a Tennessee town.
What You Need To Know: Aside from the occasional blip — “American Crime,” for instance — network TV mostly shies away from hot-button issues or bold ambition in their shows, but with ratings continuing to plummet, that’s starting to change, and Fox’s “Shots Fired” is the kind of show that even a big cable network would deem risky. Created, and set to be in part directed by, the great Gina Prince-Bythewood, writer-director of “Love & Basketball” and the wonderful, woefully underseen “Beyond The Lights,” it’s a highly topical thriller engaging with the issues that have reached a peak in the last few years involving violence towards African-Americans at the hands of police. “Ferguson: The TV Show,” essentially, and few filmmakers have shown such capacity for nuanced and whip-smart looks at racial issues identity in a commercial way as Prince-Bythewood. It’s already picked up to series by Fox, and has found a lead in the shape of the director’s “Love & Basketball” lead Sanaa Lathan.
Airdate: Network schedules are nebulous, but with the show being commissioned last month and being described as an “event series,” we imagine it’ll arrive in the summer.
Synopsis: Two cousins make their way up Atlanta’s rap scene.
What You Need To Know: In one of those strange “Capote”-ish coincidences (or perhaps not, given the success of “Empire”), two of the biggest cable networks are each premiering a comedy show set in the music world in Atlanta. HBO’s effort is “Brothers In Atlanta,” created by and starring comics Diallo Riddle and Bashir Salahuddin, directed by Tim Story and co-starring Maya Rudolph and Jaden Smith, but we’re a little more excited, sight unseen, on FX’s “Atlanta.” The show’s created by youthful polymath Donald Glover, who’s had about four different careers before hitting 30: going from “30 Rock” writer to “Community” star to star rapper as Childish Gambino to movie actor in “The Martian” and “Magic Mike XXL.” His show, in which he also plays the lead alongside Tyree Henry, should draw on all those skills, and is clearly a very personal project for an actor who’s long deserved a showcase like this. Speaking of, his right-hand-man in the show is played by the awesome Keith Stanfield, who’s broken out in things like “Short Term 12” and “Selma,” and should play beautifully off Glover. And it should get authenticity and flair from director Hiro Murai, who’s made his name in the music video world helming clips not just for Glover, but also for Earl Sweatshirt, Flying Lotus, Shabazz Palaces and Queens Of The Stone Age.
Airdate: FX picked this up to series in October: our guess is it’ll probably arrive in the summer at some point.
Alex Bailey/Netflix Claire Foy and Matt Smith in “The Crown.”
21. “The Crown”
Synopsis: Epic historical drama following the life of Queen Elizabeth II.
What You Need To Know: With “Downton Abbey” wrapping up, costume drama fans are in the market for a new obsession, and it might be here in the shape of Netflix’s “The Crown.” Ambitiously setting out to tell the entire life of Britain’s longest-running (and still going…) monarch, it comes from the pen of Peter Morgan, who’s had enormous success with this subject matter with the Oscar-nominated “The Queen” (and again on Broadway with “The Audience”). There are more awards-friendly names behind the camera too: “Billy Elliot” helmer Stephen Daldry directed the pilot, and Stephen Frears has done an episode or two as well. The cast, as you might imagine, is superb: Claire Foy, so good in “Wolf Hall,” has the lead role, “Doctor Who” veteran Matt Smith is future husband Philip Mountbatten, John Lithgow is Winston Churchill, Jared Harris is George VI, and plenty more British drama luminaries are involved as well. But will it be “Downton Abbey”-style pandering, or will have it a little more bite?
Airdate: Production was underway last summer: we expect it’ll hit Netflix late spring for Emmy qualification.
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: “Daredevil” returns in March, so we imagine this comes late summer or early fall.
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.
15. “Hap & Leonard”
Synopsis: A white draft dodger and a gay, black Vietnam vet solve crimes for a P.I. in East Texas in the 1980s.
What You Need To Know: 2014’s taut, stylish crime thriller “Cold In July” wasn’t a huge hit, but it was well liked by those who did see it, which clearly included those at SundanceTV, as they’ve hired Nick Damici and Jim Mickle, who co-wrote, and Mickle’s case directed, the earlier film, to adapt a series of novels by the same author, Joe R. Lansdale. This 6-part first season looks as if it could fill the smart-ass Southern crime hole left in our hearts by the end of “Justified,” if all goes well, and Mickle & co have certainly cast it to the nines: James Purefoy plays Hap, while Michael K. Williams gets a great role as Leonard, with Christina Hendricks, Bill Sage and Jimmi Simpson among the cast too. There’s always the risk that this disappoints, as Sundance’s good-on-paper “Red Road” did, but we have our fingers firmly crossed for it.
Airdate: Sometime in March.
14. “The Young Pope”
Synopsis: The story of Lenny Belardo, a youthful Cardinal who becomes the youngest pope in history, Pius XIII.
What You Need To Know: A few years ago, Ridley Scott directed a Showtime pilot called “The Vatican” starring Kyle Chandler that ultimately didn’t move forward, depriving us of the chance to see some machinations within the Roman Catholic Church on the small screen. Fortunately for anyone wanting to scratch that itch, 2016 brings “The Young Pope,” from Oscar-winner Paolo Sorrentino. His “Youth” might have been disappointing last year, but “Il Divo” and “The Great Beauty” mean we’ll always be interested in what Sorrentino does, and this HBO/Sky Atlantic/Canal+ co-production is certainly interesting, particularly as it seems to step away from the excess of his last few pictures to a more serious-minded examination of religion and faith. Jude Law, in his first TV role as a star, takes the title role, with Diane Keaton as a nun, James Cromwell, Scott Shepherd, Cécile de France and Ludivine Sagnier among the cast too.
Airdate: None announced yet, but it could end up in the “Show Me A Hero” late-summer miniseries slot.
13. “Vice Principals”
Synopsis: Comedy set in a high school, centering on the ambitious, plotting vice principals who run the place.
What You Need To Know: “Eastbound & Down’ has already passed into comedy lore — a near faultless run from 2009 to 2013, even succeeding when it returned for a fourth season having apparently ended after the third. We’ve been keenly waiting to see what creators Jody Hill and Danny McBride would do next, and the result should arrive later this year with “Vice Principals,” a high-school-set comedy. Making the central characters educators should go some way to giving McBride a chance to show a different side to his persona from ‘Eastbound,’ and he’s got a hugely talented co-lead this time around: the great Walton Goggins, hot off “The Hateful Eight” co-stars, while Busy Phillips, Shea Whigham, Dale Dickey and R.J. Cyler co-star, and Will Ferrell and Bill Murray are expected to cameo. With all that and David Gordon Green directing episodes again, it’s no wonder that HBO have already picked up 18 episodes (likely to be spread over two or even three seasons).
Airdate: Nothing firm, but we’d bet this replaces “The Brink” and is paired up with “Ballers” in the early summer.
Synopsis: A conflicted preacher in a Texas town is possessed by a powerful supernatural force, and sets out on a trip with his hitwoman ex-girlfriend and an Irish vampire, to find God who has gone missing.
What You Need To Know: People have been trying to bring Garth Ennis’ “Preacher,” one of the most acclaimed comic books ever, to the screen for nearly two decades. Kevin Smith was working on a movie in the 1990s, Mark Steven Johnson developed a HBO series in the 2000s (bullet dodged…) and Sam Mendes was going to direct a few years back. In the end, it’s Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg who’ve managed the feat: they developed the show with “Breaking Bad” writer Sam Catlin, and saw it picked up by AMC, who’ve had a mega-success with another gory graphic novel adaptation with “The Walking Dead.” This is likely to be far more controversial thanks to its religious themes, but Rogen and Goldberg (who also directed the pilot) seem like a perfect fit for the puerile-yet-smart material, and from the looks of the trailer, they’ve pulled it off. The cast is fun too: Dominic Cooper in the lead role, and rising thesps Ruth Negga (“Criminal Justice”) and Joseph Gilgun (“This Is England”) co-starring.
Airdate: Apparently aiming for the middle of the year.
Synopsis: A prosecutor tries to bring down a powerful and wealthy hedge funder.
What You Need To Know: With “The Wolf Of Wall Street” a huge hit a few years back, and “The Big Short” going great guns at the box office right now, it seems like an excellent time for a big cable drama to tackle the world of Wall Street. And it certainly has the right people involved: the show was created by “Too Big To Fail” author Andrew Ross Sorkin, and Brian Koppelman and David Levien, writers of “Rounders,” among many others. And if you’re going to build your show around a head-to-head battle between two titans, you could do a lot worse than casting Paul Giamatti as the dogged attorney, and Damian Lewis (returning to Showtime after his success on “Homeland”) as the banker. The supporting cast is stellar too, stacked with the MVPs from plenty of other successful shows — “Sons Of Anarchy” star Maggie Siff, “Daredevil” vet Toby Leonard Moore, “Breaking Bad”’s David Costabile, and Malin Akerman. The first episode is online already, and looks pretty compelling — hopefully the rest is just as good.
Airdate: The first episode is now available on Showtime, and show kicks off in full on January 17th.
Synopsis: Comedy following the relationship between a sweet, hapless, nerdy guy and a beautiful, free-spirited woman.
What You Need To Know: Though he was a key figure in helping to get “Girls” made, and has regularly written, directed or produced episodes of Lena Dunham’s HBO show, Judd Apatow hasn’t created a TV series since “Undeclared” fourteen years ago, but that changes with this new show, developed in collaboration with real-life couple Paul Rust and Lesley Arfin. In fact, it’s already Apatow’s most successful show — neither “Undeclared” nor “Freaks & Geeks” made it past season one, but Netflix picked up “Love” for two seasons straight off the bat, which certainly seems like a vote of confidence. The show’s billed as a contemporary, authentic take on the rom-com, with Rust playing a version of himself, and “Community” and “Girls” standout Gillian Jacobs as his better half (Australian comic Claudia O’Doherty and veteran Dave ‘Gruber’ Allen are also in the cast). The biggest question is, after Netflix’s own “Master Of None” brought a more diverse perspective to the rom-com genre, will an Apatow show seem old-fashioned in comparison?
Airdate: February 19th
Fox Searchlight ‘The East’
9. “The OA”
Synopsis: Tightly, tightly under wraps.
What You Need To Know: There aren’t that many shows we’d put in our top 10 without basically knowing anything about the logline, but given that “The OA” comes from Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling, we have no problem doing it. Their first collaboration — terrific, rich, low-budget, sci-fi-tinged cult drama “The Sound Of My Voice” — was one of the most striking debuts of recent years (famously, it premiered at Sundance the same year that Marling also co-wrote and starred in another genre-y indie, “Another Earth”), and follow-up “The East” was rather underrated. Netflix won a bidding war for this show (produced by Brad Pitt’s Plan B company), which Batmanglj and Marling will write together, he will direct and she will star in. Word’s been quiet on this for a while, but it’s gearing up for production, so hopefully we’ll learn more soon.
Airdate: It’s not shot yet, but “Jessica Jones” didn’t get underway until a few months into last year, so we’d expect this around a similar time, in the last few months of 2016.
Synopsis: A comedy-drama revolving around the lives of the makeshift family that work behind-the-scenes on a rock and roll tour.
What You Need To Know: Cameron Crowe’s had a rough run of it with his last few years; “We Bought A Zoo” was a modest hit but got middling reviews compared to the director’s best, while “Elizabethtown” and “Aloha” were brutally received by critics and audiences. But “Roadies,” his first TV series (not counting a short-lived “Fast Times At Ridgemont High” TV show based on his book) sniffs strongly of comeback material. It’s produced by man-of-the-moment J.J. Abrams, it marks a return to the same kind of setting as arguably Crowe’s finest hour, “Almost Famous,” and it’s co-produced and showrun by “My So-Called Life” creator Winnie Holzman. There’s a fine collection of actors, too: Carla Gugino, Imogen Poots, Rafe Spall, Luke Wilson, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Luis Guzmán and rapper/actor Machine Gun Kelly. The teaser trailer is promising, and though “Aloha” looked promising on paper, we’ve got a good feeling about this one.
Airdate: Coming to Showtime in the summer.
Synopsis: The story of the guests, inhabitants and creators of Westworld, a wild west theme park using state of the art robot technology to give its clients everything they ever dreamt of.
What You Need To Know: Whatever the pay-cable version of a summer blockbuster is — that’s “Westworld.” Based on Michael Crichton’s sci-fi novel (which itself spawned a successful movie in the ’70s), this J.J. Abrams-produced HBO show is co-created (with his partner, Lisa Joy), and has a pilot directed by Jonathan Nolan, co-writer of “The Prestige,” “The Dark Knight” and “Interstellar,” and creator of “Person Of Interest.” Teasers suggest a midpoint of “Jurassic Park,” “Ex Machina” and “Deadwood.” And the cast is spectacular — Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Rodrigo Santoro, Ben Barnes, Jimmi Simpson, “Creed” star Tessa Thompson, “The Duke Of Burgundy”’s Sidse Babett Knudsen, Clifton Collins Jr and, stepping into Yul Brynner’s shoes, Ed Harris. It’s clearly HBO’s attempt for a new genre-flecked monster to fill the vacuum that “Game Of Thrones” will leave in a few years, and though it’s taken a little while (it’ll be almost two years, and a few recastings, since the pilot was shot), it shows every chance of being exactly that.
Airdate: Our bet is it’ll step into the big Sunday slot once “Game Of Thrones” wraps up in the summer, where “True Detective” aired last year.
Starz “The Girlfriend Experience”
6. “The Girlfriend Experience”
Synopsis: A Chicago law student starved for cash is introduced to the world of ‘transactional relationships’ — being a high-class escort, essentially.
What You Need To Know: Steven Soderbergh’s first foray into TV couldn’t have gone much better: “The Knick” is a phenomenal piece of filmmaking, taking one of television’s best casts and reinventing the period drama AND the medical drama at the same time. He seems to be stepping away from that show for now, but he’s got other small-screen irons in the fire, the first of which is this show based on his 2009 Sasha Grey-starrer. Unlike “The Knick,” Soderbergh isn’t directing, just producing, but he’s put the show in very good hands: “Clean, Shaven” and “Keane” director Lodge Kerrigan, and “Sun Don’t Shine” helmer and all-around indie queen Amy Seimetz are between them, writing and directing the whole thing. Soderbergh’s influence extends to the casting too, seemingly: Riley Keough, who appeared in “Magic Mike” before going on to impress in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” has the lead role. She’ll be joined by Paul Sparks (Mickey Doyle in “Boardwalk Empire”) and Mary-Lynn Rajskub (“24”), and the teaser suggests a show that could even improve on the movie.
Airdate: No date announced yet, but we’re expecting it sooner rather than later.
Netflix Justice Smith, Shameik Moore, Skylan Brooks & Tremaine Brown Jr.
5. “The Get Down”
Synopsis: An all-singing, all-dancing saga about a group of Bronx teens growing up in the nearly bankrupt New York City of the 1970s who become instrumental in shaping the burgeoning hip-hop and disco scenes.
What You Need To Know: We’re still finding glitter in our bra after Baz Luhrmann‘s OTT take on “The Great Gatsby,” but early indicators are that he might have found a more appropriate vehicle for his flashy, maximalist tendencies. This Netflix show, which will run to 13 one-hour-long episodes, stars “Dope” breakout Shameik Moore, Twitter personality Jaden Smith, “Paper Towns” star Justice Smith (no relation), Skylan Brooks from “The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete” and newcomers Herizon F Guardiola and Tremaine Brown Jr alongside veterans Giancarlo Esposito, Jimmy Smits and Yolonda Ross. Taking in the touchpoints of ’70s New York from CBGBs to the Bronx tenements to Studio 54 to the just-built World Trade Center, the show, which was created by Luhrmann who directs throughout, along with “The Shield” showrunner Shawn Ryan, certainly has an explosively diverse and colorful backdrop. Although Luhrmann’s promising some grit as well as glamor this time out, it’s possible we’d be a little more hesitant about this, especially seeing as Martin Scorsese has his own 1970s music scene TV show coming this year. But then we saw the trailer, which is genuinely, goosebump-raisingly good, and if some of the storylines look a little overfamiliar, the vibrancy of the dance scenes and the absolutely ravishing look of the thing has us totally onside.
Release Date: Still no word from Netflix.
Synopsis: In 1813, roguish adventurer James Delaney returns to Britain from America with 14 stolen diamonds in tow, determined to avenge the death of his father.
What You Need To Know: Where do we even start with how exciting this sounds? Maybe with the words “Tom Hardy” and “roguish adventurer.” But it has a whole lot more under the hood — the 8-episode miniseries is penned by Hardy’s “Locke” writer/director Steven Knight (“Eastern Promises,” “Peaky Blinders“), and based on an idea from Hardy and — wait for it — his father, Chips Hardy. Yes, in case you thought that Tom Hardy With Dogs was the event horizon of Hardy lovability, turns out he’s formed a production company with his dad, who is named Chips. Anyway, with Knight touting the show’s institutional adversary, the once-omnipotent East India Company as a combination of “the CIA, the NSA, and the biggest, baddest multinational corporation on earth,” which has already got some historians’ backs up, and with the regular director of the Danish “The Killing,” Krystoffer Nyholm tapped to direct the whole show, this sounds like it could have brains and even maybe a little controversy, as well as brawn and beauty. Produced by Ridley Scott and co-starring “House of Cards” standout Michael Kelly, “Game of Thrones” standout Oona Chaplin and “Tomorrow Never Dies” standout Jonathan Pryce (heh), the only problem here is controlling our jiggling leg till this airs.
Release Date: Filming only began in mid-November, so it could be later in the year before we see it, but when it comes, it will air on BBC1 in the U.K. and FX in the U.S.
Amazon Studios Casey Wilson & Tig Notaro in “One Mississippi”
3. “One Mississippi”
Synopsis: A darkly comic, semi-autobiographical story of a woman named Tig, coping with her own ill health, returning home to Mississippi following the death of her irrepressible mother Caroline.
What You Need To Know: It may be billed as loosely autobiographical, but anyone who saw the pilot for Tig Notaro‘s “One Mississippi,” which was part of Amazon‘s 2015 pilot Thunderdome thingie, can tell you just how intensely, searingly personal it feels. Also starring ubiquitous character actor John Rothman, with Noah Harpster from “Transparent,” and Casey Wilson from Hulu’s parody sitcom ‘Hotwives,’ it’s probably got a higher profile behind the camera, being co-written by Notaro and Diablo Cody (“Juno,” “The United States of Tara“), exec produced by Louis C.K., with the pilot directed by the great Nicole Holofcener (“Enough Said,” “Friends with Money“). The closest comparison tone-wise is perhaps Amazon’s own “Transparent,” but this also promises to be very much its own thing, with an Observer critic, for example, dubbing it “the most honest TV show” he had ever seen. News only came late in December that the FX co-production had been picked to series up by Amazon, and so details are still a little thin on the ground, but any showcase for Notaro, especially after last year’s slightly disappointing documentary feature “Tig,” (reviewed here), particularly one that plays to her drily intelligent, confessional style of comedy, rides high on our must-watch list.
Release Date: None yet, but as soon as we hear, you hear.
2. “Codes of Conduct”
Synopsis: Beverly Snow, a talented, self-confident young African-American man works his way into the upper echelons of New York society, despite his ambiguous background, testing the limits of access and social mobility.
What You Need To Know: While the wait for the next big-screen outing from the Oscar-nominated director of Best Picture winner “12 Years A Slave” Steve McQueen looks set to continue, he’s got a lot brewing on the small screen. Currently on work on a fascinating-sounding BBC series that won’t arrive till 2017, most likely, first up comes this deeply intriguing six-parter, produced by Russell Simmons for HBO and co-written by McQueen and “World War Z” writer Matthew Michael Carnahan. Starring complete newcomer Devon Terrell, in a part that doesn’t sound totally unlike Will Smith‘s very early role in “Six Degrees of Separation” so, you know, look out for potential impending superstardom, the show boasts a great ensemble too. Paul Dano will play the young entrepreneur who takes Snow under his wing and grants him access to the social elite, Helena Bonham Carter appears as a wealthy socialite and Rebecca Hall will play the privileged eldest child of a New York billionaire and Snow’s possible nemesis. There are heady, potentially very troubling and worthwhile themes at play here and we can’t imagine anyone better suited to tackle them than McQueen, who will be directing all six episodes.
Release Date: Reportedly the show was fast-tracked due to McQueen’s packed schedule, and filming happened way back in late 2014, with HBO picking it up in March 2015. Surprisingly, there’s no date set for it yet, but it must surely be ready by now?
Synopsis: Richie Finestra, beleaguered president of a record label, tries to save his business and his soul while negotiating the sex, drugs and other pitfalls of the 1970s rock ‘n’ roll scene.
What You Need To Know: Also topping our list last year (when it had no title), there was really no doubt that Martin Scorsese‘s “Vinyl,” having now been dated for a 2016 release, would repeat the trick this tie out. But let’s just recap the evidence, shall we? Co-created by Scorsese, his “Boardwalk Empire” collaborator Terence Winter (who writes all 10 episodes) and a certain Mick Jagger, the show will star the superb Bobby Cannavale and the always excellent Olivia Wilde alongside Juno Temple, Max Casella, Ray Romano (!), Andrew Dice Clay and more, with Scorsese himself directing the two-hour pilot and Mark Romanek on board to helm at least one other episode. With all that hype it could seem like something that might disappoint, but the trailers look fucking incredible (ace DP Reed Morano worked on half the eps), suggesting a show that truly lies at the nexus of Scorsese’s fascination with that era’s music, that has given us documentaries like “Shine a Light” not to mention some of the greatest movie soundtracks of all time, and his brilliance with stories of powerful men teetering between hubris and true greatness. This, of course, means that Martin Scorsese tops both our Most Anticipated 2016 Films list and our Most Anticipated TV Shows. 2016 looks to be a banner year for Scorsese fans, which is, obviously, everyone reading this.
Release Date: HBO, Sunday February 14th. How appropriate — Valentine’s Day, heart emoji etc.
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