As the movie business continues to favor blockbusters and established film franchises, talented people are running to television. For the most part, viewers are reaping the benefits. In particular, the year is looking to be another banner one for new TV. Revivals people might actually want to watch, like Showtime’s Twin Peaks and CBS All Access’ Star Trek Discovery, join new series like Netflix’s new Marvel installment, Iron Fist, as well as Starz’s American Gods. It’s enough programming to keep us inside all year—which might be a good thing, if the world goes as badly then as it is now. Presenting to you the most exciting prospects of 2017, shows which are bound to make an impact nevertheless.
London, 1814. In top hat and trench coat, Tom Hardy is every inch the anti-Poldark. He plays James Keziah Delaney, an irascible renegade last seen on a slave ship in Africa and long presumed dead, who shows up at his father’s funeral. It’s a gruff gothic thriller, hooking us in with sordid rumors, grave diggers and supernatural visions. Co-written by Hardy with his dad, Chips, and produced by Ridley Scott, this is one show you just can’t miss.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events:
Based on the best-selling novels by Daniel Handler, the show stars Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, who mistakenly becomes the guardian to three young children after their parents die in a fire. He hatches a plan to steal their inheritances and must don a seemingly endless array of disguises to do so. Handler and Harris serve as executive producers alongside Barry Sonnenfeld, who produced the movies “Men in Black” and “The Addams Family.”
After various false starts, fantasy fans can finally look forward to the TV version of Neil Gaiman’s first novel. Set in modern-day America, it pits the classical mythical deities (brought to the US in waves of immigration) against the new-fangled gods of commerce and the internet. And better than all that, former Hollyoaks actor and Strictly finalist Ricky Whittle will play the lead, Shadow Moon.
The Young Pope:
“The Young Pope” stars Jude Law as the young and charming, Lenny Belardo, aka Pius XIII, the first American Pope in history. He uses all of his assets to serve his followers as he strives to find God for himself and them. Italian creator/director Paulo Sorrentino (who won an Oscar for his 2013 film The Great Beauty) strikes a balance between political commentary and wild pageantry, making a visually splendid, often outright bizarre portrait of one powerful man’s whims and vindictiveness.
“Riverdale” is like a cross between the “Archie” comics and “Twin Peaks. It’s dark, eerie, and circles around the lives of the “Archie” crew. There’s definitely some dark secret and strange things bubbling beneath the small town’s wholesome appearance. It also comes from mega-producer Greg Berlanti, the guy behind CW hits “Supergirl,” “The Flash,” and “Arrow.”
He changed the way we think about life, the universe and everything – if anybody deserves a 10-episode biographical TV series, it’s good ol’ Albert Einstein. Executive-produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, this deep-dive look into the theoretical physicist’s early days, his romantic hits and misses and how, one mass-energy equivalence formula later, he became one of the 20th century’s most famous philosopher-scientists. Starring Geoffery Rush and Emily Watson, look out for this show.
Z: The Beginning of Everything:
If it’s true that behind every great man is a great woman, then for writer F. Scott Fitzgerald it would be his wife, Zelda. Theirs was one one of the most legendary love stories of all time. This series zeroes in on Zelda, played by Christina Ricci, and F. Scott’s (David Hoflin) meeting in 1918, through their tumultuous relationship, and rise to celebrity. Zelda’s life ended in tragedy, but it sure looks like she had a lot of fun before all that.
The fourth and final solo Netflix/Marvel show to launch before the big Defenders team-up saga, the streaming service’s latest venture into gritty, more grounded “urban’ superhero stories casts Game of Thrones veteran Finn Jones as Danny Rand, an heir to a New York fortune. Thanks to some Tibetan monks, the young man gains incredible martial-arts powers in the Far East, and returns home with Iron Fist.
Noah Hawley, the mastermind of TV’s Fargo, now makes his own kind of madcap Marvel superhero series, starring Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens as a telekinetic mutant whose abilities have been misinterpreted as criminal insanity for most of his adult life. Though there are action sequences and bits of X-Men-level mayhem woven throughout, this is mostly a show that tries to get into the head of a psychologically damaged character and his fragmented perspective.
Santa Clarita Diet:
“Santa Clarita Diet” stars the adorable Drew Barrymore as Sheila, a wife and mother living in the Los Angeles-adjacent community of Santa Clarita. In a rut, she goes off the rails and hilarity ensues. Timothy Olyphant also stars as Sheila’s similarly discontented husband, Joel.
Big Little Lies:
Based on Liane Moriarty’s best-selling book of the same name, “Big Little Lies” follows three mothers (played by talented actresses Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, and Nicole Kidman) whose seemingly perfect lives begin to unravel with deadly consequences.”Big Little Lies” is directed by “Dallas Buyers Club” helmer Jean-Marc Vallée, it’s penned by “Ally McBeal” writer David E. Kelley, and Barbara Hall (“Madam Secretary,” “Homeland”) serves as an executive producer.
Feud: Bette and Joan:
From “American Horror Story” and “American Crime Story” producer Ryan Murphy, FX’s anthology series “Feud” explores history’s most epic conflicts. The first season stars Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon as battling Hollywood divas Joan Crawford and Bette Davis, respectively, and how they came together for the cult film, “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”
The Last Tycoon:
Mix Matt Bomer’s debonair charm with Lily Collins’ wise-beyond-her-years sass and costumes designed by Mad Men’s Janie Bryant and this adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s send-up of Hollywood is a no-brainer for binge-watching. No official premiere date has been set yet, but the first episode is already on Amazon due to the digital channel’s unique pilot system
Star Trek: Discovery:
Despite setbacks like a delayed premiere date and the loss of original showrunner Bryan Fuller (reportedly, you can blame the aforementioned American Gods for this), this project boldly goes on and serves as a prequel to the original William Shatner series. The series stars The Walking Dead’s Sonequa Martin-Green, Falling Skies’ Doug Jones and Broadway’s Anthony Rapp. It is set to premiere in May, although no exact date has been announced.
This is another live-action series about everyone’s favorite blue-antennaed superhero with TripTank’s Peter Serafinowicz suiting up to rid the world from evil. The first episode—which, like The Last Tycoon, is already on Amazon—also gives a decent amount of screen time to our hero’s mild-mannered sidekick, Arthur (Vinyl’s Griffin Newman). No official premiere date has been set.
Look Out For These Shows Too: (Telecast Date/Trailer – To Be Announced)
The Cuckoo’s Calling:
Over the next three years, the BBC will be adapting the entirety of Robert Galbraith/JK Rowling’s hit crime series Cormoran Strike. First up, The Cuckoo’s Calling, starring Tom Burke as our hero, a wounded war vet turned crack PI, with Holliday Granger as his sidekick, Robin Ellacott.
Two men run an illegal hospital in Oslo’s secret subway tunnels. One is a doctor who gives emergency treatment to anyone under the radar – bank robbers and assorted criminals, plus his dying wife, who was told traditional medicine couldn’t help her. The other is a government worker repairing the city’s old bomb shelters and waiting for the end times. The big Walter Presents thriller of the year is ticking all the paranoia boxes for 2017.
It’s the 1760s in London, brothels are 10 a penny and the sex trade is a cut-throat business. Based on the lives of real women, this primetime ITV drama shows the rivalry between two madams played by Samantha Morton and Lesley Manville.
Naomi Watts plays “a therapist who begins to develop dangerous and intimate relationships with the people in her patients’ lives”. Sam Taylor-Johnson is directing the first two episodes, so this could be as slippery and beguiling as her best work. Then again, she also directed Fifty Shades of Grey, so this could have guilty pleasure written all over it.