We all need something to look forward to after the rollercoaster of 2016. Here’s twelve shows that have and will premiere through the first few month of 2017- and why they're so, so watchable.
The CW- the network behind Gossip Girl- has billed this as a handful of the Archie Comics we all know and love, updated with a darker and sexier Twin Peaks-esque storyline and a pinch of their trademark teenage dramatics, all swirled around with the whodunit aspect of Pretty Little Liars. As we see our beloved characters take on considerably grittier situations- a murder, an affair, a nationwide scandal- they move more from relics of their 1940s inception to relatable, complicated, modern-day teenagers: Riverdale pulls together every quaint small-town quirk from the comics and dunks it all in a giant bowl of relevance. For those who love the comics’ PG-13 nature, this isn't for you- Ronnie’s sultry, exotic and down on her luck, Betty’s confused, pressured and convoluted, Archie (who’s sleeping with Miss Grundy?!) has had a giant rift with Jughead. It might break your 10-year-old self’s heart, but it seems like the show (which premiered on the 26th) is here to stay- and believe me, once you start watching, you won’t be able to stop till every mystery’s uncovered and rumour debunked.
Haven’t you ever wanted to know who cleans up the messes superheroes make during their epic fights to save universes? Well, Powerless is about the people employed at Wayne Security (a subsidiary of Batman’s firm, Wayne Enterprises) who are charged with doing exactly that. A single camera sitcom- the first comedy ever set in the DC Universe- it stars Vanessa Hudgens (High School Musical, Grease: Live) as the Director of Research and Development, Emily Locke, with Danny Pudi- of Community fame- as her confidante and office prankster, as well Suburgatory’s Alan Tudyk as their new boss, Batman’s dim-witted cousin Van Wayne. What’s not to love? Look forward to it on February 2nd!
The Young Pope
One of those shows that are just so hyped on social media that you can’t help but know something or the other about them, this Italian-American joint venture has Jude Law playing the first-ever American pope, who challenges existing papal norms and questions conventional notions. Best summarised by absurd sequences such as the pope getting dressed to the tune of LMFAO’s Sexy and I Know it, drinking Cherry Coke Zero for breakfast and releasing kangaroos into the Vatican gardens, the series’ honest, bright visuals and sardonic tone make it a surrealist’s black comedy. Diane Keaton is the sassiest of sassy nuns, while the classic role of schemer is well-honoured by Silvio Orlando: Paolo Sorrentino, Oscar- winning showrunner, creates a weirdly relatable world of shadowy norm and irrepressible ludicrousness, throws in a good dose of Hollywood period drama, and sets you up for the perfect binge. It’s already out (Jan 15 on HBO), so go for it!
For all the fantasy fans out there, Emerald City is a Wizard of Oz retelling- but for the rest of us, it really is so much more. When Dorothy gets swept off to Oz by a twister, she kills a witch by accident- her ensuing journey is accompanied by more modern twists, like drones instead of flying monkeys and a yellow brick road made of opium, and a violent streak that harkens to Game of Thrones. The sheer absurdity of the enterprise is coupled with hard-hitting subplots like Dorothy’s conflicted sexuality and the grapple for power amidst Oz’s elite. No, this is nothing like your childhood tale of scarecrows and munchkins, but it is intriguing in and of itself: mystery, murder, magic and so much more all packed into a neat little dystopia.
Dear White People
The satirical indie film gets a Netflix adaptation as a ten-episode series revolving around fictional Ivy Leaguers navigating racial tensions and hypocrisy at their school, as one student uses a campus radio show to call out the “micro-aggressions” African Americans are subjected to in their everyday meetings with oblivious Caucasians. The critical darling will have Brandon Bell reprise his movie role as golden boy Troy, and Logan Browning (Powers) will replace Tessa Thompson as the protagonist Samantha. Hard-hitting yet hilarious, check it out for some rapier-sharp wit and on point social commentary, in the form of a college drama.
Only the movie trailer’s out so far: https://youtu.be/JMgWMzbM2Pk
Gaiman’s cult favourite novel that was the perfect pastiche of Americana, myths and plain old magic is coming to the small screen- it centres around a convict (The 100’s Ricky Whittle) who is recruited by the ancient Norse God Odin to become part of the war brewing between the ancient pantheon of gods and newer deities who want their elders to relinquish their powers. Stars include OITNB’s Pablo Schreier, Corbin Bensen of Psych fame and Back to Future actor Crispin Glover. The much-awaited adaptation has been picked up and dropped numerous times by networks but is set to finally premiere sometime in April 2017. No matter what genre you watch it for, the series promises an action-packed ride.
The Good Fight
This should fill up at least 90% of the Julianna Margulies-shaped hole in our lives: a spin-off of the brilliant TV series The Good Wife, it follows Alicia Florrick’s colleague, the brash and brilliant Diane Lockhart, who is forced to take up a position at an all-African American law firm headed up by Lucca Quinn (Cush Jumbo) when she loses all her money in a Ponzi scheme. The highly-anticipated show not only has old favourites reprising roles (Carrie Preston as Elsbeth, Zach Grenier as David frikkin’ Lee) but fresh characters, like Justin Bartha as as Lucca’s love interest and Rose Leslie as Diane’s goddaughter Maia. You needn't have watched the OG show to watch this one, but if you haven't watched the Good Wife I’d suggest you stop reading right now and go start. If you're already a fan then we both know that even though Alicia Florrick will apparently never even guest star (http://tvline.com/2017/01/09/the-good-fight-alicia-returns-julianna-margulies-good-wife-spinoff/), there’s no way we aren't going to watch Diane back in action- so block your calendar for the 19th of February at 8/7 c.
If you’re ever wondered how Liam Neeson’s character acquired his “very special set of skills” in the Taken trilogy, here’s your golden opportunity to find out. The premise of the show is that it’s the “origin story of a younger, hungrier former Green Beret Bryan Mills as he deals with a personal tragedy…and is pulled into a career as a deadly CIA operative”. With the tagline that every hero has a beginning, the show has Jennifer Beals (The L Word) as the director of the elite government force he joins, as well as Friday Night Light’s Gaius Charles- while questions arise as to whether Taken is still Taken without Liam Neeson, Clive Standen (Vikings) will be the man to to step into those huge shoes. Premieres on the 27th of Feb.
A period drama by Oscar winner John Singleton seems like plain ol’ Emmy fodder- one of those acclaimed shows you insist you've watched but you never really will- but this 80s noir set against the rise and fall of LA’s crack cocaine epidemic looks much more exciting than you'd expect. The one-hour, ten-episode drama was picked up for a first season by FX and follows the repercussions of the drug’s rise on a diverse set of characters- an entrepreneur looking to forget his wrong-side-of-the-tracks origins, a wrestler embroiled in mafia conflict, a disgraced CIA operative and the self-involved daughter of a Mexican drug lord. A wild ride through the cultural renaissance of LA, chock-full of grit and sensuality that could be expected of the era, Snowfall premieres sometime in late 2017.
A third anthology series by Ryan Murphy is set to explore some of history’s greatest- you guessed it- feuds. The first edition of eight episodes will star Jessica Lange- whom you’ll know from her double Emmy whammy as the heroine of Murphy’s other screen darling, American Horror Story- starring as Joan Crawford opposite Susan Sarandon (The Secret Life of Marilyn Monroe) who plays Bette Davis. The series shows the stars’ backstage drama during the production of the infamous movie What Happened to Baby Jane? which served to skyrocket both their waning careers back into the spotlight. Stanley Tucci stars as a studio bigwig while Alfred Molina is Robert Aldrich, the film’s much put-upon director, rounding off the star credentials of a show that didn't need them in the first place considering the insidious storyline, vibrant Hollywood backdrop and notoriety of its premise itself- watch it on the 5th of March.
Tom Hardy as an intrepid adventurer James Keziah Delaney who built himself a shipping empire has already garnered- in its four episode run- more critical attention than many shows do in their entire duration: portraying a gorgeously grotesque Regency London, incorporating elements of voodoo set upon the skeleton of a classic premise- that of someone adjusting to a former way of life. Hardy’s brash jungle-return of a character makes an odd juxtaposition with the hoity-toity stuffed shirts and elegant ladies of the court he is made to hobnob with. Mysteries are this show’s calling card, with conspiracy layered upon intrigue like lasagna- while its intensity might not be for everyone, the unveiling of society drama and sheer number of kickass knife fights made it one of the season’s most-awaited premieres on Jan 9th.
Called the “Breaking Bad” of superheroes, one thing is for sure about the upcoming TV drama- it’s not looking to build upon classical tropes employed by Supergirl or the Arrow, carving for itself a niche in a TV world newly eclipsed by the superhero genre. Legion is a jagged take on mutant heroes that is technically part of the XMen comics (though the show runners have widely insisted that they're making it a “separate world…from Xavier’s).. David Haller (Dan Stevens from Downton Abbey!) is an institutionalised schizophrenic who is trying to piece together his warped memories of parallel universes and kinetic powers (with the help of a therapist, Jean Smart, and some sort of subplot involving a fellow inmate, Aubrey Plaza) in order to figure out if he's just another mad man or a hero with earth-shaking powers. A whirling menagerie of trance-y flashbacks, chimerical explosions and one hell of an unreliable narrator, the frightened blend of poignant, mutant and extant that is Legion will come to screens on February the 8th.
- Devanshika Bajpai