As if you needed more things to watch in the new year…
After providing you 52 Most Anticipated Movies of the upcoming year, you’d think that we’d give your entertainment calendar a rest. But, dear reader, that would be a disservice to all of the great TV that’s coming in 2017. We’re getting huge seasons of shows like Game of Thrones, The Americans, and the various shows within Marvel’s Netflix universe. We’re also getting a number of new shows that have a great deal of promise.
With that in mind, our team has identified 32 shows that you should have on your radar as we enter 2017.
Rick and Morty (Adult Swim)
Neil Miller: We’re about to list plenty of shows that will be brainy, dramatic, engaging, funny, action-packed, and even weird. But none of them will be all of these things at once quite like Rick and Morty, the braindchild of Justin Roiland and Dan Harmon. At some point soon in 2017, mad scientist and galactic scoundrel Rick Sanchez and his grandson Morty will be back for reals. In their extended offseason, they’ve had all kinds of fun, including the now-infamous video of Rick and Morty reenacting a Georgia court case. We can’t wait to see how Rick escapes super prison. We are ready for more adventures with Summer, Beth, and even Jerry. Worlds will be explored, tropes will be upended, and dark laughs will be had. There’s nothing on television quite like Rick and Morty, which is why we need it back sooner than later.
Sherlock (PBS) – January 1
Neil Miller: This is both your reminder that Sherlock is still going strong and that you should take a moment to donate to your local PBS station. Is that still a thing? Viewers like you and whatnot? Anyway, Sherlock is back to kick off the new year with what’s being teased as a darker, more intimate tale that will also not be light on adventure and mischief. For the showrunners, season 4 means reaching a climax they’ve been building toward since the beginning of the show. We can’t wait to find out what that means.
Taboo (FX) – January 10
Neil Miller: Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is reuniting with Tom Hardy for a show in which Hardy will play a man who, long thought dead, returns to London from Africa to inherit his father’s shipping empire. The cast – oh boy, the cast – includes Oona Chaplin, Jonathan Pryce, Roger Ashton-Griffiths – well, a bunch of Game of Thrones alums. Also, Tom Hardy doing what could be a patented British gangster thing at this point. Sounds delicious.
The Young Pope (HBO) – January 15
Neil Miller: Since the first teaser trailer, we’ve been ready for HBO’s The Young Pope. It’s going to be a tense, mysterious, potentially outrageous affair when Jude Law takes over the Papacy. We also get bonus Diane Keaton and creative direction from Paolo Sorrentino, whose films like Youth and The Great Beauty were stunning, thoughtful, and often surprisingly comedic. There’s nothing driving us away from the open arms of this chain-smoking Pope.
Riverdale (CW) – January 26
Christopher Campbell: This is not the Archie and the gang I was obsessed with as a preteen more than 25 years ago, but if I could tolerate the really hokey TV programs based on Archie Comics, including the terribly animated Filmation cartoons, the faux hip The New Archies and the embarrassing NBC movie Archie: To Riverdale and Back Again, I can give a dark and sexy CW take on Archie, Jughead, Betty and Veronica, and the rest a shot. Plus I’m hearing good things about the show, which so far in previews looks as inspired by Twin Peaks as the 77-year-old direct source material and other soapy teen dramas. Maybe it’ll be a weird guilty pleasure, a little sugar sugar on the side of the meatier series we watch, but it’s got me wanting it.
Planet Earth II (BBC America) – January 28
Max Covill: A lot of things can happen in ten years. How much has the Earth changed since BBC’s acclaimed series Planet Earth launched all those years ago? Well David Attenborough and the team of behind Planet Earth have prepared all new episodes to astound us of the world around us. Whereas the first series was one of the first natural documentary series to be made in HD, Planet Earth II has upped the anti. Presented in 4K with improved camera stabilization, remote recording, and aerial drones; we can get closer to these animals than ever before. Even if nature documentaries aren’t usually your interest, there’s no denying the sheer spectacle that the world around us brings. This can arguably be as thrilling as anything else on television.
Legion (FX) – February 8
Neil Miller: Marvel has done well with the complexity and nuance of its Netflix shows. Now it’s time for Other Marvel – the part owned by Fox – to do something similar with Legion on FX. We’ve been snuck a preview of the first few episodes and they are strong. The cast – from Dan Stevens to Katie Aselton to Aubrey Plaza and Jean Smart – is up to the task and with Noah Hawley (Fargo) in the showrunner’s chair, there’s a great deal of potential here.
Better Call Saul (AMC) – Spring
Christopher Campbell: As it enters a third season, the Breaking Bad spinoff is still living in the shadow of its predecessor, but Better Call Saul is almost always just as good and sometimes even better. There are fewer explicit thrills, but last season’s relationship between Jimmy/Saul (Bob Odenkirk) and his brother Chuck (Michael McKean) got pretty intense. We’ll be seeing more of them, plus probably a lot of Mike (Jonathan Banks), and rumor has it that Breaking Bad’s Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) will be showing up in some capacity. If you’re not still on board with this show, you’re continuing to miss the greatest prequel of all time.
The Americans (FX) – March
H. Perry Horton: One of the things that makes FX’s The Americans so unique among the landscape of contemporary action-thriller series is how it goes for the slow burn rather than the raging inferno when it comes to its narrative. This has been the plan of action throughout the entire run, which is in part why it’s one of the most popular shows a lot of folks aren’t watching: you have to really give yourself to The Americans, you have to invest yourself on a level most shows don’t require with their resolved-storylines and definitive plot points. At the same time, this kind of requisite engagement is also why those who do watch The Americans consider it not just one of the best shows of whatever year, but of the decade. Stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys are coming off their strongest season yet, and with only one season to go after this one, the endgame has begun in earnest. While there’s no way to know for sure just how this cat-and-mouse game of deceit is going to end, what’s for sure is that getting there is going to require patience, stamina, and resolve.
Bates Motel (A&E) – March
Matt Hoffman: After four years of thrilling buildup, the Norman Bates of Hitchcock’s Psycho seems to finally be upon us. Framed evenly around Norman and his mother Norma, for a time is seemed as if Bates Motel would never reach this point. Vera Farmiga turned in powerhouse performances episode after episode and I never really believed show-runner Carlton Cuse would kill her off until the final episodes. I, like many other loyal viewers, was shocked when the show finally bit the bullet and had Norman kill his mother. Going into the final season, Norman will be running the Bates Motel with his mother only appearing to influence him in ghost form. No more are the struggles of a woman trying to control her troubled son. In its final year, Bates Motel officially becomes Norman’s story. More importantly, the narrative has finally caught up to the film that inspired it. In a surprising turn, Rhianna will assume the role of Marion Crane – made famous by Janet Leigh in the 1960 film – who will step into the shower in what may be the most anticipated moment in the series’ entire run.
Iron Fist (Netflix) – March 17
Neil Miller: The story of Danny Rand is either going to be Marvel’s great Netflix triumph of 2017 or a horrendous misfire. We know what to expect from The Defenders – see further down the list – but Iron Fist, under the guidance of former Rome and Dexter producer Scott Buck, remains a wildcard. Game of Thrones alum Finn Jones looks the part in the first trailer and the effects of his glowing fists are pretty cool, but there’s so much we don’t know about this series. The good news is that Marvel’s Netflix shows have a good track record of first seasons, so if I were a betting man I’d lean toward Iron Fist being solid.
The Leftovers (HBO) – April
H. Perry Horton: If there’s one thing that distinguishes the leaps between seasons of The Leftovers, it’s massive change. The second season saw the entire principle cast and story shift from upstate New York to rural Texas, and for its third and final season, the HBO series based on a novel by Tom Perotta and developed by Damon Lindelof is headed down under to Australia. If you think about it, this locale is the perfect place to conclude this emotional, perplexing drama about the end of the world, or at least the end of the world as we know it. Though the narrative is being held close to the vest – all we know is that Kevin (Justin Theroux) is drawn to Australia by his father (Scott Glenn) who purports to be hearing messages from God, and while there the son is drawn into some sort of dilemma – Lindelof promises the final eight episodes (yeah, that’s a shorter season than the previous two) will wrap up the storyline in a way only this intentionally subversive series can. Expect the unexpected.
The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu) – April 26
Neil Miller: “Set in a dystopian future, a woman is forced to live as a concubine under a fundamentalist theocratic dictatorship.” There isn’t much that’s dystopian about that, is there? Jokes aside, fans of Margaret Atwood’s novel are excited about this Hulu show. As they should be. We’ll get more of the growing directorial brilliance of Reed Morano (Meadowland) and a solid cast that includes Samira Wiley, Elisabeth Moss, and Joseph Fiennes. Plus, we might learn a little something about dictators. That feels relevant.
Game of Thrones (HBO) – June
Neil Miller: We’re off the reservation with Thrones, but that’s not a bad thing. I say this as the smuggest of smug book readers. We’re in the home stretch of the Song of Ice and Fire and all these storylines are going to continue to collide. Even more Starks may reunite before it’s all said and done, so that’s going to be worth it. And yes, there will be death. So much death.
Marvel’s Inhumans (ABC) – September 1
Neil Miller: Above I mentioned the pressure that’s on Scott Buck as showrunner of Iron Fist. Guess what? Before 2017 is out, he’ll also sit as the showrunner on Marvel’s Inhumans, the studio’s ABC-airing attempt to do an Inhumans story without having to make a movie about it. It’s partly a spin-off of Agents of SHIELD, which doesn’t sound appetizing, but also enough of it’s own thing to still have potential. As someone who has long lost interesting in AoS, but was made curious by its Ghost Rider season, I can see myself checking in to see if Inhumans leans weird or bland. If it’s the former, I’m all-in.
Release Dates TBA:
Alias Grace (Netflix)
Neil Miller: Margaret Atwood fans are getting two Margaret Atwood shows this year. This one gets an added boost from being co-written by Sarah Polley and directed by American Psycho’s Mary Harron. What a trio, eh? It’s funny because their all Canadian. They’re also all very talented and the story – which revolves around a 19th century maid who is imprisoned for the murder of her employer – sounds interesting.
American Gods (Starz)
Neil Miller: Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies, Hannibal) and Michael Green (Smallville, The River) are adapting one of Neil Gaiman’s most popular tales, about a world in which gods and spirits living among us in America. It’s got the kind of cast you’d expect from a moonshot-like production, including Gillian Anderson, Ian McShane, Crispin Glover, and Emily Browning, and it promises to be atmospheric and complex. We’ll have a lot of fun piecing together the adaptation as we go along.
Black Mirror (Netflix)
Neil Miller: Charlie Brooker and a host of talented filmmakers brought Black Mirror back to life in 2016 and it ended up being one of the best shows of the year. In 2017, we’re getting more. More episodes and more paranoia.
Dear White People (Netflix)
Neil Miller: Justin Simien’s film of the same name was a criminally under-seen project that, for those who did seek it out, launched Tessa Thompson directly into our hearts. The social politics of a group of black students at a predominantly white Ivy League school is even more relevant now than it was when Simien made the feature version in 2014. It’s a show that will allow Netflix to keep its slate not only diverse in voice, but diverse in tone. If it’s anything like the movie, Dear White People is going to by stylish, irreverent, and unendingly thoughtful. Count this among my own most anticipated of the year.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (BBC America)
Meg Shields: BBC America’s Dirk Gently pulls off enjoyably bewildering sci-fi as only source material heavy hitter Douglas Adams, and series writer/executive producer Max Landis can. Punctuating the insanity of time travel, body swapping, and kittens who are also hammerhead sharks, are genuine moments of meditation on friendship, and how to find meaning and joy in an indifferent, and chaotic universe. The cast is delightful, with Elijah Wood’s Todd, the hapless, adventure-hating ex-bellboy, complimented by Samuel Barnett’s utterly charming performance as the refreshingly optimistic Dirk Gently, a holistic detective who’s only sort of psychic. While Season 1’s finale certainly wrapped things up, it just as quickly unravelled them, setting up a second season that will look more like a missing persons case than a murder investigation. Though, how the shady government agency actually plans to incarcerate (or more likely kill) Dirk and Bart, who clearly have the will of the universe on their side, should be interesting. And really that’s the charm of the show: no one, villain or hero, is very good at what they do. Everyone is flying by the seat of their pants, and universe-willing, things might work out. Also, critically – where is kitten/shark?
Meg Shields: FX’s Midwest crime anthology is back in 2017 with a fresh new cast, time period, and premise. Lurching from the 1970s to 2010, Season Three will follow Ewan McGregor’s Emmit Stussy, the handsome, self-made Parking Lot King of Minnesota, and his less successful and resentful brother, Ray. In keeping with Fargo’s notoriously stacked ensemble casts, McGregor is joined by Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Carrie Coon, David Thewils, and Jim Gaffigan, among others. Series creator Noah Hawley has said he’s interested in exploring the culture of narcissism bound up in the modern era, and its effect on the pragmatic, humble people of the Midwest. The stories Fargo tells centre around the difficulty people have communicating with one another, with misunderstandings and the consequences thereof; be it Martin Freeman’s inability to just say “no” to a contract killer, or Kirsten Dunst’s failure to call the cops after her hit and run. Setting Fargo against the backdrop of an emerging selfie culture makes sense, and it’ll be interesting to see it executed. Just how the haphazard forces, and shitty decision making invariably snowball in Season Three remains to be seen, but expect to mutter “aw jeez” more than once.
Marvel’s The Defenders (Netflix)
Neil Miller: This is what we’re here for, right fellow Marvel fans? The big team-up of Netflix’s street-level heroes is finally upon us. Expected late in the year, The Defenders will see the merging of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Punisher in an epic battle of good, evil, and that guy who shoots everyone. We’ll know a lot more about The Defenders by the time we finish Iron Fist in the Spring, but under the leadership of showrunners Douglas Petrie and Marco Ramirez (Daredevil), we should at least be in for a bit of action.
The Deuce (HBO)
Christopher Campbell: David Simon is about to do for the porn industry what he did for the drug trade, as The Deuce takes us to NYC’s Times Square in the 1970s. Starring James Franco as twins(!) and Maggie Gyllenhaal, the series will involve the mob, prostitution, the NYPD, the gay scene of that era, drugs, real estate, and the rise of HIV. For fans who still see The Wire as his triumph, this looks like another dark and heavy and intricate project on maybe the same level.
Christopher Campbell: Ryan Murphy has given us musical teens and American horror stories and a surprisingly brilliant dramatization of the O.J. Simpson trial. Next, he’s got another real-life battle, this one set in Hollywood, and it’s likely to be his most outrageous, must-see series yet. Feud is going to be another of his anthologies, and the first season will depict the making of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, focusing on the bitter hostility between stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, as portrayed by Susan Sarandon Jessica Lange, respectively. The show is going to be amazing – and you should listen to this episode of the You Must Remember This podcast to prepare – but one thing that has us particularly intrigued is whether Pepsi or Coca-Cola (the soda brands became part of the rivalry) will be commercial sponsors.
I’m Dying Up Here (Showtime)
Neil Miller: Jim Carrey and Melissa Leo lead a Showtime comedy about the L.A. stand-up comedy scene in the 1970s. We’ll be transported back to a time when many of the most iconic comedy careers of the modern era were born. From former Masters of Sex co-producer David Flebotte.
Neil Miller: David Fincher is ushering in a new Netflix series. This was something that worked out somewhere between “just fine” and “great” with House of Cards. This one’s going to be a crime thriller about an elite group of FBI investigators tracking down the worst of the worst. But that’s not what is going to sustain our interest in Mindhunter. It’s more the fact that Anna Torv is on this show and we miss Fringe.
Mr. Robot (USA)
Jamie Righetti: USA’s mind-bender Mr. Robot will be back for a third season in 2017, presumably with lots more twists and bug-eyes paranoia from Elliot and fSociety. The season two finale finally gave viewers some big answers, namely the whereabouts of Tyrell, who is very much alive and ready to kick of Phase 2 of the 5/9 hack he initiated with Elliot at the end of the show’s brilliant first season. Taking a page from David Fincher’s Fight Club, Phase 2 would level a warehouse storage facility holding all of Evil Corp’s backup data related to debt, property ownership and more. It was a season critiqued for being slow and dragging out reveals (Elliot being in jail), but Sam Esmail masterfully set up season three with the FBI closing in on a decimated f Society, Tyrell shooting Elliot in stomach and turning to Angela for solace and Leon, Elliot’s partner from prison, confronting Trenton and Mobley, who may have figured out a way to erase all of the chaos that has unfolded since the hack. There’s a lot at stake in season three of Mr. Robot but it will be interesting to see if the show can reclaim some of the biting social commentary that made season one feel so timely. How will Elliot, Evil Corp and fSociety operate in a post-Obama America? We’ll have to wait until the summer to find out.
My Brother, My Brother, And Me (Seeso)
Jacob Oller: There’s nothing like the McElroy brothers on TV. The podcasting trio behind the insanely popular comedy/advice (or is it comedy-advice?) show My Brother, My Brother, and Me are following the critical success of Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher’s semi-autobiographical Take My Wife on the new comedy streaming service Seeso in February. The West Virginian brothers tackle reader questions with an added budget and visual flair in their new show, to which they’ll bring their surrealism and utter, undiscriminating empathy. Their show fails to judge even the strangest corners of the population (furries, juggalos, mango cultists) and has a warmth and kindness only generated by real brotherly love. I can’t wait to see them answer questions that somehow involved a hosting a tarantula parade in their hometown of Huntington or their sold-out live holiday mishmash of Candlenights. All that is certain is that it’s going to get weird and, knowing the McElroys (who’ve already generated hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities over the years), it’ll have its heart in exactly the right place for 2017.
Christopher Campbell: An office space sitcom set in the DC Comics universe is a big gamble. It could wind up being too silly for the modern superhero crowd to appreciate it. But you have to give DC credit for trying different things with its brand, from its mostly failed darker, uber-serious current movie franchise to the successfully separate TV dramas and, like this comedy, the irreverent Lego Batman Movie. Set at an insurance company and co-starring Community’s Danny Pudi and Rogue One’s Alan Tudyk along with Vanessa Hudgens, the show will have some laughs with the sort of sidelines scenario we saw from Marvel with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and hopefully it’ll be able to keep the joke going for a while.
Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)
Brad Gullickson: As much as I enjoy the movies, Star Trek belongs on the small screen. It’s where it began, it’s where it thrived, and it’s where the creators were allowed to tell stories beyond Klingon fisticuffs (although there was plenty of that too). The promise of Star Trek: Discovery is that not only are we now living in a post-Breaking Bad world of long form storytelling, but that the showrunners will also embrace social science-fiction in a manner not seen since the original series aired fifty years ago. As a Trekkie, it hurt to see Bryan Fuller depart the series, but hopefully the show continues to follow his marching orders of celebrating individuality in The Final Frontier. The casting of Sonequa Martin-Green in the lead role, Michelle Yeoh as the Captain, Anthony Rapp as the first openly gay Starfleet character, and Doug Jones as the alien science offer certainly suggests a lot of hope for the series. The real question will be if Star Trek can support, or be supported by the CBS All Access streaming platform. They certainly have my money, but will the rest of fandom follow suit? Discovery simply has to be outstanding; they cannot settle for mediocrity, and rely on a die-hard fan base.
Stranger Things (Netflix)
Max Covill: Given the monumental success, season 2 of Stranger Things was a no brainier for Netflix. Thankfully, it seems we won’t be waiting very long. We know that it will take place in 1984 and that the band S U R V I V E will be returning to contribute to the soundtrack. Also all the kids have been said to return including Eleven who seemed to be missing at the end of Season 1. Hopefully the other tragedy, Nancy ending up with Steve, will be fixed as well. One of the biggest cast editions is another 80s star with Sean Astin (The Goonies, Lord of the Rings) who will join the cast as a former nerd who went to school with Joyce (Winona Ryder) and Hopper (David Harbour). Just what other surprises could the Duffer Brothers have in store? Maybe some characters will get some more backstory this season and how people deal with the loss of Barb. We can’t wait the new season to start and hopefully it will arrive in the summer and surprise us once again.
Twin Peaks (Showtime)
H. Perry Horton: We don’t know anything at all about the third season of Twin Peaks except who’s in it – pretty much everyone from the original series plus a phonebook of new additions – where it’s airing – on Showtime instead of ABC – and that original creators David Lynch and writer Mark Frost are in charge of the entire 18-episoide season, no one else scripts or directs. The rest – when it’s airing, how it’s airing, what it’s about, if this is a one-shot deal or the start of something bigger – is all still up in the air. At this point it wouldn’t surprise me if the series never releases an actual trailer and makes us just jump into the episodes blind. But that’s okay, because after a quarter-century¬ the most confounding show to ever air – not to mention one of the most important and impactful – is coming back for sure, and that’s all anyone really needs to know. If the new material is half as intriguing and captivating as the older stuff was, it’s going to be in the top spot of everyone’s 2017 year-end list. For more on why you need to catch up and get ready for the new episodes, click here.
Matt Hoffman: For the past five years Veep has succeeded as one of the funniest shows on television by bitingly satirizing the American political system. Last season, the writing team had their work cut out for them with an ensuing election; one that was perhaps even more outlandish than the ongoing farce of Selina Meyer’s administration. Now, with Donald Trump preparing to take office, Meyer and co. will have to really step up their disfunction game to outdo reality. Upping the odds even more is the fact that for the first time, Selina Meyer holds no position. Last season’s recount and resulting electoral college tie revealed a bizarre loophole that cost Selina the presidency. Now, with no office or staff to hide behind, Selina Meyer approaches her biggest challenge yet: normalcy.
Related Topics: DC Comics