We are living in the golden age of television. Of that, I am certain. Everywhere you look, there’s great TV to be consumed. In fact, it’s become one of the first world’s most profound problems: perhaps there’s too much good TV. Every week someone tells me that I have to see a show that I’ve never heard of. And I do this for a living.
As you will see in the coming days and weeks, we’re going to be talking more and more about the great TV shows that are out there. Whether they are on networks, cable, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, or other services, we’re going to try to cover more in a new column called Last Night on TV. Most of it will be an excuse for me to write about shows like The Flash and You’re The Worst. Not every episode of television requires 1,000 words of deep analysis. Some do, but most don’t. So every day, we’ll dedicate a few paragraphs to each of our favorite shows. My hope is that you’ll read along and jump into the comments with your own reviews. And don’t worry, there will still be shows that get a little extra attention (I’ll still be drowning you in words about Game of Thrones every week).
Beyond the launch of this new column (which starts tomorrow), it’s also time to look ahead over the landscape of television in 2016 and pick the shows (both returning and new) I can’t wait to watch in the coming year. As you’ll see, there’s plenty of new blood in the water.
Debuts: February 19 on Netflix
The new Netflix show from Judd Apatow, Paul Rust and Leslie Afrin is one that I’ve already seen most of it. Without going into too much detail (there will be a time and place for that), I can confirm that it’s dark and funny. Paul Rust (Comedy Bang! Bang!) and Gillian Jacobs (Community) play two Los Angelenos who are struggling to find love. When they find each other, things don’t exactly go as you might expect. It’s as vulgar and unexpectedly dark as you might expect within the freedom of the Netflix sandbox. But it’s not without its charms. The two leads are great and there’s some fun supporting cast, as well.
Debuts: TBD on Showtime
It’s hard to be all-in on a Cameron Crowe project after Aloha, but this does feel like he’s returning to his wheelhouse. Roadies will be a behind the scenes show about what it’s like to be on tour with a rock band. We’re back to Almost Famous territory and Crowe is bringing along a fine cast that includes Luke Wilson, Carla Gugino, Imogen Poots, Rafe Spall and Keisha Castle-Hughes.
Debuts: TBD on AMC
A Texas preacher (Dominic Cooper) finds out that God has abandoned Heaven and sets out with the help of a vampire to set things right. This is based on an excellent comic book from Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon. It has a very solid cast and the writing team includes Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. There’s nothing but upside to this show.
12. The Get Down
Debuts: August 12 on Netflix
Did you see the trailer for The Get Down? It looks fantastic. It’s got the Baz Luhrmann rhythm and the grit and grind of Shawn Ryan (The Shield). The streets of The Bronx are vivid and alive with the sounds of the 1970s. It’s going to introduce us to a crop of talented young actors, show us all kinds of iconic places of 1970s New York (from CBGB to Studio 54) and the music should be all kinds of vibrant. Luhrmann and Ryan aren’t a pairing I would have made on my own, but this project feels like the perfect meld between their two styles.
11. Broad City
Debuts: February 17 on Comedy Central
I’ve missed Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. They are The Odd Couple of my generation and their uniquely New York stories are always entertaining. This week they released a new promo that in no way tells us anything about their upcoming third season. But it does make me want to tune in when they come back. Last season was a beautiful mishmash of vulgarity, heart and scattershot conceptual work. There’s little doubt that they can continue to kill it in season 3.
10. The X-Files
Debuts: January 24 on Fox
To be completely honest, I’ve never been a big X-Files watcher. Perhaps I was too young to every really be deep into it in the early and mid–90s. But I’m excited to see what its revival has to offer. David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are back for six episodes as Mulder and Scully. That’s all that matters. Everyone around me is excited about this return and it’s infectious. For better or worse, it’s happening. Here’s hoping that it will be for the better.
Debuts: Late 2016 on HBO
Even with all kinds of production delays, HBO has Westworld, the new show from Jonathan Nolan, on the books for 2016. It will feature Anthony Hopkins as a doctor who runs a futuristic theme park where robots go crazy and attack guests. It will also star James Marsden, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright and Miranda Otto. Did I mention the part about the killer robots in an old west theme park? Yes, I agree, that does sound most excellent.
8. Star Wars Rebels
Debuts: January 20 on Disney XD
It’s very likely that Rick and Morty won’t be back until 2017, so I need a solid animated show to watch in their absence. I’ve chosen to give more thoughtful attention to Star Wars Rebels for a number of reasons. One is that it’s actually pretty good. The second being that it’s within Star Wars canon, so we’re going to see all kinds of tie-ins to the new Star Wars movies. That’s something I (and probably you, our dear readers) will want to discuss. So let’s keep this one high on our list.
7. The Night Manager
Debuts: April 19 on AMC
Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie star in a John LaCarre (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, A Most Wanted Man) adaptation. It promises to be a breath of fresh air – a tightly-wound spy drama just as spring TV starts to heat up. It’s only going to be 6 episodes and it will be half over by the time Game of Thrones comes back, so we should be able to keep it as appointment viewing for anyone who likes a little espionage on a Sunday night.
6. Marvel’s Daredevil
Debuts: March 18 on Netflix
The Marvel Netflix show that set up the entire streaming universe of superheroes. Yes, I know it currently only has two more heroes from only one more show, but Hell’s Kitchen has become a much bigger place since we first met Matt Murdoch and friends. In season 2, we will meet a host of new characters, including The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal as The Punisher and Elodie Yung as Elektra. With a solid first season behind it and the success of Jessica Jones to fan the flames, Marvel is going to blow their television universe wide open. With a side of Catholic guilt. Count me in.
5. American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson
Debuts: February 2 on FX
Another show with the unfair advantage that I’ve already previewed a bunch of episodes. Here’s the long and short of it: Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are great at one thing: first seasons. This is probably why they keep making anthology series, as it’s just a bunch of first seasons. It also plays to their strengths: setup, world-building and the creation of momentum. With a show about O.J. Simpson’s murder trial, that’s very important. Because we all know where it’s going. In response to this lack of ultimate predictability, the mood and performances within this show have been cranked up to 11. John Travolta has gone full Marlon Brando as Robert Shapiro. David Schwimmer is out of his mind as Robert Kardashian. And Sarah Paulson is superb as Marcia Clarke. Every character gets their own energetic, chaotic episode. Every moment we remember from the trial of the century is amplified with a bullhorn. It’s goddamn riot.
4. The Flash
Debuts: January 19 on The CW
Arrow gets a lot of credit for being the superhero show that brought The CW out of the Smallville soap opera doldrums and into the realm of making serious action shows. But they weren’t really having fun until The Flash. This show has featured some of the most entertaining and unique villains, some vibrant special effects work and a lot of heart. In its second season, The Flash has blown open the multiverse. We now live in a world where three Flashes – Barry Allen, Jay Garrick and Wally West – will all exist on the same show. With a terrifying villain looming over the second season and Team Flash left without a way to defeat him, it will be interesting to see how they pay it off in the homestretch of season 2.
3. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend
Debuts: January 25 on The CW
Last week, Rachel Bloom took home a Golden Globe for her performance in Crazy Ex-Girlfriend. But it’s much more than that. Alongside Devil Wears Prada writer Aline Brosh McKenna, she created this show that presents a different twist on the romantic comedy. Her character, Rebecca, is crazy. She’s obsessed with a childhood fling to the point that she uproots her life to be near him. And at every awkward turn, she bursts into song to go from cringe-worthy to downright delightful. It’s likely that this show will get more attention now with the Globes win, but those of us who have been watching since the beginning know that Rachel Bloom has been the truth all along.
Debuts: TBD on FX
Donald Glover has described his semi-autobiographical show as Twin Peaks with rappers. What he means is that once this show comes out, it will push boundaries. Having seen the pilot, I can attest to the fact that it’s not like the other shows on this list. It’s a relentless, unapologetic look at the Atlanta rap scene. It’s about ambition and resourcefulness. It is full of honesty and humility. It’s the kind of show we’ve come to expect from FX in the wake of Louie and You’re The Worst. It is unabashedly the Donald Glover experience, and that’s what makes it soar. I can’t wait to see the second episode.
1. Game of Thrones
Debuts: April 24 on HBO
In my list of the best TV shows of 2015, Game of Thrones finished a little lower than you might expect. In hindsight, fourth isn’t so bad. 2015 was a great year for TV. But Thrones also had some problems in season 5. With less and less of the books by George R.R. Martin on which to rely, showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss made some mistakes. In season 6, they will venture further into uncharted waters. And that’s what has my anticipation turned up. It’s not about expecting Game of Thrones to be great this season. I’m expecting it to be unexpected. Which is something Thrones hasn’t been for a number of years. Also, we finally get to find out what happened to Jon Snow. There is no greater mystery in the world of television, even though we’re all pretty sure he’s not dead.
Honorable Mentions and Curiosities: Lucifer on Fox, Brooklyn Nine Nine on Fox (always great), Better Call Saul on AMC, Unreal on Lifetime, Luke Cage on Netflix, The Path on Hulu, Superstore on NBC, One Mississippi on Amazon and Taboo on FX.
What shows are you looking forward to in 2016?