2015 was a pretty solid year for television. Among the endless new small-screen projects throughout last year, some genuine gems were unearthed, from Netflix’s Narcos to Mr. Robot. Then there were the other usual highlights such as Fargo, Game of Thrones and Mad Men.
But, 2016 is a window of opportunity for a number of showrunners to get in on the action and we’re set to be bombarded with another slew of high-quality projects over the next 12 months.
Here are the 20 most exciting new TV shows you simply can’t miss…
22. DC’s Legends of Tomorrow
Both Arrow and The Flash have devoted a lot of their 4th and 2nd seasons respectively to setting up DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, so it better deliver given how much it has impacted the stories of both those shows. Here’s the official synopsis for the premiere episode:
In the year 2166, the immortal villain Vandal Savage (Casper Crump) is on the verge of his final victory – total chaos and the utter destruction of humanity. As the world crumbles, the Time Master Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) takes matters into his own hands; he travels 150 years into the past to assemble a carefully selected team of heroes and rogues to stop him.
Hunter has chosen what seems like an ill-matched group: billionaire inventor Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh), who has created an exo-suit with the power to shrink him to miniscule size, as the Atom; Sara Lance (Caity Lotz), the White Canary, a trained assassin; Professor Martin Stein (Victor Garber) and Jefferson “Jax” Jackson (Franz Drameh), who together form the meta-human Firestorm; Leonard Snart (Wentworth Miller), known as Captain Cold, and his partner Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell), aka Heat Wave, a pair of career criminals; and Kendra Saunders (Ciara Renée) and Carter Hall (Falk Hentschel) aka Hawkgirl and Hawkman.
There has been numerous failed attempts to bring this cult comic book to the small screen but it has finally happened, thanks to AMC. A ten-episode first season will star Dominic Cooper as Jesse Custer, a small town preacher on a mission to find God. That’s basically all you can really say about the show so it’s likely to be wildly different from the usual comic book adaptations we see these days. Judging by the trailer, the only thing that could bog this show down is the dreadful Irish accents, clearly learning no lessons from Sons of Anarchy.
20 American Crime Story
Coming from the burgeoning overlord of popular television, Ryan Murphy (Glee, American Horror Story, Scream Queens), American Crime Story chronicles one of the biggest judicial scandals in modern times; the trail of OJ Simpson.
There’s a star-studded cast for this one as well, including John Travolta as Robert Shapiro, David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, and Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. himself. With such talent on screen, it’s sure to be worth a look…
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to determine what this show is about but the reason there’s a considerable sense of buzz around this show is because it marks Sarah Jessica Parker’s return to TV and HBO, where she memorably made her name as Carrie Bradshaw on Sex and the City. It is created by Sharon Horgan, who co-created Catastrophe, one of the most popular UK shows this year.
The first adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s The Immortal Instruments, City of Bones, was poorly received in 2013 but there are still hopes of redemption for this follow-up. While the film was poorly made, a show provides the scope for more in-depth storytelling and character development, which explains why many fans of the novels are looking forward to it. It features the writing and producing talent McG, who was the creative force behind The O.C.
17. Woody Allen’s Untitled Amazon Series
This is perhaps the most intriguing show of the year in that its creator, renowned film director Woody Allen, effectively disowned the project several months ago, long before anything was even known about it. In a bizarre and extremely revealing press conference at Cannes Film Festival, where his latest movie, Irrational Man, was being screened, Allen said he struggled greatly with the medium of television and expected the show to be a “cosmic embarrassment.”
“It was a catastrophic mistake for me,” Allen said, speaking with what appeared to be a mix of irony and genuine anxiety. “I’m struggling with it at home. I never should have gotten into it. I thought it was going to be easy. You do a movie and it’s a big long thing; to do six half-hours you’d think would be a cinch. But it’s not: it’s very, very hard.”
Hmmmm. Well, we’re still massive Allen fans – so we’re going to give it a crack anyway.
16. The Shannara Chronicles
The fantasy genre will be invading TV in the winter, and at the head of that pack will be MTV’s The Shannara Chronicles, the epic adventure series that looks like it used Peter Jackson’s entire Lord of the Rings – seriously, high production values all over the place.
Shannara takes place thousands of years in the future, in a time when technology has died out and magic has re-entered the world and subsequently died out again. Elves are running things and humans are considered the subpar species. It’s up to three unlikely heroes to go on a dangerous quest to restore order to the Four Lands and vanquish the demons.
This could be fantastic, but then again, it’s MTV – so we’re not so sure about this one.
15. Houdini and Doyle
A story of “real life friends, real life adversaries and real life crime solvers”, Houdini and Doyle pitches the Sherlock Homes creator and master magician as a mismatched detective duo, Conan Doyle a passionate believer in the paranormal, Houdini refusing to believe that there is anything supernatural about magic.
“This fundamental difference between the two men leads to conflict, humour and competition,” ITV said about the upcoming project.
“High-minded competition in the pursuit of the truth, and ridiculous petty competition – because they’re guys. But despite all this, they need each other. Doyle needs Houdini because he is gullible. Houdini needs Doyle because he is wrong.” This could be the British television event of 2016!
From Homeland to Wall Street, the ever-brilliant Damian Lewis heads this fast-paced drama about an aggressive New York lawyer.
Billions is the tale of two Wall Street titans on a head-to-head collision course. In one corner, there’s hedge fund wizard Bobby Axelrod (Lewis), who is as popular with his employees and the public as he is envied by fellow would-be Masters of the Universe. In the other corner, there’s ambitious federal attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti), who makes Axelrod his next target for prosecution.
Two acting heavyweights and an intriguing plot. Yep, this will likely be more and more talked about as the year goes on.
13. Lookinglass (Originally The Frankenstein Code)
Written by Crisis and Lifecreator Rand Ravich and executive produced by Howard Gordon, Lookinglass centres on Jimmy Pritchard, a disgraced, 75-year-old ex-sheriff, whose life ends at the hands of corrupt cops. He is brought back to life and given a second chance by a pair of young tech scientists as a 35-year-old (Rob Kazinsky) with unpredictable near-superhuman abilities. The name of the company of the two scientists, twins Otto (Adhir Kalyan) and Mary (Dilshad Vadsaria), is Lookinglass.
Streaming service Hulu are set to make their biggest splash yet in 2016 with an adaptation of Stephen King’s 11.22.63 and rival the duopoly of Amazon Prime and Netflix. Will this be Hulu’s House of Cards or The Man in the High Castle? Perhaps.
Starring James Franco, it chronicles the story of high-school teacher Jake Epping, who travels back in time to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. However, his mission is threatened by Lee Harvey Oswald, while he also risks falling in love and becoming attached to his new life in the past. It’s based on the recently published Stephen King novel of the same name.
King and J.J. Abrams are executive producing the series, which will consist of 8 episodes, and it’ll premiere on Hulu on February 15. We’re rather excited to be honest.
From the hilarious minds that brought you Family Guy (but hopefully closer to pre-cancellation Family Guy), this adult animated sitcom follows two families living in a Southwest desert town on the United States–Mexico border. It features the voicing talents of Hank Azaria (various voices from The Simpsons) and Alex Borstein (Lois from Family Guy), it’s set to be another infusion of Seth MacFarlane’s distinctive brand of humour. We just hope it’s a hit and not another debacle, like The Cleveland Show (who honestly thought that was a good idea!?)
10. The Night Manager
Tom Hiddleston has been having a very busy time over the past few years. Having appeared as Loki in Thor and The Avengers, he has done countless other roles from a small cameo in the Muppets to leading role in Crimson Peak and even several plays at the national theatre.
This spring he is set to appear on the small screen in the television series The Night Manager. The six-part miniseries is based on a 1993 novel by writer John le Carré.
The series follows the life of a former British soldier (played by Hiddleston) who is recruited by intelligence agents to hunt for an international arms dealer (played by Hugh Laurie) and infiltrate his network.
Given the nature and length of the story, it was quickly realised the production needed to be for television rather than cinema. This means we get to see the story develop properly and over time. Furthermore it allows us to understand the character and international journey he is part of. Something like this should work very well on the small screen.
The Night Manager will air on the BBC in April.
9. Codes of Conduct
From Steve McQueen, Oscar-winning director of 12 Years A Slave and Hunger, comes this hard-hitting and provocative six-parter described as an exploration of a young African-American man’s experience entering New York high society, with a past that might not be what it seems. It centers on Beverly Snow (newcomer Devon Terrell), a young man from Queens as talented as he is ambiguous. His self-confidence will enable him to break into the social circles of Manhattan’s elite, testing the boundaries of access and social mobility. Paul Dano, Helena Bonham Carter and Rebecca Hall co-star, making it fairly clean sweep of excellent talent behind this one.
8. Top Gear/Untitled Jeremy Clarkson show (Amazon Prime)
So, the whole Jeremy Clarkson ‘fracas’ entertained us for a while in 2015, but that’s old news now. In with 2016, and the revamped Top Gear under Chris Evans and his still unconfirmed two co-hosts. Evans’ TFI Friday return was fairly mediocre at best so he’ll be hoping for more glowing reviews when he fronts the BBC’s most popular and recognisable TV programme. No pressure, then.
But hang on a minute, what is Jezza doing now that he’s become ‘unbusy?’ Well, it turns out he’s snagged Richard Hammond and James May away from the clutches of the BBC and the trio will reconvene for their very own Amazon Prime show, which has a mega-budget of its own. Which one are you more excited for?
7. The X-Files
Because its’ been so long since we had The X-Files in our lives, we’re counting this as a new show, so there. Fox are bringing back Mulder and Scully, with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprising their iconic roles, for a limited run of six episodes starting in January. Given it’s been 13 years since the original show ended, and even longer since Duchovny was on the small screen as Mulder, it’s fair to say there’s a lot of hype and expectation around this one, which will be tackling similar supernatural cases, and adding the likes of Joel McHale to the cast.
6. The Deuce
From the mastermind of David Simon, that brought us The Wire, Treme and Show Me A Hero, The Deuce is set in the Times Square demimonde of the 1970s and ’80s, The Deuce follows the story of the legalisation and subsequent rise of the porn industry in New York, exploring the rough-and-tumble world that existed in midtown Manhattan until the rise of HIV, the violence of the cocaine epidemic and the renewed real estate market ended the bawdy turbulence. James Franco, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Margaret Levieva star.
Based on the 1973 film of the same name, created by Jonathan Nolan, executive produced by J.J. Abrams, a cast featuring Anthony Hopkins, and airing on HBO, there’s as much pressure on Westworld as there is any other show this year. It also happens to be one of the most ambitious TV projects of all time.
Set at the futuristic theme park that gives the series its name, it’s described as “a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin.”
The park is staffed by robots that allow people to live out their fantasies, including gunslingers you can duel against, and even robot prostitutes. However, when the park’s central computer breaks down, the robots begin to run amok. It’s high-concept and no-holds-barred stuff from HBO.
4. Marvel’s Luke Cage
2015 was a pretty ace year for Marvel television shows, thanks to the success of Daredevil and Jessica Jones. But their domination of all things Netflix isn’t quite complete yet, with Luke Cage the next MCU character to receive his own series. We’ve already met the titular hero in Jessica Jones, and it’s fair to say that viewers were left wanting a lot more of Mike Colter’s unbreakable man. There’s still a lot of mystery over the show, but considering the recent success of MCU’s partnership with Netflix, expectations are set pretty high for this one.
This upcoming HBO show has been created by a powerhouse of talent. Terence Winter, known for The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, and The Wolf of Wall Street created it, while it’s being directed (or at least the first episode is) by Martin Scorsese, and executive produced by Mick Jagger. How about that for a dream team?
Bobby Cannavale (Boardwalk Empire, Ant-Man) stars as Richie Finestra, the founder of record label American Century, which he is struggling to keep together at the dawn of punk and disco, when everything is cocaine-fuelled and riddled with shame and regret. Nobody can depict crime-flirting excess quite like Winter and Scorsese, so we’re probably going to love this HBO offering. Olivia Wilde also stars.
2. American Gods
2016 might well be the year of American Gods, the long-delayed adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s mythological novel. With Hannibal cancelled and seemingly not coming back, showrunner Bryan Fuller can have a clean crack at getting this series made, alongside comic book writer Michael Green. Below is the show’s premise:
The series will focus on the mysterious Shadow, a man who is released from prison a few days early after serving a three year sentence for bank robbery when his beloved wife Laura is killed in a car accident. Flying home for the funeral, Shadow is seated next to a man who introduces himself only as Mr. Wednesday, and this man knows more about Shadow’s life, both past and present, than is possible. Shadow comes to learn that Wednesday is, in fact, the god Odin of Norse mythology and that all of the gods that mankind has ever believed in are alive in human form and live among regular people. Shadow is soon thrust into a gathering conflict between the Old gods and the so-called “New gods”, the gods of money and technology who believe there is no longer room on Earth for the old gods.
1. The Hollow Crown: Wars of the Roses
To mark the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, the BBC brings an ambitious and exciting set of television films that we’re absolutely thrilled about. The second cycle of Shakespearean plays, after 2012’s The Hollow Crown, Wars of the Roses will tackle Henry VI and Richard III (with Benedict Cumberbatch portraying the latter monarch). As with the first cycle, it features a who’s who of excellent British acting talent and is one seriously juicy prospect. For anyone that was lucky enough to see Cumberbatch lighting The Barbican with Hamlet in 2015, you’ll know he can tackle Shakespeare with craftsmanship and adroitness. We’re sold.
What TV show are you most looking forward to in 2016? Make sure to let us know in the comments or over on Facebook!