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Pirates, Witches and Spies: Twelve Upcoming Series with a Little Something for Everyone

By Cindy Davis | Guides | January 6, 2014 | Comments ()


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Here we are, people; the cruel, hard outset of January is upon us. The winter festivities are over and for most of us, today marks the return to full time reality. We need a little escapism, no? If you’ve been paying attention, you’re already looking forward to Helix, True Detective and Tyrant; here’s your guide to what else is on the horizon. Settle in with a cup of cocoa and that last sad candy cane…


1. For the Adventurer: Black Sails, Starz (Premieres January 25th)

Opening Credits:

Jonathan Steinberg’s (Human Target, Jericho) gritty prequel to Robert Louis Stevensons Treasure Island is already filming its second season in South Africa, and stars Toby Stephens (Vexed, Die Another Day) as Captain Flint. Executive produced by Michael Bay, Black Sails has already been likened to Deadwood, and promises plenty of swearing, nudity and blood. The series is scored by Bear McCreary and also stars Tom Hopper, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Hannah New, Zach McGowan, Luke Arnold, Mark Ryan, Hakeem Kae Kazim, Toby Schmitz, Clara Paget, and Sean Michael.

2. For the Procedural Fanatic: Public Morals, TNT (Premiere date unknown)

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Ed Burns (Mob City, Entourage, The Brothers McMullen) and Michael Rapaport (Justified, The Heat, Prison Break) co-star as New York City cops circa 1967. The two work for the city’s Public Morals Division, which worked to maintain quality of life (keeping away vice offenses and crimes against children). Executive produced by Steven Spielberg and Burns, Public Morals also stars Wass Stevens (House of Cards, Elementary) and Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Low Winter Sun, American Gangster).

3. For Spies Like Us (What? I’ve Peeked around a Corner or Two): Fleming, BBC America (Premieres January 29th)

Dominic Cooper stars as Bond creator, Ian Fleming, whose own life and career inspired 007. Fleming begins with the outbreak of WWII, following the young playboy’s transition to Naval Intelligence recruit and international spy. The four-part miniseries also chronicles Fleming’s affair with (married) Ann O’Neill (Sherlock’s Lara Pulver), who later became his wife. Directed by Mat Whitecross (The Road to Guantanamo), Fleming also stars Rupert Evans, Samuel West and Lesley Manville.

4. For the Ball Club: Ballers, HBO (Premieres 2014)

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Executive produced by Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson (who also stars), this comedy/drama follows a group of Miami buddies who are all active or former athletes. Johnson’s “Spencer” was a professional running back, now working in the financial industry under his socially inept boss, played by Community/Children’s Hospital’s Rob Corddry. Entourage’s Stephen Levinson will head up the writer’s room, and Peter Berg (Lone Survivor, Battleship, Friday Night Lights) directed the pilot.

5. For the Conspiracy Theorist: Believe, NBC (Premieres 2014)

If not for the names of executive producers Alfonso Cuarón, and J.J. Abrams, I’m not sure anyone would pay this one mind, and at times it feels like all the NBC/Abrams collaborations are running together…but, J.J. does have Almost Human on his side. This supernatural thriller throws together a death row inmate (Jake McLaughlin, Savages, In the Valley of Elah) and a ten year old girl (Johnny Sequoyah) with special powers (telekinesis, levitation, premonition, etc.). As you might expect, dark forces are after the girl, and who better than a hardened criminal to protect her? Believe also stars Kyle MacLachlan, Remy Auberjonois, and Jamie Chung.

6. …One for All: The Musketeers, BBC America (Premieres in 2014)

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Created by Adrian Hodges (My Week with Marilyn, Survivors, Primeval), this take on Dumas’ adventurous travelers features Luke Pasqualino (Skins, Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome) as D’Artagnan, Tom Burke (The Invisible Woman, Only God Forgives) as Athos, Santiago Cabrera (Dexter, Merlin, Heroes, Hemingway & Gellhorn) as Aramis and Howard Charles (&Me, Switch) as Porthos . Oh…and Peter Capaldi plays Cardinal Richelieu! What’s that you say? Hot men with accents and swords, in hats and tight pants? All in say, “Oui!”

7. For the Bamber-Lover: The Smoke, Sky1 (Premieres 2014)

I don’t know why the powers that be haven’t yet implemented my brilliant suggestion, but until they do, Jamie Bamber keeps bouncing around from ill-suited gig to ill-suited gig. The man belongs in space. For now, he’ll head up a team of London firefighters; the series kicks off with Bamber’s Kev Allison returning to work after a horrific fire that left him seriously injured. The Smoke also stars Jodie Whittaker (Broadchurch, The Assets), Rhashan Stone (Strike Back, Episodes, Dollhouse), Pippa Bennett-Warner (Southcliffe, Marple, Inspector Lewis), Gerard Kearns (The Town, Shameless), and Taron Egerton (Inspector Lewis).

8. For the Supernaturalist: Salem, WGN (Premieres 2014)

Chicago’s “superstation” jumps onto the witch-wagon with this period drama, created by Brannon Braga (Star Trek: First Contact/Generations, Star Trek: The Next Generation/Voyager, 24, Flash Forward). Set in 17th century Massachusetts, the series boasts an interesting cast: Janet Montgomery (Black Swan, Downton Abbey, Dancing on the Edge), Seth Gabel (Arrow, Fringe, United States of Tara) Shane West (Nikita, ER), Ashley Madekwe (Revenge, Secret Life of a Call Girl) and Tamzin Merchant (Jane Eyre, The Tudors), all of whom will presumably either burn or be burned. Hey, that’s a catchy tagline, no?

9. For Your Grandma Mother “Friend” Who Can’t Resist Josh Holloway: Intelligence, CBS (Premieres January 7th)

Josh Holloway takes the lead as Gabriel Vaughn, a computer-chipped cyberspy with direct access to worldwide information systems, and a killer smile to boot. Marg Helgenberger heads up Gabriel’s government agency, and Meghan Ory (Once Upon a Time, True Justice) is the obligatory gorgeous Secret Service agent teamed up with Gabriel. Would that it were me, and a different network. Still…Josh Holloway. Also starring Michael Rady (House of Lies, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants), John Billingsley (True Blood, Nikita), and P. J. Byrne (The Wolf of Wall Street, The Legend of Korra, Final Destination ).

10. For Kinnear’s Sake, and People Who Like to Bet on How Long a Fox Show Will Last: Rake, Fox (Premieres January 23rd)

Remake of the Australian comedy/drama starring Greg Kinnear as Keegan Joye, an unfiltered, self-destructive criminal defense lawyer. Since all the available information revolves around descriptions of Joye—“Brilliant, overindulgent, addictive, unreliable, outrageous”—the show’s success clearly rests on Kinnear’s capable shoulders…and Fox’s temperamental scheduling. Rake also stars Miranda Otto (Locke & Key, Lord of the Rings), John Ortiz (Fast & Furious 6, Silver Linings Playbook, Luck), Necar Zadegan (Major Crimes, 24, The Event) and Tara Summers (Sons of Anarchy, Here Comes the Night).


11. For the Lovers: Looking, HBO/Sky Atlantic (Premieres January 19th[HBO] and January 27th [Sky Atlantic])

Jonathan Groff (Frozen, Boss, Glee), Frankie J. Alvarez (Smash) and Murray Bartlett (White Collar, August, Farscape) star as gay roommates living in San Francisco. Written by and based on Michael Lannan’s film short, Lorimer (“Cynical Brooklyn boys vs. earnest affection”), Looking also stars Scott Bakula, and promises lots of sex in a different city.

12. For Those Who Like It Dark and Gritty (My People): The Red Road, Sundance (Premieres February 27th)

From Prisoners and Contraband writer, Aaron Guzikowski, this six-episode drama stars Game of Thrones’ Jason Momoa as Phillip Kopus, a dangerous criminal aligned with a dirty sheriff (Martin Henderson [Devil’s Knot, The Ring, Pride and Prejudice]). Against the backdrop of the Ramapo Mountains, Henderson’s Sheriff Jensen is also dealing with an alcoholic wife and a cover-up. The Red Road also stars Julianne Nicholson (August: Osage County, Masters of Sex, Boardwalk Empire Tom Sizemore (as Kopus’ father), Lisa Bonet, and Antoni Corone (The Immigrant, Oz). James Gray (“The Immigrant,” “Two Lovers,” “We Own The Night”) directs the first episode.


A few other notables in development:


Cold Dead Hands, Sundance

Named for Charlton Heston’s famous speech, fictional drama focusing on the head of the NRA. Aims to look at both sides of America’s gun control debate. Produced by Tony Krantz (Dracula, 24, Mulholland Drive) and created and written by Scott Gold (Under the Dome).


7 Deadly Sins, Fox

David Mamet’s (Phil Spector, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Untouchables) seven-part miniseries about…well, I’m sure you’ve guessed. Mamet will produce the miniseries, and write and direct at least one episode.


The West, Discovery

Robert Redford’s Sundance Productions will take a look at the “lawlessness and bloodshed of the 40 years between the end of the American Civil War and after the turn of the 20th century, when the West was won.” Episodes will feature well-known outlaws like Jesse James, Buffalo Bill, Wyatt Earp and Crazy Horse.


Cindy Davis, (Twitter)




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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • Emmet O'Cuana

    The original Rake is simply great television. Richard Roxburgh is amazing in it. Worth a look.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    Oh my GAWD, Toby Stephens! I'm all over this like a $2 girdle on a fat lady.

  • Afferbeck

    I remember Rake from a few years ago, it seemed okay. I doubt it will be anything special once it's been Americanised though.

  • John W

    Is Sky1 available in the states?

  • If you get an unblocker, yes.

  • John W

    Thanks.

  • Ben

    If you can get a hold of the Aussie version, Rake is really good. No idea about the yank one.

  • plasticvengeance

    Man, The Smoke had better get picked up by a US network. Bamber, Whittaker AND Rhashan Stone? Jesus that's a hot cast.

  • logan

    I am so excited for Black Sails i had to adjust me peg leg.

  • I'm always happy to see a good 'Three Musketeers' adaptation, and 'Black Sails' looks to be pretty badass as well.

  • Nadiney

    I'm so very excited for so many of these shows. Also hey, look at me, commenting on the Jiba. Life is good.

    No, but seriously, I have had some concerns about Jason Momoa's career but this is a step in the exact right direction and hopefully will open some more doors for him.

    Believe looks awesome, in a simple, JJ Abrams/Alfonso Cuaron kind of way. I'm a sucker for little kids with god like powers. It's just fuckin' coooool.

    Helix is one I want to be excited about but I feel like is a TV show of The Thing with a less interesting cast? Than the Carpenter version, of course. The best version. I want to be really pumped about it but I see the adverts and I'm like 'eh'

    The Smoke I find sort of funny. We had that show here, years ago. It was called Londons Burning and was basically the exact same plot; the life and times of a series of incredibly attractive firemen, including the lives of their partners at home.

    It's nothing new so I'm not terribly intrigued.

    The pirates one looks awesome. I kind of hope that if it does well, some grown up, not Pirates of the Carribean movies get made. There are some fucking incredible real stories out there, including some badass lady pirates that did some incredible shit. Since we seem to finally be getting some badass lady protagonists in films this year, maybe some of the badass lady pirates from actual history might get some fuckin' awesome films. Who knows.

  • Speaking of historical ladies, I've said before that if someone were to make a movie about Boudicca, or Granuille, or Anne Bonney and Mary Read they would no doubt end up making themselves a whole shit-ton of money.

  • Nadiney

    Exactly. There are so very many interesting women with stories that need telling.
    Even the more tragic ones, there are plenty of stories of teenage girls that kicked ass throughout WW2, that died as heroes.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    Oh Toby Stephens, the terrible things I'll watch just for you.
    Red Road is exciting, I hadn't heard of it before, but I'll certainly be watching it now.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    Oh, Dominic Cooper. First Howard Stark, now Ian Fleming; always the bridesmaid, never the bride.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    I was expecting you to mention the AMC Washingtonian spy series. But Fleming is good too. (esp with Dominic Cooper!)

  • Check the opening paragraph link.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Ok, I got confused there. I thought for a moment you were saying that Tyrant was the name of that series and that didn't seem right...

  • Helix: True Detective (Tyrant)

  • Yeah do that it's really good.

    /shame = none

  • Mrs. Julien

    Jason Momoa has a beard and is looking outdoorsy.
    [adjusts antimacassars on fainting couch, reclines, loses consciousness]

  • PDamian

    [lifts bangs from forehead, fans herself rapidly, eyelashes fluttering]

  • Heard of most of these, but Red Road is an unexpected surprise. Could be quite intriguing.

  • Guest

    No sci-fi/horror love for Helix? Ronald D. Moore?

  • "If you’ve been paying attention, you’re already looking forward to Helix, True Detective, and Tyrant"

    Guest clearly not paying attention, as usual.

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