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It's Simply Unavoidable: 13 Upcoming Series with Kickass Casts You Won't Be Able to Resist

By Cindy Davis | Seriously Random Lists | September 25, 2013 | Comments ()


Sometimes we hear about ideas for new series and we’re intrigued by the story description, but more often than not, it’s a name that catches our ear. Sean Bean, Billie Piper, Christopher Eccleston, Lee Pace, John Hurt, Iggy mothereffin’ Pop…Spader. Guess what? They’re all headed your way.

1. Showtime’s Penny Dreadful (2014)

Created and written by John Logan (Skyfall, The Last Samurai, Gladiator), executive produced (and at least one episode directed) by Sam Mendes, starring Timothy Dalton, Billie Piper, Rory Kinnear, Helen McCrory, Simon Russell Beale, Josh Hartnett, Eva Green, Danny Sapani, Reeve Carney and Harry Treadaway. This “psychosexual horror series” features scary literary characters (Dorian Gray, Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster…) meeting up in Victorian London—presumably for neither book club, nor good. Bring on the whackadoodie gore.

2. HBO’s The Leftovers (2013)


Based on Tom Perrotta’s novel, produced and written by Damon Lindelof; pilot directed by Peter Berg (Battleship, Collateral, Friday Night Lights), starring Christopher Eccleston, Michael Gaston, Amy Brenneman, Justin Theroux, Liv Tyler, Emily Mead. A “rapture-like event” disappears people around the world; this leftover group of people in a small town try to figure out what happened and deal with the after-effects. Hmm, why does this sound so familiar? Who’s done something like this before? Why would HBO bring this on themselves—for that matter, why would we? Don’t even say it, believe me—I KNOW. But even with you-know-who (who at least has a remarkable sense of humor about Lost; not sure about Prometheus) at the helm, the cast is intriguing, no? We could go into it knowing full well nothing will ever be resolved; just hope for good acting and random nudity (thanks HBO!)? So…soft porn? All in?

3. ABC’s Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (October 10, 2013)

Written and produced by Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis (Tron: Legacy, Lost), starring John Lithgow, Naveen Andrews, Emma Rigby, Iggy Pop and Paul Reubens, Michael Socha and Keith David. Iggy Frickin’ Pop as the Caterpillar (voice)—THAT IS ALL. Okay, it’s not all, but on top of Lithgow and Andrews…and David voicing the Cheshire Cat, and Reubens, the White Rabbit? I died. I’m dead. I have to watch this.

4. Showtime’s Trending Down (2013)


Written and produced by Shalom Auslander, directed by John Cameron Mitchell (unknown episodes, Girls, Shortbus, Hedwig and the Angry Inch), starring Philip Seymour-Hoffman, Kathryn Hahn, Rhys Ifans and Yolanda Ross. Hoffman as an adman failing to cope as his agency is taken over; Ifans plays his boss. Honestly, what more do you need to know? Showtime calls it “…a blistering attack on our youth-obsessed culture and a darkly comic examination of what it means to matter. Or matter not.” We know we’ll watch it for the boys.

5. NBC’s The Blacklist (September 23, 2013—Just started, it’s not too late)


Executive produced and written by Jon Bokenkamp (Taking Lives, The Call), pilot directed by Joe Carnahan (The Grey, The A-Team, Narc), starring James Spader, Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff, Harry Lennix and Robert Knepper. Come on now, this is all about Spader. Any show the man does is must see—even if the plot points can be seen a mile off (and they can). Our boy James is at his best playing the smart bad boy—NBC has wisely given him free reign. The icing on the cake is Dollhouse/24 man, Lennix, pretty boy (Homeland’s Mike) Klattenhoff, and an upcoming stint by another favorite bad boy: Robert Knepper. What more could a girl ask for?

6. AMC’s Halt & Catch Fire (2014)


Created and written by Christopher Cantwell (Vicariously) and Christopher C. Rogers,
directed by Juan José Campanella (House, Law & Order: SVU), starring Lee Pace, David Wilson Barnes, Kerry Bishé. Lee Pace as a computer nerd? Oh yes. Pace stars as an engineer and prodigy ushering in the 1980s PC boom. And a quick wiki read revealed “Halt and Catch Fire” is an old-tyme humorous IBM testing instruction that refers to problematic code that had a computer repeatedly executing an action that caused wires to get hot—even smoke. Catchy and hot…not unlike our Mr. Pace.

7. Showtime’s Masters of Sex (September 29, 2013)

Written by Michelle Ashford and Thomas Maier, directed by Michael Apted (Chasing Mavericks, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Rome), starring
Michael Sheen, Lizzy Caplan, Teddy Sears, with appearances by Allison Janney, Margo Martindale and Beau Bridges. Sheen and Caplan investigating the human sexual condition. You know you wanna watch.

8. FX’s The Strain (2014)



Written by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan, directed by Guillermo del Toro, starring Kevin Durand, Sean Astin, John Hurt, Doug Jones, Cory Stoll, Mía Maestro, Jonathan Hyde, Leslie Hope, Richard Sammel and Francis Capra. Del Toro brings his own tale of a vampiric virus to life; as if his name alone isn’t enough to excite you, look at these actors. It’s the American Horror Story season Ryan Murphy won’t do. Niche filled.

9. NBC’s Dracula (October 25, 2013)

Based on Bram Stoker’s novel, directed by Andy Goddard (Downton Abbey, Torchwood, Law & Order: UK) and Steve Shill (Dexter, Shameless), starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ben Miles, Jessica De Gouw, Thomas Kretschmann and Katie McGrath. Okay, I know: More Vampires. Do we need them? Certainly not. Have we not seen the most beautiful version of Stoker’s creation? We have (Oldman). But still, Jonathan Rhys Meyers is compelling, no? On top of the cast, Dracula is co-produced by Sky Living, and having a British hand up a show’s ass can do nothing but good as far as I’m concerned. Myers’ Vlad has an alter ego whose essence is based in part on Steve Jobs and Elon Musk; he’ll be a sexy entrepreneur (pardon me while I cliche)…with bite.

10. Syfy’s High Moon (2013)



Based on John Christopher’s The Lotus Caves, written by Bryan Fuller and Jim Gray (Hannibal, Torchwood, Pushing Daisies), starring Chris Diamantopoulos, Jake Sandvig, Jonathan Tucker, Dana Davis, Constance Wu, Eric Breker and Kirby Morrow. Set in the future—after we’ve finished destroying Earth’s resources and headed out to mine the Moon’s—“chaos erupts” when alien life is discovered. The usual race between countries (now colonies) to investigate sets the stage for another conflict. Diamantopoulos and Sandvig play brothers on opposite sides (of course); Sandvig is a felon accused of sabotage and espionage and Diamantopoulos, a government man investigating the explosion his brother may or may not have been involved in setting. We already know what Fuller can do with an interesting concept and a couple-o-pretty boys (Hannibal); count me in.

11. TNT’s Legends (2014)

Based on the Robert Littell novel, written by Howard Gordon (Homeland, 24), Mark Bomback (Total Recall, The Wolverine), Jeffrey Nachmanoff (Hostages, The Day After Tomorrow), directed by David Semel (American Horror Story, Homeland), starring Sean Bean, Ali Larter, Steve Harris, Tina Majorino and Amber Valletta. Finally, I can stop my Stark-sobbing…it’s Sean mothereffin’ Bean! (Please don’t die.) Bean plays master of alternate identities and spy, Martin Odum, tasked to the FBI’s Deep Cover Operations. So basically, he’s Jennifer Garner with less wigs and more clothes… The added twist part comes when a mysterious stranger (oh please let it be Ron Rifkin!) gives Martin cause to doubt his own identity. Dun dun dun! Anyway, I was sold at Sean Bean playing a spy. Carry on.

12. Fox’s Us & Them (2014)

Written by James Corden (Gavin & Stacey, Horne & Corden), Ruth Jones (Stella, The Great Outdoors) and David Rosen (I Just Want My Pants Back), directed by Michael Patrick Jann (Subpurgatory, Community), starring Jason Ritter, Alexis Bledel, Jane Kaczmarek and Kurt Fuller. Two of television’s cutest people take on the American version of Gavin & Stacey, and yes, I may watch an American comedy for the first time in years, despite the slightly squicky feeling over the thought that Ritter will have television dated both Lorelei and Rory.

13. FX’s Fargo (2014)


Written by Joel Coen and Noah Hawley (The Unusuals, Bones), directed by Joel and Ethan Coen and Adam Bernstein (Californication, House of Lies), starring Billy Bob Thornton. The Coens are turning their brilliant film into a series, with Thornton as Lorne Malvo, “a rootless, manipulative man who meets a small town insurance salesman and sets him on a path of destruction.” Sold.

Cindy Davis, (Twitter) misses Robert Palmer.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Damn you, Pajiba! I just found the strength to break it off with TVD, and now you tell me about Dracula?! I think that trailer flatlined my brain. Although I'm kind of mad at that "some things never die" line.


    OK, by "mad" I mean:


    And Karl Urban and Michael are going to be in something that sounds like "Mann and Machine"? Am I the only one who remembers that show? God help me, but I'm in.

  • I feel like this list just bitchslapped me.

    "I don't have time to w-"
    "Okay :("

  • Us & Them: I am happy to see James Corden getting even more paychecks from America, but this appears to be, of, EXACTLY the same as Gavin and Stacey, so why even change the title? Also, the best friend dude looks (pardon my judgement) repulsive, and I think James Corden is adorable, so that's a big disconnect IMO. Oh, and I laughed out loud at "new comedy"...

    Legends: TINA MOTHALOVIN' MAJORINO! Oh, and Sean Bean...

  • DataAngel

    Yeeeah. I stopped reading at that picture of Eccleston.

    I'm gonna go sell a kidney or three so I can get HBO and Showtime again.

    But then I'm gonna go right back to staring at Eccleston.

  • kirbyjay

    Sean Bean kicked some Spy Ass in Cleanskin, I will watch him kick more in Legends. Actually, I will watch him in anything that doesn't involve him in makeup and dress. One of my pet peeves is men in drag, also, people who park themselves beside me on a beach, when there is room galore, and Scientology.

  • I'd watch the hell out of 'Penny Dreadful' and 'Dracula' and 'The Strain' look
    pretty interesting as well.

  • Benjamin Rennells

    The Strain was a great book series, and Kevin Durand terrifies me in anything he does, even when he's supposed to be a good guy, so I'll be all over that.

  • You had me at "Billie Piper" and "Victorian".

  • I was 'eeeeeeh'ing all through this list when I saw "Naveen Andrews" and my brain did a total record-scratch sound. I AM ON THAT.

    Also the Sean Bean show.

    And, isn't there a show with Karl Urban starting soon? It's like my top 10 is coming to visit me.


  • The Americanized Almost Human, but I refuse to acknowledge that.

  • Juxyn

    But, Karl Urban!!??

  • grr arrgh

    Wait wait...that's based on a foreign show? I thought it was just Alien Nation with robots.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    I don't like to say it, but: Sean Bean is too old to play a spy.

  • Wednesday

    You...just stop it. Stop it now. Take that back and don't show your face again until you can confess your sins and admit your fundamental wrongness.

    Sean Bean does not age. He weathers. He improves, like a fine Scotch or a leather saddle, and yes, those comparisons were entirely necessary AND pertinent.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    Okay, I'll rephrase: Sean Bean looks too weathered to play a spy.

  • kelleyisadork

    if 'the strain' tv show is anything like the book, run far, far away.

  • axis2clusterB

    What's the Sean Bean death pool looking like?

  • Genevieve Burgess

    I watched all of "The Tudors" for Jonathan Rhys Meyers (with bonus Henry Cavil) so I will be watching "Dracula." No, you can't make me feel guilty about it. TV/movies are the closest I'll get to those gorgeous but clearly completely batshit-crazy eyes.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Eva Green? Psychosexual horror? Ok, Showtime, but this is your LAST chance.

    And I'm hearing rumours that "Fargo" may end up shooting here in Manitoba, which would be pretty neat. Might have to keep an eye out for extras casting notices.

  • Misomaniac

    Aw. If they'd film it Fargo, they could have the annual sandbagging episode where the Red River floods the town,every year*. Perfect opportunity to kill off some characters or have some bodies surface.

    *Yes I realize "annual" and "every year" is redundant, but seriously, move the fuck away from the river already...

  • L.O.V.E.

    Well, fuck. It looks like I'm going to have to keep making that phone call to Directv every 6 months about how I need to cancel my premium channels and then get them to knock off 50% of the fees so I can keep Showtime.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    Hmmm...Legends reminds me I've got some Sharpe stuff to watch.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    I wish I could upvote Sharpe a million times.

  • emmalita

    Legends actually looks pretty great. And if Ron Rifkin, Victor Garber, or Lena Olin show up, BONUS!

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    So I'm cautiously excited about Penny Dreadful, but um - is it League of Extraordinary Gentlemen for villains? Because that's kind of what it sounds like.

  • Sara_Tonin00

    The Evil Leage of Evil?

  • foolsage

    Sigh. Someday. Someday.

  • foolsage

    As long as Tom Sawyer isn't involved, it sounds promising.

  • Bert_McGurt
  • foolsage

    It's anachronistic, but, sure, I'd allow a little Geddy Lee.

  • Zirza

    Wikipedia tells me Josh Hartnett is involved, so don't get your hopes up.

  • Zirza

    As an English major I don't know whether to be all highbrow about Penny Dreadful and frown upon this or squeal and giggle and skip merrily through my living room. With that casting I'm leaning towards the latter.

  • emmalita

    Squealing, giggling and skipping is usually way more fun than being all highbrow. Although sometimes I like to get all highbrow for a refreshing change of pace.

  • lowercase_ryan

    Holy shit...there is no way I'll be able to keep track of all these, let alone watch them.

    And for the record I was completely on board with Penny Dreadful (even the name is fantastic) until you tried to sneak Josh Hartnett by me. *insert clever box office poison pun that I am failing to come up with* My brain is crap this week.

  • Yes, the names Billie Piper and Eva Green had me so distracted I missed him entirely, probably about how it'll go in the show as well. I already need a cold shower.

  • ZbornakSyndrome

    Yeah, I was reading each name with increasing excitement, then Hartnett sort of threw cold water on me. I mean...is he a big part of the show?

  • lowercase_ryan

    I hope not, and frankly I don't see how he could be. The show sounds cool as hell otherwise.

  • I will watch anything starring Rory Gilmore.

    It has led me wrong many, many times.

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