With Westworld done, two more episodes of Rectify (*weep*) remaining, and most of the terrestrial network programs ending their seasons soon (including The Walking Dead next Sunday), I was looking forward to a nice long break from new programming so that I could catch up on the old. I’ve got Lovesick (formerly Scrotal Recall), The Crown, Red Oaks, and Transparent to catch up on, not to mention the second season of Man in High Castle, which starts next week. A nice 6-8 week break would be nice, wouldn’t it?
It’s not going to happen. There’s no rest for the avid television lover. Television waits for no one. January will bring a slew of new and returning shows that we’ll have to shuffle and prioritize and queue. Besides the second half of whatever seasons you’re currently watching on network television (This is Us!), there’s the return of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on January 4; Hulu’s The Path returns in January (I bailed on the first season, but I know some stuck with it); Homeland is back on Showtime, and I still have a few more episodes of last season of The Magicians to catch up on before the second season starts on SyFy in January.
And then there’s everything else new that we have to work in, and there are some really promising new series this winter. Let’s take a look at the most promising:
Sherlock (PBS): Sherlock is actually a returning series, but it’s been gone for so long that it feels new, and every season is must watch, even if it’s only to complain about how Sherlock isn’t as good as it used to be. Truthfully, bad Sherlock is still great TV.
The Mick (Fox): I barely even sample network television offerings anymore unless there’s a really compelling reason to do so, and with The Mick, that compelling reason is Kaitlin Olson, who is basically playing Sweet Dee in a high-concept comedy where she becomes the guardian to her wealthy sister’s kids and her estate after her sister gets tossed in the slammer. It’s like Sweet Dee of Bel Air.
Taboo (FX): FX has earned sampling rights to all of their dramas, and Taboo will almost certainly get a full-season order on my pain-in-the-ass app for keeping track of TV shows now that I’m a cord cutter. It stars Tom Hardy. It comes from Ridley Scott. I don’t really even understand what it’s about (a guy building a shipping empire?), but it’s British and stars all your favorite British character actors slash people who have already been killed off of Game of Thrones.
A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix (Netflix) — Outside of Doctor Who and The Simpsons, it’s rare that the television interests of my 9-year-old and myself intersect, and who am I to pass up the opportunity for a weekend binge-watch with my kid over a Neil Patrick Harris series?
Young Pope (HBO) — The idea of watching Jude Law play Pius XIII does not sound that appealing to me, except that the reviews for the series — which has already begun airing internationally — sound stellar. It’s being called “brutal” and “anxiety inducing,” and Law’s performance is being lauded as “lacerating.” I’m in.
Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix) — Drew Barrymore and Timothy Olyphant playing a married couple in a dark comedy from Victor Fresco, the guy behind Better Off Ted? There goes that weekend.
Legion (FX) — I had zero interest in Legion when it was a Paul Bettany film, and I probably wouldn’t be that interested in another Marvel series on FX — this one starring Dan Stevens — but for one name: Writer/Creator Noah Hawley, the guy behind the Fargo TV series. Finally, a Marvel series that might actually break from formula.
Also, Aubrey Plaza.
Big Little Lies (HBO) — We talked about this the other day, and while the cast (Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley) might suggest a white person problem drama, it’s actually a gripping dark comedy that features other white people, like a bearded Adam Scott, Alexander Skarsgård and Laura Dern. It looks terrific.