2016: Television Preview

television preview
The best new and returning TV shows of New Year 2016...

A new year brings fresh entertainment from the world of television. To help you get over the loss of 2015 to the mists of time, below you can find a few teases of the best new things premiering between January and March; sleuths, superheroes, FBI agents, record producers, and the devil himself…

SHERLOCK

• BBC1, New Year’s Day (UK) | PBS (US)

While not a new show, this special episode of the BBC’s modern-day Sherlock Holmes drama is nevertheless worth highlight because it’s change to the norm. How so? Well, “The Abominable Bride” feature-length Sherlock takes place in Victorian London, with no rhyme or reason, beyond the fact it’ll be fun and gives Benedict Cumberbatch the chance to go ‘full Sherlock’ with the famous detective’s iconic accoutrements.

BEOWULF: RETURN TO THE SHIELDLANDS

• ITV, 3 January

After the apathetic shrug everyone gave their Jekyll & Hyde remake (beyond the brouhaha over its family-unfriendly, pre-watershed content), ITV will be hoping their lavish retelling of the Old English poem is a bigger success. Tongue-twisting title aide, Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, has a promising Anglo-American cast in William Hurt (Humans), Joanne Whalley (Wolf Hall, Jamaica Inn), Ed Speleers (Downton Abbey), David Harewood (Homeland, Supergirl), Elliott Cowan (Da Vinci’s Demons), Laura Donnelly (Outlander), Edward Hogg (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell), and many others. Guest stars include John Simm (Life on Mars) and David Bradley (The Strain, Broadchurch).

LEGENDS OF TOMORROW

• The CW, 21 January (US) | Sky1 (UK)

After the twin successes of Arrow and The Flash, Legend of Tomorrow is essentially The CW’s take on The Avengers, with a superhero team-up of recurring characters and new faces: Ray Palmer/The Atom (Brandon Routh), Professor Stein/Firestorm (Victor Garber), Sara Lance/White Canary (Caity Lotz), Mick Rory/Heat Wave (Dominic Purcell), Leonard Snart/Captain Cold (Wentworth Miller), Kendra Saunders/Hawkgirl (Ciara Renée), and Carter Hall/Hawkman (Falk Hentschel). In this spin-off, they’re all recruited by time-traveller Rip Hunter (Doctor Who’s Arthur Darvill) to stop immortal megalomaniac Vandal Savage (Casper Crump). It’s an ambitious superhero ensemble adventure across Time & Space, but are we at ‘Peak Superhero’ now?

MAD DOGS

• Amazon Prime, 22 January

Last year’s pilot was popular enough for Amazon to commission a 10-episode run from showunner Shawn Ryan (The Shield, Terriers), so expectations are high for this U.S remake of the original Mad Dogs series, which aired in the UK until 2013. The premise remains the same, with three middle-aged childhood buddies arriving on an exotic island to get reacquainted with a rich, successful mutual friend. Things take a decidedly dark twist, however, leaving the guys with a dead body on their hands.

THE X-FILES

• Fox, 24 January (US) | Channel 5 (UK)

Like Sherlock, this isn’t a new show, but how can you not mention the return of The X-Files for a six-part ‘event series’, 13 years after it ended on television? Creator Chris Carter has reassembled his primary cast (David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Mitch Pileggi, William B. Davis), plus veteran writers like Glen Morgan, James Wong, and Darin Morgan. A story from the latter Emmy-winning genius, “Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster”, should be worth seeing by itself. Guest-stars include Joel McHale (Community), Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords), Robbie Ammell (The Flash), Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under), and Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley). Can Chris Carter recapture what made the 1990s series such a hit, in a post-9/11 culture where being suspicious of government officials doesn’t feel particularly edgy? The truth may still be out there, but do we care?

LUCIFER

• Fox, 25 January (US) | Amazon Prime (UK)

Loosely based on the Neil Gaiman comic-books, but perhaps fairer to say “inspired by”, Lucifer is another entry in the popular trope of a supernatural entity helping cops solve crimes. Here, literal charming devil Lucifer Morningstar (Miranda’s Tom Ellis) has vacated his throne in Hell, to run a nightclub in Los Angeles. Unsurprisingly, it’s not long before he’s helping LAPD detective Chloe Dancer (Lauren German) with her cases, because of his unique ability to compel others to tell him their secrets comes in handy. I’ve seen the pilot episode already, and it’s exactly what you expect from these kinds of shows. If you like crime procedurals, but prefer them with a loquacious Englishman being witty and superior, Lucifer will tide you over between episodes of Sleepy Hollow.

STAN LEE’S LUCKY MAN

• Sky1, January

This is a new superhero drama, co-created by Marvel comics legend Stan Lee, about a detective with a gambling habit called Harry Clayton (James Nesbitt), who meets a mysterious woman called Eve (Sienna Guillory) who gives him a bracelet that endows him with incredible luck. Co-stars Amara Karan (The Darjeeling Limited), Eve Best (Nurse Jackie), Darren Boyd (Spy), Omid Djalili (Moonfleet), Steven Mackintosh (Inside Men), Sendhil Ramamurthy (Heroes), Jing Lusi (Holby City), Stephen Hagan (Against the Dark) and Alex Jennings (The Lady in the Van).

VINYL

• HBO, 14 February | Sky Atlantic, 15 February

Not much is known about this prestige cable drama, beyond the fact it’s set in the 1960s and concerns a man called Richie Finestra (Bobby Cannavale) trying to resurrect his record label American Century. However, it’s from the same creative team behind Boardwalk Empire, having been created by Terrence Winter with a pilot directed by Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas), so it’s fair to assume a similar level of period detail and intrigue. Co-stars include Olivia Wilde (as Richie’s wife), Ray Romano (as Richie’s head of promotions), Ato Essandoh, Max Casella, P.J Byrne, J.C MacKenzie, Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, Juno Temple & Jack Quaid.

There are other new and returning shows coming in 2016, of course, but those are my picks of the ones that seem to hold the most promise. If you think I’ve missed any TV shows that are much better, let us know in the comments below.

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