The idea of television having seasons is largely an American term, but the term increasingly means less and less now the U.S have realised the value of filling the summer with good, original programming. There’s a captive audience all year around you can entertain and advertise to. However, it remains true that most of the year’s biggest small-screen prospects still debut in September and October, then January and February for mid-season… but which new U.S shows have the most potential to be hits?
Below are five notable dramas premiering over the next few months in the U.S, which I think British audiences are going to love…
5. BLINDSPOT – NBC
I’m a sucker for high-concept ideas, so NBC’s new action drama (loosely combining Christopher Nolan’s Memento with NBC’s own The Black List) sounded right up my alley. Thor’s Jaime Alexander plays “Jane Doe”, a woman found naked inside an unattended bag in Times Square. Jane’s suffering from induced amnesia, so who is? And why is her body covered in cryptic tattoos that help solve various crimes? I’ve seen Blindspot’s opening hour, which was a generic hotchpotch of ideas we’ve seen before, but there’s potential for Prison Break-style levels of crazy fun to develop. Or maybe it’ll become insufferable being teased with mysteries for more than a year? You have to be confident about receiving worthwhile answers for ‘puzzle box’ shows to work, or for there to be characters and stories worth watching beyond the background enigmas.
U.S Premiere: 21 September, NBC. (Coming soon to Sky Living).
4. THE MUPPETS – ABC
I like The Muppets, although I’ve never completely loved The Muppets. I wasn’t alive during the mid-’70s heyday of Jim Henson’s famous creations, and wasn’t keen on Sesame Street growing up in the ’80s (being more of a Fraggle Rock guy). I’ve enjoyed some of their movies, but without a childhood bond to these colourful characters I find it tough to be swept along in adulthood. However, the beautifully simple idea of putting Kermit the frog, Miss Piggy, Gonzo, Fozzie, et al, into an Office-style mockumentary format is very promising. It’s a smart, modern update of their oh-so-Seventies variety stage show milieu, and the trailers I’ve seen have been very amusing. The pre-publicity involving Kermit having apparently split from Miss Piggy for a younger, sexier pig has also been a stroke of marketing genius.
U.S Premiere: 22 September, ABC. (Coming soon to Sky 1).
3. SCREAM QUEENS – FOX
MTV’s Scream: The Series just wasn’t funny or scary enough for me, so I’m hoping the similar concept of Scream Queens will better transpose the slasher film to weekly TV. Ryan Murphy‘s behind this tale of a university sorority under attack from a masked killer, and it’s a combination of his earlier hits American Horror Story and Glee. It won’t have the creative freedom AHS takes full-blooded advantage of on cable network FX, so don’t expect the violence and profanity to be jaw-dropping… but if it can be as funny, frightening, and compelling as the concept demands it must be… I’ll be happy. The cast alone guarantees some early commitment; ranging from genre legend Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween, Prom Night, The Fog) and rising star Emma Roberts (American Horror Story), to Glee stalwart Lea Michele, Grammy-nominated pop star Ariana Grande, and indie fave Abigail Breslin (Little Miss Sunshine).
U.S Premiere: 22 September, Fox. (No UK broadcaster yet).
2. SUPERGIRL – CBS
I’ve seen this comic-book drama’s pilot, which was vibrant and spirited entertainment with excellent special effects. The basic concept comes with some irritations baked into it (the concurrent existence of Superman feels like an unnecessary millstone around its neck), but ex-Glee star Melissa Benoist is superb casting and the production values are exemplary. It feels like the big-budget Superman TV show fans have craved since the days of Lois & Clark, with added feminism. Coming from the writer-producers who’ve guided The CW’s Arrow and The Flash to huge popularity and acclaim, this one should really fly.
U.S Premiere: 26 October, CBS. (No UK broadcaster yet).
1. ASH VS. EVIL DEAD – STARZ
That trailer. Oh man, that trailer. I’ve watched it an unhealthy amount of times. Ash vs. Evil Dead looks like ridiculous fun; perfectly repackaging Army of Darkness’ slapstick comedy vibe, while making smart updates to ensure it’ll work as weekly half-hour episodes. Fans like myself have waited decades for Evil Dead 4, and this Starz action-horror looks like a great alternative to that permanently ‘in development’ sequel. Evil Dead creator Sam Raimi returns to direct the tone-establishing pilot, with cult legend Bruce Campbell once again kicking ass and making quips whilst slaughtering Deadites with his trusty “boomstick” and stump-mounted chainsaw. There are all the usual camera tilts, whip pans, and crash zooms that became the Raimi’s signature style, too. Blood, guts, fanged monsters, tiny killer dolls… groovy times ahead come Halloween.
U.S Premiere: 31 October, Starz. (No UK broadcaster yet).