In the age of streaming and the subsequent binge-watching that comes with it, production studios are focusing on TV shows like never before. Once viewed as cinema’s inferior younger sibling, the potential of the long-form series has never been greater than it is in our current era of on-demand viewing. As many beloved shows begin to draw to a close, new offerings are popping up that could grab hold of the cultural zeitgeist and become must-see TV for years to come. Comprised of the shows that have already captured the public’s imagination and those that are hoping to follow, here is a chronological rundown of the most anticipated TV series for the year ahead.
Let us know which show you are most excited for.
Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (01/24)
Nowadays, it seems like the viewing public’s appetite for true crime docuseries’ is practically unquenchable and Netflix has played a major role in providing compelling, binge-worthy accounts of murders, bank heists and more in recent years. In the spirit of Making A Murderer, Evil Genius and The Staircase, Netflix is preparing to bring us a unique insight into the warped mind of one of America’s most infamous serial killers in Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. Constructed from never-before-seen interviews that he agreed to in a bid to clear his name, its chilling trailer suggests that audiences will get unprecedented insight regarding his modus operandi and seemingly timid nature in the eyes of those who knew him best. Seemingly spurred on to maim and murder by a need to be “fulfilled,” The Ted Bundy Tapes covers everything from his formative years to the media circus of his trial in excruciatingly grisly detail that true crime fanatics are sure to relish and recoil at all at once.
Black Earth Rising: (01/25)
Boasting a notoriously elusive 100% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes prior to release, the critical consensus is that Black Earth Rising will be one of the finest viewing obligations you will undertake all year. Billed as a one-off mini-series, it stars Michaela Coel of Black Mirror fame, who escaped the horrors of the Rwandan genocide as a child and fled to the UK. Another product of the working relationship between Netflix and BBC, it follows the adult Kate Ashby’s life as a legal investigator and the conflict between her and her adopted mother. Flanked by John Goodman as renowned litigator Michael Ennis, the strife arises from her mother’s role in the prosecution of a Congolese militia leader that had once fought to prevent the horrors of genocide at the International Criminal Court. Lauded by UK audience, the series focuses on Kate’s journey to try and come to terms with her traumatic past and attempts to not permit it to interfere with her future.
Just as one George R.R Martin creation prepares for its televised swan-song, another of his meticulously detailed universes is being brought to the screen. Initially aired on SyFy at the end of the year, Nightflyers was designed as a rebuttal to claims that sci-fi and horror didn’t mesh. Just shy of 40 years on from its first pressing, the property is set to be aired on demand via Netflix. Based on the exploits of scientists and a telepath as they make their way to the edge of the solar system, their expedition soon takes a turn for the sinister as a string of heinous acts take place. As far as what the future holds, showrunner Jeff Buhler has every intention of delivering a story that spans more than its initial ten-episode order:
“When I pitched Nightflyers, I pitched a journey that encompassed more than one season. The novella essentially outlines where the first season goes and leaves us in a place of total mystery… We have some opportunities to dig a bit deeper into the world.”
The Umbrella Academy (02/15)
Derived from Dark Horse Comics’ Eisner Award-winning graphic novels, The Umbrella Academy revolves around a collection of children that were born through unexplainable immaculate conceptions before being adopted by a wealthy benefactor. With seven of the 43 all housed under one roof, it soon transpires that most of them possess superhuman powers. As far as the central plot goes, it sees far-flung siblings “The Monocle,” “Spaceboy,” “The Kraken,” “The Rumor,” “The Horror,” “The Seance,” “Number Five” and mortal outcast Vanya try to reconcile their differences in order to save the world and unveil the mystery of their father’s death. Created by My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way, the new Netflix series will be comprised of ten one-hour episodes and Ellen Page and Robert Sheehan in starring roles alongside Mary J Blige as time-traveling assassin “Cha-Cha.”
Game Of Thrones Season 8: (04/15)
The epic conclusion to one of the most successful franchises of the past decade or more, the final season of Game Of Thrones will be comprised of six episodes that range between the length of 60-80 minutes and will aim to bring the saga to a conclusion of epic proportions. With each episode costing a staggering $15 million, it’s safe to say that they’ve spared no expense in the hopes of giving this war the conclusion it deserves. In the words of Executive Producer Bryan Cogman, Season 8 is all about its diverse entities coming to terms with the destiny that lies in front of them:
“It’s about all of these disparate characters coming together to face a common enemy, dealing with their own past, and defining the person they want to be in the face of certain death. “It’s an incredibly emotional, haunting, bittersweet final season and I think it honours very much what [author George RR Martin] set out to do – which is flipping this kind of story on its head.”
The Twilight Zone (Spring)
Though we may be spoiled for choice when it comes to gripping dramas today, the modern lens doesn’t account for the scarcity of compelling storytelling in years gone by. With Get Out’s Jordan Peele filling the shoes of creator Rod Serling, CBS: All Access is reviving one of its most cherished properties in The Twilight Zone with a cast that includes Adam Scott, John Cho, Jacob Tremblay, Dewanda Wise, Lucinda Dryzek and more. Steeped in the realm of the paranormal that would go on to inspire The X Files and the work of M. Night Shyamalan in the decades to come, its first trailer features Peele echoing the words of his precursor as he informs us that “a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination” awaits us through the door. Poised to be the third attempt at a reboot, little is known about each episode’s plot aside from the fact that Adam Scott will take centre stage in a modern day interpretation of the classic “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” starring William Shatner.
Stranger Things Season 3 (04/07)
For all that fans were reticent about returning to Hawkins, Indiana after how masterful the first outing was, Stranger Things Season 2 proved that there was untapped potential in its premise. Two years on, we’re making a beeline back to the once sleepy town after filming wrapped in November 2018. While the last season picked up in the autumnal fog of Halloween, the upcoming series will air on July 4th and it’s likely that its plot will do the same. Although details may be scant, the unveiling of a trailer that highlighted the new “Starcourt Mall” and a cameo from the expertly-quaffed Steve Harrington was enough to get pulses racing about a return to the bridge between our world and the Upside Down. Apart from the ill-fated Barb, all of your favourite characters are set to make a return and it’s likely that Lucas’ quick-witted sister Erica (portrayed by Pria Ferguson) will be cultivating more screen time than ever. In addition to her newfound central role, the cast also welcomes Maya Thurman Hawke- yes, Uma and Ethan’s daughter- as “alternative girl” Robin.
Mr Robot Season Four (Summer)
Although it was subject to the law of diminishing returns in season three, the news that Mr Robot’s fourth outing will be its last has left fans hopeful that the E-Corp saga will get the conclusion it deserves. With Oscar nominee Rami Malek reprising the central role of Elliot one more time, speculation is running rampant as to who or what will bring the story arc to an end. Amended from the five season arc that creator Sam Esmali had planned, there’s no telling exactly how the fourth season will plan out but hopefully we’ll be treated to more of Joey Bada$$’ enchanting turn as Dark Army covert agent Leon.
Orange Is The New Black Season 7 (Summer)
After a tumultuous season 6 that brought the prison drama to new, blood-soaked heights in Litchfield Max, the final season of Orange Is The New Black is sure to be bittersweet. Renowned for its mix of comedy, poignancy and beautifully illustrated social commentary, season 6’s conclusion left a swathe of unanswered questions about the fate of many of its characters after Litchfield’s dissolvement and the onset of ICE into proceedings. Now that so many of its core ensemble are heading off in disparate directions, it’s time to see what becomes of Alex, Piper, Taystee, Crazy Eyes and more as the well-loved series wraps up.
Central Park Five (TBD)
The latest collaboration between Netflix and Ava DuVernay after the historic 13th, the director will turn her hand to examining the prosecution and exoneration of The Central Park Five. While many true crime fans are likely acquainted with the story of the five Harlem teenagers that were errantly convicted of raping jogger Trisha Meili, this new retelling will be made up of five episodes and examine a case that DuVernay says has “riveted me for two decades.” As to what Ava’s project will bring to the table, Netflix’s vice president of original content Cindy Holland has said:
“This is one of the most talked-about cases of our time and Ava’s passionate vision and masterful direction will bring the human stories behind the headlines to life in this series.”
Black Mirror Season 5 (TBD)
Hot on the heels of breaching the boundaries of television with the interactive Bandersnatch, Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror is set to return with more tales of ill-fated technological advancements and cautionary tales later this year. Known for its no-holds-barred social commentary and unique outlook on humanity’s increasingly bleak future, creators of the lauded show are wasting little time in getting back to their regular format. In terms of when we can expect a new deluge of stories, Brooker has said that while their multi-outcome detour had slightly derailed them, season 5 would be arriving in the near future:
“It’s all imminent-ish. It’ll be out soon. Doing Bandersnatch was like doing several episodes at once, so in one respect the season episodes are more straightforward, though they all come with their own challenges.”
Known to be littered with famous faces, few details about the fifth edition’s cast are known aside from the fact that Miley Cyrus apparently filmed an episode in Cape Town, South Africa. At a time of great political upheaval in the US and his native Britain, early indications that the new season will be “a mix” of their usual harrowing fare offset by moments of levity akin to San Junipero.
Mindhunter Season 2 (TBD)
Hailed as one of David Fincher’s finest projects in years, Mindhunter took fans deep into the psyches of the US’ most depraved criminals through the eyes of FBI agents Holden Ford and Bill Tench as they struggled to separate the job from their personal lives. Set in the 1970s, this period drama may have already exposed us to the twisted pathology of Ed Kemper but is now primed to introduce us to Charles Manson and more. In terms of the story’s progression, Executive Producer Fincher noted that its two-year leap forward in time will allow for a trip to Georgia to become a focal point:
“Next year we’re looking at the Atlanta child murders, so we’ll have a lot more African-American music which will be nice. The music will evolve. It’s intended to support what’s happening with the show and for the show to evolve radically between seasons.”
Power Season 6 (TBD)
When it comes to the latest season of Starz hit drama Power, 50 Cent and his fellow co-producers are keeping their cards distinctly close to their chest. Aside from the news that the disbandment of any friendship between Ghost and Tommy will dominate the narrative at the outset, series creator Courtney Kemp’s proclamation that the show is “not designed to go 15 seasons” could mean that the newest entry will put us on a collision course with the end. Among its many attributes, Power’s unique selling point is that it feels as though the character’s lives could change at any given moment and so it leaves us to ponder who’ll be left standing by the time season 6 reaches its finale.
Renowned for its richly fleshed-out dystopia, the comic book series Watchmen has remained a beloved franchise even if the first big screen adaptation was divisive, to say the least. Set in a world after Dr Manhattan, Damon Lindelof’s new project will abstain from retreading the same ground as Alan Moore and David Gibbon’s classic tale and will instead use it as a foundation to build off and explore its socially pertinent focal points in new ways. While the idiosyncratic Moore is known to revile screen interpretations of his work, insight from Gibbons suggests that this could make for very intriguing viewing to say the least:
“I do know a little about it. I’ve had conversations with Damon, and I’ve read the screenplay for the pilot. I don’t think it’s my place to say too much about it, other than I found Damon’s approach to be really refreshing and exciting and unexpected. I don’t think it’s gonna be what people think it’s going to be. It certainly wasn’t what I imagined it to be. I think it’s extremely fresh. I’m really looking forward to seeing it on the screen.”
The Mandalorian (TBD)
When it comes to Star Wars characters that don’t bear the surname of Skywalker, very few are as enduringly popular as Boba Fett. Known for his penchant for disintegrations and trademark helmet, there has always been a sense that the bounty hunter was short-changed with his anticlimactic death in Return Of The Jedi. Directed by Disney favourite Jon Favreau, a new TV series is hoping to give his kind a much-needed restoration with The Mandalorian. Primed to follow the plight of a lone gunfighter that bears a striking resemblance to his famed predecessor, this tales follows Narcos’ Pedro Pascal in the titular role after the downfall of the empire.
With the first trailer allegedly set to premiere at a Star Wars Fan Celebration in April, fans’ spirits have been kept buoyant by an all-star cast that includes former MMA fighter Gina Carano, Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito, Werner Herzog and even Carl Weathers. Topped off with a score courtesy of Childish Gambino’s longtime co-conspirator and Black Panther OST composer Ludwig Göransson, this prospect of this series blows off the apathetic cobwebs that Solo: A Star Wars Story left in its wake.
Too Old To Die Young (TBD)
Known for his expertly crafted and highly-stylized works, Nicholas Winding Refyn is an uncompromising auteur that never fails to captivate and bewilder in the same artfully realized frame. Although not everything he’s done has seeped into the fabric of culture like the Ryan Gosling-starring Drive, all signs suggest that his new examination of “the criminal underbelly of Los Angeles” is a must-watch for any TV viewer that wants to be challenged and captivated at every turn. As if it didn’t sound intoxicating enough on paper, the premise has since been fleshed out by a neon-soaked trailer that invites viewers into a lurid world of bullets, betrayal and brutality that Refyn has made into his menacing niche in recent years.
The brainchild of American Horror Story mastermind Ryan Murphy, Ratched is an attempt to explore the origins of one of cinema’s most despised villains. Taken from the world of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, the sought-after visionary is aiming to try and bring that fabled midas touch to depict Nurse Ratched’s transformation into a tyrannical monster. Starring none other than AHS’ Sarah Paulson alongside a “murderer’s row of talent” including Cynthia Nixon and Sharon Stone, this expansion on an iconic character promises to be a riveting watch from start to finish.
Jessica Jones Season 3 (TBD)
If the rumors are true and this is to be the final Marvel series on Netflix, we can but hope that Jessica Jones Season 3 brings the curtain down with a bang. With filming well underway, Krysten Ritter and co. will hope to build on the critical success of season 2 in order to prolong the series on a new platform. After the death of Jessica’s mother at the hands of Trish Walker, it’s safe to assume that the plot will pick up from the acrimonious end to their childhood bond with many believing that she’ll morph into Hellcat just as she does in the original comics. For Ritter, the new series will be less preoccupied with the trials of days gone by and more focused on Jessica’s next evolution:
“I think season one and two, we really looked back at Jessica’s past. We looked at what made her as hardcore she is and how isolated [she is], and she’s learned a lot — I think especially in season two she’s learned a lot about herself. She has a lot to live up to, and I’m curious to see what she does next.”