by Deborah Harter Williams
Ah, January – the disappointments of the fall season are behind us and once again new series are on the offing. Here are a few that have piqued anticipation.
Something Old: Many of the new series visit the past, are set in the past, or bring back characters from the past.
The X-Files (Fox, January 24)
After more than a decade the Truth is Out There Again. Though it’s only six episodes here’s a chance to revisit Mulder and Scully. “I think of it as a 13-year commercial break,” said creator Chris Carter. I can almost hear the theme music now. Welcome back Carter, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny.
Vinyl (HBO, February 14)
A couple of decades ago Mick Jagger suggested to Martin Scorsese an idea for a music drama set in early-1970s. Here it is, a ten-episode series with Bobby Cannavale (Third Watch, Will & Grace) as Richie Finestra a struggling record label owner in New York City. Comedians Ray Romano and Andrew Dice Clay have recurring roles. Romano is Richie’s friend and head of promotions at American Century records. Clay plays “Buck” Rogers, radio station owner. Creator/writer is Terence Winter (The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire, Wolf of Wall Street). Scorsese directs and Jagger is one of the Executive Producers.
11.22.63 (Hulu, February 15)
Step into the wayback machine with James Franco who stars as Jake Epping, a time-traveling history teacher. Over 8 episodes, he will try to prevent President John F. Kennedy’s assassination. The story is from the Stephen King novel of the same name. King executive produces along with J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot team.
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (CW, January 21)
“There’s no time like the past to save the future.” Continuing the theme of going back in time is this superhero squad, which uses their time ship to travel back to the 1970s to head off a super villain who wants to take over the world.
The team includes Hawkman, Hawkgirl, White Canary and the Atom. Their leader, the DC character Rip Hunter is played by Arthur Darvill, a former regular on Dr. Who – so he probably has this time travel thing figured out. Producer Greg Berlanti has been making a career of super heroes. This is his third series for CW based on DC Comics characters, including Arrow and The Flash. Watch for those characters to make cross over appearances in the new show.
Colony (USA, January 14)
If it reminds you of Lost don’t be surprised. The show reunites Lost co-stars Josh Holloway and Sarah Wayne Callies and Lost co-creator Carlton Cuse. It’s a sci-fi drama about how the human race survives when aliens have taken over.
Billions (Showtime, January 17)
U.S. Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) is after the Wall Street’s wealthy criminals. In his sights – hedge-fund manager Bobby “Axe” Axelrod. While heading Axe Capital Bobby shows the public his charitable side, while committing crimes to feed his greed. The show was created by New York Times reporter Andrew Ross Sorkin, author of Too Big to Fail and Rounders screenwriter Brian Koppelman. Watch for Felicia Rashad’s daughter Condola as part of Rhoades’ team. The series premiere is available for free www.sho.com/sho/billions/home.
Something Fanciful and Something Funny:
The Magicians (Syfy, January 25)
Brakebills University, is a secret institution specializing in magic. There a group of twenty-something friends train and discover the line between their magical fantasies and a reality that poses grave danger to humanity. Based upon Lev Grossman’s best-selling books, The Magicians. The characters will be a few years older than in the books, entering grad school not college, for example. But the core story remains – Quentin Coldwater’s (Jason Ralph) magical self-discovery. First episode available online www.syfy.com/themagicians.
Angie Tribeca (TBS, January 17)
For a little change of pace from the ever grittier world of TV cops, husband-and-wife writing duo Nancy and Steve Carell (yes, that Steve Carell) offer a cop parody. Parks and Recreation‘s Rashida Jones stars as an officer in the “Really Heinous Crimes Unit.” Jere Burns (Dear John, Justified) plays her boss. TBS is going straight for the binge watchers, running and repeating the first in a 25-hour marathon on January 17 followed by new weekly entries afterwards.
Shades of Blue (NBC, January 7)
Harlee Santos (Jennifer Lopez) is an NYPD detective and single mom. She has money problems and a daughter to protect. Caught up in an anti-corruption investigation, she has to choose between loyalty to her fellow cops and going undercover for the FBI. Ray Liotta plays her boss Lt. “Woz” Wozniak. I’m not a big J-Lo fan but thought one of her best roles was in Out of Sight with George Clooney when she played an FBI agent. Here she plays a believable cop but the tone of the pilot was all intensity with no relief. It looked like Liotta was going to pop a blood vessel in his head. As with most pilots there was an overdose of exposition in trying to establish all the characters and conflicts. If the writing opens up a little, develops some sub-text and a little humor, it could be good. If you’re looking for a hero this probably isn’t the place; it’s shades of gray as well as blue.
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