The A.V. Club tells you what to watch in 2017

A.V. Club Most Read

The A.V. Club tells you what to watch in 2017

From left to right: Taboo, Emerald City, Legion. Image by Nick Wanserski.
From left to right: Taboo, Emerald City, Legion. Image by Nick Wanserski.

With the winter and spring TV premieres looking to match their fall counterparts in scope and anticipation, we’ll all be hard-pressed to narrow down our viewing resolutions, let alone stick to them. Even if you narrow it to just star-studded dramas, there’s still not enough time in the day to watch them all. That’s why we’ve sifted through all the upcoming television to bring you a preview of 2017’s early arrivals, in the name of giving our readers the insights to decide which comic-book adaptation or period piece to watch. Get ready to commit to a binge-watch or weekly broadcast, and clear some space in your DVR. (All times listed are Eastern.)

January

The Mick (Fox, debuted Sunday, January 1 at 8 p.m.; regular time slot Tuesdays at 8:30 p.m.)

If you’ve ever watched It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (and, if not, you should get on that) and thought, “Sweet Dee should have her own sitcom where she’s unwisely put in charge of a trio of rich kids,” then this is what you’ve been waiting for. Sunny fans know there’s no more underrated physical comedian on TV than Kaitlin Olson, especially when it comes to giving and receiving comic abuse, and her “free-spirited” (meaning drunk, crude, and irresponsible) aunt in The Mick looks prepared to herd her spoiled charges into some very Sweet Dee-style shenanigans after she’s stuck as their guardian when their fraudster parents go on the lam. With her other series coming back at the same time (Sunny premieres January 4)—and with Olson teaming with longtime Sunny writer-producers John and Dave Chernin—The Mick seems ready to double down on the “Kaitlin Olson behaving very badly” programming strategy Sunny fans have enjoyed all these years. [Dennis Perkins]

Ransom (CBS, debuts Sunday, January 1 at 8:30 p.m.; regular time slot Saturdays at 8 p.m.)

Ransom is not, as you’d expect in this day and age of constant film-to-TV reboots, an adaptation of the 1996 Mel Gibson and Gary Sinise thriller. Instead, CBS’s first new show of the year, created by Combat Hospital’s David Vainola, focuses on a crisis and hostage negotiation team that—as is the norm on television—is brought in when no other team can get the job done. The team is helmed by Black Sails’ Luke Roberts and made up of Penny Dreadful’s Sarah Greene, Heroes Reborn’s Nazneen Contractor, and Graceland’s Brandon Jay McLaren. A regular time slot on Saturday nights doesn’t look like the network has much confidence in the final product, but all signs point to it being another crime procedural from the reliable-if-unremarkable CBS machine. Hopefully if things get slow, someone will decide to channel the other project with the same name and scream “Give me back my son!” at the right moment. [Les Chappell]

One Day At A Time (Netflix, debuts January 6)

Reboots crowded the fall lineup, and they’re not going away next year. But here’s one we’re actually excited about: Norman Lear has remade his groundbreaking sitcom One Day At A Time. The prolific producer is sticking to his multi-camera format, but there is a twist—the series features a predominantly Latino cast. The ever-charming Justina Machado, who gave such a soulful performance on Six Feet Under, has assumed Bonnie Franklin’s single-mom duties as Penelope, an Army vet turned nurse who’s also trying to do right by her kids. Rita Moreno also stars as Penelope’s vivacious Cuban mother, while Isabella Gomez and Marcel Ruiz play her adorable teen and tween. There’s also Todd Grinnell as the modern-day Schneider, the building super whose previous penchant for popping in at all hours will probably be curbed in this new iteration. The series looks poised to be as timely and aspirational as the original, but while certain political themes can’t help but arise, the focus remains on the multigenerational family. [Danette Chavez]

Emerald City (NBC, debuts Friday, January 6 at 9 p.m.)

There’s every reason in the world to learn of NBC’s reimagining of L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard Of Oz and its accompanying universe and dismissively sneer, “It’s been done,” but the creative team behind Emerald City—which stars Adria Arjona as Dorothy Gale and Vincent D’Onofrio as the Wizard—provides at least two good reasons to consider giving it a shot. First of all, it’s executive-produced by Shaun Cassidy, who has a history of delivering dark, quirky network television (see American Gothic, Roar, and Invasion for proof), but on the visual side of things, the entire production is directed by Tarsem Singh (The Cell), so viewers should at the very least be able to count on everything looking great. Whether or not it’ll manage to forge enough of its own path to keep viewers entertained over the course of multiple weeks, however, is going to be a far tougher prediction to lock in. [Will Harris]

Taboo (FX, debuts January 10 at 10 p.m.)

Tom Hardy becomes the latest film star to make the transition to the smaller screen with Taboo, an eight-episode series Hardy created in conjunction with the BBC One and Peaky Blinders showrunner Steven Knight. Hardy plays James Delaney, an 1814 adventurer who—after being presumed dead—returns to wage war against the East India Company to hold onto his family’s shipping company and avenge his father’s death. Much of the show will rest on Hardy’s broad shoulders, and the terse and brooding star of Mad Max: Fury Road and The Revenant is a natural fit for FX’s brutal style of dramas. Early glimpses of the show support that while the exact nature of Delaney’s war remains vague, the imagery is full of the same arcane horror and brutality that’s distinguished various incarnations of American Horror Story, and there’s some promising appearances by Michael Kelly and Jonathan Pryce as oily antagonists to Hardy’s subdued menace. If the story is solid enough, Taboo could be the gripping and violent period drama FX audiences had hoped to get out of The Bastard Executioner. [Les Chappell]

A Series Of Unfortunate Events (Netflix, debuts January 13)

“If you are interested in stories with happy endings, that story is streaming elsewhere.” Well, it’s also streaming on Netflix, but Patrick Warburton’s words as Lemony Snicket still certainly makes a point in terms tone setting. In a time of binge-watching and the overwhelming concept of “peak TV,” A Series Of Unfortunate Events is the type of story that makes complete sense in the form of a Netflix series. After the somewhat off-the-mark feature film attempted to cover the first three novels in 2004, and as television evolved in the way it told stories, it became obvious that the 13-book young-adult series would be better suited for television, if given another chance. In fact, this Netflix series could be considered “A Series Of Sensical Decision-Making,” especially as grim twists on nostalgia-based material are all the rage these days; since A Series Of Unfortunate Events’ basic existence cuts out the middleman by already being a grim source material, it truly is a no-brainer. Or you could just follow Lemony Snicket’s advice and watch something more pleasant. [LaToya Ferguson]

Victoria (PBS, Sundays, debuts January 15 at 9 p.m.)

An imported drama that’s already set the U.K. on fire, Victoria hopes to bring new life to PBS’ Sunday night Masterpiece slot. A quickly paced (for PBS) series that follows young Queen Victoria as she rises to power, finds love, and learns her place in the world, Victoria thrives on both its intricate look at history and its spectacular sets. Inspired by Victoria’s diaries—all 62 million words of them—Victoria aims to be equal parts drama and fact, something that the show does seem to achieve. Doctor Who’s Jenna Coleman makes an aptly coy Victoria, and Dancing On The Edge’s Tom Hughes is a broodingly handsome Prince Albert. If you’re a fan of historical dramas, sappy romances, or charming twentysomething actors playing troubled white people of privilege, you’ll probably fall for Victoria. [Marah Eakin]

The Young Pope (HBO, Sundays, debuts January 15 at 9 p.m.)

The title for HBO’s The Young Pope is fairly self explanatory: It’s, yes, a show about a young—well, youngish—pope, newly ascended to the highest rank in the Catholic Church. But with director Paolo Sorrentino at the helm, you can also be sure that you’re in for a surreal ride into a dream- and/or nightmare-scape. Jude Law plays Lenny Belardo, the first American pontiff and a thoroughly inscrutable character. From the outset, it’s unclear whether he’s a complete zealot or a radical; whether he believes he’s divine or doesn’t ascribe to any high power at all. He brings to the Vatican a wealth of personal baggage and his trusted advisor Sister Mary (Diane Keaton), the woman who raised him. With the series, Law and Keaton have two of their meatiest roles in years, following the questions of who this young pope is and what his intentions are. Meanwhile, Sorrentino—of the Oscar-winning The Great Beauty—builds a visual world as lush as art that hangs in the Vatican, steeped in symbolism. [Esther Zuckerman]

Frontier (Netflix, debuts January 20)

At last, said someone at Discovery Canada, a show for people who have been missing a character who died in the first season of Game Of Thrones that will also please everyone clamoring for a story about the Canadian fur trade in the 1700s. Jason Momoa brings his signature broodiness to the role of Declan Harp, a trader resisting the efforts of the Hudson’s Bay Company to dominate the fur trade. The show has the requisite British character actors and enough blood and guts to satisfy anyone who likes their historical fiction violent, and presents fur trading as the cutthroat, betrayal-filled world you always suspected it to be. The Wall Street Of Wolves, if you will. The show comes to America on Netflix, which has already renewed it for a second season, suggesting that Momoa may have slightly better luck on this show than he did as Khal Drogo. The series comes from the creators of the Newfoundland-set mystery series Republic Of Doyle, and features directing efforts from Brad Peyton, best-known for his work steering Dwayne Johnson through the various earthquake-related disasters of San Andreas. [Lisa Weidenfeld]

Riverdale (The CW, Thursdays, debuts January 26 at 9 p.m.)

Remember Archie? He’s back, in moody, self-aware CW teen drama form! Riverdale continues the thoroughly modern overhaul that Archie Comics has undergone in the 2010s, eschewing the grown-up woes of Life With Archie or the zombie apocalypse of Afterlife With Archie for a small-town saga that picks up after a tragic death injects a dose of reality (albeit a soapy type of reality) into the titular setting’s malt-shop-and-drive-in-movie time capsule. Riverdale is a winking remix of the past 30 years in YA media, in which Archie and Miss Grundy make like Pacey and Miss Jacobs, and Veronica speaks like a Heather but thinks like Blair Waldorf and cares like Cady Heron—and the whole thing is bound together by a murderous conspiracy right out of Veronica Mars or Pretty Little Liars. This schlocky fun is overseen by Afterlife With Archie creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, who weaves a story about kids straining against the roles that 75 years of Archie comics have set for them—the girl next door, the raven-haired ice queen, the asexual hamburger fiend in the goofy hat—and a town trying to keep its true nature under wraps. But with all its camp and quips, its weekly plot twists, and younger, sexualized renditions of characters who usually look like this, the biggest mystery of all might be “Is Riverdale for real?” [Erik Adams]

Z: The Beginning Of Everything (Amazon, debuts January 27)

Christina Ricci has always had a knack for tackling women both sly and headstrong at once. That talent should serve her well in Z: The Beginning Of Everything, Amazon’s effort to turn the story of Zelda Fitzgerald into an ongoing series. In literary history, Zelda is an iconic figure, as mythic and tragic in her real-life odyssey as one of her husband’s fictional muses. The show will trace Zelda Sayre through her life as she meets F. Scott Fitzgerald, the two fall in love, and begin a tempestuous and passionate romance that will consume the remaining years of their sadly ill-fated lives. Judging from the trailer, however, the series will also look into Zelda’s own literary talent and ambitions, and the ways both a restrictive society and her own troubled relationship may have contributed to her stifled artistry. As with other Amazon period pieces like the abruptly canceled Good Girls Revolt, the design and costuming look immaculate. With luck, the narrative will be as engaging as the style. [Alex McCown-Levy]

February

Powerless (NBC, Thursdays, debuts February 2 at 8:30 p.m.)

Danny Pudi, Vanessa Hudgens, and Christina Kirk in Powerless (Photo: Chris Large/NBC)

Someone’s got to pay for all that crowd-pleasing but destructive superhero chaos, so who you gonna call? Vanessa Hudgens, who—alongside her co-workers at the Bruce Wayne-owned Wayne Security—deal with the physical and financial aftermath of the latest super-throwdown. From creator Ben (not Oliver) Queen (A To Z), this workplace comedy series is set right smack in the middle of the DC Comics universe—although licensing agreements will dictate just what heroes and villains are involved—and features an impressively geek-friendly cast, including Community’s Danny Pudi, Firefly and Rogue One’s Alan Tudyk, Garfunkel And Oates’ Kate Micucci, and Undateable’s Ron Funches as Hudgens’ partners in crime-adjacent repair and restitution. Sure, the superhero genre may be at its saturation point, but this oddball adjunct promises to take some of the hot air out of all the larger-than-life posturing and mayhem, even if it does sort of seem that Bruce Wayne’s involvement in profiting from his own actions is a little Lex Luthor-like. [Dennis Perkins]

Training Day (CBS, Thursdays, debuts February 2 at 10 p.m.)

Retooling action movies of the not-so-distant past as buddy-cop TV vehicles is a hit-and-miss proposition. While Lethal Weapon has proven to be a solid ratings performer, Rush Hour was canceled after only 13 episodes. Training Day, based on the 2001 Antoine Fuqua-directed film that netted Denzel Washington an Oscar, has its work cut out for it given that (as the title suggests) its premise is best confined to a limited timeframe. The series positions itself as a sequel set 15 years after the events of the movie, although it revolves around an entirely new set of characters. (Rumors that Ethan Hawke may reprise his big screen role on a recurring basis are as yet unfounded.) This time it’s Bill Paxton as bad cop Frank Rourke and Justin Cornwell as fresh-faced trainee Kyle Craig squabbling over ethics while taking down bad guys on the mean streets of L.A. Will Rourke corrupt Craig, or will Craig be able to steer Rourke back to the straight-and-narrow? More importantly, how long can a weekly series sustain such a conflict? We’ll tune in to see if King Kong has anything on Paxton, who will have to tap untold reserves of charisma to match Washington’s powerhouse performance. [Scott Von Doviak]

Santa Clarita Diet (Netflix, starts streaming February 3)

Drew Barrymore in Santa Clarita Diet (Photo: Travis Topa/ Netflix)

The title of this new Netflix sitcom is relatively benign, and stars Drew Barrymore in her first series and Timothy Olyphant’s first return to regular TV since Justified, so what’s not to love? Well, the subject matter, for one thing: The Santa Clarita Diet consists of something really unsavory, as Barrymore is a vaguely dissatisfied suburban wife, mother, and realtor who dives into her dark side. It appears that creator Victor Fresco (Better Off Ted, My Name Is Earl) is making a non-too-guarded attack on benign suburbia. For Sheila and Joel (Barrymore and Olyphant), her dark side has the unusual effect of invigorating their marriage even as they face threats from the cop who lives next door (Ricardo Chavira), and still try to raise their teenage daughter (Liv Hewson). Santa Clarita Diet is going for none-more-black humor, but it’s aiming for an audience that loves both bloody gross-outs and Drew Barrymore, which is not a Venn diagram with a lot of overlap. [Gwen Ihnat]

24: Legacy (Fox, Mondays at 8 p.m., debuts February 5 after the Super Bowl)

Can 24 survive without Jack Bauer? That’s the most pressing question 24: Legacy needs to answer—well, that and whether or not the show’s convoluted, paranoia-laced action melodrama approach is still as vital as it used to be. The latest iteration of the what-a-difference-a-day-makes series finds new lead Corey Hawkins with some familiar problems: Once again, Middle Eastern terrorists are up to some bad business, and Hawkins, as ex-Army Ranger Eric Carter, is up to his neck in the middle of it. CTU, the show’s perimeter fixated, mole-riddled central hub, is back as well, with Miranda Otto (as Rebecca Ingram) trapped between two worlds as the unit’s former head, and the wife of potential presidential candidate Senator John Donovan (Jimmy Smits). The balance of bureaucratic paranoia, crowd-pleasing action, and stone-faced reactionary politics that sustained the original through eight seasons and one miniseries seems on full display. Whether or not that still works, or if Hawkins can provide the right mix of stoic vulnerability and righteous fury to anchor the absurdity, remains to be seen. [Zack Handlen]

APB (Fox, Mondays, debuts February 6 at 9 p.m.)

Based on the real-life story of a “sanitation magnate” who created a semi-privatized New Orleans police force after a post-Katrina crime spike, APB stars Justin Kirk (Weeds) as a tech billionaire who turns altruistic after his friend is killed in a Chicago neighborhood. To stem the city’s rising crime and find his friend’s killer, Gideon Reed (Kirk) takes over the 13th precinct with his sweet tech moves. He brings treats like an APB app that offers real-time crime reports, an updated taser gun, and no shortage of drones. It’s an interesting concept, especially since crime in Chicago really is at appalling levels and could use any new ideas available. Fox is running APB right after the new 24: Legacy, which makes sense as it will likely appeal to the same kind of adrenaline-addicted audience. Bonus points for shooting the series in the city itself. [Gwen Ihnat]

Legion (FX, Wednesdays, debuts February 8 at 10 p.m.)

For comics fans, the idea is awfully appealing: Give the creative wunderkind behind FX’s Fargo (Noah Hawley) one of the more unusual Marvel superhero properties and see what he does with it. Legion, Marvel’s first foray into primetime cable drama linked to the X-Men film series (and therefore not a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, unlike Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. or the Netflix shows), follows the exploits of David Haller, a damaged young man played by Downton Abbey and The Guest star Dan Stevens. Haller is confined to a mental institution, and is convinced he’s crazy, not certain whether events happening around him are real or imagined. There’s a lot to his character, and it’s no spoiler to tease his relation to a certain very famous Marvel character. But as the trailer teases, his story begins as he starts to suspect that, in the words of one of his handlers, he may be “the most powerful mutant” anyone’s ever encountered. Cue an exciting opportunity for Hawley to play around in a very large, very idiosyncratic sandbox—something at which he’s already proven to be very, very good. [Alex McCown-Levy]

Doubt (CBS, Wednesdays, debuts February 15 at 10 p.m.)

This is not Katherine Heigl’s first shot at TV redemption after she was exiled from ShondaLand. This time around her job is a little lower pressure than her State Of Affairs gig: She plays a hard-charging defense lawyer who falls in love with a client (Do No Harm’s Steven Pasquale), who just happens to be on trial for murder (oops). Heigl and Pasquale are actually replacing two others; Doubt was originally pitched for the 2015-2016 season with different leads. But the most noteworthy casting note is that Orange Is The New Black’s Laverne Cox plays Heigl’s colleague, making her the first trans woman to be cast in a primetime network show. Rounding out the firm is Elliott Gould as Heigl’s boss, The West Wing and Psych’s Dule Hill as Heigl’s co-worker, and Don’t Trust The B---- In Apartment 23’s Dreama Walker as the corn-fed rookie. Producers say that the show will tackle weighty issues like violence against the trans community and campus rape. [Molly Eichel]

Planet Earth II (BBC America, Saturdays, debuts February 18 at 9 p.m.)

Remember how mind-blowing the 2006 edition of Planet Earth was? Now think how far we’ve come technologically in the intervening 10 years and it’s worth getting excited about the sequel to David Attenborough’s nature miniseries. Like the first iteration, each episode has a theme, is hosted by Attenborough (who is now 90), and features moments of beauty, awe, and natural violence captured by the meticulous BBC camerawork (there’s a reason this has become an entry into the stoner canon). The series was shot in 4K with HDR technology, creating even more realistic images. But just as technology has evolved, so has our knowledge of the natural world, including what (and who) threatens it, making Planet Earth II feel even more vital than its predecessor. [Molly Eichel]

The Good Fight (CBS, Sundays, debuts February 19 at 8 p.m.)

Christine Baranski in The Good Wife (Photo: David Giesbrecht/CBS)

If you were a Good Wife fan outraged after that series’ brutal final moment, you may be somewhat soothed by the existence of The Good Fight. This Good Wife spin-off will feature that show’s beloved Christine Baranski back as Diane Lockhart, who finds herself destitute after a financial scam wipes out her savings. So she leaves Lockhart/Lee to start all over again (where have we heard that one before?) with The Good Wife’s Lucca (Cush Jumbo) and new character Maia (Rose Leslie). So far there are no screeners yet available for The Good Fight, only a minimal promo and a press release, which tells us that “Diane will be clashing with a rival attorney.” Well, obviously. Showrunners Robert and Michelle King are also returning, and hopefully have learned their lesson about what made The Good Wife so amazing through season five, not so much afterward. [Gwen Ihnat]

Big Little Lies (HBO, Sundays, debuts February 19 at 9 p.m.)

Reese Witherspoon has been integral in translating well-received novels centered on women onto the screen, even when she’s not starring in the projects. See, for instance, her contributions to Gone Girl. However, she’s in front of the camera for Big Little Lies alongside fellow executive producer Nicole Kidman. The two Oscar winners play kindergarten moms in this flashy limited series that reteams Witherspoon with her Wild director Jean-Marc Vallée, and enlists David E. Kelley as writer. The twists and turns of Liane Moriarty’s book about competition and abuse in a tight-knit community are soapy; the cast has a prestige sheen. Witherspoon and Kidman are the biggest draws, but Shailene Woodley plays the new mom in town, while Laura Dern, Alexander Skarsgård, Adam Scott, and Zoë Kravitz round out the A-list ensemble. If executed correctly, it should make for juicy appointment viewing. [Esther Zuckerman]

Crashing (HBO, Sundays, debuts February 19 at 10:30 p.m.)

Photo: Mary Cybulski/HBO

Friendly giant Pete Holmes becomes the latest stand-up comedian to mine his personal life for single-camera fodder, in this series about a comic named Pete who reboots his life after a painful split from his wife (played here by another favorite of stage, screen, and podcast recording studio, Lauren Lapkus). With nowhere else to go, Pete couch surfs his way across New York City, relying on the kindness of his fellow mirth makers—just as the real Holmes did when he was left by his wife. The show splits an hour of the Sunday-night slate with Girls, with whom it also shares executive producer Judd Apatow. Apatow also directs the pilot, and it’s a smart fit for the blend of “faces and sounds” affability and deeply felt pathos in Holmes’ act. [Erik Adams]

The Blacklist: Redemption (CBS, Thursdays, debuts February 23 at 10 p.m.)

Ryan Eggold and Famke Janssen (Photo: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

A spin-off of The Blacklist, Redemption has a “Suicide Squad meets Leverage” feel to it. The new NBC series sees Ryan Eggold reprise his character, Tom Keen, a highly skilled covert operative who, Red (James Spader) tells us, is actually even deadlier and more undercover than he appeared on The Blacklist. The season three episode “Alexander Kirk” was a backdoor pilot for the spin-off, which introduced Susan “Scottie” Hargrave, whose ties to the underworld rival Red’s. But she’s putting those connections to good use as the head of Grey Matters, a clandestine organization that calls in the bad guys—a hacker and a couple of mercenaries—to help the little guy. Tom is the last piece of the puzzle, Redemption shows us, and the most important—he’s Scottie’s son. If Jon Bokenkamp’s sophomore effort can actually balance the action with dark humor, he could have a similar hit on his hands. Otherwise, this squad’s mission will be over before it starts. [Danette Chavez]

Taken (NBC, Mondays, debuts February 27 at 10 p.m.)

If you’re someone who watched Luc Besson’s Taken trilogy and thought, “I wish there was less Liam Neeson in this,” good news. In an effort to enrich the mythology of “Dad’s Fantasy Killzone: The Franchise,” the new series from NBC follows the early career of Bryan Mills (Clive Standen), the daughter-rescuing dangerous-skills-haver played by Neeson on the big screen, as he struggles with a “personal tragedy” and joins the CIA. Given that the movies’ main draw was watching A-lister Neeson punching, shooting, and torturing bad guys, it’s hard to see what a TV show will add to the mix, especially since there’s no real shortage of punching, shooting, or torture on television. But maybe writer and executive producer Alexander Cary (Homeland) will find a new spin on the material. Best case scenario: each week, a new relation of Mills takes a trip to Europe against his advice, with predictable results. [Zack Handlen]

March

National Treasure (Hulu, debuts March 1)

National Treasure, a Channel 4 import, is already an acclaimed drama in its homeland. Created by Jack Thorne (Skins), the four-part drama stars Robbie Coltrane as Paul Finchley, a revered British comedian and “national treasure.” His days as part of a comedy duo are long behind him, but he still manages to draw an audience—it‘s just that the attention is no longer positive once he’s accused of “historic sexual abuse.” Sexual harassment scandals remain depressingly relevant, so this tale of a public figure possibly being toppled by one could draw viewers based on that alone. But this drama also features a stacked cast—Coltrane’s co-stars include fellow Harry Potter alum Julie Walters and Birdman’s Andrea Riseborough. So, even if we don’t get to experience vindication vicariously, it should still prove compelling to watch. [Danette Chavez]

Chicago Justice (NBC, Sundays, debuts March 5 at 9 p.m.)

Philip Winchester and Carl Weathers (Photo: NBCUniversal)

Just when you think NBC hasn’t given the world enough Chicago Dick (the Dick Wolf Chicago franchise), the peacock lays the hammer down with Chicago Justice. Admittedly, there is quite the amount of pressure when it comes to this new series, because no show wants to be the part of the Chicago empire that crumbles. Set at the Chicago state’s attorney’s office, where the only thing that matters is the titular “justice,” Chicago Justice already has its work cut out for it by being neither Law & Order nor The Good Wife. And with promotional promises of it being “the next great legal drama,” it’s not making things easier for itself. However, with Carl Weathers in the role of tough but fair State’s Attorney Mark Jefferies, alongside Chicago P.D. alum and show hopper Jon Seda, Strike Back’s Philip Winchester, and Justified’s Joelle Carter, let it never be said Chicago Justice isn’t doing what it can to get a legal, justice-filled stew going. [LaToya Ferguson]

Trial & Error (NBC, Tuesdays, debuts March 7 at 9:30 p.m.)

Nicholas D’Agosto and John Lithgow in Trial & Error (Photo: Tyler Golden/NBC)

It’s been just over a decade since the last time John Lithgow had a sitcom on NBC, during which time he’s spent far more time working on the dramatic side of things, most recently as Winston Churchill on Netflix’s The Crown. Thankfully, the comedic turns he’s done in the meantime—including playing Barney’s dad on How I Met Your Mother and both George Washington and William Randolph Hearst on Drunk Historyhave been strong, and the availability of 3rd Rock From The Sun on Netflix may have made viewers nostalgic for the funnier side of Lithgow. Granted, there are some concerns about Trial & Error (starting first and foremost with NBC’s decision to start its synopsis of the series by using the word “outrageous” as a descriptor). But it’s being spun as a comedic take on true-crime programs like Making A Murderer, which has potential, particularly when it’s Lithgow playing the purported murderer. [Will Harris]

Iron Fist (Netflix, debuts March 17)

Marvel’s fourth and final original Netflix show prior to the massive crossover event series The Defenders has some awfully big shoes to fill, and we’re not just talking about Mike Colter’s massive frame in Luke Cage. Each of the three preceding superhero properties on the streaming service has been widely popular and generally well received (especially the superlative Jessica Jones). So Iron Fist, which stars Game Of Thrones’ Finn Jones as the title protagonist, arrives with a bevy of expectations. It recounts the journey of Danny Rand, a young man who returns to New York after years of being missing, and who arrives to grapple with his blue-blood family legacy. Oh, and also he’s spent years becoming a master of kung-fu and the wielder of a powerful magic force, which he uses to take on the city’s criminal underworld while tracking down those responsible for his family’s misfortune. There’s some cause for concern—showrunner Scott Buck headed up those messy final seasons of Dexter—but Marvel appears so happy with the results, it has already handed over the reins of upcoming ABC show The Inhumans to Buck, a display of confidence that hopefully indicates the quality to come. If not, Iron Fist’s foes might not be the only ones receiving an angry roundhouse kick to the head. [Alex McCown-Levy]

Harlots (Hulu, debuts March 23)

Forget the “brothel drama” moniker that’s followed Harlots around during its development. Not only does this joint ITV-Hulu venture look to be another addictive period piece, but it also centers on a mostly untold story (on TV, anyway). Samantha Morton leads the cast as Margaret Wells, a Georgian-era madam who’s raising two daughters. Margaret clashes with a rival madam played by Lesley Manville, but that’s far from the only power struggle herein. Downton Abbey’s Jessica Brown Findlay also stars as Margaret’s daughter, who’s learned the family business a little too well—she’s one of the most coveted courtesans in all of London. Based in part on real-life brothel owners, Harlots also examines class structure and power dynamics; Margaret might be a successful entrepreneur of sorts, but she’s still at the mercy of the patriarchy, not to mention the growing evangelical movement. Juggling those themes are creators Moira Buffini and Alison Newman, who have a Jane Eyre adaptation and EastEnders tenure between them, which hopefully means Harlots will be as refined as it is soapy. [Danette Chavez]

April

Great News (NBC, Tuesdays, debuts April 25 at 9 p.m.)

Adam Campbell, Horatio Sanz, Briga Heelan, Andrea Martin, Nicole Richie, and John Michael Higgins in Great News (Photo: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

Tina Fey and Robert Carlock may have ended up taking Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt from NBC to Netflix, but Great News, which they’re producing, stayed where it started. The series comes from former 30 Rock and Mindy Project writer Tracey Wigfield, and centers on a woman (played by Briga Heelan of Ground Floor) whose mother (played by Andrea Martin, lately of Difficult People) lands an internship at her office. Generation gaps, embarrassing childhood stories, and unwanted questions about everyone’s love lives presumably ensue. Christopher Guest regular John Michael Higgins and former SNL-er Horatio Sanz also star, as does Adam Campbell, who played Kimmy’s rich boyfriend Logan Beekman on the first season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. This is Wigfield’s first show of her own, but given that one of the 30 Rock episodes she helped write was the final episode, it seems like Fey and Carlock have a fair amount of confidence in her. It’s quite the comedy pedigree, which suggests that the casting of Nicole Richie (yes, that Nicole Richie) is not the stunt you might have thought it was circa 2003 or so. [Lisa Weidenfeld]

The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu, debuts April 26)

Elisabeth Moss in The Handmaid’s Tale (Photo: Hulu)

Like its contemporary in dystopian literary adaptation, The Man In The High Castle, Hulu’s take on The Handmaid’s Tale gained some added urgency and relevancy this past November. Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel was a response to Reagan-era policy and the rise of Moral Majority, but the Republic Of Gilead’s totalitarian theocracy—in which women are property, and those not rendered sterile by environmental pollution are pressed into surrogacy as “handmaids” for the ruling class of “commanders”—now contains some chilling echoes to the authoritarian regime being assembled in Trump Tower. (The commanders have a thing for walls—tremendous walls—and public flagellation of dissenters.) Elisabeth Moss steps into the role and scarlet wardrobe of Offred, our resilient entry point into Gilead and handmaid to a high-ranking official (Joseph Fiennes) and his wife (Yvonne Strahovski). As envisioned by Atwood, Strahovski’s character is more of a Tammy Faye Bakker type, though there’s certainly no shortage of contemporary conservative analogs for the Chuck alum to play; Samira Wiley, meanwhile, seems a more natural fit for Moira, a radical who’s Offred’s best friend and fellow handmaid. Creator Bruce Miller told Entertainment Weekly that he has “no trouble coming up with what’s going to happen in season 13,” suggesting this future favorite of former AP English students won’t follow the source material’s example to a T. But hey: As long as our IRL commanders aren’t inspired to follow its example, we’re cool. [Erik Adams]

American Gods (Starz, debuts April)

This wasn’t the only anticipated 2017 series from Bryan Fuller, but it is the only one to make it through production with the Hannibal creator still on board as showrunner. (The other is Star Trek: Discovery, for which Fuller retains executive producer and story credits.) But the Fuller factor is obviously far from American Gods’ only draw. It is, after all, an adaptation of the popular, eponymous Neil Gaiman novel, and one that’s been in and out of production at various points since its publication. So once Ian McShane joined the cast as the chief Old God, Wednesday, you couldn’t keep nerds away. Fuller’s assembled an amazing cast overall, including Pablo Schreiber and Crispin Glover, with Kristin Chenoweth and Gillian Anderson portraying goddesses (finally). At the center of the story is Shadow Moon (Ricky Whittle), who has no idea what he’s in for when he leaves prison, but couldn’t have imagined being thrust into the brewing war between old god and new. Though the debut is now only months away, we’ve only had one advance look at the series, but it’s enough to foster confidence. The trailer’s faithful to Gaiman’s reworked religious iconography, and properly teases the impending Ragnarok. [Danette Chavez]

TBD

Making History (Fox, spring 2017)

Since Happy Endings, er… ended, Adam Pally has been mostly absent from television, save for the occasional appearance on The Mindy Project. That’ll change with Making History, a Phil Lord and Christopher Miller produced time travel show that finds a doofy-acting Pally bouncing back and forth between the present and 1700s America, where he’s wooing a colonial maiden played by Leighton Meester. Yassir Lester, John Gemberling, and Neil Casey co-star, making Making History one of the more comedically stacked new series of the spring. [Marah Eakin]

Content continues below
 
settings