Another network mid-season filler, Agent Carter is the newest addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe—and the first MCU property to be led by women both in front of and behind the camera (Tara Butters and Michelle Fazekas will serve as showrunners). The eight-part miniseries will pick up shortly after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger in 1946 as Peggy Carter deals with a post-war America. Working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve by day and going on missions with S.H.I.E.L.D. founder (and Iron Man's dad) Howard Stark at night, Agent Carter seems like the perfect mix of Alias' spy drama and The Hour's mid-century office period piece.
This promising set-up is bolstered by an excellent returning cast from the Captain America films (namely, the talented and charismatic Hayley Atwell in the lead role, but also notably Dominic Cooper as Howard Stark). The first installment was penned by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, writers of both Captain America films, with the second written by Eric Pearson, who was responsible for writing the superb Agent Carter short film that inspired the television series.
Premiere date: Tuesday, January 6th at 9pm on ABC.
We’re not sold on the name of the upcoming Netflix drama, Sense8, but that may be the only reservation we have for the newest project coming from the Wachowski siblings (a.k.a. the directors of The Matrix, Cloud Atlas, and the upcoming Jupiter Ascending), created in collaboration with J. Michael Straczynski (creator of Babylon 5). Given that the Wachowskis are known for their visual flair and philosophical storytelling, while Straczynski is considered one of the first TV creators to bring long-form serialized storytelling to television, it’s hard not to get excited about this project based on its creators’ pedigrees alone, but the show is also incredibly ambitious in its scope and refreshing in its casting.
Set and filmed in locations around the world -- including Nairobi, Reykjavik, Chicago, London, Mexico City, and Mumbai -- Sense8 tells the story of eight strangers who become emotionally and mentally linked following a tragic death. Familiar faces include Naveen Andrews (Lost’s Sayid), Freema Agyeman (Doctor Who’s Martha), Bae Doona (Cloud Atlas, The Host), and Daryl Hannah, along with a diverse cast of actors from Spain, India, and Germany, as well as a transgender actress.
Premiere date: T.B.D. on Netflix
So far, Netflix has kept many of the details concerning its new drama Bloodline shrouded in secrecy, but I'm putting anything starring Kyle Chandler on my must-see list based on Friday Night Lights withdrawal symptoms alone. This drama about four adult siblings whose dark pasts are brought to the surface upon the return of their black sheep brother to the Florida Keys is brought to you by the men behind Damages, which probably means edge-of-your-seat storytelling.
The moody teaser trailer has a similarly dark and mysterious aura about it, but will it capture the same narrative energy as the FX drama? Given that all 13 episodes will be simultaneously released in March, we don't have to wait long to find out. This project is a collaboration between Netflix and Sony Entertainment, the first of its kind between a major movie studio and a streaming service, making it interesting on a production level as well as a narrative one.
Premiere date: March 2015 on Netflix
MTV is throwing its hat in the high fantasy drama ring with an adaptation of Terry Brooks' classic series Shannara, a swashbuckling epic set several millennia in our future after a global apocalypse has simultaneously wiped out life as we know it and brought back magic. The 10 episode order will draw material from the second book in the series, The Elfstones of Shannara, and has Arrow's Manu Bennett and The Carrie Diaries' Austin Butler signed on to star. This is an exciting and surprising move for MTV, another bold step away from its reality past to a schedule featuring more original drama content.
Premiere date: T.B.D. on MTV
Who isn't looking forward to Westworld? Husband-and-wife team Jonathan Nolan (co-screenwriter for The Dark Knight, Interstellar, etc.) and Lisa Joy (writer for Burn Notice, Pushing Daisies) are spearheading the HBO re-imagining of the 1973 Yul Brynner cult hit, bringing some thematically diverse backgrounds to what is already an awesome concept. The Westworld film, written and directed by Michael Crichton, tells the story of two tourists at an adult-themed amusement park of the future who are hunted by a Western gunslinger robot. Presumably, the television series will follow a similar narrative. With an all-star cast for the pilot, including Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Miranda Otto, and Ed Harris, this TV show has a lot of promise.
Described by The Guardian as "Twin Peaks in the arctic," this British drama series is not the most watchable on this list, but that isn't a critique. Fortitude tells the story of a murder in a small Scandinavian town and, from the looks of the trailer, it will be just as brutal and dark as you'd imagine life in the Arctic to be. The series has brought on some amazing talent, such as Michael Gambon, Stanley Tucci, Sofie Gråbøl, and Christopher Ecclestone. Add a unique setting and an expansive budget to this great cast, and there's no good reason to not make room for Fortitude on your TV schedule.
Premiere date: Thursday January 29th at 10 p.m. on Pivot
The CW has been on fire this season with its new shows, and we're hoping the network will continue its streak of excellence with its midseason premieres, especially comic adaptation iZombie. A series about a zombie morgue assistant who eats murder victims' brains and uses the memories she absorbs to solve their murders is a little high-concept, but the show is helmed by Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas. We'd watch iZombie based on that fact alone, but we have to admit its odd premise and comic book origins have us seriously intrigued.
Premiere date: T.B.D. on The CW
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell
Adapted from the bestselling tome of the same name, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is a seven-part British fantasy series set in an alternate version of early 19th century England, where magic is possible, but no longer practiced. The source material is nothing short of magical (forgive me), and the adaptation has secured screenwriter Peter Harness (Doctor Who's "Kill the Moon") and director Toby Haynes (Sherlock's "The Reichenbach Fall," one of the best episodes of television in the last few years) to bring it to the screen.
Premiere date: T.B.D. on BBC America
If the title confuses you, it's because it actually refers to three separate shows being broadcast across three different British channels. The shows share the same subject matter, queer life, and exist in the same narrative universe, interweaving across station and series borders. Here's hoping there's as much storytelling as shock factor. With TV veteran Russell T. Davies at the helm and In the Flesh's Luke Newberry as one part of a great ensemble cast, we have high hopes for the emotional resonance of this quirky drama.
Premiere date: Cucumber and Banana will air on Logo TV in early 2015, but -- so far -- there are no plans to broadcast Tofu in America.
Bounty hunters. In space. Are you convinced yet? That is the premise for SyFy's upcoming Killjoys, a drama from Michelle Lovretta (creator of the excellent Lost Girl) and the studio that brings us Orphan Black. We're hoping this show has the same fast-paced storytelling and female-centric narrative that have made both Lost Girl and Orphan Black so refreshing and watchable. Hannah John-Kamen, Aaron Ashmore, and Luke MacFarlane play three interplanetary bounty hunters chasing targets through a planetary system on the brink of class war. There aren't enough space dramas on TV. Could Killjoys be the drama that fills the Firefly-shaped hole still in many of our television-loving hearts?
Premiere date: T.B.D. on Syfy