Just as the mighty Arctic hare and the Banana Republic male model greet the winter months with a new coat, so too does television. However, instead of staying warm with fluffy fur or a polyester blend, the small screen wraps itself in layers of new shows. But who has time to try all the new series on for size?
The correct answer is: "Not you!" You are a busy person with a fun and fulfilling life who can't waste time watching television that isn't good. And because you are a seasoned viewer, the big question as you enter 2014 will be, "What NEW shows should I be looking forward to?" That's where I come in. Lucky for both of us, my future self just paid a visit from July 2014 to give me a heads up on what programs might be worth our time.
So me and Future Tim worked together to compile a list of our most anticipated new shows of early 2014. There will be dead people! There will be blood-soaked pirates! There will be sexy post-nuclear teens! Check out our top 10 picks, and if you don't like what you see, send (future) me a scathing email in July.
10. Resurrection (ABC)
WHEN IT'S ON: Sundays at 9pm starting March 9
WHO'S IN IT: Omar Epps, Matt Craven, Kurtwood Smith, Devin Kelly, Frances Fisher, Nicholas Gonzalez, Samaire Armstrong
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: The small town of Arcadia, Missouri, is overrun with the walking dead! But unlike the flesh-munching monsters from that other series, these fresh-from-the-grave folks are just as surprised to be back as their families are to see them.
WHY WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT IT: Mean zombies are so 2012. Friendly zombies are so 2014. Resurrection looks like it's about as close to art as broadcast television can get, with gorgeous imagery placed alongside deeply existential questions. For example, "Do humans have a soul that's perpetuated through all planes of existence?" "Do love and the family bond transcend corporeal and spiritual life?" And also "Why the f*ck won't these people stay dead?" It won't be as good as Sundance Channel's The Returned, which has a very similar premise, but we're intrigued nonetheless.
9. Intelligence (CBS)
WHEN IT'S ON: The series debuts Tuesday, January 7 at 9pm; the show will settle into its regular time slot of Mondays at 10pm beginning January 13
WHO'S IN IT: Josh Holloway, Meghan Ory, Marg Helgenberger, Michael Rady, John Billingsley, P.J. Byrne
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Gabriel Vaughan (Holloway) is a Cyber Command agent with a nifty upgrade: a microchip in his brain that allows him to connect to "the global information grid"—including the internet, satellite feeds, radio signals, and more—with his mind. Naturally, his cowboy attitude doesn't fly with his stuffy boss (Helgenberger), and his independence irks his attractive handler (Ory).
WHY WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT IT: The return to TV of Lost's
Sawyer has been long overdue, and Holloway's role as a Ralph
Lauren model who kicks bad guys' asses while
hacking computer networks with his brain is a good fit for CBS. But Intelligence isn't all seriousness: The
pilot features a nice mix of shooting, punching, and goofy jokes, and
Holloway and Ory are so sizzling that you'll need SPF 1,000,000 or your face might melt.
8. Review (Comedy Central)
WHEN IT'S ON: Thursdays at 10pm starting February 27
WHO'S IN IT: Andy Daly, Jessica St. Claire, Fred Willard, James Urbaniak, Andy Richter, Rich Fulcher, Jason Mantzoukas
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Fake guy Forrest MacNeil (Daly) reviews real-life experiences—such as
addiction, burglary, and other odd topics—from one to five stars in this
WHY WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT IT: Review is based on the Australian comedy Review with Myles Barlow,
and if you've seen the original, you know it's good for a lot of nose-snorts, knee-slaps, and hernia-herniating (from laughter, not
excessive lifting). Comedy Central's been on a roll lately with its original
programming (see: Nathan For You, Kroll Show, and others), and Review looks like it'll fit right into that lineup. Andy Daly (Eastbound & Down, the best characters from Comedy Bang! Bang!)
is one of the funniest guys in the world who you're not familiar with, and he's perfect for the deadpan host of this fake show.
7. Believe (NBC)
WHEN IT'S ON: TBD
WHO'S IN IT: Johnny Sequoyah, Jake McLaughlin, Delroy Lindo, Kyle MacLachlan, Sienna Guillory, Jamie Chung
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A young girl with emerging powers that she can't control is being hunted by evil forces, so those who seeking to protect her bust an ex-con out of prison to look after her. Sound plan!
WHY WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT IT: I'm a sucker for mystery, and of all the new network series coming down the pike this midseason, Believe is the one we know the least about—it's playing coy, and I've taken the bait. Of course, if you've been keeping up with the news, you know that the show has already experienced some behind-the-scenes struggles, but there are two names attached that give me a real reason to believe in Believe: Gravity and Children of Men director Alfonso Cuarón co-created the series, and J.J. Abrams is executive-producing it.
6. Helix (Syfy)
WHEN IT'S ON: Fridays at 10pm starting January 10
WHO'S IN IT: Billy Campbell, Hiroyuki Sanada, Kyra Zagorsky, Mark Ghanime, Jordan Hayes, Meegwun Fairbrother, Neil Napier. Those are some awesome names, cast!
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Scientists from the Center for Disease Control travel to a high-tech research facility in the Arctic to investigate a possible viral outbreak, and once they get there, a lot of scary things happen!
WHY WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT IT: It's practically a TV.com tradition to always include an upcoming series from Syfy in these most-anticipated lists; they tend to sound really great and release cool trailers, and Helix—which comes from Battlestar Galactica creator Ronald D. Moore—meets both of those criteria. But what solidified the series' spot on this list is the way its feeling of claustrophobic containment works with a Syfy budget for maximum effect. Also, black goop shoots out of body bags!
5. Enlisted (Fox)
WHEN IT'S ON: Fridays at 9:30pm starting January 10
WHO'S IN IT: Geoff Stults, Chris Lowell, Parker Young, Keith David, Angelique Cabral
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: While more brave and competent soldiers are deployed overseas, three
brothers find themselves working on a Florida Army base, assigned to Rear
Detachment—the soldiers who stay behind to perform routine maintenance tasks—with a
group of camo-clad outcasts.
WHY WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT IT: Even though I had a few issues with the pilot (it's not you, Enlisted, it's me), the backbone of the show looks like a wonderful twist on the
workplace comedy. I mean, anything to get out of the office, right? And the cast isn't lacking for charisma; you
may recognize Parker Young from Suburgatory (there's a lot of Ryan Shay in his Enlisted character, too), and Geoff Stults (The Finder) belongs on television on a regular basis.
4. The 100 (The CW)
WHEN IT'S ON: Wednesdays at 9pm staring March 19
WHO'S IN IT: Eliza Taylor, Henry Ian Cusick, Paige Turco, Isaiah Washington, Kelly Hu, Thomas McDonell, Marie Avgeropoulos, Devin Bostick
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Set in the future after mankind has destroyed the planet with nuclear war (great job, future!), a group of 100 juvenile delinquents who don't comply with an orbiting space station's Draconian rules are sent back to Earth to determine whether it's inhabitable. Meanwhile, the adults remain in orbit and engage in their own power struggles while periodically checking in on the kids to find out whether they've been eaten by mutants.
WHY WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT IT: One great thing to come out of all the recent Hunger Games madness—in addition to Jennifer Lawrence interviews—is society's relaxed 'tude toward teenagers getting slaughtered, and that's a big part of The 100. The show is also way more "hard sci-fi" than most typical CW dramas, and a more extreme example of The CW's current efforts to re-brand itself as a genre network. Think Lord of the Flies in Spaaaaaace! Also, there are mutant deer!
3. Black Sails (Starz)
WHEN IT'S ON: Saturdays at 9pm starting January 25
WHO'S IN IT: Toby Stephens, Tom Hopper, Jessica Parker Kennedy, Hannah New, Zach McGowan, Luke Arnold, Mark Ryan
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: A prequel to Robert Lewis Stevenson's Treasure Island, this pirate drama follows Captain Flint as he plunders the Caribbean in 1715 and teams up with a lass in the hunt for some big-time booty.
WHY WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT IT: There are two buccaneer dramas coming out this midseason, the other one being NBC's Crossbones. You have to watch one of them, obviously, but which will it be? The one that's restricted by broadcast television's standards of decency, or the one that will air on a network known for excessive nudity and brutal violence? "TOUGH DECISION," he said sarcastically. These are pirates, not nuns.
2. Mind Games (ABC)
WHEN IT'S ON: Tuesdays at 10pm starting March 11
WHO'S IN IT: Steve Zahn, Christian Slater, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Gregory Marcel, Jaime Ray Newman, Vinnie Jones, Luis Guzman
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Two brothers—one who's an ex-con and one who's a brilliant but bipolar professor—start an agency that uses the science behind manipulation, motivation, and influence to help its clients solve problems.
WHY WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT IT: This is the latest series from Kyle Killen, the man behind Lone Star and Awake, so we're expecting it to be more than just a lighthearted procedural, or at least to push the genre as far as it can go. And with Slater (we're crossing our fingers his TV curse is broken) and Zahn (everyone's buddy) at the front, there's no shortage of talent. This could be the fun, underdog drama that ABC has been searching for.
1. True Detective (HBO)
WHEN IT'S ON: Sundays at 9pm starting January 12
WHO'S IN IT: Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson, Kevin Dunn, Michelle Monaghan, Alexandra Daddario, Tory Kittles
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Two detectives re-open a murder case (and old wounds) in Louisiana.
WHY WE'RE EXCITED ABOUT IT: True Detective has a neat structure going for it: The series will jump back and forth between the present day and 17 years ago, filling in the blanks of the central story, and each episode will focus on a different character's point of view. The show is also an anthology, so any future seasons will deal with a new case and a new cast of characters, a la American Horror Story. Early footage has revealed movie-like visuals, with director Cary Fukunaga capturing the bayou in pretty, wide-angle shots. And if you need another reason to watch, just imagine how much pot McConaughey and Harrelson smoked between takes!
– Turn (AMC): A period drama about farmers who took up espionage during the Revolutionary War. It probably would've made the main list if we had a better idea of when it's going to premiere; it could be a spring show, but AMC will probably hold it until summer.
– Gang Related (Fox): Ramon Rodriguez stars as a member of a special task force that takes down gangs in rough-and-tumble Los Angeles. But here's the thing that makes this show a thing: He has ties to the biggest gang in the city! Also starring the RZA, Jay Hernandez, and Terry O'Quinn.
– Opposite Worlds (Syfy): A reality show that adds a new wrinkle to the Big Brother formula by having its contestants shack up in a house that's divided into two halves: one that's blinged out as though it exists in the high-tech future, and one featuring only the simple "comforts" of the Middle Ages.
– Rake (Fox): Greg Kinnear stars as a House-like criminal defense lawyer who's surly, stubborn, and (duh) brilliant, and who's personal and professional lives are both disrupted AND enhanced by his personality.
– The Red Road (Sundance Channel): This drama stars Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones' Khal Drogo) as a sheriff who finds himself caught in the middle of a clash between the small town he presides over and a neighboring Native American tribe. Sundance was responsible for lots of great original (and borrowed) programming in 2013, going three for three with The Returned, Rectify, and Top of the Lake; at this point, anything the network puts out is a must-watch. There's still no premiere date for The Red Road's six-episode first season, but since production on the series started way back in August, it probably won't be too much longer.
– Crossbones (NBC): If Black Sails doesn't fulfill your pirate fantasies (or if you just prefer your buccaneer drama with less booty-as-in-bare-butts), turn to this broadcast tale of Blackbeard. John Malkovich stars as the famed pirate who comes under the watch of an undercover assassin.
– The Spoils of Babylon (IFC): Produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, this parody of the epic miniseries from 30 years ago has one of the most "OMG THIS IS TV?"-assembled casts in recent history: Ferrell, Tim Robbins, Kristen Wiig, Toby Maguire, Jessica Alba, Val Kilmer, Haley Joel Osment, and Michael Sheen will all appear in the miniseries.
Which new midseason shows are you most excited about?