Tuesday, January 3, 2017

My Most Anticipated Web and Television Programs of 2017

I'm trying something new this year. Though film continues to dominate this blog, a good portion of my media consumption is web and television series. And it seems perfectly appropriate to write up an anticipation list for them, to go along with the ones I'm writing for upcoming movies. And there is a lot to anticipate this year, including new shows, returning shows, revivals, and a handful of big finales. Because the TV calendar works so differently, this list is being posted now, before the midseason starts and some of these entries actually premiere (Nothing on the movie list will show up until March at the earliest).

I wrestled a bit with what format this list should be in, and what should be eligible. I mean, it's a given that I'm looking forward to "Game of Thrones" and "Sherlock" coming back. Everybody is. And shouldn't a list like this focus on new shows? On the other hand, there are several returning series coming back that I am legitimately looking forward to more than anything else, and want to spotlight. So, I'm including a little bit of everything, trying to avoid the obvious entries. Here we go, in no particular order: Ten series I'm looking forward to watching the most in 2017.

"Emerald City" - NBC's high concept fantasy series was supposed to be their "Game of Thrones," until they realized they were not ready to actually go that far. Instead, this darker reimagining of "The Wizard of Oz" has been retooled into something far more network friendly, with a multicultural cast and some lovely visuals. The biggest selling points for me are that Tarsem Singh will be directing all ten episodes of this season, and the story will be drawing on material from the later Oz books that everyone always seems to forget exist.

"The Handmaid's Tale" - It's high time that we had a new version of Margaret Atwood's dystopian classic, and I'll watch pretty much anything with Elizabeth Moss in it. Hulu has been moving more slowly than its competitors at producing original content, but there have been some more high profile projects recently, including "The Handmaid's Tale" and the upcoming science-fiction anthology series "Dimension 404." I'm also looking forward to seeing Moss alongside Nicole Kidman in the second series of "Top of the Lake" this year.

"Twin Peaks" - I wasn't all that fond of the original series, but Showtime's revival is going to be one of the big media events of the year, without a doubt. It's already been a lot of fun to follow the news around the production - David Lynch sparring with Showtime over the budget, that insane cast list, and all the other revivals that have followed after the initial announcement. I wouldn't miss this circus for the world, especially as it's been over a decade now since Lynch directed anything significant. Even if this is terrible, it'll be worth the watch.

"American Gods" - Starz and Bryan Fuller will be adapting Neil Gaiman's fantasy novel about what happens to the gods of other cultures who immigrate to America along with their believers. I'm a fan of the source material, and very curious if this one is going to be around for more than one season, and whether it'll get into the material in "Anansi Boys" and other spinoffs. If nothing else, the teaser footage from last year has revealed the series is going to look great. This is Bryan Fuller's first project since "Hannibal" ended, after all.

"FLCL" - The title of least likely revival of a series ever has to go to "FLCL," which was a six episode direct-to-video anime, produced in the year 2000. It became a cult classic and aired several times on Adult Swim, which is paying for twelve new episodes. Very little has been revealed about what we can expect in the revival, but much of the core talent is returning for the series, including rock band The Pillows. My hope is that if this goes well, Adult Swim might also consider helping to revive some other titles that have languished in obscurity.

"The Defenders" - The only one of Netflix's Marvel shows that I've watched so far is "Jessica Jones," and honestly it's still the only one I'm interested in. That may change with the team-up miniseries "The Defenders," where Jessica will join forces with the leads of "Daredevil," "Luke Cage," "Iron Fist," and the upcoming "The Punisher" for eight episodes. The CW has been doing crossovers like this for a while with their DC shows, but I'm still interested in how "The Defenders" is going to balance all these different characters and interests.

"Fargo," Year 3 - Ewan McGregor will be playing a pair of battling brothers, with Carrie Coon as the female lead, and Mary Elizabeth Winstead in a major role. How could I not be looking forward to this? I thought the second season of "Fargo" was much messier and less effective than the first, but it was still great television. Noah Hawley has cart blanche to do whatever he wants, as far as I'm concerned. My only hope is that we might get something more outwardly comedic this timeout, to mirror the Coen brothers' own filmography.

"Review," Finale - I'm so glad that Comedy Central is giving "Review" a chance to go out on its own terms, even if it's with an abbreviated third season. This is one of the best television programs of the last decade, and gave Andrew Daly a platform to achieve the kind of comedic greatness that doesn't come along all that often. I expect that poor Forrest MacNeil won't survive the end of the series. However, it's the fate of the evil producer Grant that really intrigues me. I want to have them both back for just a few more episodes.

"Orphan Black," Finale - As much as I enjoy spending time with the Clone Club, it's about time for this show to end. The writers have done a fantastic job keeping the series fresh and the momentum going, but it's clear that they're running out of material. And frankly, Tatiana Maslany is positioned to be an absolute superstar if she wants to be, and I can't wait to see where she'll go next. So, here's hoping for one last great catfight between Sarah and Rachel, for Cosima to find love, and for Alison and Donnie to ride off into the sunset together.

"The Leftovers," Finale - With the show having moved completely beyond its original source material, I have no idea where the third season is going to go. Maybe Australia. However, I know that we won't learn the truth about the Sudden Departure, and we probably shouldn't. Instead, here's to more character drama, more searing psychological thrills, more existential quandaries, and more fantastic performances from the excellent cast. This remains one of the most daring shows that HBO - or anyone else - has ever aired.


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