With most of the TV networks and streaming services in the United States having made their annual presentations to the Television Critics Association in Los Angeles this month, Chris Newbould presents his pick of the most interesting new shows to look forward to this year.
Where UAE broadcast dates and channels are known, we have given them, but many are yet to be scheduled. In those cases, the broadcast date in the home territory is noted – expect them to show up here soon after.
This is the fourth Netflix show based on Marvel superheroes. Preceded by Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage, Iron Fist focuses on Daniel Rand, played by Finn Jones (Game of Thrones), an orphan raised in the mystic city of K'un-Lun, where he learns martial arts before returning to his native New York to avenge the deaths of his parents.
This is the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle before all four heroes unite this summer in The Defenders, also on Netflix and expected to debut in the second-half of the year.
• Netflix, March
OK, this is not a new show exactly – but it has been a long time coming. David Lynch's continuation of his cult favourite, Twin Peaks, is almost here, 26 years after the original two-season run ended with one of the biggest cliffhangers in TV history. Many old favourites will reprise their roles, including Kyle MacLachlan as FBI special agent Dale Cooper, alongside newcomers to the show including Naomi Watts, Michael Cera, Jim Belushi and Amanda Seyfried. Lynch will direct all the episodes, and co-write them with Mark Frost, his co-creator on the original series.
• Showtime, May 21 (US)
This BBC drama, based on Len Deighton’s 1976 novel of the same name, is set in a dystopian alternative timeline in which Germany and its allies won the Second World War.
The British King, George VI, is a prisoner in the Tower of London, Winston Churchill has been executed, and the United Kingdom is under the jackboot of Nazi oppression. Sam Riley (Control, Maleficent) stars as a detective who stumbles upon a web of intrigue involving atomic weapons research, and tries to bring America into the war to help the British Resistance. Kate Bosworth (Superman Returns, Still Alice) also stars.
Fans of alternate history drama will be pleased to hear that Amazon's similarly themed, The Man in the High Castle, will also be returning for a third season.
• BBC First; spring
Santa Clarita Diet
Netflix is keeping the details under wraps on this one. What we know is that there will be zombies, Drew Barrymore is a suburban housewife who returns from the dead, and Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood, Justifid) is her (living) husband.
We're promised an experimental black comedy with a hint of moral ambiguity: Barrymore's character, Sheila, rises from the dead physically unchanged other than a lust for blood – but is committed to only eating the brains of people "who deserve it". Dexter meets The Walking Dead?
• Netflix; February
The Young Pope
Jude Law in The Young Pope. Photo by Gianni Fiorito
British actor Jude Law makes the leap from big to small screen in this US-Italian co-production.
He stars as a young American archbishop unexpectedly elected to the papacy, and turns out to be far cry from a traditional pontiff.
“From this day forward, we need to go back to being prohibited, inaccessible and mysterious. I don’t want any more part-time believers. And sin will no longer be forgiven at will,” his character sneers in the trailer.
The series, also starring Diane Keaton and James Cromwell, was well received when it was shown late last year in the UK and Italy. A second season is planned.
• HBO; January (US)
Superhero fans are spoiled for choice on TV (Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, Agents of Shield, Gotham, among others), but Legion promises something different.
Based on characters from the X-Men comics, it is the story of telepathic mutant David Haller (aka Legion, played by Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens), who believes he is mentally ill, not superpowered.
Out goes the spandex, in comes existential angst, as Haller attempts to deal with his unique situation. The series was created by Noah Hawley, who is also behind FX's critically acclaimed Fargo series.
• FX, February (US)
Big Little Lies
Reese Witherspoon's production company, Pacific Standard, has built a reputation for bringing complex female characters to the big screen in movies such as Gone Girl and Wild.
Now she is targeting the small screen, producing and starring in this mini-series adaptation of the novel of the same name by Liane Moriarty. It tells the story of the developing relationships between three mothers whose kids have started school together.
The all-star cast includes Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Adam Scott, Alexander Skarsgård and Zoë Kravitz.
• HBO; February (US)
Clive Standen in Taken. Getty Images
This one needs little introduction. It is based on the hit movie trilogy starring Liam Neeson as special operations agent Bryan Mills, whose family is unusually prone to kidnapping. They should be relatively safe this time, as the show is a prequel, telling how Mills developed the skills he employed in the films.
The movies were looking a bit tired by the time Taken 3 came out in 2014 – but with Leon director Luc Besson behind this TV reboot, there is cause for optimism. Clive Standen (best known as Rollo in Vikings) stars.
• NBC, February (US)