The 2016 TV season is already well under way, and some of your favorite shows are making their much anticipated comebacks. The Walking Dead, Broad City, and Better Call Saul have already roared back to our screens with many more crowd favorites lining up to follow their lead. For your reference, here are the remaining premieres of returning shows: House of Cards (March 4th), Daredevil (March 18th), Veep (April 24th), Silicon Valley (April 24th), Penny Dreadful (May 1st) and of course, Game of Thrones (April 24th). You can catch up on the state of all these gems by reading our Best TV Shows Of 2015 list. However, 2016 has its fair share of brand-spanking-new shows, too. Keeping up with so many series can be daunting, but luckily we’ve compiled the 12 most anticipated newbies coming to your eyeballs this year (in no particular order). Your friends will be impressed with your cutting-edge knowledge, but we can just keep that between us. I’ve also listed the premiere dates and channels for your convenience.
American Crime Story: The People vs. O.J. Simpson (February 2nd, FX Networks)
There’s no easier way to make a murderer sympathetic than by casting Cuba Gooding Jr to play him. American Crime Story is the dramatized telling of O.J. Simpson’s infamous run from the police and his subsequent trial for murder. Its been a story long in the making, and is an impressive piece of true crime drama. It also seems to be the vehicle for all manner of career revivals: Cuba is back, John Travolta plays his slimy lawyer, David Schwimmer plays Kim Kardashian’s dad (really), and Nathan Lane appears at one point. The show’s timing could not have been more apt. The Simpson murders and trials brought racial tension and police corruption to the center stage of American media. By examining the role of race in the entire ordeal, American Crime Story is an essential entry in the national debate surrounding its themes.
Vinyl (February 14th, HBO)
I can’t wait for its eventual sequel, CD-ROM. Well, now that that’s out of the way. Martin Scorcese and Terrence Winter are following up their completed Boardwalk Empire run with a frenetic show at the nexus of the music scene that Scorcese has been exploring his entire career. In another That’s So Martin move, Vinyl examines the troubled life of music-exec Richard (Bobby Canavale), whose power teeters on greatness and excess with plenty of cocaine to match. Flanked with supporters like Olivia Wilde and Ray Romano (who Scorcese literally never heard of), Vinyl‘s expectations are sky-high and early results are positive (though my personal rating is that it is so far mediocre at worst and promising at best). Did I mention the other co-creator is Mick Jagger? Keep getting dem checks.
11.22.63 (February 15th, Hulu)
How do you prevent the assassination of JFK? You send James Franco back in time to unravel the conspiracy, obviously. Based on the Stephen King novel of the same name, 11.22.63 is among the first wave of Hulu originals to compete with the-streaming-service-that-must-not-be-named. Produced in part by JJ Abrams and co-starring the incomparable Chris Cooper, this time-traveling sci-fi boasts an impressive production value and a fascinating dissection (fictionalized or not) of the most elusive conspiracy of our time. I imagine some truthers will take exception to that last bit.
The Path (March 30th, Hulu)
The Path is the final strike in Hulu’s 1-2 punch to establish an original content following. Starring Jesse, err, Aaron Paul, and Hannibal‘s Hugh Dancy, The Path follows a cult member who suffers a crisis of faith. Leaving a cult is no easy tasks, so expect your fair share of thrills. It will be worth it to tune in to see Hugh Dancy clock in to work, but The Path will likely serve as a litmus test for the career of Aaron Paul outside of Breaking Bad.
The Night Manager (April 19th, AMC)
John Le Carre makes yet another return to the screen (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and A Most Wanted Man) to add to his thrilling screen adaptations. The Night Manager is an atmospheric spy drama with plenty of international consequences that we have come to expect from Le Carre creations. Tom Hiddleston stars as the hotel manager recruited by British intelligence to bring a frequent arms-dealing guest to justice (Hugh Laurie). Its a highly anticipated collaboration between AMC and BBC (not their first, Humans holds that trophy) that will hopefully jettison AMC’s run of quality shows (The Walking Dead, Better Call Saul, and Halt and Catch Fire) into another stratosphere.
Roadies (June 26th, Showtime)
Cameron Crowe learned the hard way (We Bought A Zoo, Aloha) that when things aren’t working, go back to the basics. Roadies follows the multitude of behind-the-scenes workers that follow a rock-n-roll show. Its this seeming revival of Almost Famous that will assuredly remind us of why we liked Crowe in the first place. Starring Luke Wilson and produced by JJ Abrams (which everything is, nowadays), Roadies sniffs a the light-hearted but emotional comeback tour.
The Get Down (August 12th, Netflix)
Singing and dancing its way through the poverty riddled Bronx of the 1970s, The Get Down is the unexpected child of Baz Luhrmann and Shawn Ryan (The Shield creator) that stars, among others, Jaden Smith of Twitter/Will Smith fame. It details the disco generation and the rise of hip-hop in urban New York City. Luhrmann is known for his glamor, but The Get Down promises plenty of grit, an immensely diverse cast, and a visual bravado that will be a refreshingly unique entry into the otherwise white drabness of the TV landscape.
Vice Principals (TBA 2016, HBO)
Danny McBride is gracing the halls of a high school yet again. Following his conclusion of Eastbound & Down, McBride & Co. returns with Vice Principals, a chronicle of the ambitious administrators angling for position and power within the school. Perhaps the most exciting element is the addition of Walton Goggins, who is fresh off a major role in The Hateful Eight and will have audiences clamoring to see his comedic chops. HBO seems to be more excited for this one that the rest of us; they have picked up Vice Principals for an additional 17 episodes before the premiere.
Preacher (TBA 2016, AMC)
In another power grab by AMC for programming dominance, Preacher is set to premiere sometime this year, and comic geeks everywhere could not be more excited. Helmed, surprisingly, by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the graphic novel adaptation follows a conflicted preacher who teams up with a love interest and a vampire to find God, who has gone missing. I haven’t read the novels, but if this R-rated Supernatural is everything that I have heard it hyped to be (and that many a showrunner has attempted to make in the past without success), Preacher will assuredly be a pleasurable and complimenting counterpart to The Walking Dead.
Westworld (TBA 2016, HBO)
Westworld is the summer blockbuster that HBO is hoping will fill the epically sized void that Games of Thrones will leave. The pilot was filmed over two years ago, production was shut down and just restarted, and extras are having to agree to all manner of sexual exploitation short of the actual act. But with all that Westworld has to offer, the wait and headaches may certainly be worth it. Westworld is a wild-west theme park that employs all manner of characters and state-of-the-art robot technology to give its guests everything they could possibly dream of. Based on a Michael Crichton novel, produced by JJ Abrams (seriously?!), starring Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden? Check, check, and check.
Taboo (TBA 2016, FX Networks)
If you’ve seen The Revenant, you know better than to mess with Tom Hardy. Even if you haven’t seen The Revenant, you know better than to mess with Tom Hardy. Taboo is the eight-episode chronicle of a rouge adventurer returning home to England with plenty of stolen goods and a knack for getting into trouble, particularly with the ruthless East India Trading Company. Produced in conjunction with Tom Hardy’s dad, Chips (really), and Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight, Taboo will certainly be a gritty guilty pleasure with plenty of fist pumping (and punching) action to match.
Codes of Conduct (TBA 2016, HBO)
Fresh off his Oscar win (well, not that fresh), Steve McQueen is making the leap to the small screen with Codes of Conduct, a mini series that explores the upward mobility of a successful black man and the limits that New York high society places on such access. With such names like Paul Dano (who plays what certainly sounds like the villain) and Helena Bonham-Carter, Codes is sure to be a thought-provoking and thematic piece by the 12 Years A Slave director. Details are vague on the plot, but with such immense talent (and with so many choices of what to produce after winning Best Picture), I have no doubt that McQueen will deliver once again.