WINTER 2018 TV PREVIEW

With the new year comes a new crop of TV shows looking to leave their mark with audiences. Below are 20 are the most intriguing that may be worth checking out in case your looking for a new series to get hooked on in 2018. 

Ellen's Game of Games

Tuesday's at 8:00pm (NBC) - PREMIERING: January 2

Both James Corden and Jimmy Fallon have seen their series’ trademark games be turned into full-fledged series – now it’s Ellen’s turn. Game of Games takes a few of Ellen’s biggest hits and merges them with new additions. It’s an hour-long game-show that seems like the perfect thing to watch if you need a non-thinking show.

Quick Hit: The preview airing did well, but I’m wondering if the novelty will eventually wear off. After all it is a little un-nerving at times to watch Ellen laugh as these contestants get spun around in chairs, attacked by rubber balls and blasted by toothpaste. She may be having more fun than the contestants.

LA To Vegas

Tueday's at 9:00pm (Fox) - PREMIERING: January 2

Jackpot Airlines shuttles passengers back and forth from LA to Vegas every weekend with the hopes of hitting it big. At the helm of the flight is the quirky Captain Dave (Dylan McDermott) and along with his crew of misfits they do everything they can for their passengers – for better or worse.
 

Quick Hit: Just like The Mick last year, this seems like it could be a breakout for Fox as audiences are looking for a laugh right after the holidays and based on the previews this could do the trick.

9-1-1

Wednesday's at 9:00pm (Fox) - PREMIERING: January 3

Fox owes a lot of its success to Ryan Murphy and whether it was through Fox proper or cable sibling FX, the innovative showrunner has continued to push the boundaries. His next project though is one of his more “grounded” as there’s none of his usual trademark elements. 9-1-1 is based on the real-life, high-pressure experiences of emergency response providers as they are thrust into extreme situations.
 

Quick Hit: With Peter Krause, Connie Britton and Angela Bassett in the lead-roles, expect this one to get sampled. Chicago Fire works for a reason and this could follow that same roadmap.

The Four

Thursday's at 8:00pm (Fox) - PREMIERING: January 4

While Fox was prepared to let to sit out of the music-competition business for a little while longer, ABC poaching American Idol changed those plans. Now the network is fighting back with The Four, a new reality series with a twist. The series starts at the end (so to speak) as it begins with a final four group of singers and each week they must battle all-comers to stay in those spots. Sean “Diddy” Combs, Meghan Trainor, DJ Khaled and record label executive Charlie Walk comprise the panel with Fergie serving as the host.


Quick Hit: Again, this is clearly in response to ABC swiping Idol but the question of whether it will be a knee-jerk reaction remains to be seen. The concept just seems to simple to draw in audiences, but then again so was Idol.

The Chi

Sunday's at 10:00pm (Showtime) - PREMIERING: January 5

Lena Waithe became a breakout star of 2017 with her ground-breaking Emmy win for writing an episode of Netflix’s Masters Of None. Now Showtime will debut her latest project – The Chi which centers on a group of people living on Chicago's south side.
 

Quick Hit:  Showtime’s had a nice run of luck with new dramas as of late and many critics will likely have an eye on Chi as they begin to make recommendations for winter.

Black Lightning

Tuesday’s at 9:00pm (The CW) PREMIERING: January 16

The CW has had a lot of luck the past few years with superhero dramas and now it’s preparing to add another to the roster. However, this one marks the first NOT to be included in the network’s popular Arrow-verse that includes Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow. Lighting stars Hart of Dixie’s Cress Williams as a retired super-hero who must tap into his dormant powers to save his city.


Quick Hit: Even without the other super-heroes in play, never under-estimate the architect of the universe Greg Berlanti as he embarks on his newest series. If you like any of the CW’s super-series, you’ll likely love this one as well. Personally, I’m in.

American Crime Story: Versace

Wednesday's at 10:00pm (FX) PREMIERING: January 17

FX’s bold experiment to re-create the moments behind some of the country’s biggest crime scandals could have gone a few ways, but it ended up being a massive hit. Ryan Murphy and his team tapped back into the 90’s zeitgeist around the O.J. Simpson murder case to great success. Now the attention turns to Gianni Versace who was killed by a stalker in 1997. Edgar Ramirez will play the doomed fashion mogul with Glee’s Darren Criss as his killer, Penelope Cruz as his sister and Ricky Martin as his boyfriend. Don’t expect this one to be any less jarring, fascinating and talked about by critics and audiences.


Quick Hit: NBC’s attempt to this same type of program with The Menendez Murders seemed watered down by comparison as it basically was Edie Falco with a supporting cast. Murphy doesn’t play that way as he gets a full complement of A-listers. I’m excited to see what he can do with a case like Versace in which people have less background on going into the show.

Counterpart

Sunday’s at 8:00pm (Starz) - PREMIERING: January 21

Oscar winner J.K. Simmons comes to TV in this action thriller that finds him playing double duty. Simmons plays Howard Silk, a low-level cog in a UN agency where even he isn’t entirely sure what he does day-to-day. Yet what his agency does is protect a secret – a parallel dimension that is like our world only with a darker twist. When a killer from that dimension gets loose in ours, Howard’s “counterpart” follows and the two very different men must team up to restore balance.


Quick Hit: Starz is looking to build its own stable of HBO-esque dramas and this is its next attempt. This one has flown under the radar for months and with Simmons in the lead, don’t be surprised if it becomes a dark horse for the network. Simmons is a fan favorite and an everyman type of actor which gives this series a tremendous boost.

The Resident

Monday’s at 9:00pm (ABC) - PREVIEWING: January 21

ABC had the biggest drama hit of the fall season with The Good Doctor and now Fox will try to duplicate success in that genre. The Resident focuses on the final years of a young doctor’s training and all the good and bad things associated with that phase of their career. The Good Wife’s Matt Czuchry headlines along with Revenge’s Emily VanCamp, CSI: NY’s Melina Kanakaredes and Mad Men’s Bruce Greenwood.  

Quick Hit: Fox is very high on the series and is giving it a great lead-in as it will follow the NFC Championship Game before settling into its Monday night time-slot the following night. The question is if audiences will respond to two new medical dramas in one season.

Mosiac

Week of 1/22 at 8:00pm (HBO) - PREMIERING: January 22

On paper Mosaic is a six-part mystery with a cast headlined by Sharon Stone and co-starring Garrett Hedlund, Frederick Weller, Beau Bridges, Paul Reubens and Michael Cerveris. However, for those who want a deeper experience you can go to HBO’s website now and download the app and start your journey. Fans can meet the characters and follow them at their own pace to see the various ways the story could unfold – and they can tune back in to see the actual way the pieces fit.


Quick Hit: Think of this as a choose your adventure story but the end result if always the same, you can just take a different path to that result. With The Night Of and Big Little Lies succeeding this short run format is the new normal for the network; I’ll give HBO credit, this is different and it could work.
NOTE: This will air every night for a week - with two episodes airing on Friday January 26th.

The Alienist

Monday's at 9:00pm (TNT) - PREMIERING: January 22

Just in case you were wondering, no, this is not a sci-fi series.  Based on the novel by Calen Carr, Daniel Bruhl stars as a criminal psychologist (aka an alienist) who teams with a reporter (Luke Evans) and police secretary (Dakota Fanning) to investigate string of killings in 1896 New York City.

Quick Hit: With its cast and plot it seems like a perfect fit for TNT which needs a new mystery drama with Major Crimes signing off shortly – even if for now this is being billed as a “limited” run.

Waco

Wednesday's at 10:00pm (Paramount Network) - PREMIERING: January 24

First came TNN, then came Spike TV and now comes The Paramount Network – Viacom’s latest attempt at a cable network. To help kick off the newly renamed channel is the mini-series Waco. Friday Night Lights’ Taylor Kitsch stars as the notorious cult leader David Koresh and the drama chronicles his infamous 1993 standoff in Waco, Texas.


Quick Hit: It’s hard for me to get a read on this, especially with American Horror Story: Cult still very fresh in audience’s minds. Five years ago Kitsch was a bigger name than he is now and I’m not sure people have fully figured out what The Paramount Network is – or how to find it on their TV.

AP Bio

Thursday's at 9:30pm (NBC) - PREVIEWING: February 1

The comedy centers on disgraced Harvard philosophy scholar Jack Griffin (Glenn Howerton) who is forced to return to Toledo, Ohio, and work as a high school Advanced Placement biology teacher. However, it soon becomes clear Griffin doesn’t plan on following the curriculum or the rules which wins him points with over-achieving students but puts him at odds with the school principal (Patton Oswalt).

Quick Hit: I feel like we’ve seen with School of Rock, except NBC is subbing bio for music. Still with Seth Meyers and Lorne Michaels as the producers and the very likeable Oswalt in the cast, it is worth a watch.

Altered Carbon

Streaming All At Once (Netflix) - PREMIERING: February 2, 2017

Based on the book by Richard Morgan the mystery takes places in a world that is 500 years in the future. In this new reality humans have the ability to digitally copy their consciousness allowing them to essentially live forever – if you can afford it. Those who can’t are reduced to renting out their bodies while their minds are in storage. Joel Kinnaman (The Killing) stars as disgraced solider given a chance for a fresh start if he can help a wealthy aristocrat solve his own murder which he has no memory of experiencing.

Quick Hit: Just bookmark the date as it seems poised to be Netflix’s next big thing.

Here and Now

Sunday's at 9:00pm (HBO) - PREMIERING: February 11

HBO once again turns to Alan Ball, the creative force behind Six Fix Under and True Blood for its newest comedic drama. A-listers Tim Robbins and Holly Hunter star as the head of a multi-racial family which include adopted children from Somalia, Vietnam and Colombia as well as their one biological child. Though their bonds get tested as secrets are revealed in unexpected ways.
 

Quick Hit: Keep in mind that while the above plot seems very simple there is supposed to be a twist that if revealed would be very spoilerish. Either way its HBO and Alan Ball – it’s worth a shot.

Living Biblically

Monday's at 9:30pm (CBS) - PREMIERING: February 26

Following the death of a close friend, a priest decides to change his life to live in strict accordance of the Bible. In order to do that he forms a “God Squad,” which includes a fellow priest and an easygoing Rabbi that combine try to translate the Bible into modern times. 

Quick Take: While it may not seem like a comedy – it is. The Real O’Neals Jay R. Ferguson stars alongside Ian Gomez, David Krumholtz and Camryn Manheim which makes for an eclectic cast in and of itself. Never underestimate a CBS comedy rookie especially when plugged into the network’s potent Monday night line-up. Though this one seems like it may be a harder sell for audiences.

Instinct

Sunday's at 8:00pm (CBS) - PREMIERING: March 11

Based on the novel by James Patterson, Instinct stars Alan Cumming as Dr. Dylan Reinhart a former CIA operative turned author/ psychology professor who is lured back into his old life when the NYPD recruits him to catch a serial killer that is using his book as a guide.

Quick Hit: In case you’ve never seen Cumming in action, you should check out his stellar resume. After years in a supporting role as the morally-questionable Eli Gold on The Good Wife, the Emmy-nominated actor now gets to topline his own series. I’ll be watching.

Rise

Tuesday's at 10:00pm (NBC) - PREMIERING: March 13

Lou Mazzuchelli (Josh Radnor) is a teacher in a small working-class town with hopes of revitalizing his school’s drama department. After being held back by his own self-doubt, he finally pushes forward and in the process, finds support from both the faculty and his students.  

Quick Hit: Think of this drama (which is based on actual events) as what would happen if This Is Us and Glee were combined – which is why NBC has been so high on since picking it up way back in May.

The Terror

Monday's at 9:00pm (AMC) PREMIERING: March 26

With a name like The Terror, you’d probably expect this to be a sci-fi drama, but it is actually a psychological thriller based on real events. The story centers on the Royal Navy’s attempts to find the Northwest Passage and the harrowing journey that occurred along the way. Forced to overcome extreme conditions, limited resources and the fear of the unknown the ship’s crew must survive both the elements and each other.

Quick Hit: With acclaimed actors Jared Harris (Mad Men), Tobias Menzies (Outlander) and Ciaran Hines (Game of Thrones) in the lead role this promises to be a well-acted drama, but it remains to be seen if it will be able to hold an audience week-to-week.

Roseanne

Tuesday's at 8:00pm (ABC)) - PREMIERING: March 27

Off the air for a decade, the Emmy-nominated comedy returns with the entire cast on board – and effectively erasing the controversial finale which saw patriarch Dan Conner (John Goodman) killed off in a last-second twist.

Quick Hit: With how well the re-booted Will & Grace is doing for NBC and how well the re-booted Full House does for Netflix, expect ABC to see the same strong results. Plus it will be nice to see Roseanne back on the air.

NOTE: All images are courtesy of their respective networks.

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