Just like last year and the year before that and the year before that and so on until just before the premiere of Breaking Bad, a hell of a lot of TV is coming out this year. However you watch, if you’re a cord cutting streamer, a DVR binger, or a punctual sit-down-and-watch kind of guy, 2018 is going to give you a lot to enjoy. In fact, most of this stuff is coming out in January or February. If this is how we’re starting this year, how the hell are we going to finish it? Here are our most anticipated shows of 2018.
Currently Airing (Showtime)
The Chi has already premiered, so if you watched it, you know it’s going to be good. We hear a lot about the South Side of Chicago, but for those of us who didn’t grow up there, how much do we really know about it? From what we’ve heard, The Chi brings an authentic look into an almost mythical neighborhood and gives a voice to people and a place that rarely gets one. Plus, the music is going to rival that in Atlanta.
Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams
January 12 (Amazon)
The cast list for Amazon’s new anthology series reads like any indie film producer’s dream. Steve Buscemi, Bryan Cranston, Greg Kinnear, Anna Paquin, Liam Cunningham, Benedict Wong, Vera Farmiga, and a few dozen faces you recognize without knowing their names. The episodes don’t connect much, beyond each being based on a different story from Philip K. Dick, with each stand alone story adapting a different piece of short fiction. The series came out in the UK back in October, but American audiences are getting their release this month.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story
January 17 (FX)
The Assassination of Gianni Versace is the follow up to the incredibly popular The People vs. OJ Simpson. Most likely, it’ll do much the same as the OJ Simpson season, with a slightly stylized, dramatized, (hopefully) mostly factual look at the events and investigation surrounding Andrew Cunanan’s murder of Gianni Versace. If you remember the event, then you already know how everything falls in place. But everyone knew the outcome of OJ Simpson’s trial and that didn’t stop them from watching The People vs. OJ Simpson. Expect the same thing for The Assassination of Gianni Versace.
January 18 (Amazon)
Details on Britannia are scarce, from what we can find, but there are a few things we know. It’s based on the comic by the same name, a book we told you about not too long ago. It’s made for TV in the UK and Ireland but coming out on Amazon Prime here in the US. It’s going to get weird, supernatural, surreal, and possibly a little funny, if trailers are anything to go by. And you’re probably not going to be rooting for either side to win, as both seem to be hyper violent and sadistic. Really, the Celts are the only ones with a sympathetic angle, since we have the benefit of historical hindsight and we know they’re fighting against extermination.
Quick side note to plug one of our favorite podcasts. If you want a more historically accurate of the same struggle, check out Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, “The Celtic Holocaust.” It’s some of Dan’s best work and, as all his podcasts do, puts events in excruciating context.
January 22 (TNT)
At this point, the crime investigation genre is so saturated, a show needs to do something significantly different from everything else already available. The Alienist looks like it might be able to. For one, it’s set in New York City in 1896, a time period rarely covered by television. For another, it deals with mental health differently than most shows do now. We can’t tell if it’s aiming for the full, harsh treatment native to its setting or if it’s going to take a more modern viewpoint. Either way, it’s not going to be completely palatable to modern audiences. This probably isn’t going to be a story about people trying to get a mentally disturbed serial killer help. It’s going to be about trying to get him into a straightjacket and locked away as soon as possible.
January 24 (Paramount Network)
It’s highly unlikely we’ll ever know the objective truth of what happened during the FBI seige of the Branch Davidian compound in 1993 and a miniseries drama probably isn’t giving it to us. But one good thing about a story like this is, there’s almost no dramatization needed. If anything, Waco stands to benefit from being as objective as possible. The real life events the miniseries is based on held the rapt attention of the public, so a TV show about it has almost nothing to lose from staying factual, even if some liberties have to be taken with events inside the compound. There are only a handful of people like David Koresh throughout history, and those kinds of people don’t require exaggeration.
February 2 (Netflix)
Plenty of shows promise premises about murder investigations, but none of those shows have the murdered guy hiring an investigator to solve his own murder, as happens in Altered Carbon. In fact, we’d venture of the few times investigators have actually gotten to talk to victims (as ghosts, spirits, reincarnations, time displacements, etc.), they use the victims as their surefire way to solve the murder. So not only is the showing coming at the investigation from a unique angle, but the world of Altered Carbon is absolutely beautiful. The universe is already well described in Richard Morgan’s novel of the same name, but to see it come alive on the screen is something else entirely.
March 26 (AMC)
As modern human beings with GPS technology and satellite-generated imaging of the Earth’s surface, we know the Northwest Passage doesn’t exist. But the Royal Navy didn’t know that when they sent ships out to explore North America’s waterways, which means there were sailors out in the unknown, searching for something that didn’t exist, in weather they weren’t prepared for, without the navigational equipment they were accustomed to. We’ve seen modern people curl up in blubbering horror if Google Maps glitches, so it’s no wonder the show about the doomed Northwest Passage expeditions is called The Terror.
If you can forgive the horrifying misuse of Bob Dylan’s “Masters of War,” Amazon’s Jack Ryan series looks like an exciting action/thriller. It doesn’t look cheap, the way some of these shows end up looking, and John Krasinski might finally find his way of shirking his Jim-ness. He’s been trying for a while and nothing seems to stick, since every time we see his face, we’re always expecting it to stare into the camera and go bug eyed. This is one of the first things we’ve seen him in where that expectation, though still there, isn’t nearly as strong.
Kennedys: An American Dynasty (Working Title)
As much goodwill as JFK bought the Kennedy family, you can’t talk about the dynastic nature of American politics without talking about the titular family. If you want to figure out how some people are allowed to stay in what are supposed to be elected offices, not lifelong appointments, then you have to examine the Kennedys and their effect on the US government. This show is part of a new slate of originals for CNN this year, which we think is a good move for the network. As such, there’s not much known about the show, beyond that it’s going to use Joe Kennedy, the patriarch of the family, as the anchor for the miniseries.