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The 20 Most Anticipated TV Shows Of 2014

by Oliver Lyttelton
January 9, 2014 3:08 PM
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15. "Looking"
Synopsis: The lives and loves of a group of young gay men in San Francisco.
What You Need To Know: Since "Queer As Folk" ended nine years ago, it's been hard to find a drama series that takes gay life in America seriously (there was "The L Word," but that never really took anything seriously...), but HBO are stepping up with this new half-hour comedy-drama, billed by some as the male, non-heterosexual answer to "Girls" (a comparison no doubt aided by the fact that the two shows are airing together). It's been written by relative newcomer Michael Lannan (who's worked as an assistant producer on "Sons Of Anarchy" and "Rubicon," and collaborated with James Franco on "Cruising" homage "Interior. Leather Bar"), adapted from his short film "Lorimer," with Lannan sharing a co-creator credit with director Andrew Haigh ("Weekend"), who has helmed the pilot here. "Glee" and "Frozen" star Jonathan Groff takes the lead role, along with Australian actor Murray Bartlett and newcomer Frankie J. Alvarez, while Scott Bakula and U.K. stars Russell Tovey ("Him & Her," "Being Human") and O.T. Fagbenle ("Doctor Who") will have recurring parts.
Why It's Anticipated: There's definitely been a gap in the market for a show like this, and it'll be interesting if airing on HBO will help the series cross over to a mainstream audience in a way that "Queer As Folk" never quite managed. Having Haigh on board certainly helps: the Criterion-approved "Weekend" was one of the best films of 2011, a gorgeous, beautifully-acted "Before Sunrise"-style romance that broke out of the niche some tried to put it in. Haigh directed the bulk of the episodes, but there's some top talent stepping in for the ones he didn't: both "Half Nelson" co-director Ryan Fleck and "Drinking Buddies"' filmmaker Joe Swanberg helmed episodes as well. Trailers have been very promising to date, and if nothing else, it should look gorgeous; the great DoP Reed Morano ("Frozen River," "Kill Your Darlings") shot the whole series.
Airdate: The eight-part first season begins airing at 10:30 after "True Detective" and "Girls" on HBO on Sunday, January 19th.

14. "Penny Dreadful"
Synopsis: A number of horror's most famous creations, including Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray and Dracula, cross paths in Victorian London.
What You Need To Know: Horror is big on TV right now, thanks to "The Walking Dead" and "American Horror Story," and the next big show could be this Showtime project, which has some huge names involved. From the duo behind billion-dollar Bond flick “Skyfall,” Sam Mendes and John Logan, and with a pilot directed by “The Impossible” and “The Orphanage” helmer Juan Antonio Bayona (after Mendes pulled out of directing due to stage commitments), this is a psychosexual horror set in Victorian London that seems to be a boobs and blood-friendly take on something like “The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen,” with Dracula, Frankenstein, Jekyll & Hyde, Dorian Gray and other out-of-copyright favorites crossing paths. The cast is toplined by Josh Hartnett and Eva Green, with Billie Piper, Rory Kinnear, Harry Treadaway, Timothy Dalton, Helen McCrory and Simon Russell Beale among the supporting players.
Why It's Anticipated: The potential is obviously here for this to be a campy mess like "True Blood" or "American Horror Story," but in theory this should be something classier. John Logan has been careful to emphasize the literary roots of his idea here, taking the characters back to their origins, and Bayona and Mendes make for a fairly prestigious pair. There's something innately appealing about watching these characters cross paths, especially when played by actors of this caliber (and uh, Josh Hartnett): the chance to see people like Kinnear, Treadaway, Dalton and McCrory chew the scenery should be near-irresistible.
Airdate: Filming of the eight-part series commenced in October—our guess is that Showtime will make this their replacement for "Dexter" in the summer, but it could end up airing much sooner than that.

13. "Gracepoint"
Synopsis; A local police detective and an out-of-towner are paired after a young boy is found murdered in a small town.
What You Need To Know: Last year in the U.K. saw "Broadchurch" become a water-cooler thriller hit like the country hadn't seen for years, gripping an entire nation for months as guesses flew as to who was the culprit of the central murder case. With the show also proving a success on BBC America, it's no wonder that Fox snapped up the rights to the series for a remake. Original creator Chris Chibnall returned to pen the pilot, but "Homicide" and "In Treatment" writer Anya Epstein is serving as showrunner along with her husband, "Capote" and "Foxcatcher" writer Dan Futterman. And the cast is pretty remarkable: David Tennant reprises his ailing copper from "Broadchurch" (though with an American accent), with "Breaking Bad" star Anna Gunn taking over from Olivia Colman as his co-investigator, while Michael Peña, Nick Nolte, Jacki Weaver and Josh Hamilton are among the impressive names assembled as the townspeople. James Strong, who helmed much of the original, including the first episode, will perform the same duty here.
Why It's Anticipated: It had its flaws (way too much slow-motion, the traditional saggy middle), but the original "Broadchurch" was for the most part an atmospheric and beautifully acted show that, unusually for this type of one-case procedural, managed to reach a satisfying wrap-up. Which isn't to say that there isn't room for improvement, with the excellent Epstein and Futterman in charge, and award-winning names like Gunn, Nolte, Weaver and Peña in the cast, there's every reason to think that this could end up surpassing the original, though we hope it has the stones to do its own thing, rather than simply Xeroxing the U.K. version (though fans of the original should be pleased to learn that a sequel series, with Colman and Tennant both returning, will arrive this year too).
Airdate: Starts filming on Vancouver Island this month, though is apparently being held for next season, so expect it in the fall, unless Fox decide to go with it in the summer months.

12. "The Leftovers"
Synopsis: A drama focusing on those in a suburban community left behind after The Rapture summons most of humanity up to heaven (or did it?...)
What You Need To Know: The return of “Lost” mastermind Damon Lindelof to television, this adapts the 2011 novel by Tom Perotta, whose books previously made it to the big screen to great success as “Election” and “Little Children.” It’s another post-apocalyptic tale, which have proved popular of late with "The Walking Dead" and "Under The Dome," but with a fascinating twist. Justin Theroux leads a solid and starry ensemble that also includes Liv Tyler, Christopher Eccleston, Amy Brenneman, Michael Gaston and Ann Dowd, and after a pilot directed by "Lone Survivor" and "Friday Night Lights" helmer Peter Berg, HBO picked it up to a ten-episode full series which will land later in the year.
Why It's Anticipated: The end-of-the-world has been reaching sitcoms-about-white-people-in-coffee-shops-during-the-1990s level of saturation on TV of late, but we're hopeful that "The Leftovers" can be something different. For one, it's unlikely to be a pure genre piece: the literary subject matter from the excellent Perotta promises something more satirical and provocative. We're sure there'll be a mystery, and early footage promises some action, but it seems more likely that this'll be more of a character piece than, say, "Revolution." And for all the shit he catches on the Internet, Lindelof did a stellar job for much of the run of "Lost," and this seems very much in his wheelhouse. Berg normally does a good job on TV too, and the cast is very strong. In other words, we've got a better feeling about this than most new HBO shows in the last few years.
Airdate: Picked up to series in September, so in theory, this could be ready to air by the summer. Perhaps alongside the final season of "True Blood"?

11. "Halt & Catch Fire"
Synopsis: A look at the personal computing boom in Texas' so-called Silicon Prarie in the 1980s, seen through the eyes of a visionary, an engineer and a prodigy.
What You Need To Know: Remember how we said that 2014 brought two series set in the tech world? After "Silicon Valley," this is the other one. With their nest-eggs “Breaking Bad” and “Mad Men” coming to an end, and other launches like “Rubicon,” “Hell On Wheels” and “Low Winter Sun” failing to follow the success of “The Walking Dead,” AMC are going big in 2014, and "Halt & Catch Fire" is one of their greatest hopes. Newcomer creators Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers have assembled a highly promising cast, with Lee Pace (“The Hobbit,” “Lincoln”), Scoot McNairy (“Argo,” “Killing Them Softly”), Kerry Bishe (“Argo”) and Mackenzie Davis (“Breathe In”) as the leads, whose computing start-up sets out to take on the big dogs. Juan Jose Campanella, director of the Oscar-winning “The Secret In Your Eyes,” helmed the pilot.
Why It's Anticipated: We've still got two years of "Mad Men" to go (one season, split into two), but AMC seem to be positioning this as a potential successor: another period workplace drama sure to delve into the personal lives of its characters as much as their professional ones. So long as it doesn't come across as "Mad Men" with microchips, we're certainly intrigued. And while Cantwell and Rogers might be unknown quantities, there must be something here for the network to take a chance on a show that seems so uncommercial on the surface. Campanella should bring a lashing of style to the first episode, and the central quartet of Pace, McNairy, Bishe and Davis are among our favorite breakout performers of the last few years. Could this do for 1980s slacker wear what Jon Hamm did for 1960s suits and smoking?
Airdate: Debuting it alongside "Mad Men" in the spring would be the obvious move, but it risks unflattering comparisons. It might be smarter to hold it for the summer to fill that old "Breaking Bad" slot.

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  • dawg | May 21, 2014 11:53 PMReply

    Uhhhhh..... The Flash? Hello

  • Steph | May 7, 2014 5:45 AMReply

    Any plans for a new season of Sons of Anarchy?

  • Jujube | April 13, 2014 2:23 PMReply

    When does Whitechapel season 3 air in BBC America?

  • Jcab | March 22, 2014 11:44 PMReply

    I'm very excited for the Constantine pilot (I hope to all that's holy that it will get green-lit for a whole first season). David S. Goyer doing my favorite comic book character? Not just yes. Hell yes.

  • Online Power Rangers Megaforce Tv Shows | March 22, 2014 8:56 AMReply

    I feel satisfied after finding this one.

  • gerard kennelly | February 14, 2014 7:09 PMReply

    Tom Hardy has joined the season 2 cast of Peaky Blinders

  • lightningbarer | February 10, 2014 8:45 PMReply

    I laugh at you, America. Gracepoint. Gracepoint? Gracepoint!
    Haven't you learned yet, the 'small' amount of shows that were based on British shows that lasted longer than a single season were still pale impersonations of our shows - and most, strangely enough were game shows, whodathunkit? The amount of shows that were dramas lasted a single season and the comedies...well there was Sanford and Son...that was good. Then there was Kings of Van Nuys...oh, yeah it didn't see air because it was 'that' bad.
    Then there was...well I don't want to waffle on, so go ahead Fox, go a version and I hope it works, more good David Tennant on the screen is good no matter how you slice it.
    I just wish you could have designed a good crime series like Broadchurch yourself.

  • Eldor | June 17, 2014 3:26 PM

    Ever heard of The Office (US)?

  • pooty | February 24, 2014 5:50 PM

    I am British but you as with most Brits talking through your hat. America has produced FAR better drama than England. The Sopranos, Game of Thrones, The Wire, OZ, Deadwood, Homeland, the shield, the Americans, True Detective and the number one: Breaking Bad. Ground breaking stuff.

    The UK has produced some great dramas: Cracker( the US version did pale!); Prime Suspect; and a number of Linda`s dramas but these days are you seriously arguing that that campy crap-"Sherlock" is in the same league as Breaking Bad, Homeland, the Sopranos or this year True Detective?

  • Wow | February 14, 2014 11:28 AM

    The US needs a good crime drama like Broadchurch? Because y'know Justified and The Wire weren't/aren't better than Broadchurch

  • WES | February 10, 2014 1:36 PMReply

    Better Call Saul?

  • CH | February 9, 2014 9:54 AMReply

    I am literally not anticipating any of these, at all.

  • AA | February 7, 2014 10:19 AMReply

    Is this based on actual polls or just opinion?

  • No homos allowed | January 24, 2014 1:39 AMReply

    Looking. "Since "Queer As Folk" ended nine years ago, it's been hard to find a drama series that takes gay life in America seriously. . . "

    Yet another test to see if America is further down the toilet than feared.

    The only thing serious about homos is the measure of depravity.

  • Hater of tyrants | January 24, 2014 1:37 AMReply

    Tyrant will be a gauge to America. If we are still a freedom loving nation, this show will tank and quickly.

  • Caleb | January 11, 2014 3:56 PMReply

    As far as returning shows, where is the lover for Archer?

  • AF | January 11, 2014 12:35 PMReply

    What? No mention of Ronald D. Moore produced Outlander for Starz based on the beloved novels of Diana Gabaldon? It made EW's list for 2014.

  • Sanker From India | January 11, 2014 12:11 PMReply

    Brother Mouzone from "The Wire" is on "True Detective"! Woo Hoo! I loved that line in trailer #2 where a man tells Matthew's character "I can see your soul at the edge of your eyes". It looks awesome!! Cary Fukunaga could become a really awesome director if he keeps this up!

  • Sanker From India | January 11, 2014 12:06 PMReply

    Jason Momoa has a nice voice and accent in that "Red Road" trailer. I just realised he never speaks in a language we could understand on "Game Of Thrones".

    I used to love "Homeland". But after season 3, I don't think I will watch it anymore.

  • gerardd kennelyy | February 14, 2014 7:11 PM

    sanker from india

    wait till you see Momoa in the stallone movie BULLET TO THE HEAD


  • Sanker From India | January 11, 2014 9:13 AMReply

    Although gay life wasn't its only concern, it was still a MAJOR part of "Six Feet Under".

  • audiodramatist | January 10, 2014 10:14 AMReply

    Hey...hey...hey!!! Leave "The Ladykillers" alone.
    The Brothers' only real non-Eurocentric piece.
    And I liked it...damnit!
    Plus like all their pieces; the music was unique and special.

  • Carly | January 10, 2014 6:14 AMReply

    Broadchurch was so overrated in my opinion. Although the acting was generally good across the board, the writing was at times boring/expositional and the direction was desperately melodramatic pretty much the whole time (slo-mo every 10 minutes, seriously??). And the worst aspect was when it was revealed to the public that the creator decided not to even tell the actor himself/herself they were the murderer until right before they filmed the last episode! How insulting for an actor to assume they wouldn't be able to portray a complex character hiding this dark secret. So of course the audience was "kept guessing" - the crew/cast didn't even know themselves!

  • lightningbarer | February 10, 2014 8:49 PM

    You do know that creative writing allows creative acting, right?
    It's not an insult to the actor to leave 'everyone' guessing 'who dun it' because it allows all the characters to show quirks of a potential murderer, you know - kinda like real life.
    That was the appeal of Broadchurch and I hope they up the ante for season 2. It's probably gonna be better than Gracepoint.

  • Jesse | January 10, 2014 1:39 AMReply

    Wow Sam Armstrong and Jesse Bain huh? Try Jesse Armstrong and Sam Bain :P

  • Paul | January 9, 2014 8:19 PMReply

    How about Downton Abbey? I noticed the Playlist staff rarely mention this very addictive and highly satisfying show with top notch writing courtesy of Julian Fellowes.

  • lee | January 9, 2014 6:52 PMReply

    hbo/bbc adaptation of Wolf Hall

  • Oliver Lyttelton | January 9, 2014 7:42 PM

    Not airing til 2015, I believe -- they held it so Rylance could do them on stage first.

  • CB | January 9, 2014 6:45 PMReply

    Only True Detective for me. Also anticipating Scorsese's HBO rock 'n' roll drama.

  • Peter | January 9, 2014 6:18 PMReply

    There's something innately appealing about watching these characters cross paths, especially when played by actors of this caliber (and uh, Josh Hartnett)


  • stefan bury | January 9, 2014 5:46 PMReply

    Person of interest is definitely worth watching. Last episode showed the potential this series has. And probably was the best AI themed story in many years... TV or film.

  • Major Kalas | January 9, 2014 5:07 PMReply

    Is "Those Who Kill" a remake of Danish tv show?

  • Oliver Lyttelton | January 9, 2014 7:43 PM

    Yes, I think so.

  • TOM | January 9, 2014 3:29 PMReply

    You forgot about BoJack Horseman. Will Arnett, Aaron Paul, and Amy Sedaris are lead voices in what could be an insane good time: a hard drinking horse and former sitcom star tries to reinvent himself. Plus, it's Netflix's first original adult animated series.

  • president mao | January 9, 2014 2:21 PMReply

    M. Night who?

  • russell | January 9, 2014 2:20 PMReply

    UK offices don't really do watercoolers. We chat in break rooms with sinks half full of muddy tea water and broken toasters.

  • Leni | January 9, 2014 2:12 PMReply

    Why is Fargo set in Bemidji MN? They're somewhat close geographically, but that doesn't make any sense, given the title and what it's based on. Strange.

  • McKenzie | January 9, 2014 4:20 PM

    The original film wasn't set in Fargo, ND. It took place in Brainerd, MN. William H. Macy's character meets Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare in a bar in Fargo. I imagine they'll tie in Fargo somehow that makes sense. The Coen's are rarely arbitrary.

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