Thursday, 30 January 2014
Welcome back to The Ephemeric's 2014 Hot List. We hope you enjoyed our last entry in the Hot List dealing with the hottest new music in 2014. This week we will be turning our attention to the year's line-up of television shows, in particular the brand new series starting in the next 12 months.
The story of television in 2013 is one of renaissance; a new golden age driven by the premium content on networks like HBO which has led many observers to declare that television, once the maligned stepchild of Hollywood's cinema screens, is now to be considered the superior medium of story telling. After all you can tell a much deeper and richer story in 10 hours than you can in 2.
Of even greater interest is the Netflix revolution. The former small-time DVD rental company has grown incredibly in recent years to the point of being considered a direct threat to the conventional TV networks, and this was only further cemented by the company's move into original programming in 2013. Hit shows like House of Cards, Orange is the New Black and Arrested Development have instantly taken Netflix to the very forefront of television, and the company has duly been rewarded both in financial terms and critical, with particularly notable success coming at this year's Emmys, and even an Oscar nomination to boot.
Both these game-changing factors will be key to what lies ahead in 2014, but whatever happens it seems reasonable to say that we are entering one of the most exciting eras in TV history. So without further ado here are the most exciting television shows, both new and returning, that will hit the airwaves in 2014:
10. Sherlock - BBC
Sherlock has become one of the biggest British TV shows in a decade, and achieved that rare feat of being equally successful across the pond.
With the renowned creative minds of Steve Moffat and Mark Gatiss working behind the scenes, and bona fide Hollywood stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman starring, the show has hit a winning formula, both reverent of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic source material while still full of new ideas and cutting edge narrative style.
After a two year hiatus the show returns for its third season, which by the time of publishing will probably have finished. In classic British style the season will only be three episodes long, departing all too early and leaving audiences wanting more. But in such frustration we find comfort in the real prospect that Sherlock could follow in the footsteps of TV shows like Poirot and become a long recurring national pastime, re-emerging every few years with new episodes. As long as Cumberbatch and Freeman are on board, the game is afoot.
Release Date: January 2014
9. BBC First World War centenary season - BBC (New TV Show)
The BBC has some grand designs when it comes to the next four years and the centenary of World War I, a massively ambitious schedule of four years worth of programming which all falls under the banner of the great big BBC First World War Centenary Season.
Programming begins in 2014 and ends in 2018 to correspond to 100 years after the war and will include 130 newly commissioned radio and TV broadcasts, lasting 2500 hours with more than 600 hours of new content. This content will run the gamut from documentaries to dramas, arts and music, debate shows, and even children's programming, and hopefully many reruns of Blackadder Goes Forth.
The season begins late January with a four part Jeremy Paxman documentary Britain's Great War, but watch out for dramas The Passing Bell, and Great War Diary, as well as a two part Gallipoli documentary coming later in the year.
Release Date: 2014 - 2018
8. Gotham - Fox (New TV Show)
TV shows based on superhero comics seems to be the big new thing, with last year's Marvel Universe tie-in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. among the major events in television, albeit a hugely disappointing one. This year DC comics are getting in on the action, first with an adaption of The Flash, but what has us at The Ephemeric most intrigued is Gotham.
Set in the wonderful Batman universe, Gotham tells the story of police commissioner James Gordon, a character notably played by Gary Oldman in the recent movies, though it is yet to be announced who will play him here. The Batman himself will feature here, along with several notable Batman villains, but the main focus will be on the day-to-day of Gordon and the Gotham City police force. If played right it could provide a uniquely relatable and gritty take on a superhero franchise, and one that is well suited to the lower budget realities of television.
No word on a premiere date yet, but as so few details have yet surfaced we can expect it at best for the fall 2014 line up, hopefully not slipping back to 2015.
Release Date: Fall 2014
7. Fargo - FX (New TV Show)
In an extremely unlikely turn, FX has decided to take the classic Coen Brothers film Fargo and turn it into a ten episode TV series. The brothers themselves are only involved as producers and none of the original cast return, but in their stead has been assembled a very fine all-star cast including Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Colin Hanks and Bob Odenkirk.
The original film was highly praised for its dark, violent humour, and it will be interesting to see how this can be adapted onto television. Perhaps then it is not so much of a surprise that it has been picked up by FX, a network known for being edgier and less stringent with censorship.
The episodes are already in post production, but so far a firm air date has not been revealed, aside from the network's vague "sometime in Spring" indications. The smart money says to expect a debut once the current run of shows ends in April.
Release Date: Spring 2014
6. Archer - FX
One of the funniest shows on TV unsurprisingly returns for a fifth season, but with big changes this time around.
In what is being pegged as a sort of reboot for the series, the spy agency setting is to be shed for one reason or another and season five will see the team peddling drugs in order to make ends meet. Like Scarface, only with more laughs. Hence this season has been branded with the title Archer Vice.
Regardless of the setting, the show's trademark wit and satirical humour remain. Indeed it's refreshing to see a series that is not afraid to mix things up from one season to the next. The new season starts in January.
Release Date: January 2014
5. Telemark - FX (New TV Show)
This makes three FX shows in a row on this list, and as a further sign of the network's growing clout in the industry, this one comes with some serious heavy hitters.
Telemark is a dramatized telling of the true story of the Norwegian resistance movement during World War II and their attempts to sabotage the Nazi production of nuclear weapons.
More interesting is the fact that none other than Danny Boyle, the famed British director of Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, is at the reins, and he's bringing with him his frequent collaborator Simon Beaufoy. With such talent attached to the project this is going to be one to keep an eye on.
No firm date has been given, and it's entirely possible that this may slip to 2015, but tentatively we're pencilling it in for later this year.
Release Date: Fall 2014
4. Parks and Recreation - NBC
One of the most likeable shows on TV right now, with an increasingly impressive cast. Parks and Recreation keeps going from strength to strength. Certainly one of the smarter comedies on TV right now, brimming with light political humour and some of the most genuinely hilarious characters since The Office.
It's been a big year for the show, with increased recognition leading to its first Golden Globe award for Amy Poehler, While Chris Pratt is widely tipped as one of 2014's potential break out stars. The fact that all the talent involved are so keen to keep going is a testament to how this show is special.
The 6th season is still running, and has just been renewed for the 7th to commence in Fall 2014.
Release Date: Fall 2014
3. Marco Polo - Netflix (New TV Show)
Now we're getting to the really tasty stuff. Epic historical drama Maro Polo tells the story of the famous Italian explorer's early years in Asia, promising a hugely ambitious mix of martial arts, intrigue and swashbuckling spectacle.
After a prolonged bidding war, Netflix has won the rights to make Marco Polo the latest in a long line of high profile original series, and a very impressive array of talent has since been attached to the project. The show is being co-directed by an Oscar nominated Norwegian director and the director of hit TV series Game of Thrones, and will be produced by the Weinstein Company, a company known for sweeping all the very highest honours in cinema.
All of those details indicate this is shaping up to be something very special indeed. No firm date has been revealed aside from "later in 2014", and as with all Netflix shows all nine episodes will be released at once.
Release Date: TBA 2014
2. True Detective - HBO (New TV Show)
HBO have something of a reputation as the television network known for producing shows of the highest quality, shows which aspire to be more than the typical network fare. Their back catalogue reads like a who's who of the best TV shows in recent decades, featuring names like The Wire, Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, Flight of the Conchords, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Sopranos to name just a few.
The newest original content to come out of the premium cable company is True Detective, a gritty police drama with a superstar cast, starring the duo of Woody Harrelson, a man who has two Oscar nominations, and Matthew McConaughey, whose incredible career transformation now sees him considered the heavy favourite to win this year's Oscar for lead actor. The pedigree is simply remarkable, and up until recently almost unthinkable for a TV show.
The show starts on HBO in January of this year and will run for eight episodes. Definitely the pick of this year's brand new TV shows.
Release Date: January 2014
1. House of Cards - Netflix
Last year's best TV show has been renewed for a second season, set to commence later in 2014. House of Cards is the best political TV show since the West Wing, and the jewel in the crown of Netflix's fledgling original content studio.
Directed/produced by household name David Fincher and starring one of this generation's greatest actors Kevin Spacey, House of Cards' first season was met with critical acclaim and went on to win Golden Globes and Emmys, the first Netflix show to win such accolades.
The release date is set for Valentine's Day, and once again will be thirteen episodes long, all released simultaneously.
Release Date: February 2014
So there you have it folks: 2014 in television. Tune in next week for the essential new movies of the year!