james debate
james debate

Sunday 14 January 2018

Hello and welcome back to The Ephemeric. I hope you are all well rested and well fatted from your holidays, but now 2018 is upon us it's time to get down to business. A new year can only mean one thing, it's time to break out The Hot List and see what's next.

So here it is, your ultimate guide to the year ahead, The Ephemeric's 2018 Hot List. In this first entry we will be looking at the most exciting things happening in the world of television over the next 12 months, with a particular eye cast over the brand new shows hitting the your screens in 2018.

best anticipated new tv television shows 2018 hot list ephemeric

2017 saw a continuation in the trends of recent years. An increasing prominence in the web-based content-providers has sent traditional media scrambling, most dramatically in Rupert Murdoch's abrupt disposal of the entirety of Fox's entertainment assets to Disney.

Perhaps most intriguing has been the continued push towards completely original content, even among the traditional networks. The likes of TNT, Syfy and even National Geographic have clearly decided that the way to compete in the new media landscape is to refocus from their roots (old movies, old sci-fi, and documentaries respectively) into original fiction. National Geographic got off to a strong start with mini-series Genius, while TNT are generating real buzz for their upcoming The Alienist.

Whatever the mode of the day, it is clear that there has never been a better time to be watching television. The quality and breadth of new programming on offer at the moment is staggering, and gone are the days where television was the poorer, maligned cousin of the cinema. Increasingly this is the medium for people who want deep, rich storytelling, and that is a reality that the star-power and money of Hollywood has now embraced fully.

So without further ado here are the top 15 essential television shows, both new and returning, that will hit the airwaves in 2018:

15. The Office - NBC

the office us revival reboot return most anticipated tv 2018We will begin with the recent development that has caught us completely off guard. The Office is making a comeback. This is, of course, the American version of The Office, a series which against all expectations managed to escape the shadow of its British source material, and established itself as one of America's best loved TV series.

In its first iteration, the The Office lasted an impressive nine seasons and scooped numerous Emmys. Even towards the end of its run as the quality began slipping, the show managed to retain its wide following. Now NBC clearly feels there is the appetite for a revival, just four years later.

So what do we know so far? Not much, aside from the fact that this will be a mix of old and new castmembers, the identity of which have so far been kept under wraps.

Start Date: TBA 2018

14. Westworld - HBO

westworld hbo tv show 2018 anthony hopkins thandie newton james marsden ed harrisAfter a year-long break, HBO's latest hit series Westworld will return for a second season.

Season two picks up on the cliff-hanger of the first with the robotic denizens of the titular Westworld now on the verge of revolution. The stage is set to play out the climactic events of the Michael Crichton cult classic, but showrunner Jonathan Nolan is promising plenty in the way of new twists that will keep even fans of the original on their toes.

Success on the awards circuit and, crucially, with the fans means that HBO has the makings of a phenomenon on their hands. Westworld scratches a specific itch in mysterious, addictive sci-fi that hasn't been seen in the mainstream arguably since Lost aired all those years ago. Many shows have tried to hit that sweet spot, but Westworld is the first that has succeeded. Can they now live up to the lofty expectations?

Start Date: TBA 2018

13. The Romanoffs - Amazon (New TV Show)

the romanoffs amazon 2018 most anticipated tvThis is probably the most exciting of Amazon's ambitious lineup of original programming for 2018.

The Romanoffs is the new miniseries from Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. Each episode follows a different central character around the globe who believe themselves to be the modern day descendants of the Russian royal family. The series will feature a bumper cast, including the likes of Aaron Eckhart, Christina Hendricks, Isabelle Huppert, Jack Huston, Diane Lane, and Corey Stoll.

The hype is strong. Talented showrunner, stacked cast, and an ambitious studio willing to devote huge amounts of capital. This looks excellent, expect it to go live in the Spring.

Start Date: Spring 2018

12. Confederate - HBO (New TV Show)

confederate hbo 2018 most anticipated tvControversial stuff from HBO's newest project, Confederate. As the name suggests, this depicts an alternate history where the American Civil War ended in a stalemate, and the Confederate States went on to form a successful independent nation with slavery a modern, legal institution.

Presumably, you might think, the controversy comes from the American left wing being up in arms over the depiction of a modern day slavery-embracing America? Well actually no, the outrage is coming from the conservative south... because apparently we live in a world where criticising slavery is considered controversial.

But nevermind all that, forget the controversy and the politics, this is just an exciting high concept brought to life by one of the great names in television. It's expected to drop in the second half of the year, just in time for the elections.

Start Date: Fall 2018

11. Glow - Netflix

glow season 2 netflix 2018 most anticipated tvOne of 2017's big surprise packages, Glow exceeded the expectations of its meagre premise and managed to charm audiences and critics alike with its sharp writing and colourful cast.

Netflix have reviewed the series for a second season of 10 episodes which looks set to continue the crew's efforts to establish a credible women's wrestling league. The old cast returns, headed up by Alison Brie and Marc Maron, while a few new faces will be joining including Shakira Berrera.

We expect season 2 to be released sometime this summer. Until then, if you haven't yet watched the first season, there's still time to get caught up!

Start Date: Summer 2018

10. Arrested Development - Netflix

arrested development season 5 netflix 2018 most anticipated tvConfirmed by producer/narrator Ron Howard to be in the pipeline for 2018 is the near mythical return of Arrested Development.

A cult classic following its initial three seasons on Fox, the series' revival by Netflix, some seven years after cancellation, was met with a surprisingly tepid response. The writers tried too hard to make clever use of this new digital-binge format (1 character per episode) and the result was a show that simply lacked the charm and ensemble brilliance of the first run. Rumour has it that the lesson has been learned, and season 5 will be more in line with what longterm fans have been hoping for.

The usual cast returns, Jason Bateman, Michael Cera, Will Arnett, Jeffrey Tambor, and the rest. I'm hopeful that this will see a return to form. (Ron Howard narration: "It didn't...")

Start Date: TBA 2018

9. Britannia - Sky Atlantic/Amazon (New TV Show)

britannia sky atlantic amazon jezz butterworth game of thrones roman england 2018 most anticipated tvHere's a fascinating project, and the first British production on this year's list. Britannia is a Sky Atlantic production, to be aired on Amazon in the United States. This historical period drama will cover the Roman conquest of the British Isles in 43AD, offering a rare depiction of ancient Britain.

The large ensemble cast features most notably Ian McDiarmid and Zoe Wanamaker, but the most exciting element from a production standpoint has to be the writing of celebrated playwright Jez Butterworth, fresh from his award winning success on the London stage with The Ferryman.

There is a worrying trend among historical television that everything needs to be like Game of Thrones, fantastical and flamboyant rather than historical and nuanced. Sad to say the trailer does have the look of such a direction, but with the considered writing talents of Butterworth directing the content, I will give it the benefit of the doubt for now. First episode is out on January 18th.

Release Date: 18 January, 2018

8. Watchmen - HBO (New TV Show)

watchmen hbo tv show 2018 best most anticipatedFor some people, this will mean absolutely nothing, for others it will be a subject of immense excitement. Watchmen is a graphic novel, considered to be one of the best pieces of superhero fiction ever written, so much so that Time Magazine even included it in their top 100 novels of all time - not just graphic novels, all novels.

So in this world of superhero over-saturation, an interpretation of arguably the finest source material of them all is surely a welcome development, especially coming from HBO, the best in the business.

But of course, Watchmen has been adapted before in the form of a Zach Snyder film, one which received only lukewarm reception. In that case, it was the pacing of trying to cram so much content into a single film that caused the issue. A mini-series is the perfect format, and one that I can't wait to see.

Release Date: TBA 2018

7. The Orville - Fox

the orville seth macfarlane tv show fox 2018 season 2The Orville had a great debut in 2017, finally giving fans that proper spiritual sequel to Star Trek that they had so badly been craving.

Imaginative and timely with its moral-driven plotlines, Orville sees Seth MacFarlane move out of his comfort zone and into a less slapstick genre, one which showcases his talents as a writer. In an era when anything even vaguely sci-fi feels the need to be über grim-dark or full of over the top action, it's nice to see a series that's more about provoking thought than a visceral reaction.

If season 2 can maintain the consistency and quality of its storytelling, then we could have the makings of a very strong science fiction franchise here.

Release Date: Summer 2018

6. My Next Guest Needs No Introduction - Netflix (New TV Show)

netflix my next guest needs no introduction david letterman obama tina fey malala 2018 most anticipated tvRetirement just isn't for some people, and apparently the legendary former host of the Late Show, David Letterman is one of those people.

His newest project, courtesy of Netflix's renewed push into non-fiction programming, is My Next Guest Needs No Introduction. Essentially, it's an hour long interview with a series of highly prominent subjects. The first episode features none other than former President Barack Obama in his first televised interview since leaving the White House, just in case you don't already feel immense sadness at his successor. Other guests include George Clooney, Tina Fey, and Malala.

The first episode releases in January, and unusually for a Netflix show it will be an episodic release, one every month or so. A series of in depth interviews with some of the world's most influential figures, conducted by one of the all time great interviewers. This is a must watch.

Release Date: 12 January, 2018

5. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs - Netflix (New TV Show)

ballad of buster scruggs netflix coen brothers western new tv show 2018 best televisionThis one is promising. The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is a western anthology series produced jointly by Netflix and Annapurna, a name well known to film fans that has since been branching out to other forms of media including television and videogames.

The main headline here is the involvement of the many-award winning Coen Brothers. It's the first foray into television by the brothers who will also write and direct the series. The cast includes the likes of James Franco, Liam Neeson, and Tim Blake Nelson, and will tell six interconnected stories set among the Nebraska panhandle.

The exact release date is still up in the air, but it is expected to hit sometime in late 2018. This is going to be a big one.

Release Date: TBA 2018

4. The Alienist - TNT (New TV Show)

the alienist tnt 2018 most anticipated tv TNT, purveyor of the classic movie rerun for decades, is getting into the original content game, and they want The Alienist to be their first big hit.

It's promising on paper: a period-set detective thriller based on a well received novel by Caleb Carr, created by Cary Fukunaga, the man behind the first (ie the only good one) season of True Detective, and featuring a talented cast that includes Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans, and Dakota Fanning.

TNT are relatively untested when it comes to original content, but they've assembled talent and experience. I've had my eye on this one for a while, but the wait will soon be over, with the first episode releasing late in January.

Release Date: 22 January, 2018

3. The Good Place - NBC

the good place nbc netflix 2018 new most anticipated tv parks and recreation the officeSad to say I only got into this one late in 2017, but what a delightful show it is. From Michael Schur, the man behind the American version of The Office and Parks and Recreation, The Good Place scratches that same itch of supremely charming comfort TV.

The premise itself is remarkably clever, following Kristen Bell's character Eleanor Shellstrop as a woman who wakes up apparently in the afterlife, but above all it is the remarkable performance of Ted Danson that steals the show here.

The first season features a significant twist in its ending, so I will avoid going into any further detail and would encourage all of you not to read too much about the show before watching. Suffice it to say, The Good Place is wonderful and well worth your time.

Release Date: Currently running

2. Altered Carbon - Netflix (New TV Show)

altered carbon netflix tv show 2018 best most anticipatedAltered Carbon is Netflix's tentpole blockbuster TV series for 2018. Based on the award winning cyberpunk novel by Richard K Morgan, this tech-noir mystery about solving a murder in a world where death has been rendered meaningless.

This is set three centuries in a future where the wealthy are able to transfer their minds from one body to another, theoretically postponing death indefinitely. The first trailer depicts this futuristic world in dazzling detail that is reminiscent of Blade Runner and the work of Philip K Dick. Above all, this clearly showcases what must be a significant, Hollywood-sized budget.

Season one will go live at the start of February. It's clear that Netflix has huge expectations for this one, and time will tell whether the risk pays off.

Release Date: 2 February, 2018

1. Stranger Things - Netflix

stranger things best tv show television 2018 season 3And sorry, but no surprises for our number one pick of 2018. Stranger Things remains one of the best things on television, and I know I'm not the only one who can't wait to see where season three takes us.

Little is known about the new season, aside from the fact that it is confirmed in production, and expected to land in 2018. The last season left us on something of an ominous note, with the antagonistic Shadow being facing temporary defeat, but still very much present and with designs on our world. Elsewhere the smart money would expect to see more of Eleven's sibling, revealed briefly in season two.

While there are clear plot-threads to follow going forward, no one really knows what direction the Duffer Brothers will take this. Whatever the case, the strength of the writing and production thus far gives us no reason for concern, and we expect great things when this releases.

Release Date: Late 2018

So there you have it folks: 2018 in television. Tune in next week for the essential new videogames of the year!

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