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james debate

Thursday 10 January 2019

Happy New Year to all and welcome back to The Ephemeric. I hope you are all well rested and well fatted from your holidays, but now 2019 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 coming up next.

So here it is, your ultimate guide to the year ahead, The Ephemeric's 2019 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 your screens in 2019.

best anticipated new tv television shows 2019 hot list ephemeric

Gone are the days where television is considered to be the poorer cousin of cinema. Premium content became the norm of the industry, and the big budgets and star names quickly followed suit. Where once HBO stood unique as the purveyor of prestige viewing, now they are joined by the likes of FX, Netflix and Amazon.

Indeed there is such a demand for high quality original content right now that every company even tangentially connected to media is trying to get in on the game. Documentary networks such as Discovery, History and National Geographic are producing big-budget dramas. Online streamers like Netflix and Amazon are, arguably, best known at this point for their market leading work. YouTube are stepping up their ambitions, and rumours abound that Microsoft are looking to try again after their previous efforts fizzled some six years ago. In 2019 we will see another huge name added to that list, Apple.

There is such a huge array of high quality content available these days that it is honestly becoming a bit overwhelming to keep track of everything. My intention is that The Hot List can help in that regard, giving you at least an overview of some of the most interesting work to come in the year ahead.

So without further ado here are the top 15 essential television shows, both new and returning, that will hit the airwaves in 2019:

15. Devs - FX (New TV Show)

devs alex garland nick offerman ex machina annihilation the beach most anticipated tv 2019We start with a particularly exciting prospect. Devs is the new series from Alex Garland, best known for his novels The Beach, and The Tesseract, his screenplays for 28 Days Later and Sunshine, and more recently as the highly acclaimed writer/director of Ex Machina and Annihilation.

A suitably Garland-esque plot follows a young software developer, played by rising star Sonoya Mizuno, as she investigates the secretive development division of her employer, which she believes to be responsible for the disappearance of her boyfriend.

Set to premiere on FX this summer, Devs also features the excellent Nick Offerman on cast, and is headed by a production team of star-names: Academy Award winning Scott Rudin, Academy Award nominated Eli Bush, and Andrew Macdonald a frequent collaborator of the great Danny Boyle.

Start Date: Summer 2019

14. The Crown - Netflix

the crown netflix season 3 tv show 2019 claire foy olivia colman queen elizabeth helena bonham carterAfter a year-long break, Netflix's The Crown finally returns, but with a very different look from what we've seen previously.

Jumping ten years ahead in time, Season 3 will feature an entirely new cast. Claire Foy and Matt Smith are gone, to be replaced by Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies. The new cast includes additional big names in Helena Bonham Carter and Ben Daniels. The season is expected to expand on the stories of the young Prince Charles, and introduce the character of Camilla Shand (later Parker-Bowles).

It is understandable that many will be skeptical of a new cast, especially given the sterling performances of their predecessors. Personally I am of the opinion that showrunner Peter Morgan remains one of the very best in the industry, and as long as he is in charge I have little doubt that the end product will be worth the time.

Start Date: Fall 2019

13. The Loudest Voice in the Room - Showtime (New TV Show)

roger ailes loudest voice in room fox news sean hannity trump showtime 2019 most anticipated tvOne of the pivotal stories of our time, and yet one with which few are familiar. Post-truth politics, Fox News, Donald Trump, and the rise of radical right-wing populism - the origins of these fundamental issues of our time can be found in the ripples of Watergate.

The Loudest Voice in the Room follows the rise and fall of Roger Ailes, one-time communications guru of Richard Nixon, who made it his life's work to take control of the popular message through propaganda and ensure that something like Watergate could never happen again. As anyone familiar with current events will tell you, the success of that project is currently being put to the test, making this a very relevant and timely story.

Showtime will bring this story to the airwaves, with Academy Award winning Tom McCarthy (of Spotlight fame) writing. Russel Crowe takes the starring role and is joined by a stacked cast which includes Naomi Watts, Seth MacFarlane, and theatre legend Simon McBurney.

Start Date: TBA 2019

12. What We Do in the Shadows - FX (New TV Show)

what we do in the shadows 2019 most anticipated tv A delightful surprise. FX have announced a TV adaptation of 2014's cult horor-comedy What We Do in the Shadows. The original film remains one of the outstanding original comedies of recent years, and launched the career of now household name Taika Waititi.

The aforementioned Waititi joins fellow star Jermaine Clement (himself a household name from Flight of the Conchords, Legion, and Moana) as co-showrunner, however the two will not star in this adaptation. Acting duties have instead been handed to Kayvan Novak and Matt Berry, two comedians who will be better known to British viewers for their work in Four Lions and Garth Marenghi's Dark Place respectively.

Expected to release sometime in the Spring, the first episode has previously been screened at Comic Con and received positive reviews. Personally I would be wary. American adaptations of non-US comedy rarely translates well. If they do it right though, this could be excellent.

Start Date: Spring 2019

11. Untitled New Star Trek Series - CBS (New TV Show)

new cbs star trek next generation tng picard patrick stewart discovery 2019 most anticipated tvIf our previous pick was a delightful surprise, this one was a warp-core sized explosion. As Star Trek fans will be well aware, CBS recently brought the beloved series back to television in the form of Star Trek Discovery in order to promote their new online streaming network. Suffice it to say, reaction has been mixed, but that hasn't stopped CBS from pitching as many as three brand new Star Trek franchises.

By far the most interesting of these is the as yet untitled new series which will see the return of Sir Patrick Stewart's iconic Trek character Jean-Luc Picard. Stewart, of course, starred in Star Trek: The Next Generation, arguably the most beloved of the franchise's iterations, some 30 years ago. He has not reprised the character since 2002's flop film Star Trek: Nemesis. If this wasn't already exciting enough, the highly acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winning author Michael Chabon has been confirmed to be writing the new series.

Bringing back such a beloved character naturally has long time fans excited, and the focus on what must surely be a much older Picard, now long past his adventuring days, presents intriguing possibilities as to the narrative direction this series will take. This has the potential to be something quite unlike anything we've seen from the franchise before.

Start Date: TBA 2019

10. Watchmen - HBO (New TV Show)

watchmen hbo tv show 2019 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.

Start Date: TBA 2019

9. Foundation - Apple (New TV Show)

foundation apple 2019 most anticipated tvHere it is, the first big tentpole series of Apple's push into original content, an adaptation of Isaac Asimov's Foundation.

The seminal, epoch-spanning book series has long been mooted for some form of adaptation, but has generally been considered either unworkable or too large-scale to depict on screen. Apple apparently feel the technology is now there, and are prepared to throw a significant budget into bankrolling this ambitious new series.

The project will be handled by David Ellison's Skydance production company, while Ellison will be joined as executive producer by a line-up of prominent names including David Goyer, Josh Friedman, and Asimov's daughter Robyn. Beyond that, much is still shrouded in mystery, needless to say this is going to be a major event when it gets here.

Start Date: TBA 2019

8. The Orville - Fox

the orville seth macfarlane tv show fox 2019 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 ├╝ber 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.

Start Date: January 2019

7. Project Blue Book - History (New TV Show)

project blue book ufo alien history 2019 most anticipated tv televisionIt is a sign of the state of this industry that even networks like History are getting into the original content game. So far their scripted content has been met with a mostly mixed response, but Project Blue Book could well see that change.

Based on the real-life Government UFO programme of the same name, Project Blue Book will tell a fictionalised version of the US Government's investigation of the UFO phenomenon, replete with a healthy dose of conspiratorial paranoia and mid-century extraterrestrial intrigue. Anyone who has seen Stephen Spielberg's classic Taken miniseries will know what to expect, but otherwise try to imagine The X-Files if it were set in 1950s America.

Game of Thrones' Aidan Gillen stars alongside Laura Mennell, Michael Malarkey, and Neal McDonough. Academy Award winner Robert Zemeckis is attached as producer.

Start Date: January 2019

6. The Twilight Zone - CBS (New TV Show)

cbs jordan peele twilight zone reboot 2019 most anticipated tv Sci-fi anthology series seem to be all the rage right now, mostly thanks to the success of Black Mirror. The last few years have seen many imitators attempt to tap into that market, most prominently Electric Dreams and Dimension 404, but none of these have really managed to hit the spot. CBS will try to succeed where others have failed, by rebooting the original sci-fi anthology series The Twilight Zone.

Resurrecting the great granddaddy of televised sci-fi, a show that is still revered some 60 years later, is sure to generate excitement, but also poses a risk in the wrong hands. Fortunately, CBS have tapped rising star Jordan Peele (Get Out) as showrunner.

Ultimately it's not the name that makes the show, but the quality of the writing. Black Mirror has Charlie Booker, the original Twilight Zone had some of the best sci-fi authors of its day. If they put that kind of emphasis on making sure the right talent gets involved, this could be great.

Start Date: Fall 2019

5. Fargo - FX 

fargo fx season 4 2019 best televisionNoah Hawley is the man of the minute. Having achieved in Fargo by far the best example of a movie-to-TV adaptation being done well, and following that up with his excellent interpretation of Marvel's Legion he now finds himself riding high on the Hollywood it-list when it comes to showrunners.

Hawley is a busy man, recently tapped to helm the much anticipated adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle and also working on his feature film debut. But amid the hype, there have also been whispers of a new season for the series that made him a star.

Few details of Fargo's fourth season are known at this time, but it will star Chris Rock and have a 1950s setting. Seasons one through three were all excellent, we eagerly await the next chapter in this anthology.

Start Date: TBA 2019

4. His Dark Materials - BBC (New TV Show)

bbc his dark materials golden compass northern lights philip pullman 2019 most anticipated tv Aptly timed to coincide with Philip Pullman's knighthood, the BBC will adapt His Dark Materials to the small screen in 2019. This is, of course, the trilogy of novels which includes The Golden Compass (The Northern Lights in the UK), The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass.

The classic series is considered to be one of the most important children's'/young adult fiction works ever written, its deceptive fantasy trimmings a backdrop for surprisingly complex themes such as authoritarianism and religious dogma. It is for this reason that the work has proven notoriously difficult to adapt. The film adaptation was a critical and commercial flop, and the National Theatre's considerably better stage adaptation ultimately needed to split the story into two plays of three hours each. A miniseries, then, may turn out to be the ideal format for the material, allowing the necessary time to flesh out all the subtext and background.

An all-star cast and creative team includes Academy Award winning director Tom Hooper, and actors James McAvoy, Lin Manuel Miranda, Ruth Wilson, and Dafne Keen. This series has been in production for a while at this point, having been originally previewed on this blog some three years ago. Filming has now wrapped, and the first season looks set for debut some time in the Spring. BBC are apparently bullish enough on the end product that they have already greenlit for a second season. If done right, this could be essential watching.

Start Date: Spring 2019

3. Les Miserables - BBC (New TV Show)

les miserables bbc 2019 new most anticipated tvLes Miserables is a celebrated novel, and one of the world's most beloved musicals, yet it has proven a difficult work to adapt to the screen. One reason for this is the sheer volume of material contained within the original text - the novel clocks in at around 1,000 pages and is typically split into two books.

Evidently, it has proven difficult to successfully convey the same level of meaning in a short two to three hour film, especially when stretched further by indulgent musical numbers. And so the BBC's decidedly non-musical mini-series may turn out to be an ideal way to present the story, with enough time and depth to do justice to the source material.

BBC, for their part, seem to be pulling out all the stops. This is a big-budget TV production, with the talent to match. Andrew Davies, acclaimed writer of the original House of Cards scripts the series, and an all-star cast features the likes of Dominic West, David Oyelowo, Lily Collins, Olivia Colman, and Derek Jacobi. It's a very promising take and what looks to be an excellent production. Watch this one with great interest.

Start Date: January 2019

2. The Eddy - Netflix (New TV Show)

the eddy la la land damian chazelle jazz netflix tv show 2019 best most anticipated Netflix has a great wealth of new series and movies coming out this year. Too much so. We could do an entire piece on their original content on 2019 and still have great difficulty whittling it down to 15. There is one series, however, that has us more excited than the rest, a clear potential standout of 2019.

The Eddy marks the first venture into television from Damian Chazelle, the Academy Award winning writer/director of WhiplashLa La Land, and First Man. If his most recent film project marked a departure from the niche for which he is best known, The Eddy goes in the opposite direction, and is probably the most Damian Chazelle thing I can imagine: a musical drama set in a Parisian jazz club. The series will feature original music from Glen Ballard, Grammy award winning producer of albums such as Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill, and Michael Jackson's Thriller.

Beyond that we know... very little, except that it will apparently release during 2019. As someone who is a big fan of Chazelle's work, that is very exciting news.

Start Date: TBA 2019

1. Stranger Things - Netflix 

stranger things best tv show television 2019 season 3And sorry, but no surprises for our number one pick of 2019. 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 will release this July. 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.

Start Date: July 2019

So there you have it folks: 2019 in television. Tune in next week for the essential new videogames of the year!

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