james debate
james debate

Friday 6 January 2023

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 2023 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 2023 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 2023.

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What more can be said about the state of television in 2023? With every tangentially entertainment-related company and their dog starting their own streaming network, the sheer volume of original content is near unmanageable. In 2022, this blog awarded the top prizes in television to The Orville's excellent third season and Apple TV+'s best drama to date, Severance. But in truth there was a wide array of very fine series, old and new, that didn't quite make the cut but nevertheless are worthy of praise, from Netflix's thrilling Cyberpunk Edgerunners, to Paramount finally making a decent Star Trek series in Strange New Worlds, to Disney creating one of the year's finest documentary series in Welcome to Wrexham. 

2023 promises to be another year of content abundance. Whittling down this list to just 15 was, once again, hugely challenging. But this final list represents a great cross-section of TV's most celebrated creators, some long-gestating projects finally coming to completion, and old returning favourites, some of which will be making their final appearance. There is something out there for everyone, but at the same time there is more than can possibly be digested by one person, so choose wisely. 

So without further ado here are the top 15 essential television shows, both new and returning, that will hit the airwaves and their web-equivalent in 2023:

15. White House Plumbers - HBO (New TV Show)

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We will start off with some good old fashioned political drama, in HBO's White House Plumbers

This is an adaptation of the 2007 book Integrity, a dramatization of events surrounding the Watergate scandal and, in particular, the roles of G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, the Nixon operators and so-called "White House Plumbers" tasked with plugging leaks of classified information.

Directed by David Mandel, showrunner of Veep, also known for his work on Curb Your Enthusiasm, featuring a strong cast that includes Woody Harrelson, Justin Theroux, Domhnall Gleeson, Lena Headey, F. Murray Abraham, Kathleen Turner, Gary Cole, and many other recognisable faces.

White House Plumbers is scheduled for release in March.

Start Date: March 2023

14. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel - Amazon

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Amazon's greatest comedy to date, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

At its best, Maisel is one of the finest series on TV. A love letter to a bygone era of Golden Age New York, this tale of 1950s feminism is hilarious, with strong performances and impeccable production that evoke the mood of the period without feeling too much like a pastiche. 

The award winning nostalgia-fest of a mid-century house-wife turned stand-up comedy queen has been charming audiences since 2017, during which it has been a consistently welcome highlight in the year's TV line up. But all good things come to an end. With so many narrative threads outstanding, I can't wait to see how they tie it all together.

Start Date: Spring 2023

13. Disclaimer - AppleTV+ (New TV Show)

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A new thriller and the latest addition to AppleTV+'s increasingly impressive line up of original content, Disclaimer is based on the 2015 novel of the same name by Renée Knight.

The story follows Catherine Ravenscroft, played here by the great Cate Blanchett, a famed TV journalist who discovers that she is a prominent character in a novel that reveals a secret she has long tried to keep hidden. Blanchett is joined by an impressive cast that includes Kevin Kline, Lesley Manville, Sacha Baron Cohen in his latest dramatic turn, and HoYeon Jung in her first major role since her breakout performance in Squid Game

Perhaps most exciting is the attachment of Alfonso Cuarón, the Academy Award winning director of Gravity, Roma, Children of Men, and, surprisingly, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as showrunner.

Release date is still TBD, but expected for early 2023. 

Start Date: TBD 2023

12. The Fall of the House of Usher - Netflix (New TV Show)

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When it comes to the horror genre, Mike Flanagan can seemingly do no wrong at the moment. The filmmaker cut his teeth on well received films such as Oculus, Hush, and Doctor Sleep, but more recently has been widely acclaimed for his work with Netflix on miniseries The Haunting of Hill House, The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Midnight Mass.

His latest, The Fall of the House of Usher is a miniseries based on the works of Edgar Allan Poe, featuring a cast of Bruce Greenwood, Carla Gugino, Mark Hamill, and others.

A great horror filmmaker working with top level source material and a strong cast. This is one to watch in 2023. The release date has yet to be confirmed, but with filming having wrapped last summer, we should see it early this year.

Start Date: Spring 2023

11. Futurama - Hulu

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It just won't stay dead! That's right, after nearly ten years, Matt Groening's other great animated series, Futurama is returning yet again.

This latest revival comes courtesy of Hulu, presumably aided by parent company Disney's newfound ownership of all these old Fox-produced TV shows. The main cast all return and Hulu have ordered 20 episodes.

What more is there to say? Futurama is one of the very best animated series, and while its last few seasons may not have reached the heights of the original run, if it can capture even a slice of its wit, this will be a highlight of 2023. 

Hulu were allegedly targeting completion of all episodes by the end of 2022, which leads me to believe we will see this release sometime in the summer. But at the time of writing a date has yet to be confirmed. 

Start Date: TBD 2023

10. Shrinking - AppleTV+ (New TV Show)

shrinking apple appletv plus bill lawrence harrison ford jason segel 2023 most anticipated tv showsThis promising new comedy continues the successful collaboration between AppleTV+ and the writing duo of Bill Lawrence and Brett Goldstein, creators of Apple's greatest series to date, Ted Lasso

Shrinking's plot has a whiff of The Newsroom about it. Jason Segel plays a therapist who, dealing with grief, finally decides he's had enough and begins to speak his mind, with massive consequences for both himself and his patients. The supporting cast includes plenty of proven comedy talent, such as Christa Miller (with whom Lawrence has worked previously, on Scrubs), Jessica Williams of The Daily Show, and, curiously, Harrison Ford in his first ever TV role.

Shrinking will release in January 2023. If it can achieve even half of what Ted Lasso managed, it will be worth the watch.

Start Date: January 2023

9. Fallout - Amazon (New TV Show)

fallout game videogame bethesda walton goggins jonathan nolan 2023 most anticipated tvYes, this is really happening. Amazon have ordered a TV series based on the celebrated videogame franchise Fallout.

For those not in the know, Fallout is a series of mostly RPG videogames, set in a post-apocalyptic world heavily stylised by the retrofuturism of midcentury America. It's a largely lighthearted affair that plays as a clever satire of post-war American exceptionalism and the unbridled optimism of the atomic age. It also happens to be one of my favourite series.

Quite how they turn this into a TV show, I am not sure. Getting the balance right for a witty comedy-adventure set in a nuclear wasteland will be tricky enough, but such a significant part of the Fallout series lies in player choice and autonomy, that I really wonder how well it will translate to a non-interactive format. 

That said, Fallout has some solid creative talent behind it, with Lisa Joy (Pushing Daisies) and Jonathan Nolan (Person of Interest, as well as co-writer on his brother's films The Dark Knight and Interstellar) attached as showrunners. This, combined with the good track record that Amazon has with sci-fi and other high concept works, has me cautiously optimistic for now.

Start Date: TBA 2023

8. Masters of the Air AppleTV+ (New TV Show)

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Cary Fukunaga, a director best known for True Detective, The Alienist, and the most recent Bond film No Time To Die, brings us this new war drama, courtesy of AppleTV+.

Masters of the Air tells the true story of the Eighth Air Force of the United States during World War II, backed by the production companies behind Band of Brothers and The Pacific, headed by none other than Steven Spielberg.

With the talent involved, this could well end up being one of Apple's flagship dramas in 2023. No release date has yet been announced, but filming is said to have taken place in late 2021 and early 2022, indicating that we should see this sooner rather than later.

Start Date: TBA 2023

7. Succession - HBO

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It's possibly the most talked about series on TV at the moment, HBO's Succession returns for season 4 in 2023.

The last season ended on something of a cliffhanger, leading us into what promises to be a high stakes new season which, if rumours are to be believed, may be the penultimate season of the series. 

Whatever the case, I for one can not wait to see some more of the show's delicious scheming, backstabbing, and darkly hilarious character-writing.

Succession's new season is confirmed to be arriving in spring 2023, which could mean anything from March onwards.

Start Date: Spring 2023

6. Citadel - Amazon (New TV Show)

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Amazon's new series Citadel sounds impressively ambitious. A science fiction, globetrotting spy drama centred around some, currently shrouded in mystery, groundbreaking global event.

What is remarkable about Citadel is that, in addition to the main english language series, Amazon will also be producing several local language spin-off series set in various countries including Mexico, India, and the Italian Alps. These series will feature a strong cast that includes Richard Madden, Stanley Tucci, and Priyanka Chopra.

If it all sounds like a lot to wrap your head around, then fear not. Amazon have placed at the helm of this project The Russo Brothers, a duo with considerable experience in crafting sprawling interconnected media from their projects in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and making it accessible to audiences.

Producing several spin-offs before the main series has even launched is either one of the most foolhardy things I have seen in television, or it's a masterstroke that will result in a worldwide phenomenon of a franchise. We will find out soon enough.

Start Date: TBD 2023

5. Nolly - ITV (New TV Show)

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On the surface Nolly, a new ITV series about 1970s soap opera star Noele Gordon might seem like a bit of "ok... so what?". But this is the latest project from none other than Russell T.  Davies.

Davies is on a hell of a run lately, with A Very English Scandal, Years and Years, and It's a Sin out in recent years, each one of which is solid gold. The casting of Helena Bonham Carter in the lead role, as well as the continued collaboration with Peter Hoar, director of It's a Sin, all bodes very well.

If I'm honest, I can't remember the last time ITV produced a series worth watching. But Russell T. Davies rarely misses and his name alone makes this must watch television for 2023. 

Start Date: Summer 2023

4. Severance - AppleTV+

2023 most anticipated tv severance apple appletv plus season 2The original content coming out of AppleTV+ has been remarkable in recent years, propelling them almost instantly to the top tier of streaming networks. The record breaking Ted Lasso has been the clear standout to date, but last season saw the release of a series that may well be the next best thing Apple have yet produced.

Severance was a real surprise package in 2022, a quirky, humorous, pitch black satire of corporate exploitation. Anchored by strong performances and whip-smart writing, the first season ended on the mother of all cliffhangers, making a follow up not only essential, but a mere formality with the success of its debut. That second season will release in 2023. 

Filming is due to wrap in the spring, meaning we can expect a release late in 2023.

Start Date: Late 2023

3. Daisy Jones & The Six - Amazon (New TV Show)

2023 most anticipated tv amazon daisy jones six novel reece witherspoonFinally, at long last. This series has been featured on the Hot List for a few years running now, but after several pandemic-related delays, Daisy Jones & The Six will release in 2023. 

This is the adaptation of the Debbie Award winning novel of the same name. Snapped up by Reese Witherspoon's production company, the series was first pitched as potentially making its way to HBO, it has since ended up finding a home on Amazon.

This is of course story of the titular Daisy Jones and her fictionalised 1970s rock band, based loosely on the history of Fleetwood Mac. The novel was written in the format of a documentary film, but it is expected that the series will be a more traditional drama, albeit with an Office/Parks and Rec confessional mockumentary style.

The cast may be mostly unknown, but in its lead they have some bona fide musical credentials in Riley Keough, grandchild of none other than Elvis Presley himself. She is joined in the cast by Sam Claflin, who you might recognise from the recent Pirates of the Caribbean films. 

The book is a classic. I am skeptical of how well this will translate into television, but if they can pull it off then this will be one of the series to watch when it releases in March.

Start Date: March 2023

2. Ted Lasso - AppleTV+

ted lasso season 3 apple appletv+ plus new most anticipated tv 2023One of television's great surprise hits, Ted Lasso has turned its forgettable origins into a masterstroke of feel-good comedy and taken its place as the flagship of Apple's nascent original programming division.

Great credit needs to go to showrunner Bill Lawrence and lead man Jason Sudeikis for helping to craft an unforgettable array of loveable characters, but what shone from season 2 was the increased ambition and ramped up drama that brought unexpected levels of depth without sacrificing everything that made its debut so enjoyable.

After a few delays (this was previously tipped for autumn 2022), filming has now wrapped and we are expecting a release no sooner than spring 2023. This is currently set to be the final season, although there have been hints that the creators may be open to continuing the show beyond the originally planned three-season run. Fingers crossed Apple convinces them to keep going, but if not then let's enjoy it while we can and hope they go out with a bang.

Start Date: Spring 2023

1. The Three-Body Problem - Netflix (New TV Show)

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And finally, our top pick for 2023 goes to another long-gestating project. The oft-tipped, highly anticipated, eye-wateringly expensive adaptation of Liu Cixin's award winning series of novels, Death's End. This series takes its name from the first book in that series, The Three-Body Problem.

Put simply, the novel is a masterpiece of science fiction. A deeply intelligent series that draws on mankind's history and contemporary society to depict a hypothetical first contact scenario. Everything about the novel is sublime, from its clever real-world allusions to the tantalisingly slow-paced drip-feed of revelations as we learn more of its central mystery, and its rigid adherence to hard-science and the constraints that puts on many of our most common sci-fi tropes.

After a protracted bidding war (at one point Amazon were allegedly willing to drop $1billion on it), the series has ended up at Netflix, with a cast that includes Benedict Wong, John Bradley, Liam Cunningham, Jonathan Pryce

The one thing that gives me pause is the involvement of Game of Thrones showrunners Benioff & Weiss (some may see this as a good thing). In my view one of the worst scourges of current sci-fi/fantasy TV is the tendency for producers to try and "Game of Thrones-ify" their series. The recent Star Trek series are a great example, Apple's Foundation as well (albeit to a lesser extent). I really hope that doesn't happen here.

This is due for release some time in 2023. If they manage to do the novel series justice, then it could well be a landmark series. Fingers crossed.

Start Date: TBD 2023

So there you have it folks: 2023 in television. Tune in next week for the essential new videogames of the year!

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