Things might have changed since the old days when the whole family would gather around a two-foot-deep box full of cathode ray tubes with a five-inch screen to watch Del Boy fall through bars, but they haven’t changed that much - only the content, format, shape and delivery method are different, it’s basically the same thing.
There’s some really good stuff coming our way telly-wise this year. Some of it’s imminent, some of it is a while off (a year is a long time, really, unless it’s mentioned in terms of life expectancy), and at least one of the shows in this list is full-on, balls-out artless trash, but it’s good times all round. These are the brand new shows we’re most excited about this year. Set the VHS!
Glenn Howerton (Dennis from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) stars in this NBC sitcom about an award-winning philosopher who finds himself teaching high school biology rather than living the life he feels he deserves.
Consumed with bitterness, he uses the students’ intelligence and expertise to plot revenge. Co-starring Patton Oswalt and created by Mike White (writer of School of Rock), Saturday Night Live svengali Lorne Michaels and Late Night host Seth Meyers, it looks like the perfect vehicle for Howerton, who does seething rage better than anyone.
'2 Dope Queens'
Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson’s hilarious podcast transitions to TV in the form of four hour-long specials on HBO. Each special will feature Williams and Robinson discussing race, gender, sex and more, along with big-name special guests including Uzo Aduba, Tituss Burgess, Sarah Jessica Parker and Jon Stewart. There is also, as with the podcast, a huge selection of stand-ups.
Created by Emmy-winning Lena Waithe, best known as Denise from Master of None, and executive produced by Common, The Chi has already drawn comparisons to The Wire for its intricately-detailed, interlinked storytelling. Set in the South Side of Chicago and touching on hot-button topics like police corruption, it looks ambitious, fun and devastating all at once.
Lance Reddick (the concierge from the John Wick films, as well as veteran of Oz, Lost, Fringe and The Wire) stars as the CEO of a hideous, soul-destroying company in this Comedy Central sitcom, set to strike a chord with anyone who’s ever had a job that eats them up from the inside.
Not to be confused with the Netflix movie about a young Barack Obama. Co-created by frequent Curb Your Enthusiasm director Alec Berg and the always-great Bill Hader (Superbad, Trainwreck, Forgetting Sarah Marshall etc.), Barry follows a low-rent hitman who accidentally gets involved in a theatre arts community when a job goes wrong. Hader makes his directorial debut with the eight-part HBO series, set to air sometime in the spring.
'Survival of the Fittest'
Don’t pretend you didn’t like Love Island, because every single human being on the planet liked Love Island. It might not have been an award-laden prestige drama, but it was magnificent. The thing is, nobody has any idea when the next series starts, and that is a quandary of devastating proportions.
Thankfully, ITV have your back, because they’re about to fling Survival of the Fittest your way, which is essentially the exact same show. Screeching nonsense you’ll watch every single oiled, glistening second of.
JJ Abrams and Stephen King join forces for a series set in the fictional town where loads of King’s books take place. Characters and events from dozens of his tales are mentioned in the trailer alone, and it stars veterans of other King works like Sissy Spacek (from Carrie) and Bill Skarsgard (from It), as well as Jane Levy (from the Evil Dead remake) and Melanie Lynskey (from Two and a Half Men and lots of things that are much better than Two and a Half Men).
There’s about a 1:1 ratio of good King adaptations to really stinky dogmess ones, but this looks like it could be a winner.
A US remake of a Norwegian show from a few years ago, Maniac reunites Superbad’s Emma Stone and Jonah Hill, teaming them up with True Detective director Cary Fukunaga for a trippy black comedy set in fantasy worlds created by two patients living in a mental institution. Expect FANCY DRESS and DESOLATION and PROBABLY QUITE SAD LAFFS!
This five-part HBO/Sky production is in the early stages of filming at the moment, but should be a pretty great, if hideously upsetting, look at the 1986 nuclear disaster. Jared Harris (Moriarty from the Robert Downey Jr Sherlock Holmes) is playing Valery Legasov, head of the commission that investigated the disaster, and if you want to avoid what is presumably a pretty big spoiler then don’t Wikipedia him like we just did, god damn it.
'My Next Guest Needs No Introduction'
Since leaving The Late Show, David Letterman has grown a giant beard and not done much else, apart from show up on podcasts occasionally to laugh his head off at stuff. David Letterman is awesome. Netflix have coaxed him out of retirement for a six-part series of hour-long interviews with really interesting people - Barack Obama, Tina Fey, Malala Yousafzai, Jay-Z, Howard Stern and George Clooney - which’ll run once a month starting with Obama on 12 January.