From Sherlock, through Legion, and to Marvel’s Iron Fist, the first three months of 2017 were uneven at best for TV buffs. There were some surprises as well – the reboot of A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix fared better than its film counterpart, while NBC’s Game of Thrones-inspired take on Wizard of Oz disappointed.
We’re into the first week of April now and apart from sunnier days that also signals a lot more TV. Some of which is thanks to the Emmy nomination system. There are tons of new shows (and returning ones) premiering in the next few months, and here are the ones that you should keep an eye out for.
When: April 4
RocketJump, the YouTube channel with over 7 million subscribers, is jumping into scripted TV programming with Dimension 404, described as “the wonders and horrors of our digital age”. If that sounds like something you know of, you’re right – it’s called Black Mirror. Except this is from RocketJump, so you can expect zany humour to be omnipresent, as the trailer clearly shows. Mark Hamill narrates all six episodes, while the likes of Lea Michele, Patton Oswalt, Joel McHale, Megan Mullally, and Sarah Hyland star.
When: April 5
In the past, Adam Reed has described his adult animated sitcom as James Bond meets Arrested Development. That’s not the only connection to the latter either – they share some of the cast, and tend to frequently use similar call-backs and catchphrases. Visually though, it’s always been closer to Mad Men, thanks to its 1960s setting. The eighth season is putting a spin on the show’s formula – it’s called Archer: Dreamland, and goes to 1947 Los Angeles – which will make more sense for people already caught up.
When: April 10
Created by husband and wife Steve and Nancy Carell, police procedural satire Angie Tribeca returns for its third season in April, and sports a fantastic guest line-up: Natalie Portman, Chris Pine, Michelle Dockery, Jack McBrayer, Rob Riggle, Heather Graham, Ed Helms, Mary McCormack, Michaela Watkins, Constance Zimmer, Rachel Dratch, and Jean Smart. As always, Rashida Jones (Tribeca) will be at the centre of it all.
Better Call Saul
When: April 10
Where: AMC / Colors Infinity
Fresh off their Breaking Bad success, Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould created a spin-off that has proved to be a great show in its own terms. The focus may be on Bob Odenkirk’s lawyer character Saul Goodman – his real name, as we find out, was “Jimmy” McGill – but Better Call Saul has given us some memorable characters of its own, while bringing back Breaking Bad regulars now and then. For the third season, Giancarlo Esposito’s Gus Fring, the owner of Los Pollos Hermanos, is part of the main cast.
When: April 11
Where: Fox / Comedy Central
Since a mid-season double header on New Year’s Day, which ended with one character (literally) under the bus, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been on hiatus. That ends in April, as Brooklyn’s finest (jokers) – a clueless Peralta, goody two-shoes Santiago, full-of-emotions Boyle, his opposite Diaz, and sarcastic Gina – return for the silliest gags that usually involve props of some kind.
Mystery Science Theater 3000
When: April 14
The crowdfunding-supported revival of the cult hit show retains many of its favourite elements – you’ve got the human subject (Jonah Ray) stuck in the Satellite of Love, forced to watch a series of B-movies chosen by two mad scientists – Felicia Day, and Patton Oswalt – on the ground below.
Except this time, their base is on the Moon, yep. To keep Ray company, and help riff on the films’ terribleness, he’s got three robot companions – Tom Servo, Crow T. Robot, and Gypsy. There will also be cameos from the likes of Jerry Seinfeld, Joel McHale, Neil Patrick Harris, and more.
When: April 16
Where: HBO / Hotstar
Based on Tom Perrotta’s novel, who co-created the series with Lost alum Damon Lindelof, The Leftovers begins with a big shock – 140 million people have disappeared overnight. But as anyone who has followed the show since then knows very well that’s just the first mystery of many. The show’s third season, which is also its final, starts its shortened eight-episode run in April. Let’s hope all the loose ends are tied up better than, ahem, Lost.
When: April 16
Where: HBO / Hotstar
For five years and as many seasons, Veep was a wonderful, humorous, and 24x7 crazy (fictional) look at what a mess governance can be. With Donald Trump now President, the old adage of truth being stranger than fiction is the only comforting thing about the current state of our world. It’s going to be interesting to see what Veep’s writers can pull off now. But you’d be brave to count against a series that has been an Emmy nominee every year since the beginning.
When: April 19
Where: FX / Colors Infinity
Noah Hawley stepped into the mainstream with February’s premiere of Legion, the X-Men character that believes himself to be schizophrenic. With the third season of anthology series Fargo, Hawley returns to the nearest thing he can call home base. The setting this time around is still Minnesota, and there’s a time jump as before – we’re now in 2010. Ewan McGregor is in the lead dual role, with the likes of Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and David Thewlis making up the supporting cast.
When: April 21
Girlboss is the story of Sophia Amoruso, the founder and owner of multi-million-dollar fashion empire, Nasty Gal. It takes its name from her New York Times best-selling book - #Girlboss. Created by Kay Cannon (Pitch Perfect, 30 Rock), who also serves as showrunner, the show follows Amoruso (Britt Robertson) right from her early days, when she began selling vintage clothing on eBay, using her eye for what people would love, and business acumen.
When: April 23
Where: HBO / Hotstar
As important the writers are on Silicon Valley, it really helps that a large part of the main cast – Thomas Middleditch, T.J. Miller, and Kumail Nanjiani – are stand-up comedians themselves, and fuse those talents with the acting aspect on the show. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the real-world technology companies provide no lack of comic fodder, be it from two decades ago (put radio on the Internet), or a new phenomenon (click farms in Bangladesh).
When: April 25
Where: National Geographic
You probably think of Nat Geo as a nature documentary channel, and fair enough, that is its bread and butter. But the channel also has some very enjoyable scripted programming, and Genius is the latest addition to that list. The first focus: Albert Einstein. Geoffrey Rush plays a young Einstein in this adaptation of Walter Isaacson’s book, who also wrote a similar biography of Steve Jobs. Ron Howard directs the pilot of this eight-episode series, with Emily Watson and Johnny Flynn part of supporting cast.
When: April 25
You can’t keep Tina Fey away from too long. The SNL, and 30 Rock alum – alongside her constant collaborator Robert Carlock, and creator Tracey Wigfeld – is back with a promising new(s) comedy. On the surface, it sounds a lot like 30 Rock, what being set behind the scenes of a cable news TV programme. But with the talents involved, expect a roller-coaster ride. Great News will follow the producer of the show within the show, played by Briga Heelan, who is annoyed to find out that her over-bearing mother has joined as an intern.
The Handmaid’s Tale
When: April 26
Although set in a dystopian near future where a fundamentalist dictatorship called Gilead has replaced the US government, Margaret Atwood’s novel almost seems prescient in our time. The cast includes Elisabeth Moss, Yvonne Strahovski, Joseph Fiennes, Samira Wiley, Alexis Bledel, Max Minghella, and Ann Dowd. Hulu doesn’t command the same attention as Netflix does, but The Handmaid’s Tale could position it as one to watch. It will also follow an untraditional release setup – three episodes on day one, and then a new episode weekly thereafter.
Dear White People
When: April 28
Justin Simien has been here before, if you remember his 2014 movie of the same name. But Simien thought the story could do better with a long-form exploration, so he went to Netflix. That’s coming to air later in April. It’s still called Dear White People, and will still explore racial tensions at a mostly white Ivy League college. Brandon Bell reprises his role from the film, though Logan Browning replaces Tessa Thompson in the lead.
When: April 30
Where: Starz / Amazon
In the award-winning American Gods, author Neil Gaiman created a masterful blend of myriad genres that contributed to its popularity. The series follows the clashes between the old and the new gods, the latter being the likes of Media, and Technology. It’s got a dedicated fan base, and owing to its protracted development process, there’s heavy anticipation for its premiere. Ricky Whittle will star as the lead character Shadow, with Ian McShane as the mysterious Mr. Wednesday. Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller serves as showrunner, alongside Michael Green.
When: May 5
The second season of the Netflix original sci-fi drama will pick up where it left off, with Capheus (Toby Onwumere), Kala (Tina Desai), Lito (Miguel Angel Silvestre), Nomi (Jamie Clayton), Riley (Tuppence Middleton) , Sun (Donna Bae), Will (Brian J. Smith) and Wolfgang (Max Riemelt) coming together – physically and mentally – while they are on the run from Whispers (Terrence Mann).
Master of None
When: May 12
Aziz Ansari’s semi-autobiographical (in a way) Netflix show looks at all the problems he faces day-to-day, from the troubles of Asian-Americans professionally, to dealing with your parents, to not freaking out in the face of adult issues, and deciding what the most delicious pasta is. Fresh off the drastic ending of the first season, some of season two’s episodes have been shot internationally (dedicated fans know why).
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
When: May 19
It’s been a while since Kimmy Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) left the bunker – obviously not even close to the time she spent in there – but her life underground doesn’t seem to escape her. After Schmidt dealt with her mother (Lisa Kudrow) after advice from her therapist (Tina Fey) at the end of season two, [spoiler alert] she got a call from The Reverend (Jon Hamm) telling her they need to get a divorce. Wait, what? They got married, and Kimmy doesn’t remember. Uh oh.
When: May 21
When it first arrived over a quarter of a century ago, David Lynch redefined what serialised television could be with Twin Peaks. A failure commercially, it developed a cult following owing to its uncanny mix of supernatural elements, horror tropes, and soap opera-type portrayal. Lynch may have taken a few missteps too many in the second season, but the show’s revival still holds promise for most of the original viewers.
Most of the original cast will return, along with a bunch of new faces, including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Naomi Watts, Michael Cera, and Tim Roth. Showtime has given an order of 18 episodes – all directed by Lynch himself – which are expected to air without any interruptions.
House of Cards
When: May 30
Heading into its fifth year, House of Cards is one of Netflix’s most recognisable brands. And for good measure. Owing to creator and former showrunner Beau Willimon – who left at the end of season four – and fascinating turns by its two main leads, Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as Frank and Claire Underwood, the show has been gripping from start to finish. Willimon upped the gear in his last year at the helm, and crafted a convincing about-turn that has culminated with the Underwoods together, and stronger.
Orange is the New Black
When: June 9
Orange is the New Black draws its strength from the sheer cast and character diversity on its portfolio – from Kate Mulgrew’s Red, Natasha Lyonne as Nicky, to Dascha Polanco’s Daya – beyond its white female lead, Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling). It’s not Chapman that has kept the engines on the show running for four satisfying seasons, but rather what creator Jenji Kohan (Weeds) has constructed around her. There seems to be no stopping it either – it’s been renewed through 2019.
When: June 10
Where: BBC America
Tatiana Maslany isn’t the only person on Orphan Black’s main cast, but her role exceeds all of them combined. She doesn’t just play the lead character Sarah Manning, but dozens of her own clones, five among them being important to the show’s core. That means Maslany spends the longest amount of time on set, filming the same scene over and over, with body doubles or tennis balls. The 10-episode fifth and final season arrives later than all previous ones.
When: June 19
With Dominic Cooper playing the role of small-town preacher Jesse Custer, AMC’s Preacher – based on the Vertigo comic book series of the same name – explored the role of supernatural events in Custer’s life, involving a half-demon, half-angelic creature named Genesis. Other characters include his best-friend, an Irish vampire Cassidy (Joseph Gilgun); his gun-toting ex Tulip – Ruth Negga in one of many great performances in 2016; and bounty hunter The Saint of Killers (Graham McTavish), who has god-like powers and is on a mission to kill Jesse.
As always, the window of clarity on TV premieres never extends beyond a few months. Here’s what we do knew so far:
Salvation / July 12, CBS
Game of Thrones: Season 7 / July 16, HBO
Marvel’s The Defenders / August 18, Netflix
Marvel’s The Inhumans / September 26, ABC
Stranger Things: Season 2 / October 31, Netflix
Castlevania: Season 1 / Second-half 2017, Netflix
Star Trek: Discovery / Second-half 2017, CBS All Access + Netflix