Television. There's a lot of it. In the past five years, the number of shows available to watch at any one time has more than doubled (OK, so I totally just made that stat up, but it sounds plausible, right?). The rise of streaming sites like #Netflix and Amazon combined with cable shows like Game of Thrones gaining huge mainstream audiences has created a situation where it's almost impossible to keep track of what you should be watching, much less actually make the time to watch it.
With that in mind, Movie Pilot presents a handy guide to the very best TV series coming to a screen near you in 2017. First we'll look at new seasons of shows already on the air, and why you should be watching, before moving on to the new & upcoming TV shows 2017 is hiding up its sleeves.
New TV Shows Coming Out In 2017: Returning Series
'Game of Thrones' (Season 7)
Game of Thrones turned a corner last season. Freed from the shackles of George R. R. Martin's books, #HBO's behemoth found itself with the creative freedom to expand in new directions and streamline its vast web of sub-plots into something vaguely resembling an end game. While the odd storyline (looking at you, Arya) meandered, most refocused, giving us the series' best-ever episodes back to back in 'The Battle of the Bastards' and 'The Winds of Winter'.
So to say I'm stoked for what's next is an understatement, even if that uncontainable hype is tempered by a sense of fear that it'll all be over before long. What can we expect as #GameOfThrones gallops home? Daenerys entering #JonSnow's orbit will be the headline-grabber (especially given the threat he represents to her iron belief that she should reign), but it's Sansa's newfound steel and ability to manipulate those around her which could take Season 7 in less-expected directions, spelling serious trouble for the thrillingly devious Littlefinger. The clock appears to be ticking for one of those characters — will pupil turn on teacher, or will Lord Baelish have the last laugh?
- Epic 'Game Of Thrones' Theory Foreshadows The Dark Future Of Sansa And Litlefinger
- Everything We Know About 'Game Of Thrones' Season 7: Trailers, Rumors, Theories & More
'This Is Us' (Season 1)
Network TV isn't looking great these days — so many of the best writers and actors work on HBO, Netflix et al. that the big five channels are struggling to compete. With This Is Us, though, NBC has a drama series which feels original, well-written and knows exactly how to pull at the heartstrings. Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore headline a stellar cast whose stories interweave with effortless precision.
After a touching Christmas-themed mid-season finale, This Is Us returns January 10, meaning you have the entire holiday to catch up if you haven't already been seduced by a series which is, put simply, just really good television.
'Fargo' (Season 3)
I don't know what to expect from #Fargo Season 3. I don't even know if it qualifies as a returning series when this is an AHS-style anthology series, each season being dedicated to a new set of characters. I do know that Fargo Season 2 was one of the best television series of the decade, a story so cinematic told with characters so rich on charisma and quirk that it feels vaguely criminal more people aren't raving about it, or that Kirsten Dunst didn't win every award going for her transformative performance as the increasingly sadistic hairdresser Peggy.
The cast of Season 3 is lead by Ewan McGregor, playing twins Emmit and Ray Stussy, alongside Carrie Coon and Scoot McNairy. We don't even know if this season will keep the snowy landscape of Fargo or trade North Dakota in for somewhere new. When it comes to Fargo, it's best not to guess — creator Noah Hawley is far cleverer than you or I, and he will deliver the goods. For now, we wait.
'The Crown' (Season 2)
It can be hard to tell a real-life historical story and make it exciting (history spoilers) but The Crown achieved exactly that in regal style when it debuted on #Netflix this year. Game of Thrones aside, I think it might've been the best show of 2016 — emotional one moment, thrilling the next, intimately weaving stories into one another and succeeding in making you care about Elizabeth and the royal family regardless of your opinion on the monarchy.
Two killer central performances from Claire Foy as the Queen and John Lithgow as an ageing Churchill were the emotional heart of Season 1, but time moves on, and Season 2 will find Elizabeth struggling to deal with the Suez Crisis in Egypt. The plan is for six seasons which will span from 1952 to the present day, so #TheCrown isn't going anywhere — now's the time to board the train. Expect Season 2 around November 2017.
'Twin Peaks' (Season 3)
Like this one needs any introduction. A quarter-century after Laura Palmer told Agent Cooper she would see him again in 25 years in the final, intensely disturbing scene of #TwinPeaks, we're headed back to the titular town for a third season on Showtime in 2017. David Lynch has been quiet for way, way too long now — fifteen years since Mulholland Drive is more than enough time to make this revival special.
If any TV show ever had a greater cast than the embarrassment of riches assembled here — originals Kyle MacLachlan, Sheryl Lee, David Duchovny, newcomers Laura Dern, Naomi Watts, Monica Bellucci, Michael Cera, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Amanda Seyfried and Tim Roth, to name just a handful — I have yet to see it. Twin Peaks may be in danger of being overstuffed, but with Lynch directing all 18 episodes, we're guaranteed something so weird and unexpected, it'll make Stranger Things look like an episode of Grey's Anatomy. Put simply, it's the TV event of 2017.
'Stranger Things' (Season 2)
Just for the record, Stranger Things Season 2 won't look like an episode of Grey's Anatomy — and even if it did, the world would still lose their shit. Fast-forward to a year after the events of Season 1, Netflix's surreal, dreamy, '80s-infused thriller will pick up Will's story while expanding the series' wider mythology, or so say the Duffer brothers. And yes, Eleven is back, because otherwise what's the point?
Hopefully we'll be teased with more details about Stranger Things over the next few months. In the meantime, check out our regularly-updated guide to Season 2.
New TV Shows Coming Out In 2017: New Series
'Feud: Bette and Joan'
Quite possibly the greatest feud in the history of Hollywood, Bette Davis hated Joan Crawford, and Joan Crawford despised Bette Davis — so naturally, when they finally made a movie together, their war became even more brutal. Ryan Murphy, fresh from his success with The People vs OJ Simpson, turns his attention to that rivalry in Feud: Bette and Joan, the first in another new anthology series for FX.
The cast is predictably stellar: Susan Sarandon plays Davis and AHS favorite Jessica Lange is back as Joan. Sarah Paulson, Stanley Tucci, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Alfred Molina and Kathy Bates co-star. #Feud premieres March 5 on FX — be there.
'American Crime Story': Katrina, Cunanan/Versace, Lewinsky
If you lived for the unique marriage of high-camp and serious study of human nature in Ryan Murphy's thrilling #AmericanCrimeStory: The People vs OJ Simpson, one of the year's TV highlights, there's a double-punch of good news: Seasons 2 and 3 will shoot back-to-back, focusing on the aftermaths of Hurricane Katrina and the murder of fashion designer Gianni Versace, respectively.
While less is known about Katrina at this point, Cunanan/Versace promises to bring several major celebrities to life, not least of all the one and only Donatella Versace, whose life was thrown wildly off-course by her brother's murder in 1997 at the hands of crazed serial killer Andrew Cunanan. The People vs OJ was thrillingly good at exposing the corrupt underbelly of celebrity, so it'll be curious to see the tables flipped when we're asked to root for the rich and famous in Cunanan/Versace.
Right now it's unclear whether either Katrina or Versace will air first, or whether either will premiere before 2018, so if you were criminal enough not to watch Season 1, there's plenty of time to right that wrong. Season 4 has already been announced as covering the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
If you're a huge Tom Hardy fan (and let's face it, you are, because Tom Hardy), you'll want to get on board with this utterly batshit new TV show in which Hardy's James Delaney navigates Victorian London with a clutch of stolen diamonds, a taste for brutality and more than his fair share of enemies.
Starring alongside Hardy are the usual gallery of talented British thespians — Game Of Thrones stars Oona Chaplin and Jonathan Pryce, and Mark Gatiss of Sherlock.
Taboo airs Tuesdays on FX, beginning January 10, and seems to be developing into something pretty special as Season 1 goes on.
Here's an interesting concept for a sitcom in the era of superhero dominance: In a division of Wayne Enterprises, Emily Locke (Vanessa Hudgens) and her colleagues specialize in innovating new products to help people who aren't superheroes and don't have access to Alfred's billion-dollar Bat-tech feel just a touch safer when walking the streets.
That's pretty meta, and could either be great or a joke stretched far too thinly. Alan Tudyk (Firefly, Rogue One's big-mouthed droid K2SO) plays Van Wayne, cousin of Bruce — but if you're holding out for him to come face to face with Batfleck, there's more chance of Catwoman going full Mother Teresa and returning every piece of jewerly she ever stole. Fingers crossed #Powerless is as much fun as it has the potential to be.
'The Young Pope'
Sometimes, we never knew we needed something until it arrives in our lives. Martha And Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party, for instance. I'm dubious about whether The Young Pope can honestly hope to rival the weekly delight of Martha Stewart embracing her urban roots, and frankly not sure why I'm comparing the two, but the trailer suggests HBO's upcoming drama falls squarely into a box labelled "why is this happening? I'm so glad this is happening!"
In #TheYoungPope, Jude Law plays (you guessed it!) a young Pope, Pius VIII, who quickly causes controversy when his conservative values are revealed — because the Catholic church is famed for being liberal, obviously. Starring alongside Law are Diane Keaton and James Cromwell. I'm stoked for this one.
If you're on the hunt for a Game of Thrones replacement and (for some unholy reason) Westworld just wasn't hitting the spot, you'd be insane not to check in with Starz for American Gods, an adaptation of the Neil Gaiman fantasy novel in which an ordinary man named Shadow Moon is drawn into a war between the old guys, whose power is on the wane, and the new.
The talent involved in this one is pretty incredible — not only is Gaiman's novel a masterpiece, Bryan Fuller (NBC's delicious Hannibal) is at the helm, and the cast includes Gillian Anderson and Ian McShane. Basically, it's hard to imagine how Starz could get this wrong. #AmericanGods is set to premiere in Spring.
'Big Little Lies'
Hollywood's biggest names keep migrating to TV, and shows like #BigLittleLies are the reason why. Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Alexander Skarsgard and Shailene Woodley star in this adaptation of Liana Moriarty's book about a group of wealthy moms in Monterey, California whose lives are disrupted by a murder. Happily, the trailer keeps the victim's identity secret.
If the premise itself is nothing new, the pedigree (it's directed by Jean-Marc Vallée of Wild and Dallas Buyers Club) should ensure Big Little Lies is one of 2017's most addictive new TV series when it begins airing February 19 on HBO.
Everything we've seen so far of the Marvel heroes on Netflix — Daredevil's efforts to wrestle Hell's Kitchen back from its criminal class, Jessica Jones's psychological battle with Kilgrave, Luke Cage becoming the hero the streets of Harlem called for — has been building up to this moment, as that trio and Iron Fist come together to form The Defenders.
This time, they're up against a mysterious villainess played by the legendary Sigourney Weaver, and while we don't know a thing about her character just yet, what kind of villain presents a threat that requires four reluctant superheroes to team up? I'd put good money on this being a more exciting series than any of the solo shows, especially as it's only eight episodes. All killer, no filler? Supporting characters from Trish Walker to Jeri Hogarth and Claire Temple to Misty Knight will all have a role to play, and while The Avengers may be the heroes charged with protecting Earth, New York City needs its Defenders. This gon' be lit.
#TheDefenders should premiere late Summer or early Autumn on Netflix.
Before The Defenders, Netflix will present #IronFist, probably the one solo show which doesn't really have much hype just yet — but it should, because the story of how Danny Rand gains his chi and becomes the legendary Iron Fist is much bigger than the backstories of Jessica Jones or Daredevil, and not entirely dissimilar to the mystical origin story of Doctor Strange.
The teaser trailer blends the familiar NYC politics of #Daredevil and Luke Cage (Rand inherits a billion-dollar company after some time in the wilderness, and as you'd imagine, not everybody is too happy about it) with some brilliantly surreal imagery from the snowy landscapes of China, where Rand learned his craft. Expect dazzling martial arts skills and plenty of back-stabbing when Iron Fist debuts on Netflix on March 17, 2017.
An X-Men spin-off may not have been too high on your TV wish-list for 2017, but #Legion (focused on the character of the same name, son of Professor X, whose split-personality disorder allows him to access almost infinite superpowers) could easily be the best superhero series of the year, even accounting for the Netflix shows.
Dan Stevens stars alongside Aubrey Plaza and Jean Smart, while Noah Hawley, the genius behind Fargo, is the creative brain behind Legion. Set in the '90s, we find David Haller locked in a psych ward with a diagnosis of schizophrenia, where he begins to realize that the voices in his head don't necessarily indicate mental illness. In the #XMen comics, this character is an absolute tour-de-force and frequently a villain, so to use him as the protagonist here is a bold move.
Miss Legion at your peril when it premieres February 8, 2017 on FX.
The Best Of The Rest
We've known since last year that a TV adaptation of Snowpiercer was in development, and recently TNT ordered a pilot episode from the writers of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. The movie is already kind of a minor sci-fi classic, so it's hard to say whether a TV series is strictly necessary (particularly without Tilda Swinton), but it could be worth a shout if it goes to series.
The jury is also out on #StarTrek: Discovery, which had all the makings of a great return to form for the series until Bryan Fuller stepped away due to creative differences. Postponed from January until Summer, Discovery clearly needs some time to get its shit together, but at least its first casting, Michelle Yeoh, is promising.
David Fincher has been quiet since 2014's excellently twisty thriller Gone Girl, the ultimate advert for avoiding marriage, but he's back in 2017 with Mindhunter on Netflix. Harking back to Fincher's own breakout Se7en, Mindhunter is set in 1979 and focuses on two FBI agents whose interviews with convicted serial killers help them to catch those still on the loose. Anna Torv (Fringe) and Jonathan Groff (Glee) lead the cast. No release date for this one yet.
And finally, Daniel Craig stars in Showtime's two-season, 20-part adaption of Jonathan Franzen's hit novel Purity, a globe-trotting thriller about hacker Andreas Wolf (Craig) and a girl, Pip, in search of the father her mother refuses to speak about. Expect Purity to debut late 2017.
Which of 2017's best new TV series will you be watching? Does Game of Thrones get your vote? Can anything top Twin Peaks? Have your say in the comments...