5 New Cable Series We Can’t Wait For

It’s that time of year again: time to admit that newbie broadcast shows like Welcome to the Family and We Are Men really, really didn’t work, that Lucky 7 was anything but, and that a five-episode renewal of Sean Saves the World is not the best sign fans of the series could have hoped for.

And so we turn our attention to cable, where series orders are lean and mean, and edgier, weirder and just plain out-there fare rules the roost. We scoured the winter listings for series that looked promising and came up with four new shows and one that’s been gone for far too long. (Yes, we put it at the end so you have to click all the way through. Sorry, though not actually sorry). If you’re into crime, horror or disturbing science fiction, you’re in for a real treat after the new year rolls around …

1

Helix

What? Where? When? 
A disturbing horror/sci-fi series on Syfy premiering Friday, Jan. 10 at 10 p.m.

Have you even watched it yet? Yes!

Why we like the look of it: Syfy hasn’t had a bona fide scripted original hit in a few years—Caprica fizzled, Blood and Chrome didn’t get ordered to series, and Defiance’s ratings weren’t what they could have been. But the network has one hell of a pilot on its hands in Helix, a new series that puts the “science” back in “science fiction.” The show follows an epidemiological team investigating an outbreak at a huge, shadily operated corporate lab in the Arctic. The first episode is equal parts John Carpenter and Michael Crichton, as the characters navigate their own complicated interrelationships and try to figure out what, exactly, is going on with the disturbing virus that appears to be making its hosts stronger and crazier … when it doesn’t melt their flesh off. It’s like nothing we’ve seen on television before, and given the impact horror has been having on the zeitgeist, Helix seems poised to make a splash.

2

The Red Road

What? Where? When?
A new complex crime series on Sundance premiering February 2014.

Have you even watched it yet? No! But we really liked Top of the Lake!

Why we like the look of it: Sundance Channel has a tremendously high batting average. Between its incredibly disturbing and stylish Kiwi thriller Top of the Lake and the similarly disturbing and stylish French ghost/zombie series The Returned, we expect The Red Road to be … well, disturbing and stylish. Also, it stars Jason Momoa (you know him as Khal Drogo, the dude from Season 1 of Game of Thrones who looks like Dave Navarro on PEDs), and it’s cool to see him leading a new project alongside Martin Henderson. The Off the Map alum plays a cop in a small town where the residents don’t get along well with the Native American tribe that lives nearby. Expect bloodshed and shocking revelations and the occasional spot of artfully lit brooding. We’re in.

3

Those Who Kill

What? Where? When?
A procedural about a forensic profiler who chases down serial killers, Those Who Kill bows on A&E in March.

Have you even watched it yet? No! But we like Bates Motel … and it’s hard to go wrong with the subject matter and the cast. 

Why we like the look of it: Chloë Sevigny and James D’Arcy star in this series adapted from a Danish drama about a Copenhagen crime-busting unit that specializes in bringing serial murderers to justice. In the last few years there’s been something of a renaissance in the Euro crime genre, what with the Stieg Larsson novels and Kenneth Branagh’s long-running U.K. detective series, Wallander, and Those Who Kill has already been reformatted in 25 countries. The original series earned great notices, the leads are excellent actors, and A&E ably demonstrated its dramatic chops with Bates Motel. While Bonnie & Clyde wasn’t our cup of chamomile, we think people who miss Dexter will probably dig this one.

4

The Spoils of Babylon

What? Where? When?
A send-up of every big ABC miniseries of the 1980s, this original miniseries premieres on IFC Jan. 9 at 10 p.m.

Have you even watched it yet? Yup. It is very, very silly.

Why we like the look of it: The “hey, it’s that guy” factor is off the charts—Haley Joel Osment, Tim Robbins, Val Kilmer, Jessica Alba, Will Ferrell and pretty much anyone else with a functioning sense of humor pops up in this one. Tobey Maguire and Kristin Wiig star as adopted siblings in this spoof of the self-consciously epic miniseries that were a staple of broadcast TV throughout the '70s and '80s (think Rich Man, Poor Man). Maguire’s character is a weirdly ageless dude who stays basically the same age between World War II and the disco era. While the production values appropriately undercut the sweep of the narrative, the writing is funny. Channeling James Clavell by way of Orson Welles, Ferrell plays the bloviating writer of the series, Eric Jonrosh; in a daft twist, the Anchorman 2 star also does a turn as the Shah of Iran. 

5

Sherlock

What? Where? When?
An update of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s iconic detective series, Sherlock returns Jan. 19 at 10 p.m. on PBS—three weeks after its premiere on the BBC.

Have you even watched it yet? Dude, every episode.

Why we like the look of it: It’s a terrific show and it will be good to see it again after a two-year hiatus during which star Benedict Cumberbatch became the toast of Hollywood and starred in everything from Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy to Star Trek: Into Darkness. In fact, it was the shooting schedule for Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman (who plays Watson) on The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug that delayed the two actors from returning to 221B Baker Street. Written mostly by Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat, Sherlock balances Easter eggs for Sherlockians with flashy intrigue and impressive performances by Cumberbatch, Freeman and Andrew Scott, who frequently steals the show with his creepy take on Holmes’ nemesis, Professor Moriarty.