Hopefully you’ve been spending the holidays catching up on all the TV you missed this year—FX said a record 409 scripted series aired in 2015—because it’s almost time for the 2016 onslaught of new (and returning) shows.
There indeed might already be “simply too much television,” as FX Networks CEO John Landgraf said in August, but when it comes to these 12 exciting programs on the horizon for 2016, I'm more than willing to make room on my DVR and streaming queues for them.
While some will undoubtedly disappoint (after all, half the programs I picked as the best new shows of 2015 weren’t even on my radar at this point last year), here are the 12 shows I’m most eager to see in 2016, in order of their debuts:
Colony (USA, Jan. 14)
Lost executive producer Carlton Cuse reunites that show’s star, Josh Holloway (who played Sawyer), for this story of a man struggling to reunite his family after an alien invasion has torn the world apart. Last summer, Mr. Robot propelled USA into a thrilling new direction, and Colony looks poised to make some waves of its own.
Angie Tribeca (TBS, Jan. 17)
Rashida Jones is a lone wolf detective with a hot-headed boss (Jere Burns) who is reluctantly paired with a partner (Hayes MacArthur) with whom she has almost immediate sexual chemistry. It sounds like something you’ve seen a thousand times before, but that's exactly the point of this comedy, created by Steve Carell and his wife Nancy. Angie Tribeca is an outrageous satire of musty cop-show clichés that fondly recalls ‘80s gems like Police Squad! (which starred Leslie Nielsen and inspired the Naked Gun franchise) and Sledge Hammer!
DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (The CW, Jan. 21)
Greg Berlanti, Adweek’s TV Producer of the Year, has gone three-for-three with his comic book series—Arrow, The Flash and now Supergirl—which gives me high hopes for his latest DC Comics-based show: a time-traveling adventure starring many of the best recurring heroes and villians from Arrow and The Flash who team up, Dirty Dozen-style, to fight the evil Vandal Savage.
The X-Files (Fox, Jan. 24)
Much like how Star Wars: The Force Awakens restored that franchise to the glory of its heyday, while helping to push the memories of the horrific prequels far from our minds, fans are hopeful that the limited series revival of The X-Files, which reunites David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson and creator Chris Carter, will course-correct the saga after the disappointing way its story sputtered out in the series' final season and the second film in 2008. Like Mulder, I want to believe.
The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story (FX, Feb. 2)
This fall, Ryan Murphy seemed determined to over-the-top himself with American Horror Story: Hotel and Scream Queens, but his new anthology series—Season 1 is based on Jeffrey Toobin’s book about the O.J. Simpson's murder trial—is fantastic, packed with riveting performances. If you’re worried about any of the casting, which includes Cuba Gooding Jr. as Simpson, John Travolta as Robert Shapiro and David Schwimmer as Robert Kardashian, don’t be.
Vinyl (HBO, Feb. 14)
HBO, you had me at Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger, who are executive producing this drama about the music business, set in 1970s New York. Scorsese, whose best work often showcases the dangerous cross-section of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll, directs the first episode of Vinyl, which stars Bobby Cannavale as a record label president trying to save his company.
11.22.63 (Hulu, Feb. 15)
From Difficult People to Casual to The Mindy Project, Hulu was on an original series roll in the second half of 2015. Now the streaming service hopes to top them all with this miniseries, produced by J.J. Abrams and Stephen King, based on King’s novel about a teacher (James Franco) who goes back in time to try and prevent John F. Kennedy's assassination.
The Family (ABC, March 3)
Joan Allen stars as a politician who is about to run for governor when her son, presumed dead a decade ago, returns—but is it really him? Gripping from start to finish, The Family was the best pilot I saw this season, anchored by Allen's powerhouse performance.
BrainDead (CBS, summer 2016)
After three straight summers of bold serialized dramas that started big and ended small, CBS is switching gears for 2016, tapping its Good Wife dynamic duo of Robert and Michelle King to create a new drama. The series, starring Aaron Tveit and Mary Elizabeth Winstead, is about what happens in D.C. after aliens eat the brains of congressmen and other staffers. If the Kings can make BrainDead even half as compelling as The Good Wife, CBS will finally have a summer series worth watching more than two episodes of.
Marvel’s Luke Cage (Netflix, TBD)
Marvel’s ABC series have been hit and miss (Agents of SHIELD is still finding its way in Season 3), but both of its gritty Netflix shows were fantastic from the start. The third Marvel/Netflix collaboration, Luke Cage, is on tap next, and given Mike Colter’s memorable introduction in Jessica Jones, I have very high hopes for this one. There’s no trailer yet, but here’s a glimpse at Luke in action from Jessica Jones.
Preacher (AMC, TBD)
AMC has had incredibly good fortune with turning comic books into hit TV shows (ahem, The Walking Dead), and the network is hoping to score again with Preacher, a drama about a holy man from West Texas (Dominic Cooper) who teams up with his ex-girlfriend (Ruth Negga) and a drunk vampire (Joseph Gilgun) to search for God. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have taken on the Herculean task of adapting this for television.
Sneaky Pete (Amazon, TBD)
Last May, CBS passed on this pilot about a recently paroled con man (Giovanni Ribisi) who passes himself off as his former cellmate, hiding out with a family that runs a bail bond business as he is on the run from a crime boss. Amazon picked up the show, taking a good pilot and making it great by adding Bryan Cranston (who also executive produces) as the man hunting Ribisi and pursuing and beefing up Margo Martindale’s role as the grandmother who seems to know more than she is letting on. The new and improved pilot sets up a very intriguing Season 1.
Bonus: Twin Peaks (Showtime, 2017)
In addition to anticipating the 12 shows above that are on tap for 2016, I'm already counting the days until 2017, when Showtime will release its Twin Peaks revival, with David Lynch directing all episodes. Bring on the cherry pie and "damn fine" coffee!