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New to view – 19 new shows for 2019

January 9, 2019
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Remember when the fall television lineups were all that mattered?

It wasn't so long ago that that autumn offerings were the be-all and end-all of new TV. Shows that made their debuts in January were considered little more than filler, with the term “midseason replacement” taking on a derogatory tone.

However, as the ways in which we consume television have changed, so too have our attitudes regarding when shows join their respective lineups. Instead of an afterthought, this second season has become a viable entity in its own right, with loads of interesting programming arriving on your screens of choice.

Broadcast networks, premium and basic cable outlets, streaming services - everybody has something for the viewer looking for something new to consume this winter. If nothing else, it seems likely that all tastes - highbrow, lowbrow and everything in-between - will be addressed.

Have a look at some of the intriguing options that are coming your way in early 2019.

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Broadcast

Fam (CBS; Jan. 10)

Hey there! You might be someone who recently found themselves thinking “Boy, I sure do wish that there was another forgettable warmed-over multi-cam sitcom in the CBS house style for me to watch!” If that’s you, let me introduce you to “Fam,” a show whose every commercial makes me question all that I hold dear. It’s about a woman trying to embrace the new life she’s built with her fiancé and his family, only to have her teenaged sister and her weird disaster of a father force their way back into her orbit. I can’t imagine this will be good, but stranger things have happened.

The Passage (FOX; Jan. 14)

Look, I’m just glad that we’ve got Mark-Paul Gosselaar back on TV. All kidding aside, this show – based on a series of books by Justin Cronin – looks like it might be good. In this world in which some sort of viral infection is turning people into monsters, Gosselaar is a father trying to save his young daughter from the mysterious government forces that seek to use her as a weapon to combat the disease that’s sweeping the world. Sure, we probably don’t need another show about the horrors of the end of the world, but who knows? This one might not suck.

Proven Innocent (FOX; Feb. 15)

This latest entry in the hour-long drama sweepstakes decides to head into the courtroom. The show is built around a crusading young lawyer who leads a firm devoted to exonerating innocent people who have been unjustly found guilty of crimes they didn’t commit. One can expect a lot of moralizing and pontificating, along with plenty of flashbacks to the lead’s past struggles with her own unfounded conviction. Also – Kelsey Grammer is here! So that’s cool, right? Everything about this show feels generic, but maybe it will surprise us. I wouldn’t count on it, though – this screams “placeholder.”

The Enemy Within (NBC; Feb. 25)

In this show that I have decided to call “Lady Blacklist,” Jennifer Carpenter stars as a former elite CIA operative who allegedly committed one of the most notorious acts of treason in American history and has been imprisoned in a Supermax facility. Morris Chestnut it the FBI agent who, against his better judgment, finds himself seeking the agent’s help in tracking down a dangerous criminal. They both have their own motivations and blah blah blah. You get it. You’ve seen this show half-a-dozen times before; if you like this kind of thing, you’ll probably dig it. Otherwise, give it a pass.

Whiskey Cavalier (ABC; Feb. 27)

It’s not something I’m proud of, but I do love a good “will they/won’t they” TV situation. Particularly in the hour-long show that’s ostensibly a drama but incorporates comedic elements. And before you ask, why yes, I do enjoy “Castle.” This one looks like it might fill that void, with Scott Foley as the FBI agent whose code name gives the show its not-great title and Lauren Cohan as the CIA agent with whom he’s partnered following the emotional collapse of his romantic relationship. This obviously won’t be groundbreaking stuff, but sometimes, you just want some comfort food.

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Cable

Project Blue Book (History Channel; Jan. 8)

I have no idea why this is on the History Channel – seems a bit of a reach. But hey, that’s not going to keep me from watching. This 10-episode series stars Aidan Gillen as Josef Hynek, a man who spent the 1950s and 1960s dealing with secret U.S. Air Force investigations into unexplained phenomenon such as UFO encounters and the like. One wonders just how weird the show is going to get; if all “Project Blue Book” turns out to be is a tepid “X-Files” wannabe, it’ll be disappointing. Still, if you like this stuff, it’s probably worth a look.

Valley of the Boom (Nat Geo; Jan. 13)

This is another one of those shows that feels like it will either be wonderful or an absolute slog. It focuses on the Silicon Valley explosion of the 1990s, taking us along for the ride as the dot-com bubble grows and grows … and bursts. The subject matter might seem dry, but there’s plenty of room for drama in that particular space. It’s got a dynamite cast too, with Bradley Whitford and Steve Zahn leading the way. The plan is to use documentary elements to support the scripted side of things, a la the network’s hybrid series “Mars.”

Deadly Class (SyFy; Jan. 16)

Not going to lie – the more I hear about this one, the more excited I get. The pedigree is legit – the Russo Brothers (of MCU fame) are behind this adaptation of the comic book series of the same name. It’s about a young man who somehow finds himself enrolled in King’s Dominion Atelier of the Deadly Arts; it’s basically a high school for borderline-superhuman assassins. Our hero (well, antihero, I guess) gets to study alongside the next generation of powerful killers. I’m getting a real “John Wick High” kind of vibe from this one – and I heartily approve.

Black Monday (Showtime; Jan. 20)

Look, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that a comedy built around Black Monday – one of the most devastating single days in the history of the U.S. Stock Exchange – is going to work. It doesn’t seem like it should work. And then you look at who’s involved. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are among the producers. The main stars are Don Cheadle, Regina Hall, Paul Scheer and Andrew Rannells, while the rest of the cast features a ton of familiar names. I’m not sure about a black comedy about Black Monday, but you could talk me into a speculative add.

The Other Two (Comedy Central; Jan. 24)

This show looks like it might be a bit of a one-joke premise, but we’ll see how it plays out. The basic conceit is that a brother and sister move to Los Angeles in an effort to make it in the entertainment industry – he’s an aspiring actor, she’s a dancer. But all of their best-laid plans go up in smoke when their 13-year-old brother becomes a viral internet sensation and is suddenly wildly famous overnight. As someone not entirely sure with regards to how internet fame works, I can only assume that this is all extremely accurate. How do you do, fellow kids?

I Am the Night (TNT; Jan. 28)

Real talk – I’m only including this one because I’ve been impressed with the sheer incessance of their advertising campaign. Like, I rarely watch TNT, yet I feel like I’ve seen the ads for this Chris Pine-starring/Patty Jenkins-helmed thriller. Pine plays an investigative reporter who winds up embroiled in a young woman’s search for more information about the mother who abandoned her at a casino as a newborn. There seems to be a bit of a noir vibe to it. I have no idea if it will be good or not, but the people involved would seem to indicate that it’s a relatively low-risk bet.

Miracle Workers (TBS; Feb. 12)

I don’t even know what to say about this one. Steve Buscemi plays a burned-out version of God who wants to just start things all over again, while Daniel Radcliffe is a low-level angel who is trying desperately (and ineptly) to prevent Earth’s destruction. Yeah – it reads like some studio executive took mescaline and completed someone’s half-finished Mad Libs. It goes without saying that I very much want to see this; it’ll either be an interesting and quirky experience or an absolute flaming trainwreck. Whichever happens, I’m 100 percent here for it. Love getting this kind of weirdness on basic cable.

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Streaming

Sex Education (Netflix; Jan. 11)

This one looks like it could be a lot of fun. It stars Asa Butterfield as the son of a sex therapist (played by Gillian Anderson) who decides to try and use the expertise he has gleaned from his mom’s occupation to benefit his friends and peers. He does so by opening an underground sex therapy clinic to help steer his fellow teens toward making good choices. Teen sexuality is always going to be a tricky subject, but this show looks poised to handle it with plenty of humor and heart. As long as it doesn’t condescend, it’ll be fine.

A Discovery of Witches (Sundance Now; Jan. 17)

This British show – an adaptation of the “All Souls Trilogy” of best-selling books written by Deborah Harkness – is making its way to our shores this month. It revolves around a woman who inadvertently stumbles upon a magical text in an Oxford library and is subsequently forced into the world of magic to unravel its secrets. She’s helped by a vampire (because of course she is) even though witches and vampires have long been in conflict (because of course they have); their alliance is the only thing protecting the book and its powers from falling into the wrong hands. I’m in.

Russian Doll (Netflix; Feb. 1)

I’ll admit that the whole “like “Groundhog Day,” only X” thing can only go so far. But this show seems intriguing. Natasha Lyonne stars as a woman who is the guest of honor at a party where she dies, only to wake up very much alive the very next day … and still stuck at the mysterious celebration. It’s a trope that has been appropriated to great effect in a number of recent pop culture offerings, so it’s easy to wonder what (if anything) new tweaks this show brings to the table. If it can make the concept work, it could be a good one.

Pen15 (Hulu; Feb. 8)

I do enjoy a high concept streaming comedy and this is very much that. The conceit is a simple one – comedians Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle go back to middle school. And these grown women are going to play 13-year-old versions of themselves. The kicker? All of their classmates are going to be played by actual adolescents. I have no idea if there’s going to be a framing device or what, but I have visions of this being a sort of spiritual successor to something like the Comedy Central weirdo classic “Strangers With Candy.” Who doesn’t want to watch that?

The Umbrella Academy (Netflix; Feb. 15)

Another weirdo comic book adaptation. This one was created by Gerard Way (of My Chemical Romance fame). Apparently, 43 special babies were born to various unconnected women in 1989; some of them were collected by a mysterious man who placed them in the titular Umbrella Academy to train them to save the world. They grow up and grow estranged, but the death of their adoptive father brings the mysteries of their origins back to the surface. There seems to be a run on “special teenager” fare this spring, but this looks like it could be the best of the bunch.

Shrill (Hulu; March 15)

Aidy Bryant has been a low-key highlight on “Saturday Night Live” in recent years; she’s definitely got comedic chops. With this show – adapted from Lindy West’s “Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman” – Bryant finally gets a vehicle of her own. She stars as Annie, a young journalist dealing with all the trials and tribulations of single life in the city while also embracing her own rather full figure. “SNL” boss Lorne Michaels executive produces, so he’s clearly got faith in her. The only question is whether she can carry a series on her own. I’m betting that the answer is yes.

Turn Up Charlie (Netflix; March 15)

Like many of you, I only just recently learned that Idris Elba, along with being a talented actor and devastatingly handsome, is also a DJ of some note. Well, he’s taking that life experience to the streaming screen with this one; he’s playing a struggling DJ who is forced by circumstance to become the manny to his famous best friend’s daughter. It’s such a weird and wonderful flex on Elba’s part; like, the guy probably has his choice of projects and he decides to do this. There’s a good chance that this show is terrible and people love it anyway.

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Obviously, this is just a fraction of what’s going to show up on your various screens over the course of the coming months. Like I said, there’s something for everyone.

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