Welcome to 2022, or as the Internet has been calling it, Season 3 of 2020.
Whatever the new year has in store for you, there’s one positive you can count on — and hopefully it’s not your rapid Covid test: New TV.
While not everything here has a premiere date set yet, here’s a look at what we anticipate being some of the notable newbies and more.
Based on true-ish stories
The year 2021 was one of give-and-take for shows based on true events. For every intellectual and emotional gift — like Hulu’s “Dopesick” — there was an “Impeachment: American Crime Story.” What does 2022 hold for ripped-from-the-headlines TV? Let’s look closer:
“Pam & Tommy” (Feb. 2, Hulu) – The eight-episode series tells the story of how actress and model Pamela Anderson and Motley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee’s sex tape was stolen and then sold without their consent. A new trailer was released this week.
“Inventing Anna” (Feb. 11, Netflix) – Creator and producer Shonda Rhimes explores the tale of infamous convicted con artist Anna Sorokin, who pretended to be a wealthy German heiress.
“The Thing About Pam” (March 8, NBC) – Renée Zellweger produces and stars in this Dateline investigation-turned-series about the 2011 murder of Betsy Faria (Katy Mixon) and the twists and turns that led to the conviction of Pam Hupp (Zellweger).
“The Dropout” (March 3, Hulu) – In this limited series, Amanda Seyfried stars as Elizabeth Holmes, the former CEO and founder of Theranos, the failed blood testing startup. Holmes was found guilty this week on four charges of defrauding investors.
“The First Lady” (Showtime) – Viola Davis. Michelle Pfeiffer. Gillian Anderson. Yes.
“Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty” (March, HBO) – Magic Johnson may not be excited about this show, but a lot of people are. From Adam McKay (director of “The Big Short” and “Vice”), the show is about Johnson’s rise to legend status and Lakers owner Jerry Buss’s determination to build a basketball legacy.
“Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” (Netflix) – Sure, there’s been no shortage of Dahmer tales told over the years, but this one from Ian Brennan and Ryan Murphy, starring Evan Peters, promises to dig into aspects of this serial killer’s story that haven’t been explored before, like the White privilege and police incompetence that allowed Dahmer to escape consequences for so long.
“Love and Death” (HBO Max) – This limited series from David E. Kelley tells the story of Texas housewife, churchgoer and axe murderer Candy Montgomery (Elizabeth Olsen).
For a look at the projects that have some execs breaking open their piggy banks, I turn it over to CNN’s Brian Lowry:
“In the game of streaming, you get attention (and subscribers), or you die, which explains the ‘No guts, no glory’ investment in major fantasy series. While there aren’t any sure things, two slated for this year come with about the strongest pedigrees that the medium can offer, which will only heighten questions on whether they live up to the hype.
‘House of the Dragon’ (no premiere date, HBO) – Matt Smith (‘Doctor Who,’ ‘The Crown’) is part of the ensemble in this ‘Game of Thrones’ prequel, set 200 years before the flagship series, based on George R.R. Martin’s book ‘Fire & Blood.’ The series follows a battle for power (what else?) during the Targaryen dynasty, so yes, there will be dragons, and yes, there will be blood.
‘The Lord of the Rings’ (Sept. 2, Amazon) – Like ‘House of the Dragon,’ the Amazon series will be a prequel, set thousands of years before the events in J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ Moreover, Amazon isn’t shying away from the fact that show is going to be enormously expensive — with a reported budget between $400 million and $500 million — with Amazon programming chief Jennifer Salke telling the Hollywood Reporter last year, ‘This is a full season of a huge world-building show. The number is a sexy headline or a crazy headline that’s fun to click on, but [the budget] is really building the infrastructure of what will sustain the whole series.’ Amazon also took the somewhat unusual step of announcing the premiere date 13 months in advance, the better to build the drumbeat for the show’s arrival. Whether it will be the one series to rule the fall remains to be seen.”
Lowry also lets his geek flag fly in previewing Marvel’s shows for Disney+:
“After a quartet of series that began with ‘WandaVision’ and concluded less memorably with ‘Hawkeye,’ Disney has another volley of shows coming to its streaming service. But unlike the opening salvo that featured well-known Avengers characters, this batch reaches into a lesser-known second tier of comic-book heroes, marking an expansion of its universe.
‘She-Hulk’ – Tatiana Maslany (‘Orphan Black’) will only play two roles this time as the title character, who, in the comics, gained her powers after a blood transfusion from her cousin, Bruce Banner. It’s not easy being green, but this one might be the easiest sell for the Disney+ marketing team.
‘Moon Knight’ – Basically Marvel’s answer to Batman (although some fans wince at the comparison), Oscar Isaac will star as the caped character, introduced as a villain in the 1970s. Having acquired powers on a trip to Egypt, he definitely boasts the coolest costume of the bunch.
‘Ms. Marvel’ – The teen hero in this new series, a Pakistani-American played by Iman Vellani, will appear in the ‘Captain Marvel’ sequel ‘The Marvels’ next year after being introduced in this origin story.”
Do you ever hear about a show and then think to yourself, “I’ll either love this or hate this?” Here we go.
“How I Met Your Father” (Jan. 18, Hulu) – I look at my love of “How I Met Your Mother”— on which this show is based — the same way some women my age look at, say, low-rise jeans: I enjoyed it at the time. But I am now older, wiser, enjoy taking full, deep breaths and realize my hip bones deserve better than to be tattooed with an incredibly awkward tan line. All this to say, I’m not sure this formula has even aged as well as jeans with a half-inch zipper.
“Bel-Air” (Feb. 13, Peacock) – Based on the trailer, there may be nothing fresh in this reboot of the ’90s Will Smith show, except in the context of “what in the fresh hell.” But I haven’t seen a screener, so I’m firmly in Camp Skeptical until more information is available.
“Halo” (Paramount Plus) – The trailer for this video game adaptation starring Pablo Schreiber as Master Chief looks vast and expensive. So much so, that I wondered if this show is serving caviar for its first course and Pop-Tarts for dinner, if you know what I’m saying. But it was enough to keep me curious about this long-awaited project.
“A League of Their Own” (Amazon) – This series based on the beloved movie has had a long road and still has no premiere date, but I’d be lying if I said my heart isn’t counting on its success. I love this movie so much that my dog is named Dottie. Our family dressed as Peaches for Halloween. Please don’t mess this up, Amazon.
These could be docu-seriously good
From “Framing Britney Spears” to “Cheer,” docuseries have been on a roll in recent years, with many managing to break through a crowded content field and capture people’s attention. Here are four that I anticipate doing exactly that.
“We Need to Talk About Cosby” (Jan. 30, Showtime) – W. Kamau Bell’s four-part docuseries explores the many layers of the rise and fall of Bill Cosby.
“Janet Jackson” (Jan. 28, Lifetime/A&E) – The two-night documentary is being billed as “the definitive story on Janet Jackson” and it’s sure to cause conversation as the star opens up about her private life in a way we’ve never seen before.
“The Kardashians” (Hulu) – A vague teaser trailer for this new Kardashians project was released on New Years Day and while it revealed very little, you can count that this new show from the family that redefined celeb-reality will not go unnoticed.
“The Secrets of Playboy” (Jan. 24, A&E) – This 10-hour doc goes inside the walls of the Playboy empire because even the company made famous for baring it all still has some secrets.
More picks of note
So many shows, so little time to think of clever sub-categories. Here’s the rest of the possible best:
“Somebody Somewhere” (Jan. 16, HBO Max) — Bridget Everett stars in this heartstring-plucking comedy that looks full of feel-good messages and self-reflection — my favorite combo, after orange juice and Prosecco.
“The Old Man” (FX) – Production on this series was halted as Jeff Bridges battled cancer, but production resumed, as did the anticipation for the drama about a former CIA agent who finds out he has unfinished business. Bridges is joined by John Lithgow, Amy Brenneman and Alia Shawkat.
“The White House Plumbers” (HBO) – “Veep” executive producer David Mandel directs this five-part political miniseries in which Justin Theroux and Woody Harrelson play Watergate masterminds G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, who, as HBO puts it, “accidentally toppled the presidency they were trying to protect.”
“The Afterparty” (Jan. 28, Apple TV+) – Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the duo behind “The Lego Movie,” bring their keen comedic sense to this comedy about a high school reunion turned deadly.
“The Gilded Age” (Jan. 24, HBO) – This Julian Fellowes series has been in the works for about a decade so it appropriately has been saved for last mention in our preview. Cynthia Nixon once again finds herself in a show about women in New York City, only this time it’s set in the late 1800s and will likely not feature Cosmos or a controversial Peloton scene. Carrie Coon, Christine Baranski and Denée Benton also star.
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