Turn off your brains — it’s time for a whole new year of TV! You’ve got Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney+, HBO Max! You’ve got BBC, ITV, Channel 4! Sky, HBO, FX! The possibilities are virtually endless — last year, a staggering 532 original scripted TV series made their dazzling debuts. And it’s a figure only set to rise in 2020.
So what should you be adding to your watch list? We’ve found 20 of 2020’s most promising new shows — from an Al Pacino Nazi-hunting drama and supernatural Stephen King adaptation, to a couple of space-set comedies and a London-set anthology series. So put your feet up, keen viewers, it’s time to reach for the remote…
The Outsider, January 12, HBO
Serial bad-guy Ben Mendelsohn plays against type in HBO’s latest. Seemingly the thousandth Stephen King adaptation in the last year, Jason Bateman also continues his Ozark-dark crusade against nice-guy typecasting as a family man arrested for the brutal assault and murder of a young boy. But could there be something more supernatural afoot? This is Stephen King, after all…
Avenue 5, January 19, HBO
We’d watch anything with Hugh Laurie in. In fact, we’re still itching to catch The Personal History of David Copperfield. This year is a bumper one for Laurie fans, as the actor springs up in a couple of exciting new series. This, a science fiction comedy from The Thick of It’s Armando Iannucci, stars Laurie as the captain of interplanetary cruise ship, The Avenue 5.
Interrogation, February 6, CBS All Access
We may never have watched a series on CBS All Access (or even heard of it as a streaming platform) but Interrogation has a conceit too juicy to pass over. The show tells the true story of a young man accused of brutally murdering his mother — and the first nine episodes can allegedly be watched in any order; allowing the viewer to play detective and come to their own conclusion. The conclusive finale will be made available at a later date.
Hunters, February 21, Amazon Prime
Possibly our most anticipated show of the year, Hunters follows a diverse band of Nazi hunters living in 1977 New York City. Including Annie Hall’s Carol Cane, Percy Jackson’s Logan Lerman and Josh Radnor from How I Met Your Mother, the eclectic cast is headed up — in all their murderous, vengeful, bloodthirsty glory — by none other then Al ‘Say Hello To My Little Friend’ Pacino himself. We can’t wait.
The Stranger, January 30, Netflix
For any fans of last year’s Safe, in which we watched a father search frenetically for his lost daughter, The Stranger is cut from the same cloth. From Harlan Coben, this thriller sees a family man’s life turned upside down when a stranger tells him a secret that ‘has a devastating impact on his perfect life’. The Hobbit’s Richard Armitage plays our protagonist, and the titular stranger role is filled by Game of Thrones’ Hannah John-Kamen.
Gangs of London, Spring 2020, Sky Atlantic
Think modern-day Peaky Blinders. Diving into the underbelly of London’s contemporary criminal underworld, Gangs of London deals with the struggles of international gangs and a power vacuum when the head of a criminal organisation is assassinated. Action-packed, ambitious and visceral, the Peaky comparisons continue: the series is headed up by ex-Shelby Joe Cole.
The English Game, Spring 2020, Netflix
Last year, when we interviewed Henry Lloyd Hughes, the British actor was growing a moustache. He may not have liked it, but the facial fuzz was for a good cause — this Netflix drama that details the invention of football, and how it swiftly became the world’s most popular sport. With Downton Abbey’s Julian Fellowes writing the script, and co-stars including Edward Holcroft and Kevin Guthrie, we can’t wait for it to kick off.
Devs, Summer 2020, Hulu
Did you ever see The Circle back in 2017? It was a techno-thriller that dealt with meaty questions around privacy settings and a big, shady social media company. It wasn’t good. Devs, however, looks to take the same idea and run with it. Sonoya Mizuno stars as a computer engineer investigating a company called Amaya, who she believes may be responsible for the death of her boyfriend. Nick Offerman, he of Parks and Recreation, is their lank-haired, dubious CEO.
Noughts and Crosses, Summer 2020, BBC
Set in an alternate timeline, this adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s famous novel looks set to stay true to the source material. The story sees us follow a society where racism is reversed — where the black ‘Cross’ class rule over and enslave white ‘Noughts’. Peaky Blinders’ Jack Rowan gets another less-than-desirable haircut, breakout star Masali Baduza looks set to dazzle — and Stormzy even makes an appearance.
Fargo, Summer 2020, FX
Okay, okay. We know that Fargo has been chugging along for four seasons now — but, as Noah Hawley’s drama series is an anthology, each outing feels like a new show. This time round, Chris Rock and Jason Schwartzman lead another stellar cast through a tale of race and gang warfare in 1950s Kansas City. Expect quirky dialogue, dusky cinematography and more wisecracks than you can shake a proverb at.
Roadkill, Summer 2020, BBC
It’s Hugh Laurie again! The national treasure pops back up on the BBC playing a not-so-treasured national politician in drama Roadkill. Alongside Peaky Blinders’ Helen McCrory playing the Prime Minister, Laurie will star as Peter Laurence; a self-made, forceful and charismatic politician whose public and private life is being picked apart by his enemies. A commentary on how difficult it is for those in the public eye to leave their histories behind, this is part-cautionary tale, part edge-of-your-seat drama.
Space Force, Summer 2020, Netflix
If you hadn’t heard, Donald Trump officially established a Space Force in December. That’s right; a sixth branch of the United States Army. In space. Steve Carell is one step ahead, and his sitcom of the same name — presumably lampooning the endeavour — will arrive on Netflix this year. Co-starring John Malkovich and Ben Schwartz, it’s Carell’s first sitcom since The Office. We have high hopes.
The Pale Horse, Autumn 2020, BBC
If you’re already carving your way into Spinning Out, Netflix’s frosty new ice-skating drama, you won’t have to wait long until you see star Kaya Scodelario return to your screens. In the BBC’s latest Agatha Christie adaptation, The Pale Horse, Scodelario pops up alongside star Rufus Sewell and Henry Lloyd-Hughes (moustache unconfirmed in this one). In the twisty tale, a young woman is found murdered — with a list of seemingly random names on a note in her shoe.
The Eddy, Autumn 2020, Netflix
From the mind of Damien Chazelle — of Whiplash and La La Land fame — this musical series is set in a club in Paris called The Eddy. Starring mostly unknown actors, Moonlight’s André Holland owns the club, and the eight episodes will show his struggles with Serbian thugs, romantic entanglements and the everyday chaos of Paris. It’ll likely be a love/hate show, but we’re withholding judgement until the foot-tapping begins.
The North Water, Autumn 2020, BBC
Another of our potential shows of the year. Colin Farrell stars as Henry Drax; a harpooner and brutish killer who sets out on a whaling expedition to the Arctic with a disgraced army surgeon — played by Jack O’Connell. The surgeon, unsurprisingly, turns out to be a murderous psychopath. But don’t worry, Stephen Graham is also (literally) on board as the gruff captain of the ship. Great cast, great story, great expectations.
Leonardo, Autumn 2020, Netflix
Created by the man behind Sherlock, this period series will see Aidan Turner step out of Poldark’s knee-high boots and into those of Leonardo da Vinci. An Italian production, Netflix is expected to snap this up later in the year — and eight episodes will follow a fictional officer of the law in Milan investigating da Vinci as the suspect in a murder case and digging into his past. Will Turner get his top off as da Vinci? You can bet your bottom waxing strip he will.
Small Axe, Autumn 2020, BBC
Set in London’s West Indian community between the 1960s and 1980s, this anthology series from the BBC sees 12 Years A Slave director Steve McQueen turn his lens on shorter stories for the small screen. Among the stars are John Boyega, Letitia Wright and Malachi Kirby — who questioned his acting talent in an interview with Gentleman’s Journal last year. The show’s title derives from a Jamaican proverb: “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe”.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Autumn 2020, Disney+
Spearheading Marvel’s move onto the smaller screen, and doubtlessly bolstering Disney+ subscriptions no end, Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan are joining forces once again as their titular superheroes for a six episode limited series. Several characters will cross over from the Marvel Cinematic Universe — but we’re most excited for the return of Daniel Brühl’s super-villainous Baron Zemo, who will finally don his iconic purple mask from the comics.
Perry Mason, Autumn 2020, HBO
We’ve all spent many an evening glued to The Americans, and this latest drama from HBO takes star Matthew Rhys and throws him even further back in time. Embodying the iconic gumshoe, Rhys takes on the titular role of a detective investigating a child kidnapping in 1932 Los Angeles. Expect a gruff turn from John Lithgow as Mason’s mentor, a story that doesn’t shy away from dark corners, and lots and lots of fedoras.
The Irregulars, Winter 2020, Netflix
It’s Henry Lloyd-Hughes again! But will his moustache be with him? (Above, you can see it in its former glory in Madame Bovary.) We couldn’t say for certain, but as British television’s latest incarnation of Sherlock Holmes, we’d say the ‘stache is almost a certainty. This new spin on Conan Doyle’s source material sees the famous tales told from the perspective of the Baker Street Irregulars; Holmes’ urchins-cum-informants. Here, they’ll be plucked from such British acting breeding grounds as Netflix’s huge, hormonal Sex Education.
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