2015 was a big year for TV. There was the last installment of the final season of the practically-perfect-in-every-way Mad Men, Better Call Saul helped make that Breaking Bad gap in scheduling a little easier to bear, Jessica Jones proved Marvel could do unprecedented depth and nuances just as well as they do nail-biting action scenes, while Master of None made us laugh about thorny topics we could have been crying about.
But it’s clear that 2016 will be an even stronger year. The "New Golden Age of Television” is a thing and it's taking place right now, with the hype surrounding the concept making it a self-fulfilling prophecy – the more talk about TV, the more money and talent that's invested back into it. This year’s offerings boast some of the most experienced and charismatic people in Hollywood (both in front of and behind the camera), who’ve decided that TV is no longer beneath them, as well as a staggering array of subject matters – from the ultra topical to a hit of pure escapism.
Unfortunately, since it’s still so early in the year, a lot of these shows are awaiting an exact premiere date. However, all the shows listed here have all been concretely confirmed to debut in 2016, so have a little patience and check back for updates.
Without further ado, here’s the best new TV shows - that is, not returning seasons - that 2016 has to offer.
The X-Files Miniseries
Network: Fox Premiere date: January 24
The 1990s' most iconic FBI pairing have returned to the small screen for a six-episode miniseries, helmed by original show creator Chris Carter. Fans can expect the same broad focus the sci-fi/thriller show has always boasted, with David Duchovny advising fans to "Think of it as a bento box of X-files."
While nostalgia TV can often seem lazy, this seems like a smart pick on Fox's part – the show's mistrust of governments and focus on conspiracy theories was a little out-there in 1993, but in 2016 it's perfectly in sync with the Edward Snowden-influenced politics of our time. Carter has explicitly stated that he's crafted the 2016 episodes for both old fans and new, so if you've never seen the show before, no need to binge watch nine seasons of episodes since it'll also function as a standalone series.
Network: Netflix Premiere date: February 19
A Gillian Jacobs, Judd Apatow, Netflix comedy about the dating world premiering the same week as Valentine's Day? This is going to be good. Partly because Apatow's characteristic blend of vulgarity, funnies and warmth is so openly eager to please that it actually does the trick; partly because Gillian Jacobs was a comedy goddess in Community and though her character Mickey looks painfully close to being a "Manic Pixie Dream Girl", her role as a newly single pursuer-instead-of-pursued, hapless fuckup ("The girl who cried crazy") means hopefully it's a little fresher than that. Also, that Gus guy is adorable.
See you on the other side of your Netflix binge.
The Young Pope
Networks: HBO, Sky, Canal + Premiere date: TBC
You know a show is really something special when three of the world's TV heavyweights (HBO, Sky, Canal+) team up on one production. Jude Law stars as Lenny Belardo, more popularly known as (fictional) Pope Pius XIII - the Vatican's first American pope, and a conservative one at that - in this eight-episode drama series about Belardo's struggles.
The show also marks Hollywood royalty Diane Keaton's first ever regular TV role, with the actress playing Sister Mary, a nun from America living in the Vatican City. The trailer's not giving a huge deal away, but the cinematography (TV-a-tography?) looks as bombastic and beautiful as the Vatican's own architecture.
Network: Netflix Premiere date: TBC
Marvel continues its unstoppable bid to take over the entire entertainment world with its Netflix show based on their comic character of the same name – an unbelievably strong former convict with unbreakable skin, who now fights crime. The comic book character was inspired by characters in blaxsploitation films and was imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, making him the ideal character to discuss race, prison and rehabilitation in 2016 America.
Actor Mike Colter has already received rave reviews for his portrayal of Luke Cage in seven of the Jessica Jones episodes, while the characters co-exist in the same gritty, dark New York.
No set premiere date yet, but there's tons of online hype and excitement about this show, so keep googling to get more info soon.
Network: The CW Premiere date: TBC
Created by The Vampire Diaries' Julie Plec, this show centers on the mysterious epidemic of a fatal illness in Atlanta, where sufferers of the condition die within 48 hours. The outbreak sets off a large-scale quarantine while officials around the U.S. desperately search for a solution.
According to Plec, the timing of this is sheer coincidence – the script for the show was adapted from Belgium's Cordon series, which was written before the spread of Ebola. But given the recent history, the show will be extra terrifying, with context proving the show’s story isn’t a dark fantasy, but a genuine possibility.
The political aspect of the show has been changed from that in Cordon to make it even more relevant, with a storyline focused on a Syrian immigrant instead of the original's focus on an immigrant from Afghanistan.
Network: USA Network Premiere date: TBC
From Gale Anne Hurd, the producer behind The Walking Dead, this series delves into Inception-territory with its dream vs. reality theme. The show focuses on three strangers who realize they're dreaming different parts of the same dream, which has huge real-life consequences for them. The characters must use the clues found in their collective dream to assist them in their own quests – one is looking for a lost child, another for his missing girlfriend and the third is trying to cure his catatonic mother.
Fast & Furious 6 actor David Ajala and American Horror Story: Asylum actor Lizzie Brochere will star in the series.
Network: Netflix Premiere date: TBC
The new season of Twin Peaks isn't, sadly, coming out until 2017. But don't worry, Netflix is primed and ready to fill that creepy-goings-on-in-small-town-America gap with Stranger Things. Starring Winona Ryder as a woman in Indiana whose 12-year-old son mysteriously vanishes into thin air, she must in turn confront terrifying supernatural forces to get him back. There will be eight, one-hour episodes but so far there's no premiere date set.
Network: HBO Premiere date: February 14
Lots of hype here, folks. This 1970s record label drama is created by Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger, so you know it's going to be (a) visually stunning, and (b) historically accurate, since who knows '70s sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll better than Mick?
It centers on Bobby Cannavale as Richie Finestra, a former legendary A&R man at American Century Records who's now a fish out of water in the rising hip-hop, disco and punk scenes that would dominate New York from 1972 onwards. Olivia Wilde plays Richie's bohemian (and Andy Warhol approved) wife while Juno Temple stars as an up-and-coming A&R assistant at the record label. Also, because it's Scorcese, there's some gangster drama: business as usual.
It drops on Valentine's Day so mull over whether that hot date is really worth it, or else make it an HBO & chill session.
Network: HBO Premiere date: TBC
This drama series is an adaptation of the 1973 science fiction western movie of the same name and is "a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the future of sin." It centers on a futuristic theme park known as Westworld, and if it's anything like the movie, you'll be having nightmares about robots for a long, long time.
The phrase "star-studded cast" has never been such an understatement. The show presumably laughed long and hard at the use of the word “budget”, since it boasts Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton and James Marsden, and was executive produced by J.J. Abrams.
Will you be tuning in for any of the above? Let us know in the comments.