SCHED­ULE HEAL­ING

Tele­vi­sion en­dured a rocky 2017 as the Har­vey We­in­stein scan­dal spread to the small screen. But what does 2018 have in store? Ed Power brings you our must-watch list for the year ahead.

Hot Press - - Critical Mass -

In the 12 months just past tele­vi­sion tried to get ahead of the un­fold­ing po­lit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion – but ended up, in many in­stances, ham­strung by its own in­ad­e­qua­cies. So 2017 was both the year of The Hand­maid’s Tale – a chill­ing por­trayal of Amer­ica un­der the thumb of Evan­gel­i­cal misog­yny – but also of the fall of House of Cards and Kevin Spacey (the se­ries is to con­tinue, Spacey’s ca­reer not so much).

Look­ing into 2018, then, pre­dic­tions are dif­fi­cult. “Pres­tige” tele­vi­sion will re­main a thing with net­works vy­ing for a crowded niche at the top of the mar­ket (ex­cept in Ire­land where RTE will con­tinue to flap about in medi­ocrity). The big void is nat­u­rally that left by Game of Thrones, the fi­nal sea­son of which has been con­firmed as not ar­riv­ing un­til 2019.

But there’s good news too. The prob­lem­atic but ul­ti­mately epic West­world will hopefully go to­wards fill­ing the Wes­teros-shaped hole in our view­ing. Mean­while, the stream­ing ser­vices con­tinue their as­sault on “old tele­vi­sion”, with Ap­ple set to add to the com­pe­ti­tion. It has or­dered a two-sea­son drama about a morn­ing TV show, star­ring and pro­duced by Jen­nifer Anis­ton and Reese Wither­spoon, and is work­ing with Steven Spiel­berg on a science fic­tion an­thol­ogy se­ries. An over­pop­u­lated mar­ket­place is about to get even more squeezed.

That’s tough on TV ex­ec­u­tives but good for the view­ing pub­lic. Set­tle in, then, as we present our guide to the top shows to catch in 2018.

BRI­TAN­NIA (SKY AT­LANTIC, JAN­UARY 18)

Play­wright Jez But­ter­worth goes all Game Of Thrones with this chron­i­cling of the Ro­man in­va­sion of Bri­tain. Kelly Reilly plays the head­strong scion of a Celtic tribe do­ing bat­tle with le­gion­naires dis­patched to the soggy fringes of Europe by Em­peror Claudius. Cue: sword fights, nudie bits, and siz­zling cod-Shake­speare di­a­logue. Ev­ery­thing a GoT devo­tee could wish for, mi­nus the drag­ons and Liam Cun­ning­ham look­ing per­turbed.

YOUNG OF­FEND­ERS (RTÉ2, FE­BRU­ARY 8)

Peter Foott’s 2016 com­edy was a sur­prise smash – and rare ex­am­ple of Ir­ish cin­ema chron­i­cling an ur­ban ex­pe­ri­ence out­side of Dublin. The Cork-set romp now re­turns as a six-part BBC Three com­edy and, hav­ing had a peek of the first episode, Hot Press can con­firm the adap­ta­tion is ev­ery bit as mad­cap and hi­lar­i­ous as its cin­e­matic big si­b­ling. Quite what UK au­di­ences will make of the un­ex­pur­gated North­side ac­cents and lo­cal lingo is a mys­tery – but we at HP award the se­ries a hearty ‘D’owtcha Boy’.

AL­TERED CAR­BON (NET­FLIX, FE­BRU­ARY 2)

With Char­lie Brooker’s Black Mir­ror, Net­flix has be­come the lead­ing pur­veyor of bleak science fic­tion (by com­par­i­son, Chan­nel Four’s Philip K Dick’s Elec­tric Dreams was a hol­low pas­tiche). Now the stream­ing gi­ant turns its at­ten­tion to the cy­ber­punk genre with this gritty adap­ta­tion of Richard Mor­gan’s fu­ture-shock ca­per, in which hu­man con­scious­ness can be “re-sleeved” in new bod­ies. Star­ring Joel Kin­na­man, aka Frank Un­der­wood’s doltish Pres­i­den­tial ri­val in last sea­son’s House of Cards.

THE ALIENIST (NET­FLIX, APRIL 19)

The Caleb Carr novel about a pioneer­ing psy­chol­o­gist solv­ing crimes in Gangs Of New York- era Man­hat­tan read like a mash-up of Sher­lock Holmes and There Will Be Blood. An Alan Parker adap­ta­tion was nixed, re­port­edly

be­cause of bud­get costs. But in this era of af­ford­able CGI, recre­at­ing 1880s New York is no longer a cof­fers drainer and the adap­ta­tion, from TNT and to be car­ried in Ire­land by Net­flix, is di­rected by True De­tec­tive’s Cary Fuku­naga – so will at the very least be vis­ually stun­ning.

AMER­I­CAN CRIME STORY: THE AS­SAS­SI­NA­TION OF GIANNI VER­SACE (BBC TWO, TBC)

Ryan Mur­phy’s rep­u­ta­tion as pur­veyor of glib, shiny dis­trac­tions lead many to orig­i­nally un­der­es­ti­mate the first sea­son of Amer­i­can Crime Story, which re­told, with grip­ping de­tail and im­pres­sive hu­man­ity, the OJ Simp­son trial. Now the an­thol­ogy se­ries turns to the 1997 mur­der of de­signer Gianni Ver­sace by se­rial killer An­drew Cua­nanan. Pené­lope Cruz plays Gianni’s sis­ter Donatella, with Édgar Ramírez as the tit­u­lar fash­ion icon and Ricky Martin as Gianni’s ro­man­tic part­ner An­to­nio D’Amico. The As­sas­si­na­tion of Gianni Ver­sace will de­but on FX in the United States on Jan­uary 19, with BBC ex­pected to

broad­cast shortly af­ter­wards.

WACO (PARA­MOUNT, JAN­UARY 24)

An­other re­minder that, so far as TV is con­cerned, the ’90s are the new ’70s. On the heels of Man­hunt, Net­flix’s retelling of the hunt for the Un­abomber, comes this mini se­ries about the dis­as­trous 1993 stand-off be­tween David Koresh’s Branch Da­vid­i­ans sect and the FBI and ATF. It stars Tay­lor Kitsch as the charis­matic Koresh and Michael Shannon as the FBI agent try­ing to talk him down. Air­ing at the end of Jan­uary in the United States, it is ex­pected that Waco will be picked up by a broad­caster in this part of the world.

HOUSE OF CARDS, SEA­SON SIX (NET­FLIX TBC)

Frank Un­der­wood is no more fol­low­ing the im­plo­sion of Kevin Spacey’s ca­reer. But rather than al­low its orig­i­nal hit sim­ply grind to an end, Net­flix is bring­ing the gang back to­gether to com­plete the story of the das­tardly Un­der­woods rise to power in Wash­ing­ton. So Robin Wright will re­turn as the Lady Mac­beth-es­que

Claire Un­der­wood – now fly­ing solo with­out her hus­band. How will they kill off Frank? That re­mains to be seen – but you can take it Spacey won’t fea­ture.

TRUE DE­TEC­TIVE SEA­SON THREE (SKY AT­LANTIC, TBC)

There are almighty let­downs and then there was sea­son two of HBO’s True De­tec­tive. It starred Colin Far­rell’s mous­tache and Vince Vaughn’s wob­bly up­per lip. En­tirely miss­ing was the phan­tas­magoric weird­ness of the Woody Har­rel­son-Matthew McConaughey star­ring orig­i­nal run of episodes. For the much-de­layed third se­ries, Nic Piz­zo­latto is back as writer and Os­car win­ners Ma­her­shala Ali plays an Arkansas de­tec­tive in­vest­ing a crime in the Ozarks re­gion.

WEST­WORLD, SEA­SON TWO (SKY AT­LANTIC, TBC)

Sea­son one of West­world was a lugubri­ous and of­ten deeply pre­dictable delve into what it is to be hu­man in a ma­chine age (news just in: ro­bots have feel­ings two). But the pro­duc­tion val­ues were stun­ning and the widescreen dystopian sto­ry­telling enough to make you over­look the nar­ra­tive flaws (would peo­ple re­ally travel to a sim­u­lated Wild West sim­ply to mis­treat ma­chine pros­ti­tutes?). Evan Rachel Wood, who plays ar­ti­fi­cial cow­girl Dolores, has con­firmed the sec­ond sea­son will ar­rive in early 2018 – so ready your sad­dles and af­fix your stet­sons.

PRESS (BBC, TO BE CON­FIRMED)

Glam­our, crack­ling chem­istry, scin­til­lat­ing di­a­logue – but enough about pro­duc­tion week­ends at

Hot Press. Doc­tor Fos­ter writer Mike Bartlett turns his at­ten­tion to the me­dia with a new se­ries chron­i­cling the go­ings-on at a busy met­ro­pol­i­tan broad­sheet. Ben Chap­lin ( Ap­ple Tree Yard) will play the edi­tor of a fic­tional morn­ing news­pa­per, with Game Of Thrones’ El­lie Ken­drick as a ju­nior re­porter and David Suchet as a Mur­doch-es­que me­dia baron.

WEST­WORLD

WACO

HOUSE OF CARDS

A LT E R E D C A R B O N

THE ALIENIST

AMER­I­CAN CRIME STORY: THE ASSASINATION OF

GIANNI VER­SACE

TRUE DE­TEC­TIVE

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