Normally I save the TV premiere rundown for the last week of the month, but March is so jam-packed, I’m going to have to split it into two weeks. Without further ado, here’s the most interesting new and returning TV premieres for the first half of March.
Hap & Leonard (Sundance) New – One of the most highly anticipated new shows of the year, at least at my house, is this bizarre-looking new thriller series from the filmmaking team of Damici & Mickle (Cold in July, We Are What We Are, Stakeland) about a pair of mismatched southern country gentleman who are best friends, soldiers of fortune, extrajudicial fixers… and martial arts experts. It sounds weird and stupid, but it’s based on a great series of novels by Joe Lansdale and has a great cast. I’m way in. Stars James Purefoy and Michael Kenneth Williams.
The Real O’Neals (ABC) New – This new comedy about an Irish Catholic family whose son comes out has pedigree to spare, sporting nationally syndicated writer Dan Savage as a producer/creator. It also has the albatross that is network sitcom rules of awfulness following it around like a shadow. Probably worth a try, but also probably terrible. Stars Martha Plimpton and Jay R. Ferguson.
Gaycation (Viceland) New – This is a much more interesting-looking show with an LGBTQ theme. It’s a travelogue hosted by actress Ellen Page that travels across the country in search of America, as they say. I’m not sure Ellen Page isn’t terrible, but this show already brought us that weird campaign trail showdown with Ted Cruz from several months ago, and it hasn’t even aired yet. Stars Ellen Page and Ian Daniel.
The Family (ABC) New – This is one of the new shows that ShondaLand begat. If you like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, or How to Get Away with Murder (and statistically speaking it’s almost impossible you don’t religiously watch at least one of those shows) you’ll probably be into this new show about a political family’s scandals. Stars Joan Allen, Alison Pill, and Andrew McCarthy.
Bosch (Amazon) Season 2 – I was notoriously bullish on Season 1 of this dark mystery drama based on the series of books by Michael Connelly. Season 2 is about the most quiet release of a big-budget police procedural I’ve ever heard of, and the first season wasn’t exactly The Walking Dead in terms of viewership. This season needs some strong word of mouth for this show to return for a third tilt. Stars Titus Welliver, Jamie Hector, and Lance Reddick.
House of Cards (Netflix) Season 4 – I fell off this once red-hot series that was at the vanguard of streaming TV quite a while ago. But they’re still cracking. The fourth season promises new shocks and outrages, and the introduction of at least one notable new character in the form of excellent Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman (The Killing). Stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.
Last Man on Earth (Fox) Season 2 (mid-season return from hiatus) – This is one of my favorite shows on TV right now. The second season picked up right where the first left off and hasn’t had a misstep yet. The supporting cast is one of the best in TV comedy and Will Forte and Kristen Schaal are unstoppable as the first couple of the Apocalypse. They’re ramping up to something magical with Jason Sudeikis as Forte’s long-lost astronaut brother—I can’t wait to see what it is. Stars Will Forte, Kristen Schaal, January Jones, Mel Rodriguez, Mary Steenburgen, Boris Kodjoe, and Cleopatra Coleman.
Bates Motel (A&E) Season 4 – I was a little late to the party with this show, a prequel to Hitchcock’s Psycho, but it’s really engaging. At times creepy, thrilling, and always lightly comic in between the moments of drama, just like its source material, it enters Season 4 still going strong and featuring one of the most winning casts on TV today. As Norman Bates gets closer and closer to the inevitable, the show becomes more and more compelling. Stars Freddie Highmore, Vera Farmiga, and Max Thieriot.
Damien (A&E) New – Look, A&E, I just gave you rather effusive praise for the dice-rolling on a TV prequel to Psycho. That doesn’t mean you should go ahead with this strategy left and right. Oh well. Here we have a sequel to the legendary horror film The Omen that picks up with Damien, the Antichrist, as an adult working as a photographer. Hmmm… maybe I should reserve judgment until I give it a try. Stars Bradley James, Omid Abtahi, and Barbara Hershey.
Of Kings & Prophets (ABC) New – If you thought Ridley Scott’s very white Exodus: Gods & Kings looked terrible, you’re really going to need help suppressing your gag reflex when you see this biblical TV show from the same writing team. Ray Winstone, who is usually great, stars as King Saul, dealing with an upstart young David… Oh God, this looks absolutely awful. No thanks. Stars Ray Winstone, Olly Rix, and Brett Williams.
Underground (WGN) New – WGN has actually made some really compelling TV of late, with Manhattan and Outsiders both on my watch-list. With this, a dramatization of the men and women of the Underground Railroad who tried to free slaves in the 1800s, I’m scared for them. It’s not that this isn’t absolutely vital and potentially amazing art to be brought to the screen for American audiences, it’s just the slick action-movie nature of it that worries me. I would tend to prefer a less gun-slinging portrayal of one of the most important sequences of events in world history. Stars Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Aldis Hodge, Mykelti Williamson, and Christopher Meloni.
Netflix Presents: The Characters (Netflix) New – Here’s a genuinely interesting new product from Netflix, a show where comedians each get one episode to fill with as many of their zany characters as possible. Basically it’s Kroll Show for a bunch of up-and-comers that aren’t Nick Kroll. This has promise as a launching pad for the next crop of Comedy Central stand-up/sketch shows. Stars Lauren Lapkus, John Early, and Kate Berlant.
Flaked (Netflix) New – Netflix returns to one of its most reliable horses in the stable (See what I did there?) with another Will Arnett show. I’m not complaining (even though BoJack Horseman is trash) because I sort of love Arnett, and this one is produced by his old pal Mitch Hurwitz (creator of Arrested Development). This time he’s a self-help guru who—wait for it—needs some help himself. On second thought, this looks terrible. Stars Will Arnett, Lina Esco, and David Sullivan.
Party Over Here (Fox) New – A sketch comedy show produced by the SNL-sired Lonely Island crew (Akiva Schaffer, Andy Samberg, and Jorma Taccone) and the great Paul Scheer… I don’t know, is that a good thing? I hate SNL and though these guys are funny as hell, sketch comedy can be funny. Not ha-ha funny, tricky-funny. Like, it’s not as easy as getting some funny people together. If it’s anything like the show that birthed it, hard pass. Stars Nicole Byer and Jessica McKenna.
Crowded (NBC) New – Oh God, no. Just no in the no-est way possible. No. Patrick Warburton, who shall forever remain untouchable for his work on Seinfeld, Archer, Venture Bros., Family Guy and about a hundred other shows, returns to horrible-looking sitcom territory with this show about a middle-aged couple whose adult daughters and elderly parents move in. Surprise! Buckle up for stale jokes about old-people sex and other things I don’t want to think about or see on TV. Stars Patrick Warburton, Miranda Cosgrove, and Stacy Keach.
Stay tuned for the second half of March’s premieres next week…
By Ygal Kaufman