What's Next in the Era of Plentiful TV?

By Tomorrow Will Be Televised Archives
Cover image for  article: What's Next in the Era of Plentiful TV?

Most TV pundits have completed their coverage of television in 2019 with a look back at the best and/or worst programming they watched over the last 12 months.  In these times of plentiful TV, they do an outstanding service for us all (starting with MediaVillage’s own Ed Martin, whose Top 26 Programs of 2019 is a must-read).  Me?  I’m in forward-looking mode.  In that spirit, here’s a compendium of what might make 2020 a special year, and the kickoff of a groundbreaking decade of TV programming.  I'm Simon Applebaum ... and this is 2020.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

More greatness from Sam Esmail.  Coming off an outstanding final season of the Emmy/Peabody-winning Mr. Robot, this wunderkind writer/director/producer who may be the Orson Welles of this TV generation begins his new year February 6 on USA Network with Briarpatch, a pulp-fiction adventure starring Rosario Dawson.  Before the year’s over, Esmail may deliver his reboots of science-fiction fave Battlestar Galatica on mega-programming venture Peacock and silent film classic Metropolis somewhere else.  And let’s not leave out season two of Homecoming on Amazon.  Whatever Esmail tackles, here’s to taking his Mr. Robot colleagues -- Emmy-nominated cinematographer Tod Campbell and Emmy-winning composer Mac Quayle – along on these projects.

A bigger universe of weekly anthology series.  One television trend over the last two years that hasn’t received enough attention is the comeback of anthology series as they were originally designed.  I’m talking series with a new cast and plotline in each episode, giving opportunities to promising new writers and directors.  So far, the current take on this landmark TV format includes Black Mirror and Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings on Netflix, Modern Love on Amazon, The Twilight Zone on CBS All Access and HBO’s Room 104.  Apple TV+ will contribute a pair of new anthologies in early 2020: immigrant-focused Little America on January 17 and the return of Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories on a later date.   Another January starter is Soul City, a collection of horror tales set in New Orleans on Topic (distributed through smart TV sets and devices).  I’m pulling for someone to rekindle two of my 1960s favorites in the genre: The Great Adventure (American history incidents) and Love American Style (humorous relationship vignettes).

The next offbeat competition entry from Fox -- and the next overall chapter of this network’s unique existenceThe Masked Singer, an outlandish unscripted series featuring musical performances by ananymous costumed celebrities, became Fox’s ticket to new viewership heights and life beyond the Disney/Fox merger during 2019.  If Flirty Dancing, officially launching New Year’s night, doesn’t keep or raise Singer’s momentum, Lego Masters (coming February 5 with Will Arnett as host) might do the trick.  The scripted side of Fox’s 2020 lineup also has some entries worth a check, from 9-1-1 franchise play Lone Star (January 19-20) to techno-centric thriller neXtand Amy Poehler-created toon Duncanville.  (Both series await premiere dates.)

Shows from Shonda Rhimes on Netflix.  The prolific creator of ABC mainstay Grey’s Anatomy and champion of diversity on TV premieres her first series for Netflix, three years after reaching a milestone multi-year/multi-project development deal with the service.  Expected first: Inventing Anna, adapted from a New York magazine article, and a series based on Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton novels.

Snowpiercer on TNT.  Tired of tantalizing promotions for this hot property every year at the Turner Upfront, only to be disappointed when it repeatedly disappears?  At long last, we will finally see this series version of the acclaimed movie about a train filled with a diverse cross-section of humanity traveling endlessly around a frozen Earth.  Could it become the plentiful TV generation’s answer to Wagon Train, or Harlan Ellison’s brilliant idea turned botched 1970s syndicated drama The Starlost?  Given Orphan Black co-creator Graeme Manson is conducting this journey, I’m all aboard when episode one debuts this spring.

A new ongoing showcase for new talent of color.  TV One’s Interactive One unit is set to launch A Space for Creators in early 2020, presenting new scripted and unscripted series from multicultural individuals.  Viewers can check out this service through smart TV sets and TV-connected devices.  It could be the springboard for TV’s next wave of outstanding content.

Even more exciting new series and series reboots to seek out. Party of Five (Freeform/January 8); The Outsider (HBO/January 12); 68 Whiskey (Paramount Network/January 15); Seven Worlds, One Planet (AMC Networks/January 18); Star Trek: Picard (CBS All Access/January 23); For Life (ABC/February 11); High Fidelity (Hulu/February 14), and The Good Lord Bird (Showtime/February 16).

Stay well and stay tuned during the decade ahead!

Click the social buttons above or below to share this content with your friends and colleagues.

The opinions and points of view expressed in this content are exclusively the views of the author and/or subject(s) and do not necessarily represent the views of MediaVillage.com/MyersBizNet, Inc. management or associated writers.

Copyright ©2024 MediaVillage, Inc. All rights reserved. By using this site you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.