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Sandi's Ones to Watch in 2016

20 Jan 2016

Now we're settled in to the new year I wanted to start sharing some of the shows that I am looking forward to in 2016. The fifteen that I have picked for this article are just a sample of the new and returning shows that I'm eager to watch, and although some of them are not widely known, I am hoping that you will be encouraged to give a couple of them a go over the coming year.

Most of these are covered by Spoiler TV already, you can find out more about them by either discussing them in the comments with other members, or by clicking the show tags underneath the title of the article above to be taken to their specific section on the site. I'd also love to hear which shows you are looking forward to this year too, so please do sound off below.

Banshee – Cinemax, 1st April & Sky Atlantic, Summer

Last year’s finale left our two main protagonists in rather different circumstances. Hood had already been hit hard by Siobhan death, but although his team took out both Chayton and Stowe he arguably lost more than he gained after Gordon died in the shootout and Job was snatched from under their noses. Whereas Proctor finally wrestled back control of his business after Rebecca’s persistent meddling, skilfully bringing his family unit even closer despite the damage done, and brokering a new deal with Hector and the Salvadorians.

This final season promises jaw-dropping twists, a stellar guest cast (including Eliza Dushku) and of course all the best choreographed fight scenes and breathtaking stunts you can handle– including a “mind-blowing kick-ass action sequence” filmed in the Banshee ravine during the closing days of filming and Greg Yaitanes confidently asserting that the show will dominate the TV version of I’m All Out of Bubble Gum fight tribute. The cast have trained hard this year to pull off the best action sequences you will see on TV this year, as anyone who followed the filming thread here on the site will have seen.

Cold Feet – ITV, TBC

Arguably the most surprising reboot of the year has to the recommission of ITV's award winning ‘90s comedy-drama Cold Feet. The nation feel in love with the three couples – Adam, Rachel, David, Karen, Pete and Jenny – back in 1997 and followed their life, loves and heartache over the five seasons that the show aired. They had always imagined that life at 50 would be much simpler than when they were 30, but they couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Set thirteen years after Rachel’s tragic death, we will be catching up with single dad Adam (James Nesbit) as he continues to struggle coping to raise their son alone. Pete (John Thomson) and Jenny (Fay Ripley) used to sit on the sofa of an evening watching Morse, will they still be doing the same or will they have moved on with their lives too? As for David (Robert Bathurst) and Karen (Hermione Norris), they split up towards the end of the last season, but has the shared love of their three children brought them closer together again, or driven them further apart?

Damien – A&E, March

Featuring former Merlin star and iZombie’s Lowell, Bradley James, as the titular character, this new series follows the young child from the original 1976 The Omen movie as a thirty year old who has forgotten about his demonic past. Now a war photographer, he must face his true nature as the Antichrist when he finds himself embroiled in a conspiracy that Satan is running.

Helping him learn about his past is Anne Rutledge (Barbara Hershey), although whose side she will ultimately be on isn’t quite clear. She has been secretly protecting Damien from forces of evil all of his life, but we’re also told that she is an evil manipulator of sorts, and it is her task to ensure that he fulfils his destiny. The Vatican also have their inside (wo)man keeping an eye on one of their greatest threats with Deadwood and Jessica Jones star Robin Weigert tasked to investigate the otherworldly goings on that surround Damien and all he touches. The show also features The Walking Dead’s Scott Wilson, Omid Abtahi (Better Call Saul, 24) and Megalyn Echikunwoke (Arrow, Made in Jersey)

Game of Thrones – HBO, 24th April & Sky Atlantic, 25th April

The show’s popularity seems to climb and climb, both in viewing figures and with illegal downloads (both before and after its first four episodes leaked early last year). With the confirmation that the highly anticipated The Winds of Winter will now not be published until after the sixth season concludes, much of what unfolds on screen will be a surprise to both fans of the books and the show.

The question on most people’s lips has been the fate of Jon Snow after his fellow Watchmen turned on him in the closing moments of last year’s finale. Will he return as himself, or is the brooding young Commander of the Night’s Watch destined to come back a changed man? His is not the only character whose outcome is eagerly awaited however. Cersei’s trial in King’s Landing will no doubt be legendary, while her younger brother Tyrion will be creating his own adventures over in Essos as he, Jorah and Daario search for their Queen, Daenerys, whom we last saw being surrounded by a new khalasar of Dothraki we haven’t met before.

Humans – C4 & AMC, TBC

This remake of the Swedish sci-fi drama Äkta människor (Real Humans) was a resounding success when it aired last summer. It was Channel 4’s highest rated series in nearly twenty-five years, and earned a string of nominations and awards for its writing and for cast members Gemma Chan and Tom Goodman-Hill. The writers have plans for the show past the already commissioned season two, which is good news for its many fans.

Season two will pick up a few months after the first, with the Synths having moved into new areas of employment, where they will be even closer to the humans and their personal lives. As in the real world, technology moves along swiftly, so we will be seeing new effects and the consequences of this. There’s no news yet on whether William Hurt’s character will return as a Synth as his equivalent role in the Swedish version does, but all the rest of the cast will be back, alongside a couple of new faces who will be the new villains.

London Spy – BBC America, 21st January

Having already been shown in the UK in the run up to Christmas, this six episode mini-series comes to BBC America later this month. Creator Tom Rob Smith was asked by the BBC if he would write a second instalment as they were so impressed with it, but he admitted that he prefers leaving the characters where they are when as the finale ends. No spoilers here, but I do tend to agree with him, even though I would do almost anything to have another Whishaw series on TV again soon.

Essentially a love story between two men who are polar opposites, Danny (Ben Whishaw) and Alex (Edward Holcroft), the story takes a sharp turn soon after they discover that they actually make the perfect couple. Alex goes missing, only for Danny discovering his body in shocking circumstances, what ensues is a dangerous game of cat and mouse as he fights to uncover the truth. Among those helping him are his closest friend and ally, former spy Scottie (Jim Broadbent), the mysterious Professor Shaw (Adrian Lester) and Alex’s mother, Frances (Charlotte Rampling).

Outsiders – WGN America, 26th January

Described as “Mad Max meets Little House on the Prairie”, Outsiders pitches the Appalachian Mountain living Farrell clan against a company who want to evict from their homes so they can mine the land beneath it. Certain parallels are being drawn to the current occupiers of the Oregon National Wildlife refuge, and indeed there are some similarities, including land-use laws and distrust of authority, especially the police.

At Spoiler TV we have been fortunate enough to view the first five episodes and we’ve been impressed with what we’ve seen so far - watch out for previews which will go up soon. The casting is top notch, led by David Morse (True Detective, Treme) as Big Foster, who is set on a dark path after he attempts to kill his own mother in the opening episode when she tells him that will not become the new leader of the tribe. Ryan Hurst (Sons of Anarchy) plays his son, Lil Foster, who finds it very hard to please his old man, no matter how he tries.

Poldark – BBC One, Autumn & PBS, TBC

Debbie Horsfield's adaptation of Winston Graham's series of novels about the Poldark family became an instant hit with fans worldwide last year. Season two is currently filming in Cornwell, and has been extended to ten episodes in order to better cover the next two books in the saga – Jeremy Poldark and Warleggan. Expect the series to pick up more or less where it left off, as Ross (Aidan Turner) faces trial for his part in the shipwreck looting, with the dastardly George (Jack Farthing) doing his best to trump up the charges to the max.

The show has stayed pretty faithful to the original material so far, the one main discrepancy being how much closer Demelza (Eleanor Tomlinson) and Elizabeth (Heida Reed) became, especially after the putrid throat outbreak. This does have fans wondering how certain upcoming events will be handled as it’s safe to say that the two of them, and their husbands, are not over their rocky patches as yet. It’s not all doom, gloom and brooding on the Cornish cliffside however, the Poldark’s will be welcoming a new baby boy this year and dear old Aunt Agatha (Caroline Blakiston) will be cracking more of her (deliberate?) faux pas’.

The 100 – CW, 21st January & E4, TBC

Season three begins a few months after the events at Mount Weather, with a relative peace having been kept with the Grounders during this time. But not everybody is quite so successful at holding themselves together, which means there's trouble ahead. The psychological toll of what happened during last year’s finale, and the legend of Wanheda, has left its mark on many of the survivors, both Grounders and Sky People, the consequences of which will continue to play out over the season.

There are also new dangers ahead for the characters, both from within and without, as we met the fearsome Ice Nation tribe and another group of survivors who crash landed deep inside their territory when the Ark split as it fell to earth. Meanwhile, Jaha has been pulled further into whatever A.L.I.E.’s mission is with the City of Light, although Murphy continues to have his doubts which causes contention between the pair.

The Fall – RTÉ One & BBC Two, TBC

After that cliffhanger it was a tense few months until the third season of Allan Cubitt’s psychological thriller was greenlit and we learned that Spector would be making a miraculous comeback after all. Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan started filming in Belfast earlier this month, picking up the action from the moment that we last saw their characters, with Stella cradling the murderer she had been chasing for two seasons in her arms as he bleeds to death.

New cast members include Colin Morgan’s (whose character is set to only feature in the new season) fellow Humans' co-star Ruth Bradley, Swedish actor Krister Henriksson who was the original Wallander in his home country, Aidan McArdle (Mr. Selfridge) and stand-up comedian Aisling Bea. Very little is known about the season as yet, although it’s believed that we will see more of Stella’s past. Cubitt says “I feel like she's quite unique and I still find her mysterious. I still am intrigued by her and want to see what her journey is.”

The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses – BBC Two, TBC

The first tetralogy in this series was outstanding, if you haven’t caught them yet then I highly recommend watching them before this part is released later in the year. They covered Richard II, Henry IV Pts 1 & 2 and Henry V, with Ben Whishaw, Jeremy Irons and Tom Hiddleston in the titular roles. The sequel will cover Henry VI over two films and Richard III, with Benedict Cumberbatch as King Richard throughout the series. Producer Pippa Harris has stated that the reason they wanted continuity over all these films was to “will allow viewers to fully appreciate how such a monstrous tyrant could find his way to power, bringing even more weight and depth to this iconic character.”

These lavish productions have set an extremely high bar for Shakespeare on television, and have rightly earned numerous awards for production and performances. Like its predecessor The Wars of the Roses has a star studded cast, with the likes of Judi Dench, Anton Lesser, Jason Watkins, Hugh Bonneville and Philip Glenister among its number.

The Living and the Dead – BBC One & BBC America, TBC

Set in 1894, a brilliant young couple inherit a farm and are determined to start a new life together. But their presence in an isolated corner of England starts to unleash strange, unsettling and dangerous supernatural phenomena that will start to threaten their marriage. Starring Colin Morgan and Charlotte Spencer as Nathan and Charlotte Appleby this new six part series follows a farmer and his relentless search in proving that the afterlife exists.

This comes from the team behind Life on Mars and has one of my favourite directors attached to it, Alice Troughton, so I’m expecting great things. Colin Morgan says that he was “instantly compelled and engaged” by the scripts and calls the project “very special”, which is also encouraging to hear. There are many period dramas around at present, but I think that the horror angle that this show promises to deliver could be what makes this unique.

The Musketeers – BBC One & BBC America, Spring

The finale last year saw the Musketeers beat an insane and deadly foe in Rochefort (Marc Warren), before one of their number kept his promise to head off to a monastery. Despite an April Fool’s prank picture which saw Aramis (Santiago Cabrera) in monk’s robes fans are now safe in the knowledge that he does return to the garrison this season instead, tonsure free. How safe he, Athos (Tom Burke), Porthos (Howard Charles) and d’Artagnan (Luke Pasqualino) are on the frontline during the war with Spain is another matter!

We return to the action four years or so after the end of season two and it seems likely that another five years will pass throughout the season too. It’s not known how long the war will last, although as a Parisian slum set has been built especially this year I think that we may be seeing the effects the war has on people back home as well as those who are fighting on the battlefields. The Musketeer’s will also have their hands full as they will have more than one villain to keep an eye on this time round. Rupert Everett is playing Louis XIII’s corrupt illegitimate brother, Matthew McNulty is a notorious backstreet moneylender called Grimaud, while Matt Stokoe is the new Captain of the Red Guards, Marcheaux.

The Night Manager – BBC One, February & AMC, April

Based on the novel by John le Carré, this espionage miniseries starring Olivia Colman, Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie has potential to be one of the year’s biggest hits. It’s been more than twenty years since the last le Carré TV adaptation, therefore fans of the former MI6 agent’s work are eager to see how this will be received as it could lead to further books making it to the small screen too.

The story follows ex-soldier Jonathan Pine (Hiddleston) as he is recruited by an intelligence operative (Colman) to infiltrate the inner circle of an arms dealer (Laurie), with whom he has had superficial, yet fatal, dealings with in the past. Pine discovers that must become a criminal in order to retain his cover in the secret arms trade, while also attempting to stay one step ahead of a corrupt element that lies at the heart of the Intelligence Service. The book ends on rather an ambiguous note, which I hope the show stay true to. Making an audience slightly uncomfortable, rather than having a true happy ending, isn’t necessarily a bad thing sometimes after all.

Versailles – BBC Two, S1 TBC & Canal+, S2 Winter

This is the show I wish Reign could have been. They would have had to toned down the nudity and language a notch (or three) for the CW, of course, yet the quality of the storytelling and the authentic, compelling nature of the historical characters is what the former program is sorely lacking when compared to Versailles. Sure, there are still some inaccuracies along the way which purists may find jarring, but it’s the characters that are driving the story forward here. Their loves, rivalries, rebellions and political manoeuvrings are what is important, they are portrayed very realistically, with easily understood motivations, which makes any changes sit comfortably within the retelling and easy to forgive.

George Blagden (Vikings) is Louis XIV, an absolute monarch whose nobles at court are starting to rebel against his authority. Forcing a move out of Paris, their power base, to his father’s old hunting lodge at Versailles, he makes plans to turn it into the magnificent palace we know today. His love/hate relationship with his brother, the openly gay and flamboyant Philippe (Alex Vlahos, Merlin), and the respectful trust he shares with his Premier Valet, the stalwart Bontemps (Stuart Bowman, The Musketeers), are the heart of the show. Season two was ordered ahead of the premiere airing on Canal+ in November and goes into production at the start of February.

About the Author - Sandi
Sandi is part of the Senior Staff at SpoilerTV having been a contributor from back in the Lost days of DarkUFO, and who now writes previews for Banshee, The Musketeers, Poldark, and other UK shows. She also enjoys watching and commenting on other shows such as Vikings, Orphan Black, Game of Thrones and The Flash.
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