Probably the most anticipated and finest new TV reveals of 2021
New Year’s Eve was a little different this year, and not just because “Auld Lang Syne” was instead sung over Zoom in the arms of friends and family, replacing your traditional tuxedo / ball gown outfit with sweatpants and the t-shirt that you ‘I’ve been wearing for three days. Turning the page to 2021 was a relief after the eternal darkness of 2020, and optimism fills our hearts as we arbitrarily attribute all of our disappointments and fears to a timing system created 500 years ago.
But there’s one thing that is rightly optimistic: the TV year of 2021. We’ve compiled a list of the shows we’re most looking forward to in 2021, and there are some great ones out there. Comedies, science fiction epics, adaptations, and more are arriving in the next 12 months in one of the best years of television ever.
Note: With the coronavirus pandemic delaying production in several shows, some of our tips below are starred as delays could push the premiere dates after 2021.
Premieres Thursday January 7th on NBC
For the past few years, NBC’s must-see Thursday night sitcoms have come in chunks rather than a full-fledged block, but two people who made up a large part of NBC’s glory days from yesteryear – Cheers’ and The Good Place’s Ted Danson and 30 Rocks Tina Fey – hope to lay a foundation for a new one. Danson plays a rich guy who runs for mayor for a very good reason – to impress his teenage daughter – and wins before he really knows what he stands for. Fey and her 30-rock co-founder Robert Carlock have a knack for writing good comedies at work with fun ensemble line-ups, and the local government theme could make this the next park and recreation if Leslie Knope wasn’t so kind .
Premieres Friday January 15th on Disney +
It’s been over a year since Disney + launched in November 2019, and we’re finally getting our first Marvel Cinematic Universe series in early 2021. But it looks like it’s worth the wait. WandaVision is based on Avengers: Endgame and is very different from anything you are used to in the MCU. It follows Wanda / Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) as they lead their ideal suburban life, their life like a classic TV sitcom. But when things seem too much like a TV show, they start to suspect something is wrong. This will be a big year for Marvel on Disney +, with other MCU shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (March 19), Loki (May 2021), Hawkeye (late 2021) and Ms. Marvel (late 2021) being released in 2021 will. [Everything we know about WandaVision]
Shadows and bones
Premieres April 2021 on Netflix
You know the exercise: if someone does a TV adaptation of one of our favorite fantasy novels, we’ll be amazed. Shadow and Bone takes two of Leigh Bardugo’s book series – Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows – and smashes them into a new series that combines both storylines of a world at war with itself and the carnivorous creatures that inhabit it. The heroine is a young orphan named Alina Starkov who discovers that she has a great power with which she saves her best friend. And because this is YA fantasy, you know that there is some romance thrown in there. The cast consists mostly of little-known actors, but Westworld’s Ben Barnes has pledged to play General Kirigan, also known as The Darkling. [
Series premiere in 2021 (unconfirmed) on Apple TV +
If you like your sci-fi as hard and dense as dark matter, Foundation, based on Isaac Asimov’s seminal book series, seems to be doing the trick. Coming from genre masters David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman, the series follows a mathematician (Jared Harris) whose models predict the fall of the Galactic Empire and efforts to correct it from total devastation to mere suckling. This looks like Apple TV + ‘s answer to Amazon’s The Expanse, complete with an out of this world budget for things to look the best they can. Did we mention Jared Harris too?
We’re back at the #Halo Set and #MakingMasterChief. 📸: @schreiber_pablo pic.twitter.com/dFYKWRrwQR
– Halo on Showtime (HOSHO_Halo) November 10, 2020
Series premiere in 2021 (unconfirmed) at Showtime
In 2001, I knelt in front of my bed asking for any divine power that would bless us with a Halo TV show. I take all the honor of it finally happening, courtesy of Showtime and Awakes Kyle Killen. The adaptation of the insanely popular series of Xbox and PC first-person shooter games is likely to fall after aeons of development this year, with Pablo Schreiber (The Wire) taking on the role of the protagonist Master Chief, a super soldier who served in the Army to shoot aliens away with the aid of his on-board AI Cortana. We don’t know much about the show outside of a few key casts, but this is no doubt going to be some big budget action extravaganza, and when Killen writes, some great stories await about the ever-mysterious Master Chief. I am so excited that I cry.
Lord of the Rings
Series premiere in 2021 (unconfirmed) on Amazon Prime Video
2021 seems to be the year that streamers and networks will throw a ton of money into television shows, and none will be more buried in money than Amazon’s epic adaptation of The Lord of the Rings. Amazon is reportedly spending a billion (BILLION!) Dollars on the show, which already has a two-season order (and a five-season commitment). So there is no excuse that this is not amazing (knock on wood). It will be a prequel set in the second age of Middle-earth before the events of the book and films, possibly showing Sauron’s rise to power. [Everything we know about Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV series]
The old man
Series premiere in 2021 (unconfirmed) on FX on Hulu
Finally a show about a man who sits in his chair all day watching TV, waiting for his grandchildren to call. Or it’s an adaptation of Thomas Perry’s 2017 novel The Old Man, which follows a retired intelligence officer who is marked for death and drawn into the world he left behind. Jeff Bridges plays the Older Older Man’s title, and you’ll definitely want to stay away from his lawn from those glances at the teaser trailer. John Lithgow and Amy Brenneman also star.
Only murders in this building
Series premiere in 2021 (unconfirmed) on Hulu
Two thirds of the three Amigos – Steve Martin and Martin Short – meet for this comedy about criminal residents of a house who are involved in a crime thriller. Apparently Chevy Chase was busy with the show’s third star being Selena Gomez, who is also producing with Martin and Short. Martin and Short may be considered an “old people” comedy by millennials, but the two are fantastic together, recently went on a comedy tour as a duo and showed that they still have it. Loser sleeves above their heads fit right into their shtick.
Series premiere 2021 (unconfirmed) on HBO max
Pandemic shows may be a little too on the nose these days, but the adaptation of Emily St. John Mandel’s acclaimed 2014 novel began in late 2019, before the coronavirus hit, making this miniseries predictive rather than exploitative. The story follows the life of Kristen, a former child actor, who faces a world brought to its knees by a swine flu epidemic that is killing most of the world’s population. Mackenzie Davis took over the role of Kristen and the novel is an office favorite, but we’re thrilled to have Hiro Murai, the visionary genius behind many of Donald Glover’s works, including Atlanta, to lead the miniseries.
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