14 Most Anticipated Shows of 2014
14. Penny Dreadful: A number of horror's most famous creations, including Dr. Frankenstein, Dorian Gray and Dracula, cross paths in Victorian London. The cast is toplined by Josh Hartnett and Eva Green, with Billie Piper, Rory Kinnear, Harry Treadaway, Timothy Dalton, Helen McCrory and Simon Russell Beale among the supporting players. There's something innately appealing about watching these characters cross paths, especially when played by actors of this caliber.
13. Gracepoint: A local police detective and an out-of-towner are paired after a young boy is found murdered in a small town. David Tennant reprises his ailing copper from "Broadchurch" (though with an American accent), with "Breaking Bad" star Anna Gunn taking over from Olivia Colman as his co-investigator, while Michael Peña, Nick Nolte, Jacki Weaver and Josh Hamilton are among the impressive names assembled as the townspeople.
12. The Leftovers: A drama focusing on those in a suburban community left behind after The Rapture summons most of humanity up to heaven (or did it?...). It's another post-apocalyptic tale, but with a fascinating twist. Justin Theroux leads a solid and starry ensemble that also includes Liv Tyler, Christopher Eccleston, Amy Brenneman, Michael Gaston and Ann Dowd, and after a pilot directed by "Lone Survivor" and "Friday Night Lights" helmer Peter Berg, HBO picked it up to a ten-episode full series.
11. Halt & Catch Fire: A look at the personal computing boom in Texas' so-called Silicon Prarie in the 1980s, seen through the eyes of a visionary, an engineer and a prodigy. Newcomer creators Christopher Cantwell and Christopher C. Rogers have assembled a highly promising cast, with Lee Pace, Scoot McNairy, Kerry Bishe and Mackenzie Davis as the leads, whose computing start-up sets out to take on the big dogs. Juan Jose Campanella, director of the Oscar-winning “The Secret In Your Eyes,” helmed the pilot.
10. Olive Kitteridge: The story of a high-school math teacher, and those in her life, in and around the small coastal town of Crosby, Maine. A cracking cast has been assembled, including: Richard Jenkins, Rosemarie DeWitt, John Gallagher Jr., Zoe Kazan, Martha Wainwright and Brady Corbet. Oh, and Bill Murray! Cholodenko is a great filmmaker that doesn't work enough, and HBO should fit her like a glove. The chance to give her the broad canvas that Todd Haynes had on "Mildred Pierce" is an exciting one.
9. Togetherness: A woman moves in with her sister and her sister's husband, along with their unemployed, aging actor friend. The migration of filmmakers from the big to the small screen continues apace, and the latest to make the jump are the Duplass Brothers, the men behind "The Puffy Chair," "Baghead," "Cyrus" and "Jeff Who Lives At Home," who've written and directed (in their usual improvisational style, presumably) this eight-part comedy season for HBO. Amanda Peet takes the lead role.
8. Fargo: In Bemidiji, Minnesota, Deputy Molly Solverson has a crime to investigate in this series loosely inspired by the events of the Coen Brothers' classic. The Coen brothers have been flirting with TV for a while, but they finally come to the small screen, in a way, with this adaptation of one of their most beloved films, the 1996 Oscar-winner "Fargo." And the cast is killer, with relative unknown Allison Tolman leading the likes of Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, Bob Odenkirk, Kate Walsh, Joey King and Oliver Platt.
7. Turn: In 1778, a New York farmer joins a group of friends to set up the Culper Ring, America's first spy ring who help to turn the tide in the battle for Independence from the British. Adapted from Alexander Rose's book “Washington Spies” by “Bones” and “Nikita” writer Craig Silverstein, this sees the always-welcome Jamie Bell head up a cast that also includes Angus MacFayden, Kevin McNally, J.J. Feild, Heather Lind and Burn Gorman. Early teasers are promising, so fingers crossed it turns out to be something special.
6. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: In England in the 19th century, two magicians begin a friendship that soon becomes a rivalry. Susanna Clarke's novel "Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell" was pretty much an instant classic of the genre on its publication a decade ago, a fascinating, incredibly rich alternate history of Britain that's something like a magical "Barry Lyndon," which won Time's Novel of the Year prize in 2004. The BBC has thrown a lot of money behind the adaptation, which should be one of their most high profile dramas of the year.
5. Tooken: A woman who escapes from a doomsday cult tries to start over in New York City. It's already a year since "30 Rock" ended its run, and we still miss it an awful lot. But fortunately, Tina Fey hasn't been slack, with three new series in the works, including a workplace comedy at NBC and a college-set sitcom at Fox, but the one moving forward the fastest is "Tooken," another NBC sitcom. Created by Fey and fellow "30 Rock" writer/producers Robert Carlock, it's conceived as a vehicle for Ellie Kemper.
4. Babylon: An American PR expert is hired to help improve the image of the London police force. Having conquered the movies and the Olympics, "Slumdog Millionaire" Oscar-winner Danny Boyle is heading to the small-screen. This U.K. comedy-drama for Channel 4, casts a satirical eye on the (rightly) often-derided Metropolitan Police force in London, with "Peep Show" and "Fresh Meat" writers Sam Armstrong and Jesse Bain, penning scripts and Boyle directing the entire run of the series. Given that he has his pick of movie projects, you imagine that Danny Boyle would need something special to lure him to TV comedy, and "Babylon" looks like something special.
3. The Red Road: After a sudden tragedy involving his wife, a sheriff makes a pact with a member of an unrecognized Native American tribe that has the potential to only make things worse. The show looks to provide meaty roles for Martin Henderson, Jason Momoa and Julianne Nicholson in this pitch-black crime drama. It's not high concept or blessed with a slick period setting, but it looks like it'll be positively stuffed with drama. Plus the first trailer for the show was very promising indeed.
2. The Knick: The lives of the doctors and nurses at New York's Knickerbocker Hospital in the early 20th century. The show is penned by "Big Miracle" writer Jack Amiel and Clive Owen leads the series, with Juliet Rylance and Michael Angarano backing him up. With Steven Soderbergh directing, we're pumped about it. Soderbergh had a remarkably strong end to his directing career with "Side Effects" and "Behind the Candelabra," and it's enormously exciting to see him directing a whole ten-part series, especially given that the last time we saw him working on this kind of epic scale, we got "Che."
1. True Detective: Two cops try to track down a serial killer in Louisiana, a case that spans decades and leads both of them to darker places than they ever could have imagined. HBO's first big drama of 2014 might sound a little generic on the surface, but the talent involved is anything but: the whole series has been directed by one of the most promising filmmakers around, Cary Fukunaga, and stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson in the lead roles, with Michelle Monaghan and Kevin Dunn in the supporting cast.