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Fast forward: Six new TV shows to look forward to in 2020

There are big things to come in TV next year

Evan Evagora and Patrick Stewart in 'Star Trek: Picard'. Courtesy CBS / Amazon
Evan Evagora and Patrick Stewart in 'Star Trek: Picard'. Courtesy CBS / Amazon

This has been another seismic year for TV. Sure, Game of Thrones might have left fans crippled with disappointment at its finale, but the success HBO had with shows such as Chernobyl, Succession, Watchmen, Barry and Euphoria more than made up for it. And while the network is still setting the benchmark for the medium, the launch of Apple TV+ and Disney+ last month, as well as weekly new releases from the likes of Netflix, mean HBO isn’t quite as dominant as it once was.

In the next 12 months, the gap between HBO and its competitors should shrink even further, as several channels splash millions of dollars on projects they hope will entice viewers to tune into them rather than their rivals. Here are some of the shows to look out for in 2020.

‘Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens’

In the past two years, Awkwafina has blossomed into one of the best comedy actresses today, thanks to impressive performances in Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians, as well as her astounding work in The Farewell. Her stock is going to rise even higher next year, too, when she appears in projects such as Disney film Raya and the Last Dragon, which is scheduled for release in November.

She is also writing and stars in her own sitcom, Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens, which is due to come out in the US next month. Comedy Central was clearly impressed by the pilot as the channel asked the US actress to deliver 10 episodes for its debut season. The show will revolve around Awkwafina’s Nora Lum, which is the actress’s real name, and her life in Flushing, New York, where she lives with her father and grandmother, played by B D Wong and Lori Tan Chinn, respectively.

Awkwafina in 'Awkwafina is Nora from Queens'. Zach Dilgard
Awkwafina in 'Awkwafina is Nora from Queens'. Zach Dilgard

There’s plenty of comedic pedigree involved throughout Awkwafina Is Nora From Queens, as Russian Doll creator Natasha Lyonne and Broad City producer Lucia Aniello are among the talents directing episodes of the show.

‘Star Trek: Picard’

Few trailers provoked as much excitement this year as the first prolonged look at Patrick Stewart’s return as Captain Jean-Luc Picard. There was good reason for that, too, as Stewart was heavily involved in the development of Star Trek: Picard, with the actor also taking an executive producer role alongside showrunner Michael Chabon.

Watch the official trailer here:

Another executive producer, Alex Kurtzman, who wrote 2009 film Star Trek and its 2013 follow-up Star Trek: into The Darkness, says the show will be much more contemplative than other entries in the franchise and will take a deeper look at Picard. This raised hopes that it would mirror the treatment director James Mangold gave Wolverine in 2017’s Logan, a film that starred Stewart, too.

Set 20 years after the events of 2002’s Star Trek: Nemesis, when Stewart last played the character, Picard will follow the titular hero as he continues to struggle with what happened in the film, as well as the destruction of Romulus. We’ll get to see what that actually entails when the first of Picard’s 10 episodes is broadcast on Amazon Prime on Friday, January 24.

‘High Fidelity’

The movie industry was ­roundly criticised for its lack of originality in the past few years. But TV is as bad, with films such as Four Weddings And A Funeral, The Dark Crystal, She’s Gotta Have It and Hanna among the movies that were remade for the small screen. It is a trend that will continue into the new year.

Not only are there plans for TV versions of Clueless and Snowpiercer, but Zoe Kravitz is going to take the lead in a 10-episode series based on Nick Hornby’s 1995 book High Fidelity. John Cusack played the lead role in the 2000 film adaptation, with the TV version set to star Kravitz cast as the record shop owner who constantly makes top-five lists and is so obsessed with pop culture and music that it actually hinders her life.

Zoe Kravitz in a TV adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel 'High Fidelity'. Courtesy Hulu
Zoe Kravitz in a TV adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel 'High Fidelity'. Courtesy Hulu

What makes High Fidelity even more intriguing is that Kravitz’s mother, Lisa Bonet, starred in the movie as singer Marie De Salle, while her father is famous musician Lenny Kravitz. That should only help add to the depth and detail of Kravitz’s performance, ­while she is also an executive producer on the project, which will have its premiere on Hulu next year.

‘The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’

Marvel has enjoyed cinematic dominance and the studio continues to flex its creative muscles in TV. Shows such as Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, The Defenders and The Punisher have all been streamed on Netflix. This time around, Marvel is focusing on its high-profile characters.

In the next two years, some of those who featured in Marvel’s movies, such as Scarlet Witch, Vision, Loki, Hawkeye, Falcon and the Winter Soldier will be given their own series on Disney+. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier will kick off this stretch of small-screen stories. It will explore how Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson (Falcon) and Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes (the Winter Soldier) deal with the aftermath of Avengers: Endgame.

Watch the teaser trailer here:

Over the course of its six-­episode first season, which cost Disney $150 million (Dh550m) to make, Daniel Bruhl’s Baron Zemo, the villain in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War, and Emily VanCamp’s Sharon Carter, who also appeared in Civil War, will return. We’ve still got quite a while to wait for The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, though, as production only began at the end of October, and the earliest it will arrive on screens is next August.

‘January 22nd’

While Andrew Haigh’s four-episode adaptation of Ian McGuire’s mystery novel The North Watera series that will star Colin Farrell, Jack O’Connell, Stephen Graham and Tom Courtenay – is rightfully regarded as one of the most highly anticipated BBC productions of next year, it’s the return of writer and actress Michaela Coel that should provoke the most excitement from the British channel.

The BBC clearly have high hopes for the show and described it as ;frank and provocative'

Coel’s follow-up to 2015’s Chewing Gum is January 22nd, a 12-part drama that she has created and written. She will also star in it as Arabella Essiedu, a writer whose world is turned upside down when she is given a date-rape drug.

The BBC clearly have high hopes for the show and described it as “frank and provocative” when they announced the start of production in October. We’re still not exactly sure when January 22nd will be released, but it will likely to be towards the end of next year.

‘Lovecraft Country’

Unsurprisingly, HBO also has a steady stream of tantalising shows debuting in the new year. There’s Joss Whedon’s The Nevers, Armando Iannucci’s Avenue 5, and adaptations of Stephen King’s The Outsider and Philips Roth’s The Plot Against America. But it is HBO’s take on Matt Ruff’s 2016 novel Lovecraft Country that really stands out.

The show, which lists Jordan Peele and J J Abrams as executive producers, will revolve around Atticus Black (Jonathan Majors), Letitia (Jurnee Smollett-Bell) and George Black (Courtney Vance) as they embark on a road trip across 1950s Jim Crow America in search of Atticus’s father. As well as having to contend with racism, there are supernatural monsters and creatures for them to tackle, too.

Production on Lovecraft Country began last year, although there’s still no release date for the supernatural horror drama. But as is the case with every show mentioned in this list, the sooner it is with us, the better.

Updated: December 29, 2019 10:05 AM

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