Synopsis: In a New Mexico mining town in the Old West made up entirely of women, an outlaw attempts to hunt down his former protege.
What You Need To Know: “Westworld” is a big hit, but purist fans of the Western genre likely feel that the show is more sci-fi than oater. Indeed, aside from the rather boring “Hell On Wheels,” they haven’t been catered to properly on the small screen since the great “Deadwood” a decade ago. While we wait for David Milch to finish writing the reunion movie on HBO’s show, though, Netflix’s “Godless” will undoubtedly more than tide us over. Written and directed in its entirety by Scott Frank, one of our greatest screenwriters (“Out Of Sight” and “Minority Report” are among his work, and he also directed the underrated “The Lookout”), this began as a movie script that David Fincher and Steven Sodebergh circled at various points. Soderbergh’s on board as a producer here, with the story expanded to six hours, while Jack O’Connell and Jeff Daniels head up a cast that also includes Michelle Dockery, Scoot McNairy, Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Merrit Wever and Sam Waterston. As fans of both Frank and the Western, we can’t wait to see what happens when they collide.
Airdate: Probably the summer.
Synopsis: In the early 1800s, an adventurer returns to England intent on revenge against the men who killed his father, falling foul of the all-powerful British East India Company.
What You Need To Know: “Peaky Blinders,” the other Steven Knight TV show to feature Tom Hardy, has been consistently very good without ever quite cracking the upper echelons of must-watch TV. But perhaps that’s been because the focus of that multi-season series has not been on Hardy — in which case, “Taboo,” which reunites the “Locke” director and star and puts Hardy front and center, might be just the ticket. An eight-episode miniseries, it is co-created by Knight, Hardy and Hardy’s father who, delightfully, is called Chips Hardy, which sounds like a greeting shouted by a cheerful sailor. The show is written by Knight, Hardy Sr. and poet and screenwriter Emily Ballou (“The Slap“), and will co-star an illustrious cast including Jonathan Pryce, Oona Chaplin, Stephen Graham, Michael Kelly, Jessie Buckley, David Hayman, Tom Hollander and Franka Potente. Already attracting controversy for what some historians suggest will be an overly negative view of the British East India Company (which Knight describes as being like a combination of “the CIA, the NSA, and the biggest, baddest multinational corporation on earth”), it will air on BBC One in the U.K. and FX in the U.S..
Airdate: Mercifully not long to wait — January 10, on FX.
8. “Alias Grace”
Synopsis: A young doctor in mid-1880s Canada in the course of his research into one of the most notorious murders of the day, falls in love with the woman convicted and imprisoned for her part in the crime.
What You Need To Know: An American/Canadian co-production that will air on CBC in Canada and Netflix everywhere else, “Alias Grace” is something of a feminist superhero team-up. An adaptation of Margaret Atwood‘s stunning work of historical fiction based on the true story of Grace Marks, it’s the second Atwood novel to be getting the TV treatment in 2017 (see “The Handmaid’s Tale” above), will be adapted by Sarah Polley (“Stories We Tell,” “Away From Her“), and will star “Indignation” lead Sarah Gadon, along with Anna Paquin, Zachary Levi and Edward Holcroft. And the six-episode miniseries will be directed by Mary Harron, of “American Psycho,” “I Shot Andy Warhol” and “The Notorious Bettie Page” fame. We’re huge fans of the book, and the highest compliment we can pay this iteration is that it’s weirdly close to our own fantasy-casting of the roles behind and in front of the camera; the very idea of Polley adapting Atwood is enough to get us into quite a lather.
Airdate: None as yet.
7. “Dear White People”
Synopsis: Satirical comedy about racial relationships on a prestigious college campus.
What You Need To Know: One of our favorite indie comedies of recent years was Justin Simien’s “Dear White People,” a smart-as-a-whip, often hilarious look at racial identity, prejudice and hypocrisy on college campuses, a film that did more than almost anything of late to capture what it’s like to be young and black in the second decade of the 21st century (and which, among others, helped make the great Tessa Thompson a star). It didn’t find a huge audience in theaters, but was loved by many of those who did catch it, and now Simien’s likely to find a much larger audience with this Netflix series based on the movie. Backed by “Orange Is The New Black” producers Lionsgate, it’s a mostly new cast (Marque Richardson is the only actor from the film reprising his role), with “Powers” actress Logan Browning stepping in for Thompson and other relative newcomers doing the same in other roles. But Simien’s comic voice is likely to remain intact, and he’s got some heavyweight help: “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins helmed an episode of the show.
Airdate: Nothing firm, likely spring or summer.
6. “The Deuce”
Synopsis: Drama about the porn industry in Times Square in 1970s New York and its links to the mob.
What You Need To Know: When you’ve made one of the greatest TV dramas of all time, your immediate follow-up can be difficult. Some managed pretty well (Vince Gilligan’s “Better Call Saul,” for instance, or Joss Whedon’s “Firefly”), but for every one of those, there’s David Milch’s inscrutable “John From Cincinnati,” David Chase’s little-seen “Not Fade Away,” or that movie that Matthew Weiner did that was awful. David Simon, the lead creative force behind “The Wire,” maybe the greatest TV show ever made, definitely fell on the upper end of that list with “Treme,” but it was a show that was perhaps admired rather than loved on the whole. His follow-up to that may be more palatable to “Wire” fans: Co-created with crime writer George Pelecanos, it’s a look at the scuzzier side of 1970s New York with a porn-world setting that should more than fulfill HBO’s annual boob quotient. James Franco stars — as twin brothers, no less — with Maggie Gyllenhaal, Margarita Leveiva, Anwan Glover, Chris Coy, Chris Bauer, David Krumholtz and Zoe Kazan elsewhere among the cast. The shadow of “Vinyl,” another NYC tale of the period, is a bit long here, but we trust that Simon can turn in something vastly superior to that.
Airdate: Potentially between “Big Little Lies” and “Game Of Thrones” in the late spring or early summer.