The pandemic’s impact on TV production will be illuminated in the early going in 2021. That’s not a bad thing, as some titles, forced to arrive late, might have been ignored in the usual avalanche of fall TV. Now they can emerge new and fresh. The first big-ticket item is an old-school sitcom from network TV. Call Me Kat (Fox/CTV, Jan. 3) furthers another post-Big Bang career. Mayim Bialik, who spent nine years as neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler on Big Bang, is the star. And Jim Parsons, who played her husband, Sheldon, is a producer. Apparently, they built this new series together, although he doesn’t star. (It’s based on the British series Miranda.) Bialik plays a 39-year-old woman called Kat who spends the money her parents set aside for her wedding to open a cat café in Louisville, Ky. Hijinks ensue.
That same night, Elizabeth is Missing airs on PBS Masterpiece. This is a highly anticipated one-off drama, based on Emma Healey’s bestselling novel. At 80 and after a long career in politics, Glenda Jackson returns to TV to play Maud, whose friend Elizabeth has gone missing. Maud has dementia and struggles with her mental decline daily as she tries to crack the mystery. It’s a stunning examination of aging and dementia.
There is more mainstream-network fun to come in Mr. Mayor (NBC, Jan. 7), with Ted Danson as a seventysomething retired businessman who gets annoyed when his daughter says he’s “a useless old man,” runs fur office and becomes mayor of Los Angeles. The show was created by Tina Fey and Robert Carlock from 30 Rock. More serious but still loopy drama unfolds in Two Weeks To Live (Crave, January 7), a British series in which Maisie Williams (Game of Thrones) departs a doomsday cult to avenge the death of her father and fulfill a bucket list of experiences she’s missed. It has a Killing Eve vibe.
There is heartfelt drama in the lovely Spanish-language series 3 Caminos, (Amazon Prime Video, Jan. 22), which follows a group who walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route three times, in 2000, 2006 and 2021. Coyote (CBS All Access, Jan. 7) marks the return of Michael Chiklis (The Shield, Gotham) to prestige TV. Chiklis stars as a U.S. Border Patrol agent who is forced, in retirement, to work for the people he spent his career trying to keep out of the United States. A tense six-parter from Michelle MacLaren, producer on Breaking Bad and The Deuce.
Also streaming soon is Losing Alice (AppleTV+, Jan. 22), a fierce noir-thriller about Alice (Ayelet Zurer), a 48-year-old film director who needs to reboot her career after raising a family. An obsession with the much younger femme fatale Sophie (Lihi Kornowski) amounts to a fatal, Faustian bargain in which truth and fiction collide.
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