It is a fact known to even the dogs and cats in the street that more than 500 new scripted shows aired on network, cable and streaming in the U.S. in 2019. That figure excludes non-English language shows and PBS. It also doesn’t include Canada, where effort is mustered annually and a handful of new series get made.
The figure is likely to go up in 2020. In fact, it looks like February, 2020, is the month when there is so much that this is either the greatest feast ever offered or the month that broke TV. If you’re thinking the latter, you might be somebody other than me, just trying to keep track of it all. Of course, it’s overkill, with February being a month with more people watching TV on various platforms than any other month of the year.
Possibly it’s a winnowing-out period. Maybe one network or two will see the fatuity of launching another cop drama when Netflix has a big-budget fantasy series and Amazon Prime has a new thriller series featuring a major movie star. Or else they won’t, and February, 2021, will be just as busy as this one.
This week alone, on Thursday, NBC launches a new season of Brooklyn Nine-Nine and a new sitcom, Indebted, about a young couple forced to take in the guy’s parents (Fran Drescher and Steven Weber) after they run into major debt problems. The same day, CBS All Access launches Interrogation, about the aftermath of a brutal murder case. A young man is convicted and imprisoned, but doubts remain. The complex gimmick is that after seeing the first episode, you are encouraged to watch the next eight in any order, before watching episode 10, which reveals, apparently, if there was a wrongful conviction. Or you could skip to episode 10. I really don’t understand the gimmick.
On Thursday, CBS also launches Tommy, a big-ticket police drama with Edie Falco as a New York cop who moves to the opposite coast to become the LAPD’s first female chief of police. Also on Thursday, The CW premieres Katy Keene, another teen show for adults and a spinoff from Riverdale. Lucy Hale plays Katy, an aspiring fashion designer in NYC who befriends Riverdale character Josie McCoy, a young woman who says, “I am from Riverdale. It’s the murder capital of the world.” It’s visually stunning, by the way.
On Friday, there’s another Democratic presidential debate on ABC. (The site Metacritic jokes, “The winner of tonight’s debate will face off against Ken Jennings in an upcoming special.”) Netflix has not one, but two, big premieres. Horse Girl is a TV-movie starring Alison Brie (Glow, Community) as a young woman struggling with mental illness. Locke & Key is the highly anticipated adaptation of the Joe Hill graphic novels. Notoriously difficult to adapt – there have been failed attempts before – it is now in the hands of Carlton Cuse (Lost) and Meredith Averill (The Haunting of Hill House). Gorgeously made and grisly is the advance upshot.
On Sunday, there’s the Academy Awards. Time was that meant nothing on TV to compete. This year, Homeland returns the same night, and on PBS there’s the start of A Very British Romance with Lucy Worsley, in which Worsley charmingly delves into the “seductive history of British romance,” including the social, political and cultural forces that shaped ideals of romantic love during the Georgian era, and the novels of Jane Austen. The hats and dresses are amazing, a good challenge to the red-carpet fashion fandango the same night.
That’s all between now and Sunday. Next week, for Valentine’s Day, CBC Gem has two strong new entries. The young-adult series Utopia Falls (also starting on Hulu, same day) is a music/sci-fi concoction, and Hey Lady!, which has Jayne Eastwood as an elderly lady “without filter” – she’s spiteful, boozy and blunt, spewing stinging insults and raw language. Or so CBC says.
Both The Walking Dead and Better Call Saul return to AMC on Sunday, Feb. 23. Before that, Amazon Prime Video has, on Feb. 21, what is summarized as “Al Pacino hunting Nazis.” In Hunters, Pacino plays a guy who organizes a ragtag group to eliminate figures in a planned cell of would-be American fascists, in New York City in the 1970s.
Before that one arrives, there will be approximately 100 new shows, specials and documentaries on Netflix, a workplace comedy set in the realm of gaming development on Apple TV+ and two new animated series on Fox. Who could ask for anything more?
Live your best. We have a daily Life & Arts newsletter, providing you with our latest stories on health, travel, food and culture. Sign up today.