The thing about television at the moment is how, even if you were able to watch most of the great series of 2022, there are still enough must-see shows that you missed this past year to fill the entirety of 2023. But if you would rather move forward with your life – I’m sorry, Severance, I’m sure that you were as good as everyone said! – here are five of the most exciting, intriguing new series coming to small screens this year.
The Last of Us
Just as The Walking Dead wraps its run after 32 seasons (give or take), we have a new zombie series to satiate our hunger for gore and societal metaphors. But The Last of Us comes with a promising pedigree that hints at something new to the undead game. For starters, it’s produced by HBO, which doesn’t enter into the genre space lightly. Second: one of its show-runners is Craig Mazin, who gave us the dark and captivating miniseries Chernobyl. And while The Last of Us is based on a video game – never the best sign – producers have shelled out big bucks to nab a great cast, including Pedro Pascal, Bella Ramsey, Nick Offerman and Melanie Lynskey. The talk of Alberta when the series filmed across the province last year, The Last of Us has all the makings of a winter-season sensation. (Premieres Jan. 15, Crave)
The Mandalorian, Season 3
There is little chance that Jon Favreau and his team behind The Mandalorian are going to top the Star Wars heights that Tony Gilroy’s Andor reached this past fall – The Mandalorian’s serialized adventure-a-week structure is just not designed for that kind of prestige-minded, long-game storytelling. But hopes are high that Favreau’s show will at least be better than the disappointing Boba Fett standalone series, not to mention the dreadful Obi-Wan Kenobi production from this past summer. And we’ll still get more Baby Yoda/Grogu antics to meme-ify our social-media timelines. Oh, and look it’s Pedro Pascal again on our screens, once again donning the title character’s helmet. Between this new season and The Last of Us, it will truly be the Year of Pedro. (Premieres March 1, Disney+)
Canadian graphic novelist Jeff Lemire can already tell his success story of the streaming era: the author’s postapocalypse comic book series Sweet Tooth got the Netflix treatment in 2021, with a second season now on the way. But Lemire’s breakthrough work was the more intimate, less high-concept 2008-2009 comic Essex County, which followed one Ontario township’s secrets and lies (and hockey hopes). Beautiful, heartbreaking and inspiring in equal measure, Essex County is ripe material for a well-funded adaptation – so will the CBC follow through on its end? The evidence thus far is promising, with a compelling trailer released during the broadcaster’s winter-season preview a few weeks ago. And the creative team is strong, too: all six episodes are directed by the Emmy Award-winning Andrew Cividino (Schitt’s Creek, Sleeping Giant), while the cast is led by marquee names Molly Parker, Tamara Podemski and Stephen McHattie. Best of all: Lemire himself is serving as writer, showrunner and producer. (Premieres March 19, CBC)
This new miniseries from Jennifer Podemski (sister of Essex County star Tamara) and Hannah Moscovitch might be one of the most ambitious Canadian productions of the year. Focusing on an Indigenous woman adopted into a Jewish family during the Sixties Scoop, Little Bird is Crave’s big original Canadian programming bet this season, and will be distributed both by the streamer and APTN’s Lumi streaming service. Starring newcomer Darla Contois and co-directed by Elle-Maija Tailfeathers and Zoe Hopkins (Run Woman Run) – with each filmmaker handling three episodes a piece – Little Bird could be the breakout hit that Canadian television’s drama sector desperately needs. (Premiere date TBD, Crave and APTN Lumi).
Making a Terry Gilliam movie is a brave effort at the best of times, so good luck to those hoping to turn a Gilliam film into a television series. Yet somehow I have a good deal of faith in the team tasked with bringing Gilliam’s trippy, twee, twisty 1981 cult classic Time Bandits to Apple TV+ later this year. Led by Taika Waititi (who hopefully got whatever was bugging him about Marvel out of his system with the last Thor movie) and frequent collaborator Jemaine Clement (What We Do in the Shadows), the Time Bandits series should be 10 episodes of surreal, wry wonder. Lisa Kudrow leads the cast this time around, as Waititi and his production team follow a group of colourful thieves travelling through space and time. (Premiere date TBD, Apple TV+)
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Editor’s note: Tanya Tagaq co-directed Ever Deadly. Incorrect information appeared in an earlier version of this article.