Let me begin this first column of the New Year with a bold proclamation. I do not believe that the influx of "over-the-top" consumption in the marketplace will replace watching television the old-fashioned way. Not in 2018, not in 2019…or in any year after that. I consider OTT an add-on, not a replacement, and I think the shelf life of any series—on any platform—remains a refection of the content.
Case in point: ABC medical drama "The Good Doctor," starring Freddie Highmore, which like NBC’s "This Is Us" one year earlier was an immediate hit this fall despite the severity of competition. More often than not, the success—or lack of—for anything new, even in this era of "peak TV," is a refection of the show itself. This is a universal rule that is unlikely to change anytime soon.
With that in mind, here are 10 upcoming new series this month (in order of debut date and on all platforms) that I think sound promising.
"LA to Vegas" (Fox) – Debuted Tuesday, Jan. 2 at 9 p.m. ET
Set during a typical getaway weekend, sitcom "LA to Vegas," headlined by as Dylan McDermott as Capt. Dave Pratman, is a "Love Boat" meets fictional Jackpot Airlines, of sorts, where different guest stars in each episode will set sail…err the airwaves…for a weekend getaway from Tinsel Town to Sin City. What may sound corny actually warrants attention for daring to be different.
"Grown-ish" (Freeform) – Debuts Wednesday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. ET
Spun-off off from ABC’s "Black-ish," the Johnson’s eldest daughter Zoey (Yara Shahidi) is off to college at the fictional Southern California University in her own "A Different World." Like the former NBC sitcom, which was spun-off, of course, from "The Cosby Show," the focus will be on contemporary issues facing college students. While "Black-ish" is an examination of what it is and what it means to be black in America, "Grown-ish" explores the in-between place where you’re not quite an adult but facing grown world problems for the first time, according to creator and executive producer Kenya Barris. With roots in "Black-ish," "Grown-ish" is worth a look.
"The Four" (Fox) – Debuts Thursday, Jan. 4 at 8 p.m. ET
If you believe panelist Sean "Diddy" Combs, who promises that this new Fox singing competition will "disrupt the world of competition television and revolutionize the format," maybe I should also sell you the Brooklyn Bridge. But, considering the format works backwards from the typical shows in this genre—four finalists, chosen from their auditions, will try to defend their spots on the stage, as they are challenged by new singers determined to replace them—"The Four" might actually be worth sampling. Fergie hosts, while the three other judges are DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor and music executive Charlie Walk.
"Child Support (ABC) – Debuts Friday, Jan. 5 at 8 p.m. ET
Kids…they say the darndest things! In this new comedy game show created by and featuring Ricky Gervais, adult contestants are asked to answer 10 questions correctly by host Fred Savage ("The Wonder Years") in an attempt to earn the top cash prize. If they answer incorrectly, they have a chance to be saved by five kids who have been asked the same question by Gervais. At the end of another long workweek, "Child Support" looks like a mindless—and fun—escape.
"Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams" (Amazon) – All Season 1 Episodes Available on Friday, Jan. 12 at 3:01 a.m. ET
Featuring self-described journeys into unique worlds beyond the reach of the imagination, this 10-episode U.K. anthology series is based on short stories written by renowned author Philip K. Dick and will feature talent including Steve Buscemi, Anna Paquin, Greg Kinnear and Bryan Cranston (who is also an executive producer). Amazon secured the U.S rights to the series after AMC pulled out of its original agreement.
In one particular episode, Steve Buscemi plays a middle-aged scientist who works at a "spirit mill" manufacturing souls for artificial humans called Jacks and Jills. In other words, "Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams" will not be your typical scripted anthology series.
"Black Lightning" (CW) – Debuts on Tuesday, Jan. 12 at 9 p.m. ET
In yet another action packed drama based on a character from D.C. Comics (I have lost count at this point), the end result will likely be limited interest via the traditional Nielsen ratings but strong appeal on social media. This time Cress Williams is Jefferson Pierce, who after retiring from his superhero persona Black Lightning nine years earlier is forced to become a vigilante again. According to executive producer Salim Akil, this African-American family is "the Obamas of the superhero world, with an authentic black voice. Given the lack of diversity in the current superhero world on the small screen, this alone is all the more reason to tune in to "Black Lightning."
"Counterpart" (Starz) – Debuts on Sunday, Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. ET
Described as a combination of dramas "Fringe" and "The Americans," Oscar winner J.K. Simmons ("Whiplash") is featured in the dual role of Howard Silk, a low-level employee in a bureaucratic government agency who discovers the agency he works for is guarding a secret, and Howard's near-identical counterpart from a parallel world. We’ve already seen an actor in a dual role in a scripted drama this season—James Franco in HBO’s "The Deuce." And, like Franco, Simmons has the rare ability to pull this off.
"The Resident" (Fox) – Debuts on Sunday, Jan. 21 at 9 p.m. ET
Five years after the conclusion of "House" on Fox comes this new medical drama, which promises to "rip back the curtain to reveal the truth of what really happens, both good and bad, in hospitals across the country." Following this Sunday night preview, "The Resident" moves into the Monday 9 p.m. ET hour, which for fans of the medical drama genre means there will be two such back-to-back scripted hours (with ABC’s "The Good Doctor" in the Monday 10 p.m. ET hour). The ensemble cast includes Matt Czuchry ("The Good Wife"), Emily VanCamp ("Revenge"), Manish Dayal ("Halt and Catch Fire"), Moran Atias ("Tyrant"), Merrin Dungey ("Alias"), Melina Kanakaredes ("CSI: NY"), Bruce Greenwood ("The People v. O.J. Simpson") and Shaunette Renée Wilson ("Billions").
"Mosaic" (HBO) – Debuts on Sunday, Jan. 22 at 9 p.m. ET
In this six-part television murder mystery from filmmaker Stephen Soderbergh ("Traffic"), viewers can use the iOS/Android mobile app to choose their viewing order based on character perspective. Featured on the app will be extra clips, voicemails and documents that dive deeper into a part of the story beyond the central narrative. The series stars Sharon Stone as Olivia Lake, an author and illustrator; Garrett Hedlund as Joel, a handyman and artist; and Frederick Weller as Eric, a suitor whose motives might not be genuine.
"Waco" (Paramount Network) – Debuts on Wednesday, Jan. 24 at 10 p.m. ET
Chronicling the 1993 standoff in Waco, Texas, Taylor Kitsch portrays David Koresh, the notorious leader of the religious group that was holed up in their compound for 51 days in a siege against the FBI and ATF. The miniseries will be told from several perspectives of those most closely involved on both sides of the conflict. Michael Shannon co-stars as FBI negotiator Gary Noesner.