The Golden Age Continues

A preview of what's happening on television in 2018

click to enlarge Season 2 of "Westworld" comes to HBO this spring. - PHOTO: JOHN P. JOHNSON/HBO
Season 2 of "Westworld" comes to HBO this spring.

We’re amid a golden age in television, with no shortage of shows coming in 2018. While we likely won’t see new seasons of Game of Thrones, Stranger Things or Big Little Lies until 2019, there’s a lot of must-watch TV to look forward to this year. 

One of the biggest hits of 2016, Westworld was a feast for the eyes and mind. Set in a futuristic, Old West-themed attraction populated by lifelike A.I. that cater to visitors’ every desire, the series is visually stunning, from the sweeping landscape shots to choreographed fight scenes and the realistic labs where the robotic “hosts” are created and cared for. But get caught up in the beauty of it all and you might miss some revealing details. Things are not as they seem — on one hand, the hosts seem so much like humans that guests and viewers alike cannot always make the distinction. On the other, some of these hosts actually are gaining consciousness and going rogue, as evidenced by the uprising of sentient reactivated bots. And then there’s the multiple timelines! Questions abound: Is Arnold really dead? Will Maeve find her daughter? Are we going to enter Samurai World? Season 2 is set to premiere on HBO this spring.

Producer Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood) teams up with Tony-winning producer Jeffrey Seller (Rent, Hamilton) for a family drama adapted from Michael Sokolove’s bestseller Drama High. Based on real events at a Pennsylvania school, Rise stars Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother) as a teacher who takes over a high school’s failing drama department and inspires a small town. Think Coach Taylor as a drama teacher. Coming to NBC March 13.

In a totally different type of adaptation, the 1988 Winona Ryder teen flick Heathers gets a modern TV reboot on the new Paramount Network. A modern-day Heathers has incited many reactions, from people upset that the network is messing with a classic (though original star Shannen Doherty does appear in the series) to comments on the interesting casting choices for the original Mean Girls. The clique of cookie-cutter chicks in the original are replaced by Heathers of different sizes, races and gender identities. This new series has huge shoes — and catchphrases — to fill. Gag me with a spoon, sometime in early 2018. 

RuPaul seems intent on cranking out all-star seasons (the second debuted in 2016), and fans are here for it! RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars 3 features Aja (Season 9), BenDeLaCreme (Season 6), Chi Chi DeVayne (Season 8), Kennedy Davenport (Season 7), Milk (Season 6), Morgan McMichaels (Season 2), Shangela (Seasons 2 and 3), Thorgy Thor (Season 8) and Trixie Mattel (Season 7). I’m just hoping Ru does away with the “lip sync for your legacy.” Get all the tea starting Jan. 25 on VH1.

Futuristic sci-fi anthology Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams hits Amazon just months after the Blade Runner sequel hit theaters (Dick’s novel was the basis for the first film), proving that decades after his death, audiences can’t get enough of his trippy, cerebral stories. This series — almost a collection of short films — has everything from interplanetary travel to an authoritarian dystopia to humanoids with emotions, and a stellar cast to boot. Bryan Cranston, Anna Paquin and Steve Buscemi, to name a few, all star in separate episodes. Electric Dreams begs for comparisons with Charlie Brooker’s contemporary take on The Twilight Zone, Black Mirror. And speaking of, if you haven’t caught Black Mirror’s latest season yet, it quietly dropped on Netflix before the new year. 

And since dynamic producing duo Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk have such a hard time finding work these days, they’re bringing a new procedural drama to Fox on Wednesday. Crime shows are a dime a dozen, but 9-1-1 — centered on Los Angeles’ first responders, including cops, paramedics, firefighters and dispatchers — shows promise in its cast, which includes Connie Britton, Peter Krause and Angela Bassett. 

This year also brings new seasons of Homeland (Feb. 11, Showtime), The Handmaid’s Tale (April, Hulu) and Fear the Walking Dead with Lennie James (Summer, AMC), as well as final seasons of The Americans (Spring, FX), Veep (Spring, HBO) and Portlandia (Jan. 18, IFC).

Contact Jac Kern: @jackern

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