While most primetime and cable series go on hiatus in December and January, a fresh batch of series and seasons are set to debut. Here’s a taste of what to watch, stream, binge and DVR this winter. Two trends are clear: The miniseries is back in a major way, and famous crimes from the past continue to get new life in scripted dramas.
The Crown (Season Premiere, Dec. 8, Netflix) — The second season of this buzzy royal drama is the last with Claire Foy playing Queen Elizabeth II (Olivia Colman will take over the role for Seasons 3-4), taking viewers from 1956’s Suez Crisis through the retirement of Harold Macmillan (Game of Thrones’ Anton Lesser), the Queen’s third Prime Minister, in 1963. New cast additions include Dexter’s Michael C. Hall as John F. Kennedy, Jodi Balfour as Jacqueline Kennedy and Matthew Goode as Antony Armstrong-Jones, Princess Margaret’s first husband.
The Chi (Series Premiere, 10 p.m. Jan. 7, Showtime) — Master of None Emmy winner Lena Waithe’s new drama explores life on the South Side of Chicago (her hometown), where the daily grind is a struggle for neighbors young and old, whose stories interweave. Executive producer Common joins a cast that includes Straight Outta Compton’s Jason Mitchell and Moonlight’s Alex Hibbert.
The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story (Series Premiere, 10 p.m. Jan. 17, FX) — Following a very successful debut season in which the anthology reexamined the O.J. Simpson trial, American Crime Story stays firmly planted in the 1990s with its look at serial killer Andrew Cunanan and his path to murdering Italian fashion giant Gianni Versace. Stars Darren Criss, Penelope Cruz, Ricky Martin and Edgar Ramirez certainly look the part, but performance will be key for the anthology to replicate the success of Season 1.
High Maintenance (Season Premiere, 11 p.m. Jan. 19, HBO) – Creative duo Katja Blichfeld’s and Ben Sinclair’s web-turned-TV series about an unnamed New York City weed dealer (Sinclair) and his varied encounters was a standout in its debut season on HBO in 2016. The quirky comedy mastered the episodic anthology format, much like the similarly toned Room 104 earlier this fall. High Maintenance steers clear of pot cliches and utilizes fresh talent to deliver a sort of scripted Humans of New York.
The Alienist (Series Premiere, 9 p.m. Jan. 22, TNT) – Created by Cary Fukunaga (Beasts of No Nation, True Detective) and adapted from the titular Caleb Carr novel, this psychological drama takes place in 1896 New York City, when then-police commissioner Teddy Roosevelt is faced with a rash of gruesome child murders. He assembles a team, including an early criminal psychologist (Daniel Brühl), a newspaper illustrator (Luke Evans) and a secretary (Dakota Fanning), to find the killer.
Waco (Series Premiere, 10 p.m. Jan. 24, Paramount Network) – Taylor Kitsch stars as Branch Davidian leader David Koresh in this six-part look at the fateful FBI siege of a religious sect that took place nearly 25 years ago. Michael Shannon, Paul Sparks, Shea Whigham and John Leguizamo round out the stellar cast. This comes as Spike TV rebrands as Paramount Network on Jan. 18, mixing new premium scripted series that have star power with Spike’s unscripted favorites like Lip Sync Battle, Ink Master and Bar Rescue.
Trust (Series Premiere, January, FX) – British film director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting) directs and produces his first American television series with this anthology on the Getty family. Set in 1973, this first season follows the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III and his grandfather J. Paul Getty’s (Donald Sutherland) apparent ambivalence toward his rescue. Boyle has suggested future seasons will explore the family through different decades. Hilary Swank and Brendan Fraser also star. The series is set to debut sometime in January, a month after the film premiere of All the Money in the World, which also centers on the Getty kidnapping saga. It made headlines recently when star Kevin Spacey was replaced by Christopher Plummer weeks before the film premiere after a wave of sexual assault allegations.
Contact Jac Kern: @jackern