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25 Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2017

From superhero sitcoms to dystopia-lit adaptations, new ‘Star Trek’ to new ‘Twin Peaks’ – here’s what you’ll be watching this year

It would need to be one helluva year of TV to beat the small-screen gold rush that was 2016 – but damned if 2017 won’t try to give those last 12 months of all-star true-crime recreations, Reagan-era–sploitation sci-fi, beautifully bizarre meta-sitcoms and some genuinely great seasons of long-running dramas (GoT, OITNB) a run for its money. We’ve singled out 25 new shows, returning series and a miniseries or three that we’re looking forward to checking out; in a few cases, release dates will be added once they’re announced. From a new David Simon HBO project to a new Ryan Murphy anthology series, a new Star Trek spin-off (!) to new Twin Peaks episodes (!!!) – here’s what you’ll be watching/streaming/breathlessly tweeting about in 2017.

‘The Young Pope’

HBO, Jan. 15
From Twitter jokes to hot new must-watch – HBO’s much-buzzed-about drama has Jude Law as a rigidly conservative American cardinal whose understanding of Vatican politics helps him rise quickly to the office of pontiff. Italian creator/director Paulo Sorrentino (who won an Oscar for his 2013 film The Great Beauty) strikes a balance between political commentary and wild pageantry, making a visually splendid, often outright bizarre portrait of one powerful man’s whims and vindictiveness. Parallels to any current world leaders are, of course, completely intended. NM

‘Nirvanna the Band the Show’

Viceland, Feb. 2
Let's say you're two Canadian musicians who are desperate to book a show at Toronto's legendary club the Rivoli: How do you nab that make-or-break gig? Most folks would, you know, hone their craft. If you're Matt Johnson and Jay McCarrol, you give your band a well-known name (not that extra "N," added for legal purposes) and do whatever you can to attract attention, i.e. bum-rush a Christmas parade and make a cause a kerfuffle at the Sundance Film Festival, among other shenanigans. The popular Web series gets a small-screen upgrade, courtesy of Viceland; if you like a kinder, gentler Borat-style of guerilla comedy, you're about to find yourself in a seven-letter word for "a transcendent state." DF

‘Powerless’

NBC, Feb. 2
How far can the superhero format be stretched? Like a cross between Gotham and The Office, this workplace sitcom set within the DC Universe stars High School Musical/Spring Breakers alum Vanessa Hudgens as an R&D wizard at one of Bruce Wayne’s many corporate holdings. Along with characters played by Community‘s Danny Pudi and Alan “K-2SO” Tudyk, it’s her job to create technology that helps ordinary humans survive in the superhero-vs-supervillain world. This could blaze new trails for the genre or crash and burn like Kal-El’s rocketship – either way, welcome to the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead of DCU. STC

‘Santa Clarita Diet’

Netflix, Feb. 3
Drew Barrymore makes her debut as a small-screen regular, playing a materialistic suburban California realtor partnered in business with her stoner husband (Timothy Olyphant), while dealing with a mysterious condition that has her craving raw human flesh. The result is a brittle social satire, splattered with scenes of cannibalistic horror. TV geeks, take note: This Netflix sitcom not only brings Deadwood/Justified's laconic-beanpole sex symbol back to the box, it was created by Victor Fresco, the man behind the offbeat comedies Better Off Ted and Andy Richter Controls the Universe. NM

’24: Legacy’

Fox, Feb. 5
Because you can't keep a good franchise with a tried-and-true premise down. The charismatic Corey Hawkins, of Walking Dead and Straight Outta Compton fame, is an Army Ranger who returns home from an overseas mission and finds out that his squad has been marked for death by an ISIS-like organization. So he turns to the Counter-Terrorism Unit for help; you get three guesses as to how long he has to get himself out of harm's way. Whether or not this Jack Bauer-less spin-off can repeat its predecessor's real-time thrills remains to be seen, but we'll be tuning in to find out. DF

‘Legion’

FX, Feb. 8
Noah Hawley, the mastermind of TV's Fargo, now makes his own kind of madcap Marvel superhero series, starring Downton Abbey's Dan Stevens as a telekinetic mutant whose abilities have been misinterpreted as criminal insanity for most of his adult life. Though there are action sequences and bits of X-Men-level mayhem woven throughout, this is mostly a show that tries to get into the head of a psychologically damaged character and his fragmented perspective. It’s arty pulp television – expect an instant cult favorite. NM

‘The Missing,’ Season 2

Starz, Feb. 12
A minor gem when it aired on Starz in 2014, the first season of this fractured British procedural introduced a missing child, an obsessive father, some dodgy local political players and a world-weary French cop. For its sophomore go-round, the detective (once again played by La Femme Nikita's Tchéky Karyo) returns, and everything else changes – a new case, a new victim, a new whodunnit mystery. What will remain, it seems, is the show's habit of flitting between time periods, a creeping sense of despair and some first-class performances, this time by Walking Dead alumnus David Morrissey and actress Keeley Hawes as the grieving parents. Buckle up. DF

‘The Walking Dead,’ Season 7.5

AMC, Feb. 12
Last fall's run of TWD episodes was rough, filled with death, despair and the smugly triumphant face of the show's latest supervillain, the bat-swinging Negan. But when last we left our heroes, Rick Grimes was snapping out of his funk and beginning the process of rallying an army to go directly after the Saviors. Will "all out war" happen in the second half of Season Seven, or will we have to wait until Season Eight? Will we be treated to some genuinely horrifying zombie kills? NM

‘Big Little Lies’

HBO, Feb. 19
You’ve read Liane Moriarty’s bestseller about three suburban women who bond over their frustrations, school fundraisers and a murder – now see the A-list series on HBO! Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, Adam Scott and Alexander Skarsgård star in what sounds like the greatest long-form episode of Peyton Place ever (yes, that’s a compliment). Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club) directs all seven episodes; David E. Kelley (Boston Legal) is producing. The pedigree is strong with this one. DF

‘When We Rise’

ABC, Feb. 27
An insanely star-studded cast (Mary-Louise Parker, Michael K. Williams, Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg, Rachel Griffiths, Guy Pearce, David Hyde Pierce and many, many others) populates this eight-part miniseries about the history of the gay rights movement in the U.S., from the Stonewall Riots to the era of gay marriage. Writer Dustin Lance Black’s ambitious labor of love attempts to trace the evolution of the modern LGBT community via stories of real activists, firebrands and forgotten heroes; it feels like it could have the potential to be a major network eye-opener a la Roots. DF

‘Feud’

FX, Mar. 5
The Ryan Murphy empire continues unabated with his latest anthology series, which focus on "famous feuds." And for its first season, the FX show will focus on the rivalry between starlets Joan Crawford (AHS regular Jessica Lange) and Bette Davis (Susan Sarandon) as they made the geriatric Grand Guignol classic Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Murphy has said that future installments may not involve showbiz stories and that he's not trying to be "quote unquote campy" by tackling this legendary on-set tête-à-tête  – but given the subject, it's not unreasonable to think there may be some serious cattiness coming out of the woodwork. We're so there. DF

‘Iron Fist’

Netflix, Mar. 15
The fourth and final solo Netflix/Marvel show to launch before the big Defenders team-up saga, the streaming service's latest venture into gritty, more grounded "urban' superhero stories casts Game of Thrones veteran Finn Jones as Danny Rand, an heir to a New York fortune. Thanks to some Tibetan monks, the young man gains incredible martial-arts powers in the Far East, and returns home with … well, see the title. The Seventies Iron Fist comic always played like a grindhouse Bruce-Lee–spolitation counterpart to Luke Cage's blaxploitation title before the duo teamed up as "Heroes for Hire"; we’re psyched to see if this show can transcend its white-kung-fu-master roots and do the same. STC

‘Harlots’

Hulu, Mar. 29
We've already been gifted this year with two mangy, maverick-antihero historical dramas (FX's Taboo and Netflix's Frontier) drenched in filth and testosterone – now comes their welcome feminine counterpart. Set squarely in a late-18th century London where "one in five women makes a living selling sex, this British import focuses on a brothel run by a steel-fisted Samantha Morton. The entire creative team, from showrunners to writers and directors, are female, and the executive producers have said that they were intent on making a series about capitalism and social constraints "from the whore's eye view." And there's enough make and female nudity in the pilot alone to make the Game of Thrones folks blush. DF

‘The Son’

AMC, Apr. 8
Pierce Brosnan returns to full-time TV work for the first time since Remington Steele with this ambitious new historical epic, based on an acclaimed Philipp Meyer novel. The former James Bond plays an early 20th-century Texas oil magnate, trying to expand his empire over the objections of Mexican rebels and his own weak-willed heir. Each episode toggles between the antihero's sometimes cruel power-plays and his unusual upbringing as the kidnapped protege of a Comanche chief. The aim is to tell the story of how the Lone Star state – and America – came to be. NM

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’

Hulu, Apr. 26
It’s the American answer to Orwell. Set in the all-too-near future, this adaptation of Margaret Atwood's feminist science-fiction parable chronicles the story of a woman (Elisabeth Moss) held in a puritanical form of sexual slavery. Specifically, she belongs to a high-ranking member of the patriarchal dictatorship of Gilead, a fundamentalist Christian nation that rises from the apocalyptic ashes of a splintered United States. And with any luck, this 10-episode series will remain a dystopic fantasy rather than a documentary by the time its April air date rolls around. A strong supporting cast that includes The Leftovers' Ann Dowd and Gilmore Girls' Alexis Bledel. STC

‘American Gods’

Starz, Apr. 2017
Based on the novel by comic-book writer/fantasy-lit living legend Neil Gaiman and co-created by Hannibal mastermind Bryan Fuller, this Starz series tells the story of Shadow Moon, an ex-con caught up in a war between the old gods of mythology and the new "gods" of American consumerism. The cast is whirlwind blend of oddball actors (Crispin Glover! Gillian Anderson! Cloris Leachman! Kristin Chenoweth!) led by none other than Deadwood's Ian McShane, as Mr. Wednesday, aka Norse god Odin. As a wise man once said, tell your gods to ready for blood. STC

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‘Fargo,’ Season 3

FX, Apr. 2017
Showrunner Noah Hawley has defied the odds twice with this take on Joel and Ethan Coen’s classic 1996 movie – so what does he do for Round Three? Recruit what’s arguably the most impressive cast on TV to tell the tale of “Parking Lot King” Emmit Stussy and his ne’er-do-well-brother Ray, both played by Ewan McGregor. Carrie Coon (who’ll also be gracing the final season of The Leftovers, also slated to start some time this month), Mary Elizabeth Winstead, David Thewlis, Michael Stuhlbarg, Shea Wigham and Scoot McNairy are just a few of the amazing actors who’ll be on hand to help realize Hawley’s new Minnesota-Nice vision. STC

‘Genius’

NatGeo, Apr. 2017
He changed the way we think about life, the universe and everything – if anybody deserves a 10-episode biographical TV series, it's good ol' Albert Einstein. Executive-produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, this deep-dive look into the theoretical physicist's early days, his romantic hits and misses and how, one mass-energy equivalence formula later, he became one of the 20th century's most famous philosopher-scientists. Geoffrey Rush plays the brainiac with the big hair; Emily Watson is his cousin/second wife Elsa. DF