19 TV Shows We'll Be Checking Out in 2015
Community (Winter, Yahoo)
When NBC canceled it in May, Community was supposed to drop out of TV for good. Instead, the series took a cue from its characters and reenrolled at Yahoo. ''We've always been a Web series,'' says Gillian Jacobs, returning as perpetual wet blanket Britta. ''We're now just finally on the Web. It's a brave new world of...'' she pauses. ''TV?'' she considers. ''Content,'' she concludes.
A few changes worth noting: Yvette Nicole Brown asked to be released from her contract to care for her father, which means her Shirley will follow Chevy Chase's Pierce and Donald Glover's Troy away from the study table. To replace the absent members of the study group, the show is bringing in two new characters. Paget Brewster (Criminal Minds) will play Frankie Dart, a troubleshooter hired to help Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) in the never-ending quest to save Greendale from oblivion. Meanwhile, baritone-voiced character actor Keith David will join the cast as an inventor. ''He's very smart, very proud, and made the mistake of focusing too much on his work in the past,'' says Harmon. ''Now he has no idea what he's going to do with the last chapter of his life.''
For Harmon, a sixth season is both a step forward and a chance to get back to the show's roots. ''We wanted to recapture a look and feel of season 1,'' he says. ''That means building a foundation of immersiveness, believing Greendale is a real place, as opposed to surrendering to the fact that it's kind of a magical place. There's no episode so far where everyone's a Roman gladiator.'' —Darren Franich
Empire (Jan. 7, Fox)
This musical soap stars Terrence Howard as a hip-hop impresario with ALS who must pick one of his three sons to inherit his business—all while battling his ex-con ex-wife (Taraji P. Henson), who wants half of the company. Created by Lee Daniels (Precious) and screenwriter Danny Strong (Game Change) and featuring new songs by super-producer Timbaland, Empire has no shortage of talent—or ambition. ''I call it Dynasty meets The Sopranos meets Glee,'' says Henson. —Tim Stack
The Nightly Show (Jan. 19, Comedy Central)
Right now, America really needs a senior black correspondent. That was Larry Wilmore's title on The Daily Show, and it was meant to be funny, but in a year when the news cycle started with Donald Sterling and ended with Eric Garner, it doesn't really feel like a joke. In 2015 Wilmore will have a new title: host of Comedy Central's late-night talk show The Nightly Show With Larry Wilmore. So it's his job to write jokes about the very things that some people don't find funny. In the past Wilmore might've delivered that joke to a mostly white audience. ''Three black people watch The Daily Show at any given time,'' he quips. ''So if I'm watching it, that counts, and there's only two left.'' No matter who's watching, though, that audience needs him. Wilmore jokes, ''I couldn't have started the show at a better worse time.''
Daily Show host Jon Stewart, who will exec-produce alongside Wilmore, came up with the concept, a panel discussion that focuses on underrepresented points of view, including minorities, women, and other voices you don't normally hear on late-night television. He pitched it to Comedy Central with Wilmore in mind. ''You know how some people just always seem sophisticated?'' Stewart asks EW. ''There's certain times you watch an actor and you're like, Was Karl Malden ever young? I think with Larry, there's just this sense of Was he ever a goofball? I don't think so. He has a wonderful ability to be the grown-up in the room.'' —Melissa Maerz
Better Call Saul (Feb. 8, AMC)
If you couldn't get enough of Saul Goodman on Breaking Bad, we've got good news: Your favorite shady lawyer, né Jimmy McGill (Bob Odenkirk), steps into the spotlight on this prequel series. ''We always loved Saul Goodman's lightning wit, his energy, and his epic problem-solving ability,'' says co-creator Peter Gould. But this isn't a continuation of the acclaimed drug drama. ''There's a lot of tone, style choices, tension, and atmosphere of Breaking Bad, but otherwise it's just its own thing,'' says Odenkirk, whose costars include Jonathan Banks (back as fixer Mike) and Michael McKean (as Jimmy's older brother, Chuck). ''The only thing that ties them together is [the theme of] transformation.'' —Dan Snierson
Sherlock (TBD, PBS)
Given the hectic schedules of stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, it came as a shock when the Sherlock team announced filming would start in January for a special—to air on PBS' Masterpiece during the 2015 season—followed by a full fourth batch. ''We've got a really cool and surprising idea,'' says executive producer Steven Moffat. Can he say if it involves Sherlock's archfoe, Moriarty (Andrew Scott), as teased last season? ''I could—but I'm not gonna!'' —Clark Collis
Last Man on Earth (March 1, Fox)
The Lego Movie and 22 Jump Street directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller have teamed up again for a new Fox sitcom inspired by everything from Raising Arizona to The Omega Man—even Kurt Russell's beard. Will Forte, with whom the directors first worked more than a decade ago on Clone High, stars as the titular loner. ''Will is, I think, the best silent comedian since Buster Keaton,'' says Lord. ''So much of Will's talent is about taking the audience to a very extreme place, and usually, with a character who has a lot of quiet desperation,'' says Lord. ''And that's exactly what he does here.'' —Keith Staskiewicz
American Crime (March 5, ABC)
The 11-part anthology series follows the investigation and trial surrounding the murder of a California vet (Felicity Huffman and Timothy Hutton play the victim's parents) from start to finish. Instead of Law & Order-style twists, Oscar-winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave) is aiming to deliver an emotional punch. ''It's not meant to be a straight-up procedural,'' he says. ''It isn't about answering questions as much as posing questions.'' —Kevin P. Sullivan
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (March, Netflix)
This comedy from 30 Rock masterminds Tina Fey and Robert Carlock follows the titular Kimmy (The Office's Ellie Kemper) as she escapes from a doomsday cult and heads to New York, where she moves in with an aspiring singer who moonlights as a gay Times Square robot (Tituss Burgess) and starts working as a nanny for a girl named Xanthippe (Dylan Gelula). Kimmy itself is also stepping into a brave new world: The series was developed for NBC but will debut and live at the home of House of Cards. ''It belongs on Netflix,'' says Carlock. ''It has a little edge to it.'' The show kinda-sorta looks like a spiritual successor to Fey and Carlock's previous collaboration: It features 30 Rock star Jane Krakowski as Kimmy's new boss, while die-hard fans may remember Burgess as Queen of Jordan sidekick D'Fwan. Fey won't say if she is planning to make a cameo—but she says there'll be one easy way to find out, thanks to Netflix: ''Fast-forward through all of them and see if I appear.'' —Hillary Busis
Orphan Black (April 18, BBC America)
When Orphan Black returns for its third season, Tatiana Maslany will be facing off against some new clones...who for once don't share her face. Specifically, one of the male clones of Project Castor unveiled in last season's finale now has a name: Rudy (played by newcomer Ari Millen). What the male cloning project means for Sarah and her genetic twins forms the crux of season 3. ''The threat that these guys pose—will it bring Sarah and her sisters together, or will it break the bonds?'' says Manson. ''Sarah is the linchpin. So whatever more she understands about these Castor boys, she understands more about herself and her sisters and their origin story.''
As for what else to expect, co-creator Graeme Manson reveals that in season 3 things will pick up right where they left off. ''Being Orphan Black, we hit the ground running,'' he says. ''No six months go by.'' That means Cosima (also Maslany) is still sick, and Rachel (yes, Maslany once again) has that whole pencil-sticking-out-of-her-eye thing to deal with. Teases Manson, ''The main question for Rachel is, How deep did that pencil go?'' (Our answer: not far enough.) —Dalton Ross
The Comedians (April, FX)
Billy Crystal and Josh Gad play perfectly to type on this meta-comedy, since they play, well, themselves. The old-school star begrudgingly teams up with the younger comedian for a sketch series, and a documentary crew captures their journey, which mines laughs from the cavernous generation gap. ''He's got his guard up, and it's about me trying to get his guard down,'' says Gad. ''Sometimes he's the windshield and I'm the fly—and sometimes I'm the windshield and he's a giant wasp.'' —Dan Snierson
Game of Thrones (Spring HBO)
It's extreme Makeover: Westeros Edition: For season 5, Arya Stark (Maisie Williams) gets her first major costume upgrade since season 1, finally ditching her raggedy threads for a lighter, more feminine ensemble. ''It's very neutral, very plain, but clean,'' Williams says. ''I have hair that actually moves.'' The transformation—designed by costumer Michele Clapton, who shared her sketch of the new look—helps Arya stay anonymous in the free city of Braavos as she seeks training to become an assassin. The change even fooled crew members who have worked with Williams for years. ''I came onto set with my hair braided up to these big buns and bits of jewelry and a long skirt, and nobody recognized me,'' she says. Hopefully Arya will be able to say the same. —James Hibberd
Mad Men (Spring, AMC)
Who is Don Draper? We've been asking ourselves that question for nearly seven full seasons, and yet, as Mad Men heads into its final stretch, he remains a mystery. It is unlikely we'll receive some key in the final seven episodes to unlock the safe that holds Don's secret heart—whether that heart is a pair of dog tags or a Hershey bar. But we might get the answer to a more important question: Can Don Draper, whoever he is, be saved? Or will he stay mired in purgatory with a nice view of downtown?
In the first half of this split season, Don returns to Sterling Cooper just in time for the company's buyout by McCann-Erickson. Now more than ever, Don's creative passion, his primary existential purpose beyond drinking and adultery, seems more like a hamster wheel than a road to fulfillment. If he hopes to assemble some bit of meaning and happiness, he'd be better off listening to the advice of the soft-shoeing specter of Bert Cooper: The best things in life are free. In the end, Don's soul is largely in the hands of his daughter. Sally has always been the one whose opinion matters, and who is probably the closest to seeing Don for what he really is.
For all we know, the final episodes will pole-vault the show into the 1980s, rendering our assumptions moot. But there are plenty of questions left: Will Peggy continue to curdle? What is the ultimate fate of SC&P? How long will Pete's sideburns get? And, at the end of Don's long title-sequence free fall, will there be anything for him to land on? —Keith Staskiewicz
Westworld (TBD, HBO)
The director of Star Trek, the writer of Interstellar, and the network behind Game of Thrones head to a brave new westworld of sci-fi TV. Combine the tactile immersion of Disneyland, the virtual-universe-building of World of Warcraft, and the sinful indulgence of Las Vegas—and you're still nowhere close to the wild, futuristic theme park of HBO's Westworld. Inspired by Michael Crichton's classic 1973 film about androids run amok in a high-tech tourist destination, the show's producers—including Jonathan Nolan (Interstellar) and J.J. Abrams (Star Trek), Jerry Weintraub, and Bryan Burk—have lured marquee stars (Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, and Ed Harris) with a dark look at the consequences of our exponentially advancing technology. ''It's a place where you can be whoever you want to be and there are no consequences—no rules, no limitations,'' Nolan says. ''What happens in Westworld stays in Westworld.'' Including the plot: Details remain under wraps, but expect Hopkins to play the park's brilliant creative visionary and Harris to portray a twist on the killer robot gunslinger made famous in the film by Yul Brynner. ''It's sci-fi but mashed up with a Western,'' says co-creator Lisa Joy. ''We get to look backward and forward.'' But not as far forward as you might think—the future-shock ideas in the script are largely based on technology that is rapidly becoming more science than fiction. ''What we can tell you is that we intend to make the most ambitious, subversive, f---ed-up television series,'' says Nolan. ''The things that keep you up at night, any of those things that trouble you—that is exactly what the show is about.'' Finally, a show about my DVR running out of space. —James Hibberd
Sex & Drugs & Rock 'n' Roll (Summer, FX)
Denis Leary's new comedy takes place in the high-flying music world, but the elements stay grounded. ''It's about a dysfunctional family that happens to be a rock band,'' says the creator, who plays a burned-out frontman who reunites his old group, which is based on an amalgam of musicians Leary ran with in the '70s. It promises to be much breezier than the star's previous FX show, Rescue Me. ''There's drama in this show, but we're out to make people laugh their balls off,'' says Leary. —Kyle Anderson
True Detective (Summer, HBO)
Colin Farrell, Vince Vaughn, and Rachel McAdams step into the hotly anticipated season 2 as the setting shifts to California for a crime story reminiscent of a modern-day Chinatown: A trio of cops are assigned to solve the death of a corrupt city official involved with a major transportation initiative. We've said it for years—traffic in L.A. is murder. James Hibberd
Difficult People (TBD, Hulu)
Billy on the Street's Billy Eichner is taking Manhattan again. He and Julie Klausner star in an Amy Poehler-produced comedy about two bitter BFFs struggling on the writer-performer circuit. ''Billy and I very much wanted to do a version of Will & Grace,'' says creator Klausner, ''but if they were unlikable.'' Adds Eichner: ''One thing they don't like to do is lie. Even for the sake of getting a joke. If being polite and making sure everyone likes you is not a priority, that's going to get you into trouble.'' —Dan Snierson
Ash vs. Evil Dead (TBD, Starz)
It took 23 years, but Bruce Campbell is finally returning to his iconic role of Ash—the arrogant, loudmouthed one-handed badass who squared off against prankish possessive spirits across three Sam Raimi films (including 1987's cult classic Evil Dead II). Starz is resurrecting the franchise with this half-hour horror-comedy where Ash takes a road trip to banish his demons alongside two young helpers and his trusty boomstick. ''Ash has survivor's guilt,'' says Campbell. ''You could have a [field day] with his PTSD. He's a war vet. He doesn't want to talk about it, and he'll lie about that stump on his hand to impress the ladies. That's what I look forward to playing—a guy with horrible flaws.'' —James Hibberd
Fargo (Fall, FX)
Fargo is going back in time to 1979 for season 2, but showrunner Noah Hawley assures it's ''not the '70s in a Boogie Nights kind of way.'' Expect another snow-swept rural crime drama loosely inspired by the Coen brothers' film, only this time the action is set in Luverne, Minn., where humble married couple Peggy and Ed Blomquist (Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons) find themselves caught in an escalating war between a local crime gang and a major Mob syndicate. (A character in season 1 cryptically described the 1979 case as ''savagery, pure and simple,'' with a massive pileup of bodies.) ''The scope of the storytelling this season is a lot bigger, it has more of an epic feel to it,'' says Hawley, who adds that the earlier time period and even more rural setting give the show an almost Western-like quality. ''We started calling it No Country for Old Fargo.'' —James Hibberd
Daredevil (TBD, Netflix)
Forget Ben Affleck. Netflix's Daredevil is ''the exact opposite'' of Affleck's much-maligned 2003 bomb, promises showrunner Steven S. DeKnight. Expect the classic origin story to remain unchanged: Blinded as a child, Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) is a lawyer by day who hunts criminals by night (he apparently doesn't get much sleep). But this new iteration of Daredevil is more influenced by 1970s mean-street films like The French Connection and Taxi Driver than traditional superhero titles. ''There aren't going to be people flying through the sky; there are no magic hammers,'' says Marvel TV chief Jeph Loeb. ''We've always approached this as a crime drama first, superhero show second.'' There's also more grown-up content here. ''It's a little grittier and edgier than Marvel has gone before,'' says DeKnight, ''but we're not looking to push it to extreme violence or gratuitous nudity.'' The 'devil will eventually get his iconic red costume, but first he'll wear black duds inspired by Frank Miller's comic Daredevil: The Man Without Fear. For Cox, the biggest challenge was deftly navigating Murdock without using his eyes. Simple things like making breakfast and getting dressed become trickier than fighting bad guys. ''Like, I put on a shirt but I can't look where the buttons are, because Daredevil wouldn't know where the buttons are, but I also can't fumble,'' he says. No pressure, but another thing you're not allowed to fumble: Marvel's winning streak. —James Hibberd, with additional reporting by Samantha Highfill