What we're looking forward to in 2014
The great thing about TV is that if gets an audience you know that it will come back for more. The bad thing about TV is that if it doesn't get an audience, regardless of quality, you know that it won't come back for more. Unless, of course, it's Hannibal. 2014, in the fag end of February, will see a series whose first season struggled to get bums on seats break this iron rule of network TV. Why, you may ask, well low costs because of being a co-production and the fact of high quality, critical acclaim and the whole size of the potential Lecter market. These factors rescued one of 2013's best debut dramas and we'll be looking forward to how Will turns the table on the not so good Doctor Lecter in the action to come.A similar story follows another Digital Fix favourite, Hell on Wheels. After a tremendous opening two seasons and a devastating finale to season two with Cullen Bohannon failing to issue summary justice against The Swede for the murder of his beloved, the show was renewed then put on hiatus when the showrunner disappeared and finally rushed into production and scheduled on the graveyard of Saturday nights. Now, season 3 didn't die on its arse as expected, even if the quality slipped, it maintained its audience and happily is getting a season 4 with 13 episodes later this year.
What this all means is that the iron rules of commissioning can be bent for the right shows. 2013 saw some more shows that have struggled to get or keep a following as well, and, as I write this, the likes of Dracula, The Mentalist and Marvel's Agents of SHIELD are about to test the flexibility. Dracula has low costs and is great fun, The Mentalist has high costs but has tried to reboot, and surely a Marvel TV show can't bite the big one? Of those three, we'd only be sorry to lose Dracula for its camp fun - NBC this is your Hannibal this year.Our hopes for other returning seasons include a season 4 for Game of Thrones that promises resurrection, bloody weddings and the continued humiliation of Theon Greyjoy. We do have to ask ourselves whether Banshee can attain the same hysterical levels of narrative and be as much rip roaring fun, and many of us just can't wait for Justified and The Vikings to return to our screens as well. Defiance returns in the summer too after an uneven first season - as much as we like the western in space vibe, season 2 needs less of Julie Benz and teen romances.
Many shows are in mid-season in the States and you'll know that we'll be keeping an eye on the richly improving Arrow, the entertaining Elementary and the fantastic Sleepy Hollow. We've also got hopes for James Spader's The Blacklist which finally hit its stride with its mid-season finale and we hope for further tense unpredictable action rather than formula for the rest of its run. Suits also returns for a second half of season three with possibly less of GOT's cast in tow as well. In terms of Blighty, we'll shortly know how Sherlock cheated death, we can't wait for Capaldi to make his mark as the twelfth Doctor and we look forward to season 2 of Peaky Blinders. Another Brit, Sam Mendes, is behind HBO's Penny Dreadful which promises sex, horror and Timothy Dalton. British audiences will also catch the great second series of The Bridge if they have any sense and access to BBC4.
Netflix will be offering us more goodies too with the returns of House Of Cards, Orange Is the New Black and the much awaited Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul. The impact of downloads on the TV market will probably increase, but the majority of new shows that look interesting come from the American networks and the odd cable show. Here's a few:
CBS gives us a superspy with a chip in his head, Chuck fans groan. Stars Josh Holloway, Marg Helgenberger(CSI) and Meghan Orhy(Once Upon a Time).
HBO start the year off with McConnaughey and Harrelson as southern Detectives in a very promising looking drama.
Helix comes from the makers of Lost and Battlestar Galactica and is on SYFY from January. SYFY will also be showing Bitten a modern werewolf series.
Enlisted is a Fox comedy that might even be funny, which would make two in the same year with the excellent Brooklyn Nine Nine.
Michael Bay produces this Starz pirate blood and sex drama with Toby Stephens which will have the John Malkovich starring, Neil "Luther" Cross written Crossbones as direct competition in the swash-buckling stakes.
2014 will also see the World Cup in football and the winter Olympics, and there will be more talent shows and reality shows as well, but frankly, soccer to one side, we don't care too much about those things. 2014 will see the end (again) of Jay Leno's Tonight Show hosting duties and his replacement Jimmy Kimmel will continue his irresistible rise whilst across the Atlantic we'll make do with the smutty one (Ross), the very good one (Norton) and the rubbish ones (Carr, Whitehouse etc) as we have done for years.
There's plenty to come on the gogglebox in 2014, and if you want to be reminded of the best of 2013 then try our podcast here