One might say that the Golden Age of Streaming Television is upon us. 2022 was a banner year for the medium, producing fantastic television viewing. Shows like Better Call Saul (AMC), The Bear (Hulu), What We Do in the Shadows (FX), Only Murders in the Building (Hulu), and many others, all had critically acclaimed seasons. This only further exemplified the point that “prestige TV” is rapidly becoming the norm. The demand for quality streaming entertainment is growing. If it’s not good, the viewer will tune out and find something else that is.
2023 is shaping up to be just as good, if not better, than 2022 in terms of streaming television series. Besides new shows that are premiering, such as The Last of Us (HBO), Poker Face (Peacock), Shrinking (Apple TV+), White House Plumbers (HBO), and several others, there are numerous series that are making their triumphant return to the small screen in the coming months. Cinema Scholars presents five of the best streaming series that will be returning to the small screen sometime in 2023.
5. From (Season 2 – MGM+)
Harold Perrineau has had quite a career. Just on the small screen, he’s co-starred in two of the better dramatic shows in television history. ABC’s LOST, which ran for six mind-altering seasons from 2004 to 2010, and HBO’s groundbreaking prison drama, OZ, which aired from 1997 to 2003. Perrineau is swinging for the fences again in the MGM+ (formerly EPIX) science-fiction/horror series, From. Showrunners have been trying to capture that LOST magic ever since it departed into the white light back in 2010. From may come the closet.
In this frightening new series, the residents of a small run-down town are told to head inside by their sheriff (Perrineau). Get inside before the sun sets or the creatures will get you, and that’s just the beginning. In a page right out of the Twilight Zone playbook, this nightmarish town seems to be stuck in the netherverse as all those who enter it, are physically (and geographically) unable to leave. These new and very unhappy residents must band together and fight to survive while trying to find a way out. Throughout all of this, strange secrets and clues about where they really are slowly become revealed.
The Matthews family is the other focal point of this series. Parents Jim and Tabitha (Eion Bailey and Catalina Sandino Moreno) and kids Ethan and Julie (Simon Webster and Hannah Cheramy) are all suitably convincing as a family on vacation in their RV that sees their sanity begin to rapidly unravel. They, along with everyone else, soon learn that these aren’t just regular monsters. These beasts are smart, manipulative, cunning, and extremely lethal.
The world-building in From is top-notch. A big part of that is the series’ creative team. Series creator John Griffin was the head writer on an episode of Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone and the first four episodes of the ten-episode first season of From were directed by Jack Bender, a producer on…of course, Lost. The whole first season has a creepy Stephen King vibe to it. A big part of that is due to Bender, as he and King have had a working relationship for many years. Viewers should be warned. This show is not for the faint of heart.
The second season of From is scheduled to premiere on MGM+ on April 23, 2023.
4. The Old Man (Season 2 – FX)
FX’s The Old Man was picked up for a second season shortly after the first season debuted as the most-viewed cable series premiere since January 2021, an impressive feat. That might have a little something to do with its iconic lead, Oscar-winning actor, Jeff Bridges, making his first foray into the streaming wars. Bridges is fantastic as Dan Chase, an aging, weary, but still lethal AWOL CIA operative. In the oft-repeated trope of one’s past catching up to him, Chase soon finds himself again on the run and having to use his lethal skills (and his dogs) to stay alive.
Based on Thomas Perry’s popular 2017 novel, The Old Man is a slow burn throughout the first season, which consists of seven episodes. The series takes its time in revealing what crimes Chase committed during the Soviet-Afghan War forty years earlier. The flashbacks to that time, featuring Bill Heck as a younger version of Chase, are fantastic and Heck does a stellar job of aping Bridge’s mannerisms.
What’s also fantastic is the brilliant John Lithgow as Harold Harper, a retired FBI Agent who is summoned back to the bureau to track down and capture Chase. There is clearly a strong connection and even bond between Harper and Chase, and series creators Jonathan Steinberg and Robert Levine take their time in establishing the connection between these two war-weary veterans. Ultimately the hows and why’s don’t matter as much as watching two legendary actors do their thing.
Alia Shawkat as Harper’s protegee and the always fantastic Amy Brenneman as Zoe, Chase’s new companion and possible love interest are particular standouts in this exceptionally well-written series. However, The Old Man is all about Jeff Bridges who delivers one of his finest and most captivating late-career performances. He effortlessly balances the many sides of Dan Chase. Concerned father. Ruthless killer. Tormented widow. Charming spy and ladies’ man. If you are a fan of Bridges and love spy dramas/thrillers, this is one series you will want to watch.
Season 2 of the Old Man began filming on January 31, 2023, in Los Angeles, California. The anticipated premiere date is Fall 2023.
3. Yellowjackets (Season 2 – Showtime)
Created by Ashley Lyle and Bart Nickerson, Showtime’s ensemble-driven thriller series Yellowjackets takes a cue from the LOST playbook on how to make a gripping series that keeps the viewer guessing. A successful New Jersey high school girls’ soccer team survives a plane crash in the Ontario wilderness. Hunger soon sets in as the team and their coach struggle to survive as well as find food and shelter.
With heavy implications of cannibalism hinted at throughout the first season, the storyline flashes back and forth between 1996 and the present day. As the mysteries deepen as to what exactly happened out in the wilderness for nineteen months, we also learn that the survivors of the crash are being blackmailed in the present day by an unknown person. Thus forcing them to reconcile with the horrific things they did to survive twenty-five years earlier.
Much like its beloved predecessor LOST, the incredibly deep cast of Yellowjackets is exceptional. Melanie Lynskey, Tawny Cypress, Ella Purnell, Christina Ricci, and Juliette Lewis all turn in fantastic performances, and Sammy Hanratty, playing the teenage version of Ricci’s “Misty Quigley” is spot on in her mannerism and quirks. It’s inspired casting. Also, as LOST did with Hawaii, Yellowjackets uses the British Columbia wilderness to full effect.
The series is the perfect blend of horror, teenage cliches and angst, and psychological drama. Other shows that have tried to dip their toe in so many different genres often get swallowed up in their own mess of uneven storytelling. Yellowjackets, however, manages to avoid this predicament via solid writing, streamlined characters, and very little exposition. It’s also not afraid to show the gore.
Yellowjackets Season 2 will premiere on streaming platforms and on-demand for Showtime on March 24. at 9 p.m. ET.
2. What We Do in the Shadows (Season 5 – FX)
Absurdist humor often falls flat, but when it works, it’s a joy to watch. Perhaps there is no greater example of this than FX’s brilliant and hilarious What We Do in the Shadows. Created by Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi and based on the 2014 film of the same name, the series follows along the same path as the film, following four vampire roommates living together in Staten Island, New York. Even though the series setting (no longer New Zealand) and characters have changed significantly from the film, the off-the-rails absurdist humor and mockumentary style of filmmaking remains in place.
The main vampires in What We Do in the Shadows are Nandor the Relentless (Kayvan Novak), Laszlo Cravensworth (Matt Berry), Nadja of Antipaxos (Natasia Demetriou), and Colin Robinson (Mark Proksch). They are at all times, extremely clumsy, idiotic, totally codependent, narcissistic loons, and endearing and lovable. Nandor’s human servant, Guillermo (Harvey Guillén) is also a standout in the series.
Co-showrunners Stefani Robinson and Paul Simms do a fantastic job of baking Monty Python levels of absurdist humor into the traditional 30-minute sitcom format. Further, the amount of celebrity cameos throughout the first four seasons shows that this is clearly a fun set to be working on. Dave Bautista. Tilda Swinton. Wesley Snipes. Danny Trejo. Evan Rachel Wood. Mark Hamill. Jim Jarmusch and others have all joined in the fun. Combine all of this with hysterical movie references, TV show shout-outs, and endless riffing on pop culture, What We Do in the Shadows is one of the funniest series of the last decade.
Season Five of What We Do in the Shadows wrapped filming in December 2022. The premiere will be sometime in the Summer on the FX network.
1. Severance (Season 2 – Apple TV+)
Severance was hands down one of the very best new shows of 2022. We reviewed it at length here. Initially, the series largely flew under people’s radar. However, word of mouth eventually began to spread like wildfire and Severance quickly became THE show that people couldn’t stop talking about. A critical darling, it was given glowing reviews by just about every media outlet in existence. The American Film Institute named it one of the ten best series of 2022. Nominated for a whopping fourteen Emmys, Severance is now back for season two.
Created and written by newcomer Dan Erickson, Severance stars Adam Scott as Mark, a bored and lonely employee for corporate biotech giant, Lumon Technologies. What does Lumon actually do? Nobody really knows, and that’s part of the fun. Mark, in order to forget how awful his mundane work life is, agrees to take part in a “severance” program. His work and non-work memories will be completely separated from each other. Once Mark completes the procedure, strange things begin to happen to him, and a myriad of conspiracies soon begins to unravel. Who knew that balancing one’s work life with one’s personal life could be this hard?
Ben Stiller’s direction of the series is exceptional. He’s also the executive producer so it’s clear he’s devoted a lot of time and energy to bring his incredible vision to life. The results are stunning. Severance is at all times part Office Space (1999), part Brazil (1985), part George Orwell’s 1984, and a homage to the existential works of Jean-Paul Sartre. It also helps to have an incredible cast to drive this insane story forward. Christopher Walken, John Turturro, Britt Lower, Patricia Arquette, Zach Cherry, Dichen Lachman, and especially Tramell Tillman all give tremendous performances. Severance is back for a second season and we can’t wait.
Season Two of Severance began filming on October 31, 2022. The premiere will be sometime in the Fall on Apple TV+
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