This year’s list is pretty wide-ranging, from World War II drama and espionage romance to multiversal sci-fi and educational mockumentary. Unfortunately, the increased — and, in my opinion, untenable — balkanization of the streaming market makes it difficult (and expensive) to see everything these days. Still, all of these series have caught my eye, and I’m going to do my darndest to see as many of them as possible, especially given the streamers’ tendency to cancel and remove titles from their libraries.
In this Netflix original, a California man’s life is turned upside down when his estranged brother suddenly arrives and reveals their family’s criminal history in Taiwan. The Brothers Sun stars the iconic Michelle Yeoh as the family matriarch, who has also moved to America to start a new life.
Clive Owen as iconic detective Sam Spade in quasi-sequel to The Maltese Falcon? Yes, please. As the title suggests, Monsieur Spade finds the gumshoe enjoying his retirement in France, only to be drawn into a vicious case when several nuns are murdered at a nearby monastery. And it’s a case that might be tied to a mysterious child rumored to have special powers. The mix of hard-boiled detective and supernatural phenomena could make for an interesting mix.
I wasn’t really a fan He-Man as a kid, either the toy franchise or the cartoon series. Nevertheless, I really enjoyed Netflix’s Masters of the Universe: Revelation when it originally aired back in 2021. I have no idea how it stacks up to previous He-Man titles, but it won me over with some impressive world-building and delightful voice acting (particularly Mark Hamill as Skeletor). Revolution finds He-Man battling a brand new enemy that brings the forces of magic and technology into conflict, with the fate of Eternia in the balance.
2001’s Band of Brothers is one of the best World War II series of all time, as it chronicled the efforts of average soldiers battling in Europe. In 2010, The Pacific told similar stories, but this time about the war against Japan. And now we have Masters of the Air, which follows a squadron tasked with leading the bombing raids deep into Germany territory. Based on Donald L. Miller’s book, Masters of the Air stars Austin Butler, Callum Turner, and Barry Keoghan.
Inspired by the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie film from 2005, Mr. & Mrs. Smith stars Donald Glover and Maya Erskine as a pair of spies working for a mysterious agency who agree to pose as a married couple. Naturally, their mission gets complicated when they actually begin to develop feelings for each other. The series also stars Ron Perlman, Parker Posey, Sarah Paulson, Alexander Skarsgård, and John Turturro.
Utilizing the same comedic mockumentary approach that served The Office and Parks and Recreation so well, Abbott Elementary chronicles the efforts of the teachers in an underfunded Philadelphia public school. Previous episodes have dealt with some heavy topics, such as charter vs. public schools and parental neglect, as well as the burgeoning romance amongst some of the teachers, but always with a good-natured — and most importantly, cynicism-free — approach. Previous seasons have earned multiple award, including three Golden Globe awards.
Avatar: The Last Airbender is rightfully considered one of the best animated series of all time, thanks to its fantastical world-building, memorable characters, and epic storyline. The previous effort to adapt it to live action — M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender — was soundly criticized by, well, everyone. So the deck is already stacked against Netflix’s upcoming adaptation. But everything released to date looks very promising, and it doesn’t hurt that Daniel Dae Kim and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee have been cast as Fire Lord Ozai and General Iroh, respectively. The series’ cast also includes Amber Midthunder, Danny Pudi, and George Takei.
Based on James Clavell’s best-selling 1975 novel, Shōgun is the story of two men striving for power in feudal Japan. The first is a cunning warlord, played by the always-great Hiroyuki Sanada. The second is an English sailor (Cosmo Jarvis) who is shipwrecked on the Japanese shore. And in-between them is a mysterious female samurai (Anna Sawai). Done well, this has all the trappings of an epic historical tale par excellence. Note: Clavell’s novel was previously adapted for television in 1980 with Richard Chamberlain, Toshiro Mifune, and John Rhys-Davies, to great acclaim.
Based on the acclaimed novel by Chinese author Liu Cixin, 3 Body Problem is arguably one of Netflix’s most ambitious projects to date. Beginning during the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, the series spans decades as it chronicles humanity’s first contact with a bizarre alien species and the awesome threat they represent. Cixin’s original novel is bizarre, ambitious, and maddening, and I’m definitely curious to see if and how Netflix pulls it off.
I’ve never actually played any of the acclaimed Fallout video games, which depict life in a post-nuclear holocaust. But I do know that the series is firmly tongue-in-cheek, with its retrofuturistic setting and aesthetic influenced by 1950s American culture. It’ll be interesting to see if Amazon’s upcoming series still captures that sense amidst all of the post-apocalyptic action, as a young woman leaves the underground vault that she’s known her entire life to explore the wasteland. Ella Purnell, Walton Goggins, Kyle MacLachlan, and Chris Parnell star.
Andor’s second season was originally expected for August 2024, but due to the Hollywood strikes, it’s likely to have been pushed back to 2025 — which is fine because I certainly don’t want Tony Gilroy and the show’s cast and crew to rush things. That said, hope springs eternal that Andor, Luthen, Bix, and B2EMO return to our living rooms some time in 2024 for another round of espionage and subterfuge against Imperial tyranny.
In this sci-fi thriller based on Blake Crouch’s acclaimed novel, a physicist in Chicago suddenly finds himself in an alternate version of his life and forced to find a way back to his world in order to save his family from a bizarre threat. I really enjoyed Crouch’s novel when I read it several years ago, and its intriguing premise and twisting storyline could definitely make for an excellent series. The Apple original series stars Joel Edgerton, Jennifer Connelly, and Alice Braga.
Dune is so hot right now, what with Denis Villeneuve’s long-awaited Dune: Part Two arriving (finally) in theaters on March 1. Dune: Prophecy is set 10,000 years before the events of original Dune novel, and details the origins and rise of the Bene Gesserit, a secretive sect devoted to creating humanity’s savior, the Kwisatz Haderach. The HBO series stars Emily Watson, Olivia Williams, and Mark Strong.
If you’ve never heard of Kite Man, I don’t blame you. He got his start in 1960 as a rather unremarkable DC villain whose only “power” is that he’s great at hang gliding. Considered a joke, the character’s developed a cult following over the years, and particularly in the Harley Quinn animated series. So now he’s got his own animated series, in which he tries to run an infamous bar that becomes a hangout spot for all of Gotham City’s supervillains.
The first season of Amazon’s Rings of Power was met with some mixed reactions. Sure, it wasn’t Peter Jackson’s movies, and there were some storytelling odd choices, but overall, I enjoyed it quite a bit. Given that Amazon has committed to a five-season series, a second season was a foregone conclusion. Season one ended with the eruption of Mount Doom and the creation of Mordor, the forging of the first three Rings of Power, and the arrival of a certain Wizard. Season two will feature a much-expanded cast, and according to the showrunners, will “go a little bit deeper into the lore and the stories people have been waiting to hear.”
With its bizarre premise (a group of employees at a shadowy company adopt alternate personalities whenever they come to work), incredible production design, bizarre mythology, and jabs at American corporate culture, the first season of Severance was so good and incredibly memorable. There have been reports that season two’s production has been hampered by behind-the-scenes delays and difficulties. Hopefully, those are just rumors and we’ll be able to return to Lumon Industries sometime in 2024.
Very little is known about this upcoming Star Wars series starring Jude Law and Jaleel White. What is known is that it follows a group of a kids trying to get back home after getting lost in the galaxy. I’m all for Star Wars stories that explore the nooks and crannies of the galaxy far, far away, rather than focus on the same old storylines, eras, and characters time and again.
Released in 1981, Terry Gilliam’s Time Bandits is an uproarious trip through space and time. Apple’s upcoming remake sticks to the same basic premise — a young child gets caught up in a gang of thieves pilfering throughout history — but I wonder if it’ll have the same madcap energy and blend of humor and gloom that made Gilliam’s film such a beloved cult hit. Given that Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement are involved, I’m hopeful that’s the case.
The first season of Wednesday was one of Netflix’s biggest hits in 2022, and its easy to see why, thanks to its dark streak of humor and Jenna Ortega’s excellent performance as the titular character. Season one ended with some pretty big revelations for Nevermore Academy, meaning there are still plenty of mysteries for Wednesday and her friends to solve.