Take a look at the 20 most anticipated new and returning TV series for 2017…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
There will be more scripted television shows on screen during 2017 than any year before — more that 500 shows to be accurate — but with so many choices it’s nearly impossible to decipher where to put your viewing time.
So we’ve compiled a list of the top 20 television series debuting or returning in the next year, not counting shows that are already on air but just on a winter hiatus (like ‘The Walking Dead’ or ‘The Flash’).
Some of these shows are returning for a new season, others for a final season and then there are the series set to debut this year, which have peaked our interest before ever landing on television.
Take a look at our list of what we’re most looking forward to watching (and in many cases recapping) during 2017. This list is in no particular order so it’s not ranked or separated from new shows or returning shows.
Without further ado, here are the most anticipated TV series debuting or returning in 2017
Game of Thrones Season 7
Debut: Summer 2017
Why We’re Excited: ‘Game of Thrones’ has been one of the best shows on television ever since it debuted but now the series is starting to wind down with the final season only a year away. Sadly, ‘Game of Thrones’ season 7 has been whittled down to just seven episodes, but that just means there’s going to be even more to pack into the penultimate season of the series.
When last we left ‘Game of Thrones’, Jon Snow had been crowned ‘King in the North’ much to the chagrin of his sister Sansa and her friend Petyr Baelish. To the south, Cersei has finally taken her place on the Iron Throne following the death of her son Tommen while Daenerys Targaryen sails for Westeros on ships filled with Dothraki warriors, three dragons and a hell bent attitude to take back what rightfully belongs to her family. Beyond the Wall, the Night King is mounting his forces for an attack on the south with the White Walkers about to invade for the first time in more than a thousand years.
Debut: January 26
Network: The CW
This isn’t the ‘Archie’ comics you grew up with at all.
Set in the small town of Riverdale, this show is a modern take with the classic ‘Archie’ characters in a mash up that’s somewhere between ‘Gossip Girl’ and ‘Twin Peaks’. The show picks up following a tragic murder of one of the high school elite and the investigation envelops all of the town’s teens including Archie, Jughead, Betty and new student Veronica, who has just shown up in Riverdale for the first time.
With Greg Berlanti — the producer behind ‘Arrow’ and ‘The Flash’ — on board to oversee this project, ‘Riverdale’ is definitely one of the most intriguing new shows of 2017. Based on the reviews from San Diego Comic Con this past year where the pilot was screened, ‘Riverdale’ might just be the surprise hit of the year.
Debut: February 5
’24: Legacy’ will reboot the long running series without Kiefer Sutherland portraying Jack Bauer and instead Corey Hawkins — best known for his role in ‘Straight Outta Compton’ as well as ‘The Walking Dead’ — plays the central character in the series.
Eric Carter (Hawkins) returns home after finishing a mission that ended with the death of a prominent terrorist, but he soon finds out that his entire squad is being targeted for assassination as retaliation. To make matters worse, the terrorist plot also includes a much larger scale attack on the U.S. and Carter has to turn to the newly reformed Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) to help stop them.
It’s clearly ambitious to push forward without Sutherland or any of the past characters appearing on ’24’, but Hawkins is an outstanding actor and the writers/producers are the same as all the previous seasons. If nothing else, ’24: Legacy’ will be one of the most interesting series to watch this year.
Debut: February 8
Based on the ‘X-Men’ character of the same name, Noah Hawley developed this new series and his involvement right away makes this can’t miss television. Hawley is also responsible for ‘Fargo’, which has consistently been one of the best shows on TV for the past few years.
In ‘Legion’, David Heller is a patient at a psychiatric hospital after he’s diagnosed with schizophrenia at a young age. When Heller has a strange encounter with another psychiatric patient, he begins to realize that his “sickness” may be something much more — like perhaps he’s the most powerful mutant the world has ever encountered.
In the comics, Heller is actually Charles Xavier’s son, but it doesn’t appear that ‘Legion’ will be tied to the ‘X-Men’ movies in any way so don’t expect either Patrick Stewart or James McAvoy to pop up during this show. Still with Hawley involved, this eight episode first season of ‘Legion’ should be a brand new kind of series for the comic book genre on TV.
Fargo Season 3
Speaking of Noah Hawley — he’s also working on ‘Fargo’ season 3, which will debut in 2017 although there’s no date set for the show just yet.
‘Fargo’ season 3 is expected to take place around 2010, several years after the events in season 1 and season 2, but there’s expected to be some kind of tie-in to the previous stories even if it’s just Easter eggs laid throughout the show.
Ewan McGregor stars as twin brothers Emmit and Ray Stussy. Emmit is described as the ‘parking lot king of Minnesota’ while his screw up brother Ray was a big deal in high school and he’s spiraled downhill ever since before finally ending up as a parole officer. There’s no word on the plot for the season yet but with cast members like McGregor, Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Jim Gaffigan, Scoot McNairy and Shea Whigham, ‘Fargo’ season 3 is clearly in good hands.
Debut: January 10
This limited TV series developed by Steven Knight — best known for his work on the hit series ‘Peaky Blinders’ — teams him up once again with Tom Hardy as well as an all star cast that includes Oona Chaplin, Michael Kelly, Jonathan Pryce and Roger Ashton-Griffiths.
‘Taboo’ follows the story of Hardy’s character, who returns home to London after he was believed dead for several years after a journey to Africa. He comes back to reclaim what’s left of his family’s shipping empire, but what he finds is a much darker legacy than what he could have ever expected in the wake of his father’s death.
Hardy is one of the strongest actors working in Hollywood today and Knight has been nothing short of brilliant with his continued excellence on ‘Peaky Blinders’. With that one-two punch, it’s hard to believe ‘Taboo’ won’t be a stand out hit in 2017.
Debut: Fall 2017
‘The Defenders’ is the culmination of the four Netflix series that happened prior to this show with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist all teaming up in a limited edition show to help bring down a new villain threatening New York.
Details on ‘The Defenders’ are sketchy at best but what we do know is that Sigorney Weaver has been tapped to play the lead villain in the new show set to debut later this year on Netflix.
Many of the characters from the popular Netflix series are expected to appear in ‘The Defenders’ including Deborah Ann Woll as Karen Page and Elden Hensen as Foggy Nelson. The eight-episode series will certainly be the most ambitious project from Marvel since bringing characters to Netflix, but the show is in good hands with Marco Ramirez and Doug Petrie — best known as the show runners from ‘Daredevil’ — in charge of ‘The Defenders’.
Stranger Things Season 2
Debut: Summer 2017
‘Stranger Things’ was a breakout hit of 2016 and a show that virtually no one saw coming when the series was first released.
Set in a small Indiana town in the 1980’s, ‘Stranger Things’ follows the adventures of a group of kids and one very special and unique girl named Eleven, who go on a mission to find their missing friend Will, who has disappeared into an alternate dimension referred to as ‘the upside down’. The end of season one left us with a number of questions — at the top of the list is what happened to Eleven along with questions about what came back with Will Byers after he escaped that alternate dimension?
‘Stranger Things’ slipped under the radar the first time around but there’s little chance season 2 will get by without a ton of fanfare and excitement to see what the Duffer brothers can do during the sophomore year of the hit series.
The Leftovers Season 3 (Final Season)
The critically acclaimed series from Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta will return with an eight-episode final season that will wrap up the story that began two years ago about the aftermath of a world where two-percent of the population just disappeared one day without any evidence as to why it happened.
‘The Leftovers’ has been confusing at times but always thought provoking and painstakingly meticulous with the characters and stories developed throughout the first two seasons. The ratings for this show haven’t been great since the season one premiere so it’s no wonder HBO is pulling the plug on ‘The Leftovers’ but it’s still good news that the show will get a third and final season to wrap things up.
This year, Kevin Harvey and his family relocate from Texas to Australia after he’s contacted by his father to help him in some sort of endeavor. Kevin’s father has been a fringe character for the first two seasons but this year he becomes a central part of the story after allegedly having conversations with God.
Lindelof has promised that despite the show only having eight episodes remaining that viewers will get answers to some long standing questions while the show will still spend a lot of time in deep character study, which has been a staple of ‘The Leftovers’ since the beginning.
‘The Leftovers’ isn’t everybody’s cup of tea, but it’s been one of the strongest shows on television the past two seasons so there’s no reason to believe the last eight episodes won’t be can’t miss television.
Based on the Neil Gaiman comic book of the same name, Bryan Fuller — best known for his work on ‘Hannibal’ — and Michael Green developed this series set to debut on Starz in the spring.
This series follows the premise of a group of old ancient gods at odds with a group of new gods, who are all living in the United States. The old gods are quickly losing power as people start believing in them less and less and the new gods are gaining ground with the world now far more concerned with materialistic endeavors like media, technology and the internet.
The cast for this show is absolutely outstanding with Ian McShane, Emily Browning, Pablo Schreiber and Jonathan Tucker all on board as well as Ricky Whittle in the starring role for the series. The comic book by Neil Gaiman is a critically acclaimed piece of fiction so if the adaptation follows suit, the show should be great.
Star Trek: Discovery
Network: CBS All-Access
The first ‘Star Trek’ series since ‘Star Trek: Enterprise’ came to an end in 2005, this show will take place about 10 years before the events in the original ‘Star Trek’ series from the 1960’s.
While there’s not much known about this show, one thing that will differentiate ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ from all the other ‘Star Trek’ series is that the central character will not be a captain. Instead, Sonequa Martin-Green — best known for her role as Sasha on ‘The Walking Dead’ will play Lieutenant Commander Rainsford, who is the second person in charge of the Starship Discovery. A few other casting decisions have been made including Doug Jones and Anthony Rapp as well.
‘Star Trek: Discover’ will debut on CBS and then move over to the new on demand service called CBS All-Access where all future episodes will air. It’s an interesting move by CBS but they are betting that viewers will dish out $10 a month for the streaming service to catch all of their shows but particularly this new series.
Bates Motel Season 5 (Final Season)
Debut: February 20
The fifth and final season of ‘Bates Motel’ promises to be one of the most highly anticipated shows of the year as the ‘Psycho’ prequel finally comes to an end.
Following the death of his mother a season ago, Norman Bates’ journey into madness is nearly complete and the final episodes will watch his infamous interactions with Marion Crane, who will be played by pop singer Rihanna. Of course, Vera Farmiga will be back as Norma Bates, if only in her son’s head, and the remainder of the cast will also stay the same.
‘Bates Motel’ has been one of the strongest shows over the past few seasons so there’s little doubt that creators Carlton Cuse and Kerry Ehrin have big plans for Norman Bates before the series comes to an end.
Homeland Season 6
Debut: January 15 (first episode already available on demand)
The first episode of ‘Homeland’ season 6 is already out there for those who have Showtime on demand or Showtime through Hulu so it’s highly recommended viewing ahead of the actual debut in less than two weeks time.
‘Homeland’ picks up months after the season 5 finale with Carrie living in Brooklyn and working a new job helping falsely accused immigrants, who have become victims of the system, while her old employers are still trying to woo her back to the CIA. A new president has been elected with radical ideas on how to handle foreign affairs, not to mention the intelligence agencies across the world and that’s definitely at odds with Dar Adal and Saul Berensen. Plus the first episode gives a very deep look at what happened to Peter Quinn after he was the victim of nerve gas attack a season ago.
‘Homeland’ has been a strong, consistent series after finally getting rid of Nicholas Brody following season 3 and there’s no doubt the new season should be a great winter addition to Showtime programming.
Billions Season 2
Debut: February 19
One of the best surprises of 2015 was this series from Showtime that pit Damien Lewis as a ruthless hedge fund manager who is at constant odds with Paul Giamiatti’s U.S. Attorney, who is on a constant mission to bring him to justice. The supporting cast on this show is absolutely top notch with Malin Akerman, Maggie Siff and Toby Leonard Moore leading the way.
Season 2 will pick up directly after the freshman year with Bobby “Axe” Axelrod still making deals that are as shady as ever while Chuck Rhoades does everything in his power to stop him before he can make his next billion.
Better Call Saul Season 3
When ‘Better Call Saul’ season 2 came to a close, Jimmy confessed to his brother that he played him for a fool while yanking a case out from under him in court in an effort to help his new law firm partner Kim. Jimmy’s confession was caught on tape because Chuck was setting a trap for him the entire time and it’s clear that this sibling rivalry isn’t going to end with a handshake or a hug. There’s a good chance Jimmy ends up in jail.
Add to that, Mike was at odds all season long with ‘Breaking Bad’ villain Hector ‘Tio’ Salamanca but just before killing him in an assassination attempt, he received an anonymous note from somebody telling him ‘don’t’. Rumors have swirled that the note was from none other than Gustavo Fring, who may just make an appearance in ‘Better Call Saul’ season 3.
If you loved ‘Breaking Bad’ this series is an excellent addition to the mythology. If you’ve never watched ‘Breaking Bad’, ‘Better Call Saul’ is still worth watching because it’s one of the best shows on television without a doubt.
Marvel’s Iron Fist
Debut: March 17
The next solo series from Marvel will focus on the story of Danny Rand, who returns home to New York after going missing for the past 15 years and he’s back to reclaim his family’s company. Danny also secretly harnesses the power of ‘Iron Fist’ — an ancient weapon that he possesses and uses along with his martial arts training.
Danny Rand is played by Finn Jones, best known for his role as Loras Tyrell on ‘Game of Thrones’ and he’s joined by several new cast members as well as some familiar faces from the other Marvel series on Netflix. Iron Fist is the last piece of the puzzle that needs to happen before ‘The Defenders’ can fully form for the limited edition series due out later this year.
While ‘Iron Fist’ certainly isn’t as well known of a character, Marvel has created three previous series — ‘Daredevil’, ‘Jessica Jones’ and ‘Luke Cage’ — which have all been absolutely amazing. It’s hard to believe ‘Iron Fist’ won’t follow suit.
Another new Marvel series will follow a group of powerful beings known as ‘The Inhumans’, which was originally supposed to be a film but now comes to television instead.
The Inhumans are a group of powered super humans, who have been transformed after interacting with the Terrigen mist — an alien infused substance that gives abilities to those with the latent gene in their DNA.
The Inhumans are led by Black Bolt along with the Royal Family, a group of like minded super powered inhumans including his wife Medusa.
The first episode of ‘The Inhumans’ will debut in IMAX theaters this fall with the entire season then airing on ABC. It’s a rather ambitious project for Marvel but certainly one worth checking out.
Mr. Robot Season 3
Network: USA Network
‘Mr. Robot’ season 2 spent a lot of time bringing Elliot back into his duties as a member of F Society but in the end he still wasn’t sold on the total destruction of Evil Corp and it led to him being shot by his old pal Tyrell Wellick. It’s later revealed that Elliot’s good friend Angela is much more involved than we originally suspected as the Dark Army continues to work to take down Evil Corp from the inside out.
Meanwhile, the FBI is much closer to the heart of F Society than anyone could have expected following Agent Dom DiPierro’s revelation that they’ve already mapped out the hierarchy of the group all the way down to Elliot and his pal Tyrell Wellick.
‘Mr. Robot’ season 2 didn’t receive the same critical reception as season one, but it was still a very strong sophomore effort. The third season promises to be taut with tension as the FBI closes in on F Society and Elliot recovers from his gunshot wound.
The limited edition revival of the popular show from the early 1990’s will see just about everybody back from the original cast and crew including show creator David Lynch.
There’s not much known about the ‘Twin Peaks’ revival other than it picks up 25 years after the original series and is a continuation of the story instead of a reboot.
‘Twin Peaks’ was one of those beloved cult hits that continued to carry a following over the past 20-plus years so even without knowing much about this show going into the revival, if you watched the original, you’ll tune in for this one as well.
Orange is the New Black Season 5
‘Orange is the New Black’ season 4 was by far one of the strongest seasons yet of this Netflix series revolving around a women’s prison in Connecticut. After the tragic death of a major character in the penultimate episode during season 4, not to mention the constant over crowding and abuse from the guards, ‘Orange is the New Black’ season 5 should be explosive from the start.
When the show came to an end, the prisoners were launching an uprising against the guards with one being held at gunpoint as the last episode faded to black. It’s impossible to tell when ‘Orange is the New Black’ will pick up for season 5, but there’s no doubt we’ll be there ready to watch it.
Even more shows to check out in 2017:
‘The Deuce’ — HBO
‘Feud’ — FX
‘American Horror Story’ Season 7 — FX
‘The Americans’ — FX
‘Powerless’ — NBC
‘Black Mirror’ — Netflix
‘Mindhunter’ — Netflix
‘House of Cards’ Season 5 — Netflix
‘Silicon Valley’ Season 4 — HBO