New Slate Of TV Shows Delivers Drama And Fun

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With the ever-expanding network of shows available through cable and streaming services, how can you decide what shows are worth your time? Check out this handy guide of newly released and upcoming programs to find a few that fit your preferences.

DRAMA

 

“Truth Be Told”
Premiered December 6
Fridays on Apple TV+

 

Guilty or not guilty? A teenage boy was convicted of murdering his neighbor, and nearly 20 years later, podcaster Poppy Parnell (Octavia Spencer) is delving back into the case to prove his innocence.

Based on Kathleen Barber’s book, formerly titled “Are You Sleeping,” the Apple TV+ program attempts to distinguish itself from similar shows by weaving in a web of secrets that connects both major and minor characters. The star-studded cast includes Lizzy Caplan (“Cloverfield” and “Mean Girls”) as Josie and Lanie Buhrman, Aaron Paul (“Breaking Bad”) as inmate Warren Cave, and Ron Cephas Jones (“This Is Us”) as Parnell’s father.

“Truth Be Told” is a notch above the run-of-the-mill crime drama. Viewers longing for their short-term whodunit fix will likely enjoy the show, whereas others might find it lacking in originality.

“Reprisal”

Premiered December 6

All episodes streaming on Hulu

 

Hulu’s noir thriller “Reprisal” doesn’t waste any time, starting with an ominous scene that leaves a woman (played by Abigail Spencer) chained to a truck and left for dead. Years later, using the alias Doris Quinn, she’s out to get revenge against the Banished Brawlers gang that wronged her, but she also faces a new challenge in the form of a Detroit mobster (played by Ron Perlman of “Sons of Anarchy”), who wants to take over the restaurant she’s inheriting from her dying husband.

Created by Josh Corbin, “Reprisal” features solid acting and plenty of intrigue. It also transports the audience to a vibrant world with hot rods and the retro music of the Bang-A-Rang club. It’s a pulpy, fun-filled ride that leaves several characters covered in blood.

“Soundtrack”

Premiered December 18

All episodes streaming on Netflix

Joshua Safran’s new series is partially told through story and partially conveyed by the main characters’ spontaneous attempts to lip-sync songs. The show emphasizes a song’s ability to make us feel human and enhance our emotions. While the show may become a new favorite for fans of musicals, it often falls flat because for every song that propels the story forward and elicits genuine sympathy or concern for a character, there is another song that feels out of place, wasted for the sake of meeting an arbitrary quota. Enjoy the show for its choreography and flair. Just don’t expect to yell “encore!” after the final song.

“Dare Me”

Premiered December 29

Sundays at 10:00pm on USA Network

Based on the novel by Megan Abbott, “Dare Me” dives into the cutthroat world of competitive high school cheerleading. However, the show is about much more than that. As the teenagers vie for top placement in their sport, they simultaneously become entangled in conflicts that arise from jealousy and small-town secrets.

The tension starts brewing in the first episode as two friends, played by Herizen Guardiola and Marlo Kelly, see their relationship fractured after the arrival of their new coach, Colette French (Willa Fitzgerald from MTV’s “Scream”).

“Dare Me” is an authentic look at the challenges and peer pressure associated with high school. Note that the show includes adult themes and situations.

“Deputy”

Premiered January 2

Thursdays at 9:00pm on FOX

 

Bill Hollister (Stephen Dorff of “True Detective”) is an old-school lawman who makes decisions based on his own moral code. That sometimes means breaking the law in order to catch criminals. His methods are scrutinized by some of his colleagues, but that fact becomes moot when the elected Los Angeles sheriff dies and Hollister takes his place since he is the longest-serving officer in the sheriff’s mounted posse.

Hollister detests press conferences and the limelight, yet he has a flair for playing the outlaw, finding himself in shootouts and car chases. Expect to find action-packed sequences and procedural narratives. Don’t turn to this program if you’re looking for fresh dialogue or a show that’s reinventing the wheel.

“The New Pope”

Premiered January 13

HBO

 

A spinoff of “The Young Pope,” this show explores the hidden world of the Vatican City. Jude Law and John Malkovich star in the drama.

 

“The Outsider”

Premiered January 12

HBO

Based on Stephen King’s bestselling novel of the same name, “The Outsider” begins by following a seemingly straightforward investigation into the gruesome murder of a young boy. But when an insidious supernatural force edges its way into the case, it leads a seasoned cop and an unorthodox investigator to question everything they believe in.

CRIME

“FBI: Most Wanted”

Premiered January 7

Tuesdays at 9:00pm on CBS

 

Dick Wolf, the producer behind “Law & Order” and “Chicago Fire,” is the brainchild behind this high-stakes drama focusing on the Fugitive Task Force, which relentlessly tracks and captures the notorious criminals on the FBI’s Most Wanted list.

“Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector”

Premiered January 10

Fridays at 8:00pm on NBC

NBC has had its hits and misses with police procedural shows. The network’s latest attempt is based on Jeffery Deaver novel about a criminologist who suffered a terrible accident. Now he’s coming out of retirement to solve a murder that seemingly points back to the “bone collector,” the killer who left him paralyzed. With the help of young officer Amelia Sachs, he seeks to catch the psychopath, but both Rhyme and Sachs get caught up in a deadly game of cat and mouse.

SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

“The Witcher”

Premiered December 20

All episodes streaming on Netflix

 

“The Witcher” has polarized critics and regular viewers alike because of its approach to storytelling and plainspoken main character, Geralt of Rivia, a burly, white-haired monster hunter portrayed by Henry Cavill (“Man of Steel”).

Before its release, “The Witcher” was heralded as the next “Game of Thrones,” a sprawling fantasy epic comprised of plot twists and action. While both shows are fantastical, the similarities end there. In its disjointed pilot, “The Witcher” lays the groundwork for multiple storylines but moves too quickly through one storyline in particular, causing the “tragic” events to be feel inconsequential.

Inspired by the stories of Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski and ensuing video game adaptations, “The Witcher” improves over the course of several episodes, though, and is worth watching if you can exert some patience and enjoy the action without getting too caught up in the show’s shortcomings.

COMEDY

“AJ and the Queen”

Premiered January 10

All episodes streaming on Netflix

While traveling across the country in a run-down RV, drag queen Ruby Red discovers an unlikely sidekick in AJ: a tough-talking 10-year-old stowaway.

ANIMATED/KIDS SERIES

 

“Fast & Furious: Spy Racers”

Premiered December 26

All episodes streaming on Netflix

 

“Fast & Furious: Spy Racers” follows a group of teenagers who are recruited by a government agency to infiltrate an elite racing league controlled by a nefarious organization bent on world domination. No problem, right? Leading the crew is Tony Toretto, the cousin of Dominic Toretto, who is again portrayed – at least in voice – by Vin Diesel. With kid-friendly jokes and exciting stunts, the show is sure to charm younger viewers.

REALITY TV & INVESTIGATIVE SERIES

“Expedition Bigfoot”

Premiered December 8

Sundays on Travel Channel

A team of Sasquatch specialists go on a three-week expedition into the unforgiving Oregon wilderness to find Bigfoot with the help of new technology. Depending on your belief in Bigfoot lore, the show will either come off as hokey or revelatory.

 

“Lost in the Wild”

Premiered December 29

Sundays on Travel Channel

 

In this eight-episode series, veteran explorers Kinga Philipps and J.J. Kelley investigate the most-fascinating missing person cases on the planet. From Panama to the fabled lost city of Akakor, various parts of the globe are traversed as Philipps and Kelley look into cases new and old, speaking to witnesses, experts and locals in their quest to find the truth.

“Flirty Dancing”

Premiered December 29

Wednesdays at 8:00pm on FOX

Hosted by Jenna Dewan, “Flirty Dancing” offers a new take on blind dating. In each episode, a single man or woman must learn two dances and perform each one with two potential matches. But here’s the catch: there’s no small talk. The bachelor or bachelorette must pick a match solely on the chemistry felt during the dance routines.

“Flirty Dancing” is heartfelt and genuine, even if the formula gets a bit repetitive.

Several other shows are also debuting in late January and February. From “9-1-1” co-creators Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk and Tim Minear, “9-1-1: Lone Star” follows a sophisticated New York cop who, along with his son, relocates to Austin and must try to balance the duties of saving those who are at their most vulnerable and solving the problems in his own life. Starting January 19 on FOX, that series stars Rob Lowe and Liv Tyler. The Paramount Network program “68 Whiskey” will chronicle the lives of a diverse group of Army medics stationed in Afghanistan. Created by executive producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer, the comedy-drama airs January 15.

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