Even as theatrical releases have started to get back to business as usual after near-destruction by the COVID pandemic, the industry’s shifting focus toward the small screen hasn’t stopped.
Like past years, TV in 2023 is looking to be packed full of both big budgets and big stories. But if you’re looking to see exactly when you can tune in, don’t hold your breath. This early, most distributors have tight lips about release dates.
Instead, we’ve gathered some of the most anticipated series, broken them down by type and tell you where you’ll be able to watch them — which, if nothing else, shows how Bell’s Crave might just dominate the streaming wars for 2023.
One woman wrecking crew
If what you’re looking for is a show defined by general chaos, of everything going completely wrong but still carried by the commanding performance of an iconic woman at its centre, 2023 is going to be your year.
First off, the Natasha Lyonne-led, Rian Johnson-created series Poker Face has already garnered considerable buzz. The show follows Lyonne’s Charlie Cale, a detective described by Empire Magazine as “Columbo meets The Dude,” in a mystery-of-the-week format. The series is an obvious nod to classic TV detective shows, and premieres Jan. 26 on Peacock. That streaming service is not available in Canada however, so there’s no confirmed date for release north of the border.
Similarly, the fourth season of True Detective is premiering after four years gone. This season, dubbed Night Country, stars Jodi Foster in the crime anthology’s lead role. It takes place in Alaska, where eight men have disappeared and Foster’s Detective Liz Danvers has been tasked with finding them — or what happened to them. There is no release date, but being an HBO production, it will premiere on Crave in Canada.
And fresh on the heels of the wildly successful Mare of Easttown, Kate Winslett is set to lead HBO’s The Palace. The dark drama also stars Hugh Grant, and centres around a year under the rule of a crumbling authoritarian regime. Little else is known about the series and, like Night Country, it does not have a release date yet.
Finally — and ostensibly radically different — there’s Am I Being Unreasonable? from BBC. In it, Daisy May Cooper plays overly stressed-mother Nic, struggling to repair a failing marriage, parent a child seemingly more mature than her, and grieve a loss she can tell no one about.
While advertising for the show focuses more on the comedy, there is enough of a dark streak for it to border the thriller genre — emphasized by its shattering finale. Though it premiered in the U.K. in 2022, a BBC representative confirmed to CBC that they are currently seeking a North American distributor for this year.
A trip to the library
If there’s one big trend in 2023, it’s series adapted from the bestseller shelf.
The Sympathizer is based on the book of the same name by by Vietnamese American author Viet Thanh Nguyen. Starring Robert Downy Jr. — as well as Transplant‘s Fred Nguyen Khan, with Canadian Don McKellar as co-showrunner — Sympathizer is an espionage thriller that follows a half-French, half-Vietnamese communist spy during the close of the Vietnam War. It is a joint A24 and HBO production, and does not yet have a release date.
Elsewhere, there is All The Light We Cannot See, based on the acclaimed novel by Anthony Doerr. Canadian Shawn Levy directs the Netflix series starring Mark Ruffalo and Hugh Laurie. Newcomer Aria Mia Loberti — who is blind herself and an advocate for the visually impaired — will play blind teenager Marie-Laure as she struggles to survive Nazi-occupied France, and soon meets the young German soldier Werner. There is currently no release date.
Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys, about a young man’s discovery that his estranged father was Anansi, the trickster god from Akan folklore, is also finally making its way to the screen via Prime Video after years of efforts. The series started filming in Scotland in 2021, and stars Whoopi Goldberg, Malachi Kirby (Black Mirror, Roots), and Delroy Lindo. Last year, Gaiman confirmed filming had finished around June and post-production would take about a year.
Lucky Hank is also slated to debut later this year on March 19. It is based on the 1997 novel Straight Man by Richard Russo, and cast Bob Odenkirk in the lead role. The eight-episode series depicts unlikely English department chairman William Henry Devereaux, Jr. (Odenkirk) and his midlife crisis at Railton College — an underfunded Pennsylvania institute. Some eagle-eyed watchers might even recognize those halls, as it was filmed at the University of B.C. in Vancouver over the course of 2022.
As an AMC show, Canadians can get a glimpse through Prime Video with an AMC+ subscription.
Some perennial animated favourites are seeing a second chance this year.
Cult classic Clone High, about (you guessed it) a high school full of clones of historical figures, will debut sometime later this year according to co-creator Christopher Miller. Cancelled after a single season (and immediately after a particularly enraging cliffhanger finale) the show was the subject of a decades-long fan campaign for renewal — which eventually led HBO to ordering two seasons sight unseen in 2021.
Another blast from the past, X-Men ’97 aims to put the crime-fighting superheroes back to work right where they ended off. The original animated X-Men series ran from 1992 to 1997, before the first live-action version of the team of now-iconic Marvel mutants made their debut. The series will make its debut this fall on Disney+ and also has a second season already confirmed.
And while it won’t be animated, Avatar: The Last Airbender is getting another shot at life. The original cartoon series followed Aang, a 12-year-old master of “airbending” in a world ruled by clans and masters, able to manipulate the four elements air, water, earth and fire. The new Netflix show will be live-action, and stars a significantly Canadian cast: Vancouver’s Gordon Cormier will play Aang, young actor Kiawentiio (who led the Canadian FilScreen Awards’ 2021 best motion picture winner Beans) will play supporting character Katara, while Kim’s Convenience‘s Paul Sun-Hyung Lee will play the fan favourite Uncle Iroh. It does not yet have a release date.
Weird and wonderful
A number of strange, but absolutely original, productions are on their way too.
Hello Tomorrow! is a science-fiction dramedy that follows Jack Billings (Billy Crudup), an ambitious salesman selling timeshares — on the moon. It’s set to launch on Feb. 17 on Apple TV+.
Also coming is Dead Ringers, a series adaptation of David Cronenberg’s 1988 film of the same name. While the original cast Jeremy Irons in the dual lead role, the new series casts Rachel Weisz as twins Elliot and Beverly Mantle, obstetricians “on a mission to change the way women birth.” The Prime Video adaptation does not yet have a release date.
Prime Video also has another decidedly dark offering in The Consultant, a pitch-black comedy/espionage thriller starring Christoph Waltz. That series, set to release Feb. 24 (which is also a book adaptation, drawn from Bentley Little’s “corporate horror” novel of the same name) follows a consultant hired to improve efficiency of gaming company CompWare. Unsurprisingly, things don’t go to plan.
And with a nod to the North, more than a few promising Canadian series are expected to drop in 2023.
Essex County is an adaptation of Canadian comic author — known for his work on Moon Knight, Sweet Tooth, Descender and The Underwater Welder — Jeff Lemire’s dreamlike pseudo-memoir. The graphic novel was inspired by Lemire’s own Ontario childhood, and follows four characters in various points in their life: Uncle Lou,10-year-old Lester, country nurse Anne and Ken, the stoic farmer. The five-part series is scheduled to premiere March 19 on CBC Gem.
Little Bird, a Crave original, is the latest from Canadian film and television actor and director Jennifer Podemski. The six-part, one-hour miniseries documents an Indigenous woman’s journey to find her birth parents after being raised by a Jewish family — part of Canada’s infamous “Sixties Scoop” program. There is no release date yet for the series, though Bell currently lists it as “coming soon.”
Though there’s little known about it as yet, a Jay Baruchel and Glenn Howerton-led story of the tumultuous tech company Research In Motion — inventors of the once beloved, now forgotten Blackberry — is slated to come out later this year as first a feature film, and then a series. Adapted from the novel Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry, the production is simply titled Blackberry, and after its eventual theatrical release, will debut as a limited series on CBC Gem.
Along with all the originals, more than a few old favourites have possible though unsure returns in the works.
Following four intertwined series already, the Coen brothers-inspired series Fargo might just be back for one more. Though there’s little released about the new entry in the crime-anthology series, a simple logline gives a bit of information: “Set in 2019, when is a kidnapping not a kidnapping, and what if your wife isn’t yours?”
Another anthology could see a return this year, as Black Mirror is finally gearing up for a Season 6. The newest iteration of the Netflix sci-fi compendium is rumoured to include everyone from Aaron Paul to Salma Hayak and, according to GQ, could land in late 2023 at the earliest.
And while details of the new season of American Crime Story were announced back in 2021, things may have recently accelerated. The Ryan Murphy-led show, which details a different landmark crime from history in each season, was previously revealed to focus on Manhattan’s infamous Studio 54. FX chairman John Landgraf stated at a recent press tour that the series is currently “headed towards production,” according to Variety.
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