Don't panic, this isn't some ill-conceived TV spin-off of the Aliens movie franchise featuring some blandly pretty young Ripley. Instead, it's a 'funny, shockingly violent and at times positively hallucinogenic' show about aliens living among us, in a segregated community of their own. So it's a bit of a metaphor about racism and class and belonging, but with lots of aliens and violence, with a District 9-like edge. Oh, and it's got newly minted superstar Michaela Coel, who found fame in 2015 with Chewing Gum.
12 Monkeys, Syfy
Now here's a show that definitely should have sucked. After all, the original 12 Monkeys movie was a stone-cold sci-fi classic with the kind of flamboyantly surreal vibe that was pure Terry Gilliam. Luckily, the TV version dared to go its own way rather than simply ape its predecessor (pun fully intended). Now it's back for a new season, with our tormented post-apocalyptic hero James Cole embroiled in more dark, twisted, timey wimey misadventures. Except he’d never ever use the phrase 'timey wimey'.
The issues surrounding the Mexico/United States border continue to ignite fiery debates about cultural identity, xenophobia, poverty and politics. So is it really wise for the twisted minds behind Family Guy to make a bad taste comedy about it? Absolutely not, which is why we can’t wait to watch the saga of Bud Buckwald and Ernesto Gonzalez, who live in the state of 'Mexifornia'. Expect the sorts of jokes you can never actually repeat at work without being reported to HR. We won't tell if you won't.
Cuckoo, BBC Three
Greg Davies and Taylor Lautner are back with their incredulous sneers and incredible abs (respectively) as this hoot-out-loud sitcom returns. It seems the Thompson family can never be rid of meddling hippies, as Dale swoops back to the nest just as everyone was ready to get on with their lives. And apparently he's a totally changed person now. In a good or bad way? Hmm, we're going to go out on a limb and guess 'bad verging on catastrophic for all involved'.
The X-Files, Channel 5
The Smoking Man is back, The Lone Gunmen are back. Mulder and frickin' SCULLY are back. Yes, it's time to party like it's 1995 as our favourite feds go on the hunt for aliens (and shady government conspiracies) all over again. It's only a miniseries rather than a full run, but this will hopefully be enough to banish memories of the lacklustre movies and recapture the eerie magic and chemistry of the glory days. The truth is out there. Well actually it's on Channel 5.
Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Watch
Look, not every show has to be some major epic event that will have you nattering excitedly to your pals the next day. Sometimes you just want to flop out in front of a comfily formulaic procedural. And this is where the latest Criminal Minds spin-off comes in. This one's about FBI agents tackling cases involving US citizens on foreign soil, so we can expect some rather more excitingly exotic locations than usual. Plus, it's got Gary Sinise, hopping over from the CSI franchise to basically do the exact same clenched jaw hero shtick here.
A former Miss World playing a stunningly beautiful FBI agent implicated in a major terrorist attack? Sounds... different. And Quantico is indeed being hyped as an unlikely hybrid of two very different shows: Grey's Anatomy and Homeland. So there's tense political conspiracy stuff and nerve-jangling violence, intermingled with beautiful people exchanging sassy quips, smouldering looks, and gossip about their sex lives. It could be a terrible travesty of a show. Or it could be the best new guilty pleasure of 2016.
Limitless, Sky Living
You remember Limitless, the film where Bradley Cooper popped a pill which gave his brain super powers, but also made everything go a bit pear-shaped? Well now we’re getting a small screen version, but – interestingly – this is actually a sequel rather than a reboot. Bradley Cooper will even be making a cameo appearance in his old role, while a new hero will be taking the medication and using his newfound brain-brilliance to help the FBI solve a bunch of crimes. Dexter fans will be glad to see Jennifer Carpenter on board too.
Lucky Man, Sky1
These days, there are more superhero shows than you can shake a chunk of kryptonite at. But here’s an interesting take on the genre for two reasons: our hero is a cop rather than some caped bloke in lycra, and it's based on a totally new idea by none other than Stan Lee himself. James Nesbitt is DI Harry Clayton, who finds a magic artefact which grants him good luck, and lets him turn his life around... until others come calling for the artefact in question. It looks like even this sort of luck can eventually run out.
Dab away those Downton Abbey tears, because Jericho is already being hailed as the next British TV phenomenon. It's set in the Yorkshire Dales of the 1870s, where a whole load of workers, wanderers, pioneers, entrepreneurs and outcasts have settled into this wild landscape to build a viaduct. In other words, it's a kind of British Western, which is something we've never heard of before. Focusing on a young and penniless widow who sets up a boarding house in this brave new community, Jericho is going to be big. And you won't think of Victorian England in quite the same way again.
Occupied, Sky Arts
Could this be the most controversial show of 2016? Put it this way: it's a geopolitical thriller with Russia as the big bad guy. Not a Russian faction, but actual, proper, official RUSSIA. Conceived by mega-selling crime writer Jo Nesbo, it imagines a world where Norway refuses to supply Europe with oil for environmental reasons, which in turn causes the EU to ask Russia for help. Eager to help, Russia then invades Norway in an act of unimaginable aggression. Little wonder the real-life Russian ambassador to Norway has angrily slammed the drama already. We can't wait.
Rush Hour, E4
They haven't really made a TV version of the Jackie Chan/Chris Tucker movie franchise have they? Oh yes, and it's kicking and screaming onto our screens in 2016. Before you roll your eyes at the very idea of some jumped up newbie attempting to fill Chan's shoes, we can confirm that actor Jon Foo, as well as looking very natty in a suit, is an accomplished martial artist who's already done his time as a stuntman. So expect plenty of kung fu fighting, as well as all the obligatory cop banter to boot.
Peaky Blinders, BBC Two
Peaky Blinders is perhaps the one British TV drama that can stand comparison with US biggies like Mad Men, The Wire and Breaking Bad. So we're very, very excited about its return, especially as this is set to be the biggest series so far, with Birmingham mob boss Tommy Shelby getting embroiled in international intrigue. Leading man Cillian Murphy will be joined by the great Paddy Considine, who's playing 'the representative of a force beyond anything Tommy has previously encountered.' Which sounds ominous and awesome in equal measure.
DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Sky1
DC is really taking the battle to Marvel in 2016, bringing us the closest thing to a small screen take on Justice League. A spin-off from both Arrow and The Flash, this new epic saga brings together a whole load of superheroes and supervillains – including the Atom and Hawkman – to defeat a common foe. Most excitingly for British fans, it also stars Doctor Who alumnus Arthur Darvill as roguish time travelling hero Rip Hunter. Which is about the best name a roguish time travelling hero could ever hope to have.
Upstart Crow, BBC2
There's a new Ben Elton sitcom on its way. Admittedly this is more a cause for alarm than celebration, given his recent track record, but we're allowing ourselves to be cautiously optimistic about Upstart Crow. The premise – David Mitchell plays William Shakespeare! – is a good one. And it's got veteran stars like Harry Enfield and Mark Heap. And the fact it's set in ye olden times means we might be getting the Ben Elton of Blackadder rather than the Ben Elton of The Wright Way (shudder).
Top Gear, BBC1
The BBC must be biting its collective nails about the brave new reboot of Top Gear. They've certainly taken a big risk by casting some virtual unknowns alongside Chris Evans – one of them is German driver Sabine Schmitz, the other is journalist Chris Harris. The latter was once banned from reviewing Lamborghinis for calling them 'the perfect cars for people who can't drive', so he definitely has a suitably irreverent sense of humour. But can they replicate the ridiculous success of the Clarkson/Hammond/May era? Now that really would be a bombshell.
Bates Motel, Universal
A prequel to a classic movie, but set in contemporary times, Bates Motel had every reason not to work. But it does work. In fact, it's rather brilliant, partly due to the deliciously eerie performance of Freddie Highmore as young lunatic-in-waiting Norman Bates. Actually, he's already made the move into full lunacy, and we're looking forward to seeing what further carnage our mummy's boy gets up to in the new season.
Class, BBC Three
Doctor Who meets Buffy and The Hunger Games in this youth orientated spin-off set in Coal Hill School. Proving that there ARE some things scarier than trying to pass your A-levels, it follows a bunch of schoolkids as they deal with teachers, homework and terrifying beasts from across time and space. In the words of Steven Moffat, 'this is growing up in modern Britain - but with monsters!' As Doctor Who off-shoots go, hopefully this'll be more Sarah Jane Adventures than K9 and Company...
Cold Feet, ITV
Imagine being Helen Baxendale right now. All your old Cold Feet friends are getting together for the show's hotly anticipated return, and you can't be part of it because your character was killed off all those years ago, when they had no idea they'd bring the series back. It must be like not being invited to the biggest and best school reunion of all time. Ah well, the show must go on, and who isn't keen to see how life's been treating the gang who captured the zeitgeist of millennial Britain, now that they're well into middle age?
A US remake of the Belgian series Cordon, this is the terrifying saga of a deadly epidemic which breaks out in Atlanta, forcing the authorities to put a huge slice of the city under quarantine. Following a big ensemble cast of characters as they deal with their new, frightening reality inside the hot zone, this is the kind of show that'll make you have a mild panic attack every time you have the sniffles. But it'll be worth it.
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