The best upcoming TV shows for 2018 - from Legion to Westworld

Luke Cage season 2

Where and when can I watch it?  Netflix worldwide on June 22

What is it? Better than Iron Fist and Daredevil season 2, but not quite as good as Jessica Jones or The Punisher, Luke Cage's first season was eight episodes of really great material plus an extra five that nobody asked for. It's a show that suffered the hardest from Marvel's insistence on a baker's dozen of episodes per season, with a last-minute side-story featuring Diamondback that was baggy, melodramatic, and wholly uninteresting. 

With Diamondback out of the way, season 2 will likely focus on Alfre Woodard's much more intriguing antagonist, Black Mariah, and Mike Colter is always fun to watch as the charismatic Power Man himself. The first trailer shows him sauntering forth from the debris of an exploded truck; if that's the kind of mission statement season 2 is hoping to deliver on this year, then bring it on. 

The Rain season 1

Where and when can I watch it? Netflix in Spring (TBC)

What is it? You've seen the end of the world brought about by zombies, mist, and nuclear warfare. Now, Netflix's first Danish original series wants to scare you with *whisper it* the weather. Set in a dilapidated Scandinavia years after most of its populace has been wiped out by a fatal virus carried by the rain, the show focuses on a group of survivors as they navigate the new world together and presumably avoid those perilous drops of precipitation at all costs. The big question? Will The Rain be able to make...well, the rain seem like a scary and formidable threat? Netflix's teaser trailer suggests that all signs point to yes, so you better start stockpiling the umbrellas.  

Sharp Objects season 1 

Where and when can I watch it? HBO (US) and Sky Atlantic (UK) in Summer (TBC)

If you want to be certain about the prospects of an upcoming production, the rule of thumb is that if Amy Adams is involved, it’s going to be good. Going by that maxim, Sharp Objects is already shaping up to be something very special indeed. It’s HBO’s next big crime thriller, centered around a psychologically tortured reporter returning to her hometown to investigate the disturbing murder of two young girls. 

If that plot synopsis hasn’t already given it away, Sharp Objects isn’t going to be an easy watch for the faint hearted, but with director Jean-Marc Vallée (Dallas Buyers Club, Big Little Lies) at the wheel, you can anticipate a certain prestige of filmmaking that HBO has always been good at cultivating. With Game of Thrones season 8 out of the picture till next year, this might just be your next favourite HBO show of choice for 2018. 

Image: Entertainment Weekly

Doctor Who season 11

Where and when can I watch it? BBC in Autumn, TBC

What is it? The very first female Doctor (Jodie Whittaker) will get her premiere season late in 2018. While debate has - predictably - focused on the gender of this new Timelord, the show will ultimately live or die by the supporting characters, their chemistry, and the quality of the plotlines. Peter Capaldi's run only just got going in season 10, so let's hope that momentum carries over into the new show. The Christmas episode has already set the tone, but the rest of the narratives really are up for grabs. Whether or not you agree with Whittaker as the new Doctor... this show should be a cracking watch later in 2018.

Luther season 5

Where and when can I watch it? BBC One (UK) & BBC America (US). Date TBC

What is it? The surprise return of the character that first put Idris Elba on the map; Detective John Luther. It’s a BBC mystery thriller series with a disturbing focus on London’s serial killers, but the show has always thrived thanks to the charisma of its ever enthralling central star. The troubled British detective is hardly an original archetype, but Elba channels Luther’s world-weary stoicism with such power and potency that it’s impossible to look away, even when the show goes full blown gothic horror during its (many) murder scenes. 

The grizzly London setting is another standout, too, used effectively to establish the kind of sinister atmosphere that’ll stay under your skin long after the credits roll. It looks as though the oft-discussed Luther movie remains firmly in the pipeline for now, but series co-creator Neil Cross has promised that four episodes will be airing on the BBC at some point in 2018. The details of the plot remains entirely under wraps, but hopefully it’ll bring the return of Luther’s enigmatic suspect turned accomplice, Alice Walker.

Maniac season 1 

Where and when can I watch it? On Netflix later this year (Worldwide, TBC)

A Netflix remake of a Norwegian black comedy starring Emma Stone and Jonah Hill, you say? That’s not a lot to go on, with no trailer or release date yet in sight, but it’s more than enough to tickle the interest of anyone with a taste for the abstract. Set in a psychiatric hospital, Maniac follows the made-up adventures of two institutionalised patients as they imagine a fantasy life beyond the walls of their medical confines. It’s directed by Cary Fukunaga, of all people, best known for his work on True Detective (the first, much better season), so it’s safe to say that this dark comedy will probably be more dark than comedy, depending on your sense of humour. Either way, Maniac is one to watch for 2018.

G.L.O.W. season 2

Where and when can I watch it? Netflix. Date TBC

What is it? A second outing with the girls of GLOW (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling), who beat the odds to launch a women’s-only wrestling TV show in the first season. Where it all goes from here is a mystery, but the plot is always secondary to the loveable cast of characters and the genuinely funny scripting. The rift between Ruth and Debbie is by no means healed, and it’ll be interesting to see how they work together during GLOW’s on-air run. 

We also know that Cherry has a new job in another TV show, so we’ll either see her desperate to return to GLOW, or a replacement brought in to keep the girls in line. It seems unlikely Sam will change much, and his zero-fucks-given attitude is one of the best bits of season 1, although he will likely have to navigate the responsibilities of fatherhood in his own, unique way. Either way, as long as we get some killer 80s tunes, a bit of neon, and plenty of spandex, GLOW 2 should be a triumph. 

The Witcher season 1

Where and when can I watch it? Netflix. Date TBC

What is it? Based on Andrzej Sapkowski’s original novels rather than the video game series, Netflix’s Witcher adaptation nevertheless sounds like it will translate all of the key elements that have made the series so beloved in all of its forms. The gritty, shit-encrusted, all-too relatable fantasy world, that eschews idealised heroes and unicorns (except in one NFSW case) for a place driven by the same social, economic, political, and personal ills that often plague the real world. 

The “unconventional family” of characters, who come together to wearily fight for the good in a crapsack world. The sheer, believable, human heart of the thing, from foibles, to ennui, to outright, often darkly weird, laughs. With the producers of the brilliant – and similarly grounded – sci-fi show The Expanse on board, this has all the potential in the world to get The Witcher right. 

Taboo season 2

Where and when can I watch it? BBC. Date TBC

What is it? Watching Tom Hardy incomprehensibly growl his way through all eight episodes of season 1 was, genuinely, a bit of a TV highlight for me. The actor played James Keziah Delaney so enigmatically, punctuating his normally guarded exterior with moments of extreme violence and near-insanity, making for a show that felt delightfully unpredictable to the end. 

Now that Delaney and his friends are off to claim the (fun-to-say) Nootka Sound for themselves, we’ll likely see an adventure set in America, with more tense diplomacy and - very likely - substantially more violence than the original season. Perhaps we’ll get to the bottom of Delaney’s visions, and the suggestion that he’s practising witchcraft. Maybe that was already explained in the first series, but Hardy’s growl was just too low-pitched for the human ear to comprehend.

Castle Rock season 1

Where and when can I watch it? Hulu (US), TBC (UK). Date TBC

What is it? Okay, this one is very, very exciting indeed, more than a little weird, and has the potential to be the breakout horror hit of the year. A Stephen King adaptation headed up by JJ Abrams, Castle Rock isn’t based on any one specific King novel or story, but all of them. Set in the titular town, which acts as the setting for, and a reference point in, tons of King’s writing, the show is an attempt to connect the King universe in some tangible, but currently unexplained, fashion, with a teaser trailer that references characters and concepts from pretty much the author’s entire body of work. With iconic King movie actors Sissy Spacek (Carrie), and Bill Skarsgard (It 2017) on board as unspecified characters, this whole show only gets curiouser and curiouser. 

Daredevil season 3

Where and when can I watch it? Netflix. Date TBC

What is it? Following on from Matt Murdoch’s implausible survival at the very end of The Defenders, it seems likely Daredevil will begin with his recovery at the hospital before leading to more city-saving, baddo-punching action. The final scene of Defenders echoes the Daredevil ‘Born Again’ comic plotline, in which Wilson Fisk (currently jailed) learns Daredevil’s true identity. Karen and Foggy - both alive, kicking, and liberally hopping between Marvel TV shows - will almost certainly be back. 

The hot money is on Bullseye being the main antagonist in this season, although who he’ll be played by and what he’ll actually want is very much a mystery. Will we see cameos from other Marvel characters? Well, that seems inevitable after The Defenders, although let’s hope the Immortal Iron Fist has decided to go on retreat to some far-away land for the duration of this season. No-one wants his sulky brand of punching in this show.