A plethora of statements have been made by now about the fast changing landscape with respect to television shows, enough to drive home a point, and what ‘Roma’ accomplished for Netflix last year was pretty unprecedented: an Oscar. However, the story is different when it comes to TV shows that pan out longer and struggle with retaining viewership season after season and maintaining significant public interest. The current market is brimming with giants, the obvious leader in the category being Netflix, followed closely by HBO originals, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, each of them fighting for that space in your watchlist, and each has some pretty exceptional shows that warrant it.
Prime Video in particular has been rapidly developing its model and expanding its library, eager to accomplish what Netflix did last year and is all set to do this year as well with Scorsese’s ‘The Irishman’. However, over the years, Prime Originals have shown a remarkable jump in quality, with many of the shows in particular being Emmy favourites, and if the upward trends are any indication, Prime’s slate of upcoming shows and its exciting line-up including a host of returning favourites and a couple of interesting new ones for the year are set to inch it closer to its goal. Here is the list of the upcoming new shows on Amazon Prime in 2019 and 2020. We can only hope that these latest Amazon Prime shows are as good as some of the recent series it produced.
16. Costume Quest
Adding to its already long list of existing cartoon shows catering to younger viewers, Amazon looks to add an original animated series primarily focussed on viewers between the age groups of six to eleven, based on Double Fine Productions’ video game of the same name, wherein four kids must overcome obstacles by unlocking the power of magical costumes and mastering the unique abilities that come along with each of the costumes. Netflix currently has a host of original content for its younger viewers as well, and with ‘Costume Quest’, it is pretty evident that Prime Video may be prepping to add more original content in this domain for reasons of autonomy.
15. The Tick
The Tick primarily works owing to the first rate chemistry between its leads, Peter Serafinowicz as The Tick and Griffin Newman as Arthur Everest, his sidekick. Delightfully violent and true to its comic book roots, ‘The Tick’ is easy afternoon viewing at best, not breaking any new ground, neither intending to do so. After a divided first season, a second season of ‘The Tick’ airs on 5th April this year.
14. American Gods: Season 2
For reasons unexplained, I am instantly drawn to anything Ian McShane is in, however small a part, so it is on record as to why I caught this show. Discounting what got me into it, I’ll get into what made me stay. Quite simply, you will only enjoy the show if old gods, new gods, mythology, history and the sparse interlinkages both offer, coupled with an immense amount of fantasy gore, sex, and well, Ian McShane are your thing. Gladly so, the aesthetic and style (often given precedence over more substance in the show) added to the overall experience of watching ‘American Gods’, but I’m not completely sure if the same will hold for the second season as well. Nevertheless, we have virtually no waiting to do to find out since the second season is out in a couple of days.
13. Inside Edge: Season 2
Another one of Excel Entertainment’s foray into quality Indian television. Come to think of it, Excel Entertainment is the only major Bollywood production house that has made a sizeable contribution to bettering the plagued Indian television set, and most of their original shows on Amazon, a number of popular ones among them being renewed this year, have turned out to be pretty decent. Remarkable among them was 2017’s ‘Inside Edge’, diving into the filth behind the rampant match fixing in the T20 premiere leagues, and one businessman’s greed to have it all. Driven by committed performances from a well-rounded cast including Vivek Oberoi, Richa Chadha. Angad Bedi, Tanuj Virvani and the now heartthrob Siddhant Chaturvedi, we can’t wait for more inside murk on the cricketing world.
12. Mirzapur: Season 2
Apart from the vastly superior ‘Sacred Games’ last year, ‘Mirzapur’ was the only other Indian series to make a sizeable dent in the Indian streaming market, and more importantly so, with respect to the general viewing audience. Unfortunately so, the reason for that were the liberally peppered profanities, the sex scenes and the frequent violence in the show, more than the content itself and the strength of its credible cast, especially a stellar Pankaj Tripathi. However, owing to the immense popularity of the first season among Indian audiences especially, it was only a matter of time before the series returned for a second season, and it does towards the end of this year, reportedly.
11. Made in Heaven
Following closely on the heels of the success of the immensely well made ‘Gully Boy’, Zoya Akhtar quickly returns to the directing chair along with a triad of older Excel Entertainment comrades including Nitya Mehra, Prashant Nair and Alankrita Shrivastava to uncover the scandalous truths behind the famed big fat Indian weddings. Apart from the ridiculous amounts of capital invested, the series focusses on two young wedding planners in the capital city of Delhi trying to navigate their way through such weddings, pealing the layers of hypocrisy of the affluent upper classes. The promos have me sufficiently interested.
10. Sneaky Pete: Season 3
A man out of prison looking to reform his life assumes the identity of his cellmate and reunites with his estranged family, until things don’t go as planned and while running the family business, he is sucked back into the very world he was trying to escape. The highly original premise right there lead to an extremely promising pilot, an amazing first season, and a second season that was still good in parts, but pales in comparison. ‘Sneaky Pete’ showcases the highly underrated talent that Giovanni Ribisi is, especially in the extremely well built up tense moments in the first season, and develops an increasingly enticing narrative of crime and deceit around it. However, following a rather disappointing second season, the show seems to be headed downhill sadly. Here is hoping that the freshly slated third season can change that.
9. McMafia: Season 2
Organised crime goes global in this English thriller about a banker trying to escape the villains of his family’s criminal past. What’s most surprising about this series is how the title almost put me off into not watching the series, but I’m glad that I did. Think generous doses of ‘The Godfather’s family values in parts, coupled with the drive and desperation of the protagonist in ‘Breaking Bad’. ‘McMafia’ doesn’t aspire to the greatness of the aforementioned two, but in itself packs a somewhat solid punch, especially in the bits in the first season where it delves into the global network of organised crime, literally taking you for a ride with it, country after country, and the subtler, underplayed bits of thrilling tension. I for one, can’t personally wait to see the same spot of brilliance in the second season.
8. Goliath: Season 3
‘Goliath’ is the story of a downed lawyer, Billy McBride (played to excellent measure by Billy Bob Thornton) who is now an ambulance chaser after being fired from the very firm he helped build. However, in a twist turn of events, he is approached by a woman on one of these sites to represent her in a wrongful death case, against his former employers, offering him a shot at revenge in a classic David vs. Goliath scenario. It’s a promising premise that is breathed life into by Thornton’s intense performance. However, ‘Goliath’ is the latest in joining the long list of Amazon Prime Video shows that fizzle out following a strong pilot or a strong season, and the second season is testament to what I am talking about. The show has currently been renewed for a third season slated to hit Prime Video in the middle of this year.
7. Homecoming: Season 2
Watching Julia Roberts’ much talked about television debut was a total mixed bag of an experience for me. While I could genuinely appreciate the thought behind the concept of “homecoming” and the amount of visible hardwork put into the show, especially in the lush cinematography, I had a tough time closely following it. Despite that, there is much to appreciate in this espionage thriller, including Roberts who is a completely different story and the star of the show from the word go. Given the plot unfolded rather leisurely in the first season, we will have to wait to tune in to season 2 later this year to find out what sticks, and what doesn’t.
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6. The Man in the High Castle: Season 4
‘The Man in the High Castle’ is the one show I choose to represent “high concept” for me when asked. Based on another one of Philip K Dick’s dystopias, the series depicts an alternate history wherein the allied forces lost in the carnage that was the Second World War, and the combined forces of the Nazi regime and Imperial japan rule the United States and other parts of the world. While I am convinced that this is the history no one would want to be a reality, the show’s impeccable production design and atmospherics will make you believe so. However, as is the story with most great shows today, ‘The Man in the High Castle’ began its journey into steady decline with its third season, and we sincerely hope that the incoming fourth season can change that.
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5. Jack Ryan: Season 2 and 3
‘Jack Ryan’ was my guilty pleasure show last year, and John Krasinski proved to be an unlikely fire cracker of an action star with this show. Agreed that it didn’t go the conventional route as other ‘Jack Ryan’ outings, and is ironically pretty conventional in all respects otherwise, this 8 episode series is easy viewing and ridiculously binge worthy towards the middle with respectable action sequences, placing Krasinski at the centre of it all. It wasn’t a perfect season by a long shot, but it succeeded in entertaining me sufficiently to pine for more seasons. The pining however, finds an end as the second and third seasons of Jack Ryan’s global adventures hit home screens in 2019 and 2020, with undisclosed release dates.
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4. Good Omens
If angels and demons, judgment day, the antichrist and biblical apocalypses are your thing, then ‘Good Omens’ might just be the show of the summer for you. Michael Sheen and David Tennant star as Aziraphale and Crowley respectively, an angel and demon who must team up to stop the end of days. I have a lot of good faith in this show until it debuts in May, and the primary reason behind that would be the involvement of Neil Gaiman in the writing department, the name behind shows like ‘Doctor Who’, ‘Lucifer’ and ‘American Gods’, with his signature wry humour visible from the promos. And when Frances McDormand plays God and Benedict Cumberbatch is Satan, there are bound to be fireworks.
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‘Hanna’ marries two improbably distant subgenres into a cohesive idea, the story of a mysterious 15 year old girl brought up in the wilderness and trained in various forms of combat, being relentlessly pursued by a rogue CIA agent. In that it is both an effective thriller and a coming of age tale for Hanna as she discovers the truth of her identity and existence, played with convincing badassery and a hint of vulnerability in the pilot by Esme creed Miles. From what is known from the synopsis, ‘Hanna’s basic premise is the same as the 2011 film of the same name, but it is yet unclear if the show builds on what the film has already established, or if it will follow a similar, episodically stretched out trajectory. The pilot on Prime Video that received a great response has led to the series being greenlit, and the remaining seven episodes will be available for streaming later this month.
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2. Bosch: Season 5 and 6
One of the very few show on television that has gotten better with each successive season. A great, great show for audiences who can appreciate a nicely made whodunnit, and at the centre of those, a rough around the edges protagonist. Fans of the Michael Connelly series of police procedural novels know and confide that Titus Welliver is nothing short of dream casting for portraying Harry Bosch, right out of the pages. ‘Bosch’ does full justice to its central character, and the crimes at the centre of every season adapted from the novels, bringing the world of Connelly’s novels and downtown LA to life. Following an explosive season 4 finale earlier last year, ‘Bosch’ returns with a fifth season this year, and has already been renewed for a sixth one, slated for 2020.
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1. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel: Season 3
It had been long until I had seen a show with genuinely feel good vibes all around it, and was equally charming and satiating in good measure. ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ has had a victorious run for Prime Video, being a succinct audience favourite as well, and it was only providence that the show be brought back for another season following two excellent, highly awarded seasons preceding it. Rachel Brosnahan is an absolute treasure in the show, her dialogue carefully structured, layered in the way she delivers it, and her stand up acts an absolute roar of hilarity. Undoubtedly the eponymous character is the spine of the show, and we can’t wait to see more of her rather inspiring story unfold. This is quality television that isn’t looking to strike you with a mallet to make you feel, instead taking glee in transporting you to a simpler time with its commendable production design of 50s America. Along with its aptly denoted “marvellous” protagonist, you will be happy to do so, one more time.
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