5 Biggest New TV Shows Of July 2024

Robots and gladiators and cats make for some summer fun.

July 2024 TV Shows

July it is, and sure enough one of the upcoming shows this month is actually called ‘Sunny’. Had there also been a documentary called ‘Scorcher’ and a farce called ‘Weekend at Margate’ on the slate, this column would basically have written itself. But there is a certain amount of seaside Punch-and-Judy fun to be had this coming month, not least in a historo-drama about Roman gladiators (very much the end-of-the-pier seaside entertainments of their time).

1. Sunny | July 10th, 2024

Rashida Jones plays an American expat living in Japan, whose husband and son are on a plane that crashes. They’re presumed dead, but Jones isn’t so sure, and goes looking for them, investigating the circumstances of the crash with the help of a – record scratch – helpful robot?
This kind of plot is no longer so very sci-fi. The modern amateur sleuth looking into anything will do so with the help of at least one search engine, and it’s quite possible they’ll access these by shouting a command at whatever AI box they have about the house. Here, though, the robot can actually move of its own volition, and is voiced by Joanna Sotomura, two features yet to be widely available on the consumer market.

2. Exploding Kittens | July 12th, 2024

Yes, this is an adaptation of the popular card game. Even given the caveat that beloved board game Battleships became a popcorn blockbuster in 2012, that may not necessarily fill you with confidence – but what might is knowing that it’s King of the Hill dream team Mike Judge and Greg Daniels at work behind the scenes.
The plot here is that God (Tom Ellis) gets fired from his job as creator of all things and is sent to earth to live as a housecat. His neighbour housecat is of course Satan (Sasheer Zamata). It was on reading this that I started to worry about the ‘adult’ in its description as ‘adult animated comedy’, since without that, this could be perfect Looney Tunes material – the almighty and man’s enemy knocking seven bells out of each other with help from some fine Acme products.

3. Those About To Die | July 18th, 2024

TV’s Spartacus was cut off in its prime when the lead died at a tragically young age – is this gladiator-centric historical epic going to pick up the baton? Not to change the subject entirely, this has roped in Sir Anthony Hopkins as the Emperor Vespasian, and I for one wish the man nothing less than rude good health for a long time yet. It’s also got Tom Hughes, Sara Martins, Rupert Penry-Jones, Gabriella Pession, and Iwan Rheon in the kind of bad-egg role I fear he’s now stuck with.
There is of course a sequel to Ridley Scott’s Gladiator on the way to the cinema later this year, but Those About To Die can go toe to toe with that cachet. I’ve mentioned Hopkins’ involvement, and behind the scenes it’s got Roland Emmerich and Robert Rodat (writer of Saving Private Ryan) involved. If you ever wanted a test case for the popcorn blockbuster making the move to television, this would be it.

4. Time Bandits | July 24th, 2024

A television adaptation of Terry Gilliam’s time-hopping 1981 adventure, Time Bandits sees a lucky child protagonist being whisked away on an adventure by a ragtag bunch of professional thieves. In the original they’d been exiled from heaven and ultimately fought the devil, to give some sense of the stakes and tone involved.
Taking charge of this version of Time Bandits are Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi, they of What We Do In The Shadows fame. But as a fan of Gilliam’s original film, I have to query the adaptation not having an all-little-person main cast – certainly I understand why people might look askance at that in this day and age, but the vertically challenged only get so many opportunities for major acting roles, and so many fewer where they’re actual characters rather than the comic relief.

5. The Decameron | June 25th, 2024

Inspired by the 14th century story collection – in the broadest possible sense – this has nobles and their servants locking down in 1348, waiting for the end of the pandemic (in this case the Black Death) that’s rudely thrust them all indoors for the duration.
The original book was, like The Canterbury Tales and 1001 Nights, a sort of proto-anthology, where the lockdown setup is a framing device to have its characters tell all sorts of stories of their own. In all probability these won’t be direct translations of the original Florentine tales, but probably will take advantage of our looser morals and codes of conduct (by, e.g., having characters deny geocentrism).
It is a loose adaptation, though. And having got in a cast of fairly big names (Zosia Mamet, Saoirse-Monica Jackson, Tanya Reynolds, Amar Chadha-Patel, Leila Farzad, Lou Gala, Karan Gill, Tony Hale, Douggie McMeekin, and Jessica Plummer), it’s likely they won’t just be limited to flapping their gums as we cross-dissolve to a different story – and may well have tempers fray from being stuck inside together.

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