Although Black Mirror’s choose-your-own-adventure paean to choose-your-own-adventures Bandersnatch has taken the internet by storm with everyone who’s anyone now helplessly stuck on the fence attempting to negotiate the classic Sophie’s Choice between Sugar Puffs and Frosties, it has been suggested that other television shows still exist. And while these mysterious other TV shows for January 2019 may be less interactive, it must come as a blessed relief for anyone who can’t stand ‘80s synthpop.
1. Young Justice: Outsiders | January 4
In the cinema, DC seems to be condemned to playing catch-up to Marvel, who between the first Iron Man and the first Avengers managed to change the landscape of superhero films forever. But in television, it’s a very different story – last year saw Marvel’s Daredevil, Luke Cage, and Iron Fist all getting the can in one fell swoop, whereas DC’s flying high enough that they’ve brought back Young Justice.
Originally this was just another Cartoon Network animated series, back in the halcyon days of – goodness, less than ten years ago – when most superhero shows were little more than support mechanisms for Mattel’s pressing need to get paid. But after it maintained healthy viewing figures on Netflix, not to mention the solid fandom driving that, DC dusted it off and made it one of the flagship titles for their new digital streaming service, DC Universe (whose other flagship was Titans, a live-action iteration of the similarly well-received Teen Titans franchise).
2. Brooklyn Nine-Nine | January 10
Given his tenure with The Lonely Island, Andy Samberg would have been more than entitled to wander into a Law & Order spinoff and spend the rest of his days phoning it in and making obscene amounts of money for providing background noise in any number of suburban homes. Instead he turned out what’s probably the best beat-cop comedy since Leslie Nielsen’s Police Squad – which, when Fox tried cancelling it earlier this year, brought on such sound and fury that it was snapped up by NBC almost literally overnight.
The Nine-Nine has been particularly notable for its representation of LGBT characters, in partic ular Andre Braugher’s Captain Holt, television’s least stereotypical gay man since Omar Little himself, and more recently seeing Stephanie Beatriz’s Rosa Diaz coming out as bisexual – granted, the surly and often violent Diaz is a fair bit closer to how gay women tend to be portrayed, but this is perhaps more forgivable as this coincided with Beatriz herself coming out as bisexual.
Going into the sixth season, the big concern is over the fifth season finale, where Jake (Samberg) and Amy (Melissa Fumero) got married – a will-they-won’t-they relationship suddenly resolving itself being one of the traditional forms of a show jumping the shark. The show had the sense to nix the no-they-won’t relationship between Boyle and Diaz, so you can probably give them the benefit of the doubt – but watch out for any promising plotlines being derailed by Terry’s kids getting into dumb trouble.
3. Star Trek: Discovery | January 17
Despite the core concept being a look into humanity’s glorious future, Star Trek’s internal chronology hasn’t taken a step forward since Voyager ended all the way back in 2001. Instead it’s chosen to retread its past glories about as shamelessly as its sibling rival Star Wars, with the film reboots bringing back Captain Kirk in the form of an actor whose waistline can still fit on the screen, the return of Patrick Stewart’s Captain Picard still in the pipeline, and with Discovery – the second prequel series in a row – having left off its first season on the cliffhanger of running into a certain starship Enterprise.
Call it the spirit of the age that we are simply unable to conjure an optimistic future, even though the original series was created in the shadow of the Cold War and still had Americans and Russians rubbing along together. And it’s not even that iteration of the Enterprise that Discovery’s stumbled upon, but rather the slightly more sombre version from the pilot episode, under Captain Pike – a pale shadow of Kirk, who didn’t succeed in making the ‘60s-era misogyny a fun thing and who eventually showed up in the series proper crippled and mutilated.
This season also promises to wheel out Mr Spock, who despite Kirk’s womanising was always the sexy one (it was a mix of the stoicism and the ears) – and is also the adoptive brother of Discovery’s protagonist Michael, in classic Trek OC style. It’s not all leaning on the original series, though, although even this element is far from original – they’re also incorporating the Federation’s Section 31, the official not-the-good-guys office from Deep Space 9 and the days when the Cold War . So, yes, it’s both a past glory and definitively non-optimistic. Just what they’re after.
4. Black Monday | January 20
No less a person than Mel Brooks noted ‘tragedy is when I cut my finger – comedy is when you fall in an open sewer and die’. Without wishing to suggest there’s anything sewer-like about global financial institutions, this is pretty much the reason why the traditionally dry subject of stock market crashes can be mined for laughs. Black Monday is the popular name for Monday, October 19th, 1987, unofficial end of the ‘80s boom years and the worst stock market crash since the one in 1929 which kicked off the great depression.
While there’s bound to be the requisite amount of ‘80s-style glitz and bad suits, this is the opposite of productions like The Wolf Of Wall Street, where rather than voyeuristically hearing all about how rich and fucked-up the moneymen eventually become, we find ourselves rubbernecking as they drive the economy into a wall. Nobody ever actually threw themselves from the windows of Wall Street office blocks, but that’s not to say they wouldn’t have wanted to.
5. I Am The Night | January 28
We come full-circle here, back to the world of comic book adaptations – though despite that title, this isn’t a primetime Batman outing. This miniseries sees Chris Pine (most wintery-smelling of all the current leading men called Chris) working with Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins once more.
Little has been released about the series – indeed, most of the press packs didn’t give an exact première date – but we do know that it stars India Eisley (The Secret Life of the American Teenager) as an orphan trying to track down her birth mother, and, in a bit of a giveaway for that mystery, that it ties into the still-unsolved Black Dahlia murder.