5 Biggest New TV Shows Of March 2021: Debris, Invincible & More

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Has it really been a year since that fateful March when the coronavirus went from being a curious little news story from China to part of everyone’s lives? Oh well, at least the weather’s getting warmer. Here’s the biggest new TV shows of March 2021.

 

1. Debris | March 1

Unfamiliar space junk? Scattered over several countries? That’s effecting the laws of time and space? Do my eyes deceive me, or is this show drawing shamelessly upon Andrei Tarkovsky’s classic film Stalker?

Admittedly Stalker (and the book it was based on, the Strugatsky brothers’ Roadside Picnic) was never quite as interested in the provenance of the space junk as it was in the kind of people who’d venture into the forbidden zone in search of it. Debris is more likely to go fumbling for some kind of understanding, billing itself as it does as X-Filesish in tone, led by the opposite-sex duo of MI6 agent Riann Steele and CIA agent Jonathan Tucker.

For all The X-Files’s rubber monsters and government intrigue, though, its appeal rested squarely upon David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson looking very pretty as they muddled through that week’s new mystery – so that is the task that now lies before Tucker and Steele, though admittedly from their names alone they already sound like a buddy-cop duo.

 

2. Pacific Rim: The Black | March 4

The line between film and television has become increasingly blurred of late. HBO, which literally stands for ‘Home Box Office’, was explicitly trying to bring film-level production quality to the small screen, but it’s the rise of streaming services that really straddled the divide. So turning Pacific Rim into a Netflix show isn’t so much a spinoff as it is just another entry in the franchise.

Even making it an anime rather than live-action doesn’t make too much of a difference, but that’s mainly because of the nature of Pacific Rim. A film about giant robots fighting giant monsters is natural anime territory, and the original was shamelessly drawing on several strands of Japanese media, so this is really just the idea coming full circle.

 

3. South ParQ: The Vaccination Special | March 10

Whether their irrepressibly scatological takes on current affairs are or aren’t for you, it must be admitted South Park is distinctly bolder in skewering sacred cows than its televisual peers. Where The Simpsons covers an ancient showtune and Family Guy recycles jokes about minorities from the ‘70s, South Park turns out something like their ‘this is what Scientology actually believes’ sequence, which both informs and entertains.

How, then, to satirise something like the QAnon movement? They can’t simply use the same trick of baldly stating ‘this is what QAnon actually believes’, because that seems to change from moment to moment. But in the past they have mocked the phenomenon of internet trolling, which when’s all said and done is the same sort of greasy, foul-smelling wider culture that QAnon grew out of.

The main thing is, QAnon’s lurid and grandiose theories are silly enough in and of themselves that South Park can run absolutely wild with them. Some comedies might struggle to find a way to make a humorous exaggeration of something which is already absurd – South Park, with its history of talking feces and exploding genitals, is not one of them.

 

4. Dealer | March 10

The found footage style, where the work is filmed by the in-universe characters, is usually a preserve of the horror genre (most famously with The Blair Witch Project) – and not to be confused with the mockumentary, which in recent years leans more towards office-based comedies (like Parks & Rec). Using it for a hardboiled crime thriller like Dealer is a lively new direction, which, in this age of the cameraphone, makes more sense by the second.

Despite France’s international image as a place of croissants and the Eiffel tower, it too has its rougher areas and a lively rap scene – two aspects whose paths cross violently and dramatically when some filmmakers go to the bad part of town to shoot a music video, only to discover that literally everyone has guns. Expect vicious power struggles all conducted in lovely lyrical French.

 

5. Invincible | March 26

Will the bottom ever fall out of the superhero media industry? It’s been over ten years since the MCU first started off and the Marvel Studios boys pulled Robert Downey Jr. into a lightless room to explain that if he fucked this up, they would recoup their investment by stapling his face to Timothy Olyphant. Invincible, at least, isn’t another excitable CGI mess, but rather an old-school superhero cartoon, with large buildings littered about just waiting to get wrecked by a supervillain or rubbery monster.

The core of it is a familial relationship, between J.K. Simmons (no longer J. Jonah Jameson, instead a copyright-friendly Superman) and Steven Yeun as his nervous son. Leavening wholesome family content with out-of-this-world wackiness is why Rick & Morty became so beloved before the success went to their heads. Although like Rick & Morty this might well get a bit mired with the high school setting.

If nothing else, Invincible has plenty of tried-and-tested source material to draw on. The comic ran for fifteen years, and curiously, is one of the many comics that Seth Rogen’s been trying to turn into a live-action film – so it must sting slightly that Rogen’s ended up in the voice cast for this version.

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