You’ve heard of it, haven’t you? The Golden Age of television? First coined in the mid-1950s to celebrate the work of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and such genre-defining hits as The Twilight Zone.
Few would argue that the likes of The Wire, Mad Men and Vince Gilligan’s beloved Breaking Bad failed to enthrall viewers week in, week out during their respective times on the airwaves; now, though, in a democratised TV landscape that continues to make more and more room for online content (read: Netflix and Amazon Prime), if we are indeed reveling in a Golden Age of TV, it can at times be a little overwhelming.
Fear not, though, for ahead of a new season of TV content, we’ve put together a handy guide designed to spotlight the latest and arguably greatest shows. So boil the kettle, pull up a chair. Let’s get to it.
Luke Cage (Premiere: September 30)
Whether it’s Avengers Assemble or the more recent Captain America: Civil War, chances are you’ve at least clocked eyes on some of the offerings coming out of Marvel’s cinematic universe. But on the other end of the spectrum, the studio has partnered with Netflix to develop top-tier TV content in the form of Daredevil and the really rather excellent Jessica Jones.
The latest collaboration to come tumbling off the conveyor belt involves Luke Cage, a resident of Harlem who is imbued with tremendous power after a sabotaged experiment leaves him with super strength and unbreakable skin. What lends Netflix’s Hero for Hire a true sense of identity is showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker, who likened Luke Cage to a “hip-hop Western.” That promises plenty of cracking tunes — music from Biggie Smalls and Wu-Tang Clan features — along with an intriguing turn from Mahershala Ali (House of Cards’ Remy Danton) as lead villain Cottonmouth.
Barring a cameo here or there, each series is relatively standalone, too, meaning you can hop into the muscular action of Luke Cage without much prior knowledge of Daredevil or Jessica Jones — or indeed the Marvel universe in general.
Black Mirror Season 3 (Premiere: October 21)
Since its inception in 2011, Charlie Brooker’s British anthology series Black Mirror won over critics and audiences alike by placing a laser focus on modern society and in particular, the consequences that arise from the advent of new technology. Sharp, suspenseful, and deeply satirical, creative touchstones include dystopian masterpieces in the vein of A Clockwork Orange, and it’s hardly surprising that Black Mirror has been lauded with awards from the outset.
Now, Netflix has struck a deal with Brooker to secure a third and fourth season, each comprised of six episodes that will each take a deep dive into themes of societal paranoia and technophobia, all rooted within a dark, warped and gleefully twisted future. It’s a head-scratcher all right, but persevere with Black Mirror’s jet-black tone and you’ll discover a rich viewing experience that is both unsettling and deeply provocative.
The Walking Dead Season 7 (Premiere: October 24)
Channel: Fox UK
Though this will likely appeal exclusively to those who have kept pace with AMC’s flesh-munching flagship since its inception, the excitement going into The Walking Dead season 7 is palpable. Much of that, of course, can be traced back to last season’s nerve-shredding finale, which left viewers on tenterhooks soon after marooning our band of survivors at the mercy of Negan and his twisted weapon of choice, Lucille.
Played with manic glee by Jeffery Dean Morgan, Negan is right up there with the greatest and most compelling villains Robert Kirkman has ever produced, and Morgan himself has spoke of the white-knuckle thrill ride that TWD season 7 has in store. So if you’re hoping for some respite once next month’s premiere episode hits the airwaves, think again.
Atlanta (Premiere: November TBA)
Channel: Fox UK
Donald Glover is a man of many talents. Outside of his work in the music industry as talented rapper Childish Gambino, you’ve likely seen him among the ensemble for now-defunct comedy series Community. This year, Glover is making a return to serialised content with Atlanta, a musical drama he wrote, directed, produced and headlined as Earn Marks, a college drop-out who all but specialises in blue-sky thinking.
Together with his in-demand cousin Alfred Miles (Brian Tyree Henry), he hatches a plan to break into the Atlanta music scene, but first he “must reign in his cousin’s ‘act first, think later’ attitude along with his spaced out sidekick Darius (Lakeith Lee Stanfield).” In what can very much be viewed as a passion project for Donald Glover, Atlanta has already garnered rave reviews following its debut Stateside, and is expected to make its way across the pond in time for November.
Trollhunters (Premiere: December TBA)
Despite a recent price hike, Netflix remains king of on-demand content online. How do we know this? CutCableToday recently carried out a survey revealing that in the face of that 25 percent bump in prices, Netflix subscriber satisfaction is actually up 2 percent. Considering the company’s enviable roster of original series — House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Stranger Things — it’s not too difficult to see why, and the latest of which hails from Mexican storytelling maestro Guillermo del Toro.
Best known as the creative mind behind such beloved hits as Pan’s Labyrinth and Hellboy, del Toro’s new venture is known as Trollhunters, an animated romp based on Daniel Kraus’ fantasy novel. Dubbed a “must-see viewing event for the entire family,” del Toro has a knack for enthralling his audience with spell-binding visuals and a story that is both intricate and memorable. We’ll discover if that streak continues when Trollhunters premieres via Netflix some time in December.