Superheroes, singers and spaceships: what can we expect from TV next?

This year’s upfronts have revealed a Katy Perry-starring American Idol reboot, more DC and Marvel shows and the return of Seth MacFarlane

Every spring, the major TV networks gather for the magical week of “upfronts”, a series of panels in which the channels show off their wares for the coming season. As the teases for the 2017-2018 cycle wind down, we’ve taken the liberty of singling out ten notable programs to keep close watch on in the months to come, from a pair of left-of-center superhero projects to NBC’s rejoinder to American Crime Story to the return of Seth MacFarlane to your airwaves. Brace for a whole lot of bingeing in the year to come and read on:

Black Lightning

The Supergirl creator Greg Berlanti will make the CW a little more super when he drags the former DC crimefighter Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) out of retirement to retake the mantle of the electrically-charged hero Black Lightning. After years of living incognito as a high school principal, he’ll return to clear the streets he calls home of gang violence, running afoul of a worthy adversary along the way. The action series will shine a long-overdue spotlight on black talent in the high-exposure world of super-TV – and then max out the bulb.

Marvel’s Inhumans

Fall will see another left-field bit of comic book arcana get a second life on the airwaves, this time on ABC. After fleeing their kingdom on the moon following a military coup, the mutant royal family known as the Inhumans regroup in Hawaii and plot their return to power. Roll call: there’s the mute leader, Black Bolt, whose whisper can level cities; his vengeful brother Maximus; his magic-haired wife Medusa; and of course, the royal teleporting dog Lockjaw. A few shades weirder than the typical Marvel joint, it stands to lure a few diehards away from the Game of Thrones fandom.


Remember RIPD, the megaflop starring Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds as a pair of cops on the supernatural beat? Fox sure hopes you don’t, because that’s pretty much the gist of this new sci-fi comedy, subbing in the sitcom stalwarts Craig Robinson and Adam Scott. The former’s a skeptical LAPD veteran, the latter’s a blanket believer clocking hours at a bookstore, but they’ll have to learn how to work together if they’re going to stand a chance against the forces of paranormal darkness in this CGI-heavy genre-bender.

AP Bio

AP Bio

Start with an It’s Always Sunny-styled title card of “Dennis Teaches a High School Advanced Placement Class”, and you’re getting close. The Paddy’s regular Glenn Howerton moves network with this NBC sitcom about a frustrated philosophy scholar reduced to a public-school gig to make ends meet. Realizing he has a couple dozen bright young minds at his disposal, he dispenses with the lesson plan and goes about using them in his pursuit of loftier truth. Somewhere between Bad Teacher and Dead Poets Society, this series is set to blend the misanthropic with the earnest.

American Idol

Katy Perry

Fox dropped American Idol last year, but the reality singing competition has taken the breakup pretty well, finding a new home at ABC in the forthcoming season. The network hopes that the monster ratings will persist as they swap in a new panel of judges, including the already announced hit machine Katy Perry. But mostly, it’ll be the same old song and dance that audiences have come to know and love – power ballads, tears, and dramatically placed commercial breaks galore.

Law and Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders

No way was the procedural king Dick Wolf going to let Ryan Murphy and American Crime Story step on his turf. He counters their dissection of the OJ Simpson trial with this deep dive into the scandalizing, controversial hearings of Lyle and Erik Menendez, brothers convicted for the brutal murder of their wealthy parents. On NBC, Edie Falco stars as Leslie Abramson, a fright-wigged lead defense attorney guiding both her clients through a twisted narrative of psychosexual abuse. Eat your heart out, Marcia Clark.

The Orville

Seth MacFarlane’s long and fruitful relationship with Fox continues in this high-concept space comedy, but for the first time, MacFarlane’s face won’t be hidden behind a cartoon. He plays the fresh-faced captain of an exploratory vessel making intergalactic freight deliveries, but there’s one problem – his first mate is his ex-wife (Adrianne Palicki), with whom tensions have not completely settled. Make that two problems, as an alien race has developed dangerous technology and appears to be gearing up for a war only he can stop. The look is a bit Galaxy Quest, but the humor’s pure Family Guy.

The Crossing

One night, 500 refugees wash up at an inlet in a small American fishing town. The 47 survivors tell the local authorities that they’ve materialized as part of their escape from a great war – in America, hundreds of years into the future. How they got to our present and what precipitates the ruinous conflict are but two of the many burning questions in this fusion of sci-fi and mystery on ABC. Eons away from his time on Treme, Steve Zahn takes the starring role, desperately searching for answers before the migrants’ prophecies become reality.

The Mayor

In the town of Fort Grey, California, a struggling rapper (Brandon Micheal Hall) has the bright idea to stage a mock run for the mayor’s office to generate some viral buzz. But when he strikes a chord with the electorate at a debate, showing that he’s better acquainted with the reality of life in his community than his incumbent opponent (David Spade), he ends up getting stuck with the job. Lea Michele also stars in this ABC satire of small-time politics with an emphasis on civic engagement and the return of power to the people.

LA to Vegas

Every Friday afternoon, Jackpot Airlines ferries a cabin’s worth of hard-partying gamblers from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. And every Sunday afternoon, that same crowd returns zombified, hungover and flat broke. This Fox sitcom trains its focus on the faces making this weekly route, from the lovable scoundrel Captain Dave (Dylan McDermott) and the flight attendant Ronnie (Kim Matula) to the regular travelers Artem (Peter Stormare) and Bernard (Nathan Lee Graham). When the wheels go up, all bets are off.


Charles Bramesco

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
TV upfronts: NBC, Fox and ABC showcase next season's hoped-for hits
Annual presentation of television offerings reveals a dearth of comedies, a reprise of Prison Break and a potential challenge to Shonda Rhimes’ dominance

Brian Moylan

17, May, 2016 @9:30 PM

Article image
TV content ratings system has failed children according to US study
A study conducted by the Parents TV Council claims the system, which is meant to protect younger viewers from seeing inappropriate content, deceives parents

Nigel M Smith

04, Apr, 2016 @7:29 PM

Article image
A 24 season without Jack Bauer? What we learned at the TCAs
SF is booming, the traditional sitcom is coming back, and an X Files reboot could soon be gracing our screens. Here’s a roundup of the news from the conference where the major networks announced their news

LaToya Ferguson

20, Jan, 2015 @5:09 PM

Article image
TV upfronts: NBC shies away from comedies as Fox enters the post-Idol era
Famous for hits like Friends and Seinfeld, NBC is now looking to drama, while Fox finally cancels American Idol and bets on new scripted shows

Brian Moylan

12, May, 2015 @4:03 PM

Article image
Fairytales, superheroes and rap moguls: what US TV will look like next season
Brian Moylan: The networks have canned Community, renewed Nashville and announced a whole raft of brand new commissions. Here's everything you need to know in upfronts week

Brian Moylan

12, May, 2014 @2:26 PM

Article image
Megyn Kelly ditched politics for morning television. Did she make a mistake?
She spent more than a decade honing her prosecutorial voice at Fox News. Now her apolitical morning show, Megyn Kelly Today, is struggling to stick

Jake Nevins

26, Oct, 2017 @11:00 AM

Article image
News network climate reporting soared in 2017 thanks to Trump | Dana Nuccitelli
Dana Nuccitelli: But the networks need to improve reporting on climate events unrelated to Trump

Dana Nuccitelli

15, Feb, 2018 @11:00 AM

Article image
The Muppets upstage Tyra Banks – what we learned at the TCAs, week two
Kermit and Miss Piggy – apparently in the midst of a breakup – were the main draw as the industry event continued in Pasadena, where Empire also shined

LaToya Ferguson

10, Aug, 2015 @8:41 PM

Article image
Fall TV report cards: which networks need to do some serious homework?
Ahead of the annual deluge of autumn television programming in America, we look at which networks have got it right and which need a session in detention

Brian Moylan

31, Aug, 2015 @3:31 PM

Article image
Simon Cowell quits American Idol to launch US version of The X Factor
Reality TV mogul leaving show at end of season to bring his own franchise to same network, Fox TV. By Mark Sweney

Mark Sweney

12, Jan, 2010 @8:20 AM