Crazyhead (streaming on Netflix), new series: Few, if any, Buffy the Vampire Slayer “tributes” (or, if you prefer, “loving rip-offs”) have gotten that classic series’ deft blend of horror and humor as wonderfully right as British import Crazyhead, created and written by Misfits’ Howard Overman. When 20-something Bristolian Amy (Cara Theobold) discovers she’s a “seer” who can recognize the demon-possessed hiding among us, she forms an at-first-unlikely alliance with fellow seer-turned-hunter named Raquel (Susan Wokoma); much ass-kicking and sass-quipping ensue. But the six-episode Crazyhead’s bedrock isn’t action and wisecracks—it’s the friendship between Amy and Raquel, a sweetly rocky bond that’s as believable as it is hysterical. Also: killer soundtrack. Also, also: some of the loveliest public restrooms on television, British or otherwise.
One Day at a Time (Friday, Jan. 6, Netflix), series debut: A remake of the ’70s sitcom with a Cuban-American twist, complete with a single mom (Justina Machado), precocious kids, a sleazy building manager and, unfortunately, a damned laugh track. Norman Lear, the 94-year-old former comedy kingpin who managed to escape the Grim Reaper of 2016, is listed as an executive producer, but there’s little reason for this to be called, or linked to, One Day at a Time, even with a Gloria Estefan re-recording of the theme song: It’s a bland, lazy sitcom in its own right. But, that hasn’t hurt Netflix’s other dim throwbacks, Fuller House and The Ranch, so this One Day at a Time will probably outlast Lear.
Emerald City (Friday, Jan. 6, NBC), series debut: A smoldering Puerto-Rican Dorothy (Adria Arjona, True Detective) and a promisingly weird Wizard casting (Vincent D’Onofrio!) headline a “reimagining” of The Wizard of Oz that’s been kicked by NBC around for almost two years. Syfy tried this in 2007 with Tin Man, a mess of a miniseries that dropped Zooey Deschanel into a steampunk nightmare that went nowhere, darkly and slowly. Emerald City is more in line with its Friday-night lead-in Grimm: fantastical and soapy, but rarely scary (and, unlike Grimm, eye-poppingly expensive-looking; the CGI effects and D’Onofrio’s wigs probably cost NBC more than all 12 current Chicago dramas combined). Intriguing, but not built (or priced) to last.
Taboo (Tuesday, Jan. 10, FX), series debut: Long-missing-and-presumed-dead James Delancy (Tom Hardy) returns to 1814 London to inherit his late father’s East India Company empire, only to become caught up in a treacherous trade conspiracy that may get him killed. FX’s last attempt at a period drama, The Bastard Executioner, suffered from lack of star power (unless you count Vampire Bill from True Blood, which no one did), among many other problems; Taboo has Bane and Mad Max, fergawdsakes! It also has Ridley Scott and Steven Knight (Peaky Blinders) onboard as producers, as well as a Too Many Shows-friendlier runtime of eight episodes. Dark, violent and sexy, Taboo should at least tide you over until the return of FX’s Baskets.
Jeff and Some Aliens (Wednesday, Jan. 11, Comedy Central), series debut: Loser earthling Jeff (voiced by Brett Gelman) is observed by, and annoyed with, a trio of aliens crashing in his apartment. As Comedy Central cartoons go … this is one of them. As with most—OK, all—animated shorts from the network’s TripTank series, Jeff and Some Aliens offers little evidence that it deserves to be expanded into primetime and share an hour with a proven player like Workaholics, but here it is. Still, comedy MVP Gelman can’t help but make anything he’s involved with better, and his distinctive delivery elevates Jeff and Some Aliens from standard stoner comedy to tolerable stoner comedy. An achievement, really.