With online streaming services commissioning a growing array of truly original programmed, we look at the most exciting prospects from the world of TV and Netflix Original Series.
Since Netflix gained prominence as a fully independent broadcaster in its own right, the doors have been flung open to a hugely varied selection of original programming. Netflix original series Orange Is The New Black is currently the most talked about programme in the US, with even President Obama using the show’s name as a punch line in a recent speech. Meanwhile House Of Cards, starring Hollywood juggernaut Kevin Spacey, is currently riding enjoy huge success and critical acclaim. Netflix has also seen the revival of cult programmes that had been culled from the schedules of US TV networks, with such programmes such as Arrested Development granted a new lease of life by the ever-growing online streaming service.
Kate Mulgrew, Taylor Schilling and Laura Prepon of Orange Is The New Black- spearheading original content for Netflix.
With developers increasingly looking towards sites such as Netflix and Amazon Prime to produce original and innovative content, it seems we are in the midst of a revolution in the way programmes are made and disseminated to audiences. Viewers are now able to watch whole series in one sitting rather than waiting for weekly instalments from TV channels. That’s not to say that TV will be fading onto obscurity anytime soon.
The ageing medium still attracts millions of viewers to such universally successful shows as The Walking Dead, The Wire, Boardwalk Empire and Game Of Thrones to name but a few. With a battle between original content currently heating up between the new online streaming services and the somewhat outdated but still powerful conglomerate of US TV networks, some truly rousing developments have been announced by both parties. Here is a selection of shows that you will be sure to be binge-watching in the near future:
Harvey Weinstein will executive produce Marco Polo
A Netflix original series with a reported budget of $90 million, Netflix picked up this series after it was dropped by cable channel Starz. Filmed in Malaysia and set in 13th Century China, the nine-episode series will focus on the early life of Marco Polo in the court of Kublai Khan. Written by John Frusco, the man who also penned such Hollywood action movies as Hidalgo and Young Guns, the series looks set to be a frivolous tale of tacit political affairs and sexual intrigue, served amongst an ocular feast of acrobatic martial arts and huge battle sequences. Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, who is also expected to direct the fifth instalment of the hugely successful Pirates Of The Caribbean franchise, will direct the first two episodes whilst Harvey Weinstein and John Frusco will be executive producers. Twin Peaks star Joan Chen is set to star alongside Lorenzo Richelmy, Benedict Wong and Zhu Zhu. Expect sex, plotting and plenty of death.
Aaron Paul will lend his vocal talents to the new cartoon.
One of the most intriguing premises planned for release on Netflix, Arrested Development’s Will Arnett and Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul have provided their vocal talents to the animated comedy BoJack Horsemen which Netflix have recently acquired from Michael Eisner’s Tornante Co. A 12-episode series which will premiere on the 22nd August, the show centres around the exploits of a semi-alcoholic humanoid horse and former TV star BoJack (Arnet) who deals with a series of personal crises alongside human sidekick Tod (Paul) as well as feline agent and ex-lover Princess Caroline, who will be played by Amy Sedaris. Created by comedian and writer Raphael Bob-Waksberg and designed by cartoonist Lisa Hanawalt, will follow BoJack as he attempts to reinvigorate his career a la Alan Partridge. Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, has described the adult-targeted show as a “brutally funny and unique take on what can happen after pop stardom”.
Better Call Saul
Bob Odenkirk will rekindle his Saul Goodman character for a prequel to Breaking Bad.
Breaking Bad was without a doubt one of the best TV programmes of the past decade, a monumental gripping morality tale from which there was no salvation for the show’s characters. Saul Hudson provided many of the few moments of comic relief throughout the show’s five seasons, his crooked lawyer routine played with consummate perfection by Mr Show alumni Bob Odenkirk. As such, Saul is the ideal candidate for a spin-off series and Better Call Saul, which centres around Saul’s trials and tribulations prior to his meeting with Walter White, is due for release in 2015. Whether Saul will be able to carry the programme on his own is yet to be seen but it will surely satisfy the appetites of Breaking Bad fans who are still left hungry after the hugely acclaimed show came to a natural and gripping conclusion.
The Wakowski's will make their TV debut with Sense8
From the warped yet unequivocally creative minds of Andy and Lana Wachowski, responsible for such idiosyncratic sci-fi adventures as The Matrix and V For Vendetta, will come the first small screen outing from the pair. Sense8 will follow the blueprint of the pair’s previous film, Cloud Atlas, whereupon a number of separate, yet interwoven stories, will be connected by a shared vision that promises to be alarmingly violent. The characters will include a closeted Mexican telenovela hunk, an Icelandic party girl, a German safe-cracker, a Korean businesswoman, an African bus driver and a transgender American blogger. After sharing their experiences, mysterious forces will attempt to hunt down the group as they are deemed a threat to the world’s order. Cast details have been kept well under wraps but episodes can be expected later in 2014.
Brazilian actor Wagner Moura will play the world's most infamous drugs criminal.
Centring on the world’s most prolific drug kingpin Pablo Escobar, who has already been the subject of several films, Narcos will be the first television series to trace the life and death of the world’s most infamous drug-trafficker and crime lord. Produced in collaboration with Gaumont International Television, Robocop director Jose Padilha is thought to be at the helm of the project. Ten episodes have been commissioned and it has been announced that Brazilian actor Wagner Moura will fill the shoes of Escobar. The show will shortly commence shooting in Colombia and while the wait may be rather long until the fruits of their labours makes it to the small screen, viewers can get a taste of what it is to come by watching Elite Squad: Enemy Within, a previous collaboration between Padilha and Moura which has been described as a “chilling and sophisticated portraits of criminality and official corruption ever” by Netflix chief Ted Sarandos.
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