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What's Good On TV In 2018

Dec 30, 2017
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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

We saw a huge amount of TV this year. One estimate predicts close to 500 scripted series were on in 2017. And things are not slowing down in 2018. The list of big TV programs coming next year includes everything from a revival of the hit sitcom "Roseanne" at ABC to NBC's coverage of the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Our man Eric Deggans is here to single out a few of the TV programs we ought to check out in 2018. Eric is NPR's TV critic, and he joins us from St. Petersburg in Florida. Hi, Eric.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Hey.

WERTHEIMER: So do you have a personal favorite TV show coming up?

DEGGANS: Oh, that's easy for me. So on the cable channel Freeform, which used to be called ABC Family, on Wednesday, they had the spin off debuting called "Grown-ish." It's a spinoff of the ABC sitcom called "Black-ish." It features the oldest daughter from that family on that show, going to college. She's played by Yara Shahidi. And we've got a clip featuring her dad, played by Anthony Anderson, trying to deal with the separation anxiety. Let's check it out.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "GROWN-ISH")

ANTHONY ANDERSON: (As Andre, yelling) Why? It hurts so bad.

YARA SHAHIDI: (As Zoey) What hurts so bad, Dad?

ANDERSON: (As Andre, yelling) My soul.

SHAHIDI: (As Zoey) Dad, stop.

ANDERSON: (As Andre) When you come home this weekend, can we watch "The Breakfast Club" together?

SHAHIDI: (As Zoey) I'm not coming home this weekend.

ANDERSON: (As Andre, screaming).

But that's our favorite.

(LAUGHTER)

DEGGANS: So I've sent two kids to college, so I totally identify with this.

WERTHEIMER: (Laughter).

DEGGANS: And what I love about this show is "Black-ish" is kind of following "The Cosby Show's" lead. You know, if you remember, "The Cosby Show" had a spinoff called "A Different World" that took one of the kids and sort of dramatized her going to college. And this show - it's doing the same thing. It's breezy and fun, not quite as substantive as "Black-ish" but really good.

WERTHEIMER: Well, now, on your little list, I notice a reboot of "The X-Files" with lots of creepy, old friends returning. That's on Fox. Now, I am a big fan of "X-Files."

DEGGANS: Well, you know, what's interesting about this - Fox first brought back this show for what they call a limited series last year. And that worked well enough that they're bringing it back again. So we're going to see new wrinkles to this alien conspiracy. I mean, you're a fan of the show, so you know they kind of, like, toggle back and forth between this conspiracy to hide the fact that aliens have visited the Earth from, you know, all of us and also these standalone episodes that feature kind of the monster of the week. And the first episode brings back a key villain, cigarette-smoking man or the smoking man, as they call him. Let's hear him talk about his mission and what he's been doing on the show.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE X-FILES")

WILLIAM B. DAVIS: (As Cigarette Smoking Man) I'm an old man now. I will leave my own mark upon history, more than presidents or tyrants. I don't ask for loyalty and trust, the fleeting bonds of men. I ask only for the years to show my sons and their sons I was right. What their father did had to be done.

DEGGANS: Now, for me, you know, this is where the new "X-Files" series can be weakest - where it goes back to the overarching mythology. But, you know, fans love seeing the FBI agents Mulder and Scully - David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson - in action. So I think they're going to love this series, too.

WERTHEIMER: I do love creepy TV. I am curious about a series on Hulu which is called "Castle Rock." It's an anthology series based on Stephen King's short stories. I have to say that I have been so terrified by some of his writing that I've had to hide the books from myself.

DEGGANS: (Laughter).

WERTHEIMER: "Cujo" comes immediately to mind.

DEGGANS: It is an anthology series. And it is set in the fictional town in Maine that Stephen King has often created for his stories. You mentioned "Cujo" and "It." And this looks very promising. It seems like kind of a combination of "The Twilight Zone" and maybe a Stephen King-style horror movie. I'm also interested in this series "American Crime Stories: The Assassination of Gianni Versace," the famous designer - how he was killed by a serial killer named Andrew Cunanan. And it's going to be an exploration, I think, of how people struggled to sort of deal with being gay in a country that really wasn't very accepting of it at the time and also a unique story about this guy who wound up killing several men in a spree that ended with killing Versace. And then he killed himself.

WERTHEIMER: Now, you have pointed out to us several times that the quantity of what I'll loosely call TV - hundreds of shows available on all kinds of platforms - that has created some real competition and has bumped up the quality of TV. Everybody is spending money on production, on actors and, we hope, on scripts.

DEGGANS: Yeah. I think it's fair to call it the Netflix effect now. You know, Netflix this past year put out a major TV series almost every week. They spent billions of dollars on content, and they're going to spend even more in 2018. And everyone's racing to keep up. So there's a lot of great stuff coming up. Netflix has raised the bar. And I can't wait to see all the great stuff that's coming in 2018.

WERTHEIMER: Eric Deggans is NPR's TV critic.

DEGGANS: Always a pleasure.

WERTHEIMER: And if you want an alternative to Auld Lang Syne tomorrow as you ring in the New Year, tune in to Weekend Edition Sunday for some musical suggestions. B.J. Leiderman wrote our theme music. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.