The TV landscape continues to shift radically, as production schedules return to normal in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns.
Streaming, cable and syndication alike appear to be facing some unique challenges with the rapid expansion of the television industry, especially after 2022’s landmark series conclusions within TV mega-brands like AMC’s The Walking Dead and DC’s Arrowverse. More surprising cancellations seem to be mounting along otherwise gargantuan streamers like Netflix and HBO Max to boot, while huge blockbuster TV offerings like The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power surprisingly ended up struggling to garner goodwill from fans. It’s a bit of a strange time for television going into 2023, honestly.
Still, there are certainly some high-profile programming options to look forward to this year, and I’m counting down what I’m personally looking forward to in the coming twelve months. With the television industry being much less precise and known in advance compared to movies and video games however, this list will probably comprise a bit of guesswork, as usual, though I’ll do my best to stick to TV shows that are largely known to be targeting a 2023 premiere at this point. No honourable mentions in advance this time either, so let’s get right to it; Here are my Top Ten Most Anticipated TV Shows of 2023:
#10: Abbott Elementary (Seasons 2-3)
Platform: ABC (U.S.), Global/StackTV (Canada)
Premiere Date: Now Airing
WHY: Abbott Elementary has very quickly become one of the very small handful of shows that I remain tuned into basic cable for by this point. Despite that medium almost entirely moving away from the core 18-49 audience in recent years, conceding that defeat to streaming and premium cable outfits like HBO, Abbott Elementary capitalized on a growing return to mockumentary comedies last year with a wholesome, witty and painfully relatable workplace comedy about working in a struggling Philadelphia public school.
Several Emmy wins and other such awards later, Abbott Elementary now seems poised to become a worldwide sitcom phenomenon, and for good reason; This show is hilarious, extremely clever, and I love every second of it. The series appears to be one of the biggest hits that ABC has delivered in quite some time (likely their biggest since the network’s previous long-running mockumentary smash, Modern Family), so it’s no wonder that it’s already been renewed well in advance for a third season, to begin airing this Fall. Abbott Elementary’s currently-airing second season is now around its halfway point at the time of writing, with no loss in momentum at all, and you can catch up on the first season via Disney+ here in Canada (Hulu in the U.S.), if you want to see what the fuss is about. I highly recommend you do so. This is quite simply one of the best comedies on television right now, easily surpassing anything else offered by the basic cable outfits, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing what misadventures continue to unfold for the eccentric, struggling Abbott crew throughout 2023.
#9: Superman & Lois (Season 3)
Platform: The CW (U.S.), CTV Sci-Fi Channel (Canada)
Premiere Date: March 14th
WHY: The CW’s longstanding Arrowverse franchise will seemingly breathe its last in 2023, with the ninth and final season of The Flash. Consider that an honourable mention, as The Flash didn’t make my most anticipated TV list in the end. Regardless, with so many radical changes happening at both The CW and DC, Superman & Lois doesn’t seem long for this world now. That’s such a shame, because this is one of the few remaining superhero dramas not made for streaming that’s actually pretty great.
Sure, Superman & Lois was retroactively taken out of the Arrowverse continuity with its Season 2 finale last year, which declared that the series has taken place on its own self-contained Earth this entire time, one wherein Superman is the only widely known superhero, and most familiar Arrowverse characters, including Melissa Benoist’s Supergirl, don’t exist. Even so, both current seasons of Superman & Lois have deftly defied The CW’s recent poor track record for DC-licensed superhero dramas, presenting a surprisingly mature and nuanced take on an older Man of Steel, and his family, after they move back to Smallville to live the simple life.
Not much is currently known about the series’ third (and hopefully not final) season, but it’s been implied that it may finally introduce Superman’s iconic arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor to this standalone canon, even if the role definitely won’t be reprised by Supergirl’s Jon Cryer, who made it official that The CW told him they’d be recasting his character for Superman & Lois. I guess it makes sense to drop any pretense of operating in the Arrowverse any longer at this point. Even so, some familiar enemies that will definitely be making an appearance, if Season 2’s cliffhanger ending is any indication, is Intergang, whom you may remember from this past October’s blockbuster DC Extended Universe movie, Black Adam. Putting Superman up against a fully human threat in Season 3, and not another alien enemy, could be a great way to keep this series’ narrative fresh and grounded.
Plus, now that Superman & Lois has been proudly unshackled from having to work its storytelling around the Arrowverse, it may get a chance to make its storylines leave an even deeper impact on its world. This will hopefully allow the series to continue its run after this year, though that’s a big if, since new CW owners, Nexstar seem to want to firmly wash their hands of any remaining genre programming after 2023, despite Superman & Lois being one of the network’s biggest critical and audience hits in a fair while.
#8: Titans (Season 4)
Platform: HBO Max (U.S.), Netflix (Canada)
Premiere Date: TBA 2023
WHY: Okay, to clarify for potentially confused American viewers; Titans’ fourth season hasn’t premiered in Canada at all at this point, despite it airing its first half on HBO Max in supported territories like the U.S. This is both because we don’t have HBO Max in Canada at this point, and because Titans’ international distribution rights belong to Netflix, who seem to deliberately wait until an entire Titans season has already aired in the U.S., before waiting several more weeks, before finally dumping every episode in said season onto their service for viewers here in Canada to finally enjoy. It’s a frustrating system, and I can’t say I like it very much, but with that Netflix licensing deal being a holdover from Titans’ origins as a DC Universe Original series, it is what it is.
In any case, while Titans could be another DC superhero drama living on borrowed time, considering the vast restructuring going on at Warner Bros. Discovery, HBO and DC simultaneously right now, I’m still very much looking forward to the series’ next offering. For Canadians who may not be aware, Season 4 takes its eponymous heroes on another detour to a familiar DC Universe locale, Metropolis, home city of Superman. This will pit the Titans against yet more new villains, namely Brother Blood and Sister Mayhem, who will seemingly bring the series back to its roots by sporting a connection to Rachel Roth/Raven, one that inevitably presents a darker and gorier conflict than the more psychological battles against Deathstroke, Red Hood and Scarecrow from the past couple of seasons.
Most excitingly however, Titans’ fourth season brings in yet another new live-action Lex Luthor for the small screen, played by Bosch’s Titus Welliver in this case. So, if Superman & Lois also gets a new Lex this year, as rumoured, we may get two live-action Lex Luthor’s for the price of one in 2023! In any case, Titans reinventing itself once again, this time to lean more into the Superman Family over the Batman Family, has me very intrigued, especially with the narrative going back to a more overtly dark, gory and occult style. I do think that the show’s previous third season set in Gotham City marked a high point in many respects, but its restriction to earthbound battles did prevent the Titans from fully flexing their more superpowered side, especially after Raven spent most of that season MIA. A return to a more comic book-oriented style could inject a little more fun into Titans this year, but either way, I’m excited for its return, as I do consider Titans to be a personal favourite popcorn show at this point.
#7: Loki (Season 2)
Premiere Date: Spring/Summer 2023
WHY: 2022 was a bit of a bumpy year for Marvel Studios’ Disney+ shows. They were mostly… Alright, but it’s tough to argue that anticipated MCU additions like She-Hulk: Attorney at Law ended up not living up to their hype in the end. 2023 will be a more interesting test of Marvel Studios’ TV series longevity on Disney’s streaming platform however, as this will mark the first year that will see return seasons for veteran Disney+ shows set in the MCU, namely What If…? and Loki.
As much as I’m looking forward to all-new MCU-set Disney+ shows like Echo and Ironheart with a reasonable degree of intrigue, it’s Loki that arguably has my attention the most. With its first season standing as one of the MCU’s strongest Disney+ offerings so far, Loki’s second season will seemingly present the second half of the trickster Asgardian’s odyssey with the Time Variance Authority. This will no doubt continue to set up the MCU’s new arch-villain, Kang the Conquerer (who can be seen debuting properly in this February’s MCU movie, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania), while putting Loki into a fresh conflict, due to Sylvie’s controversial unleashing of the multiverse trapping him in an alternate timeline where he’s not known to faithful allies like Owen Wilson’s Mobius M. Mobius.
Unsurprisingly, Disney isn’t saying much about Loki’s sophomore season for now, and nor have they presented a trailer for the series’ second bow. Still, with this season bringing back fan-favourite MCU anti-hero, Loki for a fresh batch of silly, yet philosophical time-hopping adventures, I’m very much anticipating the continued expansion of Marvel’s fast-growing live-action multiverse this year. Maybe we’ll even get a Deadpool appearance this season, considering that the TVA is rumoured to appear in next year’s third Deadpool movie! If not however, I’m always happy to get more time with one of the MCU’s finest foils anyway, especially when it means I can get further acquainted with this universe’s post-Thanos big bad.
#6: The Penguin [Working Title] (Miniseries)
Platform: HBO Max (U.S.), Crave (Canada)
Premiere Date: TBA 2023
WHY: Okay, I’ll level with you; There are quite a few DC shows on my Most Anticipated TV list for 2023, if you haven’t noticed already. This is perhaps a side effect of Warner Bros. Discovery wanting to shuffle, reboot and abort most of DC’s live-action content, depending on the project in question, meaning that DC has been promoting the heck out of their surviving TV slate, in an effort to hold the attention of exhausted, cynical DC fans.
That’s fine though, because it means that my DC itch will certainly be scratched plenty throughout 2023. I’m also glad to say that some of that scratching will (supposedly, as it still seems to have not fully entered production, despite previously claiming it’s targeting a 2023 premiere) be coming from Matt Reeves’ ‘BatVerse’, as begun with last year’s stellar reboot movie, The Batman. Sure, a proper sequel to that movie seems to be a couple of years off, at least, but it appears that DC Studios co-heads, James Gunn and Peter Safran are nonetheless allowing Reeves’ BatVerse continuity to continue uninterrupted, happily co-existing alongside their mainline ‘DCU’ franchise, which will feature a new live-action crop of ensemble DC superheroes and super-villains, one that will no doubt include a Batman Family of its own.
That’s good, because I’ve been very interested in Reeves’ BatVerse’s first planned TV spin-off, tentatively titled The Penguin, since it was announced. A crime drama centering around Colin Farrell’s comical, butt-ugly take on the iconic DC mobster from The Batman, The Penguin will see its eponymous villain formally rise to power in this universe’s Gotham City. He’ll also find a rival in the surviving daughter of the late Carmine Falcone, Sofia, played by Made for Love’s Cristin Milioti. What a match made in Hell, and boy is it perfect for Reeves’ take on Gotham!
Seeing as Farrell’s Penguin was one of the most memorable delights of The Batman, even considering his relatively smaller role compared to most of the movie’s leads, I’m hoping that this miniseries provides just as sharp a balance between dark comedy and shady racketeering as The Batman offered with this character. It’s unknown whether more heroic characters like Robert Pattison’s Bruce Wayne/Batman will actually appear in the miniseries, but honestly, I could care less about Batman himself making an appearance here, and that’s a huge vote of confidence on my part for what’s apparently the first of several planned villain spin-offs set in Reeves’ ‘BatVerse’. It’s great news that Reeves’ Batman canon appears to have survived the widespread media purge at Warner Bros. Discovery, hopefully granting us more outstanding live-action Batman stories alongside whatever Gunn and Safran no doubt have planned for the Dark Knight in their own live-action ensemble continuity.
#5: Harley Quinn (Season 4 + Valentine’s Day Special)
Platform: HBO Max (U.S.), Adult Swim/StackTV (Canada)
Premiere Date: TBA 2023 (Season 4), February 2023 (Valentine’s Day Special)
WHY: Okay, I swear this is the last DC series on my Most Anticipated TV list for this year. Really though, how could I not include Harley Quinn, another fantastic addition to the Batman Family media library that I’m also happy to see surviving the mass media purge currently going on at Warner Bros. Discovery and DC.
Harley Quinn has somehow remained absolutely on fire even after three seasons, and I can’t think of any reason why the series would lose any momentum with its upcoming fourth season. The series’ showrunners have promised less of a wait than we had to suffer between Season 2 and Season 3, with a 2023 premiere for Season 4 all but confirmed to be on the cards. Regardless of what happens there though, we’re definitely getting a standalone Valentine’s Day episode this February, one that will no doubt pick up in the wake of Season 3’s memorable conclusion.
This is another superb comedy series that I’m looking forward to simply because it’s just that good. This adult animated sitcom has absolutely killed it since its debut in late 2019, and its vicious combination of spectacular violence, wonderfully biting humour and depraved, yet weirdly inspiring power anthems continues to shine as some of the best entertainment that DC’s television arm has offered to date. If you’ve seen the series, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, I really suggest you make it a priority, especially if you’re American, where the show’s entire run is conveniently offered on HBO Max, not Canada’s less cooperative Adult Swim channel or StackTV selection. Seriously, can we get Harley Quinn on a proper streaming service here in Canada already?! I’ll take any of them! It’s well overdue!
#4: Only Murders in the Building (Season 3)
Platform: Hulu (U.S.), Disney+ Star (Canada)
Premiere Date: TBA 2023
WHY: Here’s yet another whip-smart comedy that’s just been killing it since its debut; Only Murders in the Building, easily the best overall original series in the Hulu catalogue right now.
Only Murders in the Building is only rumoured to premiere in 2023 for now, though considering that this celebrated murder mystery-themed comedy series has pretty reliably brightened our Summers so far, it’s probably safe to assume that Season 3 will once again target a Summer premiere. Very little is known about the new season for now, though Season 2 once again ended on a pretty tantalizing cliffhanger; An actor, Ben Glenroy, played in a guest role by Paul Rudd, who stars in a play directed by Martin Short’s Oliver Putnam, suddenly dies on stage.
Rudd being the series’ latest murder victim could suggest that Only Murders in the Building’s acclaim could be drawing more star power during future seasons. That’s great, and well-deserved. Only Murders in the Building has done a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to salvaging the rather shaky Hulu Original Series catalogue of recent years, with the streamer’s original movies strangely excelling past a lot of their TV content in 2022. For us Canadians however, we can conveniently watch Only Murders in the Building on Disney+ instead (well, if you’re old enough to have access to the mature-minded Star section anyway), arguably a much better deal. If you have yet to watch this excellent comedy series, despite it being one of the most popular TV comedies this side of Abbott Elementary at this point (and arguably my personal favourite TV comedy overall right now), what are you waiting for? The show is only getting better, and will no doubt continue to keep improving when it likely returns later this year.
#3: Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (Season 2)
Platform: Paramount+ (U.S.), CTV Sci-Fi Channel/Crave (Canada)
Premiere Date: TBA 2023
WHY: My love for the Star Trek franchise has rapidly been growing in recent years, after finally getting my feet wet with Star Trek: Lower Decks and Star Trek: Discovery. I’m still hoping to catch up on the classic Star Trek shows one of these days, and that desire has only grown after experiencing Star Trek: Strange New Worlds last year.
Star Trek: Strange New Worlds fully brings the Star Trek TV canon back to an outstanding high point, according to my Trekkie sources, and I can definitely see why. This series is simply leaps and bounds above anything that the modern Paramount+ crop (or Crave crop, for us Canadians) has delivered to date, with its first season being packed to the gills with imaginative storylines that were often as thrilling as they are heartfelt.
With filming on Season 2 having already wrapped, and Paramount+ having a largely undefined original series slate during 2023’s latter stretch especially, it’s likely that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will probably squeak into ViacomCBS’ streaming lineup around late Summer to early Fall 2023, if I had to guess. We have the final season of Star Trek: Picard and the fifth season of Star Trek: Discovery before that, along with possibly the fourth season of Star Trek: Lower Decks, but Star Trek: Strange New Worlds is definitely the modern franchise’s crown jewel at this point. This Star Trek: Discovery spin-off has immediately outpaced its good, but not great parent series, and with the adventures of Captain Pike and the retro Enterprise crew promising to keep exploring more unpredictable and dangerous new corners of the final frontier, I simply can’t wait to see what exotic threats they may face next, especially with a welcome reorienting back to episodic storytelling, albeit with just enough of a serialized over-arching plot to keep viewers hooked.
#2: The Mandalorian (Season 3)
Premiere Date: March 1st
WHY: It should come as no surprise that I’m rabidly anticipating the return of this flagship Disney+ Original Series as much as anyone else. This is especially true with news coming down that The Mandalorian has already secured an early Season 4 renewal to boot, no doubt indicating that Disney and LucasFilm are very confident in this Star Wars series’ next eight episodes.
There’s a pretty solid crop of original series offerings coming from the Star Wars universe throughout 2023, between an ongoing new season of animated series, The Bad Batch, the planned premiere of live-action miniseries, Ahsoka, and all-new child-fronted series, Skeleton Crew, among other additions, there’s quite a lot for Star Wars fans to dig into this year. Even so, it’s tough to compete with the coolest and most exciting Star Wars series that Disney currently has to offer, one that’s taken its time delivering its highly anticipated third season.
It’s actually spin-off series (miniseries?) The Book of Boba Fett that revealed the most recent development with lead characters, Din Djarin and Grogu, rather than the actual second season of The Mandalorian itself. Djarin and Grogu currently appear to be untethered to any larger conflict, though considering some of the teases from The Mandalorian’s sophomore season, it feels inevitable that the two will end up in a fight to take back the Mandalorians’ home planet, Mandalore from the remnants of the Empire. Whatever ends up happening in Season 3, I’m at the edge of my seat to see which planets and conflicts this wandering duo get wrapped up in next, especially now that Grogu has freed himself from the burden of Force training, and can now fully commit to being that adorable, merch-pushing Star Wars sidekick that Disney has always dreamt of.
#1: The Last of Us (Series Premiere)
Platform: HBO (U.S.), Crave (Canada)
Premiere Date: January 15th
WHY: Get used to premium live-action video game adaptations on television. There’s about to be a lot of them. Considering what I’ve heard from early screenings of The Last of Us as well, there’s about to be even more of them green-lit in 2023 too!
The Last of Us is a TV adaptation of the bleak, brutal PlayStation video game of the same name, and it already appears to be an absolute gem, if early feedback is to be believed. The series is imminently about to premiere on HBO/Crave at the time of writing, and it’s already earned itself a shining 98% on Rotten Tomatoes, quite possibly making it the first must-see live-action video game adaptation, even for people with absolutely no interest in video games. Poor souls.
All kidding aside though, The Last of Us takes place in a post-apocalyptic world (perhaps that tired TV subgenre can see a bit of a comeback after this), one overrun by a deadly infection caused by a strain of human-targeting cordyceps fungus. It’s just as gross as it sounds, and if that weren’t bad enough, victims of this cordyceps infection mutate into fast, highly violent killers with an intense craving for human flesh. They then eventually evolve into new strains if a survivor doesn’t kill them in their early ‘Runner’ state, with the iconic Clickers being the most famous example; Blind, extra vicious mutants who hunt entirely through sound, as indicated by their hideous, telltale clicking noises. Unsurprisingly, they’re widely recognized for being the most shit-your-pants scary video game foes of the past decade, since they strike quickly, and are very difficult to kill, especially without alerting other Clickers.
As delightfully nasty as these cordyceps mutants are however, the real draw of The Last of Us is its starkly human journey shared between lead characters, Joel and Ellie, who travel across the post-apocalyptic landscape to deliver Ellie to flagging military resistance group, the Fireflies, as she’s believed to be the last hope for humanity to survive their fungus-fueled fate. Imagine if The Walking Dead had a really small cast, was entirely comprised of excellent episodes, and its zombies were made of fungus, and you have the right idea. Like I said, it’s tough to deny that the post-apocalyptic TV subgenre has become overplayed and very tired since the 2010’s, with AMC’s absolute abuse of their Walking Dead license being largely to blame there, but if any property stands a chance of restoring it to glory, it’s The Last of Us.
Both for the sake of potentially opening the floodgates for outstanding live-action video game-to-TV adaptations (sorry, Halo. You haven’t quite cut the mustard), and for delivering what appears to be one of the best post-apocalyptic TV shows made to date, faithfully adapted from one of the best post-apocalyptic video games made to date, The Last of Us takes the crown as my most anticipated TV series of 2023!
Which TV shows are you most looking forward to this year? There’s a lot of TV right now, so I no doubt missed tons of shows that others are looking forward to. Hell, even if I said no honourable mentions at the top of this list, I still have plenty of promising TV shows I could name that didn’t ultimately make the cut: All-new ongoing series and miniseries like Gen-V, Secret Invasion, Twisted Metal, Skeleton Crew, Echo, Ironheart, Ahsoka and X-Men ’97 definitely have my attention, as do the planned returns of various standout veteran shows like Succession, Foundation, Doom Patrol, Star Trek: Discovery, The Witcher, Shadow & Bone, Yellowjackets and The Legend of Vox Machina, among many others. Whatever your tastes, there’s plenty to enjoy on the small screen throughout 2023, and there’s bound to be plenty of competition at the end of the year, when it comes time to calculate the year’s best offerings on television!