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You'll never be able to see all the great TV coming in 2018

Every time I attend the Television Critics Association tour it is a reminder that the job is an impossible one.

I'm usually reminded of that by FX chief executive officer John Landgraf, who estimates the number of scripted series that are available each year.

But I missed Landgraf's news conference in Pasadena, Calif., where he reportedly said there were 487 scripted series in 2017, up from 455 in 2016 and 422 in 2015. Of the 487 in 2017, 175 were on basic cable, 153 on broadcast television, 117 were online and 42 were on pay-cable.

Needless to say, critics can't watch them all.

I'm often asked at parties about a specific series that people love. They sometimes appear shocked when I tell them "I haven't seen it."

I am going to be saying that a lot in 2018 because there are even more players in the quality TV game, especially when you add the unscripted series.

There isn't enough time in the day to keep up with a fraction of the series, especially if a critic is interested in sports, late-night talk shows, and local and national news.

During the TCA tour, I saw clips of numerous programs that look worth seeing if I could tear myself away from Netflix, where I recently saw the worst casting of President Kennedy and Jackie Kennedy in "The Crown" in TV history. Would you believe Michael C. Hall, best known as the serial killer in "Dexter," played JFK?

But I digress.

I don't think there will be a more spectacular-looking series than BBC America's "Planet Earth: Blue Planet II," which premieres at 9 p.m. Saturday. The clips look mind-blowing so I hope I have time to see all of the episodes. OK, maybe one or two.

BBC America also has an interesting-looking upcoming series, "Killing Eve," starring Sandra Oh ("Grey's Anatomy") and Jodie Comer ("The White Princess') about a woman who fantasizes about being a spy and another woman who is a killer. It arrives April 8.

If you're a fan of British "telly" and can't wait until WNED-TV carries another Acorn series, the pay-channel premieres a new drama series, "Girlfriends," Monday about three childhood friends who reunite after the death of one of their husbands. Miranda Richardson is the most recognizable star.

Spike TV disappeared last week and became the Paramount Network on cable, and the re-branded channel appears to be spending a lot of money on original programs amid talk it is trying to emulate FX.

Paramount is premiering the first episode of a six-part series, "Waco," at 10 p.m. today. Taylor Kitsch ("Friday Night Lights") stars as David Koresh in the story of the federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound 25 years ago. The clips shown in L.A. suggest the series is going to destroy some commonly-held views about what happened. The cast includes Michael Shannon, who co-stars in the Oscar-nominated, hit movie "The Shape of Water," as a FBI hostage negotiator, and John Leguizamo as a member of the ATF.

Paramount also is planning a half-hour series, "American Woman," starring Alicia Silverstone ("Clueless") and produced by John Wells ("ER," "The West Wing") that is "set amid the sexual revolution and rise of feminism in the 1970s." It arrives on June 7.

On June 20, Paramount debuts a series, "Yellowstone," from filmmaker Taylor Sheridan ("Hell or High Water," "Sicario"), in which Kevin Costner stars as a rancher who battles land developers and politicians. Costner, who reportedly is getting $500,000 an episode, has a big name to draw in viewers.

But some outlets create big names.

I'll be honest, I never heard of Logan Paul before the YouTube star lost his job for reportedly showing the body of a man who apparently committed suicide.

The closest that I had seen of a YouTube series was a commercial for one on a broadcast network. My use of YouTube – which is owned by Google -- has pretty much consisted of watching clips of late-night shows for free when I went to bed too early to see them when they aired.

But YouTube Red – which costs a monthly fee -- is in the original programming game. That means there will be even more series that I am going to tell someone at a party that I haven't seen.

Naya Rivera ("Glee") is one of the stars of a 10-episode series, "Step Up: High Water," based on the popular "Step Up" films. It premieres on Jan. 31.

One of the series I am interested in, "Best Shot," is produced by NBA star LeBron James. It features ESPN analyst and former NBA star Jay Williams, who pushes high school players "to reach heights beyond their wildest dreams."

Another series set in a high school, "Youth & Consequences," stars "YouTube sensation" Anna Akana. At least I read she is a "sensation" in a release. I never heard of her. But I have heard of Marcia Cross ("Desperate Housewives"), who has a recurring role as a principal.

YouTube Red also has an action-thriller from Doug Liman ("Bourne Identity') that is based on the third novel in the "Jumper" series by Steven Gold.

The National Geographic Channel is following up on the success of "Genius: Einstein" starring Geoffrey Rush with a second edition, "Genius: Picasso," which stars Antonio Banderas in the title role. It looks great. Can't wait for "Very Stable Genius: Trump."

Some genius at Hulu commissioned last year's award-winning hit "A Handmaid's Tale." You don't have to be a genius to realize it would be coming back for a second season in April.

Hulu also has a series, "The Looming Tower," starring Jeff Daniels and Peter Sarsgaard, which is based on a Pulitzer Prize winning book about the threat of Osama bin-Laden and Al-Qaeda in the late 1990s while the CIA and FBI squabbled. It premieres on Feb. 28.

I'll watch anything with Daniels in it. "Tower" looks important. I hope I have time to see it and talk about it at parties.

email: apergament@buffnews.com

 

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