Samuel Brace on the best new TV shows of 2018 so far…
It might have been preferable to create a list such as this a little earlier in the year but because of the severe dearth of new TV shows of any sufficient quality, or at least that would merit a write up on the subject, this delay has been inevitable. As it happens, the past six to eight weeks have seen the arrival of some excellent new series to the television sphere and new entries that are certainly worth raving about. Combining these aforementioned shows to the two beacons that managed to permeate the darkness of 2018’s first half, we all of a sudden have a list available of some truly excellent shows, some of which have the potential to go on to even greater things in the episodes and hopeful seasons ahead. So, with no further ado, let’s get into the four best new TV shows of 2018 so far.
This HBO series was certainly one of the biggest surprises of the early part of 2018, taking many by surprise who just took a chance on the always popular lead who carries it. Barry is a comedy series starring Bill Hader, centred on an expert hit-man who, upon arriving in LA for his latest target, realises that acting might actually be the profession for him. It’s a preposterous and silly premise to be sure but it works so brilliantly and allows for a tremendous balance between dark drama and comedy that elevates the show above so many of its 30-minute contemporaries. Hader is fabulous in the role, displaying serious acting chops as the titular Barry, but it’s the show’s willingness to execute the unexpected, to go impossibly dark immediately after a comedic sequence that really pushes Barry above and beyond. Barring a questionable time jump towards the season’s end, there’s no denying that this is a show worth paying attention to.
3. The Terror
Thanks to its earlier release window, The Terror is the only show here that also appears on our previous ‘Best TV Shows of 2018 So Far list but it’s a show of such quality that its worthy of levelling further praise now. This new AMC anthology series, based on the book of the same name, is a dark and grisly tale regarding a 19th-century expedition to locate the Northwest Passage. Featuring a talented cast of familiar faces (Jared Harris, Tobias Menzies, and Ciarán Hinds), The Terror is the archetypal Heart of Darkness narrative, taking a seemingly jolly group of Brits to crazed and incredibly disturbing places as their journey progresses. The Terror is certainly not a show for the light-hearted but if that’s no obstacle, audiences will find a thoroughly entertaining adventure waiting with human drama, psychological intrigue, and a drop of the supernatural. There will be a second season featuring a different set of characters and circumstances but it will be hard-pressed to top The Terror’s first offering.
2. Castle Rock
Late contender, Hulu’s Castle Rock, has made a quick impression, thanks in no small part to dropping its first three episodes in a single week. Castle Rock is a show inspired by the mind and works of Stephen King, interweaving familiar story elements and themes from his works, while also populating the creepy town bearing the show’s title with notable Stephen King movie actors of the past (Carrie’s Sissy Spacek and It’s Bill Skarsgard, for example). This first season tells a story of a lawyer returning to his childhood town, a place riddled with darkness and death, to represent a strange young man that has been found surreptitiously locked up in the bowls of Shawshank prison. While the plot is intriguing and the characters colourful, it’s the town and atmosphere of the show that are the real winners. Bad things have happened in Castle Rock and it’s going to be tremendous fun uncovering the further nightmares that lurk within it. The myriad of Stephen King Easter eggs are also a hoot, for those that like that kind of thing.
The series that quite clearly deserves the number one spot on this list of best new 2018 TV shows is the sweeping epic that is Yellowstone. Directed and written entirely by Taylor Sheridan (of Sicario, Hell or High Water, and Wind River fame), Yellowstone captures the style and tone of those aforementioned movies and brings them to a setting that Sheridan is obviously very familiar with. Set in the state of Montana, the show revolves around Yellowstone ranch and more precisely the powerful Dutton family that run it. Starring Kevin Costner and Wes Bentley, Yellowstone is a dark, morbid, and immensely entertaining drama that pits the morally bankrupt Dutton family against a series of equally dastardly foes, including a scheming land developer and power-hungry chief of a nearby Indian reservation. The true strength of Yellowstone, however – besides its thunderous visuals and (at times) romantic setting – is just how much Sheridan manages to pack into each episode, making sure that every instalment is replete with exciting and tense moments to a degree that could be described as unrealistic, but nonetheless makes for the most riveting entertainment 2018 has so far been capable of. It seems quite clear that Yellowstone is the ne plus ultra of Sheridan’s enormous talent.
What are your favourite new TV shows of 2018? Let us know in the comments or on our social media channels…