With the recent release of the second seasons of Netflix’s Orange is the New Black and House of Cards, the viability of the company’s release model is no longer a matter of theory. Often earning them the ire of critics who feel that releasing entire seasons at once eliminates the accumulation of buzz over time, Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos has insisted that the company is “thrilled with the strategy” which, according to him, has proven as effective — or more effective — than traditional release schedules.
The success of the model has, in fact, allowed Netflix to pursue a wide range of original programming. From creating new seasons of beloved cancelled shows, such as Arrested Development to developing their own properties like House of Cards and Hemlock Grove, Netflix has shown that it is dedicated to creating daring, high quality programming that is capable of competing with any of the major cable networks.
Netflix’s newest release, season two of Orange is the New Black, has been praised by critics as “a show with so many terrific major characters and minor players ripe with potential.” Costing just under $4 million per episode — the apparent budget of most of Netflix’s original offerings — it’s easy to see that the company has gone all-in in their quest to wrest control away from cable.
It does make you wonder, however, about what lies just beyond the horizon. With their three recurring shows all scheduled for additional seasons, Netflix has also committed to a number of new projects. These projects — spread across a handful of genres — represent the company’s plans over the next several years. So, from the resurrection of a brooding mystery whose threads remained a little too tangled to the misadventures of a drunken horse, we look at five upcoming Netflix original series.
The Killing (Season 4)
Release Date: August 2014
Summary: Originally airing on AMC, The Killing follows detectives Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder. Distinguishing itself from traditional police dramas by eschewing the procedural format, the show has typically portrays a single, complex mystery each season. Season 4 will be set in an all-boys military academy and, according to early reports, will aim to answer the host of questions surrounding Linden’s past in the foster care system.
Who’s Involved: Mireille Enos and Joel Kinnaman — the show’s leads — are set to return to their roles. Furthermore, showrunner Veena Sud will return as executive producer, thus ensuring a seamless continuity with the previous seasons.
Why To Watch: Fans of slow-burn, methodical police dramas will no doubt find themselves enthralled by The Killing’s moody atmosphere and winding, intricate plots. However, the real audience — just as with Arrested Development — will be those looking for a continuation of the original series’ mythology. With no doubt in producer’s minds that — this time, for real — this is the final season, viewers can likely expect a brisker plot and firm, conclusive answers to some of the show’s lingering mysteries.
Release Date: Late 2014 or Early 2015
Summary: Sense8, a fully original Netflix property, will center around eight strangers spread across the globe who simultaneously experience a violent psychic vision. After becoming telepathically linked, these strangers — including a transgender blogger and a German safe-cracker — will be sought out by a man who aims to unite them while also being hunted by a shadowy assassin known only as “Mr. Whispers.”
Who’s Involved: The Matrix and Cloud Atlas directors the Wachowskis are on board as executive producers with comic book powerhouse J. Michael Straczynski credited as the show’s creator. While the full cast has not yet been discussed, the show calls for a highly diverse set of recurring characters from around the globe.
Why To Watch: The Wachowski siblings are hit or miss. When they’re closely involved in deeply personal projects — such as The Matrix or V for Vendetta — they’re usually on point. With Sense8, Netflix has essentially given the duo carte blanche so its fair to assume that they will bring their ‘A’ game.
With its grand, globe-spanning plot, Sense8 would end up a mess on most cable channels who are typically reticent to fully commit to esoteric, long-form dramas. However, Netflix has signed on for five seasons, thus guaranteeing that the story won’t be rushed and viewers won’t be denied a satisfying resolution.
Release Date: 2015
Summary: By now, most people are familiar with Daredevil, the blind, echolocating lawyer-cum-crime-fighter. Though few details have surfaced, early reports seem to indicate a show focused on self-contained episodes, with Daredevil waging a nightly battle against unseemly elements on the streets of Hell’s Kitchen.
Who’s Involved: Steven S. DeKnight of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel fame is slated to be the show’s executive producer along with fellow Buffy alumni Drew Goddard. It was recently announced that Charlie Cox — Owen Sleater from Boardwalk Empire — would be playing the titular role of Daredevil.
Why To Watch: With the recent success of films set in the Marvel Universe, fans of Daredevil — “The Man Without Fear” — have been clamoring for an updated take on the character. Disappointed by Ben Affleck’s performance as the character, they can breathe a sigh of relief thanks to Netflix’s involvement. The modern story of Daredevil is rarely optimistic and often gruesome, something that the company has shown they are comfortable dealing with in series like Hemlock Grove and Orange is the New Black.
Release Date: Late 2015
Summary: Marvel’s Defenders is a ragtag group of unaffiliated superheroes. With each member beholden to their own beliefs and agenda, the team struggled with internal disagreements as often as they battled against their villainous counterparts. Founded and led by Doctor Strange, the group typically finds themselves pitted against otherworldly and supernatural threats.
Who’s Involved: Few details have emerged about The Defenders, save that it will come directly after four, thirteen episode series: the aforementioned Daredevil, followed by Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage. Since The Defenders is reported to be the culmination of these series, it’s safe to assume that they will feature prominently. However, with a Doctor Strange movie on the horizon, its unlikely — though not impossible — that the group’s founding Sorcerer Supreme will be featured.
Why To Watch: With the success of The Avengers, Marvel has shown that movies featuring a large cast of superheroes can both faithfully represent the team’s original ideologies and do justice to the individual characters. They can equally please hardcore comic fans and casual moviegoers. Given Marvel’s track record with comic adaptations and Netflix’s history of developing quality programs, it’s not difficult to see the inherent promise of The Defenders.
Release Date: August 2014
Summary: BoJack Horseman is an animated comedy that tells the story of a fallen sitcom star. It follows the lead character — a bipedal horse — and his apparent dissatisfaction with everything and everyone around him.
Who’s Involved: Featuring a veritable who’s who of television, BoJack Horseman himself is voiced by former Arrested Development star Will Arnett. The remaining cast is filled in by Amy Sedaris, Alison Brie, Paul F. Tompkins and Aaron Paul.
Why To Watch: Besides the all-star cast, BoJack Horseman is penned by Ignatz award-winning author Lisa Hanawalt. The show is poised to be Netflix’s answer to the resurgence of adult animation, and anyone interested in Bob’s Burgers or Family Guy will undoubtedly find themselves drawn to the show’s quirky, offbeat style.