The realms of TV and film have undoubtedly been affected by the pandemic. Obviously, TV holds a strong advantage because the distribution method (your living room) is much friendlier to the process of avoiding a virus. Still, yes, production halted on all shows for awhile and for many shows for longer than awhile. Things got moving again last fall, and now, we’re seeing the resurgence begin. Yet this won’t be an overnight process. The schedule will really get rolling this spring with new endeavors like The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and many returning shows, and heck, even Zack Snyder’s Justice League will technically be a miniseries, not a movie, but February is coming in with some early signs that TV will come roaring back full strength.
So, we’ve dug through the schedule and found the must-see selections for you. These might be, in some cases, “must-try” shows because, who knows, the charisma of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson might only go so far for some viewers. Admit it, though, you are curious about how that show will turn out. That intrigue goes a long way, so here are the TV shows that you should at least consider putting on your list.
For All Mankind: Season 2 (Apple TV+, February 18)
Astronaut-Joel Kinnaman returns for what is is easily one of the streaming era’s best space-themed series, which brings alternate-theory twists aplenty, including a version of events where Russia beat America to the Moon. This batch of episodes goes down at the height of the Cold War while space exploration becomes ground central for the U.S. and Soviets as they race to stake claims upon resource-rich areas of the Moon. The characters must also maneuver through the militarization of NASA, which of course will cause tons of space-drama, which I reckon is the #3 most intense type of drama.
Tell Me Your Secrets (Amazon Prime, February 19)
Lily Rabe and Amy Brenneman star in this psychological thriller series about a trio of characters who each harbor a troubling past. There’s a woman who stared into the eyes of a killer, a serial predator who wants redemption, and a grieving mother who believes that she can still find her missing daughter. The series aims to explore the murky lines between victims and perpetrators, and it will need to thread a fine needle to pull off that feat while solving the show’s mysteries. This show has a Gone Girl vibe and promises to be as bingeworthy as HBO’s The Undoing (the presence of Lily Rabe, who played Nicole Kidman’s greatest ally in that show, helps that vibe), so get ready to hear a lot of buzz.
The Walking Dead: Season 10B (AMC, February 28)
Fans of this franchise haven’t seen an episode of the flagship series since last April, and even though Fear the Walking Dead picked up a lot of praise during the gap, there’s nothing like the original with crafty Negan and steadfast Daryl keeping the anti-zombie fires burning. The bad news is that the show will conclude with a super-sized Season 11 in 2022, but the good news is that Daryl and Carol are getting a spinoff, and there will be plenty more of this franchise to fuel Rick Grimes movies and the like. Here, we’ll see the extension of Season 10 with the return of Maggie and Negan’s late wife appearing in his backstory. Real life is colliding with fiction there, since Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s wife, Hilarie, will play Lucille, so that should be a good time.
Canine Intervention (Netflix, February 24)
Bridgerton, this ain’t, and it certainly differs from most of Netflix’s other offerings of late. I didn’t even expect to be reeled in by this series about a California-based K9 dog trainer, Jas Leverette, as he helps owners with their “problem dogs.” Instead, I imagined that this would be an unbearable watch that would make me weepy while wishing that I’d never clicked, but something about this trailer made me suspect differently, and I’m glad to have given it a chance. The charismatic Jas transforms the lives of several dogs, beginning with Lady MacBeth, a three-legged survivor who suffered a gunshot and stood as the very essence of Jas’ motto, “It’s never the dog’s fault, it’s always human error.” These are uplifting journeys for this dog and many others, who received their second chances and worked tirelessly to achieve stunning transformations in the process. Jas’ holistic approach to training works surprising benefits for the humans involved in these stories, too.
Young Rock (NBC, February 17)
Dwayne Johnson’s gotten very real in interviews while discussing his difficult adolescence and young adulthood, but this show will take a comedic stance while focusing on how he hustled his way into wrestling superstardom. Soon enough, he became a household name and rollercoaster-ed toward Hollywood stardom and earned that Franchise Viagra nickname. This series will focus on all of that, but also! Expect to see exploration of The Rock’s presidential semi-ambitions when his character decides to run for office in 2032 with the help of Rosario Dawson and Randall Park.
It’s A Sin (HBO Max, February 18)
This doesn’t promise to be the easiest watch, given that this is an account of the early-1980s AIDS health crisis in London. Still, the series not only examines the horror of the epidemic in an overall sense but, more specifically, upon two gay young men who left home with hope and joy in their hearts, only to confront terrible losses. Their families, friends, and lovers help galvanize the duo as they come together to fight against not only the virus itself but also the prejudices of society at large. It’s a series full of terrible happenings and wonderful people who come together to celebrate the lives of those lost.
Kenan (NBC, February 17)
The longest-tenured cast member on SNL (and he’s not leaving) now breaks into the family comedy business where he plays a character named Kenan, who’s attempting to do what we all do: balance every aspect of life (and usually, to some degree, make a mess while doing it). Luckily for Kenan, he’s so much funnier than the rest of us. It’ll be something to watch him dodge an overbearing father-in-law while staying sane with his family and work, so this should be quite the stress-relieving watch for anyone who wants to see Kenan Thompson painting everyday experiences in an absurd light.
Crime Scene: The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel (Netflix, February 10)
The Ted Bundy-obsessed Joe Berlinger — he directed Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile starring Zac Efron as Ted Bundy and created Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes — brings us a new docuseries that tackles a new mythology. Crime Scene is actually the launch of a documentary franchise that will dive into mysteries surrounding locations where infamous crimes took place. In this first season, the Cecil Hotel in Downtown LA becomes ground central for many untimely deaths and the housing of serial killers. In particular, this series digs into the 2013 disappearance of a college student, Elisa Lam, at the notorious hotel. Internet sleuths helped to mobilize and stir up a media frenzy, and what’s even more chilling is that this is only one of the hotel’s countless sinister happenings over the years.
Supervillain: The Making of Tekashi 6ix9ine (Showtime, February 21)
This three-part documentary series tracks hip-hop artist Tekashi 6ix9ine’s rise to notoriety. The centerpiece of the series happens to be an exclusive interview with the rapper after his 2020 release from prison, and the show also hopes to provide a unique perspective on the artist’s mastery of social media and the culture of manufactured celebrity. One thing is certain: it won’t be boring.
Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready: Season 2 (Netflix, February 2)
Tiffany Haddish Presents: They Ready: Season 2 (Netflix series) — Netflix’s stellar run of stand-up comedy specials took a bit of a breather in late 2020, but there’s some excellent news on the horizon. Girl’s Trip star Tiffany Haddish will return with a fresh collection of half-hour specials and a diverse crop of comedians who are near and dear to Haddish. These players include Chaunté Wayans (Wild n’ Out), April Macie (Last Comic Standing), Tracey Ashley (The Last O.G.), Aida Rodriguez (Comedy Central’s This Week at the Comedy Cellar), Flame Monroe (Def Comedy Jam), and Marlo Williams (BET’s Comicview). This season won’t drop a moment too soon because we could really use the laughs.
Beartown: Season 1 (HBO Max, February 22)
This one looks terrifying. The story’s based upon Fredrik Backman’s bestselling novel of the same name, and it follows the domination of a junior ice-hockey team upon a small community. Given the show’s color palette on display in the trailer, I’m sure having a difficult time resisting Twilight jokes, but this looks more substantially chilling. The show promises to explore hope and secrets and courage to go against the grain.
Punky Brewster: Season 1 (Peacock, February 25)
Hear me out here on this one. Reboot madness won’t stop (no matter what we do), and after NBCU’s streaming service did the Saved By The Bell thing (which is already renewed for a second season), the progression toward Punky Power shouldn’t be too surprising. In this series, Punky’s a single mom who finds herself inspired by meeting a young orphan who possesses of all her old spunk. Both Soleil Moon Frye and Cherie Johnson reprise their roles, and Freddie Prinze Jr. plays Punky’s ex-husband. Did she go by “Punky” or “Penelope” while taking wedding vows? I kind-of need to know, and I also want some depth here. Of course, I’m not expecting this to be a crowd favorite like Cobra Kai, but there’s room here for Peacock to go a lot deeper than the original. Peacock is also making a lot of unexpectedly strong moves with content, so let’s just say that (as with The Rock’s TV show) curiosity is enough to make me check this show out, at least for a few episodes.