Television shows with spring premiere dates are a lot like their namesake season. They can sometimes be uplifting after a dense winter, or they can just be more of the same. April is typically a platform for returning critically acclaimed cable series (Game of Thrones, Louie, Mad Men) and the launching pad for shows looking to achieve similar success (The Comedians, Happyish). Here are a few of the shows making their returns and debuts this month.
Mad Men (AMC, April 5)
The last seven episodes of Mad Men’s final season can’t get here soon enough. At the end of last year we found ourselves in the middle of Don Draper’s mid-life crisis and at odds with Sterling Cooper, his family and his beautiful young wife, Megan. What else is new? But the question on everyone’s mind is where the show will end. There have been rumors of plot lines and twists (potentially Don’s death?) but none can be confirmed. Mad Men has defied all the odds — it was a period piece and was the first original program on AMC — and the ending is sure to be as remarkable as its acclaimed seven-season run. It’s going to be difficult saying goodbye to the Mad Men universe (yes, even resident jerk Pete Campbell).
Louie (FX, April 9)
It’s always great to see a comedian who can find humor in even the lowest and most depressing moments of life. For Louie C.K., it’s a skill that has become his bread and butter. His honest comedy Louie is returning to FX for a fifth season after viewers last year saw him try to balance dating, fatherhood and being a comedian. Perhaps the best thing about Louie is its ability to juggle its narrative with flashbacks and stand-up performances while maintaining the clear voice of its auteur. Plus, it has featured a smorgasbord of comedians in its run thus far (everyone from the late Robin Williams to Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock and Maria Bamford) and it is a real treat to see their interactions. It will be interesting to find out where Louie is going next.
Game of Thrones (HBO, April 12)
When it comes to spring television, Game of Thrones is The Mountain and everyone else is Oberyn Martell. The HBO mega-hit is returning for 10 new episodes, and as usual the fourth season left us with a load of problems to consider—not to mention the pesky little question of who should rule Westeros. Trailers for the new season imply that perhaps the next ruler will be the fierce Daenerys Targaryen (get ready for some dragons, y’all.) Also: Where is Tyrion escaping to? What will become of Arya? And whom will Cersei dole out eye rolls to next? Tune in to see which of your favorite characters will probably die in a moderate to severely upsetting way.
Veep (HBO, April 12)
Let’s all acknowledge that Julia Louis-Dreyfus is pretty flawless, not to mention dominant in the award season for her portrayal of vice-president-turned-president of the United States Selina Meyer. In the upcoming fourth season, Meyer will surely lead her team of disgruntled misfits straight into the fire yet again. She has finally achieved her goal of the Oval Office, but that doesn’t make things any easier for her. Though Veep has one of the strongest supporting casts on TV, the crown jewel is Tony Hale as Gary. A mix of bumbling nerves and competency, he delivers on every occasion.
Inside Amy Schumer (Comedy Central, April 21)
If you haven’t been keeping up with Amy Schumer, it’s time to start. She is one of the most prominent stand-up comics on the scene today, and she wrote and starred in the upcoming Judd Apatow-directed film Trainwreck. While Schumer often gets branded as a “sex comic,” her Comedy Central series proves that she is much more. Schumer has shown range in sketches where she has bargained with God (played by Paul Giamatti), made inappropriate toasts at weddings and even worked at a fast food restaurant in an Aaron Sorkin parody. Entering its third season, Inside Amy Schumer goes for the laughs while still keeping the subject matter authentic. It will fill the Broad City-shaped hole in your heart.
AD The Bible Continues (NBC, April 5)
Lately it seems like NBC just can’t get it right — they recently passed on Tina Fey’s Netflix critical hit Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt — but the broadcast network is trying to start a fire with this Biblical drama after past miniseries and film success for the History Channel. It certainly has the right people for the job in husband-and-wife team Roma Downey (Touched By an Angel) and reality powerhouse Mark Burnett (Survivor, The Apprentice), who were responsible for the successful religious cable miniseries The Bible. NBC is looking for more of those big ratings, but I’m not sure they’ll be found anywhere but James Spader’s fedora and the rotating Voice chairs.
The Comedians (FX, April 9)
This program will show us what happened when Harry met Olaf. The Comedians stars veteran film actor Billy Crystal as a version of himself with Frozen’s Josh Gad as a younger and more controversial comedian. The two work on a late-night sketch show together and their difference in styles cause them to get off on the wrong foot. The two seem like a good match and it sounds like Gad is playing a noticeably edgier character than the more playful and good-hearted individuals he typically portrays. There is certainly a lot of potential with this fast FX pickup — and since the leads are perfectly capable, much of the pressure falls on the shoulders of the writers to give them something to do.
Daredevil (Netflix, April 10)
Seeking to take advantage of the recent superhero trend is Netflix with this upcoming series which stars Charlie Cox (The Theory of Everything) as Matt Murdock, a blind lawyer with enhanced senses who solves crime by night. It also features True Blood’s Deborah Ann Woll and Top Five’s Rosario Dawson in supporting roles. You may recognize the superhero from the 2003 film starring Ben Affleck, which had less than stellar reviews. While this genre is nothing new (TV already has ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and CW’s The Flash), Netflix may have the flexibility to bring something different.
Happyish (Showtime, April 26)
Originally shot with the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, this project looked like a no-go until Philomena’s Steve Coogan stepped into the role. Happyish deals with a man who must come to terms with aging and not always feeling content. He’s joined by some of the best character actors in Hollywood, including Kathryn Hahn (Step Brothers), Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) and Carrie Preston (True Blood). This has all the makings of a good cable comedy, but will viewers agree?