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TV preview: Five upcoming shows to start watching this winter

Vivian Sun / Daily Bruin

By Gavin Meichelbock, Kaycie Rippe, Reid Sperisen, Eric Sican, and Yuna Choi

Jan. 17, 2024 3:55 p.m.

This post was updated Jan. 17 at 9:53 p.m.

This winter’s television releases are cooler than ice.

As a chill traverses the air, a new slate of sensational shows will be reaching the small screen. With a humorous ensemble of schoolteachers and an elemental fight for power, the options for audiences to cozy up with are endless.

Read on for the Daily Bruin’s toasty picks to watch by the fireplace.

[Related: 75th Primetime Emmy Awards sees “Succession,” “The Bear” tie at 6 wins each]

(Courtesy of Disney+)
In a still from “A Real Bug’s Life,” a bug rests on dirt near a green leaf. The six-part nature documentary series will premiere on Disney+ on Jan. 24. (Courtesy of Disney+)

“A Real Bug’s Life” (Disney+)

It’s a small world after all in “A Real Bug’s Life.”

The six-part nature documentary series arrives on Disney+ on Jan. 24. The show’s premise is partially inspired by Disney and Pixar’s 1998 film “A Bug’s Life,” a fictional tale about a colony of ants resisting takeover by antagonistic grasshoppers. Produced by National Geographic, the program promises to explore the real behavior and epic adaptability of unique insects in nine different biomes around the world.

Golden Globe-winning actress and comedian Awkwafina appears as the narrator of the trials and tribulations of the critters on the show. Subjects of the series include a jumping spider in New York and orchid bees in Costa Rica, with more recognizable species like dung beetles, monarch butterflies and ladybugs also set to be featured. Thanks to newly developed IMAX technology, the series’ crew was able to capture sagas of life or death on a miniature scale.

If the scaly and slimy aren’t too much of a deterrent, “A Real Bug’s Life” is set to be an immersive and escapist adventure for even the most casual bug enthusiast.

– Reid Sperisen

(Courtesy of ABC / Giles Mingasson)
Sheryl Lee Ralph, Tyler James Williams and Quinta Brunson (left to right) play Barbara, Gregory and Janine in “Abbott Elementary.” The ABC mockumentary sitcom will return with its third season Feb. 7. (Courtesy of ABC / Giles Mingasson)

“Abbott Elementary” Season 3 (ABC)

School is back in session with an all-new season of “Abbott Elementary.”

The ABC mockumentary sitcom makes its long-awaited return with a third season Feb. 7. The Emmy-winning show follows the lives of educators and staff played by notable stars like Quinta Brunson, Tyler James Williams and Lisa Ann Walter. Working in an underfunded Philadelphia public school where the teaching circumstances are rough for the faculty, they all share an interest in helping their students prosper.

“Abbott Elementary” took an extended hiatus after its second season due to the Writers Guild of America strike but is now back in full swing with new episodes detailing the chaotic lives of educators that viewers have grown to enjoy. However, due to the sudden stop in production, the show will not run in alignment with the school calendar starting in September as it has in the past. While show creator Brunson confirms that season three will be shorter than Season 2, which had 22 episodes, the teaser trailer does seem to assure the audience that this new season will bring the same laughs and easy-watching for its viewers.

Whether a new student or an alumnus, prepare for this back-to-school season with “Abbott Elementary.”

– Eric Sican

(Courtesy of Netflix)
Gordon Cormier stars as Aang in “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” A live action remake of the hit Nickelodeon cartoon will reach Netflix on Feb. 22. (Courtesy of Netflix)

“Avatar: The Last Airbender” (Netflix)

Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Netflix has broken the ice to bring “Avatar: The Last Airbender” back.

Although it hasn’t quite been 100 years since the end of Nickelodeon’s animated series, “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” the Avatar will return to Netflix on Feb. 22 in an eight-episode live-action remake. Similar to another childhood favorite, “Percy Jackson and the Olympians,” “Avatar: The Last Airbender” has had a failed live action adaptation in the past, which inaccurately represented the beloved series and has led fans to be wary of a second attempt. With the introduction of culturally and racially accurate casting alongside quality CGI, the Netflix series seems to already be ahead of its predecessor.

The Avatar, master of all four elements, once served to keep peace among nations. However, when the Fire Nation waged war on the world and drove the airbenders to near extinction, the Avatar disappeared. One hundred years later, Katara and Sokka find the Avatar, 12-year-old Aang, and the three set out to teach Aang to bend the elements and save the world. Succeeding in their mission while evading the capture of the Fire Nation will be nothing short of a feat of nature.

Grab your flying bison and get ready to travel to the North Pole. Yip yip.

– Kaycie Rippe

[Related: Part 2 of 2023 Hollywood Diversity Report evaluates representation on TV]

(Courtesy of AMC)
Danai Gurira returns as Michonne in “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live.” On Feb. 25, a new spinoff of the hit franchise “The Walking Dead” will premiere on AMC. (Courtesy of AMC)

“The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” (AMC)

Fans can reanimate their love for “The Walking Dead” saga this winter.

“The Walking Dead” franchise expands yet again with its spinoff series, “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live,” bringing back beloved characters Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) and Michonne (Danai Gurira). Releasing Feb. 25, the show puts the spotlight on the pair’s love story, a tale of perseverance in a world waging wars on both the undead and the living.

While “The Walking Dead” ended after 11 seasons in 2022, putting an end to an impressive 12 years of Walkers, the franchise continues to creep forward. The season finale surprised viewers with Rick and Michonne’s return, albeit not with each other. “The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live” is a sensational addition to five spinoff series, starring many familiar faces from the original show. From the trailer alone, fans can catch glimpses of battle scenes of epic proportions, promising the thrilling suspense and action of a post-apocalyptic world.

Nevertheless, it’s clear that the new addition to the world-renowned franchise will make viewers swarm to AMC.

–Yuna Choi

(Courtesy of FX)
Hiroyuki Sanada stars as Lord Yoshii Toranaga in “Shōgun.” Based on James Clavell’s novel of the same name, the historical drama will premiere on Hulu and FX on Feb. 27. (Courtesy of FX)

“Shōgun” (Hulu, FX)

A new series is blending the epic drama of “Game of Thrones” with the complex history of feudal Japan.

“Shōgun,” based on James Clavell’s critically acclaimed novel of the same name, is set to premiere on Hulu and FX on Feb. 27. The story follows Lord Yoshii Toranaga (Hiroyuki Sanada) as he struggles to maintain power against his enemies in a coming civil war. A marooned European ship becomes Toranaga’s only hope, as its pilot, John Blackthorne (Cosmo Jarvis), has knowledge that could shift the tides of power. Their success eventually becomes tied to their translator, Toda Mariko (Anna Sawai), who must navigate the political landscape as well as her relationship with Blackthorne and her duty to her dead father.

The cast is made up of recognizable and rising Japanese actors including Tadanobu Asano, Emi Kamito, Yûki Kedôin and Eushin Lee. Sweeping shots of Japanese landscapes and samurai on the battlefield are brought to life by seasoned TV directors. Frederick E.O. Toye, who worked on shows like “The Boys” and “Watchmen,” is set to helm four of the series’ 10 episodes.

With all the talent in front of and behind the camera, “Shōgun” is a limited series event viewers won’t want to miss.

– Gavin Meichelbock


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