The 15 Best Returning TV Shows of 2023

'Reservation Dogs', 'Succession' and 'Barry' might've all said goodbye in 2023, but they're each among the year's returning television standouts.
Sarah Ward
December 18, 2023

Do call it a comeback: in 2023, beloved TV shows dropped new seasons everywhere. Whether you're a fan of thoughtful dramedies about Indigenous American teenagers, savage family feuds or culinary chaos, this year delivered another serving — and of vampire sharehouse antics, British spies, and angels and demons palling around as well.

Some of the above series not only waved hello again, but also goodbye forever after releasing their latest episodes. Others among the year's absolute best returning series have at least one more round in their future. Either way, 2023 hasn't been short of tried-and-tested gems that've kept proving why that's the case again.

When the year reached its halfway point, we named and celebrated the top already-obsessed-over TV shows of the year so far. Now that 2023 is saying farewell itself, we've surveyed the entire past 12 months of small-screen efforts. Here's the results: the best 15 returning television shows of the year, and one helluva list of recommendations for finally seeing what everyone's been talking about or spending time with an old favourite.

cp-line

RESERVATION DOGS

There's only one thing wrong with the third season of Reservation Dogs: now that it's over, the show has come to an end. There's a skill in knowing when something's time has come, but this teen-centric comedy about restless Indigenous North American adolescents is so rich in stories, perspectives and minutiae — and so resonant as well — that it feels like more and more could (and should) just keep following. Ending Reservation Dogs with this ten-episode run is also an example of the series taking its own message to heart, however. As co-created, executive produced and written by Sterlin Harjo (Mekko) and Taika Waititi (Thor: Love and Thunder) — the former as its guiding force — Reservation Dogs knows that little lasts. It hangs out with its characters as they learn about life's transience at every moment, whether they're chasing their dreams of leaving the reservation that they've always called home or they're grappling with loss. So, of course the series is moving on. In the process, its farewell season proved even more moving and thoughtful than ever, even after its debut year delivered one of the best new TV shows of 2021 and its second spin served up one of the best returning shows of 2022.

The last time that viewers saw the Rez Dogs — the OG quartet of Bear (D'Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai, Beans), Elora (Devery Jacobs, Rutherford Falls), Willie Jack (Paulina Alexis, Ghostbusters: Afterlife) and Cheese (Lane Factor, The Fabelmans), plus Jackie (Elva Guerra, Dark Winds), the somewhat-reluctant newcomer to the group — they had finally made the trip to California that they'd been working towards their entire lives. Season three picks up with the crew still far away from home, and still journeying even when they do return. Elora considers both her past and her future. Bear goes wandering on his own, including through several revelatory encounters. Harjo still isn't afraid to veer away from his leads along the way, whether sliding into history to explore myths, traditions or horrors inflicted upon Indigenous children. Reservation Dogs finds a story, be it big or small, for everyone within its frames. Bear, Elora, Willie Jack and Cheese especially will be deeply missed, but Woon-A-Tai, Jacobs, Alexis and Factor shouldn't ever be far from screens after this exceptional breakthrough.

Reservation Dogs streams via Binge. Read our full review.

cp-line

SUCCESSION

Endings have always been a part of Succession. Since it premiered in 2018, the bulk of the HBO drama's feuding figures have been waiting for a big farewell. The reason is right there in the title, because for any of the Roy clan's adult children to scale the family company's greatest heights and remain there — be it initial heir apparent Kendall (Jeremy Strong, Armageddon Time), his inappropriate photo-sending brother Roman (Kieran Culkin, Scott Pilgrim Takes Off), their political-fixer sister Siobhan (Sarah Snook, Pieces of a Woman), or eldest sibling and presidential candidate Connor (Alan Ruck, The Dropout) — their father Logan's (Brian Cox, Remember Me) tenure needed to wrap up. The latter was always stubborn. Proud, too, of what he'd achieved and the power it's brought. And whenever Logan seemed nearly ready to leave the business behind, he held on. If he's challenged or threatened, as happened again and again in the Emmy-winning series, he fixed his grasp even tighter.

Succession was always been waiting for Logan's last stint at global media outfit Waystar RoyCo, but it had never been about finales quite the way it was in its stunning fourth season. This time, there was ticking clock not just for the show's characters, but for the stellar series itself, given that this is its last go-around — and didn't it make the most of it. Nothing can last forever, not even widely acclaimed hit shows that are a rarity in today's TV climate: genuine appointment-viewing. So, this went out at the height of its greatness, complete with unhappy birthday parties, big business deals, plenty of scheming and backstabbing, and both Shiv's husband Tom Wambsgans (Matthew Macfadyen, Operation Mincemeat) and family cousin Greg (Nicholas Braun, Cat Person) in vintage form — plus an early shock, at least two of the best episodes of any show that've ever aired on television, one of the worst drinks, a phenomenal acting masterclass, a The Sopranos-level final shot and the reality that money really can't buy happiness.

Succession streams via Binge. Read our full review.

cp-line

BARRY

Since HBO first introduced the world to Barry Berkman, the contract killer played and co-created by Saturday Night Live great Bill Hader wanted to be something other than a gun for hire. An ex-military sniper, he was always skilled at his highly illicit post-service line of work; however, moving on from that past was a bubbling dream even before he found his way to a Los Angeles acting class while on a job. Barry laid bare its namesake's biggest wish in its 2018 premiere episode. Then, it kept unpacking his pursuit of a life less lethal across the show's Emmy-winning first and second seasons, plus its even-more-astounding third season in 2022. Season four, the series' final outing, was no anomaly, but it also realised that wanting to be someone different and genuinely overcoming your worst impulses aren't the same. Barry grappled with this fact since the beginning, of course, with the grim truth beating at the show's heart whether it's at its most darkly comedic, action-packed or dramatic — and, given that its namesake was surrounded by people who similarly yearn for an alternative to their current lot in life, yet also can't shake their most damaging behaviour, it did so beyond its antihero protagonist.

Are Barry, his girlfriend Sally Reid (Sarah Goldberg, The Night House), acting teacher Gene Cousineau (Henry Winkler, Black Adam), handler Monroe Fuches (Stephen Root, Succession) and Chechen gangster NoHo Hank (Anthony Carrigan, Bill & Ted Face the Music) all that different from who they were when Barry started? Have they processed their troubles? Have they stopped taking out their struggles not just on themselves, but on those around them? Hader and his fellow Barry co-creator Alec Berg (Silicon Valley, Curb Your Enthusiasm) kept asking those questions in season four to marvellous results, including after making a massive jump, and right up to the jaw-dropping yet pitch-perfect finale. Barry being Barry, posing such queries and seeing its central figures for who they are was an ambitious, thrilling and risk-taking ride. When season three ended, it was with Barry behind bars, which is where he was when the show's new go-around kicked off. He wasn't coping, unsurprisingly, hallucinating Sally running lines in the prison yard and rejecting a guard's attempt to tell him that he's not a bad person. With the latter, there's a moment of clarity about what he's done and who he is, but Barry's key players have rarely been that honest with themselves for long.

Barry streams via Binge. Read our full review.

cp-line

THE BEAR

The more time that anyone spends in the kitchen, the easier that whipping up their chosen dish gets. The Bear season two is that concept in TV form, even if the team at The Original Beef of Chicagoland don't always live it as they leap from running a beloved neighbourhood sandwich joint to opening a fine-diner, and fast. The hospitality crew that was first introduced in the best new show of 2022 isn't lacking in culinary skills or passion. But when bedlam surrounds you constantly, as bubbled and boiled through The Bear's Golden Globe-winning, Emmy-nominated season-one frames, not everything always goes to plan. That was only accurate on-screen for Carmen 'Carmy' Berzatto (Jeremy Allen White, Fingernails) and his colleagues — aka sous chef Sydney (Ayo Edebiri, Bottoms), baker-turned-pastry chef Marcus (Lionel Boyce, Hap and Leonard), veteran line cooks Tina (Liza Colón-Zayas, In Treatment) and Ebraheim (Edwin Lee Gibson, Fargo), resident Mr Fixit Neil Fak (IRL chef Matty Matheson), and family pal Richie aka Cousin (Ebon Moss-Bachrach, No Hard Feelings). For viewers, the series' debut run was as perfect a piece of television as anyone can hope for. Excellent news: season two is better.

The Bear serves up another sublime course of comedy, drama and "yes chef!"-exclaiming antics across its sizzling second season. Actually make that ten more courses, one per episode, with each new instalment its own more-ish meal. A menu, a loan, desperately needed additional help, oh-so-much restaurant mayhem: that's how this second visit begins, as Carmy and Sydney endeavour to make their dreams for their own patch of Chicago's food scene come true. So far, so familiar, but The Bear isn't just plating up the same dishes this time around. At every moment, this new feast feels richer, deeper and more seasoned, including when it's as intense as ever, when it's filling the screen with tastebud-tempting food shots that relish culinary artistry, and also when it gets meditative. Episodes that send Marcus to a Noma-esque venue in Copenhagen under the tutelage of Luca (Will Poulter, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3), get Richie spending a week learning the upscale ropes at one of Chicago's best restaurants and jump back to the past, demonstrating how chaos would've been in Carmy's blood regardless of if he became a chef, are particularly stunning.

The Bear season two streams via Disney+. Read our full review.

cp-line

THE OTHER TWO

Swapping Saturday Night Live for an entertainment-parodying sitcom worked swimmingly for Tina Fey. Since 2019, it also went hilariously for Chris Kelly and Sarah Schneider. Not just former SNL writers but the veteran sketch comedy's ex-head writers, Kelly and Schneider gave the world their own 30 Rock with the sharp, smart and sidesplitting The Other Two. Their angle: focusing on the adult siblings of a Justin Bieber-style teen popstar who've always had their own showbiz aspirations — he's an actor, she was a ballerina — who then find themselves the overlooked children of a momager-turned-daytime television host as well. Cary (Drew Tarver, History of the World: Part II) and Brooke (Heléne York, Katy Keene) Dubek were happy for Chase (Case Walker, Monster High: The Movie). And when their mother Pat (Molly Shannon, I Love That for You) gets her own time in the spotlight, becoming Oprah-level famous, they were equally thrilled for her. But ChaseDreams, their little brother's stage name, was always a constant reminder that their own ambitions keep being outshone.

In a first season that proved one of the best new shows of 2019, a second season in 2021 that was just as much of a delight and now a stellar third go-around, Cary and Brooke were never above getting petty and messy about being the titular pair. In season three, however, they didn't just hang around with stars in their eyes and resentment in their hearts. How did they cope? They spent the past few years constantly comparing themselves to Chase, then to Pat, but then they were successful on their own — and still in a shambles, and completely unable to change their engrained thinking. Forget the whole "the grass is always greener" adage. No matter if they were faking it or making it, nothing was ever perfectly verdant for this pair or anyone in their orbit. Still, as Brooke wondered whether her dream manager gig is trivial after living through a pandemic, she started contemplating if she should be doing more meaningful work like her fashion designer-turned-nurse boyfriend Lance (Josh Segarra, The Big Door Prize). And with Cary's big breaks never quite panning out as planned, he got envious of his fellow-actor BFF Curtis (Brandon Scott Jones, Ghosts).

The Other Two streams via Binge. Read our full review.

cp-line

PARTY DOWN

Sometimes, dreams do come true. More often than not, they don't. The bulk of life is what dwells in-between, as we all cope with the inescapable truth that we won't get everything that we've ever fantasised about, and we mightn't even score more than just a few things we want. This is the space that Party Down has always made its own, asking "are we having fun yet?" about life's disappointments while focusing on Los Angeles-based hopefuls played by Adam Scott (Severance), Ken Marino (The Other Two), Ryan Hansen (A Million Little Things), Martin Starr (Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities) and more. They'd all rather be doing something other than being cater waiters at an array of California functions, and most have stars in their eyes. In the cult comedy's first two seasons back in 2009–10, the majority of its characters had their sights set on show business, slinging hors d'oeuvres while trying to make acting, screenwriting or comedy happen.

Bringing most of the original gang back together — including Jane Lynch (Only Murders in the Building) and Megan Mullally (Dicks: The Musical) — Party Down keeps its shindig-by-shindig setup in its 13-years-later third season. Across its first 20 instalments as well as its new six, each episode sends the titular crew to a different soirée. This time, setting the scene for what's still one of the all-time comedy greats in its latest go-around, the opening get-together is thrown by one of their own. Kyle Bradway (Hansen) has just scored the lead part in a massive superhero franchise, and he's celebrating. Ex-actor Henry Pollard (Scott) is among the attendees, as are now-heiress Constance Carmell (Lynch) and perennial stage mum Lydia Dunfree (Mullally). Hard sci-fi obsessive Roman DeBeers (Starr) and the eager-to-please Ron Donald (Marino) are present as well, in a catering capacity. By the time episode two hits, then the rest of the season, more of the above will be donning pastel pink bow ties, the series keeps unpacking what it means to dream but never succeed, and the cast — especially Scott and the ever-committed Marino — are in their element.

Party Down streams via Stan. Read our full review of season three.

cp-line

YELLOWJACKETS

For Shauna (Melanie Lynskey, The Last of Us), Natalie (Juliette Lewis, Welcome to Chippendales), Taissa (Tawny Cypress, Billions), Misty (Christina Ricci, Wednesday), Lottie (Simone Kessell, Muru) and Van (Lauren Ambrose, Servant), 1996 will always be the year that their plane plunged into the Canadian wilderness, stranding them for 19 tough months — as season one of 2021–2022 standout Yellowjackets grippingly established. As teenagers (as played by The Kid Detective's Sophie Nélisse, The Boogeyman's Sophie Thatcher, Scream VI's Jasmin Savoy, Shameless' Samantha Hanratty, Mad Max: Fury Road's Courtney Eaton and Santa Clarita Diet's Liv Hewson), they were members of the show's titular high-school soccer squad, travelling from their New Jersey home town to Seattle for a national tournament, when the worst eventuated. Cue Lost-meets-Lord of the Flies with an Alive twist, as that first season was understandably pegged.

All isn't always what it seems as Shauna and company endeavour to endure in the elements. Also, tearing into each other occurs more than just metaphorically. Plus, literally sinking one's teeth in was teased and flirted with since episode one, too. But Yellowjackets will always be about what it means to face something so difficult that it forever colours and changes who you are — and constantly leaves a reminder of who you might've been. So, when Yellowjackets ended its first season, it was with as many questions as answers. Naturally, it tore into season two in the same way. In the present, mere days have elapsed — and Shauna and her husband Jeff (Warren Kole, Shades of Blue) are trying to avoid drawing any attention over the disappearance of Shauna's artist lover Adam (Peter Gadiot, Queen of the South). Tai has been elected as a state senator, but her nocturnal activities have seen her wife Simone (Rukiya Bernard, Van Helsing) move out with their son Sammy (Aiden Stoxx, Supergirl). Thanks to purple-wearing kidnappers, Nat has been spirited off, leaving Misty desperate to find her — even enlisting fellow citizen detective Walter (Elijah Wood, Come to Daddy) to help. And, in the past, winter is setting in, making searching for food and staying warm an immense feat.

Yellowjackets streams via Paramount+. Read our full review, and our interview with Melanie Lynskey.

cp-line

I THINK YOU SHOULD LEAVE WITH TIM ROBINSON

Eat-the-rich stories are delicious, and also everywhere; however, Succession, Triangle of Sadness and the like aren't the only on-screen sources of terrible but terribly entertaining people. I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson has been filling streaming queues with assholes since 2019, as usually played by the eponymous Detroiters star, and long may it continue. In season three, the show takes its premise literally in the most ridiculous and unexpected way, so much so that no one could ever dream of predicting what happens. That's still the sketch comedy's not-so-secret power. Each of its skits is about someone being the worst in some manner, doubling down on being the worst and refusing to admit that they're the worst (or that they're wrong) — and while everyone around them might wish that they'd leave, they're never going to, and nothing ever ends smoothly. In a show that's previously worked in hot dog costumes and reality TV series about bodies dropping out of coffins to hilarious effect, anything can genuinely happen to its gallery of the insufferable. In fact, the more absurd and anarchic that I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson gets, the better.

No description can do I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson's sketches justice, and almost every one is a comedic marvel, as again delivered in six 15-minute episodes in the series' third run. The usual complaint applies: for a show about people overstaying their welcome, the program itself flies by too quickly, always leaving viewers wanting more. Everything from dog doors and designated drivers to HR training and street parking is in Robinson's sights this time, and people who won't stop talking about their kids, wedding photos and group-think party behaviour as well. Game shows get parodied again and again, an I Think You Should Leave staple, and gloriously. More often than in past seasons, Robinson lets his guest stars play the asshole, too, including the returning Will Forte (Weird: The Al Yankovic Story), regular Sam Richardson (The Afterparty), and perennial pop-ups Fred Armisen (Barry) and Tim Meadows (Poker Face). And when Jason Schwartzman (The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes) and Ayo Edebiri (The Bear) drop in, they're also on the pitch-perfect wavelength.

I Think You Should Leave with Tim Robinson streams via Netflix. Read our full review.

cp-line

WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS

Following in Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement's footsteps isn't easy, but someone had to do it when What We Do in the Shadows made the leap from the big screen to the small. New format, new location, new vampires, same setup: that's the formula behind this film-to-TV series, which has notched up five seasons so far. Thankfully for audiences, Matt Berry (Toast of London and Toast of Tinseltown), Natasia Demetriou (Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga) and Kayvan Novak (Cruella) were enlisted as the show's three key bloodsuckers in this US spinoff from the New Zealand mockumentary, all in roles that they each seem born for. The trio play three-century-old British aristocrat Laszlo, his 500-year-old creator and partner Nadja and early Ottoman Empire warrior Nandor, respectively, who share an abode and the afterlife in Staten Island. In cinemas, the film already proved that the concept works to sidesplitting effect. Vampire housemates, they're just like us — except when they're busting out their fangs, flying, avoiding daylight, sleeping in coffins, feuding with other supernatural creatures and leaving a body count, that is. On TV, What We Do in the Shadows illustrates that there's not only ample life left in palling around with the undead, but that there's no limit to the gloriously ridiculous hijinks that these no-longer-living creatures can get up to.

It was true as a movie and it's still true as a television show: What We Do in the Shadows sparkles not just due to its premise, but when its characters and cast are both as right as a luminous full moon on a cloudless night. This lineup of actors couldn't be more perfect or comedically gifted, as season five constantly demonstrates via everything from mall trips, political campaigns, pride parades and speed dating to trying to discover why Nandor's long-suffering and ever-dutiful familiar Guillermo (Harvey Guillén, Werewolves Within) hasn't quite started chomping on necks despite being bitten himself. Berry's over-enunciation alone is the best in the business, as is his ability to play confident and cocky. His line readings are exquisite, and also piercingly funny. While that was all a given thanks to his Toast franchise, Year of the RabbitThe IT CrowdSnuff BoxThe Mighty Boosh and Garth Marenghi's Darkplace history, What We Do in the Shadows is a group effort. Demetriou and Novak keep finding new ways to twist Nadja and Nandor's eccentricities in fresh directions; their characters have felt lived-in since season one, but they're still capable of growth and change.

What We Do in the Shadows streams via Binge. Read our full review.

cp-line

SLOW HORSES

In gleaming news for streaming viewers, Mick Herron's Slough House novel series boasts 12 entries so far. In an also ace development, several more of the British author's books have links to the world of veteran espionage agent Jackson Lamb. That thankfully means that Slow Horses, the small-screen spy thriller based on Herron's work, has plenty more stories to draw upon in its future. It's now up to its third season as a TV series, and long may its forward path continue. Apple TV+ has clearly felt the same way since the program debuted in April 2022. In June the same year, the platform renewed Slow Horses for a third and fourth season before its second had even aired. That next chapter arrived that December and didn't disappoint. Neither does the latest batch of six episodes, this time taking its cues from Herron's Real Tigers — after season one used the novel Slow Horses as its basis, and season two did the same with Dead Lions — in charting the ins and outs of MI5's least-favourite department. Slough House is where the service rejects who can't be fired but aren't trusted to be proper operatives are sent, with Lamb (Gary Oldman, Oppenheimer) its happily cantankerous, slovenly, seedy and shambolic head honcho.

Each season, Lamb and his team of losers, misfits and boozers — Mick Jagger's slinky ear worm of a theme tune's words — find themselves immersed in another messy case that everyone above them wishes they weren't. That said, Slow Horses isn't a formulaic procedural. Sharply written, directed and acted, and also immensely wryly funny, it's instead one of the best spy series to grace television, including in a new go-around that starts with two intelligence officers (Babylon's Katherine Waterston and Gangs of London's Ṣọpẹ́ Dìrísù) in Istanbul. When the fallout from this season's opening events touches Lamb and his spooks, they're soon thrust into a game of cat-and-mouse that revolves around secret documents and sees one of their own, the forever-loyal Catherine Standish (Saskia Reeves, Creation Stories), get abducted. The talented River Cartwright (Jack Lowden, The Gold) again endeavours to show why being banished to Slough House for a training mistake was MI5's error, while his boss' boss Diana Taverner (Kristin Scott Thomas, Rebecca) reliably has her own agenda.

Slow Horses streams via Apple TV+. Read our full review.

cp-line

I HATE SUZIE TOO

Watching I Hate Suzie Too isn't easy. Watching I Hate Suzie, the show's first season, wasn't either back in 2020. A warts-and-all dance through the chaotic life, emotions and mind of a celebrity, both instalments of this compelling British series have spun as far away from the glitz and glamour of being famous as possible. Capturing carefully constructed social-media content to sell the fiction of stardom's perfection is part of the story, as it has to be three decades into the 21st century; however, consider this show from Succession writer Lucy Prebble and actor/singer/co-creator Billie Piper, and its blood pressure-raising tension and stress, the anti-Instagram. The unfiltered focus: teen pop sensation-turned-actor Suzie Pickles, as played with a canny sense of knowing by Piper given that the 'Honey to the Bee' and Penny Dreadful talent has charted the same course. That said, the show's IRL star hasn't been the subject of a traumatic phone hack that exposed sensitive photos from an extramarital affair to the public, turning her existence and career upside down, as Suzie was in season one.

Forget The Idol — this is the best show about being a famous singer that you can watch right now. In I Hate Suzie Too, plenty has changed for the series' namesake over a six-month period. She's no longer with her professor husband Cob (Daniel Ings, Sex Education), and is battling for custody of their young son Frank (debutant Matthew Jordan-Caws), who is deaf — and her manager and lifelong friend Naomi (Leila Farzad, Avenue 5) is off the books, replaced by the no-nonsense Sian (Anastasia Hille, A Spy Among Friends). Also, in a new chance to win back fans, Suzie has returned to reality TV after it helped thrust her into the spotlight as a child star to begin with. Dance Crazee Xmas is exactly what it sounds like, and sees her compete against soccer heroes (Blake Harrison, The Inbetweeners), musicians (Douglas Hodge, The Great) and more. But when I Hate Suzie Too kicks off with a ferocious, clearly cathartic solo dance in sad-clown getup, the viewers aren't charmed. Well, Dance Crazee Xmas' audience, that is — because anyone watching I Hate Suzie Too is in for another stunner that's fearless, audacious, honest, dripping with anxiety, staggering in its intensity, absolutely heart-wrenching and always unflinching.

I Hate Suzie Too streams via Stan. Read our full review.

cp-line

JUSTIFIED: CITY PRIMEVAL

The man knows how to rock a hat: Timothy Olyphant (Full Circle), that is. He knows how to play a determined lawman with a piercing stare and an unassailable sense of honour, too, and television has been all the better for it for nearing two decades. Pop culture's revival culture has benefited as well — first with HBO's 2004–06 western masterpiece Deadwood returning as 2019's Deadwood: The Movie, and now with 2010–15's US Marshal drama Justified making a comeback as miniseries Justified: City Primeval. Olyphant was perfect in both the first time around, and proves the same the second. Indeed, Deadwood: The Movie's only problem was that it was just a made-for-TV film, not a another season; Justified: City Primeval's sole issue is that it spans only eight episodes, and that a next date with the Stetson-wearing Raylan Givens hasn't yet been locked in. This continuation of Justified's initial six seasons arrives eight years after the show ended for viewers, but also finds Raylan with a 15-year-old daughter. And it's with Willa (Vivian Olyphant, Timothy Olyphant's real-life offspring) that he's hitting the road when a couple of criminals reroute their plans.

Now based in Miami, Florida rather than Justified's Harlan, Kentucky, Raylan is meant to be taking Willa to camp, only to be forced to detour to Detroit, Michigan to testify. It isn't a brief stop, after the Deputy US Marshal makes the wrong impression on Judge Alvin Guy (Keith David, Nope), then is personally requested to investigate an assassination attempt against the same jurist — teaming up with local detectives who are adamant about Detroit's particular ways, including Maureen Downey (Marin Ireland, The Boogeyman), Norbert Beryl (Norbert Leo Butz, The Girl From Plainville) and Wendell Robinson (Victor Williams, The Righteous Gemstones). You can take Raylan out of rural America and into the Motor City, as Justified: City Primeval does, but even with silver hair atop his calm glare he's still Raylan. So, he'll always stride around like a lone gunslinger who has seen it all, will confront anything, and is perennially valiant and resolute — and silently exasperated about humanity's worst impulses, too — as Justified: City Primeval welcomes. New location, passing years, the responsibilities of fatherhood, more and more lowlife crooks (including Boyd Holbrook, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny): they haven't changed this character, and audiences wouldn't have wanted that to happen.

Justified: City Primeval streams via Disney+. Read our full review.

cp-line

GOOD OMENS

Since 2019, witnessing David Tennant utter the word "angel" has been one of the small screen's great delights. Playing the roguish demon Crowley in Good Omens, the Scottish Doctor Who and Broadchurch star sometimes says it as an insult, occasionally with weary apathy and even with exasperation. Usually simmering no matter his mood, however, is affection for the person that he's always talking about: book-loving and bookshop-owning heavenly messenger Aziraphale (Michael Sheen, Quiz). With just one term and two syllables, Tennant tells a story about the show's central odd-couple duo, who've each been assigned to oversee earth by their bosses — Crowley's from below, Aziraphale's from above — and also conveys their complicated camaraderie. So, also since 2019, watching Tennant and Sheen pair up on-screen has been supremely divine. Good Omens, which hails from Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's award- and fan-winning 1990 novel Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, was always going to be about Aziraphale and Crowley. And yet, including in its second season, it's always been a better series because it's specifically about Sheen as the former and Tennant as the latter.

In this long-awaited return, neither Aziraphale nor Crowley are beloved by their higher-ups or lower-downs thanks to their thwarting-the-apocalypse actions. Season one saw them face their biggest test yet after they started observing humans since biblical times — the always-foretold birth of the antichrist and, 11 years later, cosmic forces rolling towards snuffing out the planet's people to start again — and saving the world wasn't what their leaders wanted. One fussing over his store and remaining reluctant to sell any of its tomes, the other continuing to swagger around like Bill Nighy as a rule-breaking rockstar, Aziraphale nor Crowley have each carved out a comfortable new status quo, though, until a naked man walking through London with nothing but a cardboard box comes trundling along. He can't recall it, but that birthday suit-wearing interloper is the archangel Gabriel (Jon Hamm, Fargo). He knows he's there for a reason and that it isn't good, but possesses zero memory otherwise. And, in the worst news for Aziraphale and Crowley, he has both heaven and hell desperate to find him — which is just the beginning of season two's delightful journey.

Good Omens streams via Prime Video. Read our full review.

cp-line

ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING

Corpses and killings don't normally herald joy on-screen, even in pop culture's current murder-mystery comedy wave, but Only Murders in the Building isn't just another amusing whodunnit. There's a particular warmth to this series. In each of its three seasons to-date, the New York-set show has unleashed amateur gumshoes upon a shock death, with its key trio sifting through clues and podcasting the details. Along the way, it has also kept telling a winning story about second chances and finding the folks who understand you. Only Murders in the Building's ten-episode third season relays that tale again, expanding its portraits of artist Mabel Mora (Selena Gomez, The Dead Don't Die), theatre director Oliver Putnam (Martin Short, Schmigadoon!) and veteran actor Charles-Haden Savage (Steve Martin, It's Complicated) — and of their friendship. Once more, it embraces the power of chemistry, both within its narrative and for audiences. That isn't new; when the show debuted in 2021, it felt like the murder-mystery comedy genre's version of a cosy embrace because its three leads were so perfectly cast and their odd-throuple characters so full of sparks. While Mabel, Oliver and Charles wouldn't be a trio if it wasn't for a building evacuation, a murder and a love of true-crime podcasts, their connection isn't merely fuelled by chatting about the murders in their building, with crossing each other's paths changing their respective lives.

There's a death in season three's initial episode — it first occurred in season two's dying moments, to be precise — and, of course, ample sleuthing and talking about it follows. The victim: Ben Glenroy (Paul Rudd, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania), a silver-screen star best-known for playing a zoologist who fights crime by turning into a snake in the blockbuster CoBro franchise. (Yes, if those movies weren't just Only Murders in the Building's Ant-Man gag, existed IRL and starred Rudd, they'd be a hit.) But Only Murders in the Building's latest run also opens with Mabel, Oliver and Charles in places that they wouldn't be if they were solo. Largely, that applies emotionally: Mabel is more grounded and open, and now thinking about the future more than the past; Oliver has faced his career fears, resurrecting his showbiz bug with a new show; and Charles is less misanthropic and more willing to take new chances. They're also frequently in a different location physically thanks to Oliver's comeback production Death Rattle (which is where Meryl Streep fits in). No, the series isn't now called Only Murders in the Building and on Broadway.

Only Murders in the Building streams via Star on Disney+. Read our full review.

cp-line

FARGO

This is a true story: in 2014, Hollywood decided to take on a task that was destined to either go as smoothly as sliding on ice or prove as misguided as having a woodchipper sitting around. Revisiting Fargo was a bold move even in pop culture's remake-, reboot- and reimagining-worshipping times, because why say "you betcha" to trying to make crime-comedy perfection twice? The Coen brothers' 1996 film isn't just any movie. It's a two-time Oscar-winner, BAFTA and Cannes' Best Director pick of its year, and one of the most beloved and original examples of its genre in the last three decades. But in-between credits on Bones, The Unusuals and My Generation, then creating the comic book-inspired Legion, writer, director and producer Noah Hawley started a project he's now synonymous with, and that's still going strong five seasons in. What keeps springing is always a twisty tale set in America's midwest, as filled with everyday folks in knotty binds, complicated family ties, crooks both bumbling and determined trying to cash in, and intrepid cops investigating leads that others wouldn't. Hawley's stroke of genius: driving back into Fargo terrain by making an anthology series built upon similar pieces, but always finding new tales about greed, power, murder and snowy landscapes to tell.

Hawley's Fargo adores the Coenverse overall, enthusiastically scouring it for riches like it's the TV-making embodiment of Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter's namesake. That film hailed from Damsel's David Zellner instead, and took cues from the urban legend surrounding the purported Fargo ties to the IRL death of Japanese office worker Takako Konishi; however, wanting the contents of the Coen brothers' brains to become your reality is clearly a common thread. Of course, for most of the fictional figures who've walked through the small-screen Fargo's frames, they'd like anything but caper chaos. Scandia, Minnesota housewife Dot Lyon (Juno Temple, Ted Lasso) is one of them in season five. North Dakota sheriff, preacher and rancher Roy Tillman (Jon Hamm, Good Omens) isn't as averse to a commotion if he's the one causing it. Minnesota deputy Indira Olmstead (Richa Moorjani, Never Have I Ever) and North Dakota state trooper Witt Farr (Lamorne Morris, Woke) just want to get to the bottom of the series' new stint of sometimes-madcap and sometimes-violent mayhem.

Fargo streams via SBS On Demand. Read our full review.

cp-line

Looking for more viewing highlights? We also rounded up the 15 best new TV series of 2023, as well as 15 excellent new TV shows of 2023 that you might've missed — plus the 15 top films, another 15 exceptional flicks that hardly anyone saw in cinemas this year and the 15 best straight-to-streaming movies of the year as well.

And, we've kept a running list of must-stream TV from across the year, complete with full reviews.

Also, you can check out our regular rundown of film and TV streaming recommendations, which is updated monthly.

Published on December 18, 2023 by Sarah Ward
Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x