Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill in "Better Call Saul."

Bob Odenkirk as Jimmy McGill in "Better Call Saul." Credit: AMC/Sony Pictures Television/Greg Lewis

Could there be too much good TV?

Too much worth watching? Too much that looks intriguing? Too much with big stars, and big ideas, surrounded by big, exciting productions? This April — this wild, crazy April — we are about to find out.

Most "spring previews" are spread across months, but this April merits its own special attention. There are dozens of new streaming series in the weeks ahead, and while this list — of necessity — is incomplete, it should give you a good sense of the impending deluge. There's something for everyone here. Better still, I've sampled many of these newcomers (and a couple of returning series too), and most of those look terrific.

Could first impressions be wrong? Sure, but at least this crowd knows how to make good ones.

 Here are some of the many TV "events" ("shows" seems too tame) of April 2022: 


THE OUTLAWS (Prime Video)

This funny six-parter stars (the always) funny Stephen Merchant ("Hello Ladies"), who is a low-level felon thrown in with six other similarly low-level felons (one played by Christopher Walken), all tasked with 100 hours of community service cleaning up a rundown building in Bristol, England. They bond, then come to the aid of one of their mates when the Mob comes calling. Elgin James ("Mayans M.C.") cocreated this with Merchant, who also directs.


What happens to M15 agents when they screw up? As imagined in the thriller novel series by Mike Herron they get dumped into Slough House, an agency backwater where they can do no further harm, to either national security or those who get in their way. This six-parter stars Gary Oldman (his first TV series) as Slough chief Jackson Lamb who must now supervise an embittered River Cartwright (Jack Lowden). Oldman is joined by an all-star cast (Kristin Scott Thomas, Jonathan Pryce, Olivia Cooke) and you won't want to miss the first 10 minutes either.


64th ANNUAL GRAMMY AWARDS (CBS/2, 8 p.m.) 

The ceremony was rescheduled from Jan. 31 and moved from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, but all I want to know is this: Has Will Smith been invited? Trevor Noah hosts. 



"Benjamin Franklin," from Ken Burns, airs on PBS. 

"Benjamin Franklin," from Ken Burns, airs on PBS.  Credit: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Mandy Patinkin voices the statesman, in this latest from Ken Burns and longtime collaborator Dayton Duncan. How they will contain this expansive life (1706-1790) and enormous legacy into just two parts (second part airs April 5) should be a feat worth witnessing. Press notes indicate that Burns will explore a somewhat lesser known aspect of that legacy (Franklin petitioned Congress in the last year of his life to abolish slavery). Interviews with a lot of scholars including Franklin biographer Walter Isaacson, and prolific author H.W. Brands, who recently published a good Franklin bio, "Our First Civil War: Patriots and Loyalists in the American Revolution."



Ansel Elgort — most recently Tony in "West Side Story '' — plays American journalist Jake Adelstein who moved to Japan as a teen to study literature and ended up becoming a seasoned crime reporter for the newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun. This ten-parter is based on his 2009 book, "Tokyo Vice: an American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan." Director Michael Mann ("Miami Vice'') has created a neon-splashed palette for this otherwise dark, brooding crime thriller that's filled with bad guys in sharp suits who are tailed by one intrepid reporter and the vice squad's Hiroto Katagiri (Ken Watanabe).


Zach Erdem poses with Victoria Hilton, as seen on "Serving...

Zach Erdem poses with Victoria Hilton, as seen on "Serving the Hamptons>" Credit: discovery+/Jason DeCrow

 "Everybody wants the same thing," says one of the staffers at the high-end (but then aren't they all) Southampton restaurant, 75 Main. Which is: "Have a fun summer in the Hamptons and make money." That's right — the pandemic feels over while everyone out east is partying like it's 2019 — and eating like it's 2019 too. Five (unscripted) hours will chart the life and loves of 75 Main's crew who all live rent-free in the same house — which, by the way, has some strict house rules (no hooking up, no big parties, no drinking; and we'll see how all that turns out). Per a statement from restaurant manager Zach Erdem, "After 75 Main, and all restaurants, faced such a difficult year, we came roaring back to our best summer ever and having the support of discovery+ is a dream come true," 



AMC has high hopes for this Chicago-based legal drama with Courtney B. Vance as a public defender, and immediately easy to see why — beginning with Vance. Showrunner Peter Moffat ("The Night Of") has envisioned an almost post-apocalyptic Chicago, where a corrupt police force runs amok, then targets a high school track star Moses Johnson (Tosin Cole) after a drug sting implodes. At outset, Vance's Franklin Roberts is overwhelmed and facing a cancer diagnosis. His shoulders sag under the weight of the world, or at an unresponsive justice system. And it's all about to get worse. First impression: Really good, also tough to watch. (A second season has been ordered.)     



ABC's "black-ish" stars Miles Brown as Jack Johnson, Marsai Martin...

ABC's "black-ish" stars Miles Brown as Jack Johnson, Marsai Martin as Diane Johnson, Laurence Fishburne as Pops Johnson, Jenifer Lewis as Ruby Johnson, Anthony Anderson as Andre "Dre" Johnson, Tracee Ellis Ross as Rainbow Johnson, August and Berlin Gross as Devante Johnson, Yara Shahidi as Zoey Johnson, and Marcus Scribner as Andre Johnson Jr.  Credit: ABC/Dario Calmese

 Dre (Anthony Anderson), Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), Zoey (Yara Shahidi), Junior (Marcus Scribner), Jack (Miles Brown) and Diane (Marsai Martin) are about to say goodbye after eight seasons. This penultimate episode is called "If a Black man Cries in the Woods …" The finale is April 19.

HARD CELL (Netflix)

Back in the mid-aughts, British comedian Catherine Tate starred in her eponymous sketch show that featured a series with her own highly offensive and highly amusing charters — Death Row Wife, Lesbian Nurse, Valley Girl and so on. In this 6-part mockumentary about a women's prison (no reviews available) she appears to reprise them all, and then some. Tate and "The Office '' fans, by the way, will fondly recall her Nellie Bertram of the later seasons.



In this five-parter, one is forced to consider this mind-bender — what if Barack Obama had not become president but instead the successor to Sir David Attenborough? "Parks"' does convincingly make that alt-reality case. In fact, "Parks'' is the surprise progeny of that high-profile deal Netflix signed with Barack and Michelle Obama in 2018. The ex-president doesn't just narrate but appears to visit some of these glories as well — or at least the beach in Hawaii where he grew up. The "Our" of the title is a bit misleading: It refers to the world's great national parks since this series visits many, from Tsavo National Park in Kenya, to Indonesia's Gunung Leuser. They're all great, and based on a look at the first episode, so is this. 



 If ever a (sorta) new series didn't need an introduction, this must be the one. But just in case, Hulu helpfully provides the following: "Kris, Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, Kendall, and Kylie tell their stories of love and life in the spotlight, from the pressures of running billion-dollar businesses to the joys of playtime and school drop-offs." In fact, there may be some differences with the long-running E! series, foremost this: Each episode will air soon after taping. "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" often had a lag time of months.

KILLING IT (Peacock) 

Late to the streaming party, Peacock has been catching up with series like "Joe vs. Carole'' and now — maybe "Killing It," with Craig Robinson ("The Office"). No advance streamers, so we're flying blind here, but besides Robinson, there are the showrunners Dan Goor and Luke Del Tredici from "Brooklyn Nine-Nine." The funky concept: Prison guard Craig (Robinson) decides to enter a snake-hunting (pythons) contest. All 10 episodes drop on the 14th.



Michelle Dockery in Netflix's "Anatomy of a Scandal."

Michelle Dockery in Netflix's "Anatomy of a Scandal." Credit: Netflix

 "Downton Abbey's" Michelle Dockery stars as a barrister in this first season of David E. Kelley's inaugural series for Netflix, but they'; re not the only big names here: Rupert Friend and Sienna Miller star in this anthology based on British novelist Sarah Vaughan's 2018 bestseller. This season appropriately begins with a very British scandal — a fictional one — about a Westminster politician (Friend) accused of rape. Initial impressions all good: This one looks compelling indeed. 

OUTER RANGE (Prime Video)

Royal Abbott (played by Josh Brolin) in Amazon Prime Video's...

Royal Abbott (played by Josh Brolin) in Amazon Prime Video's "Outer Range." Credit: Amazon Prime Video/Richard Foreman

Josh Brolin's Royal Abbott is a high-range rider who sits tall in the saddle, checking on his cattle and the fences that brace his vast Wyoming spread. He's one tough cowboy with some tough problems — tragic family ones and complicated neighbor ones. And if you think this is Prime's attempt to get it ssomeof that "Yellowstone'' mojo, then allow me to stop you right there. "Outer Range '' is different — so different that it may be without precedent (unless "Cowboys and Aliens" is part of the discussion.) One day, out under that endless Wyoming sky, Abbott comes upon something. Let's just call it a freaky something. Also starring Lili Taylor (as his wife Cecillia) and Imogen Poots (as Autumn, a free-spirited Boulder type who wants to camp on his land).

ROAR (Apple TV +)

Kara Hayward and Fivel Stewart in “Roar,” on  Apple TV+.

Kara Hayward and Fivel Stewart in “Roar,” on  Apple TV+. Credit: Apple TV+/Ali Goldstein

This eight-episode anthology comes from some funny writers (Carly Mensch, Liz Flahive of "GLOW") who have something serious to say about women via "darkly comic feminist fables," per the news release. The opener is about a New York writer, Wanda (Issa Rae), who comes to Hollywood to hear the unusual pitch for an adaptation of her bestselling memoir. Future episodes star Nicole Kidman, Cynthia Erivo, Merritt Wever, Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Fivel Stewart, Meera Syal and Kara Hayward. 


THE FIRST LADY (Showtime, 9)

Showtime calls this a "revelatory reframing of American leadership, told through the lens of the women at the heart of the White House," or three women, specifically — Michelle Obama (Viola Davis), Betty Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer) and Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson). And since you asked, the presidents are: FDR (Kiefer Sutherland); Gerald Ford (Aaron Eckhart) and Barack Obama (O-T Fagbenle.) No screeners at deadline — sorry — but the always-provocative Danish director Susanne Bier is behind the camera, so that's a good sign. 




The end of "Saul" approaches and with it the end of the second Golden Age of TV, when series like "Breaking Bad" and "Mad Men '' promised a whole new world of possibilities for this medium. At least "Saul" won't be going out in a rush: While just 13 episodes, AMC will split the season between April 18 and July 11. To quickly reorient you, the 5th season closed with a murderously determined Lalo Salamanca (Tony Dalton) in pursuit of Nacho Varga (Michael Mando) who had just tried to have the cartel boss taken out. 




Natasha Lyonne as Nadia Vulvokov, Ákos Orosz as Father Laszlo...

Natasha Lyonne as Nadia Vulvokov, Ákos Orosz as Father Laszlo in "Russian Doll" on Netflix. Credit: NETFLIX

On the eve of her 40th birthday, Nadia Vulvokov (Natasha Lyonne) is slowly getting her life — if not quite her lungs — back together, after that series of mind-blowing Groundhog Day episodes in the first season. She's trying to quit smoking because "I am keenly aware that my lungs are essentially two shriveled up Nick Caves" -—so clearly her old attitude is intact. Then she steps onto a southbound subway car. The puckish universe is about to screw with her again. 



The second season is here, and here's what we know — admittedly not all that much. Per HBO Max, "Cassie Bowden (Kaley Cuoco) is living her best sober life in Los Angeles while moonlighting as a CIA asset in her spare time. But when an overseas assignment leads her to inadvertently witness a murder, she becomes entangled in another international intrigue. The season was filmed in Los Angeles, Berlin and Reykjavik."



While not to be confused with "Anatomy of a Scandal" (Netflix) or "A Very English Scandal" (HBO), this probably will be confused with them anyway. Upper-crust Englishmen behaving badly — in this instance, abetted by forgery, drugs, theft, bribery, a whole lot of infidelity and something or someone known as the "headless man," or so the divorce trial alleged. At the outset of this three-parter, heiress Margert Sweeney (Claire Foy) meets Ian Campbell, future Duke of Argyll, aboard a train. An affair ensues, then marriage, and finally that divorce — one of the most sensational in British history. Fleet Street dined out on this for months in 1963, and "A Very British Scandal" — which looks terrific by the way — will explain precisely, luridly, why. 


BARRY (HB0, 10)

Bill Hader stars in "Barry."

Bill Hader stars in "Barry." Credit: HBO/Merrick Morton

That hit man with thespian ambitions (Bill Hader) is back, along with assorted associates like Monroe Fuches (Stephen Root). Not much is known about the third season, which comes under a cloak of real secrecy. The second ended violently (and how) so where this goes from there should at least be interesting..There will, by the way, be a 4th, too. 

THE BABY (HBO, 10:30)

When Natasha (Michelle De Swarte) heads off for the weekend to get away from her baby-obsessed friends, something happens to her: A baby falls into her outstretched arms. This baby is cute enough, but also unusually evil. When she tries to offload the kid to unsuspecting good Samaritans, they turn up dead. That's right: Da baby is a coldblooded killer. This Brit horror comedy — eight episodes no less — is different indeed.

GASLIT (Starz, 8)

Martha Mitchell (Julia Roberts) in Starz's "Gaslit."

Martha Mitchell (Julia Roberts) in Starz's "Gaslit." Credit: STARZ/Hilary Bronwyn Gayle

Based on the popular podcast "Slow Burn," about minor (but vivid) characters from the Watergate scandal, this returns Julia Roberts to TV as one of the most improbable of those characters — Martha Mitchell — and Sean Penn as an equally improbable one — her husband, Attorney General John Mitchell. Per program notes, she's "the first person to publicly sound the alarm on [President] Nixon’s involvement in Watergate," then further describes her as a "big personality with an even bigger mouth." The rest of the cast looks good too: Dan Stevens as John Dean, Betty Gilpin as Maureen "Mo" Dean and Shea Whigham as G. Gordon Liddy. 


(L-R): Chiwetel Ejiofor as Faraday and Naomie Harris as Justin...

(L-R): Chiwetel Ejiofor as Faraday and Naomie Harris as Justin in "The Man Who Fell to Earth" on Showtime. Credit: SHOWTIME/Aimee Spinks

There's certainly ssomeimportant movie history that precedes this, notably that 1976 David Bowie film about the alien who arrives on earth to find water for his drought-stricken planet.   But Chiwetel Ejiofor ("Doctor Strange," "Twelve Years a Slave") has updated both character (now named Faraday) and concept for a different world in climate crisis — the one we live on. "I come here," he explains at the outset, "because my choice was simple: Live or die." Our choice too, obviously. He must first learn to become a human so that he can face human-made problems, then find allies who will help him, including scientist Justin Falls (Naomie Harris). This series comes from "Star Trek" vets Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet.



Jon Bernthal in HBO's "We Own This City."

Jon Bernthal in HBO's "We Own This City." Credit: HBO/Paul Schiraldi

This six-parter from "The Wire's" David Simon returns to his favorite subject -—Baltimore — and charts the police department's Gun Trace Task Force that collapsed into a pile of rubble in 2018 when six of its members pleaded guilty to federal charges and which the state's attorney general had called "a criminal conspiracy." (A 2015 DEA investigation had uncovered much of the wrongdoing, while testimony revealed more.) This series reunites Simon with ssomevividly memorable stars from his earlier classic (like Domenick Lombardozzi and Jamie Hector), while Jon Bernthal stars as former police sergeant Wayne Jenkins, now serving time at a federal prison in Kentucky. 


THE OFFER (Paramount +)

Patrick Gallo as Mario Puzo and Dan Fogler as Francis...

Patrick Gallo as Mario Puzo and Dan Fogler as Francis Ford Coppola of the Paramount+ original series"Te Offer." Credit: PARAMOUNT+/Nicole Wilder

 Until 1972, producer Albert S. Ruddy (Miles Teller) had only a few unmemorable credits to his name and a single memorable one (he cocreated "Hogan's Heroes.") And then came "The Godfather." We know all about "The Godfather," but what do we really know? This ten-parter, based on Ruddy's experience as iitsproducer, is about to tell us. It stars Dan Fogler as Francis Ford Coppola, Matthew Goode as producer Robert Evans, Patrick Gallo as (the author) Mario Puzo and Juno Temple as manager/talent agent Bettye McCartt, plus many more. Could "the making of" be even more compelling than the actual film? Ten episodes will make that case (three of which drop on this day). 


Based on the Jon Krakauer book, this stars Andrew Garfield as a "devout detective [whose] faith is tested as he investigates a brutal murder that seems to be connected to an esteemed Utah family’s spiral into [Latter-day Saints] fundamentalism and their distrust in the government." Good cast, but the production team seems almost more compelling: IIt'screated by Lance Dustin Black (Oscar winner for "Milk") with assists from Brian Grazer and Ron Howard.



Kirby Mazrachi (Elisabeth Moss), a Chicago Sun-Times archivist, learns that a recent murder victim was killed by someone (possibly) linked to her assault years earlier. She then offers to help veteran reporter Dan Velazquez (Wagner Moura) who is also tracking the killer — someone who ducks back and forth between time portals to avoid detection and capture. Kirby survived her attack and now it's her turn to hunt him down. That's the oversimplified throughline here, based on South African author Lauren Beukes' 2013 novel, "The Shining Girls." The first three of eight episodes launch on this day, and from what I've seen so far: It's good. 

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