Out with the old, in with the new, and on with the show! The first full week of 2014 is upon us, and there's no better time than now to look ahead at what the big and small screens have in store for the coming year.
Before we head to the theaters to talk about 2014 in film, let's focus on what's right in front of us in our own living rooms. From Marvel and DC's television plans to the return of fan favorites like 24 and Game of Thrones, here's what you need to know about the small screen in 2014.
Second SeasonsThe fall of 2012 and spring of 2013 brought some fantastic new shows into our lives, and many of them will return for their second seasons in the coming months. Fox's The Following, for instance, returns Jan. 27, while the second seasons of FX's The Americans and NBC's Hannibal premiere at the end of February. That's just scratching the surface. If you enjoyed the 2012-2013 television season, there's plenty to look out for all throughout 2014.
Game of Thrones Season 4It's hard to imagine topping the Red Wedding, the epic betrayal and slaughter of Robb Stark and his fellow Northerners, isn't it? Just wait for Season 4. A Storm of Swords, the third novel in George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series, serves as the basis for both seasons 3 and 4 of Game of Thrones, and we've only covered the first half. The Red Wedding is the peak of Crazy Mountain, but the descent is swift and relentless, serving up jaw-dropping moment after jaw-dropping moment. Assuming the show remains as faithful to the books as it has thus far, then season four has every reason to be the best season to date.
The End of Mad Men BeginsDon Draper's fall from grace doesn't end in a splat — at least not until 2015. AMC announced plans to break up the final season of Matthew Weiner's Emmy-winning drama over the course of two years, a la the network's handling of Breaking Bad's final episodes. The first part of the final season airs this coming spring, so act accordingly and start perfecting your Draper-approved Old Fashioned recipe now.
Better Call Saul PremieresOn the subject of AMC, the network will bring viewers back to the world of Breaking Bad with their new spinoff Better Call Saul, centered on Bob Odenkirk's criminal lawyer Saul Goodman. The series is expected to premiere in the fall, though no concrete dates have been announced quite yet. Regardless, it looks like Saul (and maybe even Mike, Walt and Jesse) will be back on television by the end of the year, and that does not suck.
The Return of 24Jack's back! In an unlikely move, Kiefer Sutherland's counter-terrorism agent returns to television this spring with 24: Live Another Day, a 12-episode limited series that spans an entire day, albeit with some skip hours here and there. Otherwise, events occur in real time, just like last time. Bauer's next adventure takes place overseas in London, with some familiar faces like Chloe O'Brien and Audrey Raines along for the ride. No news on the return of Tony Almeida (and his soul patch) just yet, but the year is still young.
Life After LostSeptember marks the 10-year anniversary of the Lost premiere, and fans plan to celebrate the occasion with a Hawaii reunion; keep that in mind as you're making travel plans for the year. Meanwhile, Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof returns to television for the first time since the island drama ended, with HBO's upcoming The Leftovers; no premiere date yet, but HBO has already committed to 10 episodes. Likewise, Josh Holloway, alias James "Sawyer" Ford, also returns to television with his first starring role since Lost: CBS's Intelligence, about a spy with a super-computer in his brain, premiering tonight.
Homeland Season 4Can Carrie Mathison survive life after Nicholas Brody? That will be the key question for Homeland in its fourth season, premiering at the end of the year. And it's a multi-tiered question: How will Carrie handle Brody's death on the show, how will the writers approach the series now that Brody's gone, and how will viewers react to the new status quo?
The End of Sons of AnarchyThe seventh and final season of FX's record-breaking biker drama rolls out in the fall, bringing the sordid tales of SAMCRO to an explosive end. Well, we assume it'll be explosive, given current events: Jax Teller is more vulnerable than ever before, now that his wife Tara has been murdered — by Jax's own mother, no less. Yeah, safe to assume that things are going to get ugly.
Comics on TelevisionThe Walking Dead returns in a few weeks, with a focus on life after the Prison, now that Rick Grimes and the rest of the cast are back on the road. The show is positioned for a real renaissance with the second half of season four, so here's hoping it delivers.
The CW, meanwhile, remains on target with Arrow, now in its second season. The network also has plans to bring The Flash to the screen as soon as this fall, and it's possible that Fox's Gotham will be on the air before the year's over as well.
On the Marvel side, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. resumes its first season tonight, and rumors persist that an Agent Carter television series is in the works for a fall premiere. While the shows won't arrive until 2015, Marvel also has Netflix programming in the works, beginning with Daredevil and culminating in The Defenders; at the very least, look out for casting news and trailers galore as the year moves along.