This year, May opened with the horrors of Penny Dreadful and will close with the much more real horrors of Roots. In between is a mixed bag of expert chefs, aging comedians and comic book adaptations. While these releases sit in the sword-wielding shadow of HBO’s Sunday-night lineup, that also gives them a chance to emerge as dark horses and cater to a niche crowd. While you wait for summer-blockbuster season, make sure you tune in to this month’s best new releases for television.
Penny Dreadful, Season 3
On Showtime: May 1
Created By: John Logan
Because: Monsters who have been stomping around for over a century, like Count Dracula, Victor Frankenstein and Dr. Jekyll, are reimagined by the writer of Gladiator, Hugo and Skyfall.
Person of Interest, Season 5
On CBS: May 3
Originally Written By: Jonathan Nolan
Because: Created by Christopher Nolan’s little brother, Person of Interest has gained stronger writing as its showrunners explore more fully the impact of the advanced surveillance system called “The Machine.”
Maron, Season 4
On IFC: May 4
Created By: Marc Maron
Because: Fans of WTF with Marc Maron will already be watching, and everyone else should tune in for a less refined, but worthy companion, to Louie‘s darkly funny outlook on life.
Marseille, Season 1
On Netflix: May 5
Created By: Dan Franck
Because: Headed by Franck, a proficient French novelist, it’s the first original production ordered by Netflix from France, and it has been described as House of Cards on the southern coast of France.
Lady Dynamite, Season 1
On Netflix: May 20
Created By: Pam Brady, Mitchell Hurwitz
Because: Maria Bamford (Stephen Colbert’s “favorite comedian on planet Earth”) finally gets her shot at an original series with an autobiographical dive into mental illness, backed by the creator of Arrested Development.
All The Way
On HBO: May 21
Written By: Robert Schenkkan
Because: The writer of the 2014 Tony Award winner for Best Play transformed his work for the small screen, in which LBJ (Bryan Cranston) confers with MLK (Anthony Mackie) to pass the Civil Rights Act in the wake of JFK’s assassination.
Preacher, Season 1
On AMC: May 22
Developed By: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Sam Catlin
Because: If “a conflicted preacher in a small Texas town who is inhabited by a mysterious entity…embarks on a journey to, literally, find God” doesn’t sell you, know that the source material is considered among the best comic series ever written.
Wayward Pines, Season 2
On Fox: May 25
Developed By: Chad Hodge
Because: Despite a strong first season, Hodge left, but Executive Producer M. Night Shyamalan stayed on — which could mean more success, if he continues to stay faithful to the acclaimed trilogy.
Bloodline, Season 2
On Netflix: May 27
Created By: Todd A. Kessler, Glenn Kessler, and Daniel Zelman
Because: Ben Mendelsohn and Kyle Chandler dominate their roles in this acclaimed yet under-watched series about the demons in all of us.
Chef’s Table, Season 2
On Netflix: May 27
Created By: David Gelb
Because: The director of Jiro Dreams of Sushi widens his lens to explore chefs around the world, to much critical acclaim.
On the History Channel: May 30
Originally Written By: Alex Haley
Because: An updated take on the original series, which was a national event when it premiered in 1977, with a master cast including Forest Whitaker, Anna Paquin, Laurence Fishburne and T.I.