The best TV shows to watch at the start of 2024

turned-on flat screen television
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters

Some of us are old enough to remember TV when it was only restricted to a few channels. In those days, the occasion TV show transcended mere entertainment and became almost life-changing events.

A good example would be the shooting of JR from the TV show Dallas. In 1980, 83 million Americans tuned in to watch the ‘Who Done It’ episode aired a nail-biting eight months after the event. 

These days we have hundreds of channels from which to choose, from a variety of programmes that span the globe. Of course, some of these do become required viewing with hugely anticipated final episodes, but the actual viewing figures speak for themselves. 

Take Succession, widely regarded as one of the top shows of 2023, its final show was watched by 2.9 million US viewers. That’s a drop in the ocean when compared to the Dallas days before electric scooters, online slots and self-service checkouts. 

Back in those days, when there were fewer channels and, indeed, fewer shows, it was easier to figure out which ones were going to be essential viewing. And with so many shows on TV across so many different channels, choosing the best shows to watch at the start of 2024 is somewhat of a challenge…

…But we think we might have just cracked it!

Okay, so one of the easiest ways to figure out what’s going to be popular in 2024 is to look at what was popular in 2023. But that’s not to say everyone is going to agree to like the same sort of show.

Take Succession (again) it may have been quietly brilliant -even if the final episode could have been better- but it wasn’t an easy watch. Repugnant characters spewing forth a perpetual stream of gutter language wouldn’t have appealed to the type of viewer who likes cream teas and whist drives.

True Detective: Starts 15 January, Sky/ NOW

We’re hedging our bets on two main factors here. The fact that the first Season of True Detective was excellent and the simple fact that Jodi Foster is similarly excellent.

Sure, Seasons Two and Three were a bit iffy and Jodi Foster was in ‘Flightplan’ (really, don’t) but we think it’s got the makings to be a great show. Tune in to find out if we got that one on the money.

Ex Pats: Starts 26 January, Prime Video

A little riskier this one. Nicole Kidman is doing a lot of the heavy lifting to ensure this one is a hit. But this six-part show is based on an actual novel (1998’s The Expatriates by Janice Y. K. Lee) which lends a bit more weight to its intellectual expectations.

I suppose we could have read the book before passing judgement, but the New York Times loved it, so we’ll take their word for it. Now all we have to do is see how it works out on TV. 

Mr & Mrs Smith: Starts 2 February, Prime Video

No, not the 2005 movie starring Brad and Angie, yes, it’s a spin-off series starring Maya Erskine and Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino. 

For those not in the know, Glover is an actor, comedian, singer, writer, director and producer. His 2018 hit ‘This is America’ was a defining moment in the charts of that year, and that alone is enough to pique our interest. 

And that’s before we’ve even begun on Maya Erskine, another writer-actor with an impressive CV to her name. One to watch this, actually, we’re going to stick our necks out and predict big things for this show…

One Day: Starts 8 February, Netflix

This one is set in the north part of the UK, so expect it to be ‘gritty’ by default. Don’t let that put you off, though, this is also based on a novel, in this instance David Nicholls bestseller with the same name.

Wait a moment, though, are we having collective Deja Vu? We could have sworn there was a movie that came out by the name with similar credentials in around 2011…

No, you’re not wrong, the movie version (starring Anne Hathaway) wasn’t a hit. But this 12-part adaptation should fare much better, and we’re basing that on the simple fact that the book is really good.  

The New Look: Starts 14 February, Apple TV+

In case you hadn’t noticed, this is our fifth and final choice and we’re not even close to the end of February. This one is set in Paris after the Second World War and follows the rise of one Christian Dior. 

Sadly, that’s pretty much all we know, so why are we nominating it as one of the best TV shows to watch at the start of 2024? Pretty easy to answer, it’s got ‘Christian Dior’ in it, so go figure, as they say. 

Derek Knightly
Derek Knightly
Co-creator of the website Tonights.TV. Who lives and breathes the world of movies and television.

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