MIPCOM: 5 International Shows to Add to Your Binge List

7:00 AM 10/14/2016

by Scott Roxborough

Jude Law's 'The Young Pope' and 'Jamestown' from the makers of 'Downton Abbey' are among the best new dramas to watch for as the next wave of event TV is unveiled in Cannes beginning Oct. 17.

Jude Law in 'The Young Pope'.
Jude Law in 'The Young Pope'.
Fremantlemedia International

The one rule of the international television market is, there are no rules. The U.S. studios, international broadcasters and independent producers that will swarm to Cannes this year for MIPCOM face a global TV industry diverse and volatile. An explosion of digital and online channels has meant more buyers for even the most niche drama series, but that very fragmentation also has made it even harder to score the type of broad global hits that used to be the drivers of the business. "We're finding fewer and fewer network shows that translate for our audience. The crime procedurals, the legal dramas, these aren't working for us," says Jay Hunt, chief creative officer at Channel 4 in the U.K. "At the same time, we're finding we share a similar taste palate with the American cable networks."

It's fitting that Shonda Rhimes, one of the few U.S. producers who continues to turn out network shows that travel worldwide, has been named MIPCOM 2016 Personality of the Year. Rhimes also has a thing or two to teach global broadcasters on the issue of on- and offscreen diversity, something the international industry is only beginning to address (and will be discussing at MIPCOM's inaugural Diversity Summit this year).

Rhimes and Shondaland aside, sure things are a rarity in TV these days. Old models for making and selling series also are breaking apart as binge-watching and online streaming replace primetime-scheduled water-cooler TV. THR's hot list of the best new dramas at this year's market includes studio-backed shows made in Europe, international series packed with Hollywood talent and a couple of foreign-language dramas out to prove, again, that subtitles need not be a barrier to global success.

  • Class

    Sales: BBC Worldwide

    BBC Worldwide

    A teen spinoff of the BBC's massively successful Doctor Who franchise, this sci-fi skein has The Doctor (Peter Capaldi) assigning a group of high school outsiders with the task of defending Earth against the "creatures of nightmare." Think Buffy the Vampire Slayer with a British accent.

  • Jamestown

    Sales: NBCUniversal International Distribution


    From the makers of Downton Abbey comes this new period drama, set around three young women who arrive from Britain in the fledgling colony that will become America. NBCU is hoping it will fit nicely into now-empty Downton slots around the world.

  • Mars

    Sales: Fox Networks Group Content Distribution


    Targeting space-heads throughout the globe, this high-end docudrama series combines interviews with the likes of Stephen Hawking, Neil deGrasse Tyson and would-be Mars colonist Elon Musk with the eye-popping dramatization of a fictitious mission to the red planet in the not-too-distant future.

  • Ransom

    Sales: Entertainment One

    Entertainment One

    On the surface a conventional crime drama series about a hostage negotiation team, Ransom actually is a bold experiment by CBS — in collaboration with German network RTL, Canada's Corus and France's TF1 — to produce a U.S.-style procedural in Europe (and Canada) for an international audience. The drama, created by David Vainola (Diamonds, Combat Hospital) and Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files, The Man in the High Castle), is based on real-life crisis negotiator Laurent Combalbert.

  • The Young Pope

    Sales: Freemantlemedia International

    Fremantlemedia International

    Jude Law plays a dangerously iconoclastic pontiff, Diane Keaton is his chief adviser and Paolo Sorrentino (director of the Oscar-winning The Great Beauty) is the master behind the camera in this Vatican-set satire from Sky, HBO and Canal Plus. A merciless portrait of politics, religion and faith and featuring Sorrentino's lush visual style, The Young Pope is one of the most ambitious of all the new high-end dramas making their debut in Cannes.