MIPTV Hot List: 10 Breakout Shows to Binge On

6:00 AM 3/31/2017

by Scott Roxborough

Dance, dystopia ('The Handmaid's Tale') and Danish drama ('Ride Upon the Storm') loom large on foreign screens.

'The Handmaid's Tale'
'The Handmaid's Tale'
Courtesy of Hulu

The explosion of television content — by some estimates there are about 500 scripted series in production, double the number from just three years ago — is forcing rapid changes among the global TV dealmakers who will descend on Cannes from April 3 to 6 for MIPTV, the world's premier international TV market. Broadcasters from Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, now spoiled for choice, increasingly are becoming selective when it comes to U.S. series and reality TV formats. The days of every studio show going global are long gone.

"That top level of show is still going to perform very well internationally and is going to be very lucrative," says Dana Walden, chairman and CEO of Fox Television Group. "But there used to be a midrange, where you could have a solid but not spectacular performer, but still program an hour in a successful manner that you could still put into an output deal. That's gone."

"Broadcasters are finding it harder to get the [ratings] number they want for a hit show, so they are under pressure to pay less," says Peter Iacono, president of international television and digital distribution at mini-major Lionsgate. "Because the increase in production is pushing up talent costs, the asking prices are going up, too. That's the rub."

In addition to honoring such international TV heavyweights as Amazon Studios vp Roy Price, Huace Group president Zhao Yifang, ZDF Enterprises CEO Alexander Coridass and CTC Media CEO Viacheslav Murugov, MIPTV will offer buyers an early peek at the shows on everyone's future binge list. These five could break through the chatter and become the next big thing.

  • 'The Case'

    Sales: Keshet International

    Courtesy of Keshet International

    A sign that Scandi Noir might have run its course is this sharp parody from Sweden's FLX, producers of the Oscar-nominated The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared. Fans of The Killing, The Bridge and Broadchurch will appreciate the in-jokes and stylistic tics of the tale, which moves between the small Swedish town of Norrback and the British seaside resort of St. Ives as two mismatched detectives try and track down a beastly killer.

  • 'Clique'

    Sales: all3media International

    Courtesy of MIPTV

    Arguably this year's buzziest drama out of Blighty, the BBC's mean girl thriller follows two best friends during their first weeks at university as they are drawn into an elite clique of alpha girls.

  • 'Date My Dad'

    Sales: Content Media Corp.,Palatin Media

    Courtesy of Content Media Corporation

    Mainstream broadcasters are crying out for family-friendly fare, and this feel-good drama from UPtv ticks a lot of boxes. Barry Watson (7th Heaven) stars as a single dad raising three daughters who are desperate to set him up with a new partner.

  • 'Dirty Dancing'

    Sales: Lionsgate

    ABC/Guy D'Alema

    A three-part adaptation of the 1987 movie classic, with Abigail Breslin as Baby and dancer-turned-actor Colt Prattes as Johnny, this has "TV event" lathered all over it, and comes with a jaw-dropping pedigree, including Rouge One's Allison Shearmur as executive producer, The Sapphire's Wayne Blair as director and Hamilton's Tony Award winner Andy Blankenbuehler as choreographer.

  • 'The Handmaid's Tale'

    Sales: MGM Television

    Take Five/Hulu

    Hulu's Super Bowl ad for this small-screen adaptation of Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel already has high-end TV buyers worldwide drooling. Elisabeth Moss and Joseph Fiennes star in the futuristic parable about a world in which an authoritarian theocracy has supplanted the U.S. and women are limited to the roles of wives, servants or breeders, aka "handmaids."

  • 'Knightfall'

    Sales: A+E Studios

    Courtesy of A+E

    A+E is following its successful push into scripted series (Vikings, Roots) with this swashbuckling historical drama chronicling the legends of the Knights Templar. Period action plus an expected cameo from Jeremy Renner, who is executive producing, should translate into international success.

  • 'Mary Kills People'

    Sales: EOne

    Christos Kalohoridis/Lifetime

    Some — particularly cable, digital and streaming platforms — like it dark, like this new dramedy from Canada's Global TV. Hannibal actress Caroline Dhavernas stars as Dr. Mary Harris, an overworked single mother and ER doctor who moonlights as a underground euthanasia specialist, working outside the law to aid patients who want to die.

  • 'Prison Break: Sequel'

    Sales: 20th Century Fox

    Courtesy of FOX

    Global broadcasters love a good reboot, and Fox is counting on brand recognition, plus the punch of Prison Break's original castmembers Wentworth Miller, Dominic Purcell and Sarah Wayne Callies, to reignite audience excitement for groundbreaking thriller series from the mid-00s.

  • 'Ride Upon the Storm'

    Sales: Studiocanal

    Courtesy of StudioCanal

    Adam Price, Danish creator of the unlikely cult hit Borgen, returns with a series focusing on faith and religion. House of Cards regular Lars Mikkelsen stars as a strict Lutheran priest whose family life resembles a biblical epic. It might not scream ratings, but then, before Borgen, no one would have bet on a drama about Danish politics, either.

  • 'World of Dance'

    Sales: NBCUniversal International Distribution

    Justin Lubin/NBC

    The international market is long overdue for a shiny-floor reality TV hit. NBC's high-energy competition show, based on the WOD brand and featuring Jennifer Lopez as judge and exec producer, could provide the beat to get the global format business moving again.