This story first appeared in the Oct. 17 magazine of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
The boom in small-screen fiction over the past few years has led some broadcasters to fret about the possibility that the global TV industry has reached “peak drama” and that a crash is coming.
If that’s the case, the producers heading to MIPCOM, the world’s largest television market, haven’t got the memo. Big, dramatic fiction is in like never before.
An explosion of new pay and niche channels worldwide is creating an appetite for top-drawer drama that seems to be insatiable. Netflix, which launched last month in six European countries, including giants France and Germany, can only add to the frenzy.
The opportunities for fiction scribes — for all genres from sci-fi to comedy, from the paranormal to good old-fashioned cop shows — have never been more plentiful.
As THR‘s MIPCOM hot list demonstrates, the quality of new drama heading to this year’s market, which runs Oct. 13-16 in Cannes, is as good as any that’s come before.
This is the Nordic drama series to beat this year. Inspired by a real-life serial murder case, Acquitted follows Aksel Borgen (Nicolai Cleve Broch), a successful businessman who returns to his small Norwegian town 20 years after being acquitted of the murder of his high school sweetheart. He’s come to save the town’s largest company from bankruptcy, but his past is about to catch up with him. Sales: FremantleMedia International
Californication star David Duchovny gets back to the dark weirdness of his X-Files days and returns to broadcast television with this period cop drama, which Tomorrow Studios is producing for NBC. Set in the late 1960s, it features Duchovny as a Los Angeles police sergeant on the trail of a suspicious small-time criminal, who is seeking out vulnerable women to join his “cause.” The name of this man? Charles Manson. Sales: ITV Global Studios Entertainment
The latest dark British drama from Low Winter Sun creator Simon Donald, Fortitude is set in a seemingly idyllic town in the Arctic where there never has been a violent crime. But then a brutal unsolved murder triggers a crisis in the close-knit community and threatens the future of the town itself. The pilot stars Stanley Tucci as a detective flown in to investigate the murder with the local chief of police, played by Richard Dormer. Danish actress Sofie Grabol, star of the original The Killing, appears in her first English-language role as the governor of Fortitude, who wants to transform the mining town into a location for high-end tourism. Sales: Sky Vision
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Following the success of Orphan Black, the BBC returns with another paranormal thriller. This time, it’s about a secret society whose members search for immortality by seeking refuge in the bodies of others. Intruders‘ all-star cast features Life on Mars‘ John Simm, Oscar-winner Mira Sorvino, James Frain of The White Queen and True Detective vet Tory Kittles. Sales: BBC Worldwide
Endemol Studios has its eyes on the male demographic with this hard-hitting drama, set in the world of mixed martial arts. Frank Grillo, Kiele Sanchez and Nick Jonas star in Kingdom, which producer Byron Balasco (Without a Trace) created for Endemol and DirecTV. Sales: Endemol
Starz has further bolstered its impressive drama slate with this eight-episode limited series, a co-production with the BBC. James Nesbitt stars as a father whose young son is abducted during a family vacation in France. He becomes obsessed with finding his son, a quest that threatens to destroy his marriage to wife Emily (Frances O’Connor) and his sanity. Sales: All3Media
After delivering cannibals to NBC primetime with Hannibal and bringing the scary back to Pennsylvania with Hemlock Grove, Gaumont International Television is taking on the drug trade. Brazilian director Jose Padilha is tackling the rise of notorious cocaine cowboy Pablo Escobar in this new drama series, which Netflix will premiere in 2015. Wagner Moura, star of Padilha’s 2007 Brazilian box-office smash Elite Squad, will play Escobar with Game of Thrones alum Pedro Pascal as the Mexican DEA agent sent to track down and ultimately kill him. Sales: Gaumont International Television
France’s spooky, International Emmy-winning living dead drama gets a U.S. remake in this paranormal series from A+E Studios, FremantleMedia and original Returned producers Haut et Court TV. The American version is set in a small mountain town in Caldwell, Wash., where the dead begin to come back, with no memory of their deaths and no awareness that their loved ones have moved on. India Ennenga, Mark Pellegrino and Tandi Wright star. Sales: FremantleMedia
One of the few standout comedies on offer at MIPCOM, Schitt’s Creek features SCTV veterans Eugene Levy and Catherine O’Hara as a once rich, now bankrupt couple forced to live in a small, depressing Canadian town. Levy created the series for the Canuck PBS, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., with son Daniel, who co-stars. Sales: ITV Studios Global Entertainment
A dark crime dramedy from Canal Plus, Rosetta Media and The Pillars of the Earth producer Tandem, Spotless is set in London and follows two very different French immigrant brothers. Jean (played by Canadian actor Marc-Andre Grondin) runs a successful niche business for the police, cleaning up the scenes of bloody crimes, but his tidy life is turned upside down when his outlaw brother Martin (French star Denis Menochet) arrives and pulls him into the world of organized crime. Sales: Tandem Communications