Looks like April showers bring a heaping dose of science fiction entertainment along with those May flowers — we’re not complaining! — including a Lost in Space reboot and the return of Westworld, The Expanse, and The Handmaid’s Tale (plus, of course, other comedies and dramas for good measure). We’ve got you covered with everything worth catching up on this month before new installments hit your small screen.
What it is: Based on the series of novels by James S. A. Corey (the pen name of collaborators Daniel Abraham and T Franck), this space-hopping science fiction series follows Earth-bound United Nations executive Chrisjen Avasarala (Shohreh Aghdashloo), asteroid belt-dwelling police detective Josephus Miller (Thomas Jane), and officer of an ice freighter Jim Holden (Steven Strait, pictured) as they uncover a conspiracy that risks intergalactic peace within disparate colonies and the survival of humanity as they know it.
Why you should watch it: We see enough social and political turmoil here on Earth to know that if and when we expand our humanly horizons to other planets in the solar system, tension is likely to continue. Here, it just makes for great TV with some timely allegorical themes to spare. Season 3 premieres April 11.
Commitment: Approx. 16 hours
What it is: A classic of the genre, 1965’s Lost in Space from Irwin Allen tells the story of the Robinson family, a clan of space colonists who must adapt to survive after their ship gets flung off course (living up to the series’ title) and crash lands on an alien planet. From there, they’re met with increasing intergalactic dangers with each passing day.
Why you should watch it: The original Lost in Space is one of those series that every sci-fi lover should watch simply because of the influence it wielded over future series of the genre to come — whether it be The Expanse above, or the forthcoming Netflix reboot of the same name. At three seasons and 83 episodes, the original makes for a full week of binge-watching entertainment and cultural education all in one. Netflix’s reboot premieres April 13.
Commitment: Approx. 83 hours
What it is: An extension of the zombie apocalypse world of AMC mega-hit The Walking Dead, Fear starts in Los Angeles, showing how city dwellers deal with the virus outbreak.
Why you should watch it: The season 4 premiere on April 15 features a crossover with the mothership, when Morgan (Lennie James) from The Walking Dead shows up.
Commitment: Approx. 27.5 hours
What it is: Into the Badlands, starring Daniel Wu (pictured), promised to be an exciting genre-fusion of post-apocalyptic Western–Kung Fu, and it hasn’t lost its bite over the course of two standout seasons. Set 500 years after a global war that destroyed today’s world as we know it, the series explores the struggle for power among the feudal lord barons, their lowly contemporaries, and their world’s lawless nomads in a post-society landscape.
Why you should watch it: Here’s another futuristic action-thriller seeped with timely themes. Set in a world where guns are no longer in use, war combat and protection has resorted to martial arts and melee weapons. Not only is it a creative twist on the shoot-em-up style of most sci-fi epics, but it also makes for some of the most thrilling actions sequences on TV today. Season 3 premieres April 22.
Commitment: Approx. 11 hours
What it is: In this hit series, the titular Westworld is a vacation destination for regular men and women to live out their most elaborate — and at times, sickening — fantasies in a Wild West–inspired society manipulated by behind-the-scenes programmers and otherwise populated by near-human artificially intelligent hosts. The series’ main action begins, however, when Westworld’s hosts begin realizing they may have more control over their false reality than they think.
Why you should watch it: Did any other new series excite and divide critics and audiences in quite the same way as Westworld? Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy’s HBO debut marks one of the most thought provoking and epic sci-fi dramas seen on the pay cable channel to date. Matched with its ambition are breathtaking performances from Hollywood heavy-hitters as varied as Anthony Hopkins, Evan Rachel Wood, Jeffrey Wright (pictured), Thandie Newton, James Marsden, and Ed Harris. Season 2 premieres April 22.
Commitment: Approx. 10 hours
What it is: Here’s another intelligent, original take on the post-nuclear apocalypse from Jason Rothenberg for the CW. Set 97 years after nuclear war wiped out humanity, the mere thousands remaining survived by escaping on an ark-like spaceship that remained within Earth’s orbit. The twisty caveat? The series’ title represents the 100 juvenile prisoners who, against their will, are forced out of the Ark and back to Earth to learn if it’s habitable. To their surprise, it turns out that some humans lived through the nuclear war from the century prior — and not all of them are ready to befriend the young visitors.
Why you should watch it: As is the case with much of the CW’s slate of programming, The 100 is led by an impressive ensemble of young, breakout actors who are made all the more impressive by their series’ meatier material. Plus with an air-tight concept as its foundation, there’s a reason we’ve been coming back for four seasons now. Season 5 premieres April 24.
Commitment: Approx. 40 hours
What it is: From creators Kenneth Biller and Noah Pink and executive producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer comes National Geographic’s first major foray into prestige television, Genius. An intimate, life-charting look into history’s greatest minds and personalities, season 1 follows Geoffrey Rush (pictured) as Albert Einstein, and season 2, which premieres April 24, follows Antonio Banderas as Pablo Picasso.
Why you should watch it: An enthralling premise that’s ultimately as educational as it is entertaining (as the very best of narrative nonfiction is), Genius’s first outing rightfully earned a handful of Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and was widely regarded as one of the year’s best programming options. While you don’t have to watch Einstein to understand Picasso, we recommend you do simply for the quality time spent.
Commitment: Approx. 8.5 hours
What it is: Even the sleekest of action-packed espionage thrillers have an air of cartoonish hyperbole to them (James Bond’s invisible car, anyone?), but FXX’s Archer does away with that suspension of belief by making the whole thing a cartoon to begin with. The half-hour comedy from creator Adam Reed can land a joke as deftly as its titular man-child spy can land a punch, so expect to be thrilled while laughing yourself silly.
Why you should watch it: Over eight hit seasons, Archer has never shied away from genre experimentation — season 8’s Archer Dreamland was a particular highlight. Season 9 continues the genre-jumping trend with Danger Island, which sees Archer not as the ass-kicking spy of ISIS we know from earlier carnations, but as an alcoholic seaplane pilot living in a supposed paradise at the brink of World War II. We’ll also be treated, of course, to Danger Island re-imaginings of all our favorite Archer characters and the voice actors behind them. To truly appreciate the new season, viewers need to have the emotional and intellectual foundation of the seasons before it; that’s where the payoff is. Danger Island premieres April 25.
Commitment: Approx. 35 hours
What it is: After suffering a public meltdown in the aftermath of his wife’s string of affairs, nationally acclaimed sports announcer Jim Brockmire (Hank Azaria, pictured) turns to drugs and alcohol to cope until one day, 10 years later, deciding to pick himself up, move to a small town, and get back to work calling games for the minor league Morristown Frackers.
Why you should watch it: Six-time Emmy winner Azaria is perhaps best known for his voice work on The Simpsons, but it’s always a pleasure to watch him get to work in front of the camera. The laughs still land. To watch his growth through the titular Brockmire’s character arc in season 1 is simply great (and easily binge-able) comedic TV — and that’s not to mention the firecracker energy Amanda Peet (pictured) brings as Azaria’s co-lead. Season 2 premieres April 25.
Commitment: Approx. 3 hours
What it is: Set in a not-too-distant future and adapted from Margaret Atwood’s acclaimed novel of the same name, The Handmaid’s Tale is the harrowing imagining of a society where fertile women are forced into slavery to help procreate for society’s rich and powerful. A gripping and prescient look at modern patriarchy’s darkest corners (and possible futures), it’s one of the few programs airing today that truly is must-watch TV.
Why you should watch it: Last year, The Handmaid’s Tale became the first-ever streaming series to take home the Television Academy’s top honor: the Emmy for best drama. It has big expectations to live up to with season 2, which expands upon the Atwood book that was adapted in full through season 1. But with one of the most formidable ensembles on TV — both Elisabeth Moss (pictured) and Ann Dowd took home Emmys, as well — we’d follow them and their female-heavy behind-the-camera creatives anywhere — including to Gilead. Season 2 premieres April 22.
Commitment: Approx. 8.5 hours
What it is: Named after the real-life FBI Academy in Virginia, creator Joshua Safran’s Quantico follows Alex Parrish (Priyanka Chopra, pictured) who, once graduating from the academy and becoming an agent, is arrested for treason after becoming a prime suspect in a terrorist attack on Grand Central Station. The first season runs with two timelines: one depicting Alex’s arrest and eventual escape to prove her innocence, and the other depicting her time training with her colleagues to become an agent. The question lingers then: If not Alex, then who’s the sleeper terrorist in their midst?
Why you should watch it: Quantico rightfully earned acclaim for its diverse cast, namely for employing Chopra as as the first South Asian actress to headline a network series. Its representational landmarks aside, the series holds up as a tightly knit cat-and-mouse thriller. Season 3 premieres April 26.
Commitment: Approx. 16 hours
What it is: A contemporary (and gender-bending) update on the classic Sherlock Holmes, Elementary is a New York crime procedural starring Lucy Liu as Dr. Joan Watson and Jonny Lee Miller as the iconic Holmes himself (both pictured). Watson begins as Holmes’ sober companion (the ex–Scotland Yard consultant is also a recovering drug addict), but as the series progresses, she becomes his apprentice and partner in solving NYPD’s most chin-scratching crimes.
Why you should watch it: Lucy Liu is endlessly watchable in just about anything, so her involvement in this Robert Doherty series is reason enough to tune in. But Elementary is more than just a spellbinding leading lady and a clever play on an old classic. Tune in for a few episodes and you’ll see why it’s caught audiences’ devotion for five years and 120 episodes strong. Season 6 premieres April 30.
Commitment: Approx. 88 hours