By: Erin Callahan – Chief A&E Writer
Editor’s Note: In the spirit of our 2015 A&E preview, chief writer and pop culture junkie Erin Callahan shares some of her TV and movie picks for the year ahead. Here is her breakdown of the most highly anticipated movies and TV series, both new and returning, to look for in 2015.
“Parks and Recreation”
This year will bring the final season of “Parks and Recreation,” starring Amy Poehler, Chris Pratt and Nick Offerman. Not to worry, faithful Poehler fans, NBC will offer a double dose with two episodes airing every Tuesday night for the duration of season seven. “Parks and Recreation” has followed Leslie Knope (Poehler) and a group of public officials on their crazy antics in an effort to make their small Indiana town a better and more beautiful place. Its final season will fast forward to the year 2017 to show what has changed and what’s to come for Pawnee’s favorite bureaucrat.
Premiere: Jan. 13 at 8 p.m. on NBC.
“The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore”
Is the Wilmore report the new “Colbert Report”? Larry Wilmore, best known as the “Senior Black Correspondent” on “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and creator of “The Bernie Mac Show,” will be joining Comedy Central’s lineup with a new show to discuss his point of view on pop culture and current events. He will move into Stephen Colbert’s timeslot as Colbert succeeds David Letterman on “The Late Show.”
Premiere: Jan. 19 at 11:30 p.m. on Comedy Central.
“Better Call Saul”
For anyone who watched “Breaking Bad,” let’s be real, Walter White changed our lives. He made us question our high school chemistry teacher’s extracurricular activities and somehow convinced us to root for the bad guy. However, I think we can also agree Walter White and his legendary product would have failed to exist without Saul Goodman’s undying loyalty and dedication to protect him. Obviously, Walter was not the first crook Saul had dealt with, and it wasn’t the first time Saul bent the rules of the law for one either. While we may never know where Saul was headed at the end of “Breaking Bad,” its prequel “Better Call Saul,” starring Bob Odenkirk, will take a deeper look into his past. Six years pre-Walter White, Saul is known as Jimmy McGill, attorney at law. Expect to see more of his dark humor, sharp wit, flashy suits and learn how Saul Goodman came to be as crooked as the clients he protects.
Premiere: Every Monday at 10 p.m. after its premiere Feb. 8 at 10 p.m. on AMC.
“The Walking Dead”
In this post-apocalyptic zombie thriller starring Andrew Lincoln and Norman Reedus, nothing stays the same for long. In the second half of season five, the group will have to find a new direction. The goal of reaching Washington, D.C., has been extinguished, and I expect the definition of survival for each character will be redefined as they search for their next safe haven. With the loss of a few characters and the introduction of new ones, the group will pull strength from within themselves and each other to battle the darkness they encounter every day.
Premiere: Feb. 8 at 9 p.m. on AMC.
“House of Cards”
This Netflix original, starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, is a story of revenge, greed and corruption in the world of politics. When Rep. Francis Underwood (Spacey) is not given the position of Secretary of State as promised for supporting the election of a new presidential candidate, he and his wife (Wright), decide to take down the president. The series is known for throwing plot twists, so while season three may seem ambiguous, it’s guaranteed to thrill.
Premiere: Feb. 27 on Netflix.
Again? This guy can’t catch a break. After rescuing his daughter in the first movie and being taken along with his ex-wife Lenore in the second movie, Brian Mills (Liam Neeson) has even more taken from him this time. Lenore is murdered and he’s framed as the prime suspect; but in classic Neeson style, he’s not letting those responsible get off easy. His “particular set of skills” has served him well so far, but in the face of an even deeper tragedy, we may learn how far Brian can really go to protect the ones he loves.
Release date: Jan. 9.
“Fifty Shades of Grey”
It’s almost here, the movie event millions have been waiting for. But is it everything they’ve hoped and dreamed it would be? In case you haven’t heard yet – doubt it – the film starring Jamie Dornan and Dakota Johnson is an adaptation of the first book in the “Fifty Shades” trilogy about the unusually erotic, romantic relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele and young billionaire businessman, Christian Grey. While the book trilogy is wildly popular and the topic of nearly everyone’s conversation for months, word is the movie may not live up to the hype of the book.
It was recently announced the movie received an “R” rating due to “unusual behavior.” It was rumored there would be a more explicit version released along with the theater-friendly one, though so far nothing has been confirmed. Still, I doubt it will keep fans from flocking to the theaters for date night or girls’ night out this Valentine’s Day.
Release date: Feb. 13.
After upsetting their futuristic faction society, Beatrice Prior (Shailene Woodley) and Tobias Eaton (Theo James) are now on the run from the Erudites who are determined the to keep Tris and the rebels from unveiling their secrets. The pair will search through what’s left of Chicago to uncover the truth about the past and the future. Based on the second book in the “Divergent” series and following the successful first film, the dynamic characters will continue to lead viewers on an epic post-apocalyptic adventure.
Release date: March 20.
For fans of “The Fault in Our Stars,” another John Green novel has been adapted for the big screen. “Paper Towns” follows Quentin (Nat Wolff) and four friends on the road trip of a lifetime, following clues placed by missing neighborhood girl Margo (Cara Delevingne).
Margo suggests before her disappearance she would one day seek revenge against those who have caused her pain; however, the mystery may never be solved. I praise Green for creating painfully relatable characters in “The Fault in Our Stars,” and I expect to experience the same excitement with this group of teens as they travel the country searching for something that may be just beyond their reach.
Release date: June 5.
Watching “Jurassic Park” as a kid enthralled me. A dinosaur theme park was a combination between the coolest idea ever and undeniably the most dangerous one – but like many other ’90s kids, I just couldn’t stop watching. “Jurassic World,” starring Chris Pratt, is another attempt at this seemingly impossible world 22 years after the original plan for Jurassic Park went awry. After 10 years and declining visitor rates, “Jurassic World” will feature a new attraction to boost its appeal, which may or may not be a combination between the coolest idea ever and undeniably the most dangerous one, again.
Release date: June 12.
“Mockingjay Part 2”
In the final installment of the “Hunger Games” film series, featuring Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth, Katniss Everdeen (Lawrence) will continue leading the rebellion against the Capitol with the unified districts of Panem. Action in “The Hunger Games,” “Catching Fire” and “Mockingjay Part 1” have proved Katniss a capable leader, and “Mockingjay Part 2” will reveal the (hopefully) successful upheaval of the tyranny the districts of Panem have faced for years.
Release date: Nov. 20.
Some other movie releases to look for in 2015:
“Furious 7,” April 3
“Pitch Perfect 2,” May 15
“Ted 2,” June 26
“Pan,” July 24
“Sisters,” Dec. 18
“Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens,” Dec. 18
“Joy,” Dec. 25