9 Books Coming To TV In 2016

In 2016, as Hollywood steels itself for the era of Peak TV, studio green-lighters are looking to an old friend: the book adaptation. What better match, after all, for a medium that finds itself specializing in ambitious, serialized storytelling? There are so many books (novels, comics, graphic novels, historical epics…) being adapted for the screen, so many novelists cashing those sweet HBO checks for a season or two, it can be hard to keep track. Your favorite Elena Ferrante volume could be debuting on Netflix this summer, and you might not know. (A reader can dream.) Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a handy list so that you won’t miss any of the literary action coming to TV this year. (Ed. Note — This article was originally published on February 3, 2016 and has been updated where available.)

1. The Magicians, Syfy

The Magicians, based on Lev Grossman’s 2009 fantasy hit, premiered on Syfy late last year. The remainder of the episodes will run in 2016. (New episodes started on the January 25th, with “The Source of Magic.”) The story, if you’re not familiar, is set amongst the student body at New York’s Brakebills College for Magical Pedagogy. If that doesn’t entice you to watch, what will? Where is your damn sense of wonder?

2. 11.22.63, Hulu

The Hulu Originals adaptation of Stephen King’s 11.22.63 (JFK, portals, time travel) has some pretty big names attached, including executive producer J.J. Abrams and star James Franco. The production is billed as a limited-series, meaning a fixed run of eight episodes (streaming started on February 15th). It’s about time Hollywood took some notice of this talented, emerging novelist plugging away in the woods of Maine. The man needs to eat.

3. Lucifer, FOX

Lucifer, the latest supernatural police procedural from FOX, premiered last month to rave reviews…Nah, not really. This is a network show. Nobody raves about network shows. In fact, the NYT published a pretty brutal takedown. But fans of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series or Mike Carey’s Lucifer spin-off may want to tune in anyway. (Update: Lucifer was recently renewed for a second season.)

4. American Gods, Starz

Neil Gaiman is making it rain. His novel, American Gods, long-rumored to be a prime candidate for adaptation, looks like it’s finally coming to TV this year. Gaiman himself is serving as an executive producer on this one, alongside showrunners Bryan Fuller (known for creating Hannibal, among others) and Michael Green. There’s no premiere date scheduled yet, but Starz announced last year that it gave production a green light and was expecting a late 2016 debut.

5. The Night Manager, BBC One/AMC

The BBC & AMC are bringing John Le Carré’s 1993 novel to the small screen this year, with a six-part miniseries starring Tom Hiddleston, Olivia Colman, Hugh Laurie, and Elizabeth Debicki. The novel was Le Carré’s first post-Cold War book, shifting focus from cat-and-mouse anti-communist spycraft to the world of international arms dealing (and drugs and mercenaries). Like any novel worth its salt, it begins in a grand hotel in Cairo. Presumably the show will do the same. It’s set to premiere on April 19th.

6. Luke Cage, Netflix

After receiving solid reviews for its first two Netflix productions, Marvel is back in 2016 with Luke Cage, set in the same comic book Hell’s Kitchen as Daredevil and Jessica Jones. There’s plenty to like about the new series’ prospects (and about its showrunner, Cheo Hodari Coker, previously on staff at SouthLAnd & Ray Donovan), but really there’s just one thing you need to know: it stars Mike Colter. The man is a damn star. A question remains, though: how many episodes before Rosario Dawson shows up?

7. War & Peace, BBC/A&E/Lifetime/History

The BBC is always good for at least one epic adaptation, so long as costumes are involved. This year’s headliner is War & Peace, a four-part miniseries which will be simulcast in the US by that classic TV alliance: A&E, Lifetime, and the History Channel. The series stars Paul Dano, Lily James, and a whole lotta fur. We’re talking Zhivago-levels of fur. So go ahead, splurge on that old doorstop classic you always meant to get around to. Just make sure it’s the Pevear & Volokhonsky translation. Constance Garnett will get your ass laughed out of book club.

8. Preacher, AMC

The DC Vertigo comic book (created by Garth Ennis & Steve Dillon) is finally coming to TV. The show, set to premiere later this year on AMC, is helmed by the team from Superbad (Evan Goldberg & Seth Rogen), along with Breaking Bad vet Sam Catlin. Dominic Cooper, of Mamma Mia! fame (and probably other fame, too, but who’s to say?), will star. The plot, which pretty much defies summary, involves a Texas preacher, an Irish vampire, and a quest in search of God.

9. Big Little Lies, HBO

You thought we were going to have a TV books list without an HBO show? Granted, HBO often goes the route of signing novelists to work on its original material (see R. Price, G. Pelecanos, G. Flynn, et al), but it also knows how to do a hell of an adaptation. This year, they have David E. Kelley (creator of just about every popular drama in the 90’s) adapting Liane Moriarty’s 2014 novel about a group of mothers driven to violence. HBO is, of course, bringing the A-list talent: Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, and more. Will it air in 2016? Who knows. It still makes the list.

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