It’s pretty hard to argue that Apple’s new Apple TV+ streaming service has gotten off a really strong start. It’s debut lineup of shows came to a conclusion late last month, with its flagship, The Morning Show, not only surprising many of the critics who originally panned it, but also becoming the first original streaming show to receive major award nominations in its first year, and in fact before its first season had even ended.
With an opening move like this, it’s easy to be left wondering what’s going to be next for the fledgling streaming service. Apple’s proven it has a ridiculous amount of money to throw at its projects — it’s already spent over $6 billion, blowing away even the most generous estimates from before the service launched, and it’s proven it won’t hesitate to spend top money to attract top talent. So on that principle alone, we should be expecting some even more amazing things from Apple, but the news for its early 2020 lineup has been considerably more muted, and almost entirely devoid thus far of blockbuster dramas like The Morning Show, For All Mankind, or even See.
Instead, what we’re beginning 2020 with is much lighter fare. While Apple already has two good dramatic shows rolling — the M. Night Shyamalan thriller Servant and the crime drama Truth Be Told starring Octavia Spencer, these are both expected to wrap up before the end of January, since they’re only the usual ten-episode seasons and Apple dropped the first three episodes at launch. Apple TV+ shows also don’t take any holiday hiatuses, since unlike network television, there’s no reason to delay the release of new episodes as viewers can watch at their convenience.
Right now, we have to assume that Apple has something else up its sleeve, since once these two shows finish their first seasons, we could find ourselves in a bit of a dryer spell for “must watch” content. Apple has announced Little America coming later this month, and by early February, its next comedy series, Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet is also expected to land. However, while we’re optimistic that both will be good shows, they’re not going to be in the same class as Apple’s original dramas, which kept users coming back for new weekly episodes on a regular basis.
For one thing, they don’t have the kind of dramatic tension that The Morning Show and For All Mankind have been able to pull off, but they’re also being dropped as entire seasons, suitable for binge-watching, and as half-hour episodes, anybody who really likes them can get through all of the episodes of both in a single weekend.
Other Projects Coming Soon
Of course, Apple has a lot more in the pipeline, and as it proved with Mythic Quest, which was already premiered last spring but not mentioned by Apple at all before it officially announced it, the company continues to play its release schedule cards close to its vest.
There’s already one series that’s been sitting on Apple TV’s press page for a while now without much commentary that makes us think we’ll hear a release date soon, and that’s the J.J. Abrams and Sara Bareilles collaboration, Little Voice. Abrams and Bareilles both took the stage at Apple’s big event last March when Apple TV+ was first announced to talk about the project, which is described by Apple as “a love letter to the diverse musicality of New York” and is expected to be a half-hour romantic dramedy. However, according to Deadline, it only set its cast and began shooting in New York last October, so it may not quite be in the can just yet.
Apple is also stretching its wings a bit more with the announcement of a new five-part documentary coming in February, titled Visible: Out on Television, which will investigate the history of LGBTQ issues and characters in American television, exploring themes like invisibility, homophobia, and coming out in the television industry. It appears that this will actually be the first documentary series to air on Apple TV+; although we know that Oprah has been working on two high-profile documentaries as well, we’ve heard little about them recently and can only assume they’re slated for later this year.
Meanwhile, Oprah’s Book Club also continues with its bi-monthly episodes (meaning that there’s one every two months), in which the famous philanthropist and talk show host speaks with the author of her latest Book Club pick. The next episode of that is expected to land on January 17th, where Oprah will interview Elizabeth Strout, author of Olive, Again.
We also know that Apple has renewed all of its shows for a second season already, and many of these second seasons have even finished filming, although there’s still post-production work to be done. The Morning Show had a second-season order right out of the gate, while all of the others were renewed before their first seasons had even begun airing.
So at least some of these second seasons may be nearing readiness, but with Apple TV+ being a new service, it’s charting its own territory here, making it unclear when it might decide to drop these second seasons. Conventional wisdom says that we won’t see them until next fall, which would also be an opportune time to draw in new subscribers and convince those getting a free year to ante up and start paying to keep their subscriptions, but there’s no reason they couldn’t drop sooner if Apple needs to fill its schedule.
What Else is Apple Working On?
If you think all of this sounds like rather pedestrian fare after a gripping November launch, we can’t say we blame you, but the good news is that we’ve heard about a lot of other Apple TV+ projects over the past couple of years, and we have to assume that at least some of these should be ready for release very soon. In fact, it’s possible Apple has simply been holding some of these back to round out its schedule. For example, Mythic Quest was reportedly done filming a year ago, and was certainly ready enough for Ubisoft to show off at E3.
Right off the bat there’s the Amazing Stories reboot, which some had suggested was originally slated for the Nov. 1 debut of Apple TV+ before it fell behind schedule as a result of creative differences earlier in the project, but it’s said to be back on track, and could easily be one of the next things Apple announces.
Apple also has Central Park in the works, which is an animated cartoon musical from the creator of Bob’s Burgers, and while it’s another one that we’ve heard almost nothing about recently, we said the same thing about Mythic Quest a few weeks ago.
In terms of more hardcore shows, however, there’s also the Foundation series that Apple is working on. We don’t know where that project is at either, but it’s based on Isaac Asimov’s classic sci-fi trilogy of the same name, and the scope and nature of the epic world-building series means that if Apple pulls it off, this one could be bigger than Game of Thrones.
At a similar scale, Apple is also working on Masters of the Air, the third instalment in the critically-acclaimed World War 2 saga miniseries that began with Band of Brothers. Both Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks are said to be back on board to produce this one, and it’s also the first series that Apple will be producing and filming in its own studio, so we’re expecting especially great things here, although we’d be surprised if it debuts before the fall, and even that might be a bit optimistic.
A new espionage drama with Gary Oldman is likely in a similar state; with Apple having just signed the deal late last year, this one could be even further out, especially when you consider that shows like The Morning Show began production back in 2017.
This is also just the tip of the iceberg, as Apple has signed deals for a whole smattering of other shows over the past couple of years, including an as-yet-unnamed Damien Chazelle scripted TV drama, a young detective story titled Home Before Dark, a scripted comedy series that was supposed to feature Kristen Wiig before she pulled out to star in the new Wonder Woman film, and a CIA drama starring Brie Larson, and those are just the ones we’ve heard about.
So the question isn’t so much what Apple has in store for Apple TV+ right now as when we’re actually going to see much of it. Of course, with such a notable start to the streaming service, and many users taking advantage of a free year of Apple TV+ thanks to new Apple device purchases or student Apple Music subscriptions, there’s likely not as much pressure on Apple to keep the new content coming, so maybe it can afford to space things out a bit. Apple is reportedly working on a deal to bring live sports and movies to the streaming platform, although such talks are said to be very preliminary right now, so we’d be a bit surprised if that materialized this year. So with Apple only offering its own original content for now, it still has to work at keeping something on the screen for its viewers to watch.