ARUN RATH, HOST:
What do a woman freed from a religious cult, a crooked lawyer and TV's longest-serving late-night host have in common? NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says they're all part of the hottest trends in television for 2015. Here's his look at the issues and series that will transform TV in the new year.
ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: Kimmy Schmidt has survived years in a dehumanizing cult that told her the world was destroyed by nuclear fire. But surviving her first interview on the "Today" show after she and her friends were rescued from that cult? Well, that might be even tougher.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT")
MATT LAUER: Ladies, you've been given an amazing second chance at life. People have donated thousands of dollars to the Mole Women Fund.
ELLIE KEMPER: (As Kimmy Schmidt) And we are so grateful, but honestly, we don't love that name.
LAUER: So, Mole Women, what happens next? What do you do now?
LAUREN ADAMS: (As Gretchen) I go with you now. Yes, I'm married to you.
LAUER: No, no, Gretchen, no.
DEGGANS: The "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" is a new series from Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, who worked together on Fey's NBC series "30 Rock." The program was made for NBC but sold to Netflix, which picked up the canceled show before it even aired on the network.
It's a growing trend - TV shows moving online from more traditional starting points. Yahoo will continue to produce new episodes of NBC's canceled comedy "Community." And a show originally developed for FX, the superhero series "Powers," will debut not on FX but on The Playstation Network. Yes, there will be an original TV series made just for a videogame console.
But the biggest sea change in television this year comes courtesy of this announcement - David Letterman's surprise announcement last year.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "LATE SHOW")
DAVID LETTERMAN: I said when this show stops being fun, I will retire 10 years later.
DEGGANS: David Letterman, TV's longest-serving late-night host, officially retires May 20. But he's already changing television, prompting Stephen Colbert to leave his "Colbert Report" to take over Letterman's "Late Show," which made room at Comedy Central for a new voice. Larry Wilmore.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "NIGHTLY SHOW")
LARRY WILMORE: Hi, I'm Larry Wilmore, host of the new "Nightly Show" with Larry Wilmore.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Who?
WILMORE: Larry Wilmore - I'm the host of the "Nightly Show."
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I thought you said it was a daily show.
WILMORE: Well, it is a daily show at night.
DEGGANS: Larry Wilmore, known as "The Daily Show's" senior black correspondent, takes over Colbert's timeslot with "The Nightly Show" on January 19.
Wilmore's show was originally called "The Minority Report," but they changed it after learning the 2002 film of the same name would be made into - you guessed it - a TV pilot. Still, Wilmore will be the only African-American hosting a late-night entertainment show in 2015. Along with Colbert and new "Late, Late Show" host James Corden, he's expected to bring lots of fresh voices to a big block of TV's late-night neighborhood.
And there's some other big goodbyes coming in 2015.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "PARKS AND RECREATION")
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #1: The farewell season of "Parks And Recreation" comes to you from the distant future - the year 2017.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #2: Good Lord.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTRESS: Oh, take my hand. Let's get into bed like "The Notebook."
DEGGANS: NBC's "Parks And Recreation" begins its final season January 13. It's among several TV shows taking a final lap this year, including CBS' "Two And Half Men" and AMC's "Mad Men." But I'm really going to savor the final season this year of FX's show about a gun slinging federal marshal - "Justified" - mostly because of scenes like this one featuring Marshal Raylan Givens taking stolen documents from his bitter rival, bank robber Boyd Crowder.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "JUSTIFIED")
WALTON GOGGINS: (As Boyd Crowder) I found some items lying on the side of the road I believe belong to our mutual friend. I took it upon myself to ensure their safe return. Now, I'm just following my instincts, kinda like a higher power slipping me a word.
TIMOTHY OLYPHANT: (As Raylan Givens) Well, I slip a Glock in my holster every morning. So when you hand me those items, do it slow. Or I'll shoot you.
DEGGANS: In a TV world filled with Honey Boo Boos and Duck Dynasties, it's a pleasure to watch a show set in the South with sharp, smart characters. That's not, however, the best description for a guy at the heart of another series, which just happens to be cable TV's most anticipated new show.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BETTER CALL SAUL")
BOB ODENKIRK: (As Saul Goodman) Traffics accident? Better call Saul. Confessed to a homicide? What are you waiting for? Hi, welcome to the Law Offices of Saul Goodman and Associates.
DEGGANS: Saul Goodman, also known as Walter White's shady lawyer from "Breaking Bad," gets his own spinoff series on AMC. It debuts over two nights on February 8 and 9, showing how small-time lawyer Jimmy McGill becomes the full-on sleazebag that "Breaking Bad" fans love, with a real talent for recruiting new clients.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "BETTER CALL SAUL")
ODENKIRK: (As Saul Goodman) I'm number one on your speed-dial, right next to your weed dealer. Please call me Jimmy.
UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR #3: (As character) Think I'd look guilty if I hired a lawyer.
ODENKIRK: (As Saul Goodman) It's getting arrested that makes people look guilty.
DEGGANS: Who could say no to that? Ultimately, the word which best sums up TV in 2015 is more - more new series in unexpected places, more new voices in late-night and more high-quality shows than anyone can keep up with - except maybe a highly motivated TV critic. So if you thought TV was good last year, you might want to buckle up, because the pace only gets faster and more fun in 2015. I'm Eric Deggans.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.