Now that Parks and Rec has returned to take its final bow, Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been renewed for a third season, and we get to celebrate Saint Paddy’s with the upcoming online sixth season of Community, it’s time to get into the dark stuff. If there’s one thing I enjoy as much as lighthearted, intelligent, character-driven ensemble comedies, it’s intelligent, character-driven ensembles that make you want to sleep with the lights on. And oh, it’s looking to be a good year for the deep and twisted – here are the shows I am most looking forward to sinking my teeth into this season:

The Walking Dead is back this week. Are you emotionally prepared? Because I’m pretty sure I’m not even. While we may never fully recover from the events of the mid-season finale back in December, it will be nice to see the gang back together – for better or for worse. What’s behind the gate? Where the hell is Morgan? Will Daryl ever cut his hair? Find out when The Walking Dead returns this Sunday, February 8th on AMC.

So, Orphan Black is just sitting up there in Canada, casually doing things that no show has done before like it ain’t even no thing. Tatiana Maslany continues to deserve All The Awards That Ever Were of course, but high honors must also go to Jordan Gavaris, Maria Doyle Kennedy and Évelyne Brochu for holding their own and playing compelling and multifaceted characters in their own right, which I imagine must be difficult in such a highly technical environment. And it’s not just the amount of different people Tatiana can be; it’s what she’s doing with them when she becomes them, and it’s where the writers are choosing to take them. What could have been a short-lived gimmicky conceit (so, this one chick plays everyone?) is really just a pathway toward enabling some of the most seriously impressive acting and social commentary to come around in a long time. While not a horror show, it’s a smart sci-fi storyline that deals in some heavy twisted stuff. If you haven’t yet joined the cult of Tatiana, it may be time to mainline seasons one and two before Orphan Black’s third season premieres Saturday, April 18th on BBC America.

Penny Dreadful is one of my new favorite things. The first season was just stunning, a custom-built wonderland to give literary-minded classic horror types everything in the world to swoon over. Giving Eva Green that sort of dark, rich, rotting-velvet playground to play in was just such a wonderful idea, and she is genuinely and legitimately terrifying as the intense Vanessa Ives. So if you’ve seen the trailers but thought ‘Meh, League Of Extraordinary Gentleman but not…?’ please give it a chance. Besides Eva Green being an actual goddess doing us the favor of walking the Earth amongst us, the show’s take on Frankenstein and the Grand Guignol were especially rewarding. Also, Timothy Dalton. Man, I can’t wait for this show to come back. Penny Dreadful’s second season premieres Sunday, April 26th on Showtime.

And lest we forget: Hannibal. The second season of Hannibal was even more beautiful and gruesome than the first. The main characters were fleshed out (heh) in so many interesting and unexpected ways, and the introduction of other Red Dragon characters, especially Michael Pitt and Katharine Isabelle as Mason and Margot Verger, was done perfectly. I love that Bryan Fuller has given us this show that splatters glorious full-on murder tableaux across our screens every week that barely make it past the censors, yet refuses to sexualize violence against women. I love that he takes male characters from the book and casts them as ladies, just because, and I love how fully realized even the minor players are. Fuller is really the perfect guy to take an admittedly flawed book series, allowing that it’s a product of the time of its writing, and adapt it in a way that is both faithful and radically new. And with the announcement that Richard Armitage will be playing Francis Dolarhyde – man. Is anybody suddenly starving? Hannibal season three is coming this summer.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  We also HIGHLY suggest NBC’s Constantine, History’s Vikings, and FX’s The Americans (even though it’s not as dark, it’s SPIES!).

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