Every year the US networks churn out a stack of new shows, some of which are total dross, some of which are winners. Last season, very few made much of an impression, but there are a few decent ones this year. Here is my run down of my favourites.
Probably the best of the bunch is Homeland, starring our very own ginger Damien Lewis. More surprisingly brilliant is Claire Danes, an actress I’ve not been that impressed by in the past. Based on an Israeli tv show, Homeland features Lewis as Brody, a US soldier rescued after 8 or so years as an Iraqi (or was it Afghan?) PoW. CIA operative Claire Danes is convinced Brody has been turned and is an Al Queda sleeper agent and obsessively pursues him. The show succeeds thanks to fascinating characterisations. Danes is a tad unstable, possibly bipolar, while Lewis is seriously messed up. His wife, Morena Baccarin is about to come clean with her new relationship to Brody’s best pal before her long long hubby returns. Is Brody a double agent? What is going on with Danes and her CIA gang?
Homeland keeps you guessing and it is pretty bleak and unpredictable. I love how flawed the lead characters are and have no idea where the storylines are going. Classy stuff.
Much more fluffy, but also a favourite is Revenge. Emily Vancamp is Emily Thorne, bursting onto the wealthy Hamptons scene to screw with the people who were responsible for getting her father convicted of terrorism crimes years ago. She is back to – yes, take revenge! The series opened with a real humdinger – Emily’s engagement party to Hamptons royalty prince Daniel and his apparent murder. Since then we have been in flashbacks finding out how she got to that point.
Once again, it is the rich company of characters that make the show, plus the way the plot is unfolding that is keeping me interested. Just when you think you know what Emily is up to – picking off the people who helped convict her dad – we get further twists and turns. It is soapy stuff, but so far I’m still hooked.
Once Upon a Time is one of two fairy tales themed shows (the other Grimm only had me for one episode before I got bored.) House’s Jennifer Morrison is the lead as she is brought to the town of Storyville by her long given up for adoption son. The people in the town are all modern day version of fairy tale characters according to the kid. Morrison isn’t so sure however. The show switches between the modern day stuff and the fairy tale world. Scot Robert Carlyle makes for a super menacing Rumplestiltskin. The show has only aired a few episodes, but I’m enjoying the mix of fantasy and mystery, although a certain suspension of disbelief is required at times.
Sarah Michelle Geller will always be Buffy, but her new show Ringer is a fun bit of fluff. SMG plays twins Bridget and Siobhan, and drug addict Bridget is currently posing as the bitchy Siobhan, thinking she is dead. Ioan Gruffudd is startlingly stilted and just plain bad as Siobhan’s husband. It’s preposterous nonsense, but sort of a giggle.
By far the MOST insane show is American Horror Story from Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk. Maybe is explains why the end of S2 of Glee was a mess as they were focussing on AHS…! The show centres on a house – known as the Murder House – that troubled couple Connie Britton and Dylan McDermott move into along with a teenage daughter. The house is haunted by the ghosts of previous owners who apparently died there. Also we have batty neighbour Jessica Lange and weird maid Frances Conroy. The show often starts with a deeply disturbing murder scene and pretty much anything goes from there! Lots of nudity, depravity, and THAT rubber suit! It’s either bonkers brilliance or self indulgent insane tosh. I’m undecided. However, it is something very very different from Glee, with perhaps more in common with Nip/Tuck, Murphy’s previous success.
A Gifted Man looked promising, but has turned into a rather predictable medical drama. Patrick Wilson stars with our own Jennfer Ehle still looking good as his dead wife. Wilson is not as grumpy or as brilliant as Greg House and the cases are not as interesting either. Will probably be dropping off my viewing list soon.
I’ve given Person of Interest and Unforgettable a go but they are very tedious run of the mill crime of the week shows. Person of Interest is a particular disappointment. Jim Caziezel who has been good in a few films is amazingly bad – virtually a charisma free zone! Michael Emerson, so gripping as Ben Minus on Lost is totally wasted. Just boring.