Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Fall TV Preview – 2010 – Part 6: Cable/Top 5

LeapBackBlog’s Fall TV Preview gives you a rundown of the good stuff that is out there – and there is so much of it, too much really. It is broken down by network – ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, The CW, and then shows on Cable. Finally, I list the top five shows most worth your time this fall.
Here is the stuff worth checking out:

Part 1: ABC - No Ordinary Family, Grey's Anatomy, Modern Family

Part 2: CBS - The Big Bang Theory, Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-O, How I Met Your Mother, $#*! My Dad Says

Part 3: NBC - Chuck, The Event, Undercovers, Friday Night Lights, Community, The Office, 30 Rock

Part 4: Fox - Bones, Fringe, Glee, House, Lonestar, Running Wilde

Part 5: The CW - Gossip Girl, Nikita, Supernatural

Part 6: Cable -  Boardwalk Empire, Eastbound & Down, Dexter, Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, Weeds, Luther, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Terriers


Boardwalk Empire (premiers Sep 19, 9PM on HBO)
Synopsis: The show is about Atlantic City, NJ, and its beginnings – and the man who has his hand in every pocket, city treasurer Enouch ‘Nucky” Thompson. A politician and gangster, he supplied the city with booze during prohibition and did business with any hood that came to town, including Al Capone. But as much as Thompson cares about his political image, he is impaired by his addiction to affluence and his weakness for the morally upright Margaret Schroeder. There is also conflict brewing as his young protégé Jimmy Darmody has returned from the war changed – he wants it all and is willing to do anything to get it.  
Why Should You Watch: The show is brought to you by executive producer Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver and Raging Bull) and creator Terence Winter (The Sopranos) – a fine pair to bring a show to HBO.  The cast is also excellent. The show stars Steve Buscemi (The Big Lebowski), Michael Pitt (The Dreamers) and Kelly Macdonald (Trainspotting) and features supporting work from Michael K. Williams (The Wire), Gretchen Mol (The Notorious Bettie Page), Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man), Stephen Graham (Public Enemies), and Michael Shannon (Revolutionary Road). The show hopes to bring HBO back to its former days of being the network with the best dramas on TV (shows like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, and Deadwood) and what better way to do it than a show about crime, sex and money set in the glory days of America’s gangsters.
Potential Issues: Critics have called the show a straight-forward drama, lacking humor, omens and a great soundtrack, but they also say it is fantastic.
Verdict: Yeah, you probably need to watch or Nexflix this.

Eastbound & Down (season 2 premiers Sep 26, 9:30PM on HBO)
Synopsis: The show is about retired and disgraced baseball player Kenny Powers as he looks for new opportunities to find his way back to the top and happiness – aka making money and insulting people. Season two sees him heading to Mexico to play ball.
Why Should You Watch: Season one was hilarious, why should the new season be any different? Powers will have a whole new country to put down and get into trouble in. Danny McBride (Pineapple Express) has found a character that perfectly fits his best comedic attributes.  It will also be great to see sequences of Powers playing baseball.
Potential Issues: All of season one’s cast is being scratched due to the change of venue, other than Steve Little. It is too bad because there were some funny characters played by Will Ferrell (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy), Craig Robinson (The Office), Katy Mixon, and Andrew Daly (MADtv), though some might have cameos.
Verdict: For fans of McBride and co-creators Ben Best and Jody Hill (The Foot Fist Way and Observe and Report) this is a must.

Dexter (season 5 premiers Sep 26, 9PM on Showtime)
Synopsis: The show is about Dexter Morgan, a blood splatter forensics expert who works with the Miami Metro Police where his sister is a detective. Only, he has a secret. He is a serial killer – but he only kills bad people.
Why Should You Watch: This is probably the best show on TV, hands down. Michael C. Hall (Six Feet Under) is beyond brilliant as Dexter. The supporting cast is also very good, and the show features wonderful performances from guest arch actors like Keith Carradine (Deadwood), Jimmy Smits (The West Wing) and John Lithgow (3rd Rock from the Sun). This season is set to have Julia Stiles (The Bourne Identity). The writing staff has done a fabulous with exploring the characters and fleshing them out. Each season delves deeper.
Potential Issues: Do not start with this season. Go back and watch from episode one, season one. The show is violent and thus might not be for everyone.
Verdict: Watch it.

Sons of Anarchy (season 3 premiers Sep 7, 10PM on FX)
Synopsis: The show is about a motorcycle gang and its two top dogs – Clay Morrow the club’s leader and prodigal son Jax Teller. The gang came together to run a group of white supremacists out of town, but a series of twists and turns have lead to grander problems for all.
Why Should You Watch: The show flies under the radar for such a good show. Stars Charlie Hunnam (Undeclared) and Ron Perlman (Hellboy) are fantastic in the series. Executive producer Kurt Sutter (The Shield) says that this season the road for SAMCRO will be particularly hard and the main antagonist will be played by Titus Welliver (Deadwood).
Potential Issues: The show is highly violent and utterly bleak, not for the squeamish or those looking for light drama.
Verdict: For those that this type of show would appeal to, certainly worth watching or Netflixing.

The Walking Dead (premiers Oct 31, 10PM on AMC)
Synopsis: The new horror show based on the fantastic comic series is about the zombie apocalypse. A small group of survivors including police officer Rick Grimes look for a new safe place to escape and call home. But the road is hard – tension rides high, emotions on edge, a constant state of fear – soon members of the group question who is more dangerous the zombies or themselves.
Why Should You Watch: Comic fans cannot rave enough about the series in book form, and hopefully this series will capture that magic. Chances look good; Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption) is executively producing the show as well as writing and directing episodes. And really, who does not like zombies when they are done well? The show stars relative unknown Andrew Lincoln (Heartbreaker). There is no real star power in the cast, but some avid TV watchers will recognize Jon Bernthal (The Pacific), Sarah Wayne Callies (Prison Break), Jeffrey DeMunn (Law & Order), and Laurie Holden (The Shield).
Potential Issues: There is so much hype for this show, high expectations – not only from the excellent comic series and Darabont’s involvement, but also from AMC hoping to make another critical hit like Mad Men and Breaking Bad. Is there anywhere for this show to go but down and be a letdown? There is almost no way the pilot will meet the expectations despite all involved.
Verdict: ZOMBIES!!!

Weeds (season 6 premiers August 16, 9PM on Showtime)
Synopsis: The show is about Nancy Botwin, mother and drug dealer, and her constant struggle to stay alive/out of jail and keep her family together.
Why Should You Watch: The show started a bit like a family comedy sitcom, but with each season Nancy just digs herself deeper and deeper into the hole she is in. The show has become more of a drama than comedy, but is still very funny thanks to supporting cast members like Kevin Nealon (SNL) and Justin Kirk (Angels in America). But make no mistake; this is Mary-Louise Parker’s (The West Wing) show. She is wonderful in it, maybe the best female performance on TV.
Potential Issues: You cannot start with season six, the characters and show has changed too much, and season six itself is sort of a reinvention for the show. The show has been a wild ride; can the writers keep it going?
Verdict: This is a great show, I really cannot think of a reason not to watch it, but start with season one.

Luther (premiers Oct 17, 10PM on BBC America)
Synopsis: The new show is about a talented detective, DCI John Luther, who specializes in cases involving sociopaths. He is a violent and tormented man, but prides himself on predicting the patterns of a killer and stopping them before they get too far, even if he has to break the rules a delve into his own darkness. Then he gets to the case of killer Alice Morgan. She beats him at his game and becomes obsessed with consuming his soul. Luther’s failing marriage and investigations into his cases make for potent material for Morgan to exploit. And yet, Luther is drawn to her as she is to him.
Why Should You Watch: Who does not love the show’s star Idris Elba? Anyone who watched the The Wire knows he is amazing. The show has a good cast, but probably completely unknown to Americans; however it could be a breakout role for Ruth Wilson (The Prisoner) as Alice Morgan. Series creator Neil Cross previously worked on the British show MI-5. The show is being called brilliant by critics, saying it puts every American crime procedural to shame (probably because the good ones like Life get cancelled).
Potential Issues: The show is so addictive and good, it might be better to just wait for DVD.
Verdict: Contender for best new show, Netflix this (cause who has BBC America?).

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (season 6 premiers Sep 26, 10PM on FX)
Synopsis: The show is about five of the most self-centered, clueless, un-pc people who own a bar in Philly and the situations they get into during everyday life.
Why Should You Watch: The cast is brilliant. They are all hysterical (well played Charlie DayKaitlin OlsonGlenn HowertonRob McElhenny, and Danny DeVito, well played). At its best, this is the funniest show on TV – at its worst, it is still a pretty funny show. The way the show and character attack “issues of the day” has the ability to not only have you laughing but also turning the issue on its head a bit. Being on FX, the show started with a cult-like following, but it is too funny and has started to become more known.
Potential Issues: There is a definite feeling as you watch the latest season that the earlier seasons were better with season one possibly being the show’s best, but the show still delivers amazing episodes like season four’s finale The Nightman Cometh. Hopefully, on average, the show’s best days are not behind it.
Verdict: If you are a comedy fan and have never seen this, add it to your Netflix queue now.

Terriers (premiers Sep 8, 10PM on FX)
Synopsis: The new show is about ex-cop Hank Dolworth and his friend Britt Pollack, a pair of private detectives, rough around the edges and low on luck. They take any and every case, often getting them into far more trouble than they can manage, but they got to make a buck somehow.
Why Should You Watch: It is the new show from The Shield’s creator Shawn Ryan collaborating with Ted Griffin (Ocean’s Eleven) – and that is a good enough reason alone to be interested in this. It stars Donal Logue (Life) and Michael Raymond-James (True Blood). The show has action and serious danger but also an absurdity to it adding humor. The characters fit the actors well and will draw you in.
Potential Issues: This is not the typical show from Shawn Ryan, being that it is lighter and humorous. But, he did leave Lie to Me to do it so he must have something to it that he likes a lot.
Verdict: It is Shawn Ryan; you at least need to Netflix this.

Editor’s 5 Series Most Worth Your Time:
1.) Dexter (season 5 premiers Sep 26, 9PM on Showtime)
2.) Luther (premiers Oct 17, 10PM on BBC America)
3.) Fringe (season 3 premiers Sep 23, 9PM)
4.) The Office (season 7 premiers Sep 23, 9PM)
5.) Weeds (season 6 premiers August 16, 9PM on Showtime)

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