Monday, August 13, 2012

TV Preview 2012/2013 – 25 Must-See Series, Part 4: 10-6

Rank: 10
Genre: Sci-Fi/Mystery
Current Season: Fifth
Channel: Fox
Return Date: September 28, 2012
Plot Summary: FBI agent Olivia Dunham, and her team, investigate strange and paranormal occurrences and phenomena.
Why It Made the List: Fringe started out as sort of an almost procedural drama with character story arcs linking multiple episodes, but it has become a much more serialized series in the last two seasons. If you were to watch an episode of season one and then an episode of season four, you would be completely lost story wise and maybe even narrative structure wise (not just character wise, as would be the case with most procedurals). Network TV just does not offer good dramas anymore because they try to attract too board an audience and often play it far too safe with characters and situations (sadly, because that is what most people watch looking at the ratings). Fringe is the last great Network drama (and the only one to make this top 25 list – at least of the big 4: ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox), and season five is its last. The show has a great mix of action, mystery and dramatic elements along with wonderful characters making it the best sci-fi genre series right now.

Rank: 9
Genre: Comedy
Creator(s): Louis C.K.
Cast: Louis C.K.
Current Season: Third
Channel: FX
Return Date: June 28, 2012
Plot Summary: The series basically tackles Louis C.K.’s everyday life – his attempts to find love, taking care of his kids, his standup, and his misadventures
Why It Made the List: Many critics point to Louie as the best comedy on TV right now. In many ways, it is in the same vein as Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm and Ricky Gervais’s Extras – capitalizing on the awkward, strange and sort of sad situations that these characters find themselves in. It is often hilarious, but also oddly inviting on sort of a deeper intuitive way, as Louis C.K.’s exploits are very relatable to us everyday Joes. Fans of comedy sitcoms should check this out (though it is quite different than the average Network sitcom).

Rank: 8
Genre: Crime Drama
Creator(s): Graham Yost
Current Season: Fourth
Channel: FX
Return Date: January 2013
Plot Summary: U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens tries to make peace with his past when he is reassigned from Miami to his childhood home in Eastern Kentucky, which he ran away from as soon as he was able.
Why It Made the List: As a huge fan of westerns, I generally seek them out. Justified is a wonderful modern western. Raylan Givens is the standard old-school town sheriff type character from many of the classic westerns. He both fits in and is completely out of place on this show, according to the situation, which often finds him in trouble. The series seems to be getting better and better with each season as it continues to sort of straddle the line between being a procedural (case of the week) and a serialized drama (complete with each season having a big bad). Givens is also a great conflicted character, which only adds to effectiveness of the show’s stories and drama. For fans of westerns, this is the must-see series right now.

Rank: 7
Genre: Crime Period Drama
Creator(s): Terence Winter
Current Season: Third
Channel: HBO
Return Date: September 16, 2012
Plot Summary: The series follows Nucky Thompson, Atlantic City’s treasurer during its heyday in the 1920s. Thompson rules the town through both political means and organized crime, while rivals try to pull him down.
Why It Made the List: Boardwalk Empire (like most HBO dramas) has excellent production value, a brilliant cast and wonderful directors. What I particularly like about the series is that it blends fictional characters and real life people from the era (for example, one of the main characters is Al Capone before he became a Chicago crime boss), giving the series a historical through-line which allows it to play with and comment on events in American history. It also fills the void in television right now for a great gangster style crime drama (the series creator Terence Winter was a writer on The Sopranos). It is certainly well worth watching for fans of crime dramas (and character dramas for that matter, as Buscemi’s Thompson is one of the best on TV right now).

Rank: 6
Genre: Crime Drama/Mystery
Creator(s): Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat
Current Season: Third
Channel: Masterpiece Theatre on PBS
Return Date: 2013 (Probably Spring)
Plot Summary: The series is a modern take on the Sherlock Holmes stories.
Why It Made the List: There is not a better mystery series on TV right now. CBS is even doing their own version called Elementary (because adapting British TV for American audiences is the craze right now). Benedict Cumberbatch is absolutely fantastic and captivating as Holmes, completely dominating every scene. The episodes are well written (most of them being phenomenal), and are formatted a bit like individual films (each episode is ninety minutes). The format gives the writers the ability to tell expansive stories (and cases). If you like detective series, you need to be watching Sherlock.

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