Sunday, June 2, 2013

TV Preview 2013/2014 – 25 Must-Watch Series, Part 5: 5-1

Rank: 5
Genre: Period Crime Drama
Creator(s): Terence Winter
Channel: HBO
Current Season: Fourth
Season Premiere Date: September 2013
Plot Summary: Nucky Thompson runs Atlantic City during Prohibition by controlling the selling of alcohol. He lives a bit of a double life. He wants to be seen as a respected member as the community (and family man), but he also must be a feared gangster in his dealings with the likes of Arnold Rothstein, Al Capone, and Lucky Luciano.
Why It’s Worth Watching: Boardwalk Empire has taken the vacated place that The Sopranos once held on HBO as their premier crime drama (and character drama). Creator Terence Winter also worked on The Sopranos, and has brought the same depth that Tony had to his lead Nucky. The entire cast is fantastic and all play wonderful characters. There is no better gangster series on television (or among recent films for that matter) balancing the graphic violence with strong storytelling.

Rank: 4
Genre: Crime Drama/Mystery Thriller
Creator(s): Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat
Channel: Materpiece Theatre on PBS
Current Season: Third
Season Premiere Date: September 2013
Plot Summary: Set in present-day London, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson assist the police in solving their most befuddling crimes.
Why It’s Worth Watching: Sherlock, despite its famous name and characters, is really nothing more than another detective procedural, and yet it is wonderfully fresh and engrossing. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat have made Holmes’s mysteries feel new and vital, while Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are completely brilliant as Holmes and Watson. The series has a long-episode format with each lasting ninety minutes, which allows each narrative to play as its own film exhibiting lush character development and story depth (unrivaled on TV by any other procedural) – A Study in Pink, The Great Game, A Scandal in Belgravia, and The Reichenbach Fall are all incredible episodes.

Rank: 3
Genre: Adventure/Fantasy Drama
Creator(s): David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
Channel: HBO
Current Season: Fourth
Season Premiere Date: March 2014
Plot Summary: Four prominent families battle one and other for control of the Iron Throne and the Kingdom of Westeros.
Why It’s Worth Watching: Game of Thrones is the most entertaining series on television. That is due to its superb ensemble cast, production value, and excellent storytelling. Each new episode feels like an event. Plus, the series seems to be getting better with each season (as season three has been very strong so far), which is actually surprising given the sheer number of characters and storylines that the writers must manage. For fans of fantasy narratives, there is nothing better right now than Game of Thrones.

Rank: 2
Genre: Period Drama
Creator(s): Matthew Weiner
Channel: AMC
Current Season: Seventh, and final
Season Premiere Date: March 2014
Plot Summary: Donald Draper is one of New York City’s best ad men during the 1960s. The series navigates the changing social and cultural climate of the era and how it affects Draper and his co-workers.
Why It’s Worth Watching: Mad Men is the best written series on television. It won four straight Primetime Emmys for Best Dramatic Series (and was nominated as well for season five, losing to Homeland) and five straight inclusions on AFI’s TV Program of the Year list. Plus, it has one of television’s best ensembles (with Elisabeth Moss beautifully playing TV’s best female character Peggy Olson). While season five was slightly polarizing (though, I would argue it is just as good as the first four seasons), season six continues the show’s strong run of critical acclaim. Television will be losing something special when season seven comes to an end.

Rank: 1
Genre: Crime Drama
Creator(s): Vince Gilligan
Channel: AMC
Current Season: Fifth (part two), and final
Season Premiere Date: August 11, 2013
Plot Summary: After being diagnosed with cancer struggling, but brilliant, high school chemistry teacher Walter White decides to cook meth in order to make enough money to support his family when he is gone. He turns to a former student (and junkie), Jesse Pinkman, for help. However, Walter and Jesse seem to just fall deeper and deeper into the world of crime, forgetting their moral compasses and losing who they once were as they embrace the darkness.
Why It’s Worth Watching: Breaking Bad has the most compelling lead character on television in Walter White. If you have not yet started watching this series, start right now (it is streaming on Netflix). The show seemed like it might be burning out a bit during seasons three and four as creator Vince Gilligan turned more towards character development than story progression, but it has paid huge dividends when the action started to ramp up to a fever pitch. The show has been incredible from the latter part of season four through the first part of season five. Part two’s eight episodes are undoubtedly going to be amazing.

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