Friday, June 13, 2014

TV Spotlight – The 25 Best Series on TV – Part 5: 5-1

Rank: 5
Genre: Horror/Drama
Channel: NBC
Current Season: Third
Season Premiere Date: February 2015
Plot Summary: The relationship between FBI criminal profiler Will Graham and his therapist Dr. Hannibal Lecter is an interesting one – they are doctor-patient, friends, coworkers, and even cat and mouse. Will begins to investigate a series of murders, seeking Dr. Lecter’s advice. Little does he know, at first, that Lecter is right in the middle of the whole mystery.
Why It’s Worth Watching: Hannibal is maybe television’s most stylish production, as it is masterfully shot and designed. Creator Bryan Fuller is among the best on TV when it comes to writing series that are a bit odd but wonderfully put together aesthetically and feature full and interestingly complex characters. The show is fairly graphic, and thus it might not be for everyone – plus, it has a very black sense of humor – but for those willing to stomach its more colorful elements it is the best that network television has to offer (feeling very much like a cable series).

Rank: 4
Genre: Mystery/Drama
Channel: PBS
Current Season: Fourth
Season Premiere Date: 2016
Plot Summary: The tales of Sherlock Holmes and his crime-solving partner Dr. Watson (set in modern times).
Why It’s Worth Watching: I am not sure when Sherlock will return for its fourth season precisely, but early indications point to sometime in 2016 (there are also plans for a fifth season as well). With season three, Sherlock (which was already great) took things to a new level aesthetically, creatively, and in terms of storytelling. Episodes The Sign of Three and His Last Vow are among the best things I have ever seen on television. I cannot wait for more.

Rank: 3
Genre: Period Drama
Channel: AMC
Current Season: Seventh (part two) and final
Season Premiere Date: April 2015
Plot Summary: Donald Draper is an ad executive in New York City during the 1960s. He has had success and has a way about him, but like America as a whole during the 1960s Don too begins to feel his world change around him, bringing up complex feelings and emotions.
Why It’s Worth Watching: Mad Men has been among my favorite shows on television ever since it debuted in 2007. Lead by Matt Weiner, its writing is second to none and it features a tremendous cast (with actually well written female characters). It also continually creates amazing episodes that are the epitome of why today is called television’s golden age – episodes like this past season’s The Strategy and Waterloo (The Suitcase is my favorite of the series). This is a series that will be greatly missed when it ends (and it will thereby spell the end of AMC’s claim as the pinnacle of TV’s dramatic series, with Breaking Bad also coming to an end and HBO again turning out brilliant series after brilliant series).

Rank: 2
Genre: Mystery/Drama
Cast: Unknown
Channel: HBO
Current Season: Second
Season Premiere Date: January 2015
Plot Summary: Set in California, three characters investigate a new mysterious crime.
Why It’s Worth Watching: While we do not yet know many details of what season two of True Detective will look like and who it will star, there is no doubt that it is television’s second most anticipated series. Season one, led by Nic Pizzolatto’s great writing, strong performances from Matthew McConaughey, Woody Harrelson and Michelle Monaghan, and the absolute stellar directing of Cary Joji Fukunaga (of which only Pizzolatto is returning for season two), seemed to take what was possible of a TV-crime-drama to a new level. Personally, I think it will be very hard for them to match season one’s brilliance, but I am sure excited to see what they do and what story they tell now. True Detective has claimed its spot as television’s best new series and very well could run the table come awards season.

Rank: 1
Genre: Adventure/Fantasy/Period Drama
Channel: HBO
Current Season: Fifth
Season Premiere Date: April 2015
Plot Summary: Seven noble families fight for control of the throne of Westeros (some faring better than others).
Why It’s Worth Watching: Game of Thrones is the quintessence of event television at its very best. Every episode has become an eagerly anticipated weekly ritual. The series succeeds on its blend of great characters and writing along with violence, suspense, intrigue, sex, and adventure/fantasy elements. It really has a little bit of everything, plus a sensational cast. It is able to grab its viewers because (for once) it is a series that is truly narratively shocking and absorbing, constantly defying expectations and breaking all the rules (the series did kill off its main character in the first season after all). It is also endlessly re-watchable. Planned to be seven seasons, Game of Thrones seems to only get more interesting and more exciting as the series progresses.

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