Friday, 22 October 2010

TV shows you should be watching.

Autumn - or 'Fall' as the Yanks like to call it - always brings with it a deluge of new television series. Here are a few of the best you should be watching...

An Idiot Abroad: Described by producer Ricky Gervais as "the most expensive practical joke ever", An Idiot Abroad is certainly no travel documentary, and nor will you learn anything from it. If you've ever listened to Ricky Gervais' podcasts you will be familiar with Karl Pilkington, a man with some peculiar and downright hilarious views on the world. Always the subject of Ricky's bullying, Gervais and partner in crime Steven Merchant thought it would be a good idea to send this 'Little Englander' out of his comfort zone to explore different cultures from around the world in an attempt to broaden his mind. This all makes for highly humorous and entertaining television.

Boardwalk Empire: Many of you will recognise Steve Buscemi from the Sopranos and various other movies as a supporting actor, so it is highly refreshing to see this vastly understated and supremely talented actor in the main role of yet another high quality production from HBO. Set in Atlantic City, New Jersey during America's prohibition era of the 1920s, Boardwalk Empire follows historical kingpin Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson, also charting as a side story the humble beginnings of Al Capone. Created by the genius behind the Sopranos, Terence Winter, Boardwalk fantastically captures the aesthetic and feel of the period, opening with a captivating pilot episode directed by Martin Scorsese and setting a precedence for continued excellence.

Dexter: Season 5 picks up after the deep and dramatic events of last season's Trinity killer as Dexter strives to rebuild his broken world. Under suspicion himself for Rita's death, Dexter finds himself juggling the trials of single parenthood, masking his own involvement in his wife's death and his renewed urge to deal out his unique style of justice on the dredges of Miami society. Not to mention that  not only is there a new ritualistic killer in town, but also a despicable group involved in abducting and abusing women.

The Event: Touted as Lost's natural successor, The Event is a new series which promises to create just as many "WTF" moments as the mysterious island did. A cross between political thriller and science fiction, the show revolves around three main characters; Sean Walker, whose girlfriend is kidnapped by a shady organization; President Elias Martinez, who upon his inauguration finds that the United States has kept captive beings of non-terrestrial origin at a secret base in Mount Inostranka; and leader of the detainees Sophia, who refuses to reveal their purpose on Earth. Described as the bastard love child of 24, the 4400 and Lost, The Event has been hyped to be the next big television series to hit our screens.

Fringe: Fringe's third - and most probably final - season picks up from the explosive ending of season two. As evil Dunham infiltrates our reality's Fringe Division, Walternate seeks to brainwash our Olivia for his own purposes and the coming war between the two realities. While it all sounds a little complex, if you've been following from the off this should indeed be the most intriguing season of the lot as all the strange events come to a crescendo.

Glee: The Gleeks are back for a new season offering their own take on popular music, both new and old. Season two has already started with a bang by introducing two new characters, Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet), sporting lips Mick Jagger would be proud of, and Sunshine Corazon (Charice Pempengco), whose voice will literally blow you away. Perhaps taking a different direction however, this season seems more concerned with exploring "issues", which somewhat takes away from its otherwise cheery exterior. Nonetheless, the music is still fantastic and Glee remains good fun.

House M.D.: Season 7 promises to take misanthropic doctor Gregory House in a new direction now that he has found love with boss Lisa Cuddy. While so far the initial episodes, except the first, have started off relatively light-hearted, the same mischievous pranks of House are present, as are the politically incorrect quips and philosophical musings which have made the show great. Thirteen has now gone, leaving Taub, Foreman and Chase as House's diagnostic team. While House remains as formulaic as ever (no, it's still not Lupus), it nonetheless remains faithfully absorbing.

The Inbetweeners: Nowadays good British comedies appear few and far between as we are subjected to the utter bollocks of 'Little Britain' and 'Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps'. But perhaps the funniest British comedy since the one gem that has stood out in recent years, Peep Show, is The Inbetweeners, featuring the exploits of four sixth form pupils who are not exactly cool, but don't fall into that 'loser' category either. The first two seasons were absolutely fantastic, featuring iconic moments such as "bus wankers" and "ohhh, fwweeend". Unfortunately, season three relies more on gross-out comedy and has lost a little of the edge present in the first two seasons. Apparently the plan is to end the boy's saga with a feature length film set around a lad's holiday abroad. Let's just hope it isn't as shit as 'Kevin and Perry Go Large'.

Rubicon: Rubicon is perhaps one of the cleverest shows to grace our TV screens in a long time. Will Travers is a brilliant intelligence analyst working for the American Policy Institute. Upon the death of his father in law, Will discovers that it is linked to a sinister secret society which manipulates world events on a grand scale to their own benefit. As Will uses the resources afforded to him by his job in the intelligence agency to uncover more evidence, he soon begins to unravel a major conspiracy involving the very people he works for. Rubicon is a highly intelligent and original piece of television which rewards the effort you put into it. Compelling stuff.

Sons of Anarchy: Another fantastically original piece of television, Sons of Anarchy follows the exploits of a biker gang in the small town of Charming, USA. Last season's cliffhanger saw main character Jax's child stolen by the Real IRA and his mother Gemma framed for murder by nefarious ATF Agent Stahl. Season three opens explosively with the death of a major character, Gemma on the lamb, and Jax in search of his infant son. Sons promises to expand the action cross continents to Northern Ireland as the series remains as exciting as ever.

South Park: Back from its mid-season break, the fourteenth season renews its devastating satire of human behaviour by targeting popular social norms such as NASCAR, Jersey Shore and Inception. South Park continues to get funnier and more outrageous with every episode as the perceptive wit of creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker remains as sharp as ever.

Stargate: Universe: In the second spin-off of television's longest running sci-fi series, Stargate SG1, Stargate: Universe takes an altogether different tone from both SG1 and Atlantis. Taking many ideas from the Battlestar Galactica reboot, Universe sees a group of stranded humans aboard the 'Ancient' vessel 'Destiny', a seed ship designed to plop stargates across the universe. While unoriginal in its concept - the mood, lighting, camera angles and music all steal from Battlestar - Universe is perhaps one of those things that only the super hardcore fans of the original Stargate series will appreciate.

'V': V is an acquired taste to be fair. It is incredibly clich├ęd and the parallels it tries to draw with real world events are not particularly subtle. It is also a cheese fest. Having said that, the remake of the 1980s cult-classic is a more than passable sci-fi romp. The premise is that a bunch of aliens known as "The Visitors", or "V's" for short, have arrived on Earth posing as humanity's Messiahs through offering technology to help ease the World's problems. However, their motives are far more sinister and quite literally, they are not as they appear. When a few humans learn of their true intentions they form a resistance group to oppose them, but face public backlash due to the V's mainstream popularity. Set to kickstart again in November, V should become much more interesting in season two as they somewhat revealed their real selves to the world at the end of last season.