TV

Fall 2013 TV Shows To Watch

I’m not going to pepper your screen with a long list of release dates for every show airing this fall; they’re out there if you want them. Instead here’s a selection of highly anticipated shows, some returning, some new. All worth watching.

Boardwalk Empire season 4 (Sunday 8th September)

BoardwalkEmpire

The misadventures of gangsters in Atlantic City and Chicago continues, circa 1922. One of the most cinematic TV shows ever made continues to impress with an amazing starry line-up consisting of the likes of Michael Shannon, Michael Stuhlbarg, Gretchen Mol, and Jack Huston.

The show has gotten better with each season in my opinion. Very rewarding for people who stuck with it through season one and Steve Buscemi’s lacklustre presence on screen. He’s become more comfortable in the role and is most entertaining when in full gangster mode. But the lack of humour or redeeming features about the character definitely makes him tiring to watch at times. Ironically I consider him the least interesting thing about the show, populated as it is with high calibre actors.

The Blacklist season 1 (Monday 23rd September)

TheBlackList

The Blacklist is about the FBI’s most wanted criminal played by James Spader who gives himself up to the authorities but only wishes to deal with a rookie profiler played by Megan Boone. Apparently Spader’s character has made a blacklist of super criminals and intends to help the FBI catch them.

The premise and the trailer seem totally generic and a very cynical mishmash of other successful shows and tropes. The trailer even features a scene of Spader entering a government building, handing over his ID, and while waiting for the inevitable alarms to ring, ritually takes off his coat, goes on his knees and raises his hands. Cool, calm, clichéd.

The five minute trailer up on Youtube basically recaps the entire pilot episode, so don’t watch it unless you want to be spoiled. James Spader is definitely the hook of the show, surrounded by lesser mortals in the form of Harry Lennix, Diego Klattenhoff and a distractingly beautiful Megan Boone who even looks graceful with what is supposedly a nasty bruise on her face, which she gets after a bout of gunplay and explosions. I’ll give her a chance to impress, but it would have been nice if the make-up crew at least attempted to make her look like a normal stressed human under extraordinary circumstances, instead of someone who looks like they’re perpetually walking a catwalk. The pilot episode was also directed by Joe Carnahan, so it’s got that going for it.

Hostages season 1 (Monday 23rd September)

Hostages

This one has a juicy high concept behind it, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer no less, and spearheaded by the ever-excellent Toni Collette as a doctor who will be performing surgery on the President of the USA. Trouble appears in the form of a corrupt FBI agent, played by Dylan McDermott, who holds her family hostage and instructs her to assassinate the patient.

This one has another trailer that gives away the whole pilot episode, but gives you a good feel for what to expect. Conflict appears to be rampant with characters colliding against each other in somewhat predictable fashion, but producer Jeffrey Nachmanoff has worked on Homeland so hopefully he can provide the thrills of that show’s variety.

Marvel: Agents of Shield season 1 (Tuesday 24th, September)

Shield

Joss Whedon. Jed Whedon. Maurissa Tancharoen. Clark Gregg. Bear McCreary.

Seriously, what more do you need to know?

Person of Interest season 3 (Tuesday 24th, September)

PersonofInterest

Jonathan Nolan’s crime fighting episodic series starring Jim Caviezel has developed slowly but surely from its humble modern rendition of Equalizer into something more special involving artificial intelligence. It’s wholly topical and relevant in today’s current climate.

I’ve had my issues with the show’s writing over the past two seasons, it’s not exactly HBO material, but every Nolan-written episode changes the game, and season two ended with massive twists and turns, sending the show full on into sci-fi territory. Here’s hoping Caviezel wakes up from his sleepwalking performance, and ass-kicking Sarah Shahi features in more episodes, and finally that the writers veer away from generic episodic crime and instead continue to tackle the ramifications of an AI-assisted surveillance system in a compelling manner.

South Park season 17 (Wednesday 25th September)

South Park

The irreverent satirical show has somehow reached its 17th season, and we can only imagine what topical issues Trey Parker and Matt Stone will tackle when it returns to our screens. Considering they write and animate their episodes extremely close to air date, we will literally have to imagine the obscene and scathing truths the pair will fling at our eyeballs, until the very day each episode screens.

I suspect there will be ample commentary on whistleblowers, our current privacy concerns, impending war in the Middle East, and garish idiocy at the 2013 VMAs, for starters.

Homeland season 3 (Sunday 29th September)

Homeland

The more serious and gritty version of Kiefer Sutherland’s 24 continues to hound Damian Lewis’ poor Brody this September. The show has become a success, but I can’t help but feel concerned at the ever-increasing suspension of disbelief the show is asking for with each passing season.

The first season was near perfection, a brilliant psychological thriller that didn’t pull its punches. The second had to go bigger and louder, and so my worry is that with the third season it essentially becomes a season long episode of 24, which is counter-productive. We’re already getting another season of that show anyway!

So here’s hoping Homeland can veer back on course and provide more of the psychology and less of the convoluted thrills.

Almost Human season 1 (Monday 4th November)

AlmostHuman

This new sci-fi show is executive produced by J.J. Abrams and stars Karl Urban as a gritty cop in the future. No, he’s not playing Dredd unfortunately, but he will be forced to team up with an android to take down criminal scum. The premise has potential for entertainment, though runs the risk of simply regurgitating things we’ve seen before but in a sci-fi context. So I’m hoping they really embrace the future world and tackle thought-provoking issues and don’t just end up CSI: Future NY.

Sticking points for the show are: It’s on Fox so might be cancelled randomly. And it’s executive produced by Abrams whose shows have been hit and miss and tend to fall apart and die with a whimper. (Alias, Lost)

Other notable shows returning to TV this fall are: Sons of Anarchy (10th Sep), Family Guy (29th Sep), Parks & Recreation (26th Sep), Eastbound & Down (29th Sep), The Walking Dead (23th Oct), Treme (1st Dec).

I’m sure you’re shaking your head in frustration at a show that you love, that I didn’t mention, but hey, what’s it matter? Breaking Bad is ending this year; anything we watch afterwards only exists to numb the pain.