The small screen has been peppered with a few refreshingly ingenious series from Hollywood this year – and this covers drama, comedy and action/sci-fi. An awed Debashine Thangevelo revelled in the escapism and thrills provided by these outstanding offerings, which will no doubt make waves at next year’s Golden Globes and Primetime Emmy Awards ceremonies. This TV critic revisits her most noteworthy and exasperating moments on the box…
• SUITS – ONE OF THE BEST SERIES OF THE YEAR:
I’m still baffled by M-Net’s foolhardy decision to bury such a brilliant series on a Saturday night. Seriously? Right now, Harvey Specter (played brilliantly by Gabriel Macht) is the man.
He has this air of arrogance intermingled with a powerful presence that has turned women viewers into giddy teenagers. And the drool fest hasn’t subsided, with newcomer Patrick J Adams adding his charm as kind-hearted genius, though fraudulent associate attorney Michael “Mike” Ross.
Meanwhile, Shona Rhimes’ over-rated The Fixer, which has been pushing Kerry Washington as prominent spin doctor Olivia Pope, gets prime time mileage on Tuesdays. Looking at Suits’ Gina Torres’ praiseworthy performance as Jessica Pearson, the influential founding and managing partner of Pearson Hardman, Washington should ask her for a few tips – when she learns how to act!
• THE NEWSROOM AND REVENGE – DYNAMIC CASTING:
Reality is married with fiction in what is arguably one of the most sublime drama series, The Newsroom.
The storylines echo real-life events while lending authenticity to the professional environment of a newsroom where relationships, politics and the settling of old scores all find a playground.
What really sells the show, though, is the casting of Jeff Daniels as a hotshot news anchor who treads where others fear, and Emily Mortimer as his brilliant producer – and the only person who can keep him in check.
Meanwhile, the face-off between Emily VanCamp (Brothers & Sisters fame) and Madeleine Stowe in Revenge is the real anchor of the thrilling drama. That’s barring a few pitiable actors (like Christa B Allen as the pill-popping, woe-is-me Charlotte Grayson). Quite an in- triguing series… not that it will go beyond two seasons.
• DALLAS – THE MOTHER OF ALL REMAKES:
Talk about a dazzling blast from the past. This remake performed so well because it still had the iconic actors from the original 1978 series – Patrick Duffy (Bobby Ewing), Linda Gray (Sue Ellen) and villain extraordinaire Larry Hagman (JR Ewing), who died last month. All the writers had to do was shift the sibling rivalry to the children of the two Ewing brothers. I’m just not sure, given Hagman’s death, that there will be a season three. But it was a compelling modern interpretation.
• GREY’S ANATOMY AND THE GOOD WIFE – SOME SERIES JUST KEEP GETTING BETTER WITH TIME:
Unlike the mind-numbing plots that propelled the eighth and final instalment of Desperate Housewives, some series simply have more of a lifespan in them.
The eight seasons of Grey’s Anatomy had aficionados on tenterhooks for every episode.
Marriages were on the rocks, friendships tested and death visited a few in one of the most emotionally charged climaxes involving a plane crash.
Meanwhile, The Good Wife continues to validate all its nominations over the seasons. The forceful stories and conflicted characters are priceless commodities.
Can’t wait for February for season nine of Grey’s.
Meanwhile, I just hope Kalinda Sharma is able to keep that volatile criminal husband on a leash before he bites off more than he can chew – and she can clean up.
• DOWNTON ABBEY – A PERIOD SAGA THAT SWEPT ME OFF MY FEET:
When a series gets US First Lady Michelle Obama impatiently awaiting season three, while rock legend Rod Stewart tunes in for his regular fix of drama – that’s when you realise the popularity of a show.
Downton Abbey, boasting a stellar cast of Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern and Laura Carmichael, among a plethora of other top-calibre actors, has been winning accolades for its genuine depiction of the post-Edwardian era.
Everything from the rich costumes, swish period sets and regal magnificence that is manifested in the transfixing storyline is worthy of its critical acclaim.
• TWO AND A HALF MEN – LOST ITS COMIC SHEEN:
After all that hoopla with the mudslinging between Charlie Sheen and creator Chuck Lorre, who decided to stick it to the highest-paid TV actor by replacing him with Ashton Kutcher, Sheen ended up getting the last laugh (he bagged his own comedy show, Anger Management).
Despite Kutcher being introduced as a Walden Schmidt, he wasn’t able to emulate Sheen’s wanton philandering, commitment-phobic traits.
Thankfully, Lorre saved face with his other success story, The Big Bang Theory. But, really, there can only be one Charlie Harper, Lorre – and you fired him!
• SHAMELESS – A WASTED SHAMBLES OF A SERIES THAT’S MADE AN IMPRESSION:
This is one of those shows that make you go WTF! No disrespect to William H Macy, but he is a contemptible drunk bum. Funny? Well, that’s debatable. I think the reason this series even got the nod for a third instalment is because of those steamy – not quite Kim Kardashian – sex scenes.
• TWO BROKE GIRLS – AIRHEADED FUN:
Paris Hilton-meets-Miley Cyrus. Well, that’s more or less the chalk and cheese difference between new BFFs Caroline (Beth Behrs) and Max (Kat Dennings), struggling waitresses trying to launch their own cupcake business.
The riches-to-rags twist – with Caroline left disgraced and penniless after her father is imprisoned for running a Ponzi scheme – gives birth to an array of comic scenarios. A deliciously lightweight comedy with funny, tongue-in-cheek dialogue that doesn’t require much thought.
• MODERN FAMILY – THIS FAMILY TREE HAS TAKEN ROOT
Dysfunctional American families are a goldmine for networks. Like 30 Rock, viewers can’t get enough of the interrelated Pritchett family – and they keep cropping up on the Golden Globe and Primetime Emmy Awards nominations list. An uproarious offering with distinctively etched and rib-tickling characters that covers the full gamut of maddening family drama.
• ARROW AND XIII – NEW HEROES ON THE BLOCK
Given the roll-out of superhero movies this year, it was bound to permeate the small screen at some point. And that is exactly what Arrow, featuring the delectable Stephen Amell, delivers.
Based on a fictional comic book character called Green Arrow, the series has a very Robin Hood-esque feel. The drama is so-so, but the eye-candy hero keeps me glued to the screen. That chiselled body!
Another interesting arrival is Stuart Townsend as the title character in XIII. Viewers are thrust into this spy world where deception is the order of the day. Think along the lines of the fast-paced action and intrigue of xXx.
I can’t believe he has taken this long to make an appearance, but, damn, he makes an impression. Drool!
• TERRA NOVA – TALK ABOUT ALIENATING FANS:
With the mighty Steven Spielberg’s name attached to this sci-fi drama, curiosity was piqued. After all, the man with the Midas touch in the genre always strikes gold, eh? Wrong.
What was most cringeworthy, aside from the preposterous plot, was the laughably substandard cinematography.
At least Fox was wise enough to decide against picking it up for a follow-on season. Pity the same couldn’t be said of the Oscar-winning director-producer who has made some of the most iconic extra-terrestrial/sci-fi movies with some of the most stupendous scenes.
• VAMPIRE DIARIES – STILL GOT THAT MEAT:
Once again, a hugely successful show for Vuzu on Monday nights was relocated – amid all the channel shuffles and introductions – to M-Net Series on a Saturday night.
Yes, teenagers will really cancel their plans to paint the town red and stay home to watch the show. Not. Even worse, there are no repeats.
Thankfully, my PVR has made it possible to get my weekly fill of the gorgeous Salvatore brothers, Stephen and Damon, as they come to blows over what’s best for Elena, who is struggling with the whole adjustment of being a vampire.
A few new characters and a myriad bloody curve balls still makes this one of my favourite shows.
• PERSON OF INTEREST – LOST MY ATTENTION:
Like FlashForward, some series look intriguing on paper, but not so much on screen. Person of Interest, with Jim Caviezel as John Reese, a former member of the US Army Special Forces and, later, a CIA field officer who went missing, started on an ambitious note.
It basically revolved around recluse billionaire software genius Harold Finch (Michael Emerson), recruiting him to help prevent a crime that’s been predicted by his specially built program.
Sadly, the plot was a little too clever for the show’s own good.
I was indifferent about whether I watched or missed it.