The world of television is changing all of the time, with new players like Netflix joining more established players like HBO and AMC in producing quality dramas. 2013 had plenty of highlights, so here’s some to watch out for this year:
Game Of Thrones
Hardly a new one, but Season Four of Game Of Thrones promises a lot. Some people are probably still recovering from The Red Wedding, but there’s a Purple one due soon after we return to Westeros in April. Book readers (which I can now count myself as) know what to expect there, but with the Red Viper joining the fray (not the Freys) and an army of Wildlings about to storm The Wall, there’s bound to be plenty of action and plenty of shocks. And it’s going to be brilliant, you just know it is.
The Walking Dead
Returning from a mid-season break with a hell of a lot of pieces to pick up, The Walking Dead’s last episode pretty much took the characters, beat them up and them threw them off in different directions. SPOILER – So there’s no security within a prison anymore, no safety in numbers and Rick and Carl might just have to live with the horrific knowledge that baby Judith got eaten. Or (hopefully) got rescued from her car seat. Which just happened to then get soaked in blood. Well, you never know. But this should be gripping stuff, with no farming whatsoever going on. And no Hershel 🙁
Created by former Walking Dead showrunner Frank Darabont, Mob City has already been on in the States and had a slightly mixed response, but it sounds like it should be good stuff, with TWD’s Jon Bernthal starring and plenty of film noir atmosphere. It starts on Sky Atlantic this week and is at the very least worth checking out. Darabont may have had an unceremonious exit from TWD, but his reputation after The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile is still pretty impressive.
Brooklyn Nine Nine
Another show that’s only just made it across the Atlantic, Brooklyn Nine Nine got the best possible advertisement ahead of it’s arrival on E4 by winning a Golden Globe at the weekend, much to everyone’s surprise. Some have said it might also have saved it from being cancelled. I’m always a bit wary of American sitcoms (with some notable exceptions) but the presence of Andre Braugher (Pembleton from Homicide) is enough to get me interested in giving this cop comedy a go.
ANOTHER detective show? We need that like a hole in the head, right? Probably, but this mini-series has got Woody Harrelson and the rejuvenated Matthew McConaughey starring, and anything from HBO is worth a look at least. It’s only just started in the States (due here in February) and the first episode has had excellent reviews, with a storyline of a hunt for a serial killer that takes place over 17 years (!) in Louisiana. Like American Horror Story, it’s expected to be an anthology series, so the next season will have a different story and setting and probably cast.
Probably the most surprising development of ITV’s Broadchurch last year came at the very end when a James Bond-style message popped up on the screen telling us that Broadchurch would return. Considering it had wrapped up its murder mystery early on in the last episode and given itself plenty of time to tie up loose ends and reactions, there were few clues as to what a second series would cover. The first series was a huge success, so they’ll have to come up with something special to avoid being seen as a disappointment.
Last year’s season of Mad Men got some mixed reviews at times, but pulled it all together with an excellent ending, but the news that this final season has been split in two (the next part coming in 2015) is a little frustrating. It’s pretty much impossible to work out what kind of ending Mad Men will have, when compared to something like Breaking Bad, but with Don Draper cut adrift from Sterling Cooper & Partners and opening up to his kids about his past, there’s plenty of scope for new directions.
House Of Cards
Set to land on Netflix on Valentine’s Day, the second season of House Of Cards is definitely one to look out for. With acting talents like Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright (who was immense in the first season) and Kate Mara, plus direction from the likes of David Fincher and Joel Schumacher, there was a lot to enjoy last time out. With Frank now Vice President of the USA after his murderous machinations, there’s a lot more power being wielded and a lot of skeletons in the closet, so expect things to be turned up to 11.
Orange Is The New Black
In many ways, House Of Cards had some of its Netflix thunder stolen by the initially lower-profile Orange Is The New Black in 2013. With less big names attached, Jenji Kohan’s adaptation of Piper Kerman’s story of a WASP in prison combined savvy social media work with the year’s best ensemble cast and a wicked sense of humour to make a lot of friends and influence a lot of people. Second time out can be tough for sleeper hits, but there’s so many great characters to focus on that you can’t see it being a misfire.
Better Call Saul
This is probably the riskiest venture of them all. Breaking Bad finished with universal acclaim ringing in the ears of the cast and crew, so to return with a spin-off prequel that’s likely to have a totally different tone and nature is certainly brave. However, Saul Goodman is a great character and there is potential in his storyline for a lot of fun, especially if the likes of Huell are brought in as well. The main challenge will be overcoming the initial ‘well, it’s no Breaking Bad’ reactions that it’ll get.