Forget Reality TV, Watch Cinematic TV.
the multiplexes are fit to bursting with sequels and super heroes there is one
medium willing to venture into the realms of original material. For years
television was the place where people built up their CV before moving into
films. Not so these days, with almost all the Hollywood big-guns, including Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Michael
Mann, Jerry Bruckheimer and JJ Abrams, throwing their weight behind
hugely engrossing shows. Looking at recent trends this shows no sign of letting
Game Of Thrones
it nears the end of its first season Game Of Thrones has the scope and scale to
run and run. Set in a fantasy realm it is based on George R R Martin’s best
selling series of novels A Song Of Ice And Fire, this is the kind of epic story
you would never expect to see on TV. Unrelenting violence, political intrigue
and brilliant characters make this one of the must watch shows of the moment.
Furthermore, it is fleshed out by some serious acting talent with the likes of Sean Bean, Charles Dance, The Wire’s Aidan
Gillan, The Sarah Connor Chronicles Lena
Headey and the brilliant Peter
Dinklage. Thanks to huge viewing figures this one should birth a long and
successful dynasty. Long may it reign.
no secret that Vampires are hot right now but none as hot as those in True
Blood. Forget your Twilights, this is adult entertainment in every way. The
vampires in Six Feet Under creator Alan
Ball’s show are sexy as hell. They don’t sparkle, they rip humans to
shreds, drink blood by the gallon and ooze smouldering tension. Of course it
helps that it’s set in the blistering heat of fictional town Bon Temp,
Louisiana meaning that the temperature is always sticky, the girls are always
stunning and the men brood with enough venom to poison the water. The problem is that now the vamps are out of the coffin nothing will be the same.
on from their huge success of Band Of Brothers, Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks knock it out of the park
again with their look at the conflict with the Japanese during World War II.
This is TV on the biggest canvas available and like its predecessor could
easily have been released as a three-part movie experience. Taking the same
visceral war experience that Spielberg created in Saving Private Ryan this is
the kind of show that not so long ago would have been too big for TV to handle.
This is what large flat-screen TVs were made for.
Laura Linney might be ‘rebelling’ because of her cancer in The Big C it’s
nothing compared to what Bryan Cranston
is doing in Breaking Bad. Diagnosed with terminal lung cancer Walter White
worries how his family will cope without him. As a chemistry teacher he does
not bring in huge amounts of cash. However, his skills at cooking crystal meth
are artistic, according to his former student and now drug pusher Jesse
Pinkman. The selling point of the show is the straight-laced Walter going
toe-to-toe with the Vanilla Ice wannabe Pinkman. The two bounce of each other
with such delight all the while we are left hoping that the law, and White’s
family, don’t catch on to what they are up to. It’s dark, it’s gritty, it’s got
huge heart and Cranston, formally known as Malcolm In The Middle’s Dad, is a
joy to behold.
To Buy Breaking Bad Season 2 On DVD Click Here
might not be everyone’s cup of tea but Glee picks up and takes to all new
levels where High School Musical left off. Endless toe-tapping songs and high
school angst is just the tip of the iceberg. The real selling point is the
unique brand of pitch-black humour on offer. Much of this comes from the always-welcome
Jane Lynch as Coach Sylvester who is
so wonderfully hostile to the students of McKinley High. It’s hard not to be
swept up in the music it’s even harder to resist the comedy on offer, even if
it does come with an obligatory moral in every episode.
to embark on its final season this is as close to Sex & The City for boys
as you are likely to find. With all the glamour of its Hollywood, and movie
star, setting this is the ultimate in wish fulfilment. Of course it is aided by
no end of celebrity cameos which include; Jessica
Alba, Scarlett Johansson, James Cameron, Anna Farris, Matt Damon and not
forgetting the man whose life apparently inspired the show Mark Wahlberg. While much of the fun is had with Movie Star Vinnie
Chase (Adrian Greneir) and his
entourage of friends, the show is made hysterical, poignant and dark by
Vinnie’s agent Ari Gold. Rarely does an actor nail a part as well as Jeremy Piven, but as Gold he is a
delightful ball or rage who can all to rapidly sell his soul to become a
whimpering child. All ego that occasionally shows his true id Piven drives the
show from high to blistering high.
man who gave us Lost and Alias, JJ Abrams is a co-creator, along with
Transformers writers Orci and Kurtzman, of this hugely enjoyable
sci-fi thrill ride. Like a modern day X-Files we follow Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) as she works for the FBI’s
Fringe division. Plenty of shape-shifting and parallel universe occurrences
aside this show soars thanks to the character interaction. In particular the
relationship between Walter and Peter Bishop, as played by Lord Of The Rings John Noble and Dawson’s Creek Joshua Jackson, a father and son genius
pairing that unravels all the mysteries of the show. It’s got enough intrigue
and clever plot loopholes too keep even Lost veterans guessing throughout each
you would expect corsets, swords, drinking and buxom women in a period drama.
Thankfully the last two are ever present but the setting is 1950s and 60s New
York and the Ad Men who created the world of marketing we now live in. To call
it addictively clever drama is an understatement. It’s effortlessly cool and
driven forward by the powerhouse that is John
Hamm. As the central character Don Draper he exudes charm and endless reams
of un-PC comments. The period setting is what makes it though. While the wives
were expected to raise the children the men are bordering on deplorable, until
you realise just how shrewd the women in their lives are. They may play the
part but all too often it is the women in Mad Men who quietly manipulate the
men to their will. If you haven’t
been watching this show you are in for a treat of a catch-up, as it shows no
sign of dwindling.
genius would not be too strong a way of describing 30 Rock. Thanks to the likes
of Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and Tracey Morgan this is a show that has
the legs to run and run while making you cry with laughter. Set in the
cut-throat world of live broadcast comedy it never fails to subtly, and
sometimes with delightful slapstick, mock all things show-biz related. Like
Arrested Development it is the kind of show that has endlessly quotable lines
mixed with laugh out loud hilarity. If you don’t believe us check out this
brilliant Aaron Sorkin cameo.
To Buy 30 Rock Seasons 1-4 On DVD Click Here
is nothing better than routing for an anti-hero and they don’t come any more
anti than Dexter. A ruthless serial killer, Dexter spends his days as a
forensic blood spatter specialist and his nights killing those who manage to
escape the law. With a wonderfully dry sense of humour, thanks mainly to the
voice-over delivered with sarcastic aplomb by Michael C Hall as Dexter, the show never fails to keep you on the
edge of your seat. Despite the fact he gains pleasure from slicing and dicing
Dexter is essentially a modern day vigilante, a Batman for the Florida suburbia
if you like. The thrills come thanks to the fact that invariably Dexter is
helping the police track himself down and figuring out ever more inventive ways
of pinning the crimes on others.
ER gone and Casualty rarely stepping outside of medical soap opera it falls on
the reliable shoulders of House to carry us through. Essentially Sherlock
Holmes in a hospital; Doctor House is a brilliant diagnostician who rarely
encounters an aliment or disease he cannot treat. The problem is House is not a
people person. He is arrogant, unpleasant, sarcastic and outright horrible to
even his nearest and dearest making him all the more fascinating to watch from
week to week. Of course the show would have failed a long time ago if it were
not for the mercurial talents of our very own Hugh Laurie, who brings a certain British charm, all be it with an
American accent, to proceedings.
Since The Sopranos ended there has been a large gap left in the TV scheduling that demanded the kind of operatic back-stabbing only gangsters know how to fill. Thank the TV gods then for Martin Scorsese who returns to the genre that he made his name in. Set in 1920s Atlantic City we chart the rise of Enoch ‘Nuky’ Thompson, played with ambiguous venom by Steve Buscemi, as he plays politician and organised crime boss all at once. In this world the road may be paved with good intentions but it will almost certainly lead you to hell.