Channel: Showtime, US. Coming to STAR World, next month
What’s it about?? Nicholas Brody, a US marine sergeant reported missing in action since 2003, returns to his country, amid growing suspicion that he may be plotting an attack against the US. It is up to Carrie Mathison –– a CIA officer reassigned to the agency’s counter-terrorism arm after carrying out an unauthorised operation in Iraq –– to stop Brody.
Why we dig it? ? If edge-of-the-seat action is your criterion for TV viewing every night, then Homeland (Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series — Drama) ticks all the right boxes. The action-packed, energy-filled, real-time drama is propped up by Damian Lewis (as Brody) and Claire Danes (as Mathison). It has been described as “a game of cat-and-mouse, a psychological thriller and a Rorschach test of post-9/11 doubts, fears and suspicions rolled into one”.
Channel: ITV, UK
What’s it about?? Set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey, the show (Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries) depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era. The narrative is carried forward by the impact that some events have on the British aristocracy, like the sinking of the RMS Titanic, the outbreak of World War I and the formation of the Irish Republic.
Why we dig it? ? A lavish period drama that throbs with excitement and emotion. Dame Maggie Smith, as the dowager countess Violet of Grantham, is a treat to watch, with creator Julian Fellowes masterfully imbuing the series with the look, feel and drama of the England of the early 1900s.
Channel: HBO, UK
What’s it about?? Seinfeld star Julia Louis-Dreyfus
(in picture, was voted Best Actress Emmy this year) plays Selina Meyer, the vice-president — or Veep — of the United States, a woman stumbling from one PR disaster to another, propelled by her own ability to always say the wrong things in the wrong situations. She is an incompetent surrounded by incompetents, but she takes everything in life chin-up, though she quickly realises that being the second-most powerful person in her country is nothing like she had ever thought it would be.
Why we dig it? ? It’s cool, it’s unpretentious and it’s a lot of fun. Selina aspires for the vice-president’s office, but once she gets it, she regrets it almost immediately. Julia imbues Selina with a lot of fire — the swearing, the not-so-veiled desire to become president, the wily barter with other
politicians and a delightful disdain for the common American. While Selina — in a clear nod to Sarah Palin — almost alone carries Veep on her shapely shoulders, the strong supporting acts led by Anna Chlumsky who plays chief-of-staff Amy and Selina’s “right hand and body man” Gary played by Tony Hale make Veep what it is. The brisk pace is a plus and two thumbs up to Veep for giving a comic twist to back-stabbing and bureaucracy-laden politics.
Channel: HBO, US
What’s it about?? Steve Buscemi (in
picture) shines as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson — a man described as part-politician and part-gangster — who rose to prominence during the Prohibition Era and controlled Atlantic City. Mobsters to media moguls, politicians to the common man on the street, Nucky had his finger on the pulse of an entire nation.
Why we dig it? ? Rich in pure storytelling and comprising strong characters. Though it often requires patience and always rewards it, Boardwalk Empire (winner of 12 Emmy Awards) skillfully peels away the layers of polite society to reveal a world of criminals and politicians who collaborate to further their ends. Buscemi’s brilliance shines through. That Martin Scorsese has put his production and creative muscle behind the show is a plus.
Channel: HBO, US
What’s it about?? Created by Social Network man Aaron Sorkin, The Newsroom chronicles the behind-the-scenes events at the fictional Atlantis Cable News channel. Anchor Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels) gets together a core team to put out a news show “in the face of corporate and commercial obstacles and their own personal
entanglements”. Opinions have been divided on The Newsroom, but the consensus has been love it or hate it, you just can’t ignore it!
Why we dig it? ? Propped by wit, sophistication and manic energy, The Newsroom is a rewarding watch that has won fans for its brisk pace and its talented cast — from Emily Mortimer to John Gallagher Jr and from Olivia Munn to Dev Patel. The show, however, suffers for its smug I-told-you-so attitude and the fact that it sometimes takes itself a little too seriously!
THE THICK OF IT
Channel: BBC Four/Two, UK
What’s it about?? Malcolm Tucker, the director of communications at Number 10, comes to the rescue when the prime minister accidentally pours his heart out calling his enemy a bigot, when a chief whip is out of order or when the chancellor of the exchequer is caught dodging train fare. And like good ol’ Sir Humphrey Appleby, he never fails to create bureaucratic catastrophes to reveal the absurdities of those in power.
Why we dig it? ? The Thick of It is what you get when Yes Minister is f***** twice over, but delightfully so. The cusswords keep pace with the wisecracks in this exquisitely entertaining and alarmingly prophetic series. If that’s not enough, it’s a library of neologisms, especially “omnishambles” –– named the word of the year by Oxford Dictionaries –– which refers to total disorder. Ministers will come and go but Armando Iannucci (also the creator of Veep) will keep alive Westminster’s real-life farce. Lay it on. Thick.
Channel: BBC Four
What’s it about?? Inspector Salvo Montalbano’s world is far away from Poirot’s bleak England. The colours of the Mediterranean add a latte-like fluffiness to his world of murderers, iffy politicians and sleazeballs. With his flaming temperament and dazzling eyes, he solves cases in his own special way, even if that means using to his advantage the loopholes in the legal system.
Why we dig it? ? The man has faults. He tells his girlfriend just about any darn thing. But women find him as delicious as cannoli. The Italian detective series is high on the roughness of Sicily with bits of beauty thrown in.
Which English shows on TV are you hooked to? Tell [email protected]