America’s “fall season” of new TV shows is hitting the UK with only a week or two’s delay these days, thanks to Sky TV and the like securing broadcast rights that give them a fighting chance against the bit-torrenters. American TV is probably now the best in the world; there’s little from the UK or elsewhere that can compete. Of course a lot of it is still complete dross, but here are my favourite current shows with a look towards a few forthcoming series from both sides of the Atlantic.
Current Genre (SF&F)
True Blood (FX HD/Channel 4 HD)
- After a slightly disappointing season 2 (currently airing on Channel 4), season 3 of True Blood pumps up the drama, tension, and nude sex scenes like never before. Psycho vampire Franklin (James Frain from The Tudors) is excellent, as is the new king-of-the-vampires Russell Edgington. I’m not usually into “supernatural” shows, but this one is a cut above and its HBO origin ensures plenty of adult themes.
Stargate Universe (Sky 1 HD)
- Season 2 has just started and it jumps right in where the end of last season left off. This post-Battlestar SF series is the only space-based show on at the moment. It’s ratings aren’t so good, but the cast (especially Robert Carlyle) and tone make this must-watch TV for me. It’s not much like the previous Stargate shows (although still mil-SF) but for me this is only a good thing.
Caprica (Sky 1 HD)
- This might be the new Dollhouse: an intricate, complex SF shows that’s always in danger of being cancelled. I hope it isn’t, as the premise of uploaded consciousness is always something I’ve had an interest in. You don’t need to have seen parent show Battlestar Galactica, as Capria is for the most part completely standalone (and very different). UPDATE – oh noes! They cancelled it 🙁
The Event (Channel 4 HD)
- Coming soon the Channel 4, I’ve had a preview of the first episode and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Part Lost, part 24, part FlashForward, The Event kept its sci-fi nature hidden but it’s no spoiler to say this seems to be very genre indeed.
Dexter (FX HD)
- Season 4 ended with a killer blow so I’m really looking forward to seeing how they progress this in the new season (just started in the US on Showtime).
Breaking Bad (DVD)
- I’m catching up on Breaking Bad having missed it before. I’ve watched the first season on DVD (doesn’t seem to be airing in the UK) and loved it. It’s about an middle-age school teacher who finds out he has terminal cancer, so decides to “break bad” and use his chemistry skills to make crystal meth. It sound pretty bleak but the script-writing is top-notch and it’s full of black humour and clever solutions to criminal problems.
Damages (BBC HD)
- I don’t usually watch legal dramas, but Damages is definitely a worthwhile exception. With its big-name cast and season-long plot arcs, Damages is gripping television.
And I’m Really Looking Forward To:
- The Walking Dead (tba) – I’ve read most of the graphic novels this new 6-part zombie series is based on. It’s the best on-going comic around I reckon; it certainly doesn’t pull any punches.
- Being Human (BBC3) – Another supernatural show I know, but Being Human is one of the best series being made by the BBC. The other of course is:
- Dr. Who (BBC1)
- Outcasts (BBC) – This forthcoming new British SF series could be excellent (production by Spooks people), or it could be awful (like Paradox). The cast (including Jamie Bamber from Battlestar) and premise (new world colonists) look promising though so fingers crossed.
- Game Of Thrones (Sky Atlantic) – looking to next year now, Game Of Thrones could do for fantasy what Battlestar did for SF. It’s being made by HBO – always a good sign – and hopefully will be absolutely nothing like Zena.