Wednesday, 1 October 2014


Wednesday, 1 October 2014

It's October. Officially autumn. So what treats does the television have in store for UK and U.S viewers from now until Halloween? Let's look at the most notable highlights...

JUSTIFIED – Season 5
(Sky Box Sets, 1 Oct) No, it's not the sixth and final season. 5USA stopped showing Justified after the fourth season in the UK, causing lots of British Justified fans to gnash their teeth in anger. (It was the only reason to bother finding 5USA, let's face it.) Luckily, Sky have stepped in, enabling subscribers to stream the fifth season through their Sky Box Sets! Hoorah! Unless you don't have Sky, of course…. in which case this news is like putting salt on a wound.

STALKER - Season 1
(CBS, 1 Oct) Erstwhile Scream creator Kevin Williamson (The Vampire Diaries, The Following) has another TV series on the airwaves, but this one lacks any big hooks or fantasy trappings. It concerns two LAPD detectives who specialise in stalking incidents (i.e. cyber harassment, peeping toms, etc). Maggie Q (Nikita) is one of the leads, which is great news; Dylan McDermott is the other, which is bad news. This is probably something you don't want to follow. Geddit?

(Fox, 2 Oct) For the people who somehow never saw Broadchurch, despite it being shown on BBC America across the pond, here's an Americanised version of the popular British murder-mystery. Unusually, creator Chris Chibnall has written the first episode of the U.S remake, and David Tennant also reprises his lead detective role (with an American accent). We're promised a different ending and culprit, too, so British fans hungering for more Broadchurch should find it worthwhile. Or will this be yet another remake that fails to translate well, a la Life on Mars?

(2 Oct, BBC2) This period gangster drama set in a smoky, industrial Birmingham, looks and sounds amazing (did it perhaps influence Cinemax's The Knick?), and it has a brilliant cast that includes Cillian Murphy. This second series adds burly Hollywood star Tom Hardy into the mix, so aesthetics and star-power clearly isn't a problem. But, personally, I didn't find much to actually care about in series 1, so won't be watching. U.S viewers can now stream series 1 on Netflix, too.

HOMELAND - Season 4
(5 Oct, Showtime; 12 Oct, Channel 4) It still nabs awards, but things have been on a downward slide for Homeland since the first season. It can be argued the show placed too much faith in Claire Danes and Damian Lewis's on-screen chemistry, which resulted in a protracted storyline that had to involve the Brody character past his natural end. Well, this season is probably going to be make-or-break for the Showtime drama, because it's a fresh start and has to prove Lewis's complete absence won't be a problem. Setting the drama overseas is a start (although one that makes the title seem a bit redundant), but what will general audiences make of the sweeping changes? It's easy for critics to grumble about a creative decision, but how many of Homeland's viewers were only really interested in a plot and relationship that's now kaput? Is Rupert Friend an adequate replacement for Lewis? Channel 4 will almost definitely start broadcasting this in October for UK fans.

THE FLASH – Season 1
(The CW, 7 Oct; Sky1, TBA) Such is the success of Arrow, The CW are confidently using it to launch another DC Comics superhero drama—whose lead character, young forensic scientist Barry Allen (Grant Gustin), was first introduced during Arrow's second season. But now it's his time to shine solo, as he's endowed with super-speed and rapid healing, to fight crime and supervillains across Central City. While wearing a tight, burgundy leather suit. I've already seen and reviewed the pilot, which is very entertaining.

(8 Oct, FX; 21 Oct, FX UK) The ridiculous and gruesome horror anthology drama's back for a fourth year, this time set in 1952 and telling the story of a Florida freak show run by Elsa May (Jessica Lange). Most of the regulars are returning—most notably, Sarah Paulson as a two-headed lady—and there's an evil killer clown. Of course there is. As always, expect graphic violence and hilarible moments (with added carnival iconography), but a likely mid-season tipping point were the story goes haywire and it limps to the finishing line. That's what usually happens with AHS.

ARROW – Season 3
(8 Oct, The CW) Having vaulted safely over the stumbling blocks a second season posed, the writers of Arrow must be feeling incredibly pleased with themselves. This show has earned widespread adulation and has quickly become a great example of its genre. Nobody gave two shits about Green Arrow three years ago, but now look! Can they continue this success? With guest stars announced that include former-Superman actor Brandon Routh and coulda-been Wonder Woman actress Adrianne Palicki, I have high hopes.

(12 Oct, AMC) The best/worst television drama around returns for a fifth season; featuring more zombies eating people and getting stabbed in the head. Grim-faced characters will walk around looking sweaty. They will talk. And cry. One will shoot zombies with a crossbow. There will be impressive special effects and digital blood. The audience figures will be insanely huge. A spin-off is due, where I'm guessing different characters stab zombies in a different location, only this time there are no comic-book readers spoiling key plot-twists for everyone.

THE AFFAIR – Season 1
(12 Oct, Showtime) An original drama! This is a new series that explores the devastating emotional effects of an extramarital affair between Dominic West's school teacher and Ruth Wilson's waitress. Maura Tierney co-stars as West's cheated-on wife. The cast are great and the trailer looks intriguing, so will definitely watch a few hours of this at the very least.

GOTHAM – Season 1
(13 Oct, Channel 5) The new Batman-less prequel has been acquired by Channel 5 in the UK (which is quite a coup for them), and it's thankfully airing a lot sooner than The Walking Dead ever did!

(24 Oct, NBC) One of NBC's biggest hopes for the autumn is this supernatural thriller based on a character created by comic-book legend Alan Moore, developed by David Goyer (Batman Begins) and Daniel Cerone (Dexter). I've already seen and reviewed the pilot… which was OK, but less enthralling and gritty than I was expecting. The casting of Matt Ryan is good (even if U.S network restrictions mean his occult hero won't be a chain-smoker), but I'm a little bit worried it's just going to be a variation on Supernatural. The comics were a lot darker and troubling than I think NBC will allow this to get, but we'll see. To its credit, they had the balls to drop Lucy Griffiths from the series after the pilot, so Angelica Celaya will now fill the gap as a tougher character called Zed.

For a look at what the rest of the year's going to bring,