10 Shows Below Zero

January 13th, 2014 by Barak

No matter the season, it’s always nice to stay indoors and watch a good TV show, but during winter you also have an excuse to do so! To empathize with the American people who are suffering from the terrible cold weather we’ll rank the new shows with below zero temperatures. So, turn on every available heating device you have in your home and check out these 10 new promising TV shows:

-1°. The Spoils of Babylon

It’s Like: A funnier Casa De Mi Padre

Executive produced by Will Ferrell and Adam McKay and starring Kristen Wiig and Tobey Maguire, IFC’s The Spoils of Babylon is a very silly humored spoof of soap operas. The amazingly impressive cast also includes Jessica Alba, Michael Sheen, Tim Robbins, Val Kilmer and Will Ferrell himself.

-2°. True Detective

It’s Like: A high quality Scandinavian crime show… only American.

Big movie stars Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson make a transition to Television for HBO’s True Detective. This stylized and tense crime drama just might be America’s answer to the acclaimed Scandinavian shows The Bridge and The Killing.

-3°. Fleming

It’s Like: James Bond without all the made up stuff…

Fleming is a mini-series about the life of James Bond creator Ian Fleming who lived a life that were pretty similar to the life of the fictional spy he wrote about. Fleming himself was also a spy and quite a womanizer. He also drank martini and wore slick suits.

-4°. Intelligence

It’s Like: Person of Interest with more special effects.

Hi-tech espionage helped by top-notch special effects – you don’t have to be very intelligent to see this series has a lot of potential. Josh Holloway (Sawyer from Lost) is the protagonist of this show that looks a lot like another CBS action show – Person of Interest.

-5°The Moaning of Life

It’s LikeAn Idiot Abroad with the same amount of complaining and a bit more contemplating.

After An Idiot Abroad, Karl Pilkington continues to travel around the world and feel like a fish out of water wherever he goes. This time he doesn’t have to deal with the challenges\obstacles that his good friend Ricky Gervais sets up for him, but his task here isn’t much simpler – he tries to understand what does it all mean, life that is.

-6°. Black Sails

It’s Like: An extremely violent Treasure Island.

Executive produced by Michael Bay, Black Sails is a sort of prequel to Treasure Island, and takes place in 1715, 20 years prior to the events of the book, during the golden age of piracy. With another high profile piracy show coming up later this year (Crossbones) this might be the golden age of TV shows about piracy.

-7°. Brody Stevens: Enjoy It!

It’s LikeJoaquin Phoenix‘s I’m Still Here, only crazier

If you thought I’m Still Here was insane wait till you see HBO’s new docu\reality\comedy. The humor here is pretty dark, and Stevens seems like an obsessed individual who is very unhappy in life. It’s definitely not the funniest thing I’ve seen, but it’s quite a fascinating character study.

-8°Rake

It’s LikeCalifornication meets Boston Legal with cannibals.

A remake of an Australian show titled likewise, Rake stars Greg Kinnear and tells the story of a morally dubious lawyer who has no problem defending the very worse (cannibals for example).

-9°. Killer Women

It’s Like: The female version of Walker Texas Ranger.

Killer Women = Walker Texas Ranger – the beard + the breasts. Judging from the trailer, it looks like and exciting and sexy action series that will give us a good measure of weekly escapism. Tricia Helfer plays the lead here, a female law enforcer surrounded by chauvinist male colleagues who want to see her fail, but she won’t because she’s a badass!

-10°. The Assets

It’s Like: The Americans, only slower.

Cold war tensions arise in ABC’s slow burning espionage thriller. The Assets is based on a true story and it seems it might give The Americans a fair fight for the title of best cold war TV thriller around today (and yes, the fact that there are only two in existence at the moment helps).

If you’re afraid to discover new things (like new shows), you can just welcome back your old favorite shows which are returning from a long hiatus. I recommend:

Person of Interest, The Walking Dead, House of Cards, Banshee, Sherlock, Justified, Community, Parks and Recreation, Downton Abbey and The Big Bang Theory.

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The Jinni Mood Awards 2012

December 31st, 2012 by Barak

After last year’s huge success of the Jinni Mood/Movie/TV Awards (think Golden Globes and then multiply it by a thousand, then add the Oscars and multiply that by a million. Is it too soon for self-deprecation? I have to check with my superiors) we decided to make a tradition out of it and choose our award-winning titles for 2012. So, which was the roughest movie or TV series of 2012? Which was the most exciting?  No need to open any envelopes, you can just read below:

Atmospheric: Game of Thrones – When you watch Game of Thrones, you really enter the world of Game of Thrones. And it’s a world in which a Hobbit won’t survive for more than a minute. “Winter is coming” (it’s here already.)

Biting: 30 Rock – Feeling very self-confident, the show allowed itself to bite whoever it wanted.  Politicians, competing shows, and even NBC, the hand that feeds them – all were in the line of biting.

Bittersweet: The Giant Mechanical Man – this movie is about two lonely people who find each other. It’s one of the most goodhearted movies I’ve seen in a while. If you like charming and sensitive movies – watch it. If you’re a douche – don’t.

Bleak: Breaking Bad – Sometimes you just feel too darn happy. But fear not, there is a solution – all you need to do is watch Breaking Bad; the critically acclaimed feel-bad TV show was at its bleakest during the first half of the 5th and final season. I can’t wait for the 2nd half of the season to wipe that grin off my face.

Captivating: End of Watch – I consider it to be the best movie of the year. It’s fascinating; there isn’t one dull moment in it. It’s not always easy to watch, there are some very harsh scenes, but if you have the stomach and the tissues for it, this movie is a must-see for you.

Clever: Argo – This is no less a sharp satire about Hollywood than it is a suspenseful spy thriller, even more I guess. What makes it a great movie despite its tonal shifts is that it remains extremely clever throughout its entire length.

Contemplative: Blackthorn – This western is beautifully shot, the Bolivian locations in which the movie takes place are unbelievable. Straying very far from Michael Bay territory, this gem of a movie is basically about a person (an older Butch Cassidy) reflecting about his own life. I know it sounds boring, but it isn’t. And if you think so, maybe you are.


Cynical: A Touch of Cloth – Can the guy (the genius, the king) who wrote Black Mirror come up with something that doesn’t have a cynical world view? Probably not; A Touch of Cloth is Charlie Brooker‘s spoof of more or less every cop crime drama ever made and it shows complete contempt towards every accepted standard of such shows.

Disturbing: Dexter – Fans of the show don’t really find this glimpse into the mind of a psychopath disturbing anymore. What they do find disturbing is the suggested romance (siblings with benefits, is that a thing?) between Dexter and his step sister. Maybe the sister is the only one with the forbidden crush, but it’s disturbing nonetheless. The bad writing that is.

Emotional: House M.D – Dr. Gregory House was the most fascinating, complex, well written character ever seen on TV. I think that more than a few people would agree with me. The final season of the hit series was probably its most emotional one. The only thing that prevented me from crying was/is that I’m a man.


Exciting: The Expendables 2 – This movie was a blast. Explosions, cheesy lines, completely over the top action; what can be more exciting than that?

Feel Good: New Girl – An upbeat and optimistic series with eccentric characters and a charming Zooey Deschanel (although not half as charming as Aubrey Plaza. See below).

Gloomy: This is England 88′ – After the movie This is England and the series This is England 86′ came This is England 88′ which dealt with more or less the same issues from the previous 2 entries – people whose lives are pretty shitty. Leave some room on you TV screens for some more sad faces, because This is England 90′ is coming up in 2013!

Humorous: Parks and Recreation – With every passing season this series just becomes funnier and funnier. April (Aubrey Plaza – marry me today. Is 7:30 good for you?) and Andy are the best onscreen couple by far, and Ron Swanson is just the best. The picture below says everything; and also nothing.


Offbeat: Moonrise KingdomWes Anderson is more or less synonymous with the terms offbeat and quirky, and Moonrise Kingdom doesn’t ruin that reputation for the director.

Mind Bending: The Booth at the End – A mysterious man sits at a booth at the end of a diner. People come to him because they heard he has a gift and can solve their problems. But there’s a price… All is very mysterious in Hulu’s 1st original series that leaves you wondering.

Rough: Dredd – The movie takes place in a rough and tough world, in which Judge Dredd serves some very rough justice. You don’t have to go all the way to Indonesia in order to find this year’s best action film. Dredd is similar to The Raid only way better and in English, not that the dialogue is important.

Scary: Cabin in the Woods – This movie was extreme in every sense. I expected something light when I heard it was a horror comedy, but it’s much more shocking than it is light. It’s a funny and disturbing film, but first and foremost – a scary one.

Sentimental: Big Miracle – A nice old fashioned movie, with likable characters; especially the whales. It’s a pleasant film and although sentimental, you don’t overdose on its sentimentality.


Sexual: Californication – Season 5 continued being groundbreaking in terms of onscreen boobs and sex (I only watch the show for its wit and dark humor though.)

Sexy: Magic City – Starz’ attempt at making a “Boardwalk Empire meets Mad Men” type of show failed in many aspects, maybe in all aspects but one. It’s obviously not nearly as smart or captivating as the other two, but it’s definitely sexier. It’s like soft-core porn made for fans of periodic reconstruction.

Sincere: Louie – Usually when we describe a movie or a show as sincere we mean a certain kind of a drama. We rarely describe a comedy as sincere, but Louie is just so open and revealing that you get a sense that he’s showing you the real him. I believe him.

Stylized: The Man with the Iron Fists – I’ll start by saying that there’s nothing good about violence. Usually people get hurt when there’s violence involved. But when it’s in the movies, and it’s so over the top, extremely gory and super stylized then it’s just great.

Suspenseful: Sherlock – Each 90-minute mystery leaves you absolutely breathless. Not only the setting, but also the pace was adapted to fit the 21st century and the result is a masterfully suspenseful series.

Tense: Homeland – This paranoid psychological thriller keeps you on the edge of your seat trying to guess what will be the next plot twist.  Many critics say that the first half of the second season was much better than the second one. They could have been right if it wasn’t for that amazing episode that concluded the season. Homeland is must-see TV.


Thought Provoking: Game Change – This movie made me think about something that made be both happy and sad at the same time (I’m hoping more sad than happy): being especially smart is not a requirement for a person who wants to go far in life. Not at all; dumb people – the world is yours to take!

Touching: Trouble with the Curve – The movie itself is definitely touching, but what gives the movie this Mood Award is the fact that it was the last time we will see the legendary Clint Eastwood acting. And that’s even more emotional than it is touching.

Uplifting: Intouchables – You can’t remain cynical when it comes to this movie. It will definitely raise your spirits, at least for its duration + 1 hour; maybe 1 month, or year if you’re lucky.

Witty: 21 Jump Street – Don’t let the fact that it’s incredibly silly confuse you – 21 Jump Street enjoys a quick and smart dialogue with some brilliant tongue-in-cheek moments. Unlike many other movies, and people, 21 Jump Street is very self-aware.

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Emmys 2012 – from Fame to Fail

September 24th, 2012 by Barak

The Emmy Awards winners have been announced and I am absolutely outraged by the results. Jon Cryer wins best comic actor for the lousy Two and a Half Men?! Julia Luis-Dreyfus wins best comic actress for the equally lousy Veep?! Aren’t you supposed to present that award to someone who was actually funny? Here are this year’s picks and our take on them:

Drama

Best Drama Series

Boardwalk Empire – When it was publicly known that Scorsese was making a TV series for HBO, it was obvious that it was going to win a lot of awards. But they will still have to wait at least until next year to win in this category.

Breaking Bad – Season 4 brought Breaking Bad to a near status of a modern classic and masterpiece. The conflict between Walt and Gus brought the very best out of both of them. The 4th season had some scenes that will definitely stay with the show’s viewers for a very long time. The first 8 episodes of the 5th season maintained the quality of the 4th season. After getting used to losing to Mad Men every year, this time it was Homeland who defeated them in the Best Drama Series category.

Downton Abbey – This complex and clever period drama, which deals with social classes in early 20th century Britain, is quite different from the rest of its competitors, but still deserved to be here.

Game of Thrones – Adam Scott from the brilliant Parks and Recreation described it best: “Game of Thrones tells human stories in a fantasy world” (and it manages to do it all while using the traditional HBO trademarks of female nudity and bursts of violence.) Unfortunately for them, they competed with Homeland.

Homeland - This excellent paranoid psychological thriller keeps you on the edge of your seat, trying to guess what the next plot twist will be. You can cut the tension with a bomb, and that’s why the Emmy decision makers decided to go with Homeland as this year’s winner.

Mad Men – Apart from solid acting and wonderful set and costume designs, I have to be blasphemous and say that Mad Men is the weakest show between the 6 nominated in this category. I’m pleased it’s unjust reign of wins in this category (4 years in a row) came to an end.

Best Dramatic Actor

Steve Buscemi2 years in a row, Nucky Thompson gets nominated. And loses… If I were one of the guys who make the decisions at the Emmy’s I’d start being very afraid.

Hugh Bonneville – Even among the great cast of Downton Abbey, Bonneville manages to stand out. He doesn’t demonstrate the best acting skills of all these nominees, but his character is definitely the nicest.

Bryan Cranston – After 3 wins over the last 5 years, Bryan Cranston shouldn’t feel too disappointed for returning home empty handed.

Michael C. HallDexter’s last season was probably its worst, so Michael C. Hall didn’t deserve the award this time, he did deserve it a few years back though. Hugh Laurie did 8 seasons of House and didn’t get an Emmy for his terrific acting; I hope they won’t repeat their injustice with Dexter and Michael C. Hall.

Jon Hamm – I know that 90% of the population (all the women and 80% of the men) think Jon Hamm is great, and that the character he portrays, Don Draper, is one of the most fascinating characters ever. I think he’s pompous and boring (at least the character he plays is.)

Damian Lewis – Is Damien Lewis going to be the next Bryan Cranston? Both of them won after only 1 season of their shows, will Lewis also complete 3 consecutive wins? We’ll have to wait two more years to find out…

Best Dramatic Actress

Kathy Bates Harry’s Law is a terrible show. Maybe even worse than Two and a Half Men!

Glenn Close – I’ll start by saying that Glenn Close is always great; she’s one of the best actresses alive. Damages was intriguing for a season or two but then it really became tiresome; even she can’t save this amazingly confusing series.

Claire Danes – Clearly there was no competition for Claire, her portrayal of a troubled CIA agent is nothing less than mesmerizing. At least the Emmys got it right in this category.

Michelle Dockery – Another fantastic Briton from Downton Abbey, who could have won, if she wasn’t running against Claire Danes in her role of a lifetime.

Julianna Margulies – She’s consistently good in the consistently good The Good Wife, but she’s not the best of the category.

Elisabeth Moss – We saw her character come of age, from a naïve and weak young woman she became a strong woman with principles. It would be interesting to see where the upcoming seasons will take her.

Comedy

Best Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory – Sorry, I really don’t get it. Many people love this show, I agree it’s nice and occasionally funny, but why does such a mediocre sitcom earn so many Emmy nominations?! Louie should have been nominated instead (1).

Girls – More similar to Dunham’s film Tiny Furniture (which showcased a bunch of obnoxious and self-involved twentysomethings) than to Judd Apatow’s (who produces this show) previous work; it also borrows a little bit from Sex and the City which is obviously not a positive thing. Louie should have been nominated instead (2).

Veep - We hoped it would be a clever, witty and most importantly hilarious political satire. What we got instead was a silly (stupid would be a more appropriate word) series that doesn’t offer many laughs (if any) and shouldn’t have been nominated. Louie should have been nominated instead (3).

30 Rock – The show keeps being funny, it already has more award trophies on its cabinet than Michael Phelps and Michael Jordan put together, so I guess it’s okay it didn’t win anything this time around.

Modern Family –The winner of this category is a very good show with moments of brilliance, but a bit overrated. The show dominates awards shows, especially the Emmys – it’s good, but not that good…

Curb Your Enthusiasm – After quite a long hiatus, came a great season with some unforgettable episodes (Palestinian Chicken!), which was more deserving to win in this category.

Best Comic Actor

Alec Baldwin – He’s won more than once in the past, but still would have been a much better choice than Jon Cryer (1).

Don Cheadle – I don’t know if Cheadle’s attempt to imitate Hank Moody (David Duchovny’s character from Californication) is worthy of an Emmy nomination, but still would have been a much better choice than Jon Cryer (2).

Louis C.K – The only thing that could have saved the Emmys from the shameful exclusion of the best comedy series today, Louie, was to give the award for Best Comic Actor to Louis C.K. They failed to do even that. Where’s your sense of humor??

Jon Cryer – What the hell were they thinking giving him the award?! Two and a Half Men is a below average sitcom, nobody there should even be invited to major award ceremonies.

Larry David –After 8 seasons of the brilliant show Curb Your Enthusiasm, it should be about time for Larry David to get his Best Comic Actor award… I guess there’s always next year.

Jim Parsons – It’s astonishing that he won 2 consecutive Emmy Awards, when he shouldn’t have been nominated in the first place! Still, he would have been a much better choice than Jon Cryer (3).

Best Comic Actress

Zooey Deschanel – You can love her and you can hate her, but if you hate her, there’s something seriously wrong with you.

Lena Dunham – She’s been called the voice of a generation; they said she’s uncompromising and brutally honest… I say she’s obnoxious and not particularly funny.

Edie FalcoNurse Jackie is much more dramatic than comic, so this isn’t the category Falco should have been nominated in…

Tina Fey – Along with Zooey Deschanel and Amy Poehler she was the most worthy candidate in this category.

Julia Louis-Dreyfus – By choosing her as the winner in this category I need no further proof that The Emmys suck! Just to emphasize how bad I think Veep is, I’ll say that even The Old Adventures of New Christine is better than Veep.

Melissa McCarthyMike and Molly is a sweet sitcom, but not Emmys material.

Amy Poehler – Parks and Recreation is fantastic, and Poehler is great there. The only bad thing I can say about her is that she’s not even among the 3 funniest characters in this show (Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza and Chris Pratt‘s characters are all funnier.)

TV Movie/Mini Series

American Horror Story – Since it’s not a TV movie or a mini-series, I don’t know why it’s even nominated in this category… But the opening credits alone are enough to scare you, so you’re actually scared before you even start watching the show.

Game Change –This HBO TV movie was really good and deserved the win, Julianne Moore did a fantastic job in her portrayal of Sarah Palin (although Palin herself, who was portrayed as an imbecile, would probably disagree.)

Hemingway & Gellhorn - This HBO TV movie was a huge disappointment – it dealt with the fascinating characters in its title, and had an impressive cast that included Clive Owen and Nicole Kidman, but it was too long and poorly done.

Hatfields & McCoys - The History Channel’s Western mini-series that starred Kevin Costner was extremely long, but also extremely captivating and intense.

Luther –A worthy candidate, this detective series is one of the best shows shown on BBC America, and might have deserved the win a bit more than Game Change.

Sherlock –If Sherlock’s complete 2nd season would have been nominated as a mini-series, it could have been the winner, but since only the 1st episode of the 2nd season received a nomination as a TV movie (once again, the logic of the Emmys baffles me) it’s understandable that it didn’t.

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The Sandler Secrets to Parenting

June 14th, 2012 by Barak

A new movie starring Adam Sandler called That’s My Boy is coming out about a father who’s way more immature than his son. Can you tell who’s the father and who’s the son?

Like many other Sandler movies, the lead character played by Sandler will be some kind of a man-child – a child trapped in a man’s body. In honor of this highly expected movie (well, at least for Sandler fans), we looked at TV and movies to try to find 10 parents that haven’t really fully embraced all of their responsibilities, parents that have yet to mature into fully grown adults:

10. Phil Weston – Kicking and Screaming (2005)

Will Ferrell plays a dad (Phil Weston) who becomes the coach of his kid’s soccer team in order to be a better dad and support his son. His ultra-competitive father, played by Robert Duvall (Buck Weston), coaches a competing team. Pretty soon Phil, determined to triumph over his dad’s team, becomes blind to anything besides winning.

9. Sonny Koufax – Big Daddy (1999)

Adam Sandler‘s Sonny Koufax is a lazy law school graduate who does more or less nothing,  while living off the money he got a while back from a petty lawsuit. When a young kid appears at his front door, he becomes an unlikely foster parent. This is one of Sandler’s best movies in my opinion; it’s funny and sweet, silly and warm.

8. Royal Tenenbaum – The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

20 years ago Royal Tenenbaum suddenly moved out of the house, leaving his wife and young children behind, ruining their lives. From happy and successful geniuses, his children became alienated with a strong sense that their best years are long behind them. Even when Royal was still at home, he wasn’t much of a parent to begin with: he constantly demonstrated favoritism among his kids, even shooting one of them intentionally with a BB gun, and he couldn’t help but repeatedly remind his daughter that she is in fact his adopted daughter.

7. Thornton Melon – Back to School (1986)

Rodney Dangerfield is hilarious, as always, in the role of Thornton Melon, who enrolls in college in order to help his son get through his academic years. Thornton is a free spirited, rich businessman, who spends his time as a college student, not doing much studying, but doing a hell of a lot of partying instead. However, the thing he does the most, is embarrass his son.

6. Hank Moody – Californication (2007-?)

Hank Moody is a respected writer, a father and a husband, but he is first and foremost a playboy. When Hank was in his teens and the teachers at his school explained to the students that they should say no to drugs, alcohol and sometimes even to sex, Hank was at the beach doing all these things. Hank’s lifestyle of drugs, sex and alcohol makes it kind of hard for him to be a good role model for his daughter Becca.

5. Peter and Kate McCallister – Home Alone (1990)

It’s forgivable if you leave your dog behind, or even if you go down the elevator and then remember that your elderly parent is still upstairs, but it’s never ok to forget your young kid. Peter and Kate McCallister flew to Paris and forgot their 8 year old son, Kevin, at home, a whole continent away.

4. George Bluth – Arrested Development (2003-?)

George Bluth redefines the term irresponsible – when his kids were still in school he gave their teachers’ poisoned muffins in order to intimidate them. Later on, he was separated from his family because he went to jail following some creative accounting on his behalf. He continued his somewhat irresponsible behavior when he faked his own death and performed some light treason in the form of dodgy dealings with Saddam Hussein.

3. Homer Simpson – The Simpsons (1989-?)

Homer Simpson is probably the most famous lazy, irresponsible father figure in the world. Here are 2 examples of Homer’s parenting style: “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.” Talking about his younger days, Homer said: “It’s not easy to juggle a pregnant wife and a troubled child, yet somehow I managed to fit in 8 hours of TV a day.”

2. Wayne Szalinski – Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)

When a parent has something dangerous around the house like a gun, or a machine that shrinks things as in this case, he should tell his kids to be extra careful or just hide the bloody thing. Wayne Szalinski forgot to tell his kids to be careful (or hide the bloody thing) and had to tell his wife: “Honey, I shrunk the kids.”

1. Kenny Powers – Eastbound & Down (2009-2012)

The lifestyle of Kenny Powers includes a lot of drugs and alcohol. Kenny is extremely rude and has a poor work ethic. In the beginning of season 3 the worst role model in the world becomes a single father. At one point Kenny makes a Moses out of his son – he puts him in a basket and sends him up the river… How’s that for good parenting?

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Is good TV hard to come by?

March 1st, 2012 by Barak

Winter is the coldest season of the year, a time during which we especially need good TV shows to keep us warm. Many new TV series we had high hopes for were released, only to leave us disappointed: The Firm isn’t nearly as good as the movie on which it is based, Napoleon Dynamite and Unsupervised are both terribly unfunny, The River is ridiculous, House of Lies is Californication for the poor, and The Finder is nice, but not nice enough to make us want to find it on TV every week. Luckily there were some other excellent winter TV shows that were worth our time. Here are 10 great new winter TV shows you should at least check out before winter leaves us and makes way for spring:

1. Black Mirror

It’s Like: How TV Ruined Your Life

If you haven’t seen Black Mirror, you must. It’s a masterpiece comprised out of 3 non-related 1 hour episodes (the episodes are only related in the sense that they all deal with the power of the media and the effect technology has on our lives.) It manages to be shocking in a time when it is almost impossible to shock. Charlie Brooker, the genius who created this thought provoking series said in an interview that there might be a second season coming to the British Channel 4; I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

2. Lilyhammer

It’s Like: Silvio Dante (from The Sopranos) in Norway

Lilyhammer is the first Netflix original series. It is a co-production of Netflix with a Norwegian production company. The series takes place in Norway, where Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano (played by Steve Van Zandt – Silvio Dante from The Sopranos) was relocated by the witness protection program. Frank asked to be relocated there after he watched Lillehammer (Frank calls it Lilyhammer by mistake) in the Winter Olympics in 1994 and was enchanted by it. The reality doesn’t really match his expectations and now Frank (Whose name was changed by the FBI to Giovanni Henriksen) has to deal with his new fish out water situation. This offbeat series that swept Norway is funny and very fun, and the snowy Norwegian landscapes are beautiful.

3. Luck

It’s Like: (Not) The Sopranos with horses and gambling

Luck isn’t really that much like The Sopranos, but whenever there is a new HBO crime drama with a high production value the comparisons are inevitable. Luck is slow, atmospheric, and very dialogue based. After 3 episodes I know it’s a good one, but I still don’t know how good exactly. With Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina and Michael Gambon (he’ll arrive in later episodes as a rival to Dustin Hoffman’s character) the potential is very much there.

4. The Straits

It’s Like: (Not really) The Sopranos on a tropical island

This Australian crime series offers violence, dark humor and absolutely beautiful scenery. Brian Cox leads the series portraying Harry, the cruel and tough head of the family (and the family business which is smuggling drugs and other illegal stuff). Harry tells his 3 sons that he’s getting too old for this s**t and wants to pass on the reins of the business to the son that will prove himself worthy. Will it create a Shakespearean rivalry between the brothers? After Underbelly and Animal Kingdom, The Straits is the next great Aussie crime drama.

5. Great Expectations

It’s Like: A better adaptation than the one with Ethan Hawke

After watching the 1998 version with Ethan Hawke and Gwyneth Paltrow I thought it was a very good adaptation, even if it wasn’t very loyal to the book. Now, after watching the three part BBC mini-series with Ray Winstone as Abel Magwitch and Gillian Anderson as Miss Havisham I can say my standards were low. This version is highly stylized, atmospheric and captivating and feels much more loyal to the source material.

6. Touch

It’s Like: The Dead Zone and Hereafter

The concept of a mute child (by choice?) who does the narration for the series is intriguing and also a bit weird. Fox’s Touch is a world spanning and surprisingly uplifting series about a child who has a supernatural ability to predict the future. It’s very far from Kiefer Sutherland’s previous TV role in 24, but I’m not sure it’s not as good as the action series was. Tim Kring, creator of Touch is known most of all for another TV series he created – Heroes. We hope Touch would continue matching the quality of Heroes season 1 and not the quality of Heroes seasons 2, 3 and 4.

7. This Is England 88′

It’s Like: The previous This Is England‘s (movie and series)

After the very successful movie This Is England (2006) and the critically acclaimed TV series This Is England 86′, Shane Meadows concludes his trilogy with the three part series This Is England 88′. Just like the previous two parts in the trilogy, 88′ is also emotional, bleak, rough and disturbing, and yet, also very moving. The 3rd entry in the franchise maintained a harsh feeling of realism, and had very strong performances from its ensemble cast.

8. Inside Comedy

It’s Like: Talking Funny

Showtime’s talk show series is great for everybody who likes comedy, and who doesn’t like comedy? The host David Steinberg talks to one or two greats from the world of comedy every week (Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, Larry David, Steve Carell and Don Rickles will all appear on the show). Steinberg does a great job as the host/interviewer, not because he’s charismatic or asks difficult questions (he’s not and he doesn’t), but because he just lets his guests speak, and all of them have a lot to say.

9. Inside Men

It’s Like: Inside Man

This tense four part BBC series has everything a heist thriller needs: It revolves cleverly around universal themes of greed, morality and temptation, it’s full of mind bending twists and most important of all, it has men wearing scary masks. Inside Men is slow paced but very gripping.

10. Alcatraz

It’s Like: Shutter Island meets Lost meets Prison Break with a hint of The X-Files

J.J Abrams‘ new show isn’t nearly as good as Lost, but it’s still mysterious, mind bending and suspenseful. The show has a lot of potential as the cliche’ goes, but it could have done a much better job in casting its leads: The policewoman is a bit pale and looks like a Barbie doll, Jorge Garcia will always be Hurley to me, and Sam Neill is surprisingly not convincing as the mysterious Emerson Hauser. Despite the fact that it didn’t really earn the critics consensus, Alcatraz brings very good numbers to its network (Fox).

Other notable new winter TV series:

1. Mr. D (He looks like a Canadian Will Ferrell and acts like a Canadian Michael Scott). 2. Luxury Comedy (Weirdest sketch comedy series you’ve ever seen). 3. Smash (for fans of musicals), 4.House of Lies (Californication for the poor is still better than many other shows) and 5. The Finder (It’s interesting to see that Michael Clark Duncan can fit into a small screen).

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