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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Technorati Tags: TV, shows, series, The Firm, Napoleon Dynamite, The River, House of Lies, Californication, The Finder, Black Mirror, Charlie Brooker, Channel 4, Lilyhammer, Silvio Dante, The Sopranos, Netflix, original series, Steve Van Zandt, Luck, HBO, crime drama, Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte, Dennis Farina and Michael Gambon, The Straits, Australian crime series, Brian Cox, Great Expectations, Ethan Hawke, Gwyneth Paltrow, BBC mini-series, Ray Winstone, Gillian Anderson, Touch, The Dead Zone, Hereafter, Kiefer Sutherland, Tim Kring, Heroes, This Is England, Inside Comedy, Talking Funny, David Steinberg, Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Sarah Silverman, Larry David, Steve Carell, Don Rickles, Inside Men, Inside Man, Alcatraz, Shutter Island, Lost, Prison Break, The X-Files, J.J Abrams, Jorge Garcia, Fox Network, Mr. D, Will Ferrell, Michael Scott, Luxury Comedy, Smash, The Finder, Michael Clark Duncan
Popularity: 3% [?]