Has network television told us all the stories they have to offer?

April 16th, 2014 by Barak

hit tv
Every season the big networks keep coming up with plenty of new shows. It got us thinking – are we really getting something fresh and new every time or is it the same recycled shows in a slightly different look? That led us to think, are there any differences between the shows of the 10 big networks? Are there any unique themes or moods to each network? Read below for some genome based TV insights:

Fox – Suspenseful Mysteries about Trying to Uncover Truth, Funny Pop Culture References

Fox
During the 90′s we heard the phrase “The truth is out there” in Fox’s hit TV series The X-Files. Since then the network has been trying to uncover the truth in many other shows…They make up an intriguing mystery – sometimes extraterrestrials can be involved, time travel also does the trick, it can also involve more realistic mysteries like murders and trying to figure out who committed them…and then they partner together an attractive female alongside an attractive male and let the show begin! Here’s the proof: Sleepy Hollow, Bones, Lie to Me, Fringe, The X-Files, Alcatraz, Past Life, and also Dollhouse can be used as partial evidence.

Fox’s other specialty is funny, witty comedies filled with pop culture references, the mother and father of those shows is Fox’s flag series “The Simpsons“, the rest followed: Family Guy, American Dad, New Girl, The Mindy Project, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Bob’s Burgers, Futurama, The Cleveland Show, King of the Hill, The Critic and the cult classic Parker Lewis Can’t Lose.

HBO – Sex, Witty, Cynical Dialogue, and Violence

HBO series
Don’t let your children watch a lot of HBO, this is a network that many of its shows revolve around sex: Sex and the City, Hung, True Blood, Girls, Looking, Six Feet Under, Tell Me You Love Me, The Mind of a Married Men and Dream On – some are dramas, some comedy-dramas and one is even from the horror genre, but they all revolve around sexual relations.

Another brand of shows HBO tends to make a lot of is cynical comedies that has plenty of witty dialogues: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Entourage, Bored to Death, Life’s Too Short, The Ricky Gervais Show, Veep, Hello Ladies and Arliss.

The 3rd HBO style of shows is captivating, violent and stylized crime shows like The Sopranos, True Detective, Boardwalk Empire, Oz, Deadwood, The Wire and Luck.


ABC – Soapy Plot-lines and a Strong Female Presence

ABC
ABC might be the American Broadcasting Company but a more suiting definition can be “American Babes Channel”. ABC is the most female oriented network between all of the big ones. A typical ABC show concerns an ensemble cast of strong and good looking women, and revolves around soapy plot lines like love and romance, schemes, secrets, dishonesty and couple relations. Here are the shows that helped me make my case: Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, Nashville, Revenge, Scandal, Private Practice, The Practice, Mistresses and Army Wives.

FX – Irreverent Humor and Tense Crimes

FX
Animated and live action comedies alike, FX likes its comedies offbeat, irreverent and dark, as the following list proves: Louie, Archer, Starved, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Legit, The League, Chozen and Wilfred.

FX is a network that doesn’t hide the fact that its shows are directed at boys/men, so it’s no surprise that another dominant type of shows this network produces is tense and suspenseful crime dramas about right and wrong and dishonesty: Justified, Sons of Anarchy, The Shield, Lights Out, The Bridge and Damages (to the defense of the network we’ll say that the last two shows we mentioned both put in the center a very strong leading female character…so it’s not like they totally ignore women).

AMC – Atmospheric and Psychological Morality Tales

AMC
AMC is a young network, but it’s already a very famous one, a network that everyone associates with quality. AMC’s shows are atmospheric, tense, suspenseful and psychological and revolve around themes of partners, dishonesty and morality. The top AMC shows that fit the description are: Breaking Bad, Low Winter Sun, Rubicon, Mad Men, The Killing and also Hell on Wheels in a way.

Starz – Stylized, Violent and Sexual, Full of Political Intrigues and Power Struggles

Starz series
Starz probably learnt from another cable network – HBO, that sex and violence are key ingredients in TV shows. Most of the shows Starz produce have strong sexual content and scenes of graphic violence. But – it’s all very good looking, the violence is stylized, and well…the people who are having sex aren’t exactly ugly as well.

Periodic reconstructions, political unrest, intrigues and rivalries are also dominant in this network as you can see in: Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Camelot, Black Sails, Boss, The White Queen, Pillars of the Earth, Magic City and Da Vinci’s Demons.

NBC – Suspenseful Mysterious Characters, Funny Workplace Situations

NBC
NBC wants you to keep watching its shows. So, it puts a mysterious character at the center and expects you, the viewer, to keep watching because you’re just dying to know who this puzzling dude is. This type of shows are suspenseful, exciting and/or tense and usually puts some its characters in peril. Here are some of NBC’s cryptic protagonists: HannibalThe Blacklist, Dracula, Persons Unknown, The Event, Revolution, Crisis and Grimm.

Another type of shows NBC likes to do is funny sitcoms about workplace situations and boss and employee relations: 30 Rock, The Office, Parks and Recreation, The Michael J. Fox Show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Just Shoot Me, Scrubs, Sean Saves the World and the classic Cheers.

 Showtime – Clever Dark Humor, Lessons about the Human Nature

showtime
A typical Showtime show is clever and dark humored and deals with themes of human nature, mind and soul and family relations. Drug and alcohol abuse, sex and workplace situations are also popular themes in this cable network. The top shows that demonstrate these stats are: Dexter, The Borgias, Nurse Jackie, Weeds, Dead Like Me, Ray Donovan, House of Lies, Homeland and Masters of Sex.

BBC – Stylized and Clever Twists and Turns, Danger and Crimes

BBC
BBC offers suspenseful, clever and stylized shows with some of the familiar British dry humor. The story being told usually involves crimes and danger with some unexpected twists and turns along the way. The shows often take place in London (and the fact that the BBC headquarters are also in London doesn’t mean they’re being lazy and just go outside and film a bloody TV series instead of looking for a more distant and exquisite setting…I hope). Here are some of the BBC’s clever crime shows: Sherlock, Orphan Black, Ripper Street, Quirke, Luther, Jekyll, Inside Men, Hidden, Life on Mars, Peaky Blinders and The Shadow Line.

CBS – Sitcoms Filled With Eccentric Characters, Suspenseful Law Enforcement

CBS
CBS keeps it pretty simple – many of its shows are sitcoms filled with gags, revolving around couple relations, family relations and friendship, to spice things up and make everything more interesting the characters at the center of those sitcoms are pretty eccentric ones, as shown in: The Big Bang Theory, Two Broke Girls, How I Met Your Mother, The Crazy Ones, Mike and Molly, The Millers, Two and a Half Men, The King of Queens, Everybody Loves Raymond and $h*! My Dad Says.

The other type of shows CBS focuses on is what is known as procedural crime dramas: suspenseful shows about law enforcement and how crimes are solved. In these shows we usually see two partners who are police detectives’ team up to solve murder cases, like in: Hawaii Five-0, Elementary, Blue Bloods, CSI, CSI: NY, CSI: Miami, Criminal Minds, The Mentalist, NCIS, Person of Interest, Without a Trace, Num3ers and Cold Case.

So, there you have it – this is what the networks have to offer. How different each network is from one another and is every real network reallyformulaic in a sense…We’ll let you decide.

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The Formula to Create a Hit TV Series – Revealed!

December 4th, 2013 by Barak

Mob City is coming out December 4th on TNT. It’s a promising new periodic crime TV series (takes place during the 40′s and the 50′s) created by Frank Darabont who also created the hit TV series The Walking Dead.

Trying to create a hit TV series may seem like a lot of guesswork and chance but could there be a method to this madness? Does Mob City have what it takes to be a television sensation? We’ll start by look at 5 successful TV series creators and analyze the genes that are dominant in their hit shows, and we’ll then narrow the list down to the genes that are dominant with all of them… The formula to create a hit TV series – revealed!

5. Bryan FullerWonderfalls, Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies, Hannibal.


Dominant genes
: Clever, Offbeat, Stylized, Surreal, Deadly, Mind and Soul, Riddles and Clues, Unfulfillment.

Bryan Fuller’s shows are beautiful to look at and have a unique, very colorful, almost magical visual style; they are always surreal and dreamlike and often revolve around death. Fuller is quite obsessed with death, but come to think of it, who isn’t? His writing is sophisticated and he likes to examine all kinds of aspects of the human psyche.

4. David MilchNYPD Blue, Deadwood, Luck.


Dominant genes
: Atmospheric, Clever, Contemplative, Rough, Crimes, Friendship, Slow, Talky.

In the world of David Milch’s shows there is a unique atmosphere, a certain feel, when you watch a scene from Deadwood for example, you can’t mistake it for any other show. His shows are smart and bring up interesting philosophical ideas and thoughts. His shows are slow moving, but that only helps to create the tense atmosphere he aspires for The characters in his shows are quite chatty, and the dialogue he writes for them is superb.

3. Ricky Gervais & Stephen MerchantThe Office, Extras, The Ricky Gervais Show, Life’s Too Short.


Dominant genes
: Clever, Witty, Obnoxious, Workplace, Dry Humor, Irreverent Humor, Mockumentary, Talky.

These two comic geniuses are the masters of uncomfortable comedy; the lead character in their shows is usually obnoxious and self-involved.  The setting is often a workplace environment and they always manage to squeeze in some social commentary in their irreverent, politically incorrect way. They like to shoot their comedies in a mockumentary style and the dialogue from the minds of these two witty comedy writers is always razor sharp.

2. J.J. AbramsFelicity, Alias, Lost, Fringe, Undercovers.


Dominant genes
Clever, ExcitingStylized, Couples, Family Relations, Strong Female Presence.

A romantic drama, an action series that revolves around espionage, a mystery series with supernatural elements, a sci-fi series about a mad scientist and a humorous action series about a married couple who are also secret agents…surprisingly so, the series J.J. Abrams created, despite being from several different genres, do have a few things in common like an impressive heroine, plot lines that deal with couple and family relations in an intelligent way and an impressive visual style.

1. David SimonHomicide: Life on the Street, The Wire, Generation Kill, Treme.


Dominant genes
CleverRough, Tense, Ensemble Cast, RealismTalky, Life is a BitchMind and Soul, Society.

In David Simon’s series there is a strong sense of realism which tends to indicate that life is far from being a picnic. There is an ensemble cast of characters however no character remains undeveloped. The dialogue is excellent and contributes a lot to creating the tense tone of his shows. Simon’s brilliant shows have a lot to say about American society – from urban decay to the role of mass media in contemporary life.

Now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for:

So, after looking at 5 of the best TV series creators today, we can more or less determine the secret formula to creating a hit TV series:

A cleverly written show that’s also gritty and stylized, it has to deal with psychological issues and the characters have to talk quite a lot. Does Mob City have what it takes in order for it to be a hit TV series? It’s definitely going to be gritty and stylized, if the characters will turn out to be troubled babblers with a smart thing to say once in a while, Mob City just might be the next hit!

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Emmy’s 2013 – To Troll or not to Troll + 10 Fall Season Hopefuls

September 23rd, 2013 by Barak

This is an important month for Television, not only were the Emmy winners announced yesterday, but also many new fall shows are premiering on all of the major networks. I’ll start with my take on the Emmy’s, and then I’ll pick the 10 most promising new fall shows.

The Emmy’sThe Emmy winners were announced, and I really can’t say I trust or understand the people who choose the winners…I’ll start from the bad and end with Breaking Bad:

Modern Family won the award for best comedy series again (!), don’t they know there are other good comedies around? Louie for example. Modern Family is a nice sitcom, but it’s not a modern classic that deserves to win the Emmy 4 years in a row.

Jim Parsons is another major Emmy failure in terms of picking a deserving winner, he won 3 times in the last 4 years, years in which much more deserving nominees lost, especially Louis C.KDon Cheadle and Larry David. Parsons does a good job in The Big Bang Theory, but picking him year in year out over these three is surreal.

Moving on to drama, my guess is that Jeff Daniels won just because they couldn’t decide who to give the award to from all of the really good candidates: Bryan CranstonKevin Spacey and Jon Hamm.


As for the best miniseries/TV movie, while watching Matt Damon and Michael Douglas making out might be alluring to some, Behind the Candelabra isn’t remotely as good as Top of the Lake, the moody and powerful drama from the Sundance channel.

And now for the part in which I’ll try being positive on for size:

Claire Danes might be an obvious choice for the best dramatic actress award, but the reason that makes her such an obvious choice is that she’s so good. Jeff Daniels wasn’t an obvious choice for example, he was a bizarre one.

Anna Gun definitely deserved to win in the supporting actress in a drama category for her fantastic portrayal of Skyler White in Breaking Bad, and Bobby Cannavale‘s win was a pleasant surprise, he did a great job as Gyp Rosetti, probably the wackiest character ever seen in Boardwalk Empire, a worthy candidate to the fictional psychopaths hall of fame.

Lastly, congratulations to the Emmy decision makers, you saved yourselves from a major embarrassment when you gave the award for best drama series to Breaking Bad, what took you 5 years?! After 4 consecutive wins for Mad Men they gave the award to another excellent series – Homeland, and now Breaking Bad’s moment has arrived. Breaking Bad is\was the best TV series of 2013. While Breaking Bad finally got what was coming to it, a few modern classics never won the Emmy award for best dramatic series – Deadwood,HouseDexter (when it was still good, now it’s too late for that). I hope the same injustice won’t be made with 2 other great shows: Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones.

Moving on to the new fall TV shows, there are many new promising TV series coming your way! Actually, there are so many new fall TV shows coming up, that I had a very hard time picking the 10 that I think are going to be the very best. Did I make the right choices? Only time will tell…Show some character and make sure you don’t miss out on anything worth watching! Here are my picks for the 10 most promising new TV shows:

10. Trophy Wife (Premieres 24.9 on CBS)


The who
: This series prides itself with an impressive cast that includes Malin Akerman, Bradley Whitford and Marcia Gay Harden.

The what: A sitcom about a party girl who quite suddenly marries an older guy and finds herself dealing with his 2 overbearing ex-spouses and their mischievous children.

The what it’s like: The new Modern Family?

9. Ironside (Premieres 2.10 on NBC)


The who
: Starring Blair Underwood (In Treatment) as detective Ironside.

The what: Based on a show titled likewise that ran from 1967-1975 and deals with a tough wheelchair bound detective who with the help of his team solves the most difficult cases in New York city.

The what it’s like: Hopefully it will be better than other remakes of classic detective shows like Kojak, Dragnet and Prime Suspect.

8. Dracula (Premieres 25.10 on NBC)


The who
: Daniel Knauf, creator of the HBO series Carnivale, will be the show’s head writer, and Dracula will be played by The Tudor‘s Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

The what: A stylish looking series that tells the story of Dracula who comes to London under a false identity in order to exact revenge on those who betrayed him.

The what it’s like: The Count of Monte Cristo with sharper teeth.

7. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Premieres 17.9 on Fox)


The who
: The show’s impressive cast includes Andy Samberg, Andre Braugher, Terry Crews and Fred Armisen.

The what: A sitcom about an immature NYPD detective and his new strict boss.

The what it’s like: Something between Reno 911! and Starsky & Hutch.

6. Masters of Sex (Premieres 29.9 on Showtime)


The who
: Created by Michelle Ashford (writer in both The Pacific and John Adams), and starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan.

The what: A drama about 2 groundbreaking researchers who examined human sexuality.

The what it’s like: Kinsey with more sex and nudity.

5. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (Premieres 24.9 on ABC)


The who
: Created by Joss Whedon (Buffy, The Avengers) and starring a relatively unknown cast of actors, headed by Clark Gregg.

The what: An action sci-fi series about a select team of law enforcement agents who investigate the new, the strange, and the unknown across the globe, protecting the ordinary from the extraordinary.

The what it’s likeThe Avengers without the huge stars and the even bigger budget.

4. Hostages (Premieres 23.9 on CBS)


The who
: Alon Aranya, Omri Givon, and Rotem Shamir created an Israeli series that was never produced, Hostages is based on that series. It stars Toni Collette, Dylan McDermott and Tate Donovan.

The what: A thriller about a surgeon who gets reluctantly involved in a political conspiracy when her family is taken hostage by a rogue FBI Agent.

The what it’s like: Wants to be Homeland, might be more like Harrison Ford‘s 2006 movie Firewall.

3. Hello Ladies (Premieres 29.9 on HBO)


The who
: The series was created by the lesser known member of the comedy writing team that includes Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant…Stephen Merchant. Another comedy writing duo helped create the series – Gene Stupinsky and Lee Eisenberg who also co-wrote many episodes of the American version of The Office. Merchant is also the star of the show.

The what: A socially awkward Englishman comes to Los Angeles in order to find the woman of his dreams.

The what it’s like: The Mindy Project meets How I Met Your Mother with a touch of The Office?

2. Almost Human (Premieres 4.11 on Fox)


The who
: Executive produced by the TV god J.J. Abrams (Lost, Fringe), and stars Karl Urban (Dredd) and Michael Ealy (Sleeper Cell).

The what: A futuristic action sci-fi series about a police department in which human detectives are paired with life-like androids.

The what it’s like: I, Robot and Dredd.

1. Peaky Blinders (Premiered 12.9 on BBC Two)


The who
: Created by Steven Knight (also wrote Eastern Promises) and stars Cillian Murphy and Sam Neill.

The what: A gangster saga that takes place around 1919 and deals with an Irish gang and the tough law enforcer out to get them. It’s stylized, tense and atmospheric and if you’re into crime dramas you must see it.

The what it’s like: Boardwalk Empire, The Black Donnellys.

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New Summer TV for you to OMNOMNOM on

August 4th, 2013 by Barak

Can you feel the heat? Summer has arrived and with it some very interesting TV shows. While you’re sitting in your home, letting the air condition cool you off, let us recommend you 5 new TV shows that look very promising and 5 returning ones that will make this summer even hotter than it already is:

New Shows

5. Low Winter Sun

Low Winter Sun is a remake of a British series titled likewise, and it stars the same impressive leading actor (Mark Strong). AMC’s most famous crime drama, Breaking Bad, is coming to an end real soon and Low Winter Sun might be a worthy crime drama to replace the masterful show. The series was adapted to U.S TV by Chris Mundy (writer in both Hell on Wheels and Criminal Minds) and premieres August 11th.

4. The Bridge

The original Danish\Swedish TV show “The Bridge” was amazing, the plot had many twists and turns, the 2 main characters were flawed in a way that made it easy to relate to them, and the show had its own atmosphere and style that distinguished it from any other similarly themed shows. As for the American remake, I can’t really say it’s just as good, but it’s definitely what you’d call quality TV. It manages to be quite close to the original (which is good) and also have its own thing going on; which is great and makes it a must see show as far as I’m concerned.

3. Orange is the New Black


After Lilyhammer, House of Cards, Hemlock Grove and the revival of Arrested Development, now comes from Netflix – Orange is the New Black. It seems that Netflix is becoming the new HBO! A compelling ensemble cast of characters, dark and cynical humor, moving moments… the series blends nicely humor and drama. Convincing acting and brilliant writing make Orange is the New Black into one of the must see shows of this summer. It’s so hyped that you might stop existing if you won’t hurry up and watch it a.s.a.p.

2. The Fall

The Fall is one of the best crime series to come out of Britain in recent years, The acting in this series is top notch (especially from blonde (!) Gillian Anderson), and also the writing and the directing, but the series’ secret weapon is its haunting score. The Fall is a cat & mouse/detective & killer series just like another new TV show, The Following, but it’s hard to explain how superior The Fall is in comparison to The Following…

1. Ray Donovan

Ray Donovan is one of the best American crime dramas in recent years (I still don’t feel confident enough to mention it in the same sentence with Breaking Bad, The Sopranos, or The Wire, but maybe that will change soon). It’s rough, clever and tense and benefits from great performances by Liev Schreiber and Jon Voight. The show’s creator\head writer – Ann Biderman (also created Southland) is a masterful storyteller and I highly recommend you tune in every week and watch!

Returning Shows

5. Suits (2011)


If you missed the 1st 2 seasons of Suits you should know it’s a very witty show with great performances from the entire cast, engaging romantic subplots and some high stakes power struggles. Season 3 started out strongly, and it seems that the wait was worth it.

4. Luther (2010)

Idris Elba does a great job here portraying a police detective on the edge, with a strong tendency toward vigilantism. Luther’s 3rd season started airing recently after a 2 year break! Way too much for the show’s fans. Season 3 offers the same cool and charismatic central character, the same violent, suspenseful and at times gory moments, but it’s a lot scarier than the 1st two seasons (I admit, after watching the 1st episode I systematically check under my bed before I go to sleep…).

3. Hell on Wheels (2011)


Hell on Wheels’ 3rd season will premier August 3rd and will be the highlight of AMC’s westerns Saturday – during the day classic western movies will air, and in the evening a new episode of Hell on Wheels. The series isn’t as good as Deadwood (then again, not many shows are), but it’s still a show every fan of westerns should watch.

2. Dexter (2006)


After 8 seasons in which we got a glimpse into the mind of a psychopath, Dexter is coming to an end (the series; or maybe also the character?). The first 3 seasons were the best of the series in my opinion, way better than the ones that followed, but I’m hoping that the 8th and final season will be good enough in order to give the show the ending it deserves.

1. Breaking Bad (2008)


One of the best shows ever made is coming to an end this summer (why oh why?!) and everyone are extremely anxious to know how…The series got darker and darker with each passing season so my guess is that it’s going to end bad (just like the 2nd word in the show’s title!). Walter and Jessie repenting for their sins, donating their money to charity and spending the rest of their lives peacefully in their suburban comfort… That’s something that’s not going to happen.

Other good shows that I neglected to mention in my post (or did I?): Under the Dome (Not close to being the new Lost, but still has its moments), Axe Cop (offbeat animated comedy from Fox), Strike Back (4th season begins August 9th), The White Queen (great…for fans of period costume dramas) and In the Flesh (if you saw The Walking Dead and World War Z but feel there aren’t enough zombies in your life).
Enjoy your summer! (Indoors watching TV of course)

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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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