Tag Archives: Raising Hope

What Google says about TV shows.

7 Dec

The predictive nature of the Google Search has provided plenty of material for comedians (like here), but I’ve recently found that it’s also a handy tool to find the general concensus of new and old TV shows without having to ask message boards, read reviews or actually watch a show myself.

So to save you the time I’ve compiled some of these here, and will add whether there’s any huge inaccurracies (you’ll notice there aren’t many).

But learn from this and use this method to decide what show you’re going to watch next…

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The new TV season is nearly here; your daily guide on the shows to watch…

14 Sep

It’s been a long summer of little TV – though thanks to off-season episodes of Burn Notice and The Good Guys it wasn’t completely sparse – but the major shows are returning to American and British TV screens very soon (nearly all of these on the list air from next week, some have already started and a couple start in a month or so).

Some shows, like Dexter on Showtime, will show in the States in the next two weeks but not make an appearance in the UK for at least another year. But for those super-fans who are eager to not have shows spoiled, by those damned natives who get the show at the time of airing, we find ways to watch them the day after they air. Maybe one day channels in the UK will respond and ditch the silly out-dated gaps between airing episodes of the shows that are so reliant on twists and turns – but that argument is best left for another article.

So although I’m very aware there are similar lists like this elsewhere on the net, this is a day-by-day guide of the shows that some may miss without a prod in the right direction (and it’s an utter fluke I found out about some of these shows making a return, like Eastbound & Down). If I’ve missed any shows that you think are worth adding to this list then shoot over an email to mediacrity.net@gmail.com and shout at me to add it.

Click on any of the pictures to see them in glorious full size.


Mondays

The Inbetweeners: Season 3 – E4

Possibly one of the shows most sought after at the moment, thanks to the pure simple genius of the first two series. The simple premise of four fairly unpopular kids at a school in a decidedly middle-class part of Britain, complete with many many references to ‘clunge’, ‘flange’ and ‘muff’ provide probably the most accurate portrayal of 18 year old males ever recorded – with hilarious results. It’s a simple premise done fantastically well and not too much needs to be said about the return of arguably the best comedy currently still airing in the UK today.

The Big C: Season 1 – Showtime

As of tonight, The Big C is at episode four and has been consistently good in the three episodes that have so far gone out on Showtime. Laura Linney is a shoe-in for the Best Actress Emmy if she keeps this up, and the rest of the cast are consistently good too. Although the whole ‘cancer’ thing doesn’t seem the most appealing thing to lounge back and watch, and I’d totally agree, but this is definitely this year’s ‘Cougar Town’ – seemingly soft and feminist on the surface, but actually strangely light-hearted and quality if you dig a little deeper and stick with it.

Chuck: Season 4 – NBC (and Channel One in the UK)

I’ll admit I’m only at the start of season two of Chuck, a definite late-comer, but if it’s as good now than the episodes I’m up to then in a few weeks I’ll be definitely looking forward to new episodes. It’s not particularly clever or gripping, but it’s solid entertainment – you can’t ask for much more than that.

House: Season 7 – Fox (and Sky 1 in the UK)

I can’t believe the procedural adventures of Gregory House has gone on for six seasons and near 150 episodes, baffling. And this seventh season kicks off in only a week, with the slight twist at the end of the last season sure to provide a different dynamic for this season. I’m not looking forward to it as much as I was last season’s premiere, which was the brilliantly done hour and a half episode in the psychiatric hospital, but the show has been an absolute must-watch since season one and I’ve no doubt the latest season will be equally as good.

The Event: Season 1 – NBC (and picked up by Channel 4 in the UK)

This could still go either way, and with confirmation that ‘the event’ (so annoyingly mentioned in the promo) involves aliens, I am left perplexed whether this will be any good. It’ll take a few episodes to find out – as the other alien invasion drama ‘V’ demonstrated last year – but I’d suggest that if Channel 4 were willing to drop big bucks for it then this could be half decent (let’s not forget they were the ones who introduced Lost and The West Wing to the UK). But another alien invasion drama, hmm..

Adventure Time: Season 1 – Cartoon Network

Yes, I know it’s a cartoon and shouldn’t be in the same category as shows such as House and The Event, but Adventure Time truly is a diamond in the rough when it comes to children’s TV cartoon’s that cater and entertain adults just as much as the kids. Creator Pendleton Ward writes beautiful ten minute tales about the eccentric adventures of Finn and his dog Jake, often with simple but deceivingly truthful and worthwhile morals. If you’re still unsure whether this shows deserves your ten minutes a week, check out the episode entitled ‘Business Time’ or ‘Tree Trunks’ – both of them show the surprising genius in the show.

Tuesdays


This Is England ’86: Series 1 – Channel 4

It’s a good little run for Channel 4 at the moment; they’ve ended the criminally tired Big Brother, they have a new series of The Inbetweeners, they’ve snagged the most sought after new American drama from under Sky’s nose (The Event) and now this – four hour long episodes set three years after the brilliant movie This Is England, bringing back the original cast and director to boot. The first episode aired last week and, if I’m honest, wasn’t exactly all I’d hoped for. It’s slow-burning over this extended period (whilst the film managed to cram in a whole grim 80’s British world in an hour and a half) but I’m hoping things will pick up in the last three episodes. Essential viewing, and this is another example of how movies and TV are narrowing the gap in terms of quality and cast.

Glee: Season 2 – Fox (and Channel 4 / E4 in the UK)

Most of us have watched it, and some went in utterly convinced they were going to hate it but were won over by the self-aware humour and catchy songs. Well, thankfully, it’s back. I do wonder how they’re going to keep this up for much more than a season or two, especially as the cast are at ages where their appearances will change quite quickly, but I’m happy for an hour a week of cheesy cover songs (and I usually hate musicals).

Raising Hope: Season 1 – Fox (and picked up by Sky 1 in the UK)

The funniest comedy of the new season (even better than the one written by the cast of Arrested Development, Running Wilde, that plays after it) is Raising Hope, the story of how one deadbeat guy and his family are left with the daunting job of looking after a baby (named, yes, Hope). It’s by the creator of My Name Is Earl, a show I personally wasn’t a massive fan of, and it’s much sharper and should appeal to any self-appreciating comedy fan. Bound to be one of the best received comedies of the new season.

Running Wilde: Season 1 – Fox

From the writing team of Arrested Development, and starring Will Arnett (Gob in AD) as… basically the same character as in Arrested Development, but with more money. I’ve seen the pilot and it’s ‘good’ but left me a little empty, with some of the jokes falling flat (not helped that the best bits are in the promo). But this is going to be worth seeing just for the moments of genius we know the writers can produce. This hasn’t been picked up in the UK yet (Arrested Development has never rated at all, so I doubt this will be touched by a network) so whether this will last more than season remains to be seen…

Sons Of Anarchy: Season 3 – FX (and on Bravo in the UK)

This is apparently as good as Sopranos, although I’ve sadly had no time to find out if this is true. But the motorbikes and gangs drama is into it’s third season and promises the same bowt of revved engine frollicks of the past. I must check this out one day, but countless reviews tell me this is worth adding to the list.

Caprica: Season 1 – Syfy (and Sky 1 in the UK)

The concluding half of Caprika has been brought forward to October 5th, which is good news for all those sci-fi fans out there who need their weekly dose of galactic policitics. As you may have read on this post I have yet to see Battlestar Gallactica, so I still have some way before I can dip into this. But if it’s half as good as Battlestar Galactica, which numerous friends are convinced is the best show ever, then I will consume this one of these days / years.

Wednesdays


South Park: Season 14 – Comedy Central

The second half of the currently ‘quite’ strong Season 14 continues at the start of October. The double episode ‘200’ made up for a few duff episodes in the previous season, but the episode that followed it (possibly in response to the censoring by the network) was painfully bad – hopefully there’ll be no more of that in the upcoming episodes. And more Randy!

Outlaw: Season 1 – NBC

After brilliant performances in The West Wing and Dexter, my slight man-crush on Jimmy Smits continues with this political drama. The promo doesn’t look like the most interesting thing ever, but I am confident it’ll be an intelligent drama with solid performances – and after Glee the previous night, I’m happy to soak in some ‘proper’ TV that may teach me a thing or two.

The Whole Truth: Season 1 – ABC

I thought this legal drama seemed really interesting from the promo, as we follow both sides of the courtroom and not actually find out which one ‘wins’ or is ‘right’ until the end. I’m intrigued that the viewer is part of the jury, in a sense, and only finds out whether the defendant actually ‘did it’ at the end. It’s a different spin on a genre I have a soft spot for, and although there’s been casting mix-ups (Maura Tierney, best known in ER and recently fighting off cancer, is cast after Joely Richardson dropped out – the pilot actually stars her and had to be re-filmed) but the new promo looks ‘just’ as good so I’m definitely looking forward to this.

Thursdays


Nikita: Season 1 – The CW (and picked up by Living in the UK)

Yes, the promo material for the show isn’t great (above) and makes it look girly and rubbish, but this is a surprisingly great drama from The CW (a channel not normally home to such solid dramas). Maggie Q is smokin’ as Nikita, a character created by Leon and Fifth Element writer and director Luc Besson, and this iteration of the story (it’s already been a movie and TV show in recent years) looks to be equally as good, if not better. So if you’ve already seen this plot pan out then give it a look to see if it is as good, and if you haven’t then this is a brilliant way to discover a story that’s so good it’s been brought back again. The pilot aired last week so you’re already behind, so catch-up quick – it’s heavy on spoilers and twists so make sure you keep up!

My Generation: Season 1 – ABC

You’re not heard of this one, right? This is probably the biggest risk being taken by a network this year, as My Generation looks from the promo like an impossible sell. But I’ve seen the pilot and I can tell you it splits the audience right in half – and I happened to be in the half that loved it. The plot follows a group of people who were in school together and, ten years later, we find out what they’re up to (and how the last decade of world events, American based mainly, have affected them). It’s fictional but shot in a documentary style and is very well acted to really suck the viewer into the drama on-screen. Anyone at University at the time the characters were (the year 2000) will find this especially affecting, I imagine, as it’s basically an ode to that generation that is just beginning to bloom into life, after using the last decade as the building blocks of a career or family. This is definitely one to see if you’re interested in a truly different drama that may not be given a chance ordinarily, and I really hope this makes it through to at least a full season.

An Idiot Abroad: Season 1 – Sky 1

Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s pet chimp is travelling the world to explore the seven worders – and the Manc moaner is on top form, if the preview show is anything to go by. It begins in China, where I really hope he meets a homeless Chinese fella (he’s bound to!), and then future episodes include Egypt and Peru. This is surprisingly the show that is bound to look the best in HD too – his round head will glow orange in the sun in pixel perfect quality!

Burn Notice: Season 4 – USA Network (and on Five USA in the UK, although it’s far behind sadly)

The second half of Season 4 continues, as the adventures of Michael Western continue. To be honest, I’m not wholly sure what’s going on in terms of the greater arc of the plot, but the characters and procedural element is the reason I watch with anticipation week-after-week. Plus cool beer drinking Sam (soon to get his own prequel film!), sexy Fi (‘fee’) and the oh-so-swagger Michael are always a joy to watch…

Jersey Shore: Season 2 – MTV

It’s loved and hated in equal measure, but the ridiculous shenanigans of the folks from Jersey Shore (and now in Miami) is as strangely gripping as it ever has been. Their morals and activities may not relate to everyone but it does make great television, even if some snobs describe it as the ultimate car-crash TV ever created. They need to chill out, lie back and watch Mike, Snooks and Pauly D teach them a thing or two about ‘grenades’ and ‘smooching’.

It’s Always Sunny In California: Season 6 – FX

After five seasons and a film, the gang are back in their back in this surprisingly successful comedy from FX. I’ve seen the first two seasons and found it funny enough, well worth a half hour a week, and Danny Devito’s return to comedy is actually brilliant.

Fridays


The Good Guys: Season 1 – Fox

The first few episodes of the season, a few months ago, were far from brilliant – yes. But The Good Guys has slowly grown more confident, both cast and writers, and it’s starting to blossom into a show I look forward to when it’s on. Yes, it’s got all the depth of a dishcloth (the recurring story arc is dire) but the clever time switches used for the procedural aspect of the show is well worth 40 minutes of your time a week. Plus Bradley Whitford (of The West Wing) is brilliant as a cop stuck in the eighties.

The Increasingly Poor Decision Of Todd Margaret, Series 1 – Channel 4

David Cross (best known as Tobias in Arrested Development) stars in, refreshingly, a British comedy about a hapless bloke who has the worst luck imaginable. The original pilot aired last year (almost as a test to see how it both rated and was critically received) and seems to have passed as a series continues in a couple of weeks. I didn’t find the pilot brilliant though, it was odd seeing David Cross as anything other than Tobias (or a stand-up) but the first two minutes (where he’s arrested and a judge reads out a ridiculous list of crimes he’s committed) means I’ll be returning just to see how he could possibly commit them all.

Sundays


Dexter: Season 5 – Showtime (and FX in about a year)

The king has returned! After a truly brilliant season four, with an end that took most viewer’s breath away, we return to the scene of the crime and the exhaustive repercussions that are bound to arise. Michael C Hall’s portrayal of the ‘good serial killer’ is riveting, as good as Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad, and the 12 episodes of Season 5 are bound to be as good as the previous four – why? Because the writing team is at a creative high, the cast are fully settled in and the plot pieces they’ve laid down for the season leave a thousand scintillating possibilities.

Boardwalk Empire: Season 1 – HBO (and picked up by Sky in the UK)

The shows that could break new boundaries between film and TV, this big budget HBO drama starring Steve Buscemi (everyone’s favourite extra) is set in the prohibition era in America and looks to be every bit as good as the hype suggests. With Martin Scorcese overlooking for quality control, and a look and atmosphere that’s going to look gorgeous in HD, this is truly breathtaking scale for a TV show and is one not to be missed…

Eastbound & Down: Season 2 – HBO

The best comedy that no-one has seen, the story of Kenny Powers is a massively under-rated comedy that first aired quietly last year on HBO. It’s been a year and a half since then and the story seems to have taken a strange turn, with seemingly most of the (well-loved) characters ditched. I’m a little nervous about this, but if the same writing team is on board then this will be absolute comedy gold.

Rubicon: Season 1 – AMC (and it’s been picked up by BBC2 / BBC4 in the UK)

I’ll admit I’ve only seen the first two episodes so far, I’m leaving this on the back-burner until I have a whole day to watch them all through in one, but this is the third AMC drama (along with Mad Men and Breaking Bad) in a trilogy of near-perfection. So my doubts that the first two episodes are a little slow and boring I am sure are just thoughts I need to refrain from – the show is meant to be slow burning and tense, and just as long as the build-up is worth it this could be one of the best of the season

The Walking Dead: Season 1 – AMC (and FX in the UK)

The second show, after Broadwalk Empire, that is lessening the distance between movies and television. The Walking Dead will be the fourth AMC drama and what a brilliantly anticipated show it is! Directed by Shawshank Redemption director Frank Darabont, it’s a high concept comic book adaptation that promises to spice up Halloween (when it’s hour and a half pilot is aired) and with a second season already order, before any minutes have aired, this just needs a Bruce Campbell cameo to have the potential to be perfect.

Mad Men: Season 4 – AMC (and BBC 4 in the UK)

I’ve added it because of constant proclamations of ‘best show ever’ from the people I work with, and with another Emmy (for best drama) win under its belt it’s obviously doing something right. I’m only up to episode ten of Season 1 so far, so the hype is a little lost on me…

There may be more shows worth seeing this year – The Defenders and Lone Star both have ‘potential’ – but these are the ones I’d recommend should be on everyone’s list for the upcoming TV season. I can’t wait.

As a little reminder, if I’ve missed any shows that you think are worth adding to this list then shoot over an email to mediacrity.net@gmail.com and demand I add it.

The top 10 new shows of the upcoming 2010 US TV season…

14 Aug

After watching quite a few of the pilots for the upcoming season of US television I thought I’d share my thoughts on the best shows coming out in the next few months (and some of which have already started very recently).

I won’t include the mid-season shows that I’ve seen, like Walking Dead (on AMC) or Love Bites (on NBC, that’s had half the cast drop out or get pregnant), and some of couple of the entries are picked from impressive credentials (and not on the pilot or first few episodes).

It’s been a pretty shoddy season in some respects, and I think I may have enough shows to fill a ‘Top 10 Worst shows of the upcoming 2010 US TV season’, but there’s also some really brilliant shows out there too (though some are a little tucked away and may need some pointers to find when they finally come to air).

So here goes…

10. Mary Shelley’s Frankenhole.


From the equally fantastic and baffling mind of Dino Stamatopoulos (what a name!), the creator of the criminally underrated stop-motion claymation Moral Orel, comes another new clay/papermation with a twisted vibe cast across it.

I’ve seen the first five (ten minute) episodes so far and was definitely underwhelmed at first, as I was with the first few episodes of Moral Orel, but the fifth episode (entitled ‘Attack Of The Were-Lawrence’) had a glimpse of the genius that I was waiting for. For the sake of ten minutes a week, even if 1/5 are of ‘great’ quality then I definitely reckon it’s worth sticking with.

The show airs on Adults Swim in the US at 12.30am on Sundays. It hasn’t currently been picked up in the UK (although it may end up on the Adult Swim segments on FX).

9. The Event.


Like a couple more of the entries in this list, I’ve yet to see the pilot episode of this (because I was annoyingly off on a half-day when we had a screening of it). However, the buzz around the office was clear that this was ‘probably’ going to be the show with the biggest marketing push when it’s released (at the moment it seems to be doing a bit of an Avatar, with a mysteriously low key presence at the moment that is sure to build-up to annoyingly in-your-face promotions close to release date).

The extended promo I saw seemed solid enough, I guess, but whether it truly captures the Lost and 24 market, as it’s clearly hoping to capitalise on, or go the way of Flashforward remains to be seen – but if the makers think the hook of ‘bla bla bla is not The Event’ (as seen in the first trailer) is a surefire winner then viewers will turn over in droves.

The Event begins on Monday September 20th at 9pm on NBC in the US. It will air on Channel 4 from (around) October.

8. Nikita

One of the biggest surprises of the screenings this year was the Maggie Q fronted thriller / drama Nikita. Why? Because The CW is a channel that isn’t naturally associated with dramas I enjoy watching, with it’s main staples like 90210 and Gossip Girl littering the schedule. It generally feels like a much younger, female, soppier channel that I’d usually find things I enjoy watching, and it’s not helped that the worst pilot I saw this year (that I watched before this) is also premiering on The CW.

But Nikita was genuinely a solid, watchable thriller. I thought, at first, that Maggie Q was a poor choice for the lead role, as she struggled to captivate me in the first 15 minutes, but I warmed to her quickly and think she ‘does’ have the credentials to pull this through. The initial concept of a secret underground school of assassins seems a little forced, and some of the scenes there were a little cheesy, but I was oddly intrigued on how the title character would manage to infiltrate and destroy it – and the delicious twist at the end made it even more intriguing! The action scenes were solid, the writing wasn’t embarrassing (like many of the network’s most promoted shows) and if the twists and turns of the pilot continue for a full season then I know I’ll stick with Nikita to the end…

Nikita begins at Thursday 9th September at 9pm on The CW. It has been picked up by Living in the UK and will begin shortly after that.

7. My Generation

I watched the initial promo to this seemed to have a Marmite effect when I first watched it with a group of people – I found it captivating, fresh and was intrigued how this would play out. The other half of people said it looked boring, was too niche sounding and would almost definitely be canned after a few episodes.

The pilot finally came in and had a similar reaction from people. I loved it, respected the limitations the documentary format had to pull the plot forward but found it really interesting how they tied real-world events (with a very American skew, obviously) into the lives of these seemingly random people who all left University at the same time (in 2000). There’s every stereotype under the sun (the jock, the nerd, the rich guy etc) and in a surprisingly unforced way we learn what they’re up to now (something I can relate to right now, as I pry the Facebook pages of old school people to see what they are doing now). I think the documentary style (similar to The Office, in a sense) has the opportunity to create really powerful moments, assuming this show does get the chance to play out to a full season.

The characters are intriguing, the setting isn’t madly riveting but it’s interesting enough and the entangled lives of these people (after so long) has a pull that really drew me in to keep watching. Again, many people who saw this hated it and there were others who loved it – I happen to fall onto that latter side, and I really hope there’s enough of us for this not to be cancelled before it’s given a proper run.

My Generations begins on Thursday September 23rd on ABC. It hasn’t been picked up by a UK channel yet (and probably fits best on BBC4 or More4).

6. Rubicon

The channel behind the brilliant Breaking Bad and Mad Men enters the fray with a third attempt to make a classic drama; have they done it?

Well the pilot episode (which is sadly where I’m up to so far) suggests… quite possibly! It’s not as approachable as Mad Men or contain as many interesting characters as Breaking Bad (though how many shows do?) but it has a certain something that I loved. It’s packed to the brim with mystery, with the lead characters reminding me a little of Jonathan Creek. The atmosphere throughout the first episode was mournful, with little touches like the protagonists office by a busy main road that oddly added some real depth to sometimes long, dialogue heavy scenes.

Where’s the show going to go from here? Will it be more procedural from now on or will it continue down the winding, unforgiving path that the viewer is currently on? If the quality keeps up and there’s pay-offs to all these mysteries that tread the fine line of not dragging on to long but being satisfying to the viewer then this can sit proudly with the current AMC crop.

Rubicon airs on Sunday nights on AMC. It hasn’t been picked up by a UK channel yet (and probably fits best on BBC2 / BBC4).

5. Running Wilde

Much of the team behind Arrested Development are back and, amazingly, on the same channel that treated them so badly during the brilliant comedies first venture. Well Fox is certainly taking a risk as no matter how brilliant Arrested Development is it never rated, no matter what they did. The same is in the UK, where every channel that has ever tried to air it in a regular slot has been rewarded with tiny ratings (see: BBC2, Virgin 1…) and seems to be the odd mix of genius and unwatchable on live television.

But none-the-less, the team of Mitch Hurwitz (lead writer) and Will Arnett (Gob) are back on the screens of Fox and in a show that, during the pilot at least, gave me a slightly nauseous feeling throughout. It’s not that the show is ‘bad’ (hence it being number five on this list) but I was also aware that this was, if anything, even more difficult (for the broader public) and niche than Arrested Development and, therefore, will probably go the same way as it.

I’ve placed Running Wilde at number five because I think it could go either way. The pilot had some brilliant one liners (right up there with the best Arrested Development ones) but it didn’t have that genius interconnected plot, with the awesome pay-off, as Arrested Development rewarded us with every episode. Some of the other characters are strong, especially Wilde’s rival, but I felt that this still has some way to go to have a chance of being in the same ranks as it’s predecessor. It’s definitely one for the ‘must watch’ list, and I do have faith that it can be special (especially with David Cross, AKA Tobias in AD, on board in future episodes) but there’s also a niggling worry that it’s not quite there yet.

Running Wilde begins on Tuesday September 21st on Fox. It’s not been picked up in the UK yet (and probably fits best on E4, BBC2 or FX)

4. Outlaw

This is another slightly risky entry, as this is the second show in the list that I’ve yet to see. I watched the promo and was excited to see Jimmy Smits in another major role – I loved him in The West Wing and Dexter and he’s definitely one of my favourite faces to watch on the small screen.

The plot sounds promising too, as a Supreme Justice judge quits his prestigious role to become a smalltime lawyer to try and fix some of the (many) problems in US law today. If it’s as intelligent and well written as it looks, and I’ve no doubt it will be, then this may become one of my favourite shows of this new season. It had a slight West Wing feel to it and I’ve missed that kind of grand ideology television that it delivered so perfectly, so this could tick the box that Aaron Sorkin used to offer up on a weekly basis.

Outlaw begins on Friday Septeber 24th on NBC. It hasn’t been picked up in the UK yet (and probably fits best on BBC4 or More4).

3. Raising Hope

Every year there tends to be a break-out show that captures the public imagination and latches on to common folklore for the next couple of years. Last year it was Glee, and it’s been shows like Heroes, Lost, Scrubs etc in the past. Shows that people at work talk about, shows that entertain the masses and don’t really challenge them too much either.

Well I predict that, probably, the big break-out hit of this year will be Raising Hope. There’s nothing particularly different about it, and it doesn’t have this snug fit into the gap in the market that The Event has thanks to the end of Lost and 24, but it’s simply the funniest and most charming pilot of this year and I unexpectedly witnessed a bidding war in the UK for it purely down to that opening episode (that was ultimately won by the seemingly unlimited coffers of Sky).

It follows a clueless teenager as he finds out he has a baby, and the first ten minutes (as it runs up to that moment) zip along at a pace that is both narratively refreshing and hilarious. And as he slowly comes to grips with responsibilities and dirty nappies (something I can barely comprehend) his dysfunctional family (with mental grandmother in toe) come together and vow to (just about) raise baby Hope as best they can.

If Sky 1 can get an audience to the first episode then the sheer quality and number of laughs that this rewards viewers will guarantee them a hit. They slightly failed on that with last year’s new comedy Modern Family, that did ‘ok’ but hardly resonated across popular culture, and this is a better, more marketable show that has the potential to be the break-out commercial hit of this upcoming year. We’ll see…

Raising Hope begins on Tuesday September 21st on Fox. It’s been picked up by Sky 1 in the UK and should air around a week after that.

2. The Big C

The best pilot I’ve seen this year has to be for Showtime’s drama The Big C, which brings together a cast that would be impressive in a film – let alone on television!

Laura Linney (best known, in my mind, as the wife in The Truman Show), Gabrielle Sidibe (who won the Oscar this year for her brilliant portrayal of a New York student in Precious), Oliver Platt (who has been in countless films and television shows, best known to me as White House council Oliver Babish in The West Wing) and Idris Elba (best known in The Wire) all star in the show, about Laura Linney’s good natured but difficult struggle when she finds out she has incurable cancer.

Many of the people who watched the pilot with me compared it to Six Feet Under, in that it’s ultimately a black comedy about death and family. But I saw it more like a darker Cougar Town (Courteney Cox’s attempt at not being Monica in Friends, in what turns out to be a surprisingly solid feel-good comedy) – where main characters come to terms with difficult circumstances (divorce on Cougar Town, cancer in this) and see it as an opportunity (seeking younger men in Cougar Town, building a swimming pool and generally setting herself free of life’s norms in this). At times The Big C was hilarious, as the brilliant cast all make each role their own, and other times it was incredibly sad (especially the final scene) – this was genuinely quality television for every minute it was on, and Laura Linney is definitely a shoe-in for an Emmy next year too.

1. Broadwalk Empire

Is it possible for anything else to be number one this year?

The one show that may finally bridge the gap between television and movies, to finally unite them into one visual art medium. Although I’ve yet to see the pilot, the promo confirms this is gorgeous and set in an era that is absolutely compelling and rich in plot potential. Steve Buscemi (the cult favourite in many classic films) stars as a gangster in the prohibition era in America, where alcohol was banned and a new era and surprisingly exciting era in the country’s history dawned.

Created by Terence Winter (who also created a little known show called The Sopranoes) and backed by Goodfellas genius Martin Scorsese, with a cast and visual aesthetic easily as acomplished as any major motion picture, this really is classic television on the making.

Broadwalk Empire begins on Sunday September 19th on HBO. It’s been picked up as part of the HBO-exclusive deal that Sky struck recently, so will probably air on Sky 1 or Sky Movies Premiere in October.

So that’s it.

It’s looking to be a good television season this year, and with my favourite established shows (bar Lost) all making a return this looks like my hours after work will be firmly on my HD screen.

Hopefully this will guide a few people at least to some of the gems in this year’s crop and hopefully, just hopefully, they all live up to what their pilots (or promos) suggest.