Tag Archives: This Is England 86

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.