The fall “first season” is over, and now we are into TV’s “second season.” With shorter 10-episode seasons becoming the norm for cable, this second season will not only usher in the return of some familiar series but will also give the launch of a few promising new series with excellent pedigrees.
Is TV’s Renaissance Over?
There is also the very significant departure of AMC’s Mad Men. Perhaps the last remaining series that got this high-quality binge-watching TV ball rolling.
The end of Mad Men begs the question we consumers of television’s renaissance have been silently wondering – is this run of incredible serialized drama finally finished? I know a lot of us thought it was last year. Then, out of the blue came True Detective restoring our hope that the next Sopranos, Friday Night Lights, or Breaking Bad was on the way. But then season 2 of True Detective is a big disappointment. Oh well!
This year also saw the fall conclusions of two B+ shows, completely different, but excellent in their way, Sons of Anarchy and Parenthood. So now, the eternal question – what should I set my DVR to record?
- Game of Thrones – Returning for its 5th season, HBO’s highest-cost-per-episode series promises this year to “kill off different folks from the book.” With dragons, the imp and George R.R. Martin’s source material, this is the best show on TV.
- Mad Men – The show that put AMC on the map while creating new standards for realism detail in a period drama, the final eight episodes of The eagerly anticipated return of Don Draper’s sad and successful life is returning April 5. Could this be the best last season payoff since Breaking Bad? How can you not find out?
- Orphan Black – BBC’s wonderfully odd futuristic series about clones is more than just a showcase for Tatiana Maslany in her 10 + roles; it’s also highly entertaining keep-you-guessing drama.
- House of Cards – Kevin Spacey won the Emmy this year for his terrific portrayal of the amoral politician Frank Underwood on Netflix. Now president-elect, will this new place take the series over the top like Showtime’s Homeland?
- Bosch – New! – Amazon Prime just released this 10-episode series of best-selling author Michael Connelly’s chief protagonist Harry Bosch. Set in LA with a great cast. Will this be more Southland than Law and Order. Titus Welliver is terrific as Bosch.
- Better Call Saul – New! – The latest from Breaking Bad’s team. The first three episodes on AMC were promising with a 10-minute standoff scene in episode 2 that was both brutal and hilarious. Where will it go? Will Walter White show up? Can Bob Odenkirk carry a series by himself?
- The Good Wife – Returning March 1, this is broadcast TV’s best show. CBS’s episodic, perfectly cast, wonderfully written (mostly by husband and wife team of Robert and Michelle King) has great energy and keeps getting better every year.
- Veep – Yes, only one comedy here. While Larry David continues on hiatus from Curb Your Enthusiasm (now appearing on Broadway in an original show), this is TV’s smartest comedy. Julia Louis Dreyfus is simply amazing at being likable and despicable at the same time. Returns to HBO April 12.
Walking Dead, Homeland, Masters of Sex, Outlander, and Fargo had very promising first seasons. We’ll wait and see what comes.
Whatever the case, some excellent TV is on the way.