With so many great series coming to their conclusions in the past two years, the big question for those of us living lives of quiet desperation that require at least one hour a day of high-quality video entertainment is… what to watch?
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.
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.
This begs the question we consumers of television’s renaissance have been silently wondering – is this run of excellent serialized drama finally over? 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.
With the fall conclusions of two B+ shows, Sons of Anarchy and Parenthood – what should I set my DVR to record?
Here is no particular order are my recommendations.
- Game of Thrones – Returning for its 5th season, HBO’s highest-cost-per-episode series promises to “kill off different folks from the book this year.” 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 Don Draper’s sad and successful life are eagerly anticipated on 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 a highly entertaining keep-you-guessing drama. The premiere is on April 18.
- 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? We’ll have to see when all the episodes become available Friday, February 27, for a weekend of binge-watching.
- Bosch – New! – Amazon Prime 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? On now.
- The Good Wife – Returning March 1, broadcast TV’s best show. CBS’s episodic, perfectly cast, wonderfully written (primarily by the husband and wife team of Robert and Michelle King) has incredible energy and keeps getting better every year.
- Veep – Yes, 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 most brilliant comedy. Julia Louis Dreyfus is simply excellent at being horrible and likable at the same time. Returns to HBO on April 12.
I’m sure there are some favorites I missed. I am walking Dead, Homeland, Masters of Sex, True Detective, Outlander, Fargo, and the Blacklist. Some won’t be back until summer; others aren’t my favorites.
Whatever the case, some excellent TV is on the way.