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Fall TV Anti…ci…pation Part II – Returning Shows O’Shininess

I love Sundays. They’re so restful. I mean, other than the things I should be doing that I’m not. Like cleaning. And errands. And baking. Things like that. But no! No, I refuse to deprive you of what you’ve been promised!

Friday we discussed shows in the fall season I will not, under any circumstances, be watching. We discussed them while I was most likely dying. Well! Today I am STILL most likely dying, but it’s been two days, so I’m obviously much closer to death’s door than I was two days ago. But I refuse to go out without finishing part two of my three part series on fall television. Why, you ask? BECAUSE TELEVISION IS VERY IMPORTANT TO ME. I can hear you, person in the back muttering that I have no life. Well, you know what? Go hang out with your super-cool friends in your super-cool hangout drinking whatever it is the cool kids are drinking or whatever and shut the hell up. I’ll be watching my big old television, thank you very much.

Today, let’s talk about returning shows I’m excited about. I narrowed it down to my top five, because the list was much too long and it kind of made me look like a crazy person. Which you already know I am but really, is there any need to broadcast it further? I think not.

Also– here there be spoilers, if you aren’t caught up. Sorry!

Fall 2011 Returning Shows I’m Most Jazzed About

The Walking Dead (October 16, 2011, AMC) 

Premise: A group of Americans attempts to survive in a post-Apocalyptical zombie wasteland.

Starring: Andrew Lincoln (SWOON), Sarah Wayne Callies from Prison Break, and a lot of other amazingly talented people that you might not have heard of but who cares, they are wonderful and once you see this, you will LOVE them.

This summer, I read the first two graphic novels in the series, to prepare myself for season two, because even though I don’t like to be spoiled, I COULD NOT WAIT. I knew, from the first few minutes of this series, that it was going to be spectacular, and it delivered all the way through. The casting is brilliant; the special effects are brilliant; the acting is brilliant; the art direction is brilliant; the writing is brilliant; the direction itself is brilliant. Ihave nothing but good things to say about this show. AMC allows the show to be as gory as it needs to be, so it comes across as a very realistic horror movie in television form. The relationships between characters are very strong and true. People act like you’d imagine they would, if faced with a situation like this one. You hate people (SHANE! I want to punch Shane in the NECK!) and love people (I have a total and complete crush on Rick. Rick gets shit TAKEN CARE OF. Rick quietly does what needs to be done. Rick would not get involved in nonsense. Also, Rick is crazy handsome and super-tall and played Mark in Love, Actually and made me cry a million tears when he held up the signs to confess his love for Kiera Knightley’s character who was stupid and should have immediately left her very nice but very boring husband for him WHAT THE HELL, KIERA KNIGHTLEY’S CHARACTER. I am SO MAD AT HER I didn’t even bother Googling her character name. JUST THAT MAD.)

And the cliffhanger! Holy flesh-chomping walkers, what a cliffhanger! I am DYING to find out what Dr. Jenner whispered in Rick’s ear right before they escaped the CDC. The graphic novels didn’t cover that, so it’s either still to come, or something that’s just for the series.

My only sadness is that I have to wait until next month for this, and then we only get seven episodes and then a hiatus until February for the rest. Oh, and that there’s some nonsense going on over at AMC and Frank Darabont (who developed it for television, had a hand in writing most of the episodes, and directed the amazing pilot) either quit or was fired so Season Two might be a worry since it he might be the reason Season One was so brilliant. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for continued excellence. Also, this was robbed at the Emmy nominations. ROBBED I TELL YOU.

The Good Wife (September 25, 2011, CBS)

Premise: A state’s attorney is jailed following a sex and corruption scandal. His wife, who stood by him throughout, goes back to work as an attorney at an old flame’s firm.

Starring:Everyone who is anyone, and more amazing people every season. Julianna Margulies, Chris Noth, Josh Charles, Archie Panjabi, Christine Baranski, Matt Czuchry, Alan Cumming, Titus Welliver, Mary Beth Peil, Dallas Roberts, Michael J. Fox, Gary Cole, America Ferrera – need I go on? Because I can. I totally can.

Secret? I didn’t plan on watching this when it started. I hate law shows. They bore the pants off me. I don’t watch the Law and Order franchise (well, except for SVU, and I only watch that because I lovethe two leads, so I guess I’m SOL next season!), and things like A Few Good Men? I mentally take naps during them. Law is BORING to me. I know. I am a heathen and probably should be dunked like a witch for such an admission. Sorry.

My roommate at the time this started watched the pilot, and when I halfheartedly asked her what she’d thought, was full of praise. “You HAVE to watch this, Amy,” she said. “You’re going to love it. It’s not just a law show. I promise. It’s AMAZING.” The reviews had been very good, so I thought, what the hell, I’ll give it a shot.

This show sucked me in and hasn’t let go yet. It gets better with every episode. Julianna Margulies, first off, is brilliant in her role. I mean, she was always wonderful – her turn on ER was one of the reasons I watched the show, and I stopped watching not long after she left – but honestly, even though I love her to pieces, I’m not watching the show just for her anymore. There are two people I’m watching the show for, and they are Alan Cumming and Archie Panjabi.

Not to slight the rest of the cast. They’re doing a great job. The writing is crisp, the events are timely without that weird “ripped from the HEADLINES!” feel that L&O episodes have, the relationships between characters are emotional and true. But Cumming and Panjabi have gone so far above and beyond that they deserve special mention.

Archie Panjabi plays Kalinda Sharma, an investigator for the law firm where Julianna Margulies’s character works. Only, she’s not really Kalinda Sharma. Because last season we found out she took on that persona when she fled another life, one that we know nothing about. Kalinda is a gorgeous bisexual badass who is the most loyal friend you’ll ever meet. If I had to pick one fictional character on television to have my back, it would be Kalinda. I ADORE her. And it’s not just the character, or the writing. Panjabi is BRILLIANT. She has layers upon layers of nuancing in her performance. She can transmit more with a look than most actors can do with pages of monologuing. She’s one of those characters that when she cries, I’m gone. I’m that invested in her character. She’s on the screen, I’m not watching anyone else. She commands every scene she’s in. She’s a master class in acting.

Alan Cumming has always been one of my favorite actors (I’ll never forget him talking about visiting upstate New York on Letterman one night and his joy in the fact that, at our gas stations, you could get “both ice cream AND petrol!” and his Scottish burr over the gas station chain “Stewart’s” made my whole night) and he does not disappoint in this show. His Eli Gold, a mastermind, a spider spinning a web, planning everything so Peter Florrick can get re-elected, is such a layered character that you want to hate him but you just can’t. He’s very human. He’s very American, really (ironic, as he’s played by a Scottish actor). Very ambitious. Very get-it-done-at-any-cost. And he’s at his best when the cracks begin to show, and his humanity peeks out – when he’s surprised by romantic feelings toward a new woman in his life; when he’s realizing how much he actually relates to and likes Alicia Florrick, even more than her husband, actually; when he’s verbally sparring with his daughter. The public man, ruthless and heartless, is at war with the private man, caring and good. He’s doing a brilliant job.

At the end of Season Two, Alicia and her boss, Will, finally seemed to consummate years of flirting once she realized that her husband had slept with more people than he’d let on – worse, that he’d slept with Kalinda, her best friend. A plot twist everyone’s on the edge of their seat about, myself included. But I’m more interested in how this is affecting Kalinda, and how this will affect Eli. I’d watch the two of them fold laundry for an hour, honestly. They’re that good.

Community (September 22, 2011, NBC)

Premise: A group of people with very little in common form a ragtag study group and become friends in one of the strangest community colleges in America.

Starring: the funniest cast on television. Joel McHale, Gillian Jacobs, Alison Brie, Danny Pudi, Yvette Nicole Brown, Donald Glover, Chevy Chase, Ken Jeong, and a lot of recurring extras.

I didn’t love the first episode of this. I watched it and thought, eh, this is going to be another Kath and Kim situation, isn’t it? I made it clear how I feel about the NBC comedy block in my last post: it seems like they always throw something not-funny in there, to mess with my head or something. At the time, My Name is Earl was still in there (I miss you, My Name is Earl!) and Community was the late add-in. I decided I’d give it one more chance. Thank you, my stubborn instincts and long-running dedication to anything anyone who’s ever starred on Saturday Night Live does!

This show – I don’t know how to describe this show. It’s really an acquired taste. You get it or you don’t. I understand that. I wish more people did, and then it wouldn’t be on the bubble for renewal every season, but I get that it’s not everyone’s thing. Fine. It makes me laugh so hard I snort. It makes me laugh so hard I miss the next joke and have to go back and watch it over again to catch what I missed the first time around because I was laughing so hard.

It’s one of the most intelligent comedies on television. There was a paintball episode which had western and sci-fi elements. There was a clip episode of clips that didn’t happen. There was a zombie Halloween episode. There was – and this was just the most amazing thing ever, ever, EVER – a Dungeons and Dragons episode, where the group roleplayed.

It’s actually touching at times, as well. Sometimes it brings a tear to my eye. The writing is very crisp in its absurdity. Every actor commits to the insane reality they’ve created 100%, and it works. I don’t expect it will be around much longer – we were, honestly, lucky to get it for as long as we did – but I’m so happy with what we did get that I can’t really complain. OK, I can. I will. Who would I be if I didn’t complain?

Game of Thrones (Spring 2012, HBO) 

Premise: the life and times of the people of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros and their struggles for power and survival in the often magical land.

Starring: Michelle Fairley, Lena Headley, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Peter Dinklage, Kit Harington, Emilia Clarke, Iain Glen, and a million billion other people because there are SEVEN kingdoms, damn, I can’t list them all

OK, I’m not sure if next season will be called Game of Thrones, or will be called Clash of Kings after the second book in the series. HBO is being pretty tight-lipped about the whole second season, other than a vague release date and some casting info. I assume they’ll stick with the original title because wouldn’t that confuse people, otherwise?

I came into this game late. Ha! Nice play on words. I did, though. My amazing, brilliant, wonderful, life-changing book club was reading the first book in the series a few months ago, and I had heard that the series was on HBO, but as I’m very, very poor, I can’t afford HBO, so I didn’t get it and was not watching it. I read the book. I immediately had to watch the series. I got HBO for True Blood (spoiler alert: waste of my money, this season sucked) and watched Game of Thrones over three days, one episode after another. Loved it, every minute. Just wonderful.

HBO can afford to dump a lot of money into its productions, so production expenses are never really a problem. It doesn’t always make them good, though. True Blood, as mentioned, was awful this season. Pretty? Sure, whatever, it was pretty, that’s not the point. You can put glitter on a turd and it’s still a turd, albeit a shiny sparkly one. Game of Thrones was compelling and awe-inspiring and sweeping and majestical and made me cry more than once and the characters were well-cast and it was what I wanted from the book I’d loved so much.

And there was Peter Dinklage, of course.

OK, I love Peter Dinklage. And I realize, above, I should have put a picture that best encapsulated the entire show and such. But you know what? No. It’s my blog and it gets a BIG HONKIN’ PICTURE OF TYRION LOOKING HAUGHTY AND HANDSOME AND REGAL.

Tyrion Lannister is one of the best characters in fantasy fiction I’ve ever read. He’s the kind of character I like – many shades of gray; layered; intelligent; inscrutable. Peter Dinklage acts the HELL out of this role. Nothing against the other characters and actors portraying them – they’re good, very good, in some cases – but, much like with The Good Wife and Archie Panjabi, this is Dinklage’s show. He lights up every scene. There isn’t a person who watched this series who didn’t leave it rooting for Tyrion. A GIF of Tyrion slapping Joffrey started making the internet rounds. Dinklage was nominated for an Emmy. It’s a great role, but in the hands of a lesser man, would have come off as cartoonish. Dinklage sells it, and you fall in love with him. I can’t wait until Season Two. I’d better get started on the book.

Sherlock (Spring 2012, PBS/BBC)

Premise: an updated version of the Sherlock Holmes tales, set in our digital age.

Starring: Benedict Cumberbatch (earlier I swooned; permit me, please, a double-swoon) and Martin Freeman, plus some recurring actors

This almost seems like cheating. I can hear you now. “Amy!” you’re saying. “This doesn’t COUNT! It’s not even a whole SEASON! It’s three EPISODES! It’s a MINISERIES!”

You wouldn’t be saying that if you watched Season One.

This show is a masterpiece. (This is not meant to be a play on the fact that in the U.S. it plays on Masterpiece Theater on PBS.) I never disliked the original Sherlock tales, but I’m not a big fan. I caught the first one of these, and was just blown away. The seamless integration of modern-day technology into Holmes’s crime-fighting skills. His possible Asperger’s. His relationship with Watson and the homophobic overtones. It’s ALL THERE. The show is flashy without being cheap; it’s compelling without grabbing you by the throat. It doesn’t have to. It gets your attention with quality.

The writing is wonderful, but being based on famous works of literature doesn’t hurt. The acting is something to see. Both Freeman and Cumberbatch (and can we revel in the lovely poetry of a name like Benedict Cumberbatch for a moment, please? The pleasing syllables?) give performances that hit all of the right notes. They’re both drowning and need each other’s friendship to survive. It’s beautiful and refreshing.

I also have others that just…didn’t…quite make my top five. I’m very behind on last season and still scrambling to catch up. So I’m also excited, but not quite as, about Castle, Criminal Minds, The Vampire Diaries (shut up IT HAS DAMON SALVATORE so shut up), Fringe, Supernatural, and Chuck.

This is Damon Salvatore so stop with
your mockery because ZOMG LOOK
AT THOSE EYES HOT DAMN.

Now, it really goes without saying that you should Netflix or rent or whatever it is you do to get such things all of these series and catch up before the new seasons start, please, so I can talk about them with you. It’s a gift you’ll be giving yourself, really. I wouldn’t recommend crap because I don’t watch much crap. Life’s too short. Go go go! What are you waiting for? There’s television to be watched!

Next time: the new shows I’m most excited about. Any guesses? Hint: if you’ve been paying attention over the past few months you can guess #1 easily.

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About lucysfootball

I'm not the girl with the most cake. Someday. SOMEDAY. View all posts by lucysfootball

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