You Should Be Watching: New TV Picks (Part 1)

With countless shows trying to entice you this fall, navigating the waters of new TV can be a tad daunting. What should you record and what should you reserve for hate watching now that Glee  is coming to a close? To help you make these difficult decisions, the Dork Shelf team has come up with a list of shows that we think are the most promising. Below is the first part of our new TV recommendations featuring Elena Lowe’s top picks. For more suggestions, check out part 2, featuring Peter Counter’s trusty advice.

 

THE HONOURABLE WOMAN

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When and where?

CBC, Tuesdays at 9:00PM. Premiered Monday, September 29th at 9:00PM, continued September 30th.  Eight-part miniseries.

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Quick—What’s it about?

A joint production of the BBC and SundanceTV, Hugo Blick’s The Honourable Woman is a British thriller centering on Nessa Stein (Maggie Gyllenhaal), an arms business heiress and philanthropist who is at the forefront of the Middle East peace process. When one of the Steins’ Palestinian contractors is killed, Nessa and her brother Ephra (Andrew Buchan) find themselves in an international maelstrom that involves everyone from Washington to MI6. The story shifts between high-level governmental machinations and low-level family drama.

Why so excited?

In addition to brilliant acting by Maggie Gyllenhaal and some British heavyweights, The Honourable Woman brings gripping plot-twists and Bond-worthy sensuality. Does the show seem somewhat dated in light of the very real Palestinian-Israeli conflict? My hope is that the show will have the opposite effect on viewers, forcing them to think about the issues in a less polarizing setting than a Facebook comments section.

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You’ll like this if…

You like slow-burning storytelling featuring intelligent and complex heroines.

 

THE AFFAIR

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When and where?

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Showtime, Sundays at 10:00PM. Premiered October 12th. Ten-episode season.

Quick—What’s it about?

Well, as you might have guessed from the not-so-subtle title, the series explores the psychological effects of marital indiscretion. Interestingly, the show will focus on all of the main players and not just the parties who cheat. The story, which takes place in the Long Island hamlet of Montauk, will be told in one-hour segments that will shift from the male to female perspective. Also murder comes into play at some point? OooOOOooOOOoooh!

Why so excited?

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My faith in this show stems primarily from the fact that two incredibly talented people are at the helm. Playwright and producer Sarah Treem (House of Cards, In Treatment) and co-creator Hagai Levi (In Treatment) have proved that they can deliver compelling dramas that delve deep into their subjects’ psyche. From the look and feel of the trailer and first few episodes, it seems the duo are bound to deliver the same quality of material. The cast is also a tad ridiculous, with talented TV veterans Joshua Jackson, Maura Tierney, Ruth Wilson and Dominic West all making their welcome return on the small screen.

You’ll like this if…

You like realistic dramas that explore the fucked-up hardships of every day life.

 

TRANSPARENT

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When and where?

Amazon Prime. The full ten-episode season is available now.

Quick—What’s it about?

At first glance, Transparent is a dramady that primarily explores the transition of Jeffrey Tambor’s (Arrested Development) character from a man named Mort to a woman named Maura. The show, however, is just as much about Maura’s blossoming as it is about how her family deals with the loss of a father and the acceptance of a new family member. Confronted with issues of gender, sexuality and self, each character undergoes his or her own story arc, as they begin to examine their own identities and life trajectories.

Why so excited?

What initially drew me to the series were the parallels to Beginners, a film whose central conflict similarly involves a father coming out later in life. What Beginners did so well is that it explored the impact of family on people’s views of gender, sexuality and human relationships. Transparent does the same by documenting the difficult and gradual coming out of a trans* person as part of a larger social unit.  The fact that showrunner Jill Soloway (Six Feet Under, United States of Tara) brought on two trans* consultants and based the series on her own father’s transition should give you faith that Transparent is not only good, but also authentic. Lastly, the cast is filled to the brim with actors with proven skills in balancing drama and comedy.

You’ll like this if…

You’re a fan of intimate family dramas like Six Feet Under, Parenthood, and Brothers & Sisters.

 

MARRY ME

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When and where?

NBC, Tuesdays at 9:00PM. Premiered October 14th.

Quick—What’s it about?

Marry Me is the brainchild of David Caspe, a creator best known for his ABC sitcom Happy Endings. Inspired by his recent marriage to actress Casey Wilson, Caspe’s show focuses on the evolving relationship of Annie (played by Wilson) and Jake (Ken Marino). Unlike other comedies that follow characters’ journeys on their way to finding that special person, Marry Me shows us what happens to those characters once they actually get together.

Why so excited?

Although the trailer may scare you with its zaniness, the show has a lot going for it. Both Wilson and Marino are comedy veterans, starring in countless cult hits such as Party Down and Happy Endings. As well, Caspe has proven he can nail the long-term couple dynamic in previous projects. Most of all though, I love watching a comedy about a couple who aren’t sidekicks or part of a larger bickering family. As critic Daniel Carlson astutely points out, all too often sitcoms overlook the emotional and comedic potential of a couple in favour of the same tired stories about singles. While the show is taking a few episodes to settle into its groove, I have faith Marry Me will be a fantastic comedy…that will likely be cancelled well before its time. Bring on the adorable, bantery twosome!

You’ll like this if…

You like comedies about young people who are trying to get their shit together like How I Met Your Mother, New Girl, Mindy Project, and Happy Endings.

 

GALAVANT

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When and where?

Sundays on ABC. Will be the mid-season fill-in for Once Upon a Time, January 2015. Season One will have eight episodes.

Quick—What’s it about? 

Galavant is a fairy tale-themed musical comedy that follows the titular knight’s quest to reclaim his status as a heroic figure. Along for the ride is new friend Isabella, who incites the knight to go after King Richard, an evil man who lured Galavant’s lady love Madalena away. Hilarious antics ensue.

Why so excited?

All right so this bad boy isn’t out until 2015, but I couldn’t help but share my excitement for the series. While I loved all of the shows listed in this article, Galavant is the one that I’m giddy about. I mean come on! The writer of Tangled and Crazy, Stupid, Love is on board? The songwriters behind every almost every golden age Disney movie are composing? Everything about this show screams that it’ll be a ridiculously fun musical version of The Princess Bride. While watching the trailer I half expected the priest during the wedding scene to say “mawaaaage.”

You’ll like this if…

You love campy Mel Brooks-ian humour and you don’t gag at musicals.

 

Happy viewing!



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