On Monday I highlighted a handful of TV shows that may not be the best investment of your leisure time. As expected, reaction to my choice of shows varied from “What the heck are you thinking” to “I agree, 2 Broke Girls really does suck.” After the story was posted I realized I should have included my list of new shows that stand out above the rest. Instead of waiting until Monday, and given that the weather outside is frightful (forcing us to stay in tonight and veg out in front of the tube), here are the three programs you’ll want to add to your viewing schedule.
Best Comedy: If this category were based solely on the pilot episode, ABC’s Suburbia would take this one hands down. But then the second episode lost a bit of the pilot’s sharp bite. And then the third dove even deeper into the pool of mediocrity. By episode four my wife and I just didn’t care anymore.
The one comedy that keeps getting better and shows no sign of slowing down is Fox’s New Girl. Starring the oh-so-cute Zooey Deschanel, New Girl reminds me of the early years of Friends. The cast is stellar, and although Deschanel’s character Jess can get on your nerves at times, the writing is always fresh. The plot lines embrace both the realistic and the outrageous with equal effectiveness. Last night’s episode featured “I’m a Mac” guy Justin Long, and continued the show’s solid standing. New Girl airs Tuesday night on Fox at 9. Must See TV.
Best Dramedy: I propose that “dramedy” should be a new category for the Emmys. Who’s with me? So many shows straddle the line between comedy and drama it’s hard to tell the difference anymore. My choice in this category can easily fit into either, but dramedy is probably the best way to describe HBO’s Enlightened. Created by and starring Laura Dern, this one has established itself as one of my favorites. Dern plays Amy Jellicoe, a self-destructive executive at a large corporation. Her life falls apart, she attends a spiritual retreat to put her life back together and comes back to work to find herself forced to work in the basement for the data processing department. Enlightened also stars Luke Wilson as Dern’s drug-addicted ex in a role we’re more used to seeing from his brother Owen. The production has brought in some Hollywood heavyweights to direct (Monday night’s episode was directed by Jonathan Demme) and the results are impressive. Enlightened airs Monday night on HBO Canada at 8:30.
Best Drama: I’ve saved the best for last. Showtime’s Homeland, starring Claire Danes, not only had this year’s best pilot but has managed to build on all the foundations established during the inaugural episode. Holding viewers interest in each and every storyline is an achievement usually reserved for the best of the best - like Mad Men and Breaking Bad - but so far, at least three episodes in, Homeland succeeds. The show revolves around Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis), who returns home eight years after going missing in Iraq. Carrie Anderson (Danes), a very-driven-and-potentially-schizophrenic CIA officer, suspects he might be plotting an attack on America. While imprisoned, Brody’s wife has moved on and is sleeping with his best friend. Normally my patience for spy dramas wears thin after a few minutes, and shows or movies with this subject matter usually doesn’t interest me. But with Homeland I was hooked. This is easily the best that TV has to offer in the new fall season and a show you must check out. Can’t recommend enough. Homeland airs Tuesday night on Super Channel at 7. Must see TV.
It’s unfortunate that two of three best new shows on TV are on pay cable, though true TV lovers probably have HBO and Super Channel anyway. Don’t have Super Channel or HBO? If you know where to look you can find these shows on the Internet somewhere, but just for the quality TV shows alone a subscription to these channels is probably worth it.
Speaking of shows on Super Channel, don’t forget to watch Sons of Anarchy tonight at 7 pm. If you’re not watching this highly-addictive series, you’ve got some serious catching up to do.