The last few years have seen the silver screen churn out hit after hit, with some great actors and actresses keen to get in on the action. Thankfully, 2016 has been no different. In what’s being called ‘the golden age of television’, a series with twelve hour long installments allows us to build much deeper connections with characters than a ninety minute feature film. Not to mention, the writers are able to present more intriguing and three dimensional characters, in a larger timeframe. While most of us still love the occasional one night stand with a good feature film, our long-term affairs with intricately scripted tv shows allow us to fall in love over and over again with each episode.Here are a few that have kept me smitten this year:
Only the first three episodes have surfaced online so far, so I hope this isn’t a premature entry. But from what I’ve seen up until now, Good Behavior is one of my faves from this year. With the first season only just getting started and scheduled to air a total of ten episodes, I hope it lives up to it’s promise. Based on the novella series by Blake Crouch, (the same man who gave us the Wayward Pines novels) I have faith Good Behavior will be a hit.The series revolves around Letty Dobesh (Michelle Dockery); a recovering addict, thief and con woman. When she picks the wrong mark for one of her jobs, Letty becomes embroiled in the dark world of ruthless and charming contract killer Javier (Juan Diego Botto). While working off her debt to the hit-man Letty battles her addiction, keeps her parole officer at bay and tries to engineer a way of getting back her ten year old son. With sex, mystery and the drops of humour, Good Behavior is both an easy and interesting watch.
You probably already know about Ray Donovan by now. If you don’t I won’t judge you, but go and do your research! With Ann Biderman’s brainchild just finishing up its fourth season, one wonders how they intend to top it with a fifth.Ray Donovan (Liev Schreiber) is the man LA’s rich and famous call when they need a problem fixed. Between his job which see’s him rub shoulders with billionaire businessmen, junkie actors and no nonsense mobsters, Ray also tries to keep his family from imploding while dealing with his own personality flaws. His deadbeat dad Mickey, played by Jon Voight is certainly no help; with his hair brained get rich quick schemes getting him in to trouble that Ray is constantly having to bail him out of before shit hits the fan.Season four sees Ray go to war with the Russian Mob, protect a prize fighter from his obsessive sister (played by the beautiful Lisa Bonet) and even sing Bob Seger. Stylish, gritty and noir-ish in places, with A-list guest appearances and a solid cast (which includes Eddie Marsan, who gives some amazing performances as Ray’s brother, Terry) Ray Donovan is a must watch for any crime thriller fan.
Okay, so I was over the moon when I heard Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan were adapting their novel The Strain for television. I mean Del Toro did Blade, Hellboy and Pan’s Labyrinth, so he knows fantasy and Hogan wrote Prince of Thieves which went on to become the basis for Ben Affleck’s The Town. With these two at the helm The Strain has fast become one of my favourite shows over the last two years.The pilot begins with a plane landing at a New York airport and no signs of life on board, called in are a group of doctors from the CDC who try to solve it’s mysteries. Queue chaos, bloodsucking and lots of violence. Fast forward three seasons and New York is on the brink of collapse, Nosferatu-esque villain The Master is recruiting more for his cause each day and all that stands in his way of absolute power are Dr Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll from House of cards) and his accomplices.Something that’s kept me interested is that, The Strain has it’s own identity and isn’t simply a reboot of the classic vampire stories we all know. Del Toro and Hogan offer up an original and intriguing take on a genre that many have tried and failed to successfully put a modern spin on. Season three sees Ephraim battle his own demons while trying to rescue his son from The Master’s clutches. The story also flickers between past and present with Ephraim’s Vampire hunting holocaust survivor accomplice, Abraham Setrakian’s (David Bradley) journey being documented. Also enter a rat catcher, terminally ill billionaire, gang member fresh out of prison and a hybrid vampire with a grudge.The Strain has kept me chomping at the bit since the first season and the third did not disappoint either. Tensions are flaring up and each character’s individual motivations make for a beautifully well rounded drama. If you’re in to Vampire flicks, here’s a grown up one for you! Enjoy.
I find it hard to do anything but scream with euphoria when I think about the awesomeness of Gomorrah. By far the best show I’ve watched this year and dare I say one of the greatest series I have ever seen. Set in Naples, this Italian drama gives us a taste of what it is to be a modern day member of the Camorra. Based on the novel of the same name by journalist Robert Saviano, Gomorrah is packed with complex characterisation and a plot to leave you breathless.Centered around the Savastano clan and the efforts of Ciro Di Marzio (Marco d’Amore), a ruthless soldier for the clan in their war over drug territory. Ciro is in some cases the protagonist and some the antagonist, it all depends on which character takes your fancy! With his boss Don Pietro (Fortunato Cerlino) hell bent on destroying the competition, Ciro’s attempts to seize power for himself are met with anything but words of support.Season 2 see’s Ciro and Don Pietro go head to head in a game of wit’s and nerve, with moments of such brutality, that remind us our favourite characters are still cold-hearted murderers. Director Stefano Sollima makes you feel like a fly on the wall at times, with his style bordering on guerrilla in some places. Great drama and great cinematography can make you feel as though you are in the moment, Gomorrah does this; I felt my favourite characters tragedies, fired their guns and experienced their joy.Sky Italia have already renewed Gomorrah for a third and fourth season, showing how much faith they have in the show’s longevity. Gomorrah is one of those shows you can not wait to finish so you can watch it again! I am in no doubt this will become a cult series in years to come. If you only watch one show from this list, let this be it!
The Night Of
One night a few months ago, I was trolling the net for a new series and saw HBO had a mini series coming, read the synopsis and knew it was right up my street. I saw my boy Riz Ahmed and the underappreciated John Turturro, were leading the line so I had to at least give it a go. It did not disappoint. In the first ten minutes, I knew this was a show I could fully get behind.When Naz (Riz Ahmed), a Pakistani-American university student takes his dad’s car out to go to a party, his night goes from what dreams are made of to an absolute nightmare. Accused of murder after a one night stand, with the murder weapon in his possession and no recollection of the night, the case is all but over. Enter John Stone (Turturro), a cheap sleazy lawyer who may just buy himself back some good karma if he helps the frightened young man. The Night Of delves into the effects these allegations have on Naz’s family, not to mention the repercussions and hatred the crime brings upon the Muslim community. While touching on subjects such as flaws within the judicial system, racism and the nature of innocence, The Night Of is a critiquing society while keeping us captivated. Viewers aren’t force fed the creators views, but merely led to a place where they begin to ask questions themselves.A very sleek, and attractively shot crime drama. I thoroughly enjoyed The Night Of in which Riz Ahmed delivers a career defining performance, supported by a solid cast. A must watch!