Monday, July 30, 2012

What You'll Want to be Watching: Fall's Returning Shows

     People who watch good television are spoiled. For every person who complains about how there is "never anything good on T.V.", there is another--much smarter--person who realizes that we are living in an entertainment viewer's dream, a decade of incredible dramas and hilarious comedies. Like a book that you can't put down, a worthy television show can suck you down into it's 10-12 episode depths. Take a look at some of the shows that will be returning sometime between September and October: Dexter is returning for it's seventh season on September 30th. Though I feel the series has really fallen off the rails since John Lithgow's wonderful turn as The Trinity Killer in season 4, it's nearly impossible to give up on it now. AMC's The Walking Dead returns on October 14th. For me, this extremely popular show is a series of high highs and low lows. The soap-opera story lines involving the annoying (Rick's wife and Andrea) group members is super tiresome, but some of the innovative action and underlying sense of dread makes it plenty worthwhile. Particularly great is this trailer for season 3, which feels like the show is headed in a darker direction.

     Two shows are really worth getting excited for. The first is the third season of HBO's Prohibition-era Boardwalk Empire, which beams back onto our television sets on September 16th. A new trailer has been airing before some of HBO's recent shows, and although it doesn't show much new footage, it's clear that Nucky's (the always-getting-better Steve Buscemi) season 2 showdown with Jimmy has turned him into a force to be reckoned with. Watch the trailer here, but be warned about getting spoiled. Clearly, the focus on this shooting shows that Nucky has turned a major corner in his life, and there is sure to be major turmoil with Margaret becoming more independent (signified by Nucky's wedding ring fall off of his finger into the mud). Season 3--according to creator Terrance Winter--moves into the "roaring twenties" (1923, to be exact), when the economy began to really boom and illegal alcohol sales made people rich. It should be another wonderful journey into booze, gangsters and 1920's-era fashion and ferocity.
     The second is last year's best new show, Homeland, which returns for its second season on September 30th, directly after the premiere of Dexter. The Manchurian Candidate-esque plot follows CIA agent Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes, in a career-defining role), a bipolar and driven woman who hides her condition from her employer. After spending time on a mission in the Middle East, Carrie begins to believe that a recent POW, Brody (Damian Lewis), who has returned to the states, has actually been turned and is a double agent working for Al-Qaeda. It provides for plenty of tension as Carrie begins monitoring Brody illegally. Though the end of season 1 cleared up some answers, it also left some great questions to provide these new episodes with plenty of adult drama. Most people will come back for Danes' hectic performance, a woman on the brink of a psychotic episode at any moment. Like any spy/double agent story, Homeland's greatness relies on the characters figuring out the deep-down truth of a possible terrorist plot. But the question is, can Carrie trust her own mind, and can we--as the viewer--trust Carrie's CIA-honed instincts?

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