Ups and downs this week, as far as TV is concerned. We’ve got a critically acclaimed show starting, and another one returning, as well as shows that are far removed from those adored by the critics, and everything in between. There is, in a shocking turn of events, no trace of a detective show this week though.
We start this week with Monday (because: time) and with probably the best first, in HBO’s Show Me a Hero. The miniseries, written by David Simon and William F. Zorzi (The Wire), is based on the novel of the same name by Lisa Belkin. It looks at racial and social tension in Yonkers, NY from 1987-1994, and stars Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis, Ex Machina), alongside Winona Ryder (Edward Scissorhands, Girl Interrupted) and Jon Bernthal (The Walking Dead, the Wolf of Wall Street) in recurring roles. Early reviews of the show are dripping with praise and acclaim, and certainly just based off of the people involved it looks to be incredible, though likely not easy viewing. The show will be broadcast in two-hour slots for three weeks, and will kick off at 9pm.
On now to Wednesday, where we can see The Middle resume its sixth season after a mid-season break. A sitcom detailing the lives of a working-class family in Indiana (think Modern Family without the suburbia), the show has garnered largely positive reviews throughout its six year run, and collected wins and nominations from several minor awards ceremonies (but no Emmys or anything like that). Given that it’s halfway through a season, jumping in now without already being a dedicated viewer would not be advisable. Regardless, the show is broadcast on Comedy Central Extra at 6pm.
Also starting on Wednesday is Teen Mom 2, a spinoff of a spinoff of lauded journalistic work 16 and Pregnant, though not to be confused with its own spinoff, Teen Mom 3. It never ends. The series follows the lives of four of the girls from the second season of 16 and Pregnant as they navigate through the trials and tribulations of motherhood, as well as trying to continue living their lives outside of motherhood. Broadcast on MTV at 8pm, this seems like a show that you’ll either know you like it beforehand, or you just won’t.
Completing the Wednesday trifecta for this week is the return of FX’s The Americans. Set in the early 80s, the show is a spy thriller following two KGB officers living in West Virginia suburbs, posing as American citizens, while their neighbour is an FBI agent working in counterintelligence. Despite that dubiously plausible premise, the show has received high praise from critics, and its first season was hailed as one of the best shows of 2014. The acclaim only rose from there, with its second and third seasons receiving more and more praise, though consistently falling short during awards season. Though the third season has been broadcast already in the US, it’s only just making the trip across the pond, and will begin its broadcast at 10pm.
Last up this week is our only British made offering: Dead Air. A short film (just under 20 minutes) that will be broadcast on the almost defunct BBC Three, Dead Air stars Radio 1 DJ Greg James (judgement reserved for now) as a late-night radio DJ (really pushing the boast out) who is suddenly and unexpectedly moved into the breakfast slot. The premise sounds like it could be some kind of updated version of Alan Partridge, and certainly it has some potential. If it sounds like your thing, but don’t feel like waiting until Friday to watch it as it airs, the short is already available on BBC iPlayer. It is broadcast at 11pm.