A mixed bag this week. On the one hand, one of the biggest dramas around is making its return in the form of Homeland, alongside a very promising new British comedy. On the other, CSI: Cyber is now apparently a thing, and the reputation of television as medium for serious, challenging art is once again dragged down by inanity.
First up this week is the return of HBO show The Leftovers. Based on the novel of the same name by Tom Perrotta (who also serves as one of the show’s creators), the series follows a family and their friends after 140 million people across the world suddenly and inexplicably disappeared. Starring Justin Theroux (Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire), Amy Brenneman (Heat, The Jane Austen Book Club), Christopher Eccelston (Doctor Who), and Liv Tyler (The Lord of the Rings), the series has received largely positive praise, despite being co-made by Damon Lindelof, that destroyer of cohesion. The second season of The Leftovers premieres at 10pm on Monday on Sky Atlantic.
With the death of the original CSI series last week, it seemed like a great victory had been made against the veritable tidal wave of police procedurals. That victory was hollow, though, as evidenced by this week’s first new show – CSI: Cyber (shudders). The series will follow a team of ‘crack’ cyber-espionage police expert people, all clickety-clacking on keyboards and failing to make computers an interesting subject (see Mr. Robot for a lesson on how to actually do this well). It does star the winner of last year’s Academy Award for Female Lead, Patricia Arquette, so we know the show has a big budget, at least. It premieres at 10pm on Tuesday on Channel 5.
Another new show this week (one significantly more ambitious than CSI: Cyber), is E4’s Chewing Gum. The show follows a young woman living in a London council estate as she breaks out of her strictly religious family and discovers herself (read: her sexuality). The show, which is a comedy by the way, has already received high praise from critics, who hail its funniness and fearless use of expletives (just in case you’re a fourteen year-old boy and swearing is what draws you to a show). It premieres at 10pm on Tuesday, giving you the perfect excuse to ahem ‘miss’ CSI.
A third new show (aren’t we lucky) is comedy Red Oaks. The show follows a young tennis player who works at a prestigious country club in the 80s, and is produced by David Gordon Green (Pinapple Express) and Steven Soderbergh (all those Steven Soderbergh films). Starring Welsh actor Craig Roberts (Submarine), the Red Oaks pilot has received favourable reviews from critics. The series’ first season will be made available all at once on Amazon Prime Instant Video on Friday.
Returning to our screens this week is Emmy award winning cult cartoon show Robot Chicken. Aired on Adult Swim, and created by Family Guy star Seth Green. Featuring the same kind of wacky, unconventional humour (in its broadest sense) as can be found elsewhere on Adult Swim, Robot Chicken is one of those shows that you either know you’ll like before you see it, or else will sit, thoroughly unimpressed for a bit, before declaring “fuck it”, and switching it off. The eighth season of Robot Chicken airs at 11pm on Friday on Fox (UK).
Our final show this week is also the biggest, the return of spy-thriller Homeland. The fifth season will be set in Berlin, and will follow Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) working for a private security firm before, in true Homeland fashion, having her life turned upside down once more. With the show having dipped in quality over the past few seasons, hope remains that with a new season and a new start, it can reach the insane levels of its debut season. Homeland airs at 9pm on Sundays on Channel 4.