Wednesday, 11 July 2012

TV Feature: Five Dramas You Should Hit Up This Summer

With university, colleges and schools out for the Summer, those of us not in full time work will find ourselves with more leisure time than our bored selves simply know what to do with and if like many of us from Confab, you're from Scotland, you can probably forget picnics, days at the beach, camping and son due to the piss poor weather. With that in mind we've picked five of TV's finest drama series that you definitely should check out, even if it's just to keep you from endlessly scrolling through pictures of cats on the Internet...


Developed by: James Manos, Jr.
Based on original material by Jeff Lindsay (Darkly Dreaming Dexter, 2004)
Original Network: Showtime
Seasons: 6
Airs: Season 7 begins in America on September 30th 2012, the series has been renewed for a final eighth season. Dexter is shown on FX in the UK.

Dexter is darker than the blackest night's sky. It is extremely ambitious ask for a television show with a murderous male protagonist to engage with the audience. Michael C. Hall is chilling and utterly believable as the eponymous serial killer who kills serial killers on the side while working for the police force. He manages the impossible in making the inherently inhumane Dexter sympathetic, delivering excellent writing with dry wit. Working for the police force, Dexter finds himself in a dangerous dance to avoid arousing his girlfriend's suspicions, being exposed by his colleagues (including his sister), and satisfying his 'dark passenger'(the name he gives his need to kill). Through incredible acting and the use of a great Spanish influenced soundtrack, the series manages to convey the heavy atmosphere of a fictional, serial killer-struck Miami; you can almost feel the heat through your television.
Trivia: Of the six complete seasons aired (2012), Season 4 and 6 are the only ones to end with a cliffhanger.

The Big C

Creator: Darlene Hunt
Original Network: Showtime
Seasons: 2
Airs: Season 3 starting airing in America in April of this year. To catch it in the UK, check out More4. The episodes were hosted on 4od for a limited time after their original air dates.

The reality of life with cancer is something which few movies, books or TV shows have managed to communicate as honestly and humorously as The Big C. Laura Linney plays Cathy, a woman who learns she has a particularly aggressive form of cancer (stage four melanoma), and after she is forced to face her own mortality, decides to live her life to the fullest. The series deals with real issues such as suicide, mental illness, adultery and family relationships with a sharp wit which makes this show inherently watchable despite the gruesome subject matter. The Big C succeeds in being both hilarious and heart breaking but is ultimately life-affirming as Cathy remains a truly brave and inspirational character throughout the series.
Trivia: The title of this show was originally "The C-Word," and some promotional materials were made using this title. But while a guest on "The Daily Show," Laura Linney told Jon Stewart that the title was changed from "The C-Word" to "The Big C" to avoid confusion with The L Word, which had also aired on Showtime.

Breaking Bad

Creator: Vince Gilligan
Original Network: AMC
Seasons: 4
Airs: The fifth and final season will begin in America on July 15th 2012. It isn't currently airing in the UK but seasons 1-4 are available on Netflix.

Vince Gilligan's Breaking Bad is probably second only to Dexter as the darkest drama on television. It tells the story of Walter White (Bryan Cranston, previously of Malcolm in the Middle fame), a talented chemistry teacher who is already working at two jobs when he discovers he has terminal lung cancer. Knowing he will die leaving his family in terrible debt, he teams up with a drug-dealing ex-pupil of his and starts manufacturing and selling crystal meth. The series chronicles Walt's struggles with maintaining his family relationships while dealing with the dangerous underworld he to which he has found himself inextricably tied. Bryan Cranston is outstanding as Mr White, delivering a performance which is at once vulnerable and terrifying. The supporting cast are equally excellent, making the series feel authentic despite its outlandish premise.
Trivia: Lead actor Bryan Cranston stated in an interview that the term "breaking bad" is a southern colloquialism and it means when someone who has taken a turn off the path of the straight and narrow, when they've gone wrong. And that could be for that day or for a lifetime."

The Walking Dead

Developed by: Frank Darabont
Based on original material by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard (The Walking Dead comics, 2003)
Original Network: AMC
Seasons: 2
Airs: The series was renewed for a third season after record-breaking ratings for the first two episodes of season 2. The Walking Dead airs on FX in the UK.

Based on the popular comic series, The Walking Dead aired on October 31st 2010 and became the highest-rated premiere episode of any AMC television series. Widely acclaimed by the critics, the series boasts a stellar ensemble cast many of whom were nominated for Saturn awards. The Walking Dead focuses a group of survivors of a zombie apocalypse who have to band together in order to fend off their flesh-eating foes. The beginning of season one sees sheriff's deputy Rick Grimes searching his wife and son after waking up from a six month coma to find world overrun with zombies. Once he is reunited with his family he becomes the leader of the group of survivors and convinces them to look for supplies in Atlanta. Tensions run high and the chemistry between the main cast makes for excellent television.

Trivia: The word 'zombie' is never said throughout the first season. The zombies are either referred to as "Walkers", "Geeks", "Roamers", "Lamebrains", and to the CDC, "Test Subjects".

Hit & Miss

Creator: Paul Abbott
Original Network: Sky Atlantic
Seasons: 1
Airs: As of July 5th there are no definite plans for the future of the series but after being well-received by both the critics and viewers hopefully it will be renewed.

Chloƫ Sevigny plays Mia, a transgendered hit-woman who leads an isolated life until she receives a letter from ex-girlfriend Wendy (from when she was a man) who is dying of cancer and reveals to Mia that they have a son. Mia is shocked at the revelation but as Wendy wanted she goes to the farm where Wendy's children live and becomes their guardian. There are tender moments as the children each learn to trust Mia but shocking turns; e.g. it is revealed the eldest daughter (16 year old Riley) has been having an affair with the despicable landlord John. The series is beautifully shot and creates a tense, morose atmosphere which mirrors Mia's own mood in her struggle to find her identity as a parent and a woman while in a highly-pressured, highly-illegal job.
Trivia: Series creator Paul Abbott said the show combined separate ideas for "two series that shouldn't automatically fit together".

Disagree with our choices or feel like your favourite has been missed out? Let us know your views in the comments below, we'd love to hear from you.

By Emma-Lee Davidson


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