This is the second in a two-part installment about Must-See TV. Read Dave Coleman’s article about Must-See superhero shows now.
The Blacklist: A more serious show than the last few have been, The Blacklist stars favoured actor James Spader in a new roll that he is (as always) perfect for. Spader plays a man named Raymond Reddington, a professional criminal on the top 10 of the FBI’s most wanted list. Except, after years of running and hiding, Reddington turns himself in. But there’s a catch. He’s compiled a very extensive list of names he calls The Blacklist, each person on it a very dangerous individual that even the FBI doesn’t fully know about. In exchange for protection and immunity, Reddington is willing to give the FBI a name off this list, either when they surface in the world or when it suits his own motives. Now, admittedly, I was starting to get bored of shows like this. Each week there’s a new bad guy, each week it seems like they won’t be able to take him down, but in the end they always do and at the end of the day everything’s fine and it all goes back to normal, only to be riled up again when something new happens the week after. In my opinion shows like this have a wash and repeat cycle to them. But there’s something different about The Blacklist. Many sub-plots are constantly going on and Reddington’s character is a great draw-in all on its own. Though it’s only in this second season, this seems to be a show that could go on for years to come while keeping its audience engaged at the same time. Season two returns on February 1st from its break and I’ll be one of many tuning in to see where it is headed.
Archer: The alcoholic, womanising, sarcastic, foul-mouthed secret agent returns for his sixth season with the entire cast close behind him. Personally, I couldn’t be happier. For those of you who live under a rock, Archer is an adult-themed cartoon that airs late night and features a motley crew of characters working at a logistics and espionage filled Spy Agency. The main character is a man named Sterling Archer who has an insane amount of personal issues, the list of which may be able to stretch end-to-end from a standard football field. He drinks constantly, sleeps with anything that moves, treats almost everyone he comes into contact with like their problems are less than his and basically doesn’t take anything seriously that gets thrown his way. On top of all that he works for his mother, a woman who put an enormous amount of pressure on him to succeed as a child and constantly belittles him and everyone else while on the job. But the irony is that despite all of his problems he’s somehow very, very good at his job. At the end of the day the whole point of this show is to make you laugh and it achieves better than some other shows on the air at this moment. Rounding out the cast is a somewhat wimpy accountant, a caring but foul-mouthed HR rep, a mad scientist, a female agent with some anger issues who remains Archer’s love interest, a homosexual man with robotic leg and a wealthy secretary who is, well…completely insane. This weird balance of characters makes for a great amount of laughs in itself. Factoring in everything else the show has to offer makes this one of the few shows someone can just throw on during the day and enjoy for hours and hours. Season six premièred on January 8th and delivered exactly what myself and countless others spent a year waiting for. This is one show that I hope goes on forever.
The Walking Dead: When it first aired, everyone I knew was starting to get tired of the zombie sub-culture and didn’t think this show would last for too long. But in its fifth season, The Walking Dead doesn’t show signs of stopping any time soon. Based on a graphic novel series of the same name, The Walking Dead is different from other zombie stories out there for one very specific reason. Yes, zombies are a real thing in this world and they show up all the time to wreak havoc and randomly kill off characters, but at its core this is not a zombie show. This is a drama, that happens to take place in a world infested with zombies. Each character is unique in their own way and they all create problems and driving points for other characters. They lie, they have addictions, they’re selfish, they’re withdrawn, along with many other problems that real people face in the world every day. Though it’s left the audience wanting a few times, the current season (number five) is so far doing a good job of bringing myself and I’m sure many others back into The Walking Dead fan club. The mid-season ending made my jaw drop and I am eager to see where it’ll go from here. Though it won’t premier until February 8th so we’ll all have to wait a little longer to see all the gore and mayhem that the group has to endure. But seeing as how people die left and right in this show, I ask you the reader: Who do you think is going to be killed off when it comes back?
Game of Thrones: Last but certainly not least, the Dark Age drama returns with its fifth season on April 12th. Based off the book series A Song of Ice and Fire, Game of Thrones has received an insane amount of critical acclaim since its premier all those years ago. Frankly, it’s not too hard to see why. Whether you watch the show for the characters you love, the amazing plot twists, the constant and enticing nudity or to just hope that the bad guys will die, Game of Thrones has something to offer regardless of your tastes. The show does something that many shows, movies and books out there struggle with doing these days, it doesn’t have sides that are good or bad. The main focus of the characters is drawn from which families they belong too, having many high class families and many more low class ones. But the amazing thing is that not everyone in one family are good people, and not everyone in one family are bad people. They’re simply people, and at the end of the day that’s what this show is. It’s people messing with each other, no clear villain and no clear hero. While some characters are more ruthless, bloodthirsty and demented than others, this shows demonstrates how they won’t always be the ones to lose. Just like in the real world, people mess with people all the time and the good guys aren’t always the winners. Whether it was Ned Stark’s fateful scene on the chopping block, the Battle of Blackwater Bay, the Red Wedding that left so many fans in tears, or (my personal favourite) the battle at the Wall between The Nights Watch and The Wildlings, each season demonstrates that any character, antagonist or protagonist, can die at any time. But it’s not about who dies, its about when they die. A death in this show changes the storyline greatly and changes the fate of many other characters, especially when that death is someone of great importance. Each season draws from the books in the series and season five will take parts from books 4 and 5, given that they happen in parallel to each other. If you’re a true die hard fan like myself then you’ve already read the books and know a fair amount of what’s coming. But don’t worry, I won’t spoil that for any of you who haven’t. You’ll just have to wait and see for yourselves.
And there you have it readers. Nine shows, both already here and well on their way, to spend an evening sitting down and getting involved with. But don’t fret if your tastes aren’t similar to mine. These are simply suggestions for anyone to consider if you maybe feel like switching up your style every now and then. It’s not for everyone, but consider for a moment what happens within shows every now and then. There’s always a change from the norm; maybe you all should do exactly that. Step outside your comfort zone for a while.
You just might find something you like.