One of the most painful things in the world is to have a beloved television program end. It may have been canceled, or it may have reached its natural death. But nothing feels worse than saying good-bye to a cast of characters you’ve grown to both love and hate over months – and sometimes years – of dogged viewership.
But fear not. The great gurus of television have seen fit to gift the masses with a near-endless supply of shows to gorge on. The challenge is to sift past the filler programs to find story lines worth sinking into.
Here, in no particular order, are four new shows (less than two seasons) you must start now, if you haven’t yet.
Under the Dome
What would you do if you woke up one day to find your town is under a mysterious, impenetrable and invisible dome? It’s the philosophical question the series tries to answer, right along with the more obvious puzzle of what the dome is, where it came from, and why it chose Chester’s Mill, Maine in particular. Being based on a Stephen King novel it has all the elements a King fan would recognize: small town in New England; psychic teenage boy; gruff, good-looking outsider; and suspicious townspeople. The show has Walking Dead’s apocalyptic feel about it, but touched with a sense of otherworldly magic.
It’s entertaining, well-paced, and dangles the thread just long enough for you to want to keep on tugging.
Espionage is making a comeback – in an original way, and via the perfect era. It’s the 1980s, the Cold War is under way, and Keri Russell reappears (where has she been all this time?) as one-half of a pair of Russian spies sent to the United States as “sleepers” and waiting for orders from their superiors to activate. Their cover is so deep that she and her faux husband have two real kids, work at a real travel agency, and live across the street from a real FBI agent, played by Noah Emmerich. With its comprehensive 80s-style treatment (think lens filter, vintage clothing, and Phil Collins on the soundtrack), the show will take you back to a time when anyone could have been a spy – even that nice couple next door.
It’s probably the only show on television that can inspire kids to take up journalism. A dramatic, utterly-fictional-yet-realistic look at what goes on in the newsroom, the series follows the staff behind “The Nightly News,” anchored by semi-disgraced newsman Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels). The show has stellar actors playing witty, well-thought roles – a masterpiece of Aaron Sorkin’s already masterful imagination (which has given the world A Few Good Men, Charlie Wilson’s War, The Social Network and Moneyball).
Anthony Hopkins’ shoes are not easy ones to fill, but Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen effectively brings back to life Dr. Hannibal Lecter in this series prequel to the classic movie trilogy (Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal). The perspective is interesting: no one has yet realized that Dr. Lecter is a killer who eats his victims. He therefore acts as a psychiatric consultant to the FBI, teaming up with old familiar Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishburne) and solving crimes, some of which Lecter himself commits and blames on some other, less intelligent murderer.
The show leans toward the weird – the other lead detective, played by the adorable Hugh Dancy, has mental abilities that border on the psychic, if not psychiatric – but it does satisfy the appetite for fans of even the traditional murder-mystery.