About a Boy
Midseason TV used to be a dumping ground for networks to premiere the shows they didn’t have much confidence in succeeding. In the past few years, however, the new Golden Age of TV has made midseason a fertile land of new shows, anticipated returns and water-cooler moments. 2014’s midseason slate is no exception. Here are ten midseason shows that you must be watching (if you’re not already). Get your remote ready, because you’re going to be doing a lot of DVR shuffling.
When’s it on? Fridays at 10pm on NBC
Why should I watch it? Bryan Fuller’s prequel to Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter canon is so damned good that it’s become canon itself. Hannibal is the best series on television right now, but it needs a bigger audience if it’s going to earn a few more seasons. Critically acclaimed for its fantastic performances from Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy, excellent writing and gory visuals, the series is everything you could want from a dark serial drama. If you’re not already watching on Friday nights, now is the time. The Fannibals and critics can only keep the show alive for so long.
2. Game of Thrones
When’s it on? Season four premieres Sunday, April 6 at 9pm on HBO
Why should I watch it? Chances are you’re already champing at the bit waiting for the April 6 premiere of Game of Thrones’ fourth season on HBO, but if not, now is the time to catch up. The first three seasons proved that absolutely no one in Westeros is safe, and we can tell you—after having already seen several season-four episodes—that the sentiment isn’t going to change anytime soon. Stakes are higher, dragons are bigger, and the bloodbath is never-ending. Winter is coming, indeed.
3. The Red Road
When’s it on? Thursdays at 9 PM on SundanceTV
Why should I watch it? Previously known as The Sundance Channel, SundanceTV’s track record in original programing has been stellar so far, with dramas like Rectify, Top of the Lake and The Returned scoring high marks with critics. Its newest show stars Khal Drogo himself, Jason Momoa, and continues the channel’s hot streak. It’s contemplative and mysterious while also being entertaining, extremely well acted and efficiently paced. With only a few episodes left in its initial six-episode run, now’s the time to jump on board.
4. The Americans
When’s it on? Wednesdays at 10 PM on FX
Why should I watch it? If anyone knows how to make a great spy show, it’s former CIA officer Joe Weisberg, and The Americans proves that week in and week out. Starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys (with a bit of Margo Martindale awesomeness thrown in from time to time), the series is expertly plotted, well written and features bravura performances from the main cast. As a bonus, you get to see some spectacular 1980s fashions make a comeback every week.
5. About a Boy
When’s it on? Tuesdays at 9pm on NBC
Why should I watch it? NBC’s About a Boy might not be your typical “man’s man” show, but the Jason Katims (Friday Night Lights, Parenthood) touch makes it one of the best new sitcoms on television. Based on the 1998 Nick Hornby novel of the same name (which already got the feature-film adaptation treatment in 2002), About a Boy can teach us all a little bit about fatherhood, parenting, and acceptance. It’s a clever little show that deserves an even bigger audience, especially among us guys.
When’s it on? Premieres Tuesday, April 15 at 10pm on FX
Why should I watch it? We’ve only seen four episodes of FX’s new dark comedy Fargo (based on the 1996 Coen brothers film of the same name), but we’re here to tell you that it’s imperative that you tune in on April 15. It’s that good. Written by Noah Hawley and starring veterans Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman and Bob Odenkirk, Fargo manages to make the story fresh and the setting all its own. If the rest of the series is as good as the first four episodes, Fargo will easily be considered a must-watch.
7. Mad Men
When’s it on? Season 7 premieres Sunday, April 13 at 9 PM on AMC
Why should I watch it? AMC’s massive hit has done a lot to solidify this new Golden Age of TV. Now, after seven seasons of award-winning drama, the beginning of the end is here. The show’s final season (or at least the first half of the final season) begins on April 13, and we’ll be glued to the television. The star-studded cast has grown, the visual style is now an industry staple, and the smart writing has become something that most other cable shows aspire to. Plenty of people have spent weeks binging on Mad Men episodes on Netflix to catch up. We suggest you do the same before April 13.
8. Bates Motel
When’s it on? Mondays at 10 PM on A&E
Why should I watch it? You might not come away from watching Alfred Hitchcock’s absolutely classic film Psycho thinking, “You know, I’d really like to know more about Norman and his mother’s backstory,” but once you step foot in the mysterious world of Bates Motel’s White Pine Bay, you immediately want to know more. Developed by Carlton Cuse (Lost), it’s one of the quirkiest, weirdest shows on TV, and that’s what makes it so entertaining. Starring Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga as Norman and Norma Bates, the show features top-notch performances and comes as close to a new generation’s version of Twin Peaks as we’re ever going to get.
9. Orphan Black
When’s it on? Season two premieres Saturday, April 19 at 9pm on BBC America
Why should I watch it? If the only reason you’ve been watching BBC America in the past year is to get your Doctor Who fix, then you’ve probably missed the first season of one of television’s most innovative and intelligent new shows. Orphan Black is a whirlwind sci-fi action series that features the beautiful and talented Tatiana Maslany as about fifteen different characters, all of which are actually clones. The first season was ten solid episodes of awesomeness, and season two should bring much of the same.
When’s it on? Premieres Sunday, April 20 at 9 PM on WGN America
Why should I watch it? We’ve seen the first episode of WGN’s first foray into original scripted television, and while it’s not perfect, it’s incredibly intriguing and has a hell of a lot of potential. Starring Shane West and Janet Montgomery, the series is based on the actual Salem Witch Trials of the 1600s. Just how closely it resembles reality remains to be seen; the first episode is chock full of dirt, grime, gore, and depravity, as well as a bit of mysticism and witchcraft. It’s enough to make us anxious to watch the rest of the season to find out if Salem lives up to its potential.
Others to look out for:
- Crisis (NBC), Sundays at 10pm
- Penny Dreadful (Showtime), Premieres May 11 at 10pm
- Friends with Better Lives (CBS), Mondays at 9pm
- 24: Live Another Day (Fox), Premieres May 5 at 9pm
- Justified (FX), Tuesdays at 10pm
- Community (NBC), Thursdays at 8pm
- Vikings (History), Thursdays at 10 pm
- Surviving Jack (Fox), Premieres March 27 at 8:30pm