Intelligent entertainment: TV shows you absolutely must watch



Okay. Enough of current affairs, parliamentary debates, and dead politicians. As this is – nominally, at least – a media column, let’s do something about the entertainment media.

When people ask me which movies I’ve seen of late, my answer is nearly always the same: not very many. Oh yes, I will go to the cinema, see the new Bond picture or something equally spectacular. But for the most part, my entertainment these days consists of TV shows. I watch them on DVD, but that is only because I am so low-tech. Most modern people simply download them from the Internet. Which, of course, begs the question of how long TV channels that show foreign programming can survive in India. Most of us now have access to all the shows we want. We watch them at our convenience. We watch entire seasons at a time without having to wait for the channel to show us the next episode. And we watch them without ad breaks, scenes deleted by the channel censors, or words bleeped out.

Here’s what I have been watching over the last few months.

Damages: This must be one of the most brilliant shows of recent times. Ostensibly, a legal thriller, it is actually about a battle between two women. Glen Close, as magnificent as always, plays the senior lawyer and Rose Byrne, is the protégé who turns against her. The technique is extraordinarily advanced for a TV mini-series, and the story flits between past, present and future with a relaxed ease. There are five seasons and I have just finished watching the fifth and last. Now that the show is over it might be worth getting all five seasons and watching them back to back.

The Newsroom:
Aaron Sorkin is a legendary American scriptwriter. His triumphs include The Social Network, A Few Good Men, and most famously, The West Wing, one of the best TV shows ever made. The Newsroom is Sorkin’s take on TV news which is struggling to survive in an era when all news has gone down-market and dumbed down. It is not as successful as The West Wing, mainly because Sorkin is not subtle and is heavy-handed in his imposition of a liberal agenda. But it is still one of the best things on TV. Season one is now complete.

VEEP:
If you are familiar with the British political comedy series, The Thick Of It, then you will recognise the style of this American show because it is created by the same people. It is a darkly satirical look at the underbelly of the American political system through the eyes of a female Vice-President, played by Julia Louis Dreyfus, best known for her role in Seinfeld.

Luther:
This one has been around for a while so there is a chance that you may have seen it already. When I saw The Wire, I had no idea that Idris Elba was not American but was actually British. Elba came home for this cop thriller, which launched with an okay first season. But it is the second season that is really outstanding, grim and gripping at the same time. And unlike The Wire, you can actually understand what everyone says.

The Slap:
The jury is still out on whether Indians will take to Australian shows. It isn’t the accents that put us off: Masterchef Australia is a huge hit. It is more the unfamiliarity that gets us. We are used to America and England but Australia seems disorienting because it is full of White people speaking English but occupying a completely different space.

I have to admit that I struggled through the first episode of The Slap, a mini-series based on the best-selling novel of the same name. But I am glad I kept going. It really is spectacularly well-made, rich with feeling and emotion and tells a story that is both deep and entertaining.

The Borgias:
Okay, it is hokum. It is the same kind of pseudo-historical costume drama crap as the Tudors. But this saga of a villainous Pope and his naughty family in medieval Rome is entertaining in a trashy sort of way. Season One was better than Season Two but each episode is worth watching for Jeremy Irons alone. There was a time when Irons was regarded as a serious actor. But in this show, he overacts and hams it up so wonderfully that it is hard to keep a straight face when he tries to grieve on screen.

Revenge:
It starts well. The premise is a good one. A young woman whose father has been destroyed by a wealthy family returns to the privileged enclave of The Hamptons to take revenge on her father’s behalf. The problem is that unlike an HBO-Showtime series where the average length is around 12 episodes, Revenge has been made for network TV and so, the story has to be stretched out for a full season of 20+ episodes. Inevitably, the action begins to flag and by the end, the show is a bit of a mess. Still, it is not bad in a time-pass sort of way.

Sherlock:
One of the characteristics of the new Britain is that everything is grotesquely over-praised. So, the new James Bond movie is one of the best films ever made. The revival of Dr Who is a work of genius. Torchwood is a classic. And so on.

This version of the Sherlock Holmes stories that updates the action to the present-day is immensely watchable and wonderfully clever. But it is not as good as British critics say, so don’t start watching with too many heightened expectations.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 4.2 out of 5)
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  • Gt12563

    If Rajeev Gandhi would have lived longer he may have done lot of good things for India.I do not think he was corrupt all these bofor talks are just to defame him.Since he is dead know we should leave him alone and let us pray peace for his soul.

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  • Anonymous

    See the funny side of news at site satiresofindia

    [Reply]

  • Fact

    Sujatha, you of all people know very well that there no permanent friends or foes in politics. The Congis are skilled in this game. While you are happy about the alleged ‘clean chit’ for late ‘clean’ Rajiv Gandhi despite Mr Quattrochi, you are most reluctant to accord the same courtesy to Narendra Modi who has been found personally clean by an SC appointed SIT no less. Double standards to put it mildly. However I expect no better from an HT hack.

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/OHJK3TTRTRYEPDELSMR45CBEVI Raghavendra K

    sujata what did your great leader rajiv gandhi do when thousands of sikhs were murdered by die hard congressmen after indira gandhi’s assassination?
    rajiv gandhi becomes secular for people like you even if he quitely watched murder of sikhs in delhi and murder of muslims in bhagalpur.

    stop these blatant double standrads atleast now.
    i knwo your symathies always lie with congress party.

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  • Ramesh Kumar

    THE PROGRAMMES YOU SEE ,REFLECTS IN YOUR WRITING ALSO.BETTER READ SOME SERIOUS BOOKS,SO THAT YOU CAN MOVE BEYOND THRILLERS.MAY BE YOU HAVENOT YET REACHED THAT AGE.

    [Reply]

  • Anonymous

    If I may suggest, please do watch Person of Interest by Jonathan Nolan.

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  • Octaviasmith

    Basically India is want to be part in the arctic circle.

    http://www.prlog.org/12112705-6pm-coupon-code-save-up-to-75-grab-the-chance.html

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  • Scholastiquesmith

    I think that India is so very popular country for the Arctic circle.

    http://www.prlog.org/12113774-guitar-center-promo-code-save-up-to-10-off-snap-shortly.html

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  • Anonymous

    Zia my pal

    Give us also an article on how this Islamic shit has created havoc all over the world. They want the rule of Hafees saeed to prevail even over Lal qila. SO what is wrong with droning them?

    Remember Kandhahar. We had no solution to exterminate the scum. If Americans are doing our dirty work, you should celebrate and not cry.

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  • engricn

    Tasleema Nasreen’s

    many indian respected writers tried to rape her also.this 5 times divorced women called tasleema nasreen is headache for society.if islam is bad become hindu.who stops this ***** to convert.she is tool in the hands of some foolish bengalees to defame islam.for them anybody writes some bad words for muslims or islam is HARDAY SAMRAT.u are unnatural people so always live on hate and lies.bloody idiots.

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  • engricn

    now americans are using drones in america on their own people.

    [Reply]

  • engricn

    believe me nothing can save them.

    [Reply]