Well, not that recent. Recently watched by me, but I’m usually at least a season behind on everything. Such is life in this era of cable, streaming, and Sky Atlantic, but ample evidence recently that the revolution in televised drama continues to be fit and healthy, and that the exciting, surprising, progressive stuff is mostly happening on the small screen rather than the big, these days.
Mad Men Season 5 – I thought Mad Men might be losing it’s mojo last season, but it seems to have come back stronger than ever with this one. Great characters, great offhand profundities, some brilliant stuff on the nature of capitalism and consumerism and the emptiness of modern life. Harsh but beautiful.
In Treatment Season 2 – I found the first series interesting but patchy, this one a lot better. Gabriel Byrne and cohorts put on an acting masterclass as therapist Paul and his patients face life, death, the hell that is other people, and the even worse hell that is no other people. Bleak but riveting, and impressive how they can squeeze the same drama from an offhand comment that other shows can’t achieve with atomic explosions.
Homeland Season 2 – Like its predecessor 24, Homeland is really good as long as you can basically accept that, seen from a distance, none of it makes the slightest bit of sense. Excellent pair of performances from Claire Daines and Mandy Patinkin (can it really be Inigo Montoya?). Damien Lewis is a great actor, I think, but his character in Homeland is so riven by inconsistencies I just don’t believe in him as a human being at all, and the many asides with his family just aren’t that interesting. Still, just when you’re getting bored they throw some crazy plot twist at you and suddenly you’re interested again despite yourself.
Dexter Season 5 – Michael C Hall remains eminently watchable, and there are still a few great characters on the periphery, but Dexter’s falling well short of the heights of its first couple of seasons for me. A lot of forgettable sub-plots going on. John Lithgow kept the last season watchable but there’s a lack of any really strong central villain this time around and nothing much new to say. They need to up their game.
Breaking Bad Season 3 – Magnificently bleak, unpleasant, ambiguous, surprising and occasionally hilarious stuff from Bryan Cranston et al. The lies pile up and so do the bodies, and things go from bad, to worse, to much worse, and you sense they’re going to get a whole lot worse than that…
If you plan to comment, don’t spoil me on anything, people!