If you want to make a series about the lives of American 20-something urban females, it’d be the dream scenario to have a creator, writer, director and lead actress who are of that group. Step forward Ms Lena Dunham. Girls was one of the sharpest new additions to the schedules last year, and the release of the DVD boxset next month should help ensure its popularity snowballs. Chris O’Dowd stays on for part of the new series, while Rosanna Arquette also makes an appearance.
Season nine began on Sky Living in November, but this RTE debut allows the rest of its mostly female viewers catch up with what’s going on at Seattle Grace. The show opens a few months after the plane crash, with those involved still coming to terms with the deaths and injuries.
You couldn’t throw a shoe at the telly last year without hitting Chris O’Dowd. An even greater achievement than the bearded wonder’s own success, however, was his transformation of Boyle from a town well worth driving through, into a beacon of Irish popular culture. A statue is just a county council vote away.
Season three is adapted from the first half of A Storm of Swords, the third of George RR Martin’s five volumes, and you get the feeling that the producers and audience would happily stay on board for at least another 10 series. Leaks from the recent filming sessions in Northern Ireland suggest we’ll see Ciarán Hinds in the role of the Wilding king, while musicians Will Champion of Coldplay and Gary Lightbody of Snow Patrol will pop up in small parts.
Possibly the revelation of the entire year. As anyone who has series three on FX will confirm, this new season has bounced back from a stuttering second run to provide us with some top-class drama. Probably the goriest show on TV, we also get well-developed characters and superb writing. For this series, some of the wanderers find refuge in a prison where the high fences are ideal for keeping the zombies at bay, while other survivors fetch up at a settlement ruled by a messianic Elvis look-a-like.
Even if the Christmas special was a mite disappointing, the return of Downton in the autumn will still be one of the most eagerly anticipated shows of the year. Presumably the show will edge into the mid-1920s. Lady Rose’s move to London should provide some interesting plots, while we won’t see any more of Matthew following his death in the seasonal special.
Fair play to TG4. After being the only broadcaster on this island to pick up on The Wire, the Irish language broadcaster has a similar claim to fame with this excellent tale of a terminally ill chemistry teacher who turns to narcotics manufacture to provide for his family. Though Breaking Bad has been on air since 2008, a boxset and download frenzy has also taken off in the past year in this country, partially spurred by a recent visit by Bryan Cranston (also the dad in Malcolm in the Middle). Unfortunately, the ever-darkening show comes to an end this year. The lead actor says he doesn’t know what the ending will be, but really there’s only one way for his increasingly psychopathic character to go.
Can it recover from a seemingly fatal case of second-series syndrome? Easily the most disimproved show of the past 12 months, Homeland’s insecurity caused it to replace edginess and originality with a sickly love story and a flag-waving quest for the mainstream audience.
The incredible amount of attention lavished on series three will ensure that season four arrives with quite a fanfare. Show creator Stuart Carolan has more than earned the right to take it in whichever direction he chooses, and we’ll trust him that the results will be well worth watching. The loss of Darren (Robert Sheehan) should be mitigated by a few new faces, and the increased prominence of Fran and Aido, while the key to it all will be keeping Nidge on the right side of believability.
A series that proves the British can actually do decent drama that isn’t set in another era. In last year’s season finale, we saw Sherlock fake his own death, but Benedict Cumberbatch’s character resurrects himself for another three feature-length episodes. Filming was postponed until March to accommodate the busy schedules of Martin ‘Hobbit’ Freeman and Cumberbatch, who is appearing in the new Star Trek film.