Hannibal – Olivia Cole
Hannibal, entering its second season, is not a show for the faint hearted. It delights in its own gruesomeness, using innovative cinematography and sound editing to depict the horrific (and plentiful) murders throughout the series. The updated portrayals of Lector (Mads Mikkelson) and Graham (Hugh Dancy) are terrific – Lecter, ironically, is first introduced as a psychiatrist for FBI criminal profiler Will Graham. Graham, a loner with a strange affinity for stray dogs, suffers from encephalitis and an ability to mentally recreate the events of a murder scene. Soon enough, he is tasked with tracking down Chesapeake Ripper, unaware of the fact that the culprit is closer than he ever realised.
Hannibal himself is perhaps the suavest serial killer of all time. Beyond his role as a psychiatrist, he is a sophisticated cook, targeting those with poor manners to use as ingredients. His constant stream of cannibal jokes is infuriatingly amusing, with only the audience able to appreciate them. With five seasons already planned out, this monster of a TV show is sure to continue cooking up the most distasteful ideas to wonderful effect. Just remember, nothing here is vegetarian.
Chicago Fire – Tanika Patel
Firefighter shows are rare to come across. Amongst the sea of cop and hospital dramas and comedies is NBC’s Chicago Firehouse, a ‘dramedy’ that focuses on the paramedics and firefighters of Firehouse 51 in Chicago. It’s a perfect example of a burnt out pilot reignited (excuse the pun) if you push through the first few episodes you’ll quickly love the show – the third and fourth episodes are what pulled me in.
It’s a character-driven show which deals with its storylines perfectly, from the continuity to the character development; they can span from one or two episodes to whole seasons, and make for an intense and entertaining ride. The show is able to balance between being comedic and dramatic, reminiscent of teen dramas, but with more depth and purpose. The situations are real and intense, and the storylines, from the lighter minor ones to the major ones, just keep getting better.
The diversity within this show is fantastic; they have a varied group of characters of different races, genders and sexual orientations which I found to be quite refreshing since no single person felt like a ‘token.’
I binge-watched the one and a half seasons in a couple of days, no surprise since the show has a way of pushing you into the next episode, and making you care for these characters from the beginning – which is no secret to you TV lovers.
Orphan Black – Eleanor Campbell
Orphan Black was one of the most compelling shows to come out of 2013. With its highly unique sci-fi subject matter, questioning the moral and ethical implications of cloning as well as addressing the impact upon personal identity, it was an unexpected hit for BBC America. With its blend of banter, black humour, violence and poignant sadness, Orphan Black addresses many themes in ten episodes such as fate, motherhood, sexuality and biology.
Despite consistent performances from the whole cast, Tatiana Maslany clearly dominates the show with her portrayal of five distinctly diverse clones. With the Canadian actress having to adopt numerous different accents and mannerisms to make each clone unique, as well as acting against herself, it is no wonder Maslany has received immense universal critical acclaim. The portrayal of numerous complex female protagonists is also somewhat refreshing from a feminist perspective in what is classified as a sci-fi in today’s society.
Orphan Black is by no means perfect but for a shows first season on a relatively small network with no major household names in the cast it have an impressive level of refinement and stylistic appeal. With season two airing in America in April and more plot twists inevitable, Orphan Black’s future looks bright.
House of Cards – Ibtisam Ahmed
As I write this, there is one – and I do mean only one – thing that is going through my mind; an overwhelming desire to put away all my work and binge on the second season of House of Cards which premiered on Netflix on the 14th February. Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood would probably appreciate that single-minded focus; after all, that is one of his character’s strengths.
The show’s first season followed US House Majority Whip Underwood after he was turned down for the position of Secretary of State by the president. Swearing revenge, he and his Lady Macbeth, Claire (Robin Wright) do everything in their power to sabotage the administration in order to further their own ambitions, picking up pawns like journalist Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) and Congressman Peter Russo (Corey Stoll) along the way.
Their self-serving Machiavellianism makes a refreshing break from shows that are about idealism and morals. This is a political show for the new age – sharp, dangerous, realistic if slightly over-dramatised, well-written and exceptionally-acted. And if you don’t enjoy Spacey breaking the fourth wall to share a deliciously scathing insult in his South Carolina drawl, you’re not doing it right.