True Detectives, Hannibal, CSI, Penny Dreadful and more must see shows
True Detective Season 2
‘Sometimes your worst self is your best self,’ says Vince Vaughn’s Frank Semyon in the tantalising trailer for True Detective Season 2. It is, frankly, the perfect line to announce the arrival of writer-creator Nic Pizzolatto’s follow-up to his astonishing, Emmy-winning original. Laced with all the grit, intensity, foreboding and philosophical doom and gloom that made its predecessor such an unsettling, discombobulating experience, it makes it very clear that, once again, this season will ask questions about humanity you might not actually want to know the answers to.
An anthology franchise a la American Horror Story, True Detective Season 2 has switched locales and protagonists but will keep the overarching focus, of people sucked into the dark recesses in the American Dream. Where the first season pitched together the magnetic pairing of Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey as the splintered cops in a backwoods noir of murder and the occult, here we find Vaughn’s criminal up against Colin Farrell, Rachel McAdams and a badly burned Taylor Kitsch.
Premiering on Sunday June 21, and screened at the same time here as in the US, all we know of the story so far is that it concerns a transportation deal connecting Northern and Southern California, a high-ranking murder and a missing girl. Which all sounds rather gloriously like Chinatown, if you ask us. But that’s just the surface. And True Detective, more than any other show on TV, lurks more in the undercurrent; trades in what lies beneath. Like Pizzolatto himself says, ‘As much as it’s about trying to capture a certain psychosphere of a place, it’s about trying to capture a soul. Souls are what interest me.’ True Detective Season 2 screens on OSN from Monday June 22 (the same minute as in the US).
So consumed was he by writing it that when, in 1981, author Thomas Harris sat down and actually read his second novel, Red Dragon – the book that introduced the world to iconic serial killer Hannibal Lecter – he had an uncontrollable, almost physical reaction, right out of his gut. ‘Where did that come from?’ he remembers blurting, terrified.
Now, after the three follow-up novels, and all the corresponding movie adaptations, Dr Lecter finds himself back for a third season of what is, arguably, the single most fascinating thriller on TV. Without doubt it’s the most unique. From its very first episode, here was a drama that knew precisely where it was heading, its surgically planned seven-season arc due to end precisely as the movie version of The Silence of the Lambs begins – with us meeting wet-behind-the-ears FBI recruit Clarice Starling, on the hunt for serial killer Buffalo Bill, with Dr Lecter her eyes and ears from behind bars.
The show has a fairly fundamental legal issue to overcome in the long term – that it doesn’t actually own the rights to the character Clarice Starling – but its creator, Bryan Fuller, assures us he has a plan. And, frankly, who are we to doubt him, given that over Hannibal’s first two seasons he has already given us more than 24 hours of the finest police procedural ever stuck on the small screen. (And, yes, we have seen The Wire.) Season 3 picks up after the bloodbath that climaxed Season 2, with several key characters hacked and slashed and left for dead, and Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal on the run to Florence with Gillian Anderson’s fellow shrink Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier and pursued by Hugh Dancy’s criminal profiler, Will Graham.
New to the mix third time out? Richard Armitage’s Francis Dolarhyde, another familiar, gruesome killer in the Red Dragon mythology. ‘And that’s the fun of it,’ says Fuller. ‘Leaving fans those little breadcrumbs, those little Reese’s Pieces.’ Hannibal Season 3 screens on OSN Play from Saturday August 1.
Power Season 2
If Superman and Scarface made a TV-baby it may come out looking a little like Power. Executive produced by – and occasionally featuring – Curtis ‘50 Cent’ Jackson, this gangster mini-epic tells the story of James ‘Ghost’ St. Patrick, a man of twin personalities (hence the Superman reference) swimming in a deadly sea of illicit substances (cf Scarface). Omari Hardwick is St. Patrick, on the surface a wealthy New York nightclub owner but by night an East Coast organised crime kingpin trying to balance family life with, well, murder. So, yes, it wants to be The Sopranos. And, no, it isn’t The Sopranos. But it’s a decent placeholder for now, and with Season 1’s sometimes clunky characterisation done and dusted, this sophomore effort has the freedom to let the bullets fly. Quite literally, with Jackson confirming that certain story strands will take inspiration from the real-life shooting that saw him hit nine times in a drive-by in 2000. ‘I would keep [a gun] around me because it would make me feel comfortable,’ says Jackson of the aftermath. ‘A portion of that ended up [in this] story, but it doesn’t have the same intentions.’ Power Season 2 screens on Starz from Sat June 6.
A brand-new CBS show that’s probably best not watched with your pet cat on your lap – unless the idea that it may rise up against you and EAT YOUR FACE doesn’t for some reason perturb you – is Zoo, based on James Patterson’s bestselling novel of the same name. The drama chronicles what happens when ‘the animals decide… they’ve had enough’, explains executive producer Jeff Pinkner, ‘[and] it’s time to fight back’. James Wolk’s maverick (and magically monikered) biologist Jackson Oz is the man trying to sort out the carnage, though all involved are keen to stress there’s no anti-animal sentiment going on. ‘The animals, in a strange way, are the heroes of the story,’ says Patterson, who also claims that if you know the book you don’t know everything. ‘It’s going to change a lot from the book, which is excellent [news],’ the author says. ‘In this case, I do think the show is going to be better than the book.’ Zoo screens on Starz this June.
Penny Dreadful Season 2
The Avengers have a lot to answer for. Such has been the success of the Marvel model of lumping together numerous famous characters into a single property – technically termed the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach – that now they’re everywhere. Hollywood, never knowingly failing to try and milk every drop from a cash cow while it can, is positively falling over itself to build new universes around everyone from the Ghostbusters to Magic flippin’ Mike. The upside? Penny Dreadful. Returning for a second season, this brilliant gothic thriller – its name being the slang term for the Victorian-era serialised comic book – pits together some of horror literature’s most iconic beasties to deeply unnerving, and very bloody, effect. Dr Frankenstein, Dorian Gray, Dracula… By rights it’s a medley that should be chaotic. But, in the hands of its creator John Logan (the man behind screenplays including Gladiator, Skyfall and its subsequent Bond outing Spectre), as well as the astonishing central performance of Eva Green, it’s an absolute treat. ‘And this season it’s evolved,’ teases Logan. ‘We have two key new protagonists who are going to cause havoc for our heroes. And we have some major surprises up our sleeve.’ Penny Dreadful screens on Starz this June.
CSI: The Final Series
After a decade on air (and doesn’t that make you feel old?) iconic crime show CSI is finally locking up shop with a spectacular 15th and final season. With big-name fans like Quentin Tarantino, who famously campaigned to direct the majestic Grave Danger episode in 2005, and an amazing TV legacy – it reversed the fortunes of CBS and spawned, for good or ill, CSIs Miami, New York, Cyber and NBC’s Law & Order – the show needs to go out on a high, and already looks set to deliver. This last season will end with a two-hour movie feature that will see returning original cast members like William Petersen and Marg Helgenberger join Ted ‘everybody knows his name’ Danson for an ‘epic finale’, according to the station. ‘I’m very happy we can send it off in the right way,’ says CBS’ Kelly Kahl. ‘It’s getting a proper goodbye.’ CSI: Season 15 screens on OSN from Saturday July 11.