The 2012-2013 TV Season's Most Surprising New Shows
by IMDb-Editors created 22 May 2013 | last updated - 02 Dec 2013
Most TV viewers have a list of must-see series that might not ever be up for Emmy awards, but hold a special place in their hearts nevertheless. Here are a few new series that we loved watching almost as much as we loved recommending from this past television season.
Had you only stuck around for the first couple of episodes of "Banshee", you might wonder what in the heck its fans see in it.
Consider the premise: a hardened criminal gets out of the joint and goes on the hunt for the lover/partner-in-crime he left behind, only to discover that she's taken on a new identity, married into the straight world and is living as a small-town housewife in Amish country.
But the small town in which she's settled also happens to be one of the most corrupt communities imaginable, not to mention a magnet for danger -- largely owing to the fact that one of the community pillars is an ex-Amish crime lord. To fit in, our still unnamed ex-con hero assumes the identity of the county's brand new sheriff when the real law man (conveniently named Lucas Hood) is murdered right in front of him before he meets anyone. And shortly after the man calling himself Lucas Hood settles in, the place goes bonkers.
In spite of its creatively shaky beginnings, this action soap just got weirder, wilder and more addictive as its first season evolved while also introducing us to one of the most entertaining new characters of the TV season, a foul-mouthed cross-dressing hacker named Job (masterfully played by Hoon Lee).
Don't worry if you missed the first season of this pulp-fiction frenzy, because Cinemax is repeating it in its entirety this summer on Friday nights at 10pm. ”
“ "Orphan Black"
It's tough enough for an actor to believably play twins. In BBC America's "Orphan Black", Tatiana Maslany plays at least six physically identical clones, sometimes having one imitate another as part of the plot.
And what a twisty plot "Orphan Black" has: as the main character, Sarah Manning, meets more clones, she is pulled more deeply and quickly into a conspiracy that suggests that her life is part of a huge experiment -- and that someone is heavily invested in keeping it a secret, to the point of hunting down her fellow clones.
Though the first season has ended, BBC America has picked up a second season, set to debut in 2014. ”
Television has often been blamed for its role in numbing the American public to acts of violence, as critics point out the often casual ways with which procedurals treat brutality and death as little more than plot engines.
But NBC's midseason thriller "Hannibal" employs a different tactic, making it impossible for the viewer to disregard the horror of sociopathic behavior and murder. Indeed, the squeamish visuals take you deeper into the mind of the show's troubled protagonist Will Graham, a man whose sanity is slowly dissolving before our eyes. His artistic waking nightmares are the stars of the show.
The fact that his fellow consultant Hannibal Lecter is playing games with his psyche and serving courses of human organs to his friends, then, is a secondary concern. Viewers will get to see more of that play out in midseason of 2014 when the series returns for a 13-episode second season. ”
“ "Da Vinci's Demons"
Remember the good old days when shows like "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys" and "Xena: Warrior Princess" were just the kind of lightweight action candy weekend viewers craved?
"Da Vinci's Demons" occupies a similar place in our hearts, but it functions on a creative level that is leaps and bounds beyond the cheesiness of those aforementioned syndicated series. True, it does play fast and loose with history by making Leonardo Da Vinci into an action hero -- which is no surprise, given that the series is executive produced by David S. Goyer (Batman Begins, Man of Steel) -- and connecting him to a wide-reaching brotherhood tasked with protecting one of the world's most secretive tomes. But it does so with the kind of wit and intelligence that makes it worthy of its premium cable status -- not to mention its noticeably higher budget, gorgeous scenery and likable cast.
While a second season was picked up on the heels of the series premiere, "Da Vinci's Demons" first season is still airing at 9pm Fridays on Starz. ”
“ "Inside Amy Schumer"
It is a professional comedian's dream to be anointed by Comedy Central with a special, or a series. Not surprisingly, considering how tough the comedy world is on female comics, the network tends to hand out series orders to men far more often than women.
So not only is it refreshing to see rising star Amy Schumer get her own series, but it's great to see that her brand of delightfully harsh, unapologetically dirty comedy -- comedy from a distinctly female perspective that hits the spot with both genders -- has not been diluted by the show's sketch comedy format.
Granted, "Inside Amy Schumer" has a fair bit of cooking to do before it can come close to reaching "Chappelle's Show" levels of comedy perfection; the content of her skits can be uneven, and some of her interview segments bring the momentum to a halt. Even so, there are plenty of brilliant moments to make up for the missteps, enough to make us confident that season two will smooth out the rough edges in the show's freshman run. We can't wait to get another peek "Inside" in season two. ”
Although History Channel's "The Bible" took up a lot of the network's promotional oxygen in midseason, its scripted drama "Vikings" gave the basic cable channel a piece of the swords-shields-and-sandals action premium nets HBO and Starz have been handily capitalizing on the past few years -- all while softly downloading historical information about viking culture and tradition into the audience's enraptured brains.
We seriously doubt any of the actors are going to win any critical notice or award nominations for their performances in this thing, but so what? If the main quest of "Vikings" is provide a good time for the viewer, then victory achieved. ”
“ "Bates Motel"
"It's not like my mother is a maniac or a raving thing. She just goes a little mad sometimes. We all go a little mad sometimes. Haven't you?" - Norman Bates, Psycho
A&E's "Bates Motel" is inspired by Hitchcock's most celebrated thriller, not a direct prequel (which explains, for example, why Norman Bates owns a iPod), but even as an homage, it does ample justice to its source material. Much of that is owed to the performances of Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore as Norma and Norman Bates -- newcomers to White Pine Bay, Oregon, a town that makes Banshee County look like the happiest place on Earth. As a community, the townspeople enact their own kind of justice, which should have worked perfectly for the fiercely protective Norma, a woman who played the part of judge, jury and executioner in the case of a man to commits a crime against her in the pilot. (Not that anyone would quibble.)
But unforeseen difficulties arise in the dark story of Norma and Norman's relationship, which only becomes more complex and codependent as the series wears on -- to the point that her other biological child, Norman's half-brother Dylan, becomes more of an interloper than an ally. Sinister events over the course of the first season grant us a glimpse of the man we know troubled young Norman will soon become, but with season two ordered and on the verge of beginning production, one gets the sense that we've only begun to explore the basement level of the Bates family's psychosis. ”
In the realm of sci-fi television, "Defiance" has yet to prove itself as one of the greats. The story of an alien culture colliding with humankind in a near-futuristic version of St. Louis (which has been renamed Defiance) is not particularly groundbreaking, and the episodic plots aren't much more challenging than your basic TV Western. Honestly, if you've seen "Alien Nation", you have a pretty good sense of the heart of this show.
That doesn't stop it from being an enjoyable weeknight diversion, largely thanks to the town's resident ass-kicker Irisa, the adopted Irathient daughter and deputy lawkeeper to the town's chief lawman Joshua Nolan. This, too, has been greenlit for a second season, news that surely gave both its viewers and the gamers immersed in the massive multi-player online game connected to the show's universe reason to celebrate. ”