10 hot shows on the telly

New TV shows to hit Singapore small screens range from the mysterious to the hilarious

Unintended pregnancies are at the core of two television shows coming this way. And they could not be more different.

Extant, starring Oscar-winner Halle Berry, is a sci-fi mystery about an astronaut returning from a solo space mission with a bun in the oven.

Jane The Virgin is a comedy-drama about an avowed virgin who gets accidentally knocked up via artificial insemination.

Even when a premise is familiar, you can always put a different spin on it: Gotham is a prequel to the Batman story, Wayward Pines is a take on Twin Peaks with a top-notch cast and Madam Secretary is a political drama with a gender twist.

While some titles sound lacklustre on paper, there is always the hope that a Game Of Thrones or Breaking Bad could emerge from this slate of fresh offerings for the next few months.

bchan@sph.com.sg

Telecast details are subject to change.


  • Now showing/this month

1 GOTHAM

Where: Warner TV (StarHub TV Channel 515)

When: Thursdays, 9pm

Who: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, Jada Pinkett Smith

What: This is the latest addition to DC Comics' Batman franchise. Gotham is home to the caped crusader and the series explores Detective Gordon's (McKenzie from Southland and The O.C.) early days on the force as well as the origin stories of the superhero and villains such as Penguin, Riddler, Catwoman and Joker.

Buzz-o-meter: **** 1/2

Anything Dark Knight-related is hot property after the success of the epic Christopher Nolan trilogy. On metacritic.com, it gets a good score of 72, indicating generally favourable reviews.


2 JANE THE VIRGIN

Where: Sony Channel (SingTel mio TV Channel 320)

When: From Oct 19, 8.50pm

Who: Gina Rodriguez (with Andrea Navedo), Justin Baldoni

What: Jane (Rodriguez), a religious young Latina woman, is artificially inseminated by mistake and the biological father (Baldoni) is her former teenage crush. A loose adaptation of the Venezuelan telenovella Juana La Virgen (2002).

Buzz-o-meter: ****

The premise sounds like a hoot and the show made it to No. 2 on TV.com's 10 Most Anticipated New Shows For Fall 2014.


3 MADAM SECRETARY

Where: Sony Channel (SingTel mio TV Channel 320)

When: From Oct 16, 8.50pm

Who: Tea Leoni, Tim Daly, Bebe Neuwirth

What: Leoni (The Naked Truth) is Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord. Daly plays her husband and Neuwirth is her chief of staff.

The title seems like a deliberate nod to Madam Secretary: A Memoir by Madeleine Albright, the first woman to become the United States Secretary of State, although the producers say the show was inspired by

Mrs Hillary Clinton, who held the position between 2009 and last year.

Buzz-o-meter: *** 1/2

Sigourney Weaver also played the role of Secretary of State, in the 2012 miniseries Political Animals, while Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a Vice- President in Veep, proving that women are coming into their own in politics - at least on TV.


4 HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER

Where: Sony Channel (SingTel mio TV Channel 320)

When: From Oct 15, 8.50pm

Who: Viola Davis

What: Oscar-nominee Davis is a law professor who is embroiled in a murder plot along with her students.

Buzz-o-meter: *** 1/2

Executive producer Shonda Rhimes is a powerful player in the industry with credits such as Grey's Anatomy and Scandal to her name.

TV Guide said: "The heightened tone, pungent dialogue, extreme characters, twisty plotting and dizzying pace reflect the Shonda philosophy of entertain-at-all-costs, providing a sizzling showcase for Viola Davis."


5 FROM DUSK TILL DAWN

Where: FX (StarHub TV Channel 507, SingTel mio TV Channel 310)

When: From Oct 9, 10pm

Who: Zane Holtz, D.J. Cotrona, Robert Patrick

What: Set in a strip club full of vampires, From Dusk Till Dawn is a 1996 cult horror thriller flick directed by Robert Rodriguez and written by Quentin Tarantino. The TV series further expands its universe. Cotrona and Holtz play a pair of bank-robber brothers on the run who end up in a strip club near the Mexican border.

Buzz-o-meter: ***

From Dusk Till Dawn lives on to see another day as it has been renewed for a 13-episode second season.


  • November

6 THE COMEBACK

Where: HBO (StarHub TV Channel 601)

When: From Nov 10, 10pm

Who: Lisa Kudrow

What: The comedy ran for a single season in 2005, but never aired in Asia. So this second season marks the comeback of The Comeback in the United States, but it is new to us here. In this meta, po-mo, wink-nudge show, Kudrow plays a sitcom actress attempting to make her, well, you know. And a fictional reality show, also called The Comeback, documents it all.

Buzz-o-meter: ** 1/2

It is not a great sign that nine years lapsed between the two seasons, but we are happy to see our kooky Friend back on the small screen again.


  • December

7 THE LIBRARIANS

Where: Universal Channel (StarHub TV Channel 512)

When: From Dec 8, 9pm

Who: Noah Wyle, John Larroquette (with executive producer Dean Devlin), Rebecca Romijn

What: The Librarian is a series of made-for-TV original movies from Turner Network Television in which Wyle plays the titular character who protects a collection of artefacts.

The Librarians is the TV series version with Larroquette playing a reluctant caretaker and Romijn as one of the new protectors.

Buzz-o-meter: ***

This could be a fun read, I mean ride, in the vein of adventure thrillers such as the Indiana Jones flicks (do not forget that Jones' day job was as a bookish archaeology professor).


8 THE JOB LOT

Where: BBC Entertainment (StarHub TV Channel 521)

When: From Dec 6, 9.30pm

Who: Russell Tovey, Sarah Hadland, Jo Enright

What: A sitcom set in a bustling job centre with a neurotic boss (Hadland) and an oddball collection of employees from sourpuss Angela (Enright) to the truculent Karl (Tovey).

Buzz-o-meter: ***

The similarly themed The Office (2001-2003) was a comedic gem that also hailed from Britain.

Also, The Job Lot has already been re-contracted for a second series.


  • January next year

9 EXTANT

Where: RTL CBS Entertainment HD (StarHub TV Channel 509, SingTel mio TV Channel 318)

When: January

Who: Halle Berry (with Pierce Gagnon), Goran Visnjic

What: After a 13-month solo mission in space, astronaut Molly Woods (Berry) returns home to her family - pregnant. Her husband (Visnjic) is a robotics engineer who created their android son. The sci-fi mystery is executive produced by hitmaker Steven Spielberg.

Buzz-o-meter: ****

What an intriguing way to expand upon the female astronaut-in-space success that was Gravity (2013) - by crossing it with hints of Alien (1979) and A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001).


10 WAYWARD PINES

Where: Fox (StarHub TV Channel 505, SingTel mio TV Channel 330)

When: Spring 2015

Who: Matt Dillon, Carla Gugino, Melissa Leo, M. Night Shyamalan

What: Dillon is a Secret Service agent investigating the disappearance of two agents in a mysterious Idaho town. Twin Peaks (1990-1991) redux, anyone? Based on the novel Pines (2012) by Blake Crouch.

Buzz-o-meter: *** 1/2

Executive producer Shyamalan might be more dud (think After Earth, 2013) than stud (think Sixth Sense, 1999) on the big screen of late, but the allure of an off-kilter Twin Peaks-like vibe is irresistible.

The publicity shots are promisingly moody and the line-up is stellar.