This year is set to be a good one for television, so we’ve picked out the top 10 new series that are coming to the UAE in 2008 – from secret agent nerds to the latest Steve Coogan character, to the return of the Terminators. Words Matt Pomroy
When Sam – a slacker working at a hardware store – reaches his 21st birthday he discovers that before he was born his parents sold his soul to the Devil. Now Sam, with the help of his goofy friends, has to collect escaped souls for the Prince of Darkness. Time Out has seen the first 10 episodes and it’s a little gem of a series. The pilot was directed by Kevin Smith and the tone is much like his previous work, but it’s the performances of Bret Harrison, his sidekick Tyler Labine (who’s like a young Jack Black and a star in the making) and Ray Wise as the charming Devil that make it such a winner.
In a nutshell: Clerks meets Buffy The Vampire Slayer
When: Showtime later in the year
A geek who works at an electronics store gets an experimental CIA database installed in his mind by mistake and now needs protection from two agents, one of whom is a super-hot woman. The premise is daft, but it’s likeable easy viewing and the nerds and their petty squabbles juxtaposed with Chuck’s secret life working with the government hold it together. We like it.
In a nutshell: Alias with comedy nerds
When: On Orbit after March
Jim ‘Carry On’ Dale narrates this dramedy about a piemaker who can bring people back to life by just touching them, but the gift has clauses that complicate matters. Anna Friel is great as the love interest and the stories if light and fun but it’s the Tim Burton meets Dr Seuss look of it that makes it stand out. The pilot episode is possibly the most visually wonderful episode of television Time Out has ever seen (that one episode cost US$11million) so make sure you catch it from the start.
In a nutshell: A quirky and quite beautifully shot romantic dramedy
When: After March on Orbit
Those who have read the raunchy teen novels will know what to expect, and the screen outing retains the same tone. Narrated by Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) as the titular gossip, it charts the lives of shallow, narcissistic, rich teenagers living on the Upper East side of New York.
In a nutshell: Cruel Intentions – the series
When: After March on Orbit
Dirty Sexy Money
From the creator/writer of Six Feet Under this drama is centred around the outrageously wealthy and eccentric Darling family in New York. After their lawyer is mysteriously killed in a plane crash his son (Peter Krause – Nate from Six Feet Under) takes over the family affairs and investigates the death of his father, while also trying to keep the dysfunctional family out of trouble and out of the newspapers. Donald Sutherland is fantastic as the family patriarch, Tripp Darling, there isn’t a weak link in the ensemble cast.
In a nutshell: New York based Dynasty for the new millennium
When: Showtime at some point
The much anticipated spin off from Grey’s Anatomy. Kate Walsh reprises her role as Addison Forbes Montgomery and having left behind Seattle Grace Hospital, a broken marriage with Derek ‘McDreamy’ Shepherd, and her torn affiliation with Mark ‘McSteamy’ Sloan, she moves to Los Angeles to make a new start at Oceanside Wellness Group, an alternative medicine clinic. If you liked Grey’s you’ll probably love this and the new, ‘alternative’ environment make a welcome change from the usual hospital drama/soap surroundings.
In a nutshell: Californian Grey’s Anatomy with more feeling
When: Showtime at some point
Former Saturday Night Live writer, Tina Fey, created and stars in this brilliant, Emmy Award-winning comedy set behind the scenes of a live entertainment show. The jokes are razor-sharp and occasionally surreal while the performances from Fey, Tracy Morgan as the mentally unstable star and (especially) Alec Baldwin as her slick boss are pitch perfect. It’s shot on single camera, has no laugh track ruining it and has cameo appearances from the likes of Carrie Fisher, Steve Buscemi, Jerry Seinfeld, John McEnroe and Maury Povich. This is likely to be the best half-hour comedy shown throughout the year – don’t miss.
In a nutshell: The Office set at Saturday Night Live
When: Starting Jan 15 on ShowComedy
Christina Applegate plays Samantha Newly, a woman who is run over and awakens eight days later with no recollection of anything about who she is or her past. But slowly she discovers that she was a horrible person and is going about trying to fix who she was and make a new start. Applegate – all grown up from Married With Children– makes it work and Jennifer Esposito is at her sarky best as her closest friend. The reviews were mixed in America but from the episodes we’ve seen it’s more than worthy of your attention, at least to see if it’s your sort of thing.
In a nutshell: The Urban and sassy My Name Is Earl
When: Jan 9 on ShowComedy
Steve Coogan’s follow up to Alan Partridge follows the life of Tommy Saxondale, a former 70s roadie who now works in pest control in rural Hertfordshire. It’s subtler than his previous work, but the jokes are right on the money and there’s far more pathos and soul to the characters. You have to give it a few episodes to get into the pacing and feel, but it’s just as rewarding as anything that Coogan has done in the past. Hugely underrated.
In a nutshell: Steve Coogan proves he’s more than Partridge
When: Jan 26 on BBC Prime
The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Based on the heroine from the Terminator series of films, The Sarah Connor Chronicles begins where Terminator 2: Judgment Dayleft off. Sarah (Lena Headey from 300), had just vanquished the Terminator sent from the future to kill her son, John (Thomas Dekker). Now, Sarah and John are alone in a complex world as fugitives as they constantly battle more enemies from the past, present or future that are sent to kill them. It debuts in America this month, but from the pilot episode we’ve seen, it should do well with fans of the genre.
In a nutshell: Exactly as the title suggests really
When: Orbit after March
For Time Out, January 2008
For original PDF click here – 2008 PREVIEW