The horror! The horror! The top five series in this category for 2017 share a certain bloodlust, though each in its own peculiar or fantastical way. Game of Thrones, meanwhile, finds itself locked out of the category’s top spots for the first time since RT began awarding TV Golden Tomato prizes in 2013.
The order of the rank below reflects the Adjusted Score as of December 31, 2017. Scores might change over time.
This week on home video, we have the latest James Bond film, a gothic romance from the mind of Guillermo Del Toro, and a much-discussed HBO series, as well as a couple of acclaimed indies, a fascinating doc, and more. Read on for details:
This documentary tells the story of a small North Dakota town’s resistance to an attempted takeover by white supremacists. It’s only available on DVD, and there isn’t any information available on special features.
Andrew Garfield and Michael Shannon star in Ramin Bahrani’s Certified Fresh drama about a man who gets a job evicting homeowners who defaulted on their mortgages in order to stave off financial troubles of his own. This one’s also only available on DVD, and it also lacks info on special features.
Lily Tomlin stars in Paul Weitz’s comedy about a woman who visits a bunch of old friends in order to borrow money to help her granddaughter out of a jam. Bonus features include a commentary track, a making-of doc, and a cast/director Q&A.
So, season two, huh? That was pretty bonkers, wasn’t it? HBO’s most divisive series (for audiences) nevertheless scored a Certified Fresh 87 percent in its sophomore season, relocating the Garveys to a new town with mysteries of its own. The season set comes with all ten episodes and no extras.
The Criterion Collection’s new release this week is Jan Troell’s two-part immigration story starring Max Von Sydow and Liv Ullmann as a Swedish farming couple who move to the US during the 1800s and attempt to begin a new life. The set comes with 1971’s The Emigrants and 1972’s The New Land, plus special features.
Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston, and Jessica Chastain star in Guillermo Del Toro’s gothic supernatural drama about an aspiring writer who is whisked away by a dashing baronet to an old English mansion, where specters begin to appear to her. Bonus features include a handful of featurettes on the visual design, the genre, the setting, and more, plus deleted scenes and a commentary track.
The latest outing for 007 (and purportedly the last for Daniel Craig) finds Bond encountering a shadowy figure from his past as he uncovers a vast network of evil operatives. Extras include a look at the opening sequence, a handful of video blogs, and a collection of production stills.
Speaking of operatives, Kit Harington and Peter Firth star in this lesser known thriller about a spy who goes off the grid in search of an escaped terrorist. It comes with a making-of doc and some deleted scenes.
Diane Keaton and Alan Arkin lead an all-star cast in this ensemble holiday comedy about a family matriarch who gathers four generations of her clan together for a Christmas Eve celebration. Special features include a making-of doc, a pair of featurettes, and a music video.
With 409 original scripted television shows in 2015, it’s not easy to pick a favorite, but here at Rotten Tomatoes, we’ve done just that! See our staff picks for the programming highlights of 2015 — from under-the-radar gems to downright cultural phenomenons. The best part? All of these shows are available for you to watch right now from the beginning — and, of course, they’re all Fresh!
What it is: This spinoff of Breaking Bad gives us an early look at Jimmy McGill, the man who will later become Saul Goodman. In season one, we see Jimmy try to leave his grifter, “Slippin’ Jimmy” past behind and be an honest (if not entirely successful) representative of the law. And if Jimmy is trying to turn over a new leaf, those around him — even his own brother — may not be ready to let go of Jimmy’s past.
Why you should watch it: Saul Goodman was a reliable source of comic relief in Breaking Bad, but who would have suspected that Jimmy’s first-season character arc would be so emotionally moving? The series deftly moves from a comedy about a mostly competent small-time lawyer to a moving drama about two men whose pasts still overshadow their futures. Bob Odenkirk and Jonathan Banks make the most of the opportunity to delve deeper into Saul and Mike, and the writing from Vince Gilligan is simply terrific. And “Five-O,” the sixth episode of this first season, may well be the finest hour of television in all of 2015.
Commitment: Nine hours.
Picked By: Matt Atchity, Editor-in-Chief
What it is: Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox) fights organized crime in New York City as a lawyer during the day, and as a super-powered, martial arts-fighting vigilante at night. Daredevil is Netflix’s first foray into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Why you should watch it: Daredevil is one of the best-executed comic book adaptations on television to date — if not the best. With incredible fight scenes and a fascinating performance by Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk (aka Kingpin), this origin story centers on both the hero and villain’s journeys, giving them much more depth than your average superhero story. The series raised the bar very high for serialized MCU shows, having unexpectedly earned a second season after the immensely positive reaction from fans and critics alike.
Where to watch: Netflix.
Commitment: Eight hours.
Picked By: Julio de Oliveira, Project Manager
What it is: The murder of a war veteran in Modesto, California and the brutal attack on his wife sparks an emotionally-charged chain of events enveloping the victims’ and suspect’s families during the subsequent legal battle.
Why you should watch it: American Crime exhibits no fear or hesitation in tackling topics ripped directly from today’s headlines in nearly any American city. You won’t find any simple answers here, though. The sensitivity showed to characters on every side of the equation paints a vivid picture of just how complicated these stories always are — and how important it is that we discuss them with rationality and compassion. Be sure to watch it with a friend so you can ruminate on everything it’s saying.
Commitment: 10 hours.
Picked By: Grae Drake, Senior Editor
What it is: HBO’s somber drama, created by Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta, is set in the emotional aftermath of a global event known as “The Departure” in which 140 million people (two percent of the world’s population) inexplicably vanished.
Why you should watch it: Love it or hate it, The Leftovers is a show that taps into human feeling. The remarkable ensemble cast delivers one stirring performance after the other — particularly in the critically acclaimed second season. HBO has announced that there will be a third, and final, season of The Leftovers in 2016 so enjoy this unique piece of storytelling before it departs.
Commitment: 20 hours.
Picked By: Zayre Ferrer, Review Aggregator
What it is: An alcoholic mad scientist moves in with his daughter’s semi-dysfunctional family and begins involving his apprehensive grandson in wild cosmic and interdimensional adventures.
Why you should watch it: If you like your jokes quick, clever, and pregnant with pop culture references, you’ll feel right at home with Rick and Morty, an Adult Swim series co-created by Justin Roiland and Community showrunner Dan Harmon. But while most animated comedies are content to showcase a collection of single-serving vignettes, Rick and Morty dares to offer some pathos alongside its absurdist humor. Sure, you’ll laugh at a hilarious gag referencing David Cronenberg, but you’ll also balk at the horrifying meaning behind it, and that’s what makes this such a deliciously funny, sometimes surprisingly multi-layered treat. Season two upped the ante, and in addition to some standout episodes (including my favorite, “The Ricks Must Be Crazy”), the season finale delivered with an unexpected cliffhanger.
Commitment: Eight hours.
Picked By: Ryan Fujitani, Editor
Why you should watch it: While the first season was the pitch black romantic comedy we always wanted, featuring the kind of twenty-something Los Angelenos the rest of the country loves to hate, the second season goes even deeper. Jimmy and Gretchen’s relationship is put to the test and the supporting cast also has a stellar season. Although You’re the Worst deals with heavy stuff, it does so with a light and raunchy touch, perfectly balancing raw emotions with belly laughs.
Commitment: 11 hours.
Picked By: Marya E. Gates, Social Media Specialist
What it is: Inspired by the series of novels written by George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones is the fantasy epic that out epics all others. Set in the fictional continents of Westeros and Essos, the series follows the dynastic struggles among the realms of noble families for control of the Iron Throne.
Why you should watch it: If you are someone who still hasn’t jumped on the GOT bandwagon, do not be daunted by the task — or by the hype. It lives up to it all and this year did nothing but enhance the show’s stockpile of jaw-dropping and superbly written, performed, and directed moments. Even after five seasons, you will still catch yourself astounded that this is television at all.
Where to watch: HBO Go.
Commitment: 50 hours.
Picked By: Andria Hopkins, Review Aggregator
What it is: Ross Poldark is a British soldier who returns home from the Revolutionary War to find his family business bankrupt and his love betrothed to another, forcing him to rebuild his life.
Why you should watch it: It’s a romance novel brought to life. Aidan Turner is fantastic as Poldark, with flowing locks and shirtless scenes that are almost as gorgeous as the show’s sweeping shots of the English countryside. If you’re looking for something to keep you going until Outlander returns in the spring, this should serve you nicely.
Commitment: Eight hours.
Picked By: Beki Lane, Associate TV Editor
What it is: A psycho-sexy action drama, Banshee throws a dangerous ex-con into, wait for it… sheriffdom. When he attempts to reconnect with his true love and former cohort-in-crime, he ends up replacing the new sheriff who got killed before anybody could meet him, making for some crazy-ass goings-on in the Banshee PD.
Why you should watch it: It’s hard to find a show so crazy, so nasty, so sexy. The amazing cast makes it difficult to choose who to root for: the bad-ass, violent ex-con disguised as the sheriff? His ex-partner/lover-in-crime hiding her past, who now lives with her politician husband and two kids? The “businessman” mob-boss type who excommunicated himself from his Amish family to run the town? What about his promiscuous niece who was banished from the family? Explosive!
Commitment: 30 hours.
Picked By: Kerr Lordygan, Associate TV Editor
Why you should watch it: There’s a moment partway through Documentary Now!‘s season premiere spoofing the Maysles brothers’ Grey Gardens when you realize that you’re not only watching a spot-on send-up to the original, but also a story brilliantly taking on a life of its own. Perfect for cinephiles and comedy nuts alike, Documentary Now! is best when you’re familiar with the source material, but anyone who appreciates silly, weirdly specific humor should check this one out.
Commitment: Three hours.
Picked By: Sarah Ricard, TV Editor
What it is: Elliot (Rami Malek), a young computer programmer with mental health issues, is recruited by a group of revolutionary hackers to help them bring upon the destruction of some of the world’s largest corporations. But as the stakes are raised, our hero discovers that nothing is as it first seemed.
Why you should watch it: Plenty of shows — even very good ones — can be enjoyed on a surface level. Mr. Robot, on the other hand, demands your undivided attention. Everything — everything — about this show feels precise and premeditated; it draws you into a paranoid mindset, one that embodies the old conspiracist’s adage that there are no coincidences. Hallucinatory, insanely topical, and blessed with one of the best soundtracks (and undoubtably the best title screens) of any show on television, Mr. Robot will reward obsessives with plenty of unsettling layers to uncover.
Commitment: Eight hours.
Picked By: Tim Ryan, Senior Editor
This week at the movies, we’ve got a high-flying orphan (Pan, starring Levi Miller and Hugh Jackman) and a high-wire daredevil (The Walk, starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Charlotte Le Bon). What do the critics have to say?
Do we really need to know the origin story of every iconic fictional character? The trouble with Pan, critics say, is not simply its narrative incoherence and excessive special effects, but its inability to get at the heart of its familiar hero. In this telling, Peter Pan (Levi Miller) is snatched from a London orphanage by a floating pirate ship bound for Neverland. There, Peter makes friends with such famous faces as Tiger Lily (Rooney Mara) and the future Captain Hook (Garrett Hedlund), and quickly runs afoul of the evil Blackbeard (Hugh Jackman). The pundits say Pan has a few moments of visual invention, but mostly, it’s a generic fantasy that fails to capture the mischievous spirit of its beloved protagonist.
The unbelievable story of Philippe Petit, the French acrobat who devised a mad scheme to tightrope-walk between the towers of the World Trade Center, was already chronicled in the Oscar-winning documentary Man On Wire. However, critics say The Walk is a gripping, tense, visually astonishing fictional recreation of that bizarre incident that demonstrates director Robert Zemeckis‘ knack for dazzling imagery — even if it sometimes meanders when the story is on the ground.
With distinctive visuals and a terrific cast, The Flash remains one of the strongest comic book shows on television.
Reinvigorated storylines and an even stronger cast keep The Good Wife fresh in its seventh season — and away from the doldrums that overcome many long-running dramas.
The Affair shifts its emphasis in season two, moving psychological drama to the foreground and expanding the show’s central crime story to include two new points of view.
The Leftovers continues to be unpredictable and provocative in season two with its new location, though the inexplicable circumstances will still frustrate many viewers.
Homeland re-energizes itself in season five by setting up a twisty Berlin-set spy thriller that spotlights Carrie’s questionable ethics more than ever.
Favoring garish style over effective storytelling, the fifth American Horror Story strands a talented cast at Ryan Murphy’s Hotel.
Also Opening This Week In Limited Release
In season one of The Leftovers, we saw the consequences of an earth-shattering event which randomly took away two percent of the population, and how it affected a small group of people in a little New York town. Now, in season two, our survivors make the pilgrimage to a Texas community where every single person was spared from Sudden Departure. Take a look.
Season two stars the Garvey clan (Justin Theroux, Amy Brenneman, Margaret Qualley, Chris Zylka, and Carrie Coon), and introduces Regina King, Jovan Adepo, Jasmin Savoy Brown, and Kevin Carroll as the Murphy family. Ann Dowd, Liv Tyler, and Christopher Eccleston are also expected to return.
New episodes start Sunday, October 4 on HBO.
Emmy nominations are out for last season, but it’s already time for a new one. Television continues to rival, and sometimes surpass, the quality and success of film industry releases, with more networks than we ever thought possible 20 years ago. And, with the growing number of cable networks, we witness the capability of catering to more adult-oriented content. This fall, we will continue to see television grow, for better and for worse. Which new shows will achieve Fresh, or even Certified Fresh, status? Which will quickly go Rotten? And which of your favorite returning shows made the cut this year? Here’s the list as we know it, and we’ll continue to update it as premiere dates continue to be broadcast.
Monday, Aug. 3
Significant Mother series premiere, 9:30 p.m., CW
Tuesday, Aug. 4
Playing House season two premiere, 10 p.m., USA
Saturday, Aug. 8
Funny or Die Presents America’s Next Weatherman series premiere, 11 p.m., TBS
Sunday, Aug. 16
Show Me a Hero miniseries premiere, 9 p.m., HBO
Tuesday, Aug. 18
The Hotwives of Las Vegas series premiere, Hulu
Thursday, Aug. 20
Documentary Now! series premiere, 10 p.m., IFC
Monday, Aug. 24
Switched at Birth season four return, 8 p.m., ABC Family
Wednesday, Aug. 26
The Carmichael Show series premiere, 9:30 p.m., NBC
Friday, Aug. 28
Narcos series premiere, Netflix
Tuesday, Sep. 1
Drunk History season three premiere, 10:30 p.m., Comedy Central
Friday, Sep. 4
Hand of God series premiere, Amazon Instant Video
Sunday, Sep. 6
Arthur & George series premiere, 8 p.m., PBS
Thursday, Sep. 10
Longmire season four premiere, Netflix
Saturday, Sep. 12
Ferrell Takes the Field special event premiere, 10 p.m. HBO
Friday, Sep. 18
Black Jesus season two premiere, 11 p.m., Adult Swim (Cartoon Network)
Saturday, Sep. 19
Doctor Who season nine premiere, 9 p.m., BBC America
Sunday, Sep. 20
67th Primetime Emmy Awards special event, 8 p.m., Fox
Monday, Sep. 21
The Big Bang Theory season nine premiere, 8 p.m., CBS
Gotham season two premiere, 8 p.m., Fox
The Voice season nine premiere, 8 p.m., NBC
Life in Pieces series premiere, 8:30 p.m., CBS
Minority Report series premiere, 9 p.m., Fox
Scorpion season two premiere, 9 p.m., CBS
Blindspot series premiere, 10 p.m., NBC
Castle season eight premiere, 10 p.m., ABC
NCIS: Los Angeles season seven premiere, 10 p.m., CBS
Tuesday, Sep. 22
NCIS season 13 premiere, 8 p.m., CBS
The Muppets series premiere, 8 p.m., ABC
Scream Queens series premiere, 8 p.m., Fox
Fresh off the Boat season two premiere, 8:30 p.m., ABC
NCIS: New Orleans season two premiere, 9 p.m., CBS
Limitless series premiere, 10 p.m., CBS
Wednesday, Sep. 23
The Middle season seven premiere, 8 p.m., ABC
The Mysteries of Laura season two premiere, 8 p.m., NBC
Rosewood series premiere, 8 p.m., FOX
Survivor season 31 premiere, 8 p.m., CBS
The Goldbergs season three premiere, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Empire season two premiere, 9 p.m., Fox
Law & Order: SVU season 17 premiere, 9 p.m., NBC
Modern Family season eight premiere, 9 p.m., ABC
black-ish season two premiere, 9:30 p.m., ABC
Nashville season four premiere, 10 p.m., ABC
Thursday, Sep. 24
Grey’s Anatomy season 12 premiere, 8 p.m., ABC
Heroes Reborn series premiere, 8 p.m., NBC
Scandal season five premiere, 9 p.m., ABC
The Player series premiere, 10 p.m., NBC
How to Get Away with Murder season two premiere, 10 p.m., ABC
Friday, Sep. 25
The Amazing Race season 25 premiere, 8 p.m., CBS
Last Man Standing season five premiere, 8 p.m., ABC
Margaret Cho: psyCHO comedy special premiere, 9 p.m., Comedy Central
Hawaii Five-0 season six premiere, 9 p.m., CBS
Blue Bloods season six premiere, 10 p.m., CBS
Saturday, Sep. 26
Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy series premiere, 9:30 p.m., Disney XD
Sunday, Sep. 27
Bob’s Burgers season six premiere, 7:30 p.m., Fox
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation two-part series finale, 8 p.m., CBS
Once Upon a Time season five premiere, 8 p.m., ABC
The Simpsons season 27 premiere, 8 p.m., Fox
Brooklyn Nine-Nine season three premiere, 8:30 p.m., Fox
Blood & Oil series premiere, 9 p.m., ABC
Family Guy season 14 premiere, 9 p.m., Fox
Indian Summers miniseries premiere, 9 p.m., PBS
The Last Man on Earth season two premiere, 9:30 p.m., Fox
Quantico series premiere, 10 p.m., ABC
Blood & Oil
Monday, Sep. 28
The Daily Show with Trevor Noah series premiere, 10:30 p.m., Comedy Central
Thursday, Oct. 1
Bones season 11 premiere, 8 p.m., Fox
The Blacklist season three premiere, 9 p.m., NBC
Sleepy Hollow season three premiere, 9 p.m., Fox
Benders series premiere, 10 p.m., IFC
Gigi Does It series premiere, 10:30 p.m., IFC
Friday, Oct. 2
Dr. Ken series premiere, 8:30 p.m., ABC
Saturday, Oct. 3
Saturday Night Live season 47 premiere, 11:30 p.m., NBC
Sunday, Oct. 4
Home Fires series premiere, 8 p.m., PBS
Madam Secretary season two premiere, 8 p.m., CBS
The Good Wife season seven premiere, 9 p.m., CBS
Homeland season five premiere, 9 p.m., Showtime
The Leftovers season two premiere, 9 p.m., HBO
The Affair season two premiere, 10 p.m., Showtime
CSI: Cyber season two premiere, 10 p.m., CBS
The Widower miniseries premiere, 10 p.m., PBS
Saturday, Oct. 10
The Last Kingdom series premiere, 10 p.m., BBC America
Sunday, Oct. 11
The Walking Dead season six premiere, 9 p.m., AMC
The Walking Dead
Wednesday, Oct. 14
Kingdom season two premiere, 9 p.m., DirecTV
Thursday, Oct. 15
Nathan for You season three premiere, 10 p.m., Comedy Central
Friday, Oct. 16
The Knick season two premiere, time TBD, Cinemax
Truth Be Told series premiere, 8:30 p.m., NBC
Please Like Me season three premiere, 10 p.m., Pivot
Satisfaction season two premiere, 10 p.m., USA
Saturday, Oct. 17
Amy Schumer: Live from the Apollo comedy special premiere, 10 p.m., HBO
Wednesday, Oct. 20
Being Mary Jane season three premiere, 9 p.m., BET
Friday, Oct. 23
Hemlock Grove season three premiere, Netflix
Billy Elliot the Musical: Live special event, 9 p.m., PBS
Saturday, Oct. 24
Da Vinci’s Demons season three premiere, 8 p.m., Starz
Monday, Oct. 26
Supergirl series premiere, 8:30 p.m., CBS
Tuesday, Oct. 27
Wicked City series premiere, 10 p.m., ABC
Friday, Oct. 30
Exorcism: Live special event, 9 p.m., Destination America
Grimm season five premiere, 9 p.m., NBC
Ash Vs. Evil Dead
Monday, Nov. 2
Legends season two premiere, 10 p.m., TNT
Friday, Nov. 6
Master of None series premiere, Netflix
Saturday, Nov. 7
Untitled U2 Documentary, HBO
Flesh and Bone
Tuesday, Nov. 10
Donny! series premiere, 10:30 p.m., USA
Thursday, Nov. 12
2 Broke Girls season five premiere, 9:30 p.m., CBS
Friday, Nov. 13
With Bob and David series premiere, Netflix
Tuesday, Nov. 17
Chicago Med series premiere, 10 p.m., NBC
Thursday, Nov. 19
The Art of More series premiere, Crackle
Friday, Nov. 27
South of Hell series premiere, 3 p.m., WE
Unforgettable season four premiere, 9 p.m., A&E (new network)
Monday, Nov. 30
Superstore series premiere, 10 p.m., NBC
Tuesday, Dec. 1
Real Rob series premiere, Netflix
Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce season two premiere, 10 p.m., Bravo
Wednesday, Dec. 2
RocketJump: The Show series premiere, Hulu
Thursday, Dec. 3
The Wiz Live! special event, 8 p.m., NBC
Friday, Dec. 11
Transparent season two premiere, Amazon
Sunday, Jan. 3
Downton Abbey season six premiere, 9 p.m., PBS
Sunday, Jan. 10
73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards special event, 8 p.m., NBC
Thursday, Jan. 14
Colony, series premiere, 10 p.m., USA
Sunday, Jan. 17
Mercy Street series premiere, 10 p.m., PBS
Sunday, Jan. 24
The X-Files season 10 premiere, 10 p.m., FOX
Sunday, Jan. 31
Grease: Live special event, 7 p.m., FOX
Monday, Feb. 15
58th Annual Grammy Awards special event, 8 p.m., CBS
Sunday, Feb. 28
88th Annual Academy Awards special event, 4 p.m., ABC
11/22/63 series premiere, Hulu
American Dad season 12 premiere, TBS
Crowded series premiere, NBC
Emerald City series premiere, NBC
First Dates series premiere, NBC
Game of Silence series premiere, NBC
Haven season five return, SyFy (October)
Heartbreaker series premiere, NBC
Hot & Bothered series premiere, NBC
Legends season two premiere, TNT
Shades of Blue series premiere, NBC
Uncle Buck series premiere, ABC
The Way series premiere, Hulu
You, Me and the End of the World series premiere, NBC
Before you know it, the fall TV season will be here, so we’ve pulled together some shows you should catch up on right now — including some long-runs that you’ll want to start immediately. Plus, August welcomes select Fresh titles to streaming and home video that you might want to add to your queue this month!
What it is: A group of unrelated, ordinary people develop superhuman abilities and need to learn how to master their newly found powers and protect themselves against a mysterious organization and other superhumans (including Zachary Quinto in his first big role as the villain Sylar). The series is divided into five “volumes,” each one with a different story arc similar to a comic book.
Why you should watch it: Heroes‘ first season got a tremendously positive critical reaction, and pleased audiences with a mix of great storytelling and very likeable characters. Its 40-minute episodes are filled with fast-paced action, mystery, sci-fi, comedy, and more reflective moments that deal with issues of purpose, tolerance, and self-acceptance. “Volume One: Genesis” is far more interesting and consistent than the rest of the show, so if you don’t have the time to commit to all of it, those first 16 hours are a good way to see if it’s for you. It should also be enough to educate you on the returning characters of Heroes Reborn, premiering September on NBC.
Commitment: 55 hours.
What it is: A brilliant surgeon (Clive Owen) struggles to uphold the reputation of the famed Knickerbocker Hospital during the early 1900s while battling a narcotics addiction and, after a prominent black surgeon (Andre Holland) is hired, his own prevailing notions of race.
Why you should watch it: Unflinchingly graphic with a keen eye for period-specific detail, The Knick transports viewers to a time when a hospital visit was often something to be feared. Performances across the board are top-notch, and with Steven Soderbergh behind the camera, the series sports a crisp, finely tuned aesthetic. With season one hitting DVD and Blu-ray on August 11, you’ll have plenty of time to consume all ten episodes before season two premieres this fall.
Where to watch: All of season one is currently available to Cinemax subscribers on MaxGo, and you can also pick it up on home video August 11.
Commitment: 8.5 hours.
What it is: A dramatic anthology series, portraying a single murder and the pain and change it inflicts upon those affected.
Why you should watch it: 2015 Emmy nominees Felicity Huffman, Timothy Hutton, Richard Cabral, and Regina King lend themselves to a provocative drama that is more entangled around the lives of those touched by the crime than the mystery behind it. The series is also nominated in the Outstanding Limited Series and Outstanding Writing categories. This is a show that never lets up as an intense, expertly played character drama.
Commitment: 8 hours.
What it is: Set three years after two percent of the population mysteriously disappears, The Leftovers looks at the aftermath as it effects the residents of the small town of Mapleton, NY.
Why you should watch it: For those viewers of who loved the mystery of Lost, co-creator Damon Lindelof again brings a large group of people together whose connections are slowly revealed, even if the overarching mystery remains clouded. The show features a breakout performance from Carrie Coon (Gone Girl), as well as a stand-up cast including Amy Brenneman, Christopher Eccleston, Liv Tyler, Ann Dowd, and Justin Theroux (who cries a lot, and who doesn’t love a healthy dose of man tears?). Added to the mix is Max Richter’s haunting score, which takes the melodrama and ramps it up to eleven.
Commitment: 10 hours.
What it is: The series chronicles the adventures of the “Doctor,” an alien called a Time Lord, a race that looks just like humans (though the Doctor says it’s the other way around). The Doctor uses a vehicle called the TARDIS, short for Time and Relative Dimension in Space, that looks like a 1960s-era London police box — although it’s much bigger on the inside. Nearly all of the Time Lords were destroyed in the Great Time War, so the Doctor is the only one that he knows of, and he has basically appointed himself humanity’s protector.
Why you should watch it: With the latest regeneration of the Doctor (Peter Capaldi), you get a semi-reset that allows new viewers to jump into the action. Capaldi has been praised for his rendition of the 12th Doctor, and with the new season set to debut on September 19 on BBC America, now is the perfect time to get caught up.
Commitment: Time is wibbly-wobbly, but about 12 hours.
What it is: Seinfeld creator Larry David plays a fictional version of himself as a producer, writer, and all-around difficult guy living in Los Angeles.
Why you should watch it: Through the lens of Larry David’s hyper-observant, wholly unsentimental, and utterly hilarious point of view, Curb Your Enthusiasm shines a light on the mundane details of life that drive all of us crazy — even if David is the only one who speaks up about them. With an ensemble that features Cheryl Hines, Richard Lewis, Jeff Garlin, and Susie Essman, Curb will have you at once identifying with the characters and also cringing at their actions.
Commitment: 40 hours.
What it is: A fantastical exploration of the lives of fairy tale heroes and villains as they weave in and out of a contemporary life parallel to our own. Snow White, the Evil Queen, Rumplestiltskin, Captain Hook, Prince Charming, Pinocchio, Peter Pan, Robin Hood, the Snow Queen, Ursula, the Wicked Witch, Cruella De Vil, and the Dwarves all live in this world, discovering truths and lies while struggling with the battles of good and evil.
Why you should watch it: While it sometimes cannot help but feel like a commercial for Disney films, the themes suggest there is still magic in the small Maine town of Storybrooke, the home of many of the fairy tale characters we grew up with. Melodrama entwines their lives as much, if not more, than the magic of the lore, as they venture back and forth between contemporary Storybrooke and the timeless Enchanted Forest. The stories are spawned from the famous children’s stories, but the plots cater to adult themes as well, and is popcorn fun for all.
Commitment: 66 hours.
Why you should watch it: Two reasons: Sir Ian McKellan and Derek Jacobi. And if you need more motivation than that, add in some Frances De La Tour, who is consistently hysterical as the homely, single, best friend. Vicious is a bit of a throwback to the classic English sitcom, but with such immensely experienced talent aboard, you will find yourself laughing at each rude insult hurled at each cast member throughout every episode.
Commitment: 3.5 hours.
What it is: Set in Los Angeles, the show follows narcissistic writer
Why you should watch it: It’s the pitch black romantic comedy we always wanted, featuring the kind of twenty-something Los Angelenos the rest of the country loves to hate. While Jimmy and Gretchen are a hoot, it’s the supporting cast that really make You’re The Worst shine. Jimmy’s PTSD-suffering roommate Edgar (Desmin Borges) keeps everyone from being completely insufferable and Gretchen’s BFF Lindsay (Kether Donahue) airy (if sometimes dimwitted) take on life keeps the show from drowning in cynicism.
Commitment: 4 hours.
What it is: After touring the country in an RV in search of others like him, a Tucson, Arizonaman (SNL alum Will Forte) who believes himself to be the only human survivor of an apocalyptic plague returns home, only to find that he may not be so alone after all.
Why you should watch it: Long known for his bizarre sketches and boneheaded characterson Saturday Night Live, Forte has succeeded in realizing — and maintaining — a novel idea and a central character blessed with a peculiar, desperate energy. The apocalyptic premise is rich with comic potential, which Forte and his talented cast mates harness frequently and effectively, and there are enough surprises along the way to keep you guessing. Since it comes back in September with season two, it’s a perfect time to catch up.
Commitment: 4.5 hours.
Ann Dowd has an acting resume chock-full of rich, three-dimensional, and often very dark characters. The 2012 film Compliance, for which Dowd won Critics Choice and National Board of Review awards for Best Supporting Actress, for example, is so disturbing that many will never be able to look at a manager/employee relationship the same way again. And True Detective fans likely will not forget the unusually twisted brother-sister scenario she undertook at the end of its debut season. Last year, we were treated to another troubled character by the name of Patti Levin in HBO’s The Leftovers, based on the novel by Tom Perrotta. Patti Levin is a member of a cultish nonspeaking, chain-smoking group called The Guilty Remnant (The G.R.) which formed after two percent of the population mysteriously vanished. In each of these roles, along with her many others, Dowd astounds with the level of believabililty she brings to otherwise larger-than-life characters. We recently had the pleasure of talking with Ms. Dowd about her experience working on The Leftovers and here are five things we thought fans would want to know.
CAUTION: Season one spoilers below!
Dowd calls herself a “big talker” and knew a non-speaking role like Patti would be a challenge. “It was an extremely exciting experience,” she said, “because you realize, ‘OK, you’re going to have to get across what you want without words, and so you better know what you want,’ and that was the greatest part of it. You had to be very specific, be ready, take your deep breaths, be very focused and have your sea legs, let us say. The challenge, too, about being silent, is it teaches you to be in your whole body, which is what’s hard in acting, isn’t it? Somehow you just end up in your head when things aren’t going well and that’s not the space you want to be in. You want it to be part of your whole being. And somehow not talking puts that into motion very quickly.”
Dowd shared that silence can be a powerful thing and that her recently adopted young son “uses silence and, boy, I know what he wants. He’s very clear. It’s in the whole being. It’s not about making faces; it’s about [how] every part of you knows what you want. And to pour that laser onto somebody, it’s an extremely potent way to communicate. And you learn it and I grew to love it.” A few of her scenes in season one of The Leftovers, however, did contain dialogue. “That became scary,” she said, “to go back to that way of communicating, because you know there’s a lot of things we do in a room to get a point across and talking isn’t really the most important one half the time. So much else plays into getting what you want. And it’s very unsettling to people. Just to not respond verbally.”
In the show, Patti and the other cult members are chain-smokers. Ms Dowd explained that since the reason not to smoke is to be health-conscious, the purpose for G.R. members to smoke is to show it doesn’t matter anymore: “It’s over.” Dowd used to smoke in her 20s, so the idea of playing a chain-smoker was troubling. “I’m thinking, ‘Well, I’m not going to smoke.’ ‘Yes you are, Ann, you are going to smoke. They do smoke.’ It’s like anything else; it’s part of the work. It adds to the performance. It adds to what this group is. In other words, it didn’t seem gratuitous to me. And so it’s like being out in the cold. It’s part of it. Or being in Austin now, being out in the heat. No point in resisting — just step up.”
The Guilty Remnant may be considered a scary cult (if it were real). But actors need to find the emotional seeds that justify their characters’ behaviors. And Dowd is oft asked what could possibly attract people to the the G.R. Living communally, eating gruel, chain-smoking, and wearing only white are just some of the G.R.’s unseemly attributes. “What I came to understand,” she ventured, “is if something catastrophic happened, like two percent of the population disappears, it’s random. And randomness is a terrifying thing. It wasn’t the good that left, it wasn’t the bad, it was a mix. And that’s what sends people over the edge, the randomness of it.”
Denial can lead to mental distress and people who resist accepting the tragic circumstance by defaulting back to a regular way of life, according to Dowd, are forcing themselves to forget: “Go back to the mall, go back to going to dinner at a restaurant, continue your life. Denial is the enemy of the G.R. So the attraction to the G.R., to me, was a huge reduction in anxiety. In other words, if you just accept that it happened, and it’s all over, and you don’t put one shred of energy toward resisting it, there’s a certain peace that comes with it. It gives you purpose. You realize, ‘I’m not here to fix anything. I’m here to let go of attachment, to keep my head clear, to let distractions go by, and prepare for the end.’ Because living in anxiety is horrible. I don’t know if you’ve ever had bouts of that — you know where it’s not just nerves — it takes over your whole being. You can’t think about anything else except the obsession of what the anxiety is about. That’s a horrible and exhausting way to live. And I think the choice to say, ‘OK, I accept; I hear it,’ makes sense.”
While the actor herself never has any suicidal inclinations, once she got into the mindset and the traumatic shift in the world of the show, Patti’s “martyring” of herself made sense to her. She said of preparing for the scene with star Justin Theroux, “Oh my God, and working with Justin, it’s all about that better half, and he was for me throughout. He had so much to do throughout the whole [series], as you know, and so then it’s all revving up as the episodes continue. You’re reaching a climax, obviously. And we would say to each other, ‘Remember this is now the third act of the play. So the audience knows the characters. And we know them. So we can do this. We can manage this. It seems huge. And how are we ever going to do it? But let’s remember now, we’ve done this for weeks and weeks and weeks, and we know who these people are, and we can live in their skin, and we can do our jobs. It’ll be okay.'”
Sometimes during the production of shows with mysterious premises, we hear stories about strange occurrences happening on set. Ms. Dowd said she’s begun receiving some mysterious messages since her stint on The Leftovers: “I’ll tell you what’s weird is, I was driving in Austin and the radio came on. I turned the radio on, and a woman who sounded very educated — in other words not evangelical craziness — she’s talking and she said, ‘We are accused of obsessing about the end of the world. We are not obsessing about the end of the world. We just want to make sure people are ready for the end of the world.’ I thought, ‘What? What?!’ And you’d think it was a rational conversation, I’m not kidding you. And the man said, ‘Yes, I know many are not called to speak of it. We are.’ It unnerved me completely because it seemed very reasonable, the way they were talking. And I thought, ‘What am I hearing?’ And I started asking people, ‘Did you hear that?’ They’re, like, ‘No, no.’
“And now, on my phone I get e-mails about preparing for the end of the world, and I have no idea how that’s happening. I’m not kidding you. ‘Survival: how to prepare for the end.’ I get them on a slightly regular basis now. Man, it was like, ‘Whoa.’ And Chris Eccleston who plays the reverend, he said he’s got stuff that goes on. [These things] happened and it’s like, ‘Wait a minute, what’s going on?'”
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Matt & Grae recap the season finale of The Leftovers with Ryan, Sarah, and Marya, and discuss the how the season wrapped up. Then Senior Editor Tim Ryan comes in to recap the season premiere of Boardwalk Empire. As usual, this is spoiler-heavy discussion, so don’t listen if you haven’t already watched it! (NOTE: The Boardwalk Empire recap starts at 34:04.)