Paying for cable is only worth it when there is high quality, original programming with excellent production value.
The excellent thing for audiences is, premium cable has yielded such entertainment for years now. The Sopranos shattered the paradigm for what could be done on television, doused the current house with gasoline, lit the match, and watched it burn. Since that show went off the air in 2007, there hasn’t been anything like it. Enter Showtime this Fall.
Not only did Dexter come back with a full steam of wonderful dark storytelling prowess, Homeland also entered the fray. I want to talk about both of these shows, because they’ve become the closest thing to appointment television since the aforementioned The Sopranos.
Dexter hits the right notes and sings amazing tunes, week after week. There are never too many plot threads to dissect, which is one of its appealing factors. Of course there are plenty of characters to keep track of, but the action hovers primarily around Michael C. Hall’s consistent revelation of a performance. He’s gritty, mysterious, and just pitch-perfect in nearly every sense of the word. This show is the graphically violent, pay-cable, twice-removed third cousin equivalent of the final act of Mr. Holland’s Opus. Yes, it’s that good, and it’s so worth coming back to every week.
Homeland is a show that you had to love from the very beginning, or so it would have you think. Even though I’ve soaked in every minute of it since its premiere back in September, it’s a show that can be picked up in the middle of the season. This is thanks to the wildly honest and dynamite award-worthy caliber performances of Claire Daines and Damian Lewis. At what cost will each of their characters go to fulfill their own respective ids? And will they each lose their soul in going to the extremes that they may or may not be going into? These are just a couple of the dozens of questions that pop up as the season goes along. Worth every second, especially the gruff and revitalized Mandy Pantinkin. An amazing motherfucker, that guy.
A great thing about having these two shows on in the year 2011 is that they’re both readily available On Demand, like most cable shows are, so if life gets in the way, which is always does, they’ll be waiting in the DVR if and when you finally get to catch a break and sit on your couch for an hour. This is more than worth the price of admission alone.
Network television totally sucks anyways. Lousy mass-market lowest common denominator tripe. And the Big Networks wonder why they’re losing market share so badly.
And that’s my giving a damn.