While one can easily get roused and riled by the sheer tonnage of lazy film-to-tv reboots, or the mixed bag of nostalgic continuations (The X-Files, Full House, etc.), it’s important to remember that television is still where some of the offbeat stories are being told by major visual artists. One must be mindful that TV gave a home to Steven Soderbergh – the extraordinary Cinemax series, The Knick – when the major studios limited his vision considerably, and held him back from taking on bigger, more ambitious, and, in all likelihood, hugely popular works; he even showed interest in directing one of those silly superhero movies, for crying out loud. AMC and FX proved themselves similarly ambitious houses for such striking and odd stories with today’s announcement of Season 3 renewals of Halt and Catch Fire and Tyrant, two massively fascinating dramas that deserve audiences three times as big as the cultish viewers they play for now.
For Tyrant, Season 2 saw the admittedly still problematic Adam Rayner settling into his lead role more convincingly than the intriguing but troubled first season, whereas Ashraf Barhom turned in an awards-worthy study in despotic psychology in the role of Jamal Al-Fayeed, one of the more interesting political roles on television right now. Tyrant certainly sharpened its thematic point this year, but Halt and Catch Fire has proven to be one of the most remarkable and stunningly detailed melodramas around, giving a broad, immaculately styled stage to some of the best performers that television has schooled, from Lee Pace and Toby Huss to Scoot McNairy and Mackenzie Davis, and an especially moving performance from Kerry Bishé as a hungry entrepreneur and the beleaguered wife of McNairy’s computer genius. Though neither have the thrilling camerawork and stylized atmosphere as The Knick or, for that matter, Mr. Robot, they are nevertheless taken with strange desires, complex emotions, and open, convincingly argued politics, and have the unshakeable sense of a world built out of meticulous, lively images.
Check out which of your favorite shows were renewed on our handy-dandy TV Lifeline.