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5 Shows to Watch This Spring

February 20th, 2015


1. Boardwalk Empire (HBO, Sept. 7)

Once positioned as the heir apparent to The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire has never quite managed to match the quality or acclaim of that legendary series — but it has carved out a quality niche of its own. Picking up after last year’s tragic, gruesome season finale, this final season follows Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) as he continues to build a criminal empire in 1920s Atlantic City.

2. Marvel’s Agent Carter

Marvel’s domination of the airwaves continues with this prequel spinoff of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., focusing on Captain America’s Second World War companion Peggy Carter (Haley Atwell) as she battles evil in the late ’40s alongside Tony Stark’s dad Howard (Dominic Cooper) and butler Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy). Period style abounds, along with female-centered heroics, which Marvel could certainly use more of. One imagines Agent Carter will plant many seeds for the latter half of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s second season, which will resume after this eight-episode limited series.

3. Empire

Fox is throwing all its firepower behind this epic hip-hop soap opera, which from trailers is aiming to be a very heightened Dynasty or Dallas for a new generation. Precious director Lee Daniels created alongside his The Butler screenwriter Danny Strong, and the cast is star-studded, featuring Oscar nominees Terrence Howard, Taraji P. Henson, and Gabourey Sidibe (along with Courtney Love, which should be interesting). Henson looks like she has the juiciest role, dialing it up to 11 as Howard’s ex-wife, released from jail after 17 years and looking for a cut of his music empire.

4. The Normal Heart

It might be a little early to start making Emmy predictions, but you should consider putting your money on this one. Based on a Tony Award-winning play, The Normal Heart deals with the beginning of the HIV-AIDS epidemic of the 1980s, and with the politics and prejudices that came with being gay during that period of time. The cast includes Taylor Kitsch, Matt Bomer, Mark Ruffalo and Jim Parsons, and is bound to earn the network the same kind of ratings and accolades that Behind the Candelabra earned last year. Our only reservation is that it’s directed by Ryan Murphy, who can be a bit inconsistent when it comes to the quality of his projects, but we’re willing to ignore our hesitation for a story this intense and touching.

5. Gotham (Fox, Sept. 22)

Arguably the most heavily promoted new show of the fall season, Gotham takes a relatively novel approach to the Batman universe: there’s no Batman in it. Instead, the series takes place when Bruce Wayne is just a child, pivoting the narrative to newly hired detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie). Younger versions of classic Batman villains, including the Penguin, the Riddler, and Catwoman, are also slated to appear.

Categories: Episode Recaps & Show Reviews

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