Ten TV shows for 2014

16:00, Dec 16 2013
BLACKLIST: James Spader stars as a criminal mastermind who mysteriously surrenders himself to the Feds.

After attending the Prime, Mediaworks and TVNZ 2014 season launches last month, James Croot reveals the 10 new free-to-air shows he's most looking forward to seeing.

The Blacklist (TV3)
The charismatic and quirky James Spader (Boston Legal) is back in prime time starring as a criminal mastermind who mysteriously surrenders himself to the Feds, offering to help hunt down the very men he's spent his career protecting. ''It's confident, verging on brazen, and one tends to respect that quality in entertainment,'' wrote New York Magazine's Matt Zoller Seitz. A second season has already been approved.

Broadchurch (TV One)Appointment viewing when it aired in the UK early in 2013, this eight-part drama follows what happens after a quiet seaside town is rocked by the murder of  an 11-year-old boy. David Tennant and Olivia Coleman star. ''Manages to be both a finely crafted piece of suspenseful entertainment and also an emotionally resonant examination of grief, loss and moral confusion,'' wrote The Huffington Post's Maureen Ryan. 

Doctor Who (Prime) Yes, I know this little BBC sci-fi series has been around for half-a-century, but 2014 potentially marks the most significant change in direction since it was  resurrected and rebooted in 2005. Instead of the suave David Tennant or the fresh-faced Matt Smith, The Doctor is now going to be played by 55-year-old Peter Capaldi, best known for his role as sweary spin-doctor Malcolm Tucker on political satire The Thick of It.

Hannibal (TV3) Dr Lecter comes to the small screen in the deliciously cast form of Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale). The cunning psychiatrist teams up with criminal profiler Will Graham (The Big C's Hugh Dancy) to solve weekly murders. The heavy-hitting cast also includes Laurence Fishburne ( CSI) and Gillian Anderson ( The X-Files). ''A challenging psychological thriller within a gripping crime procedural,'' wrote Kansas City Star's Sara Smith.

House of Cards (TV3)  Airing initially on webcaster Netflix in the US, this Emmy Award-winning political drama is a remake of the classic 1990 BBC mini-series which starred Ian Richardson. Kevin Spacey takes over Richardson's role as the action shifts from the original's London to Washington D.C. ''A wonderfully sour take on power and corruption,'' wrote Denver Post's Joanne Ostrow.


The Michael J Fox Show (TV3)Mediaworks' last remaining ''Fox'' show heralds the return of the former Spin City and Family Ties star to a leading role (you only have to watch his sporadic appearances on season three of The Good Wife at the moment to see that he is still a terrific actor). Here he plays a New York father-of-three juggling family, career and health challenges - including Parkinson's disease. ''Anytime it seems to be veering toward disease-of-the-week-movie territory, you can be sure that lampoon is on the way,'' wrote Miami Herald's Glenn Garvin.

The Naughty Bits (Prime)Interesting and enticing three-part Kiwi documentary series which promises to look at our changing relationship with censorship and how our attitudes have changed with regard to what is acceptable to listen to, watch and read. The producers believe that the story of what we have not been allowed to see, read or hear is a telling account of who we are and charts our sometimes tortuous, sometimes furtive, evolution as a society. No doubt there will be some, what was considered earlier salacious, footage from the cutting room floor.

Rake (TV3)While the original Richard Roxburgh-starring Aussie series has rightly earned a prime spot in TVNZ's 2014 schedule (after initially airing here on Sky's Rialto earlier this year), this looks like one US-remake with potential. That's thanks largely to the casting that includes Greg Kinnear (As Good As It Gets) in the role of Cleaver Greene, the brilliant criminal defence lawyer with a chaotic personal life. Here's hoping they don't tone it down too much.

Resurrection (TV2) With a trailer that generated the most gasps at TVNZ's season launch, this US fantasy drama has the potential to be this decade's Lost. Based on the novel The Returned by Jason Mott, this Brad Pitt-produced series focuses on a small Missouri town whose residents start coming back from the dead, and not in a zombie way. House's Omar Epps and That 70's Show's Kurtwood Smith star.

Secrets and Lies (TV One) Similar in theme to Broadchurch, this new Aussie 10-part drama is the story of a family man who finds the body of a young boy and quickly becomes the prime murder suspect. He has no choice but to try to find the real killer as his marriage, his kids, his reputation and his sanity are all at stake. Our own Martin Henderson stars and a US remake is already in the works.