10 TV Programmes Not To Miss In 2011

The world of television is jammed full of so much programming that there is no way one person could hope to separate the good, the bad, and the downright ugly on their own. This is why OTB has picked out the 10 new series that you really have to see this year. From alien invasions to a zombie apocalypse, via a drunken writer in California, a London-based detective and the British answer to Mad Men, TV in 2011 is going the extra mile to make sure that you won’t want to go out in the evenings.


Beavis and Butt-Head (renaissance on MTV)

Beavis: You know, he seems like a great guy [about Kato Kaelin]
Butt-Head: Yeah, He’s the kind of guy you would call up and say, ‘Hey, you’re a great guy. Why don’t you come over and stay a while?’
Beavis: Yeah. Except he kind of looks like the ass-end of a dolphin.
Butt-Head: Uh, yeah, he kind of does.

The return of MTV’s legendary slackers will be as anticipated as any animated series in years, and with competition in the form of South Park and Family Guy, they had better be on the top of their game. These two animated fools are a large part of the reason that MTV was able to transcend the boundary between music videos and traditional programming and with their last outing being in 1997, it will be interesting to see how the series translates into a new era where adult cartoons are no longer a burgeoning format.

Expect This One: Summer

Crimson Petal and the White

Ever fantasised about seeing Gillian Anderson as a Victorian madam? Well wait no longer, because this new BBC drama will fulfil that particular fantasy. Yet the former X Files star is not the only thing to look forward to here – the cast is extremely impressive. Romola Garai, Chris O’Dowd, Richard E. Grant, Shirley Henderson, Amanda Hale and Mark Gatiss also feature in this series which tells the story of Sugar, a young prostitute who desperately wants out of the life in the brothel. She finds escapism in the novel she is writing about a murderous hooker who gains revenge on her clients, but things will all change when she meets a wealthy businessman. In terms of grizzly Victorian detail, expect this one to pull no punches. “If you dare enter this world, you had better tread carefully..â€? says Sugar in the opening scenes.

Expect This One: Spring

Game of Thrones

Set in the mythical land of Westeros, Game of Thrones is a fantasy epic focusing on two rival houses and one of Sky Atlantic’s flagship series. The Starks and the Bartheons have been locked in a power struggle for decades and we join the story as King Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) asks old friend Eddard Stark (Sean Bean) to be his advisor and Stark – who suspects that his predecessor has been murdered and wants to investigate – accepts. Amongst all the plotting and backstabbing in a struggle for the Iron Throne, winter is coming, and in a land like Westeros where “summers span decades and winters can last a lifetime,â€? that is unlikely to be good news.

Produced by HBO and written by D.B. Weiss and David Benhoff (Troy, The Kite Runner) and based on the bestselling A Song of Ice and Fire novel series by George R.R. Martin, Game of Thornes could be the biggest on-screen fantasy hit since The Lord of the Rings.

Expect This One: April

Eternal Law

Announced at the tale end of last year, we still haven’t seen an image for this new ITV drama, so we’ll have to make do with a shot of writing team, Ashley Pharoah and Matthew Graham (the team that brought us Life on Mars). Eternal Law is the story of two angels sent to Earth to try and help a community whilst gaining an understanding of the human condition. Both angels – Zak and Tom – work for a law firm in York, and are spending their time trying to help humans learn how to treat one another correctly. But along comes nemesis and dark angel, Richard Pembroke, who is determined that the two won’t succeed. With an unusual central premise, Eternal Law promises to be an enthralling programme that will hopefully open up a new genre all of its own, called dramatic theological moralism, or something equally vague.

Expect This One: TBC

The Hour

Set behind the scenes of a 1950s topical news programme, The Hour stars Dominic West – best known for playing Jimmy McNulty in The Wire – as Hector Madden, the programme’s upper-crust front man. Being hailed as the British answer to the US hit Mad Men, The Hour will follow the lives of three journalists who must contend with a murder on the eve of their new show’s launch with British involvement in Suez and the subsequent crisis as an intense political back-drop. Witness a decade on the threshold of change as the way of life in the 1950s becomes a thing of the past. The show has been hyped by the BBC even before production has started, but with a strong cast and the current penchant for the retro-based TV series, it’s certainly one to look out for.

Expect This One: Summer

Wonders of the Universe

This is a second series from everyone’s favourite rocker-turned-physicist Professor Brian Cox. After the success of last year’s Wonders of the Solar System, the BBC have decided that the only challenge for Professor Cox is the entire universe, and he will be travelling all over the Earth in an attempt to explain the fundamental principles that govern, well, everything. This is science made popular, and coupled with some lovely effects and exotic locations will continue to charm everyone who watches. After the success of the first series, expect more of the same from the BBC who will not want to change the format of a program that was an unexpected success in 2010.

Expect This One: March

Sherlock Series Two

The first series of the BBC’s Sherlock was a huge hit, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman playing updated and re-imagined versions of Conan-Doyle’s famous detective and sidekick. Series two, therefore, has an awful lot to live up to and the insertion of Moriarty into the fray will surely make for some tense moments. Somehow managing to mix humour, mystery, and romance whilst maintaining a fast pace without seeming like a total clusterfuck, Sherlock was rightly received as one of the finest British dramas in years, and the second series is sure to be one of the most anticipated TV events of the 2011. In fact, the only improvement we would like to see for the second series is more episodes. Just in case you’ve forgotten how great it was, here’s a reminder of what happened in 2010..

Expect This One: Autumn

The Walking Dead season 2

With the first season of Robert Kirkman’s zombie-fest bringing the undead back into fashion, the show will be back on screens later this year. The ten-part second series is likely to return to its comic book roots, with Kirkman saying that he has several of his stories that he’d like to see on screen. The creator/writer also said that he would have liked to have seen more characters killed off last time out. “I think everybody’s pretty committed to killing people on this show,â€? he said. “If anything, if I were to criticise the first season at all – which I think went great – I would say ‘I wish we had killed more people.’â€?

Brilliant as it was, the first series definitely could have used with some more zombies, so the promise of more action in the next series is sure to be well received. After all, it’s based on a comic book, and they’re not exactly known for being pedestrian, are they?

Expect This One: Autumn

Falling Skies (Spielberg directed alien invasion thingy) starring Noah Wyle aka that guy from ER

The trouble with alien stories is that many of them just feature large-scale apocalyptic destruction like Independence Day or War of the Worlds. Not this one. This time you’ll get to see humanity fight back, not just through the army, but anyone who can shoot a gun, swing a bat or just hurl an insult. Imagine fighting aliens as Che Guevara would have and this is it. From Saving Private Ryan’s Robert Rodat and Steven Spielburg comes a story where the aliens have come, and they didn’t want to be friends. Watch Noah ‘Dr John Carter’ Wyle as he goes straight from the emergency room to a full-blown state of emergency in a bid to save both himself and the planet (well, America certainly) from some very angry little green men.

Expect This One: TBC

Californication season 4

The trouble with reaching your fourth series is that it’s hard to keep things fresh, but Californication’s next season should be a blast after the arrest of Hank Moody (David Duchovny) at the end of season three. The next series (due on FIVER over the next few months..) will see the fallout after the revelation that his novel ‘Punching and Fucking’ was based on his own sexual encounter with the under-age daughter of his ex-partner’s fiancé. Expect more escapism from Moody, as he struggles against the charges and sees the life he has struggled to put back together come quickly crashing down. How will he deal with it? We suspect that only Jack Daniels has the answer. Oh, and watch out for Rob Lowe’s appearance as Brad Pitt. It’s fantastic.

Expect This One: Spring