In the wake of Breaking Bad’s glorious conclusion, you may have been thinking that you’re done with TV. Or that you’ll only watch reality TV so as to never become so attached to a criminal on screen ever again. Everything else pales in comparison, but I wanted to mention some of the excellent TV crime/mystery/thrillers that are still going strong right now. Some will be coming back for another season next year, so you can still jump on board without the show ending right out from under you. There are also a few brand-new thrillers premiering soon that look promising.
Mob City (Series Premier, Dec. 5 on TNT)
Frank Darabont is responsible for The Shawshank Redemption on the big screen and The Walking Dead on the small. So a violent, period gangster show about the real life Mickey Cohen (recently butchered on the screen by Sean Penn in the execrable Gangster Squad) by a great writer like Darabont sounds like just what the doctor ordered.
Psych (Season 8 Premier, Dec. 15 on USA)
I hate myself for loving this show so much. But it’s got a real bromance-version-of-Moonlighting thing going on for it, which is beguiling. And I’m a sucker for a good mystery. This is rumored to be the final season of this quirky comedic whodunit featuring the underrated James Roday and Dulé Hill as a pair of fake private detectives solving real crimes.
Justified (Season 5 premier, Jan. 7 on FX)
Based on the short story Fire in the Hole by Elmore Leonard and starring the character Raylan Givens from the late great author’s novels, this show is arguably the best on TV. Timothy Olyphant plays the hard-boiled southern federal marshal stuck in his hometown to perfection, and every week is like another slice of Leonard’s magic.
Banshee (Season 2 premier, Jan. 10 on Cinemax)
I know, right? Who has Cinemax? But the first season is worth renting on DVD, and if you do have Cinemax, Season 2 is worth watching. This action thriller about a criminal hiding out in Amish country as a town sheriff had all the best surprises in last year’s TV lineup. Season 2 should be bananas. It does have some plausibility issues and some ridiculous plot turns, but it always manages to give you enough to keep you coming back.
True Detective (Series premier, Jan. 12 on HBO)
Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey star in a sure to be dark and tense mystery show for HBO. It follows the two detectives over the course of 17 years as they track a serial killer. I hate to be so blindly loyal, but if HBO has made a bad show yet, I haven’t seen it.
Black Sails (Series premier in January on Starz)
Starz is a bit of a mixed bag. I haven’t liked all their shows, but the recently canceled Boss was very strong. I have cautious optimism for this sweeping pirate epic, described as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic Treasure Island. The show was so warmly received at comic conventions earlier this year that Starz ordered a second season before the first even premiered. Bodes well…
by Ygal Kaufman