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Channel hop

Mark Peters

 

 

One result of spending 72 hours, jet-lagged and fuzzy-headed, in New Yawk City, is that you find yourself staring blankly at a flickering television screen for hours on end, pleading with your wired mind and bleeding eyes to finally fall asleep. The only slither of joy I take from the experience is in treating myself to a few brand-new shows which, fingers crossed, will be on Hong Kong screens in the near-ish future.

From the producers of Breaking Bad comes compelling drama series Rectify. The first original series on new channel Sundance, it follows the struggles of former death-row convict Daniel Holden as he reunites with his family after serving 19 years for the rape and murder of his high school girlfriend. New DNA evidence casts doubt on Holden's conviction and his release on a technicality causes a flood of painful emotions for the inhabitants of a small town in rural Georgia. The pace is slow and steady but that only serves to accentuate the powerful script and mesmerising cast performances as Holden struggles to reconnect with the outside world. The beauty is in the show's finer details and it is stirring stuff.

On a lighter and more offbeat note comes HBO's Family Tree, a sweet, mildly melancholic comedy from Christopher Guest (This Is Spinal Tap) that stars Chris O'Dowd (Bridesmaids; left, with Guest) as Londoner Tom Chadwick. Single and jobless, Chadwick is left a box of family mementoes by a great-aunt that leads him to explore and join the dots of his unknown ancestry, a quest that eventually takes him to the United States.

As with all of Guest's understated "mockumentary" satires, Family Tree brims with a warm empathy for its collection of eccentric losers and oddballs. It's a subtle comedy and the laughs are smart and poignant.

Like an anti-Ambien, BBC America's sci-fi suspense series Orphan Black definitely won't help you doze off. Without giving too much away (mild spoiler alert) it begins with punkish Sarah (top; Tatiana Maslany) switching identities with a lookalike who commits suicide in front of her. What seems like your usual life-swapping Banshee storyline then takes on more twists and turns than an Alpine road and reveals itself to be a lot more spooky sci-fi than you had imagined. You'd better be prepared to strap a cushion to your butt because I guarantee you'll be falling off the edge of your seat when this show arrives on our shores.

As you read this, Arrested Development - a US comedy that rightly received staggering critical acclaim internationally but was hardly watched in its home country - is returning for a fourth season after a seven-year hiatus. On-demand channel Netflix will make all 15 episodes available to view today. Unfortunately, Netflix is not yet available in Hong Kong (unless you're using an online proxy IP changer), so whether we get to see the glorious return of the chaotic Bluth family on our screens any time soon, well … your guess is as good as mine.

 

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