In this digitalised age, with our lives ruled by our smartphones, we are losing the ability, and the inclination, to think. A recent study has found that since 2000, when the mobile revolution began in earnest, our average attention span has dropped from 12 seconds to a measly eight. We now consume our news in bite-sized chunks; much of our communication is limited to 140 characters. We are bombarded with irrelevant status updates, instant messages and viral media; fixated by our digital palms. Apparently, we find it "difficult to filter out irrelevant stimuli". Our attention span is now poorer than that of the common goldfish. That's right, the notoriously forgetful orange fella can now focus for longer than you. Oi, YOU!
These days I struggle to finish a movie in one sitting and I rarely give two hoots about a television show by the time the season finale rolls around (a problem that almost everyone who watched the second series of True Detective can attest to). Of course, there are exceptions and, with the fifth season about to begin, Homeland is among them.
Last year saw a return to form for the award-winning espionage thriller, after a messy and directionless third season (although they did finally kill off one of the main characters, so it did have its moments). After Carrie (Claire Danes) had put her life on the line to extricate her team from Pakistan, season four ended in very un- Homeland style, without a plot twist or major cliffhanger. Sure, Carrie shared a long-time-coming kiss with Quinn and her mother unexpectedly turned up to add a little spice, but with the CIA agent now back in the United States, reassessing her life, the latest season will kick off (tomorrow, at 10pm, on FX) promising intrigue rather than immediate thrills.
With Carrie's name at the top of a kill list - and a trailer that poses the question, "Security, humanity, integrity … which would you sacrifice?" (hands up for "integrity") - Homeland looks as though it'll keep us firmly on the edge of our seats.
By making each season a standalone mini-series, the creators of schlock anthology American Horror Story have taken a different approach to keeping us hooked. Having used as a backdrop a haunted house, an asylum, a witches coven and last year's freak show, the fifth instalment (Thursday, at 10pm, also on FX) takes us to a, likely very spooky, hotel.
The owner of this establishment, which looks rather like the hotel in The Shining, is a nefarious countess who sustains her looks with a diet of sex and blood. The mother of 10 identical child vampires is played by a certain Lady Gaga, and joining the freaky pop queen is another fantastic ensemble cast; Kathy Bates, Angela Bassett, Wes Bentley, Chloe Sevigny, Denis O'Hare and former Glee actor Cheyenne Jackson, to name but a few. The name that is missing, of course, is Jessica Lange. This will be the first season without the multi-award-winning actress but if a blood-caked Gaga isn't frightening enough for you, writer Ryan Murphy claims American Horror Story: Hotel will feature "the most disturbing scene we have ever done". For the coming few weeks, you may want to sleep with the lights on.
One TV show that grabbed the attention of a generation was David Lynch's weird and confounding Twin Peaks. But how would the groundbreaking 90s classic fare now we all have super-enhanced ADD? Well you can find out from tomorrow as the original programme returns to our screens, with all 30 episodes of the show's two seasons being aired, one each weekday night, over the coming weeks (Fox Crime, at 10.50pm).
Based loosely on the mystery surrounding the murder of the fictional Laura Palmer, Twin Peaks is a dream-like journey through small-town life. The eponymous town is populated by eccentrics and is in the grip of a glorious madness. As the main protagonist, FBI agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan; Sex and the City), says, "I have no idea where this will lead, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange."
You can bet your cotton socks it will be.