Television fans have never had it better. The small screen golden age, which began roughly 20 seconds into the first episode of David Chase’s seminal mob drama The Sopranos and has continued unabated into today, has left armchair critics spoilt by a seemingly unending tide of world class programming. It would once have seemed laughable to question whether television had overtaken film as a storytelling medium, but the debate has been comprehensively answered by the migration of bonafide Hollywood stars and Oscar-winning talent from the Silver Screen to our Living rooms – see Kevin Spacey and Matthew McConaughey’s acclaimed recent turns in House of Cards and True Detective respectively, or the news that Tom Hardy will be appearing in the upcoming series of Peaky Blinders.
With this kind of acting pedigree In front of the camera, and the immense investment placed in production values (Game of Thrones is rumoured to cost a cool $6m an episode, while Mad Men paid $250,000 to show Don Draper listening to The Beatles), it isn’t always easy to look past the glitz at the genius that lurks beneath. For it is in the shadows of the writers room, between dozens of coffee cups and battered blackboards, that the magic truly happens. They might not receive the red carpet attention or pages of breathless tabloid prose, but the creators, writers, and showrunners – the brains behind the best television – are the real stars.
While the brilliant Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul deserved every award going, their dark puppet-master, Vince Gilligan, deserved more than a tip of Heisenberg’s hat for his unflinching commitment to creating an arresting 50 hour epic. Matthew Weiner brought a studied, novelistic brilliance to both The Sopranos and Mad Men; George RR Martin and his partners in brutal fantasy crime have created a world every bit as real as our own; and the influence of Dan Harmon on the madcap brilliance of Sony TV’s Community was recognized by the fact that his return to writing duties on this Thursday’s Season 5 premiere has been entitled the ‘Re-Pilot’ – the captain’s back in charge and the comedy is set to soar once more.
These are the geniuses who turn rainy nights sat on the sofa into the highlights of every week. Here’s our tribute to the often under appreciated…
David Benioff and Dan Weiss : Game of Thrones (2011)
Putting the spotlight on terrifying flame-spitting dragons, unforgettable cinematic scale battles, impressive visual effects and breath-taking landscapes, the writers of the epic fantasy drama, Game of Thrones, certainly know how to keep their 20 million fans hooked season after season. When David Benioff and Dan Weiss met, about 17 years ago, they were both studying Creative Writing at Trinity College in Dublin and that does not come as a shock. Who else could transfer George R. R. Martin’s work into mind-blowing images better than a wildering imagination-full pair of minds? Compelled by mythical stories and influenced by Anglo-Irish authors such as Beckett or James Joyce, Benioff and Weiss already knew they would be better off writing Fantasy; so when they were asked to bring the books to life, they of course accepted – and they weren’t wrong as Game of Thrones now proves to be the most widely watched series of all time.
Vince Gilligan : Breaking Bad (2008)
Breaking Bad has swept millions of fans off their feet and has left its public in deep sorrow after the Season Finale. From the beginning to the end of the series, Vince Gilligan has shown undeniable great talent in directing the degrading story of a chemistry teacher, Walter White, embarking himself in a career of drugs and crime after being diagnosed with stage 3 cancer and given only 2 years to live. Winning the director’s guild Award for the season Finale, Vince Gilligan has become one of the most renowned and influential series’ directors of all time. Gilligan also possesses the ability to capture themes such Sci-Fi, with The XFiles, being one of his milestone productions!
Dan Harmon : Community (2009)
Dan Harmon’s 5th Season of Community is coming back to our screens on Sony Entertainment Television! After a rumoured dispute with leading actor Chevy Chase, Dan Harmon had left the cast in 2013 and was replaced by another show-runner. Even though the media, the cast and the crew agreed he was difficult to work with at times, his absence was even harder to cope with. Harmon’s hard work, talent and dedication for the show were what made the difference. After all, we do say that ‘Madness is Genius’. All his sleepless nights, working on the evolution of the Greendale Community College students, paid off when he won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series in 2012- and he is now coming back for more!
Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat : Sherlock (2010)
Set in 21st century London, Sherlock and Watson strike back for more adventures. Wandering in the dark streets of the capital, the two main protagonists use nowadays’ technologies such as mobile phones and GPS to track down the bad guys. After numerous adaptations of Conan Doyle’s stories, Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat still manage to make a remarkable use of their imagination to make this show stand out of the competition. The writers’ admiration and influences of the Victorian literature is highly demonstrated throughout the striking similarities between Sherlock and time-travelling favourite Doctor Who.
Aaron Sorkin : The Newsroom (2012)
Whilst working on the set of The Social Network, a film for which he earned 8 nominations and a best screenplay award, Aaron Sorkin was already thinking of his return to television. He came up with the idea to create an American political drama series and that did not come as a surprise to fans…. Similar to his previous work on The West Wing, The Newsroom also reflects Sorkin’s liberal political view in a story of government, power and corruption within the media industry. While we might view Sorkin’s style and themes as repetitive, his indisputable talent and sarcastic way of portraying society will always leave its audiences in awe.
Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan : Modern Family (2011)
Modern Family is one of today’s highest viewed American sitcoms. Narrating the daily way-of-life of an atypical family, Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan base their various plots on the happenings of their own family lives. Introducing a variety of hilariously contrasting characters while using mockumentary footage of them revealing their secrets in a face-to-face unilateral conversation with the camera, the show’s writers know exactly how to make their audiences fall off their chairs with laughter. Comedy sitcom series actually seem to be Levitan and Lloyd’s landmark, highlighted in their previous works on TV shows Wings, Frasier and the briefly-screened Back To You. Side note: Christopher Lloyd in NOT the Christopher Lloyd that plays Doc Emmett Brown in Back to the Future!
Paul Abbott : Shameless (2011)
Paul Abbott has not always had an easy life. Seventh out of eight children, his parents both abandoned him when he was 11 and he had to be brought up by his 16 year old, pregnant sister. Raped and suicidal, Abbott found an escape in writing, which, further on, led him to become one of the most successful television writers in Britain, mostly renowned for his work for Coronation Street and Shameless. Introducing us to the largely dysfunctional Gallagher family, Shameless seems to be, even though denied by Abbott, somewhat autobiographical.
Nic Pizzolatto : True Detective (2014)
In this sensational thriller, Nic Pizzolato perfectly develops an enthralling plot that keeps audiences at the edge of their seats. True Detective follows two Lousianna State Police detectives in their 17 year-long hunt for a killer. Nic Pizzalato’s past experience as a University teacher of fiction and literature, along with his large repertoire of self-written thrillers and fiction short stories could already foretell the success of his televised show. In the month since True Detective premiered in America, Pizzolatto has been compared to three Davids (Simon, Milch and Chase – the men behind The Wire, Deadwood and The Sopranos) and has just signed a two-year deal with HBO that will allow him to develop a second series.
Beau Willimon : House of Cards (2013)
In this modern day analysis of power struggles and corruption in the U.S. Senate house, Beau Willimon actually showcases his early days in politics. In his early 20s, he became one of the many young people to devote themselves to the Vermont Government, supporting Howard Dean in his 2004 presidential campaign. Through Howard Dean’s defeat, Beau witnessed the negative implications of idealism and found a mysterious inspiration which led him to transform these real-life scenarios into an Award-winning series.
Matthew Weiner : Mad Men (2007)
A black-suited male silhouette enters his office, places his suitcase on the floor, and watches as his furniture disintegrate. He continues walking before falling off a skyscraper. In his descent, he freefalls past images of seductive women, alcohol and his other occupations. In this opening credit of Mad Men, the animation reveals encrypted clues as to what the show is all about. Portraying a society of yester-year, through events and goings-on in an advertising firm, Matthew Weiner recounts the story of Don Draper, a creative director working for the Sterling Cooper Advertising agency. Matthew’s work is observed to be consistent to his use of classical settings, which are also recurrent in his previous show The Sopranos.
Community Season 5 premieres exclusively on Sony Entertainment Television (Sky 157, Virgin 193, BT 454, Talk Talk 454) this Thursday 10th April, with a double bill from 10pm.
Sony Entertainment Television has announced the return of cult US comedy “Community” to UK screens, with its 5th Season premiering exclusively on the channel (Sky 157/Virgin 193/BT and TalkTalk 454) at 10PM, THURSDAY 10th APRIL hot on the tail of its acclaimed debut stateside.
Season 5 sees Breaking Bad’s Jonathan Banks join the cast as the imperiously cranky Buzz Hickey; Jeff (that’s Mr. Winger to you) makes a shock return as a teacher; and a Greendale-wide search for a troublemaker known only as the Ass Crack Bandit… With series creator Dan Harmon triumphantly back at the helm, Community’s fifth season sees the pop-culture-riffing comic phenomenon reach stunning new heights.
To help celebrate this return, we’re offering you the chance to win a COMMUNITY GOODIE BAG containing:
- x1 T Shirt (sizes: XS/M/L to be requested by winner)
- x1 Signed Cast Poster
- x1 Inspector Spacetime Toy Gun Memorabilia (this is actually a prop taken from the show itself!)
We also have a runners up prize of:
- x1 T Shirt (sizes: XS/M/L to be requested by winner)
- x1 Signed Cast Poster
How to Win a COMMUNITY Goodie Bag!
We have 1 main prize a 1 runner up prize to give away, and as usual, all you have to do to win, is one (or both!) of the following:
1. Retweet the following:
Community S5 premieres tonight, 10pm @SonyTVUK #CommunitysBack RT to win Community Prizes! @Geektown http://wp.me/p10pHL-3Qe
2. Leave a comment on this post saying you want to win!
You can just say you want to win, or… be a bit more creative with your answer, and tell me why I should pick you to win!
The competition closes on 18th April 2014 and is open to UK RESIDENTS ONLY aged 16 or over.
There will be 2 winners picked from entries on geektown.co.uk and Twitter.
By entering you are agreeing to the rules of this competition. Full rules can be read here.
Sky 1 HD today announces that the highly anticipated, multi Golden Globe® & Emmy® Award winning 24 will premiere with a double episode on Wednesday 7th May at 9pm. For 24 superfans, the show will also transmit simultaneously with Fox’s US East Coast transmission on the morning of Tuesday 6th May at 1am. Following the TX on Wednesday 7th at 9pm, the premiere episodes will also be available for customers to catch up On Demand.
Set and shot in London, the heart-stopping 12 episode event series will once again follow the exploits of heroic agent Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland). Four years ago, Jack was a fugitive from justice, now in exile; he nevertheless is willing to risk his life and freedom to avert yet another global disaster.
Tracking Jack are CIA head Steve Navarro (Benjamin Bratt), CIA agent Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski), who is both resourceful and ruthless; Jordan Reed (Giles Matthey), a smart and sophisticated CIA computer tech; and Erik Ritter (Gbenga Akinnagbe), a sharp, strong and arrogant field operative. British national treasure and lifelong 24 fan Stephen Fry also joins the cast as British Prime Minister Trevor Davies.
Calling the shots is James Heller (William Devane), now President of the United States and flanked by his Chief of Staff Mark Boudreau (Tate Donovan), who is married to Heller’s daughter and Jack’s former flame, Audrey (Kim Raver). Meanwhile, a hardened Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), Jack Bauer’s former CTU confidante, is now working underground with high-profile hacker Adrian Cross (Michael Wincott).
24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY also stars Charles Furness as Peter, an elite young hacker and member of a “hacktivist” organization based in Britain. John Boyega will play a computer tech who flies drones for the military and Michelle Fairley, Tamer Hassan and Colin Salmon also star.
Adam MacDonald, Director, Sky 1 HD said “I’m delighted that Jack and the team at 24 are returning exclusively to Sky 1 HD. The scale, ambition and fast-paced energy of the series epitomize everything we look for in a drama for the channel. I can’t wait to bring it back to our customers.
Acquired exclusively in the UK by Sky 1 HD from Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution, 24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY reunites the Emmy® Award-winning team of executive producer Howard Gordon; star and executive producer Kiefer Sutherland; co-creator Robert Cochran; executive producers Evan Katz, Manny Coto, David Fury, Brian Grazer; and director Jon Cassar. It will also retain the real-time, pulse-pounding, fast-paced format with split screens and interweaving storylines.
Steve Cornish, Senior Vice President and Managing Director of Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution said, “24 really set the benchmark for epic, tense storytelling in the medium of television. It really was the first ‘binge-watching’ TV experience and I can’t tell you how exciting it is to be bringing the legendary Jack Bauer back to the small screen.”
24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY is produced by Teakwood Lane Productions in association with Twentieth Century Fox Television and Imagine Television. The series is created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran. The executive producers are Howard Gordon, Evan Katz, Manny Coto, David Fury, Robert Cochran, Brian Grazer, Jon Cassar and Kiefer Sutherland.
24: LIVE ANOTHER DAY starts on Wednesday 7th May at 9pm on Sky 1 HD and Sky 1 +1 -available exclusively to Sky TV customers and contract free on NOW TV with the Now TV Entertainment Month Pass.
Sky customers can also revisit the entire 24 series 1-8 through Sky’s On Demand service.
A couple of weeks ago I was at Comic Con in Birmingham, and got the chance to see a number of the guest panels. I would have posted them earlier, but due to the horrific echo in the hall, the audio was pretty awful. However, thanks to the guys at Comic Con (and special thanks to Mark Weldon, the poor guy having to deal with the live audio stream on the day), I manage to get hold of the actual miked feed, and synced it back up with the video – hence the delay in posting!
Bitten centres around Elena Michaels (played by Smallville & V’s Laura Vandervoort), who is the worlds only female werewolf. In an attempt to get away from the life she never wanted, Elena has fled to hide the city. Working as a photographer, and hanging out with a new boyfriend (who doesn’t know about her wolfier side), life is going okay. However, when bodies start to turn up near her home town of Stonehaven, she is summoned back by her pack master. That means facing up to who she is, and facing Clayton Danvers (Greyston Holt), the former love of her life… and the man that turned her.
Bitten has yet to air in the UK, but is currently airing on ‘Space’ in it’s native Canada, and SyFy in the US, so hopefully we’ll get it here soon! Keep an eye on the the Bitten uk air date page for more info.
New high-concept action thriller, INTELLIGENCE, has today been acquired exclusively in the UK by Sky 1 HD from Disney UK & Ireland. The 13 part series, produced by ABC Studios, will debut on the channel on 17th April.
Former Lost castaway, Josh Holloway, is the futuristic hero as he takes up the lead role of Gabriel Vaughn, an agent at the US Cyber Command at the National Security Agency. Vaughan has been fitted with the world’s first Direct Neural Interface, a microchip implanted in his brain that allows him to tap into databases, computers and electronic files to process information. Lillian Strand (Marg Helgenberger, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation), the director of the US Cyber Command, brings in Riley Neal (Megan Ory, Once Upon a Time), a Secret Service Agent to protect Gabriel. When they’re given a mission to locate the kidnapped neuroscientist responsible for creating the microchip, Gabriel and Riley discover that the enemy may be closer than they imagined and may be creating their own counter-intelligence to rival Gabriel.
INTELLIGENCE also stars John Billingsley (Star Trek: Enterprise), PJ Byrne (The Wolf of Wall Street), Michael Rady (The Mentalist) and James Martinez (Low Winter Sun). The show was created and is executive produced by Michael Seitzman, René Echevarria, Tripp Vinson and David Semel (for the pilot), for ABC Studios in association with CBS Television Studios. The series has aired on CBS in the US.
Just to warn you, INTELLIGENCE is very likely to be cancelled in the US, so don’t expect a 2nd season…
Brand new HBO series SILICON VALLEY will air exclusively on Sky Atlantic this summer. Created by Mike Judge (Beavis & Butthead), this eight part comedy is set in the high-tech rush of the modern Silicon Valley, where the people most qualified to succeed are the least capable of handling success.
The Hollywood Reporter calls it “immediately, HBO’s funniest series.” Silicon Valley is inspired by Judge’s own experiences as a Silicon Valley engineer in the late 1980’s. The series, an Entourage for Geeks is a collaboration between Judge and Alec Berg (Seinfeld, HBO’s Curb Your Enthusiasm) and takes a comic look at the modern-day epicenter of the high-tech gold rush. Richard (Thomas Middleditch, The Office) is an introverted computer programmer living in the Hacker Hostel start-up incubator along with his best friends, Big Head (Josh Brener, The Big Bang Theory), pompous Gilfoyle (Martin Starr, Knocked up) and dry-witted Dinesh (Kumail Nanjiani).
These social misfits live under the watch of Erlich (T.J. Miller), a self-satisfied dotcom millionaire who lets them stay in his house for free – as long as he gets a ten percent stake in their projects. After a failed pitch to a billionaire venture capitalist, Richard seems destined to remain at his job at the tech company forever. However, when the head of operations realises the value of the site’s compression algorithm, a bidding war erupts leaving Richard caught in the middle.
Mike Judge directs four of the eight episodes; Alec Berg directs two episodes; Tricia Brock (HBO’s Girls) and Maggie Carey (The To Do List) also direct. The writers are Mike Judge, Alec Berg, Clay Tarver, Dan O’Keefe, John Altschuler & Dave Krinsky, Ron Weiner, Carson Mell, Jessica Gao and Matteo Borghese & Rob Turbovsky.
SILICON VALLEY was created by Mike Judge & John Altschuler & Dave Krinsky. Executive producers are Mike Judge, Alec Berg, John Altschuler & Dave Krinsky, Michael Rotenberg, and Tom Lassally; producers, Jim Kleverweis and Chrisann Verges.
SILICON VALLEY will air exclusively on Sky Atlantic HD this summer. Sky Atlantic HD is also available to all Sky TV customers and through NOW TV with the NOW TV Entertainment Month Pass.