In spite of what you may have heard, people do still watch a lot of telly in Oxford. And so they should, with the magnificent array of programming available over the next eight weeks. Although you might no longer have the time for Pointless and Only Connect, there is some high quality television from all over the world to be watched this autumn, much of which will be available legally online.
Personally my television event of Michaelmas Term will be the return of Homeland. Now into its third season, much of the plot is wrapped in secrecy, despite extensive publicity and hype – just the way we like it. Dubbed “Homeland 2.0” by the show’s creators, fans live in hope that they wised up to the inconsistencies of last season, and will concentrate more on what we love about Homeland: Carrie’s emotional torment, Brody’s emotional torment, and, of course, Saul’s emotional torment.
Other American dramas starring in this term include The Walking Dead, True Blood, and Glee, the latter continuing after the death of Corey Monteith in July. Bates Motel and Sleepy Hollow look promising, although perhaps you should get your family to Sky+ them, since Universal’s not the best channel for online viewing. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. also looks to be a fun watch, perhaps lacking the emotional intensity of Homeland, but promising nonetheless.
Those of you lucky enough to have a Sky account, not only can you get access to the best of Sky Sports, but you have the option of all the great drama on Sky Atlantic. Gripping period crime drama Boardwalk Empire is back on screen in October, and Veep, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tony Hale fresh from their Emmy wins, also returns this month.
Perhaps the most intriguing prospect, however, is The Tunnel, the British-French remake of the Swedish-Danish production The Bridge, one of the Scandi-hits of last year. Boasting a cast including Stephen Dillane, Clémence Poésy, and Liz Smith, les rosbifs and the frogs have to team up when a body is discovered midway through the Channel Tunnel – definitely one to watch.
Speaking of the Danes, BBC4 will air the third and final season of Borgen towards the end of the year, easily the most intelligent political drama of recent times. Viewers will see Birgitte Nyborg struggle with the Danish government one last time, as she prepares for a general election. Other returning dramas includes Silk, with the excellent Maxine Peake, the final Misfits, which really dropped the ball last time out, and Ripper Street, which is a bit schlocky but perfectly passable.
Last but certainly not least is the return of Doctor Who, in a 50th anniversary special. If you can’t stand the Time Lord and the Daleks and all, try to hole up in the library for 6th week. If it is your thing though, you’ll love the BBC’s plan for “event-television”, as they will dominate the airwaves with all things Whovian: there’ll be documentaries and dramatisations on the origins of the show, radio interviews and plays, kid’s TV devoted to it, all building up to the huge climactic The Day of the Doctor, featuring David Tennant, Billie Piper, Daleks, and John Hurt. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.