The headline-grabbing worldwide government spying activities and dramatic police investigations that unfold every day on the nightly news are influencing what we see on TV. Now the New Year brings a wave of new shows filled with spies and cops, following on the heels of other successful secret agent and law enforcement series. All are more technology oriented and/or realistic than Get Smart or Car 54, Where Are You? from generations ago.
My favorite of the new shows is Intelligence, a fast-paced high-tech spy series which officially starts Jan. 13 on CBS. It showcases the considerable charms of star Josh Holloway (the darling bad-boy Sawyer of Lost fame) as he plays a former soldier who has a microchip implanted in his head. It gives him a computer-like super-brain, plus enhanced vision and other ultra-techie capabilities. All his talents are used to fight terrorists as a member of the U.S. Cyber Command, headed by Marg Ellenberger (CSI), with Meghan Ory (Once Upon a Time) as his reluctant partner. The head of CBS Les Moonves calls the show “quality television,” and I have to agree.
The Assets on ABC is an eight-episode miniseries that brings back the spy vs. spy intrigue of the Cold War Reagan era. It follows on the heels of the success of cable’s spy dramas, The Americans on FX set in the 1960s, and Homeland on Showtime set in the present. But those are fictional stories, and The Assets’ storytelling benefits from being based on an actual case of a CIA double agent and the dedicated agent (Jodie Whittaker) who wants to protect America’s assets in the deadly espionage game.
For an intriguing real-life story, tune in Fleming: The Man Who Would be Bond, a magnificent BBC America four-part miniseries beginning Jan. 29. Dominic Cooper (Captain America: The Winter Soldier) stars as Ian Fleming, the creator of the James Bond novels. The biopic is set during World War II, as we follow the future author as he makes the transition from carefree playboy to a capable spy for Britain’s Naval Intelligence. The people he meets along the way would later inspire the characters in his series of 007 books. And if this story is to be believed, Fleming’s love life rivaled any Bond escapades on the big screen.
The animated spy comedy Archer on FX returns for its fifth season on Jan. 13, and is a treat for all who like great characters and sexy humor that spoofs the cloak and dagger genre.
Now let’s hear it for the cops who protect and serve. Starting Jan. 8, Chicago PD shoots to make the NBC schedule stronger. The drama is a spin-off from Dick Wolf’s excellent Chicago Fire series, and some of the boys in blue have already been introduced on that show. The focus will be divided between the uniformed cops on the beat and the elite detective squad with the city’s intelligence unit. It’s headed by Sgt. Hank Vought (played by tough guy character actor Jason Beghe), who’s old school in his method of law enforcement, with a tendency to bend the rules to get the job done. That means we’ll see lots of conflict. Chicago PD also stars Jon Seda (Homicide), Sophia Bush (One Tree Hill), Patrick Flueger (The 4400), and Elias Koteas. The hallmark of a Dick Wolf production (creator of the Law & Order franchise) has always been great storytelling, so we have high expectation.
Killer Women just debuted on ABC. It has a likable strong female lead with star Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) as a member of the Texas Rangers in pursuit of bad girls. It’s interesting to note that the show is based on an Argentine series and is produced by Sofia Vergara (Modern Family).
True Detective starts on HBO Jan. 12. It has some heavy duty star power with Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) and Woody Harrelson (Hunger Games) as homicide detectives on a 17-year hunt for a serial killer. It is a gritty eight-episode series that takes place in rural Louisiana. Let’s just hope they don’t run into HBO’s True Blood vampires!
Among the other crime shows returning with new episodes for the second half of the season are Elementary on CBS, The Following on Fox, Justified on FX, and Banshee on Cinemax. Who says crime doesn’t pay?