Soviet spies, plenty of murders, holidays from hell, and undead Frenchies. Here’s a look at what to watch next month.
What is it?: The Americans – Season 1.
When does it start?: June 1, 10pm, ITV1.
Why should I watch it?: After a critically and commercially successful debut in the US, The Americans is making its UK premiere tomorrow courtesy of ITV. The Cold War spy drama, created by Joe Weisberg (Falling Skies, Damages), follows the complex relationship of two Soviet KGB agents posing as married Americans at the dawn of the Reagan presidency.
Keri Russell (Mission: Impossible III) and Matthew Rhys (Brothers and Sisters) star as Elizabeth and Philip Jennings, the KGB agents whose arranged marriage becomes more passionate and genuine throughout their undercover mission. Being constantly tested by the escalation of the Cold War, the couple must maintain their cover in suburban Washington DC in order to survive. To add to the complications, Phillip soon begins to grow fond of American values and their way of life, and the couple has to cope with the arrival of an FBI counter intelligence officer, Stan (Noah Emmerich), moving into the neighbourhood.
Currently sporting a respectable Metacritic score of 77 out of 100, The Americans has been described as “an absorbing spy thriller” with heart-pounding action, and has already been renewed for a second season in the US.
What is it?: The Killing – Season 3.
When does it start?: June 3, 12am, Netflix.
Why should I watch it?: Last month, Netflix brought back Arrested Development from limbo, and this month, they’re doing the same with American crime drama The Killing. Initially cancelled by AMC in 2012, the series returns for a third season with twelve new episodes, airing every Monday on a weekly basis just one day after they are broadcast in the US. If you’re a newcomer, then have no fear, as the first two seasons are currently available to stream on Netflix.
Originally created for US television by Veena Sud (Cold Case), The Killing is based on the Danish series Forbrydelsen and, across its first two series, covered the investigation of a murdered teenage girl, Rosie Larsen (Katie Findlay). Mireille Enos (Gangster Squad, World War Z) and Joel Kinnaman (The Darkest Hour, next year’s RoboCop) starred as homicide detectives Sarah Linden and Stephen Holder, and they will be returning for Season 3 with newcomers Peter Sarsgaard, Elias Koteas and Battlestar Galactica alum Aaron Douglas. The new episodes will be set a year after the Larsen case, where we find Linden no longer a detective but brought in to help her ex-partner, as Holder discovers a gruesome string of murders that connect to one of Linden’s old investigations.
Alongside the series’ main plot of Larsen’s murder, the first two seasons also followed her family’s attempts to deal with their grief, and a political campaign that becomes involved in the case. The combination of all three storylines made the show an absorbing and addictive drama, with solid performances throughout the cast. Enos shined in particular, portraying a lead female character vastly different to what were used to seeing. Critically-praised at first, the ratings dropped heavily with Season 2 and the show went from a Metacritic score of 84 down to 68. Many viewers were let down by the lack of closure at the end of the first run. However, Netflix have announced that, by the end of Season 3’s twelve episode run, the new case will be solved.
If it can bring the same intensity and atmosphere as before, then The Killing will be well-worth tuning in to next month.
What is it?: Mad Dogs – Season 3.
When does it start?: June 4, 9pm, Sky1.
Why should I watch it?: Bafta-nominated and critically-acclaimed, Sky1’s Mad Dogs is back for its penultimate, four episode-long series. Created by Cris Cole, Mad Dogs follows four old school friends who reunite in Mallorca, only for events to take a seriously dark turn as they are dragged into a world of corruption, deception and murder. Max Beesley (Survivors), Philip Glenister (Life on Mars), John Simm (Doctor Who) and Marc Warren (Band of Brothers) all return as the unlucky friends as their holiday from hell continues.
The third season will pick up directly after the Season 2 finale, where we saw Woody, Quinn, Baxter and Rick supposedly en route to mainland Spain in the first part of their attempted journey home. Instead, they find themselves in Morocco, welcomed by armed guards. Now they’re stuck in a dilapidated prison in the middle of the desert, facing torture and interrogation, and feeling further away from home than ever before. Season 3 also introduces a new face in the form of Jaime Winstone (Dead Set) as feisty fellow prisoner Mercedes, but how much can the boys trust her?
Seasons 1 and 2 had a very “British gangster movie” feel to them, with naturalistic performances and a mix of enjoyably sinister moments as well as some genuinely funny ones. Although the plot is getting more and more far-fetched as it continues, Mad Dogs is an intriguing comedic thriller that always manages to entertain.
What is it?: The Returned (Les Revenants) – Season 1.
When does it start?: June 9, 9pm, Channel 4.
Why should I watch it?: French drama series The Returned is set to mark itself as the first mainland European export on Channel 4 for over twenty years. Based on the 2004 feature film They Came Back, the show was created by Fabrice Gobert and will be screened in its native language with English subtitles.
The Returned tells the story of a small group of men, women and children who awake in an Alpine village after being dead for several years. Confused and struggling to return to their previous lives, it is soon revealed that their arrival coincides with a series of gruesome murders resembling the work of a serial killer from the past. Other strange phenomena occurs, as the village begins to suffer power outages, the water level of the dam mysteriously lowers, and bodies of both the living and the dead begin to develop strange marks.
Arguably a similar concept to In The Flesh, the recent BBC3 supernatural drama, The Returned promises a much larger story over its eight episode series. Whereas In The Flesh focused almost entirely on the story of a re-animated teenager, Kieren Walker, The Returned spans multiple storylines with a larger cast including Samir Guesmi (District 13), Céline Sallette (Rust and Bone), Guillaume Gouix (Midnight in Paris) and Anne Consigny (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly).
For any of you having doubts about investing your time in a subtitled show, I suggest watching French movies such as Tell No One, Switchblade Romance, Anything For Her and Point Blank before writing off The Returned.
What is it?: Luther – Season 3.
When is it?: June 25 (rumoured), BBC One.
Why should I watch it?: Unfortunately, the BBC have yet to officially announce when Luther will be returning to the UK, despite confirming a September broadcast in the US. However, rumours are pointing heavily toward four brand new episodes airing next month. Created by Neil Cross, Luther is a British psychological crime drama starring the Golden Globe Award-winner Idris Elba (The Wire, Pacific Rim) as Detective Chief Inspector John Luther.
The show follows the brilliant-yet-slightly-unhinged detective as he struggles to cope with his own personal demons, whilst also investigating a number of murders. Obsessed and completely dedicated to his job, Luther is sometimes just as dangerous as the men he is tracking down, and his compulsion eventually leads to him paying a heavy price after the murder of his wife, Zoe (Indira Varma).
The first two seasons were fast-paced, dark and surprising, with a combination of excellent writing and acting. Elba, as expected, is absolutely fantastic as the show’s titular character, with Ruth Wilson (Anna Karenina) also putting in an incredible performance as genius sociopath Alice. Part René Adler, part Hannibal Lector, Alice’s chemistry with Luther creates a bizarre yet enthralling game of cat and mouse between the detective and his ally/adversary.
I am personally desperate for more Luther, and have my fingers firmly crossed for a June 2013 broadcast. If the rumours are true, then the Beeb are due to make an official announcement any day now. Until then, we can only wait patiently and hope that more of one of the best crime dramas around is only weeks away.