WASHINGTON, February 27, 2014–With the Olympics behind us, the TV audience will get back to enjoying some Thursday night favorites like “The Big Bang Theory,” Elementary,” “Scandal,” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” Not to be excluded, cable programming has a couple shows scheduled tonight that will help make up for their current stupid reality show plague that refuses to go away.
Tonight “The Red Road” begins its six-episode run at 9 p.m. on Sundance. After the critical success of Sundance Channel’s first fully-owned scripted original series, “Rectify,” the anticipation for the network’s next endeavor is understandably high.
The Sundance network seems intent on developing TV shows that stay true to its love affair with indie films that have become the trademark of the Sundance Film Festival. The unorthodox plot lines and taboo topics that often personify the films of the festival mean a lot less car crashes and a lot more cerebral approach to subject matter that is decidedly more difficult to sell in the format of a TV program.
The cast of “The Red Road” certainly has the acting chops to deliver a quality production. Jason Momoa of “Game of Thrones” plays a half-Lenape Indian who quickly embraces his criminal side after being released from prison. Momoa’s imposing size and distinctive look go a long way toward making him believable as the ultimate bad guy, while he makes the most of the agonizingly slow plot line.
Momoa’s crime mentor in “The Red Road” is superbly played by the capable big screen actor Tom Sizemore. Best known for his roles in such films as “Saving Private Ryan” and “Pearl Harbor,” Sizemore’s foray into the world of television is a plus for any network. Although some of the reviews of “The Red Room” have been less than favorable, Sundance’s continued efforts to develop entertaining and unique programs for the small screen should be applauded. For this reason alone “The Red Room” deserves a closer look.
When pitted against other basic cable offerings in the same time slot like “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” and “Party Down South,” the decision to tune into Sundance Channel’s newest drama is an easy one to make.
Also worth noting is the premiere of the second season of “Vikings” at 10 p.m. on History Channel. This network has recently tortured us with ridiculous, non-historical reality programming like “Appalachian Outlaws” and “The Curse of Oak Island,” so any program that embraces a historical perspective is a welcome relief.
“Vikings” has done an admirable job in its historic portrayal of the raiding, trading, and exploring Norsemen who dominated early medieval Scandinavia, excelling in the drama format by creating realistic characters we can embrace.
History Channel does best when it sticks to programming rooted in history, and the proof is in the ratings. “Vikings’” season one finale drew an audience of 3.6 million viewers, making it the number one cable show in its time slot. Now if we can only convince the network that reality programming is a waste of everyone’s time, we could look forward to a day when tuning into the History Channel might actually involve history.