In the US: Mondays, 10pm, Sundance Channel
An often-asked question these days is "Why is there so much good American TV on at the moment?" Look at Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Boss, et al. Why are these shows all getting made now?
Scratch below the surface of the broadcasting schedules and you'll soon find two of the main answers:
- Cable TV, which caters to smaller audiences and looks to differentiate itself from the mass market through quality by giving writers creative freedom, largely unfettered by the FCC rules that stifle ideas on network TV.
- The large-scale demise of the independent American movie scene - all the writers who would normally have written intelligent, thoughtful dramatic movies have instead gone over to cable TV, where that creative freedom and the ability to study characters in long-form drama are a constant intoxicating appeal.
One of the biggest names in the independent movie scene is, course, Robert Redford's Sundance Festival, which has its own US TV channel as well. Up to now, that channel's task has been to promote and air independent movies, but it's now looking to branch out into original dramas. It’s no surprise, therefore, that for its first ever drama, not only has the channel gone to the producers of Breaking Bad for a quality product, it's commissioned possibly the most indie-est of all indie movies masquerading as a TV show.
Daniel Holden (Aden Young) is released from death row after new DNA evidence shows that he might not have been the man who raped and murdered his 16-year-old girlfriend. After 19 years in jail, Daniel has to learn how to live again, his life having been on hold for so long. But having originally confessed to the crime, he also has to deal with the people in town who still believe he killed his girlfriend. Meanwhile, his family has to deal with the completely different Daniel who's returned to them.
Sound like fun? No, of course not, and despite becoming quite an incredible bit of drama, it suffers from the biggest flaw of a lot of indie movies, now stretched out and writ large over an entire season of episodes: nothing happens.
Here's a trailer.