Two Great New TV Shows to Watch (And One to Skip for Now)

Veteran stars Nicole Kidman, Clive Owen anchor 2024's best new dramas

The TV year started slowly, but it’s beginning to cook so let’s talk about what’s hot right now.

Minor spoilers ahead …

‘Expats’ (Prime)

This is a fantastic American drama starring Nicole Kidman as Margaret, an expat living in Hong Kong with her husband Clarke (Brian Tee) and three children when a tragedy strikes the family. Just six crisp episodes created by Lulu Wang based on the 2016 novel “The Expatriates” by Janie Y.K. Lee.

Expats - Official Trailer | Prime Video

I haven’t read the book, nor plan to, as HBO’s “Game of Thrones” taught me an important lesson: I cannot read a book once I’ve seen a movie or television series based on the material.

I’ve had to learn this lesson more than a few times: “The Expanse” “Red Sparrow” and “The Witcher.”

Obviously given Kidman putting her star power behind it but I’m truly loving the series so far.

Expats are fascinating.

When I was at the University of Denver (DU) I was on the Vice Provost’s council for student engagement. We often talked about the challenge of expats. Once a group of international students formed into a click it created a little bubble that mimicked home and kept the student from having a full experience of being abroad.

Expat communities exist all over the globe, and I’ll ask my students which nation has the highest expat failure rate for U.S. citizens living abroad. Many guess Hong Kong or Saudi Arabia, but the answer is surprisingly Great Britain.

One reason for this is that in non-English speaking countries tight communities of expats form, like the one depicted in the show, often in compound-like environments which brings people closer together. In England you’re often on your own, and it can be very lonely.

I think what I like most about the show is that we see Kidman, who at the start is a well-manicured, well-behaved expat start to lose the facade as the grief of loss catches up with her. She becomes what many expats fear: the proverbial Ugly American.

Grief is a powerful force that can wipe away all kinds of illusions about ourselves, our lives and our partnerships.

The show is beautifully made and immersive. You feel like you’re in Hong Kong.

It also explores grief and loss in a way that hasn’t been done this well since HBO’s “The Leftovers” sans supernatural elements. Just the bare bones of how fragile human relationships can be especially when touched by tragedy so far away from home

‘Monsieur Spade’ (AMC)

I love the character Sam Spade, and “The Maltese Falcon” is one of my favorite movies.  Humphrey Bogart is perfect as Sam Spade and San Francisco the ultimate backdrop for a detective story.

Dashiell Hammett is a brilliant writer and, with that kind of pedigree, you’d better come with the goods. Show creators Scott Frank and Tom Fontana and Clive Owen as the titular Sam Spade deliver and then some.

Monsieur Spade Official Trailer Ft. Clive Owen | Premieres January 14 on AMC+

I admit I was a bit skeptical after the first episode because the crime that kicks the story into gear seemed too gruesome and fantastic for a Sam Spade story. As the series unfolds we get deeper into the mystery, and I’ve come to appreciate both Clive as Spade and how deftly this thing is written.

Monsieur Hammett would be pleased his beloved character is handled with such care.

Four episodes in, I haven’t a clue how it might end. That’s exactly what you want from a mystery.

Last point on this… it’s not just Spade. Each of these characters is well crafted and engaging, and if this were a movie that came out in say 1942 or 1959 it would fit perfectly.

The show you probably should avoid…at least for now…

‘True Detective: Night Country’ (MAX)

I admit I was excited about this show before it premiered.

I had seen a trailer but did my best to avoid the hype that preceded the first episode. It turned out that there was a small war fought between “fan boys” of Season One who allegedly review bombed it and the marketing department at Max which claimed it was the “best True Detective” since season one.

Depending on what you thought of seasons two and three, it wasn’t that high of a bar.

That battle has since extended out to envelope the current creator Issa López and originator Nic Pizzolatto in a public back-and-forth squabble. I honestly did my best to avoid all this, and so should you.

Just keep the show tucked in your back pocket for some time this summer when the storm has blown over and you can evaluate the show on its own merits.

True Detective: Night Country | Official Teaser 2 | Max

The marketing for “Night Country” implied that Chief Liz Danvers (Jodie Foster) and Trooper Evangeline Navarro (Kali Reis) were a former romantic couple now investigating a new crime (which would’ve been interesting). The show goes out of its way in the first few episodes to establish that, nope, both Danvers and Navarro are heterosexual.

And the show has amped up the supernatural elements while making it clear that everyone we’ve met so far is an unreliable narrator and possibly suffering the negative impacts of chemical poisoning from the mill tailings from the local mine.


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Max (@streamonmax)

There’s a scientific team (in swank digs, no less. How much money do people in Hollywood think scientists have?) investigating ancient life in the ice cores which may provide the cure for cancer but also might unleash a virus.

Plus, nobody wears proper gear outside in the Alaskan cold which drove me crazy as it did with “The Head” on HBO. Clearly nobody on the creative team read my review because they’d know how cold it actually is, but I digress.

It’s possible “Night Country” ends up ranked fourth out of four “True Detective” seasons, but I like some elements of the new episodes despite all the collateral noise. Foster always brings little touches to her characters (like that shuffle her “Nurse” had in “Hotel Artemis”). I also appreciate the supernatural elements and the frozen setting.

The show sits somewhere between “Mare of Easttown” and “The Outsider” for me, and that’s okay. It might be best to skip “North Country” now and wait for a nice 90-degree day when you want to be surrounded by cold and ice.

So those are my three shows…

What about you? What are you watching and loving so far in 2024?

Always great to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


  1. Ideological idiots shouldn’t review movies. Now you’re upset they AREN’T GAY??? You literally blame some PERCEIVED marketing for this? Nothing I’ve seen implies or intimates that they were gay and the show is great. Moron.

  2. The problem with Monsieur Spade is that half of the dialogue is in French. Of course, the show is based in France. But subtitles are required reading. Some of the longer sentences disappear before I can read them. I am not a slow reader. But Hollywood continues to show “white subtitles” against “whitish backgrounds”. Simple words are unreadable and must be deciphered. TV puts closed captioned white letters against a black background. Then puts white subtitles against white backgrounds. It is exhausting to watch a one-hour episode. They could easily fix this.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to top button