Series of surprises

Series of surprises
Twists in the tales: Bates Motel introduces a rapist-uncle.


(StarHub TV Channel 507, SingTel mio TV Channel 310), Tuesday, 10pm

In the new season: A new locale - sunny Los Angeles compared to drab New York - is added when the ad company opens a branch office there. Flawed ladies' man Don Draper (Jon Hamm), following an uncharacteristic meltdown in the previous season due to his dark personal secrets, is put on an enforced sabbatical leave. He tries to get his groove back but his demons linger. Final season of the series.

What's good: The LA development injects a new momentum, an artificially chirpier one, into the period series' overriding premise of miserable false fronts. Having the tables turned on Draper so that he is no longer the main man - Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss), his ex-secretary, now leads the creative team - is a great move.

What's bad: Making conservative men explore the hazy counter-culture scene of the 1960s is just ridiculous.

Rating: ****1/2


HBO Signature (StarHub TV Channel 603), Sunday, 9.30pm

In the new season: Having felt disrespected and disregarded by the president and practically everybody else, vicepresident Selina Meyer (Julia LouisDreyfus) decides to run for the Commander-In-Chief post herself, a position which guarantees infinitely more gloating, bungling and whooping high-fives.

What's good: Just the abovementioned change alone - a much harried, foul- mouthed, utter wreck of a politician running to be the most powerful person in the world - is enough to make Louis- Dreyfus the funniest person in the funniest political parody on TV.

What's bad: If you are not into US politics, you are not likely to vote for this.

Rating: ****


AXN (StarHub TV Channel 511), Tuesday, 10pm

In the new season: Following Season 1 with Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) being one devious step ahead of high- strung FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), Graham is now the one strapped into a straitjacket as he is locked up unjustly for the gruesome murders which Lecter committed. Their dance of the compatibly insane continues.

What's good: The chatter is upgraded to a more purposeful confrontational stance.

What's bad: Oh, the gory violence. The excessive imagery. And how many times do we need to see the mythic deer with antlers which Graham keeps hallucinating about?

Rating: ***1/2


Universal Channel (StarHub TV Channel 512), Thursday, 9pm

In the new season: You cannot put in a terminator with a machine gun in this show since everybody knows it is about a crazy son, Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore), and his over-protective mother, Norma Bates (Vera Farmiga), who, in Hitchcock's Psycho (1960), would turn into a rotting corpse. So the series inserts itinerant characters - Norma's brother who had raped her as a child comes visiting - to make this family wackier than the Addams Family and their slide into Cuckooland simply inevitable.

What's good: In the best sign of extreme-maternal-sickness-to-come, Norman, future cross-dresser, actually thinks he is his own mother when he confronts his rapist-uncle.

What's bad: Really tough for the Planned Parenthood Association to watch.

Rating: ***

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