‘Hap and Leonard’.
(photo credit: PR)
"Story matters here.” That’s the catchphrase that the AMC Channel put on the map, and now the channel has made its debut in Israel on what was formerly the MGM Channel on the HOT and YES cable networks. It is available on Channel 19 on both networks.
While once HBO and Showtime were the networks with the most popular and innovative programming, in recent years AMC has challenged and perhaps overtaken them.
Mad Men was AMC’s first scripted series, and that was quickly followed by Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead. Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead have spawned two successful spin-offs – Better Call Saul and Fear the Walking Dead. AMC has added talk shows about its top-rated programs that have become surprisingly popular in their own right, Talking Dead and Talking Saul. Other AMC shows include Hell on Wheels, Humans and Turn.
The first season of Fear the Walking Dead just started airing on the AMC Channel, and the second season will be shown starting on May 16.
Fear the Walking Dead tells of the origins of the zombie outbreak as it is experienced by a few families in Los Angeles. It stars Kim Dickens, who is currently also appearing on House of Cards and has been in the series Sons of Anarchy, Treme, Friday Night Lights and the movie Gone Girl. Cliff Curtis, who plays her boyfriend, is an actor from New Zealand of Maori descent who was in Whale Rider but here plays a Latin American teacher.
The show doesn’t match the thrills of the first season of The Walking Dead, but zombie fanatics will want to tune in. One interesting twist is that early in the epidemic, videos of cops shooting zombies go viral and are misinterpreted as police brutality, which sends thousands into the streets demonstrating.
Season Two will pick up where the first season left off, with the main characters fleeing on a yacht.
Season One of Humans, an acclaimed British series (based on an acclaimed Swedish series) will start airing on April 6 at 9 p.m. It’s about a parallel present where the new must-have gadget is a Synth, a stunningly lifelike robot. But as always happens with these stunningly lifelike robots, things don’t go as planned. They are both mistreated by humans and also threaten the humans. William Hurt, the Oscar-winning actor who barely works these days, plays a scientist. If there were such robots available in real life, I would worry less that they would try to take over my household and more that the kind I would be able to afford would break everything, but there is definitely a fascination with malevolent AI beings now.
A new series, Hap and Leonard, will also begin airing on the channel soon. It stars James Purefoy (The Following) as a draft dodger who starts working for Leonard (Michael Kenneth Williams, who played Omar on The Wire), a private investigator, in East Texas. Also starring Christina Hendricks (Joan on Mad Men), it is a comedy/action/ thriller, very much in the spirit of author Elmore Leonard, although it isn’t actually based on his books.
The John Le Carre miniseries The Night Manager will begin airing on the AMC Channel in June.
Also coming up is the dystopian series Into the Badlands, an ultraviolent show about a kind of Hunger Games/Mad Max world that looks like it was filmed on the old sets from Gone with the Wind.
The letters AMC stand for American Movie Channel, and AMC has access to the movies from the MGM catalogue, which it will be broadcasting part of every day. In the past, I have written how the MGM Channel had begun showing the weak movies, films that were never associated with the great studio in its heyday but were produced by unrelated affiliates in the last two decades.
So far at least, AMC is showing some of MGM’s flagship movies, among them Birdman of Alcatraz, Fargo and The Trip. Let’s hope they continue to show higher quality movies than the MGM Channel did in the past.