TV series that pack serious star wattage

As Season 2 of True Detective hits screens, starring Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughan, we take a look at the killer TV series showcasing some serious acting talent.

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True Detective Season 1

No one could have expected how awesome True Detective would actually be. Sure it boasted a stellar line-up featuring Woody Harrelson and Matthew ‘Awl Raight, Awl Raight’ McConaughey, and the novel idea of allowing the same director, writer, and cinematographer (Cary Fukunaga, Nick Pizzolatto and Adam Arkapaw) to work together on an entire season.

The chemistry between Harrelson and McConaughey (who are also best buddies off camera) was electric and their wealth of experience on the big screen shone through.

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Mad Men

Mad Men may started in 2007 with a relatively unknown cast, but my how far they’ve come. John Hamm is now a bonafide movie star in the Cary Grant mould and Elisabeth Moss is one of the most talented actresses around.

But what about the rest of them?

January Jones has fanboys panting into their anoraks as Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class and Christina Hendricks was outstanding in John Slattery’s God’s Pocket.

The series may be nearing its end, but the cast that has grown in leaps and bounds over the last seven years must certainly be one of the best ever to grace the small screen.

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Friday Night Lights

Whether you like or understand American Football is beside the point here, Friday Night Lights is simply one of the best TV series ever. And since it closed in 2011 we’ve missed its brilliant meld of humanity and passion, not to mention an exceptional soundtrack.

What we haven’t missed is the cast, because they’ve been lighting up our screens, big and small.

Kyle Chandler was excellent in The Wolf of Wall Street, Connie Britton’s start turns on American Horror Story and Nashville have kept fans of Tami Taylor very happy indeed, and we’ve already forgiven Taylor Kitsch for John Carter and Battleship (well at least for Battleship) thanks to his star turn in Lone Survivor.

And of course there’s always Jesse Plemons, who played Todd in Breaking Bad (he of the Lydia the Tattooed Lady ringtone fame) and Garn Sours in The Homesman.

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The West Wing

OK so we’ve talked about TV series where the stars went on to become famous, but there were also those that employed an all-star cast. Take West Wing for example, Aaron Sorkin’s dedication to the Wite House and its myriad of shenanigans.

The West Wing’s cast was led by the legendary Martin Sheen who played President Josiah Bartlett , supported by a staff that included Allison Janney (Juno, The Help, The Way Way Back, and Mom), John Spencer (Twilight, Cop Land, and LA Law), Bradley Whitford (NYPD Blue, Studio 60, and Trophy Wife), Richard Schiff (Murder in the First, House of Lies, and Relativity) and of course Rob Lowe (St Elmo’s Fire, Brothers and Sisters, Parks and Recreation and Californication).

The West Wing is widely regarded as one of the top drama series ever made, and a large part of its success was undoubtedly a seasoned and talented cast.

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Arrested Development

This is one of those TV series that the critics loved but was pulled off the air due to mediocre ratings. After its chop Arrested Development became a cult favourite until Netflix resurrected it. Starring Jason Bateman, who has now become a bonafide leading man and Will Arnett who’s everywhere, literally AD had all the ingredients for a mammoth run, but it didn’t work out.

Even the comic timing of Portia de Rossi (Ally McBeal), Jeffery Tambor (The Good Wife) and Jessica Walter (Archer, 90210) couldn’t prevent the axe from falling.

The show did eventually bounce back, but by then the cult status was probably the best it could hope for and the cast had outgrown the small screen.

 

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