Rejoice TV nerds: The time has come. After yet another year of incredible impatience (well done, by the way), the new fall TV season (September to December) is finally upon us. Now comes the bigger challenge: Sifting through all the noise and finding the perfect show to binge on. But not to worry, we've compiled a list of the most exciting shows of the new season.

    There are already too many shows being produced these days. Sure, it's the new golden age but there are literally hundreds of programmes vying for your attention.

    We're all aware of Priyanka Chopra's Quantico. Only a year after Nimrat Kaur gave a great performance in the worst season of Homeland, Chopra is taking it a step further. She's starring in her own show about a group of young agents in the FBI's Quantico facility, complete with soap-opera level drama and an iffy American accent.

    For the purpose of this preview, we're mostly ignoring regular network television because we all know that golden age has bypassed networks and that they're producing mostly rubbish (we're looking at you Gotham). We also won't be including any returning series (now we're looking at you X-Files). It's all about the fresh stuff here.

    Cable and streaming on the other hand is showing no signs of slowing down. And that's where the best storytelling is happening and where the best talent is headed. So here goes.


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    Narcos
    The puply, violent and extremely entertaining story of the world's most infamous drug trafficker Pablo Escobar, a man who used to earn a reported $60 million a day at his peak and the cops tasked to track him down. More than anything else, what this show will do is make your entire life's ambition to get yelled at by the great Wagner Moura. Want even better news? The show's already streaming on Netflix.

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    Moonbeam City

    Sample the cast: Rob Lowe, Elizabeth Banks, Kate Mara and Will Forte. Now sample the setting: A 1980's cop show with neon pink visuals and a synth-infused score. Oh, and did we mention it's a cartoon? The show premieres on Comedy Central on September 16.

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    Into the Badlands
    Remember that really cool martial arts show that you were binge-watching all those years ago? That's right, neither do we. Why didn't anyone think of this before? The show's loosely based on the Chinese tale The Journey to the West, about the epic journey undertaken by a warrior and a young boy across a violent feudal land. It's another attempt by AMC to luck out in the post Breaking Bad/Mad Men age. It premieres on November 15.

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    Scream Queens
    This holds sentimental value, especially with the great Wes Craven's death still fresh in our minds. Although it's another in Ryan Murphy's (Glee, American Horror Story) never ending output, the cast kind of sells it. Emma Roberts, Lea Michele, Abigail Breslin and the original scream queen herself Jamie Lee Curtis. You can safely chalk this down in the guilty pleasure category and contemplate whether Neve Campbell making a cameo is asking for too much. Look out for a September 22nd debut on Fox.

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    Flesh and Bone
    From ex-Breaking Bad alum Moira Walley-Beckett and visionary Aussie director David Michod (Animal Kingdom) comes an exciting miniseries set in the world of professional ballet. "Like Black Swan?" we hear you ask. Well, yes. Even the trailers look eerily similar to that great Darren Aronofsky movie. But ask yourself this: Is that really a bad thing? The show premieres on Starz on November 8.

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    Fargo
    We're going to cheat a bit here. Yes, we know this is technically a returning show and we promised not to include any of them here. But it's also an anthology, featuring a young Lou Solverson played by Patrick Wilson. Yes, we know how True Detective season 2 panned out. But while that show's overly grim tone killed it, this looks like a return to the darkly humourous universe we've come to love. FX has set a premiere date of October 12.

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    Hand of God
    Ron Perlman stars as a corrupt judge who, after suffering a breakdown starts thinking that God is compelling him onto a path of vigilante justice. Think Preacher meets Judge Dredd. With a pilot directed by World War Z's Marc Forster, this looks like another great entry in the Amazon Studios roster. All episodes premiere on September 4.

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    Red Oaks
    Another Amazon Studios show. This one boasts the incredible behind-the-scenes team of director David Gordon Green (Pineapple Express) Gregory Jacobs (Magic Mike XXL) and Steven Soderbergh (who's changing the game with his Clive Owen-starrer The Knick). Craig Roberts (Submarine) plays a tennis player who takes a temp job at the high-end Red Oaks Country Club in the 1980's. Amazon's other dramedies Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle were both brilliant, and this looks like it will live up to that high benchmark. All episodes stream on October 12.

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    The Bastard Executioner
    Kurt Sutter (Sons of Anarchy) returns with his new show. But this time there aren't any hairy bikers. There are however, lots of hairy medieval guys. On the surface this looks like a cheap cash-in on the Game of Thrones wave. But Sutter is running the show and it's set intriguingly during the Welsh rebellion. Oh, and Ed Sheeran has a recurring role. FX will premiere all the episodes on September 15.

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    Wicked City
    This is the sole network programme on the list so it must be extra special. It's set in '80s LA on the Sunset Strip featuring two LAPD cops on the hunt for a romantically-linked serial killer couple. Think Dexter meets that great Brad Pitt movie Kalifornia. There's something really enticing about a good old-fashioned noir drama. The show will premiere on ABC on October 27.

    The author tweets @NaaharRohan

Vaidik-Saeed meet: When is it okay to negotiate with terrorists?

The huge furore over the meeting between Ved Prakash Vaidik – a former editor of a Hindi newspaper and now a Ramdev aide – and Hafiz Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), brings to the fore the very vexed question of negotiating with terrorists that governments have to occasionally grapple with.

One thing is clear, notwithstanding the Congress’s allegations that the meeting was at the behest of the Prime Minister’s Office: it is extremely unlikely that this encounter was a back-channel sortie of the Narendra Modi government.

As this analysis points out, back-channel contact is usually handled a lot more discreetly and not entrusted to figures like Vaidik who release pictures to the press and “become the story himself”. The Modi government may have a theoretical interest in communicating messages or threats to Saeed in an effort to forestall the possibility another major attack on India, but Vaidik is an unlikely vehicle for that purpose and it is inconceivable that PM Modi would risk undercutting his strongman image with such methods.

Given that home minister Rajnath Singh has emphatically ruled out negotiations with Maoist insurgents within India, the government’s hand in the Vaidik-Saeed meeting seems far-fetched.

The controversy does, however, prompt the larger question of dealing with terrorists, especially when it is in your interest. The practice is not as uncommon as one would think.

The release of 46 Indian nurses this month from the captivity of the group in Iraq that calls itself the Islamic State is a recent example. Indian authorities could not have ensured their release without a measure of direct transaction even though intermediaries in Saudi Arabia and Baath party figures and military commanders from the Saddam Hussein era were reportedly involved in the process.

There are, of course, numerous examples of “terrorists” graduating to the negotiating table. The US recently negotiated a prisoner exchange with the Taliban and has been willing to do a deal with the group under certain conditions, after 2194 American soldiers have died since 2001 fighting Afghan insurgents.

Israel called Yasser Arafat a terrorist for decades but negotiated with his Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) even while the group was orchestrating attacks against Israel. The Irish Republican Army’s Gerry Adams, once Britain’s most wanted terrorist, is now a mainstream politician with a seat in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

India too negotiated a (failed) ceasefire in 2000 with the Hizbul Mujahideen, a group responsible for the death of numerous Indian soldiers in Kashmir. And the union government has been negotiating for nearly 17 years with Naga insurgents of the NSCN Isak-Muivah faction which previously waged war against the Indian state.

Security specialists point to several conditions that need to be met for discussions between adversaries to commence. A military stalemate between insurgents and the state usually provides the context for negotiations.

Both parties see little incentive in perpetuating violence and they are able to identify political payoffs that satisfies constituencies on both sides. Militants must renounce armed struggle openly to make talks politically acceptable for an elected government, while the latter discreetly scales back operations to build trust with the other side.

Time is another factor. Public memory needs to fade – crimes committed, say, a decade ago need to fade from public imagination so that unacceptable actors morph into newer identities. Political calculations to secure the future then, problematically, take precedence over demands for justice concerning the past.

These conditions are, of course, not relevant to Hafiz Saeed. He is an internationally designated terrorist and an ideological figure committed to waging war on India.

The LeT is believed to have attacked the Indian consulate at Herat in May and Saeed recently blamed India for US’s decision to designate Jamaat-ud-Dawa (JuD) as a terrorist organisation. And public memory about Mumbai attacks is too vivid to countenance any contact or understanding with Saeed.

The Vaidik controversy, which may run its course soon, is an interesting reminder of the calculations governments need to make when dealing with militant groups. It may even offer Hafiz Saeed a glimpse of how unacceptable he is to world opinion, in case he plans to venture into mainstream politics should JuD’s funding ever choke.

 

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