“American Horror Story”
Logline: A 12-part twist on the horror genre that mixes classic horror tropes with dysfunctional families, psychological subtext, lots of sex and at least three ghosts (and a grandmother) vying to take the homeowner’s unborn twins.
• While Ben (Dylan McDermott) is away, Tate (Evan Peters) and some unseen spirits dispatch a group of home invaders that have targeted Vivien (Connie Britton) and Violet (Taissa Farmiga). Mother and daughter flee for their lives, while Tate, Constance (Jessica Lange) and Moira (Frances Conroy) plot to dispose of the corpses and clean up the mess to protect the secrets of the house.
• Adelaide (Jamie Brewer) is hit by a car while trick-or-treating as a “pretty girl,” but Constance fails to drag her onto the Harmon’s lawn before she dies, which would have bound Addie’s ghost to the property. Grieving at the morgue because her child is lost to her forever, Constance finally shows Addie some love and kindness.
• Weeks after Violet’s pill-popping suicide attempt, Tate leads her into the crawlspace where she sees her decomposing body and realizes that she’s now a ghost trapped in the house, just like him.
— Paula Hendrickson
Logline: Campaign trail saga about then-unknown, alternatively charming and petulant veep candidate Sarah Palin (Julianne Moore) whose selection for the John McCain presidential campaign drew intense interest from both sides of the political spectrum.
• Palin’s galvanizing Republican nomination speech is capped by a woman who looks into the camera and says “She’s talking to me. . .no one ever talks to me.”
• A peevish Palin melts down during intensive hammering by press guru Nicole (Sarah Paulson). “I am not your puppet!”
• Palin insists on making an unprecedented concession speech after the election, prompting GOP strategist (Woody Harrelson) to explain why it isn’t going to happen.
— Susan Young
“Hatfields & McCoys”
Logline: This impressively produced return to a traditional miniseries, centering on the iconic feuding families, won huge ratings. Their relentless travails, coupled with the star power of Kevin Costner, transfixed viewers.
• Prosperous deserter Anse Hatfield (Costner) talks to broken former POW McCoy (Bill Paxton) after church, but McCoy’s bitter response sets the stage.
• As McCoy’s daughter Roseanna (Lindsay Pulsipher) gives birth to the baby of her lover, Johnse Hatfield (Matt Barr), her brothers are shown being executed.
• Hatfield reads a letter about ending the feud to his kinfolk as elsewhere a young, mentally impaired Hatfield is being hung for murdering one of McCoy’s daughters in a raid.
— Susan Young
“Hemingway and Gellhorn”
Logline: An exploration of the tempestuous relationship between Hemingway (Clive Owen) and brash war correspondent Martha Gellhorn (Nicole Kidman). Director Philip Kaufman morphs the actors into archival footage and scenes slide in and out of monochrome.
• Hemingway and Gellhorn consummate their charged relationship with plaster ceiling falling during the hotel’s bombing.
• Molly Parker oozes hurt and betrayal as Pauline realizes Hemingway is leaving her maternal nest for a vibrant life with Gellhorn — before we cut to the seductive carousing bar scene.
• Joan Chen as Madame Chiang Kai-shek goes toe-to-toe with Kidman’s Gellhorn in a less than diplomatic dinner.
— Susan Young
Logline: Detective chief inspector John Luther (Idris Elba) hunts down London’s sickest and most twisted murderers while also dealing with his own inner demons.
• While he sits alone in his flat, Luther loads a bullet into his revolver, holds it up to his own temple, and pulls the trigger. An empty “click” later, he sets the gun down, stands up and downs his morning cup of coffee.
• From inside a gas station, customers look on in horror as a crazed, dice-rolling stranger terrorizes them from outside. Tension builds as they slowly watch the man change from a simple vandal into a cold-blooded killer right before their eyes.
• When Luther confronts a suicide bomber on the street, he throws him a lighter, douses himself in gasoline, and then suggests the two play a game together.
— Justin Shady
“Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia (Masterpiece)”
Logline: Loosely based on the much-loved Arthur Conan Doyle story “A Scandal in Bohemia,” the episode follows Sherlock Holmes as he tries to recover compromising photos of a member of the Royal Family from a devious dominatrix named Irene Adler.
• When Holmes and Watson first meet Adler, they’re left speechless when she strolls into the room completely nude — a scene that caused minor controversy in the U.K. for showing nudity before the standard 9 p.m. watershed hour.
• Holmes seems stymied in his attempt to recover the compromising photos from Adler’s safe, until he deduces that the combination is 32-24-34 — her measurements.
• The mischievous Adler kidnaps Holmes’s smartphone, changing his alert sound for text messages to that of a woman sighing erotically. For the rest of the episode, Sherlock becomes flustered when the sound rears its head at the most comically inappropriate moments.
Smorgasbord defies easy judging | ‘Sherlock’ suffers no fools Stateside | Dark and stormy ‘Luther’ presses on Ruth-lessly | Longform serenade