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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Brief Break from the Movies....

Even though I run a movie blog, I have a dirty secret. Sometimes I like TV better than movies, and not only because it's often easier to find 45 minutes than 2 hours in a day. There are certain things it can do better. At its best, it can portray more nuanced characters and build more complex storylines than traditional films are able to do. So here are a few of my thoughts on contemporary TV.

Shows I've seen (almost) all of and loved....

The Wire: Hands down, without a doubt, my favorite TV show and I think one of the greatest works of modern media. This series started as a look at cops and criminals of Baltimore's drug trade, but it grew into so much more. A look at the crises facing modern American cities. I love all the seasons, but the peak for me was Season 4, which focused on urban schools. I could talk about this show for hours....

30 Rock: One of the only shows where I find all of the lead cast members (Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tracy Morgan, Jane Krakowski, and Jack McBrayer) almost equally hilarious. My vote for the best comedy on TV right now. Guaranteed for some crack-up moments.

Arrested Development: A hilariously out-there show with another batch of excellent characters. Of course, with a show this good, not enough people watched it and it went off the air.

Six Feet Under: Ah, the crazy, messed-up Fishers. After watching this family of morticians for five seasons, I feel I know every dark secret they've hidden, and I still love them. Not the most consistent show in quality (a couple plotlines went a little overdramatic even for the Fishers), but still a wonderfully dark, funny, emotional show with truly memorable characters.

The Office: Another comedy that uses its great writing and cast to triumph. Since the quality lagged over the last season, perhaps this shouldn't be on my "loved" list, but this show is still capable of brilliance. I just hope it makes a good recovery this coming fall.

Shows I've watched some of, and my thoughts on them....

The West Wing: I don't know where I was, but I never even saw one episode of this when it was on. I'm almost done watching the first season, and I'm really enjoying it, particularly Allison Janney and Rob Lowe. Not as groundbreaking as some of the HBO series, but still a lot of fun to watch.

In Treatment: This show about a psychiatrist (Gabriel Byrne) and his patients is a quiet show that consists almost entirely of therapy sessions. Each season takes a look at four of his clients, and his own relationship with his psychiatrist (the wonderful Dianne Wiest). The watched the first season and was usually fascinated. The only plotline that didn't really suck me in was the bickering married couple. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to Season 2 when it comes out on DVD.

Friday Night Lights: I'd heard this was good, so I've been watching it on Netflix's "Watch Now." The first season was surprisingly compelling, since I have little to no interest in high school football. This show has some great young actors, though, and a superb performance by Connie Britten. I've seen two or three episodes of the second season, and I'm a little worried about where it's heading (soap opera territory?). I'll keep watching though.

Veronica Mars: Kristen Bell's high-school girl detective is a lot of fun. Witty, funny, and engaging. The first season was much better than the second, but I'm enjoying the third right now. Three seasons were it for this show.

Battlestar Galactica: The overwhelming acclaim caused me to check the first season of this show out, even though I'm not usually a fan of Sci-Fi. I liked it, but haven't quite fallen in love yet. I will probably check out the second season soon.

Big Love: HBO's plural marriage drama. The first season was good, the second season very good, and I'm looking forward to watching the third. The wives are the best part of the show. All three actresses are great at their roles.

Project Runway: The only reality show I watch, and its great. Great characters, Tim Gunn is great, and a competition that actually has to do with talent. I've seen the first 4 (?) seasons.

Weeds: I watched the first two seasons, but I have little desire to continue. I think I got bored and stopped caring about the characters....

Show I know I should see, but haven't yet....

Mad Men: Not sure why this hasn't made it to the top of my Netflix queue yet. Huge acclaim and interesting subject matter. I hope to see the first season soon.

Readers, any other shows I should check out?


  1. I agree with your shows you love, for sure - and Season 4 of 'The Wire' is my favorite, too.

    I am also somewhat on the fence with Battlestar Galactica - I watched all of it (I was unemployed, otherwise I probably wouldn't have taken the time). I feel like the beginning, middle, and ends of the seasons are the peaks, but there are always at least 5-6 throwaway episodes a season. Plus, a lot of people say that they like it because it brings up ethical and moral issues, but I feel like it deals with those issues in a really shallow way, and it is usually pretty lopsided towards one side or the other.

    Have you seen 'Freaks and Geeks'? That is one of my favorites.

  2. Rebecca- glad someone else feels the same about BSG. I'm almost fnished with season 2.5, and I'm still not hooked. Maybe I'll give up.

    Yes! I love Freaks and Geeks. Forgot to mention it.