Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Great (film) Debates vol. 45

Life is full of drama. And television is full of dramas. Some are quite good actually.

What is your favorite television drama?



Panelist: BevfromNYC

Well, right now it’s Mad Men. The writers and designers have captured the ‘60’s in all of its glory right down to the way women were treated in the workplace.

Panelist: T-Rav

Although I’ve only seen one season of it, I think I have to go with Breaking Bad. Originally, I didn’t want to watch because I thought it was glamourizing meth dealers, but it’s not that at all. It’s a fascinating look at how an average, decent guy gets corrupted by power and an ends-justify-the-means philosophy, and winds up committing every sin in the book. Plus, the acting from Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul is just phenomenal. It’s the one good series AMC has cranked out (Mad Men is just okay, in my opinion).

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

Soprano's - Bada Bing; it was just so, so good. Lighter fare guilty pleasure division. J.A.G. Had to love Harm and Mac. The show actually tackled some difficult issues without politicizing them.

Panelist: ScottDS

When all is said and done, probably Star Trek: The Next Generation, which edges out DS9 only for sentimental value. I actually don't watch many "straight dramas" on TV, mostly because I have no interest in partaking in someone else's misery. My favorite current drama is Fringe.

Panelist: AndrewPrice

I'm going to go with Game of Thrones. A year ago, I would have said Sopranos or Carnivale, but Game of Thrones has really won me over. It's the kind of show where the hour can pass before you even know it and you desperately want to know what happens next.

Comments? Thoughts?


126 comments:

Commander Max said...

One of the best sci fi dramas I've seen was Babylon 5(next to STTOS).

"Miami Vice" comes to mind, that was quite a show.
There were a bunch of dramas nobody will mention, since they were animated.
"Robotech" being one of the most prominent. Kids in '85' referred to it as the boring cartoon.
There is a bunch of others.

Soonertroll said...

Lost displaced the Sopranos as my favorite. A great first two seasons, the third meandered somewhat. The fourth season was solid despite the writers strike and I enjoyed the time traveling season five. The main storyline in six wraped up the loose plot threads well enough, and had a thrilling finish.
However when the nature and meaning of the season long "flash sideways" are revealed it felt like cheap story telling.

BevfromNYC said...

T-Rav - I didn't want to like Breaking Bad for the same reasons you cite, but it's a great show. I like Mad Men better just because I've developed an aversion to violence. Same problem with Game of Thrones. I wanted so much to love it, but I just couldn't get passed the brutality and violence. And once they killed off Sean Bean, they lost me.

tryanmax said...

Here's my chance to date myself: I still have fond memories of watching The Wonder Years with my parents when I was growing up and I still recall the feeling of liberation when My So-Called Life provided me my "own" show. The last straight drama I enjoyed was Boston Legal, which could be considered a sitcom with an hour timeslot. My current faves are Fringe and Misfits.

Tennessee Jed said...

There really are a lot of good television dramas over the years. It might have been fun to do a current and "all time" split, and perhaps commenters may takes such an approach.

I always try and separate the terms "best" from "favorite" on these questions. I literally couldn't wait until the next Sopranos episode when it was running. Sadly, politics, has caused me to give up on HBO and SHO, but I am amazed how some of the cable networks have stepped up. The notion of shorter seasons has helped keep quality levels.

Mad Men has the same creative team as Sopranos I believe. The show is interesting to me because I spent my teen and college years in the 60's. They try to get the details right including a person whose job is to make sure each set is authentic. That's a challenge on a limited budget. I think they got the treatment of women right, except are a bit heavy handed with it. That kind of behavior was condoned, but the agency kind of represents hyper indulgence.

I've heard a lot of critical acclaim for "Breaking Bad," Rav, and would love to catch up with that show. Trouble is, once you get a few seasons in, it really makes for a huge time commitment to catch-up, so there are several series I probably won't get to enjoy that are likely "all that."

Tennessee Jed said...

Commander - I really did enjoy Miami Vice. Nothing said 80's quite like Michael Mann. Particularly liked Olmas' take on Castillo, and Don Johnson was really perfectly cast in the Sonny Crockett role. I went back and watched most of the episodes when they were re-run several years ago, and it is amazing how many big time actors showed up in guest star or minor roles.

Sooner - Lost had some great possibilities, but it reminded me in some ways of the worst tendencies of David Lynch. By that I mean they try to give you this feeling of a great mystery and that it is an insider thing. People get talking about "what does this or that mean?" At some point, it seemed to me like they were becoming an insider's cliche, always trying to top the last level of bizarreness.

Tennessee Jed said...

Tryanmax, I always heard great things about "My so called life" (Claire Danes?) but never saw it. Interestingly, I watched the original show "The Practice" which was the forerunner of "Boston Legal." That was the famous gimmick where the entire cast was fired. It turned from a drama into a dramedy. I think they had a big name writer involved so it was a rare situation of keep the manager and fire all the players :)

DUQ said...

Battlestar Galactica. Both the old and the new.

AndrewPrice said...

Morning everyone! Excellent choices! :)

Jed, I almost chose Sopranos!

The only one mentioned I haven't seen is Breaking Bad. I hear it's good, but it never pulled me in originally and then I just never around to seeing it because I didn't have the time to catch up.

AndrewPrice said...

Max, I used to love Miami Vice. That was in a class by itself on television. Very high quality.

And Babylon 5 was excellent. That was a show which deserves much higher recognition from the science fiction world.

T-Rav said...

Bev, for some odd reason I've heard something similar from every woman I know who's watched Game of Thrones.

I started watching Mad Men this past season. I don't know; it's definitely a well-written drama and everything, and the '60s sets are fun to look at, but I just can't get into it that much. The characters aren't sympathetic enough for me to get interested in, I guess--although I have to admit, John Slattery as Roger Sterling does crack me up on occasion.

AndrewPrice said...

Soonertroll, I had a problem with Lost because of the way ABC showed it. They would show 4/5 episodes and then take 4/5 weeks off. That was just long enough for me to lose interest each time and not want to get back into it when it came on the next time. So while I enjoyed it when I watched it, it soon fell off my calendar and I never made it past the first season.

Then I heard people complaining that they never actually answered any of the questions they raises, i.e. that the show was gimmicky because they just kept adding mystery without there being a real mystery to unravel. So I didn't watch it.

T-Rav said...

Jed, I used to LOVE JAG growing up. For a while, that was one of the few shows the whole family would sit down and watch together. I think I've seen every season except the first and part of the last, when it was clearly going downhill. I don't remember much of the politics, except that it was very pro-military and anti-DC blowhards. Which is good enough for most people.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, That's understandable. I've gone through phases where I just can't take any more violence on television. Plus, I go through periods where I just don't like "dark" shows. But I've become hooked on Game of Thrones. I love the twists and turns and seeing if the characters are going to get away with the things they're doing.

El Gordo said...

BevfromNYC, I haven´t seen Game of Thrones beyond the first episode. Haven´t read the books either. My concern was exactly that - nobody left to root for after Sean Bean departs.

In recent years I have been getting impatient with shows that do not move beyond a parade of corruption and evil. It ruined Boardwalk Empire for me. It is really well made, but populated by maniacs and fools. It is supposed to be realistic but it ends up being cartoonish and ugly.

The Sopranos or Breaking Bad are different. There is still a moral here, even if the characters are violating it. So I wonder which direction Game of Thrones is taking.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, You younin'! LOL!

Those shows actually were on television at a point in my life where I rarely watched television, so I never saw them.

I skipped Boston Legal because being a lawyer kind of ruins all legal shows.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's my problem exactly -- once you get a couple seasons in, it gets really hard to catch up because of the time commitment.

One show I did decide to get into, even though I originally ignored it for four years, is Dexter. That's a fantastic show!

I haven't given up on HBO, though I avoid all of their even slightly political shows. They've had some great stuff over the years. Another I really liked was Carnival which was really becoming an amazing story when they cancelled it.

tryanmax said...

TJ, correct on Claire Danes. The show was very targeted, though. I still watch and enjoy it every so often*, but I also can't help thinking that you'd have to be a teen in the 90s to really appreciate it.

I jumped straight into Boston Legal without ever watching The Practice or Ally McBeal. (Supposedly all three are one mega-series.) I wanted to like Harry's Law (another David E. Kelly creation) but Kathy Bates has apparently slipped into playing herself at this point in her career. Too bad.

*I've actually bought the DVD box-set twice, only to have it swiped by exes in the breakup. As they say, the hardest part of breaking up is getting back your stuff. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

DUQ, I loved the original BSG. I hate the remake for the first couple seasons. The first season was gimmicky and unpleasant. The humans just whined and whined and whined. Then they did the Iraq insurgency thing and that pissed me off and all but lost me. But then they turned it around and the show became brilliant -- although they chickened out every time they got close to a truly inspired moment.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, When I was growing up, not only whole families, but the whole country would sit down at night and watch the same shows. It's fascinating looking back on it, but there we were watching the same thing. These days its hard to get people into the same room, much less watching the same show.

tryanmax said...

I skipped Boston Legal because being a lawyer kind of ruins all legal shows.

I can relate completely. Being in the broader advertising industry, I'm one of the few who can't enjoy Mad Men. (Though a lot of people in advertising/marketing/PR do, but my field is overrun with hipsters so...)

AndrewPrice said...

El Gordo, Honestly, I've started to root for the bad guys in Game of Thrones, or at least Peter Dinklage. He's a fascinating character. But I know what you mean about shows there just revel in evil.

I still enjoy Boardwalk Empire a lot, but it does sit on that edge for me, where I don't have anyone to root for. It's hard to hope any of them succeed.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I never watched those because of the lawyer thing, plus it was a period where I just didn't watch a lot of television. I skipped Harry's Law because it just didn't look interesting to me. Anytime they try to sell you the tough-talking XXX with a heart of gold as something original, I know your its going to be garbage.

tryanmax said...

So much praise for Thrones. I sure hope it gets to Netflix.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, For me, it's a matter of these shows simply being fantasy. Nothing in these shows is at all what it's really like out there, the law they use to set up their dramas is so fake it's just not credible to me, and none of the characters are ever like anyone I've ever met as a lawyer. LA Law and early Law and Order were different, but 99% of what's out there is as fake as if there were dragons and unicorns working in the mail room.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I've reviewed it a couple times. It takes 4-5 episodes before you can enjoy it. There's a huge learning curve, there are way too many characters to focus on (who look too alike), the storylines are complex, and the first season is full of gratuitous sex and modern swearing.

But around the 4/5th episode you begin to like it and by the 8/9th, I was hooked. Season 2 has been a lot better as they've shed some of the characters and they've got each of the storylines moving along nicely now. There's a great sense of anticipation in each episode.

tryanmax said...

For me with Mad Men it isn't so much that it's a fantasy as it is that everything is so overblown. Putting aside the period piece aspects of MM and focusing just on the advertising aspect, it's much less about lavish presentations and grand social experiments and more about navigating the muddy waters between what the client says he wants and what he actually wants. And actually convincing a client that your idea is better than his is a once in a blue moon occurrence. It's easier just to trick a client into thinking you gave him what he asked for.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, It's the same thing with the mechanics of the legal profession. Nothing about the client interactions, the attorney interactions, the judge interactions, or the trials is at all close to the reality in these shows.

And it's not even that they skipped the dull parts, it's just not right. People just don't do what you see in these shows. In fact, the system is designed to not let it happen.

That's not to say judges aren't petty or biased or never yell at attorneys, but it's just not the way it's presented.

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Which I think is similar to your complaint -- the mechanics of it aren't right and they've take the most bizarre and isolated moments and turned those into just an average day at the office.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, yes, your P.S. hits the nail on the head. I suppose the saving grace for MM is that it is 90% about the era and only 10% about the industry, but that 10% rarely fails to take me out of the moment. And it's always just basic human things, nothing bound by industry or era. It's as though the scriptwriters are saying that people in this industry behave uniquely differently than other human beings. So weird.

T-Rav said...

I watched a few episodes of Boston Legal, but I couldn't keep it up. Maybe it was an okay show, but I just couldn't take any more of James Spader's smarmy face. Every time he showed up on the screen, I wanted to punch him. So, yeah.

T-Rav said...

Andrew and Soonertroll, Lost had a lot of problems, but I think maybe the biggest one was that it went back and forth on whether it wanted to be a character drama or a sci-fi drama. You can do both, of course, but it seemed to want to go entirely in one direction or the other. And also, yeah, they presented too many mysteries to answer in a satisfying manner, so that didn't help.

That said, I did get into it after a couple of false starts, and I think parts of it are very moving and mesmerizing. I would recommend at least checking it out.

BevfromNYC said...

Ooh i forgot aboit Dexter. Great showbwith an interesting morality. Nurse Jackie is fun too unless yoi watch it with experienced ER personnel.

tryanmax said...

Oh, and of course I should point out that procrastination and last-minute pitches are not the key to success in advertising or any other industry.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I know the feeling. And people tell me, just enjoy them as dramas, but it just doesn't work because so much of the 90% is premised on the 10%.

I'll give you a good movie example: The Pelican Brief. The underlying idea was soooo ludicrous that the whole rest of the movie was wasted on me. The evil scheme was Rube Goldbergian and relied on so many dominoes falling into place that it was laughable: it was like saying, if I shoot my neighbor, that might cause his funeral to take place on a certain day, which could cause a careless person to have an accident with the procession, which would bring the cops to handle the traffic incident, which would mean my chances of getting caught speeding will go down.

Then the idea that a law student would somehow research the kinds of things which would let her piece this together in a database which doesn't exist and using information which is meaningless for the purpose she was using it was even more outlandish. Then you add the fact that somehow the evil company knew she did the research, which is as much nonsense as Kraft knowing what you plan to do this afternoon because they knew you opened that box of Toaster Struddles this morning and it gave them clairvoyance into your mind. And then they tried to kill her for knowing which no rational person would ever accept as a genuine plot?

That's the problem with the premise of that film. So how can I enjoy the rest when it's sooooo fricken ludicrous right out of the gate?

Tennessee Jed said...

Rav - I keep forgetting you are about the age of my youngest (l.o.l.) The beauty of JAG to me was they truly didn't push politics other than to to honor the military (more on that soon)! :)

ScottDS said...

I watch True Blood on HBO but I'm still not sure why. I gave it a shot for a few episodes and it just kinda roped me in. At this point, they've got a dozen plates spinning in the air and, not unlike Lost, some characters are simply more interesting than others.

I also watched the new Battlestar Galactica and it's one of the few modern shows I actually purchased with the intent of revisiting one day. Thanks to SyFy's scheduling, I'd usually forget everything that happened by the time the new episodes premiered but by the end, I think I got it. (Not really.) :-)

I watched Lost and enjoyed it but I have absolutely ZERO interest in revisiting it. Here's a list of unanswered questions.

A friend got me into Boston Legal and I watched it mainly because of Shatner and Spader. The show was just odd and quirky enough to keep me interested (with site gags and the requisite Star Trek references), as opposed to a straight humorless legal drama.

I also enjoyed Aaron Sorkin's Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip which chronicled the lives of the people behind a late-night sketch comedy show. From what I understand, it wasn't very realistic in that area and there were a few "self-important" moments that I noticed when I revisited the show online a few years later. I guess that's a problem with doing a showbiz show: many (but not all) of your characters are rich and famous so their problems don't seem as threatening.

(It premiered the same season as 30 Rock and I think all the money was on the Sorkin show. Who knew?!)

I've been told I should watch Mad Men, Dexter, and Game of Thrones. I'll get to Mad Men one of these days, though I'll probably just wait till the show ends. I have no interest in Dexter. And Game of Thrones just isn't my genre and I've been told by different people that that's a plus and a minus.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, The X Files had that problem too about too many mysteries. Early on, the show was great. But there were building a problem because they kept hinting at conspiracies with no real game plan. So by the time they decided they needed to start explaining the mysteries, they had created such a convoluted mess that there was no solution. But they tried anyway and they tried to wrap it all together, and that kind of because a mess.

ScottDS said...

Jed -

People make fun of me for this but I enjoy JAG as well. I think it was airing in the morning on USA and at the time, I was getting up to go to work and I'd keep it on in the background. Yeah, it's a little corny but it entertained me. The sight of Catherine Bell always helped, too.

A friend of mine who's a few years older, however, grew up with all those Donald Bellisario shows. Airwolf, Magnum, P.I., and Qunatum Leap were always favorites in his house.

AndrewPrice said...

Bev, Dexter is fascinating morally. You know the guy is evil... he knows he's evil... and yet he's trying so hard to justify himself that you can almost think he's good. It's a very well written show.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Procrastination is always a bad idea. Lawyers do it a lot, but not for important things. That would be utter malpractice.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I used to watch all of those - Airwolf, Magnum, Quantum Leap. Airwolf is kind of funny in hindsight since it really required a specialized set of villains for him to be effective, but at the time I didn't mind.

My parents were big into Dallas when I was young, and then Hill Street Blues.

tryanmax said...

My parents watched Dallas was very small. (I guess it went until '91, but they lost interest by then.) I remember staying for the theme tune (still one of the best) and then wandering off to my own devices.

tryanmax said...

Meant to say, "when I was very small"

tryanmax said...

Scott, I didn't get into BSG until it was completely wrapped up. Somehow I learned that it was told out-of-order, so I sorted out the chronological progression and watched it that way. I don't know if that changed the experience much, but it was a fun project. Then Caprica happened and, well, it happened.

AndrewPrice said...

I agree about the theme song. That's all I ever stuck around for as well, though it was pretty hard to miss the "who shot JR" question as everyone in America was talking about it for weeks.

AndrewPrice said...

Caprica sucked.

Tennessee Jed said...

O.K. young ones; Dallas l.o.l. Yep, my wife and I watched the biggest, longest, smarmiest, melodrama/soap opera in history along with most of the rest of the country. I am ashamed to say I purchased the complete set on DVD some years back, and my wife and I went back on a nostalgia ride. Spaghetti on Friday nights followed by Dallas.

I have to tell you, it was hard to get through them at times. This truly was high camp. BUT, it brings me to the new Dallas. While it is soooo bad it hurts, Larry Hagman now 80 and a cancer survivor created one of the greatest villains in the history of television in J.R. Ewing. Damned if he didn't suck us right back in. This is the ultimate and most guilty of all pleasures to be sure. Oh, and the hot young babes don't hurt for those that are into that sort of thing (wink, wink, natch, natch)

Tennessee Jed said...

Scott - I am a fan of Catherine Bell as well although never even considered army wives. However, my wife and I enjoyed the mini-series she did about the "good witch." recently re-broadcast on the Hallmark channel. That was the kind of family oriented, "G" rated stuff that Disney used to do years ago, but has mostly lost favor today. I noticed one of those pass around emails with a poster that said the world needs more Andy of Mayberry and less Jersey Girls." I say, amen to that.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I think all of America watched Dallas. I was too young when it was in its prime. I think I was around 10-12 when it was most popular, but even at that age, we knew who JR was, we knew the theme song, and we knew he had been shot.

AndrewPrice said...

By the way, other great shows of that era that I recall: Qunicy, Kojak, McCloud. Then they had kid-friendly stuff like Knight Rider and The A-Team. :)

T-Rav said...

Jed, that's right, I'm still just a whippersnapper! :-)

T-Rav said...

I never could get into Dexter. Too dark for me.

LawHawkRFD said...

The first (short) season of The Practice was excellent. It reminded me of my own struggles with opening a small practice on a shoestring. Many of the same conflicts, crises, and some pretty decent "learning the law in court" things. The lawyers were ethical and stressed. Money didn't flow like water, and the courtroom hijinx didn't even exist. When it came back from the first season, it was a totally different show. New associates (including paralegals who quickly passed the bar and became social engineers). Ridiculous love affairs. Highly unethical behavior, some disbarrable. Crazed plots solving insoluble legal issues. Heads in dufflebags. Betrayal of clients. A mentally-challenged ambulance-chaser. Plots that had nothing to do with legal practice in any known court. I stopped watching long before it became Boston Legal.

My favorite current favorite drama is The Closer and it's in its final episodes starting this week.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I avoided it because I'm sick of serial killers. They are a dime a dozen and everyone plays them the same way. But my sister watched some when she was visiting last time (she's a fan) and the writing really won me over.

Shawn said...

"Farscape" - now that show had drama.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, That's frustrating. I've had shows do that to me, where they were great one season and then came back as a completely different show suddenly.

The ironic thing about legal dramas is that there is so much potential for realistic drama, yet Hollywood always goes for the fake stuff.

ScottDS said...

Andrew, I think you may have missed my first (big) comment (with the Lost link), unless your comment to me was a reply to it.

(I can't tell sometimes.) :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Shawn, I really, really wanted to like Farscape, and a lot of it I did. But the tone became too negative for me after a while. I love the characters though.

ScottDS said...

Jed -

While I'm no prude and can enjoy adult-oriented stuff with the best of 'em, I can't disagree with that sentiment (more Mayberry, less Jersey Shore).

However, it's been my experience that organizations that share that view usually overcompensate and assume that everyone wants that and nothing else. (Seriously, I think if the Parents TV Council got their way, there would only be one channel and it would air nothing but Little House on the Prairie reruns!)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Nope, I missed it. With the new comment system, when things pop up while I'm writing, they often end up in a blind spot...

I never watched True Blood because it looked like a teen soap done with vampires.

BSG took several false starts to get me interested. But it really won me over around the middle of the series. I would love to see Baltar, Helfer, and Baltar's attorney cast in other shows. I hated Jamie Bamber... whiny loser.

You and I have discussed GoThrones before. I absolutely recommend Dexter -- very twisted, but really well written.

I never watched Sunset or 30 Rock.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott and Jed, My problem isn't with the adult content itself, it's with the fact they use it so often to mask poor writing.

LawHawkRFD said...

Andrew: At least Franklin & Bash doesn't pretend to be real. It's played as comedy, and when they do some of their crazy court tricks, very few viewers would think those things would ever actually be allowed in a real courtroom. I find the show ludicrous, but for some reason my older daughter is a big fan and insists I'm missing something. Maybe she's right.

Now, I have to admit that I've somehow managed to get hooked on Suits. It may have something to do with the fact that it pretty much exemplifies everything I've ever said about big law firms populated largely or exclusively by Harvard Law grads (including the main character, who faked his credentials from Harvard). The show is really more about corporate greed and huge egos than about the law, but when they pull a tricky legal maneuver, it is usually at least within the realm of possibility. Even most of the good guys have a deliciously evil streak.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, I have a hard time watching anything on television these days because I don't have a lot of time to watch TV anymore and because so few of the ads make me want to sit down and commit to a series.

Anonymous said...

No one's seen The Wire?

Love Game Of Thrones, it was done better than LOTR.

Scott.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I haven't seen The Wire though I know people rave about it.

I agree about Thrones v. LOTR. I think Thrones is more interesting than LOTR (the movie) because the characters are more complicated and the story takes more interesting twists and turns to keep you wondering what will happen next.

Tennessee Jed said...

There is an old advertising axiom: "sex sells!" There is also a need, with literally hundreds of t.v. channels to stand out. Now with internet streaming and "on demand" t.v. must compete not only with other networks, but with "premium" channels which have little in the way of censorship. So it is no surprise to me that programming has become much more explicit. I agree there is room for both the "G" and "R" or even "X". I just think too many shows rely too much on the raunchy. Scott, I understand what you say about some who want to eliminate all but the "G"s but I honestly think there is virtually no chance of that. If anything, you have to work hard to find the "G"

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, That's true. But like I said, my biggest issue isn't the use of sex/violence to sell, it's the use of it in place of making a good product.

Tennessee Jed said...

we are saying essentially the same thing with slightly different words ;)

ScottDS said...

Jed -

Not only does sex sell but reality TV is cheap. I know this is ancient news by now but why bother creating original stories and characters when you could simply air a 12-hour Real Housewives of Sheboygan marathon?!

On that note, I had U.F.O. Hunters on in the background and while I'm a fan of all that stuff, I couldn't help but think, "What a bunch of idiots!" They find a piece of metal in the forest and because there are no humans within a hundred miles, they assume it must've come from outer space...?!

And you are 100% correct: the networks have to compete with the Internet and the premium channels where anything goes. But I'm glad I came in at the tale end of the Disney stuff, when they were still doing original family movies... in primetime... on major networks! Some of them were quite good.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Current tv shows:

Dexter
Justified
Breaking Bad
Supernatural

Shows that are off the air:

Sopranos
Homicide: Life On The Streets
Lost, minus the last season or two, where they lost me.

Haven't seen Mad Men or Game Of Thrones yet.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, Cheap is the operative word for reality TV. That's why they do it so often. Plus, there is a huge audience who will watch anything like that, no matter how obviously false.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I haven't seen Justified, but I hear it's pretty good.

Backthrow said...

As far as modern TV dramas, for me it's a toss-up between BREAKING BAD and DEXTER, both are extremely well written, acted and directed, and are compulsively watchable. Close behind them are GAME OF THRONES (I've only seen season 1 so far, since I don'r subscribe to HBO), BOARDWALK EMPIRE (ditto), JUSTIFIED, DEADWOOD and ROME.

SOPRANOS is up there, too, but I think it sort of wore out its welcome and maybe should've wrapped a couple of seasons shorter than it did. CARNIVALE's first season was great, but it lost something in season 2, and then its imminent cancellation made it wrap up its story a little too hastily and sloppily.

I have to mention BURN NOTICE, as I love it, but it's more of a bit of lightweight fun than these other series mentioned. Ditto DEAD LIKE ME.

I liked LOST a lot; it was a very gimmicky show, and I can understand why many were frustrated with its endless, free-form mysteries, but I just watched it for the ride and the characters, so it didn't bother me that many things weren't completely tied-up or didn't always make a lick of sense. It was a bunch of people thrown into Lewis Carroll land by way of The Twilight Zone, so that was good enough for me. Honestly, I think a lot of fans (not necessarily those here) who were the most vocally upset with the show were those who wanted the main mystery of the island be revealed as the work of aliens, or transdimensional beings, rather than the permanent question mark, with quasi-religious undertones that it had.

I still have to see THE WIRE, THE SHIELD and FIREFLY, and all are in my Netflix queue. MAD MEN, BABYLON 5, GALACTICA and FARSCAPE I'd have to be talked into. I wanted to like FRINGE, but it seemed like warmed-over X-FILES to me, and I hated the main characters, so I ditched it after Season 1 was half-over. I gave THE LWALKING DEAD a chance, but dropped out a couple of episodes into the 2nd season, as 95% of the human characters were dumber than dirt, and overall adhered to a rather left-wing POV, in a scenario where a more conservative/libertarian approach would be more appropriate.

For classic-era TV dramas, it has to be THE FUGITIVE, with David Janssen. I like RAWHIDE a lot, too. I'm currently watching the forgotten one-season wonder from 1961, (ED McBAIN'S) 87TH PRECINCT, which is a pretty decent police series; sort of a serious, earlier version of BARNEY MILLER, with more humanized characters than in DRAGNET, but tougher and with less apparent hand-wringing than THE NAKED CITY.

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, Excellent list!

That was the real problem with Carnivale, they seemed to know they were in trouble, so they rushed everything.

Dead Like Me was great the first season, but then got too serious in the second, which is why I think it died.

I totally forgot about The Shield!!! What a great show!

Tennessee Jed said...

Ben - If you see Mad Men, that is one series where I would at least rent the first season because it gives you good background on the characters and how they got to be where they are. Beyond that, it is a series where important changes do take place (marital status of some principals, agency ownership, etc.) but for the most part, you at least could watch a new episode and understand what is going on. One good thing about the cable series. The number of seasons is usually limited to between 6 and 8 episodes so it is easier to catch up than the old series with 22 to 24 episodes.

Tennessee Jed said...

In the old classic series category, one of my favorites was Mission Impossible. The first season, the team leader was Steven Hill (later Adam Schiff of Law & Order) then Peter Graves. It was a terrific format for series television, because you could bring in guest stars either as villains or as MI team members with a specialized skill particularly needed for the mission. It was always fun to see how "Mr. Phelps" came up with a plan, and the way the way the mission tape would destruct was, in itself, iconic. The regular cast was excellent as well.

Tennessee Jed said...

Hawk- I missed your comment about The Closer. I have love that show and am sorry to see it end, although I think they are going to try and utilize the characters ex Brenda in a new spin-off series. I will say, The Closer had reached the point in a series' life where it is difficult to avoid becoming a cliche of yourself.

EricP said...

At the moment, Justified. Fortunately, as long as I have a device which plays DVDs or I maintain my Netflix streaming account, I'll always have Friday Night Lights at the ready.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I never watched Mission Impossible for some reason, but there were some excellent series from back then. Certainly things like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek spring to mind, but so do shows like The Fugitive and a bunch of westerns.

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, Friday Night Lights is on out DirecTV program. I haven't watched it though. I take it you enjoy it?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Thanks for the pointers, Jed!

One of my favorite older dramas is Combat! They had a lot of great actors on that show.
Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, Robert Duvall (twice), and many more.
Excellent music too!

Soonertroll said...

The last TV show I watched week to week as it aired was the Sopranos. All the TV drama I've since has been on dvd or netflix streaming. Other favorites besides Lost, are Dexter, Deadwood, Rockford Files, Justified.

Thanks to netflix I have also started enjoying a lot of British TV. A Touch of Frost, Sherlock, Inspector Morse and the follow up Inspector Lewis, Dr. Who(new series and old serials), and Prime Suspect with the redoubtable Helen Mirren. Also have to add Downton Abbey to the list.

Commercial breaks and summer hiatuses ?
NO THANK YOU. I'll wait for dvd, vod, or streaming.

Tennessee Jed said...

Eric and Andrew - I thin Friday Night Lights is one of the very best series on a non-premium network in a long time. I watched it on Direct TV all the years it was on. The first two seasons were the best. The last two years, they got a little bit p.c. and somehow changed the town of Dillon from a small rural modest to poor community to a larger community supporting two high schools one for rich whites and one for blacks and hispanics. Despite those problems, the acting and characters were great.

This show was not so much about football as it was about how high school coaches and teachers can play a huge role in mentoring their students. Writing acting and production wall first rate. It never found a big audience because people thought it was "just" a sports drama.

AndrewPrice said...

Soonetroll, I usually wait until I can see the whole series at once as well. The only except is something like Game of Thrones which I watch when it's on HBO.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I only the movie, which was ok. I haven't seen the series.

EricP said...

Enjoy it, Andrew? In the words of DeNiro's Jimmy, little bit, little bit.

http://www.threedonia.com/archives/27122
http://www.threedonia.com/archives/25149

AndrewPrice said...

LOL! Apparently, so. :)

Here are your links:

Threedonia
Threedonia

Outlaw13 said...

Justified, Burn Notice. I tried to watch Mad Men and watched the entire first season, I found almost no one on there likable and saw no reason to waste any more time on it.

Having grown up in the Texas high school football culture I can say Friday Night List held more than a little nostalgia for me. That are parts of that show that were so true to life it was scary.

I liked the first season of the new Battlestar, but the Iraq metaphor ruined it for me, especially given that I WAS in Iraq at the time. If I ever meet any of the people responsible for that tripe I will punch them right in the running lights.

AndrewPrice said...

Outlaw, The Iraq methaphor pissed me off a lot and I gave up on the show. It was only when some friends said it had gotten better that I went back.

Soonertroll said...

I bought the first season of battlestar glactica at FOB Marez. After getting about a third of the way through season three the dvds went into the trash. The Iraq metaphor of the cylon occupation of the human settlement was garbage.

T-Rav said...

Since someone mentioned Suits, I'll go ahead and give a shout out to White Collar, which is also on USA. It's not an awesome series, but it's fun to watch and you can get engrossed in it pretty easily. Less CSI, more "whodunit" police work.

tryanmax said...

Wow! So many unfamiliar titles. I guess I'm not much of a drama guy. Of course, I'm really picky about comedy, too. Actually, I'm just not drawn to much current stuff, so I spend a lot of time watching older stuff on Netflix and Hulu.

Speaking of older stuff, I'm surprised no one named Gunsmoke. I'd watch that with my grandpas whenever I was at either of their houses. I had no idea until recently they were filmed under strict content codes, so it's amazing how exciting some of those episodes can be.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I watch Gunsmoke (and Rawhide) every day on EncoreWestern these days. :)

I rarely watch modern shows either.

tryanmax said...

Andrew, just don't fall asleep in you're recliner while you're watching. That would officially make you an old man. ;-)

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I haven't seen either, but I see the ads for them now and then.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, What? Can you type louder? My hearing is going sonny.

And GET OFF MY DAMN LAWN YOU KIDS!!!!

Kit said...

1st Season of ROME (Not the convoluted season 2)
Justified
Angel -Andrew, how accurate is its depiction of lawyers. ;)
Buffy
Firefly (DAMN YOU FOX!)
Early Law and Order

Maybe more later.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I never watched Angel so I can't really say.

I liked the first season of Rome, but never went back for the second season for some reason.

Firefly was great.


FYI, I'm writing about Joss Whedon at the main site in the morning.

Kit said...

Oh, BBC's SHERLOCK. (Did you catch the recent Season Finale?)

Kit said...

ANGEL was amazing. Or at least what I've seen of it (first 2 1/2 seasons).

Tennessee Jed said...

Kit - the season finale, loosely based on the Final problem was superb, particularly Watson. I can only assume next season will start with the return and Colonel Sebastian Moran. I was a huge fan of Rome and got the DVD of both seasons. I admit season one was the better, but didn't feel quite as harshly about season 2 as you.

AndrewPrice said...

Sherlock was excellent and yes, I finished it.

I haven't seen Angel though.

Kit said...

ANGEL features as its primary villain an evil demonic law firm.

AndrewPrice said...

There are quite a few of those around. ;)

Kit said...

Here is a classic scene from the show where Lindsey, after learning that the hand the firm gave to replace the one he lost is "an evil hand", confronts the board about it. Classic scene that is both scary and delightfully funny.

By the way, the Senior Partners are the powerful demons who run the law firm from another dimension. "They'd eat you alive" has more than just a figurative meaning.

LINK

Kit said...

At Wolfram & Hart they sack people with actual sacks and, on occasion, fire people by setting them on fire.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, It almost sounds like a cartoon.

Kit said...

I should note that those came from statements by leaders at the firm doing their best to sound creepy. But they do do some wacky stuff there. Yes, sometimes they play up the evil villainy (one character mentions an employee attempting to offer up her own child as a human sacrifice).

Remember, this is a law firm that is run by inter-dimensional demons residing in a "hell dimension" and occasionally takes up clients who are guilty of drinking the blood of mortal women.

Its available on Netflix Instant, I'd recommend a viewing. Contains excellent themes on the never-ending struggle against evil.

Kit said...

"What if they're not meant to be beat. What if they're meant to be fought." -Angel, the lead character.

Kit said...

In other words, you can't defeat them completely but you can be fought and their schemes stopped.

The goal is this battle, this day.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, I've never seen it. When you first mentioned it, I thought you meant the thing with Jessica Alba. But I'm not even sure. I'll have to look it up.

Kit said...

Its a Joss Whedon show.

Spin-off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

AndrewPrice said...

Yeah, I'm reading about it now. It sounds interesting.

BIG MO said...

Late to the party here, but my favs are:

"24"

"Little House on the Prairie" (yep, still!)

"Have Gun, Will Travel" - sometimes I'd like to hire him...

"Castle" - first four seasons, which alas is now suffering from the overly long "will-they-or-won't-they" syndrome.

"Criminal Minds" - smart, well-written and -acted, and far fewer sucker punches than most police-type shows

"CSI: New York" - Why? Gary Sinese

"Royal Pains" - especially because Henry Winkler somewhat resembles my Dad

"The Closer"

"In Plain Sight" (just ended :(

"JAG" was great in its day, and was pro-military to boot

"Tour of Duty" - the first season mainly, as the Vietnam War version of "Combat!" (which itself was a great drama)

"China Beach" - mainly because of Dana Delany and Jeff Kober

"Body of Proof" (speaking of Dana Delany!)

"Blacksheep Squadron" - hey, any show that gives a Marine mechanic his due is A-OK in my book.

rlaWTX said...

let's see... where to start!?!

Big Mo & I watch a lot of the same shows.
*I have become a fan of CSI:NY (Gary Sinese!). Blue Bloods (that follows is) is pretty good. Tom Selleck is still yummy, for an older man. and the ensemble cast of the Reagan family is neat to watch.
*I have always loved NCIS - they've trended left a bit the last couple of seasons, but I am so hooked on the characters, I can overlook it (it's HOLLYWOOD, people! whadaya expect??).
*Tour of Duty was awesome (Paint It Black was the theme song. Problem with the dvd versions - they couldn't get the auth for the original music so they replaced it all with generic stuff - rather disappointing.).
*Modernly, The Unit was pretty good - they had a bit of an oops story line midway that hurt them, but they pulled their heads out their inappropriate anatomy orifice and ended stronger.

*Angel (and Buffy) were amazing stuff. Very good vs evil, with some camp to keep it interesting. (I read the Whedeon post already - interesting how he can make stuff that is soooo sensible and say such idiotic things!)
*And I followed David Boreanaz to Bones - another very interesting show. They handled the "will they" story line about the best I've ever seen.

*Justified and White Collar are good fun.

*Back in the day - Thursday nights were Magnum PI and Simon & Simon!!!! I watched the 80s remake of Mission Impossible with my parents - they liked the nostalgia and I liked the cute guy and the cool tricks. And Airwolf!!!!! And A-Team.
*I LOVED the original BSG. I hated the new one. (only saw the first couple).
*But the "new Starbuck" is on another new show I like: "Longmire". It comes on FX after The Glades (which is also pretty good). Set in Wyoming, also has Lou Diamond Philips. Funny thing - the leading men in both The Glades and Longmire are Aussie...

BIG MO said...

rlaWTX - Oh, yeah! "Magnum" and "Simon & Simon," how could I forget those? Especially with Magnum having one of the greatest theme songs of all.

Couldn't get into "Blue Bloods" much, mainly because my wife and I try to limit the # of shows we commit to, but we are huge fans of Selleck's Jessie Stone movies.

AndrewPrice said...

Big Mo and rlaWTX, Yeah, those were great. I also used to love The Equalizer. But Magnum and Simon and Simon were my favorites.

BIG MO said...

One more: the old "Dallas", before it became too stupid with people having season-long dreams.

Fantastic theme song (you ever see the Star Trek: TNG opening set to "Dallas"? Look for it on YouTube). But I was a little young for it at the "Who shot JR" peak, but watched it because of a deal with my dad: He'd watch "Dukes of Hazzard" with us if we watched "Dallas" with him.

AndrewPrice said...

Dukes of Hazzard! Good stuff! So was Greatest American Hero.

Kit said...

I haven't seen MAD MEN, BREAKING BAD, or GAME OF THRONES yet.

I plan to read the GoT book first.

Kit said...

I also enjoyed the HORNBLOWER tv show.
TV Spot

1st season was 4 2-hour episodes based on MIDSHIPMAN HORNBLOWER.
The second and 3rd seasons were each 2 2-hour episodes based on LIEUTENANT HORNBLOWER and HORNBLOWER AND THE HOTSPUR.

Haven't seen the 3rd season yet.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, The whole Sharpe series on PBS was excellent too.

Kit said...

I've been reading the Sharpe books, they are quite good and am currently on "Sharpe's Havoc". I think Trafalgar is the best so far.

Also, just started LUTHER today. On episode 3 and it is already awesome.

Alice Morgan is one creepy woman.

Kit said...

FYI, Luther is a British mystery drama.

Kit said...

Maybe I should've used "BTW" instead of "FYI".

Still getting the hang of Internet short-hand.

Post a Comment