The other day I wrote about the first five of my top ten favorite television shows. It’s now time to cover the second half of my top ten. If you missed the first part, you can find it at this link. So without any further ado, my favorite shows from 6 to 10 are as follows.
06. “Lost” (ABC)
My wife and I missed catching the first few episodes of Lost when it first began airing last year. It wasn’t until the Season 1 DVD came out that we were able to catch up and see what all the buzz was about. After the second episode we were hooked and now we never miss an episode and thanks to iTunes, I don’t have to.
“Lost” is the story about the survivors of a plane crash, who find themselves on an island. The real adventure begins once they discover that the island holds many mysteries and so do the survivors themselves. The hook that pulls you in and won’t let go is the way the story slowly draws you into the mysteries. Instead of big stunning revelations, the viewer peels away one layer at a time, much like layers on a onion. For this reason though, it’s really best to watch it from the beginning. Coming into the middle of Season 2 isn’t the best way to ease your way into the series. There’s a lot of strange things that occur and it’s best to experience them for yourself and not by word-of-mouth.
07. “Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO)
Since I don’t have HBO, I didn’t get into “Curb Your Enthusiasm” when it first began airing, so this is a show that I’ve had to enjoy via DVD. Now that I’m into the show though, I have to say, I could almost get HBO for this show alone – it’s that funny.
If you were ever a fan of “Seinfeld” and sorry to see it go off the air, then you need to get into this show pronto. Most of the crazy story lines and humor from “Seinfeld” came from the mind of Larry David and it’s him that this series is based on. If you remember the George character, as played by Jason Alexander, then you’re already familiar somewhat with Larry, because that’s who George was based on. With “Curb” being on HBO though, the gloves are off on the subject matter and the humor is just crazy funny.
“Curb Your Enthusiasm” is an eclectic mix between reality and fiction because Larry plays himself and there’s tons of guest stars that play themselves. Yet an actress plays his wife an several other actors play other characters, so you’re never sure until someone is introduced whether or not the actor is playing themselves or not. Regardless of the casting, Larry is in the middle of it and usually making choices that lead to hilarious results.
There are 4 seasons out on DVD and the 5th is airing now, so if you have access to HBO, or *ahem* BitTorrent, then you just drop in anytime. Unlike “Lost”, you don’t have to watch it from the beginning.
08. “The Shield” (FX)
During the first season of “24”, FX began promoting a new show called “The Shield” starting Michael Chiklis. My first thought at seeing the promo was, “isn’t he ‘The Commish’?” I didn’t think much of that show, so I wasn’t all that interested in seeing Chiklis’ new show. Lucky for me though, the FX marketing paid off and I tuned into the first episode and I’ve been hooked ever since.
“The Shield” is a gritty, hard-hitting story of a dirty cop with good intentions. When we first meet Vic (Michael Chiklis), we quickly learn that he’s definitely not squeaky clean and he’s not someone you want to mess with. It’s a darker crime series than that of “NYPD Blue“, or “Law & Order” and my first impression of the series was that the storytelling was more about shock than substance. Based on other FX series, such as “Nip/Tuck“, I thought that the series was more about making you wince and cringe and less about solid storytelling and for the first season, that’s mostly what the series was all about.
Over the years though, “The Shield” has turned it’s attention more to the story and it’s characters and less to gore and violence. With the last season, season 4, the character development went into high gear with the addition of Glen Close to the cast. There were still plenty of things to make you cringe and jump out of your seat, but underneath it all was a beating heart of character driven storytelling. It was the best season yet.
Season 5 is set to start sometime in 2006. If you’d like to get caught up on previous seasons, you can buy them on DVD and take your time going through each season.
09. “Wire In The Blood” (BBC)
Many would argue that much of what is shown on television is crap. There are some standout shows, but on the whole, the bulk of what the networks deliver is junk. Thanks to Broadcatching, and some day IPTV, the landscape is changing somewhat in that we’re now able to see television from other parts of the world. There is a whole other world out there waiting to be explored and most of the content that I’ve seen from the BBC is fantastic! I’ve already talked about two BBC programs, Hustle and Extras and now it’s time for another gem.
“Wire In The Blood” is a crime drama which centers around clinical psychologist Dr. Tony Hill (Robson Green). Dr. Hill has the unique ability to get inside the heads of terrifying serial killers in order to solve the crime and capture the criminal. He is paired with Detective Inspector Carol Jordan, (Hermione Norris) and the two of them take the viewer on a thrilling ride which almost borders on the surreal, adding a strong measure of intensity.
The UK take on violence is a bit different from the US. It tends to be a little more reserved and not so graphic. Personally, I prefer the less graphic version, but this doesn’t take away anything from the creepines, or suspense from the show. If anything it heightens it!
Like most British programming, the seasons are short. In “Wire In The Blood”, there are only 4 episodes per season (6 for the first season). This may sound insane to American audiences that are used to 20+ episode seasons, but it is what it is. I like to think that having shorter seasons is one of the reasons that the shows are so good. Lower number of episodes = higher quality content.
10. “Spooks” (BBC / A&E)
Clearly I’m hooked on BBC programming, because 40% of my top ten list comes from across the pond and “Spooks” comes in at number 10. The good news about this program is that unlike “Wire In The Blood”, “Spooks” is broadcast in the US as “MI-5” on the A&E channel. I figured I’d let you know this up front so that there’s no surprises at the end. Nothing like luring you in on a great show, only to find out you can’t watch it. 😛
“Spooks” is about the British service MI-5, whose job it is to protect England. Most people are familiar with James Bond (aka 007), who is a member of MI-6. James Bond is a spy abroad. The folks at MI-5 are spies at home. Another way of looking at it is that MI-5 is much like the US FBI, but a lot more secretive.
OK, enough with the definitions, what the heck is this series about? Well, the series is about the anti-terrorism branch of MI-5 and the people that choose to live as a “spook”, or spy. Some might call it the British version of “24“, but it’s more than that. The series has a whole different feel to it and is less extreme for the most part and is more brains than brawn, because those who work for MI-5 do so in secret.
Now if you get very involved in characters and don’t deal well when they are killed off the show, it’s best that you don’t get hooked on this series. “Spooks” is known for sudden and dramatic exits of minor and major characters alike. So when someone gets caught up in something dangerous, you never really know that they’re going to make it out alive. This really cranks up the tension as you’re watching the program and can often keep you on the edge of your seat.
That’s A Wrap!
So there you have it, my top ten television shows. These are the shows that I make sure to never miss and work very hard to make sure that I don’t. Hopefully you’ve found a show or two that’s new to you and you’ll give the show a chance. I would encourage you to try a show even if it’s in a genre that you don’t normally enjoy. I’m mostly referring to “Firefly”, but it applies to all the programs. Even if you don’t like Science Fiction, don’t let that stop you from watching. All of the shows that I’ve listed here are the best of their genre and are worthy of a viewing.
Just to recap the top ten, here they are.
03. “Veronica Mars”
07. “Curb Your Enthusiasm”
08. “The Shield”
09. “Wire In The Blood”