Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Favorite TV Shows of the Decade
I didn’t/don’t watch a whole lot of television. But when I do watch I know what I like. No specific order here.

24: Seasons 1-5 – Kiefer Sutherland’s career was in the tank. I don’t mean it wasn’t going so great, I mean It was in the tank. Either box-office duds or straight-to-dvd masterpieces. This changed everything. I admit that I didn’t watch the first episode. A new show with Kiefer sporting a Limp Bizkit song during the previews, didn’t catch my interest. But my dad watched the first episode and convinced me to watch the replay. Amazingly not peaking until Season 5, sadly it’s been all downhill since. Season 6 was downright god-awful, with 7 not being much better. Here’s hoping that season 8 is a return to form.

The Wire – One of the many shows that I didn’t watch on television, but on dvd. Hey, if you seldom have cable , and never have premium cable with the exception of a month or two as a intro special, what are you going to do? DVD it is. David Simon’s show was nothing short of the best crime drama television has ever seen. A show that should have made career’s out of all the major characters (only Lance Reddick has moved on to a regular role in Fringe)…because all of the character’s were played just that well.

Alias – A former friend of mine recommended this to me but it had scheduling conflicts with Criminal Intent originally (tivo, whats that’s?). Okay, so the last season was a little sub-par. But getting there was a hell of a lot of fun. Another show I never watched while it was on tv; it was on at the same time as Criminal Intent. The action and drama was interwoven well and never delved into sap…except for that last season. Was it a little fantastical? Of course. But when you are having this much fun it doesn’t matter.

Six Feet Under –The acting and writing on SFU was top-notch. The characters were beyond memorable. The Fisher family and its funeral home started off every show with a death that that particular episode was loosely based around. It was well-done. However, the arc of the 5-season story is what you really tuned in for. It reminded you of your own family, because things were so far from perfect. Death, heartbreak, sex, drugs, and on-going conversations with dead people, SFU had it all. Though I have a feeling that if a lot of the frat-boy mooks that enjoy Michael C. Hall on Dexter, would balk at that show if they watched Hall’s immaculate performance of the in-the-closet David Fisher, lol. Why Peter Krause hasn’t hit gold elsewhere is beyond me.

Law and Order Criminal Intent: Seasons 1-5 – I won’t pretend to be impartial regarding Vincent D’onofrio and his acting. I believe he is one of the great underrated/underappreciated actors of our time. Needless to say I have immensely enjoyed his Robert Goren character throughout the run of the show. Due to the fact that D’onofrio was involved in most of the scenes of the show because of how it was shot, he was essentially exhausted and burned out by Season Five. Since then, Vince and his capable partner Kathryn Erbe have shared the seasons with another duo in alternating episodes. Who will partner Jeff Goldblum next year has yet to be decided, but I think Jeff is up to carrying the mantle. Goren’s character will wave good-bye with a two-episode arc at the beginning of the coming season. Will Nicole show up? Not sure. But I know Bobby will be missed.

The Shield – Yes, we all remember The Commish. Within one episode Michael Chiklis’ Vic Mackey character instantly made you forget it. I understand that a lot of people are turned off by the anti-hero. However, a lot of people also like rooting for the bad guy. Vic Mackey is like Stone Cold Steve Austin taken to the extreme. Oh, did I mention the supporting cast and the writing was great too? As essentially morally corrupt Vic Mackey and his team were, they were played so well that I still became emotionally vested in them and couldn’t help rooting for them.

Dexter – Those who watched Six Feet Under and David Fisher’s character didn’t see this coming. While Dexter Morgan is still socially awkward, he takes matters into his own hands unlike David – even if he is essentially programmed to play a murderous justice seeker due to what happened to him as a small child. What is often the case on cable, the supporting cast is essential to making Dexter work, and this one is no exception. A slow-burning anti-climactic 3rd season, gave way to what was possibly its best act this year. To my knowledge, Dexter is not scheduled to be renewed past its upcoming 5th season. While it will be missed, it will be nice to see it go out on top – another common factor among great cable series, not living out their welcome.

The Office (BBC and BBC Only) – It doesn’t matter how many people tell me how funny the U.S. version of this show is. It’s not. And yes, I have seen several movies in which I have enjoyed Steve Carrell’s performances (Little Miss Sunshine and Dan in Real Life among them). However, Michael Scott absolutely pales in comparison to Ricky Gervais’ David Brent. And the rest of the cast does the same, it just tries toooooo hard. As with what I mentioned with Dexter, the beauty of the UK version is that it only lasted two seasons with an elongated special and went out at the very top of its game. Seinfeld only wishes it came remotely close.

Lost – Lost is hard to explain unless you’ve watched it for several seasons. I didn’t finish Season 4 until about 3 weeks into Season 5, so I am still about 2/3 of a season behind. Numerous people have said that Lost trusts its viewers because of its complexity. I agree. Which is difficult, because it is confusing as hell. If you thought coming into the middle of 24 was difficult, I think Lost is more so. Hell, its hard to keep up even if you’ve seen all of it. I can’t explain its popularity. Most shows like this don’t survive their first or second seasons because the viewers give up. Perhaps it’s the magnetic characters and performances. Or maybe it’s the fact that you feel like you are never sure who you are rooting for, because a twist on a character is just around the corner. Either way, did you ever think that you’d ever see a Party of Five member featured prominently on a good show...and acting well no less?

Mad Men – Maybe it helps you to still be shocked by the misogyny, the carousing, the drinking, the smoking, etc. Cause, you know, its only the 60’s…right? This stuff doesn’t happen now, cause we are all so evolved…right? Haha. Now, legally you can’t smoke virtually anywhere anymore. But the rest of men behaving badly does. We just pretend it doesn’t. Maybe Mad Men needs to have commercials sponsored by the “Ad Council” legislating morality for before and afters, lol. Hears to hoping it continues to offend our sensibilities.

Gone before they had a chance…Kidnapped, Journeyman, My Own Worst Enemy. Before you start, I never saw Pushing Daisies, Saving Grace technically isn’t over yet, and I think Arrested Development is overrated. Good, but overrated, and I still haven’t finished watching all 3 seasons. And then someone will start telling me how Jesse Eisenberg is the poor man’s Michael Cera…okay, I’m digressing. Notice a trend about any of these shows? NBC. The network that used to have must-see Thursday’s, has been in the ratings dumper for awhile. I admit that all three of the shows I mentioned had more complexity than what was the norm for television. And when you have that it’s going to take a little time. It’s also going to take some decent marketing. The marketing for all of these was just a dud. And not seeing the ratings they wanted, after not giving them the time they needed to grow (and marketing them like a turd), NBC pulled the plug. Thankfully, they allowed Kidnapped to wrap things up in 13 episodes, something they did quite well. Get it on dvd if you haven’t already, its only $15 or so on Amazon. SFU alum Jeremy Sisto and Linus Roache have gone on to help revitalize Law and Order, in spite of Dick Wolf’s 9th grade politics. Journeyman and Enemy weren’t so lucky. It was easy to tell a five-minute segment was written into the last episode of both as some sort of open-ended wrap up. Neither has been released on dvd, I’m sure Enemy never will.


val said...

What do you mean, not be impartial about Vincent D'Onofrio? Your comment was totally impartial. He is a wonderful actor.

Have you not had the pleasure of Boston Legal? I'm currently rewatching on the DVD box set. It's a wonderful show.

anchors said...

I never got into Boston Legal...there was something about James Spader's character that...turned me off, lol.