Saturday, October 4

Definitive Guide to TV Drama

Holy fuck, there's a lot of great stuff on television these days. With the cable networks fully investing in drama series, and the continued trend toward complex season-long story arcs, it's increasingly clear that the center of gravity for great screenwriting has moved from film to television. To help make sense of it all, we present...

spanky's 15 Favorite TV Dramas (Fall '08)

  1. Lost / The Shield (tie) - Whichever of these is on at the moment is the standing Best Show on TV. Right now it's The Shield, whose final season's unrepentant roar is setting up Vic and the Strike Team for departure in a blaze of glory. Or eternal damnation.
  2. Whichever of the above isn't on at the moment. Currently Lost, which I've already gone on about endlessly.
  3. Friday Night Lights - I love everything about this show, right down to TV's best opening sequence. Coach Taylor is my hero, Connie Britton plays the ultimate MILF, the musical score is perfect, and the kids are all decent actors (and delicious eye-candy).

    There's a bit of a quality gap between the top three and what follows...

  4. Californication - The show may indeed be a frustrated writer's thinly-veiled wish-fulfillment, and the first season's ending was a travesty; still, this show is smart with a lot of heart. And so very, very many boobies.
  5. Damages - The first season was a gripping thriller, the apotheosis (so far!) of modern TV drama's evolution into a novelistic serial narrative.
  6. Breaking Bad - This ranking is probably inflated because it has had only one short season, but what a great season it was. Who knew that meth labs and cancer could be so enjoyable?
  7. Dexter - Same comment as for Damages (above), with added buckets of blood. Everything about Dexter is solidly above average.
  8. Battlestar Galactica - With the series end in sight, this show has really come into its own. No more of the frequently pointless meanderings from earlier seasons.
  9. House M.D. - Formulaic and frequently quite silly, but strong writing and an outstanding cast make it endlessly watchable.
  10. Rescue Me - Probably would've ranked as high as #4 after its first couple seasons. The show has slipped but still entertains.
  11. Life - A fresh take on the otherwise stale police procedural format. Damian Lewis is the perfect balance of likable and loony.
  12. Boston Legal - This show is beyond ridiculous in so many ways, but Alan Shore's occasional stemwinder can still be spellbinding. The Denny/Alan buddy duo is the best "hetero male lifepartner" relationship since Jay & Silent Bob.
  13. Pushing Daisies - The short first season had a quirky originality that was fresh and enjoyable. Good show to watch with a chick. May wear thin quickly, but I like it so far.
  14. Heroes - Season one was magnificent, but at this point the show is fading into potentially irredeemable stupidity.
  15. 24 - The first season was groundbreaking and unbelievably tense. Pure genius. Seasons 2-4 were reasonably entertaining, albeit frequently pretty dumb. Seasons 5 and especially 6 were so awful that they actively lowered my IQ and may have rendered me sterile. Why am I still watching? Jack Bauer, I guess.
Honorable mention goes to Weeds, which is great but only half an hour long (all of the preceding shows are an hour long). Ditto Entourage, which I still enjoy, though I know that many opinions on it differ.

I stopped watching Mad Men after a few episodes, though I guess I'll give it another shot after all the sloppy blowjobbery it's been getting lately. Sons of Anarchy looks promising, but it's too soon to tell. And finally, Prison Break was amazing during its first season — before they prison broke. I stopped following soon thereafter, as it became unwatchably retarded. How the hell is it still on TV?

There are technically other drama shows on TV, too, and maybe I missed some good ones. But for the most part, the rest of 'em suck balls. Am I wrong?

2 comments [add yours!]:

spanky said...

Many of these shows are streamed for free online, even without hax0r pirate skillz. Check out this Lifehacker guide to free TV.

I only just noticed the oddity that HBO, creator of some of history's best drama TV, doesn't have any shows on the list (excepting the honorable mention for Entourage). Maybe Big Love is good, but I haven't watched it yet. Ditto True Blood, I guess, although that looks pretty fucking gay (not in the good way).

Crispin said...

I gotta admit, after watching 2 eps of True Blood it's pretty good. Much less "vampyre" goth angst and emo sadness. Much more violence and southern charm. It's like if someone took Angel and transplanted it in Louisiana without some of the Joss Whedon tongue-in-cheekiness. Plus there's lots of boobs.. unfortunately none are Ann Paquin's, but it's still nice.