Year of the TV
This past year has been the year of the (American) TV series for me. I’ve watched some really great shows that have become firm favorites and which I can and do watch over and over again.
1. Battlestar Galactica (2003/4 reimagining): Perhaps my favorite TV series among all the shows I’ve seen. For more read my post on the show here. While Razor, which aired last November and tells the story of Battlestar Pegasus was something of a disappointment, I’m impatiently waiting for the Writer’s Guild strike to resolve so that the fourth (and final) season can air.
2. Firefly: Coming in a close second, mainly because it ran for only one season and therefore could not complete the storyline, is this funny, beautiful, touching and well written sci fi western. The cast chemistry is one of the best things about the show as are the witty repartees. And I’ve fallen hard for Jewel Staite 🙂 It is virtually a crime that Fox executives terminated this show after only one season. In spite of vigorous attempts by committed fans to get the show to continue and even restarted on a different network the series, except for the film Serenity in between, lies in limbo.
3. House M.D.: He is acerbic, abrasive and arrogant but you will still love him. Modeled after the great Sherlock Holmes, Gregory House is a genius medical maverick who saves people by diagnosing cases that often seem undiagnosable using reason and logic. While the fourth season has been a bit underwhelming so far the first three seasons are excellent and worth watching multiple times for House’s acerbic wit and in particular for how Hugh Laurie makes the role all his own. He carries the show completely on his shoulders with elan. No wonder he has received two consecutive Golden Globe awards for acting for this show.
4. Dexter: A stylish thriller which offers an interesting twist on the serial killer genre. Michael C. Hall carries the show with his subtle acting and all knowing voice overs. He is ably supported by a talented ensemble cast. The show is surprisingly mature so if you are put off by blood, nudity and profanity then stay away. Otherwise, prepare yourself to be transported to sunny Miami and its seamier side. While I thought the first season ended in a slightly generic way I liked the second season even more.
5. Heroes: While it shares some uncanny similarities to X-Men Heroes has enough new ideas to make the series work. Tightly plotted, well acted and presented in a stylized comic book format the show will keep you engrossed for the complete first season. As for the first part of the second season the less said the better. It has been a distinct disappointment so far. Let’s hope the remaining half of the season redeems itself.
6. Scrubs: A medical series with a difference. The elaborate fantasy sequences of the lead characters set it apart from other shows set in a hospital. While the show is mainly a situational comedy it is also filled with many touching and serious moments. Although, the last two seasons haven’t broken any new ground and seem like a rehash of old ideas the first five seasons are fresh and funny.
7. Lost: The first two seasons are maddeningly frustrating for the number of mysteries and lack of answers. But the mysteries began to be unraveled slowly. It is perhaps the most gripping and thrilling TV series among those I’ve seen although this very quality might take away the repeat viewing value. An interesting bunch of characters, a beautiful island with a dark side, some mysterious inhabitants and you have one crackerjack of a TV show.
8. 24: Jack Bauer is indestructible and as long as he is alive no terrorist can hurt America. While the real time storytelling sucks you in from the starting second it is also the show’s biggest weakness as it does not offer time for proper character development. This makes the series generic after a point in spite of the high character body count. However, the fifth season delivers a sucker punch and is the best of the seven seasons so far followed by the first and second seasons.
9. X Files: Yes, yes, I’m about a decade behind in my TV viewing! But I finally got around to seeing this once wildly popular TV series recently. Special agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully try to make sense of the paranormal and in the process also seek to uncover a huge cover up by the US and world governments with regards to aliens. While the ‘monster of the week’ style of storytelling makes the show a bit repetitive for me the underlying mytharc storyline has kept my interest alive so far in spite of the dated look (at least in the first three seasons I’ve seen until now).
10. Friends: Yes, again, I was late by more than a decade but the wait was worth it. This is the series that started my TV series mania. The hilarious situational comedy, genuine warmth and friendship between the cast members makes this sitcom very special. Although in the last 3 seasons or so the characters became whiny caricatures of themselves and thereby took away some of the warmth from the show the series is still worth watching and funny after all these years.
There were however two TV shows that in spite of coming highly recommended did not engage me.
1. Babylon 5: This series has quite the cult following with a very loyal fan base. It did seem to have an interesting storyline but I just could not get past the dated special effects, cheesy make up and a distinct 80s feel the show has.
2. Seinfeld: Apparently, the series really comes alive from the fourth season onwards but I did not feel like sticking around to find out. I got bored after seeing the first four or so episodes. I did not get the humor of the show and found Seinfeld and his friends yawn worthy.