I watch a hell of a lot of tv. It sits there in my procrastinator’s toolbox, the most powerful of the bunch. It’s power wasn’t quite as omnipotent when I had two working monitors, but now that I’m down to just one, it takes up a good few hours every day, a sizable chunk of my day. But I don’t just watch for watching’s sake (well, not entirely); there’s actually a lot of really good tv out there, and so I’m going to run through a few of my favourites, in alphabetical order, because while this may be a list feature, I don’t want to pick a winner. You’re all winners, in my heart.
These might not all be currently mid-season, but they’re at least not quite cancelled yet, so you can jump on the bandwagon if you like.
Sometimes a little sketchy, Being Human is a monument to what happens if you don’t go the True Blood route and ruin it all with teeny angst. It’s a similar sort of attitude taken by Misfits to superpowers, only not done quite as well, addressing vampires/werewolves/ghosts and the like. It’s usually pretty funny, and it seems to be getting a bigger budget with each season, letting it try more and more interesting things with the space they’re exploring, so here’s hoping it doesn’t degenerate into something barely above Twilight.
I’d say this was a guilty pleasure, but only in so much that it’s about a writer in California having a lot of sex and generally being highly dysfunctional and often awesome. It seems like David Duchovny adores the role, which is a little surprising taking into account he’s a recovering sex addict, and the show revolves around sex about 90% of the time, but them’s the breaks. It’s relentlessly funny, too, in the darkest way. Well, not quite darkest, but it’s rarely altogether happy.
Some people think it’s just stupid. They don’t realise that it’s intending to be stupid. Guy escapes death, everyone thinks he’s dead, and so he decides to become the superhero from the comics he read with his son? Really? As if that’s not enough, the very first episode has Vinnie Jones with scales for skin, called fucking Scales. That’s a giant poster, right there for you, saying ‘We’re silly and we love it!’. Last night’s episode even had the line ‘You want a piece of me? Any time! Just not right now.’ It’s hilarious, and funny, and good entertainment.
If there’s ever been a comedy that’s been even close to as creative as Community, then no there hasn’t and you’re a dirty liar. What other show can have parodies of Goodfellas, Apollo 11 and then a stop motion episode, all in the same series? They had a pillow fort that was a pillow city. They had a mini zombie apocalypse. They had… they have everything, and they’re still coming up with brilliant episodes. It’s a giant big bird, being flipped in the direction of every other comedy that exists and ever will exist. Up your game, lads.
For the longest time I watched Fringe just because I’d invested a few hours of my life into it. Naturally that few hours turned into full on days, and I couldn’t back out. I’m glad I didn’t, because it’s getting more ridiculous and entertaining with each consecutive episode. It’s no longer even a procedural, because there’s so much essential backstory tangled up in every episode that you’d be lost if you came at it cold. There’s two alternate universes that are switched between regularly, one that has zeppelins and a bronze Statue of Liberty, and a red title sequence, and the other one, that’s boring and our’s. Boo.
Everyone watched House, because House is great.
I don’t know if you’ve ever paid attention to theatre, or ever been interested in conversational acting. Just two people, on stage, talking about something for the length of the production. It’s mesmirising if done right, and completely catastrophic if not. It’s one of those things that has to succeed, otherwise it’s an awful failure. In Treatment is a half hour show about a therapist and his patients. Each episode is a session, each episode a different patient, cycling through five. And they just talk. For half an hour. No music, no visual embellishments to elaborate on stories. Just two people, talking to each other. The scripts are insanely well written, and the acting is hypnotic and devastating. It’s almost painful to watch, and it’s almost like having a therapy session yourself. Phenomenal.
Louie is the dark twin of Community, if they were the only two comedy shows worth looking at, which they very nearly are. It’s Louis CK doing comedy, which is something he does very well. Bookended by standup, he then has a story, maybe two, that tread a fine line between reality and absurdity. And they’re dark, and they’re unpredictable, and they’re brutally honest. And yeah, they’re fucking funny.
It’s probably a little early to recommend this just yet, but three episodes in and it’s one of the more interesting dramas that the BBC is putting out at the moment. The premise is that Earth is overcrowded, drained of resources and fucked. We’ve got one colony on a distant planet, five years travel away, called Carpathia. But things are so early on, the settlement so fragile that they’re little more than frontiersmen. The issues they’re facing are pretty compelling, and (so far) they haven’t introduced any aliens, so thank fuck for that.
Ok, so this is my major guilty pleasure. But it is still pretty great, even if there are pretty hefty homoerotic overtones, but they referenced that in one of the episodes, so I think that makes it ok. The writing is very often very funny, and the stories have pretty good plot arcs over the season. Although now that they’ve defeated Satan, things are drifting a little bit. Oh, and it seems to be one of the only major US tv shows to be so openly blasphemous and have no one care. God’s abandoned the world, the angels are in a civil war and are generally dicks, and the demons are quite often the most interesting of the bunch.
From the makers of the Wire, so it’s naturally going to be good. But it’s not just good, it’s brilliant. Concerned with Post-Katrina New Orleans, I’ve never seen a show get so in depth with their subjects. There’s a little crime, but this is an entirely different beast to the Wire. Music is at its heart, and the highlighting of some of the darker sides of the government efforts to fix things is morbidly fascinating. Repulsive, too, when you give it a little think. One of the reasons it works so well is because New Orleans is so interesting itself, with so so much culture to pick apart. If I was going to pick, I guess this is what I’d pick.