Sunday, June 28, 2009

What You Should Be Watching

By TwinsWin83

I was recently going through some of the archives here at AH! and like any other self absorbed 20-something I had to check out all the articles that I’ve written. While shuffling through them I found one amazingly well-written piece that I did a year and 1/2 ago about the best shows on TV. Unlike most things that I did or wrote from that time period I was fairly content with the list. Television has obviously changed since then but many of TV’s best programs remain the same, just not particularly in the same order. Let me explain.

Best Shows on TV Today

#1 -Friday Night Lights

I’m one of the biggest advocates of LOST that you will find out there, and have been since the shows inception, but for the first time in five years I have to admit there is a better show then LOST out there. That show is Friday Night Lights.
The funny thing about Lights is that 95% of the general public haven’t seen more than two episodes, but the other 5% love it so much that they worked to get it saved from the cooperate axe a year ago by sending the big-wigs at NBC thousands of mini footballs. A funky deal with DirecTV ensued and after a trial run in 2008 on both the satellite-giants mainstay station and NBC, the show has been miraculously guaranteed for at least another two years. No one could be happier about that than yours truly.

Without trying to give too much away, Friday Night Lights creates more of a connection with its dedicated viewers than any other show on television. Weekly watchers grow not only to care about each main character but also about the success and well-being of the team, its players, family and fans, and eventually become unintentionally connected to the show as a whole. Questions were raised about Lights longevity prior to the end of last season, as most of the main characters approached their senior year in high school. The producers answered any issues about the shows continued storylines in the Season 3 finale as Coach Eric Taylor (portrayed perfectly by Kyle Chandler) was let go by the high school the show is centered around and accepts the head coaching job at the newly formed cross-town rival to Dillon High.

The best way to define this show and its appeal to anyone who hasn’t seen it is that it is the “anti-Varsity Blues.” Friday Night Lights deals with teenagers, parents, coaches and fans of high school football in a close-minded small Texas town, and its validity extends far beyond the average sports fan. If you haven’t yet check out season 1 on DVD or at and you’ll understand why this show tops my list of best TV shows currently airing.

#2- LOST

Any other year, from 2004 up until 2008, and LOST would be #1 on this list. LOST is typicaly either feast of famine for its fans. Most either love or hate the series, and as someone who’s been there from the start I understand why that is. People who haven’t watched this show in its entirety could never watch an episode in season 2 or 3 and pick it up from there with any kind of understanding as to what is going on.

The show has only delved farther from reality over the past two seasons, which has either been a joyous or loyalty-testing endeavor for its fans. I, personally, loved the direction the show’s producers went in this year and have the calendar marked for the onset of the shows final season next January.

However, the reason that LOST has dropped from the previous and seemingly unmovable #1 position on my list is the fact that I know the show has become unwatchable for anyone who isn’t a diehard fan. I will wait on the edge of my seat for every episode in next year’s final season, but I now understand that most other casual fans of LOST will not.

#3- Entourage

Entourage has been a favorite of mine since its inception to the HBO line-up several years back, but it has moved up my list over the past two years as its really found its stride. I said in my first favorites list that the storylines for Vinnie Chase and his tag-alongs were seemingly endless, and two years later that is absolutely the case.

Not only have the writers broken into more interesting and challenging situations for the would-be Hollywood superstar, but they’ve also dealt with intriguing issues involving his closest friends and confidants (Kevin Connolly is spot-on as Vinnie’s best friend and manager E). Hollywood never seemed like such a real place. Vinnie and his buddies aren’t just your average run-of-the-mill Tinsel Town assholes, they are average dudes who ended up there and are forced to deal with the troubles associated with surviving in LA.

#4- The Office

This pick seems so basic and typical and I know that. I don’t care. I might be one of the few who feel that the American version of The Office has only gotten stronger over the past 2-3 seasons. This is really one of the few shows where I get excited to see a new episode pop up on my Tivo.

The relationship with Jim and Pam might be tired to some, but I will give the writers credit for not taking the typical break-up, get back together formula followed by most other shows. I said it in my previous article and will repeat it here: Aside from Friday Night Lights, there is no other show on TV that draws its viewers into caring so much about its main characters then The Office does.

#5-It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

I don’t know what the future of this show is to be honest with you. When I taped the season finale last fall the DirecTV summary said it was the series finale. Yet I see no indication of that when I look up the shows future online. Either way I can only hope there will be more opportunities to see the group at Paddy’s Pub live it up on basic cable’s version of HBO, FX.

Aside from South Park, Sunny is and has been the most original show over the past five years, pushing the restrictions of seemingly off-limit subjects. Sunny hasn’t just breached many of those taboo issues but blown too pieces any possibility of dealing with them in a politically correct manner. If you don’t yet know who Green Man is you haven’t lived. Sunny is a show that you can watch and laugh along without having to get emotionally involved. If you don’t feel like dropping any $ to nab the DVDs don’t worry because you can catch every episode on

Honorable Mention

Dexter -
The only reason Dexter isn’t in my top five is because I have not yet gotten a chance to watch the already-aired season 3 of the miraculous Showtime series about a serial killer with a conscious. Dexter was one of those rare series’ where Season 2 was even better then the impressive freshmen effort. The problem for most viewers is that if you don’t buy the DVD’s or pay $14 a month for Showtime you don’t have a chance to see Michael C. Hall as the dark and twisted Dexter. And that is a travesty because this is a great show.

30 Rock-
Season 3 was great by most standards but not by the standard set by the first two seasons of 30 Rock. Tina Fey is still great as the lead character but as the show has become more mainstream (thank you Emmy’s) so too have the jokes and storylines of this once-hidden gem.

Mad Men-
The tale of advertisement agents in 1960’s New York bombarded the Emmy scene last year and the show was thrust from anonymity into cult-classic status, and rightfully so. Season 1 of Mad Men is a true classic and the second half of season 2 was equal to the standard set by the first. If I wouldn’t have been so bored with the first half of season 2 I would have put this up the list and given it more time, but I can definitely see the possibilities for a bright future and advise you to check it out if you haven’t already.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper is one of the most intriguing main characters on all of television and makes it worth checking out the show if for nothing else then to see him wheeling and dealing as a stoic yet-troubled New York businessman.

I wanted to put it higher but Weeds has lost its way over the past season and ½. Hopefully Mary Louise Parker and her neglected family will find their way apart from the creepy Mexican drug cartel because there are few shows that are funnier and more clever then Weeds when it’s on its game.


soup said...

Good list. I have a job that consumes very little time, I live by myself, and I live in a country where they don't speak English. So, I have watched a ridiculous amount of TV on my computer over the past year.

Lights - I wouldn't put it at #1, but it's a very good show. Kyle Chandler is terrific. I hope next year they kinda start over with new kids.

Lost - It's very hard to make a suspenseful drama good for a long time, but Lost has done a very good job of that. I think part of it has to do with them writing two or three seasons at a time. So it doesn't feel like, "How are we going to keep things going?" I started to get a little disinterested with this season, but the last few episodes brought me back in.

Entourage - I don't find it hilarious, suspenseful, or exciting. But for some reason it's very entertaining.

The Office - Still good.

Sunny - Haven't seen it. I'll put it on the to do list.

Dexter - I think this next season could be really good.

30 Rock - This show has really grown on me. It might be the funniest show on TV

Mad Men - I watched probably the first four episodes. I guess it's cool that they made everything really authentic, and the acting is good. But there just wasn't much that compelled me to keep watching. At times it seemed like the show was just "Hey everybody, look how different the 60s were! Smoking was okay and women weren't treated well." Maybe I'll give it another try.

Weeds - I found the story line more interesting when they were an ordinary family that is awkwardly trying to make an income selling weed. Now they're involved with Mexican drug lords and all that. But as long as Andy and Doug are on the show, it is worth watching.

Has anyone seen Breaking Bad? It's quite good.

bizmarkie507 said...

The Office is the only one of these shows that I've ever seen a full episode of. I don't watch enough network television.

Karin said...

I love Friday Night Lights. And I LOVE 30 Rock. I am unemployed and live by myself so I too watch a lot of TV on my computer. The best new show of the summer is Royal Pains on USA but it's on Hulu. It's great, esp. compared with the other summer shows, which are real crap.

haasertime said...

i like 30 rock. That's really the only thing I watch besides the occasional Sunny on hulu. I can't really watch the Office anymore.