Monday, September 13, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Part 2.

childwatchingtelevisionsilhouette_th While in part 1 of our fall television expose I focused on television comedy, the culmination will instead shine the spotlight on TV drama. A genre of television which I find very hit or miss. There are two types of TV Drama, the serialized and the single contained episode. Forgive me if I am not nailing the insider jargon. I have a huge problem watching serialized drama, and this is a personal thing, but I cannot watch, no matter how good it is, a single story broken up into one hour segments. In the past I have gotten around this problem by using my DVR and waiting for an entire season to end before watching. I have sat through full day marathons of both Heroes and Dexter. Shows like Law and Order that tell a story to completion in a single episode are even less appealing to me, I feel there is an inherent weakness in crafting a story arc that is over in 42 minutes. These shows try to remedy this by inserting storylines that span an entire season, but for the most part they are not really necessary to improve the drama, or keeping the viewers attention, and in the end just feel tacked on.

There are a ton of cheap TV dramas out there, a ton I just do not like. If I may offend a few more people, True Blood, Weeds, Californication, these are examples of cheap soap operas elevated to smut status by the privilege of airing on premium channels. Especially in True Blood, the acting is terrible and the stories are mainly a vehicle for the delivery of soft core vampire porn.

I have also come to the conclusion that any television drama that focuses on a police station, a court room, or a hospital is not much more than a rerun with new faces. Actually, there is one exception.

So which TV dramas don't suck?

House – Fox Mondays

house-md The one exception to the Police Station, Court Room, Hospital rule. House is the best television drama to take place in a hospital since, ummmm, MASH? Not because it is entirely original, no it is still a hospital, there are still a bunch of good looking doctors, and a fair amount of sexual tension, but House is jam packed with interesting characters, and INTERESTING medical story lines. To be honest, the title character is why we love this show. Hugh Laurie has knocked it out of the park with his portrayal of the cynical drug addled Greg House. As scene stealing as Laurie’s performances are he is surrounded by an amazing cast of actors. Season 7, which is rumored to be the final season, holds much in store for Greg House.

Dexter – Showtime Sundays


Dexter, for me, has been the most consistently interesting drama on television. I picked up a copy of season 1 on DVD and was pleasantly surprised. Based on the books series by Jeff Lindsay, it follows the story of one Dexter Morgan, sociopath, serial killer, and forensic blood expert working for the Miami Police Department. Ok, SOME of the show takes place in a police department, but that is not the focus, so back off! Dexter is a great character, he is well thought out, and brought to the small screen with finesse by Michael C. Hall. The writing on the show is great. The viewer gets to the roots of this dark antihero, and learns to love this cold blooded killer. The twist is, although Dexter is a murderer, he only kills other bad guys. His access to police information, and years of training have turned him into an efficient killing machine. The show juxtaposes Dexter’s planning and stalking of his next victim with the police work focused on solving another murder, sometimes one Dexter himself is responsible for. The show is fresh, it strays away from many of the tropes of the mainstream crime drama. The gray area in Dexter’s world is wide and deep, with even the stolid good guys often wandering in and out of it.

One complaint I have with the show is the fact that besides Dexter (SPOILERISH) none of the cast seem to have a much of chance at survival. A couple of my favorites have been killed off, and his loudmouth sister is still around, that is definitely a downside. Despite that fact Dexter is still one of the most innovative dramas on TV right now. I highly recommend you tune in.

New Stuff

Boardwalk Empire – HBO


No really it is, if you do not think this looks friggin’ fantastic then check your pulse! The cast alone is a home run, there are a lot of people in that trailer that you have seen before, whose names you might not recognize, but they are almost ALL great character actors. And Buscemi, it is about friggin’ time, this man can carry this series, heck he could carry anything, he is beyond talented, and oh so under appreciated. I am also uber excited to see Stephen Graham (Tommy from Snatch) as Al Capone, Michael Pitt (The Village) and Kelly Macdonald (Choke, No Country For Old Men). These and more great actors are cast in this period drama. From the trailer everything looks authentic and fantastic. I am on the edge of my seat in anticipation.

The Event – NBC

Let it be known JJ Abrams has never impressed me. I have seen maybe 2 episodes of lost, and Cloverfield, while not bad was only an “OK” in my book. The Event, however, is striking a chord with me. It hits on a lot of my interests, politics, spy drama, and mysterious happenings. The trailer is not getting me too excited, but the idea behind the series, coupled with Abrams reputations for doing good things (lots of people loved Lost, even though it was not my thing) have got me waiting patiently for this one.

Honorable Mentions

There are a handful of other shows of which I didn't write in this post, that I (will) try to watch.

Modern Family – a funny, slightly quirky sitcom airing on ABC. Entering its second season, the show is definitely worth catching up on if only to see Ed O’Neill back in a role as the patriarch of a slightly dysfunctional family.

Raising Hope and Running Wilde – Both new entries to the FOX lineup are worth trying out when they premiere after Glee on Tuesdays this Fall. Running Wilde stars Will Arnett of Arrested Development fame, and Raising Hope seems to be a comedy in the vein of My Name Is Earl.

Shit My Dad Says – Airing Thursday nights on CBS this has potential to be one of the funniest sitcoms ever, all be it a slim one. If you have read the Shit My Dad says tweets then you know this is not prime time network material. If CBS captures the spirit of the Shit His Dad Says this will be great, but it could also easily be another cookie cutter sitcom about an irascible father and a long suffering family. I will be tuning in to find out.


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