On the 4th day of Festivus, TV gave to me...
...Four TV shows you should be watching
Let's not beat around the bush -- television is a humongous, bloated wasteland. Granted, it's a humongous, bloated wasteland that I adore and worship any chance I get, but it is a humongous, bloated wasteland nonetheless. Due to the copious amount of crap that is placed on the airwaves many good shows are pushed aside, waiting for an unknowing viewer to tune into them and get hooked. Sometimes, these shows grab a few people, develop a following, and become a hit. Other times, they disappear down the television toilet, never to be seen again.
So, in order to save them from the Great Flush, here are four (plus a few more) shows that you should be watching.
Life -- Yes, I am partial to this show because I review it on a weekly basis. However, I wouldn't be watching and reviewing it week-after-week if I really didn't enjoy the show. And, I'm not alone. There have been very few negative comments about this NBC drama, which stars Steve McQueen lookalike Damian Lewis as Charlie Crews -- a cop wrongly convicted of a murder and given another chance.
On its face the show is just another criminal procedural. But, when you dig deeper Life is a character study of broken people who are trying to put their lives together. In addition to that, there is a very interesting sub-plot involving Charlie and his investigations to determine who set him up for the false murder conviction. In other words, it isn't Law & Order:SVU. As the show is currently on its winter break, now would be a good time to watch a few episodes at NBC's website.
Samantha Who? -- The best word to describe the ABC comedy Samantha Who? would be 'cute'. Sure, 'thought-provoking' would be another word, 'funny' would be a third, 'charming' would be another. But, I think 'cute' really encompasses the feeling of this show, which stars Christina Applegate as a woman with amnesia who is trying to make a better life for herself.
Applegate really makes the show, as she can do both verbal and physical (almost slapstick) comedy, and she is just cute as the dickens. What also helps is that she has a cast of television veterans, including Jean Smart, Melissa McCarthy, Jennifer Esposito, and Barry Watson, who work well with her in the ensemble. And, even though you wouldn't think that the whole 'amnesia' concept could be stretched to work on a series, it actually does. The producers are doling out all of her memories slowly enough to have the show last for awhile, if needed.
The Wire -- True, HBO is currently in a free fall when it comes to original programming (John From Cincinnati, anyone?), but there is still one show on its schedule that is worth watching. That is The Wire. This crime drama that really isn't a crime drama has been named one of the best shows on television by some pretty prominent people and publications. It also has a very avid, and verbal, fan following that extols everything about the program.
Like The Shield, The Wire explores all facets of crime in a gritty urban setting (can't get much grittier than Baltimore, Maryland). While at first exploring the battle between police and a drug dealing organization, the show has expanded its look into the city to include blue-collar workers, the school system, and politicians. In this last season, which will premiere in January of 2008, the show will focus on the media and media consumption.
The Unit -- With shows like CSI, CIS, Without a Trace, and Numb3rs gracing its weeknight schedule you could call CBS the Criminal Procedural Broadcasting System. However, there are a few shows on its schedule that don't involve examining a dead body under UV lights or pulling hairs from a leather jacket found in a dumpster behind a Chinese restaurant. One of these is The Unit.
The Unit has a good bit going for it. Not only does it show the top secret military unit (modeled after Delta Force) going on missions, but it also reflects on the soldiers' lives at home and how the lack of information about their missions affects the people around them. The show also has a pretty strong cast, including former President of the United States Dennis Haysbert, Regina Taylor, and Scott Foley. In addition to that, it still has some original episodes up its sleeve. So, it's certainly something to watch while your other favorites are in repeat mode.
Two more shows to watch from across the pond...
Torchwood -- If you like your British science fiction a bit grittier than Doctor Who then Torchwood is the show for you. Currently airing on BBC America this Doctor Who spin-off features Captain Jack Harkness as the leader of the mysterious organization Torchwood -- a group that vows to guard humanity against alien threats.
Rather than span time and the universe like Doctor Who, the show remains in present day Cardiff (the Sunnydale of the United Kingdom, it seems) and features characters that sort of like, sort of hate each other. There's swearing, nudity, and a bit of girl-on-girl, kissy-kissy action to catch the attention of non-science fiction watching viewers.
Jekyll -- If this show pops up again on BBC America make sure you set your DVR to record it. If you see a DVD of the complete first series of the show at your local dealer pick it up. It's one great friggin show!
Jekyll is the story of Dr. Tom Jackman, a modern day descendant of Dr. Jekyll. Tom has all of his distant relative's quirks, including the annoying habit of turning into someone with a bit of a murderous streak. The show mixes horror, science fiction, secret government organizations, and a bit of super-heroism all into one. Hopefully we will see a second series of the program in the not too distant future.