I had one of these for films. I quite enjoyed writing it and needed a project, so I am hence forth going to bang on about my favourite TV shows for a bit. It's split fairly evenly between British and American shows with a few Australian ones thrown in for good measure. Happy Reading and I hope you find a few good suggestions within. No spoilers in any of the write ups btw.
50 Binge worthy Comedies here... http://www.imdb.com/list/ls076142297/
Update: Finished! After writing it on and off for about a year, the list is finally complete. Stands at about 5,000 words. I'd appreciate any feedback or comments on what I should watch next. Happy Reading!
(1999 TV Series)
New Jersey mob boss, Tony Soprano, deals with personal and professional issues in his home and business life. (55 mins.)
“ As the most boring man at the party will inform you, there is basically three 'best ever' TV show contenders. These are 'The Sopranos', 'Breaking Bad' and 'The Wire'. The placements of these three shows on lists like this usually change depending on which kind of nerd is writing the list and are generally irrelevant, such as they are here.
Speaking as a nerd who has seen all three, I think 'The Sopranos' is probably the best. But I only think that this week and will probably have another massive pointless internal argument very soon and decide that 'The Wire had more substance' or 'Breaking Bad' is tighter etc, etc, *beep* white people, etc.
Of the three, 'The Sopranos' is generally regarded as 'the one that set the groundwork.' This groundwork refers to the anti-hero show, one which placed a true *beep* at the forefront of the action and told you to deal with it. It was also the start of the shows which focused on the arc as opposed to the episodes, a move that has worked brilliantly for the Netflix type model, but is sort of just another nail in the coffin for old fashioned tele. It also had a focus on being edgy. The characters swear like sailors and theres so much nudity on the screen you often wonder if there's some clause in the HBO contract somewhere demanding it. It was also hugely daring in terms of it's style, nearly a whole episode takes place in Tony's head, one scene plays in reverse before you see it and the final scene (which I will not spoil) has had *beep* TOMES written about it.
Oh, it's about gangsters by the way. ” - tentonpenguin
(2002 TV Series)
Baltimore drug scene, seen through the eyes of drug dealers and law enforcement. (59 mins.)
“ If the 'Breaking Bad' pilot and 'The Wire' pilot were at a party of TV pilots (Bare with me) then Breaking Bad would no doubt be the person you would want to talk to, he would be chatting to everyone and laughing at your jokes and being very charming and be the general life of the party. 'The Wire' pilot would be that guy in the corner. He is sitting there all by himself and if you talked to him you would initially find yourself being bored to tears. HOWEVER if you gave him the time of day, if you listened to what he had to say then you would find yourself talking to the smartest guy at the party.
Basically if 'The Sopranos' started to lean towards the 'arc over episode dynamic' then 'The Wire' leaned, fell over and wallowed in it, to the point where if you watched a random episode you wouldn't have a dickens what was going on. It is extremely complex, to the point where by the fourth season you are expected to keep up with *deep Breath* homicide unit's investigation into undiscovered drug murders, special crimes investigating a drug lord, West Side PD cracking down on dealers, a City Hall election fraught with racial tension, two school classes, a turf war developing between 2 drug factions, a group of young men coming of age, two ruthless hitmen, a stick up man and a a drunkard street cop.
It at first seems like an insurmountable challenge, but the biggest challenges often offer the greatest rewards and it is an intelligent, important show. ” - tentonpenguin
(2008 TV Series)
A high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer turns to manufacturing and selling methamphetamine in order to secure his family's future. (49 mins.)
“ As of time of writing, everyone and their dog has seen 'Breaking Bad' and for a show about a middle aged man getting cancer that is pretty good going. As a Brit I was slightly ahead of the curve catching up with it when season 4 was about to start, but it was still bewildering watching it grow into such an insane pop culture phenomenon. I used to chat to guys with 'Los Pollos Hermanos' T-shirts, nowadays seeing that is more common than 'Keep Calm and Carry on'.
So why I ask was it such a mainstream hit?
Well it's because the show basically is drugs. The pilot (or 'first hit' for this tortured metaphor to continue) is one of the most gripping, tense hours of television available and that's without getting to know any of the characters. By the time you do get to know the characters the show becomes unbearably tense and credit goes to the fact it feels like everyone could die at any point.
But of course it ends and what happens when you finish the series, still a desperate addict? Well If Breaking Bad is everyone's gateway drug, then everyone's basically started on Heroin, trying to find a hit as good and as powerful as Breaking Bad is a near on impossibility. Watch it at your own risk. ” - tentonpenguin
(2002 TV Series)
Five hundred years in the future, a renegade crew aboard a small spacecraft tries to survive as they travel the unknown parts of the galaxy and evade warring factions as well as authority agents out to get them. (44 mins.)
“ You can't take the sky from me, but you can apparently take the show I like and prematurely cancel it.
Firefly was a Joss Whedon show from an era when he had more shows on the air than he had testicles in his ball sack and through only 14 episodes (and eventually a movie) it has developed one of the most aggressive fan followings of all time. It follows the crew of 'Serenity', a space ship which flies around the galaxy getting into trouble. I think the captain of which: 'Mal Reynolds' was supposed to be (from the looks of the pilot) a damaged war torn Vet, but luckily Firefly figured out what 'Angel' should have figured out a hell of a lot quicker. I.E. It's more fun when the protagonists are being charming and not angsty teenagers. The cynical part of my brain tells me that the show is only percieved as perfect because it didn't get much of a chance to mess it up, that Nirvana advantage of burning out rather than fading away. Having said that however... BRING IT BACK NETFLIX!! ” - tentonpenguin
Game of Thrones
(2011 TV Series)
While a civil war brews between several noble families in Westeros, the children of the former rulers of the land attempt to rise to power. (56 mins.)
“ If everyone and their dog has seen 'Breaking Bad' then everyone, their dogs, their cats and their gay uncles have seen 'Game of Thrones'. The show more popular than breathing, it showed that HBO could handle source material with a lot more delicacy, tact and depth than it's television conterparts.
I am a little ashamed (but not that ashamed) to admit that Game of Thrones, defines my week when it is on. (crappy day, but no worries, Game of Thrones in 4 days etc etc.) I was originally put off by the rather 'in your face' pilot which puts a little too much violence and sex on the screen for you to take seriously. But the series goes on to do great things.
Come for the dragons
Stay for the politics. ” - tentonpenguin
(2013 TV Series)
After a group of people, who meet online, discover a bizarre graphic novel which seems to hold mysterious answers, they find themselves being tracked down by a merciless organization known merely as 'The Network'. (50 mins.)
“ Under rated is a word thrown around a lot these days but...
Utopia is a show that is just dying for an AV club article to sing it's praises and explode. It is a UK production by channel 4, whose drama output to my mind crushes BBC in terms of it's edge and general brilliance.
It may be a cliché to say that a TV show is just like a comic book. But it is appropriate here and this isn't Marvel we're talking about. This feels straight up Vertigo, channelling 'Preacher' via David Lynch. The plot follows a group of cult comic fans who find themselves perused by a shadowy organisation. It is very, very good. Everyone assumed it was a mini series because it tied everything up so well, but it is back for a 2nd series and I hope there are many more to follow. ” - tentonpenguin
Six Feet Under
(2001 TV Series)
A drama series that takes a darkly comical look at members of a dysfunctional California family that runs an independent funeral home. (55 mins.)
“ When you look back on it, Six Feet under seems a little OTT, when you start to write a list of all the hot topic issues it was exploring, it reads like the yearly lesson plans of a liberal PSHE teacher.
Having said that I watched a few episodes with my brother recently and it is a far more funny, clever and subtle program than the one that was in my memory. I might remember it this way because the finale is so *beep* earth shatteringly devastating I cried for about ten minutes. ” - tentonpenguin
(2011 TV Series)
A television anthology series that shows the dark side of life and technology. (60 mins.)
“ Another example of something BBC wouldn't touch with a *beep* barge pole. Channel 4's anthology series 'Black Mirror' has a first episode in which it explores what would happen if the prime minister was given ten hours to *beep* a pig on live TV else a Kate Middleton figure would be killed. If that isn't a premise that makes you close this tab and go watch it (available for free on 4oD) then you are officially the world's most boring person. There are now 2 series, both of which contain 3 hour long episodes. Each series has an episode set in the present, the near future and in a distant dystopian future and they all cover themes of technology vs human connection. ” - tentonpenguin
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
(1997 TV Series)
A young woman, destined to slay vampires, demons and other infernal creatures, deals with her life fighting evil, with the help of her friends. (44 mins.)
“ A few paragraphs ago I said that Firefly didn't really get a chance to mess up. Buffy however was only good because it was given a wide birth to *beep* up and such is a broken clock it was occasionally on the money.
Okay that's a little harsh, A better way to explain it would be to say that it was like eating a nicely cooked dinner and then washing it down with some paste. So for every superb episode like 'The Body' you had to endure two with mind numbing angst and vomit enducing romance. Maybe thats also a little harsh but seriously some parts of Buffy Season 2 makes Twilight look like the *beep* English Patient.
So now my rant is over, Buffy can also as I mentioned be very, very good. 'The Body' and 'Hush' are particular stand outs and i spose even in bad episodes, there is always a spark there. It's tone is a really great balancing act of the sombre and the quirky. A lot of series have tried to emulate it. (Charmed and Supernatural might as well have been spin offs) and despite all my bitching I'm glad I've spent so much time in it's company. ” - tentonpenguin
(1999 TV Series)
The vampire Angel, cursed with a soul, moves to Los Angeles and aids people with supernatural-related problems while questing for his own redemption. (44 mins.)
“ I've actually been watching Angel and Buffy together to create some mega 44 episode a season show and that is pretty fun. They complement each other quite nicely and there's plenty of crossover fun to be had. Like Buffy there is some really stand out episodes here and unlike Buffy it gets consistently better, (The final season is an absolute knock-out.)
Also Dawn is not in it which makes Angel about 300% better right there. ” - tentonpenguin
(2004 TV Series)
A show set in the late 1800s, revolving around the characters of Deadwood, South Dakota; a town of deep corruption and crime. (55 mins.)
“ The now slightly forgotten Greatest Show EVAR contender, Deadwood still gives the greats a run for their money and still puts a lot of the pretenders to shame.
It is an extremely well written ensemble drama set in an illegal frontiers town in the old West. The place is so corrupt that cold blooded murder is often shrugged off like someone farted. The characters have all sorts of shades of grey, but without a doubt erring on the side of Black is Al Swearinger the owner of the Gem Saloon and the man whose crime empire is an open secret. He and most of the major characters are based on real people and this show tells a highly fictionalised version of real events.
The absolute fortune that was poured into the show makes it a very easy one to like and I highly recommend tracking it the *beep* down c*cksucker. ” - tentonpenguin
(2013 TV Series)
Two Soviet intelligence agents pose as a married couple to spy on the American government. (44 mins.)
“ Who's your favourite anti hero wife? Is it Skyler? Maybe Carmela? As much as I like these characters, it's always been a shame to see them play supporting roles in what is really their husbands drama.
Enter The Americans. A show about 2 KGB agents living as an American couple. Finally we have a show which truly balances the books. I love the fact the character of Elizabeth is often far more ruthless than her husband, it leaves the nagging bitch stereotypes in the dust.
Not to mention, it's tense as hell. ” - tentonpenguin
House of Cards
(2013 TV Series)
A Congressman works with his equally conniving wife to exact revenge on the people who betrayed him. (51 mins.)
“ House of Cards came about not to realise a unique creative vision but because Netflix's data collection said that people would watch it. It is also a remake.
For those two reasons it misses classic territory, but this is the good kind of 'made by committee' one which churns out a solid, well oiled show, albeit one without much of a personality. The show shines during the moments when all the pieces of a plan suddenly click together and everything comes into focus. Frank Underwood definitely puts a new spin on the anti hero and the show looks absolutely gorgeous. UK version is also worth checking out. ” - tentonpenguin
(2007 TV Series)
A drama about one of New York's most prestigious ad agencies at the beginning of the 1960s, focusing on one of the firm's most mysterious but extremely talented ad executives, Donald Draper. (47 mins.)
“ Every time I watch Mad Men I think, 'Wow, Mad Men is amazing! I should watch more Mad Men'. I then forget about it for about 3 months and the cycle repeats.
The problem, (or maybe the show's genius) is that nothing really happens. Stuff happens obviously but to give you an example: two guys walking up a flight of stairs is (genuinely) one episode's emotional climax.
It certainly puts an end to all those stupid questions like 'why is everything so far fetched in TV? Why can't they make a show that's just like real life?'
They did, it's great. ” - tentonpenguin
(2014 TV Series)
An anthology series in which police investigations unearth the personal and professional secrets of those involved, both within and outside the law. (55 mins.)
“ I originally dismissed True Detective as HBO showing up late to rip off 'The Killing', I then watched the pilot...
I then dismissed it as ripping off Hannibal, what with all the female antler murder stuff going on. However I then continued to watch...
...and I actually found a really good show. It reminded me of Zodiac and David Fincher in general, both in it's style and execution. It's extremely character driven and it's a credit to the writing that the big mystery of the show doesn't really matter when it comes down to it. It is the last show I remember seriously binge watching (Like 4 episodes in a night.) and I wait on series 2 with baited breath. ” - tentonpenguin
The Walking Dead
(2010 TV Series)
Sheriff Deputy Rick Grimes leads a group of survivors in a world overrun by the walking dead. Fighting the dead, fearing the living. (44 mins.)
“ I don't know where to begin with 'The Walking Dead'. It manages to be very good and also very *beep* at the same time.
Most of the characters are awful, especially during the first few seasons before they started killing them all off so they could employ the entire cast of 'The Wire'. The premise: zombies, is tired as *beep* and it takes itself way way way way too *beep* seriously. I'm not asking for it to resemble the Mighty Boosh, but it would be nice if they had a few more characters like Michonne: the samurai sword wielding, dread locked, bad-ass, who pulls behind her 2 zombies with their jaws ripped off to blend in with the hoard as opposed to characters like Lori: The World's most annoying woman.
The good of the walking dead outweighs the bad, it is very good at putting the viewer in the shoes of the main characters as they have to go about making difficult moral decisions. (The 3rd season being a particular stand out in this regard) It's very good at spectacular set pieces and it is also brutal and unpredictable with it's killing off, which is always a good thing. ” - tentonpenguin
State of Play
A thriller set in London, in which a politician's life becomes increasingly complex as his research assistant is found dead on the London Underground and, in a seemingly unrelated incident, a teenage pickpocket is shot dead. (57 mins.)
“ Exploring the relationship between politicians, the police and the media; State of Play was the British Wire. It is one of the last great British Mini Series, following in the footsteps of greats like 'Our friends in the North' and 'House of Cards' and living up to them admirably. Like the former, the cast is insane starring actors who would eventually play the Master, Charles Xavier, The Governor and Davy Jones. ” - tentonpenguin
Better Call Saul
(2015 TV Series)
The trials and tribulations of criminal lawyer, Jimmy McGill, in the time leading up to establishing his strip-mall law office in Albuquerque, New Mexico. (46 mins.)
“ Thank god it wasn't a procedural!
This spin off to Breaking Bad hits it's stride straight out of the gate. It lacks the stakes that it's mother show had, but it remains far funnier. The lowered stakes and slower pace often mean that character gets to take centre stage and the show fleshes out it's core characters nicely. At one point barely featuring Saul, it has a maverick approach to structure and it provides an excellent foundation for what is to come. ” - tentonpenguin
(2011 TV Series)
A thriving but underground drugs business is being run by Dushane ('Ashley Walters') and his friend... (60 mins.)
“ I really enjoy these shows about the pursuit of power and this is the most grounded one I've seen. The main plot follows two drug dealers as they climb their way up the hierarchy, but it also makes time for a number of characters directly or indirectly affected by the illicit drug market.
Not quite as ambitious in scope as The Wire, this still manages to be a tight, powerful tragedy. ” - tentonpenguin
(2010 TV Series)
A crime drama series starring Idris Elba
as a near-genius murder detective whose brilliant mind can't always save him from the dangerous violence of his passions. (60 mins.)
“ I had a friend who managed to work with Idris Elba on a Sky show about nurturing new talent. His name is Andrew Bond and the film he made 'Howard's Happy Place' is very good and you should all go and watch it. Having said that '*beep* YOU ANDREW! I love Idris Elba!!!'
The best thing BBC drama has made in ages is basically a live action adaption of 'Mcganagle' It stars 'cop on the edge' DCI Luther who opens the series by letting a Paedo fall to his death. Not particularly daring considering what Vic Mackey did in 'The Shield' pilot, but anyway Luther now has to take down the nastiest guys in LUNDUN using techniques straight out of 'Life on Mars'
It is insanely over the top and has some of the best villians this side of Batman, I also have a good joke about this being like 'Cracker', but I don't think I should write it here... ” - tentonpenguin
(2011 TV Series)
A bipolar CIA operative becomes convinced a prisoner of war has been turned by al-Qaeda and is planning to carry out a terrorist attack on American soil. (55 mins.)
“ The first series of Homeland is probably as addictive as Breaking Bad, even if it doesn't stay with you as long. It follows a bi-polar CIA agent as she tries to uncover if an X prisoner of war has been 'turned'. It's start is very strong and even if it sometimes borderlines on arty schlock territory it's still fine television.
It does unfortunately go the way of most showtime drama, (down the *beep* plughole) and I recommend you treat it as a mini series, watch the first series and stop. ” - tentonpenguin
(1990 TV Series)
An idiosyncratic FBI agent investigates the murder of a young woman in the even more idiosyncratic town of Twin Peaks. (47 mins.)
“ For the 1990 general public, Twin Peak's gradual slip into surrealism was probably somewhat jarring. I was waiting for it with baited breath however! David Lynch is one of the most fascinating film makers alive and he was ahead of the curve in noticing the advantages television offered. The hook is a mystery story, 'Who killed Laura Palmer?' but rather than offering a straight answer the show goes mental! and it seems crazy that what followed was network gold.
The show might have it's flaws, but Twin Peaks really represented a turning point in TV drama and half the shows on this list wouldn't exist without it's influence. ” - tentonpenguin
Our Friends in the North
A nine part series depicting the varying fortunes of four friends - Nicky, Geordie, Mary and Tosker... (623 mins.)
“ We'll never have another 'Our Friends in the North'. Firstly getting this cast back together would cost phone numbers, (What with it including a James Bond and a Dr Who.) but secondly and more importantly the show has restraint. The first episode is mainly concerned with the building of tower blocks in 1960's Newcastle and I imagine it would bore most American teenagers to suicide. Once you get past this however the show starts becoming about political corruption, gangsters and porno! ” - tentonpenguin
My So-Called Life
(1994 TV Series)
A 15-year-old girl and her trials and tribulations of being a teenager and dealing with friends, guys, parents and school. (60 mins.)
“ It would be a mistake to judge 'My so-called Life' based on the title. Although this show is mainly concerned with a teenage girl dealing with school, friends and boys it can stand tall against the greatest drama HBO has to offer. A lot of the shows power comes from the fact that every character in the show has clear motivation for what they are doing. When arguments happen, the viewer understands why they are happening, it doesn't sound scripted, it sounds real. There is a lot of angst on display here but it doesn't matter because the show makes you care and it shows high school drama done right. ” - tentonpenguin
(2013 TV Series)
Explores the early relationship between the renowned psychiatrist and his patient, a young FBI criminal profiler, who is haunted by his ability to empathize with serial killers. (44 mins.)
“ Hannibal (the show) reminds me of a friend I had once who was very good at talking. He was so good that I was never sure if he actually was smart or was just a *beep* idiot with a silver tongue. Do you see what I'm getting at here? The show is so detached from any actual human behaviour that when I ask questions like 'Would any of this actually happen?' or 'Why is he jumping to that stupid conclusion?' the show bats me away and seems to say 'you just don't get me man.' All the acting is robotic, maybe it's supposed to be because they've all 'seen some *beep* but it just reminds me the delivery in the Star Wars prequels.
*beep* me, I've watched all of it and I have no idea if it's a good show. I dunno, maybe I'm too thick, *beep* knows. ” - tentonpenguin
(2009 TV Series)
A group of young offenders doing community service get struck by lightning during a storm, and begin to develop superpowers. (60 mins.)
“ Another show that set the groundwork for 'Utopia', 'Misfits' is deliberately aping graphic novel style, in particular the work of Mark Millar, the man behind Wanted and Kick ass. Like Millar's work the show explored a fantastical premise with a lot of urban grit so they have superpowers but they call each other *beep* that sort of thing.
Some real imagination and energy stop it getting bogged down in it's often bonkers plot and this was much more than 'Skins with superpowers'. ” - tentonpenguin
(2005 TV Series)
The further adventures of the time traveling alien adventurer and his companions. (45 mins.)
“ You know the drill by now, I'll say it's *beep* and then gradually build up to giving it a recommendation.
IT'S *beep*, as a Brit this show is shoved down your throat, it's loved by those despicable people that say 'oh I'm such a geek, I dress up and go to MCM, isn't Marvel brilliant'. A LOT of the episodes are solved by the doctor pulling some tech gibberish out of his arse and it's so doting in it's *beep* fan service that I just want to throw up. Everyone on the show is so bloody quirky, always wisecracking their way out of *beep* I would like to see the Doctor travel round with a Travis Bickle type. Who cares if the kids wouldnt like it, *beep* kids. Also If they use that *beep* line 'but who are you doctor? Really?' one more time I am going to shoot everyone who has ever been involved with production... Dating back to the 60's!
Now... A lot of the shows problems have admittedly been ironed out over the years. The complicated plots are up my alley (*beep* kids) and the solutions and reveals are getting smarter with each series. I do think that the series has peaked. Matt Smith's series 6 has yet to be topped, but Doctor Who is still a good show and often it is a great one. ” - tentonpenguin
Band of Brothers
The story of Easy Company of the US Army 101st Airborne division and their mission in WWII Europe from Operation Overlord through V-J Day. (70 mins.)
“ Band of Brothers cost 125 million to make. For that money you could make the Matrix... and then make the matrix again. That is insane. It does not look like a TV show, the cinematography is beautiful, all soft focus and muted greens. The acting is superb, the writing is masterful and it pays tribute to the glorious dead respectfully. Although it is placed here on the list, it is probably the TV show most worthy of your time. For good reason this is the highest rated title on IMDb. ” - tentonpenguin
Dead Like Me
(2003 TV Series)
Meet Georgia Lass (who prefers to be called George). She is a young Seattle college dropout who is unhappy with life... (60 mins.)
“ Bryan Fuller is second only to Joss Whedon in terms of Nerd God/Show Runner. He started out writing for Star Trek TNG, before creating a series of short lived but amazing TV series, these being Wonderfalls, Pushing Dasies and Dead Like Me. All feature on this list. Nowadays he runs Hannibal and is 'girl squeal' overseeing the American Gods pilot.
Dead like me was the only Fuller show that was on cable and with a premise like 'A young woman dies and becomes a grim reaper' it basically needed to be. Like Six Feet Under this show managed to look at death from all angles, sometimes laughing at it, sometimes cowering from it. This balance is best exemplified by the superb pilot episode, the style and tone of which are dead on. It has the healthy amount of dark humour, wit and cynicism but it keeps it's heart throughout.
SOLID recommendation. ” - tentonpenguin
(2004 TV Series)
A young registrar, Rob Lake starts work under established gynecologist Roger Hurley whom he finds to be an affable man. All is not as it first appears, however, and Lake soon develops grave misgivings about his boss and his methods. (60 mins.)
“ Bodies is just the kind of brutal, angry depressing television that should be getting made. Obviously it is very hard to watch, this is a show about an underfunded, understaffed NHS Obstetrics ward, but every painful second is worth it.
Showrunner Jed Mercurio, a former hospital physician himself rages against the problems and bureaucracy of the NHS with the same fury as David Simon did towards the war on drugs in 'The Wire.' This could almost be a companion piece albeit it a far, far bleaker one. ” - tentonpenguin
(2002 TV Series)
The story of an inner-city Los Angeles police precinct where some of the cops aren't above breaking... (47 mins.)
“ The current cable drama I am ploughing my way through. 'The Shield' has the best theme tune in TV and it only lasts about 8 seconds. Based on the real life Rampart unit this takes the anti hero into the police station. Vic Mackey is not the type that bends the rules to get results, but the one that breaks the *beep* rules for personal gain. The 'thing' he does in the pilot is genuinely quite shocking and I'm impressed that he remains a sympathetic character afterwards. Breaking Bad owes this show a huge debt and The Shield remains underrated and ahead of the curve. ” - tentonpenguin
(2014 TV Series)
Various chronicles of deception, intrigue and murder in and around frozen Minnesota. Yet all of these tales mysteriously lead back one way or another to Fargo, ND. (53 mins.)
“ There has been a recent craze involving adapting old films into TV shows, so we now have a prequel to Psycho, a remake or Dusk till Dawn and a 'Tonal homage' to Fargo, imaginatively retitled Fargo. Fargo has all the pieces of a great mini series. It's got an incredible cast, a dense plot, and some seriously complex characters. I like it a lot, but I don't love it. It has some quite glaring plot holes around the second act and it's not as tense and as tight as something like this should be. Also in later episodes Key and Peele show up and I like those guys, but they are cast together as 2 wacky FBI agents which is unbelievably jarring. I am nit picking though, it is thoroughly watchable and the fact I can bitch about a series this good just goes to show the quality of modern drama. ” - tentonpenguin
Top of the Lake
(2013 TV Series)
When pregnant, 12-year-old Tui tries to kill herself in a freezing New Zealand lake, Detective Robin Griffin has plenty of questions for the girl. But when Tui suddenly disappears, Griffin finds herself knee-deep in small-town secrets. (350 mins.)
“ Being half kiwi myself I thought it was great to see a drama explore the dirty underside of the New Zealand countryside. Several performances elevate this from being a Twin Peaks rip off. Unfortunately those performances are done by two Americans, a Brit and worst of all, an Australian!
A wonderful mini-series never the less. ” - tentonpenguin
(2001 TV Series)
Jack Bauer, Director of Field Ops for the Counter-Terrorist Unit of Los Angeles, races against the clock to subvert terrorist plots and save his nation from ultimate disaster. (44 mins.)
“ I have only seen the first series of 24 when I was a very bored student, but when I was watching it I liked it a lot.
The problem with it, is that although following around Jack Bauer is fun and exciting, (he's the one that runs around beating up suspects and getting in scrapes) you're only following him around for about 25% of an episode, the rest is split between boring President Palmer, boring CTU people or his boring wife and daughter. Absolutely no one would tune in to watch 'IT support, the show' or 'Secret Agent's boring wife: the show' so why the *beep* am I watching that? ” - tentonpenguin
(1993 TV Series)
Two FBI agents, Fox Mulder the believer and Dana Scully the skeptic, investigate the strange and unexplained while hidden forces work to impede their efforts. (45 mins.)
“ I cheated watching the X-Files. not enough hours in the day (or ten days) to watch 202 episodes, so I abused the new feature on imdb which shows the highest rated episodes, (A feature that needs a lot of fine tuning as to avoid spoilers) so all in all I've seen about 6 episodes, all of which were really great. My brother is a big fan and he tells me that the show is basically split between monster of the week episodes and a continuing arc about the existence of alien life. If I ever find myself miserably unemployed, I'll give it a proper crack. ” - tentonpenguin
(2005 TV Series)
A down-to-earth account of the lives of both illustrious and ordinary Romans set in the last days of the Roman Republic. (90 mins.)
“ The list should come with a fat disclaimer that quite a few of the shows (most of them from here on in) I haven't actually finished, I do have a job believe it or not. But I've seen enough to have a vague half baked opinion about most of them, so here we go...
Rome is really good. If you're looking for a Game of Thrones fix then you have found it, as this was pretty much a dry run for that. Warring families, ancient politics, violence, nudity, a HUGE ensemble cast and the only thing it lacks is the dragons, this being based on real life. (albeit it loosely) ” - tentonpenguin
(2013 TV Series)
A streetwise hustler is pulled into a compelling conspiracy after witnessing the suicide of a girl who looks just like her. (44 mins.)
“ Some interesting ideas, a superb central performace and a surprising edge (for a BBC drama) elevate Orphan Black from the over crowded Science fiction genre. Some of it remains a little eye rolling, but generally it's very easy to take it's somewhat hokey premise seriously. It's no 'Utopia' but it could almost act as a companion piece. ” - tentonpenguin
Queer as Folk
(1999 TV Series)
A controversial Drama which chronicles the lives of Stuart and Vince, and also 15 year old Nathan who is in love with Stuart. (48 mins.)
“ As a liberal guy I was fully up for watching a drama about three gay men. However I should warn you that Queer as Folk is VERY GAY. LIKE ALL CAPS GAY. LIKE A 15 YEAR OLD BOY GETS RIMMED AND THEY SHOW EVERYTHING KIND OF GAY.
I really like it though. I was expecting it to be about struggles with homophobia and accepting yourself for who you are etc and although the show touches on these subjects, the tone is far lighter and it's far more interested in themes of family, lust and maturity.
It was interesting to see a show deal with relationships involving a single gender and how that changed the dynamics. Also worth checking out if you wanted to see 'little finger' from Game of Thrones suck a guys dick. ” - tentonpenguin
Richard Mayhew leads an ordinary life in London when one day a girl named Door falls, injured, across his path... (180 mins.)
“ I'm a huge Neil Gaiman fan. I've read nearly everything he's written and the prospect of a Neverwhere miniseries was hugely exciting. It follows a young man as he gradually comes to terms with the mystical hidden world of 'London Below'. The result is interesting. You can see the budget being pushed to breaking point, at some point this does look a little too much like 'The Demon Headmaster'. Some directional choices are bizarre, the interviews that proceed the episodes and act as catch ups look like they were shot by a *beep* simpleton. One scene which involves our characters crossing a bridge uses the same set for both sides of the bridge, without even changing the angle. This is all surface however and it is very exciting to see a Gaiman narrative in this format. the story works and all the characters are excellent. Gaiman has always been vaguely ashamed of it and Neverwhere has since been adapted into a novel, a radio play and a graphic novel, which I believe speaks volumes for the narrative here. ” - tentonpenguin
(2012 TV Series)
A comedy about the experiences of a group of girls in their early 20s. (28 mins.)
“ When the pilot for Girls debuted I was singing the song's praises from the highest rooftops. I called it such Hyperbole as the future of comedy and edgier than anything currently on TV. Time has proved me slightly wrong there. Girls turned out to be pretty good but not earth shattering. I do like how all the characters are laid bare, in both senses of the word. A scene in which Hannah confronts her black republican boyfriend exposes her character far more than any sex scene. ” - tentonpenguin
Orange Is the New Black
(2013 TV Series)
The story of Piper Chapman, a woman in her thirties who is sentenced to fifteen months in prison after being convicted of a decade-old crime of transporting money to her drug-dealing girlfriend. (59 mins.)
“ Orange is the New Black is fine, but when you've seen Oz all the prison grit stuff looks a little quaint. The characters are all quite strong even if they can get a little annoying, Tastee is a particularly grinding presence, but that doesn't mean she's not fully rounded and credit to the show that it gives screen time to characters that wouldn't get a *beep* look in on most TV. So not great, but at least it's doing something interesting. ” - tentonpenguin
(2004 TV Series)
Jaye Tyler is a loner living in Niagara Falls who, after graduating college, has fallen into a care-free... (60 mins.)
“ This is another one by Bryan Fuller, this one wasn't on cable, so it lacks the edge of Dead Like Me, but it still brings the same tone and anarchic style. I love the protagonist of this, a young woman who has moved out, lives in a trailer and works in a gift shop. The wacky premise of this one is that anamorphic objects talk to her, they speak in proverbs and episodes revolve around figuring out what they mean. Interestingly (in a clever nod) it shares a character with Hannibal. (although she doesn't last long on that show).
Obviously cancelled after like 13 episodes. ” - tentonpenguin
During a fictional series of Big Brother, a zombie outbreak occurs, but the house-mates are unaware of the impending doom outside of the Big Brother House. (141 mins.)
“ Kind of a dry run for Black Mirror, this mini series written by Charlie Brooker imagines what would happen to the contestants in Big Brother if the world was overrun by zombies. Like Romero, it uses this device for social satire; the usual targets are all here, dippy blondes, the pursuit of fame, etc. But my favourite target is the character played by Kevin Eldon (who shows up in everything btw) He plays a man, who goes into the Big Brother house to try and 'wake the world up' and 'show them the truth', but in truth is simply a coward and a pervert. This kind of self awareness elevates Dead Set from being simply (admittedly quite good) zombie action. ” - tentonpenguin
American Horror Story
(2011 TV Series)
An anthology series that centers on different characters and locations, including a house with a murderous past, an insane asylum, a witch coven, a freak show, an enigmatic hotel and a sinister farmhouse in Roanoke, North Carolina. (60 mins.)
“ Again only seen a few episodes, but I really like the tone they've set. nice cast too. Will write up properly when I see more. ” - tentonpenguin
(1997 TV Series)
A series chronicling the daily activities of an unusual prison facility and its criminal inhabitants. (55 mins.)
“ Flat out the scariest show I have ever watched, Oz is a terrifying place to spend an hour. Rape, Murder, Beatings and Corruption; that is just the pilot. The first hour long HBO drama, this set a lot of the groundwork for the complex nature of the channel's future shows. I also like the poetic straight to camera monologues, it ties the show together and gives it a sense of Greek tragedy. ” - tentonpenguin
(1993 TV Series)
An abrasively eccentric forensic psychologist aids in the solving of difficult police cases. (100 mins.)
“ As far as the origins of the anti-hero as protagonist on TV go, there is some argument. In 1993, the same week Cracker was premièred on ITV, over the pond the first episode of NYPD Blue was released. Both shows centered around obese, drunken, *beep* protagonists solving their crime of the week. This was by no means The Shield, these were still good guys, but good guys with flaws and they paved the way for what TV eventually became.
I haven't seen NYPD blue, but Cracker remains genre defining. Jimmy Mcgovern is a psychologist rather than a detective, so the show can focus on exploring the demented minds of it's various villains rather than be bogged down in the procedural. ” - tentonpenguin
(2004 TV Series)
A motley group of London con artists pull of a series of daring and intricate stings. (60 mins.)
“ Dat themetune.
I took Hustle, the story of 5 classy conmen, a little too seriously when it was on (I was 12 when it started) it was my favourite show, I loved the twists, the way the show was structured, I loved everything about it. It didn't so much fall from Grace as saunter vaguely downward. The show has always been slightly camp, I realise that now, but later series were embarrassingly light Saturday night fare where as when it started it could contend with serious drama.
Anyway series one is great, series two is better... you should then stop watching. ” - tentonpenguin
(2012 TV Series)
A newsroom undergoes some changes in its workings and morals as a new team is brought in, bringing unexpected results for its existing news anchor. (55 mins.)
“ I have a few problems with the Newsroom. It sounds written. Does that make sense? I mean that I couldn't possibly imagine normal people having these same conversations, they're too witty, too off the cuff, too smart. This is more a personal quibble, I just prefer dialogue to be more naturalistic, but you could obviously hold the same against Shakespeare. I haven't seen enough to give it a proper recommendation but when Aaron Sorkin's on form he's unbeatable. ” - tentonpenguin
(2010 TV Series)
A modern update finds the famous sleuth and his doctor partner solving crime in 21st century London. (88 mins.)
“ Barely a TV show really. More a collection of films. (90 minute episodes, are you *beep* with me) I have currently only seen the first series and was very impressed with it's polish and execution. I could take or leave Benedict Cumberpatch, but Freeman and Moffat are on form. ” - tentonpenguin
(2007 TV Series)
The story of a group of British teens who are trying to grow up and find love and happiness despite questionable parenting and teachers who more want to be friends (and lovers) rather than authority figures. (46 mins.)
“ Skins is not a show, it is a line graph, one which resembles the right side of a pyramid. Do you get me? I'm saying it got very *beep* The show took the bizzare decision to reboot every 2 series because all their characters go to uni. Their replacements were awful and the people that replaced them two years later were somehow even worse. But putting aside it's fall from grace, Skins was in it's day brilliant.
It was the first E4 drama paving the way for the Inbetweeners and Misfits and in it's first series was a superb sympathetic look at a group of very relatable people. (albeit people who did far more drugs than I ever did) It's Dramady tone was dead on and at least for one series this was the most important thing on TV.
TV Watch List
Oranges are not the only Fruit
How do you want me?
Angels in America
Nightmares and Dreamscapes
My Life in Film
Edge of Darkness
Pride and Prejudice
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
Century of Self
Slings and Arrows
Friday Night Lights
Jamie: Private School Girl
A very Peculiar Practice
The Singing Detective
Boys from the Blackstuff
The West Wing
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
The Jewel in the Crown
The Monocled Mutineer
Hit & Miss
Bored to Death
Parks and Recreation
The Hollow Crown
Masters of Sex
Kindred: The Embraced
Line of Duty
Brisco County jr
15 Storeys High
The Slave Hunters
Rick and Morty
Star Trek: The Next Generation
That's my Bush!
The Twilight Zone
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
The Long Firm
From the Earth to the Moon
The White Queen
The Second Coming
Nathan for You
A Very British Coup
The State Within
The Dust Bowl
Leyla and Mecnun
The World at War
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey
Get a Life
Strangers with Candy
Upright Citizens Brigade
The Casual Vacancy
Ash vs Evil Dead
Show me a Hero
The Forsyte Saga
The New Statesman
Flesh and Bone
Warren the Ape
Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji
You're the Worst
Maybe if I finish all those i can finally get round to writing the actual definitive list. ” - tentonpenguin