Thursday, 14 May 2009

My top TV shows

I thought I do a rundown of my top TV shows. They're in no particular order but just some of the shows I really like - a lot have great writing tips too.


This is really the first 'adult' TV show I watched. I heard it was about vampires and decided to tune in. I was hooked, but mainly because of the beautiful blond girl who went around slaying vampires and hung out with people who were not cooler than me! The show developed from episodic fun to thought-provoking drama, touching on horror, comedy, tragedy and action along the way. Season 6's theme was very powerful. Here we see Willow become addicted to magic. This is a clearly a metaphor for drug abuse and really has a huge impact as the season develops. Season 7 featured some of the best ever writing and acting from the crew, especially as we learned that Spike had earned his soul. I fell in love with Buffy (the girl and the show). It was my first TV love and retains a special place in my heart.

When I heard that vampire Angel was getting his own show, I was thrilled. I always thought his character was one that could be developed more. Actually, no I didn't because I was like 14 or something. But I thought he was cool as hell! ANGEL went to places that BUFFY couldn't. Here we had this dark, brooding vampire who was fighting for redemption. The show was as dark as the character and was definitely for a more adult audience than its slaying counterpart. That being said, there were numerous hilarious moments along the way, such as everyone losing their memories and Angel being turned into a puppet.

The thing about ANGEL is that it always justified its decisions. Along the way, Angel locked a bunch of humans in a room with his sworn enemy, thus allowing them to be brutally murdered. He even had his soul removed, resulting in death after death and some sick, twisted dialogue. ANGEL never faulted and despite being cut short by the demons at Fox, it couldn't have ended better. After Wesley's heart-destroying death scene, we end with Angel, Spike, Illyria and Gunn (who had been stabbed through the stomach) facing their toughest ever challenge - an army of demons, orcs, giants and dragons. There's no way they can win the fight but the message is - they go out fighting. ANGEL goes out on a battle cry with the powerful words "Let's go to work"

When I get thinking about ANGEL, I don't stop (as you can probably tell). Does that mean it's my favourite TV show? Maybe.

Joss Whedon's short-lived masterpiece. It was axed after just 14 episodes but what 14 episodes they were! FIREFLY is essentially about family. We meet an eclectic group of characters that we come to love dearly. They're just a bunch of folk out on the edge, looking for jobs where they find them. But the show is so much more than that. Everyone who I've known who's seen it has loved it. Fox axed it but the fan base was so strong that Universal Pictures came to the rescue and let Joss make a movie - SERENITY. FIREFLY will always be one of my favourite shows with some of the best situations and dialogue ever on TV. As the Browncoats say - can't stop the signal!

This is Joss Whedon's current TV project (and I'm guessing the last). I was very worried about the first five episodes because while they were of good TV standard, they were not as good as something I was expecting from the creator of BUFFY, ANGEL and FIREFLY. Then came episode 6 and all hell broke loose. Episode 6 (written by Joss himself) was easily as brilliant as any BUFFY ep. And from then, the show has been top-notch. Great characterisation and stories with some ambiguously dark undertones.

I watched CASTLE for one reason only - Nathan Fillion, who played Mal in FIREFLY. I was worried it would be a boring cop show - nothing special. But I was pleasantly surprised. Fillion plays Rick Castle, a novelist who works with a detective for inspiration for his next crime novel. Simple enough idea, but it's the characterisation that makes it great. It's hard to explain, but Castle's strong, witty, comedic character works so well in such a basic template that you have to keep on watching. It often seems to me what CSI would be like if the characters had more than one dimension.

ITV advertised this all wrong - they targeted middle-aged women. The show is probably one of the best around today and keeps getting better. As Sam and Dean work their way across the country saving innocents and banishing demons, their story develops tenfold. Season 1 saw a cliffhanger ending as the boys were reunited with their father. Season 2 saw the gates of hell ripped open and one of the boys die. Season 3 followed Dean as he came to terms with the fact that he had one year to live then he was going to hell. The best thing - viewers and characters thought long and hard about how Dean would escape death. The twist being - he didn't. Season 3 ended with Dean being ripped apart and dragged into hell. His voice echoed over the closing credits - "Help me!" Season 4 (currently airing) shows Dean saved from hell and the boys teaming up with Angels as Sam's demonic powers grow. Will the boys save the day and stop Lucifer rising up? Should they...?

James Cameron's TV attempt should be a work of pure genius. It's not. It is however, pretty damn good. As with any good TV show, it's character that drives the story but the premise itself it quite good. Jessica Alba does a great job as Max, a genetically enhanced soldier on the run from the organisation that made her - Manticore. The ongoing relationship with Logan was always great - they never really got together, despite the season 1 finale showing a happily ever after ending. We were then shot back through time to realise that things didn't go as we thought - Max was shot and died. After being brought back, season 2 showed Max escaping from Manticore and continuing her search for other soldiers.

As season 2 came to a close, some great action showed more and more specialist soldiers in the futuristic world. The show was axed but the ending was good - a sense of hope spread through the characters as they faced probably genocide. A show I always stayed up to watch, DARK ANGEL is definitely worth looking at even if not a DVD buy.

Season 1 of this show was great. The terminator of the week structure worked well but they experimented as they went deeper. They did it well. The season ended with Cameron being blown up in a car. Being a terminator, she was ok but was in pretty bad shape. Season 2's opening showed Cameron all messed up, so much so that her default program kicked in - terminate John Connor. The season continued as we saw John Connor's transition from T2 to war hero. There were a few episodes in the middle that were terribly boring but the finale of season 2 has opened so many doors that I can't wait for season 3. However, that may never be. At the time of writing this, they are undecided as to whether it will be axed......

I watched the first episode of this and thought it was a poor version of the Punisher story. I then learnt there was much much more. Dexter is a blood splatter analyst who moonlights as a murderer. But he only kills bad people. Those who he sees slip through the net at work are quickly served justice in the form of being strapped to a table and gutted.

The finale of season 1 was incredible but season 2 was even better as Dexter's dangerous habits were almost revealed. Season 3 is set to air in the UK this week and from what I've seen, things are getting stronger and stronger. It's a dark show with serious issues and black comedy. Definitely one of the cleverest shows created.

I didn't really know what to make of TRUE BLOOD when I first saw it. It's definitely not a show for the kids, simply due to the nudity and language. We follow a young waitress as she encounters a mysterious sexy vampire - Bill. As she is swallowed into Bill's dangerous world, things get more and more tense. With a variety of interesting characters and some pretty good violence, TRUE BLOOD is a great watch, but it's not for everyone. Season 1 is set to air on C4 soon.

Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks did an amazing job in creating this TV mini-series. It tells the story of Easy Company in WWII. From their training in England, through D-Day and to the end of the war, this is a brutally realistic story of war. Best appreciated with gaps, BAND OF BROTHERS will show you harrowing images of warfare, death and concentration camps. It's a must-see for anyone, not just fans of war movies.

I was eager to see the latest animation from Marvel but wasn't expecting it to be as good as this. After a slow first few eps, WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN really kicked off with hardcore storylines, saying that it's essentially a kids' show. The best moments for me were when we saw Charles Xavier talking to the X-Men from the future, trying to correct the damage done. Showing what the world could become created great tension as the X-Men battled to save tomorrow. It's been greenlighted for a second season and the first should be out on DVD soon.

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