Almost a year ago to the day (ok, within 2 weeks), I wrote about my weird obsession with ranking TV shows. It’s a side effect of the discussions I have with my friend, Marty. A lot has changed in the last year. Some shows have taken a step forward, I’ve become familiar with others, and some shows have taken horrible steps into the abyss. It’s time to update the Great Big TV Scoreboard.
As you may recall from last year, this is all about the premium cable drama. Comedies and network shows are excluded. Continue reading
I talk about TV shows a lot with my friend Marty. If he says I should check out a TV show, I check it out, and vice versa. Somewhere along the line through the years, we started ranking the shows that we both watched. It provided us with an easy gauge for how we felt about certain shows. Marty has other responsibilities now- his infant daughter, for instance- and those conversations almost never happen far less frequently. But I never really stopped ranking TV shows in my head. Call it the great, big TV scoreboard. Just for grins, this is how I rank all of my favorite cable TV dramas. Understand that a lot of this stuff changes almost weekly. Continue reading
I am a total sucker for TV show title sequences. In a matter of a minute or two, title sequences teleport us into the world that the show’s creators present for us. They put us in the mood and they evoke everything that the show is about. Here are the 10 best. Continue reading
If a cable network asked me to come up with a concept for a TV series, I’d come up with something like Boardwalk Empire, which will debut its third season starting this weekend. It’s about organized crime and classic real life gangsters, it’s produced by Martin Scorsese, it stars Steve Buscemi, and it’s a period piece. In fact, the effort HBO makes to place it in a proper era context is a big part of the show’s charm for me. And a significant part of their effort is that they go out of their way to use actual music from the Roaring 20s. It’s a neat trick. Here are some of my favorite songs that have been featured on Boardwalk Empire. Continue reading
The next few weeks will be big if you’re a fan of cable and premium cable drama. Two of the heavyweights of cable TV drama will start their next seasons on the heels of the season 2 finale of The Walking Dead. It can be maddening if you’re a fan of these shows, waiting for the networks to wrap up production and air the next season. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve done a google search for this information the last few years, I’d… well, I’d probably have $50. But you get the idea. To help, I’ve compiled some updates (as of March 19) for the return of your favorite cable TV dramas. Continue reading
The last decade or so has given us banner years for premium cable drama. It started with HBO shows like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, and Carnivale. Then it expanded to a few Showtime selections–Dexter and Californication, even as HBO continued to pile on other options. Since then, both AMC and FX have gotten into the game with Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Sons of Anarchy, and Justified. A great deal of these shows have entertained audiences endlessly. Others have taken the next step into critical acclaim. The quickest route to critical acclaim is to pay special attention to four aspects, which will ultimately play a large role in determining whether or not a show will sink or swim. They’re really obvious aspects, far easier to define than to accomplish when writing TV drama. Many shows can survive, even thrive, without excelling in these four categories, but it’s clearly not ideal. Continue reading
Boardwalk Empire just completed the second season, a season that was met with much critical acclaim. The Onion AV Club gave five of the episodes this season A- or better ratings, and believe me–they don’t dole those out liberally. For comparison, the beloved show Modern Family only has one A or A- rating this season. Curb Your Enthusiasm earned 4 A or A- grades out of their most recent ten-episode season. So how did the season go? What’s left to be said before we put the show away for a few months? Here are my final thoughts on the second season. Caution: spoilers ahead for the entire season. If you haven’t seen the whole season, I highly recommend that you do not read this. Continue reading