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
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
A few months ago, 2004 called me and insisted that I finally watch The Wire. After all, I’ve watched just about every other major premium cable show. And few received the critical acclaim that The Wire did. So I gobbled it up. I just completed it last night. There were many, many things I enjoyed about the show- too many to get into here. One aspect I enjoyed was seeing one actor after another that I was familiar with from other premium cable shows, popping up on The Wire. So many of the supporting characters on the show were so good at what they did that other shows around cable had taken notice. Here’s a list of where else you find these actors:
Michael K. Williams
Williams played Omar Little on The Wire, one of the show’s most popular and recognizable characters. He nailed the role, playing the terrifying Robin Hood of Baltimore’s projects. It was with little surprise that HBO turned to him again when they had a meaty role in Boardwalk Empire for a character named Chalky White. Sure enough, one season is in the books of Boardwalk Empire and Williams is again playing a very memorable character. Indeed. Continue reading
Back in the late 60’s when Hollywood wanted to shake things up a bit, they turned theaters over to a bunch of young bucks named Coppola and Scorsese and the like. One of the things this group did was to canonize the anti-hero– characters like Michael Corleone and Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker helped shake off the shackles of the Hayes Code era. Television, however, didn’t really follow suit. There may have been the occasional anti-hero on TV, but it wasn’t until the last decade or two that the anti-hero really started to take root on television. And now, it’s as popular as ever. Seemingly every new series features someone who is doing something they shouldn’t be doing. And we sympathize with them. We love them, despite (and sometimes because of) their evil deeds. Here are my seven favorite TV anti-heroes: Continue reading