Saturday, September 30, 2006

New Television is Good Television

Although I have typically been drawn to films for my entertainment, there has been a recent surge of television that has captured and locked in my attention. Television is normally, in my humble opinion, a weaker form. You have issues of length. A film can be anywhere from 90 minutes to 3 ½ hours long. It is involves one story and one point that it will make, a thesis and the argument. TV differs from this because it covers a wide array of topics and positions. TV does this because it needs to fill a lot of time length. A series with a 30 minute time slot has to fill 20-23 minutes of content for almost 26 weeks, not including the re-runs and specials. If you multiply 23 times 26 you get 598. While this is a lot of time to fill in, there is leeway for some bad quality to seep through. Okay, so this happens in film a lot too, but there are masters that are dedicated to their craft and won’t let the audience down.

All of that format bullshit aside, I have become enamored by a few shows that have me addicted to their stories and characters, including one that is two episodes into the series. They have defied the nature of television giving me deep characters, brilliant writing, and unforgettable moments. So here is Iowa Film Nerd’s top five television shows worth watching today.

This is a show about a drug dealing mom. Although many of you may be apposed to the thought of something like this occurring in the world, it still happens. It is not that far-fetched so get over it. Nancy Botwin has used her brother’s pot connection to start her own business to maintain her suburban lifestyle, since having to deal with her husband’s unfortunate and sudden death. It is in its second season on Showtime and is starting to get its wings and soar into one of the most controversial shows covering a wide range of topics that are not spoken of in a different light i.e. abortion, masturbation, marijuana, and the sometimes over-played dark side of suburbia.

I am currently in a LOST binge. I have flown through the first season in less than two days and started on the next six discs that contain season number two for the premier of the third season this Wednesday. The reason that I love this show is the place. I mean, who wouldn’t want to spend time vacationing from their past on a tropical island. This is a resurgence of Gilligan’s Island but with a mystical, cynical, Lord of the Flies twist on it. Another reason I love this show is that it is based on character as apposed to the plot, or shit that happens. I will say that all of the characters in this show are real and fleshed out because they were all given episodes to be fleshed out and filled in. Everyone on the island has their past sins, but the island has given them all a chance to reinvent themselves. Most people haven’t taken up that chance because, they can’t let go of the past. I am not sure if I buy into the belief that the island is purgatory, but it is something to think about. They have become obsessed with the what-ifs of their past, which allows the creators of the show to split the time of on-island time with their issue from their past. Anyways, the next season starts this Wednesday at 9pm, or 8pm if you are still in the Midwest.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
I watched this one Bravo after catching another Aaron Sorkin produced series earlier in the week, The West Wing. This show is destined to be great or have a knock-out first season. The first two episodes of this show had me salivating and waiting for more. The show is about a SNL type show that has hit a recent terrible run, like SNL lately, and is in the midst a major reform. Two former writers are given carte blanche over the newest season if they can bring back the cutting-edge humor and controversy to the once popular show. This has good characters, a slue of good actors, and an executive producer that has a good track record in TV, it even was fought over by the networks for a record amount when it was still a script.

The West Wing
Thanks to Bob I need to finish this series somehow. We watched the first disc of the series in a weekend. So that leaves me with 6 2/3 of the seasons to go. It was a record 3 episodes until I was wanting more and more from this show. This was executive produced by Aaron Sorkin. This show makes me wonder what it would be like if there was a liberal in the White House. This show is just plain good. It is no longer on the air after one of the main character died in real life, but it looks to have 7 great seasons with some of the best television actors in the business, not to mention some film stars in there.

South Park
This is the one show that I have been watching for quite some time. It is crude, yes, but they have honed their craft and blended topical humor with real and timely wit. They blended the Teri Shivo case with Cartman trying to steal Kenny’s PSP after another one of his untimely deaths. They have dealt with immigration, attacks against South Park, P. Diddy’s Vote or Die campaign, Scientology, global warming, smugness of Hollywood, and poking fun at all of those super nanny reality TV shows. They are good at what they do, it will be a sad day when they decide to call it quits on the series. I hope they don’t pull a Seth McFarland and recreate their own show with a new family a la Family Guy to American Dad.


Blogger Logan "Barry" Anderson said...

You should check out the show "Entourage." I believe it plays on HBO but my roommates have the first season or so and I love it!

10/05/2006 4:01 PM  

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