Saturday, June 20, 2015

A Bit of a Detour: Other TV Shows to Watch

Seeing as we won't have Season 9 of Doctor Who until September, and the Christmas special for Sherlock is obviously even further away (with Season 4 not filming until 2016 - ugh), I won't have much to talk about until then. So, I thought I would leave you with some of my personal recommendations for other shows to watch while we're waiting for Sherlock and Doctor Who to return:

Genre: Space western

Number of seasons: 1

Best episodes: Our Mrs. Reynolds; Objects in Space

Created by Joss Whedon, this is one of the best shows ever produced, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. The crew of an illegal salvage (space)ship evades the corrupt Alliance government through heists pulled throughout space and on distant planets. There is not a single bad episode of this show, and its personal best are up there with television's best ever. The acting is great, the writing is great, the pacing, the stories, the complexity of the universe the characters inhabit (or should I say, the 'Verse) - everything is marvelous.
...And Fox had to ruin it by cancelling it after one season. Idiots.
Anyway, definitely go watch this show. It is phenomenal in every respect; you really come to love everyone in the crew - Mal, Wash, Zoe, Kaylee, Jayne, Inara, Book, Simon, River - and after awhile Serenity (their ship) starts to feel like home. The only bad thing I can think of for this show is when it's over, you'll be sad there isn't more.

Where to watch: Netflix

Agent Carter
Genre: Comic book, action, drama

Number of seasons: Season 2 set to air January 2016

Best episodes: Pilot; A Sin to Err

This is my new favorite show, and I'll tell you why: because Peggy is frikkin' awesome, that's why. There is no agenda here, no obnoxious "strong female character" to be shoved down our throats as cheap compensation for our pleas to have real, relatable women on screen. No, what's great about this show is that it doesn't make a big deal about gender - yes, it has its obvious points to make about sexism, but they aren't grating. Peggy has nothing to prove; she doesn't need to prove anything. She's an agent, and a badass one at that, who's just trying to do her job, and she does it damn well. She's not amazing because she's a woman - her gender is incidental. She's amazing because she's Peggy frikkin' Carter, and it's so refreshing to see that mindset on television at last. Give us more shows like this, please - where gender is important because it's not important within that fictional universe. Never mind that this show is also a ton of fun to watch, with great action and suspense and witty dialogue. Go watch it now, and catch up before Season 2!

Where to watch: Hulu

In the Flesh
Genre: Horror, drama

Number of seasons: 2

Best episode: Season 1, episode 3

In the Flesh is a hard show to describe, but it is definitely worth a watch. I would say a good description of it is an intelligent take on the zombie genre. In the show, Britain experiences an event called the Rising, where the dead rise from their graves and come back as zombies, attacking the living. When it turns out that the "Rotters" can be medicated and returned to a normal state, it lies with Kieren to deal with his family, who are still in pain over his death and now are frightened and emotionally disturbed by his return, and find his place in a society that sees his kind as monsters. 
I'm not going to lie, Season 1 was some of the most emotionally intense television I've ever watched. It is also a British show, so, as well as plenty of drama, it has its share of dry humor, such as the government trying to force everyone to be politically correct in referring to zombies as suffering from "Partially Deceased Syndrome." It's also, to my pleasant surprise, a show very positive towards the LGBTQ community, showing queer relationships in a respectful light that is, quite frankly, very refreshing.

Where to watch: Youtube (unfortunately that seems to be the only place it's available)

Downton Abbey

Genre: Period drama

Number of seasons: Season 6 (final season) set to air in 2016

Best seasons: 1-3

This show is just lovely, pure and simple. The first three seasons are the best, taking you through history and the subsequent changes in society by showing the fluctuating divide between the aristocratic family the Crawleys, owners of Downton Abbey, and their servants. With how many characters move through Downton's halls, it's astounding that you feel like you know and love them all: not just Lord and Lady Grantham and their daughters, and of course Lady Violet, but Carson, Mrs. Hughes, Bates, Anna, Daisy, etc. About midway through Season 2 (my favorite season), Downton starts to feel like home. There's so much to love; it's unfortunate that after Season 3 it seemed to lose its stride a bit, but it still has all the charm and wit to keep us enthralled as it heads towards its final season.

Where to watch:

Genre: Horror, drama

Number of seasons: Season 11 set to air October 2015

Best seasons: 1-6, 8

How to describe this show that I love in spite of myself? Is it pandering? Yes. Is it sexist? Yes (although, in fairness, it's been getting better...). Is it pretty ridiculous? Yes. 
But is it AWESOME? Hell. Yes.
Want great comedy? Watch "Hollywood Babylon," "Changing Channels," "Yellow Fever," or "The French Mistake." Want fantastic drama? Watch "The End," "What Is and What Should Never Be," "The Man Who Would Be King," and just pretty much all of Season 5. As well as delivering on both genre fronts, it's a show that's not afraid to be self aware and truly, hilariously meta, with episodes like (again) "The French Mistake," "Fan Fiction," "The Real Ghostbusters," and "The Monster at the End of This Book." Watching the show grow from seasons 1-5, going from hunting monsters to hunting demons, to fighting demons and angels, to getting mixed up in the war between heaven and hell and facing the apocalypse - I mean, WOW. What a grand master plan for showrunner Eric Kripke, and in the end, it really did give us an amazing arc for the story and the characters.
The show has started going downhill in recent years, unfortunately, as Kripke left after season 5; season 7 was a mess, and while season 8 pretty much saved the show, season 9 and 10 were not all that great. Still, it's definitely worth it to start watching, if only for the Kripke years and the characters you meet along the way - Dean, Sam, Cas, Bobby, Ellen, Jo, Jodie, Charlie, and so many more.

Where to watch: Netflix

Breaking Bad
Genre: Drama

Number of seasons: 5

Best episode: Ozymandias

While Sherlock and Doctor Who still remain my favorite shows, Breaking Bad is, hands down, the best show I've ever seen. Everything about it is quality - the acting, the writing, the cinematography, the editing, the music, EVERYTHING. If you haven't seen this, go watch it now. Even if you're a bit wary of the concept - a high school chemistry teacher diagnosed with terminal cancer starts cooking meth to pay for his treatment and provide for his family - give it a chance. It is so complex, so engrossing, and executed with such integrity and intent of purpose, you know that you are in the hands of a master showrunner. My kudos to you, Vince Gilligan - you gave us one for the ages.

Where to watch: Netflix