Joss Delage

Recommended TV series?

41 posts in this topic

My recommendation follows on the heels of those who suggested Arrested Development. The Australian sitcom Kath & Kim (not the awful American version that got cancelled recently) is very funny and doesn't require intimate understanding of Australian culture - though some things will be confusing. The show is irreverent and sometimes a touch vulgar, but like many things to come out of Australia, it is primarily a satire.

The show is available on PAL DVDs only, but a lot of DVD players in North America can read those discs now.

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I highly recommend the new reality series "Pitchmen" (http://dsc.discovery.com/tv/pitchmen/pitchmen.html). It follows the very entertaining Billy Mays and Andrew Sullivan (you'll recognize them instantly). But, what's surprising about the show is that each episode shows real-life entrepreneurs struggle to make their dreams real. i.e. it shows American Business in a positive light. It shows the pursuit of success in a positive light.

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One show I really enjoyed as a kid was Quantum Leap, although I don't think I would like it as much if I first saw it as an adult. I've always liked Scott Bakula. Another actor I like is Patrick McGoohan. I have a couple seasons of Secret Agent aka Danger Man, as well as The Prisoner.

Although -The Prisoner- was a bit "over the top" at times, it was very avant guard and very imaginative. There is one episode you might want to check out: -Hammer into Anvil- with Patrick Carghill as #2. It was a hymn to justice. The characterization of #2 as a bully and a coward was something that Ayn Rand might have written.

Bob Kolker

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Well, I'm done with the 4 (or is that 3.5) seasons of Heroes. Very good show, in my humble opinion.

I have downloaded the first 3 episodes of Doll House.

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Reaper -- always better than you expect. A sleeper classic.

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To Bob Kolker: Thanks for the Prisoner episode recommendation. The Prisoner is my favorite television show, ever, and I'd like to get a DVD collection of it that includes "Hammer into Anvil".

And I agree with you, Thoyd, that the original Star Trek series was far superior to the ones that followed. The original had better writing, excellent dialogue, better situations, and, most importantly, more three-dimensional character development. Almost all of the episodes of the subsequent series have writing that deals in alot of non-essentials, dialogue that's filled with "scientific" double-talk or silly witticisms, situations that are metaphysically impossible in reality (no matter what part of the universe you are in), and characters that have only the most superficial of defining characteristics. Also, these series contain alot of liberal, socialist messages to the point that it gets nauseating. And I have found none of the films to be very good, and a number of them are just plain bad, such as Nemesis. (The prequel that just came out, Star Trek, is not too bad. It's certainly better than probably any of the other movies, but that's not saying much.)

If I were to recommend TV series (from the ones I've seen) to someone else, I would suggest:

1--The Fugitive (the original, from the 1960's)

2--Hawaii Five-O

3--Star Trek (the original, of course)

4--The Twilight Zone (the original series)

5--24 (the first few seasons)

6--The Rifleman

(As I say, The Prisoner is my favorite, but someone else might be put-off by it.)

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Almost all of the episodes of the subsequent series have writing that deals in alot of non-essentials, dialogue that's filled with "scientific" double-talk or silly witticisms, situations that are metaphysically impossible in reality (no matter what part of the universe you are in), and characters that have only the most superficial of defining characteristics. Also, these series contain alot of liberal, socialist messages to the point that it gets nauseating.

Could you provide examples of these criticisms? The original series also had many instances of impossible events (such as time travel and the infamous transporter accident sending Kirk and co. to a parallel universe). It shared the same socialist backdrop, because both cultures presumably abandoned the use of money. I remember one episode in the original series where Enterprise finds a society based on the 1920s, and Kirk quells the mob conflicts by taking charge and demanding a “cut of the action”. They joke afterward that a ship would be sent to collect the money for appearances sake, but of course it was of no use to them. The series held monetary systems to be backward but quaint, not immoral but relics from an age before enlightenment. Frankly, I don’t think Roddenberry had a very good understanding of economics. Indicators of socialism conflict with a very benevolent portrayal of man and an emphasis on free will that would persist into The Next Generation. And even in TNG where you get a closer look at the Federation and life on Earth, you don’t see anything explicitly socialistic. What you do see is people passionate about improving themselves and their knowledge of the universe and a society with limitless opportunities for personal growth. The business about getting rid of poverty is more based on Roddenberry’s optimism for the future than any altruist premises.

As far as characters in TOS being more three-dimensional, I have no idea what this means. As much as I enjoy the original series, some of the "main" characters hardly get any development at all - e.g. everyone except for Kirk, Spock and McCoy. Even those characters get great personalities but you don't get much depth until the movies were written and the character histories and relationships were fleshed out more. The stories were classic, though, I'll give you that.

I can understand preferring one series over the other for personal reasons, but I never understood the disparaging remarks over The Next Generation.

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I need a new TV series (I use iTunes). My recent favorites have been Firefly, West Wing, Deadwood, Stargate: Atlantis, and Battlestar Galactica, but they've all ended now... What would people recommend?

Thanks,

JD

Firefly is my favorite show of all time and none of the ones I list have the sense of life it does nor a character as wonderfully heroic as Mal, but then what show ever has? However, your list gives me the impression that you have a predilection for SciFi. If that is the case, have you watched Farscape? It is pretty serial particularly in the last 2 seasons, so you have to see it from beginning to end (including the mini-series, which is epic). I'll be the first to admit that there are some silly eps, but they have lots of SF references in their jokes, which I thoroughly enjoy.

Babylon 5 was good. Currently I enjoy Lost (very serial) and Fringe. Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles was good and it is really sad they canceled it after only 2 seasons, but they somehow managed to end it in a very satisfying manner (much more so than BSG, ugh). I have also enjoyed the most recent iteration of Dr. Who (it can be a bit too liberal in its message sometimes, but is still an excellent show, especially with David Tennant). If Sci Fi Channel ever gets in back on the air, Eureka was also kind of fun to watch.

I've given up on Heroes, but after what I've read in some of these replies I may give Dollhouse another try (found the first few eps pretty dull).

I do not watch much TV that isn't SF, except The Office and Mythbusters. If you like humor and SF, I would recommend the utterly ludicrous Red Dwarf (do not try and take anything in the show seriously or you won't enjoy it, as it is absolutely ridiculous in every conceivable way).

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I can understand preferring one series over the other for personal reasons, but I never understood the disparaging remarks over The Next Generation.

I'll second that. Any of the flaws that can be found in TNG can also be found in TOS. The main difference is that there were far more eps of TNG -- over twice as many (178 total) and so if one looks one could find more examples of the socialist/liberal themes and other flaws for that reason. I agree with bborg in regards to socialism and the lack of money in Star Trek. I have always perceived that the lack of money and the abolition of poverty were a result of all human individuals becoming rational and productive and focused on personal growth to the point where poverty just ceased being a problem and money was no longer used as reward for effort because everyone put forth their best effort all the time--rather like an maximum effort bartering system--versus the imposition of some kind of massive socialist system. It is ridiculously idealistic, yes, but I don't perceive the earth of the ST universe having a bunch of people who just play all the time and don't work while they mooch off the productive individuals. They certainly don't have a capitalist system but I don't think they had (or had need of) a massive welfare state either. I'd second the opinion that Roddenberry just wasn't interested in nor did he understand the kind of economic system his universe would have had. That's a flaw but one I can gladly ignore when I watch episodes like "I, Borg."

If one watches all of the TNG and TOS eps, one would see that there are some mixed messages when it comes to the existence of currency in the Star Trek universe. Sure they say on more than one occasion that they have no need for money. BUT, there are also occasions when characters purchase items while on other planets or space stations, like "Trouble with Tribbles" and "Encounter at Farpoint". They use "credits." I don't know what they are or where they come from, but they seem like currency to me.

As for 3D characters, TNG far out does TOS in this area as the number of eps afforded them the opportunity to explore all of the main characters in their own episodes multiple times.

TNG was more technical and had more technical dialog but that was because it was created decades later and they had to keep up with advancements in science and their very demanding audience. Even if the technical dialog didn't actually mean anything, it had to be far more impressive than what was presented in the 60's.

I like both series.

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If that is the case, have you watched Farscape? It is pretty serial particularly in the last 2 seasons, so you have to see it from beginning to end (including the mini-series, which is epic). I'll be the first to admit that there are some silly eps, but they have lots of SF references in their jokes, which I thoroughly enjoy.

Farscape was a fun show. It lacked a serious intellectual dimension, but I enjoyed the adventure element, seeing the relationships between the characters develop, and the rich, imaginative environment. A lot of creative energy went into its production and I always appreciate that. I wasn’t wild about the mini-series, though, I thought it was a little trite.

I have also enjoyed the most recent iteration of Dr. Who (it can be a bit too liberal in its message sometimes, but is still an excellent show, especially with David Tennant).

Dr. Who is a mixed bag. As you said it can be strong on liberal themes, the worst of which is the great reluctance of the Doctor to judge and punish evil, even apocalyptic evil like the Daleks. He also will not use lethal force even when survival is at stake, but this is common to most fictional heroes today. I’m not sure if this is willful appeasement on the part of the writers or just gross naivety. I lean toward the latter because the show minimizes the impact of evil; it isn’t that they believe compromise is inevitable or necessary, but that the good can afford it. They have the Doctor make a target of himself time and time again, literally standing up against armies that could vaporize him, and yet they don’t and he somehow outwits them thus supposedly proving that violence is never necessary. Given his seeming invulnerability to danger, then, he often feels he can afford to spare his foes of their deserved fate. However when he is provoked, I should say, the results are usually poetic (such as when he imprisons the “Family of Blood” for eternity after they tried to gain immortality).

But…I said mixed and not all out bad because it’s the kind of show where if you squint your eyes (metaphorically speaking), this naivety can look like benevolence. The Doctor and his “companions” travel the universe expecting wonders, not tragedies. They delight in the thrill of exploration and discovering the new and bizarre. The conflicts are not the focus of the show, and even when their lives are at stake they enjoy each others company and never allow the horrors they witness to change their outlook on living. I like watching Tennant in the role, also. And the stories are usually pretty inventive.

If Sci Fi Channel ever gets in back on the air, Eureka was also kind of fun to watch.

That's another fun one. Again, most scifi today doesn't seem to have the thinking element anymore, it's just creative stories, humor and drama. Maybe with the "thinking" today being more along the lines of the BSG finale I should be OK with that. But still, I'm not very happy with the trend. And with SciFi channel going the way of reality shows and wrestling, the future of good science fiction is iffy.

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There's a new show on ABC from Mike Judge (Beavis and Butthead, Office Space, King of the Hill) called The Goodes. It's a South Park-ish satire on a community that tries to live by the ethic WWAGD - What Would Al Gore Do. The pilot was hilarious.

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I'm having a blast watching "True Blood". I highly recommend it. (A fair deal of nudity though, so if this is something you object to, that might not be the right thing for you.)

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If you like World War II setting, I highly recommend HBO's Band of Brothers produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. It has the same feel as Saving Private Ryan and it's a true story of American paratroopers who fought in Europe during World War II. It was very well acted.

I also love HBO's From The Earth To The Moon. Also produced by Tom Hanks. It is about the Apollo space program. Very inspiring and well acted as well.

Currently, I'm watching HBO's The Pacific. Also produced by Tom Hanks. It is about the battle of American marines with the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II.

I am no fan of Tom Hanks, it just happened that most of these TV series that he produced are my favorite.

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If you like World War II setting, I highly recommend HBO's Band of Brothers produced by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg. It has the same feel as Saving Private Ryan and it's a true story of American paratroopers who fought in Europe during World War II. It was very well acted.

I agree. Unfortunately, The Pacific, by the same team, didn't come close. (It felt more like Platoon than Band of Brothers.)

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Lately, I've enjoyed White Collar, Nikita, and Bones. White Collar may be some of the most entertaining TV I've seen in a while. Nikita is like an extended Bourne movie. Bones is decent with some good dialogue, but not a whole lot of long-term plot structure.

I haven't watched 24, but I'll probably start that next since I just tore a tendon in my finger.

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