Tuesday, February 5, 2008

A Project I Will Likely Never Finish

Lance's friend Scott (Myspace name: Taargus Taargus) did a pretty cool thing over the past couple weeks. He posted his top 10 movies of 2007, along with a bunch that either sucked balls or just missed the cut. I enjoyed reading the series, as his capsule reviews and personal thoughts either confirmed what I already felt about movies I'd seen or made me see them in a different light. Of course, there were films on the list I hadn't seen, and it made me want to check them out. He did it sans spoilers as well, so it didn't ruin anything I hadn't gotten around to yet.

At any rate, I wanted to do something similar, although these days it seems a mammoth task just to turn out one measly blog. In college, I wrote a lot of reviews (music, movies, books, even art- which I knew NOTHING about) for the university newspaper, and I don't think I realized how much I missed it until I read Scott's recap. To publish your opinions and even influence others is a rush (not to mention a substantial ego trip) for me, and I like the idea that someone might be persuaded to try something out on my say-so if my arguement is well presented.

Christ, that's a long buildup. What if I just get to it?

At any rate, I'm going to try something arguably more ambitious than Scott's 2007 movie list. I've been renting a bunch of tv shows on dvd lately (esp. with the lack of original material coming out due to the writers' strike). It's an opportunity that we as entertainment consumers have only had in the past five years or so, and Netflix makes it affordable. So I'm going to do a list of my own (Scott nailed this right on: everyone loves lists). It will be My Top 10 TV Show Dramas of All TIme. If it goes well, perhaps I will do a top 10 sitcoms list. But this is ambitious enough for now.

Disclaimers: The key word is "MY". Although I take critical response and overall impact of the show into account, personal bias clearly will play a role. Feel free to post your grumblings and atta boys accordingly. You'll also notice that a lot of these shows are more recent. Although I would argue the claim that tv is BETTER nowadays with the addition of cable and the attention to quality, I certainly realize that there were some well-done dramas I just never saw. I've heard great things about The Fugitive and Hill Street Blues. But I've never seen a single episode of either, so they can't be on my list. And even though I remember trying to stay up late and watch Dallas with my parents, I'm not qualified to judge its merits, although I gotta say, it seemed kinda ridiculous.

The Ground Rules:
1. A show must've run for at least three seasons. This disqualifies one of my absolute favorites, Rome. Et tu, Nolan?
2. The show must be a serialized drama. This means that the storyline must continue on from week to week. This eliminates anything like Law and Order, although that wouldn't have made my list anyway, as I find that show formulaic and silly. But it definitely nudged out one show I really liked: Quantum Leap, which had some serialized elements, esp. toward the end of its run, but you could skip a few shows, jump back in (pun lamely intended), and not have really missed anything.
3. The show will be judged on the entirety of its run, not just its prime. This really hurts a show like ER, which I was addicted to (along with everyone else) for a good three to four years but eventually stopped watching because of all the cast turnover and the fact that helicopters started crashing into the hostpital. The fact that this show is STILL ON and rated in the top 10 every week boggles my mind.
4. I have to have seen all or close to all of the episodes. That eliminates two of my current favorite shows, unfortunately: Battlestar Gallactica and The Shield. I've seen enough of these two to know that if I update this list in a year, they would both be in the top 10, but rules is rules.

Before I get to the Top 10, how about some honorable mentions? These shows didn't quite make the cut, but provided me with hours of enjoyment nonetheless. (Man, this list has more unnecessary buildup than an episode of American Idol. That show would be at the top of my list of "Top 10 Crappiest Shows People Inexplicably Like That I Can't Escape From, Making Me Absolutely Insane From January to June." That's a shitty title, actually. I'll need to work on that.)

The David E. Kelly Group:
There's no question that Kelly has a knack for orginality, quirky characters, and situational gimmicks. That only goes so far. In the early stages of Ally McBeal, The Practice, and Picket Fences, I was completely hooked. Then the gimmicks and surreality eventually become grating, the show goes off the rails, and people start to tune out, resulting in...you guessed it...more gimmickry and nonsense. All of these ended worse than Naomi Watts' decision to watch the tape in The Ring. Ironically, one of Kelly's worst shows, Boston Public, is the only one I stuck with until the bitter end. It was about teachers, and I thought at some point I could find something applicable to my life. Nope.

Miami Vice: I really liked this as a kid, and it definitely was unlike anything that came before it. However, all I can remember is the dark (yet pastel) vibe of the show, and that Phil Collins song: "I can feel it commmming in the aaayyyyeeerrrr toniiiight...ooohhhh looooorrrrrd." It also jumpstarted the career of Michael Mann, who directed two of my favorite movies ever: The Last of the Mohicans and Heat. If I rented all the eps and watched it again, would it be in my top 10, or would Crockett, Tubbs, and the cherry red Ferrari Testerosa all seem dated? I dunno. One thing's for sure: Edward James Olmos NEVER goes out of style. Watch the aforementioned Battlestar if you don't believe me.

The Larry Sanders Show: One of HBO's earliest series. It only misses the top 10 for two reasons: I've only seen about half the episodes, and I'm not sure it's a drama. But it's not a sitcom either. It's a dramedy. Whenever they come out with the complete dvd set (there's a "best of" disc out now to cut your teeth on), I'm all over it. One note: it helped launch the careers of Jeffery Tambor (playing the immortal "Hey Now" Hank Kingsley), Jeneane Garafolo, Sarah Silverman, and even Jon Stewart. It also had David Duchovny playing himself as a closeted gay man with a crush on Gary Shandling. Brilliant.

24: The toughest ommission, as I've seen pretty much every episode through six seasons. The last two seasons have been brutal, though. And I feel kind of dirty when I watch it, like I'm slowly becoming a Republican when I root for Jack Bauer to TORTURE THE SHIT OUT OF THAT GUY SO YOU CAN FIND THE BOMB/ANTHRAX/YOUR WAY-HOT DAUGHTER KIM!!!!

If you made it this far, you have my shock and my awe. Number 10 will commence whenever I feel like it.

I just re-read this, and I clearly need to cut down on my parenthesis use. Jesus.

1 comment:

Peter said...

I will save the bulk of my comments for the list itself, but a couple quick things now.

1. You can never use too many parentheses (though I will use none in my post...wait...damn!).

2. Crockett drove a black Ferrari Daytona, not a red Testarossa.

3. Though I like Heat and Mohicans, I'm more partial to Manhunter (the original Hannibal Lector movie) and The Insider. But to be fair, I haven't seen Mohicans in a while and Heat just never seemed to measure up considering its cast.

4. Quantum Leap and Magnum PI should be on all top-10 lists (is it a coincidence that they are both Belisarius productions...I think not).

5. 24 should be excluded for any one of several reasons: (a) It sucks (with the exception of Season 1). (b) Is it really a serialized drama? If you've seen Season 1, then you've seen Season 2 thru 78. You could tune in in the middle of Season 3, Episode 12 and you'd know exactly what was going on (Jack's hurting somebody (most likely a terrorist), the producers have found a way to include his family somehow, a president has just been assassinated or will be soon, a huge bomb(s) is about to go off, and only Jack can save us (not just from the terrorists, but from our own government)). If you're still watching this show, then you're probably still watching Steven Segal and Van Damme movies in the theater (wait...are they even released in theaters?). (c) as hot as Elisha Cuthbert is, she wears entirely too many clothes and she rarely show up anymore (and when she does, she shows up with C. Thomas Howell...is the "Soul Man's" appearance a positive or a negative...I don't know...but I know that the WOLVERINES kicked some Russian ass!).

I've lost my train of thought...I'll stop now.