Sunday, March 29, 2009

Top 5 Favorite TV Shows

Now I’m not a fan of the television. I hate laugh tracks, commercial breaks, censorship, political agendas of networks, reality TV, fake/sensational news, and having to abide by their schedule (thank the dodo for Hulu). There’s just so much about the idiot box that pisses me off. That’s why this top 5 is especially important. See, this week I’m doing my top 5 on my favorite TV shows. There are some gems on TV (past and present) that have done a great job of showing me that this is indeed a medium that is worth saving. Now 99% of the stuff on TV is crap and I’m sure most people when they think about it would agree, but that 1%...that little tiny 1% some how makes it all worth it. So here we go, my top 5 favorite TV shows.

5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

I know what some of you are thinking. How can this teeny bopper show be on anyone’s list unless they were either 14 or retarded? Well I’ll admit, I thought the same thing until I actually watched it. When I thought of Buffy, all that came to my mind was the B movie from the early 90’s with Luke Perry (Ben Affleck was in it for a second too but he’s not credited). The cheerleader turned super hero just seemed really ridiculous to me, and I’m into some really ridiculous shit. I also have to say that I try to grasp onto whatever piece of masculinity I can because as it’s been brought to my attention many times before, I’m a huge pussy. So really, taking myself to the level where I will watch a show that seems to me to be an estrogen fest was a big leap. But another show on my top 5 motivated me to give this a try, and it turned me into a whole new kind of nerd that I never even knew existed.

So the title does a great job of explaining the premise. It’s about a girl named Buffy who fights vampires and other demons. It’s honestly pretty simple. I’ll admit that the first season (which is really only a half season) is a little slow and in my opinion kind of campy, but if you stick with it season 2 will take you on a roller coaster of love, betrayal, tragedy, and somehow humor. See, BTVS is a very tongue in cheek kind of show. Most of the time it’s not very serious and the dialogue is very witty. I personally think this is why when serious things happen on the show they have such a huge impact on the viewer. You really don’t see it coming because the show has such a light hearted feel to it…that is until season 4. In season 4 the bar really gets raised on the show and it takes a much more serious tone as the characters get older and have to put the high school years behind them. I’m not kidding, heads fucking roll. The show really grows up and during the sixth season it’s like watching a fantasy version of Trainspotting. It’s dark and you kind of feel sorry for/hate a lot of the characters. Then when we get into the final season we’re treated to a pretty epic conclusion of the show as all out war breaks out with the forces of evil.

The show has excellent character development with probably the best supporting cast of characters on network TV. Every character is amazing and it’s impossible for me to say who I like the most. I’m also a huge fan of shows where there’re women in powerful roles. Joss Whedon (creator of the show and uber nerd) is also a huge fan of that and just about every project he’s worked on features strong female characters as the lead. This goes all the way back to when he was the lead writer on Roseanne. I could go on all day about him, but this is about Buffy. Buffy also has a spin off show called, Angel. If I were doing a top 6 it would be on here. Both shows have a hugely successful comic line that takes place after the shows so you can still get your Buffy/Angel fix. They’re legit too because Joss Whedon works on both of them.

Seriously though, if you’re a fan of things that don’t suck, you need to take the time to watch Buffy. If you get through season 2 and you’re still not a fan, I seriously think there’s something wrong with you.

4. Entourage

So here’s another show I thought I would totally hate, but now quote like crazy. Seriously, it was described to me as, “It’s about this rich actor guy and his free loading friends.” Wow. That sounds awesome (insert sarcasm here). But you know what? It’s awesome. The best way to describe it is, it’s the male version of Sex and the City. I honestly don’t think there’s a better show out there that is really all about what it’s like to be a dude. Also the description of the show that was given to me was actually a little off. It’s not about a rich guy and his friends. It’s about the friends and the rich guy. Yes, they’re leaching off their friend, but really they’re trying to figure out what there place in the world is supposed to be.

Like Sex and the City, each character represents a different characteristic found in most guys. E is the smart and organized guy who’s looking for true love. Drama is the shallow burn out who has a confident exterior that hides a vulnerable inner child. Turtle is the pathetic, unattractive one of the group who in many ways is the most creative. Vinnie, the actor, is really what every guy wishes he was, the hugely successful, attractive guy who is able to breeze through life. Through these characters eyes we’re able to see the devil world that is Hollywood. We’re also treated with Jeremy Piven playing the role of Ari Gold, super agent of the stars. Seriously, you can watch the show just for him and be completely satisfied.

Aside from the psychology, when it comes down to it the show is just hilarious. I mean genuinely funny. The characters and the dialogue just feel so real and believable. I think it does a good job though because it’s a huge satire of the entertainment industry, complete with a celebrity cameo almost every episode. I think it’s also important to point out that Mark, “Marky Mark,” Wahlberg is an executive producer on the show. There’s speculation that a lot of the content of the show is based on some of his personal experiences in the industry. On top of all that, they make a freaking Aquaman movie directed by James Cameron in the show. That hits so many of my nerd buttons that it’s not even funny.

3. The Venture Brothers

What happens when a Hanna Barbara cartoon decides to go on a bender of booze and crack? You get The Venture Brothers. This show is basically the funniest show I’ve ever seen and it’ll only make sense to less than 1% of the people in the country. I think that’s what makes it such a good show though. It’s basically a big spoof on Johnny Quest. It’s about two half witted brothers, Hank and Dean, their pathetic father, Dr. Venture, and their mullet sporting, beef cake body guard, Brock Sampson. This team of adventurers basically travel the world every episode to find themselves in dangerous situations, much like in Johnny Quest, Scooby Doo, or any of those other great children’s shows. The main difference is that this show is definitely not for kids.

Villains such as The Monarch, Dr. Girlfriend, Phantom Limb, and Baron Underbheit are just a few of the ridiculous enemies of the Venture family. There are also parody characters of many superheroes. It’s so hard to explain this show to people who haven’t seen it. Again, probably one of the reasons it’s so great. It’s like the entire show is one big inside joke. Kind of like Robot Chicken in the sense that if you didn’t grow up with the stuff they’re making fun of you’ll have no idea what’s going on.

Honestly I’ve never had this hard of a time writing about something that I love so much. Seriously though, rent it because it rules. If any of my readers who have seen it can comment on their opinion of the show I’d greatly appreciate it. Maybe it’s just one of those things that’s so awesome words just can’t explain it. Yeah, I’ll cover up my inability to articulate my thoughts with that excuse.
2. Firefly

So I’ve said in the past that I’m a fan of science fiction in theory. It’s one of the requirements for being a nerd. The issue I usually have is that most sci-fi shows usually end up being terribly cliché with bad make up, porn caliber acting, and dialogue that sounds like it was written by somebody who’s never had a conversation before. Seriously, if dialogue on a show isn’t top notch I won’t even make it to the first commercial break (the main reason I’ve never seen a full episode of CSI. Seriously people, it sucks). So when people told me I needed to see Firefly I basically ignored them. I kept this up until Serenity came out in theaters. So I saw it with a few friends who had also never seen the show either. Why we decided to go to a movie based on a show we knew nothing about is still beyond me, but the point is we enjoyed it immensely. In fact, Serenity is on my top 5 favorite movies list. The sad thing is that I became extremely angry with myself. I should have listened to all those people that told me about the show. The anger was because the show was canceled after only half a season aired. I have this feeling of guilt, like if I was there from the beginning I could do something to prevent its fate, even though I know I couldn’t.

The show is basically a western in space. It takes place 2 years after a galactic civil war in which the independents lost to the alliance. The show follows independent war vet, Malcolm Reynolds, as he and his crew basically drift through the verse trying to be free. Meanwhile they pick up a few passengers who bring with them a lot of baggage. So while trying to harbor fugitives, a sheppard (priest in firefly lingo), and a companion (high class hooker), the crew of Serenity is basically forced to run from one troubled situation to another. It’s full of action, great special effects, witty dialogue, great characters, and not one stupid looking alien. Aliens ruin sci-fi. They’re only good for 2 things, Mr. Spock and Captain Kirk’s bedroom playmates.

So this show was created by Joss Whedon who I will go on record as saying he is the best writer when it comes to character development and I would say television in general. He knows how to develop long term story arcs that are intriguing and entertaining. Like I said earlier, this show opened me up to Buffy and Angel, as well as his work in comics with Fray. He also did a huge story arc of the X-Men, and a small arc on Runaways as well as overseeing and writing the Buffy and Angel comic series. He’s written many huge movies such as Toy Story, Titan A.E., and Alien: Resurrection. I do have to say though that his current project, Dollhouse, does not live up to his previous work. I’m trying really hard to get into that show, but right now it’ll be lucky to make a top 25 list. Like most great television shows, Firefly was canceled by Fox. Fox also canceled Family Guy, The Ben Stiller Show, Arrested Development, Futurama, Dark Angel, Greg The Bunny, Brisco County Jr, and Undeclared. All shows that were pretty damn good and better then most television ever will be. The lesson kids is that we don’t want to make a good show for Fox. Firefly still lives on with 2 comic mini series with more planned for the future.

1. Battlestar Galactica

I’m talking about the current series, not the 1978 one. I think it’s funny that I usually can’t stand sci-fi and my top 2 are sci-fi shows. As I’m writing this I have a friend upstairs who is currently getting hooked on this like an inner city kid on crack. I gave her the first disc today and just told her to see if she likes it. She’s now on disc 3. She loves it. I feel like a pusher. This show seriously is the bomb diggity though and regardless of whether or not you like sci-fi, you’ll like this show. The show basically has humanity spread out over 12 planetary colonies. They created artificial intelligence which they named Cylons that they used basically as slaves. The Cylons got sick of that and declared war on the humans. After a couple years of ass kicking an armistice was called and the Cylons left for deep space never to be seen from for 40 years. When they came back they nuked all 12 planets and basically destroyed humanity. The last Battlestar, Galactica, is charged with protecting the last few ships of refuges (totaling about 50,000 people) while they search for the fabled planet Earth.

The show has so many great things going for it. The writing is spot on and gritty, the plot is epic, the acting is amazing, the special effects are the best I’ve ever seen in a show, there’s a lot of social commentary, there is absolutely no gender bias (if anything it makes women look stronger then men), and the show was able to end on it’s own terms. They were able to basically tell the story the creators wanted to tell and finish it off without pressure from the studios. The ironic thing is before NBC/Universal/Sci-fi got a hold of it, it was licensed under Fox, which as I showed earlier would have probably led the show to cancellation. I think it’s so amazing that this show was able to have the life that it did because it is probably the darkest show I’ve really seen. I have friends with depression issues that have had to stop watching the show because it was really putting them in a bad place. That just goes to show you how well they portrayed the reality of what it would be like if you were basically the last of humanity being hunted down by machines.

I’ve had the great pleasure of viewing the final episodes with friends in a crowded theater with 600 other people. On March 20th we watched as the final 2 hour and 11 minute episode aired. It was sad to see such an amazing show end, but I feel they left it with a real sense of closure as well as giving a huge sense of hope and a foreshadowing of our possible future. The show is over with but there are still going to be projects in the future. There’s a movie that will be coming out in the fall called, The Plan, that takes place before the show and a spin off series taking place 40 something years before the series called, Caprica. I don’t think Caprica will be nearly as good but my hope is that the story leads up to the first cylon war. I have not met one person that has watched the first episode (Which is 3 hours) and not been in love with the show. I give you my guarantee that you will love it. So say we all.

So that’s my top 5 favorite TV shows. After writing it I’m in the mood to watch them all over again from the beginning. If only I had the time. Join me next week for my top 5 greatest life moments. It’s been a really good month for me and I really want to reflect on some great times in my life.


P.S. I posted this on my facebook page but I got my first writing job for a comic company called Planet Blue. They’re a start up company and I’ll be one of their first two writers. So, yay for me. Give me a few years and I’ll be running DC or Marvel. Just you wait and see. So thanks for all the people that supported me so far because this blog project was what got me motivated to write again. A super huge thank you to Lindsey Kaczmarski for sending me the link to the job posting and really pushing me to do it. You’re totally my hero and you reminded me to stay focused on my life goals. So in a few months you should hopefully see a real comic from me and I’ll actually have something to show for the last 25 years of being a nerd.


  1. Awesome work on the job, and the blog!

  2. Dude, flip flop one and two and then we can talk. 3-5 need some work though. I can't believe you don't have some discovery channel show up there like the mythbusters. WTF man?!?!?

    Congrats on the job too dude. Thats freakin awesome. I'll definitely buy you a beer the next time I see you.


  3. My top 5:
    The Office
    30 Rock

    All well written and funny (except for Lost). And no laugh tracks...

    Congrats on the job!

    Dave Neilson