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"I may not know how to fly but I know how to read and that's almost the same thing."-- Gregory Maguire, Out of Oz

"...while finding true love was one of the most splendid things that could happen to you in life, finding a friend was equally splendid." -- Felix J Palma, The Map of the Sky

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Top Ten Television Shows - 7/15/14


My picks for the Tuesday Top Ten, as invented by The Broke and Bookish. Today's theme was "other stories," either Top Ten Favorite Movies or TV Shows! I went with my favorite TV shows because the movie list is way longer.

1. 
LOST -- A plane crashes onto a mysterious island, leaving the survivors to fall prey to supernatural and scientific forces alike... 

I fan-girled so hard, I nearly wet myself every season opener and cried for weeks after every season ender. The writing was superb, every episode full of little clues and mysteries and monsters, questions were answered just so the viewer would ask more. The casting was perfect.

2. 
Breaking Bad -- A high school chemistry teacher, diagnosed with terminal cancer, realizes he's going to die and leave his family in debt. So  he invents his own meth-recipe and begins a crime spree to cover his medical bills... 

The writing for this was smart, dark, and funny, all at once. A story of a too-smart Anti-hero with plenty of character evolution to make it feel realistic.  

3. 
Wilfred -- Ryan is very unhappy. He's left his job, suffering from depression. His family situation is complicated. Then the cute neighbor starts bring her dog around. Everyone sees a normal dog, except Ryan, who sees Wilfred. 

This show is so witty. First seeing Jason Gann act out and give voice to seemingly normal doggie-behaviors is hysterical. Then watching Ryan and Wilfred get in and out of trouble together as Ryan searches for answers, is disturbing. Is Wilfred a devil? Or is Ryan insane?

4. 
The Black Donnellys -- This show only ran for one season (which I think is a sin). It's about an Irish crime family - four brothers who can't escape their heritage - living in Hell's Kitchen at war with Italians. 

It's sort of an Anti-hero story combined with brotherly love. The writing was dark and gripping, and the characters were compelling. This story wasn't about right from wrong, but doing what had to be done to protect 'The Family'.

5. 
The Walking Dead -- Rick Grimes wakes up alone in a hospital surrounded by dead bodies. Some of them are still walking. In a world without order and with a surplus of flesh eating zombies, he sets out to find and save his family. 

The biggest cool factor is how the zombies are handled: they're an obstacle course that wants to eat you. This story is set up to show how far people are willing to go when the shit hits the fan, what they're willing to do for each other and to each other. The character evolution is incredible; who these people are in season 1 is not the same as who they are in season 4. Each season has a new set of trials, tribulations, and villains... as if the undead weren't enough.

6. 
Supernatural -- Two brothers, Sam and Dean Winchester, take on the responsibility of hunting all that goes bump in the night, occasionally aided by a so-awkward-he's-human angel named Castiel, and the smooth-talking-double-crossing King of Hell name Crowley.

This show isn't particularly ground breaking, but boy is it fun. First you've got your little supernatural/creepy fix, from the monsters and the horrible things they're doing to humans. Then you've got your cheesy hero fix, with two handsome men, rushing in to save the day. Add some funny one-liners, a plot that's easy enough to follow, and the curiosity to see how the brothers are going to be killed (and resurrected) at the end of each season and you've got an addicting little show. 

I would also go so far as to say this is the only show on CW's line up that is consistently written well, despite being aimed at a younger audience. They never "dumb it down" to a point where it feel childish and pointless and predictably soap-opera-ish. It isn't full of overused young adult cliches nor over-actors with only pretty faces... Although some of the faces are certainly pretty.

7. 
The Bridge -- A mutilated body is found on the border between Mexico and Texas, putting the crime directly in both jurisdictions. Detective Sonya Cross and Detective Marco Ruiz both want the case and must learn to work together to solve it...And this one crime, inevitably snowballs as it becomes linked to a serial killers, drug cartels, and corrupt cops.

I think the casting for this was smart. Diane Kruger is just that good an actress she can pull of her strange character without making the character seem stranger. And Demián Bichir was a perfect choice for Marco -- a Mexican police officer trying very hard to walk the straight and narrow -- he's just got one of those faces, something about it is very kind. And the murders and murder scenes are consistently horrifying...Which makes me think the writers should have some psych evals done, just in case.


8. 
Law & Order: SVU -- What do you say about one of the longest running police procedurals out there? The ideas of being sexually assaulted or having a kid that's abducted or molested, are very primal fears. Human beings are social animals; its in our nature to want contact and not want to be hurt by the ones we come into contact with. It's in our nature to want our children to go outside and play and be safe, and we'd do anything to protect them. So a show that basically exploits those fears by showing you victims of heinous crimes, and then reassures you that the bad guy will be caught and brought to justice...Well, its no wonder it does so well. And really, after 15 years, shouldn't it just be called, "The Mariska Hargitay Show"? Without her, the psychological aspects just wouldn't matter as much; without her the show would tank.

9. 
The X-Files -- Special Agents Mulder and Scully from the FBI, are assigned to investigate cases involving paranormal phenomenon. Mulder believes fully in the existence of aliens, monsters, and most governmental conspiracies; Scully is a skeptic, assigned to the X-Files to discredit Mulder.

No matter where David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson go in life, they will always be Mulder and Scully to me. The chemistry between these two was great; the far fetched story-lines wouldn't have worked otherwise. I remember being too young for the show and being terrified the monsters would come get me. I remember getting older, understanding that it was fiction and still be afraid the monsters would come get me! I remember, years after it ended, getting up at 5 am in the morning to watch re-runs on sci-fi channel! Its just one of those things that's easy to go back to.

10.
The Twilight Zone -- The Twilight Zone is a 60s sci-fi/fantasy anthology series, narrated by Rod Sterling. Every episode is a different story, showing characters trapped in strange and disturbing circumstances, often leading to twist endings with a moral/philosophical lesson.

New Year's Eve Marathon. Every year for as long as I can remember, Sci-fi channel shows The Twilight Zone over New Years Eve and through the following day. But my first introduction came on Sunday mornings, as a small child on a channel I cannot remember, lol. My parents weren't church-goers, but my mom always cooked a family breakfast and my dad would find Twilight Zone re-runs, and we'd eat eggs and sausage and get lost in the Twilight Zone.

And I have to say, that show was classic art... Like Monet or Shakespeare or Michelangelo. Because these stories that were produced in the age of black and white are still unsettling today in the world of HD, as they were back then. And it says a lot, that the morals of each story, still ring true. 

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