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2008-02-28

Recommended TV series part 1

Here is an alphabetical list of 23 quality TV series I've enjoyed and can recommend. Download and/or buy and check them out - and please go through the whole list here, since they are all good. :)

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30 Rock
(NBC)
Tina Fey from Saturday Night Live created and stars in this comedy, and it's produced by Lorne Michaels (also SNL). Very fun and witty with a perfect Alec Baldwin as the irratic, powerful and charismatic CEO.

Big Love
(HBO)
This drama is from HBO (= quality), it's about polygamy and it's got Bill Paxton, Chlöe Sevigny, Bruce Dern and Harry Dean Stanton in it. Series 1 was excellent, and series 2 has just finished. Try to watch it with subtitles if you can - lots of strange biblical phrases there.

Chuck
(ABC)
An entertaining (though not amazing) comedy series about a geek turned into a spy/super-computer, with lots of references to contemporary culture. Well made, and you can see (in the first seasons) that they must have had a big budget for it.

Day Break
(ABC)
Crime drama about a day repeating (like in "Groundhog Day"), it's really cleverly made, and it only ran for one season. It even got cancelled in the USA, because it was just too good for ABC.

Dexter
(Showtime)
A highly entertaining drama/crime from Showtime, about a very likeable serial killer murdering only bad people while keeping his day job in the police, and it's got Michael C. Hall (from "Six Feet Under") in it. Series 1 was absolutely excellent, and series 2 is just as good. Just make sure you start with series 1!

Extras
(BBC)
By Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, who also made "The Office". Every episode features a guest star who are all allowed to seem egomaniac or crazy. High quality British comedy! Guest starring e.g. Ben Stiller, Kate Winslet, Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Stewart, Orlando Bloom, David Bowie, Daniel Radcliffe, and Ian McKellen.

In Treatment
(HBO)
Gabriel Byrne stars as a sympathetic psychologist, and the 25-minute episodes are all showing his sessions in real time with various recurring patients, while also showing aspects of his personal life. Almost no music, just intelligent and emotional dialogue. It's based on the Israeli TV series "BeTipul" - for once they did something good over there! Now if they could just tear down the wall...

Invasion
(ABC)
Good sci-fi/drama that was cancelled by ABC, again probably too intelligent for their core audience. Think "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" updated for the 00's, and add a dose of well played drama and small town life as well.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia(
(FX)
In this comedy we follow four friends who run a bar in Philly, and they're so cynical and reprehensible that every scene and every episode displays people at their absolute worst - in a really funny way. Almost every stereotype and prejudice is covered, and since the episodes are so short it's really easy to just put on another one, and another one...

Just Shoot Me
(NBC)
David Spade is really funny in this older and long lived series, though it gets kind of predictable in the end. The rest of the cast are OK, but see it for David - some of his dialogue is so cynic, sharp and on-point that it almost makes me pee.

Mad About You
(NBC)
If you like Helen Hunt, you'll love this gentle comedy with Paul Reiser and Helen as a couple that goes through most phases worth showing on television. I still have a nostalgic spot for this series, since I saw it when I was younger.

Masters of Horror
(Showtime)
Gather the best horror directors and -writers and have them do an episode where they can do almost whatever they want, and you get this series. Some are very scary and intense, others are a bit more harmless and almost stupid. But all in all a good effort, with enough good moments to keep you watching it.

Peep Show
(Channel 4)
REALLY really funny awkward British comedy series about two flatmates who are not good for much, though they try to pretend for themselves they are. Somewhere between "Extras" and "The Office", this series is full of horrible, shameful and laughable moments, simply because they are happening to someone else. Guilty pleasures.

Primeval
(ITV)
A British show about 250 million years old creatures entering present day through "anomalies", time portals that open up in random places (mostly around London, oddly enough..) and allow creatures from i.e. the Permian period to enter our time. Not amazing in any way, but if you like sci-fi and cool CGI this could be your thing.

Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip
(NBC)
Expensive (so much so that it only lasted one season) and sharply made about a fictional SNL-type show, this drama by Aaron Sorkin has stars like Matthew Perry and Amanda Peet in it, and is kept in basically the same witty tradition as "West Wing", Sorkin's previous creation. Entertaining, also because it contains a multitude of references to everything imaginable. Could be seen as kind of like a "show off"-thing, but it's kept in a sober way.

Surface
(NBC)
Short lived (only one season) contemporary sci-fi about a young female scientist discovering monsters in the sea and then trying to tell the world about it. Contains the usual conspiracy-theories, but it looks good and plays well. Too bad it didn't come back for a second season.

The Big Bang Theory
(CBS)
eally funny comedy about two very geeky men, their geeky friends and a sexy/cute down-to-earth female neighbour. Very accurate script that shows the collision between normality and high strung geekiness.

The Human Sexes with Desmond Morris
(The Learning Channel)

A six-part documentary, comparing the biological differences between the human male and female and investigation of why so many cultures have chosen to downplay or exaggerate sexual differences. Renowned zoologist and people-watcher Desmond Morris combines his observations with the latest evolutionary theories to present a new view of males and females.

Each episode compares a unique aspect of male and female biology, from differences in the brain and body to sex-specific rituals, sexual biology, attraction and relationships, sex-roles in marriage and parenting - and the ongoing gender war.

Personally, I think it explains very plainly a lot of things people really don't understand or have thought much about, and if enough people saw these kind of documentaries, it could create a better understanding between the sexes. And a fairer treatment of women everywhere...

The L Word
(ShowTime)
Probably the best drama about lesbians ever made for TV. Yes, it can be argued that the personal lives of privileged, (mainly) white, 30-something lesbians living in L.A. might not be the most accurate representation of girls who loves girls - but it's still a very well written drama that spends time in exploring the many different facets of human universal emotions. And it has lots of love scenes with beautful women! What more do you need?

The Office
(BBC)
Steve Carell does a great job in the American version of this show, but it's this British original created by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant that started it all. Incredibly awkward comedy that at times is almost painful to watch, because you feel so embarrassed for the characters. Essential viewing! Also check "Extras" (BBC) by the same makers.

The Riches
(FX)
Dark drama about an American family of thieving "travellers", that by (deadly) chance get the opportunity to take over the life of a wealthy family. British comedian and actor Eddie Izzard and Minnie Driver make this a must-see for anyone interested in alternative and intelligent TV series.

The Sarah Silverman Program
(Comedy Central)
Queen of dead pan sarcasm, Jewish Sarah Silverman is one of the most cynic and funny women on TV. You should see her stand up movie "Jesus Is Magic" and then go through this, her own show. And oh, check her out on the Comedy Central roasts (i.e. Pamela Anderson's) - brilliant stuff.

Weeds
(Showtime)
Mary Louise Parker surprised a few of her fans with this witty drama TV series, starring as a mother who loses her husband and then has to struggle to keep up the facade in a very rich suburban community. Not really having a job, she decides to sell weed to keep the family wheel going. Also starring Elizabeth Perkins, Kevin Nealon and Justin Kirk (from the brilliant mini series "Angels in America").
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