Must watch? -- 03/31/11

I have Yahoo as my default page when I start Firefox. (Yahoo because my most-used email addresses are Yahoo addresses; Firefox because I like using it.) Anyway, this means that they are always dangling news items in front of me, in an attempt at showing me still more ads. Today one of those stories caught my eye... a list of 14 "must-watch" new television programs.

Bev had posted an entry about the HBO series Big Love, which has just reached its conclusion. I had commented that I had seen a few episodes -- mostly during its first two seasons -- and had enjoyed them, but I had not found it compelling enough to bring me to watch it regularly. It's a question of time. (And now that I've read Bev's summary, I don't need to feel that I've missed anything.)

So... 14 must-watch shows? Who (other than a professional television reviewer) could possibly have the time to check out 14 television programs to see if they are worth watching? Who could even care? But they had piqued my curiosity and suckered me into clicking
next through their list of the 14 shows.

The first two were easy to dismiss: The Voice (a singing competition show) and WWE Tough Enough (a competition to become a WWE wrestler). Then there's Breaking In (a "workplace comedy" about a digital security firm), Chaos (a "comedic drama about a group of rogue CIA spies"), Happy Endings (about friends and relationships), Pregnant in Heels (some kind of "reality" docu-drama about pregnant rich women on the Upper East Side of Manhattan), and Breakout Kings (a drama about convicts who get their sentences reduced by helping to capture escapees).


Okay, so far nothing to possibly make me willing to waste ten minutes on any one of those shows, let alone consider any of them to be a "must-watch" event. And I shudder to think about new programs that weren't considered good enough to make it onto this list.

But then came Body of Proof -- one of those TV dramas about law enforcement and crime-solving; in this case it's Dana Delany playing a medical examiner. So why do I think I might try to catch an episode or two? Because, although it is set in Philadelphia, the part of Philadelphia is being played by Providence. Yes, the show was shot in Providence (with computers adding in the Philadelphia skyline behind the Providence buildings). I can't imagine finding time to watch every episode, but I'd be willing to watch one.

And what about The Borgias -- an historical drama series on Showtime created by Oscar-winning writer Neil Jordan and staring Oscar-winning actor Jeremy Irons. Hmm, we were big fans of The Tudors (which we watched via DVDs from Netflix). I think I'll see what the reviews say about The Borgias; if it gets good reviews, I'll watch for it to come out on DVD. (We subscribe to HBO but not to Showtime).

And speaking of historical dramas, there is the Camelot series -- not the musical, but a drama about a young King Arthur and Guinevere set in the mythical England of the Arthurian legend -- and also The Kennedys -- originally intended for The History Channel but dropped by them when it aroused criticism so it ended up on Reelz, a channel that is not on our cable package. (In fact, I had never heard of Reelz until this morning.) In both cases, when they come out on DVD, I will put the first disk for each in our Netflix queue to take a look at the first episodes to see if they are worth watching. (Okay, so probably not... but maybe on a cold winter night with a nice fire in the fireplace and a glass of wine at hand....)

And then there is HBO. They have two shows on the list: Mildren Pierce and Game of Thrones.

We've watched the first two of the five installments of Mildren Pierce. It's a bit on the soapy side (as was the novel it is based on) but the production values are first class (as in all HBO series) and it stars Kate Winslet in the title roll... we will definitely catch the remaining three episodes. You know, I don't recall ever seeing the 1945 vintage version for which Joan Crawford won an Oscar... maybe I should put that in our Netflix queue for a winter night's entertainment?

As for Game of Thrones -- I have been waiting impatiently to see that ever since I first heard that HBO was going turn it into a mini-series. It is based on the first book in George R.R. Martin's Song of Fire and Ice series. Am I a fan of the series? Well, I bought the first four books in hardcover (A Game of Thrones, A Clash of Kings, A Storm of Swords, and A Feast for Crows) and I have the fifth book, A Dance with Dragons, pre-ordered at Amazon (publication date July 12th). I have been waiting extremely impatiently for the past five years for that book to come out. There are two more books projected to follow.

Uh, so yeah, for me Game of Thrones is definitely must-watch television.

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