Five great TV shows

‘Winter is coming…’

Well, not quite yet, but what with our fantastic British summer, you could easily be forgiven for thinking so. Arguably the bastard brother of film, I have nevertheless chosen to do this month’s Recommends on some great TV shows that will hopefully give you hours of pleasure.

Got a favourite show to recommend? Then post a reply below!  Thanks for reading @filmfellahenry

 

Game of Thrones (2011 – Present)

Created by:  David Benioff, D.B. Weiss

Number of Seasons Aired:  1

Staring:  Lena Headley, Jack Gleeson, Sean Bean

Why you should check this out:  When any seminal literature becomes adapted for film and television, the chances that it will live up to the source material are shaky at best. Thankfully, HBO’s Game of Thrones has (so far) been a triumph in faithful storytelling and pioneering a visual flair scarcely seen previously on TV.Based on George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire opus (which I consider the best fantasy series to date), Game of Thrones season 1 is the first book of the series, set within a fictional medieval realm of battles, brutality, court intrigue and wonders. We follow a wealth of brilliant characters weathering betrayal, conflict and duty as the realm’s precarious peace tilts on a knife edge.  Game of Thrones will instantly have you hooked through a combination of excellent characters, breath taking visual locations and plot lines so twisted and intricate that Machiavelli would be humbled. I guarantee Game of Thrones will not disappoint.

Breaking Bad (2008 – Present)

Created by:  Vince Gilligan

Staring:  Bryan Cranston, Anna Gunn, Aaron Paul

Number of Seasons Aired:  4 (fourth currently airing)

Why you should check this out:  AMC has truly bagged a diamond with this show. An intense, intelligent, fast paced drama, Breaking Bad tells the story of Walt (Bryan Cranston), a terminal cancer sufferer and his desperate attempts to provide for his family before the end. Only problem is, Walt believes the way to do this is to cook shed loads of crystal meth with his bumbling drug-addled partner Jessie (Aaron Paul). As they spiral deeper into an underworld far deadlier than either could have imagined, a good man is forced to commit bad acts, gradually beginning to break bad…Breaking Bad has been pretty flawless so far (and considering they’re three and half seasons in, that’s pretty impressive), constructing an ever changing plotline around fundamental moral dilemmas that fills our characters with constant conflict. And not only is the series clever in it’s design, it also boast moments of excellent characterisation that I defy anyone not to engage with.  Put simply, Breaking Bad must be watched. And you won’t want to stop.

Sopranos (1999 – 2007)

Created by:  David Chase

Staring:  James Gandolfini, Lorraine Bracco, Edie Falco

Number of Seasons Aired:  6

Why you should check this out:  An HBO flagship show for almost a decade, Sopranos charts the life of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) as he leads his Mafioso family through turf wars, FBI plots and sibling strife.Clocking up 21 Emmy wins during its run, Sopranos is a melange of intense drama, comedy and an insight into the modern mob boss’ troubled lifestyle. The series’ excellent writing is mirrored by a cast who fall into their respective roles beautifully, creating a world that is both enticing and dangerous by turns.Although the series peaks with seasons 2 and 3, the others still hold their own, ending with a suitably high end flourish.If you haven’t seen Sopranos yet, you really ought to. It’s certainly worth the time investment.

Twin Peaks (1990 – 1991)

Created by:  David Lynch, Mark Frost

Staring:  Kyle MacLachlan, Michael Ontkean, Madchen Amick

Number of Seasons Aired:  2

Why you should check this out:  Arguably the most influential and unique series of the ‘90’s, Twin Peaks is unlike any other show before or after its brief existence. The murder of a local girl in the small American town of Twin Peaks sparks an investigation by tenacious FBI Agent Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan). As events progress down an increasingly sinister and surreal spiral, the seemingly random clues and bizarre fragments of evidence coalesce into a realisation bigger than anyone could have foreseen.  Lynch has basically taken a conventional murder whodunit, flipped it on its head and added his trademark weirdness. The result is a dark, funny and compelling watch that will have you riveted. A word of warning though: season 2 tends to slump mid-season, despite a pretty good finale.  A must-see show that will drag you into the darker recesses of Lynch’s warped mindset…

Deadwood (2004 – 2006)

Created by:  David Milch

Staring:  Timothy Oliphant, Ian McShane, Molly Parker

Number of Seasons Aired:  3

Why you should check this out:  Continuing the HBO fanfare comes Deadwood, a western drama set in a South Dakota mining town during the late 1800’s. As gold rush fever begins to creep in, Deadwood’s denizens face an uphill struggle of survival, dominance and the ever increasing fight to preserve their independence.  It’s no understatement to say that Deadwood redefines the Western genre: the show’s uncompromising depiction of those lawless times is a far cry from traditional John Wayne fodder and Spaghetti Westerns. When the most likeable character is the town’s infamous murdering, ruthless bastard (Ian McShane), you know you’re in for some harsh stuff.  Excluding a lacklustre third season (which led to the show’s cancellation), Deadwood is a gripping watch, a snapshot into a time where villainy is merely a way of survival and the weak get left behind. Of note is the superb dialogue: Shakespearian in its elegance, most lines are delivered with a poetry unusual against such a backdrop of corruption.  Not to be missed.
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About filmfellahenry
Film reviewer, script writer and occasional painter. Fan of Lumet, Aronofsky and Kubrick, with a good measure of early John Carpenter thrown in. Particularly like post-apocalyptic sci-fi, horror and fantasy film genres.

2 Responses to Five great TV shows

  1. Josh says:

    I would have chosen ‘The Twilight Zone’ (1959-64 version) and ‘Dexter’ as well, but maybe that’s just me.

    • Twilight Zone was indeed great. Haven’t got round to watching Dexter yet, as soon as I finish The Borgias and I Claudius, I think I’ll do a Dexter marathon…

      Thanks for reading!

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