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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Top ten: favorite TV shows

One thing Othman and I have loved to do since we met is watch TV series together, starting from the pilot and going through to the end or till we catch up.  It's actually not that easy to find a show we both agree on there have been quite a few that we've started and given up on, or that one of us likes much more than the other. 

Othman's musts: an interesting, logic-driven plot, at least a bit of humor, and bonus points for elements of surprise and special effects.    
Claudia's musts: good characters and on-going character development, interesting cinematography, and I don't want to be smarter than the characters. Bonus points if there are nice costumes or if it's set in the past.

Of the many we've seen together, here are my top ten favorite TV shows, in no particular order:

Mike (on the far right) is the best.
Breaking Bad (content warning)—first of all I love New Mexico, and especially Albuquerque, so how could I resist watching this one? The 5 seasons are a modern day Greek tragedy, and while being far from uplifting they’re absolutely riveting. Walter White is someone you just love to hate—who knew watching the demise of a character you never much liked to begin with could be so gripping? A must-see. (completed)

Plus he's a hunk, no denying it.
Dexter (content warning)—just don’t watch the series finale and you’ll be happier for it. Ending a great show that’s had a good run must be hard, but how they botched it so badly is beyond me. I’m not much into gore and it took some convincing on Othman’s part to get me to watch the show, but I love well-thought out characters who are realistic even in somewhat unrealistic circumstances, and the show does that beautifully. (completed) 

Sherlock—of course. It’s THE modern-day adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, with fascinating cinematography and great character development. Plus each episode is basically a stand-alone movie. Who could ask for more?

A little example of the stunning cinematography.
Game of Thrones (content warning)—absolutely beautiful sets and costumes and a entrancing story make up for the fact that wow there are a lot of characters. But there are also lots of strong female leads, including one who has DRAGONS. They don’t talk like Smaug, and they’re only babies so far, but I’m a fan. I really want to get my hands on the books—I’m sure the show will come alive even more once I understand the full story.  But even so it’s a beautiful and impressive show. 

Orange is the New Black (content warning)—a very interesting and humanizing glimpse into America’s broken prison system. It shows very effectively how prisoners are just people—and generally good people at that—who got caught up in bad situations. Plus it’s funny, and somehow plays along with stereotypes while breaking them down. So far there has been only 1 season, and I'm very much looking forward to future seasons. 

"Granny" is my fav.
Downton Abbey—yes it’s basically a soap opera, but who can resist a well-acted period soap with beautiful costumes and strong characters? Sure no one ever seems to get any older, and time goes by in bizarre leaps and jumps, but there are so many people to like and so many interesting sub-plots that I just keep waiting for more. (Disclaimer: Othman doesn't watch this one with me.)

The Office (US version)—though many might argue it went downhill in the later seasons, it never lost my interest, and remained just as funny right through to the end. I love the normalcy and the non-Hollywood feel the actors give it, and the show has produced some gems of characters. I mean really, who can forget Dwight? (completed)

Elementary—as previously mentioned on this blog, Othman and I love Elementary.  Once you get past the obvious breaks with the original stories, the character development is shockingly good, and it really opens up new facets of Sherlock Holmes that haven’t been explored before. Absolutely worth a try, but make sure to begin from the pilot for the full effect.

Can you say charming?
The Mentalist—yes it’s another formulaic detective/cop show, sure. The difference with this one lies in the oh-so-charismatic main character, Patrick Jane, and the strong female leads as well, who are not there just as love interests but as bona fide characters. Unfortunately the current season isn’t wowing me, and I’m crossing my fingers and waiting to see if it redeems itself.

So many people we can barely see the guys in the back!

Boardwalk Empire (content warning)—another HBO show, albeit less well-known than Game of Thrones, that definitely deserves its place on this list. Again it's plagued with too many characters, and thus can be hard to follow. It also has a bizarre gimmick of showing you scenes that make NO sense until later on in the episode or season. Once you get past those, it’s a fascinating glimpse into gangster politicians in prohibition-America (with gorgeous scenery and costumes of course) that shows us how so little has changed almost a century later… 

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