Baker's Dozen: Best Dramatic TV Shows

>> Friday, May 7, 2010

I hate reality television. Reality television is lazy. Don't get me wrong, I am hopelessly addicted to it. But I am starting to really REALLY miss those hour long drama's that used to rule the airwaves. Those shows that could actually bring you to tears. I miss the stories. I miss the well developed characters and the twists and turns. I miss the risks writers take when the idea river runs dry. I miss those episodes that make you actually care about the actors like they are the living embodiment of the character they are portraying. I LOVE real television. Where the creative spark lives for 60 mins and begs you to tune back in next week.

Below you will see my list of UNLAZY TV. The best drama's of recent memory. This is not my fathers list, so you will not find MASH or NYPD Blue, anything black and white, anything "Western", or basically anything from the 80's or earlier. In fact, the oldest show on here, debuted in 1988, and it was one of the ones I was the most weary about including, but not for the reason you are assuming, but I'll get into that in a bit.
Also, you will see some standards that I do not have on here. No Law & Orders of anykind, because, well I don't like them. No CSI's, because David Caruso's tilted head made me hate the entire franchise, and no Sopranos, because, I never watched them.

Included you will see some of my favorite moments from each show, as I can find them that is.

1. West Wing
There really could be no other show number one. Hands down, the best show to have the pleasure of gracing any of our televisions. One thing you may not realize you know. You can tell when a show is really really great when the actors cannot get work after its run concludes. The are too embedded into that character that they will never be seen as anyone else. This show is the perfect example of that.

2. Veronica Mars
This is not a teeniebopper show. I am not putting those down, I have at least two on this very list, but this is often considered an immature show. THAT COULD NOT BE FURTHER THAN THE TRUTH. This is a smart, engaging, perfectly well written gem of a show. There is not a better, nor will there ever be a better, love hate relationship ever displayed on television. It is a shame this show only lasted three years. There is still talk of a movie version coming out. Kristen Bell, just recently spoke out and said EVERYONE is on board, except the studios. She urges fans of the show to contact studios and let then know you would go see it and buy the dvd. That their investment would be returned by the fans. So, lets do it. Amazing music throughout.

3. Friday Night Lights
Beleive it or not, this show is not actually about football. Football is just another character in the story. It is a vehicle to more the plot along and it creates some amazing dramatic moments, but it is just a small part of the story. It is something you would have to really watch to understand. it is a love story. It is a weekly battlecry. It is clever, it is heartbreaking, and it is spectacular.
There is so much I could tell you about this show. But just watch it. It's on netflix instant view. Great tunes to boot.

4. Dawson’s Creek
Ok, so this is a teeniebopper show. I'll admit that. But in a lot of ways, it changed television. And for its 5 year run, it was hands down my favorite show. For once a show who's writers didn't treat their audience like they were dumbasses. It took real(ish) teenage lives and treated them like adults. Admittedly, sometimes too much so., but that is besides the point. This show created a network. Without Dawson's Creek, the WB would have folded after 1 year, fact. Without Dawson's Creek there would be no Gilmore Girls, Felicity, Veronica Mars, Everwood, One Tree Hill, The OC, Roswell, Charmed, or even today's Greek, Secret Life of the American Teenager, and Make It Or Break It. That's a hell of a list of shows that would have had trouble getting green lit with out the success and power of the creek. This show also was the first to really use music as a character.

5. Lost
This is a show that I did not get into until this last year. And on a show this confusing you may be asking yourself, how the hell did you do that? Well, I went on vacation, and watched every single episode up until the new season on netflix. Best vacation ever. The thing I love about this show, is the details. Every aspect of this show was planned from day one. In season one, you hear strange wispers in the words, whispers that are finally explained in one of the waining episodes of this final season. And that is just one example. The show is littered with them. This is one of the only shows that has actually shocked me, as you will see on the companion scene. I cannot wait until it ends, just to see what happens, that ending could push it down this list, or propel it further up. Well see.

6. Buffy The Vampire Slayer
Yes, a campy, vampire dramaedy, based on a mediocre early 90's movie, is worthy of this list. And anyone who gave the show more than half a chance would realize the same thing. Did the show make mistakes, yes, killing off the main star on one network and bringing her back to life on another was strange, spinning off one of the most interesting characters was not the best of calls, but overall, the show was amazing. Each character was so well developed, given so much care by the creator, that you felt like they were real people. I remember one episode in particular that is really striking. A monster came to town, stole everyones voice, and the whole episode was silent. That episode by the way, received an emmy nod for best writing. Best writing on a episode without dialogue. You try to write it. Impressive. And outside of the whole hellmouth thing, this is the most accurate portrayal of teenage life on tv.

7. Wonder Years
This is the show I mentioned above that I was hesitant about. Not because it is not worthy, because it is hands down one of the best shows of all time. My problem is that it is built slightly more like a sitcom than a drama. But, that might be my ingrained conceptions of a 30 min show. I do not need to wax on about the greatness of this show, just watch this clip.

8. Gilmore Girls
If the average tv script is 30 pages long, the Gilmore Girls would be 90. There are more words per scene than any show in the world. The writing on this show is second to none. The acting is second to none. And the directing is second to none. This is only one of 3 fictional cities that I would choose to live in, but thats another list all to itself.

9. My So Called Life
I had a soft rule for this list. That I was only going to include shows that got picked up for more than one scene. But how could I have ever left this off? Never going to happen. This show needs no explanation. If you don't get it, your the reason it was cancelled.

10. Greek
Currently, my favorite show. I have trouble admitting that out loud, because, well, its kinda embarrassing. But, there is not a show I CARE more about right now. I am fully invested in the characters, in the story lines. I will hate the world the day this show gets cancelled. It has already beaten the odds, getting picked up for a season 4 on ABC Family, the only show in the history of the network to last that long. If you are not watching it, you are sorely missing out on something great. Also great fucking music. This is where I met The Temper Trap.

11. Dexter
Is this show violent? Yes. Is this show disturbing? Yes. Should a show like this work? No. Does it? Hell fucking yes. Finally, and evil character we can root for. I would say more about this show, but if you have not watched it, I would not want to spoil it. The brief clip below is just a glimpse into the layers of the show.

12. Burn Notice
My guilty pleasure show. Quick run down, was a spy, got framed, got burned (blacklisted and abandoned), became a spy for hire, and hunts down the person that burned him. Simple as that. I have not, and will not miss an episode. Enough said.

13. ER
I do not need to say anything about this show. Just watch.

Honorable Mention.

I do not watch more reruns of any other show than this one. If there is nothing to do, I know I can find an episode or two of this and be completely satisfied. And it was hard to only have this as a HM choice.

This kinda a forgotten little show. It was an HBO drama way back before the True Blood's and Hung's of today. It was gritty, before The Shield was. It was everything that good television was all about, and most likely, you are thinking to yourself, "Oz?" and that is sad.


Jeff Presser May 8, 2010 at 8:18 PM  

Seeing as how you left 'The Sopranos' off this list, you're off the island, dude.

Addi May 8, 2010 at 8:28 PM  

I can't just include a show based on reputation alone. If I have never watched it, how can I include it? And if that is the only problem you have with this list, I call it a win!

Jilly May 10, 2010 at 7:57 AM  

Adam, Adam, Adam...the show that brought us together was on for 6 years...and you call yourself a fan! It may have been a teeniebopper show...but we were teenagers when it was on, just saying.

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