Great Grown-Ups TV

In the interests of balance and because I seem to be in a minority of one who enjoys watching the occasional episode of Spongebob or Scooby-Doo, I thought I’d post about adult teevee which I think is great, just to show that I have a brain age of above 12, can write joined up writing (just) and have shoes without velcro.

So, fair reader, I bet you’re thinking: but how do you qualify what makes great teevee, oh blogging sensei? Well, grasshoppers, it’s simple: I only watch stuff that’s good…and stuff that MrsShev thinks is good as well (stuff that I watch on my own I will post about at a later date.)…so it’s really not that simple at all. If it isn’t tales of complex inter relationshops involving love, loss, happiness and despair I literally have to force MrsShev to watch the television strapped to a chair with matchsticks holding her eyes open while she is muttering: ‘me no likey…me no likey…me no likey…’

So, in no particular order

  1. Six Feet Under Ah, seems so long ago that we watched this – back in the day before Sky+, TV on demand and downloadable media. I remember watching the occasional broadcast when it was first aired on Channel 4 (remember when Channel 4 was good…?) but I never got into it. However, we were eventually persuaded that not watching SFU was the televisual equivalent of not reading Catch 22 as a literary one. It’s the story of a funeral home, run by a dysfunctional family and it is easiest the second best TV series every made IMHO. A HBO classic. If you haven’t seen it then I envy you, because I’d like to watch it again.
  2. The Wire There’s cinema and then there’s television. Television has always been regarded as the stupid brat compared to cinema, the versatile adult. But television has a major advantage over film in that it can tell a very long story (a story arc) over long period of time without skimming details or compromising the depth of it’s plot or characters. Not much on television utilises this advantage, but the Wire does. Quite simply, The Wire is the best piece of television ever made. It is a masterpiece telling the story of Baltimore’s drug trade over 5 seasons from the angles of the dealers, the users, the police, the politicians and the press. I have kept the DVDs and when I lose my memory in an alien kidnap I will again get the pleasure of watching these all again. Unadulterated genius.
  3. Grey’s Anatomy Everyone loves a good hospital drama, I don’t know how doctors can tear themselves away at the end of their shifts because it looks so amazing; full of really attractive, funny, quirky people with enough spare time at work to fall in love, drink oodles of coffee and commit crime (back me on this, Dr A). Awesome. Dr Kildare, St Elsewhere, ER, Holby CIty, Casualty, Scrubs – bloody nora, If I owned a private hospital I’d just turf the patients out and turn it into a film lot. Anyway. Grey’s is one of the best ones, with long, long story arcs (always a sign of quality), great weekly plots and consistent characters. It’s pretty lightweight, but I don’t have the emotional stamina to watch BBC4 documentaries about human trafficking or classical suffrage all the time…
  4. Rescue Me Since No Cure for Cancer I’ve always been a bit of a Dennis Leary fan and when I saw that this series was written and produced by Leary my interest was most definitely piqued. Rescue Me tells the tale, post 9/11, of Ladder 62 mainly through the life of Tommy Gavin. Tommy is a hard drinking, womanising, fighting, 2nd generation irish fireman struggling with guilt, 9/11, fatherhood, marriage and drink and he is a walking, talking car crash. Sometimes disturbing, sometimes moving, often funny and frequently controversial; Rescue Me is very, very good indeed – final season this year: boo-hoo!!.
  5. True Blood Alan Ball (the creator of Six Feet Under) went off grid a few years ago because he was, apparently, working on a series about vampires. True Blood is what he came up with (I wrote a post some time ago about it which you can read here). True Blood is quite light viewing but has guaranteed a late slot with muchos shots of norks, knobs and furry triangles as well as liberal swearing and plenty of gore – but the characters are great, the locations are superb and Alan Ball has run with the idea so hard that you have no idea what crazy storyline he’ll invent next. Great fun.
  6. The Inbetweeners My only English choice, which is a touch sad but I think that says more about me than it does about UK television because I want escapism; watching a couple of coppers haring around Slough in a Mondeo after some shop lifters makes it all seem a bit tragic in my eyes. However, the UK still makes great comedy series and this is – by a country mile – my favourite at the moment. New, awkward kid from a private school attends a comprehensive: cue carnage…and clunge. This is 50% hide-behind-the-sofa in embarrassment and 50% laugh-so-hard-you-might-do-a-mini-vomit.
  7. Sons of Anarchy This was a random find of mine on Amazon, but this show is doing great business in America. In it’s third season now and it charts the ups and downs of a motorcycle gang called The Sons of Anarchy, their ‘old ladies’ and the town of Charming in California. The lead is a guy called Jax who is played by a guy called Charlie Hunnam who used to be in Byker Grove – I kid ye not – and his stint in Tyneside did him the world of good, because he’s fantastic in this. SOA uses huge story arcs, resonant characters and truly shocking plot twists to keep you hooked and it works. Really great show, this.
  8. 24 (season1) This is going waaay back when America had just started to worry about terrorism (9/11 happened a month before this was aired) – so what better way to deal with the changing world climate than to make a dramatic case for torture, illegal wire taps, lack of due process and denial of human rights? The first 24 is arguably the best – the use of the show’s USP (events occuring in real time) is used brilliantly (you know, apart from Jack or anyone else going for a piss or eating a sandwich…like, ever) and the creation of a cliffhanger at the end of every ep is old skool genius. Yeah, I know Kim is beyond annoying and CTU is the easiest government agency to get a job at without them checking references at all and has more moles than Wind in the Willows BUT this is groundbreaking stuff and even after the initial novelty and unexpected nature of it wears off, the other seasons are great as well.

Obviously, I am missing The Sopranos (never got into it…I know, I know), The West Wing and Deadwood. I am still (!) finishing The West Wing and never really got into Deadwood but may give it another go.


22 thoughts on “Great Grown-Ups TV

  1. I find I tend to come to the “good” popular TV shows late – as a kind of rebellious thing. I’m now hooked on Friday Night Lights, which you can only see here on DVD. Texas football storytelling but with great plots for the teens AND the adults. Am in love with it.

    Of course I’m addicted to True Blood as well. Having bought the 2nd series on DVD, am drumming my fingers waiting for series 3 on same.

    What I really want to see now is Justified, starring Timothy Olyphant. Supposed to be awesome…

    1. Friday Night Lights looks awesome. I am gonna get right on to Amazon right now and get that on order.

      I’m looking forward to The Walking Dead. I won’t get t’missus within a half mile of the tv when it’s on, but I am looking forward to that – I love anything with zombies; the last silent minority that you can kill with your morality staying in check.

  2. Uh, am going to go out on a limb here with two suggestions not on your list.

    For sheer entertainment factor I love Frasier as the writing is very clever and witty. And if you liked that show the writer/producers of that now retired show have a new show Modern Family which is laugh out oud funny and also very well written. I think that these are pretty great and worth the time sat in front of the tube.

    Sometimes I think they must be spying on my own family……..

    1. Firstly, anyone who has not seen Frasier should be made – as part of some kind of national curriculum – to watch each and every episode, because they are all good.

      I had not heard of Modern Family but I will check it out…because it has Christopher Lloyd in it. Enough said.

  3. Agree with Marlena – Modern Family is brilliant. Harks back to the good old days when sitcoms were about laughs, not complex character angst.

    The West Wing remains my favourite show of all time – and The Sopranos is not far behind. For lovers of Aaron Sorkin’s rapid-fire dialogue, I can heartily recommend the short-lived Sports Night (starring Desperate Housewives’ Felicity Huffman) and the even shorter-lived Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (starring or featuring several familiar faces from The West Wing), which are both brilliant if somewhat haphazard pieces of intelligent TV.

    True Blood … 🙂

    1. Studio 60 does look good – but I think I should finish The West Wing before I start that. I really do enjoy it, but t’missus doesn’t…ho hum.

      Finished True Blood Season 3 and it is GREAT.

      1. I’ve yet to start season 3 – looking forward to it, though.

        TWW does dip a bit after Sorkin left the show (under a cloud of class-A narcotics), but if you are at all interested in the political process then the final season and a half are a magnificent examination of the inner workings of the system. Even now, several years after the show ended, I still care deeply for the likes of CJ and Josh as characters.

      2. Why is it, though, that fictional US Presidents are so much better than their real counterparts? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if the US had a president like Jed Bartlett?

      3. I know! Although- whisper it quietly – if you look at the Bartlet presidency with a critical eye, it wasn’t particularly successful. But a bit of me still wishes (as a non-American!) he had been president, and that Abby had really been the First Lady.

        What is funny is that every time you see a President cast in Hollywood now, it always seems to be someone from an ethnic background: 24, Heroes, The Event etc. Art imitating life, eh? Or – SPOILER!!! – in the case of the final season of The West Wing, a case of life imitating art …

  4. SpongeBob – NO. Inbetweeners – YES. The Inbetweeners is pretty much my favourite TV programme of the last few years – it is awesomely hilarious. I am also reliably informed that it is actually how boys think…

  5. Modern Family! You must watch it. It has that uncomfortable humor like The Office. Sometimes I have to walk out of the room when I am watching with my husband because I can’t stand to see what the dad is going to do or say. It just started last year in the States and is one of the most popular shows. You can watch it on Sky TV.

  6. I’m 100% with you on The Wire and The Inbetweeners. Perhaps it’s worth warning newbies to The Wire that it takes at least three episodes before you understand a word anyone’s saying.
    As for The Inbetweeners? Simon’s desperate attempt at dirty-talk in the bedroom [“I want to fuck your fucking fanny off, you twat!”] qualifies in my book as comedy history.

    But 24? Really?

    1. We had the same problem and had to use subtitles. It was like coming out of Central Station in Glasgow at 11.30pm on a Friday night [runs for cover].

      24 (the first season) is genuinely groundbreaking – really, it is. Nothing had been done like that before and although it’s a bit lame sometimes, I still think it’s great.

      1. Ha! I used to moan bitterly about the portrayal by the London Media of Scottish folk as swearing drunkards and mentalists, until my first trip down south with Husband No.1 (who’s from Kent). We got off the train at Kings Cross, went for a MacDonald’s and encountered my first London nutter yelling abuse in their doorway…in a broad Glaswegian accent. *Sigh*.
        I’ll be persuaded on 24 then – I did actually watch and enjoy the first series. As long as you’re not including series 972, or whatever they stopped at.

      2. I think that when Americans swear it sounds kind of sweet. When Londoners swear, it sounds kind of scary. But when Glaswegians swear it sounds like they really, really mean ever word of it.

  7. Definitely agree with The Wire. West Wing probably one of my favourites of all time (sorry MrsShev – but….it’s just brilliant.) We are currently thrilling to The Walking Dead and have both come up with a zombie escape plan (mine involves a moat with sharpened sticks.)

    As you know, I am a MASSIVE geek, and as such will declare my love for the re-made Battlestar Galactica. Sheer class, and a refreshingly unglamorous and well-written female lead.

    Agree with the Frasier observations. You can put on any episode, and no matter how many times I have seen it, it makes me laugh and brightens my day.

    The other one we are enjoying at the moment is Misfits. Slightly peurile at times, but overall a great cast and very funny. (Oh, and on a completely different note, loved This is England 1986 – although it left me depressed afterwards.)

    1. The Walking Dead looks great. Could I possibly be cheeky and ask for both yours and you DH’s escape plans? I was planning on writing a post about The Zombie Apocalypse and it would be great to have some ‘professional’ pundits to provide us, the great unwashed, with at least a plan we could all fall back on if the infected were to run riot. I was going to go simple: suit of armour and a chainsaw in each hand: ‘ave it.

      1. Chainsaws take too long , leaving you potentially open to attack by gangs of other shamblers (who appear to be occasionally fleet of foot in The Walking Dead…) Stakes, crossbows and baseball bats are the way forward – and automatic weapons obviously; but if the world has ended then your ammo resupply must be open to question. Like the armour idea, but it is pretty heavy, and I refer you to my earlier concern about being overcome by hordes of zombies. Tree surgeons masks to avoid splatter in eyes or mouth would be better idea.

        God, sometimes I scare myself. I do read serious lterature as well. Honestly.

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