You can ignore this page for now. It’s a reference page which I plan to update over time. (See also my favorite sitcoms which has a lot of stuff).
Generally, I find TV dramas dull. Yes, I know this is surprising. I can’t explain why I never got into the procedurals. Also, I find mysteries and court dramas dull. This limited list reveals how little I know about this world. When I watch dramas, I mainly want escapism or fantasy or sci fi. (This contradicts my moviewatching habits were are solely about high art).
One reason I’ve limited my watching habits to sci fi and fantasy is that I find they take a lot of chances with narratives and structure. Mysteries and courtroom dramas tend to be formulaic and wrap things up in the hour long format.
Sitcoms seem to have a more egalitarian feel than dramas. In sitcoms the star is Joe Everyman. He can be a junkyard man, a company hack, a bus driver, a package delivery man. In dramas, the main character is a doctor or lawyer or detective or some glamorous profession.
As an aside, let me mention another aspect of Joss Whedon’s genius is his “Previously on Buffy” intros. These intros don’t merely review the most recent episode but only those plot details relevant to the episode at hand. That is a good way to catch people up while still relying on backstory.
Favorite TV Dramas
- Star Trek –the original series. Great acting. My pet theory: the background music is responsible for making this series what it is.
- Star Trek 2 The Night Generation–great swashbuckling series. For a while, the show creaked under its own weight (and some of the episodes were awful), but the Borg episodes were great.
- Star Trek 3: Voyager. I loved some of the characters (especially Seven of Nine!), and some of the episodes were downright metaphysical: the time travel episodes, the Oblivion episode. Also, loved the Doctor, Naomi Wildman, Q.
- Star Trek Enterprise. This show certainly had moments and an interesting story arc. As an aside, let me express my relief that by this time other sci fi shows (Battlestar Galactica, Babylon Five, etc) have segmented the market demand for sci fi considerably.
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Love it.
- Angel. Took me a while to grow on me, but Season 4 was great.
- Twilight Zone. If I were making a series, I’d love to do something like Twilight Zone.
- West Wing. It took me a while to warm over to this series. It seemed like a series about people acting and feeling self-important. But the dramatic situations were always interesting and always relevant to politics without seeming too topical. I’ve always thought USIA should pay to have this show translated into 100 languages and offer them for free on satellite. This show could provide a better lesson about how our American democracy works than any State Department material. The show lost it when the daughter was killed, but surprisingly after Sorkin left, the writing remained strong. Probably because the show was about an ensemble rather than a few individuals, so it really didn’t matter which characters were on as long as the show felt the same.
Might be great (haven’t watched them):
- Prison Break
- All those HBO series I know nothing about.
- Egad, foreign-made dramas from South America or China?
- EastEnders (BBC romantic drama); the few episodes I saw looked interesting.
- Singing Detective (saw a few episodes only). Kind of depressing, but a friend assures me the series is terrific.
- The Prisoner. Hearsay only.