For now. While I love many things from both the old and new, I believe in improvisation and being purely unbiased and not into too much blind following. Well here this is purely my favourite list(s) and not a review which would have been more neutral and detailed. While this is way dam later, still better late than never. So I asked all you readers to vote what would you like me to write about in my top picks here in a previous post, and I’m glad at least some people do actively see my blog, so I thank you and appreciate it really. You don’t make me feel alone. 😛
As the title says it all, most who wrote are interested to know about my favourite tv shows which I would recommend everyone a must see, with my top books and movies being closely behind. Actually each category was equally interested in, with no major victory as such, so as my friend Lunatic Psyche suggested, in time I’ll instead write a post on each one of them! How’s that? So for now, here are my top 5 favourite TV shows. Don’t worry, NO SPOILERS.
Note: I have not included any animated series, I shall dedicate a separate post for that too.
6. Spartacus (2010-2013)
Okay, you think I don’t know how to count since I said #5 but why #6? Because I absolutely love this show which has an emotional connection with the audience (ie le me). The very thought I couldn’t write about Spartacus made me sad, especially because of one point down so I decided to put this up anyways 😛
This show is based on the true story on the historic figure of Spartacus, a Thracian gladiator who from 73 to 71 BCE led a major slave uprising against the Roman Republic. If you have seen the movie by Stanley Kubrick, and liked it, then you’ll love this! (doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen that though) Just pointed that out because in real history, the body of Spartacus was never found and he was assumed to have been slain in battle, and his mysterious death has attracted big debates and various conspiracies till date. That was a ‘mistake’ in that film, which here was very brilliantly tackled here by the creators.
This show is one of those rare shows (along with #3 on this list) where every season built upon the previous and more brilliant. In the beginning in 2010, it was dismissed as being too gory and being soft-porn on TV, but as time passed the sheer brilliance unfolded. The battles, the acting, the story pace, not to mention (if you are a fan) the gore and (who isn’t?) hot (naked) woman (and men) and sex scenes, this was the show which was bold enough to take television to the next step. Each episode was nothing short of a brilliant movie in itself. It ended this earlier this year and I will surely miss it.
5. The Sopranos (1999-2007)
It’s no surprise this is in my top 5, The Sopranos in many cases is considered to be the greatest drama/show of all time. While Spartacus took the game forward, The Sopranos redefined television itself in the first place. It is rightfully called the godfather of television, not just because it’s a story based on the life of a Mafia Don (based in New Jersey), but the story telling, acting and pretty much everything itself is pure epic. What’s more interesting, the lead character Tony Soprano played by James Gandolfini is one of the most iconic performances there is, and actually has a lot to teach for us in real life. I wrote a bit about it earlier before in a post which you can see, titled More is lost by indecision than by wrong ones. How he manages his life as a crime boss, his relationships with his family and other people, and him as a ‘business man’. The series ending is still hugely talked, speculated and debated about with much enthusiasm even today, after ending for more than five years.
Humble request, please DO NOT read anything else other than what I’ve said above if you are planning to watch it, otherwise you are missing on history itself. Just stay away from the Internet and civilization until you finish watching the entire thing and only then return.
4. Dexter (2006-2013)
Miami America The world’s most favourite serial killer, Dexter is his name. While the character and initially the first season was based on the first Dexter novel, Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, later on the show went on to stand out on it’s own, so much that you can say it’s something like Batman, just the characters and influence while the story largely is original by the show creators. The titular character is played by the brilliant Michael C. Hall who has received critical acclaim for his role just like James Gandolfini for Tony Soprano.
Also an interesting comparison is often made by fans between Batman and Dexter, sharing their similarities and contrast differences. Both are handsome, dashing, highly fit men in reality are social outcasts and secretly lead the life of vigilantes out for justice, being fueled by vengeance initially, as both faced a grave loss of their parents at a young age.
But the stark difference is, the Batman is a mysterious figure mostly feared by criminals (and to an extent even the law and politicians), who does not kill (which actually makes it difficult and complicate things while at the same time being praise worthy) while he pretends to be a billionaire drunk playboy (only the billionaire part is real though) while here Dexter Morgan is just a simple man, a brilliant gifted blood spatter analyst working for the Miami Metro Police (speaking of ironies) which greatly helps him seeking out his information and ‘targets’. And of course, the main aspect and high light is his way of killing, his ritual, his need for killing, as he himself calls it, his dark passenger. That’s a persona he calls it which signifies his blood lust, and his father who early on realized when he was young this urge of his (who himself was a very respected honest police man) ‘taught’ his son some set of principle values which he dubs as ‘Harry’s code’ that he only seeks out the bad guys after fully being convinced with proof of their crimes.
That’s one interesting analysis why the possibility of a Batman existing in our real world is less but rather a Dexter can actually exist. (Besides there are more serial killers active in our world then we would dread to know) Despite being a serial killer who has killed over a 100 people, he is one that anyone will root for, simply because he is doing what the others who are supposed to do, aren’t.
But unlike Batman, who suppressed his vengeance and anger over the years and made it into his unbreakable will, here Dexter’s vengeful blood lust aka dark passenger seems to be going of hands as time passes, bad guys are supposed to be killed as the world is better without them, but innocents are getting hurt, and he is screwing up. How many more will he hurt, including his loved ones and what then when his world coming crashing down at him?
3. Game of Thrones (2011- Present)
The king (pun intended) of all shows and story telling. The epic fantasy there is. Game of Thrones takes it’s title from the first book of the epic fantasy series called A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin and is based on the same. He blogs too (here) well he is one of the greatest writers in history after all and loves plays video games, admitting he even often gets addicted to them which delays him writing the remaining two of seven books of the series. I being a hardcore gamer for over a decade, for the first and probably only time in this case I’ll say ARGH. Well still that makes him more awesome.
He is regarded as the American Tolkien, and there is no exaggeration in it really, as we are now living in a similar time when the legendary JRR Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings. (Even the name initials are similar too!) 😛 The books/show take places over the fictional lands of the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros, the icy North and in the eastern continent of Essos. In this medieval age type of fantasy world, where magic, many beasts (yes DRAGONS!) roam the world, dark secrets, and many more adventurers await, summers last for years and winters can’t last for a life time. With all of this fascinating fantasy elements, the core essence is power struggle of several notable families and other groups, many fighting, plotting, and doing everything for most notable the central power of the land – The Iron Throne, but there are other dangers lurking as well.
A pure political thriller drama. And not to forget the beautiful landscapes, good looking food which makes my mouth water just looking at the screen, beautiful (not to mention hot and naked) women and hot sex (incest and treachery too!) all make up for one dark mature show. Where mature just doesn’t mean sex and gore, but you actually need to understand what’s going as there are too many things happening simultaneously with various characters at different places. There is no good or evil in this world, only man.
I would be surprised if one hasn’t watched or started watching this already, as this show is not only currently regarded the greatest tv show of all time, but also enjoys wide acclaim and fandom across the globe. And before someone slams on your head the ‘the book is always better’ crap, let me tell you know that there is a crowd who are ‘purists’ meaning they will cry over even the small changes and well the ‘book is always better’ mantra, and on the other side the casual crowd who haven’t read the books and wouldn’t care anyways. And some (like me) in the middle who understands the difference of different mediums like books, movies, tv, video games etc. each having their own benefits and limitations, and to be able to enjoy the best of everything. So don’t fall to the first category crowd as the other two hardly voice their opinions and it’s the first who only make all the noise. I personally enjoy both, and in case of Dexter I actually say the show is much better.
Now while we wait for the next book to come out, the journey of the story itself is rewarding enough not wanting to think how it will end.
Probably everyone is going to die, oh well.
2. Sons of Anarchy (2008- Present)
This is the most badass show on television. Period. Also, Charlie Hunnam is one of the greatest actors there is, he might be not much recognized now, but that is slowly changing and one day he will pwn the world. Just wait and watch, and remember you heard that from me here first. Coming to SOA, it is not your typical biker gang, gang fight, guns & bullets, drugs and sex show. Heck when you think about it, technically they are present as it revolves around the members of a motorcycle gang cum selling guns and what not shit, the real beauty of the show are in it’s cast, their story and struggle just like in The Sopranos. The show actually seems to be loosely based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet, (though the creator did say while it has inspired, the show stands on it’s own) and the conceptualization into storytelling is bloody amazing.
But unlike Tony Soprano who is already an established elite at the start of that show, here our hero Jax Teller (played by Charlie Hunnam, did I tell you he is the most badass guy already?) who is in his early 30s, a new father, and a member, heck vice-president of the club Sons of Anarchy which was co-founded by his late father and other 8 friends in the 60s. It takes place in the fictional town of Charming, in the border of California, these guys do both legitimate and illegal work, not to mention highly illegal. And a bit of vigilantism too. While we witness the stories of many well done characters, our main hero does take the spot light, struggling between his taking care of his family, various power struggles and betrayals, saving his beloved club and in turn the legacy of his father whether he likes it or not, from going to ruins from both being hunted down by the police & FBI, and from itself, and all this while trying to protect his little town of Charming. And being a badass in all of it.
What I feel terrible is, despite being easily among the top best shows, not many know about this making it a very underrated show. I just hope in time this comes in the spot light, truly deserves every accolade it can get. Apart from the amazing performance from the stellar cast, it also has some really awesome guest appearances, including one of my most favourite authors Stephen King. 😀
1. The Wire (2002-2008)
I don’t even know how to begin describing of this genius and if I dare, say the only perfect thing to be created on a screen. Created and primarily written by author and former police reporter David Simon.
Each season of The Wire introduces a different facet of the city of Baltimore. In chronological order they are: the illegal drug trade, the seaport system, the city government and bureaucracy, the school system, and the print news media. The large cast consists mainly of character actors who are little known for their other roles. Simon has said that despite its presentation as a crime drama, the show is “really about the American city, and about how we live together. It’s about how institutions have an effect on individuals. Whether one is a cop, a longshoreman, a drug dealer, a politician, a judge or a lawyer, all are ultimately compromised and must contend with whatever institution to which they are committed.”
Despite only receiving average ratings and never winning major television awards, The Wire is regarded by critics and fans as one of the best TV dramas ever made, and is recognized for its realistic portrayal of urban life, its literary ambitions, and its uncommonly deep exploration of sociopolitical themes.
That acting is mindblowing. Without a weak link in the entire cast, The Wire is second to none in terms of incredible acting. Many of the cast members had barely acted before, but you’d never know it to watch them.
Omar (pictured above) is one of the most complex characters in television history, even Barack Obama is a fan of Baltimore’s most notorious and enigmatic man. Omar treads the line between hero and villain as he makes his living by violently robbing drug dealers. A true legend, some including me would rate him even more badass than Tony Soprano or Vito Corleone. And hey, at least we know Obama has good tastes in TV shows. 😀
The Wire is the highest form of story telling there is, and not just stories, they depict the real face of our lives. It isn’t dedicated to one side of the criminal/police divide – we see the kids slinging drugs on the street, AND we see the police desperately trying to stop them. And of course, the ‘normal’ people are caught in the middle too.
Are the police force real heroes? It’s a grey area, as the men and women tasked with bringing criminals to justice aren’t exactly squeaky clean themselves. They may indulge in a little alcoholism or adultery from time to time, but they still work long hours and come across scary characters as they try to uphold the law.
The villains are intelligent, professional and ruthless, the Barksdale crew are a tight-knit group. It could be easy to write them off as thugs, but they run their operation with professionalism and efficiency, occasionally in stark contrast to the police.
Both have ingenious tactics but who, if anyone, will win?
As funny as it may sound (but it’s sure not) You’ll discover the value of subtitles. It’s not that the cast don’t speak properly, but the amount of new vocabulary you’ll encounter as you watch The Wire is staggering. Heck, the tagline for Season 1 is “listen carefully”, and we whole-heartedly agree. You won’t want to miss a thing.
And finally, The Wire is all about life lessons. The reason The Wire and Sons of Anarchy are my top 2 favourite shows of all time is because of the power they have to shake and challenge your beliefs and the way you think about lot of things in life. In fact, every episode of The Wire has an epigraph at the beginning of it. That’s like 60 brilliant lines specially thrown at you just like that, and if you decide to search for the greatest quotes from the show, when I did, I barely came across pieces which were NOT short of Top 100 greatest quotes or something along the lines. And notice just top, imagine the extent of brilliant writing behind it. Simon and the guys behind are nothing short of pure geniuses and have created the perfect masterpiece, if such a thing were to exist.
This is my top recommendation for you to watch (well, if you haven’t already). In the immortal words of Omar,
It’s all in the game yo.
As it says, don’t even know if there is an end to this so called list, as after seeing too many stuff it’s hard to pin point at few. Well if this list of mine didn’t satisfy your curiosity yet, three more of the best shows which you should watch:
Justified (2010- Present)
Breaking Bad (2008-2013)
Prison Break (2005-2009)
So all in all, as I already said please leave civilization if you have yet to watch any of this and only return after you have done so. Both the real world and the internet.
Hope you enjoyed this, I’ll write more of my picks. Let me know what are yours. And also which I should write the next one on – movies, books, video games or something else?
Update: I came across this funny article, What Your Favorite TV Show Says About You on a Date? You should have a look, and perhaps says a bit (sort of) about me. May or may not be true. 😛 How do you fare?