The List: 5 Shows You Should Start Watching – And 5 You Should Stop

March 18, 2010

Also, best promo art. Ever.

There’s a lot to choose from out there. We’re here to help you know what’s worth your time – and what totally isn’t.

The Five Shows You Need To Be Watching:

1.Damages

Easily the most under-watched show on television, this dense law thriller (currently airing its third season on FX, Mondays at 10) is desperate for viewers. Not that it’s too surprising: the show employs flashbacks and flashforwards to ooze out drops of information regarding each season-length mystery. This is television that makes you think, requires you to recall. Not something most people look for on the tube. But, for all your hard work, you’re rewarded with the sublime performances of Glenn Close and Rose Byrne. I’d take any homework assignment given, if it meant I could watch these two. Their tenuous relationship is approached with Close’s trademark ferocity and Byrne’s smoldering cool. Watch this before it gets cancelled, or I will hunt you down and slap you in your face.

2. The Sarah Silverman Program

Sarah Silverman is one of those personalities that people either really love or really hate. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground with her and that’s a shame. Though, I would say that, as I fall into the camp of “really love.” Her eponymous comedy (now in its third season on Comedy Central, Thursdays at midnight) is hysterical. It manages to be both very smart and very stupid, usually within the same frame. It’s weird and bold, but I find myself laughing hard every episode. Give it a shot, maybe you will too.

3. Southland

Southland premiered last season on NBC in the coveted Thursday-at-ten slot, after ER took its final bow. It garnered much critical praise and did pretty well in the ratings. And then NBC ate a bomb and imploded. Among their many heinous decisions this season, they cancelled the show after filming six episodes of its second season and before one had even aired. Fans (read: me) were distraught as this was a really smart, adult drama that we were losing, in a time when there aren’t many left. TNT stepped in and picked up the show, replaying the brief first season and premiering the truncated second. No new episodes have been ordered yet, giving TNT an opportunity to see how the show performs with its audience. The show has gotten even better in this new batch of episodes, but ratings seem to be getting worse. Watch this show before it disappears, again.

4. The Good Wife

Perhaps the only show on this list that could be classified as a hit, this freshman law drama on CBS (Tuesdays at 10) is largely watched by the graying set. But the youthful TV enthusiast would be unwise to miss out on this incredible show. The show manages to balance a case-of-the-week procedural element upon a serialized storyline with the greatest of ease. Not one side of this show ever feels forced or rushed in favor of the other. Julianna Margulies is dazzling as Alicia Florrick, the scorned wife of an unfaithful politician who, in need of an income, returns to work as a junior associate at a law firm. Deserving of the accolades she’s received from this comeback, Margulies offers a prime example of the beauty of restraint in acting; which isn’t to say she isn’t a powerful presence on the screen. She just proves that playing small often shows a greater strength. Her supporting cast, particular Christine Baranski and Chris Noth, are terrific as well. Check this one out and don’t be afraid just because your mom likes it, too.

5. Caprica

This prequel series to Battlestar Galactica (aka, the greatest sci-fi show, like,  ever) more than holds its own when compared to its source material. The show is grounded in the 12 Worlds, rather than up in space, and concerns itself with the origin of the Cylons. The show has less action than BSG did, but I’m pretty sure the action wasn’t what drew fans in to the original series. I know it’s not what appealed to me. Caprica continues BSG’s look at the power of religion and politics and that’s what’s so intriguing. Plus, Paula Malcomson (Deadwood) is just frakking awesome in everything. She’s worth the price of admission alone.

And The Five You Should Stop:

1. Gary Unmarried

The CBS comedy that makes Two and a Half Men look like Seinfeld. Paula Marshall is more shrill than usual. Jay Mohr is atrocious, per usual. The writing is dreck. Avoid, at all costs.

2. Law & Order: SVU

Before you riot, yes, I fully admit that Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni are awesome. In fact, I used to think this whole show was awesome. But, lately, it seems to have gone so far off the rails. The writing is so stilted. The direction frequently veers into melodrama. Everyone just winds up standing around, screaming at each other. At a time when the original L&O is experiencing a creative renaissance, this spin-off is struggling. I suggest you watch the flagship and skip over this mess. Besides, Meloni is leaving next season anyway.

3. NCIS: Los Angeles

The most unnecessary spin-off. Ever. I love NCIS proper, and this is no NCIS. While I get a kick out of seeing Linda Hunt on television, the show’s lead, Chris O’Donnell is a wet fish. His character, G Callen (Yea, G. And it’s not short for anything. Just G), was promoted as the greatest undercover operative NCIS has; a man who could be come anything and anyone. So far, we’ve O’Donnell struggle with accents a couple of times, but not much else. If you really want to see a great undercover agent, watch Burn Notice on USA. If you want to see a better television show, watch nearly anything else.

4. The Secret Life of the American Teenager

Easily the most laughable dialogue in the history of television, this hamfisted melodrama from Brenda Hampton (the woman who also wrought 7th Heaven upon the world) is truly putrid. It’s preachy, obnoxious, and horrendously acted. This show is like the plague. Run.

5. Desperate Housewives

This last one truly pains me to write, as I’ve been a die-hard DH fan since the beginning. But, I now find myself watching, wondering what happened to my beloved show. What once used to be sharp, witty, and mysterious is now broad, trite, and boring. The writers, who used to craft fine season-length mysteries, seem to have completely forgotten how to write a compelling story. I watch now only out of some misplaced feeling of obligation. If you still watch, I suspect you may know what I’m talking about. If you don’t watch, I do not suggest you start.

Well, there you have it. Five to start and five to stop. Agree with me? Disagree? Think I’m a total jerkface for bagging on your favorite show? Think I care wayyyy too much about TV? Tell me about it, below.

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3 Responses to “The List: 5 Shows You Should Start Watching – And 5 You Should Stop”

  1. Jenn said

    Ah, I wish I could stop watching Secret Life. Everything about it is just awful, and I hate all of the characters. But I keep watching.

  2. Rafa said

    I think Law and Order SVU, while acknowledging that old episodes were better, even the best cop show on display. The drama is deep and emotional. And the beauty and the talent of Mariska fascinate me.

  3. Jim Richardson said

    Most law enforcement officers never fire their weapons at a suspect in an entire career. The NCIS LA cast manages to kill about a half dozen people in each episode. Soooo 1950’s

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