Watching DVDs of serialized TV shows is a superior experience to watching them in their original weekly broadcast format. Watching the episodes one after another helps the viewer become more engaged in the plot and more sympathetic to the characters. Best of all, no waiting on a cliffhanger; you can immediately find out what happens to fire up the next episode. Oh, and no commercials (not that anyone watched them anymore, thanks to DVRs).
Here are some great series to view on DVD:
- 24– While this show has been inconsistent over its seven-season run, riddled with cliche after cliche and one-dimensional characterizations, more than any other show makes a case for the superiority of the DVD format. I know many people who have gone through all 24 hours on a weekend because it’s just that addictive.
For those living in a cave, Jack Bauer (played by Keifer Sutherland) is an ex-military black-ops agent working for the anti-terrorist agency CTU. Often going rogue, Jack yells a lot and involves his family in terrorist activities. This creates cliffhanger upon cliffhanger. He does all this over 24 hours with a cell phone that never requires recharging.
The typical plot is that the US enters a terrorist situation that can only be thwarted by the rule-breaking Bauer, who thankfully gets to kick some serious terrorist ass before the episode ends.
Not the best series out there, but good in a very cheesy and addictively entertaining way.
- The Wire– Reviewed at length elsewhere on this blog.
- Alias– Some may prefer Lost to J.J. Abrams (Star Trek) material, but this is where it all starts. He built his brand here with this show. Week after week of twists and turns against a backdrop of heavy action will have you scratching your head and hyperventilating. Eventually, the twists in the plot became too much for the show, which spun out to be ridiculous. The first two seasons were a huge deal – remarkable.
Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) is a double agent (or is she) working for a super secret government agency (or is it) SD-6. To go beyond this is pointless; you need to watch it.
The production values are terrific, and the action keeps coming. Many now familiar faces appear in the show, including Victor Garber, Terry O’Quinn, Greg Grunberg, and Bradley Cooper. Quentin Tarantino guests on four episodes, and Ricky Gervais (the office) is featured in his first surprisingly effective dramatic role.
Garner is the star, however. Her athleticism and believability in a role requiring as much as it does are remarkable. Most people put off by Garner have never seen this show. Check it out; it will change your mind and entertain you at the same time.
- The Shield – Vic Mackey, the role of Micheal Chiklis’s career, is a duplicitous street detective who consistently breaks the rules in the inner-city of Los Angeles. What engages the viewer is that sometimes the rules need to be broken, which produces good. Other times, not so much…and there is much carnage.
Seven excellent seasons of fantastic acting from a primarily unfamiliar cast came to a natural conclusion in the final season. Writer Shawn Ryan has achieved something remarkable here, a cop show void of cliches. It seems like a new genre when you watch this show, with its extensive use of hand held cams and quick edits.
It is the characters in the orbit of Mackey, however, that both elevate and ground the show. Dutch (Jay Karnes), Wyms (CCH Pounder), Aceveda (Benito Martinez), and particularly Shane (Walton Goggins) are each character worthy of a show themselves. All add a conscience around the often deplorable exploits of Mackey. Forrest Whitaker and Glen Close provided season-long and often riveting guest appearances.
5. Prison Break – As much as this is a poor man’s 24, the first season of this show is so good, so meticulously plotted and executed, it has to be included here. Consistently suspenseful in an ominous prison setting with great unknown lead actors. The terrific supporting roles made some of the subsequent seasons tolerable amid utter ridiculousness (at one point, they had to break into a prison!). The character of Theodore “T-bag” Bagwell is an incredible, creepy, and fascinating creation. Seasons 1 & 2 were Excellent, Season 3 was Good, and Season 4 – was a mess.
There are many other excellent series I could include here: The Sopranos, Deadwood, Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, Everwood, Gossip Girl, The Office (British version), Arrested Development, and Rescue Me (to name a few). These were not included because they don’t have a cliffhanger element in the series mentioned above. I will address those series in future articles.
Get control of your viewership and order some of these today!