I have watched a good amount of television in my time on this earth and I feel that people have missed out on some truly great shows as they’re too set in their ways of the procedural cop drama, medical procedural, or lowest common denominator sitcom to step outside of their comfort zone. I thought I’d put together something for the masses to read and perhaps if I am lucky get someone out there who will look at what I put on this list and find a way to put it in front of there eyeballs and see if they like it. All I ask is that you give something out of your normal wheelhouse a try.
Is this the best cop show that ever existed? No. Hell, it barely made the list but I liked how the story of Vic Mackey the cop who was born to go too far and the strike team story played out (its a love hate relationship) but the core of the story for me was Detective Holland ‘Dutch’ Wagenbach and Detective Claudette Wyms. Them and their partnership is the heart but Mackey is the element that keeps the, “what’s next?” aspect going. The later season or two tread a little water because the network decided to make the show have more seasons than the creator originally intended. that being said it was still held together by the creator and showrunner, Shawn Ryan. The Farmington district nicknamed “The Farm” are the stomping ground for the LAPD operating out of a converted church dubbed “The Barn” which I think is kind of interesting–corrupt cops, some of the worst criminals all in Gods house. Farmington seem also to be completely gang infested, I mean like every gang that have ever existed and some that don’t. My personal favorite is the gang that tattoo the crown of thorns on their heads.
This is the one American remake of a British show that I prefer the former rather than the latter. The shows centers around the character David Creegan whom some time earlier was shot in the head while on assignment. In the American version Creegan is is psychologically damaged now missing curtain aspects of his personality, like a sense of shame. This is a very different take on the character than as the British original had a bit of a scifi fantasy twist of DCI Creegan has the ability to sense criminals or evil. Robson Green does a great job in the role but I loved the Jeffrey Donovan version and the way that he was so effected by the head wound. instead of a supernatural sense he was a man struggling with the fact that he is no longer the man he was. there is a real quick moment that I think really speaks to who this character is. Creegan is talking to his now Ex-wife about how he is not the same as he was, in the conversation he says he used to love her and now he just doesn’t see her that way and he loved his daughters. At this point he quickly corrects himself, that he does love them, repeating it as to convince himself. There are also some interesting cases about serial killers and the like that are interesting.
Centering around the Donnelly family, mostly the four brothers Tommy Jimmy, Kevin and Sean and their “rise to power” in the Irish mob. It is a bit reminiscent of A Bronx Tail. The story of the family is being told from the perspective of Joey Ice Cream a friend of the boys, in his prison cell who has it seems turned states evidence. Joey is also an unreliable narrator which is one of my favorite narrative devices when it comes to narrative devices. The show is shot in New York but loosely based on the real life events back in the 1800s of the Ontario based family of the same name. It didn’t go well for them.
A dark some times funny and matter-a-fact unflinching look at the way the US Military went about invading Iraq from the point of view of the ground troops in the First Recon Marines accompanied by a Rolling Stone Reporter who’s book this mini-series is based off of. While at times branching the story out to some of the other members of the teams it mostly focuses on the lead Humvee carrying Sergeant Brad ‘Iceman’ Colbert Corporal Josh Ray Person Lance Corporal Harold James Trombley and the reporter Evan Wright. The show tracks the invasion of Iraq from the ground and only the ground showing the confusion that the troops were going through. this is the perfect example of how we as a nation hastily got ourselves into a war we were not prepared for and tried to play catch up for the whole innovation.
A black man that solves crimes with his brain? What? I know not something you see much. Luther played by Idris Elba is a dark (in tone, not a racial joke) tortured character who has a reputation of pushing the limit to get results. He’s not a over the top John McClane or Jack Bauer, instead he talks the criminals down and puts the pieces together while trying to put his life back together with his estranged wife. there is also a bit of a silence of the lambs angle to it all as well.
Some would like to call this Scf-Fi because it has werewolves, vampires and ghosts but would couch it in the realm of fantasy however this show is basically about the drama of dealing with the aforementioned afflictions and what it means to be human set in those trapping instead of being about how cool or sexy it is to be a blood-sucker, a wolf or a specter. Centering around two flat-mates who move into a place that happens to be haunted by a quite fetching ghost. Mitchell who is dealing with vampirism which is basically super alcoholism and and George who’s lycanthrope, well the closest thing I can think of is like really messed up form of Herpes including a monthly flair up try to live a quiet life as porters at the local hospital. As a show it tonally started out as a comedy drama hybrid but by the end of the season it shifted a bit towards the more serious but not forgetting the comedic side. Note: I have seen a few of the US remake episodes, and I HATE them.
Man I have a lot of cop dramas on this list. Well at least this one has a bit of a twist that some would also argue its sic-fi but I would say you didn’t process that correctly but that is really your issue. To be clear I am talking about the UK original and not the completely directionless American remake. The story of a man from today mysteriously finding himself in 1970 England trying to get home and figure out what happened. The two leads John Simm as the by the book modern day officer Sam Taylor and Philip Glenister as the brash 70s style copper Gene Hunt are this show and the way they play off is worth the price of admission alone. The world that is painted is very convincing especially since its on a BBC budget and the story telling is works so well over the 16 episodes. There is a spinoff series that is set in the 80s that I am very interested in seeing called Ashes to Ashes. They really have a thing for Bowie songs.
Here marks the end of my seemingly endless praise of all things British…well at least for this list. OK here we go. The US remake hit these shores early in the year to a thunderous, meh and a shed loud of controversy but over in the UK they they are i the middle of filming series 6. The show centers around a group of teens in the last years of the British equivalent of high school and the sad, crazy, unwise, childish and downright stupid situations they get into. When I say that I don’t mean to make it sound like it is a show just played for laughs–its not, the drama can be really gutting and this is the most honest portrayal of a modern teenager on TV I’ve ever seen. It isn’t the most realistic but rather a look that strips away some of the clean cut aspects of teenage life we have been seeing for years…well decades. I’m not nor have I ever been some one who partakes in drug use nor is it some thing I thing young people should do but I was in public school for a time (that time being 1st to 12th grades) and I have known drug dealers and I know that kids do a lot of things they shouldn’t in high school. The thing I love most about this show is the fact that every 2 series the main cast is allowed to graduate and therefore leave the show. Most shows especially in America (some on this list) refuse to let go of their cast and go as far as twisting the story or making characters make unrealistic chooses just to stick around. So far with each cast we get a very different group of individuals with varying relationships to each other that defiantly grow and change and since it is British there isn’t a ton of sitting around waiting for stuff to happen each episode moves.
One of the best cop dramas ever produced, much like most of the best shows ever created. While most shows centering around cops take a procedural approach focusing on run of the mill case after uninspired murder, however the Wire told a story of the city of Baltimore. This considered by many of those who have seen it to be a masterpiece was a creation of David Simon and Ed Burns. The two used their experiences of having been a journalist and a teacher in an inner-city school respectively. The thing that makes The Wire what it is, is all in the prevention. The drug dealers don’t always come off as villainous and the cops aren’t always altruistic, the show takes a matter of fact approach letting the viewer make their own judgements. This show also is home to the most badass shotgun wielding drug stealing stick up man to ever exist, and the fact that he’s openly gay (not as a joke but just as something that he is) makes him a long shot for network television.
One of the best dramas that TV has ever had the pleasure of not canceling. That is said half joking because this show never garnered enough in the rating to justify it’s existence but it had a lot of people in the right places fighting for it. An unexpectedly hard sell, being a show about football but you see it isn’t really about football. The core of the show is Couch Taylor and his wife Tami, from there it expands outward to include several team members as well as some of the girls in the school and parents. The show really shines while dealing the normal issues that are part of being a teenager, being part of a team, asking that girl out, having a high stress job and the balancing act that is the daily grind. At first I wasn’t sold on the show, thinking it was another “Pretty White Kids With Problems” till the writer’s strike happened and I had nothing to watch, so I gave it a shot. In the end I was wrong about this show and while I can see how people would not be excepting of it but as it went on I found myself really feeling for the characters even getting a little weepy when they twisted the emotional knife. It’s OK it was man weeping, that makes it masculine. If you never were to watch this I feel you are missing some of the best and emotionally fulfilling drama to come out of the American television system in years.
Shows live and die on the back of the Bible belt, that’s the middle of the country for the uninitiated. Because of the way US television is rated the middle of the country has a lot of sway…and did i mention that they love the Bible? Knowing that I found it a bit odd that Kings, which is a modern day retelling of the biblical story of David and Goliath, got no traction. In the land where people love Jesus and quoting the good book and yet the all collectively refused to tune in. I caught it on a whim as usual and loved it as it was a show that was well put together, well acted and had a plan and direction. I dare you to watch the pilot, get to the scene with main character on the battlefield with a bloody sheet and tell me that that isn’t powerful television.
Visually striking and defiantly with a vision all its own, Pushing Daisies was a show about a pie maker that has the ability to resurrect the dead for five minutes at a time. There is also a private detective that uses the pie maker to aide him to solve crimes. The world of this show is some what fantastical and damned colorful. I think this show goes under the subject of To weird for TV but weird is no excuse to not watch. Step outside your comfort zone a bit.
New to this past season and also one of it’s many casualties comes The Chicago Code, this show has a god pedigree for quality coming from the creator of the Shield. As in most cop drama TV shows there is a case of the week formula that drives the plot for that week but many would be mistaken if they were to believe that that is all this show had to offer because the true meat of the show is the daily struggles of the new Chief of police to clean out the corruption in Chicago’s governing body. Given the creator of the how I think this show has potential, also I like how the actors put on Chicago accents for the role.