Jul 29, 2010

The State Of Television

In an excellent article I read today in the New York Times I discovered that Laura Linney, the wonderful film and stage actress, is coming to TV. On Showtime, also home of Weeds and The United States of Tara, The Big C is a dark comedy about a mother and wife in Minnesota who has incurable cancer. It premieres on the USA in August. But it got me to thinking that years ago an actor of Linney's credentials would never have touched television. The 'idiot box' was the home of sit coms and light entertainment. You might start there, like George Clooney, but you didn't end up there. That stigma is now well and truly gone. Actors the quality of John Goodman, Toni Collette, Mary Louise Parker and many others now ply their talents on the small screen. I truly believe we are in a golden era.

Having said that there is also plenty of lowest common denominator product. We are awash with reality shows that make no sense to me. Australian drama is still stuck mostly in soap opera land and there are plenty of American shows that are formulaic and tired with laugh tracks and poor dialogue. For every 'Hung' we have a 'Two and a Half Men'. But let's concentrate on the good. Such as the new David Simon creation in Treme (pictured above). It premiered recently on Australian screens and two episodes in we are hooked. Beautifully shot and written it captures the drama of Post Katrina New Orleans with great effect. We are also loving Modern Family, which no has laugh track and for a mainstream comedy show is very well written and very funny. Good Australian TV is hard to find, but thankfully the ABC still delivers with shows like 'The Gruen Transfer' and also the creations of Chris Lilley.

I thought it would be an idea now to list my 10 favourite shows that are currently live and ongoing, plus a list of shows that are no longer with us. Either recently finished or favourites from the memories of the past. I would love to hear your favourites.

Television I Love Now
1. Mad Men
2. Breaking Bad
3. True Blood
4. Big Love
5. Weeds
6. The United States Of Tara
7. Hung
8. The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
9. Entourage
10. Modern Family

Television from the Past
1. The Wire
2. Deadwood
3. Arrested Development
4. Six Feet Under
5. The Simpsons (I know it's still going, but I haven't watched for a while)
6. Fawlty Towers
7. Hill Street Blues
8. The West Wing
9. The Office (UK)
10. Seinfeld


  • At July 29, 2010 , Blogger A. Price said...

    i am visiting Australia right now and i can vouch for the fact that there's not very much going on in terms of being an original series.

    television i love now:
    1. Dexter
    2. 30 Rock
    3. Parks and Rec
    4. True Blood
    5. Big Love
    6. United States of Tara
    7. Nurse Jackie
    8. The Office
    9. Bored to Death
    10. Colbert Report

  • At July 29, 2010 , Anonymous Michael said...

    wayne, did you ever get into battlestar galactica?

  • At July 30, 2010 , Blogger Wayne said...

    There are a couple of shows there I would like to check out. Especially Dexter and Parks and Recreation.

    I remember seeing the movie years ago, but I never really watching the television show.

  • At July 30, 2010 , Blogger James said...

    Don't watch a lot of TV myself, but:

    Parks and Rec is friggin great.

    and LOST!

  • At July 31, 2010 , Anonymous Bill said...

    That's a great list of TV now... #s 3-6 and 8-10 are among my regular favorites and I am absolutely loving True Blood this season. I don't know if it matters to you but your top 9 TV shows appear on cable over here, not network TV which says something about the state of network TV in the US (it's bad). Don't know what I'd do without a Showtime and HBO subscription.

    Also love the placement of Arrested Development there. And yes, you need to watch Parks & Rec because we seem to have the same taste in TV (and music of course) and I love that show.


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