The Few, the Proud, the Worthwhile American Television Shows…

Several months ago I posted a blog about why I like British television. I’ve been enjoying some American ones lately, and figured it was time for Equal Opportunity. While I still enjoy British programs more as a whole, there are some gems among the detritus of reality shows, poorly written sitcoms, and “news” hours (by which I mean, of course, not the actual news, but those dramatic reenactments of past crimes). Some of my favorites are shows that are no longer running, but they’re easy to get on Netflix (or other venues, I’m sure), and still make better use of time than watching the, ahem, crap that is on so often nowadays. So let’s get started.


White Collar is such an enjoyable forty-two minutes! From the writing to the acting to the relationships involved, it is a joy. Three things that make this show fun to watch: 1) an FBI/criminal pair in which the criminal is not smarter than the FBI agent — they are equals, and that makes it all the better. 2) a marriage which is built on respect and love, and never wavers. It’s a sad comment on our entertainment industry that this is such a rare thing. 3) Mozzie.

 


Leverage follows a group of criminals out to do good, who on the way are hilarious, smart, sweet, and just plain fun. The writing is witty, the actors fun to watch, and — what can I say? — Timothy Hutton.

 

 

 


Modern Family. I guess a good question would be, “Who DOESN’T watch this show?” Funny, touching, well-written, this is what a smart sitcom looks like.

 

 


The Closer, as a lot of you know, just ended, and segued into Major Crimes, which I haven’t yet had the opportunity to watch. I would encourage you to go back and take in The Closer from the beginning. This is another show where relationships take front page, right alongside the crimes the cops are solving. Once again there is a marriage built on solid ground, and the writing is great. My only criticism? Not enough roles for women in the main cast, although there are two very strong leads, especially in the last couple seasons. Kyra Sedgwick does a fantastic job of being both lovable and really, really irritating.

 

 

 


Lie to Me is one of the shows no longer being made, which is a crying shame. Strong writing, interesting premise, great plots, and as many women in the regular cast as men. And, well, Tim Roth.

 

 

 


Star Trek: The Next Generation
Of course this has long been off the air, but it is SO GOOD. I recently began going through the series again, and love it just as much as when it was originally on. The first season was a little hard to get through, being almost as campy as the first Star Trek (along with terrible sets, awful extras acting, and poor writing), but as soon as the second season started it was like, Wham! It hit the awesome meter. Good roles for women, great writing, and complex plots. And, of course, Patrick Stewart. Doesn’t this picture of him just make you happy?

I’m sure you have your own American shows you like. I’d love to hear about them! I’m always on the look-out for something well-done. And now, back to the next episode, where Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise must figure out a way to survive one more day in deep space…

 

 

22 Responses to The Few, the Proud, the Worthwhile American Television Shows…

  1. We have not had a working TV for over ten years, and I do smiss the British sitcons, plays, and the film network with no adverts (possibly changed now?). I hear there’s a history channel now, which sounds interesting. There’s just not enough time in the day to see everything tempting by even this smallish sample….

    • Most of my shows I watch on my computer with Netflix…but maybe you don’t even want to go there… : ) Some of those things we watch are from the History channel — they have some interesting things!

  2. I enjoyed Newsroom. Wish real TV newsrooms did that kind of reporting and question posing. Also liking Elementary. Not as good as Sherlock but fun.

  3. How about Southland (which could be watched for Regina King alone) ? Also Nashville, Mad Men, and even The big bang theory, which is well written and acted. I can’t deny that I miss The closer, though.

    • Don’t know why I just got this comment on November 13…but anyway, Robin, yes, I’ve heard about Southland, and have it on my cue. I also just started watching Justified after rave reviews and am really enjoying that, too.

  4. Anyone for Mad Men? Breaking Bad? But actually, I cancelled my cable service until the election is over. Now I just rely on streaming. I installed my own home theatre system with a pretty good sound system.

    The only hitch was I installed it in Korean. Took me a l-o-o-ng time to get out of that mess.

    • Oh, Charlotte, you made me laugh! Glad you got it figured out.

      I did watch Mad Men for a while, then decided it was making me too frustrated — the characters (ie. DON) never learned from their mistakes, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was afraid BB would be depressing, too, so I’ve never started it…

  5. Well, I guess I’m the guy who watches none of them. I watch The Office (American) but it is begging to be put to an early death now that Steven Carrell is gone. I’m waiting for Community to return, the wittiest, intellectually written show on television. I saw Modern Family twice last year. I’d rather remember Ed Neill back when he was on Married With Children. It’s all garbage now emasculating men and playing to every politically correct cause. Give me a break

    • I’m with you on The Office — we used to be faithful watchers, but that has sort of gone by the wayside now, with the cast changes. Your mention of MWC reminds me of another show from that era that I loved, which was M*A*S*H. Great cast, great writing, and a super study of humanity.

  6. I’m going to have to check out White Collar and Leverage. I loved Lie To Me, hate that it’s gone. Gotta add The Wire in the same way that I gotta add Dickens to every reading list — most people already know, but if you don’t, hie thee in its direction. I have never tried The Closer since — alas — I have zero tolerance for drippy fake Southern accents (they’re like a cat dragged across a chalkboard in my ears).

    • I’ve heard that before about the southern accent on The Closer, but since I’m not a southerner, I guess it doesn’t injure me so much. : ) I’ve thought about The Wire, of course, just haven’t gotten around to it — have to put it up farther on the queue!

  7. I give a thumbs up to “Grimm” as well. In spite of the Friday night time slot, NBC so far stands behind this fantasy adventure. Reminds me of “Buffy,” but more serious and atmospheric.

    My Network TV is the home of some fine reruns. “White Collar” airs Thursdays. “Monk” is still on Fridays, and “Numb3rs” now airs on Wednesdays. As we say in the biz, check your local listings – My Network usually airs on Fox stations. In many markets, the My Network lineup will get pushed back due to the World Series.

    CBS has committed to “Elementary.” What do you folks think of the Sherlock reborn series?

    • Hadn’t heard about the My Network thing, Steve. I’ll check it out. Thanks! Haven’t yet had time to try Elementary, but I want to. I love Jonny Lee Miller.

  8. I was lucky enough to see Patrick Stewart live in MacBeth a few years ago. Only word for it was: wow!

    I saw one episode of Scandal and was – sadly – disappointed, but am kind of fascinated by Once Upon a Time, full of inventiveness and surprises. And Parenthood does some wonderful things with character and family interactions – the love, support and occasional desire to strangle your nearest and dearest.

    • In person! Wow, indeed! (There’s my British TV language coming out) I’m jealous.

      Thanks for your TV recommendations (I originally wrote RV recommendations — do you have any of those?). I will look them up!

  9. I’m with you on British TV – more real people, less gratuitous violence. Will have to try some of your recommendations. One of my favourites at the moment is Scandal.

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