The 15 Best Television Shows Currently on TV
This title may be a bit misleading. In reality, this article is about the best television shows that I currently watch on TV. I don’t watch every TV show. I don’t watch The Closer or House or NCIS or 30 Rock, to name a few. Comedy is generally not my thing. I much prefer serialized dramas. But some of my readers, aware of my amazingly great taste in movies, ask me what television shows I watch, so as we move into the 2009 fall television season, I figured it was time to share what I like on the boob tube…
One of the most addictive and clever shows ever made, Lost comes to an end in 2010. The last season ended with a bang – literally – and no one but the creators know what’s in store for its final run. Though the show has stumbled a few times, it is one of the few that you can watch over and over again and become more and more engaged in the characters, story and mystery of the island.
Perhaps even more addictive than Lost due to its shorter seasons and fast-paced story arcs, this Showtime show is incredibly entertaining. Dark, hilarious and disturbing all at once, the show features brilliant performances and a unique plot – about a forensics specialist who is also a serial killer, who only kills killers. Since I don’t have Showtime, I’m currently halfway through the third season on DVD as I write this.
- Big Love
This Bill Paxton-starring show seems innocent enough; it’s about a man and his three lives as he tries to balance his traditional polygamist views with his modern business interests in Utah. But this highly entertaining, comedic, dramatic and thrilling show is surprisingly complex, as Paxton constantly becomes walks a fine line – and often falls off that line – between savvy business dealings and crime as he attempts to take down his so-called prophet of a father-in-law while keeping his own name out of the news.
Some people say that Entourage lost its edge seasons ago, but I disagree. The last season was funnier than ever, and it continues to get better as it goes along. Between Ari and Lloyd and Drama and Turtle, there are plenty of classic characters that make this show work surprisingly well. It’s just a shame each episode is only half an hour long; I’m always disappointed when it ends each Sunday.
- True Blood
From Alan Ball, the writer of American Beauty, comes this HBO show that is very similar to Twilight, only involving more gore, sex, nudity and interesting characters. Anna Paquin stars as Sooky, a human who can hear people’s thoughts who is also dating a vampire. The show shouldn’t be good but it is; it’s highly entertaining, exciting and at times funny, with plenty of screwy things going on at all times. I’d say it’s simply a guilty pleasure, but it deserves a better description than that.
- Rescue Me
It was recently announced that only one more season remains of this FX show about New York firemen in a post 9-11 world, which is a shame. At the same time, the Dennis Leary-starring show has been waning a bit recently. Nevertheless, it continues to walk that fine line between legitimate drama (Leary is an alcoholic dealing with the death of his son and who sees his dead brother) and hilarious comedy (every firemen in the house has very unique quirks) and is one of the more entertaining shows on television. The recent orange penis scene was particularly funny.
- Mad Men
This critically acclaimed AMC drama just got renewed for a fourth season, and for good reason. The subtle depiction of ad men (and women) in the 1960’s should be incredibly drab and boring, but it isn’t. For some reason, the finely tuned series is pitch perfect in so many ways, it’s hard to find a fault.
- The Office
Comedies and sitcoms are rarely my cup of tea – I prefer serialized dramas. But The Office is one exception; Steve Carell and his crew deliver the laughs week after week. Though this previous season disappointed a bit, it’s still my go-to for laughs every Thursday.
I started off, well, on the fringe about Fringe, as I wasn’t sold on the characters or stories. While it still pales in comparison to The X-Files (watch the first few seasons again and tell me if you disagree), Fringe grew on me in the second half of its run, developing an intriguing world where anything is possible. While I feel that Fox still needs to tweak its characters, I am definitely looking forward to the next season – oh, and Leonard Nimoy.
After watching the first episode, I stopped watching. It sucked. But I gave this Joss Whedon show a second chance on DVD and found it to be one of the most entertaining and intriguing new show of 2009 (or 2008?). Elisha Dushku stars as a doll, a woman whose memory is (allegedly) wiped clean after each mission she goes on, whether it’s a sexual rendezvous or an assassination. The show blends individual adventures with an overlying plot of morals and secrecy, where any character might not be what they seem.
2008’s season was a disaster, but 2009’s resurrected the popular Kiefer Sutherland show, albeit one set in a post-Bush world. The plots are often over the top, but are consistently entertaining and exciting. You won’t love all the twists (I still don’t buy into the Tony Almeada twist), but 24 is guaranteed to keep the adrenaline flowing.
I’ve only seen the first season, but it was one of the most interesting, complex and surprisingly exciting seasons I’d seen in a long time. Ellen Byrnes and Glenn Close star as lawyers who are both on the same side and playing against each other simultaneously. Damages has one of the best casts on television (William Hurt and Marcia Gay Harden join in season two), if not the best. I’m still waiting for FX to release the second season on DVD so I can watch it, though.
David Duchovny stars as a sex addict in California who’s trying to get back together with his wife and daughter but keeps getting himself in trouble. This Showtime show is hilarious, and the second season just came out on DVD. I just have to get through Dexter before switching gears to this show.
- The Tudors
Though it comes off as a bit cheap, there’s something enthralling about this fictionalized drama based on the life of Henry VIII (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). Season 2 unleashed as we got to see the rise and fall of Ann Bolyn as well as a variety of other characters. It’s not perfect, but there’s something incredibly entertaining about this show, also from Showtime.
A year ago, this show would have ranked much higher on this list, but season three just sucked. Well, most of it. The first 18 episodes or so were disastrous, but the last four or five episodes – which featured the return of one of the show’s original writers – salvaged some self respect. I’m hoping that that continues into the fourth season, but one sign of trouble and I’m gone. It’s a shame, because this show’s first season was so great, and it’s an idea with unlimited possibilities.