Sunday, November 6, 2011

TV Shows That Hook and Don't Let Go

So, something weird about me? I like TV shows better than movies. I cannot seem to sit through a movie lately AT ALL, but I can totes have a giant 5-episode marathon of my favorite tv show. In fact, I save episodes up for this very purpose (it's so annoying, after all, to have to agonize waiting each week to find out what happens next! I want to know right away!).

You see, I think TV shows have more to teach a writer, at least about perfecting longer story-arcs, that movies can't. Movies can teach a writer how to keep things fast paced, to think in terms of scenes, and to focus only on the things that move a story forward without meandering. But it's TV shows where you really get some deep characterization, the kind where a character burrows into your head so that you can't stop thinking about them. And because there are hopefully at least a few seasons of a show, you get to inhabit the life of the character for longer, and more intimately than movies. It's what I love best about storytelling of any kind--stories that move me.

So, without further ado, my top five favorite shows.
1. Doctor Who. I was only introduced to the fabulous Doctor about a year ago, when I started watching Season 5 with the Eleventh Doctor, Matt Smith, and fell head over heels with the show. I promptly went back and watched all the previous seasons. But unlike many, for whom David Tennant will be their favorite Doctor-par-excellence, I really like Matt Smith. And again, I've heard all over the internet that people were bummed about this past season, but I LOVED IT! I like Amelia Pond. I love Rory (well, everyone loves Rory), and I am a huge fan of the River Song story line and seeing how that all played out this year. If you have no idea what I'm talking about: stop what you are doing this instant and go watch this show!!!!

2. Fringe. I only sorta liked this show the first couple seasons, it wasn't until last season when it was less episodic and they went full throttle with the mythology of the two parallel universes that I fell hard for this show. The ideas and epic world-bending-and-potentially-ending scope combined with the interpersonal relationships make this show a Must Watch.

3. Once Upon A Time. Okay, so there's only been three episodes of this show so far, but it's my favorite debut this fall. I can talk a good post-modern game sometimes, but really I'm a giant sap at heart. I always loved fairy-tale retellings where there's a happily ever after. I think this show is smart in playing with the tropes and familiar story-lines, I love that portions of the show are set in the fairy-tale realm where it's knights and thieves and royalty, and I really like seeing the familiar characters turned on their head in the cursed realm of our world--the place 'where there are no happy endings.' The pilot wasn't as stunning as I'd hoped, but last week's episode and the one tonight completely wrapped me up.

4. Revenge. This is my other favorite new start-up show this year. The premise of a girl slowly destroying the group of people who destroyed her father, so perfectly summed up in this tag-line: "This is not a story about forgiveness." The first episode literally gave me goosebumps. It's wandered a little since, but it's still the show I always watch first on my dvr each week. This show is all about character--viewers are given intimate looks at Emily's thought processes, what drove her here, how the revenge consumes her so completely. But the wrenching part of this show is you want to just be like: no, stop Emily! You could just stop now and find a way to be happy if you'd just let all this go! But like the tag-line says: it's not a story about forgiveness. And I can't wait to see how deep and dark this all goes, and if Emily can still manage to find a modicum of her own happiness.
5. The Vampire Diaries. When I first started watching this show, I thought: hmm, it's good, but I wonder if it can stay interesting past the first season? Yeah, it's on it's third season, and it has amped up with every episode. The thing that hooks me with this show (and a lot of people, I think) is the two Salvatore brothers--one dark, one light, always in love with the same girl and locked into this pattern of eternal competition, but also, this bond between one another. So it's got that nice Cain and Abel thing going, but the show never lets it be simple. The two brothers, especially this season, morph in and out of roles of clear-cut 'good' and 'bad', and who are we kidding, we all probably love them best when they're being bad boys, right on the verge of being good. The show makes all of the characters and relationships so perfectly tangled, you're not sure what to hope for to happen next. But no matter what, you can't stop watching.


  1. YES. I watch everything listed here except Revenge (couldn't get into it, which is sad b/c everyone loves it!) and Fringe (b/c it came on during college and I had no time.) But this is awesome. YESYESYES.

  2. I am such a Fringe addict. I seriously love love *love* that show.

  3. Yay Fringe lovers!! It's the only show that I actually watch live instead of DVR-ing, because I have to know what happens next AS SOON AS POSSIBLE!

  4. Friiiiiinge.

    Yeah, my post is basically going to be about how amazing Fringe is.