Sunday, March 1, 2015

We're looking for your suggestions

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a married retired couple in possession of a smart TV and a Netflix subscription, must be in want of some quality television programming.

I have another question to toss out to the mutitude of readers out there.  We are now in either the second or third (depending on how you are counting) golden age of television.  This current age is mostly a premium cable phenomenon being led by HBO and AMC.  It all started with HBO's The Sopranos, followed by Six Feet Under and The Wire.  Then AMC got into the action with Breaking Bad and Mad Men.  We also now have Game of Thrones (HBO) and The Walking Dead (AMC).  Netflix has gotten on board with House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black.  I suppose that there are plenty of other shows in addition to these.

Because we never got premium cable or a smart TV and because I simply was not prepared to invest the entirety of my free time watching long-running TV shows, I have not seen any of these 21st century high-quality shows (with the sole exception of House of Cards).  Even though I still do not have paid cable, I assume that I can watch all the good cable shows on Netflix.


Sue and I will soon be settling in to watching the third season of House of Cards.  My question to all of you is, what should we watch next?  Which of the shows from the current Golden Age -- whether mentioned above or not -- are the best that this age has to offer?  All suggestions are welcome.  We promise to consider carefully each response. 


Ted said...

My first recommendation would be The West Wing. it's probably more feel-good than it ought to be, but the writing is amazing (Aaron Sorkin) and the acting is pretty solid as well. Two warnings on this one if you haven't already seen it: First, after Sorkin leaves (I forget which season) the show changes, not necessarily bad, but definitely changed. The second is once you have finished, you will wish you hadn't. Megan and I keep saying we wish there was one more season to watch.

Not nearly on par with the shows you have mentioned, but I will categorize it as more in the "fun/entertaining" category - The Following with Kevin Bacon. The first season is solid. I have mixed feelings about the second. The third is not yet out.

I'd also recommend The Wire, Dexter, Breaking Bad, and Mad Men. The Good Wife is actually excellent, and I highly recommend that - I think it is on Amazon or Hulu now.

On the lighter side, New Girl is very funny, although sometimes I wonder whether comedy's translate as well between generations. Portlandia is pretty good too.

Let me know what you think of House of Cards season 3. We are 1 episode in. I'd have to say the first episode was a little boring, but I assume it will pick up.

Side note: Turns out I watch a lot more TV than I thought. Interesting.

jb said...

Tom and I enjoyed the original BBC House of Cards. We only watched a couple of the episodes of the US version. It just seemed too over the top. Perhaps because we don't know much about UK politics, it was easier to enjoy the BBC version.

We both loved Breaking Bad, especially the early seasons.

If you're in the mood for some sic-fi, I'd recommend Battlestar Galactica with Edward James Olmos and Mary McDonnell (2003).

Happy viewing. Jana

Big Myk said...

I appreciate both comments. Ted, I should have mentioned in my post that the one other long-running show I've seen is Westwing. One day, I simply ordered the entire seven seasons. As with most shows, the first few seasons are the best. But the show held its own, for the most part, until the end.

I have also heard several very good things about The Wire, mostly from people named James. My brother Jim called it simply the best television show ever aired. Nephew James, now of Queens, said this: In his lowest moments, the one thing that kept him from committing suicide while the show was airing was the knowldge that he had not yet seen every episode.

Jana, we also liked the original House of Cards with Ian Richardson. I remember liking it a lot but I'm having a hard time remembering details. I am also sympathetic with those who are having a hard time stomaching the Kevin Spacey House of Cards. Much of the plot is simply preposterous. Yet, given the great performances, I'm willing to forgive it its flaws. But, is the original; superior? You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment.

James R said...

What's good varies like a chameleon through the rain forest, but I happen to be watching the new Netflix show "Peaky Blinders", and each episode seems to provide an emotional, intellectual roller coaster. Like many good shows now, we follow two or three plots which cleverly are resolved at the end.

James R said...

I forgot to include that even the theme song is similar to that of "The Wire".

james said...

Some great suggestions in this thread. Here are some more.

Nathan For You—A parody of reality business shows. The main character, Nathan, goes to real struggling businesses and pitches radical overhauls, like advising a pizza shop owner to promise that if they can’t deliver in under 7 minutes, the customer gets a free pizza. The wrinkle is that the free pizza is 1 inch in diameter. Customers of course freak out.

A show that consistently makes me belly-laugh (the only other comedy that made me laugh as hard was Jackass, so take that praise with a grain of salt). It is free streaming on Amazon Prime.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt—From Tina Fey and Robert Carlock, of 30 Rock fame. Similar pacing to 30 Rock, similar joke styles, even similar music. Very smart and funny. Streaming on Netflix.

The Fall—Gillian Anderson plays a tough police investigator trying to stop a serial killer. Very well done and unexpected. Anderson is great. Netflix.

Veep—Julia Louis Dreyfus plays an ambitious, frustrated vice president. Written by Armando Iannucci, who wrote the excellent In the Loop and The Thick of It. It’s one of those shows with rapid pacing and every character has impossibly clever comebacks. Very fun to watch. Not on Netflix, but you might be able to buy on Amazon. (Amazon Prime has a bunch of HBO shows on it now, like The Wire. I recommend buying it—it’s something like 100 bucks a year. Great value.)

Silicon Valley—Written by another great satirist, Mike Judge. A group of computer nerds struggling to build the next huge tech start-up. Also on HBO. By the way, HBO has announced that they’re going to offer a streaming service soon, so be on the lookout.

Arrested Development—I’m sure you’ve already seen this, but if not, it’s on Netflix. I do not like the Netflix reboot. Stick to the Fox era episodes.

Parks and Recreation—Everyone recommends this. Good little show. Netflix.

The Last Man on Earth—Haven’t seen this yet, but my friends are raving about it. Currently on Fox. Ali and I are watching the pilot tonight.

These are not TV shows, but Wolf of Wall Street and Django Unchained are both streaming on Netflix. I enjoyed both.

Ted said...

Just watched the Justin Bieber roast - even if you know nothing about him (which I don't), I highly recommend it. There are definitely some extremely offensive parts, but similar to James on Jackass, I had some pretty heavy belly laughs.

Big Myk said...

Wow. I've got a lot to work with here. Again, the contributions are much appreciated.

Sue and I have first turned to The Wire (even tho I suppose that it's a little passé). Amazingly, with all the hype and raised expectations, we are still totally riveted to the show. My only objection is that Netflix won't stream it, and each DVD contains only 2 or 3 episodes It's as if Netflix has made the judgment that this show is too important to binge watch. Apparently, you must stop and think about each episode.