Today, we’re continuing along with our series of articles about getting to know your nerds — this time, we’re going with Television Series.
I didn’t talk about this last time, so I’ll mention it now — what criteria do I have for picking my favorites for a top five list? First for me is enjoyment of the thing — which is obvious; if I don’t enjoy it, why would I have it on my list? But that enjoyment can come in many different forms. For example, with Lord of the Rings, I enjoy it because of how it shaped the works of fantasy that came after it, and because it’s a great trilogy, but when I compare it to something like Dresden Files, it’s clear that I enjoy them in different ways. For example, there’s more humor with the Dresden Files, and there is a more enjoyable escapism element for me with those books. Then compare that with Swallows and Amazons, which is a children’s/young adult book that hasn’t really influenced anything — while there’s a fantasy aspects to the series, you know it’s just the kids’ imaginations. Another of my criteria is how absorbed I get into the book/show/movie/game. Is it a form of escapism for me? If it is, it’s probably going to be higher on the list because something new, exciting, and fantastical that I can escape into is always fun.
So with that out of the way, here are my top 5 TV Series:
5. Stranger Things
This one isn’t on Amazon, sorry — but there’s a link for the soundtrack (part 1 of it, anyway). So why do I love Stranger Things so much when it’s had only one season on Netflix and I’ve only seen it once? One of the big reasons is that I love the 80’s. That Stephen King, John Carpenter, Goonies type of horror that happens in this show is amazingly fun to watch. I also love it because the characters seem real. They aren’t always the smartest, they aren’t always the bravest, and pretty often they make bad decisions. Every character has a past, and though not all of them are troubled, they do all feel like they have things shaping their story.
As compared to Stranger Things, Eureka is a silly romp in the park. And a lot of the time when watching TV, that is what I want/need. Eureka follows a normal sheriff in a town full of geniuses, and problems ensue. It’s a show that is pretty episodic, but there was almost always a bit of a story that ran throughout the seasons. Colin Ferguson does an amazing job playing the normal Sheriff who has all the slapstick things happen to him. The show does a good job of keeping things light a lot of the time, but there are stories that take seasons to fully run their course and that make you think and care about the characters. The show is done now, and I don’t know that it is still on Netflix, but if it is, it’s a show that clearly I loved and I would highly recommend. That said, it’s a show that builds into being great (granted, this is common for most shows), but for a silly show, it’s worth being patient with it.
You can probably see a theme in what I love — horror, monsters, and fantastical at this point in time. Supernatural has that in spades. Now, with a show that has run as long as Supernatural, there are ups and downs. Some seasons are amazing, some are good, and some are average. I don’t personally think they have had a major failure in any season. So how does Supernatural stay fresh? It started out being a horror show with a monster-of-the-week feel and a little through-arc; then it really leaned heavily into through-arcs and having things tied together for some seasons, and it’s become much more self-aware as well. Supernatural is just fun, too; I’m the type of person who finds it fun to be a little bit scared.
Shawn Spencer is a lazy, bored twenty-something who hasn’t done anything really worthwhile in his life; in fact he’s still trying to rebel as much as possible. The one skill that he’s good at is noticing things, since his father, a detective, trained him in that, to his chagrin. He has used his talent to help the police solve a few cases, as he calls in tips while watching the news. But his knowledge is so specific that they start to suspect him for one of the crimes he calls in about, so he pretends that he is a psychic and opens up a fake psychic detective agency. Psych is an absurd show that is played for laughs 95% of the time. The characters are really likable, and they grow and develop over time, and it’s a ton of fun to watch. The different episodes have different themes to them (most often based in the 80’s, and I love the 80’s), so one might be a murder at a summer camp where Shawn and his friend Gus had gone as kids, or a mystery at a sorority, or infiltrating a street racing gang. It’s so silly and so very fun.
1. Doctor Who
A time traveler, trips to different planets, aliens — this show is fantastical, absurd, heartfelt, and heart-breaking, sometimes all in the same episode. Doctor Who, a very long-running show, follows the exploits and adventures of a Time Lord known as the Doctor, who travels in his T.A.R.D.I.S. (Time and Relative Dimension in Space), most of the time with a human companion who aids in his adventures and keeps him grounded to humanity. The show has been going for over 50 years, so how do they get around having a really really old actor playing the Doctor? The Doctor (and all Time Lords) can regenerate — that means they can renew their form. When this happens, a new actor takes over the role. It works well because it allows the creators to tweak the show for each version of the Doctor. Each Doctor needs grounding in a different way, and while there are always things that feel like the Doctor about each iteration, the story is able to change over time and keep it fresh. I’d recommend watching what’s known as “New Who,” which started in 2005. Be aware that some of the first season is a little rough in terms of cheesy alien effects, but if you stick with it, it does get a higher budget later on, and the writing and storylines get better. Like Supernatural, there are some seasons that are rougher than others, but it is worth sticking with it because there are a lot of great seasons and episodes throughout.
Quickly, some honorable mentions that I hated leaving off of the list. Stargate SG1 is a fun long-running sci-fi show. Haven is a show based off of Stephen King’s work that is more supernatural-feeling than horror. South Park is an irreverent show that takes the lowest common denominator all the time and is still one of the smartest shows you’ll watch. Warehouse 13, Killjoys, Firefly, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer are all a lot of fun as well.
What are your five favorite TV series?
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