So, what do I watch ? Well, it must have great actors, good stories, nice humor, drama and most important, characters with depth. Besides a laugh here and there, you have to get to know the characters. This of course is not enough, the characters have to be interesting. The character will enhance the drama, and the drama will enhance the character. It has to work both ways. Also, a bit of morals can't hurt either.
TV I used to watch
characters: Frank Black (Lance Henriksen), Catherine Black (Megan Gallagher), Peter Watts (Terry O'Quinn), Jordan Black (Brittany Tiplady)
plot summary: To protect his family from a stalker, FBI profiler Frank Black leaves the bureau and moves his wife, Catherine, and daughter, Jordan, from Washington, DC back to his hometown of Seattle. Frank is approached by a mysterious and powerful organisation known as 'The Millennium Group', a team of ex-law enforcement personnel working to fight the force of evil that strengthens as we approach the millennium, trying to find some order in the chaos. This is of course has something to do with the fact that Frank has a gift, a gift to see things other can't. While that was very natural in the first season, the 2nd would show, that we actually know nothing at all about the Millennium group. Frank will have to live with the fact that while he doesn't know who he's really working for, he's doing the right thing. Or is he ? This tie with the mysterious Millennium group and its risks that comes along with it, has severed Frank and his family. In the third season, Frank comes to the conclusion that what the Millennium does, is all about controlling the world, and even destroying the Earth. Can Frank, all by himself, stop this immensely powerful Millennium group ? Just let me say that killing Frank's wife wasn't really a good idea, and that he's REALLY pissed off now.
why: While creator Chris Carter is doing a lousy job on his X-files (predictable stories, no character development, stiff actors), this one has it all, wonderful actors bringing depth to the characters. Frank being a family man is also one great thing to see. Now, digging into the Millennium group is like a race against time. Will we ever know ? The time is near. There are days left.
links: The Official Fox Millennium Site, Shea Bennett's Millennium Site.
characters: dr. Samantha Waters (Ally Walker), Bailey Malone (Robert Davi), Chloe Waters (Caitlin Wachs), John Grant (Julian McMahon), George Fraley (Peter Frechette), Jack (Yeah, wouldn't we all wanna know ?)
plot summary: Forensic investigator Sam Waters has been hiding from Jack of all Trades ever since he killed her husband. Now, Baily asks her back for the VCTF (Violent Crime Task Force). This VCTF deals mostly with serial killers, and Sam happens to be the best profiler there is. Sam has the ability the see things through the eyes of the killers, wether it's a gift or a trained expertise, it's not clear. Now, besides solving other urgent cases, a battle between the VCTF and Jack of all Trades has begun.
why: Sam is a very interesting character, having not only lost her husband, now Jack has also killed her new love in her life, Coop. While you may think she'd would suffer a nervous breakdown, she almost did, who wouldn't ? But surrounded by her friends and a daughter to take care of, she's coming back, while her struggle with Jack continues.
The best parts are still end first and first half of the second season. That was a powerful series of drama and good continuity. It had John leaving the VCTF, Bailey's daughter Heather in trouble, even ending up with her shooting her father, Sam cornered by Jack himself, and later, John finally getting back to the VCTF, Bailey still struggling with his daughter, Sam dealing with Coop's death. Also, a new member, Marcus, is brought aboard, though nothing much there has happened. It's also featured nice stories about Sam's daughter Chloe, school, annoying grandparents (trying to get custody) and such. These deep moments where hard to find in later season 2 episodes, continuing with episodic predictable stories. The third season will show a major cut in the cast, trying to focus the stories on the main characters. That's a nice idea, but I feel like the show has lost very big sense of drama compared to the earlier episodes. For now, we're back to the episodic predictable stories.
links: http://www.jacksgame.com, first time a web-site plugs into reality like this, this is just like it has been shown on TV. Get yourself the Shockwave plug-in and try to catch Jack yourself . Official NBC Profiler Site, Bree Onne's Workshop.
characters: dr. Doug Ross (George Clooney), dr. Mark Green (Anthony Edwards), dr. John Carter (Noah Wyle), dr. Peter Benton (Eriq La Salle), Carol Hathaway (Julianna Margulies), Jeannie Boulet (Gloria Reuben), dr. Kerry Weaver (Laura Innes)
plot summary: Just like it says, ER, what happens in and around it. Friends, work, patients, death, interns, bureaucracy. Everything.
why: Good mix with drama and humor. Unlike most shows, where there are perfect hero characters, here they are flawed, struggling in life. Produced with the highest quality, and usually well directed. Actors are well in their character, portraying emotions at their best.
links: Official NBC ER site.
Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
characters: Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar), Xander Harris (Nicholas Brendon), Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan), Rupert Giles (Anthony Stewart Head), Angel (David Boreanaz), Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter)
plot summary: Since her last incident, she had to move again. This time she thinks she might finally live a normal life. Wrong. She's landed in the Hellmouth itself. A place where all magic and strange forces converge. This is the worst place to be in. Also, the school's librarian is a Watcher, hence a busy busy Vampire Slayer as a result.
why: While only seen the first few episodes, the characters are already very interesting. Horror, SFX, drama and humor are all mixed up pretty nice. Buffy is not just a hero character. She's a Vampire Slayer against her will, she wants to live a normal life, but she knows her duty very well. Other character around her are also interesting. Angel, the mysterious guy, has already added more depth to the series. Her friends haven't been featured in-depth yet.
links: Buffy the Vampire Slayer site, The Sarah Michelle Gellar Fan page, Fan page 1, Fan page 2.
characters: Ally McBeal (Calista Flockhart), Richard Fish (Greg Germann), Billy Thomas (Gil Bellows), Georgia Thomas (Courtney Thorne-Smith), John Cage (Peter MacNicol)
plot summary: Ally is a lawyer with loads of troubles. Especially with her love life. After quitting her first job, she's now working for the firm of a former co-student (hilarious character played by Greg Germann, formerly seen in "Ned & Stacey"), who's just in for the money. Not only that, already working there is her former boyfriend, Billy, now married. With more wacky collegues surrounding her, she tries to get her life straight. Starting with finding a boyfriend, using the book "The Rules". But there's always Billy.... and Georgia, making some very intricate future episodes with doubts, honesty, love in the deepest sense, and other hidden or ignored feelings.
why: Even the earliest episodes it shows high quality stories, containing good drama and good humor, though all acted in a lighthearted kinda way. Also, high quality SFX are featured in short funny scenes, where we get to see her imagination. This show is carried by Ally's own voice, speaking her thoughts, and that brings extra depth to her character. Music and vocals are mostly provided by Vonda Shepard (in the club but also throughout the show). While it's good once in a while, sometimes it's featured too prominently. Well into the second season, it continues to bring drama along with comedy. You'll always see thought provoking, mind-boggling, funny, dramatic cases, stuff that makes you think, ponder and question yourself. This show has evolved into something you just don't watch, but something you experience. Also in this season, are new recurring characters, keeping the show fresh and always with new ideas, instead of other show who re-use and re-use stories over and over again.
links: Dana's Ally McBeal page.
characters: Robert G. "Bobby" Donnell (Dylan McDermott), Jimmy Berluti (Michael Badalucco), Rebecca Washington (Lisa Gay Hamilton), Eugene Young (Steve Harris), Ellenor Frutt (Camryn Manheim), Lindsay Dole (Kelli Williams), A.D.A. Helen Gamble (Lara Flynn Boyle), Lucy Hatcher (Marla Sokoloff)
plot summary: We're following the events happening in a small law suit practice, and we get to see high and low profile cases and the impact is has on the lives of the people working in the practice.
why: After "Chicago Hope" and "Ally McBeal", this is the third series of David E. Kelley to be overwhelmed by a whole bunch of Emmy Awards and Golden Globes, earned by thought provoking cases, strong acting, and great drama. This series just radiates quality with big letters.
links: Angela Earlye's The Practice, The Practice: The Courtroom, Arthur Tam's The Practice
Party of Five
characters: Charlie Salinger (Matthew Fox), Bailey Salinger (Scott Wolf), Julie Salinger (Neve Campbell), Claudia Salinger (Lacey Chabert), Sarah Reeves (Jennifer Love Hewitt), Griffin Holbrook (Jeremy London)
plot summary: After a car accident, caused by a drunken driver, 3 brothers and 2 sisters (they own a restaurant, hence the title Party of Five, just the way you order a table, I think) are left without parents. Now, this broken family, lead by its oldest brother, must try to go on with their lives, and depend on each other. Only more trouble awaits.
why: All trivial day stuff is featured, and the drama is good, emotions run high many times. Great actors and good stories give the characters credibility. Besides fun here and there, there's also a lot of crying (in the series, not me, what were you thinking ?)
links: Official Columbia TriStar Television Party of Five site, TK Baltimore's Party of Five Site, and another Party of Five site.
characters: Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston), Monica Geller (Courteney Cox), Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow), Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry), Ross Geller (David Schwimmer)
plot summary: Friends having fun.
why: This whole friendship stuff is very easy to get into. Just friends having fun. Usually, it's non-stop laughing. But there's also some more serious and dramatic moments now and then. What also makes this show fun to watch are the many famous guest stars. Of course, some weren't that funny, but hey, who cares ? Bringing in Tom Selleck as a recurring character was also a great move. Him being older has resulted in many hilarious scenes already.
links: NBC's Friends Site, Fan Page 1, Fan Page 2, Fan Page 3.
characters: Michael Flaherty (Michael J. Fox), Mayor Randall Winston (Barry Bostwick), Paul Lassiter (Richard Kind), Carter Heywood (Michael Boatman), Stuart Bondek (Alan Ruck), James Hobert (Alexander Gaberman), Nikki Faber (Connie Britton)
plot summary: About the mayor of New York, and it's employees, mainly the press and p.r. section. We get to see what a mayor, and its deputy, have to go through. The most hilarious things can happen in the Big Apple, really.
why: While it may not seem a very interesting concept, it's very well executed. The fact that they are co-workers, but also friends, works great. At their work, but mostly in their time off we get to know each character better and better. The main character has particularly troubles with his love life.
links: No links yet.
Mad about You
characters: Paul Buchman (Paul Reiser), Jamie Buchman (Helen Hunt), Ira Buchman (John Packow), Fran Devanow (Leila Kenzle), Mark Devanow (Richard Kind), Ursula Buffay, waitress at Riff's (Lisa Kudrow, hey, doesn't that name sound familiar ? Heh, well, both NBC shows, so, it can happen),
plot summary: Nice family, with everything from cousins to friends' friends.
why: It's a not always perfect relationship between the Buchmans and that's nice. We get to see troubles from their dog to trying to get a baby. Humour is very subtle, and sometimes deep, as far as humor can go deep. Everybody has their strange ways, and it's nice we get to see some here.
links: Johan's Mad About You page.
Malcolm & Eddie
characters: Malcolm McGee (Malcolm-Jamal Warner), Eddie Sherman (Eddie Griffin), Holly (Angela Brooks), Nicolette Vandross (Karen Malina White), Tim (Jaime Cardriche)
plot summary: Two friends, one runs a bar, one runs a garage.
why: Started of nicely, good humor, also some bits of black humor. Lately, it's become more predictable, simple stories and the jokes wear thin.
links: No links yet.
Dr. Katz, professional
characters: Dr. Katz (Jonathan Katz), Ben (H. Jon Benjamin), Laura (Laura Silverman), Stanley (Will Le Bow), Julie (Julianne Shapiro)
plot summary: About a therapist and his patients, but also his family and friends
why: Every week will have some new interesting lunatics sitting in that couch. We also see the silliness of his son Ben, his secretary Laura, and even himself. Aren't we all some kinda crazy in a way (I hear you thinking "speak for yourself, dude") ? Wouldn't you wish for a real Dr. Katz ?
links: http://www.comcentral.com/katz/index.html, the official site.
characters: Jarod (Michael T. Weiss), Miss Parker (Andrea Parker), Sydney (Patrick Bauchau)
plot summary: "There are Pretenders among us. Geniuses with the ability to become anyone they want to. In 1963 a corporation known as the Centre isolated a young Pretender named Jarod and exploited his genius for their research. Then...one day...their Pretender ran away..."
why: This concept of a Pretender on the run has a very fixed episode style (bad thing), but also creates a familiarity. Every week we see Jarod being someone else. This requires good writing, and lots of depth of the main character. Besides being on the run, Jarod also continues his quest for his past. With practically no knowledge of his past and parents, he only gets bits by bits, with or without Sydney's help. This also creates more depth to the series. Still, the fixed episode style is a bad thing (same producer as The A-team). First of all, Jarod always fishes behind the net, the crime already comitted. All he can do is trick the culprit and get his justice. Second, predictibility. Luckily the plot still is a mystery at the start of each episode, and becomes more clear towards the end. All in all, the Pretender makes a nice show, credits to Michael T. Weiss, who does a good job at being a pretender. And the Pretender concept makes it fun to watch.
links: Jeremy's Ultimate Pretender Page.
King of the Hill
characters: Hank Hill (Mike Judge), a.o.
plot summary: Nice small family living in a small town called Arlen, just doing everything a normal family would do. Or do they ?
why: This is another animated series coming from Mike Judge's hand, with more subtle humor than his "Beavis and Butthead", but no less and even more hilarious. Trying to depict a normal family, you find that there's actually no normal family, so, it's normal after all. (I'm confusing you, am I not ? ). Good worked out characters with some depths to be explored every week.
links: Official King of the Hill site
MTV's Celebrity Deathmatch
characters: various clay figures
plot summary: Like the title says, celebrity deathmatch
why: Great fun to watch, and there's actually a storyline in every episode. Also, continuity is incorporated in this series. The celebrities figures are a good match with the real figure, and the voices and characteristics are done well. It's really amazing how many ways you can die, and this show always has a surprise up its sleeve, a bloody one usually.
links: www.mtv.com ?