The latest Pupcast was recorded yesterday and the Screened Pups were kind enough to have me guest on the show to talk about all things television.
The episode will be posted next week, and while our discussion of our current favorite on-air dramas is full of spoilers, I thought it might be fun to make a mostly spoiler free list of the best television series that are currently on-air and in production. That doesn't necessarily mean that they are on television right now, but it means the series has not ended and if not airing now will be sometime in the near future. It is also interesting to note that only one of these shows is actually a network show, and even that one made its way in at the last minute.
I had to keep the descriptions fairly short as to not get in to spoiler-land, but I hope it gives a glimpse into the greatness of each. If you haven't had the chance to check out any of the following shows, I hope that you will. They are very different, but are all incredible in their own way. In fact, I'm not sure that I could even pick a favorite, so they are listed in no particular order.
|1. Breaking Bad|
The series aired the first half of the its fifth and final season on AMC over the summer and fans are salivating for it to return in the summer of 2013. The show follows Walter White who at the beginning of the series is a Chemistry teacher who is diagnosed with cancer. Faced with mounting medical bills and the fear that his family will be left alone and penniless, Walt realizes that he can survive by making a very pure and highly in demand form of meth based on his knowledge and skill of chemistry. He then teams up with Jesse Pinkman who becomes his partner in crime who helps him make and distribute the methamphetamine. While the series is somewhat based around drugs, it is anything but a typical drug cartel show. At the heart of it, it follows Walter White's transformation and the effects the entire situation has had on him. The acting is absolutely stunning and if for nothing else, is worth the time watching to see the amazing performances by Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul. The writing is heartbreaking and shocking at times and the way the show uses symbolism and interweaves the storyline is nothing short of brilliant. The first four seasons are currently available on Netflix Instant.
|2. The Walking Dead|
If you had told me a few years ago that a show about the zombie apocalypse would be one of the most popular dramas on-air in 2012, I would say you were crazy. That's the great thing about television though - it can be unexpected like that. Based on a comic book of the same name, the series explores the struggle to survive zombie attacks, with a limited amount of shelter, supplies and food. As the season has progressed it has begun to take a deeper look at what happens to humanity during times of mass chaos and how people deal differently with times of stress. The #1 thing I have learned from the show is that I really hope the zombie apocalypse never actually happens because it would be awful. The first two seasons of the show are available on Netflix Instant. The mid-season finale of the third season airs on Sunday night. No exact date has been announced as to when the second part of season three will return, but if it follows last year's schedule it will be sometime in February.
I am in fact surprised at myself for this one making it on the list, but in preparation for the podcast at numerous suggestions of Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic have incredible chemistry as partners and it is worth watching just to witness their back and forth. Oh and you should also watch it for Nathan Fillion because he is just, well, Nathan Fillion. The fifth season is currently airing on ABC.I found myself on a mini-marathon of Castle this week. I am not usually a fan of procedural crime dramas, but I occasionally find and exception and this is one of those. The show revolves around Richard Castle, who is a best selling mystery novelist. He works with NYPD Detective Kate Beckett to help solve unusual crimes. The show manages to blend quirky humor with serious drama in a seamless manner that is utterly charming.
You'll have to wait for the podcast to hear my complete rant and thoughts about Homeland, but here is a sneak preview. It is a great show that has potential to be genius, but there are some major problems with it I have had a hard time getting over. My biggest gripe with the show is performance by Claire Daines. Yes, I know she won the Emmy award this year, but I feel that was more for the show than her acting - unless it was her face that one for the insane amount of strange facial expressions she makes. With that being said, there are a lot of great things about the show. The writing is smart and interesting and it is the best show to deal with terrorist threats on American soil since 24. If I can't have Jack Bauer anymore 'll take Homeland as the next best option. The second season is currently airing on Showtime.
I know this show should be on the list but being that it is nowhere to be found on Netflix, Hulu or anywhere that a lady can catch up on it without paying $100 to buy it on iTunes I have not been able. I leave it to anyone that watches the show to help me "justify" why it is one of the best dramas on television right now. Season 4 of Justified will begin airing on January 8th, 2013 on FX.
|6. Game of Thrones|
Sorcerers, Dragons, and a lot of sex....what more could you want from a medieval fantasy series? The HBO show is adapted from the A Song of Ice and Fire series of novels which was written by George R. R. Martin. It is a risque series with a lot of sex and violence, so don't watch it with the kids. However, it is a stunningly beautiful show that captures a fantastical style that has not often been effectively depicted in television series. The third season will premiere on HBO on March 31st, 2013. Winter is Coming!
|7. Sons of Anarchy|
I'm not a fan of motorcycles or motorcycle clubs, but I am a fan of Sons of Anarchy. This is likely because the writing and drama in the show is executed so well that it doesn't really matter the motorcycle club is the centerpiece of the show. It is just a good drama. It is a series that is based around family, brotherhood and how you handle events in your life when you are dedicated to a club ideal more than your own desires. The show revolves around the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club Redwood Original, but focuses on the lives of Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman) and his step-son Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam). While the supporting characters play an important role in the story, most events in some way involve Clay and Jax. Even if it doesn’t seem like it would be your thing, it is worth checking out. The first 4 seasons are currently available on Netflix Instant and the season finale of Season 5 airs on FX on Tuesday.
|8. Mad Men|
Don Draper. Is that enough said? It should be. Mad Men is another period piece, but this time it is one that revolves an advertising agency in New York in the 1960s. The show so perfectly captures the era that it is sometimes hard to believe you are not watching a documentary. Don Draper (John Hamm) is a womanizing ad man who is hard not to adore. The partners, staff at the agency and their families round out the cast of characters, and I have fallen in love with all of them (except for Betty). The show won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series the first four years of its run and although sometimes I don't agree with the Emmy Awards these were four decisions I could get behind. While there is no specific premiere date yet, the sixth season will air on AMC at some point in 2013, hopefully in the spring.
I don't know if this technically counts as on-air as it is taking at least a year long break and it will be at least fall of 2013 (if not later) before it makes it back to the States. However, the BBC series is one of my favorite new shows I have started watching in years. This coming from someone who isn't necessarily a fan of the Sherlock Holmes character. Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are simply brilliant. The villain is also one of my favorite on-screen villains in a long time, but he is best experienced in the context of the show. The stories are interesting and the cliffhanger at the end of series 2 is one of the best I have seen in recent years. I mean, how did that happen?!! (Please do not actually discuss this in comments without a spoiler alert) The first two seasons are available on Netflix Instant. The third season has not yet begun filming but is speculated to air sometime in 2013....or possibly even 2014.
|10. Downton Abbey|
Yes, I know, I know that the upstairs/downstairs premise makes it seem like this is a girly drama of a show, but it is actually so much more. The series is set at the fictional estate of Downton Abbey in London. The stories depict the lives of the wealthy Crawley family and the servants who live in their house and in many ways become part of the family. While there is definitely a soapy element to it and a lot of love story, the second season also has a very dark and realistic depiction of WWI. Maggie Smith's character of the Countess of Grantham is worth watching just for her outrageous one line zingers. The third series of the show is currently airing in England and will make its way to the States on PBS in January 2013.
The "Best Television Comedies Currently On-Air" will be coming soon.