10 Great TV Shows You're Not Watching
July 29th, 2012 12:00pm EDT
This is my viewpoint, from the far end of the couch...and this week Starpulse has asked me to give you 10 outstanding TV shows that you're not yet loving, but you will.
With so many channels it's no wonder that a lot of great shows either slip through the cracks or don't get as much attention as they deserve. To help you find the series you might not know, I've compiled this handy list of programs you can check out right now.
My only criteria? They must be currently airing and able for you to tune into right now, be it first-run or repeats. (Therefore, cancelled shows are not eliglible, and neither are current shows that are off the schedule for the summer.)
In no particular order:
Suits (USA). If you're watching TV this summer, you must watch Suits. This is one of the best shows currently on the air; I would put it and FX's Justified as tied for number one in my book. The cast includes the smartest actor on television (Gabriel Macht), one of the best young actors I've ever seen (Patrick J. Adams) and one of the most underrated actresses (Sarah Rafferty). They're well supported by a writing staff that is smart, ambitious and unafraid to break all the rules of television. This is one of only two shows I've ever been scolded for writing too much about, and that's because there is so much to dig into with this show, be it where the plot will go or what makes these dynamic characters tick. Suits stays with me long after the credits roll, and that's what the best of television should do. (Thursdays at 10 PM ET/PT; also available on DVD)
Dan Vs. (The Hub). In between Transformers and My Little Pony is an angry little man with a chainsaw. Dan Vs. follows Dan, who goes out for revenge every time he feels wronged by anything from the local burger joint to the state of New Mexico. And when he goes off, Dan goes big: I haven't even completed season one and I've counted four businesses that he has either directly or indirectly obliterated. His escapades are everything you've ever been tempted to do but haven't (or won't or legally can't). This is a show that vents all of our frustrations, no matter how mundane or conversely how insane they are. That plus a group of hilarious writers and voice cast make this an animated series not to be missed, though I'm not sure how kid-friendly it is. (Saturdays at 4 PM ET/1 PM PT; also available on DVD)
The Newsroom (HBO). Here's a series that is worth all of its hype. After I saw the pilot of The Newsroom, I had to pick my jaw up off the floor, and I get that same impressed feeling with every subsequent episode. Jeff Daniels gives the performance of his career - and should hopefully score at least an award nomination of some kind - as impassioned newsman Will McAvoy. He's the leader of a cast that brings its "A" game, particularly John Gallagher Jr. as associate producer Jim Harper and the ever-dependable Sam Waterston as network boss Charlie Skinner. Weaving real news stories into a fictional narrative, the series gives us an idealistic hindsight that's refreshing in our cynical times. And oh yeah, it's a weekly dose of the amazing writing of Aaron Sorkin. I find myself wishing the real news worked the way The Newsroom does. (Sundays at 10 PM ET/PT)
XIII: The Series (Reelz). I mentioned XIII in a previous column so I'd be remiss if I didn't include it here. It's reminscent of Hitman, in that we've got another nameless assassin out to do more than kill people. This time, it's not 47 but 13, and 13 is played by Stuart Townsend (Queen of the Damned), who puts serious work into developing the character beyond his lethal skills. There's more here than just action. Yet when there is a call for action, the fight sequences and suspense are above average. This is a small-screen production as good as many recent action movies, and a solid choice to start each weekend. The only concern is that the show's second season (currently in production) is allegedly undergoing major changes, because season one is pretty great. (Fridays at 9 PM ET/PT)
Rookie Blue (ABC). This Canadian cop show has successfully crossed the border. Although the title might not be as apt now that it's into the third season, Rookie Blue is an interesting hybrid of a show between the personal entanglements of its cops and the very serious, often moving things that they face in the line of duty. There's an underrated ensemble cast, including Missy Peregrym, Ben Bass, Enuka Okuma, and Gregory Smith. You can tell how much they're enjoying themselves, which gives the show itself a feeling of fun and a real heart. As much as I love my more gritty police dramas, Rookie Blue has that plus a lighter touch that makes it great for me to just sit back, relax and enjoy. (Thursdays at 10 PM ET/PT; also available on DVD)
Archer (FX). While this show already has rabid fans, I can't believe there are people who still haven't seen Archer. I also still can't believe half of this show ever makes it past FX's censors. This is the most hilarious show on television, even as it's also the most eyebrow-raising. What sets Archer apart is that unlike other shows in its genre, it doesn't depend on its crude humor to be funny. There are just as many laughs that come out of sharp cultural references or the characters' most basic interactions. The show also has a top-rate voice cast, including H. Jon Benjamin and Aisha Tyler (who is also the female lead in XIII: The Series). Just don't watch this one with your family, unless you have a hugely inappropriate family. (check your local listings; also available on DVD)
Flashpoint (ION). What was CBS's loss was ION's gain (if you can find ION in your channel guide). Another series imported from north of the border, this show about Canada's Strategic Response Unit (SRU) focuses on the people involved in crisis situations, much like Without A Trace put emphasis on the "who" in missing persons. This is a show that has sucked me into the stories of not just its main characters, but even the guest characters. The upcoming fifth season will be the final one of Flashpoint, so best to appreciate it while we can. (check your local listings; also available on DVD)
Top Gear (BBC America). The world's biggest car show is a phenomenon in the United Kingdom and across the world, but has remained somewhat of a cult hit in America. You don't have to be a petrolhead to love Top Gear, which is not only about cars, but what they can do, what they shouldn't do, and why people love them. Hosts Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond are knowledgeable, passionate, witty and a little bit insane, which they have to be in order to turn a Reliant Robin into a space shuttle or take over a drivetime radio show. There's a reason BBC America runs it multiple times a day: there is nothing else like it on television. And by the way, the American counterpart is pretty entertaining, too. (check your local listings; also available on DVD)
Dan Le Batard Is Highly Questionable (ESPN). Sports fans should check in with the Miami Herald's Dan Le Batard and his father Gonzalo. From a fake kitchen, they offer their differing perspectives on everything from the day's headlines to what's on TV that night. You get professional knowledge from Dan and the wisdom of a lifelong fan from "Papi." For all of us who grew up talking about sports with our fathers, it's like TV comfort food. Add in surprise guests and fun games like "Si o No," and this is just plain fun, nothing more and nothing less. In a landscape of sports shows that want to be funny, here's one that actually brings the laughs. (weekdays at 4:30 PM ET/1:30 PM PT)
Alphas (SyFy). Great science fiction shows can be hard to find, but SyFy lives up to its old name with this original series. Now in its second season, Alphas addresses themes I remember fondly from old issues of X-Men: people who are different and wonder why, even as they face fear, hate and a world that needs them. In that sense, it's almost the spiritual successor to USA's The 4400, except that the cause is genetics rather than aliens. While there's plenty of action (the second-season premiere had a prison riot and train explosion), it's almost more interesting to watch the characters and their varying quirks, and I don't just mean their powers. There's an intriguing cast here, including the breakout Laura Mennell and David Strathairn, that grounds the fantastic in humanity. (Mondays at 10 PM ET/PT; also available on DVD)
Until next week...
For more from Brittany Frederick, visit my Starpulse writer page and follow me on Twitter (@tvbrittanyf).
(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.
Photo Credits: USA, HBO, ABC, ION, SyFy