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May 7th, 2009, 11:56 PM
You would think I would always have a ready answer to the question, “What’s your favorite program on TV?”

Amazingly, though, these inquiries from readers usually leave me flat-footed, like someone had just asked me which “Real World” hamster was my favorite. (OK, it was Devyn.)

So as the network television season winds to a conclusion, I’ve decided to make a list. After all, with your over-the-air options going away for the summer, it’s a great time to explore Television by Other Means. These days, shows can be streamed on Hulu, file-shared on Vuze, recorded on your DVR (if they’re airing) or rented on shiny discs.

Most of these are recent shows in reruns, but if you haven’t seen them before, as NBC used to say, it’s new to you!

I’d recommend starting with these:

1“Ashes to Ashes” (DVR, DVD). BBC America is airing the British sequel to “Life on Mars.” Now the lead is a female, and she’s knocked back in time to 1981, where once again the object is to return to the present day through the wormhole of a detective room that thinks DNA is a subject more appropriate to Oxford dons than London coppers.

2“Chuck” (DVR, Web). NBC is expected to bring back this spy comedy with Zachary Levi for a third season. One reason fans were so ardent about urging the network to “save Chuck” is the feeling that the show has kicked it up a notch.

3“Flight of the Conchords” (DVD, DVR). I was talking with theater critic Robert Trussell about the reinvention of the American musical, and certainly this terrific series from a couple of funny Kiwis is a great example of that. Future status on HBO is unknown, but the duo has certainly produced enough episodes to keep you occupied for, well, days.

4“Fringe” (DVR, Web). Fox just renewed this weird little series about paranormal crime-solvers, but that doesn’t mean you’ve seen even an hour of it. Anna Torv and Joshua Jackson are surrounded by a terrific supporting cast that brings the spookiness of “The X-Files” into a new millennium (meaning there’s more self-conscious humor than “X-Files” ever had).

5“Frontline” (Web). The Web site for television’s best newsmagazine offers dozens of episodes for streaming at full length. Start with “Poisoned Waters,” Hedrick Smith’s stomach-turning report on the decrepit state of America’s lakes, rivers and estuaries.

6“In Treatment” (DVR). I’m hoping HBO repeats this show’s outstanding second season, because I don’t want you jumping in where we are right now (Week 6). Much of the enjoyment of this show about a psychologist (Gabriel Byrne) and his patients comes from experiencing the cumulative effect of pain, failure and the rigors of confronting our demons in a professional, therapeutic setting. Even though there are no ads, it’s worth recording just to watch all five weekly episodes in one gulp.

7“Late Show With David Letterman” (DVR, Web). With Jay Leno’s abdication coming later this month, there will be a new king of late night. Of course, you could argue Letterman always was the king in everything but ratings. No one tells a bedtime story from his desk better than Dave. And no one books more guests based purely on personal interest. The other week he had the inventor of a $50,000 electric car on for two segments. And the car! Who else could pull that off?
8“NBC Nightly News” (DVR, Web). Remember all that yak about “the death of network news?” For the 40 percent of Kansas City homes with a digital video recorder, that’s just nonsense. Do what we do and set a season pass for the newscast of your choice. In our household, that’s the one with Brian Williams who, despite his annoying habit of continuously mentioning other NBC properties in his newscast (too many Weather Channel shout-outs, Bri!), is the silver standard for network news.

9“Reaper” (DVD). I think this is going to be a show that people look back on and say, “We were a little harsh on them.” For what it was — a horror-comedy in which a slacker learns he belongs to Satan and must spend the rest of his life as Beelzebub’s bounty hunter — “Reaper,” recently canceled by the CW, was a fun little show. Perfect for summer viewing.

10“30 Rock” (DVR, Web). Nielsen ratings suggest that not everyone is watching the two-time Emmy winner for best comedy. I’m sure you have your reasons, but let me assure you: They are terrible reasons. “30 Rock” will get a nice boost next season if the new sitcom “Community,” with Chevy Chase and Joel McHale, is any good.

[MOD EDIT: Signatures are not permitted at SFFWorld, nor are off-site links selling things-Rob B]

June 8th, 2010, 05:13 PM
These are my favorite tv series, only one of them is currently on air, V 2009 will be back for season 2 early 2011. But the rest of them I discovered on dvd.

1. Babylon 5 (excellent characterization, I love watching the characters grow and change, I love the shades of gray, and how no one is purely good or purely evil, best tv show of all time.)

2. Farscape (the best, most epic romance in tv history, plus it's completely insane, doesn't take itself at all seriously, but still manages at times to be darker than B5. Plus it has the best ending of any tv series that I have ever seen.)

3. V 2009 (poorly written, but I fell in love with Morena Baccarin's, High Commander Anna, and I love that the main antagonist, and protagonist are both women. Anna is the best tv villain I have ever seen. Plus she's got style, and is just all kinds of awesome!)

4. The 4400 (very good show. Very well written, acted, and directed. I love the mystery, and the the answers it brings. Should have been given one more season.)

5. The X-files (creepy good fun, great mythology, plus mulder and scully.)

6. JAG (I just love this show. The characters feel like family, it is one of those shows I pop into the dvd player when I'm feeling sad or depressed and as soon as I hear the opening credits I just feel better. )

7. Starhunter season one (llittle known sci fi show, that was really different and forward thinking. I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought it would. Season 2, not so much.)

8. Rod Serlings's The Twilight Zone

June 14th, 2010, 11:43 PM
These are all good choices.

My favorites are:
1) CSI Las Vegas (great cast, great story telling. Too bad Grissom left)
2) House MD (he is annoying but charming and fun)
3) Carol Burnett show - no longer airing
4) Married with Children - only re-runs - but great fun to watch
5) Mythbusters - always fun to watch
6) Deadliest warrior (fun to see them test different weapons. Program has become better over time)

June 20th, 2010, 04:28 AM
Shows still airing, in no particular order:

Breaking Bad - I love the premise and the characters all have their individual motivations. The acting among the mains is exceptional.

Justified - Started out rough but about halfway through the season it found it's legs. Most of the characters are two dimensional but Olyphant and Goggins (who originally was meant to die after one episode) play off each other well and both have terrific charisma. Olyphant's Federal Marshall frequently does bad things for good reasons while Goggin's Ben Crowder often finds himself doing good things for bad reasons. It could become an interesting study on morality.

Sons of Anarchy - It's a good show but mostly I'm a sucker for motorcycle gang related stories.

Fringe - Season one was pretty terrible. Anna Torv (Olivia) was so unlikable, Joshua Jackson (Peter) was wasted (underutilized), leaving John Noble to basically carry the season alone which he did fantastically. In Season two the writing improved dramatically and most of the problems were fixed. Peter became relevant, Olivia became a goofy cartoonish character but slightly more likable and Walter continues to be the show's star. Worth watching.

I wanted five, I'm probably forgetting something.

Shows off the Air, very quickly, in no particular order...

Sopranos - I'm still watching this. It started strong but is getting a little soft by season four.
Babylon 5 - Still the king of multi-season story arcs.
All in the Family - I know it's a remake of a British show but Carrol O'Conner was fantastic.
M.A.S.H. - I shouldn't have to justify this pick.
BSG (remake) - This may be controversial because it wasn't a show for everyone and it has a horrible ending but seasons, two and three are among the best television I've ever watched. There were moments I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat gripping the seat cushions in anticipation of what would happen.
The X-Files - Possibly the best first season among sci-fi television since Star Trek. The series just got better until some point around the fifth or sixth season, I don't remember exactly (been a while). They should have ended it a little sooner.
Sliders - Another sci-fi show with a terrific first season. Part of season two was even better then all heck broke loose behind the scenes and it was never the same. There are still some great episodes scattered in later seasons.
Star Trek - This show shaped so much of my imagination during childhood and had a significant influence on sci-fi television in the years that followed, how could I not mention it.

July 7th, 2010, 11:05 PM
I don't watch much live tv, but I am a hussy for boxed sets, so here's my list:

(1) ST: TNG (nonpareil for me)
(2) Life on Mars (the BBC version, have yet to get to Ashes to Ashes, but that's next!)
(3) Lost
(4) ST: DS9
(5) BSG (the new)
(6) Alias
(7) Babylon 5
(8) Heroes (though I've missed stuff here and there)
(9) Desperate Romantics (BBC miniseries)
(10) Black Books