I do on occasion like to push myself and challenge some of these topics of conversation, they are a good natured and revealing discussion that allows you to invest as much or as little of yourself as you wish to expose. I enjoy watching and discussing television series and shows for the simple truth today’s media, not in perhaps impact or legacy is our equivalence of plays or theatre in days gone by and a reflection of our moral standpoint. Today’s list comes courtesy of Princess Deia and from the tag originally designed by Kayley Hyde on Youtube, the questions are at the end of the post. An enjoyable few moments to reflect on some of my more enjoyable titles and releases and give a little insight into my own personal tastes.
1. Favourite shows?
A deceptively easy question to begin with but somewhat harder when you try and prioritise and put your favourite series into some form of objective order. Without question, if I had to limit my choices, Star Trek in its various iterations would always feature having been a consistent part of my life for over two decades to date, capturing my imagination with the adventures of Captain Picard aboard the Enterprise D and further into the future and now, yes even Discovery as it charts its own course. From there, I’ve enjoyed a number of shows but to lesser degrees. A relatively recent entry but certainly one that has cemented itself, the political American drama The West Wing. Ostensibly a fictional Democratic President, as stated by the showers creator it was an idealised ‘perfect’ Government as opposed to a set political narrative and theology. Whilst initially conceived as a vehicle for Rob Lowe it became a far greater ensemble cast piece that resonated with a great many people and presented a positive portrayal of politics and political life. Lastly, admittedly I am joining the two shows together but the original iteration of Top Gear and its newest incarnation as The Grand Tour, a platform for three middle aged white guys to tour the world in a series of cars, somewhat contentious and controversial at times with flash points over its history. Originally billed as a factual motoring show it evolved into something else entirely, entertaining with their mishaps and calamities but always taking that sense of Britishness abroad. When I tried to explain the appeal to my partner recently, it was that sense of wonderment and anxiety you feel when you are about to go somewhere new, to a new country, a new destination, it always felt slightly offset or reduced when you watched the three presenters arsing about with a cup of tea or a glass of wine in the middle of Mongolia, driving across the North Pole or attempting to deliver a range of crap gifts across Syria and Iraq. There are many more contenders of course, a list for another day but for now I’ll go with those three as a form of representation.
2. Favourite genre?
The genre I’ve enjoyed the most over the years, probably military dramas or I guess to refine that more, authoritative led dramatic shows, anything with a structured authority based premise which sounds perhaps like somewhat of a conceit but it appeals to me and allows me to enjoy a range of programs under that simple premise. Shows such as Seal Team and The Last Ship using the military chain of command. But equally dramas such as The West Wing for its political take, The Wire for the police department perspective, even sci-fi shows like Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek, all fictional representations of the chain of command methodology but all using that same genre approach I enjoy. Take what you will from that ideology and mindset, a desire towards subservience or finding joy in an authoritarian culture, I’m open to the deep questions being asked but that is my favourite genre. As an ‘easier’ one probably science fiction, Star Trek certainly had the most impact and influence on me in my developmental years and have enjoyed other similar shows such as Stargate, X-Files and Red Dwarf to various extents, the Marvel series on Netflix were pretty great as well but then equally can enjoy a mindless sitcom or political drama so a lot of different genres to choose from but authoritative and science fiction for now.
3. Least favourite show?
Hospital Dramas, easy one, I’ll pick on this because my significant other watches it but find them so cliched and on the nose with their emotional messaging and impact. Conversely, I really enjoyed Scrubs during its run for its unique perspective and take on this genre of shows mixing both comedy and drama to present a perspective of hospital life not shown since. In contrast, the drama of every other medical show just tends to follow a bizarre, set, cliched formula that becomes derivative and repetitive. In the UK we have a couple of these shows that have largely become soap opera’s, from what I’ve seen of US shows they are largely the same, the medical issues often taking a backseat to which doctor is sleeping with whom, how their personal issues somehow reflect onto the medical issue of the day. To the point it becomes almost a farce, an attempt by the writers to see how far they can push their daft opening narrative and link it to the medical plot of the episode. Needless to say, not a fan, I enjoyed a few seasons of House in the interest of disclosure until that became largely repetitive in style and tone, now a genre thats lost on me.
4. Most re-watched show/favourite show to binge watch?
So probably not a huge surprise to those that know me but without question, Star Trek The Next Generation. To take you back on a slight personal journey I was probably around 8 or 9 in my parents loft, watching a small black and white television set, yes colour tv had been invented at that point but that was downstairs in our living room and this was all I had to keep me entertained, when this show appeared, a breathtaking and realistic looking starship on the screen, a variety of characters, aliens and humans and even an android on their first adventure, I was transfixed. I’ve been watching the show ever since for the best part of two decades or more now, finding additional layers and messages as I have matured and grown up. It sounds somewhat cliched and sentimental but with my hand of my heart, it was the first show that really gripped me, shaped my development and mindset, that you could talk and resolve a given situation and find common ground. In today’s politically divided and confrontational arena, where everyone see’s themselves as the ‘good guy’ and their opponent as evil incarnate, we seem to have lost our means and ways to talk to the other side to find common ground and consensus. To them, I would just wish they could stop for a moment, take some of the lessons from a 30 year old science fiction show about the approach of resolving matters and deescalate a lot of the toxic politics of today.
5.Do you prefer watching things week-by-week or binge-watching?
I was raised on the weekly approach, that was my accepted normative experience so I suppose that is the approach I accepted to be the ‘right way’. With the availability of streaming platforms and the ‘binge watching’ approach be it through digital or disc based media it negates any need to wait or delay satisfaction and I guess fuels the notion of immediate gratification. Personally, I have binge watched a number of shows over the years, normally coming away feeling exhausted and emotionally spent in a short space of time, and recognising that mindset and effect may not necessarily be the healthiest way to be. There is something to be said for the delayed gratification approach, the appreciation of waiting that period of time to digest and discuss the latest events that have transpired before moving onto the next chapter. It gives you something to look forward to on a weekly basis if your job is tedious or repetitive, an escapism. When I look at binge shows I’ve watched such as the Daredevil series for example, I found myself watching an episode then wanting to discuss or find deeper answers through online channels whilst the next episode had started. Because there was no break or pause whatever sense or sensation of wanting to share my experience was lost, and equally if you watching a show concurrently with someone else its the delay or frustration of waiting for them to catch up. The traditional model worked for the reason it allow an artificial gap to be inserted which gave time to reflect and discuss an episode at length, the way today everyone is discussing the latest Game of Thrones episode and creating speculation and hope and desire for the final episode. In short, I appreciate bing watching for the immediate fix but prefer the slow release of weekly broadcast.
6. Favourite television characters?
I could probably delve deeper into this question but honestly, my favourite characters are one’s whose behavioral traits I admire and would attempt to emulate given the chance. Captain Picard from Star Trek was one of the first, authoritative leaders on a fictional drama show I experienced as a child, a ‘French’ English accented command figure utilising intellect over aggression to resolve any given situation. It was an ideology at odds with traditional behavioral norms for my gender, to solve your issues with your fists and through confrontation, and yet here was an individual verse in diplomacy able to defuse a given situation, it was revelatory and also admirable. In contrast, I also found Sharpe a great character, a common man elevated into the class system of the British Army’s Officer program and cementing his position through fortitude and example. I became a deep fan of the books after watching the shows and found a new found appreciation for the character long after his first exposure, that sense of struggle against the establishment, of succeeding through merit not preordained destiny or familial ties. The sense you would have to achieve and overcome because of where you’ve come from, I admired the character and found him a great example despite his flaws, of an individual succeeding against adversity. And lastly the President from the West Wing, ostensibly a minor or rarely featured character during the conception of the show but one that came to dominate and drive the heart of the series given his intellect and moral compass. Whilst I’ve come to politically lean towards the right or centre right as I’ve grown older, the appeal of The West Wing wasn’t along partisan lines but more ideological, that you could enter a given arena and succeed despite insurmountable odds and maintain your morality and dignity was a welcoming notion, all inspired by that main character.
7. Favourite television ships?
I’ll admit, this one was a slight conceit, but honestly, I do and have enjoyed a number of shows over the years set on various ships and nautical vessels. Whilst there was the temptation to perhaps expand the question to include (star) ships, that’s a stretch to far so for now will reign in my wilder temptations and stick to my favourite ship, that being of course the fictional US guided missile destroyer, the setting of the television series ‘The Last Ship’, the USS Nathan James. Always a show I would struggle to recommend, to well, anyone, it was produced, I believe, by Michael Bay and certainly the style of the pilot would suggest as much. Its crass, pro-America, militaristic propaganda at times and yet, there’s a respect both to the service and military that is unwavering. As eluded and discussed during an interview for Stargate SG1, the shows respect to the military personnel was often reflected and appreciated with continued support and advise through out its run, notable for a cameo from the USAF chief of staff during a random aside. Whilst at times during the Last Ship’s duration it did tend to feel a degree to, Americanised at times, I for one enjoyed its setting and overall positive portrayal of the commitment of the armed forces which in turn allowed for greater use of hardware where possible such as the landing craft featured in the final episode. Being allowed to film aboard a decommissioned vessel added a level of realism and believability to the show in contrast to the fictional worlds of Star Trek for example. It was as much a character of the show as any of the cast so, my favourite ship, the DDG Nathan James, Spear of the Navy.
8. Show you could never get into?
Admittedly, I could perhaps have tried a little harder it was just a show I couldn’t gel or associate with. In the nether realms of television studios and series there tends to be a general formula, certainly in the earlier episodes of loading your pilot episode with a great deal of content and direction, to sell to the various studios to be picked up, when it does the following episodes tend to be of a reduced quality, certainly this was the case and why despite a great pilot episode some of my favourite shows and series often suffered from a weak start subsequently. Take your pick from a variety of examples, Star Trek, Stargate, X-Files, Person of Interest, all strong premises to launch from and all quite weak follow up episodes, not always the case but certainly more often than not to draw a pattern. The rise of serialised shows has negated that somewhat, often starting strong or at least showing continuity with what follows. That said, Breaking Bad started slow, carried on slow and I just couldn’t see the attraction. The rebellious side of drugs and going against the system is somewhat lost on me, working in one of the most traditional environments of the system, the setting was uninspiring. I didn’t find the characters especially appealing or engaging, and from the offset if the story, location and characters are not for you, chances are your willingness to push through will disappear quite quickly. There was just a great deal going against it for me, despite the regard its held in, not for me.
9. Show you fell out of love with?
I struggle to think of to many shows I developed a bond with that I subsequently lost, not for any grand or pompous reason but purely because with the abundance of media if something doesn’t take hold of you it’s easy to move on with a press of a button. Probably the last show, avoiding the easy answers such as The Simpsons, was Millenium, the spin off show from The X-Files. A more darker and grim show, certainly in the first season it focused on a retired FBI agent solving a series of murder cases with the pretense of the central protagonist being able to get inside the mind of the creature or evil presence, a light show it was not. Despite its tone and nature I did really enjoy the first season, in contrast to its sister show which tended to fluctuate between the macabre and surreal before accelerating into a mythology episode, the first season of Millennium was relatively grounded with the resulting tone and strain of the investigations having an impact on the main character as he had the means to enter a property or location and view the grim and evil nature of what had transpired. Unfortunately, the show pivoted back towards the roots of its series creator in the second run and I lost all love and motivation for it after that, pushing a central mythology ark that was neither interesting or relevant and so different to its first season approach. I would champion the first season entirely, not so much after that, a waste of a premise and show.
10. Cancelled too soon?
For a long time the answer to this would have been very simple and the same to a great many fan of the show, Firefly. But, in recent years, I’ve come to accept that moment has passed and have found a new show that, for now, has come to an end when it was hitting its peak. Despite the more dubious nature of its spin off shows and series, the main pillar of the NMCTU, DareDevil had found its stride and strength with the launch of the third season showing the repercussions of the events of The Defenders on the Devil of Hell’ Kitchen. With a really, strong supporting cast and narrative, this was probably one of the strongest series of television I’ve watch in a long time, despite the affiliation to the Marvel name this was really anything but, besides the tenuous abilities of Bullseye, which in truth could be attributed to dedication and finely tuned skill, the style and presentation of these shows was always a lot more grounded in contrast to the more fantastical nature the MCU had decided to take. The final season, now the entire license and rights have been pulled hit its strength with the of Fisk and the confrontation between all the show’s main stars, but everything felt earned and justified, the main hero beginning the series broken and damaged, not finding his strength or purpose until the backend of the season, only enjoying his moment of redemption in the final episode and the promise of a new, positive direction. And then thanks to Marvel and Disney, presumably, the license is no more. Given the high critical acclaim you would hope on another platform, in another life the series may continue in some iteration but for now a great series, with great reviews and praise, cancelled.
11. Guilty pleasure show?
I had no idea what to expect from this show, certainly not something I would normally choose to binge watch or take a chance in but its got a strangely addictive quality and by the end of the first episode you are hooked, as typical with BBC shows the entire run consists of a dozen half hour episodes and each is so well written and cast you can forget you are watching a fictional black comedy drama until the slight aside or glance to camera. It’s a guilty pleasure in every sense of the word, a rude, crass, bold and fantastic show, you empathise, you laugh, you cry. Probably not a show you watch with your parents or family given the nature, in short, a show about a broken woman dealing with the troubles and demons in her life through various self destructive means such as sex and alcohol and trying to find her place and meaning surrounded by dysfunctional family and a priest with dubious questionable ethics. The opening moments of the first episode set the tone and nature of whats to come, and whilst the second season pivots slightly towards a larger more broader narrative and themes bringing in the concepts of religion for instance it never changes to drastically and instead build upon the established foundations. A hard show to talk about without revealing a great deal, and also, fairly graphic in the dialogue but still a great show and guilty pleasure to enjoy.
12. What are you currently watching?
With Summer fast approaching, some of my favourite shows are drawing to a conclusion, most notable The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones which both have experienced somewhat a fall in quality since their earlier seasons but both enjoyable. For the time being, given my dedication and having read the books I am enjoying, to an extent the current season of GoT but do feel its become a pale shadow of its former self. In contrast, despite the ‘network’ feel of the series have really started to enjoy Seal Team, a really well made and produced military episode of the week show mixing stand alone episodes as well as a serialised central thread running through it. Certainly there are corners cut at times and you can see some of where the savings go but again, another show paying respect to the military and not pushing a socio-political narrative onto its main characters. And lastly, the spin off series, Fear the Walking Dead, I’ve enjoyed the main show to date but in the UK at least the spin off series was put onto another cable channel. Thankfully, the series are available through Amazon although usually at least one behind the latest offering. So, having waited a while have started to watch this on catch up, have at least another two seasons to see before I reach the end of the run available for me for now, am enjoying it so far, a different feel to the main season, it helps having the West Coast setting and a different cast and a different time frame. Probably more on the list of shows but those are the memorable ones.
As before and in other posts, if you feel inspired would love to hear your feedback or see your take on this, always a fun challenge to consider your answers especially those of an older generation who have a wealth of experiences to draw upon, and realise how narrow the field becomes. Happy Television Watching!
- Favourite shows?
- Favourite genre?
- Least favourite show?
- Most re-watched show/favourite show to binge watch?
- Do you prefer watching things week-by-week or binge-watching?
- Favourite television characters?
- Favourite television ships?
- Show you could never get into?
- Show you fell out of love with?
- Cancelled too soon?
- Guilty pleasure show?
- What are you currently watching?
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