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Thursday, 18 March 2010

Five must see TV series’ of the last decade
Battlestar: Gallactica
No, no – not that one, the new one. When I was first recommended to watch this, I thought it would be geeky even by my own unique standards. Flashbacks of Dirk Benedict’s side-parting and a talking robot were not kindly reminders of the franchise. Nonetheless I agreed to watch the pilot episode (which is 2 hours long) and two months later I found I’d watched all 70+ episodes, resorting to the interweb for the final, unavailable few (due to the American writers strike). Absolutely solid acting, multi-layered characters, a plot that twists and turns like a viper, crisp special effects and a script that grips you like an angry Doncastrian wrestler. The new Battlestar is a must-see, not only for sci-fi fans, but anyone who appreciates a truly polished piece of drama. Plus Starbuck is a chick.

The Sopranos (Guest Written by Pads Murphy)
I've come to accept the difficult fact that every gangster film I've ever watched has been riddled with the most terrible one liners spoken by improbably gracious men who wield a creeping romantic violence. Ridiculous scripts dishing out cringing speeches are in the Godfather, Goodfellas, and especially the Krays. But the thing is, until you watch the awesome wall of reality that The Sopranos paints you'll live in blissful ignorance. In terms of positives the win win win win win that Tony Soprano delivers is his vulnerable reality, and the dawning realisation that you're on the side of a really bad guy - who accepts that he's bad and makes his peace with it. Can you? It's a killer of a show.

HeroesI was lucky enough to catch this on the Sci-Fi channel when it first aired, so by the time it made its mainstream debut on BBC2, I’d already smashed through the first season by obsessive internet download. There’s been a glut of “Super Hero” films and tv programs over the last couple of years and in my opinion they owe much of their success to Heroes for making it cool to want to be a super hero again. What elevated Heroes above some of its peers was its ability to bring normal every day characters and provide the “what if” factor of waking up one day with special powers. Not only did it show the transition from normal to abnormal, but it also highlighted the struggles and sometimes unhappiness associated with their “gift” in the first place. This show has touching realism, three-dimensional characters and a man who takes apart brains like he’s fixing a pocket watch. Awesome.

Sacred Heart hospital might have needed a pacemaker by the time it hit its seventh dismal season, but the earlier airings of Scrubs were nothing short of comedy genius. Taking Zack Braff from absolute obscurity and pairing him alongside the established and talented John C McGinley provided a comedy double-act set in the world’s most surreal hospital. McGinley’s sarcastic and abrasive Dr Cox is probably the most consistently funny character in the series and I still find myself laughing at repeats on Dave even now (and trust me, you watch a lot of repeats on Dave when you’re unemployed and don’t have SKY). Even when it was a little too heavy on the moral message front, Scrubs still laughed at itself for that exact reason whilst passing one-liners out like free meals at a soup kitchen. A superb supporting cast rounds off the quality of the product, except Carla – she just annoys me consistently. Either way, if you haven’t seen Scrubs, you should check in – immediately.

Family Guy
First airing in 1999 and running to present day, Family Guy can only be described as what The Simpsons would be like if Matt Groening had a nervous breakdown and then developed Tourettes Syndrome. Dealing with a dysfunctional family in a variety of absurd situations, absolutely nothing is off limits for Family Guy. Although some of its gags are borderline offensive, it never seems to go too far due to its sharp voice acting and fast moving script. Although Family guy is incredibly funny and a joy to watch (seeing a toddler beating a cartoon dog “Goodfellas style” anyone?) there are two reasons why I almost wish it hadn’t been so commercially well received: 1). The Star Wars spin-off’s which were fairly mediocre and 2). The Cleveland Show, which frankly is about as amusing as getting AIDS for your birthday. If you can ignore the lame sub-products (and I’d implore you to) in favour of a vastly superior comic vehicle you’ll be simultaneously laughing and wincing through every episode.

Submitted by: Dave Gledhill


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