Well, reader(s), it’s almost summer. And you know what that means?
Reruns! It’s hard enough finding something to watch without finding nothing but episodes of CSI: Nome and Law & Order: Des Moines that you didn’t watch the first time.
But fear not, fellow tubeophiles. There is plenty of great stuff, past and present, out there in TV land that you might have missed. As a public service (and because I haven’t written anything in a while), I would like to offer a number of options for your summer viewing. How you watch these shows is up to you; they’re available on DVD, and as I understand it there are (a-hem) other ways to procure these programs. But just do it. You don’t be disappointed.
1. Breaking Bad
If you haven’t jumped on the Breaking Bad bandwagon yet, there’s still time to cram before season four begins in July. Bryan Cranston, formerly the ever-befuddled dad in Malcolm in the Middle, is brilliant (three Emmy wins in a row as best actor) as a high school chem teacher who discovers he has incurable cancer. As a way to make money, he starts producing and dealing meth with the help of his wildcard former student Jesse (Aaron Paul). A great, tangled story, filmed in sun drenched New Mexico, Breaking Bad is my choice for the best drama currently on TV.
Another cable gem, Justified stars Timothy Olympant as U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens. While stationed in Miami, Givens kills a bad guy in a justified shooting, which makes him a target. So, he’s sent back to his native Kentucky, where he becomes embroiled with the criminal element, some of whom are blood feud family enemies. Givens has a fascinating relationship with local bad boy Boyd Crowder (the brilliant Walton Goggins) which is one of the richest and most complex I’ve ever seen on TV. Superior acting and outstanding dialogue puts Justified several notches above everything else on TV (great theme music, too). Just finished its second season, so you’ve got lots of time to catch up.
3. The Wire
Truly one of the best dramas in TV history, The Wire was an HBO series that ran for five extraordinary years. While maintaining its focus on Baltimore police, each season had a self-contained, season-long story line about some aspect of the deteriorating city — the drug trade, schools, the seaport, city government, and the local media. A remarkable thing about The Wire is how much you begin to care about some of the baddest of the bad guys. And be warned — people die in this show, often in unexpected fashion. Likely the grittiest, most realistic show in TV history, The Wire is not for everyone. But those who like it, like it a lot. CAUTION: If bad language offends you, The Wire will send you screaming from the room. Also some gratuitous nudity. And some of the thickest ghetto lingo ever; I actually had to run the show with translation on the screen just to keep track of what was going on. But it’s worth the effort.
4. The Shield
The Shield ran for seven seasons without me even noticing. Tucked away on the FX network, I never discovered it until my sons alerted me to it. Thanks, boys.
The Shield follows the exploits of the Strike Team in the fictional Farmington district of LA. Led by Vic Mackey (the explosive Michael Chiklis), the team isn’t afraid to bend the rules just a bit to enforce the peace. For seven seasons, Chiklis and his team (also featuring the above-mentioned Walton Goggins) played the angles with increasing complexity. It’s super violent, with dozens of killings, but with a surprisingly human storyline about Vic struggling to help his troubled family. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a show that features a shocking moment in the very first episode that has an impact through all seven seasons, right up to the final episode, which may be the best series finale of any show, ever. Also very violent and adult oriented.
So there you go, folks. Four adult cops shows to keep you occupied during the summer months when you should be outside having fun.
Feel free to let me know what you think of my choices, and add a few of your own.