TV on DVD
I need an hour of smashingly good storytelling each day or I’ll die. Probably. Notice how I’m still alive each summer even though my “stories” are on break. How do I survive? With TV shows on DVD. I try out shows I’ve heard good things about and am sorry I missed. The show is available whenever I want. I don’t have to remember the day or time either. I rent them through netflix, check them out at the library, or buy them.
Here are some of my favorites:
Arrested Development– Remember “Soap” with Billy Crystal? This is kind of a modern version. It’s the over the top story of a rich family dealing with the arrest of the their father for embezzlement, but done almost completely in dead pan humor combined with dozens of silly sight gags. It’s very silly and lots of fun.
Coupling– Susan, Steve, Sally, Jane, Jeff, and Patrick are the British version of Friends with a little Seinfeld meets Sex in the City thrown in. Very fun. Martin loves watching these over and over just like Seinfeld. . (The three guys all looked alike to me at first but by the third episode they all had their own clear personality.)
Sex and the City– If you never got HBO you can watch this fun R-rated sitcom about 4 New York City women on DVD. Some people have told me that they prefer the PG-13 versions rerunning on TV but I get such a kick out of the random nudity and swearing in the middle of a half hour sitcom that I have to watch the real thing.
Hour Long Shows:
Buffy– Yes, the concept sounds dumb: a blond high school cheerleader is the “chosen one” to kill vampires and demons. Despite the cheesy sets and costumes there’s a reason this show had mainstream crossover popularity beyond horror/fantasy viewers. This is one of the best-written shows of the decade with likable characters, razor sharp dialog, and lots of heart. It’s like Grey’s Anatomy but they’re in high school instead of a hospital, fighting monsters instead of injuries. High school is hell. Each monster story episode is a metaphor for high school trauma: “My mom is such a witch”. “The cool kids are a pack of hyenas.” “My boyfriend is a monster.” Just be warned, if you start watching, there’s a good chance you’re going to be seriously addicted.
Firefly– Another sci-fi/fantasy show that crosses over to the mainstream because of it’s superb writing. It’s Star Wars meets Indiana Jones for adults with all the action, fun, and great characters you’d expect from that comparison. There’s only 13 episodes so it’s perfect for summer viewing. Then check out Serenity, the movie that completes the cancelled show’s story in a satisfying way.
Gilmore Girls– Fun generational family story about a strongly independent single mom, Lorelei Gilmore, trying to raise her teenage daughter, Rory, without interference from her controlling rich parents. When Rory gets accepted to her dream school, Lorelei is forced to accept her parents’ money and forge a relationship with them again. This show works because each generation is written in a realistic, layered way. The battles ring true and the dialog is rapid fast and lots of fun.
Veronica Mars– Everything falls apart for Veronica Mars when her best friend Lilly Kane is murdered. Veronica’s father, the sheriff, is voted out of office for questioning the powerful Kane family, her mother leaves without keeping in touch, all her friends turn against her, and she wakes up from Shelley Pomeroy’s party in the guest room without underwear. Determined to find Lilly’s killer, Veronica grits through the turmoil by helping her dad with his new detective business. The story is told with dozens of layered characters, zinger dialog, and one of the best father-daughter relationships in TV, plus it has a satisfying season ending.
Have you ever had someone warn you about a strong tide? As you go through the first set of waves you heed their warning, but once you reach beyond that those waves it seems so calm you think they were exaggerating, until you look back realize you’re 20 feet from where you started. Don’t let season 1 of Veronica Mars fool you, once you get past the moving pilot you’ll be lulled for a few episodes and wonder what all the fuss is about, until somewhere between episode 10 to 12 you’re hooked 20 feet out.
Wonderfalls– 13 fun episodes about a slacker college graduate who thinks she might be crazy because ordinary objects start talking to her. Meanwhile she’s working a retail job, living in a trailer park, dealing with her crazy super achieving family, and starting a friendship with a cute guy whose fiancé cheated on him on his wedding night. (The writers got advanced warning about cancellation so the story has a satisfying end.)
And you? Feel free to post yours too.