Saturday, November 26, 2011

My Top Five Favorite TV Shows

Time to myself always means I'm writing. I love to write (can't you tell), so I thought it would be fun since I'm also a complete movie and TV series lover (almost always when it's an HBO show) to share my top five shows and why they made the list. See if you agree or if you're just intrigued by what I'm sharing.

It's pretty tough to pick my all-time favorite mostly because it changes with each obsession. I get so into these shows that I watch them until I have often memorized some of the greatest lines in them. I also listen attentively to commentaries to learn from them since I also screen write. I enjoy cast interviews too and love it when you can tell an actor is completely committed to the role. I get it. I treat my characters in my fiction works the same way. They become trusted friends -- and believe it or not they kind of take on minds of their own. If you don't understand that, just ask another writer. So, I think you'll have to read this list and realize they almost all weigh out the same in quality in my mind but for different reasons.

No. #1: Sex in the City 
The series opened up a whole new dialog about how women friends really talk to each other. You don't have to live in New York City to have those kind of open, honest friendships with women. The sex talk and the sheer honesty and humor behind it sucked millions of women into this series. In fact, toward the end, we were more vested in the women's friendship than the relationships with men. Some of the best moments in the series almost always involved the "girls". My tear-jerker moment came after Carrie's confession to Aidan she had cheated only to retreat to the love and support of her "girls". Then we have some of the greatest all-time, memorable lines that included "bozo the bush" and the "naked dress" not to mention the reference to "funky-tasting spunk ... funnnkkky". It's such a contemporary series that even today over 10 years past the pilot, you can watch reruns and it still feels fresh.

No. #2 Generation Kill (Mini Series)
Now you're wondering, why does she love this one? First and foremost, you can watch Generation Kill, which it only went seven episodes, about 100 times and still not catch everything. It's unabashed storytelling technique about the invasion of Iraq is gripping, gritty, realistic and riveting. The dialog is real and delightful at times ("Gentlemen, now we're going to have to earn our stories" or "stay frosty"). And the series has a real heart and truth to it. It doesn't glamorize war, but rather tells the story in almost a documentary style. And among the stellar cast is my favorite actor Alexander Skarsgård whose often just-beneath-the-surface performance carries the show from end to end. Why do I like him so much? And no, it's not because he's eye candy, which he is, but because everything about his performances are understated, focused and intelligent. Those blue-green eyes say it all for him, and when we're lucky enough to catch his wide smile, well, even better. Some of the greatest moments in that series revolve around him. The wounding of an Iraqi child, and his character's expression of grief, pain and regret without actually shedding a single tear is mesmerizing. Marines don't cry, but Sergeant Brad Colbert aka as the "Iceman" comes close -- and it's that kind of work that makes this show incredible.

No. #3: True Blood
True Blood was one of those shows that appeared campy and strange before season 1 began. The promo had me curious, but not enough to even bother to watch the premier. Somewhere on a Sunday night, I started to watch. I quickly found myself "sucked" (pun intended) into the campy, sudsy world of Sookie. While I initially enjoyed the Sookie/Bill romance, it soon began to erode for me by season 3 where he almost kills her. Then bring in the assortment of fun characters I grew to love, which includes Eric and Pam, Hoyt and Jessica, and just about any moronic thing Jason does, and I was hooked. But again, it was, once again, Alexander Skarsgård as Eric that cemented the show for me. In fact, it took me a good long while to connect the dots back to him playing Sergeant Brad Colbert on Generation Kill before I once more realized my favorite actor was back. First, it didn't help that in season 1 he wore that awful wig, which made him nearly unrecognizable. Why do I like Eric ... and Eric with Sookie with whom he has great chemistry? Eric as played by Skarsgård is portrayed as complex, powerful, sometimes scary but you always know he has a heart, and menacing. The unforgettable rooftop scene where he cries and begs Godric not take his own life ... wow! And watching Skarsgård unleash the grief and tears was absolutely mesmerizing. Not to mention the whole segment with Sookie and Godric still moves me to this day. Every scene he inhabits is interesting to watch and often unexpected. By this last season, though, the writers really took the Eric/Sookie relationship down a stupid path and diluted Skarsgård's performance by throwing in some really lame one-liners I could have done without. I hope they get their mojo back this next season and don't make him say something stupid like, "Excuse me! We're a little crispy up here." Ugh, bad!

No. #4: Six Feet Under
This show was consistently good season after season until the finale. I completely vested myself in the Nate-Brenda relationship that was so complex, sometimes very sexy, but almost always maddening. I love that Alan Ball tends to pick women in lead roles that are not classically Hollywood beautiful. These actresses have real life in their faces and bodies, and I love that. True Blood cast members often reflect this as well. Ruth and her brood were complicated, self-destructive, and slightly crazy at times. I adored David's uptightness and Clair's broody artist -- all pitch-perfect. I have to say when they kill off Nate, though, in the final season I was so upset, but quickly got over it in the finale when Ball just, what the heck, kills off the entire cast! You have to hand it to him, clever and truly final!

No. #5 House and Friends -- Tie
For 10 years, Thursday night was my night to laugh all thanks to Friends. I have since met or run into the cast members. Lisa Kudrow who played Phoebie showed up at one of our book launches, and I chatted with her for a while. She was lovely and very down to earth. We talked a little about women in comedy. Joey aka Matt Le Blanc camped next to my family's RV in Redway, CA. And Monica's boyfriend in the first season played by Tom Selleck was getting his hair cut at the same place I was ironically on the same day I met Lisa. My tie show House is still on the air, and I try to catch it on Monday nights, but I mostly love waiting to watch a House marathon on DVD each year. I have some great memories of doing that at my aunt's house back east before I would go to bed. I love House for everything he says that is brutally honest. I love all of his foibles. He's just a great, flawed character.

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