It’s never been a better time to be a TV junkie. In my humble opinion, the best shows of the moment are on cable. Fortunately you don’t have to sign a cable contract to check out some of these great series. A few of my personal favorites in the library’s DVD collection are Mad Men and Breaking Bad, which live on AMC; HBO has Boardwalk Empire and Game of Thrones, and Homeland is on Showtime.
Mad Men is polarizing – people seem to either love it or hate it. If you’re not familiar with the show, it follows an ad executive at a firm in Manhattan starting in the late fifties and moving into the sixties. Jon Hamm gets a lot of praise for his portrayal of the main character, a mysterious guy with a lot of secrets in his past. The supporting cast is great as well – and there is humor to be found in some of the side plots. In its most recent season it has grown beyond rediscovering the novelties of bygone eras to a full exploration of character, ethics, and morality. In my opinion, it’s one of the only shows on television that is truly attempting to address women’s and racial issues head on. Though its setting is the sixties, Mad Men somehow feels thoroughly modern in its approach. It’s a serious show, but if you’re willing to invest, it pays dividends. ICPL has all five seasons in the catalog. Season six is scheduled to air sometime in 2013.
For those who like a little more action, I’d suggest Breaking Bad. This show is a great combo – impressive characters and writing along with great action and plot twists. The best part of the show is Bryan Cranston. It’s hard not to want to watch everything this guy does. He plays a high school chemistry teacher who finds out he has cancer, then convinces a former student (Aaron Paul) to help him get into the meth business. If you have any issues with violence and gore, you should probably move on. This is addictive television at its best. The library has seasons one through four on DVD. Season five began airing in the fall of this year, and the series will conclude in summer 2013 with its final episodes.
If you like Downton Abbey and Goodfellas, you’ll love Boardwalk Empire. ICPL has the first two seasons in the DVD catalog (Season three just finished airing this month). HBO spent eighteen million dollars on just the pilot episode, which included Martin Scorsese as its director. I watched for the wonderful period costumes and production design; I stayed for the characters and stories of gangsters and politics in prohibition-era New Jersey.
When I watched the first episode of Game of Thrones, I was hooked. Full confession: I’ve never read any of the books, but I’m a big fan of the show. I do have difficulty keeping track of the many characters and locations in the series (an interesting novelty has the title sequence over a map of the world in which the story takes place, much like you would see at the beginning of a novel). The show follows several kingdoms on fictional continents with lots of fantastical elements thrown in. Game of Thrones is doing some of the most creative and whimsical TV around. We have season one on DVD, and season two’s DVD will be released in February 2013, just about a month before season three begins airing.
Homeland is a show that’s just hitting the radar for a lot of people. It has won a slew of awards this year. Like Breaking Bad, it’s quite addictive. This one is a political thriller following a CIA agent who may or may not be mentally ill following a recently returned POW who may or may not be an agent of Al Qaeda. It’s very twisty turny and really good. The library has season one of this series on DVD, and season two just finished airing.
I hope you’ll stop in and check out all our great TV dramas on DVD!