New show advice

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by RandyS, Dec 23, 2010.

  1. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm not sure weither this goes here or in Sci-fi, but since it's a question about TV, I figure this is good enough.

    I've been looking at complete series on DVD for a new show to get into. Something that I've never seen before. The shows that have caught my interest are:

    Threshold (Braga version)
    The 4400
    Lost
    The West Wing
    Heroes

    Now, as I said, I have never seen a single episode of any of these, but from some of your comments here, I'm getting interested. Can anybody recommend them? Warn me away? What?

    Any and all comments welcome.
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Started slow, got cancelled just as it was getting good and just as its arc was really shifting into high gear. A missed opportunity, but had worthwhile elements.

    I'm lukewarm on this one. I wasn't crazy about the first two seasons (counting the original miniseries as a season), and while it got better, it was always mixed in quality. But it did have some very good episodes. Deep Space Nine's Ira Steven Behr was the showrunner for most of its run.

    I really liked it at first, but got fed up with it partway through the second season and gave up watching. Initially the characters seemed to be on journeys of redemption, but then when the show became a huge hit, the network wanted to drag it out, and all the characters' journeys were reversed and they were stuck in holding patterns that became tedious to watch. A lot of people still loved it, and I've heard it said that it got better later on, especially once they settled on an ending point and didn't have to vamp for time anymore, but I never got back into it. What I've read and heard about the finale leaves me with no interest in that.


    Seasons 1-4, run by creator Aaron Sorkin, are magnificent, one of the best TV dramas of our generation. Those who are staunchly conservative in their political views might disagree, though I always felt it was fair to both sides, and was more about favoring intelligent, well-intentioned governance over petty, self-serving politicking and propaganda than it was about favoring left over right.

    Seasons 5-7, made without Sorkin's involvement, are a totally different show. Season 5 is the absolute nadir of the series, a directionless mess. Seasons 6-7 recover somewhat but tell a very different story largely focusing on new characters (the candidates in the presidential election and their staffs), and the established characters aren't the same people they were. Those seasons aren't on the same level as Sorkin's writing, but they're not bad, and in a lot of ways they were startlingly prophetic about the 2008 election.

    Brilliant first season, but it fell apart after that. The original plan was to follow different characters each season, but the first-season cast was so popular that the network insisted on keeping them around, so the writers had to try to perpetuate the stories of characters whose journeys had already been completed. Also they lost their best writer (Bryan Fuller) after the first season. The second season was mediocre and was shortened by the writers' strike. The third season was incoherent and awful. The fourth season recovered somewhat and had its merits, but was still nowhere near the heights of season one.
     
  3. PsychoPere

    PsychoPere Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Out of the ones you have listed, I could easily recommend Lost and The West Wing. I agree with Christopher's assessment of the post-Sorkin era on TWW, but I thought seasons six and seven recovered enough that they were still enjoyable for the most part, and maintaining some really good episodes. But the show really wasn't the same after Sorkin left. I wasn't all that fond of Heroes even in its first season and dropped it during the third, but the first was still its best. I'm not sure about The 4400; I'm slowly watching through it now, in between episodes of other series that have my primary focus, and I'm enjoying it but it's not really knocking anything out of the park, either. I haven't seen Threshold, so can't offer any opinions there.
     
  4. Warp Coil

    Warp Coil Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Lost definitely gets my vote. It is possibly my favorite series of all time (at least, for now). Heroes has a spectacular first season but the quality begins to decline in season 2, and it just gets progressively worse and worse. I never bothered to watch the final season. I haven't seen much of the other shows on your list so I can't comment on them.
     
  5. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Watch all seasons of Lost and the first season of Heroes.

    The characters' journeys had hardly even begun by the end of S1. The problem was more likely that Kring was uninterested in actually developing the characters along their journeys and just wanted to bring in new characters. But his track record with new characters wasn't very good, and was heavily dependent on the quality of the actor cast in the role. For every Elle, they got a Maya (and the proportion wasn't even that good).

    The network was right to insist Kring keep the original cast, since they were the source of much of the show's success, either being talented actors or not-so-talented actors who happened to be cast in roles that were well suited to them. Dumb luck like that isn't going to happen twice.

    And Kring is definitely responsible for the incoherent writing that plagued the series in S2-S4. He clearly wasn't trying to make the storylines or characters cohere, or didn't know how.

    True, but when he came back later on, the major problems with the show didn't improve; maybe he just couldn't make any headway. He didn't stay long the second time either.
     
  6. auntiehill

    auntiehill The Blooness Premium Member

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    LOST. No other fantasy/sci fi/drama/whatever show has caught my interest the way that LOST has. The characters, the puzzles, all the tiny details that you have to pick up on....I just loved it, from start to finish.

    Heroes was a HUGE disappointment. Season 1 was wonderful and exciting. Season 2 was a disorganized mess and it just went downhill from there. The characters suddenly become emotionally stunted idiots, and the plots redundant. Don't bother with this one.
     
  7. Starbreaker

    Starbreaker Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Crap

    Crap after season 1

    My favorite show


    Crap after about 10 episodes
     
  8. Australis

    Australis Writer Admiral

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    Read the Lost thread in SciFi & Fantasy.

    West Wing for sure. Maybe Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, Sorkin's show after WW, I thought it was OK.

    As for the others, they all started well and fell away. YMMV.
     
  9. Alidar Jarok

    Alidar Jarok Everything in moderation but moderation Moderator

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    Heroes had a good season. The rest of the seasons had a few moments to give you hope before leaving with mediocre season after season.

    Lost is a great show. Great first season. There are some slow moments that you have to be patient with in the second and third, but, starting with the middle of the third season, it picked back up and it was great until the end.
     
  10. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Of the shows listed, I've only seen Lost and The West Wing, and of those I would highly recommend the latter.

    Lost is a good show most of the time, but its flaw was that it was so arc-focused that if you don't like how it ended then you risk losing interest in the whole show. I liked the finale of Lost when it aired, but as time has passed my opinion of it has lowered, along with my opinion of the entire final season, and that has put a damper on the whole show for me. I'll probably watch the whole thing again in the future, but I'm not interested in doing so now.

    The West Wing doesn't have mysteries or a lot of action, what it does have is great characters and fantastic writing (except parts of the post-Sorkin era). It's very rare to have a show where I love all the characters, but TWW managed that in seasons 2-4, they were all great, funny characters. There are story arcs that span episodes and seasons, but there's no overall arc beyond the Bartlet Presidency itself. The arcs the show did have were usually very good, especially the last few episodes of season 2.

    Plus, it has Martin Sheen. :techman:
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, don't bother watching the whole thing. But season 1 is brilliant and was conceived as a complete story in itself, so it can be appreciated independently of what follows.


    I had mixed feelings about it. It had some good episodes and good writing, but there were things about it that continually disappointed and aggravated me. Many of the characters were unpleasant and many of the actors were poorly cast. Matthew Perry was supposed to be playing a comedy genius, but he was stiff, dull, and unfunny. Amanda Peet wasn't a strong enough actress to carry the leading lady role. The actors playing the lead performers in the SNL-type show within the show had little or none of the talent and charisma that the scripts kept claiming they had, and the sketches we saw weren't remotely as hilarious as the scripts kept claiming they were. And the constant, juvenile bickering and sniping between Perry's and Sarah Paulson's characters (based on Sorkin's own relationship with Kristen Chenoweth, who's tons more appealing than Paulson) just became unbearable to me. About halfway through the season, they apparently decided to shift gears away from the culture wars/social commentary focus in favor of the romantic relationships, so the most unbearable part of the show was pushed to center stage and just drove me away entirely. I never liked Perry to begin with, but this show made me dislike Paulson as well.
     
  12. Australis

    Australis Writer Admiral

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    ^ I think if it had been allowed to run for another season we might have found something interesting happening.

    Perry I think had the potential, but didn't quite deliver in that regard. And Brad Whitford was pretty good as the producer.

    I read somewhere that they didn't base it directly on SNL, as it would have been "way too dark". :)
     
  13. TheGodBen

    TheGodBen Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I agree with pretty much everything you say about it. I was really excited for Studio 60, it looked on course to be another West Wing, but I gave up around the point where Matt and Harriet had a big fight at a dinner/event because I couldn't tolerate the sight of them any more. Having read since then that the show was based on Sorkin's own life and colleagues has made it less bearable for me. (He wrote himself as a comic genius that desires to be with a woman that he treats like crap, and because she doesn't want to be with him that justifies his drug relapse.)

    It should have been so much more. :(
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That is exactly when, why, and how I gave up on the show. Wow.
     
  15. Australis

    Australis Writer Admiral

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    I stuck with it past that, and that went away, but it did need so much more, like talking about the making of the show and the comedy, and less on the romance stuff. Another season and they could have really got it on course, I think.

    I wouldn't mind if they tried for a reboot.

    Edit: actually, giving it some thought, I'll tell you what I think is odd about Studio 60. The guy who created CJ Cregg, Abigail Bartlett, Kate Harper, and Donna Moss, in S60 came up with some really wishy washy female characters. I found that pretty disappointing.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2010
  16. JRS

    JRS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I have been rewatching the 4400 recently( I havent yet seen season 4, though)
    In my opinion it is a good and interesting scifi show:) The cast is generally good and the characters are interesting..some good ideas on the story also. It has fewer episodes than other scifi shows but that means less filler episodes.

    The West Wing is definetly a must have:techman:
    One of the best TV shows ever from USA. The writing is smart amd excellent all around. The cast is superb also:cool:
    Many people did not watch this because they dont like politics..their mistake.
     
  17. Kirby

    Kirby Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    In addition to West Wing, I'd also recommend Sports Night, also created by Sorkin. Unfortunately Sorkin ended up dropping Sports Night when West Wing really took off, but it was a great show while it lasted.
     
  18. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    To me, the greatest strength of The 4400 is that, unlike most SF/fantasy shows set in the present, it wasn't limited by the conceit of taking place in the "real" world, a conceit that requires everything to remain secret and hidden and have no real consequences on anything beyond the characters. Not only is that trope overused, but it's a waste of potential; the strength of science fiction as a genre is that it doesn't just portray new discoveries or inventions, but explores their consequences to humanity. And too many SF shows refuse to do that kind of exploration because they want to pretend that their shows are somehow happening in the world we live in -- which strikes me as a silly thing to pretend, because the viewers know it isn't real. The 4400 actually dared to have all its wild stuff happen out in the open and to have it genuinely change the world, more and more with each passing season. That was daring and I wish more shows would do it.
     
  19. darthraidr

    darthraidr Commodore Commodore

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    I'm conflicted on your list. the only show i havent seen is Threshold, and the last season or two of Heroes.

    Far and away, the best show on there is The West Wing. so should you start off with the best and then watch the rest, knowing that they aren't nearly as good as The West Wing? or do you leave the West Wing last, so that you dont spoil the other shows?

    of the shows, i'd rank them: West Wing, the 4400, Lost, Heroes.

    if you would entertain other shows, i'd toss out (in no particular order): The Shield, The Wire, Deadwood, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Friday Night Lights, Journeyman, The Lost Room.

    i'd recommend all of those shows and West Wing before anything else on your list. they aren't all sci-fi, but they are all well written with very strong characters and very well crafted, well defined/developed worlds.
     
  20. RandyS

    RandyS Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Thanks for the suggestions guys. I'm not limiting myself to just Sci-Fi, but that was the first subject that came to mind (since it's my favorite). I was also looking at 24, but at the moment, that's a little out of my price range, which is the deciding factor for right now. Journeyman recently caught my eye too. I've decided to start with The 4400. My cousin can't say enough good things about it, and still complains about the cliffhanger ending. Plus, he loaned me his DVD set, which, considering how much he loves this show, is a surprise. I didn't think anybody was even allowed to look at the thing, much less hold it.:lol: