Televisions shows that are well acted, well written, and well made are hard to find. The Big Bang Theory makes me embarrassed for astronomy. The amount of karaoke shows on the air makes me want to cry blood. Fear not my friends; there are shows on television that are worth watching. They're even worth watching live with commercial interruptions. Be warned, however, these shows may not be exclusive to networks or American programing.
Sherlock (BBC) -- I remember taking this girl on a date to see Sherlock Holmes in late 2009. She showed me pictures of her cat after the credits, after everyone left, after the lights turned on, and so on. She was a perfect 10 and I'm a guy. Do the math. Anyway, I thought the movie was pretty good. It kept you guessing, Downey Jr. did his thing, and it was a good movie that I didn't regret seeing. I looked at other reviews months later and read about this BBC show called Sherlock. Sherlock Holmes was the basis for most detectives that we watch nowadays so I gave it a chance. Verdict? It was amazing. Each episode is a 90 minute movie that is worth the time.
Sure, you have 22 episodes of the show Elementary on CBS, but I'd rather have 22 lobsters if I were allergic to shellfish if it were an option over that show. Sherlock is an example of a fantastic detective show. It takes the classic stories and modernizes them in a beautiful way. There's a moment in the first episode where Sherlock basically tells Watson all about himself and his life in an insulting way through observation, and Watson doesn't take offense, but rather responds with how awesome it was to experience ingenious deductive reasoning. Meanwhile on Elementary, I guess the killer in the first 10 minutes before the fake Sherlock in New York puts on his scarf. Is that Lucy Liu as Watson? Sigh. The victim in this show is the viewer.
Happy Endings (ABC) -- I missed the entire first season of this show. I had never really heard of it. ABC does a mixed job on advertising for shows, so I completely bypassed this show at first. At 3:00 a.m., during my menacing insomnia, I checked out the ABC OnDemand and watched an episode. I laughed a lot to this episode. It was a Halloween episode from the second season and it was fast comedy. I love fast comedy. It wasn't just fast; it hit every funny spot I had on my funny dart board. Barely any network shows are hysterically funny. Modern Family is more of a "expel air out of my nose fast with my mouth closed" funny. Happy Endings is one of the only shows I can name on network television that pushes boundaries. Oh, and the mixed race couple, Brad and Jane? That is how you do it. Nobody should care about interracial couples being taboo, its 2012, and they're the best onscreen couple on television.
The Walking Dead (AMC) -- I've read all the comics, so I know what is going to happen in a general sense, but the writers change enough that I still get surprised. Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile) developed the series and brought it to air. I love that guy's movies, so I was sure it would be amazing. The first season was great. There were blatant plot holes but I forgave because the show was given a six episode first season and whatever. It did things I didn't expect like create characters that weren't in the comic, and stray a bit. Either way, I watched religiously. Heck, I even wrote a zombie themed book entitled Zombies Ruined My Weekend because I am such a zombie fan.
The second season premiered with a bang. I was throwing up devils horns in my living room watching it. But then it kind of petered out for the first half of the season. It was basically just wandering around in the woods, and debating on the farm. Darabont let the show get away from him. He was fired. The second half just picked up steam and rocked. Now the third season is making me want to high-five the nearest thing near me even though no one high fives anymore. Seriously? High fiving? We're better then that.
Southland (TNT) -- This show was first on NBC, but they cancelled it and TNT picked it up. What happened is that cable turned out to be the better place for a gritty police drama. The stories are like real life situations you'd expect police in L.A. to go through. Since there are so many cop shows on television, and most of them are awful, I give this show a shot. It doesn't always go with the normal cheesy happy ending of police dramas. People die. Bad guys get away with it. It's realistic and that's why I like it.
Justified (FX) -- This show is one of those shows that is so good that it blows your mind that it doesn't get the love of the awards shows. This show has Timothy Olyphant as a U.S. Marshall that makes my manhood feel incredibly inadequate, and I'm fine with that. He goes back to his old stomping grounds and battles with the local criminals in exciting ways. In one instance, a psychopath puts a gun in the middle of the table giving a chance to the other person across from it to grab it. It ends with the psycho stabbing the persons hand through table, and then grabbing the gun to shoot them. Olyphant isn't stupid. He notices that the table has a table cloth on it. When the guy goes to stab, Olyphant just pulls the table cloth toward him and easily grabs the gun to shoot him. I rarely jump out of my seat to cheer, but that was purely brilliant.