I don’t know if I will ever fully recover from saying goodbye to some of my favourite, now terminated, television series. Sex and the City, Seinfeld, Deadwood, Rome, The United States of Tara…….I could go on. And on. Thankfully, the television production gods are, if nothing else, fair. While they hath taketh away, they keep on giveth as well. In fact, they continually churn out exceptional, good, terrible and some of the worst television one can imagine. Speaking of the worst, Sharknado comes immediately to mind. First, when I read the title (that I am embarrassed is now part of my vocabulary), that Ian Ziering and Tara Reid were the headliners and the premise – when a freak hurricane swamps Los Angeles, nature’s deadliest killer rules sea, land, and air as thousands of sharks terrorize the waterlogged populace – I was sure it had to be a gag. Right? Or, at least a spoof, like the successful Scary Movie franchise. Then I couldn’t help but watch it for a few minutes when I came across it on the menu one night. Not a joke. Not even close. The fact that someone in Hollywood financed it in the first place, then that some network aired it? I was speechless. At the time. I couldn’t change the channel fast enough. The moral of the story here is that there is no limit to what you can find on television. While opinions do vary, here are a few of the series that I find exceptional and am looking most forward to the return of in 2014.
Girls. The brainchild of Lena Dunham, this 30 minute dram-edy satisfies my love of New York City and my longing for the return of Sex and the City. Aspiring writer Hannah (Lena Dunham) gets a shock when her parents visit from East Lansing, Michigan, and announce they will no longer financially support her as they have done since her graduation from Oberlin College two years before. Left to her own devices in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, she and her circle of friends navigate their twenties one mistake at a time. It is smart, funny and actually makes me thankful I am no longer a twenty-something.
Downton Abbey. An excellently casted, smart and entertaining British period drama television series. Set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants in the post-Edwardian era—with the great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy. Such events depicted throughout the series include news of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in the first series; the outbreak of the First World War, the Spanish influenza pandemic, and the Marconi scandal in the second series; the Interwar period and the formation of the Irish Free State in the third series; and the Teapot Dome scandal in the upcoming fourth series.
The Fall. An Irish-British crime drama starring Gillian Anderson as Stella Gibson. When the PSNI are unable to close the case after 28 days, Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, of the Metropolitan Police, is called in to review the case. Under her new leadership, the local detectives must track down and stop the serial killer, Paul Spector, who is attacking young, professional women in the city of Belfast. It is extremely well crafted. Paul Spector is disturbing yet believable. Stella Gibson prevails as a woman of high rank in a male-dominated profession, but as a viewer you get a glimpse between the cracks to her vulnerability.
Mad Men. Sadly, Season 7 is the final of this 60s period drama series that follows the lives of the men and women who work in an advertising agency in New York City. The agency enjoys success, but the advertising game becomes more competitive as the industry develops. The agency must adapt to ensure its survival. Don Draper, who is easy to love and hate at the same time, is a talented ad executive at the top of his game, but the secrets from his past and his present threaten to topple his work and family life. The characters are engaging and being that it is set in the midst of the sexual revolution, we get to see the evolution of the female leads whose characters begin to come into their own and prevail season after season.