Sunday, April 18, 2010

Top TV Shows On DVD

It's TV Turn Off Week starting tomorrow!

Let's celebrate by talking about how awesome TV is.

Even though I would really love to instead rant about the demonization of TV and TV watchers. And how there is nothing more obnoxious than a snooty, looking down at you "I don't watch TV" person. Oh, wait...the person who SAYS they don't watch TV yet when pressed, "only" watches fill in the blank: PBS, DVD, foreign films. Or "only" watches old TV shows on DVD.

I say, hurrah for TV!

Thanks to TV, and to DVDs, I can watch a variety of programs. Films that were only shown in big cities get delivered to my small town door. And while snobs may cringe that geography no longer serves to restrict such viewing to those who live in certain zip codes, I cheer it.

Go to a movie theatre, you say? Where I get crying babies, smelly people, obnoxious food smells, creepy pervs, uncomfortable chairs? When I can take that money and instead watch in the comfort of my own home on my -- wait for it -- TV?

Wait, you didn't mean films? That's not the TV you're talking about?

It's just the series TV that is bad. Sorry, friend. Serial storytelling -- the kind of drama that requires the attention of six, ten, twenty two hour viewing -- cannot be duplicated in a mere ninety minute film. You, non TV watcher, may not have the patience or attention to detail to be able to follow a long storyline with multiple arcs and characters. That is your loss.

Oh, it's just the reality part. Reality TV is bad! Eh. If you don't want to watch House Hunters, America's Next Top Model, and the like, fine. You have no interest in what homes sell for in Scotland and how they have washing machines in their kitchens. You don't care what the modeling industry is like. I don't care much about singing, so I'm not watching American Idol. But when you turn "not interested" into this badge of "me smarter! me better!" and now, my fave, "me healthier" I have to show you the door, sit on the sofa, and grab the remote.

But wait, there is the last argument! "You're watching too much." Sigh. Guess what? Anything can be done "too much." The kid who is reading too many books? Is also unhealthy from sitting on the sofa all day. The kid who is out playing sports all day? May have a healthier body, but how much reading is he doing? Want to have a "Balanced Life" week? Awesome. But turning off the TV? Strikes me as just the type of "life: you're doing it wrong" attitude I like to avoid.

Huh. I guess I did rant.

Well, I could do hundred posts on the great television that is out there, from classic to BBC, from reality to documentary, from film to series. Instead, and with great difficulty, I give you, for one week only, Liz B's Greatest TV Shows On DVD.

My self imposed rules:

-- the entire series had to be on DVD. So no current shows.
-- it was not originally shown on a premium channel. So no Deadwood. Or Rome.
-- I had to have watched it on DVD. So I am not going off my memory of having loved the show years ago. So no Moonlighting.

In reviewing my selection, it's easy to see what makes something a favorite of mine:

-- complex storytelling over multiple episodes
-- nuanced characters that aren't perfect
-- humor
-- inventiveness
-- originality
-- character growth

Want to guess what I picked?

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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy


Kimberly said...

It seems fairly obvious to me that Buffy meets your requirements. (I'd add Angel and Firefly as well but I'm not as sure about those for you.)

And I myself would include ST:TNG.

Paige Y. said...

My picks would be Buffy, Battlestar Galactica, West Wing, and Star Trek Voyager. I know Battlestar isn't the most humorous shows on the planet, but I firmly believe it's one of the best shows I've ever seen.

Tricia said...

Well Buffy is a no-brainer, but I'd add Picket Fences to the mix, which I am/was crazy about. And I'd also add M*A*S*H.

LaurieA-B said...

Alias is faaaabulous on DVD. I can't imagine trying to keep track of all the wild Rambaldi machinations with episodes coming weeks or months apart. I love watching a "new" episode of Alias every night. Oh, Sydney's mom, you are so evil and I wish I were just like you.

misskate said...

I'm in the BTVS & West Wing camp (adding Sports Night for a 30 minute show). Only because these are the series that I watch on an annual basis. :)
Just watched Serenity today. Joss is fab!

Greg Boyd said...

If it was me, I'd go with "Battlestar Galatica" and "Arrested Development".

Colleen said...

For 30 minutes, must have Sports Night and Big Bang Theory. Have you watched BBT? IT IS SO FUNNY!!!

Where is the Gilmore Girls in these comments? Love the Gilmores (except that appalling bit with Christopher but whatever...)

And Buffy. Sigh. Buffy. Joss Whedon just jumped the shark with me in the comic book and I'm so ticked off you can't imagine. But the show remains perfection. (Or nearly so.)

Celia said...

X-Files has been put onto Neflix Watch instantly, and I've been really, really enjoying it.

LaurieA-B said...

Oh yes, Veronica Mars definitely fits the criteria. It's complex storytelling over multiple seasons, not just episodes, and offers more to enjoy each time you watch. Weevil, I miss you.

SiS said...

Veronica Mars. Freaks and Geeks. Firefly. BTVS. Friday Night Lights. Sorry, I'd comment more in depth, but one of my t.v. shows is starting.

Elissa said...

wow, no premium channels! looking forward to seeing the list.

Anonymous said...

Upstairs Downstairs and Forsyte Saga

Unknown said...

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Anonymous said...

Oh no, I am COMPLETELY a person who says "I don't watch TV" AND when pressed adds that I do watch PBS, but it is ABSOLUTELY NOT LIKE IT SOUNDS! Especially when I add that the only thing I ever watch anymore is PBS KIDS SHOWS. Does THAT change the picture???

Back when my three year old was an infant and I DID have not only the ability to watch TV for myself AND pretty much nothing else I COULD do, being tied to the couch for the most part, I Netflixed all of Freaks and Geeks, Firefly, and the X-Files and enjoyed them quite a lot. My husband still does so, but he mostly gets rare anime and war shows.

Liz B said...

"i'm not telling, i'm not telling..." tho so far no one guessed MY SO CALLED LIFE!

EM said...

If BSG is not on the list I *may* have to lose some respect for you. So say we all!

Whitney said...

I'd have to go with Freaks and Geeks, Veronica Mars, Gilmore Girls, Undeclared, Arrested Development, and Wonderfalls.

Aunt Feather said...

My own top five has to include the cable: Deadwood, Firefly, Adventures of Pete and Pete, Kids in the Hall, Dead Like Me. I usually travel with a couple discs of Deadwood and all four of Firefly. (Yes, I'm a sucker for a good Western.)