We’re living in a great age for dramatic television. Do you like shows about angsty drug dealers? We’ve got you covered. Do you like shows about angsty 1920’s politicians? We’ve got that too. Angsty winter land castle dwellers? Consider yourself satisfied.
Not all of these shows are great though, despite how good they are at tricking you.
Dexter used to be awesome. For two years, it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. A serial killer who only kills bad people? How engaging! His inner turmoil will be enough to drive this show as long as it wants to go!
Well, I kind of wish he’d shut the fuck up and quit these soliloquies. And I also think that maybe the supporting cast should have interesting facets past who they’re dating at the time. Maybe the seasons should build on each other rather than just having Dexter finish each episode twelve with “Maybe I have a soul? Maybe I don’t? Who can really know?”
And then season 6 happened, in which the writers imagined we were all idiots, wrote that on a white board, and then turned it into the theme of an entire year’s worth of episodes. A plot twist that you’d have to be not watching the show to not immediately guess, and a budding sexual tension between a guy and his adopted sister? Was this show executive produced by M. Night Shyamalan and the internet? The former was something that you’ll find in every writer’s first screenplay and the latter thing usually involves a man in a panda outfit.
The biggest problem with Dexter is that it goes nowhere. Plots never factor into each other because that might just change something and make the characters actually grow. It’s so concerned with maintaining this droll status quo that Mitt Romney would ask it to be his running mate.
Showtime is great at making you think that what you’re watching is the best shit ever. It had me convinced that I could stand four seasons of a young, attractive Henry the 8th, before my DVR asked me why I was recording so many Renaissance fair blow jobs. The only thing Showtime has kept me entertained consistently with is their boxing, because nothing is ever as fresh again and again as two men punching each other until one can’t stand.
I like Kevin Nealon about as much as someone can like Kevin Nealon, but it doesn’t stop Weeds from being one of the most overrated shows in the past decade. Like Dexter, it takes a concept that you think is really cool at first, and then just “moves” it in the most boring, tangential direction possible. A show about the problems of a drug dealer could be really awesome, so Weeds just ends up becoming Breaking Bad for Dummies.
This is one of the two shows on the list that aren’t on the air anymore. A lot of people criticize HBO shows for their “gratuitous sex” and usually I disagree with them, because I do bear responsive genitalia. However, I totally agree with them on Rome, or as I like to think of it, Spartacus: A New Hope.
Rome created a very layered portrayal of life in that time period. Eat. Sleep. Sleep with someone. Fight (maybe). Politics. Sleep with someone. Sleep with someone. That first someone is pissed. Eat.
And, with many planned seasons crammed into the second one, you’d think that it would create a more interesting show in a train wreck sort of way, but Rome fails to satisfy even there. A show about ancient Rome should’ve been great, but it just ends up being the TV equivalent of getting frustrated with your partner and finishing the job yourself.
X-Men: The Animated Series
It had an awesome theme song, full of guitars that you only hear when a virgin woman gives birth to a prophet, but other than that, there wasn’t a lot to enjoy about the early 90’s X-Men cartoon.
I know that you grew up with it, and you feel nostalgic toward it. When you’re a child, it’s scientifically proven that you don’t have good taste in anything. It’s not that you can’t make a decision, it’s that you’re just too dumb to see the difference between good things and bad things. So you view flashy colors and a guy with a horned mask and sharp claws and your mind, unable to see that, outside of the
concept of “X-Men”, everything else on the screen is an abomination, lets you fall in love with it for the rest of your life.
To put things in perspective, this X-Men cartoon told stories in the same way that cheap fireworks go off – in a multitude of spastic directions, usually disappointing the buyer. They’d try to do storylines like the Phoenix saga, and it’s like the story editor explained what he wanted to the staff writers in impenetrable pig Latin.
Shows based on comic books pride themselves on quality action sequences, but since the X-Men animators decided that all of the characters should move like someone was grabbing onto their limbs, every fight sequence is as engaging as watching two sumo wrestlers have a wading race in the deep end of a pool. I’ve seen more fluid animation in sixteenth century still-life paintings, and have been more entertained by the museum doors.
The Walking Dead
I saw a film critic on Facebook call this show “the best character development in a dramatic series ever. Seriously”, which is a statement that I could forgive if the number of TV shows that he’d watched in his entire life numbered somewhere between zero and two. The Walking Dead is probably the best zombie program on television right now, which is the highest praise that I can give it.
Taking the comic’s aptitude for long-winded dialogues, separated only by giant “shock” panels, The Walking Dead is a show so stagnant that your television will grow algae. I have no idea who thought that staying on a single, boring farm for thirteen episodes would be a good idea, but their vote counted above any rational person’s. Thus, we got stuck with characters who couldn’t maintain their own stupid traits from episode to episode, and a location that bored youngsters visiting their grandparents a long time ago, coming back to haunt them when they were older.
Zombies are one of the most overused plot devices in entertainment right now, and the people behind The Walking Dead recognize this. Thus, they refuse to use zombies sometimes. I would think that a show based around a viral outbreak would feature more of the undead, but The Walking Dead comes off a zombie show that sometimes manages to remember that it has something to do with zombies. It sucks in an infuriating manner.
“Fight the dead. Fear the living.”
Yeah, Walking Dead. I’ll keep that in mind.