Polter-Cow’s Top Five Shows You’re Not Watching   

Every show can’t be Heroes. Sometimes the awesome shows don’t get widespread recognition; hell, sometimes people don’t even know they exist. As a Veronica Mars fan, I have a lot of experience with this, so I’m shining a spotlight on five shows that deserve to be given a chance.

  1. Avatar: The Last Airbender. Do you like action-packed shows with authentic martial-arts moves performed by characters with supernatural powers? Do you appreciate television that is influenced by Eastern philosophy and culture visually, musically, and thematically; characterized by incredible worldbuilding that extends all the way to the map shown in the credits sequence; and plotted out meticulously so that every episode moves the narrative forward? Do you enjoy snarky heroes and sociopathic villains? Do you love watching the antihero stumble down the rocky road to redemption? Yes. Yes you do. Would you still love it all if it were animated and on Nickelodeon? Ay, there’s the rub. But trust me here: Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko are creating television that is as good as or better than most dramas. Tune in to the season three premiere Friday, September 21, at 8:30 PM on Nickelodeon. You’ll spoil yourself for the many surprises in the season two finale, so I recommend watching the first two seasons before jumping in. Come on, you have time. It’ll only take you fifteen hours.
  2. Dexter. In the first season, we were introduced to Dexter Morgan, blood spatter technician by day and serial killer by night. We watched him undergo a journey of self-discovery initiated by the mysterious Ice Truck Killer. By making the audience POV character a seemingly emotionless monster, the writers are able to examine the nature of humanity and normality themselves, comparing and contrasting the ways Dexter attempts to hide his murderous urges in order to fit in to the ways “normal” people do the exact same things. To hide things other than murderous urges, most of the time. It’s a mystery, it’s a thriller, it’s psychological horror, it’s a philosophical text, it’s a black comedy, it’s just plain great television. I finished rewatching the first season last night, and it holds up beautifully. Each perfectly constructed episode is another puzzle piece in the perfectly constructed arc. From early reports, the second season shows no sign of a sophomore slump. Tune in Sunday, September 30, at 9 PM, on Showtime.
  3. Pushing Daisies. Look, I know you’re not watching this show, because it hasn’t even premiered yet. But it’s one of those shows that could get the axe Wonderfalls-style if it doesn’t find an audience quickly. It’s got a lush visual style, a healthy amount of quirkiness, and a terribly amusing premise. Solving murders would be easier if you could just wake the victim and ask who killed them, right? Plus, the pilot includes a hilarious joke featuring the word “proximity.” That’s good writing. Tune in Wednesday, October 3, at 8 PM, on ABC.
  4. 30 Rock. It won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series, yet it was languishing in the ratings all year. Sound like anyone you know? Like Arrested Development, 30 Rock exists in a sort of off-kilter surreality populated with characters like Dr. Leo Spaceman (pronounced “spa-CHEM-un”), who sincerely apologizes, “Medicine’s not a science.” Remember how Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip promised to show us the wacky goings-on behind the scenes of a sketch comedy show but instead deliv—oh, you all know what it delivered, if you bothered to watch. 30 Rock does show us the wacky goings-on behind the scenes of a sketch comedy show, anchored by the dorkiness of Liz Lemon (Tina Fey), the gruff deadpan of Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin), and the sheer insanity of Tracy Jordan (Tracy Morgan). Tune in Thursday, October 4, at 8:30 PM, on NBC.
  5. Friday Night Lights. I resisted for months too, okay? I didn’t want to watch “that show about football.” But I’m really glad I did because it’s a show about football like Buffy was a show about vampires. It’s just the vehicle for storytelling. It’s something for the multifaceted characters to do. Friday Night Lights is not afraid to show you all sides of a person, and it never takes the easy way out. The first season contains some of the most arresting moments in recent television. In contrast to 30 Rock‘s surreality, Friday Night Lights is hard, dirty reality, even when it threatens to veer into melodrama. Yet, I want to draw little hearts around it. Don’t you have to love a show that offers you a money-back guarantee? Tune in Friday, October 5, at 9 PM, on NBC.

8 Responses to “Polter-Cow’s Top Five Shows You’re Not Watching”

  1. 1
    Rae says:

    You’re making me feel bad for not giving 30 Rock another chance to win me over.

  2. 2
    Polter-Cow says:

    Now is your chance, Rae! NOW IS YOUR CHANCE!

  3. 3
    Anna says:

    Hmm. You know, I like Friday Night Lights and all but….I really don’t feel the super insane, undying, give away your babies love for it. I certainly wish I did. And I do enjoy it.

    Maybe it’s that I come from a small town where football is life? Everyone goes on about how “real” the characters are, but they are totally unlike any people I actually know on all levels. Which doesn’t make them non-entertaining or enjoyable to watch. But it does make me shake my head in confusion when I read that form of praise over and over again.

    I don’t think tv has to be “real” in order to be compelling or great. Obviously. Nor do I think characters need to act like my next door neighbor in order to be relatable. I don’t. But whenever I read how real FNL is, it just provokes the response in my head that it doesn’t feel that way to me, at all. Which doesn’t mean it’s not a great shot. It just means…I don’t get it.

  4. 4
    Polter-Cow says:

    I think the filming/acting style has a lot to do with it. Because it’s shot like a documentary in natural light and they let the actors improvise a lot, it feels very you-are-there, like they literally went to Dillon and started filming.

    As far as the characters, it’s harder to describe. Maybe it’s because they’re such…normal people, and the show doesn’t seem to judge them. They’ll say and do good things and bad things, and it all adds up to a fleshed-out character in the way humans are inconsistently consistent.

    To be honest, I don’t have a super-insane, undying love for the show, per se, but it has been reinvigorated recently in discussions of the past season. I miss all the characters. I want to know what they’re up to now.

  5. 5
    Sandie says:

    Well, Polter-Cow, I rather enjoy your list.

    I actually just received the first DVD from Season one of “Avatar” (Rae convinced me to rent it because I had never seen it from the beginning). I already love the first two episodes I watched, some parts even made me laugh out loud.

    “Dexter”, just started watching that one too, I am waiting for the 3rd DVD of season 3. I decided to start watching that one on my own, so I take credit :-)

    The only one I am not watching now is “30 Rock,” but everybody keeps telling me it’s really good. I might have to add that one on my Netflix list too.

  6. 6
    Harper47 says:

    I’m watching Dexter’s first season now. I’ve seen the first 4 episodes and I really, really liked it. I feel each show has picked up a little and by now I’m much more invested than I was after watching the first couple. Julie Benz and Michael C. Hall are giving standout performances. So I heartily second the Dexter recommendation.

    Pushing Daisies is on my watch list.

    I booted both 30 Rock and FNL after watching 1 episode. However this summer I have initiated a “Watch at least 2 episodes before booting” rule based on the fantabulous Burn Notice. So at some point, I will have to give these two shows a viewing. But my Thursday schedule is already packed so 30 will only be a DVD show for me. And at some point I will add FNL to my quene. Moonlight has my first love on Friday.

  7. 7
    Just Jody says:

    Dude. One of these days I am going to get on the Avatar bandwagon. And it will be all because of you and the awesome pimping!

    You know, I love 30 Rock too but I don’t find that it gives a very real representation of what goes on behind the scenes… more of a goofball over-exaggerated glimpse, with not so much reality. That aside, Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin and the guy who plays Kenneth are all hilarious and make it so worth while. I’m not so fond of Tracy though.

  8. 8

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