Top Ten Tuesday is hosted at The Broke and the Bookish.
This week's topic is supposed to have a TV theme. Not books? Well, I don't think I'll have much trouble doing this one, since I've done more TV-watching than reading this year.
Yes, I do watch TV. I still have cable, and I watch "mainstream" stations. Ads are annoying and so much of what's on is kind of crappy... but there are still some gems out there, even if they're not always obvious. Here are some of the shows that have pleasantly surprised me, and that I enjoyed (or still enjoy) watching:
Ten TV Series That Were A Pleasant Surprise:
The first time I caught an episode of this show, I had no idea what it was. All I knew was that I was laughing so hard, and I felt like I'd been caught watching something naughty. Despite the crude drawing style, there's something about the Belcher family that seems real... and I love the kids' interactions with their parents. Louise (in the bunny ears) is one of my favourite animated characters.
This series had been heavily advertised leading up to its premiere, which kind of put me off. But there was nothing else on that night, and I had nothing better to do, so I watched it. Now I'm hooked. The characters are great, the show itself is funny, and it's a welcome bit of lighthearted relief in the midst of a nasty American election cycle. I doubt Republican supporters would like this one... but if you lean to the left even a little bit, you might find this show pretty entertaining. (Does anyone else like the musical recaps at the beginning of the episodes as much as I do?)
Even though I knew this show was about a writer (yay!) who tagged along with a cop, I wasn't sure I wanted to watch it. I guess I didn't realize how entertaining it would be, or how much I'd come to care about the characters. This was one of my favourite TV shows for the first 3 or 4 seasons. The final season was a complete trainwreck (and I missed much of it, not really caring enough to watch), culminating in one of the most disjointed WTF?! epilogues I've ever seen after the abrupt cancellation of the series. It was a sad ending for a show that had so much potential.
I think we'd been watching something else on PBS and the first episode of this show just came on. It was sort of like, "Hmm... the heir died on the Titanic, and now they're stuck with three daughters and it's all a big kerfuffle. Whatever shall they do?" Well, they did a lot in the 6 seasons of its run, although I almost stopped watching after the end of season 3 (if you're a fan, you can probably guess why). But there were enough plot threads going on that the show was always interesting.
Emergency Room: Life + Death at VGH
This is a short documentary series that we happened to stumble across. Think ER... but it's all real. It's shocking, gory, sometimes amusing... but always very, very interesting to see how the emergency room actually works. The last episode I saw had a construction worker who'd attached his jeans to his knee with a nail gun. A barbed nail right through the bone! (Don't watch this show if you're squeamish, obviously.)
The Great British Bake Off (aka The Great British Baking Show)
I don't know how long PBS has been airing this series from across the pond, but I've caught the last two seasons and I'm hooked. I find it to be more "real" than MasterChef (which sometimes seems a bit scripted and over-edited). I love seeing what the contestants come up with!
This was one of those shows that was so hyped up that I wasn't sure I wanted to go anywhere near it. But after the first episode, I was pretty much hooked. I enjoyed it right up until the end. And, yes, I liked the ending. (I also liked the fact that there was an ending at an appropriate point. So many TV shows could and should take their cue from Lost and quit while they're ahead.)
Secrets & Lies
Yes, I have seen the American version as well. But I'm glad I saw the original Australian version first, because it was a whole lot better. My mom and I were glued to the TV once a week while this series was playing, wondering who'd killed poor little Thom. While the American version was decent and stuck to the story fairly closely, it didn't seem quite as chilling or realistic to me... especially once the killer's identity was finally revealed.
So You Think You Can Dance
US, 2005-present; Canada, 2008-2011
I have to admit, when I first saw what this show was about, I thought it would be like American Idol but with dancers: a few big talents in a much larger pool of people looking for their 15 minutes of fame. But once I gave this show a try, I realized that the format is quite a bit different; we really only see the talent. And there's so much talent! I was really into dancing when I was little, and I would've loved this show back then. I enjoy watching it now.
Canada had its own version for a few seasons, with incredibly talented dancers. Unfortunately, it wasn't able to bring in enough advertisers to make it viable for the network, and it was cancelled.
I don't watch a lot of programming on CBC, so I could've easily missed the ads for this TV show that turned out to be one of my favourites. The settings are gorgeous, the storytelling is intense, and the characters are perfectly imperfect. Two seasons in, and I think the writers are trying to give George R. R. Martin a run for his money with character deaths... but it's still an awesome show and I can't wait for the next season to be released.
What are some TV series that pleasantly surprised you?