“One quality show after another, each one fresher and more brilliant than the last…”

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I’ve been meaning to do this post for a while, since early last year in fact, and now its almost a little redundant. Still, one does what one can.

This is a post about Television, and not the cult 70’s rock band so favoured by my housemates, but the much maligned ‘idiot box’.

In general, its about how the lack of quality film projects has seen an incredible surge in funding, production values and tight writing in a number of programs especially for television. I may as well just say it, HBO stand the fuck up!

I work in a video store, so you can imagine that i waste hours of my life watch a lot of dvds, and i can honestly say that i’ve watched more TV in the last year than anything, and i don’t mean Australian free-to-air. So here’s a brief guide to some quality programming you need in your life.

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Entourage

Created by: Doug Ellin

Seasons: 5 (and counting)

What it is: Mark Wahlberg shows us exactly how ‘hilarious’ his life was post Marky-Mark and those Calvin ads. Its Sex and the City for guys, if Sex and the City was good, was based in Hollywood or had any characters remotely as entertaining as Johnny Drama or Ari Gold. It also includes a whole host of celebrity cameos including Jessica Alba, Big Boi, Martin Scorsese, classic roles by Val Kilmer and Gary Bussey, in fact even NOTR’s favourite self-indulgent pop artist makes an appearance.

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Why its dope: 3 simple things, Ari Gold, Johnny Drama and lots of fly ladies.

“Turtle, if you can’t get laid here, turn your dick in…” – Drama

“Nobody appreciates their girlfriend. Until they get herpes from the next broad. Know what I’m saying?” – Drama

“That’s not mean. Mean is when I made Jess Mancini ride her bike home after I ass f**ked her.” – Drama

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The Wire

Created by: David Simon and Ed Burns

Seasons: 5

What it is: Simply put, and i know its hyperbolic, this is the greatest TV show ever. A phenomenal cast including guests like “Little Melvin” Williams (a drug lord busted in the 80’s) and a former Maryland Governor. The writing on this show sets a new benchmark. The use of diegetic music is inspired, Compelling, realistic stories about Baltimore, a city where the homicide rate is nearly seven times the national average. The way that the city’s institutions (schools/government/police force/stevedores union/lawyers) are so clearly fkd, and yet occasionally redeemed by the efforts of a few. The flawed, imperfect nature of the characters gives them a dimension rarely seen on any screen (large or small). Although i think it’s my least favourite season, being perhaps just a little too contrived, the final episode of season 5, is 90 minutes of television writing at its finest.

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Why its dope: Omar Little, Bunk Moreland, Jimmy McNulty, Lester Freeman, Bubbles, Stringer Bell, Prop Joe, Cheese, Michael, Avon Barksdale, shit, the entire cast is brilliant. The writing. The opening song (“Way Down in the Hole”, played by different artists each season). Jamiesons. Omar Little. Plus, Obama loves it.

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Deadwood

Created by: David Milch

Seasons: 3

What it is: Its a western, set in South Dakota in the 1870s during the time of annexation. But god damn what a western. This is no deep moral journey like Unforgiven or The Seekers, its a bit like Magnificent 7 if they were all psychopathicly violent and looking to rape you, rob you, then feed you to some Chinese pigs… in no particular order. But beyond the wild west aspect (which i must admit i’m a huge sucker for) its also excellently paced and has a great script. The way that the show just fks with your expectations with no regard is awesome, characters who you connect with one episode are gunned down the next, the uptight ex-Sheriff is banging the rich broad, while devious china-men feed prospectors to pigs, as the town doctor gets shit-faced.

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Why its dope: Aside from being a western re-imagined for contemporary audiences, the writing and the cast are superb. Characters like Al Swearingen, Seth Bullock, E.B Farnum and Wu and Doc Cochran interact in remarkable realistic ways. The set designs and costumes are nothing if not accurate (What do you think Jo?) The absolutely excellent over-use of the words Cunt and Cock-Sucker. Al’s often drunken monologues. Hung Dai bitches!

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Generation Kill

Created by: David Simon, Ed Burns and Evan Wright

Seasons: N/A

What it is: My most recent addition to this list, and not strictly a TV show, more of an extended mini-series, but the might of Simon/Burns is back with a vengeance. Discussing this at work, i almost agree that its better than the Wire in the sense that the dialogue is so realistic and the situation in Iraq and the men involved so finely portrayed that it seems like a doco. Based on Wright’s book, while working for Rolling Stone as an embedded reporter with the US Marines, it doesn’t shy away from the harsh truths of a military campaign without any reasonable objective. Military eaders range from inspiring to downright retarded, or the fact that there are many kinds of men and not all of them should be given high powered weapons.

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Why its dope: The singing. The script and story. The cast is largely unknown, although a few key members appear in the Wire or Oz, and this definately works, as unknown faces deliver fantastic performances throughout. The characters are drawn from the Second Platoon of the First Reconnaissance Battalion, and the show centres on the lead Humvee, containing ‘Rolling Stone’ (the journalist), Sergeant Brad ‘Iceman’ Colbert, Corporal Ray Person and Lance Corporal Trombley. Other great characters such as Sergeant ‘Poke’, the team’s translator ‘Meesh’, Corporal ‘Q-Tip’, Sergeant ‘Rudy’, ‘Godfather’, ‘Captain America’ and ‘Encino Man’. Don’t sweat the many nicknames, within 15 minutes i was addicted.

Also check for: Weeds. Band of Brothers. Dexter. Mad Men. Battlestar Gallactica. 30 Rock. Life and Times of Tim.

With any luck i’ll hit you all with my Oscar reviews shortly, although i think i’ve filled Dilla’s 10% legitimate content wedge already, so maybe i’ll just refer you to another horse… and remember TV is good for you.

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6 Responses to ““One quality show after another, each one fresher and more brilliant than the last…””

  1. Broke Says:

    God damn dude, you swagger jacked my post! I’m totally with you on Deadwood, Entourage and the Wire, own ’em all and love ’em all.
    I might have to post about the 10 best TV writers noone knows about, in response. It’ll end up being mostly Deadwood, Arrested Development and The Wire writers, but still would be interesting.
    BTW, look for John from Cincinnati. It’s the followup project from David Milch (Deadwood). I can’t find it anywhere.

  2. bigdubbs Says:

    I’ve been wanting to do it for a while, TV > Movies by a long way lately.
    Good look on the new Milch production, i’ll get my video store crew on that shit, they’re like bloodhounds for the new goodness.

    TV writing these days definately deserves more shine, particularly in Australia where “good” writing means fkn fat people doing a sit-up or Dr Karl knocking up the latest teenage pop wannabe on Neighbours… although, Wipeout is on soon, the BIG BALLS are the funniest physical challenge ever.

  3. Broke Says:

    I’m feeling Wipeout. Nothing funnier than people rebounding between 2 giant objects like some kind of human pinball, and the wall of boxing gloves…. genius.

  4. Frances Baker Says:

    oooh yes the Deadwood costumes are completely amazing, designed by my current hero Katherine Jane Bryant, (who also did the costumes for Mad Men). She epitomises everything I love in a good costume designer- her stuff is historically and socially accurate, and thought out to the last sweat stain and tear. Also the way she manages to design so brilliatly to enhance the characters is fantastic (peggy’s costumes in Mad Men were designed not only to be frumpier than the other girls, but to not fit quite right, making her look just that little bit geekier and awkward).
    Love the post, but stop drowning my boyfriends work! Anyone would think you had some kind of older sibling rivalry/ inferiority complex or something!

  5. bigdubbs Says:

    life’s tough jo… if your boy wants more shine, he just needs to work harder.
    i think officer rick ross said it best…

    “everyday i’m hussling… everyday i’m hussling… everyday i’m hussling…”

  6. miz Says:

    mmmmm wipeout, random objects coming into contact with various contestants groin

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