I was going to talk about something else this week, but my friend and partner-in-programming-crime Evan May called me out on Twitter by blaming me for his most recent post, where he ranked his Top Five television shows of all time after a conversation we had over dinner. So now obviously I have to discuss the same thing, to absolve myself of any guilt, even though this is all because that lazy fucker didn’t have a better idea for a blog post.
(Disclaimer: Just in case anyone reading this doesn’t know Evan or myself, we’re legitimately friends and often poke at each other online. Don’t be concerned.)
(Evan, I’ve had a brilliant idea … we should totally stage some sort of Internet feud. Maybe it could start with a mock fight at ChiSeries next week? I don’t see anything going wrong with this idea.)
So Evan listed some phenomenal shows in his Top Five, a couple of which I’m going to repeat here. I will accept his caveat that I have to select an entire show, and not just specific seasons … which is why, even though I’m pretty sure I’ve dressed up like The Doctor three or four times this year, Doctor Who isn’t on my Top Five (unlike Evan). I’ve only watched from Tennant’s years onward, and I wasn’t a huge fan of some of Matt Smith’s run; if I could pick just Tennant and Capaldi, it might be my number one, but alas.
Essentially what I look for are shows that a) suck me in so completely that my writer brain shuts off and b) have a wealth of amazing characters and relationships that make me care so much that I shout at my television and get a sick feeling in my stomach when I think something horrible is going to happen onscreen. So with that in mind, in no particular order, here are my Top Five shows of all time…
Battlestar Galactica (2004)
When I was talking with Evan, we went over so many characters whose arcs and relationships amazed us throughout this entire series. Baltar. Adama and Roslin. Colonel Tigh. Athena. The list goes on. And I’m with Evan – I thought the show’s conclusion was incredible. But I’m also a fan of the final season of Lost, so maybe I’m just nuts.
I’ve discussed on this blog before that the relationship between Peter and Walter Bishop on this show is one of my favorite sources of inspiration when I’m in a writing slump. There’s something truly magical about how broken every character is in this show, and how over the course of five seasons they fill in each other’s gaps, but at the same time are still capable of letting each other down and forgiving each other for those missteps. And in a show that’s primarily about weird science and alternate dimensions and typical J.J. Abrams twistiness, accomplishing that depth of character work and balancing it with mystery and action is something you really don’t see from a lot of shows.
You might have noticed that nowhere above did I say “TV shows,” specifically because one of my favorite shows of all time is an Internet series on Geek and Sundry, where a bunch of voice actors in California play Dungeons & Dragons. This was a show started because the group had been playing their campaign for years, and someone had the bright idea to put it on Twitch. The result has been a cult phenomenon that I’m totally sucked into, partly because I love D&D, but mainly because the cast goes above and beyond to make their characters comes to life, and Matt Mercer (the show’s DM) is one of the greatest storytellers I have ever seen.
Yes, I’m one of those people. I will rewatch the portion of this story that Joss Whedon was able to show at the drop of a hat, and pine that we didn’t get to see more of what was in store for these characters. This show, with its balance of darkness and humor, its sense of adventure, and its compelling world and characters, gave me the jolt of inspiration I needed when I was first envisioning myself as a writer. When I’m feeling a little under-creative in my character development, I watch Firefly.
Suck it, haters – this show was awesome from start to finish. I loved it for similar reasons to why I loved Fringe, particularly the final season. You have an extended cast of people who only have a connection to each other because of shared trauma – people who often don’t get along, and probably never would have if that plane hadn’t crashed – but that experience brings them together in the most amazing of ways, with some of the most heart-wrenching and heart-warming moments I’ve ever seen. You tell me you didn’t cheer during the moment below (if you watched the whole show) and I’ll tell you you’re dead inside.
And that’s it. Top Five lists are totally subjective, but that’s mine. The key is what gives you your inspiration to create. For me, it’s incredible characters going through real danger, and emotional moments that leave me shaking. What about you?