12 October 2008

TV worth watching again and again

Some television shows are worth watching more than once and some can be enjoyed many viewings later. Comedies tend to hold up best -- from classics like I Love Lucy to more recent hits like Seinfeld to British imports like Fawlty Towers -- but sci-fi shows have a place in many collections, too.

Here's five shows no collection should be without and a couple of personal faves thrown into the mix:

1. Firefly. Cancelled before it's time, this sci-fi/space western works on many levels -- it has action, drama, mystery, a little romance and lots of comedy. Buy the complete series on DVD; if you like it, you'll also want to get Serenity, the feature film released after the show's cancellation.

2. Fawlty Towers. Join Basil Fawlty (John Cleese) as he tries to run a hotel in Torquay. There's only a dozen episodes but each one is laugh-out-loud funny. Buy the complete series on DVD; if you like it, you may also want to get A Fish Called Wanda which has nothing to do with Fawlty Towers except that it features one of Cleese's finest comedic turns.

3. Arrested Development. Possibly the most dysfunctional family ever brought to the screen, the Bluths lack ethics, business sense, common sense, and common decency, but they do stick together. Buy Season 1, Season 2 and Season 3 on DVD.

4. The Office. As funny as the British original was, the American remake starring Steve Carrell is even funnier. If you've ever had to do time in a white collar ghetto, this show will make you cringe with some of the close-to-home moments and laugh at the over-the-top antics. Get started with Seasons 1-4 collected on DVD.

5. How I Met Your Mother. If you laughed with Friends in the 90s, you owe it to yourself to check out the most recent group of twenty-something New Yorkers to yuk-it-up on the small screen. While the whole cast is solid, Neil Patrick Harris regularly steals the scene as the womanizing Barney. Season 4 just started in fall 2008 but you can get up to speed with Season 1, Season 2 and Season 3 on DVD.

6. Blackadder. Everyone I know who likes this Britcom has a favourite season; the same cast surround a character named Edmund Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) during the Middle Ages, the Elizabethan Era, Regency England and the First World War. Buy the complete series on DVD.

7. Battlestar Galactica. It amazes me that the seed of a bad seventies space opera could be reimagined into one of the grittiest most politically charged dramas in recent years. Miles away from the original, if you've steered clear of this for it's name association, forget all that and go buy the series: Season One, Seasons 2.0 and 2.5, Season Three and while you're at it, you may want to add Razor, the 2-hour movie/episode that tells the tale of the Pegasus.

8. Doctor Who. Another reborn sci-fi series, the most recent incarnation of this classic features better effects and a great cast with plenty of creepy aliens, robots and time-travel quandries. My only hesitation in recommending this great series its cost -- usually over $100 per season. Buy the Complete First and Second Series, Third Series, and Fourth Series on DVD.