TV Drama Changing of the Guard

Within the last couple of weeks we have seen the end to a couple long-standing and well-beloved drama television shows.  Dexter and Breaking Bad are among my favorite shows ever, almost definitely on my Rushmore.  Next year we will see the end to another one – Mad Men.  Over the last eight years we have been spoiled by what these shows have provided for us, and I may not be an authority on what constitutes the greatest shows ever, but it would be difficult for someone to convince me that this would not be included in one of the greatest eras in television history.  That being said, where do we go from here?

Disclaimer: The Killing has been cancelled for the second time and season 4 is at the moment not going to happen.

A few shows that have me particularly excited are fairly young.  The first that comes to mind is The Killing on AMC (formerly?).  Season 1 kicked off with a killing (imagine that) of a teenage girl.  As a parent with a daughter, it nearly killed me and that first episode put tears in my eyes.  The first season progressed with something for the audience to anticipate and wait for impatiently – “who killed Rosie Larson?” This was similar to the way Heroes started with their “save the cheerleader, save the world” slogan that had so many people tuned in.  Unfortunately, they did not reveal the killer(s) at the end, and probably as a fan and apologist, I understand why they did it.  They didn’t want to throw all their proverbial eggs in one basket right off the bat.  By extending potentially a season and a half into two seasons it allowed the show runners to transition from plot-oriented into character-oriented.  I love Sarah Linden (Mireille Enos) and Stephen Holder (Joel Kinnaman), and I’m sure that was intentional.  The dynamic between them is fantastic and the reason I look at this show as my favorite moving forward is because the writers managed to perfect both plot- and character-oriented progression through season 3.  Their friendship and partnership showed growth and the future for these two look enjoyably dark (hopefully not blacked out dark).  As you can see, I am still excited about a next season, regardless the news about cancellation (apparently for a “Better Call Saul” spinoff – what.the.fuck?).

Hannibal.  If you tuned in, then I don’t need to say anything else.  If you did not, watch it.  It is intelligent, wild and incredibly dark.  They will be giving us season 2 on NBC coming next spring and I cannot express how excited I am for Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) to continue their dysfunctional relationship.  I don’t want to say too much because there are plenty of people out there who have not seen it.  There are many reasons to love it: great characters, excellent story-writing, psychopaths, cannibalism and lots of blood and violence.

The Bridge on FX, yet another of those dark and twisted shows, will likely be one of my favorites by the time it finishes.  Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger) and Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir) are an excellently dysfunctional partnership and will no doubt keep me intrigued as long as the writing holds up.  Season 1 just finished and I cannot believe the balls on not only the writing, but on the network for some of the stuff they got away with.  This is another show with great character-acting, gnarly story-telling and plenty of bad language and violence to keep me cringing and smiling.

Shameless on Showtime may not be new entering its fourth season, but season 3 was such an improvement on an already good show that it is a must-mention.  The first two seasons were very good, giving us some very likable characters and above average acting all around.  The third improved on all fronts.  Although Frank Gallagher’s (William H. Macy) exploits have gotten ridiculous at times, there has been growth in the character and Fiona (Emmy Rossum), Lip (Jeremy Allen White) and Debbie (Emma Kenney) more than overshadow where he is or where he is going.  Seemingly everything going on with the Gallaghers is changing heading into the fourth season and I know it will be well-done.  And it doesn’t hurt that everything about Emmy Rossum is likable and the show is in very good hands as long as she remains the primary character.

Series’ like Homeland and Ray Donovan on Showtime show a ton of potential and I am excited where they progress from here.  Season 2 of Homeland dropped significantly from what we got in the beginning, but by the looks of it, the showrunners heard the disappointment and will get it back on track to the greatness of season 1.  House of Lies and Nurse Jackie (as you can see, I love me some Showtime dramas) have the potential for great moments and I don’t generally miss any of the episodes, although I don’t think they have the polarizing power of the others.

I love where the trajectory of television dramas is taking us.  We may not see perfection or overall quality with the likes of The Wire, Dexter, Breaking Bad or Mad Men, but we will definitely have excellent options eliciting debate and water-cooler conversation. Do not think I forgot about Walking Dead.  Although it’s entertaining, it’s similar to liking cool cars drive fast in the Fast and the Furious movies – sometimes I just want to turn my brain off and enjoy gratuitous zombie violence.

Are there some shows that I missed?  What suggestions are there for my future viewing?

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