TV show recommendations?
June 23, 2007 8:58 PM   Subscribe

I need some recommendations for new TV shows to check out on DVD.

I got a Netflix subscription for the summer, and am almost done with The Sopranos (so good!) and need suggestions for what series to watch next. I like complex characters, mysteries, cop or crime shows, stuff with a 'real' or gritty element, or anything exceptionally well-written and smart (drama or comedy). I don't like sitcoms, formulas, "fluff," low-brow comedy, or sci-fi, generally.

Stuff I love: The Wire, Arrested Development, Six Feet Under, Freaks and Geeks, Twin Peaks, LOST, Dexter, Veronica Mars, Extras, Weeds, The Office (both versions), Nip/Tuck (the first two seasons, anyway), Oz, and I'm loving The Sopranos so far.

I've seen this thread:; but my criteria are slightly different, and most of what's recommended are already my favorite shows.
posted by cosmic osmo to Media & Arts (48 answers total) 33 users marked this as a favorite
Band of Brothers.
posted by ericb at 9:03 PM on June 23, 2007

You might like Prison Break. You really have to suspend your disbelief, but it's very well-written and has great characters. The first season is the best and is on DVD.
posted by la petite marie at 9:04 PM on June 23, 2007

If you haven't watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you should give it a try. I avoided it while it was running because it seemed like some lame-o teen thing, but I got hooked on it right away when I finally saw it. It's the most consistently well-written show I've ever seen. And when it's funny (which is often) it's really funny.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 9:06 PM on June 23, 2007

If you like the dark comedy of 'Six Feet Under' and the smart comedy of 'Arrested Development' you will LOVE 'Curb Your Enthusiasm' another great HBO show...
posted by MrBCID at 9:08 PM on June 23, 2007

Maybe check out Peep Show or Life on Mars? Both are good BBC shows.
posted by o0dano0o at 9:09 PM on June 23, 2007

I recommend Undeclared. One thing to know going in is that the 4th disc is all bonus material, so not be sad when you go for more episodes and there aren't anymore.
posted by mge at 9:13 PM on June 23, 2007

i know you said you didn't want sci fi, but you simply cannot go wrong with firefly.

Slings and Arrows is another excellent series - three seasons with 6 episodes each. It's not at all gritty, but it's a wonderful piece of art.
posted by spacediver at 9:21 PM on June 23, 2007

Good god, man, you need to watch The Shield. It's the best damn complex crime show with a gritty element almost no one in the world is watching, yet it's managed to make it to a sixth season powered by nothing but its own sheer awesomeness and near-universal critical acclaim.

Also, Rescue Me, which is probably my favorite show of the summer season, is an awesome mix of brutally dark humor and gritty situations. Great stuff.
posted by infinitywaltz at 9:24 PM on June 23, 2007

I'll second recommendations for The Shield, Deadwood, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:39 PM on June 23, 2007

I recommend Battlestar Galactica (the new series, not the original one). I know you said you generally don't like science fiction, but BSG is more of a drama set in space, rather than your standard sci-fi flick.

Band of Brothers (linked above) was great. I've watched it all the way through twice.
posted by JoshTeeters at 9:42 PM on June 23, 2007

I like complex characters, mysteries, cop or crime shows, stuff with a 'real' or gritty element, or anything exceptionally well-written and smart

The first season of Deadwood is a must, then. It's complex, gritty, has some great crime elements, is filled with fascinating characters and has a great arc over the course of the season that had me nodding my head in amazement after the last episode. The 2nd and 3rd seasons are also great, but the first one is a must.

Rome is great, too - gritty, urban, criminal and complex, with almost every character a captivating mix of noble and awful in varying proportion.
posted by mediareport at 9:44 PM on June 23, 2007

I would say Friday Night Lights, Sleeper Cell, The Brotherhood and maybe It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia although it's kind of a sitcom. Some of these aren't out on DVD yet though but I think most are on itunes.
posted by thelongcon at 9:46 PM on June 23, 2007

Six Feet Under and Firefly. Firefly is sci-fi HOWEVER it is also a Western. Give it a try. I promise you won't be disapointed.
posted by thebrokenmuse at 9:49 PM on June 23, 2007

Rescue Me is good, yah.

Boston Legal is fun.

The Venture Brothers is clever comedy if you might like people riffing on old cartoon series.

Even if you don't like SF, it's worth getting the miniseries disc of Galactica. If you don't like it an hour or two in, you won't like the series.

Firefly, too, but that's easier. Get the first disc, and if you don't like it after ten minutes, you won't like it.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:53 PM on June 23, 2007

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Oh yeah, I'll second that one. It's one of the most under-rated shows around; darkly funny - *very* darkly funny - and definitely well-written and smart. It doesn't feel that much like a sitcom even as it plays off sitcom-ness, and deals with chirpy subjects like racism and child molestation in a hilariously brutal and honest way.
posted by mediareport at 9:54 PM on June 23, 2007

Homicide: Life on the Street. Done by a bunch of the same folk who gave us The Wire.
posted by rtha at 9:57 PM on June 23, 2007

NUMB3RS sounds like something you may enjoy. It's a cop-based drama that involves mathematics.
posted by divabat at 10:10 PM on June 23, 2007

Curb Your Enthusiasm is one of my favorite shows, I must've forgotten to include it in my original list. I also loved Friday Night Lights. I've seen Prison Break--the first season was good, the second season, less so.

Not really interested in Buffy (my sister's a huge fan, not really my thing) or Firefly, though I might check out Battlestar Galactica because it's gotten such great reviews.

Stuff that looks good: The Shield, Homicide, Deadwood, possibly Rome or Big Love.

Thanks for the suggestions so far!
posted by cosmic osmo at 10:19 PM on June 23, 2007

Many good suggestions so far, particularly Deadwood and Homicide.

I'm going old-school (well, 1990's school, at least) and recommending a show that was ahead of its time and canceled after only eight episodes: Profit. It's a little dated, but Adrian Pasdar kicks ass, 90's style!
posted by IvyMike at 10:20 PM on June 23, 2007

I think Firefly is overrated. [ducks]

Don't miss the Band of Brothers recommendation that led off this thread. I was led to that via one of the commentary tracks on the Boomtown DVD -- same writer (Graham Yost). Boomtown, there's another killer show, naturally killed after a single season.
posted by intermod at 10:40 PM on June 23, 2007

Nthing Buffy. I was a complete hater before I ever watched the show but boy was I wrong. If you like that then you can obviously follow up with its spin-off - Angel. Firefly is from the same person but it's a bit more mature. Most people who like Whedon like all of his shows but there's probably more people who like Firefly and not Buffy than the other way around.

If you like Dexter you should check out Invader Zim. It's my favorite "kids" animated show ever.
posted by Sandor Clegane at 11:15 PM on June 23, 2007

Trailer Park Boys

Canadian mockumentary show about people living in a trailer park in Nova Scotia. Hilarious
posted by nameless.k at 11:16 PM on June 23, 2007

Dead Like Me.
posted by tugena13 at 11:43 PM on June 23, 2007

Trailer Park Boys

A low-brow comedy, definitely. I love it, but the OP probably won't.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:03 AM on June 24, 2007

BIG second for Dead Like Me.
posted by Neiltupper at 12:34 AM on June 24, 2007

The Wire. Seriously unbelievable awesomely good.
posted by Bonzai at 12:34 AM on June 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

Some British shows on DVD: Second Sight, a detective series starring Clive Owen as a police detective who is slowly going blind and trying to hide it from his colleagues; Murder in Suburbia, about two female police detectives in suburban England; Cold Feet, a series about three couples living in Manchester going through the different stages of relationships--marriage, pregnancy, and divorce. I found it was marketed as a comedy but is actually more of a drama (though there are definitely some very funny moments, especially in the earlier seasons) and it features complex characters who grow and change over the course of the series.

You might like Carnivale, an HBO series about a travelling carnival and the people involved with it. It is set in the US in the 1930s, and the show has absolutely beautiful production values--it actually looks like dust bowl depresssion-era America. There is a supernatural/mysterious element to it, and it is rather spooky and apocalyptic.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:45 AM on June 24, 2007

I'm currently watching The Shield. First season? Awesome. Second season starts off with a whimper, but is picking up speed.

For a great documentary/who-dun-it, I recommend The Staircase.
posted by phaedon at 1:07 AM on June 24, 2007

I would second Trailer Park Boys but it's low brow.

But for complex, gritty, wrenching, cop stuff you can't go wrong with:
Wire in the Blood
Prime Suspect
Inspector Lynley Mysteries

I'd also definitely give Waiting for God a shot. Well-written comedy, different.

Jeeves and Wooster is another great comedy----Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie (Dr. House).

A really long series but well worth it, The Forsyte Saga.
posted by who squared at 2:39 AM on June 24, 2007

I'll throw in a mention for Carnivale since I haven't seen it mentioned yet: low-key magical realism among 1930s carnies. Gritty and very well-written.
posted by Jeanne at 4:10 AM on June 24, 2007

A series that came and went quickly, and which fulfills your criteria, was Kingpin, about a druglord and his family. Quite violent, amorally twisty, with a fine, huge cast (think of Traffic meets The Sopranos), it made for gripping viewing.
posted by rob511 at 4:13 AM on June 24, 2007

Seconding Battlestart Galactica.
posted by armoured-ant at 5:37 AM on June 24, 2007

Uh... Battlestar.
posted by armoured-ant at 5:38 AM on June 24, 2007

I am not much of a Buffy fan (it is ok) but my husband and I ended up buying the Angel series. I think it is much better.

and Nth-ing Battlestar Galactica.
posted by nimsey lou at 5:53 AM on June 24, 2007

I just finished the House of Cards trilogy (Ian Richardson was a genius) and found it quite enjoyable.
posted by ancientgower at 6:16 AM on June 24, 2007

I'll 3rd "Rescue Me". Absolutely one of my favorite shows. Dennis Leary's character has so many problems that it makes me feel better about my own.
posted by austinetsu at 6:21 AM on June 24, 2007

nthing The Shield...its my favorite show on tv.
posted by mmascolino at 8:04 AM on June 24, 2007

Seconding Who Squared's cracker, but DO NOT get the American remake, get the Robbie Coltrane one.
posted by BrotherCaine at 8:27 AM on June 24, 2007

Nthing the Shield, Battlestar, Firefly, Homicide LOTS...

If you have an all-region or region-unlocked DVD player, then I'd also recommend This Life. I think if you liked Six Feet Under then you'd almost certainly love it. Our Friends in the North is also very good although very English. My So-Called Life was very good although a bit heavy-handed and melodramatic compared to Freaks & Geeks. Hill Street Blues may seem a bit lightweight compared to today's cop'n'crime dramas, but is still good and was great for it's day and can definitely be seen as a precursor to Homicide & The Wire. The West Wing was great for the first few seasons then morphed into something a lot of people didn't like, though I quite liked the last season. Roots is a classic that needs to be seen at some point.
posted by Martin E. at 9:23 AM on June 24, 2007

Seconding Dead Like Me, and adding Wonderfalls. While it has some 'comedic' moments, it's very well put together, and if you stick it out for the first couple hours, you'll be wanting more by the time its over.

Also, House sounds like it might be interesting to you, and I'm going to spring out Monk, just for some absurdity in your mysteries...
posted by pupdog at 10:15 AM on June 24, 2007

Others have mentioned it, but I just can't stop myself from saying The Shield again. Anyone who describes something on the telly as being 'shakesperian' should be strung up and whipped with a chain, unless they're referring to The Shield.

Comedy - I recommend People Like Us, if you can find it.
posted by liquidindian at 10:58 AM on June 24, 2007

I am really surprised no one has mentioned Alias so far. I recommend it.
posted by pasici at 12:04 PM on June 24, 2007

Loved the first season of Alias but felt it went downhill from there.
posted by mmascolino at 7:24 PM on June 24, 2007

Really second Wonderfalls...
posted by stratastar at 9:24 PM on June 24, 2007

I believe that Alias wasn't mentioned because many people (myself included) still have a bad taste in their mouths from the last season. That being said, I still recommend it highly, particularly if you are a Lost fan. It's written and produced by the same man (J.J. Abrams) and production company (Bad Robot).
posted by The Esteemed Doctor Bunsen Honeydew at 10:42 PM on June 24, 2007

nthing Alias S1 (please don't bother with subsequent seasons, for your own good)

Millennium was a really smart, really underrated show that ran for a couple seasons in the late 90s. It's a paranormal-psychic-crime-profiler-type-thing, created by Chris Cooper (of X-Files fame).
posted by puddleglum at 3:40 PM on June 25, 2007

I kind of missed the boat on this one, but if you still get alerts on this topic check out The Riches-I'm almost done watching the first season and I'm impressed by it-I too like Weeds, Arrested Development, Lost, etc. I agree with everyone suggesting Deadwood (I've been to Deadwood, so the show has a little bit of sentimental value as well). In case you like to watch TV shows in real time, the second season of The Riches will start March 18th on FX.
posted by whiskey point at 6:57 AM on February 24, 2008

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