All right... in light of the fact that ALL of my favorite TV shows that I am currently watching had INCREDIBLE episodes in the last week... I figured it was time for a new Hit List! :)
In no specific order (just whichever one came to mind first), here are 5 of my Top Favorite TV Shows!
The Basics: Energetic, charismatic Shawn Spencer, the son of a retired
cop, uses his eidetic memory and keen observation skills to help the
local police department solve crimes. The Twist: in order to avoid being
named a suspect himself, and unable to fully explain his ability, he
has convinced the police that his dead-on observations stem from a
Where They Nailed It: Psych nails it for sheer variety. For most shows,
after about five seasons, the pattern emerges and the arcs begin looking
familiar and replayed or drawn out. Not Psych. It is well into it's
seventh season, and I still have no idea where each episode is going to
end up. The guest appearances are exciting, the characters are
endearing, and the banter is first-rate.
Where They Missed: I'm starting to get a bit annoyed at the relationship
uncertainty the writers keep playing up. It's cute to see characters
get together; to tear them apart again when things are about to
culminate seems more like a cruel twist of fate and a failed attempt at
"spice." You'd think that writers who craft such unique seasons full of
one inventive episode after another wouldn't need the added drama... But
apparently there are those who disagree...
Overall: Fabulous show. It has the capacity to keep going as long as possible.
2. Person Of Interest
The Basics: In response to the events of 9/11, the government saw fit to
commission the development of a program, The Machine, that can access
any sort of electronic record: e-mails, documents, phone calls,
receipts, with the purpose of detecting terrorist movements before they
strike. A millionaire computer genius builds the program, then, to keep
the government from controlling and manipulating it, seals it up so no
one can access it. The largest issue with the machine is that though it
can read everything, the government is only interested in those crimes
related to terrorism. All the other crimes go unimpeded, which strikes
the conscience of the inventor, who decides to go into hiding, erasing
all record of himself, and figures out a way (with the help of a burned
ex-Army Ranger) to remotely acquire the "irrelevant" data and perform
the same "stop-before-it-happens" service with smaller, local issues.
The Twist: this "backdoor" only provides the Social Security Number of a
person (or group of people) involved—not whether they are victim,
perpetrator, or witness. The two men must asess the situation, find the
criminal, and protect the victim before the crime happens.
Where They Nailed It: As a series created by Jonathan Nolan, produced by
J.J. Abrams, and starring Michael Emerson and Jim Caviezel, you really
can't get a better crime drama story. The storyline is compelling, and
the writing shows the same judiciousness as the Machine, exploring the
morality and ramifications of The Machine's existence only to the extent
that it is relevant to a story arc. They don't get sidetracked or
bogged down, the main characters are "dead" men and so they tend not to
have many loose relationships (if any), and once again, the banter is
spot-on. The supporting characters (a dirty cop and a good one) are also
Overall: This series progression has been largely satisfactory. Jim is
suitably kick-butt, while Michael's verbal rapport is quick and the
humor is dry. The story-arc enemies have all stated very clearly their
warped reasoning behind their choices, and it is relatively sound logic,
if based on a faulty premise or ideology. But at least it's not "I'm a
bad person, so I do bad things" or "You're a good person so I'm just
trying to stop whatever you want to do because you're good and I want to
be bad." And they aren't too stupid nor too smart. They are the perfect
match for the show's heroes—every bit as smart and connected, only
their purposes are very different.
The Basics: Grimm is more than just a surname; it's an occupation. The
descendants of the Brothers Grimm are all charged with maintaining order
among the Wesen, outwardly-normal people with hidden creature natures.
It's these creatures that ostensibly serve as the basis for the stories
we know as "fairy tales"; a Grimm can see the creature nature within.
There are evil creatures and harmless ones. The series follows one
particular Grimm, Detective Nick of the Portland Police, and his
encounters with Wesen and his unorthodox choice to weed out the bad
Wesen from the good, rather than fulfill the traditional Grimm role and
kill all the ones who merely look evil. Also involved are the Royal
Family, a pure bloodline of Wesen aristocracy, who look upon other Wesen
as dispensable masses and Grimms as their agents.
Where They Nailed It: Application of creativity absolutely carries this
show, hands down. I almost wouldn't have chosen to watch it for reasons I
will detail below, but once I started, man, I was hooked. Not many
shows keep going this strongly. The closest resembling show to Grimm
would be ABC's Once Upon A Time, which started fraying at the seams near
the beginning of Season 2 (because of twisting the plot too many times,
offering too many explanations, and going overboard with introducing
new characters), whereas Grimm, at roughly a full season ahead of Once
Upon A Time, still leaves questions unanswered for now.
Another area Grimm nails that other shows regularly botch is that of the
romantic relationship(s) of the main characters. So many times, you
have the main guy character who is in a relationship or forms a
relationship with the main girl character, then after they've been
together long enough that every fan is practically predicting that they
just might make it "official"—which is precisely the moment when the
screenwriters decide that the two of them should have a big fight over a
little thing, and split ip over it, leaving both of them vulnerable to
others trying to take advantage of the fact that they aren't working as a
Not Grimm; Nick doesn't have to bend over backwards to try and keep
Juliette's affection, and she is still bound and determined to maintain
and in some cases regain their relationship. All this, in spite of all
Nick's enemies do to split them apart, even when it would totally make
sense for her to just forget about him and welcome the pursuit of
another, because her attachment to Nick is causing problems—she holds on
for him. And he's a better man for it. They are the most
emotionally-mature (and secure) couple I've seen in a TV show for a long
The banter is awesome, and the chemistry amid the entire ensemble of the
main cast is marvelous. The writers do a good job of keeping something
potentially over-complex to a manageable level of simplicity by
functioning off a certain number of different creatures, introducing new
creatures only ever so often and having a specific purpose for
involving that sort of creature, beyond just filling out the ranks.
There are even some creatures named but never featured, which lends an
air of realism to the whole thing.
Where They Missed: I tend to be squeamish when it comes to mangled
bodies—and there seem to be a wide variety of Wesen who favor
dismembering their victims. (I will say that the fact that I am still
watching it is testament to the way the writers disperse the gory scenes
widely among the story scenes; and I have only seen one creature in one
part of one episode who could be termed as truly too creepy for me)
That being said, not every victim dies a horrific death.
I've heard the objection that Grimm is more of a procedural drama than
fantasy. I would agree—but that's not really a "miss" for me,
personally. It's also relatively dark and intense, not for little kids.
Overall: I think it's a great show, in regards to writing and acting
quality. It's dark, best taken in small quantities (so marathons would
not be advisable) but the balance of humor is very tastefully done, and
makes the series recommendable to those interested in that sort of
The Basics: A poor man's "Ocean's 11." A former insurance agent gets
burned by his own company in a very personal way, so when a mysterious
stranger sets him in charge of a team of professional criminals, he
jumps at the chance to prevent anything like what happened to him from
happening to other people—a modern-day Robin Hood to outwit the rich to
gain retribution for the poor.
Where They Nailed It: Well, for starters, it may be set in Boston (for
about the first four seasons) but it's filmed in Portland. So for me a
small part of the entertainment factor cane from trying to figure out
where they were in each scene (mostly the exterior shots.) The main
ensemble are some great actors (for the most part; some characters more
than others), and the periodic guest appearances by actors I recognized
was always fun.
I like the intrigue of the challenges the team has to face, and how the
members working individually is definitely not as effective as when they
all work together. It's pretty much everything I liked about the
Ocean's movies (the cons, the heist, the chemistry, the banter...) minus
all the things I didn't like (the scantily-clad women, low moral
standards and motivations, innuendo, Brad Pitt, Catherine Zeta-Jones...)
Where They Missed: They avoided it for a good long while, but even
Leverage fell into the pitfall of over-dramatization. The two principal
characters were in and out of the relationship for most of the show, and
just when you think it really could happen and really be great, one or
the other pulls a stupid and they fight and they're not talking...again.
I did approve the pairing of two of the supporting characters, and
their relationship was adorable to watch and I just wanted to slap the
main characters silly and go "See? SEE???" But alas... Such uncertainty
proved too much to hold interest in the show, and it ended just last
year. Requiescat in Pace.
Overall: A good show, definitely recommendable. With only five seasons,
it shouldn't talke too long to get through, and it's worth it.
The Basics: Murder mystery author Rick Castle has hit writer's block and
is looking for inspiration. Imagine his surprise when he becomes the
lead suspect in a case involving a serial killer who murders his victims
and then stages them in scenes patterned after scenes from Castle's
books. The head homicide detective is a very attractive woman who ends
up inspiring Castle to begin writing again. Of course, then he contrives
to be attached to the NYPD as the detective's shadow, claiming it is
"research." He follows her around, they save each others' lives at
various points, she grows to like him, and, working together, they solve
Where They Nailed It: Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic. Odd names, but
BRILLIANT actors. Fillion especially, as a master of comedy and
lovableness. (Any Firefly fans out there would recognize Fillion as the
unquenchable Captain Mal) I was intrigued to see how he might portray a
celebrity writer—and I'll admit I relate to his behavior, fictional
though it may be. The constant distraction of plot ideas and story
intrigue, the penchant for wild, inventive theories, the apparent lack
of ability to think logically (or at least real-world logic; our logic
works just fine in a fictional universe!)
The supporting cast nailed it. Partnered cops Kevin Ryan and Javier
Esposito help Castle and Detective Kate Beckett in various aspects of
their cases. Ryan has to be my favorite out of the two, especially since
he's the only one of them all who managed a successful relationship
with a woman who starts the show as his girlfriend, he proposes to her,
and by now they are happily married and expecting their first child. The
kicker? Ryan's love interest is played by his real-life wife. It's
adorable. I love it when actor couples act together. They just seem to
have a lot more fun than everyone else.
My favorite character out of the whole ensemble would be Castle's
daughter Alexis, played by the "unsinkable" Molly Quinn. She is
beautiful without being overdone, smart without being sarcastic, funny
but not ditzy—and the chemistry between Nathan and Molly is as close to
father-daughter as I've seen two actors get. It's great.
Where They Missed: For a while before Beckett and Castle became an item,
of course Castle is very narcissistic and loves getting attention from
ladies—which made for some uncomfortable scenes in some episodes. But
luckily by now he's gotten beyond that and he and Beckett are securely
in love with one another and that's great to see. So far, the writers
seem to be keeping tabs on their "misses" and resolving them into
"wins." It is a procedural drama, but that isn't a miss in my book.
Lately, too, there has been more of Awesome Alexis and not as much
Annoying/Awkward Martha (Castle's mother who lives with him), which is
more of a win than a miss. (If it had been the other way around...) There were a few attempts at a love triangle early on in the series, but once Beckett and Castle were positive about being together, all other potential relationships subsided. (and the fan base heaved a collective sigh of relief...)
There was a vague attempt at a Rear-Window-esque episode a few weeks ago
that I was not impressed with, but that's all.
Overall: Great writing, great acting, great banter, great show! It does
have a overreaching story arc that involves Beckett's mom and some
unresolved issues (basically her motivation for becoming a cop), but the
show doesn't fixate on it too much, maybe for a few episodes per season
then moves on. I call that good taste. Keeps the viewers watching, but
doesn't drive them crazy.
All of these shows come with heart recommends from me, if you are
interested in any of them. Feel free to voice your own opinion about
these or other currently-running/recently-ended shows in the comments! :)