TV Show Influences During The University Years

Here is my Top 10 list of TV shows that have a major influence in what I am attempting to do in this film project as wellas why I find them great to watch.10. – Prison Break

Prison Break - Michael Scofield & Alex Mahone in Sona in Season 3

Prison Break – Michael Scofield & Alex Mahone in Sona in Season 3

Going into prison – breaking out – getting chased – going to prison – breaking out and now something different – taking on the bastards that were responsible for all this nonsense in the first place. No not the writers, but The Company themselves. Say what you will about the formula being replayed and everything virtually being the same as normal, but this is still good tv and much better better than the reality tv brock still getting thrown at us. Season 1 is, still is one of the best bits of tv in recent memory. It began with the mastermind that is Michael Socfield (Wentworth Miller) being sent to Fox River where his brother Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) is on death row for murdering the Vice President’s brother. Scofield plans to break out and with some guidance he has the prints of the prison tatooed over his body. Once they broke out it was all about getting to the VIce President to clear Linc’s name from the murder whilst being chased by FBI agent & Company employee Alxander Mahone (William Fichtner). After getting cleared, certain events end up having Scofield, Mahone and a few Fox River faces thrown into Sona in Panama and The Company ask Scofield to break someone out. The Current sees the remaining characters going all out to take The Company out once and for all with the help of FBI handler Donald Self (Michael Rapaport). Since it’s aired it has created loved & adored characters (Scofield, Sucre) aswell as having great villianous ones (Abruzzi, T-Bag, Kellerman) and has the knack of making hated characters do something to redeem themselves which cost them their lives and we love them for it. It may have lasted longer than when it should have (Season 2 baby) but it still has it’s great moments plus with Scofield still being as smart as ever and we get to see more of the legendary exploits of Alex Mahone (Fichtner’s protyral of his character is one of the main reasons to stay in tune), it still has some tv gold in it. Plus the last two episodes of Season 1 is still one of the best pumped up adrenaline rushes tv has ever produced.

9. – It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Sometimes a comedy tv show comes along and it instantly has a cult following (Scrubs, Arrested Development). One such show had a instant cult following as it held absolutely no-hold bars hilarious antics and nothing was restricted and virtually everything you can think of has been insulted. Not South Park, but It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia has shone since it first aired in the US back in 2005 and is still going strong. The characters Denis R Reynolds (Glen Howerton), Deandra ‘Sweet Dee’ Reynolds (Kaitlin Olson), Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day), Mac (Rob McElhenney) and Frank Reynolds (Danny DeVito) run a unsuccessful irish bar in philadelphia called Paddy’s Pub and normally an arguement breaks out and then the gang just go absolutely mental about it the entire epsiode. DeVito doesn’t appear until Season 2 as Frank the father of Denis & Sweet Dee. Created by Rob McElhenney, Gleen Howerton & Charlie Day, they apparently shot the pilt shown to the FX Network called ‘It’s Always Sunny on TV’ for about $85 on a digital camcorder but cost $200 overall because of the videotapes. So maybe there is some hope for the average joe afterall to get a great show, just as long as they have good material and a digital camcorder. WILD CARD BITCHES!!!!

8. – Rescue Me

Rescue Me

Rescue Me

Created by it’s main star Denis Leary and Peter Tolan (who later appears in Season 4) and started being shown to the public towards the end of 2004, Rescue Me focuses on the New York city firefighters after the trauma of the 9/11 attacks. Daring, hilarious, crude all-in-one drama, Tommy Gavin (Denis Leary) is our star trying to recover from the tradegy of losing his best friend, his cousin Jimmy Keefe on 9/11 he ends up seeing his dead cousin at random places and he ain’t the only one. Alcoholic, ill-tempered, Tommy is a hero within the department but hated and distant from his wife she desperately tries to divorce him, one wrong word and Tommy is as self-destructive as they come. In the midst of this, we also follow the lives of his fellow firemen, Franco (Daniel Sunjata), Kenny (John Scurti), Mike (Mike Lombardi) and Sean (Steven Pasquale). The comedy duo of Mike & Sean in the show is part of what makes this show work so much, due to their sheer stupidity and that’s down to the actors themselves (Pasquale himself has great comedy timing). The show has had truly eventful and horrific storylines (The priest storyline in season 1, the death of Tommy’s son towards the end of Season 2 in a hit & run by a drunk driver) aswell as some truly funny moments (The guys around the table talking about the ‘Spank Bank’ in Season 4, Kenny & a homeless man arguing with each other other who should committ suicide first in Season 3 and Sean ‘sleep-zombie-walking’ in Season 3).

7. – 24

24's Jack Bauer

24’s Jack Bauer

More famous jokes than Chuck Norris? Bigger & more badass than Bond and made us aware that Kiefer Sutherland is still an absolute legend? 24 at the time was totally different to anything else on tv due to it’s real time format and each episode taking place in a one hour period, it made Kiefer a household name once more and also created one of the greatest tv characters in history with Jack Bauer. Creating now famous slogans of ‘Jack’s Back (even Pirates of the Carribean stole this slogan, how dare they)’, ‘Jack Attack!’ and ‘Bauer Power’, 24 tackled some pretty taboo subjects in the early seasons. Primarily, it dared to have it’s first season storyline about Jack saving presidental candidate David Palmer (Denis Haysbert) from assassination. Second season, Palmer became the US President and Jack had to stop the US from getting nuked & prevent a potential war. Over the series, it seems to follow a familar pattern. CTU always, ALWAYS has a mole, some musilms are bad (though as Season 4 showed some are standup guys) and anyone close to Jack either dies, betrays him or ends up being evil. Kiefer has win awards for his performance and everyone awaits the new tv-movie in ’24: Redemption’ aswell as Season 7 in January 2009. As for what is the best season? Easily Season 2 for me, who good can a show be if it can get away with a mini series called ‘The Chornicles of Kim Bauer’ and have a bloody cougar appearing out of nowhere during it and mystery vanishing without a trace. Genius.

6. – Entourage

The Entourage Gang

The Entourage Gang

Definitely the show that the boys dream of what they want to be type of show. Following the story of the next big upcoming actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his gang, Eric ‘E’ Murphy (Eric Connolly), Turtle (Jerry Ferrara) and the legend that is Johnny Drama (Kevin Dillon), we see the antics they get up to as Vinnie’s agent Ari Gold (played to perfection by Jeremy Piven) tires to steady the boat on his career to made him the biggest actor on the planet. Created by Doug Ellin and helped out by Mark Walhberg as it’s helped on by he and his own entourages real life antics, it began back in 2004 and featured some famous cameo’s during it’s time (Gary Busey, Eric Roberts, James Cameron, Scarlett Johansson, Jessica Alba) it also showed the gang enjoying the Hollywood lifestyle aswell as some of the ladies in it ( Emmanuelle Chriqui in particular). The show just wrapped up Season 5 and Season 6 will be aired again around June 2009. VITCORY!!!!

5. – Dexter

Michael C Hall is Dexter

Michael C Hall is Dexter

What’s this? A show about a serial killer….killing other serial killers & bad people? On that premise I was signed up to take a look at this show and wasn’t disappointed. Based on the novels written by Jeff Lindsay. Not only is it really dark but it’s also really funny in the black comedy vein and also in some odd moments, it has heart in it. Should be watched for Michael C Hall’s performance as Dexter Morgan himself.

4. – The Sopranos

The Sopranos - Silvio, Tony & Paulie

The Sopranos – Silvio, Tony & Paulie

Ah where oh where do we begin with this show. First few seasons, it was some of the most fine tv ever produced. The look, the feel, the dialogue. One of the most well done character studies looking into the life of Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini will never have a role this good again) aswell as how everyone else like Silvio (Steve Van Zandt), Christopher (Michael Imperioli), Paulie (Tony Sirico) and his wife and kids act around him. David Chase created a show that would be heard in the same breath as ‘The Godfather’ and ‘Goodfellas’ due to it’s richness in that world. With Tony Soprano you always seen that he had a soft side but when you crossed him, he definitely made you know it. I won’t go into detail about the plots and storylines, i’ll just tell you to watch it to have your own opinion on it. Just beware of that final episdoe of the show though. No matter how much I can understand why David Chase done it, it was still a major cop-out. Though adding Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ into that last five minutes was nice of him. Plus in Season 3, the episode ‘Pine Barrens’ is one of the best episodes on TV.

3. – Battlestar Galactica (Remake)

Cast of Battlestar Galactica

Cast of Battlestar Galactica

Remakes? Almost every single one of them will let you down and destroy everything about what the original one stood for. It would be even worse if it changed the sex of one of the main characters in it wouldn’t it? But then in extremely rare ocassions, there comes a remake that is more bold, bleak & engaging than the original and virtually wipes away most things we see on our screen. BSG shouldn’t have worked but it did, bloody hell it destroyed everything you thought when you heard the word ‘remake’ and is a shining example to everyone of how you do it properly. Re-imagined by Ronald D. Moore and aired back in 2003 as a mini series and given the greenlight to become a proper series and season 1 began then in 2004. It starts off as after a long ceasefire between man and cylon, a cylon appears in a space station for the first time in over forty years. In returning the cylons try to exterminate the human race by nuking the twelve colonies. The after effect shows that little human life remains and are being chased and hunted down by the cylon fleet. Enter to the hero of the show in Commander Adama (Edward James Olmos) and the rest of the Galactica crew taking control to help and contain order by protecting the remaining survivors of the twelves colonies as they are the last battlestar left. The plan according to teacher turned President Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) – Find Earth for salvation. This show practically has everything going for it, three dimensional characters, tackling tough subjects (racism, suicide bombers, the meaning of war, civil war, civil rights) and manage to make it all entertaining in the sci-fi world. It’s a shame as some people hear the word sci-fi & stay clear as the show is diverse (as is No2 & No1 after this). Watch the show for the cylons (five remain unkown but in the later season you discover them and won’t believe who it is), James Callis performance as Gaius Baltar, that awesome few episodes in Season 2 when Admiral Cain appears with Battlestar Peagesus (you realise then you are watching something really special) aswell as Season 3’s moment of Galactica freefalling in New Caprica, showing the greatest tv special effect EVER!

2. – The Shield

The Shield - Vic, Shane & Ronnie

The Shield – Vic, Shane & Ronnie

Very few shows rewrite the term ‘breaking the boundaries’. The final two choices done exactly that and shoved it down our throats. The Shield at its time was like no other cop show that came before it. No better evidence than that in the final moments of the very first episode when Vic Mackey (Michael Chiklis) killed and murdered fellow cop Terry Crowley (Reed Diamond). This storyline, remained the focus of the entire series up till the very moment it finished completely in the US a few weeks ago. Throught the series we watch him and his fellow Strike Team buddies Shane Vendrell (Walton Goggins just gets better with each season and you wish him to have a major career as there really is no better character actor like him), Ronnie Gardocki (David Rees Snell) and Curtis ‘Lem’ Lemansky (Kenny Johnson) get up into more shit that we wouldn’t want our cops to get up to but yet you can’t help but root for them the entire way. Also in the mix is David Aceveda (Benito Martinez) who knows that Vic killed Terry as he had Terry going undercover to get the dirt of him. He starts off as Captain of The Barn but has greater ambitions in one day becoming the mayor. In the detective partnership and the most touching one through the chaos & carnage of the series is that of Claudette Wyms (CCH Pounder) and smarter than what he looks yet has no clue on woman Dutch Wagenbach (Jay Karnes). Throughout the series a few well known faces appear especially when you look on back before they were famous like Kevin Davitian (of Borat fame), Brandon T Jackson (Tropic Thunder) and out of nowhere good old Andre Benjamin of OutKast is there (The Shield was one of his first acting gigs). The famous names that appear in the show our Glen Close who is the new captain in Season 4, then the legend that is Forest Whitaker in Season 5 as the IAD detective out to get VIc Mackey and let’s not forget Anthony Mitchell as Antwon Mitchell (who would’ve thought Teddy from Hang Time would be such an evil bastard?).

To say how the show ends would just spoil it for you. How it ends though is it ends as a proper finale, a proper ending for a show that deserves it’s recognition and to be remembered as one of the few shows that got better each season.

1. – The Wire

The Wire - The Chess Scene

The Wire – The Chess Scene

It’s rare when a show comes along and not only has a story to tell, but pays every detail on the little things and drags the story out over the period of each season, where as a show like Law & Order for example, will use this plot, have it solved and everyone goes happy within one episode. Not only does The Wire’s attention to detail the key to it’s genius, but how many shows can say with twenty plus characters sharing the screen, that they are ALL three dimensional? Like The Shield, to call The Wire a cop show is like trying to say Paul Newman was just an actor. Even though a couple of months seperated The Wire and The Shield when they started out they have both finished a few months from each other in 2008, The Wire wrapping up at the start of the year and now The Shield at the end. The main difference between the two shows is that The Wire is alot more diverse and a larger scale of a universe. Taking place in Batlimore, Maryland, The Wire in Season 1 tells the story of the police departments war on drugs and how it is a losing battle. Season 2 takes a risky look into the docks, showing how the american dream for the working class is falling apart. That particular jump would be risky for ANY show as it would lose some of it’s audience, but then that is about The Wire. The only audience The Wire sells to is people to enjoy the time and appreciation taken in this art, and that is what this show is. It may mostly focus between the cops and life on the streets but it also takes time to talk about the working class, how kids are being deprieved of proper ecudation in the school system, how people looking to promise change for good just end up being as corrupt as the last person and also how the media covers these tales in a 5 season period. With legendary characters such as ego-womanising git you can’t help but love Jimmy McNulty (Dominic West), his partner Bunk Moreland (Wendell Pierce), the REAL POLICE man Lester Freamon (Clarke Peters), the man too ahead of his time trying to make a difference but always shot down Bunny Colvin (Robert Wisdom), the king of kings in Baltimore Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris) alongside his best friend who is the brains and is a cunning figure Stringer Bell (Idris Elba will go down in histroy with this character) and taking on the gangsters of Baltimore and the true definition of a one man army is the cult within the cult Omar Little (props to Michael K Williams for what he has done with this character). Plus a special mention to the true hero of the show and that is drug addict Bubbles (Andre Royo) who if you don’t feel sorry for anything that happens to him by the end of the show you have no heart.

My advice, start getting the DVDs now of this genius show be you buy it or do how this show has gotten a larger audience is by word of mouth. To think after it’s finished and been so critically acclaimed it has won no emmys. As the legend Clay Davis (Isiah Whitlock Jr) would say :



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