Good US TV

I don’t want to turn my part of this blog into a Wire fan site but it’s not easy. So, to keep the fanaticism under control, I’m going to list a few watchable to good recent US tV series that we need to have in the UK, and not just on obscure cable channels. (Just bear in mind that nothing is fit to wash the feet of the Wire.) Any contributions/disagreements/ suggestions of alternative programmes are more than welcome.

Heroes: really good. A Guardian Guide piece suggested it was good partly because it doesn’t take comic book superheroes you already know and mess with your own expectations. It creates a whole new set of really interesting heroes, some of whom are evil. The netcam “model” with the evil murderer inside her is great. The chubby Japanese lad, Hiro (geddit) who can mess about with time and space is great. The Mutantfinder general who turns out to be actually trying to save his daughter is slimily chilling (so, good) And so on. It’s the current number 2 on my US TV list.

Numb3rs: I’ve already written about this. The plots are getting sillier and the resolutions lamer and the family values stuff is threatening to choke it even more than usual. But- it still gets interesting Math into the story lines and it’s always watchable.

Smallville: Always watchable. Clark plays the dumb farmboy so well you want to siphon mind-enhancers into his kryponitestream. Lois is pretty good. She has remade the Lois role in a completely unfamiliar way. Lana is more like the traditional Lois, both visually and in her character. Lana’s acting range is still stuck between simpering and looking hurt at “secrets,” but I’ve got used to her and she’s consistent. Chloe is also good, still the nosiest would-be reporter on earth, with hacking skills that would put her in the top 0.0001% of computer users. Jimmy Olsen hasn’t been in it long enough to wipe the memory of the comic book and old TV series Jimmy Olsens so I can’t really take to him. Prep school bully turned millionaire avenger, the Green Hornet is a new twist and is Lois’s current boyfriend. Lana is bizarrely having Lex’s child but it’s really Zod’s. Lex and Mr Luthor are just brilliant.

Stargate and Stargate Atlantis: Am missing them both. Where have they gone?

Eureka: Silly but engaging premise, a town populated by geniuses. Silly but engaging programme.

Invasion: Pretty compulsive but they seem to have dropped it. Lots of fish.

Dead zone: That’s on here. It’s almost always watchable. I suspect they’ve dropped this before ever getting to the resolution.

Law and order.x: Elevator Inspectors’ Unit. I made that up (I didn’t, the Simpsons did.) All varieties are good even when ludicrous.

High spots: Vincent D’Onofrio in Criminal Intent – the most ludicrous but completely engaging overacting you have ever seen on TV. Set off by the extreme matter of factness of his partner, Eames, in the series. So they are a sort of Mulder and Scully (from when the X-Files was still good) but taken to extremes. Plus, Detective Goren is the exact opposite of Mulder in credulity. My favourite partly because it is both silly and shrewd.

Traditional Law and Order– always good, Briscoe was the true star, of course, but it has always had great parts, sometimes engagingly played by really surprising people, Like the early Law and Order detective who was a central characters in a wierd angels/avengers series – a dead pair of fighters against the Morlocks in the war between heaven and hell, in a series called something like Dead and Alive. (I said something like, not that that was its name, because I’ve forgotten it ) The fact that Ice T plays a detective in Special Victims Unit gives it an wierd underlying comedy value. He is certainly no worse in the part than any of the other actors but it’s quite hard to take him seriously as a continuously morally outraged Special Victims cop.

Which brings me back to the Wire, given that Method Man plays Marlo’s chief assassin (and is really good in the part) Bah, I’ve come full circle. I think that’s covered it for even remotely current things.