It is that time of year again where we take a day to celebrate all that we are thankful for in our lives – our health, our family, our friends, our jobs, and everything that brings a bit of happiness into our lives. For those of us who enjoy television, this is a quick look at a few of the TV shows that have brightened our days and nights in 2012:
A favorite since childhood, it seems like each year this show makes me believe in the impossible. For surely time-travel does exist and there is a wonderful man called The Doctor inviting the lucky few to travel with him in his extraordinary blue box. DOCTOR WHO is one of those television series that makes you feel richer for watching it. It is clever, whimsical, funny, terrifying and heart-warming all wrapped together. It surpasses itself with each passing season, and makes us fall in love with new faces, new characters and new places as if they had been a part of its grand story from the beginning. For a show about to celebrate its 50th anniversary, it is truly remarkable that it finds a way to capture the hearts of generation after generation. It remains an all-time favorite show of mine and I celebrate it by crowning it yet again one of the shows I am thankful for this year. A hearty “thank you” to Steven Moffat, Matt Smith, Karen Gillan and Arthur Darvill for this year’s phenomenal 7th series. Traveling with the Eleventh Doctor and his faithful companions the Ponds has been an absolute pleasure.
Another series that defies the boundaries of the reality we know and which us makes us believe it could actually be possible is the tremendous supernatural series HAVEN. Currently in its third season, the show has established characters that we passionately believe must be real. In our hearts, we just know that there must be an Audrey Parker, Nathan Wuornos and Duke Crocker seeking to save the plight of the Troubled in a little northern eastern town where very different things seem to happen. Dabbling a bit in time-travel this season, the show has delighted fans with its willingness to embrace its romantic side and to challenge our perceptions on those we think we know. It also introduced new characters to help flesh out a world that we love seeing brought to life. Welcome Dwight, Jordan, Claire and even the treacherous Tommy. So as HAVEN expands and challenges us to solve the mystery of Audrey Parker and the murder of the Colorado Kid, we find ourselves falling deeper and deeper down the rabbit hole with it and loving every second. It is also with much elation that fans were rewarded with a 4th season of this fine series, scheduled to air in 2013. We celebrate this fun series as it continues to tackle its Troubles.
Just when you think the story of King Arthur, Merlin, Guinevere, Morgana and Mordred could not possibly unfold another leaf its well-known story, we are surprised and delighted to find that MERLIN has dug up another nugget of the classic Arthurian tale to regale us with. Showcasing the unfailing support and devotion of Merlin to his king and the kingdom of Camelot, as well as charming ruefulness with which Merlin embraces his destiny reminds us of the power of belief in destiny. Plus, the warm camaraderie of MERLIN’s core cast continues to charm us just as much as the adventuresome tales. They infuse such lively spirit into their characters that we feels as though we were watching their lives through a magical looking glass and their adventures back in time. We are thankful we are able to share those marvelous journeys and adventures with them.
Not content to be bound by the confines of time and space, the television show FRINGE has taken the leap into the future in its final season — daring its fans to follow, which they happily did. The FRINGE-future may be filled with bald, terrorizing Observers, but it is intriguing to see how a handful of heroes can strike back and overcome this future threat. Plus, as FRINGE explores the boundaries of fringe science and a dystopian future, we can see shades of our own future embedded in their stories. Yet it is not simply because FRINGE manages to portray some of our worst nightmares that we are riveted by it; but rather it is because it has made the Bishop family our family and we are anxious to know if they will survive through their perilous journey. As if saving the world time and time again has not been enough, Walter, Olivia and Peter must make one last sacrifice and we are hoping it will not require any more lost lives on the alter of survival. We are grateful that Fox took a chance on FRINGE and gave it a chance to tell its mind-bending and mind-blowing tale.
Comic-book heroes are alive in well in film and television, but it is even more amazing in the case of ARROW because its hero is of the non-super hero variety. It showcased a very human young man, fueled by vengeance who came back to right the injustice in the city he grew up in. It is a dark tale that is tempered by the innate humanity of its hero. Oliver Queen is not so inhuman that he cannot see that his actions have consequences on those around him. It is a story of his quest for humanity while trying to serve justice as well. Such a lofty ambition and one that the series has squarely hit on the bullseye. Starring Stephen Amell as the conflicted hero, we are entranced to see what he will do next as the hero not quite broken in body and spirit, but whose own soul may need saving should he continue his dark quest for too long. We are grateful this new series has come along and invited us to share its journey too.
PERSON OF INTEREST
With a sleight of hand, PERSON OF INTEREST did something very unexpected: it melded a solid procedural series with a very complex serialized story. It was no longer just a show about saving people in trouble. With the Machine revealed as having its own artificial intelligence that allows it to ascertain threats and to guide its human counterparts, the show went from stories of the case of the week to discovering a larger world of government conspiracies, rooting out greedy self-interested parties, and the mystery of woman known as Root who would have the Machine set free. The show became infinitely more thought-provoking and challenging when all the layers became exposed. What compels John Reese and Harold Finch take upon themselves to save everyone? What makes their destiny so intertwined with the Machine that they are the chose ones to be modern day superheroes? And what would it do if the Machine was ever truly free? One can simply watch PERSON OF INTEREST and see all the miraculous ways Reese, Finch, Carter and Fusco save the helpless, or one can embrace the mythology of the Machine and find out what else is going on in their murky world. It is inviting and tantalizing fun for fans embracing this unexpected series. It is with much gratitude to Jonathan Nolan and Greg Plageman for rewarding its audience with such a cognitive treat.
SONS OF ANARCHY
Newly indoctrinated and exposed to the SONS OF ANARCHY world, it is as was guaranteed: a wild, wild ride. With shades of Shakespeare lacing its dark world of guns, drugs and money, SONS OF ANARCHY is the tale of a young man seeking to change the deadly future that lies ahead for his family and friends. More than its glitzy premise of modern day outlaws, SONS OF ANARCHY is a rich world of intrigue, betrayal, power, love and a quest for humanity – and at its beating heart is Jax Teller, a man who would be king in his own world and once he was so crowned discovered the poisoned kingdom of which he was bequeathed. While many others have bowed down before Kurt Sutter for creating the Samcro world in such a way that we root for the villains, what is even more startling to realize is how they are not such great villains at all. When looking through the eye of the beholder, we see a different picture of who is right and wrong, who is righteous, and who is a more deserving villain lying in wait. We find ourselves captivated by a ruthless world if only to see who ultimately survives and if there will be any humanity amongst them when they do. It dares us to consider: To be touched by evil, does one become evil itself? Fascinating paradox.
Confession time: I find myself falling in love with a serial killer. Well into its 7th season, the Showtime series DEXTER featuring a serial killer that stalks and kills other killers is surprisingly addictive. When first introduced, it was intriguing to root for a killer. The show challenged us to embrace a serial killer and call him a hero. Yet we have. Dexter Morgan is a hero in our eyes; wherein lies a confusing dichotomy – to root for someone who not only kills, but who enjoys killing and dismembering bodies. But the show humanized Dexter in such a way that we want him to be a part of our lives. We want to see Dexter fall in love, to have a family, to share trials and tribulations with his sister, to succeed professionally – and most of all, to escape our inflexible judicial system. He is the unlikeliest of heroes, yet we still cheer for him and wish him a full, wonderful life. Kudos to the show for creating a character that reminds us that it is okay slay the demons plaguing our world and eluding the justice system.
The world would be a poorer place without the youthful exuberance and joyful delight in things that go bump in the night that TEEN WOLF has offered. Premised around a young teen who finds himself transformed into a werewolf and how that curse ensnares his friends, family and mortal enemies, TEEN WOLF invites viewers into the seductiveness of the supernatural world. It also starkly reminds us that when the supernatural side of life comes calling, death and destruction surely follow. But it is sure fun watching Scott, Allison, Stiles, Lydia, Jackson and Derek face their fears and fight together to survive against a harsh world where they are but pawns in the bigger game of alliances and power struggles. MTV struck gold with this fun series and we are just enjoying every minute of the TEEN WOLF supernatural battle for survival.
HELL ON WHEELS
Coming off a scorching hot second season, the AMC series about the trials and tribulations of a handful of survivors struggling to build a railroad across the country right after the Civil War is a beautiful enigma. It defies proper description, as it is so many incredible ingredients all wrapped together. It is a tale of vengeance – a man seeking to make those who killed his family pay. It is a tale of freedom – for those who were enslaved and now find themselves weighed down by the daily grind to survive. It is a tale of forbidden love and romance – for the heart wants what it wants. It is a tale of conquering the West in a time when nature and the natural inhabitants of the land did not want to be tamed by the Industrial Era. Yet this lush, magnificent series introduced us to a world where we cannot take away our eyes. It offered characters so deeply moving that we related to their simple desires to have a home, a living, and someone to love. Frankly, it is startling how compelling and rewarding this fine series is and I am hopeful more viewers discover it in 2013. It is worth it.
Finally, a few more TV shows deserving special mention include: DOWNTON ABBEY, THE NEWSROOM, SHERLOCK, COVERT AFFAIRS, ELEMENTARY, LAST RESORT, WEDDING BAND, NASHVILLE, ONCE UPON A TIME, JUSTIFIED, LUTHER and SUITS. Each of these also captured a piece of my heart in 2012 and I hope to enjoy them more in 2013.
Happy Thanksgiving and remember all that you are thankful for!