1. Breaking Bad

breaking bad

Of course it is.  No television drama has been talked about more this summer than Breaking Bad.  Since its August 11th premier, social media has been bombarded with references, quotes, images, theories, opinions and recaps of the show’s fifth and final season.  So much so, that it is the only drama on television that invites celebrities onto a panel to talk about episodes right after they air (Edit note – I was mistaken.  Apparently AMC does this for all their dramas).  From what I can understand, the craziest part of the frenzy is that it is well deserved, with each new episode topping the last and not a second of air time wasted in this crime thriller about a former chemistry teacher who starts a meth lab.  I’m not sure if I’m disappointed with myself that I stopped after the first season or if I’m excited that I have four seasons to catch up on and witness how great television is made.  Guaranteed this series will go down in history.

Rating:  Now it all makes sense.  No other television show has consistently improved over the course of its run.  In fact, most shows dip here and there and have a hard time living up to their first season.  Not so with Breaking Bad.  From its first season ranking of 74%, the drama has consistently climbed to 85%, 89%, 96% to this season’s whopping 99% ranking – nothing comes close on this list.

IMDb:  9.4     metacritic: Season 1, 74%

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Trailers I Like: Bad Grandpa

This was the funniest part of my evening at the movies, including the movie which was We’re the Millers.


Directed by: Jeff Tremaine
Written by: Spike Jonze, Johnny Knoxville and Jeff Tremaine
Starring: Johnny Knoxville (as an 86 year old grandfather), Jackson Nicoll and poor, innocent Americans.

A Jackass movie that preys on people’s moral and ethical standards for a laugh, a welcome change from self-mutilation and violence. The trailer had me in stitches.

Release date:  October 25, 2013.

2. Orange is the New Black

o-ORANGE-IS-THE-NEW-BLACK-facebook

I’m pretty sure the final two entries on this list of top ten dramas on television will come as no surprise to anyone.  I was first introduced to Orange is the New Black through my Facebook feed.  After it premiered on July 11th in its entirety (thanks to Netflix), friend after friend updated their status as they completed season 1 in less than a weekend.  The show, based on the real life experience of a young woman who was incarcerated for 15 months on a drug related charge, has grabbed everyone for its intelligence, wit, emotion, character development and authenticity.  I’m actually less surprised by its success than the lack of hater-backlash, which inevitably happens to any trend.  I have yet to hear a negative word about this show other than ‘it’s good’ rather than ‘it’s amazing!’

Rating: This is the second Netflix show with only one season under its belt.  Still, Metacritic rates it at a 79%, which is well below the highest rated show in the top ten, but higher than House of Cards.  Interesting.

IMDb: 8.6    metacritic:79%

3. Dexter

dexter

Dexter is a show that I came across and started watching because I liked the premise: a television drama about a serial killer who is also the narrator, protagonist and quasi-hero. The narrative voice was literary, believable and astonishing.  The crimes were interesting, the characters wonderful.  I was obsessed with this show for two seasons.  How or why I stopped is beyond me, other than to say that the fall of the video store and the rise of streaming has reintroduced me to a lot of television I loved but let slide through my fingers.  Right now, in it’s 8th and final season everyone is not only back on board, they are talking about it; they are gearing up for Sunday nights rather than waiting to watch it online.  This is television at its best.

Ranking:  Dexter must be everyone’s guilty pleasure because the general Metacritic rating is in the high 70s (only seasons 2 and 7 are above 80%)  whereas IMDB ranks it at a 9.0. Season 6 has the lowest Metacritic rating on this list at 63%.  Keep in mind, however, that Dexter is also the longest running drama on this list and every show that goes the distance has one or two seasons that don’t measure up.

IMDb: 9.0     metacritic: Season 1, 77%

Trailers I like: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Feels like magic.


Directed by: Ben Stiller
Written by: Steve Conrad, based on the short story by James Thurber
Starring: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Sean Penn, Kathryn Hahn and Shirley MacLaine

I haven’t been a Ben Stiller fan for quite some time, at least not in anything other than a cameo here and there.  This, however, is the kind of movie I love.  Rooted in reality, the movie unfolds like a dream-scape highlighted by wonderful disparate images of embodied imagination.  Really, who doesn’t fantasize about Sean Penn calling to you?  Fingers crossed it’s as heartfelt as the Of Monsters and Men song that scores the trailer.

Release Date:  Christmas Day

4. Homeland

homeland

I was hooked on the first three episodes and then wasn’t too keen on the direction I felt the show was taking so stopped.  Clearly, I’m alone; and worse, I’m the jackass at the dinner party that blocks their ears when Season 1 comes up in conversation, pleading with my eyes for the conversation to stop because even with my ears blocked I can hear everything.  I get it;  the show is a must-see.  Why I never got back on board with this superbly cast and well-written spy thriller that has raked up a ton of hardware is beyond me, other than to say please see nos. 5, 7 and 8 – and there are only so many hours in a day.   Expect a review soon.

Rating: Highest we’ve seen so far.  Metacritic has a 91% positive rating for Season 1 and a 96% for Season 2.  What to start first? Walking Dead or Homeland??

IMDb:  8.6      metacritic: Season 1, 91%

5. Game of Thrones

gameofthrones

This is another one of my favourite shows and was happy to include it on the list.  What started as a big budget fantasy drama, largely supported by fans instead of critics has developed into everyone’s favourite water cooler conversation.   Season three ended with such a devastating blow (or at least one episode before the finale) that fans are still discussing it months after it went on hiatus.  This medieval fantasy world about seven families vying for the Iron Throne has everything: character, wit, performance, treachery, betrayal, violence, nudity, unpredictability and impeccable editing and design.  I envy those who have yet to watch, because waiting until 2014 for the next episode is torture.  May Season 4 live up to the hype!

Rating:  It seems, it took a minute for critics to get on board.  Season 1 provided the floor plan for where we are today and the show’s Metacritic score has soared from 79% in its first season to 90% after it’s third.

IMDb: 9.4       metacritic: Season 1, 79%

6. Walking Dead

walking dead poster

I have no idea how I missed this show.  I heard about it for the first time after Season 3 came to a close in March.  Granted, despite great casting, a fantasy drama about a small group of people clinging to life in a world of zombies is not really my bag, but the ratings are high and everyone I’ve talked to  loves it.  Quite honestly, I’m disappointed with myself.  Look for a Can You Tell A Story review before season 4 gets underway in October.

Rating: This is the second AMC show to reach my top ten.  Metacritic rates season 1 at 82%.  Not bad.

IMDb:  87%      metacritic:  Season 3, 82%

7. Sherlock

sherlock

Ok, so this one might not be on the tip of everyone’s tongue, but with season 3 premiering in the fall (or so I thought. Rumours have it premiering in Jan. 2014) I had to include this on my list, because it’s one of my favourite shows.   After Season 2 ended with a “WHAT JUST HAPPENED?” cliffhanger, Sherlock fans have been waiting with baited breath for this thrilling, funny, intelligent, fast-paced, character driven drama to return to the air.  Seriously.  If there are rumours about a release date then I can’t be the only one watching.  If you haven’t watched seasons 1 and 2 now is the time to catch up.  Guaranteed it will grab you.

Rating: Metacritic has season 2 ranked at 92%, the best we’ve seen on this list so far.

IMDb: 9.2       metacritic: Season 1, 85%

8. House of Cards

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I think the only reason people have stopped talking about this show is because it took anyone and everyone just 24 hours to watch the entire first season.  The dialogue, writing, execution and performances are magnificent in this political drama that reads like an Elizabethan tragedy.  Consider it Damages without the murder…well almost.

Rating: Metacritic gives season one a 76%.  I would have ranked it higher.

IMDb:  8.9       metacritic: 76%