Monday, July 15, 2013

11 Great TV Shows You Probably Aren't Watching

Life is too short to tolerate bad TV shows.

For those who just about as sick of the usual dreck that is on television nowadays, I'm here to point you in the direction of some TV shows that you most likely are not watching. These shows -- whether from a different country or premiering on streaming channels like Netflix -- are some of the best around! First, let me warn you, there are NO reality TV shows on this list! That's because reality TV is uncreative and uninspiring. Please note that these shows (some of which are still on the air) are currently available either to watch on Hulu, Netflix, OnDemand/cable, or on DVD, and they are listed in alphabetical order. If you have watched -- or are watching -- any of these shows, good for you. Here are some more recommendations you may like. So, let's get to it:

THE PLOT: Spoiled billionaire playboy Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) is missing and presumed dead after his yacht is lost at sea. He returns five years later a changed man, determined to clean up the city as a hooded vigilante, armed with a bow.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: If you sorely miss The CW's Smallville and are jonesing for some superhero TV, look no further! Arrow takes the same approach for Smallville, using many of the DC Comics characters in unsuspecting ways (i.e., a pre-Black Canary Dinah Lance goes by her middle name, Laurel, in this show and is a non-profit attorney). Also, fan favorites Deadshot, Slade Wilson/Deathstroke, Roy Harper, Merlyn, Helena Bertinelli/Huntress, Firefly, and Shado (just to name a few) are featured!

The Booth at the End
THE PLOT: The series follows the storylines of several characters who visit mysterious figure The Man (Xander Berkeley) in the corner booth at the back of a diner. Each character has heard rumors that this Man is able to grant desires, provided that a task is performed. Upon receiving the task, the Man's only other demand is that the character continually update him on his or her progress. Once the task is complete, the character's desire is always fulfilled.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Xander Berkeley. Although Berkley has been relegated to "character actor" status, his roles have always been memorable. From the hardass CTU director George Mason in 24 to a crooked police detective in Kick-Ass, Berkeley runs the gamut of successfully taking on any kind of role. Each episode features four to five stories which fit into one big jigsaw puzzle of a story. So if you're someone who doesn't like story arcs, stay away from this one. But if you love mystery and a good story that ultimately fits together, this is a show for you.

THE PLOT: Centering on brilliant chess master, Arkady Balagan (Shawn Doyle), who is traumatized by the murder of his fiancée. Balagan has become a self-induced "prisoner" in his luxury Vancouver hotel, terrified to step outside. To pay his bill, Balagan starts solving mysteries - using an unlikely band of hotel employees and chess fanatics to do his legwork.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Like Sherlock Holmes, Balagan is a genius and utilizes similar techniques to solve crimes. Unlike Holmes, Balagan carries heavy demons around with him. A majority of the time, he doesn't even need to leave the hotel (sending acquaintances of his out on "missions") to solve a case. If you're a big fan of mystery and a character who has problems with authority figures, this is your show.

House of Cards
THE PLOT: Congressman Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is Majority Whip who has been declined the chair for Secretary of State. He's now gathering his own team to plot his revenge. He has his hands on every secret in politics - and is willing to betray them all to become President. Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), a reporter for the Washington Herald, will do anything to get her big break.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Kevin Spacey. Spacey has always stole the show of every film he's been cast  in, but this political drama which finds him as a vindictive congressman is another crowning gem in his acting crown. Spacey plays Underwood with a cold, callous, manipulative air that makes him believable as the sleazy, dog-killing politician. The best part of this show is that it doesn't take sides of Republican or Democrat. Rather, this show reveals the true face of politics: the politician is out for himself -- it doesn't matter what party he/she is in.

THE PLOT: Five young adolescents -- Curtis (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett), Alisha (Antonia Thomas), Nathan (Robert Sheehan), Kelly (Lauren Socha), and Simon (Iwan Rheon) -- begin community service under the watchful eye of their youth probation officer when a freak lightning storm strikes them, granting them supernatural abilities. Little do they know that others are affected as well.  

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: OK, so imagine if NBC's Heroes had a red-headed alcoholic bastard stepchild. If so, you'd find it in the form of Misfits, on Britain's Channel E4. There's nudity, sex, excessive foul language, and violent action! These guys are the last ones you'd think to "save the day." With a pretty cool story arc, this show will keep you coming back for more of your favorite juvenile delinquents.

Once Upon a Time
THE PLOT: A woman with a troubled past is drawn to a New England town where fairy tales are to be believed. Emma Swan's (Jennifer Morrison) world is turned upside down on her 28th birthday when the son Henry (Jared Gilmore) she gave up 10 years earlier knocks on her door. Holding a book of fairy tales he claims are real, he tells her that she's not only in the book but that she is the only hope her people have of being freed from an evil curse.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Some people will either thinks the plot of this show sounds really dumb or that it sounds really awesome. I am one of those people who falls in the latter category. After all, it's the closest thing to a TV/movie adaptation of Fables so far (same concept but the stories are different)! Also, the classic characters from the fairy tales you grew up with are given a modern-day facelift and interesting spins on their respective tales, portraying once-helpless damsels-in-distress like Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, and Belle as being more independent and kick-ass; the show's lead, Emma Swan, is a solid female character. The writers of the show also worked on Lost, so you know there is great writing in there; the show even has a format somewhat like Lost in that it shows the current happenings of the main story with the flashback of the characters' time as their fairy tale counterparts.

Orange is the New Black
THE PLOT: Piper Chapman (Taylor Schilling), a woman from Connecticut, is sent to the women's Litchfield, NY federal prison for possessing a suitcase full of drug money for Alex Vause (Laura Prepon), an international drug smuggler and Chapman's one-time lover. Sentenced to serve a fifteen-month sentence, Chapman must survive the hardships of prison life, as she may have to be a different person to do so.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Show creator Jenji Kohan -- who also created Showtime's Weeds -- is a master at creating and writing characters with complexity and appeal. She takes otherwise shady, morally-compromised, characters and gives them heart. Plus, the characters are all so well portrayed (by excellent actors), it's fun to watch. A perfect blend of drama and comedy!

THE PLOT: A modern update of Sherlock Holmes finds the famous sleuth (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his doctor partner John Watson (Martin Freeman) solving crime in 21st century London.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: A contemporary spin on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's great creation and his greatest stories: A Study in Scarlet (here: "A Study in Pink"); The Valley of Fear and The Adventure of the Dancing Men (here: "The Blind Banker"); The Adventure of the Bruce-Partington Plans (here: "The Great Game"); A Scandal in Bohemia (here: "A Scandal in Belgravia"); The Hound of the Baskervilles (here: "The Hounds of Baskerville"); and The Final Problem (here: "The Reichenbach Fall"). The best reason to watch, though, are Lara Pulver as Sherlock's love interest Irene Adler -- in a way you've never seen here portrayed before -- and MOSTLY Andrew Scott as Sherlock's arch nemesis, the genius villain consulting criminal Moriarty (one of the best villains EVER!).

THE PLOT: Sixteen reality-show contestants arrive in a Siberian forest to take part in a new reality show and quickly discover the adventure and life-threatening danger is not what they signed up for.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: A scripted, fictional show told in a Lost fashion about a Survivor-like reality show where the contestants get killed off? Count me in! Especially since I hate reality competition shows and Survivor is at the top of my hate list. Yes, it's only about 3 episodes in, but if the show can keep an audience, I think the writers have a lot of cool things they can do with the story.

THE PLOT: Two brothers follow their father's foosteps as "hunters" fighting evil supernatural beings of many kinds, including monsters, demons, and gods that roam the earth.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: The CW network's Supernatural (currently about to begin its ninth season) takes all of the horror/urban legend lore and makes it real. Lead characters Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) Winchester are the brothers who hunt them while searching for their dad (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). I'm currently at the beginning of season 8, and it's easy to see why it's lasted this long. What starts out as a urban-legend-scare-story-of-the-week series soon turns into a Paradise Lost-themed battle of good vs. evil, with the Winchester brothers caught directly in the middle. Any fan of Buffy should love this! The best thing about the show is that it doesn't take itself too seriously (thanks most in part to Ackles' character Dean), the soundtrack kicks ass (all hail 1970s/1980s rock!), and the stories are scary, touching, funny and intense!

Teen Wolf
THE PLOT: Social outcast teenager Scott McCall's (Tyler Posey) life drastically changes when he is bitten by a werewolf, inheriting the curse itself, as well as the enemies that come with it. He must henceforth learn to balance his problematic new identity with his day-to-day teenage life.

WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH: Say what you will about this MTV series full of pretty people, but this series (loosely adapted from the awesome 1985 Michael J. Fox film Teen Wolf) is actually really good! Delve into the world of werewolves, hunters and supernatural forces with Posey and the super-likeable everyman Dylan O'Brien as fan favorite Stiles Stilinski. But I don't have to justify myself. Just watch the first two episodes and you will be hooked. If not, you may not know what's good. The only bad thing about this updated version? Where's Boof!?

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