This list is like the Constitution, a living document. The difference being it is much easier to amend than the US Constitution. Things will change as programs become better or worse, new programs apear and current ones are either cancelled or come to an end. That aside think of this as a set of laws that you can use to know what you must be watching on television presently.
I know not all of these programs are on now but when they become available don’t miss them.
Sunday – Best day for television in the entire week.
True Blood (HBO) – Smart, sexy, funny and very violent, everything the Twilight Movies are not.
The Newsroom – (HBO) – One of the Best programs on TV right now, if not the best. Come on its Arron Sorkin. Watch it multiple times and it gets better per viewing. View it with the closed captions on so you can follow the dialogue.
Game of Thrones – (HBO) – Epic, awesome, unpredictable, and the dishonorable win far more than the honorable.
Boardwalk Empire – (HBO) – Fantastic writing and costumes in a story where you never look for the good but for the lesser evils.
Girls – (HBO) – Smart funny yes, sometimes darkly funny, but never sit com funny.
Veep – (HBO) – Fast, smart, funny, dark and brilliant.
Dexter – (Showtime) – A serial killer who targets murderers, darkly funny, and strangely satisfying.
Breaking Bad – (AMC) – I know Weeds existed before this but leave it to AMC to produce a program where you root for the hard-core, violent and dangerous drug dealer.
Mad Men – (AMC) – A brilliantly written show, with a dark sense of humor. The general rule in this amazing period piece is the more moral flaws you have the more interesting your character (with the exception of Peggy of course).
The Walking Dead – (AMC) – If you are looking for a George A. Romero, Tom Savini zombie splatter fest this is not your show. There is plenty of blood, guts and gore but this program is about people trying to stay civilized and humane in an uncivilized and inhumane world.
Once Upon A Time – (ABC) – Ever wonder what came before the fairy tale characters meet and what happens after the living happily ever after part. This program takes you there and beyond.
The Good Wife – (CBS) – It would be a disservice to say that this show does what many programs try to do and fail. Apart from the obviously great acting and casting, The Good Wife juggles a lot of balls and manages to keeps them high in the air. It’s not just a great court room drama; the show successfully deals with the internal politics of the firm, the external politics of the city and state, the interpersonal relationships of the characters and manages to get some really great guest stars as well.
Damages – This used to be on FX on Sunday but now you can only get it if you have Direct TV. Eventually a channel will pick it up and I can see it just the way NBC eventually aired the last season of Friday Night Lights. That aside the complexity and non linear story telling used makes you want to watch this program even more carefully.
Monday – You can watch what is on the DVR from Sunday because there is nothing you NEED to see on this day.
Tuesday – Something to bring you out of the wasteland that is Monday.
The Daily Show with Jon Stewart – (Comedy Central) – You know how it is easier to learn things that seem dry if the presenter is funny. Jon Stewart does a fantastic job of covering the political world and putting his own sparking tint on it. He also takes delight in skewering the major news outlets in their lack of or their mismanagement of the news today. I know he would have a much harder job getting material if the FOX Propaganda Network did not exist but since all ration humans must suffer for its existence I think that it being constantly lampooned is only fair. Lastly this program does run on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday so you get almost a week with a breath of fresh air in it.
The Colbert Report – (Comedy Central) – When Steven Corbert (pronounce the t) became Steven Colbert (Silent t) it was like Clark Kent taking his glasses off, a subtle difference in look (well in this case sound) but a huge difference in abilities. As a fake hard core conservative he is able to point out the hypocrisies and outright lies of the right wing (yes I know the left has its own hypocrisies and lies) with laser focus and near impunity. Just like The Daily Show this runs Tuesday to Friday and since it follows right behind it you get a combined hour of information and laughter.
Justified – (FX) – Tarantno - esk dialogue infused in a show with Timothy Olyphant as a smart and cool US Marshall who wears cowboy boots, a ten gallon hat, is fast on the draw and usually talks the bad guys into shooting them.
Parenthood – (NBC) – Loosely based on the Ron Howard movie this is a well written, well acted, dramatic and comedic look at three generations of a large family living in Northern California. Even at their most dysfunctional and tragic you know that you would love to be part of or have a family like the Bravermans.
Wednesday – These programs should get you over the hump.
Modern Family – (ABC) -
American Horror Story – (FX) – From the producers of Glee you get a weird, scary, sexy, good old fashioned haunted house show.
Deadliest Warrior (Spike TV) – Have you and some friends ever debated who would win if a Samurai fought a Spartan or if the US Navy Seals faced off against Israeli Commandos, well these guys do with a computer simulated battle at the end. The cool thing is that the debate will obviously continue after the winner is declared.
South Park – (Comedy Central) – I never thought that there would be an animated show that better satirized pop culture and current events than The Simpsons but this is light years ahead and as a bonus it is still funny (unlike The Simpsons). If you can get buy Matt Stone’s and Trey Parker’s obvious fetish for fecal matter you will find true genius. Unlike The Simpsons which, soup to nuts, takes about nine months to produce South Park takes six days. I know that sounds impossible but they pull it off. If something shows up in the news within a week or two you could see a South Park episode either dedicated to that news story or at least using it as a throwaway line in it. These guys will make fun of or criticize anything including their own show.
Thursday – There used to be so much more on this day (yes I am talking about The Office) but these will do for now.
Archer – (FX) – James Bond meets Maxwell Smart meets Narcissus in a very funny, action packed, politically incorrect animated spy adventure.
Parks and Recreation – (NBC) – Just as The Office (it used to be must see) was losing its juice this program was getting better and better. Ron Swanson for mayor of Pawnee.
Burn Notice – (USA) – A little bit of Macgyver mixed with James Bond and you have Michael Weston in Miami. Throw in an ex Navy Seal, Sam, ex IRA girlfriend Fiona and ex counterintelligence agent Jesse and this is a formidable crew.
Suits – (USA) – Smart, slick, cocky and you still root for Gabriel Macht’s character Harvey Specter. His protégé Mike Ross played by Patrick J. Abams has a super brain but his naiveté nicely balances things out.
Friday – The end of the week is here and Battlestar Galatica is still missed.
Fringe – (Fox) – Walter Bishop (John Noble) had me hooked in the pilot when he cries out gleefully “Lets go make some LSD” freaky, cool and the dark humor doesn’t hurt.
Saturday – If you have a premium cable channel like HBO or Showtime sit back and watch a movie or catch up on one of their series. You can even go out if you are not a hermeted shut in like me.
Next up will be my post what you Can be watching as I move to the second and third tier programs. You can have them but you don’t really need them to function properly like the above programs.