Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tamara gets burned

When panelist Tamara Brooks of Zap2it.com gets dramatic, she gets serious about the shows she loves. Here are her choices for "Best Dramatic TV Series":

Burn Notice
If you take everything good about 80's action TV and spy movies and mixed them in a blender, you'd get Burn Notice. This is so very clearly one of the best shows on television. The actors are great (the quadruple punch of primary cast Jeffrey Donovan, Gabrielle Anwar, Sharon Gless, and the Bruce Campbell), the writing is superb, and gives you handy dandy spy tips to boot. Like how to know for sure if you're being followed in a car or how to use a cell phone as an impromptu bug in the office of a swindler. And if that doesn't get you, how about guest stars like Tim Matheson, Tricia Helfer, Michael Shanks (playing a delightfully twisted repurposed spy - a big departure from Daniel Jackson on "Stargate SG-1"), and Richard Schiff It's not often that I fall this deeply in love with a show but if I could marry it, by gum I would. Not only are full episodes available for our enjoyment, the special clips include our favorite spy Michael West offering us advice for our humdrum lives based on his spy experience.

John Doe
Ah, Fox. Where good shows go to die. Though they've actually been pretty good about letting new shows roll thanks to a new head honcho, historically they're notorious for pulling the plug on fantastic shows way to early. John Doe is a perfect example of this. Before he was breaking in and out of prisons, Dominic Purcell starred as the titular an amnesiac who knows everything ever except for his own identity and sees practically everything in black & white. John's search for who he is, where he came from and what's going on with the clandestine organization that keeps popping up in his life as he helps the police solve crimes had me tuning in every week. It had suspense, comedy, mystery and a touch of the metaphysical. Too bad they dropped the axe just as it was really ramping up. But, once you watch the show and are interested in where they were going with it, you can find the answer on the interweb. You'll get your answers but it also might make you more mad that they never made more episodes.

Season 2 is missing but that doesn't dimish my love of the show. Like all shows I dig, the secret to its success lies in the strength of both the writing and the acting. You genuinely get to like the main characters and get invested in their lives and, even if you don't like the case of the week, the personal stories rarely disappoint. Even the merry-go-round of new squints are endearing. With a character like Bones, it can be very hard to evolve her while maintaining key personality points (like being absolutely oblivious to when her frankness comes off as being callous and rude) but they've done a really good job of keeping balance.

Characters, characters, characters. Another great example at how intriguing people make the best subject matters. Sure, it's a cop show, but the real draw are leads Damien Lewis and Sarah Shahi - Adam Arkin, Donal Logue (2nd season) and Robin Weigert (1st season) don't hurt either - and the ongoing mystery that drives the show.

The Riches
Supremely well acted and written, the series creates an almost unbearable amount of tension even in the simplest scenes. The characters are complex and deeply flawed, yet you can't help but root for the Malloys to pull off the con of a lifetime.

See which of Tamara's choices made the cut, and cast your vote for Best Dramatic TV Series here!

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