The Televisual Top Five: My Favorite One Season Shows
(Welcome to TV Rage's first ever list-icle. This may or may not become a regular feature. Right now, consider it an experiment in TVR's recent effort to provide our readers with something other than just straight news content. As should be apparent from the format, this list is simply my opinion, and is not intended to be a definitive take on the subject. Also, I haven't seen every TV show to ever exist, and if I haven't seen it, it isn't eligible, for obvious reasons. So, without further ado, let's get started.)
#5 - Rubicon, Aired 2010 on AMC, 13 Episodes, Created by Jason Horwitch
Starring: James Badge Dale, Miranda Richardson, Arliss Howard, Jessica Collins, Dallas Roberts, Christopher Evan Welch, Lauren Hodges, Roger Robinson, Michael Cristofer, David Rasche
Plot: Will Travers is an intelligence analyst at the NYC based "American Policy Institute". His existence is fairly mundane, that is until his boss and father-in-law David Hadas is killed in a train crash. Will soon discovers evidence that leads him to believe that not only was David's death not an accident, but that the people behind it are connected to a global conspiracy that controls and manipulates important world events.
Of all the shows on today's list, Rubicon probably has the worst reputation. The other four have a sizable cult following, and are least generally considered good by those who've seen them. Rubicon on the other hand is known for being "slow" and "boring", among other attributes. I would propose that most people who call the show those things probably didn't watch all the way to the end of the season. I won't even contest that the first 5 or 6 episodes after the (quite well done) pilot had serious issues with pacing and lack of action, but long term viewers were rewarded for their patience with a tale that only grew more interesting with each passing episode.
By the season finale, I found myself quite invested in the prospect of whether Will Travers would expose the conspiracy that had ultimately been complicit in a devastating attack on the United States. The sad fact was that by then most people had long since tuned out, and that's a real shame. Will and API's race to stop the terror plot in the penultimate episode was one of the more harrowing acts of television I've ever seen on AMC, outside of the magnificently tense Breaking Bad of course. So, despite how slow the show began, I still sometimes find myself wondering where things would have gone in a hypothetical second season.
"The biggest joke is that our business is to tell people what to think - and the truth is, I have no idea what to think anymore." - Will Travers
#4 - Day Break, Aired 2006 on ABC, 13 Episodes, Created by Paul Zbyszewski
Starring: Taye Diggs, Moon Bloodgood, Adam Baldwin, Victoria Pratt, Meta Golding, Ramon Rodriguez, Mitch Pileggi
Plot: Detective Brett Hopper has a decent life. He's good at his job, respected by his peers, and has a gorgeous girlfriend. That all changes on one fateful day. Hopper wakes up to find himself framed for the murder of an A.D.A., his girlfriend is kidnapped, and he becomes trapped in an endless time loop.
The easy way to describe Day Break would be to call it "Groundhog Day, with crime solving", and while that would technically be correct, it would be a disservice to just how well the writing team managed to make the whole conceit of a repeating time loop work in the episodic TV format. Due to the nature of the set-up, each episode sees lots of the same scenes re-done in different ways, but each and every new telling reveals some intriguing plot detail that had never before been uncovered. Every time you think you might have the mystery figured out, a twist comes along to make it clear that the rabbit hole goes even deeper. If you haven't noticed, I'm purposefully avoiding plot spoilers here, as it's best to go in knowing as little as possible.
One of the biggest surprises about Day Break to me was the lead performance by Taye Diggs. While I had no special dislike for the man, I had always thought he was an average actor at best. With that mindset established, I was blown away by just how good he was at portraying the roller coaster of emotions that Hopper experiences in each and every one of the show's thirteen episodes. Every time Hopper thinks he's won, he wakes up to find himself back at the beginning. Diggs has zero problem switching from victorious joy, to abject confusion, to crippling despair, and back again, often within the same episode. The supporting cast is also more than up to the challenge, with Adam Baldwin and Moon Bloodgood especially pulling their weight. If you're someone who doesn't mind a little time travel in your crime dramas, I'd suggest you spend a day with Brett Hopper as soon as you can.
"For every decision, there's a consequence." - The Shadow Man
#3 - Brimstone, Aired 1998-1999 on FOX, 13 Episodes, Created by Ethan Reiff & Cyrus Voris
Starring: Peter Horton, John Glover
Plot: Ezekiel Stone was a decorated NYC detective, until his wife was brutally raped. Stone arrested the perp, but the charges didn't stick, causing Stone to track the guy down and kill him. When Stone is later killed on duty, he's sent to Hell, and must now help Satan round up 113 dangerous escaped souls.
If you're thinking that this show sounds like a serious version of Reaper, you wouldn't be wrong, save for the fact that Brimstone aired over a decade prior to that two-season CW cult hit. Brimstone is a textbook example of a show being vindicated by history. Audiences just didn't seem to care during its original run, with the vast majority of the fanbase being introduced to the series via re-runs on the once entertaining Sci-Fi Channel. Today, the show stands as one of the most requested series to never be released on DVD. Despite constant fan badgering during WB Home Video's occasional online Q&A sessions, the company still maintains that there isn't enough demand to warrant a release. Sigh.
Brimstone's premise was already fairly original for its time, but the real glue of the show was the interplay between stars Peter Horton and John Glover. Zeke Stone is a pretty hard guy, and a tough cop, but there isn't a person on Earth who can't empathize with his circumstances. Glover embraces the trickster side of the devil with open arms, but never lets Zeke (or the audience) get too at ease around him. Was Stone really right to kill his wife's rapist? Did he deserve to go to Hell? Is Satan really as evil as we usually think, or is he more of an eternal warden for the planet's worst criminals? These are all questions raised repeatedly by the series, and to Brimstone's credit, none of them are really given concrete answers. These are complex philosophical issues, and shouldn't be wrapped up in a nice little bow for the audience. Since a legit release at this point seems highly unlikely, I'll just simply say that the complete series run can indeed be found online if you know where to look.
"I have always advocated family values, all the way back to Cain and Abel." - Satan
I haven't seen Terriers (yet), although I have heard very positive things about it.
Level 3 (1%) Since: 08/Jul/09
Message Posted On Sep 17th, 2012, 12:12 am
Excellent Choises. Rubicon, Awake and American Gothic are also favourites of mine, but you forgot to mention Terriers, the best single season series yet.
MTQueenie (Data Entry Specialist)
Level 62 (45%) Points: 42113.9 Since: 15/Nov/08
Message Posted On Sep 14th, 2012, 8:56 pm
Firefly should definitely be on the list too i think
Message Posted On Sep 14th, 2012, 3:35 pm
Nowhere Man lol. It's awesome to see mention of it. No one ever has any clue what I am talking about when I talk about it.
Alas, it was ahead of it's time.
Level 1 (36%) Since: 17/Mar/08
Message Posted On Sep 14th, 2012, 1:13 pm
Firefly was my all time favorite
msd85 (Crazed Contributor)
Level 39 (81%) Points: 17839.7 Since: 07/Jul/10
Message Posted On Sep 14th, 2012, 7:51 am
TVShowsOnDVD.com was my resource too Rtruell, Brimstone currently sits at #20 most requested. Not quite top 10 sure, but still #20 out of several thousand unreleased shows is definitely top tier.
Thanks for the kind words on the list. It took some time to assemble, but it was enjoyable.
As for that other strange comment you mentioned, I'm just surprised the liberal media are such huge fans of American Gothic. :)
Level 1 (36%) Since: 17/Apr/12
Message Posted On Sep 14th, 2012, 7:37 am
"Today, the show stands as one of the most requested series to never be released on DVD"
I'm curious as to where you got this from, Michael. On TVShowsOnDVD . com, which I consider to be *the* resource for info on, well, TV shows on DVD, Brimstone doesn't even make it into their top 10 most requested shows never released.
As to the shows you listed (BTW, I agree with tinalessia...love your lists), the only one I've watched is Awake...well, technically, I haven't *watched* it yet, but it *is* DVR'd. I've heard of both American Gothic and Day Break, but never watched them (which, come to think of it, is surprising for me, since I watched Mutant X because Victoria Pratt was in it, having seen her in Cleopatra 2525. And AG would normally have drawn my attention because of Gary Cole, who was in Crusade, the spin-off from Babylon 5. Yes, that's frequently how I decide if I'm going to watch a show...by who's in it as much as the description of the show!!). However, I don't recall hearing about either Rubicon or Brimstone.
BTW, stop listening to the "liberal media", would ya...geeze :-)
PS. What is with this site and its' definition of "links"? The first time I tried to post this, it told me that "Posting links is not allowed for new users". What link? In order to get this to post, I had to put spaces around the "." in the name of the website I mentioned in the first paragraph. That's not a link...the 'dot com' is part of the *name* of the site!! Geeze! Someone should tell these people that a link starts with "h t t p : / /" (without all the spaces, obviously!) or something similar :-(
Cap's sidekick Bucky
Message Posted On Sep 13th, 2012, 3:17 pm
Anecdotal evidence suggests the author is just barking what he's told by the liberal media.
Level 2 (66%) Since: 12/Oct/07
Message Posted On Sep 13th, 2012, 2:51 pm
OK, I read this because of the author. I'm feeling a little mental right now because I consider myself a true tv addict but have only seen one of these shows. Awake was fabulous and I miss it. Keep up the lists Michael, Love them!