All hail the television drama. It can make us cry or laugh or both and sometimes at the exact same time. In its finest moments, the television drama can move us, inspire us, make us think, make us feel, or simply entertain us. As you can probably tell by now, drama is my favorite TV genre, which makes this list both easy and difficult. There are just too many excellent dramas on television currently, but alas, they must be narrowed down to the cream of the crop. Here are my top 5 picks for the best dramas on television.
5. Medium (NBC)- This show does an excellent job of blending Allison's (Patricia Arquette) home life with her ability. The realism in her marriage to Joe (Jake Weber) and day-to-day struggles with her three children doesn't paint life as a cake walk like many other shows. Allison has to make important choices between using her ability to help D.A. Devalos (Miguel Sandoval) solve cases and going home to tuck her kids in at night. Husband Joe is always there to pick up the slack, even if he feels neglected himself sometimes. Two stand out episodes: "I Married a Mind Reader" (Allison helps solve the old murder of a television star) and "Coming Soon" (Allison is convinced a good Samaritan is really a child murderer leading her to discover her dreams aren't always about the present).
4. Lost (ABC)- What more can you say about a show that helped save a network, inspired five supernatural new shows, and received 12 Emmy nominations in its first season? One of Lost's charms is its originality. It's difficult for a show that wants us to believe that there are polar bears on a tropical island, a heard but never seen monster, a mysterious set of numbers, the "others," and a host of other unexplainables - to grab a huge chunk of the mainstream audience and become a commercial success. But, Lost managed to do just that with its compelling storylines and fascinating characters, proving that good television is driven by good writing. I know I'm in the minority, but I wasn't expecting to learn what was down the hatch in the finale. I'm always up for a good cliffhanger, even if it pains me to wait all summer to get it resolved. Two stand out episodes: "Walkabout" (Locke's (Terry O'Quinn) past is explored and we learn he used to be in a wheelchair) and "Numbers" (Hurley's (Jorge Garcia) past is revealed along with the significance of certain numbers).
3. Veronica Mars (UPN)- This show would probably be higher for me if I had seen more than four episodes, but I think the same fact should give you an idea about the quality of this show. After only four episodes, scratch that and make it one episode, I was hooked. This is definitely the best show you're not watching, and one of the best shows on television. Veronica (Kristen Bell) is so well written and played by Bell that you can't afford to miss something this good. Seriously, it would be a crime. Even Buffy creator Joss Whedon is singing its praises. The dialog is smart and funny. Bell is a rare talent that doesn't let her undeniable cuteness get in the way - Veronica is one tough cookie! Two stand out episodes (keep in mine I've only seen four): "Clash of the Tritons" (Veronica must defend herself when she's accused of selling fake IDs - this episode is a stand out alone for the hysterical scene at the police station between Veronica and Sheriff Lamb) and "Ruskie Business" (Veronica works two cases involving matters of the heart while helping Logan (Jason Dohring) track his mother's credit card).
2. Cold Case (CBS)- Hands down the best procedural on television. It blends the gripping cases with the detectives' personal lives in a nice finely tuned balance. It's my personal favorite show, but the number one pick edges this show in the overall quality category. The cases are interesting journeys into the past complete with music from the year of the murder and excellent sets, costumes, make up, hair, and attention to time period dialog. One case from this season even dared to take us back to 1932 and the era of bootlegging. Kathryn Morris shines as Det. Lilly Rush giving her a believable tough edge despite her irrefutable cuteness. Stand out episodes: "Mindhunter" (Lilly tracks a serial killer whose trademark is to decapitate his all-female victims) and "The Sleepover" (Lilly opens the 1990 case of a young girl found dead after a sleepover party).
And finally.....drum roll please...
1. Everwood (WB)- This moving drama about the quirky characters that inhabit the fictional town of Everwood, Colorado never fails to move us and make us think. Even though the show started out focusing on Dr. Andy Brown (Treat Williams) and his relationship with his son Ephram (Gregory Smith), the show shifted to a more ensemble feel with interesting characters that don't always make the right decisions. Everwood is a family drama at its heart, but not nearly as afternoon special-like as old timeslot lead-in 7th Heaven. The show is driven by its real characters, these are people we can imagine getting to know. Sometimes we want to pull Amy (Emily Vancamp) aside and help her, and other times we want Dr. Brown to suffer for his bad decisions. These are not cookie-cutter perfect characters, they make mistakes just as we do - and therein lies Everwood's unmistakable charm. Stand out episodes: "Oh The Places You'll Go" (Amy graduates from high school while her mother battles cancer) and "Where the Heart Is" (Andy considers leaving Everwood to accept a position in Chicago).
Honorable mention goes to Alias, Law & Order: SVU, and Without A Trace. So, those are my picks. Do you agree? Disagree? Leave a comment with your picks.
*Mischa Barton, Matthew Fox, Debra Messing, William Petersen, and Quentin Tarantino are the latest additions to the list of presenters for next month's Emmy Awards telecast. They'll join Emmy host Ellen Degeneres when the awards air live September 18th on CBS.
*NBC's reality ratings stinker The Law Firm will finish out its run on Bravo starting August 30th. The show only aired a few times on the peacock network before it was axed. The full 8 episode season will run for six weeks on Bravo.
*ABC Family's newest summer hit Beautiful People is setting up a Melrose Place reunion. Grant Show will guest star as star Daphne Zuniga's (both of Melrose Place) estranged husband. Look for the reunion on the show's September 26th season finale.
*And finally, it's TV on DVD Monday. The cancelled ABC teen drama Life As We Know It's first and only season (and partial at that) will be on shelves tomorrow. Also, look for The O.C's second season and Six Feet Under's fourth season both out tomorrow. For more releases, visit tvshowsondvd.com.
That's all for today. Be sure to tune in tomorrow as I run down my favorite comedies. Plus, all the latest television news.