It is, apparently, an axiom of blogging that people love Top 10 lists. Long-time readers will know that I have done lists about all sorts of things, from Ignatian movies to my favorite aromas. Conscious that I haven’t done a top ten list in quite a while, I cast about for a topic and, poor me and you, the only thing I could come up with was TV shows. [I am limiting myself to proper series – not miniseries.]
10. Big Love. HBO will feature a lot on this list and gets its first mention with this recently-concluded drama about a polygamous marriage in Utah. Part of my fascination is that I have always been intrigued by Mormonism, but I also liked how different each of the wives was and how they did, and didn’t, get on.
9. The Man from UNCLE. Watching this as a kid in Ireland, I had little idea of the Cold War rhetoric behind its creation. I only knew that Napoleon Solo and Ilya Kuryakin were the coolest dudes in the planet and I had walkie-talkies and a “secret” briefcase just like theirs so that I, by proxy, could also be debonair…
8. Upstairs, Downstairs. Although shown on Masterpiece Theater in the U.S., it was created for one of the British commercial networks and so, for years, we put up with ads in the middle of the high drama of a posh house in the Edwardian era. I can still hear Mr. Hudson, the butler, consulting with Sir Edward Bellamy on various matters.
7. Mission Impossible. Could anything get more exciting? Once Jim Phelps’ tape self-destructed, you knew you were in for a rollicking hour of TV. I rarely got to see the show because my parents pretty much banned TV during the school year and so I’d have to learn about each episode in the playground at school. How I longed to see it for myself! [The recent movie versions did nothing to raise my pulse…]
6. Boardwalk Empire. HBO’s continuing saga about the spreading corruption of Nucky Thompson in Prohibition-era Atlantic City, NJ is compelling television. The pilot episode, directed by Martin Scorcese, was – apparently – the most expensive TV drama ever made. The money shows – the sets are splendid and the whole thing looks opulent.