Watching DVD’s of serialized TV shows is a superior experience to watching them in their original weekly broadcast format. Watching the episodes one after another helps the viewer become more engaged in the plot, and become more sympathetic to the characters. Best of all no waiting on a cliffhanger, you can immediately find out what happens firing up the next episode. Oh, and no commercials (not that anyone watched them anymore thanks to DVR’s).

Here are some great series to view on DVD:

  1. 24– While this show has been inconsistent over it’s seven season run, riddled with cliche after cliche, and one-dimensional characterizations, more than any other show makes the case for the superiority of the DVD format.  I know many people who have gone through all 24 hours in a weekend because it’s just that addictive.

For those living in cave, Jack Bauer (played by Keifer Sutherland), is an ex-military black-ops agent working for anti-terrorist agency CTU. Often going rouge, Jack likes to yell a lot, and involve his family into terrorist activities.  This creates cliffhanger upon cliffhanger. He does all this over the course of 24 hours with a cell phone than never requires recharging.

The typical plot is that the US enters a terrorist situation that can only be thwarted by the rule breaking Bauer, who thankfully gets to kick some serious terrorist ass before the episode ends.

Not the best series out there, but good in a very cheesy and addictively entertaining way.

  1. The Wire– Reviewed at length elsewhere on this blog.
  2. Alias– Some may prefer Lost when it comes to J.J. Abrams (Star Trek) material, but really this is where is all starts. He built his brand here with this show. Week after week of twists and turns against a backdrop of heavy action will have you scratching your head and hyperventilating. Eventually the twists in the plot became too much for the show, which spun out into being ridiculous. The first two seasons were a very big deal – remarkable.

Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) is a double agent (or is she) working for a super secret government agency (or is it) SD-6. To go beyond this is pointless, you just need to watch it.

The production values are terrific, and the action keeps coming.  Many now familiar faces appear in the show including Victor Garber, Terry O’Quinn, Greg Grunberg, and Bradley Cooper. Quentin Tarantino guests on four episodes and Ricky Gervais (the office) is featured in his first surprisingly effective dramatic role.

Garner is the star however. Her athleticism and believability in a role requiring as much as it does, is remarkable. Most people put off by Garner have never seen this show. Check it out, it will change you mind and entertain you at the same time.

  1. The Shield – Vic Mackey, the role of Micheal Chiklis’s career, is a duplicitous street detective who consistently breaks the rules in the inner-city of Los Angeles. What engages the viewer is that sometimes the rulesneed be broken, and breaking them produces good. Other times, not so much…and there is much carnage as a result.

Seven excellent seasons of wonderful acting from a mostly unfamiliar cast that actually came to a real conclusion in the final season. Writer Shawn Ryan has achieved something truly remarkable here, a cop show void of cliches. It seems like a new genre when you watch this show with its extensive use of the hand held cams, and quick edits.

It is the characters in the orbit of Mackey however, that both elevate and ground the show. Dutch (Jay Karnes), Wyms (CCH Pounder), Aceveda (Benito Martinez), and particularly Shane (Walton Goggins) are each characters worthy of a show themselves. All add a conscience around the often deplorable exploits of Mackey. Forrest Whitaker and Glen Close provided season long and often riveting guest appearances.

Landmark TV.

5.Prison Break – As much as this is a poor man’s 24, the first season of this show is so good, so meticulously plotted and executed, it has to be included here. Consistently suspenseful in an ominous prison setting with great unknown lead actors. The terrific supporting roles made some of the subsequent seasons tolerable in the midst of utter ridiculousness (at one point they had to break into a prison!). The character of Theodore “T-bag” Bagwell, in particular, a great creation, creepy and fascinating. Seasons 1 & 2 Excellent, Season 3 Good, Season 4 – a mess.

There are many other excellent series I could include here: The Sopranos, Deadwood, Battlestar Galactica, Friday Night Lights, Everwood, Gossip Girl, The Office (British version), Arrested Development, and Rescue Me (to name a few).  These were not included because they don’t have a cliffhanger element found in the series mentioned above. I will address those series in future articles.

Get control your viewership and order some of these up today!