I am not a complete, hooked TV addict. Actually, I spend more time on the Internet than watching TV. Something I picked up from years of studying in university halls here without any television. I learned to do without. That said, I am addicted to some kind of TV, as long as it is intelligent fiction. Entertaining is not enough: it needs to be really smart, inventive and remain consistently so. I actually lost interest with 24, Prison Break and the likes when their plots became increasingly implausible and formulaic. I don't care if the series is brand new or not.
I already mentioned here on a few occasions the brilliant The Wire, which I watched the first season last year. I am planning to buy and watch the rest religiously. I am impatient to watch episodes written by George Pelecanos. No contemporary TV series has been as perfect (so far) as The Wire: flawless casting of unknown actors (which means that the character is more important than the name playing him/her), tight, realistic plot, the most acurate depiction of police work and criminality, brilliant characterisations, a disdain for cheap thrills and brilliant atmosphere. When it comes to crime dramas, I will always have a soft spot for Omertà (which I will try to rewatch during my next trip to Québec), but The Wire is far superior, in all aspects. Here's the first minutes of season one, with the intro:
There is also a much older and much more obscure TV series which I purchased recently: The Sandbaggers. I first heard about it in the introductions of the graphic novels series Queen & Country, as it was the inspiration for it. Like Greg Rucka's series, it is an espionnage drama based on a team of MI6 operatives, called here the Sandbaggers (in Q&C it is the Minders). It is devoid of the clichés of the genre, de-glamourised and de-mythified. The characters spend more time discussing the missions (which do not always succeed) and fighting British bureaucracy than going after KGB spies (even though the main protagonist is devoted to "the eradication of the KGB"), they drink bucket loads of coffee, smoke nervously, fight, get into arguments with their colleagues, these spies are real people. The dialogues are brilliant, sharp like razor blades, to the point. It's British drama like you'd never seen it before (or you never see anymore) and it's a shame it is not more famous. From what I read, it got a fairly important fanbase in the US, where the series was shown on PBS. There is a devoted fan website you can visit if you want to know more about the show and you can find the first episode on Youtube. Until I get season two of The Wire, I will stay hooked on The Sandbaggers. Here is the opening credit, where you can hear the only music in the show. It sets the atmosphere perfectly:
6 hours ago