Episode 50 – Discussing TV Dramas of the Past as This Year Ends
Why Watch That
This is a milestone episode for the Why Watch That family! The end of the year is a time for reflection, so we decided to reflect back on the thing we’ve spent so much time talking about on our show – television. In this episode, the Critic and the Referee look back at TV shows that are no longer on the air and share their experiences with those series. They also make a special announcement that you don’t want to miss!
Breaking Bad (Crime/Drama)
Created by Vince Gilligan
Premiered on AMC January 20, 2008
Plot: Walter H. White (Bryan Cranston) is a chemistry genius, but works as a chemistry teacher in an Albequerque, New Mexico high school. His life drastically changes when he’s diagnosed with stage III terminal lung cancer, and given a short amount of time left to live: a mere matter of months. To ensure his handicapped son, Walter, Jr. a.k.a. Flynn (RJ Mitte) and his pregnant wife, Skyler (Anna Gunn) have a financial future, Walt uses his chemistry background to create and sell the world’s finest crystal methamphetamine. To sell his signature “blue meth,” he teams up with Jesse Pinkman (Aaron Paul), a former student of his. While the meth makes them very rich very quickly, it also attracts the attention of his DEA brother in law Hank. As Walt’s and Jesse’s status in the drug world escalates, Walt becomes a dangerous criminal and Jesse becomes a hot-headed salesman. Hank is always hot on his tail, and it forces Walt to come up with new ways to cover his tracks.
Referee – “One of those series that’s like fine wine…keeps getting better over time.”
Created by David Chase
Premiered on HBO January 10, 1999
Plot: Revolving around the fictional New Jersey-based Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini), the show portrays the difficulties he faces as he tries to balance the conflicting requirements of his home life and his criminal organization. These are often highlighted during his therapy sessions with psychiatrist Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). The series features Tony’s family members and Mafia colleagues and rivals in prominent roles and story arcs, most notably his wife Carmela (Edie Falco) and his cousin and protege Christopher Moltisanti (Michael Imperioli).
Referee – “If there is a TV answer to The Godfather, this is it!”
Critic – “I was not the biggest fan of the first season. Wait till the 2nd season! Be patient with it!”
Created by Jeffrey Lieber, J.J. Abrams & Damon Lindelof
Premiered on ABC September 22, 2004
Plot: After a mysterious and bloody airplane crash, 48 survivors are left stranded on a Pacific Island … miles off course. It soon becomes apparent that they will not have to cope only with the forces of nature, but with the island’s secrets, including the Dharma Initiative, the ‘Lost Numbers’, the ‘others’ (or hostiles) and the strange black smoke – to name a few. There is also much more than meets the eye, as it becomes apparent that everyone is connected in some way and that everyone has a purpose to live on the island … and for some, to die.
Referee – “The first season is wonderful!”
Critic – “The first season does not do it for me. In the second season, things picked up.”
Created by Joel Surnow & Robert Cochran
Premiered on FOX November 6, 2001
Plot: Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), Director of Field Ops for the Counter-Terrorist Unit of Los Angeles, races against the clock to subvert terrorist plots and save his nation from ultimate disaster.
Referee – “One of the greatest TV/Drama action series!” “The first season shoots out of the gun, but the series loses its luster by season five.”
Critic – “I’m still on the first season.”
The Wire (Crime/Drama)
Created by David Simon
Premiered on HBO June 2, 2002
Plot: Set in Baltimore, this show centers around the city’s inner-city drug scene. It starts as mid-level drug dealer, D’Angelo Barksdale (Larry Gilliard, Jr.), beats a murder rap. After a conversation with a judge, Det. James McNulty (Dominic West) has been assigned to lead a joint homicide and narcotics team, in order to bring down drug kingpin Avon Barksdale (Wood Harris). Avon Barksdale, accompanied by his right-hand man Stringer Bell (Idris Elba), enforcer Wee-Bey (Hassan Johnson) and many lieutenants (including his own nephew, D’Angelo Barksdale), has to deal with law enforcement, informants in his own camp, and competition with a local rival, Omar, who’s been robbing Barksdale’s dealers and reselling the drugs. The supervisor of the investigation, Lt. Cedric Daniels (Lance Reddick), has to deal with his own problems, such as a corrupt bureaucracy, some of his detectives beating suspects, hard-headed but determined Det. McNulty, and a blackmailing deputy. The show depicts the lives of every part of the drug “food chain,” from junkies to dealers, and from cops to politicians.
Referee – “I didn’t even come close to finishing this series.”
Critic – “Have critics really watched this?” “It’s gotten way too much praise and just isn’t realistic.”
Created by David Shore
Premiered on FOX November 16, 2004
Plot: An antisocial maverick doctor, Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie), who specializes in diagnostic medicine, does whatever it takes to solve puzzling cases that come his way via the use of his crack team of doctors and his wits.
Referee – “I watched it as is and was always pleasantly surprised.”
Critic – “This is a good show!”
The West Wing (Political Drama)
Created by Aaron Sorkin
Premiered on NBC September 22, 1999
Plot: Cutthroat presidential advisers get their personal lives hopelessly tangled with professional duties as they try to conduct the business of running the country. Fictional Democratic President Josiah Barlet ( Martin Sheen) suffers no fools, and that policy alienates many. He and his dedicated staffers struggle to balance the needs of the country with the political realities of Washington, D.C., working through two presidential terms and the race to succeed Bartlet as the leader of the free world.
Critic – “I binge-watched this.”
Friday Night Lights (Sports Drama)
Developed by Peter Berg
Based on Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team, and a Dream by H. G. Bissinger
Premiered on NBC October 3, 2006
Plot (toward the end of the series): After being ousted as Dillon High’s football coach, Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) must build a team from the ground up at East Dillon. Eric’s wife, Tami (Connie Britton), also is challenged in her role as principal at West Dillon, as the parents of students who were zoned out of the district blame her for their kids being thrust into a less-than-desirable situation at East Dillon. While dealing with issues at their respective jobs, Eric and Tami also face challenges in their family life with teenage daughter Julie (Aimee Teegarden).
Critic – “If you want to see just people living life and being believable, with an artistic flair, watch this!”
Referee – “This is a good show!”