As you might have guessed from the abundance of news stories (here, here, here, here, and here), Breaking Bad finished up on Monday, capping off an extraordinary run of five seasons with one of the greatest series finales ever made. It was quite an experience to watch as the greatest television show of all time* came to a finish. I think it's the first time such an esteemed production has ended while I've been writing On the Box.
But now that Breaking Bad is done, I'm pondering a single question: what is the best show in production right now?
The title of Greatest Television Show Being Made Right Now is up for grabs. We've just lost a show that was a near-consensus No 1. I'm wondering what will take its place at the top of the heap.
There are a few obvious contenders. Mad Men has enjoyed plenty of acclaim; it has two short half-seasons to go before it finishes for good too, but I didn't enjoy the sixth season much - I would go as far as saying the show has passed its peak and been surpassed by newer, edgier, gutsier shows.
Game of Thrones is another major contender. The fantasy epic is as entertaining as anything you could name and, on its day, can put together an episode that is better than anything else you could name. But it's inconsistent and suffers from a cast that, let's be honest, is about 10 characters too big at this point.
Emmy winner Homeland is returning for a third season. It has the potential to be a great show, and certainly has the cast for it - Claire Danes turns in the best female performance on television as lead Carrie Mathison, and is ably supported by Damian Lewis and Mandy Patinkin. But the show is inconsistent: its second season started great but devolved into absurdity by the end. Homeland is on the back foot going into Season 3, needing to win back some of the acclaim it gathered over its first season and a half.
HBO's period drama Boardwalk Empire is pretty good too. It has a great cast, led by Steve Buscemi, and is gorgeous to look it. It tells an interesting story and is well written. It does tend to be a little drab at times, though. For every great moment, there is one that seems to be just filling time or feels unconnected to the main plot of the show. It's a quality show, for sure. But it just seems to be lacking.
Beyond those four, there are little pockets of shows that could be considered.
Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead and Justified are all on the cusp of greatness, loaded with great characters and interesting stories. But while they're all entertaining, they all seem to be missing something; Sons tends to be too action-oriented and lacks dramatic tension, Dead suffers from a lack of quality performers in the wider cast, and Justified just seems a little too procedural in its approach.
British shows like Luther, Sherlock and The Thick of It are great, but they definitely suffer from short seasons. It's hard to stay part of the wider television discussion when you're intermittently doing a handful of episodes.
A handful of new shows like Rectify, The Americans, and Orange Is the New Black are all amazing, but they're also unproven; all three have enjoyed only a single season. You can lump them in with a handful of acclaimed shows that haven't even aired in New Zealand yet: I've seen bits and pieces of Hannibal, Broadchurch, The Bridge, House of Cards and Orphan Black, and all five could turn into something pretty special.
Anyway, enough rambling from me - I'm more interested in what you think. These are the shows that are rolling around my head when I wonder what the Greatest Television Show Being Made Right Now might be. Now it's your turn:
What do you think is the Greatest Television Show Being Made Right Now, now that Breaking Bad is finished?
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There were comments yesterday concerned about the Doctor Who 50th Anniversary episode, which is being simulcast around the world but is not being played live in New Zealand. My understanding is that local broadcasting rules prevent any show rated PGR or above from airing at the time of the morning that the episode would air (around 8am or 9am). We will be seeing it same day, though: a Prime representative has told me that the episode will definitely air on November 24, but the time slot is yet to be decided. If you'd like the show simulcast anyway, a devout fan has set up a group on Facebook to try to do exactly that.
For those of you asking about Rookie Blue, TVNZ no longer holds the rights to this show. It is unlikely to return.
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