You look out the window and see the night sky is an interesting kaleidoscope of purple, gold, and green; the dark swirling clouds threaten storms of untold proportions. An alien mother ship hangs ominously over the burning city in the distance, spewing laser beams and attack crafts to the ground. The zombies outside beat a steady rhythm on your front door…wait a minute, is that Betty White? In the next room the TV anchor is droning on about the meteor headed toward earth bound for impact in eight days; as if it mattered. You grab the remote and flip through the channels, the meteor . . . zombies . . . aliens . . . man-eating frogs . . . zombies . . . Jersey Shore . . . meteor . . . tornadoes . . . some kind of western about four weird guys on horses . . . yeah, nothing on, at least that much hasn’t changed.
Not much else to do but go nail another board over that window, grab your baseball bat, a bottle of Tequila, your favorite snacks, and watch:
The top 25 shows to watch before the
1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Say what you will about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, it is still one of the most talked about shows that has ever graced the airwaves. From the genius mind of Joss Whedon, this show, which was only put on mid-season to replace another show on the WB that had been canceled, picked up and lasted a full seven seasons. It would have gone on longer if the super-bitch Sarah Michelle Gellar hadn’t decided she wanted to end it to pursue her movie career. (What movie career? …exactly.)
This show managed to make us laugh, cry, fume and rant as well as keep us entertained. It touched on all of the topics that plague nearly everyone’s teenage years and equated those topics to the demon-world which was what kept it fun and interesting.
If you’ve not seen this show, wait before passing judgment just because of the title or because of the bad things you might have heard. Buy or rent just the second season and it will have you hooked. You will not be able to stop watching until the very end.
2. Angel: The vampire Angelus, now known as Angel, has a human soul, but committed terrible crimes in the past. Seeking forgiveness and trying to redeem himself, he moves from Sunnydale (and a relationship with Buffy Summers, of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”) to Los Angeles, where he helps the helpless by thwarting the supernatural creatures that prey on them.
Like it’s sister show (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) it has the fun of the underworld creatures and it is shockingly relevant-to-the-time script, but it delved further into the darkness. Angel was more of an adult show than Buffy was in the way that there were much more evil things lurking in the heart of the main character; a vampire instead of a guns-ablazin’ hero.
3. Firefly: Firefly is well-known across all avenues of geekdom as a show that had amazing potential, but due to some shoddy scheduling and disagreements with the network, the series was cancelled after a mere 3 months. This show, created by Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Dollhouse), focused on a rag-tag band of smugglers and guns-for-hire in the year 2517. Like any Whedon show, the main reason to watch are the relationships and dialog between the characters: The man who loves guns a little too much, Jayne (played by Adam Baldwin), the dinosaur obsessed pilot, Wash (Alan Tudyk), the more dangerous than she looks psychic River (Summer Glau) and the amazingly over-confident Captain Mal Reynolds (played to perfection by Nathan Fillion).
The show, which found new life on DVD, is an absolute must-watch for any science fiction or Whedon fan, and you will not be disappointed. And, there was such a love for the show after it was cancelled, Whedon directed a sequel movie (entitled “Serenity”) to tie up many of its loose ends. When has that ever happened?
4. Dexter: Michael C. Hall (David from Six Feet Under) plays the title character and truly delivers a breathtaking performance in, literally, every single episode. Dexter Morgan is a blood spatter-pattern analyst who also happens to be a sociopathic serial killer. How he manages to keep his dark and evil side out of his home/work/personal life is what the series is based around, and it never fails to leave you wanting more. The premise from the show was based on a book called “Dexter Dreaming Darkly” by Jeff Lindsay, but it’s a loose basis. Part of what makes watching Dexter so good is the struggle he has to go through to pretend to feel the emotions that normal humans have naturally. That can be sad or very amusing, depending on what the situation is.
If you haven’t watched this show, Netflix it immediately! NB demands it! Even if the psychological nature of the show doesn’t appeal to you, perhaps you’ll love the gory side of it when Dexter hacks and slashes his victims into bits and tosses them into the ocean.
5. Spartacus: Blood and Sand: THIS IS HIGH SCHOOL!!! Really, it has everything that a high school show would want. Backstabbing, plotting, cliques, chicks, jocks, fighting, sex, sex and yea did I say sex? This is a ramped up, blood spraying, full front guilty pleasure. Everyone who say they don’t like it…watch it. It has Lucy Lawless, oh has it got Lucy Lawless in all her glory (naked glory). The ladies don’t mind though, because the show has all the eye candy they can handle in the thong wearing, muscle rippling gladiators. Spartacus is a wronged tribal leader that must fight for his freedom in the arenas of Rome. Watch him wade through a river of Roman blood to get what he wants.
6. Reaper: Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison) had a pretty easy going life, working with his friends and living the good life with his parents and always wondering why his folks never really pushed him to do something with his life. He got his answer when he turned 21, when the Devil (Ray Wise) himself, paid Sam a visit. With his parents selling his soul, he must now do the dirty work of the devil by going out and capturing souls that have escaped from hell by using whatever tools are provided to him, such as a Dirt Devil Vacuum cleaner or lighter. Yeah, it may be a monster of the week show but the action and comedy makes it worth the watch. Just watching Sam discovering a new power every time there is a new soul to catch, and with his buddies trying to help make his life a little bit more normal, the show is worth your time and energy.
Unfortunately, CW wanted to attract female viewers, and therefor Reaper was canceled and replaced with shows such as the Vampire Diaries and the new 90210. Thankfully, the whole series is out on 2 DVD box-sets and can be rented through Netflix as well.
7. Battlestar Galactica: After the Cylon attack on the Colonies, the battered remnants of the human race are on the run, constantly searching for the next signpost on the road to Earth. They face the threat of Cylon attack from the outside, and treachery and crisis from within. Humanity must work together if they are to have any hope of survival…but how can they, when any of them could be, in fact, be a Cylon agent?
Battlestar concentrates on characters, drama, and the human condition and shies away from the fantasy, serial elements of the original and others of the genre. The story is beyond amazing combining military, mysticism, religion, politics and the dangers of Artificial Intelligence in an unbelievable mix. In fact, the only flaw this show may have is that it might be too ambitious for it’s own good, as the last story arc of the series will leave you with an ever so slight feeling of disappointment. That being said, the journey is surely worth getting there, as you will be treated to a phenomenal cast, great story lines, smart writing, and a series that manages to almost perfect the balance between it’s characters and the events they experience.
8. Star Trek TNG: What?! The Next Generation? Not the Original Series, Deep Space Nine, Enterprise or even Voyager? I hate to disappoint, but seriously. If there was only time to watch one of them, you would be a fool if you chose anything else but The Next Generation.
I’m not going to go into why each of those series are not on this list, but I will say why TNG is the best of them all. Captain Picard and his crew portrayed some of the best characters ever in a science fiction, and played out some of the most memorable episodes in all of Star Trek. This is the series that introduced us to the Cardassians, Darmok, the Borg, the holodeck, androids, and of course, Q. TNG is also the longest running Star Trek series, with a total of 178 episodes over seven seasons. And, it doesn’t matter which starship captain you are a fan of: Archer, Kirk, Janeway or Sisko, they all pale in comparison to the enigmatic Jean-Luc Picard.
9. Madmen: Madmen takes us into a Manhattan advertising agency before and during the Vietnam war. The men wear snappy suits, smoke like chimneys, and drink like fish. The women, oh the women, they dress and have curves. The show deals with so many issues such as race, marriage and parenting. The brilliance is all in the subtext. There are many hilarious moments that are only funny if you’ve been paying attention and understand where the character is coming from. There are also many tragic moments that would pass you by if you didn’t know what came before. Many lines have double or even triple meanings.
Writer Matthew Weiner’s brilliant conception for this show is to connect the selling of desire to America to the personal and work lives of the ad men themselves. The ad men want the image of the good life in America that they are selling to be true. When they are, of course narrow-minded, racist, alcoholic, philandering bastards.
Overall the show is colorful, full of wonderful women to look at, gorgeous fashion styles, glossy cars, and lots of booze and smoking. The characters are complex, and so are their dilemmas.
10.Breaking Bad: This show should be at the top of everyone’s DVR priority list. Breaking Bad’s leading men won a Primetime Emmy this year; Bryan Cranston (Malcom in the Middle) for Best Actor (his third consecutive) and Aaron Paul for Best Supporting Actor. The acting alone makes this show highly watchable.
Walter White is your everyday man, who is a high school chemistry teacher, and has a loving wife and handicapped son. On the verge of his 50th birthday party. He begins having a mid life crisis, to make matters worse, he is diagnosed with terminal cancer. But not wanting to leave his family with nothing, in a quick way to make a lot of money. He teams up with a former student named Pinkmam(Aaron Paul) who is now a drug dealer, to make the drug called Crystal Meth.
Breaking bad touches on the very simple theme of “living realistically as a middle class in the United States” which often makes us resort to extremes to survive.
This show is beautifully written with plot twists coming in refreshing ways, and at just the right times. The suspense is almost non-stop, the action scenes are briskly handled, the humor is diabolic, and the dialog is always sharp as a knife.
Simply put, Breaking Bad is the best serialized drama in the history of television. There is nothing to fault. The acting, the characterizations, the plots, everything is absolutely top-notch. And each week ends with a cliff-hanger that makes you wish it were next week already so you can see the next episode.
11. Always Sunny in Philadelphi: Always Sunny In Philadelphia: What do you get when you add greedy, unethical, lazy, arrogant and antagonistic people running their own business? You get “The Gang ” and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. With each episode consisting of five self-centered friends plotting schemes, backstabbing each other for personal gain or pleasure and regularly competing against one another, no one is safe. Rocking the acting chops of Danny DeVito since 2006 has only increased this shows comedic value, with season 6 wrapping up this December.
A show that was originally started as a short film, it’s well exceeded it’s potential and still has plenty of fuel left in the tank.
The show, since season one, has become a cult hit, often compared to the 90’s show Seinfeld. With it’s self-centered cast it’s no wonder that It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia was given the tagline “It’s Seinfeld on crack”
12.True Blood: Sex. Blood. Vampires. Violence. Werewolves. Nudity. Fairies. Shapeshifters. More Sex. Telepaths. More Violence. Passion.
That about sums up the very popular HBO show, which focuses on a the residents of a small town in Mississippi called Bon Temps, after vampires officially announce their presence on Earth. Surprisingly, not everyone is keen on this, but a waitress at a local bar named Sookie Stackhouse (played by Anna Paquin) is a little bit different herself, and ends up falling in love with vampire Bill Compton (played by her real life husband, Stephen Moyer). This show has an amazing cast of characters that keeps people tuning in by the millions to watch. Some of the best characters to watch out for are: Eric Northman (the vampire sherrif for Bon Temps and played by Alexander Skarsgård), his assistant and progeny Pam (Kristin Bauer), and Jessica Hamby, a new vampire that Bill was forced to create, (played by Deborah Ann Woll). It is a fantastic show that is not scared to embrace the supernatural aspect of the storylines, and will have you hooked after the first few episodes.
So go ahead, and let it gets its fangs into you.
13.Doctor Who: The longest lasting sci-fi series in the world and relaunched in 2005, Doctor Who is the how to of creating a perfect series. The adventures of the Doctor, a Time Lord who can regenerate when near death (but only up to 13 times) and his various companions as they travel through space and time. Sure the original series was cheesy and low-budgeted but it was the story that every kid talked about the next morning.
Originally created for a family audience, the show has maintained it’s strength as a series for an older audience, with episodes about the end of the world and the difficulties of being an associate of the Doctor. An alien, currently played by Matt Smith, that looks like a human and has fought the likes of the Cybermen, the Daleks and the master every week, how awesome is that. With his sonic screwdriver in hand and trusty companion by his side, the Doctor has saved the planet countless times. All this from a character that has alot to atone for in his dark past. It’s pretty insane that this show was rebooted 16 years after the final episode of the original series.
With it’s 2005 revival, Doctor Who has become the staple of every nerds DVD collection and with it’s ever expanding universe of aliens, this is a series that’ll never die. It’s just going to regenerate before it dies, with fresh faces and darker tones.
14.Freaks and Geeks: Sure the series only lasted one season and got cancelled after only 12 of the 18 episodes were aired, but, it developed quite a cult following over the years. Following the life of Lindasy Weir (Linda Cardellini) and her brother Sam (John Francis Daley) during their 1980-1981 year of high school. Showing the social hierarchy of everyday school life with Lindsay’s fellow “freaks” and Sam’s fellow “geeks”, hence the title, the show Freaks and Geeks navigated the seas of high school and showed people that growing up changes everything.
This is a show that really jump started the careers of Seth Rogan, James Franco and creator Judd Apatow. High school was always a scary place growing up, Watching Freaks and Geeks made those issues you had from meeting new friends to one’s self-image relatable to everyone else.
15.Psych: Heightened observational skills, check. Keen detective skills, check. Calling yourself a psychic so you don’t get arrested by the police force your working for, well looks like Shawn Spencer has that all wrapped up. Psych, the (get this) American comedy-drama mystery television series, about a man who works for the Santa Barbra Police Department as their resident psychic. The only hitch is that Shawn isn’t really a psychic, he just relies on his highly tuned sense of observation to solve mysteries. Filmed entirely in Canada, you can barely tell the difference. With his best friend Burton “Gus” Guster and his father Henry the series has lasted into it’s fifth season, keen senses and all. Hopefully USA Network keeps this series running into 2011, with all it’s quirks and dramatic tones in a highly observed place.
16.Entourage: Based loosely on Mark Wahlberg‘s experiences as an up-and-coming film star, Entourage is the story of A-list actor Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier) and his childhood friends from Queens, New York. Dealing with themes like male bondage (bro’s before ho’s) and navigating the tricky streets of Hollywood, with Chase’s agent Ari Gold (played wonderfully by Jeremy Piven) leading Vincent to Superstardom.
Started in the summer of 2004, Entourage was created, and still largely written by Doug Ellin with Mark Wahlberg and Stephen Levinson serving as executive producers on the project. Choosing a cast all with a New Yorker background was a fantastic choice, to solidify authenticity to it’s cast of characters. From best friend and manager Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly), a.k.a. “E”, half-brother Johnny “Drama” Chase (Kevin Dillon), and Salvatore “Turtle” Assante (Jerry Ferrara), the is well picked and well established. Not to mention the plethora of guest stars and cameos, Entourage is HBO’s crowning achievemen from the last couple years. With no end in site, the show has been renewed for an eighth and final season with a movie possibly in the works after the season is over.
17.Lost: Oceanic Flight 815 from Syndey to L.A. crashed on a remote South Pacific island leaving 48 passengers alive. The survivors cope with the challenges of being stranded on an unknown island filled with alluring mysteries.
Lost focuses on a range of characters forced to work together to survive until they are rescued. Jack the doctor, Kate the criminal, Sawyer the con man and Locke the adventurist, bond together to keep the passengers safe and hopeful.
The island of Lost carries a special meaning to each passenger. Each character battles something from their past while facing a current problem on the island. Through the lessons learned and mistakes each person makes, their lives don’t become about survival but more on the meaning of their lives up until that point.
The best moments of Lost are those where the viewers get a taste of something big coming or a character revelation. It’s not the questions that linger but the connections the characters unknowingly have together that keep people wanting more and tuning in every week.
The ending stirred up a lot of anger and disappointment amongst many fans. It does require a second view and an open mind for any pissed off people. One cannot expect a show to end with a big shiny bow wrapped around it. The ending was what we all expected but didn’t want to come to terms with. Fans may feel jipped, but, the ending completed the series beautifully and meaningfully.
18.Arrested Development: This show ended WAY to early and it’s on prime at that. Arrested Development has so many layers to it, and that’s what make it great. While on the surface it’ll have you cracking up on deeper levels, there are jokes that you won’t get or things you won’t discover until your third or fourth time watching, and it’s SO worth watching over and over again! The comedic timing is so impeccable and the way the show rips on pop culture is genius. Everyone owns their character and adds something to this comedic masterpiece of a show about a “wealthy family who lost everything and the one son forced to keep them together”.
19.The Wire: If there is ever a show that ended too soon, it was The Wire. This show, about the drug scene in Baltimore. It showed incidents through the eyes of not only detectives, but drug dealers, addicts, and politicians as well. With its well rounded cast, including Dominic West, who really came into his own during the course of the show, The Wire is a sure fire winner. Nominated for an Emmy twice in the writing category, this show hooks you in and never lets go.
20.Veronica Mars: “A long time ago, there use to be good tv…, but there’s not enough of that lately.” This show about a young, spunky, private eye (Kristen Bell) is riveting and once you watch the first episode you won’t stop watching! The maturity of the show is outstanding. Veronica Mars, which is some ways strikingly similar to our beloved Buffy will take you on an emotional rollercoaster. The Father/Daughter relationship between Bell and Cantone is so wonderful! And unlike Sarah Michelle Geller Kristen Bell wants to carry on the character of V Mars for her fans by personally undertaking the role of trying to get the film made in order to give fans closer. When genius Joss Whedon, who also has guessed starred on the show along with Charisma Carpenter and Ken Marino (from Buffy/Angel) gushed about show saying
Best. Show. Ever. I’ve never gotten more wrapped up in a show I wasn’t making. These guys know what they are doing on the level that intimidates me. It’s the Harry Potter of shows.
Well damn it’s gotta be amazing!
21.Burn Notice: Burn Notice is a show about a spy of many talents, Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan), who gets burned from his agency and tries to find out why and who is responsible. With the help of an ex-girlfriend, Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar), who is a former IRA operative and Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), who is a former Navy SEAL and an semi-retired intelligence ops, Michael makes a living on doing small freelance work to reach his goal. Well, one reason why to watch this show is because of Bruce Campbell. When he has to kick some ass, he does it well.
The show has its good amount of action and watching Michael pull a MacGyver to finish some spy work is entertaining and intriguing. It’s very easy to watch an episode since it seems to go by fast and with most episodes having its own plot, most people can jump in to have a taste of the series.
The series is still going strong on the USA channel and the action seems to get more tense as Michael gets closer to the person who burned him.
22.Pushing Daisies: This Burton-esque show only lasted a little under two seasons, the 2007-2008 Writer’s Guild of America strike can be held largely responsible for the show’s untimely demise. Ned is a pie shop owner with an extraordinary gift. He can bring people back from the dead with just a touch of his hand. Of course all powers like this come with a dark side, and if he touches them a second time they die again, permanently. The show’s basis is that Ned brings murder victims back to life so that he and his private investigator friend Emerson Cod can ask them how they were killed and they can then collect lots of money for solving the unsolvable crimes. During this, Ned brings back his childhood sweetheart, Chuck, from her untimely murder and even though they fall madly in love with each other, alas they cannot touch. The whole show is quirky and perfectly acted, helped along by Chuck’s eccentric aunts, Ned’s employee Olive Snook (played by Kristin Chenoweth) and Ned’s golden retriever Rigby, you couldn’t ask for a cuter show that while adorable, also happens to be macabre.
23.How I Met Your Mother: How I Met Your Mother: In the year 2030, Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) recounts to his son and daughter of how he met their mother (clever huh?). Narrated by Bob “Full House” Saget, How I Met Your Mother was drawn from the relationship between creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays, with Ted being based on loosley on Bays and the characters of Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) based loosely on Thomas and his wife. They even brought in heavy hitter Neil Patrick Harris to play Ted’s best friend and ladies man Barney Stinson, rounding out the cast.
Every episode is told with a multitude of flashbacks and an always funny atmosphere, with episode opening with Ted’s children being told a little more about their father’s early relationship with their mother.
With five seasons under it’s belt and a sixth on the way, How I met Your mother is always fun to watch, even with your buddies and that’s a secret in the “Bro code” guideline.
24. Chuck: Narrowly escaping cancellation several seasons in a row, thanks in part to campaigns from show’s dedicated fanbase, Chuck has been one of NBC’s solid shows since debuting in 2007. Charles “Chuck” Irving Bartowski (Zachary Levi) used to an ordinary tech support employee at his local Buy More (their version of Best Buy). After reading an e-mail sent by his friend, now CIA agent Bryce Larkin (Matthew Bomer), Chuck gets imbued with all the knowledge of “the Intersect”. With all the secrets of the American government in Chuck’s head the CIA and NSA send their own agents, CIA’s Sarah Walker (the voice of Miranda Lawson in Mass Effect 2) and NSA’s Col. John Casey (Firefly’s Adam Baldwin) to retrieve him.
Now with it’s fourth season underway, Chuck has joined the spy game, developing his abilities (or lack thereof) while maintaining his secret from those around him, Chuck has plenty on his plate. From his relationship with Sarah to now looking for his missing mother, Chuck still has another trick or two up it’s sleeve.
25. Six Feet Under: Six Feet Under was really on the forefront of the hour long dramas, after The Sopranos, of course. This show centered on a family that owned a funeral home in California. It tackled many issues at the time whether it be death, drugs, or homosexuality. It showed a more masculine side of gay men, which was a refreshing change from the usual stereotypes. It also tackled hard hitting issues such as mental illness, all while doing so without managing to be depressing. If you need another reason to watch it, the acting (including Dexter’s Michael C. Hall and Brothers and Sisters’ Rachel Griffiths) simply cannot be beat.
Well, that’s our list. Hope you liked it. These shows have been nerd tested and bastard approved, but, ff you feel that we left off a show that you think is essential to watch before the end of the world please feel free to speak your mind in the comment system below.
Editors Note: The above list was put together by practically every member of the nerdbastards staff. A special thanks goes out to David Manly, Rachel Hill, Thomas Landry, Nick Bungay, Christine Foley, and Luke Gallagher. We’d also like to acknowledge nerdbastards commenter Mordrun who put together the amazing intro (we like it when fans contribute).
The world is supposedly ending in 2012. What will you watch?