– By Matthew Sawczyn –
TV shows are like insect species: hundreds are discovered each year, and we forget the names of most of them. Fleabag, Dark, 3%, The Red Green Show… who has time for all these?
Well, if you’re looking for some guaranteed gems to start off the new year, here is a curated list of the 6 best shows you’ve never heard of! (Probably.)
“It’s all about the game.”
Created long before Youtube ever officially produced shows, VGHS was a webseries that never took itself too seriously, and still managed to be one of the best high school shows you’ll ever see. The show takes place in a not-so-imagined future, where video games are professional sports, and students strive to become the best in their field. Filled with quirky humor, loads of heart, and sweet action scenes, Video Game High School is a place you’ll wish you could attend!
“Doin’ what had to be done, livin’ under the gun!”
Yearning for a police procedural that doubles as a musical? No? Well, sorry–I can’t hear you over the awesome tune of “Let’s Be Careful Out There!”
A quick one-liner on NBC’s Community sent this reviewer to the bowels of Youtube, to discover what might be simultaneously the coolest and cheesiest show ever made. Conceived by Steven Bochco, co-creator of Hill Street Blues, Cop Rock is part gritty police drama, part Broadway musical. Not surprisingly, this tone never quite found an audience, and Cop Rock only lasted a season. But darn if it didn’t pack enough cop mustaches and social commentary to make it worth it!
Continuing the police theme, next up is Police Squad!, starring Leslie Nielsen. You’re no doubt familiar with his Airplane! film franchise; his TV show, however, flew somewhat under the radar.
Let’s just say, it’s a darling (Okay – “It’s a darling…”). The deadpan brand of humor is so good, it spawned a modern adaptation of sorts: Angie Tribeca, starring Rashida Jones. Filled with nonstop groaners and gags, this series packs enough puns to give future dads full ammunition. Enjoy!
“What a type you must consort with, that you not fear beating for such an insult.”
Regarded as one of the top shows of all time, Deadwood is oft unknown among even the most dedicated viewer. Realistic, unflinching, and downright poetic, Deadwood stands as one of HBO’s crown jewels, and one of the greatest Westerns ever put to screen. Centered around the real mining camp in the then “Dakota Territory”, the show explores the lives of real historical figures, while making the history feel real and present for the audience. Great themes of civilization, frontier justice, the messiness of life resonate on a near Shakespearean scale.
WARNING: Contains liberal amounts of swearing, nudity, violence, and philosophizing.
“You don’t become a good Communist by going to meetings… you do it with your fists.”
This will take a bit of explaining. According to Wikipedia, Comrade Detective is a “fictional lost Romanian television show commissioned by the Communist Party to promote a communist worldview during the Cold War.” The show was shot in Romania with local actors, then dubbed by Channing Tatum and company, to complete the full parody effect. What results is the joy of watching a badly-dubbed cheesy show, with the style and plot of a modern show. Win-win for the proletariat.
“Well, may I suggest that you consider moving to a hotel closer to the sea? Or preferably in it.”
Inspired by a particularly bad hotel experience while filming with Monty Python, Fawlty Towers is peak John Cleese humor, and easily one of the best comedies of all time. A tight twelve episodes, the show takes place in the delightfully mismanaged hotel, where owner Basil Fawlty and staff scramble to solve problems involving dead guests, loose vermin, and hotel inspectors. Hilarious, fast-paced, and utterly quotable, Fawlty Towers is sure to bring a smile to even the most misanthropic among mortals.
About the Author
Matthew Sawczyn is a screenwriter in Los Angeles, and alumni of JPCatholic (MBA in Film Producing – Class of 2017). He loves hiking, HBO, and cuddly cats.
For more articles by Matthew, click here.