The Golden Age of Television


There was a stretch of time — a very long stretch — that gave all of us every reason to abandon television. Every hour of programming, whether sitcom or drama, seemed to pander to the lowest common denominator. Devoid of meaning, it made sense to encourage kids (and adults) to turn off the television to find something meaningful to do.

But at last, that season is behind us. Now the opposite is true: there’s not enough time in the day to get through the staggering amount of recommendations on network television, cable, Netflix, Amazon or even web-based series. We’re in a golden age of television, one in which characters are fleshed out, plotlines are complicated, and more is demanded of the viewer than ever before. We polled some of our RR contributors to get their recommendations, even as we realize that a dozen more could be discussed and highlighted. Add your own in the comments. We want to hear what you’re watching.

Doctor Who
I’ve been a sci-fi and fantasy fan from an early age, and loving Doctor Who is a logical outcome. The Doctor, as scriptwriter Stephen Moffat has said, “. . . is an angel trying to be a man.” Doctor Who is a Time Lord, a time-traveling human-like alien with the ability to regenerate at death. Long ago he stole a Tardis (a time machine disguised as a British police box) and now uses it for the good of others, continually getting himself into situations requiring hard ethical decisions. The Doctor loves people, and saves them even at the expense of having to regenerate and use up another of his own lives.

One of the best things about the Doctor, the thing in him to which viewers relate, is his intense loneliness; it is just there, unsaid but seen. His relationships, usually a female companion traveling with him for one or two seasons, give him respite. Some of the most moving episodes happen as his companion is torn from him by circumstance. This recurring theme of the series is as important as the actual story lines.

I started with Season Two with the David Tennant Doctor on the advice of Rebecca Reynolds, and it was sound advice. The first season feels like they were still trying to get their feet—worth watching later if one becomes a fan. [Ron Block]

Let me get this out of the way before a close friend points this out: I’ve had a crush on Claire Danes since the dawn of time. Trust me when I say, however, that I would be addicted to Homeland sans crush. Ask Arthur Alligood who told me he watched every season in a matter of days after I told him it was the best thing around.

Homeland is a Showtime series focused largely on Carrie Mathison (Danes), a CIA officer with a history of mental illness. Early seasons feature an ongoing plotline involving the rescue of an American prisoner of war who Mathison believes has been turned by al-Qaeda. Future seasons stand on their own.

Homeland’s ability to give perspective and voice to unAmerican characters is almost as impressive as the way it handles issues of mental illness. Yet as strong as these elements are, Homeland was created to be a suspenseful drama about the perilous times in which we live. Given the smart set of actors involved (Danes has won several Emmys here), it succeeds in every respect. [Matt Conner]

Agents of Shield
As an extension of my sci-fi fondness, I love watching superhero movies with my teens. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is an extension of the Marvel comics and movies—Iron Man, Thor, The Hulk, Captain America, and The Avengers. S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division) is the secret government entity behind the Avengers. The show is concerned with a particular team of agents headed by Phil Coulson, an agent seen in the various Marvel movies. These agents don’t have superpowers, but they are heroes in doing good in the world, fighting against evil using more “common” means — martial arts, hacker knowledge, guns, technology, and—most of all—brains. Like the Doctor, these folks fight for the good of all, often at their own expense. And again, like the Doctor Who series, the relationships are often the centerpiece of the drama. The themes of love, kindness, goodness, loyalty, deception, and betrayal run throughout. [Ron Block]

Breaking Bad
I know, I know—it’s over. But that show raised the bar, elevating mere TV to the level of literature. When I finished the last episode, I felt like I’d just put down a great, great book about morality and greed and the consequences of the way we treat the people around us. It’s like someone put Shakespeare, Tolstoy, and Dostoyevsky into a sandwich with some chipotle sauce and bacon. I loved eating that sandwich. [Pete Peterson]

Person of Interest
Not only does it have some great actors in Michael Emerson, Jim Caviezel (probably a career saving role), and Amy Acker, but it’s spent four seasons delving into the moral complexities of government spying, counter terrorism, and the ethical challenges of increasingly powerful artificial intelligence. Plus, it does this Whedon-esque thing of taking a bunch of brilliant-but-damaged people and putting them together as a team in order to achieve something greater. [Chris Yokel]

I am not a big TV watcher. It’s not a snobby thing . . . it’s more like an adding-shows-to-my-Netflix-queue-and-never-getting-around-to-them thing. (My biggest accomplishment was finishing Firefly a year or so ago, if that tells you anything.) So for all I know Sherlock is old news, but I watched all three seasons in the span of a few weeks, and it’s pretty much my new favorite thing.

It’s a remarkable show. For one thing, it updates—but respects—the source material. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are legendary, but in this 21st century update, they feel like they could belong in our world of tech crimes, terrorism, and media-powered celebrity culture. On a technical level, the series is beautifully crafted and makes excellent use of visual storytelling, creatively showing the inner workings of Sherlock’s mind as the episodes go on.

But most compelling, I’d say, is how the heart of the show is less about solving mysteries and more about the redeeming relationship between two flawed heroes. In the first episode, Watson walks with a literal and figurative limp, and Sherlock, for all his genius, lives in isolation. By the last, their friendship has made them—and is continuing to make them—better men. I’m hooked—and waiting a whole year for new episodes like the rest of the world. [Jen Rose Yokel]

Master Chef Jr.
I know, I know. It’s not a TV show in the “great characters and plot” sense of the word, but I love it anyway. Little chefs, ages 8-13, plating dishes that, when I was their age, I wouldn’t have ever dreamed existed. The creativity runs high, and the über-dramatic antics of the show’s adult counterpart (the regular Master Chef) are almost non-existent. Sure, things happen in the kitchen—the occasional cut finger, or the miniature nervous breakdown—but in place of the conniving commentary of the adult competitors, the kids on Master Chef Jr. are prone to a kind of compassion that’s often missing in similar shows. Someone gets sent home and the rest of them gather around him or her and offer hugs and encouragement. Another kid forgets a key ingredient, and someone else has extra and decides to share.

As a full-time MFA student and English teacher, I am up to my ears in character and plot. This show gives my brain a break while giving me a glimpse of some intense creativity at work. So, instead of following intricate plot lines, I can watch immense young minds at work—bringing to my older mind the same desire that comes to me when I listen to good music or read a good story: I want to grow younger. I want to see supposed obstacles as opportunities to make something really beautiful. [Barbara Lane]

The Walking Dead
This started out as a guilty pleasure. I gave it a shot mainly because it was produced by Frank Darabont and I like most of his stuff (Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Mist), and just let me say from the outset that this isn’t for everyone. It’s over-the-top gruesome sometimes, and it’s got some downright awful dialogue at others. In fact my assessment of the show fluctuates wildly from episode to episode and season to season. But what keeps me coming back is the idea that yes, it’s a monster movie, but the zombies aren’t the monsters—the humans are. The show is at its best when it’s pitting its characters against each other in complex and interesting ways—all amid an apocalypse of undead, of course. Whether it’s watching Shane and Rick tick like time-bombs or itching to see why the Governor is just as bad as you suspect he is, I love it. And I also love the ways in which it explores the societal ramifications of something as ludicrous as a world fallen to a zombie horde. Watching how the world’s social constructs evolve and devolve is fascinating. Also, it’s a modern-day western.[Pete Peterson]

Black Mirror
Take this recommendation with the strongest possible warning. The content of this BBC speculative-fiction series is mature—and I don’t necessarily mean “mature” in the lots-of-explicit sex sense (though that certainly figures in at times). Do NOT let your kids watch this one. That said, the show is one of the best examples I’ve ever seen of television as literature. The aptly-named show is basically a set of unconnected short stories, each of which takes a cold, hard look at the crumbling morality of our culture. If Flannery O’Conner and Phillip K. Dick had lived to write for television, the result might have been something like this. Each episode is disturbing, but in the best ways (for me, at least). The stories leave me thinking for days and weeks afterward and force me to look at the world in new and ever more complex ways. That’s the job art is in the world to do, and Black Mirror excels at it. It’s especially interesting to watch the show carry on such a vital conversation about morality in the context of a post-Christian world that’s struggling to figure out which way is up in a sea of moral subjectivism.

The BBC (Broadchurch, Happy Valley, The Bletchley Circle, Foyle’s War, Death Comes to Pemberly, The Office, etc.)

What is it about British television. It’s so darned good! I read something a while back (I can’t recall where) making the point that in Britain, the BBC has the mission of creating excellent works of literature that enrich the British culture—the result being that they strive for excellence and depth in writing, storytelling, and filmmaking. So in Britain the TV culture is one of striving to create the next well-done thing. Contrast that with America where the primary thing networks seem to care about is money (I’m making generalizations, I know). In our country we strive for whatever nets the most viewers, and as a result we lean on the titillation of violence and sex to draw in the highest profit. That doesn’t exactly make me proud to be an American.

And another thing: look at the actors on the BBC. They seem to be cast based on their ability in the craft and their suitability to the role. Now look at an American show. Why do they all look like models instead of real people? Seems to me some folks are getting roles based on criteria other than ability and suitability. It’s a sad commentary on value judgments of our culture.

All that said, I know there’s some excellent stuff on American television (hence a lot of the shows on this list), and I applaud it, but the BBC elevates the whole craft. For that, I’m thankful. I love every one of the shows listed up there in the header of this entry, and any new show with the BBC stamp on it instantly merits a closer look in my house.[Pete Peterson]

Matt Conner is a former pastor and church planter turned writer and editor. He’s the founder of Analogue Media and lives in Indianapolis.


  1. Dave

    For Mature Audiences: Stop everything that you are doing and watch the The Wire. It’s dense, complex, and incredibly written. Please don’t give up before watching at least 6 episodes. I started off my career as an inner city teacher, and I can tell you that Season 4 is the most devastatingly real thing that I’ve ever seen depicted on television. (Amazon Prime)

    For Not as Mature Audiences: Friday Night Lights. It’s actually not about football. It’s about a family trying to love each other in a small town. (Netflix)

    For Immature Audiences: The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is pretty funny. (Netflix)

  2. Lori

    Besides everything BBC listed above – I’ve fallen pretty hard in love with The Flash on The CW. I know, I know. The CW isn’t necessarily high-brow but an iconic superhero with some fantastic storytelling, jaw-dropping special effects and a great villain makes for must watch TV in my book.

  3. Chris

    Great list! And I’ll second the recommendation from Dave here for Kimmy Schmidt. The 2nd to last episode got one of the biggest laughs from me in the past year 🙂

    I’ve only seen the first episode of “Better Call Saul” but it’s looking promising. Of course, it’s not Breaking Bad and whole heartedly agree with Pete’s assessment there. In fact, I am watching or have watched most of Pete’s suggestions. Will check out some other of these suggestions eventually. The amount of content out there is overwhelming at this point.

    For the family and just for fun, we come together over Master Chef Jr, The Middle, The Goldbergs and most of the episodes of Bob’s Burgers (we usually preview these just to make sure.)

  4. Aden S

    Alright here are my top 3.

    1. SHERLOCK: I’m with Jen on this one! I at least re-watch a full series every month in expectancy for, not only series 4, but also the Christmas special set in Victorian England. Can’t wait to see both Cumberbatch and Freeman back, and with the latter’s awesome moustache returning, too. How awesome is that!!! And, yes I agree, the BBC has got the corner on making the best shows!

    2. Agent Carter: I seriously hope this gem gets picked up for a second season! Loved the acting, writing, sets, etc. An all together well assembled show. Personally, it felt way more grounded and was a lot more enjoyable then AoS has been as part of the MCU. I also loved how it is more family friendly than some other shows in a similar genre. Although, it did feel a bit repetitive with “Leviathan.” Which just begs the question, why do evil organisations always name themselves after monsters? 😉

    3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012): Yes, I know, I didn’t mistype. This for me, like Pete with WD, started out as a guilty pleasure. Now, though, I’m hooked. Nickelodeon has done a marvellous job with seasons 1 and 2, and season 3 thus far hasn’t disappointed. Great development of the characters and their personalities, especially in them dealing with their struggles and the struggles of their “family.” Because, at the core, behind all the pizza, crazily named mutants, brain-shaped Kraang, and the evil master of the Foot Clan, is a “mis-mashed” family trying to live their kind of “normal” life. A family learning how to be there for each other through whatever.

    Okay, looking forward to the other favs! Maybe spin one or two up on Netflix tonight. Who knows?! 😀

  5. Aden S

    Umm, Pete, this is the Rabbit Room, we say “holy toothy cow!” :p All joking aside, though, I would agree. Also, D’Arcy was stunning as Jarvis!

  6. Aden S

    I’m sorry if this posted more than once, my wifi is acting up. Ah, the 21st century.

    Umm, Pete, this is the Rabbit Room, here we say “holy toothy cow!” All joking aside, I would agree with you. Also, D’Arcy was amazing as Jarvis!

  7. Lori

    I have to add “The Americans” to this one. Definitely for mature audiences only, but it is a fascinating look at politics and morality. It actually drives home for me every week the futility of life lived without God, which is possibly a strange lesson to take from it, but it is a really compelling look at characters’ lives and the choices they make.

  8. Hannah

    Sherlock is the gateway drug to the magical land of British detectives. I mean, there is Shakespeare, and then there is British mystery. These are the two great genres.

    And this is kind of my field of expertise (, so if you hate detectives, scroll away. Besides Sherlock, Broadchurch, and Foyle’s War, you have:

    Endeavour: a modern prequel to one of my favorite shows: Inspector Morse. I’d recommend watching Morse ( first, but Endeavour is still a decent introduction to the crosswords-loving, opera-singing romantic detective. C.S. Lewis fans take note: Morse is like a living example of sehnsucht at work. Season three is in pre-production.

    Inspector George Gently removes us to the north in the 1960s ( and features George, a charming, hard-bitten detective with lots of gangster enemies. The best part of the show is his relationship with his over-confident, smart-aleck D.S.: John Bacchus (Master and Commander fans may recognize Midshipman Hollom). It’s a good, if a bit more intense, series. Series 8 is coming up.

    Life on Mars (U.K.) is a mixture of scifi, police procedural, and 70s cop show. Premise: Inspector Sam Tyler is hit by a car in 2008 and wakes up in 1973, but 1973 as it was on TV, with cool cars and tough men and leather jackets. Sam isn’t very adventurous – he loves to do things by the book, according the Law. His new boss is a burly thug named Gene Hunt: he prefers a much more rough and ready form of justice. This one is basically a Western as well: probably most like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, with Sam as Ranse and Gene as Doniphon. This one isn’t running anymore, but it’s little known in the U.S., and it’s tremendous fun. Warning: not family fare.

    A few more old shows:
    Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple (Joan Hickson is simply marvelous – the female answer to Michael Kitchen),
    Heat of the Sun (only watched one episode so far – set in Africa, feels like Sam Spade noir on safari),
    Alleyn Mysteries (Agatha Christie stuff, but again, a noir feel),
    The Last Detective (hey, it’s the 5th Doctor fighting crime!),
    Maigret (hey, it’s Dumbledore fighting crime!), and
    Cadfael (hey, it’s a monk fighting crime! And it’s Derek Jacobi.)

    I could go on all day so I’ll stop.


    Agent Carter is great. For my money, it’s just a bit better than Agents of SHIELD, though the latter has a better ensemble. Here’s to hoping it’s renewed!

  9. Shawn

    Orphan Black must be on this list somewhere. For mature audiences, but truly impeccable acting and fantastic premise. Leaves me on the edge of my seat from week to week. I dare say that Tatiana Maslany gives some of the finest acting performance(s) I have witnessed in any medium. Well-crafted characters (even one which I swore was played by someone else). You have time to binge watch and catch up – Season 3 starts April 18!

  10. John Covil

    I’ve been binging on Doctor Who, working my way through from the Eccleston first season. I think the season probably has more value in introducing Rose and Bad Wolf than the Doctor.

    *****SPOILER ALERT******
    I thought the time Rose was left in the other universe was devastating. I felt so terrible for her. But it was nothing like what I felt when the Doctor left the War Doctor to grow old with Rose. It was everything he ever wanted, but could never have.
    ******/SPOILER ALERT******

    Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is good, and I enjoyed the first episode of Agent Carter, but my DVR lost all its content and I never saw the other episodes.

    Top Gear (RIP) is a guilty pleasure. The production value is fantastic, and the humor deranged and usually hilarious, if often offensive.

    Sherlock is on the list, as is the Wire and Broadchurch.

    Lately I’ve also been lamenting the last of the great NBC comedy shows since Parks and Recreation ended. It was a very good run starting back with The Office and 30 Rock. Though I still haven’t tried Community on Yahoo yet.

  11. Ashley Barber

    Dave’s Friday Night Lights recommendation brings to my mind Parenthood (adapted from the 1989 movie with Steve Martin by Jason Katims who also helped produce FNL). It told a beautiful story about family loving each other in sweet (sometimes too sweet) but more important to me, messy ways. And they always com back to each other because they are better together. One writer captured what really got me about the theme of their story,

    “If there’s a quest for knowledge at the heart of the hero’s journey, then buried in the psyche of all these anti-heroes is the belief that understanding is best arrived at on one’s own. Other people, especially those clowns and prudes we are related to through blood or vows, only contaminate our quests to truly get to know ourselves and the world around us. What Parenthood showed us was that real connections to other people are a completely legitimate way to arrive at such knowledge.” (

  12. Esther O'Reilly

    I loved the HECK out of Person of Interest Season 1. Fell in love with Emerson and Caviezel as the “odd couple.” The next season or two were spottier, but when they were good they were jaw-droppingly good. The serialized storylines were brilliant. Unfortunately, there came a point where I sensed a definite downhill slope in quality, all of which sort of culminated when they decided to go all-out lesbian between two of the female characters. Ugh. Just about ruined the show for me. And in general, the focus has definitely moved away from Caviezel and Emerson, which were the heart and soul of why I became such a huge fan in the first place. It doesn’t help that most of their females can’t act. (Except for one except she’s gone but I won’t name who ‘cuz spoilers.)

    Sherlock is for me the most frustrating show on this list because it was so brilliant when it was good and so shockingly bad when it was bad. It had the potential to be top-drawer all the way, with powerhouses like Freeman and Cumberbatch and some of those scintillating one-liners. But after the puerile way they trampled all over both Irene Adler and Moriarty’s characters, let’s just say I hope we never see either of them again, especially Adler.

    I got through all the episodes of Agents of Shield Season 1, because where Phil Coulson goes I go, but a lot of the acting and writing rang hollow for me. I haven’t tuned in for Season 2 but hear it’s a huge improvement. Is this true?

  13. Hope Henchey

    So far nobody has mentioned what I’ve read is the highest-rated BBC drama ever: Call the Midwife. Set in the late 1950’s in the poorest East End of London, we get a glimpse into the lives of nurses and midwives who have to make the best of heartbreaking and squalid situations. All the while we all learn about the power and risk and beauty and cost of love. Critics have described birth scenes as “grisly” and I’ll agree they’re intense, but body parts are not shown and many of the births have made me cry because they were just so beautiful and felt so real.

    Also, I love CBS’s Elementary. I haven’t been as faithful to watch in this third season, but at least for the first two seasons each episode’s plot felt very dense and explored very modern issues and crimes that could actually happen. I think it’s much more serious and realistic than BBC’s Sherlock. Admittedly I loved Sherlock a wee bit more (it was actually funny and Benedict Cumberbatch cannot be topped) but Elementary is sufficient while we wait.

  14. John Covil

    Since it was mentioned: Firefly might be the greatest one-season-and-done show of all time.

    Also, I miss Psych, though I think it ran just about the right length of time.

  15. Chris Yokel

    A few of my other favorite shows:

    Castle: For Nathan Fillion fans and crime procedural fans. Fillion as mystery writer turned police consultant Richard Castle is just one of my favorite TV characters ever. I have a little bit of a man crush. And then of course there’s Stana Katic as everyone’s favorite NYPD detective Kate Beckett. AND detective bros Kevin Ryan and Javier Esposito. I love that this show is a procedural but is really more about the team and their relationship. And it totally has a geeky/nerdy/sci-fi side. And it’s also great mix of humor and heart.

    Brooklyn 99: Good gosh, this cast of characters. Andre Braugher as Captain Holt is a riot and one of my favorite characters on TV.

    Parks and Rec: It took me until after the series ended to watch it, but now Jen and I have been binging on it and I can’t stop. I love Pawnee, and I love these oddballs.

  16. Laure Hittle

    We don’t have cable or even an antenna, so if it ain’t on Netflix i ain’t watching it (i gave up Hulu last spring after discovering Rabbit Room Radio and reading this and this). So my favourite shows are the ones i’ve seen over and over and over, and none of them are anything approaching new.

    With that caveat, here are the best really old shows ever, the order of which depends largely on which i’ve watched more recently:

    •Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This is classic Whedon, the interpretive centre of his oeuvre in many ways. Broken people breaking (themselves and each other). Broken people learning their identity through community. Questions of ethics and trust (and the ethics of trust) and what it means to be human (shown most poignantly through the non-human characters, the way science fiction does). Loneliness, despair, hope, sacrifice, family, and even redemption—although Whedon, an atheist, can only offer community as his salvific solution. Love this show so much. And forget themes (although they’re well done); i love the characters. They’re real people. They struggle and fear and doubt and make horrible, stupid, destructive choices, and then they surprise you by being more noble, more glorious, than i have any right to expect except from someone created in the image of G-d. Just like real people. This is the sort of true personhood i am always striving to make and to love in my own characters. Angel, the spin-off, is great too. Grittier, darker. Noir detective for an older (and maler) audience. It’s by far the best (and perhaps the only very great) spin-off i’ve seen. i think i still love Buffy more, but every time i watch Angel i am a little less angry at Joss for some of the choices he made—and boy can he make me angry, which is a surefire sign of a great writer.

    •Babylon 5. Speaking of TV as literature, this is Tolkien in space. It’s a galaxy-wide grappling with matters much too big for mortals. The acting and dialogue and costumes can be a bit hokey at times but honestly, this is some of the best storytelling i have ever experienced anywhere. It does all the things science fiction is supposed to do—explore ethics and humanity—as well as the things that fantasy does best—explore good and evil and destiny and wonder. The creator, J. Michael Straczynski, is an atheist, but intentionally wrestles with questions of faith, attempting to see belief from the inside, and his believing characters are very believable. (i wish Christian writers could do this as well as he does. The difference, i think, is large in the self-conscious attempt to understand The Other.) There is one episode—”Passing Through Gethsemane”—which is devastating in its vulnerable and fumbling attempt to understand Christ’s sacrifice and what it means to take up His cross. Gosh. Maybe if you never watch another show, watch that one. But by all means avoid the novelizations and the movie Legend of the Rangers.

    Honorable mentions:
    •X-Files. This show is not about aliens but epistemology. The cost of belief. The tension between rationality and inexplicability. It’s not a perfect show by any means, but it’s worth watching to struggle with the characters as they try to understand what belief is. In my mind, easy answers are the mortal enemy of art, and although the frustration of answers in this show can be maddening at times, i think there’s value in asking questions even when they’re unresolved.
    •Dollhouse. What is identity? What is personhood? Where does it come from? And that’s just for starters. This show blew up my brain a little. But then, it’s Joss.
    •Lost. Yup, i struggled with the last episode. Yup, it seemed like in the middle the show lost its way for awhile. Yup, i needed to work a little harder at suspending disbelief a few times. But overall it was one of the more compelling things i’ve seen.
    •Battlestar Gallactica. i’ve never seen the old show, so i’m talking about the new one here. Man. Loved it. i’ve only watched it once and i think that’s a problem that needs rectifying.

  17. Laure Hittle

    Oh, i should also have listed Doctor Who—but i can’t add anything to what’s already been said about it, other than to say that my amanuensis has taken to writing haikus and text-message essays about the Doctor, and Donna, and the show in general. (i love her heart-deep haikus. She sees worth and beauty in people better than anyone else i know. No wonder she connects with this show.)

  18. Nicole McLernon

    Yes yes yes! Doctor Who has reshaped the way I view the world. It has opened my mind to think deeper thoughts, imagine greater mysteries, dream bigger dreams. I have cried so many tears over that show and I am not ashamed.

    Sherlock is the gateway drug to the BBC in general. It has opened my eyes to the amazing work the BBC has done. I am so into that show. And I totally agree that the BBC in general is fantastic. Broadchurch is my new favorite show.

    And I agree with Hope – Call the Midwife is excellent. I haven’t caught up on the most recent series but it’s on the list.

    Parks and Rec are also excellent. Aren’t we lucky to live in a time and place where we have such easy access to such wonderful material?

  19. Curtis Shelburne

    Yes, indeed, some amazing TV series are out there–and I’m in love with the BBC stuff. Doc Martin punches my funny bone. Call the Midwife is amazing. I’m just getting started on Foyle’s War and am hooked. And Sherlock is utterly spectacular.

    Back to America for a moment. I really like the “Blue Bloods” television series. More than once I’ve found myself misty-eyed at the end of the show–which is not the reacion most guys–including me–are really searching for in a police/action drama.
    Tom Selleck is like Sean Connery; he just gets better with age. I also like him because of the obvious resemblance between us. (Two legs. Two arms.)

    I like the action of the series. I like a good “police show.” I like the cast in general. But most of all, I can sum up what I like in two words. Family and faith.

    The Reagans in the series are from a long line of Irish-Catholic New York City police officers. Selleck plays Frank Reagan, the present police commissioner. His wife has died. One of his sons was a young police officer killed by crooked cops. His two surviving sons are police officers, one of them married with two young sons. His daughter is a deputy district attorney, divorced with a teenage daughter. His father, the patriarch of the family, retired as police commissioner himself. Each week the Reagans have “family dinner” where everyone from Grandpa Henry to the youngest grandchild has a chair and a voice. They laugh together, cry together, support each other, challenge each other, love each other, and share life together. And I like that. A lot.

    I remember one episode, Frank, usually the strong and loving father, has confessed to his own father the deep (survivor’s) guilt he feels. Frank and a fellow chief and friend were in the North Tower of the World Trade Center when the South Tower came down, and his friend is dying, years later, because of what he inhaled that day.
    Henry listens and then says, “Son, I don’t know why Chief McKenna got sick from the air down there and you didn’t. Just like I don’t know why He [God] took Mary and Joe from us too soon, but I see God’s light in this family every day. And though I may not understand it, I trust in His plan for us all.”

    I never care for “God took” words at times of grief, but it surely seems to me there is much to like in Grandpa’s wisdom, words you’re not likely to hear much on television these days. I like what he says. I understand it better than I once did.

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