In the last few years, I’ve discovered some consistently interesting television shows…and the all come from one source: AMC. The level of quality and consistency I’ve found in their programs is top notch. At least on basic cable, I’m convinced this is about as good as it gets (with the BBC, perhaps, in a photo finish).
One of my recent finds (courtesy of Netflix) is called Hell on Wheels. Set immediately after the Civil War, it focuses on the building of the transcontinental railroad and the personal dramas the swirl around it on various levels. I suppose it is a Western, but at the same time more than that. A semi-historical reflection on American cultures during a time of change, like a US version of Downton Abbey, might be a better way to put it. Hell on Wheels is currently in its second season.
And then, of course, there are AMC’s other terrific offerings:
1. The Killing: A murder drama (set in Seattle!) that only lasted two seasons, but is interesting and well acted. The first season was certainly much better (season two became rather week, definitely at certain points), but despite its flaws, you can tell it is a quality program. Season one is on Netflix right now.
2. The Walking Dead: The zombie apocalypse that won’t go away. Played for more human drama that horror-movie schlock, The Walking Dead features an ensemble cast trying to figure its way through life in a world of death. Zombies are ever-present in the landscape and rather like wild animals that evoke constant vigilance and fear. Season one is available on Netflix right now. The show will be returning for its third season this October.
3. Mad Men: The gold standard. A fascinating piece of writing, acting, and drama set in an advertising agency in the 1960s. Even that summary doesn’t really do it justice. The first four seasons are on Netflix right now, and I commend them to you. Each one of them won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series. Just take a look:
Now, I’ve not watched Breaking Bad, but I hear that it’s pretty darn good as well. Clearly, AMC is doing something right.