TV & Radio
Mad Men: Three more TV shows better on DVD
With Mad Men returning to our screens, JOE takes a look at three other shows that are better on DVD.
The fourth season of Mad Men begins tonight (Wednesday) on BBC 4 and people are desperately trying to reinvent the English language after running out of superlatives to describe it last season. Many of its biggest fans wonâ€™t even be watching tonight, though, either choosing to record it on sky-plus, or waiting for the DVD box-set.
The reason for this is obvious; undoubtedly the best way to watch it is in batches of more than one. Nobody watches the best television on television anymore.
Waiting a week to watch a new episode is fine for some TV shows. The likes of House or CSI have self contained episodes and donâ€™t require you to be watching them week in week out. For shows like The Wire and Mad Men, however, you will be completely lost if you miss an episode.
With its astonishingly slow pace, 1960s setting and attention to detail, Mad Men is probably the TV series most suited to DVD viewing ever made.
Here are JOEâ€™s recommendations for other series best watched on DVD.
The Western has long been declared dead, but nobody told Deadwood creator David Milch â€“ a man who previously created the TV shows Hill Street Blues and NYPD Blue. The incredibly gritty show is set in South Dakota in the 1870s, and is populated almost entirely by unpleasant characters in unpleasant situations.
There are no heroes, just anti-heroes. Undisputedly evil men like Al Swearengen (Ian McShane) earn our sympathy as there is always somebody worse, like murdering prospector George Hearst (Gerald Lee McRaney) and serial killer Francis Wolcott (Gerard Dillahunt). The show deftly combines real-life historical figures like Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickock with fictional characters and situations.
It has an incredible cast including Timothy Olyphant, Powers Booth, Molly Parker and Brad Dourif and the best dialogue you will hear anywhere.
The show is based on the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lyndsey, with star of Six-feet-Under Michael C. Hall playing the title character. Dexterâ€™s good at his job (blood splatter expert) and heâ€™s a loving boyfriend and brother. He just has one problem; heâ€™s a serial killer.
The best thing about Dexter is how the show distorts our moral compass. For instance, when the title character murders somebody, you completely agree with him; when he cheats on his girlfriend, you think heâ€™s a bastard. The show is creepy, violent, gripping and darkly humourous.
The acting is superb, especially by Hall and Lauren Velez and guest stars John Lithgow, and Keith Carradine.
Breaking Bad (AMC)
Who would have thought that the one of the best new TV shows in recent years would star the Dad from Malcolm in the Middle? Thatâ€™s exactly what has happened with Breaking Bad, which scooped the top acting awards for show leads Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul at this yearâ€™s Emmy awards.
The series is a blackly comic drama that chronicles the decision taken by straight-laced high school chemistry teacher Walter White (Cranston), to become a meth dealer to provide for his family after he is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Aiding Walter in his plan is the local dealer and addict Jesse (Paul) who drags Walter into ever more desperate and morally dubious actions as he races against time to raise the money that his family need after he dies.
Make no mistake, Breaking Bad is a tough watch and doesnâ€™t pull any punches. Every moment of comedy is undercut by the reality and cost of what they are doing, both to them personally and those around them.
Season two has already gone down in TV history with its now legendary plane crash denouement.
Conor Hogan and Leo Stiles