OK, we’re speaking out of school perhaps, but we screened a review copy of Planet Earth in a way that nature — not to mention BBC and Discovery — did not intend, bumping along on a noisy Amtrak train, watching the show on a tiny portable screen. A good, if unintentional, test of a quality show, right? Planet Earth did more than pass the exam. A multitude of animals running across a plane in Africa that must have looked spectacular on a large HD screen appeared like an ant colony on our device, but the effect was no less impressive.
John Adams, HBO: Was HBO’s 7-part mini about John and Abigail Adams accurate? Historian David McCullough, whose book the series was based on, usually dislikes what Hollywood does to his work. He loved this.
Mad Men, AMC: We won’t break our arm patting ourselves on the back, but after screening an advance copy of Mad Men — our Best New Cable Program winner (p. 16) — we told everyone to watch this series about a 1960 ad agency. Its Golden Globe and Emmy wins are doing the talking now.
Rescue Me, FX Networks: We identify with Rescue Me because of its lead character, the troubled firefighter Tommy Gavin, played by series co-creator Denis Leary. Gavin is so irresistible that nearly every female character in the cast falls into bed with him at one time or another. Well, we can dream, right?
The Sopranos, HBO: Are you disappointed about the abrupt ending of the series The NY Times called a cultural icon? Still? Faghedaboudit. Can’t? Too bad.
The Tudors, Showtime: So what if the history books say the story of Henry the VIIIth, Thomas More and Ann Boleyn didn’t happen this way. Want historical accuracy? Watch PBS. If it’s saucy period drama you want with an historical backdrop, The Tudors is your show.