Over the years of my short life, I've learned that television shows typically work in cycles of threes. Every three years there are about three new television shows that are enjoyable, intelligent, and plausible. Typically, these shows have a very short lifespan and are replaced with two years of the common pointless dribble that is everyday TV. The fall 2006 season appears to have three great contenders from around the world that I just cannot get enough of.
From Japan: Death Note (the anime)
This is an increidble series. The main character (Light) finds a notebook that appears to have fallen from the sky. He learns that he has the power to kill anyone by writing their names in the book, so long as he is thinking about their face at the time he writes it. He can also specify how someone will die, otherwise, a heart-attack 40 seconds after writing the name is the default.
This is a great example of how absolute power corrupts absolutely. Light is a straight-A student who's studying hard to get into the best schools. His father is the chief at the local police precinct, and his mother and sister are pretty normal people.
After finding this book, Light decides that he will rid the world of injustice by killing anyone who has committed a crime. At first it's so that the world can be a better place, but that quickly changes to reveal Light's ambitions to be diefied as a god.
Each show is packed with intelligent plot twists, some great animation, and great suspense. I look forward to watching this show right to the end.
From the US: Heroes
This is a pretty good series, oddly enough. The premise is simple: a bunch of random people begin to develop supernatural abilities and their lives are somehow connected.
This reminds me a bit of what the X-Men movies did to the comic, but the show is enjoyable nonetheless. The plot twists are few, and the suspense is short-lived, but despite this, the intelligence behind the story stands out like a beacon in the night. I think that the real genius of this story will be missed by anyone who doesn't stop and think about what they just watched. Often times I'll be thinking about the episode afterwards and piece together bits and fragments from other episodes to see how things fit together.
This show is way ahead of anything else produced in North America, and it's a nice change of pace to watch something interesting where humans are used to play the characters (most of what I watch is animated).
From everywhere: The new season of Documentaries
Documentaries have been one of my favourite genres of entertainment for years. Insightful and educational, I have learned more about the world through documentaries than in the 15 years in the various schools growing up.
For the last few years, it seemed as though documentaries were trying to redefine themselves by becoming more like a "reality-tv" show than an educational medium. National Geographic, I feel, had the worst implementation of this as their takes on Egyptian tombs and pyramids made me fall asleep. There is nothing boring about Ancient Egypt … for a documentary to whore themselves out to such a level as to make something enjoyable just a 44 minute romp on the couch is sad, indeed.
But that seems to have changed now that many of the documentaries put out by PBS, History and Discovery are using HDTV and intelligent discussions in their shows. In the last six months, I have seen such quality documentaries come out on these channels that I actually look forward to what they might show the following week.
Documentaries are not just a source of idle entertainment, but of knowledge and information. There is so much in the universe that I will never fully understand or properly appreciate. With these documentaries, I can at least appreciate them better and have a basic understanding of their importance.
It seems that the rut is temporarily over as these new shows allow users to think and form conclusions (even if they prove to be wrong in the following episodes). I can only hope that this season will last longer than normal, as I do not look forward to another two years of unintelligent dribble.