My top six TV series… for the nonce

I’m a latecomer to the TV series mania that seems to have everyone in its grip, what with them being so readily available in the DVD and Blu-Ray formats, not to mention file sharing.

Having only ever watched documentary type series before, I picked up Season One of Dexter from a music store around 2010 when the series was already in its 5th season I think, and have been hooked ever since.

Here are my top six television series since then:


6. The Vampire Diaries/True Blood

It was difficult to choose between the two, so I’ve decided to place them both in sixth position, being of the same genre. Being a skeptic, I find the supernatural most unappealing, but this is pure escapism. At any rate the love triangles in these two are not as awful and soppy as Twilight.

5. Boardwalk Empire

I dig period dramas and the Prohibition era in the USA is particularly fascinating, and so is moral ambiguity. Which boy doesn’t like blazing sub-machine guns? And Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson, is brilliant.

4. Dexter

I don’t normally like police drama series, since authority figures are a big turn-off for me. Also having lived in a police state under apartheid for many years, I don’t particularly like the Police. But Dexter Morgan the dark hero working as a forensic detective who moonlight’s as a serial killer, makes all the difference.

3. Game of Thrones

This series which has just completed airing series 3 in most places around the world has everyone’s attention in a spellbind. It would have featured higher on my favorites list, were it not for the fact that I’m already well into reading Book 5 of the epic fantasy series by George R.R. Martin, and I’m a little disappointed by the liberties taken by the Producers to change the events and characterisation when making GoT.

If you’re gobsmacked by the events in the finale of season three, there’s much more of that to come in future series… if the Producers don’t deviate too much with events as occurring in the book. But I’m giving nothing away here.

2. Breaking Bad

The pairing of Walter White a goody-two-shoes high school chemistry teacher, and Jesse Pinkman a wannabe drug dealer who cooks up his own meth into a duo of bumbling crooks, was a stroke of brilliance. Dark heroes are normally fascinating, but this pair is special. It will be sad to say farewell to these guys at the end of the fifth season as is currently being planned, but a 16-episoder may make up for it.

1. The Big Bang Theory

Hands up anyone who doesn’t like comedy? Well, fark you! Situation comedy doesn’t come any better than this. At one time, I used to think that nothing would top Third Rock From The Sun, but BBT shades it, if only just. Chuck Lorre is a genius, along with Bill Prady and Steven Molaro.

This is a comedy about science which I’m nuts about, and that about wraps it up for me. The cast of Leonard Hofstadter, Sheldon Cooper, Penny, Howard Wolowitz and Raj Koothappali have had me in stitches in every single episode. Geekiness has never looked this appealing.

Sadly I’m nearing the end of viewing season six, and I’m dreading those imminent withdrawal symptoms. I’m holding thumbs for more seasons. Please make it happen writer-producer-network guys.

A special mention goes to The Walking Dead and Homeland. And oh! I’ve just acquired entire series of Spartacus, including the prequel… But I’ve not watched nearly enough yet to make me want to topple anything from the list above. But who knows…

***nonce (n), which I came across in Game of Thrones is an old Middle English word meaning “particular” or “present occasion/instance,” and NOT the British and Australian slang term for sexual offender. 🙂

A Feast For Crows by George R.R. Martin

feastforcrowsThe 4th book in the epic fantasy series is as exhilarating as the previous three. Martin explains at the end of the book how his original manuscript  was too large for publication considering the ongoing saga of the multitude of characters we were introduced to in the first three volumes. And so he decided that it was “better served by a book that told all the story for half the characters, rather than half the story for all the characters.”

Therefore this book focuses on just the characters from King’s Landing, The Riverlands,  The Eyrie, The Iron Islands, Dorne, Oldtown, and Braavos. At King’s Landing we have the Lannisters who include the evil Queen Regent Cersei, twin brother Jaime, 8-year old King Tommen who succeeded King Joffrey, the Tyrells of Highgarden who include Queen Margaery, Tommen’s wife (yeah, forced to marry at 8 to cement the alliance with the Tyrells), and an assortment of cronies aligned to Cersei.

Elsewhere the continuing tales of Brienne of Tarth, Petyr Baelish and Sansa Stark, The Greyjoys of The Iron Islands, The Martells of Dorne, and Samwell Tarly of the Wall, play out.

We also continue to enjoy the story of Arya Stark’s journey to Braavos since fleeing from King’s Landing after the execution of her father Eddard Stark.


There is a great deal of moral ambiguity throughout the book, indeed in all 4 volumes thus far. While one is accustomed to good triumphing over evil and the good guys always winning in the end, the good guys in Martin’s books don’t necessarily always come out on top, nor do the bad guys always get their comeuppance. Martin allows for the characters we initially despise, to be able to redeem themselves. And a lot of the good guys die unnecessarily.

However some of the characters such as Cersei and Joffrey were irredeemably bad, and while we know that the latter suffered an agonising death in the previous book, Cersei’s scheming and cruelty goes unpunished, at least until the end of this book. But I’ll have to wait for the next installments to find out to what extent she suffers.

In conclusion, I once again found the historical backgrounds provided for the characters, too in-depth and long-winded. However, so fantastic is the overall story that I’m willing to overlook this, and eagerly look forward to Book 5.

A Storm Of Swords by George R. R. Martin

stormofswordsThis being the third book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series, continues the epic fantasy saga of the people’s of Westeros and Essos, most of whom are either fighting to ascend the Iron Throne, defend it, or are just caught in the middle. The one exception being the Brothers of the Night’s Watch, defending the Wall in the North of the Seven Kingdoms, against the Wildlings and the more sinister The Others.

Basic Plot

New alliances are formed, old ones broken as the five contenders for the Iron Throne continue their rivalry in the North and South. Meanwhile in the East on Essos, Daenerys Targaryen is busy gathering her forces, watching her three dragons grow, and preparing to stake her claim to the self-same throne. On the Wall, the Night’s watch venture beyond into the icy North to face the threat of the Wildlings and their leader Mance Rayder, but also come face to face with The Others, ghostly creatures that cannot be killed… easily.

While the Lannister’s, primarily Cersei, plot and scheme to keep the evil boy King Joffrey on the throne, Stannis Baratheon, brother to the recently deceased King Robert, also plots to ascend the throne with the help of Melisandre the Priestess whose use of sorcery disposes of Renly Baratheon, another contender for the Iron Throne.

Central to all these plots for the throne are the Starks. Robb Stark’s push for the Iron Throne ends with him being betrayed and murdered by the Frey’s in what becomes known as the Red Wedding. His sister Arya Stark meanwhile having escaped from King’s Landing and the Lannister’s, continues her journey to nowhere really, searching for a new home, with Winterfell the castle of the Starks being destroyed in the North.


This is the longest book in the series thus far and is just as intriguing as the others, perhaps more so. There are literally hundreds of major and minor characters dotted throughout the book. That makes for exceptional story-telling having to keep track of all them as the story is told through the eyes of the major characters.

However I feel that the chapters telling the story of Bran (Brandon Stark) could have been eliminated altogether, as they add very little to nothing to the overall saga. Bran’s adventures, if you can call them that, are a sort of distraction from the overall main events, as they have no link to them in any meaningful way.

The other gripe I have is with the length of detail Martin goes into describing the scions of the past, kings, knights and lords and other peripheral characters. The level of detail was unnecessary and just takes up page space.

Otherwise an excellent book. Really epic. I’m already well into Book 4, which is beginning to tie up some of the loose ends from Book 3.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R Martin

I’ll bet more people have watched the first two seasons than read the first two books by George R. R. Martin, A Game of Thrones and A Clash of Kings. Who can blame them – the television series is without doubt superb in almost every respect.

But the books are so much better.

I’ve just completed reading the first two books (volumes).There’s probably hundreds of reviews for Martin’s epic fantasy elsewhere, so I’m not going to add my two cents worth here. My aim is to advocate for the actual reading of each and every volume in this collection, instead of just watching the television series.

While the first TV series kept pretty much faithful to the book narrative of Book One, the second series strayed quite a bit. Whole scenes were filmed out of sequence with the book and even actions were attributed to characters who did no such thing in the book. Even locations where key events occurred did not correspond with Martin’s narrative. [You’ll have to read the books to find out what the main differences are between the book narrative and the filmed series, because I’m not going to list them. Alternatively this wiki does].

I guess it’s a near impossible task fitting around 1200 pages of a book into a 10-episode TV series, but if the overall essence of what Martin was trying to convey, is not bastardized too much, I guess it’s okay. In fairness, the TV series does do justice to the books.

However, I urge you to read each volume because there’s just so much more in the books. I’ve started reading the third volume in the series A Storm of Swords, and will be hoping that the third season which has just started flighting in some parts of the world, will not deviate as much as Season Two did.