The 5 Best HBO Original Series
HBO is known for groundbreaking Television. Everything they’ve done is phenomenal in every aspect. Their original shows alone are worth the subscription. They can take you where network TV can’t. Now with the popularity of TV to DVD and instant streaming, you can catch any popular TV show that you never got to see because you didn‘t have a subscription. My picks for the best of the best of HBO original shows.
5) True Blood – If you love hard core sex, blood, violence, and vampires, (and who doesn’t really) then True Blood is for you. Based on the best selling Sookie Stackhouse books by Chairlane Harris, for which there are 12 and counting. It stars super sexy Anna Paquin. Things get crazy in the fictional town of Bon Temps, Louisiana, where it seems everyone is a “Supernatural”. Besides vampires, there are werewolves, werepanthers, witches, fairies, shape shifters, and more. Things sometimes get downright silly, but the silliness adds a comical touch at the right moments while still keep things very scary. One of the things I love about the show (besides Anna Paquin’s accent and body) is that every bad ass fears another bad ass. Every boss has a boss, who has another boss. Each show ends on a cliff hanger leaving you begging for more. True Blood will kickoff it’s 5th season later this year and will bring back to HBO Christopher Meloni, who left Law and Order: SVU after 11 seasons. Word is, he will play a ruthless vampire. Meloni also starred in the next of my top five picks:
4) Oz – The show where everyone is a bad guy. The politics of life in prison. This is as hardcore as it gets. It’s like a True Blood in prison, only the sex isn’t voluntary. Oz had a brilliant rotating all star cast and followed the lives of several inmates and their gangs as they struggle to survive every day in the harsh life of maximum security prison. Almost every episode, a new scum bag character is brought to the show while another bites the dust in dramatic fashion. The show always featured a narration by inmate Augustus Hill (Harold Perrineau) seemingly trying to teach us a lesson in life. If you’ve ever had someone wrong you and go to prison, you can take comfort knowing what their daily life might be like. On the other hand, if you’ve ever thought about committing a crime, watch this show first! I for one will never cheat on my taxes again. Oz ran 58 episodes over 6 seasons with a jaw dropping series finale. Some of it’s stars include: Ernie Hudson, David Zayas and Lauren Velez (Dexter), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Lost), Dean Winters (30 Rock and those silly Gieco commercials) B.D. Wong (Law and Order), J.K. Simmons (everything else), and more great ones. Oz is not for the faint of heart. On the lighter side is my next pick:
3) Larry Sanders – perhaps the best comedy show of all time on any network. Gary Shandling is generic talk show host Larry Sanders. Behind the scenes, things never go his way. Brilliant acting from an all star cast as always from an HBO series. This show really exploits Shandling’s comic genius. Very few people can do what he does, and that is give you belly laughs without saying a word. His expressions and reactions are priceless. He plays the egotistical, selfish asshole to perfection. But because he’s the boss, everyone has to kiss his ass. (Sound familiar?) And no one tried to kiss it more than his talk show side kick Hank, played by Jeffery Tambor in what I think is his finest work in his whole career. Ran 89 episodes over 6 seasons. Each one worth watching a 2nd and 3rd time. The show also featured Jeremy Piven, who was the shinning star of my next pick:
2) Entourage – loosely based on Mark Wahlberg’s experiences as an up and coming actor trying to navigate through the Hollywood maze. Wahlberg also served as a consultant and executive producer. This and Larry Sanders Show are must sees for anyone who has worked or wants to in the entertainment industry. If you live in LA and have ever tried to make it in Hollywood (like me), you gain a special appreciation for the show. Follow four pot heads as they try to make it big in the movie business. It’s always a struggle, even when you’re rich and famous. The entire show was stolen away by Jeremy Piven and his character, mega-power agent Ari Gold. Ari is as big an ass as they come, but the type of guy everyone wants working for them. He gets my vote for the best TV character of any HBO series (yes, even over Tony Soprano), and one of the greatest of all time. TV guide listed Ari’s catch phrase at number 6 in their pick of the 16 greatest TV catch phrases. What was that phrase again? “Let’s hug it out bitch.“ This mega popular show came to it’s end just months ago, much to the dismay of fans. There was talk of an Entourage movie. We’ll keep an eye out for updates.
1) The Sopranos – perhaps the most popular of all HBO shows and the best. James Gandolfini plays the tough New Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano. A family man that answers to the bossy wife (Eddie Falco) by day, but by night everyone answers to him. Sopranos was the perfect mix of family drama, violence, dark comedy, and an inside look at the politics of organized crime. Tony looked like a big teddy bear but was ruthless. It wasn’t what he said, but how he said it. When Tony told you to do something, you could tell by the look in his eyes and the tone of his voice, you better @#!$! do it! Whether it was to return a phone call, sell you a house at a significantly reduced price, or whack your girlfriend. I’ve practiced Tony’s mannerisms around the house trying to give orders to the wife, but it didn’t work for me. Guess you need some muscle behind you. His ruthless trigger happy muscle were authentically played by Michael Imperioli, Tony Sirico, Steve Van Zandt, Steve Schirripa, and Vincent Pastore who may have the most memorable name of any TV character: Big Pussy. Tony Soprano is ranked at # 10 in Bravo’s 100 greatest TV characters ever and his wife‘s character, Carmelo Soprano (Falco), is ranked at # 47. Ran 86 episodes over 6 seasons. It’s final episode left millions of viewers asking the same question: “What the $&@! was that?” I felt it was the most unsatisfying series finale I’ve ever seen. But as Tony Soprano once said about feelings: “I wipe my ass with your feelings”. He certainly did on episode 86.
Keep an eye out for the new HBO original series “LUCK” which finally brings Dustin Hoffman to the TV screen. So far, it looks good and has me hooked.
Breaking news: Luck has been cancelled. Bad luck I guess.