There are a lot of shows on television. A lot. It’s hard to keep up with them, unless some pop culture website is banging a drum on a weekly basis about how you should be watching this show or that show. Chances are, there are many series that you’ve never even given a shot, that you’ve dismissed out of hand because of the network it’s on, the lame premise, a cast member that you don’t care for, or because you judge a television show based on bad promotional materials. Many of those shows are also not covered regularly on pop-culture blogs like this, so they fly under the radar within a particular demographic that might never have even considered checking out these shows.
Below, I’ve put together a list of 10 of those series, which are currently running (or recently ended their runs). They’re not necessarily the best shows on television (although, the third on the list is definitely one of the top five shows TV right now), but they’re good, solid shows that, for whatever reason, a lot of people dismissed out of hand.
Longmire — It’s on A&E, so it probably isn’t on the radar of many of our readers, and the fact that it’s a procedural is a strike against it for others. But as someone who typically loathes procedurals, I’m a big fan of Longmire, which I’d describe as a kind of heavier, Western version of a USA Network show. The reason it’s so good, however, is because of Robert Taylor, who manages to be a soft-spoken bad ass, a tough, old leathery Lee Majors for this generation. “Longmire” is basically the show I envision Timothy Olyphant taking when he’s in his 50s or 60s. Katee Sackhoff is pretty great, too, even if she is sorely underused.
Elementary — Yes, in the previos entry, I mentioned that I typically loathe procedurals, and yet, here’s another one, a CBS rip-off of PBS’s Sherlock that so many of us dismissed out of the gate, including myself. But after a critical mass of viewers insisted that it was better than we were giving it credit for, I decided to catch up on the series over the summer (I’m currently in the midst of that). It is better than I thought it would be, and though there is a definite procedural component, it is steeped in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s deductions, Jonny Lee Miller is outstanding, Lucy Liu’s Joan Watson works better than it has right right to, and the cases are far more compelling than your typical network procedural. It’s good, and sure as hell more fresh and interesting than the stale show that Castle has become. It’s also worth nothing that the phenomenal Rhys Ifans has been added to season two as Sherlock’s brother, Mycroft.
Rectify — A Sundance channel drama about a death row killer being released from prison and reintegrating into his small town and his family after 20 years locked up doesn’t sound like the most exciting show on television. The fact that it’s slow-paced and thoughtful may not sell you, either. In fact, had the reviews for the pilot not been so outstanding, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought. I’m glad I did because the first season of the drama, which was only six episodes, was definitely the best freshman series of the year (and I’m including Orphan Black) and may be the best new show since Game of Thrones. The show comes from the producers of Breaking Bad and Ray McKinnon, who some of you may know as Lincoln Potter on Sons of Anarchy. It is a devastating drama, a show that will chew you up and leave you fetal. The season finale this year was the most soul-destroying episode of television I’ve seen this year, and that includes the penultimate episode of Game of Thrones. It is that good. I promise you.