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Great TV Part 1 - HBO

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Another excellent list of recommendations from guest blogger Trevor- and the good news is, as he has called this Part 1, we know that he already has more titles in mind for part 2. There are several 100's of hours of great viewing here........

Though MM traditionally highlights the great film collection here at the Calgary Public Library, our many movies are by no means the only draw. Regular customers will have undoubtedly come across a TV season or two whilst perusing the DVDs. In fact, a quick search of the collection gives over 2000 hits for television seasons on DVD. Choosing from such a large collection is a challenging task but this post will hopefully help you sift through the collection to find the standout gems most worth your time.

HBO – “It’s not TV, it’s HBO” is a very fitting tagline for the subscription TV service. In general, HBO series greatly surpass anything that you could find on regular stations (with the added benefit of being commercial free). Pretty much anything HBO touches turns to gold but here are a few of the most noteworthy.

Rome – An epic period piece that details the greatest empire the world has ever known. Rome’s splendour is emphasized nearly as much as its depravity. The first season chronicles Julius Caesar’s rise to power while the second focuses on his nephew Augustus.

In Treatment – The always excellent Gabriel Byrne plays a psychiatrist, struggling to balance his own problems as he grows increasingly invested in his patients. episode focuses on one of 5 patients, cycling through their appointments on each day of the week. The most interesting aspect is that Byrne is the 5th patient, seeing his own psychologist to deal with the pressures of his life. Absolutely riveting.

Big Love –Bill Paxton plays a righteous Mormon man, trying to raise his family just like any other man. A difficult task considering he has three households and three wives. There’s a surprising amount of excitement to be found in Big Love as Bill tries to protect the secret of his family while battling against the corrupt leadership of his former Mormon commune.

True Blood - For those of you who cringed from the Twilight series and its neutered portrayal of vampires, look no further than True Blood. With more sex, more gore, and more violence than any other show on this list it true-ly pushes the limits of what we consider TV. It’s also good campy fun.

The Sopranos - There’s a reason there are university classes based entirely around The Sopranos. It is the most profitable series in the history of cable television and is one of the most critically acclaimed television shows of all time. Traditional mob movie tropes are twisted and distorted as viewers delve into the psyche of emotionally troubled mob boss Tony Soprano. If you’ve ever enjoyed a Martin Scorsese film, The Sopranos should be a no brainer.

Six Feet Under - is perhaps the most ambitious television series I have ever seen. It’s not the big summer blockbuster type of ambitious, nor is it the type of trendsetting ambition found in experimental films. No, Six Feet Under is ambitious because it tries, and in my opinion succeeds, in answering a very difficult question: what does it mean to die? It’s humorous, depressing, heartfelt, and macabre in equal measure and it is well worth your time.

by Trevor