December 10, 2008 Jill

It’s getting a little too close to gift giving time.  Do you know what you’re getting the writers in your life? I have a number of DVD sets that I’d like to recommend.

State of Play

I’d heard a lot about this British miniseries but could never find it until recently when I ordered it from Amazon.  I started watching it under the worst conditions: on my teeny portable DVD player in ten minute chunks before passing out at night.  Yet very quickly I was totally hooked.  Tense, layered, beautiful writing.

Why a writer will love it: a great model of how to do a 6-pack, just the right number of characters and a perfect amount of story.

I Love Lucy

Yes, Lucy is still fresh and funny even after all these years.  And in an era when everything is changing and we’ve got new media to explore, it’s great to look back to the pioneers of television and see how they did it.

Why a writer will love it: the roots of everything we write today are right here.

Sling and Arrows

Slings and Arrows is a thing of perfection.  It’s got a perfect comic tone, quirky characters and a story line that delivers.  It never fails to put me in a great mood which is a truly wonderful thing.  The complete series will make a great addition to any writer’s collection.

Why a writer will love it: The series’ voice is so clear, the characters are original and the energy never flags.

The Wire

I watched the first season and then watched it again immediately.  Even if you’ve watched the entire series, there is so much packed into every episode that you watch it many more times and still get something out of it.

Why a writer will love it: story story story.  Dense, rich satisfying story that you can watch over and over and over again.

Not Just the Best of the Larry Sanders Show

This DVD set is the best gift I have ever recieved (thank you, Bobby).  Not only are the episodes great but the special features are nothing short of brilliant.  Forget giving this as a gift, buy it for yourself.  You deserve it.  Seriously.

Why a writer will love it: Garry Shandling pioneered the cable series and so much of what we love on television today is a direct descendant of the series.  And it launched about a zillion careers including Jon Stewart’s, Jeremy Pivens, Tommy Schlamme, Judd Aptow,  Carol Leifer, Jeffrey Tambor, Janeane Garofalo, Sarah Silverman.

On my personal wishlist:  Deadwood the Complete Series,  which is bound to be great.

If you haven’t sent Santa your wishlist yet, put it in the comments section or send it off to Santa via this cool app from ze frank.

Comments (5)

  1. Spec Odyssey

    Hey Jill!

    Good shout about State of Play, it came out here in Blighty a good few years ago now, but it’s still as gripping as ever. Paul Abbot is a great writer.

    Also, you forgot to put Entourage seasons 1-4…Probably the best comedy series on TV right now!

    Check out my blog if you have the time:

  2. Spec Odyssey

    P.s. Check out a program called Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe. It’s been uploaded on You Tube. It’s an hour special episode where he interviews amongst others, Paul Abbot, Russel T Davis (Dr Who Showrunner) and many other TV writers, really interesting.

  3. OutOfContext

    Santa didn’t wait to be asked in my case. I’d never seen The Wire until I caught part of an episode (1.04) on BET. In it was a scene where McNulty and Bunk investigate an old crime scene in what I thought was a silent scene. I loved it. Now, I’ve had exactly one spec pilot optioned, and it was by a woman who was a producer on The Wire and her husband (who happens to be my cousin–that’s how a guy in Ohio gets read) and I mentioned to them that I had finally gotten a taste of The Wire on BET and was going to watch more. Horrified that I would watch the expurgated, commercially interrupted version, they made me promise I would never watch it on BET again. A week later FEDEX delivered all five seasons. I’m halfway through season 1 and wonder why I was so resistant to watching it. I put it down to David Simon’s preachiness on talk shows and racism on my part, frankly. Oddly enough, that scene in the apartment that got me hooked, unexpurgated, McNulty and Bunk say “Fuck” all through the scene and it ruins it for me–I like the silent version where it appears that they know their job and each other so well that nothing needs to be said.

  4. admin

    I know that scene. So many people who saw the original version were amazed at all the way they said “Fuck” but I always saw it as the writers fooling around and it bumped me out of the story.
    Anyway, you have some great great viewing ahead. Every season of that series is terrific.

  5. Another mythical gift would be the Steven Moffat Dr. Who episodes, which are nigh unto perfection. ‘The Empty Child’ won a Hugo for a reason.

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