When HBO (Home Box Office) was launched in 1972, I’m sure it didn’t have as much variety as it does today in 2019. It has grown to become a place to watch quality and engaging television programming in the comforts of your home. While I would love to have it, I would never leave my apartment and would just be adding more to my list of things to watch. There is such a thing is overdoing it. So, that means I found other ways to watch their shows, buying them later, and here is a list of the ones I’ve seen and recommending. Some shows lasted only a few seasons and left a bitter taste in my mouth due to lack of closure, but at least Deadwood is coming back in a TV movie. I still have The Wire, Band of Brothers, Elizabeth I, Mildred Pierce, True Detective, and John Adams to watch, but I’m confident these are great too. Some have been sitting on my shelf too long. One show is in the last season. Yes, The Game of Thrones, I’m talking about you. I’m sure I’ll be reading about it as the last six episodes dwindle down to the last to see who really does conquer Westeros. The first episode airs on April 14 and the last on May 19. I’ll have to wait until it comes out on DVD. The shows are in order of the broadcast year.
Oz (1997 to 2003) was created by Tom Fontana and is about the Oswald State Correctional Facility. The two characters that become a staple of this series is Tobias Beecher (Lee Tergesen) and Vernon Schillinger (J.K. Simmons). They shine on the screen as their relationship becomes messy as each season passes. You see the good and bad activities that occur in a male prison where it really is every man for himself. It has a great cast. It lasted six seasons.
The Sopranos (1999 to 2007) was created by David Chase and is about a New Jersey Capo and his troubles within the organization and his family. Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and Carmela Soprano (Edie Falco) do their best to keep their business and family intact. The realities and consequences of being born and part of organized crime is the basis of this show. There will be a prequel called The Many Saints of Newark where James Gandolfini’s son, Michael, is going to play him as a young Tony. It also includes Ray Liotta (maybe the Chantix commercials will stop now), Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, Alessandro Nivola, Billy Magnussen, and Vera Farmiga. It lasted six seasons.
Six Feet Under (2001 to 2005) was created by Alan Ball and is about a family that owns a funeral home in California. The Fishers are led by Ruth (Frances Conroy), the mother of Nate (Peter Krause), David (Michael C. Hall), and Claire (Lauren Ambrose), and also includes significant others that come and go. They work as well together as any dysfunctional family does. It has a great ending I still remember. It lasted five seasons.
Carnivàle (2003 to 2005) was created by Daniel Knauf and is about a traveling carnival during the 1930s. As Ben Hawkins (Nick Stahl) finds his place, he realizes there is a line between good and evil that he must face, mainly in Brother Justin Crowe (Clancy Brown). This show had great promise, and wished it had kept going. I guess I’ll never know what really came of Ben, Justin, and everyone else. I have a feeling it dealt too much in the supernatural that turned viewers off. It lasted two seasons.
Deadwood (2004 to 2006) was created by David Milch and is about Deadwood, South Dakota. Many of the characters are based on actual people including Seth Bullock (Timothy Olyphant), Al Swearengen (Ian McShane), and Calamity Jane (Robin Weigert). This town is basically full of corruption and deal making. It’s not hard to like this show. The Deadwood TV movie is coming out this year with many characters reprising their roles including Doc Cochran (Brad Dourif), Sol Star (John Hawkes), Joannie Stubbs (Kim Dickens), and Martha Bullock (Anna Gunn). It lasted three seasons.
Rome (2005 to 2007) was created by Bruno Heller, William J. MacDonald, and John Milius and is about Romans during the last days of its existence. Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) and Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson) are soldiers trying to survive during the times of Julius Caesar (Ciarán Hinds). I can understand more why this was cancelled due to the costly sets, but it was a good show about the Roman Republic. It lasted two seasons.
True Blood (2008 to 2014) was created by Alan Ball and is about vampires and inhabitants of a small town called Bon Temps (think French) in Louisiana. The trio of characters of Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin), Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer), and Alexander Skarsgård (Eric Northman) form relationships over the course of the series. As vampires and humans try to exist with each other, how long depends also on other supernatural forces. It lasted seven seasons.
Boardwalk Empire (2010 to 2014) was created by Terence Winter and is about Enoch Thompson (Steve Buscemi), more popularly referred to as Nucky as he forges alliances with those who can fill his pockets with money. With Atlantic City as the place to be during Prohibition, everyone wants a slice of the pie including the women. This show is pretty much on the same par with The Sopranos. It gets hold of you and never lets you go. It lasted five seasons.
Game of Thrones (2011-) was created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss and is about noble families forging alliances and fighting against each other in a quest to control the Seven Kingdoms. You don’t have to look far for the theories and predictions of how it might end. The relationship between Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) is definitely a highlight. The White Walkers will probably get some more screen time, but it’s anyone guess what happens to all the characters. It’s going to be epic. Don’t fear because there will be a continuation in a spin-off. When it ends, it will have lasted eight seasons.