Approved Television

This a collection of /tg/-approved live-action television. Cartoons and animated series have been moved to Approved cartoons.

Contents

ComedyEdit

  • Blackadder: A historical comedy about the descendants of the Blackadder family, all played by Mr. Bean, with each season taking place in a different period of British history, starting in the Middle Ages and ending with the First World War. Very British yet goofy in its tone and sense of humour with plenty of in-jokes for the historians, and plenty more for those who aren't. While the first season is considered to be mediocre by pretty much everyone, the writing improves in season two and keeps getting better, with season four's finale being a a masterclass in writing humour without sacrificing grimdark. If you ever wondered what kind of jokes would fit either of the Warhammers, look no further.
  • Hero Corp: A French comedy series about poking fun out of superheroes and cape stuff in general. However, rather than being some sort of obnoxious parody, it's simply a humorous take on the material, while having an assembly cast of interesting characters and balancing between self-awarness and plot-related humour. You probably know it already from the "Low Power Supers" webm that gets routinely posted in finename threads.
  • Mystery Science Theater 3000: A bunch of Minnesotans with robot puppets riff on terrible movies. Achieved legendary cult classic status after being canceled (since it confused and angered the norms and behind the scenes shenanigans) and spawned the venerable Rifftrax. Has come back from the dead on Netflix. Netflix version has some pros and cons, for example they seem to try and talk more often but in doing so their jokes became pretty lackluster, but with such a long break and with 10 ep seasons almost every movie is a hit (well, hit for this kind of show that is).

CrimeEdit

  • Breaking Bad The story of a high-school chemistry teacher succumbing to cancer turned meth maker and his junkie ex-student sidekick. A premise made special by its excellent writing that won Bryan Cranston and the creative team 10d100 Emmys for portraying Mr. Rodger's gradual slide into a paranoid drug kingpin without any sign of seasonal decay. This is how you RP, people! Take note.
    • Better Call Saul A solid spin-off series of the above. Well written, well acted, and pretty good at showing how the American legal system works. Most importantly, if you ever wondered what it takes to be a good Face, Jimmy is one of the prime examples to observe.
  • Glina ["Cop"] Amazingly good Polish neo-noir series. While it starts slow, after initial few episodes it turns into a modern masterpiece of crime series. Very oldschool in style, with a wide range of different cases, juicy dialogues (or at least juicy translation) and great performances. If you ever wanted to run or play an investigation game, accept no substitute for inspiration or direct rip-off.
  • True Detective First season, anyway. Southern gothic meets modern investigation meets a whole plot reference to The King in Yellow. Very dark and climactic series, with solid performances and a bunch of ideas how to pull a modern "investigator" type of game Call of Cthulhu struggles so badly to market.
  • Twin Peaks A somewhat skubworthy entry, given David Lynch's involvement, but a worthwhile watch, nonetheless. What starts off as a fairly cheesy whodunnit about the murder of the local homecoming queen soon reveals itself to be something more in line with paranormal surrealist horror. If you're not sure how to make your Call of Cthulhu game walk the line between the supernatural and the mundane, then this is your guide. Watch seasons one & two, then the film, and then season 3 for maximum authenticity.
  • The Wire Everybody else recommends it, so why not us? Grimdark crime drama about drug dealing in Baltimore. If you want a good primer on how to do Grimdark well, this is a fairly good place to start.

FantasyEdit

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The story of an average teenage girl who deals with all the average teenage girl things such as school, boyfriends and, eventually, college and adult life. She's also the chosen one, whose duty it is to defend the earth from demons, monsters, vampires, and whatever other nasty shit's out there. At times, the show is pretty cheesy (especially season one), at times it crosses into grimderp (like season 6), but all-in-all, it's a well-written urban fantasy show that redefined what television could be at the time it came out, and your OWoD campaign will thank you for taking inspiration.
    • Angel: Buffy's edgy, noir-inspired sister. Slightly darker tone with a similar style of story-telling. Like most spin-off's it's not quite as good as it's predecessor, and you can't really watch it without the original, but if you loved Buffy, but wanted a more urban flavour, this is where you go, when season four starts.
  • Carnivale: A group of depression era carnies are caught up in a Manichean struggle between the forces of light and darkness. One of HBO's first experiments with high concept, high budget fantasy. Died ignominiously after two seasons due to scripting problems, audience apathy, and grimdark overload; but paved the way for those who would follow.
  • Game of Thrones: GRRM's pet project finally made it to the small screen. Combines the epic swords and sorcery of high fantasy with the nihilistic hopelessness of quasi-medieval life. Thanks to Martin's amazing horrible skubtastic writing and HBO's massive budget, this show has gone a long way towards making fantasy "respectable". It's known for containing gratuitous amounts of sex and violence even by the standards of the source material, and got progressively chunkier after the show writers made some questionable characterization calls and also ran out of Martin's books to cannibalise, but it's not like you'll find any other fantasy show on TV that was as well-funded as this one.
  • Hercules: The Legendary Journeys: Concentrated nostalgia from back in the days when fantasy shows were relegated to Friday night time slots where they couldn't harm the general public. If you're a neckbeard in your thirties, this show probably had something to do with it. It operated on a knowingly anachronistic premise and has fun with it. Kind of embarrassing by today's standards, but it pioneered everything from CGI monsters to filming in New Zealand. Resulted in its much more famous spin-off series...
    • Xena: Warrior Princess: Before you knew her as an uppity Cylon or an insane Roman housewife, Lucy Lawless was the leather clad, god slaying, Amazon OG. If you're a neckbeard in your thirties (or a ca/tg/irl who liked Gabrielle a little too much), you probably fapped to it. The cultural cachet of this show is so great that even underage B& that never could have seen it will recognize the character.
  • Masters of Horror: An anthology resembling more a collection of short films than your typical TV series. Each story is directed by some legend in horror business, and by general rule those fantasy-themed stories are better than the sci-fi ones. Special mention goes to "Deer Woman", "Cigarette Burns" and "Fair Haired Child". Warning! Certain episodes require hefty dose of brain bleach to forget what you've just saw (not kidding), while other are more black comedy than actual horror.
  • 西遊記 (Saiyuki, or "Monkey" if you're a filthy gaijin): A 1978 Japanese adaptation of Journey to the West. While this is far from being the best adaptation, it is probably one of the most widely known outside of Asia (with the exception of Dragonball), thanks in part to the BBC buying the rights and producing a cheesy and hilarious dub for it. This is probably from where your Weeaboo GM got his most insane ideas.
  • Witcher: A shoe-string budget fantasy series (still one of the most expensive productions in native Poland) about - well, who else - Geralt the Witcher, made by Poles in 2001. The quality of episodes varies greatly, while the special effects aged like milk, but it's still a fun ride to take. This is how fantasy became for a while mainstream in Poland. Absolutely great music, which can be repurposed as a background for combat-heavy games. If you happen to get a DVD release and not just bootleg from TV, then the cinematography will be gorgeous too. Also, warning - the show was marketed abroad under "Hexer" title, as the term "Witcher" wasn't coined yet.
    • The Witcher: America: Netflix' own take on the now bestselling book series. Tries to be Game of Thrones, but focuses on a handful of main characters instead of the massive ensemble cast that GoT had. Has problems communicating own chronology and just like Hexer, quality of episodes varies wildly, but overall, it's fun, with Henry Cavill being surprisingly good, able to pull off the manly, yet emotionally stunted vibe. Also, lots of tits.
  • Wizards and Warriors: A short-lived fantasy series from early 80s, mostly memorable due to being so heavily borrowing ideas and imaginery from early Dungeons and Dragons it almost ended with a lawsuit. Amazingly tacky, but still mineable in case of running old-school D&D games. And remember - those costumes won an Emmy. For real.

HistoricalEdit

  • Deadwood: Another HBO series, focusing on the settlement of Deadwood and its development from mining camp to frontier town. The attempts to make the town and its world come alive are glorious. Excellent performances across the board, with the standout being Al "Fuck That Cocksucking Motherfucker" Swearengen. GMs looking for how wild and lawless frontiers can become platforms for adventurers should check this out, and steal as many subplots as you can for your Deadlands game.
  • I, Claudius: A BBC miniseries based on the book of the same name from 1976. While dated, both in historical accuracy and production values, it's still one of the most accurate depictions of Ancient Rome in television. Also known for fanservice to rival most modern shows.
  • Marco Polo: A Netflix exclusive series, Marco Polo follows the famous Italian merchant while he tries to survive in the court of Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis motherfucking Khan. While not historically accurate it is certainly very entertaining with war, political intrigue, and concubines out the ass. Also Mongols. If anything, the character One-Hundred eyes makes the show worth the watch because of how badass he is. Seriously; a Daoist monk that Kublai blinded with a spitting cobra because he wouldn't teach his martial art to his generals. And he can still kick ass while blind.
  • Rome: It's HBO so the tits and ultraviolence spigot is still wide open, but this one actually does some good world building and political intrigue on the side. Just don't try to use it as a point of reference for historical campaigns.
  • Spartacus: Blood and Sand A faithful historical narrative about the third servile war and the various social pressures that precipita... phhht no I'm kidding it's wall to wall tits and ultraviolence. Despite being a relentlessly silly 300 wanna-be that had no business ever being green lit it actually managed to be a treasure trove of feels and awesome, due in large part to unusually solid writing and some heroic performances by actors like John Hannah, Lucy Lawless, Craig Parker, and Peter Mensah.
  • 三国 (Three Kingdoms 2010): Widely regarded as the best and most accessible version of China's most famous story (essentially their Iliad). Almost a hundred hours long, epic scope, tons of actors, and legions of extras (you can buy them by the bushel over there). Almost worth it for Chen Jianbin's gloriously dickish Cao Cao alone, but there's plenty of other reasons to stick around. The entire thing is available on youtube and elsewhere because CCTV could not give two shits about licensing it outside of the country.
  • Vikings: History's bid to gain at least a fraction of GoT audience, while also catering to reenactors, historical witzs and just about general audience, since, duh, vikings. Very well-researched and tightly written, the show comes with very high initial quality. Unfortunately, it also suffers greatly from seasonal rot after first 2 seasons and utterly pointless continuation at this point, so be warned about highly visible drop of quality with each season.

Sci FiEdit

  • Babylon 5: It's the future, after humanity narrowly escaped extermination in a war with the Minbari (bone headed guys who are like the Eldar with the dickishness dialed down to mostly manageable levels) it sets up a space station in neutral territory to act as a center of diplomacy to try to avert another war which gradually gets embroiled in an ancient conflict between two powerful alien civilizations. While most TV Science Fiction in the day was "this week's adventure" Babylon 5 set out to tell a grand story and (mostly) succeeded. The first space sci-fi to use CGI instead of motion control photography, so it hasn't aged that well visually.
  • Battlestar Galactica: In a galaxy far, far away humanity is engaged in a war with a legion of cybernetic assholes called Cylons. In a total dick move the genocidal toasters feign a peace offering and decimate the human fleet, except for a a few starships which manage to escape. Organizing under the protection of the titular Battlestar-class Galactica this ragtag refugee fleet, assuming they are the only survivors, attempts to escape to the fabled planet called Earth.
    • Comes in two flavors: Original 1970s (Cheesetastic, but hilarious if you're into that sort of thing) and Immediate-Post-9/11-Reboot (Grimdark, and actually pretty good). Both recommended, but other than initial premise, the two are wildly different. Be aware going in that the modern version has a reputation for producing an especially terrible ending for the show(even more so in some circles then even Lost!).
  • Doctor Who: The adventures of the universe's saddest time traveling bro. Absolutely ancient in canon and out (the show predates Star Trek by three years). Cheesy special effects, but it's got heart and (usually) good writing. It's bigger on the inside.
  • Farscape: Muppets in spaaaace! This show, produced by the Jim Henson company, is dark. Even media in self-professed grimdark settings rarely put their main characters through this much torment. You wouldn't think it when it starts out, the first half of the first season being notoriously cheesy, but the cheese you wade through at the start belies an intense series as every major military organization in the galaxy targets our hero for torture, mindrape, and death. Few stories to date put their heroes through such a gauntlet, but the audience follows John Crichton's journey from all-American hero to notorious interstellar terrorist from start to finish, rooting for him the entire way.
  • Firefly: Traveller except about post-bellum Confederates IN SPAAAAAACE. Like most of the Whedonverse praising it on /tg/ will unleash a category 5 skubstorm.
  • Spellbinder: A two-season series, or rather two thinly connected standalone series dealing with parallel worlds. Each "season" can be seen as separate story, as they only share one character (an extremely compelling villainess) and the general concept of alternative universe(s). Despite being made for kids, it's very much watchable even two decades later - think "Sliders", but good and with plot. It also comes with few pretty interesting settings with some rich world-building. A third season has been in development hell since 1998.
  • seaQuest DSV: Not actually approved but shows up from time to time. Basically Star Trek but on a submarine and staring that guy from Jaws. Like Star Trek, it ran for three seasons. Also like Star Trek, it was technically cancelled after every season.
  • Star Trek: It's Star Trek. If you were born some time in the last half century you probably heard of it're not a drooling mongoloid you've heard of it.
  • Stargate: At first there was a Roland Emmerich movie based around the Ancient Astronaut theory and finding a Big Ring in Egypt which can take you to another world, which was an adequate science-fiction action romp. Even so, it did well enough to get a Television series in Stargate SG-1. It changed a few things about from the movie (usually for the better) and had a rocky first season (for the worse), but after that it became one of the better science fiction series. Plenty of action, excellent characters performed by excellent actors, memorable humor and succeeds both as an episode to episode series as well as with long continuity arcs.
  • The Expanse: A Syfy adaptation of the novel series. Tensions are building between Earth, Mars and the Asteroid Belt when Phazon an unknown alien element gets discovered and throws everything out of wack.
  • The X-Files: All possible and imaginable conspiracy theories about aliens mixed together for the show that redefined how to even make a sci-fi themed series. Plus monster of the week plots thrown in for a good measure. The show balances between being serious, self-aware, camp and horror. Following adventures of two FBI agents, both working in a sub-division dealing with "paranormal" cases, treated by rest of the Bureau as a dead-end in the career. Even if you don't have time to watch all episodes, you can pick up at any given moment and still catch up on the go with the arc story. (ProTip for new viewers: The show worked best in the stand-alone episodes. Most of the "arc" episodes are actually fairly dull and uninspired, while the arc itself is infamous for being fake and going nowhere. This is even more apparent with the attempts at reviving the series.)
  • The Prisioner: A 60s classic sadly fallen into obscurity, it tells us the story of an unnamed British spy that gets kidnapped by a secret organization after resigning for motives unknown. He is moved to a place only known as "The Village", a sort of idylic place inhabited by old and brainwashed special agents of many nationalities, where noone can escape. Incredibly ambitious for its time, it tackles themes such as identity and duty, while also making the protagonist fight with his wit and smarts his captors, while at the same time they keep him trapped in The Village. If you haven't heard about it, don't worry, you've probably heard about it because it has been parodied in The Simpsons once (twice if you include Rover!).

Unapproved But MinableEdit

ReferencesEdit