My Favorite TV Season: Redux

It’s been a long five years since I had the pleasure of seeing my favorite actors (and celebrity crushes) each and every week on episodic television series, but finally the dry spell has ended. And this time it’s a triple treat!

Jason O'Mara   Neal McDonough   Damian Lewis

The year 2001 was life-changing for me, pop culture-wise. The mini-series Band of Brothers aired on HBO, and it captivated me so completely that I longed for the emotional experience to continue. Short of watching the series again and again (which I actually do), the best way to recapture the momentum and enjoyment was for me to follow the actors. I had experienced this kind of connection to movies a few other times in my life: in 1977, when George Lucas took us to a galaxy far, far away in Star Wars, and again in 1982 through The Man From Snowy River, when I was introduced to a land down under that would henceforth call to me. Band of Brothers seeped under my skin, and I have spent the last seven years trying to strengthen the bond in the best way I know how — by supporting the actors whose names have become like family to me.

In 2002 I experienced an almost-perfect TV season when a series called Boomtown began its short run and The Agency shifted gears for its second (and final) season. Boomtown was created by Graham Yost, who had been involved as a writer in the Band of Brothers project, and the series managed to cast many of the same actors. Neal McDonough (“Lt Buck Compton”) and Donnie Wahlberg (“2nd Lt Carwood Lipton”) were primary players, and guest stars included Frank John Hughes (“SSgt Bill Guarnere”) and Rick Gomez (“Sgt George Luz”), among others. I was captivated by the series as a whole, and the season became a Where’s Waldo for spotting Band of Brothers connections. And though it was cancelled only a few episodes into its second season, Boomtown remains one of my all-time favorite television series. Each of the actors has a special place in my pop culture memory bank, and I am always watching for any new project in which they appear.

The story is a little different with The Agency but has the same conclusion. I never watched the first season despite a premise that intrigued me. It was the players I didn’t enjoy, so the series never made an impact with me. But in Season 2 the lead actor was changed to Jason O’Mara, another veteran of Band of Brothers and an Irishman, as well. With his addition, the series took hold and engaged me in the same way as Boomtown. I had something to look forward to each week, and I had a new actor on my radar whom I would follow for years to come. This series also brought a few actors with Band of Brothers connections, most notably series regular Richard Speight Jr (“Sgt Skip Muck”) and guest star Michael Cudlitz (“Sgt Bull Randleman”) for whom I developed a fascination that has not ended to this day. The Agency and Boomtown managed to extend my Band of Brothers experience for one extra year, and I have spent every new tv season since hoping to recreate that moment in time.

This fall, my perfect tv season of 2002 has been one-upped. Not only do I have the return of Jason O’Mara and Neal McDonough, but another favorite has joined the fray. Damian Lewis, my very favorite player in Band of Brothers is now appearing on the NBC series Life, and I have a permanent smile on my face each Wednesday at 8pm. I’ve followed Lewis (“Major Dick Winters”) as best I could since 2001, but his work has been limited for American audiences. Still, I’ve taken whatever I could get, best and worst, Forsyte Saga to Dreamcatcher, and I’ve enjoyed every moment I could find him. Last season, I was rewarded for that perseverance by his appearance in Life, and I have reveled in every moment that acquaintances spoke of the series and how great Lewis is as his character of Charlie Crews. I’ve introduced several people to Lewis through this series, and I have made connections that would not have come before as a result of a shared love for his work in Band of Brothers. It is always so gratifying to me when one of my beloved actors is spoken of fondly by the people around me. And this 2008 season has been one of the most gratifying thus far.

I’m not naive enough to think that this perfect season will last. Most of these shows continue to struggle for audience. But I am taking every moment and cherishing the small things. On Sundays, I’ve had to return to the long-abandoned Desperate Housewives just to witness the spectacle of Neal McDonough playing crazy and creepy. On Wednesdays, I tune in for Damian Lewis as the most eccentric, tightly-wound, on-the-verge and inwardly angry man on television. And on Thursdays I am rewarded with Jason O’Mara as an ’08 cop stuck in 1970s New York City in Life On Mars. Each of these weekly gifts is enough in itself, and combined they elevate my entertainment joy to the highest level. And in the midst of these, I have also been treated to guest moments by Michael Cudlitz (on Life) and Colin Hanks (on Mad Men), supporting work by Matthew (“Capt Ronald Speirs”) Settle (on Gossip Girl) and Kirk (“SSgt Joe Toye”) Acevedo (on Fringe), and even more Band of Brothers players on whom I did not pick up initially. Which is one of the things that keeps me returning to the HBO miniseries — no matter how many viewings I get behind me, there are always more actors to recognize and more names to remember for the future. And that will just make the tv season even more perfect… at least for now.

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About Jules Q

sharing stories of life, faith, and love for pop culture

Posted on 8 November 2008, in What I Watch and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I know how you feel. Ever since Band of Brothers, I too have been following the actors. Neal McDonough is my personal favorite, and I have enjoyed Ron Livingston and Michael Cudlitz in Standoff. I am loving Damien in Life and I try to watch Fringe for Kirk but I can’t get into it. If only Rick Gomez and Donnie Wahlberg were in the mix I would be very happy, although I read that Donnie is going to film a pilot for TNT or USA, so I am on the lookout for that one. Watching Neal on Desperate Housewives has been a sacrifice for me because I don’t like the show and once he is gone so am I, but to see him every week is is so great that I will gladly make it and if it leads to him getting his own show again, I will be in heaven!

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