03 March 2009

My favorite show on television used to be The West Wing. The show was witty, and featured arcane, blissfully self contained plots and narrative.. dialogue... banter that would tickle Shakespeare. It was amazing. It was an ideal view of the White House and the men and women inside the executive branch. There were, with rare exceptions, no ludity, no over-the-top romances, no digressions into the characters' personal lives. Except, of course, where these digressions served the episode's plot. The plot - the challenges these characters faced in day-to-day governance - was the only thing respected.

It appealed to me in the same way that The Watchmen (which, btw, I'm going to see tomorrow, days ahead of the US premiere!) appealed to me. It was layered, multi faceted. Each episode featured many continuations that - while they often dovetailed nicely one with another by the end of an episode - didn't always have anything to do with each other in substance. Every show was like an essay. The series took the art of narrative to a new form, and entire episodes were often just very ornate interjections into an argument or discussion. People walking, and talking.

My new favorite TV series is with no qualifications House. I noticed that a lot of other nerds/engineer types like this show, as well. Follow any sampling of the programming world on twitter and you'll see people speaking to their fondness for the show in 140 character exclamations. It's riveting for a problem solver. Dr. Gregory House is a diagnostician in at the ficticious Princeton Plainsboro Teaching Hospital where he and his team tackle medical mysteries deemed otherwise unsolvable. House's character is brisk, lacking all tact. He doesn't suffer fools, hates wishy-washy ideas founded on expressions of feeling. He is a scientist to the last, often refusing to even see his patients and instead letting the symptoms - the facts - stand on their own.

He would make a very fine programmer. He is the quintessential "debugger."

The Wikipedia page I linked you to elaborates on some of the parallels between House's character, a doctor, and Sherlock Holmes, a detective. Their staunch adherence to the facts, their disinterests in what people say or think, and their abilities of deduction. Apparently, Sherlock Holmes himself was based on a doctor, so it's something of a full circle.

Now, I'm wondering what other shows are popular among nerds. I appreciate shows that can pull off the art of satire, of deadpan, well. I also love shows with strong "whodunnit" plots. I appreciate shows aimed at resolution of issues. I love MythBusters. I appreciate shows dripping in irony, and really like a lot of the programs on the BBC, because a lot of that sort of humor is unavailable here in the states.

What do other people watch? What kind of show is interesting to a nerd?