Although I consider myself more of a movie person, there are a lot of nice things out there in TV Land. We just finished watching The Wire, recently started The Sopranos, and have found ourselves deep in lots of other series and miniseries. Rarely, however, does a TV show really eat at me the way a movie or a book, can. I found a big exception to that rule in the 1986 British mini-series The Singing Detective, which is one of the best things ever created for TV ever.
In just six episodes, Dennis Potter (the writer), Jon Amiel (the director), and Michael Gambon (the star) weave together an amazingly complicated and moving story. Philip Marlowe, a writer, is hospitalized with a debilitating skin condition. From his bed he brings together memories of his boyhood, the plot of his detective novel, the perceived machinations of his ex-wife, and some truly wonderful musical numbers. You really must watch it.
This is definitely in my top three favorite television productions (right up there with Twin Peaks and Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz). If you have NetFlix, I suggest you order it right now. Or if you see me, let me know if you want to borrow it. We watched this months ago, and I still think of it all the time.
There are lots of clips from The Singing Detective on YouTube, but it is hard to find one that makes sense on its own or that doesn't give too much away out of context. But, for a taste of what I'm talking about, try this out: