As the COO of Ovation, a network devoted to the fine and performing arts, it's probably not a surprise that Chad Gutstein is a fan of Fox's So You Think You Can Dance. But his work doesn't color all the choices that he provided to us for a very eclectic Watchlist.
Gutstein, for example, has a taste for the dark side of cable TV. Among his favorites: Breaking Bad, Boardwalk Empire and Boss. He even got on board for Ryan Murphy's scary anthology series American Horror Story. "The first season was twisted and dark and different from anything else on TV," he says.
Plus: He's a die-hard New York Giants fan. "As a lifelong fan of the current and four-time Super Bowl champs, I'm waiting to see if our elite man, Eli Manning, can once again bring the Lombardi trophy back to New York," he says, "or at least beat the Cowboys."
Here's Gutstein's full list. Watch his video introduction to his Watchlist below.
Arrested Development: One show I can't wait to see again is Arrested Development. After a six-year break, the show that defines dysfunctional family is coming to Netflix next spring. A failed magician on a Segway, a self-diagnosed never-nude, an insecure man-child... Individually, the Bluth family members are crazy, but together as a family, they somehow... almost... make sense.
So You Think You Can Dance: So You Think You Can Dance is in its ninth season on Fox, and I still find something in each episode, each performance really, that is so powerful, so moving, it reminds me that this may be the best reality show on TV. If you missed any of these amazing performances, you can catch repeats of seasons past on Ovation.
A Chance to Dance: Nigel Lythgoe brought the wonder and beauty of dance back to American TV, which is why I'm proud to have this next show on my Watchlist! A Chance to Dance is executive-produced by Nigel and can be seen on Ovation, where I happen to be the COO.
It's a different kind of dance show; it follows two world-renowned choreographers as they attempt to put together a professional dance company in less than a month. There's no voting, there are no eliminations, there are simply cuts that have to be made — just like in the real world of dance. I love this show because it gives an authentic look at the hard work that makes a great dance performance look so easy. I'm proud to have it on Ovation.
Boardwalk Empire: Boardwalk Empire on HBO is another one of my favorites, in large part because of Steve Buscemi. His portrayal of Nucky Thompson is phenomenal. As a corrupt politician in bed with mobsters and bootleggers, he only looks out for himself, isn't afraid to kill anyone in his way, but still we root for him. Look out for the new season, where we are promised that Nucky will have to learn that you can't be half a gangster.
Boss: What Steve Buscemi is to Boardwalk Empire, Kelsey Grammer is to Boss on Starz. Here's another show I love for its lead character. Kelsey Grammer plays the crooked, all-powerful mayor of Chicago who — oh, by the way — has been diagnosed with a degenerative neurological disorder. It's the ultimate balance between having absolute power over a city while losing all control of himself. Grammer's Tom Kane always knows you bring a gun to a knife fight, because that's the Chicago way.
American Horror Story: One show that continues to surprise me is American Horror Story on FX. It's just creepy in a really good way. The first season was twisted and dark and different from anything else on TV. And just when I thought it couldn't get any more out of the box, they announce that Season 2 will be an entirely new story. As long the second installment of this anthology series includes Jessica Lange (and it does), I'll be watching. Her character in Season 1, a twisted, evil Blanche DuBois, is one of the creepiest female characters in TV history.
Treme: I think Treme on HBO is an example of some of the most compelling storytelling on television right now. The writing is great, the characters and relationships are believable and the post-Katrina New Orleans feels authentic. You've heard of 'rock opera'? Well, Treme is the first example of 'TV opera' because the music of New Orleans is more than a background, it's a central character in telling the story.
Johnny Cash Song by Song: Speaking of music as character, no one captured his life and character better in song than the man in black, Johnny Cash. Ovation's new bio series Johnny Cash Song by Song takes us through Cash's life by examining the content and context of some of his greatest hits. From "A Boy Named Sue" to "Hurt," America's first gangster musician shows us his life well-lived.
Smash: Another show that makes great use of music is Smash on NBC. I'm surprised that this has turned out to be one of my favorites. I wouldn't consider myself a particularly huge fan of musical theater, and while I'll admit the show can be soapy, Katharine McPhee and Megan Hilty are stars — just huge, talented, can't-take-my-eyes-off-of-you stars. And when they belt out musical numbers that feel organic to the story, this show is at its best.
Breaking Bad: Who is W.W.? If you said "Walter White," then you're as addicted to this show about a high school chemistry teacher-turned-drug kingpin as a crystal junkie is to blue meth. How good is Bryan Cranston at playing the monster who knocks in the night? So good that even after a nearly 300-person death toll, you still root for him and hope for a happy ending. But I have a feeling that in the end, Vince Gilligan and his incredible writing team will just leave everyone dead.
The Walking Dead: Speaking of dead people, it's almost time for the return of The Walking Dead on AMC and I can't wait. Can you keep your sense of humanity in a world filled with zombies who are trying to eat you? What is the true cost of survival? And what's the gnarliest way to kill a zombie? These are the questions to be pondered, and hopefully answered, this season.
New York Giants: For me, the biggest drama on television takes places on the gridiron. My two favorite teams are the New York Giants, and whoever is playing the Cowboys this week. As a lifelong fan of the current and four-time Super Bowl champs, I'm waiting to see if our elite man, Eli Manning, can once again bring the Lombardi trophy back to New York — or at least beat the Cowboys.
It should be an interesting season. After our Super Bowl win in 2008, the G-men went 10-1, before Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg. In a league stacked with powerhouse teams, is this the year my Giants can win back-to-back trophies? Tune in to see.
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