I'd watched all the lame television I could stand: episodic, formulaic, stupid... Total waste of time. So, for a decade and a half, I only watched movies on the cinema's big screen or my small screen courtesy of VCR tapes, then DVDs.
What changed my mind?
I went to see the movie Serenity. (I see any science fiction film that has the least hope of being watchable. I root for sci-fi.) I loved Serenity - especially its characters. I was told there was a previous TV show, Firefly, that concentrated on the characters. Watched it. Loved it.
I thought, if this TV show is so good by this Whedon guy who did Buffy the Vampire Slayer... maybe I should try that? Slippery, slippery slope... I've now followed various actors or writers or show creators or critic's recommendations to a whole galaxy of enjoyable shows (and a few that faltered).
Here are my favorites:
Firefly - humanistic space-saga/western with snappy dialogue and terrific characters.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer - snappy teen-speak plus monster-of-the-week... that grows deeper over its run. This is long-form TV that rewards the dedicated viewer.
Angel - a spin-off from Buffy with a darker tone. Must-see if you liked Buffy (just slog through Evil Cordy)
Battlestar Galactica - superior sci-fi with an operatic feeling and scope. (Earlier post here.)
Veronica Mars - teen detective show that reminded me of Buffy minus vampires. (Earlier post.)
Castle - mystery writer plus cops, formulaic idea, yet good fun
Bones - forensic mystery with character development
Dead Like Me - weird premise cable show
Sherlock - present day version of Holmes. Terrific!
Dr. Who - gotta watch the latest Doctor
Torchwood - a spin-off from Dr. Who with a dark, sexy tone.
The enjoyed-until-it-faded or didn't-quite-work shows I'm glad I watched:
Glee - I heard so much from theater folk I had to watch. Liked it until I decided Will wasn't a nice man.
Chuck - unlikely spy story (fun until Chuck turned pro.)
Moonlight - cheesy vampire detective (Angel-lite)... Guilty pleasure.
True Blood - a heck of a lot of fun until I found I didn't like the characters anymore. (Earlier post.)
Dexter - dark, dark, dark to find yourself rooting for a serial killer, yet fascinating. I lost heart after the Rita thing.
Dollhouse - Whedon's latest TV venture, interesting but uneven (at the beginning... just... huh?!)
I suppose I'll end up watching "classic" shows I missed during my self-imposed exile. Sopranos maybe? Twin Peaks? There's a real advantage to catching shows later: sure you miss the watercooler chat, but you weed out worthless shows and watch good ones at your own pace - able to rush to resolve cliff-hangers (a real bonus on Battlestar Galactica!).