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Five premium channel shows to put in your Netflix Queue

There’s a lot of junk television out there, folks. The shows on NBC, ABC, CBS and FOX are beginning to feel underdeveloped and trite – with the exception of “Glee.” I typically find, when talking television, many have not made the transition to premium channel programming such as HBO, Showtime and Starz. The reasons could be subscriptions fees, money issues or perhaps just apathy.

I’m here to provide you with some of the top shows to watch over the remainder of the summer. While this list is ranked in relation to Netflix availability and the quality of the show, try and get your hands on these TV shows by any legal means possible. Borrow the DVDs from a friend, rent them from Blockbuster.

These premium shows provide mature-rated television pleasure that don’t hold back on the swearing, sex and violence. But these shows provide something more. Since these shows can include the mature content, the interactions between characters on each are more believable. The writing thrives in these shows, and the audience benefits from that.

5. Californication (Showtime)

Netflix availability: Season one (Streaming), Season two (DVD), Season three (coming soon)

New Season: Fall 2010

David Duchovny wants you to be believe in “Californication.” Duchovny plays washed-up writer Hank Moody who lives in Los Angeles trying to raise his daughter, Becca. Duchovny is hilarious in the show as you see him pick up random girls from the library, only to get punched in the face during sex. Add in an awesome cast of supporting characters, including Evan Handler (Sex and The City), and you will want to go club-hopping every night with Moody and Co.

4. Spartacus: Blood and Sand (Starz)

Netflix availability: Season one (Streaming and DVD)

New Season: 2011

Rome never looked so raunchy in this action-packed new series on Starz. Andy Whitfield plays the role of Spartacus, who becomes enslaved as a gladiator and must fight for his freedom and the hopes to see his family again. The show contains a unique art design for the fights during the violent gladiator battles: flashes of red swipe across the screen as unfit warriors lose their limbs to the unstoppable Spartacus and the blood effects are reminiscent of “Kill Bill Vol. 1.” If you miss the days of “300” and the random shouting of “This is Sparta,” then check out this show.

3. True Blood (HBO)

Netflix availability: Seasons one and two (DVD)

New Season: Now (Summer 2010)

Everyone’s talking about “Eclipse” this summer. Forget about that airhead Edward for an hour or so and check out the already widely popular hit “True Blood.” The show’s premise has vampires coming out of the coffin and walking amongst on an international level. Cocktail waitress Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) becomes romantically involved with vampire Bill Compton (Stephen Moyer) and a slew of unsolved murders plague the town of Bon Temps, La. Oscar-winning screenwriter Alan Ball, who was the mastermind behind the HBI masterpiece “Six Feet Under,” created True Blood. The show has sharp writing and emotional depth that gives the undead so much more life than any Stephanie Meyer novel could ever contain. True Blood is the best thing to happen to vampires since “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” so grab some garlic and slip on a turtleneck for a night and get to watching.

2. Weeds (Showtime)

Netflix availability: Seasons one through five (DVD and Streaming)

New Season: August 16, 2010

What if you had to resort to selling marijuana in a suburban town to make ends meet? Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) becomes wrapped up in the illegal drug world in order to keep her upper-class lifestyle afloat and a roof over her kids’ heads in this smart and outrageous comedy. Parker is smooth and vivid on screen as Botwin and the ensemble cast of characters makes this show an awesomely fun watch. Snooty PTA mom Celia Hodes (Elizabeth Perkins) will drive you insane with her ridiculous antics and constant-pot head Doug Wilson (Kevin Nealon) brings the laughs when ever the cannabis is burning. You can easily knock out the first five seasons of the show in less than a week. I say grab the munchies and get lost in this show’s puff of smoke.

1. Dexter (Showtime)

Netflix availability: Seasons one and two (DVD and Streaming), Season three (DVD), Season four (coming soon)

New Season: Fall 2010

Meet Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a smart and witty blood-spatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department. He’s got a foul-mouthed cop for a sister (Jennifer Carpenter) and a beautiful girlfriend (Julie Benz) with two kids. You could say he’s got it all figured out – except for the fact that he’s a serial killer with a large appetite for murder.

Dexter Morgan is a good serial killer though – if that’s even possible. He has a code. He only kills people that slip through the cracks of the judicial system or the people who think they are above the law. He kills murderers, rapists and child molesters. He’s Miami’s dark avenger. It sounds sick, but you begin to empathize with Dexter in ways you never could have fathomed.

This is Showtime’s current flagship series. The powerful, slightly comical writing of the show provides an astounding framework for the actors to truly become alive. Michael C. Hall, who made waves on HBO’s “Six Feet Under,” is brilliant as Dexter Morgan. This is the show you need to catch up on if you haven’t started. The first three seasons are television gold, all leading up to the legendary fourth season that will blow your mind.

Compiled by Tyler White

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  • C

    CisséOct 7, 2010 at 12:01 am

    James, you are so right about party down. Where’s curb!

    • T

      Tyler WhiteOct 7, 2010 at 4:04 pm

      I based my choices on largely on their availability on Netflix via Instant Queue. HBO does not allow most -if any- of their shows for streaming. There’s so many great shows on premium channels that it is difficult to fit them into a top five list.

  • J

    JamesJul 11, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Very good choices. I would add “Party Down” and “Kidnapped.”