Television is a vast wasteland, according to Newton Minow.

Laying down my shield...

Posted: 07 September 2008 | posted by David J. Loehr |

Today at, Heather Havrilesky gave out the fifth annual Buffy Award for "the most underappreciated show in all of TV land." Past awards have gone to the likes of The Wire and Battlestar Galactica when both were young. (As for Veronica Mars and Friday Night Lights, I appreciate them but don't much care for them.)

What's so different about this year's pick?

Apparently, this year's most underappreciated show is The Shield, a show that gets a lot of press and a lot of critical acclaim, just like the previous award winners. And all but Veronica Mars have won Peabody Awards. Makes sense. But.

It's also won an Emmy for Michael Chiklis, a Golden Globe for him and the series, plenty of nominations over the years, its ratings have held steady--and fairly high for cable, if I'm not mistaken--and its dvds sell well, too. Is it really that underappreciated?

I suppose you could argue that it's an acquired taste, but underappreciated, I don't think so. Maybe if you go by Emmy awards or fanfic websites, okay. But how about something like 30 Rock, which is nominated for, yes, a record number of Emmys, but it's barely registering on the Nielsen scale. That's underappreciated. That's a show that people need to know about.

Or The Middleman, which is good silly fun, but nonetheless smarter than the average bear. I like The Shield, I have several seasons' worth on DVD, but I'd much rather spend quality time with Wendy Watson. (That didn't come out right...moving on...) It doesn't have the budget, and it's on the wrong network, but it's smartly written and well played. (Arguably, it's the right network if only because they allowed the creator to make it the way he wanted, which alone is reason for joy in Mudville.)

The Shield is a very good show with flashes of greatness. It deserved its Peabody, no question. But isn't there something else--anything--that could use a little attention that's truly gone under the radar?