Bryan Vs. Brian is an article series EXCLUSIVE to Columnists Bryan Lienesch and Brian Wallace riff and debate on whatever subject is currently holding their attention. You can follow Bryan and Brian on Twitter at @bclienesch and @bwall87.

Photo courtesy HBO

@bclienesch: So, Brian. You and I stirred up a little debate on Facebook and now we’re taking it to a larger audience. Do I have that right?

@bwall87: That is correct. It all started off with me asking why you decided to watch NCIS: Los Angeles. Then it became a conversation of best active TV show, and best TV show past and present.

@bclienesch: I don’t think we need to dwell on NCIS: Los Angeles. After 60 minutes of that show, I can definitively say anyone who likes that has absolutely nothing in common with me. But your favorite show on TV is Sons of Anarchy, no?


Sons of Anarchy. Photo courtesy FX

@bwall87: (Laughs) Sons of Anarchy is my favorite show that is on TV at this time. I love it and look forward to watching when it is airing. It is the only show I religiously watch live. Every other show I watch on TV, I have no problem with watching it on DVR.

@bclienesch: I won’t watch anything live. My forefathers didn’t give their lives to freedom just so I could become enslaved by scheduled programming! If I’m not busy, I will usually pick up the show I want to watch 15 minutes in which is usually about how much commercial time there is. Anyways, I love Sons of Anarchy. I don’t know that I have an ABSOLUTE favorite show right now, per say, but Sons is definitely on the shortlist.

@bwall87: With Sons of Anarchy, The directing and writing is incredible. The acting makes you forget that these other big name actors have done other stuff and brings you into the middle of all the conflict. The way it’s written just makes you fall in love with the characters and then when you think one things going to happen, the throw a twist in there you never saw. Plus, the music for the show is incredible. The opening credits song is my favorite, and there are certain scenes through out the series where I don’t think they could have picked a better song for that scene. One example is the closing song for this past season’s finale, it was perfect.

@bclienesch: You have to thank Shawn Ryan, one of the show’s leading brain children, for the brilliant vision of the show. Oh, by the way, Ryan created what is MY favorite show of ALL TIME: The Shield!

@bwall87: Quite a few people from The Shield are part of the crew for Sons of Anarchy. Kurt Sutter who is the writer for SOA also wrote for The Shield.


The Shield. Photo courtesy FX

@bclienesch: I had an unhealthy addiction with The Shield. I think Shawn Ryan is the King Midas of television execs as anything he touches turns to gold, really, in my opinion. But, I must say, I do believe The Shield was his Cistine Chapel.

@bwall87: Well, while you say The Shield is your favorite show of all time. I’ll counter with The Wire, hands down my favorite show of all time. I love everything about it. It’s one of the shows that actually made a bad guy one of, if not, the favorite characters.

@bclienesch: Well I think that’s where The Wire and The Shield draw a lot of parallels. I loved him, but Vic was a bad dude. From the horrified look on that federal agent’s face as he laid out all his crimes to Captain Aceveda calling him “Al Capone with a badge”, Detective Mackey was a bad guy that drew favor with audiences.

@bwall87: Good point. But, also you can’t beat the way Bunk said ‘Sh*t’. It’s like Samuel L Jackson saying ‘Motherf***er’. No one will ever say it like that. I also think that The Wire really gained a cult following after it ended. I know I never saw an episode until after it ended, but now I notice more and more people comparing others to characters from the show. Plus all the different stories it told and how they all intertwined with each other was perfect.

@bclienesch: There definitely is something to be said for “replay value” and I’ll admit, in that department, The Shield was a little bit lacking. But while it was on, The Shield was WHOLLY consuming. The way it was shot just captured the pure rawness of Los Angeles. You no longer saw it as a city, but as a living, breathing organism. And, not only that, but you got to see it through the eyes of character’s whose jobs it was to roam those streets every day. There was something so Shakespearean about The Shield. The way it was able to use unintended miscommunication between characters to create tragedy in the plots was done so well.

@bwall87: The Wire captured what could be as close to a true story as a TV show can get. Baltimore was the murder capital of the country and it was because of drugs. The police force was trying to get a control on it, but because of the laws in place they couldn’t play by the same rules as the criminals. I think The Wire was the best show ever on TV because it really captured the city at the time and the fact that some of the characters were based on real people. Plus, some of the people in the show played characters that were based on themselves. No other show has done that.

@bclienesch: Well, I mean, it has been done before, but I see what you’re saying. I guess we like different shows for the same reason. At least we can find common ground there. But let’s move on. There’s no point in dwelling on the past. What shows that have premiered so far in 2012 are you the most excited about?


The Firm. Photo courtesy NBC

@bwall87: Well I really enjoyed the firm, but that show seems destined to not be renewed. I would say a show that I think is going to be really good is News Room on HBO. I know it doesn’t premier until this summer, but it’s got some heavy hitters involved. I also thought Luck was a good show, but when horses kept dieing they decided to pull the plug on that show. House of Lies was really good, I didn’t get to watch the whole series but the first couple episodes had me sold on the show. But I’ll go with The Firm, since I’ve watched the whole series and really enjoyed it. But, I’m really looking forward to News Room, I think that will be the top new show at the end of the year.

@bclienesch: I’ve heard good things about News Room, too. As far as shows that have already premiered, though, nothing struck a particularly strong note with me. The Firm was fine but I didn’t think it was anything exceptional. Alcatraz was good for a while, but I think it ultimately got to a point where J.J. Abrams didn’t even know what was going on. Like I said, nothing of what I’ve seen so far this year has really gotten my juices flowing.

@bwall87: I agree with you that there was no game changer when it came to TV show premiers so far this year. I think News Room will change that, plus we still aren’t sure of what is going to debut in the fall. Also, Charlie Sheen has a new show coming out and with everything that happened with him last year I expect the ratings to be through the roof for the premier of that show.


Last Resort. Photo courtesy ABC

@bclienesch: Does it costar Demi Moore? Boy, wouldn’t that be an awkward mess! “Hey, you know that guy Ashton? Yeah, I hate him, too!” Okay, that could be a conversation between any two human being on this planet. But I digress. No, there are a few I am excited to see. We’ve already sung Shawn Ryan’s praises and I’m 99.99% sure his new show Last Resort will make ABC’s fall lineup. Also, the legendary Dick Wolf is returning to NBC and, instead of cops and lawyers, he’s doing firefighters this time. I’m pretty excited for that.

@bwall87: The problem with firefighter shows is the fact that they will always be compared to Rescue Me and that’s some big shoes for a show to fill. I don’t think any show that is based on firefighters will ever be as good as that show.

@bclienesch: There’s no doubt the bar is set high, but that doesn’t mean it can be topped. Future shows following the lives of firefighters SHOULD be compared to Rescue Me because it is the standing example of how to do it and do it well.

@bwall87: True. That show set the bar so high though that I’m not sure anything other show will be able to match it.

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