Thursday, August 5, 2010

TV Shows for the Geeky

In the last few years “Geek Chic” has taken the world by storm. Now there is some seriously awesome content aimed directly at the nerdy, pale-skinned populous the world over.

Here are a few of the best television shows.

5. The IT Crowd

I’ll admit I have very little experience with The IT Crowd. I have seen a few episodes, however, and I’ll definitely go on the line and say it is completely deserving of this list.

The show follows an IT department at this huge, rather mysterious, company in the UK. Yes, this is another British office comedy, much like the insanely popular - and aptly titled - The Office.

The IT team consists of two socially awkward geeks stuffed into a tiny, messy basement that take tech calls all day from different individuals in the company. A woman interviews for a position as their boss – or at least I think that’s how it goes down – and is given the position, but is a complete luddite.

The show completely sops with inside jokes and references for the avid nerd – they even have an Axe Cop poster on their apartment wall - and is rather funny. I hope to catch some more episodes in the near future. If you chance by it on TV, definitely watch it. If not, you might even want to consider picking up the DVD sets.

4. Chuck

NBC’s Chuck is an hour long comedy-action-drama show. I know, but how else was I supposed to describe it? The show follows Chuck Bartowski, your average computer geek working at an electronics store. One day he gets an email from his old college roommate, whom was working for the CIA, and as a result a database of spy secrets is uploaded into Chuck’s brain.

A few CIA agents are dispatched to get the database back – which is called The Intersect – but realize they can’t. The data is subliminally embedded into Chuck’s brain. He can’t access the information directly, but gets flashes occasionally that the Agents can use as leads in their investigations.

This show is tailor-made for geeks all over. Our hero, his friends and co-workers are complete nerds, and the inside jokes and references are abundant. This is a great show that doesn’t take itself too seriously, is funny at all the right moments and that’s why it’s a TV cult favourite.

The show was basically cancelled after the second season, but a two-month “Save Chuck” campaign was spear-headed by fans of the show and for once someone listened. Chuck came back for a third season with a vengeance. Originally slated to only have 13 episodes, this was upped to 19, one of which was a 3D episode! The fourth season is slated to begin Fall 2010 – Mondays on NBC.

If you like geek then you’ll love you some Chuck.

3. Numb3rs

Numb3rs – I hate typing that, but it is the actual title of the show - was a very popular TV series on CBS. Despite a Friday time slot, also known as the Death Slot, the show remained on the air for six seasons before several of the actors moved on to new projects and the show was eventually cancelled.

This isn’t an inside joke, reference fest like all of the other shows mentioned, but a series that revolves around a genius mathematician solving crimes for the FBI through the use of numbers and algorithms. Yeah, that’s right.

What seems completely outlandish actually works. I mean, I have no idea if there’s even a modicum of truth to some of the things I’ve seen on the show, but it has a great, likable cast of characters, including David Krumholtz and Judd Hirsch, and is a well-written drama, action piece.

It may not include all the fanfare of the other shows on this list, but any show where an uber-geek, math nerd can kick ass and take names with the FBI well deserves to be on this list.

2. Undergrads

Ah, Undergrads. This is actually one of my favourite shows ever. It is, unfortunately, a cancelled series. Unlike the above mentioned Chuck, a petition still exists for Undergrads to return, and it’s been cancelled since 2001. In fact, it only had one season. That doesn’t take away from the greatness of that single season, though!

The series is centred around four lifelong friends as they take the next step in their young lives: college. The leader of the group, Nitz – the “normal” geek - goes off to “real college” to room with his buddy Cal – a lady-killer who might just be border-line handicapped. Their friend Rocko – the wannabe lady-killer, drunken frat boy – makes his way to community college and their resident super geek – Gimpy – goes to the local technology school.

The geeky references were endless in Undergrads. There was an amazing show focused around all-night Risk battles and there was an episode that contained a full-out war between Trekkies and Star Wars fanatics. It was a heart-warming, genuinely funny show that perfectly depicted the lives of freshmen at college.

Maybe that’s why I warmed up to it so much, because I was in this exact place in my life when the show first aired in Canada, but regardless, this is a show for anyone, but especially the geek.

The series creator, Pete Williams, has stated that MTV and Decode Entertainment – the production money behind the series – have said there is no interest in making a second season to this insanely cult appreciated show. Williams has attempted to pitch a new show entitled “We Got Issues”, which would bring back characters from Undergrads years later, but that appears to be in development hell, as well. There are serious hopes of webisodes or a comic to continue the series, but at this point it all seems like wishful thinking.

Well, I’ll just keep on wishing.

1. The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory is a half hour comedy that airs on CBS. It follows four geniuses; a theoretical physicist, an experimental physicist, an astrophysicist and an aerospace engineer, that are the quintessential geeks of the Universe. Their social awkwardness and misunderstanding of the world outside their geeky little bubble is contrasted against their bubbly, beautiful neighbour of average intelligence whom aspires to be an actor.

This show is comedic gold.

It’s not often that everything comes together perfectly on a TV series, but The Big Bang Theory is a complete package. The characters of Sheldon, Raj, Howard, Leonard and Penny could not have been more perfectly cast. The writing is brilliant and drenched in a geeky marinade.

This show is, in a lot of ways, an American version of The IT Crowd, which I previously mentioned. It is not a copy of that show, however, but just a similar environment. There are copious amounts of references for the true geek. In the first season Sheldon has a white board up with mathematical problems on it. The creators of the show actually progress the equation literally and eventually developed an answer to it that is scientifically correct. (A great inversion of this commonly used trope) That’s the level of dedication here.

These are four guys that have Halo nights, go to the comic shop, eat way too much take out and wear super hero t-shirts. If you’re a geek – much like myself – and you’re not watching this show, then boy are you missing out.


Sam said...

Would it be "geek chic"? Unless you're referring to an IT guy from Dubai?

Ryan said...

Hahaha, I'm losin' over here. I was thinking to myself, "What's he talking about?" Then I went back to the article and saw "geek chic" at the start and I'm thinking, "I wrote 'geek chic'".

I went back to my original file and saw "geek sheik" and I went into hysterics. All I could picture was this rich, lavishly dressed Arab with tape between the eyes of his glasses and his robe tucked into his pants that are up just a little too high.

Cole, if you fixed that, thank you friend. Samwise, good catch.

Cole D'Arc said...

obviously Ryan was making an Ocarina of Time reference, as only a geek would.

i never knew what the premise of Chuck was - sounds pretty funny.

obviously, i had the same experience with Undergrads. just like Clone High, they would show the same twelve episodes over and over and i would watch them practically memorizing them. but they havent been on for a few years. i'd like to see it again.

Shane Patenaude said...

The only shows on this list that I've watched in any capacity is Numbers (screw that spelling) and Undergrads. I like both for sure but haven't watched either in forever. I'm really interested in seeing The Big Bang Theory now.

Great list. I've been educated.

Cole D'Arc said...

in a bizarre twist, out of no where Undergrads was back on Teletoon the last two weekends. I managed to watch three episodes. funny how things work out sometimes.