At the time that I’m writing this it has been two years, four months, three hours, and 29 seconds since ABC’s “Lost” ended its six-year run and left me stranded on I-Have-No-Idea-What-to-Watch-Now Island. The fight for survival has been arduous, but with strength, a couple of premium channels, and a Netflix subscription, I’ve managed to survive without substituting an inanimate object for entertainment. And while none of the shows on this list will probably ever fill the void left by my favorite island of mystery, they will keep the midnight oil burning while I wait for “Lost” to be inevitably rebooted one day by some money-hungry opportunist.
Behold: my top 10 TV shows that are still running.
10. ESPN First Take
Who would actually be interested in watching two middle-aged men ranting about random topics for a two-hour period five days a week? Apparently, the answer is me and millions of people around the world. Stephen A. Smith and Skip Bayless have mastered the art of highly competitive sports debate, and if the shows ratings are any indication, business is booming. As Skip would say, “It’s just about Tebow time.”
9. House of Lies
Marty Kahn is a man with a plan, and the plan is stay on top of the food chain — even if it means starving your enemies. And while that may seem like a harsh premise for a comedy, this show contains so many over-the-top hilarious hijinx in its first season that I’m honestly concerned about how Showtime can do better the next go-round. “House of Lies” stars Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell, who work for a management consulting firm on the verge of a takeover that would leave the main character out of a job — and us, the viewers, out of a show. Hopefully Marty will continue to dodge a pink slip in the upcoming season.
8. Breaking Bad
Walter White is a man on fire. And by “fire” I mean that he’s been diagnosed with an inoperable form of lung cancer that is set to snuff his existence faster than he would have preferred. So what is a guy to do when he hasn’t even begun to work on his bucket list and has discovered that’s it’s just about checkout time? Oh, that’s simple: just use your history as a chemistry teacher and your ability to mix compounds to start mass-producing crystal meth and build a drug empire to acquire a nice retirement fund. Perfect. Remember that awesome promotional line for that horrible film Spiderman 3? I think it went, “How long can any man fight the darkness before he finds it in himself.” Well, let’s just pretend that was intended for Mr. White instead of Emo Peter Parker.
I can honestly say that after the lamentable season six of “Dexter,” I didn’t think that there was anything that the writers room could do to generate enough interest to reel me back in. Showtime being the cash-cow milkers that it is decided to play its last face card, and Deb finally caught Dexter in the act of ritual in last season’s finale. Well, color me mildly interested. As Michael C. Hall put it, “‘Dexter’ is at its best when he’s put in a situation when his back is against the wall.” I guess murdering a guy in front of your sister/police force lieutenant has the potential to put a guy into a bit of hot water. Here’s hoping that the writers can use Deborah’s landscape-altering discovery to restore the show to some of its former glory before the final curtain falls next season.
6. Game of Thrones
Winter is coming. HBO’s “Game of Thrones” is pretty much a Lord of the Rings fan’s wet dream. Dragons, imps, gratuitous nudity, and beheadings await in this brooding tale of humanity doing what it does best: killing others in the never-ending quest for supreme power. Be forewarned, though: the cast and characters are so well-written and even better-casted that you will be tempted to forge attachments to those who would be safe on other television shows. I assure you, this would be an unwise endeavor. Anyone can go at any time — no flashbacks, no do-overs, no mulligans. Just death. HBOs’ “Game of Thrones” is a perfect example of established source material being converted carefully for viewing audiences. Take notes, Michael Bay.