Here, in alphabetical order, is a list (with brief remarks) of ten network serials worth watching (if the subject matter is of interest). Because they’re network TV, the quality generally can’t compare to cable serials and that may be one reason none of these shows gets ****. The primary flaw exhibited by these shows is uneven writing. All of them get ***+, but none of these are likely to make my list of twenty favourite serials (the best of the shows below would be Desperate Housewives).
Brothers & Sisters (2006-2011)
This drama about a wealthy family in southern California trying to run a food company features strong female roles, including the marvellous Sally Field as the recently-widowed mother and Rachel Griffiths and Calista Flockhart as her two daughters (she also has three sons).
Desperate Housewives (2004-2012)
Another show which features female lead roles is this dark-comedy soap opera about four women living on Wisteria Lane, a short street with more than its share of mysteries and family drama. The four women are played by Teri Hatcher, Felicity Hoffman, Marcia Cross and Eva Longoria.
This is a Joss Whedon sci-fi about an organization which loans out ‘dolls’, people who have had their memories wiped and can now be programmed to a client’s specifications. Yet another show with a female lead (Eliza Dushku).
This sci-fi serial concerns a group of 4400 people who suddenly appear in a remote location in Washington after vanishing at various points during the previous sixty years. The National Threat Assessment Command team tries to figure out what's going on. Filmed largely in Canada.
Yet another sci-fi serial, this one gets its name and subject from the Invasion of the Body Snatchers films, as the residents of a small Florida town get gradually replaced by aliens. Can Sheriff Underlay (William Fichtner) stop them before they take over the world?
This is a post-apocalyptic serial about the residents of the small town of Jericho, Kanses in the aftermath of a nuclear attack on major U.S. cities. Jericho features a large ensemble cast.
Murder One (Season One) (1995-1996)
Daniel Benzali stars as Ted Hoffman, a brilliant no-nonsense defense lawyer in this legal drama that was one of the first to experiment with telling one long story over an entire season. Of special note is Stanley Tucci’s supporting role.
The O.C. (2003-2007)
Basically a teen soap opera, The O.C. centres on the wealthy Cohen family (in Orange County, California) and my interest lay primarily in the goings-on of the parents, Sandy and Kirsten (played by Peter Gallagher and Kelly Rowan).
Prison Break (2005-2009)
This compelling serial thriller revolves around two brothers, one of whom (played by Domini Purcell) is in a maximum-security prison for a crime he didn’t commit and the other of whom (played by Wentworth Miller) is the genius who plans to get him out. Very dark and violent for network TV.
What About Brian (2006-2007)
Yet another serial soap (this one a comedy-drama) about people in southern California. Brian is played by Barry Watson, who is joined by an ensemble cast playing his friends.