by Mike Shea on 2 December 2007

Quite often I am behind the curve on good TV shows. I missed most of Babylon 5 until the third or fourth season. I didn't pick up Battlestar Galactica until near the end of season 1. I didn't get into Firefly until long after it had been cancelled. Over the past few weeks I've been watching HBO's , again, long after it was cancelled.

is one of the best shows I have seen. It is up there with Rome, Sopranos, and Battlestar Galactica (up until half way through Season 3 when it became the Battlestar 700 Club).

does storytelling right. Imagine the town of is a pool table. Al Swearengen, Seth Bullock, Trixie, Calamity Jane; all of these characters are balls on this pool table and the story is nothing more than the first hit with the pool cue. However the balls collide, which balls fall into the pockets, which balls hit the other ones into the pockets; this is the story of each show.

Every character in has a thick line of background, motivation, and character flaws. Every one of them acts as they would act in any given situation; regardless of the story. No one acts out of character just to move the plot in one direction or another. The plot itself moves on as the characters develop it.

The story, as it unfolds, reminds me a little bit of the George R.R. Martin fantasy series, Song of Ice and Fire. This is the second best fantasy series next to Stephen King's Dark Tower series. Like , the story is driven by the motivations and actions of the characters, not by any pre-conceived plot.

only had three seasons. It was, unfortunately, cancelled for another wonderful HBO show, Rome, which itself was also cancelled. Part of me is disappointed that these shows have such short runs, but another part of me likes the fact that we have a clear beginning and end of a story much longer than we would have in a two hour movie. This is why Stephen King prefers the mini-series format for the adaptations of his books. Like in , it may take three or four good episodes before you clearly understand the characters.

After watching for two and a half seasons, it is easy to see why William Gibson says that is the best show America has ever produced. Do yourself a favor and add it to your Netflix queue.