10 Best Original Television Shows Set in Houston
I think even the most fervent fan of our city would agree that Houston has something of a problem projecting an identity to the rest of the nation. We're just not seen as a place with a really iconic personality or look so it's rare that we are used as a location in fiction. However it does sometimes happen in films and books. Rarer are non-reality shows set here, but there have been a few over the years. Such as...
10. As For Me and My House This is a show that tried real, real hard. It was definitely a Houston story, dealing with blended families that move in together after moving to the city in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Jalene Mack was the main star, and she brought out her usual energy as a successful lawyer who doesn't have much time for her family. I'd like to say the show was a success simply because every aspect of the production was derived from Houston, but it aired just briefly on KNWS and then faded into obscurity.
9. More Than Human Our only web series on list is also something of a cheat because thus far the only people who have seen any of it are the folks who've seen the trailer online and a handful of convention goers at Space City Con where the first episode was screened. Carlos Tovar raised $15,000 on Kickstarter last year to produce his teenage superhero drama, and principal photography on the rest of Season 1 is due to resume again soon. I feel confident including it here due to the rave reviews the show has gotten from the few journalists that have been lucky enough to catch it, but it would be really nice to be proved right soon in 2015.
8. Brothers Though it ran for a single season on FOX in 2009 Brothers wasn't a bad show. It starred Michael Strahan as a successful and happy man rich and recently retired from the NFL who comes home to Houston after his estranged brother is rendered paraplegic in a car accident. Carl Weathers plays their absent-minded dad and Snoop Dogg had an awesome recurring role as their shady lawyer cousin Kenny that needs its own spin-off. It wasn't groundbreaking television or anything, but it was often sweet and told a wonderful story about the power of family.
7. Cutter to Houston It's probably not a surprise that a fair amount of medical drama shows have been set in and around Houston. One of those was 1983's Cutter to Houston, which was given a crappy Saturday evening timeslot on CBS and survived only seven episodes before being cancelled. Too bad because despite how eye-rollingly early '80s it is it was actually a pretty good show. It starred Alec Baldwin right before he broke out in Knot's Landing and Shelley Hack coming off Charlie's Angels as young doctors in a small hospital in Cutter, Texas that frequently needed the services of Hermann Life Flight. Due to poor handling by CBS it's relegated to a footnote in Baldwin's career.
6. Reba Easily the most successful show set in Houston was Reba, which ran for six seasons on The WB and ended on The CW. Starring country music superstar Reba McEntire it broke viewership records for the networks and went on to be a syndicated international success everywhere from Croatia to the Caribbean. Honestly I was going to mock the show, but I went back and watched the series finale for the purposes of this article and you know what? It was damned good. Sweet, funny, sincerely southern and full of likeable people. There are worse shows that could be Houston's television ambassador to the world.
5. Thea Houston has a neat first in television; we had the first television show named after an African-American female comedian. It's not a big whoop, but Thea, starring Thea Vidale, deserved much more love than it got. Visdale played a no-nonsense working single mother who ran a grocery store during the day and a beauty salon on her porch at night to make ends meet. It was smart and sharp, but it only made it 19 episodes. If you have 20 minutes to kill I highly recommend the pilot episode embedded above.
4. Chase Produced by Jennifer Johnson and Jerry Bruckheimer, Chase was a pretty gripping little crime drama set in Houston. Kellie Giddish as U.S. Deputy Marshal Annie Frost was a real treat, and she was a natural lead able to command the attention of everyone around her. The plots were kind of pedestrian and rarely broke the norm, but Giddish alone was worth tuning in. It ran on NBC until 2011.
3. Houston Knights Now this was Houston's real crime drama series. Running on CBS in the late '80s for 31 episodes it was an odd couple buddy cop outing that was as cantankerous and over-the-top as you could ever want. Michael Paré and Michael Beck tooled around H-Town in an ice-blue 289 AC Cobra having culture clashes and getting into fights. It was glorious and stupid, just like it should have been.
2. Neighbors From Hell This is the only animated show set in Houston as far as I can tell. Created by Pam Brady for TBS, it's about a family of demons that move to Houston because they are tasked with destroying a drilling operation that threatens to penetrate into Hell. Despite their evil nature, the family overall likes humanity even if we can be as bad as demons ourselves sometimes. Plus Patton Oswalt is a devil dog that can freeze and unfreeze time, so there's that.
1. Judd, for the Defense Probably the single most underrated Houston television show of all time was ABC's lawyer drama starring Carl Betz. It debuted in 1968, and the role of Clinton Judd was a great opportunity for Betz coming off his time on Donna Reed. It was a revolutionary program for its time, tackling many issues that were just beginning to get national attention like homosexuality. It was brave and extremely well-written television, but it was too ahead of the curve to find an audience. Even a crossover with Felony Squad failed to boost ratings. These days you have to find collector-made DVD sets if you want to witness it, which is a shame because it really was fantastic from the precious few episodes I've managed to see. Here at least was the series debut for you to check out yourselves.
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