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There's a world of TV entertainment available locally

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Posted: Friday, March 2, 2012 11:36 am

Traveling around Lodi can be pretty entertaining (after all, we are an interesting lot), but sometimes I like the escape of good television shows.

There's no end to the quality series that can be found on TV. Combine network shows with the offerings of Netflix and cable, and you could spend weeks absorbed in compelling, hilarious and salacious stories.

If you want something gritty — and local — check out FX's “Sons of Anarchy.” The show centers around a motorcycle club and their various trials and tribulations with rival gangs, the ATF and each other. It takes place in the fictional town of Charming, which is near Lodi and Stockton.

The show's fourth season recently came to a close, but will be revving up for its fifth season in September. Seasons One through three are currently available on DVD or Netflix.

Not so local, but still in California, HBO's “Luck,” starring Dustin Hoffman, Nick Nolte and Dennis Farina, takes place in Santa Anita. It's an inside look at the world of horse racing.

The drama was created by David Milch, the mind that brought us the brilliant “Deadwood.” For those that think there could be nothing enticing about a race track, I urge you to take a look.

In just a few episodes, I've come to care and despise the myriad of characters from Hoffman's Chester “Ace” Bernstein and his driver Gus (Farina), to four degenerate gamblers who win millions in the Pick Six and somehow don't better their station in life one bit.

If the characters don't draw you in (and I don't doubt they will), the races will — and get your heart racing as fast as the horses running them.

Across the states, there's a zombie apocalypse in full effect. AMC's "The Walking Dead" has returned from its "mid-season" break, whatever that is, and continues to spin the creepiest yarns on TV. I seriously can't get enough of this show. And it's not because of the horror aspect. The storylines and characters are simply amazing. 

And it doesn't hurt that there are zombies thrown in.

Showtime has been playing its new series “Shameless,” starring William H. Macy and Joan Cusack, but I have yet to see it. Instead, I've been watching the first five seasons of the original version from BBC, starring David Threlfall as patriarch and never-ending drunk Frank Gallagher.

This humorous drama is set in the fictitious Chatsworth Estate in the Manchester region of England, and revolves mainly around Frank's kids (six of eight), that struggle to stay together, make a living (legitimately or otherwise) and deal with an absentee mother, the aforementioned wasted father and their own issues.

Though the focus of each episode is on a different character, and characters come and go (much like real life) throughout the series, it is always like spending time with family and friends. If your family and friends happen to be extremely dysfunctional.

If you're quick on the draw, you can still catch episodes of Bravo TV's Top Chef: Texas. As far as reality competition shows are concerned, there aren't any quite as tasty as this long-standing culinary standoff. One local competitor (from Sacramento) doesn't even make it past the first episode. Dude, learn how to cut meat.

In future blogs, I'll be sure to focus on what Lodians are currently watching and my further recommendations.

Don't worry, I'll continue to bring you up to speed on artistic happenings as well.