I don't remember a time in my life where I didn't love monsters. But just like every other thing I enjoy — from movies to food to even the action figures I still play with as a grown man with a wife — I'm a bit of a snob.
When it comes to monsters, I need depth, lore and, most importantly, a great story.
When I was little, my favorite book was from Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (2nd edition for the noobs out there) called the Monsterous Compendium. Pages upon pages were filled with monsters from every part of the creative minds of humanity and every stretch of the imagination. And every single one of them had a story.
Television's gift to my obsession with monsters, mythos and mystery is the Monster of the Week format. Not too dissimilar from crime procedurals, the MotW format pits a hero or heroes — often along with a ragtag set of sidekicks who all prove their own purpose and worth through great story arcs — against a new monstrous foe every week.
Its time to get a little spooky, my friends, with these killer series.
1. 'The X-Files'
Hands down the most popular of the genre, "The X-Files" teams up a believer in all things cuckoo with a hard-nosed medical scientist as agents in the FBI. The duo works their way through a series of unexplainable cases the bureau designates as — you guessed it — the X-files.
Each episode, the two investigate a case that leads them to some strange manner of creature from folklore, myth, legend and even the stars.
Spanning 11 seasons and two feature films, the overarching story of "The X-Files" is arguably one of the greatest of all time and is certainly a must-watch.
Available on: Hulu
2. The Buffyverse ('Buffy: The Vampire Slayer' / 'Angel')
There's a lot of things that can turn a show into a hit. Any person of any rank in the business can tell you that hits are few and far between when it comes to going from page to screen. I knew "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer" was a hit when I, a geeky, D&D playing nerdboy in the seventh grade was talking with two of my female non-nerdy classmates about what Buffy and the gang got up to the night before.
Later I would learn from an interview with creator Joss Whedon is one of the key elements in the first season was that every monster needed to be a metaphor for some aspect of being a teenager. This insight had a profound effect on me as I rewatched the show and certainly grew to understand the depth of the series just beyond "teen girl fights monsters."
It's spinoff series, "Angel" has a much more noir feel to it and carries several characters from the first show and gives them a much better playground to work in.
Available on: Hulu
3. 'Kolchak: The Night Stalker'
Before Buffy staked her first vamp, before Moulder and Skully were on the case, there was a man. A man who stalked the night to protect us from the creatures that haunted the shadows. And that man was the dad from "A Christmas Story."
Honestly, I had forgotten the show even existed mainly because I blocked out the horrific 2005 reboot with Stuart Townsend. But like Celine Dion said, "It's all coming back to me now."
I now distinctly remember staying home sick from school and watching back-to-back episodes on the Sci-Fi Channel (when it was spelled correctly), followed by episodes of "Forever Knight."
I remember enjoying it, and I definitely remember my mom loving it. So for the purposes of this list, we shall say it is a must-watch as the godfather of Monster of the Week shows — and on recommendations of my mother.
Available on: NBC.com
There are many in this news office who will be pleasantly surprised to see the famed Winchester brothers on this list. Though I myself am not a fan, even after watching the first fourteen seasons in about a month, I understand that many people enjoy it.
As a man of eternal positivity, I will concede that the show has many good aspects. Many of the monsters are pretty cool. They have deep lore with roots in various cultures from around the world. While the majority of the show is deeply entrenched in Christian mythology, many of the MotWs find homes in Native American, Slavic, Germanic and even far eastern origins.
This eclectic array of monsters certainly makes for busy boys over the course of the first fourteen seasons. I haven't watched any of the current and final season but I certainly intend to — when it comes to Netflix.
Available on: Netflix
Honorable mention: 'The Dresden Files'
"The Dresden Files" television series is not the best. This is evidenced by the fact it was canceled after one season. But that said, it's source material "The Dresden Files" by Jim Butcher is one of the best modern urban fantasy novel series of all time. Where the show went wrong in many of the fans' eyes, including these sweet baby blues, was they attempted to fit an entire book into a single episode. The network was hoping for a great Monster of the Week series, but the simple fact is, Hary Dresden doesn't do Monster of the Week. That said, if you want to dip your toes into the incredible world of the wizard detective, I suggest you try the show first, dive into the deep end of the novels. Then once you're used to the water, try swimming out to sea with the audiobooks.