A TV series has to grab the viewer and hook them into coming back for more, much like a fantasy book series.
I'm currently watching 'Desperate Romantics' and really enjoying it. This series is about the PreRaphaelite Brotherhood, set in 1860s. A period drama about a group of artists trying to be accepted by the Royal Academy could be rather stuffy, but this is a romp. Having lived as a bohemian artist in Melbourne I can really relate to it.
What I learnt from it as a writer? Don't forget that historical figures were once passionate young people, struggling for recognition. Also, the social restrictions of the time make for great drama.
'Breaking Bad'. Just finished watching series 2. Brilliant. A high school science teacher is diagnosed with lung cancer despite never having smoked. He doesn't have health care, his wife falls pregnant by accident and their 15 year old son has cerebral palsy. So he decides the only way he can make enough money to leave something for his wife and children, is to go into the business of making Crystal Meth. This series raises a lot of moral and ethical issues.
What I leant from it as a writer? Heap the problems on your protagonist. A character can do terrible things and not lose the audience, if their motivation is strong enough. And also, black humour is a wonderful thing.
What TV shows have you been watching and what have you learnt from them?