Winner of the Emmy for Outstanding Drama Series four years in a row, AMC's Mad Men is the first show on basic cable to achieve that feat.
Set in a 1960's advertising agency, the show focuses on the life of Don Draper, a successful ad man with a troubled personal life. His fellow agency colleagues and the backdrop of America in the '60's is woven into an intelligent and intricate story line that references real life consumer products, class and gender struggles, all the while exploring the complicated lives of Draper and those around him.
The series was created by Matthew Weiner, a Golden Globe and Emmy-winning executive producer who oversees the course the world of Draper and company travels. The fifth season of the show aired in 2012, after negotiations between Weiner and the producers delayed airing for months. A sixth season is confirmed with a seventh remaining a possibility.
The show stars Jon Hamm, January Jones, John Slattery, Elizabeth Moss, Vincent Kartheiser and Christina Hendricks, among many other regulars. It historically airs on Sunday nights at 10 p.m.
Breaking Bad is a complex drama on AMC which follows the dark path an initially mild-mannered chemistry teacher takes when diagnosed with terminal cancer. Knowing he will leave behind a wife and two children, Walter White devises a plan to make a lot of money quickly by producing and selling crystal meth. He employs the aid of a former student, Jesse Pinkman, while doing his best to keep his family -- including his DEA agent brother-in-law -- in the dark.
Bryan Cranston portrays White and the role earned him three consecutive Emmy awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series, a feat accomplished by only one other actor and no other from a cable series. Aaron Paul is a two-time Emmy winner for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of Pinkman in Breaking Bad. Other regulars in the cast include Anna Gunn, Dean Norris and R.J. Mitte. Bob Odenkirk and Giancarlo Esposito have been cast regulars in some of the seasons.
The final eight episodes of season five -- the series' last -- are scheduled to begin in July of 2013, airing Mondays at 10 p.m.
The AMC original series Hell on Wheels explores the intricacies -- good and bad -- of post-Civil War America as it rebuilds itself.
The show focuses on a traveling town known as Hell on Wheels, established in 1865, that created the country's first transcontinental railroad. With roots in the Western genre, this show not only follows the construction of the railroad, but also the greed and shady dealings that mark the business. The experiences of immigrants and recently-freed slaves are also chronicled.
The cast is led by Anson Mount as Cullen Bohannon, a former soldier from the South trying to leave his past behind him. Additional cast members include Common, Colm Meaney -- best known for his roles in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and The Next Generation, Dominique McElligott and Christopher Heyerdahl.
Hell on Wheel's second season aired in 2012 and the confirmed third season is expected to begin in late-2013.
In the early days of television, PBS was the the only station that aired mild nudity in its programs via documentaries or films that warranted such context. In 1977, when ABC aired Roots , a story of slavery in the south, a number of African-American women were shone topless to lend to the reality of the storyline. This happened in 1980 as well when the made-for-TV movie Gauguin, the story of artist Paul Gauguin, showed full-frontal female nudity.
However, in 1983, Steven Bochco's baseball drama on NBC, Bay City Blues was the first to show male actors nude in a locker room scene.