On Fall TV, in November

IMG_1779So, I tried real hard to have a Fall preview up here in late August.  I had a large list of shows picked out, a short handwritten synopsis of them, and even had printed out a calendar to colo(u)r-code.  Then school started (after a busier-than-I ever-want-again-summer), and I had to, like, work. And here I am with two weeks until Thanksgiving! The good news is that by doing it this way, we can cut through the BS, and look at the list of televisions shows that I am actually watching. There is always a certain amount of attrition each season, so really this is the true list. This list doesn’t include the summer shows I kept up with, such as The Bridge and Broadchurch; these belong on another half-written post that may make it to “publish” some day.

I watch the following shows through a combination of DVR, Hulu +, and “live tv.”  I stay current on most of the dramas, and with the exception of Parks & Recreation, I tend to let a couple episodes of the comedies pile up and watch them on the weekend. The other thing to keep in mind is that I am a sports fan, so on any given night there may be a baseball  game (#thecardinalway) or hockey game (this is our year!) to distract me. I absolutely know that I am missing some good shows, but this is what I can do.  It is also entirely possible that I am watching way too many shows on Fox.

So, as evidenced by my colo(u)r-coded calendar:

Masters of Sex (Showtime): I am thoroughly enjoying this look at Bill Masters and Virgina Johnson, who were among the first people to study female sexuality. It probably helps that I am thoroughly in love with both Michael Sheen and Lizzie Caplan, who play the titular characters. The show does needs to work a little harder to develop Virgina Johnson, however the dramatized version of this real-life St. Louis 1950s research team is always entertaining. One of the few shows I watch as it airs.

Almost Human (Fox): The only show on this list that hasn’t debuted yet, it is from exec produced by J.J. Abrams, stars some attractive people, and has a sci-fi concept. Obviously, I will be there.

Sleepy Hollow (Fox): This show is so ridiculous that it is highly entertaining. Created by the team behind Fringe (RIP), it is the story of Ichabod Crane, re-told to make Ichabod an Englishman, who was killed in the Revolutionary War (obvs, he fought on the side of us Yanks) by the Headless Horseman, who awakes in present day Sleepy Hollow. Here he meets local deputy Abbie Mills (whose mentor was decapitated by said Headless Horseman), and together they become the two Witnesses destined to stave of the apocalypse. Oh, and there is also the witch Katrina, Ichabod’s wife, who is trapped in purgatory.  If this sounds bat-shit crazy, you are correct. If it also sounds like one of the most enjoyable shows on right now, you are also correct. The chemistry between the two leads is excellent, and the way the show makes American history fit into its needs, a la National Treasurer, is so ridiculous it works. The fact that Ichabod is still wearing the clothes he was buried in 200 years ago, is an example of why this show is so crazy it works.

Agents of SHIELD (ABC): Off to a slow start, I am sticking with it because of 1) Joss Whedon and 2) the Avengers connections. So far this story of the Agents of SHIELD working after the battle of New York that happened in the Avengers movie has been a bit pedestrian, with story lines that aren’t really taking advantage of the rich comic book world it can work in. However, because of the two reasons above, I suspect I will stick with it for the at least this season.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine (Fox): The best new comedy out there, it follows a group of homicide detectives in Brooklyn. Led by Andre Braugher’s Captain Holt (who is one of the few gay captains in the NYPD) and Andy Samberg’s Jake Peralta, the show brings a great cast that has clicked quickly, and some fabulous one-liners. Created by some of the people behind Parks & Recreation, it sports a diverse cast (that doesn’t feel the need to tell you all the time how diverse it is), makes me like Andy Samberg again, and well, has Frank Pembleton with the best deadpan this side of, well Frank Pembleton. Don’t believe me, check it out here

New Girl & The Mindy Project (Fox): New Girl was fantastic last season. The Mindy Project beat my beloved Ben and Kate out for renewal. I am still watching both. New Girl is in that slump after total excellence, and The Mindy Project is still wildly uneven with at least few jokes that make me laugh every episode. I am rooting for both of them to be successful (even if it is begrudgingly so in The Mindy Project’s case) and enjoying them.

Arrow (CW): Since this is the show that caters to the (straight) female gaze on an equal footing to the male, all I need really need to say is “salmon ladder.” (Check it out, I’ll wait.) But, since the show is so darn good, I will also say it brings above-average storytelling, zigs when I think it might zag, and has fixed some of the main problems from last season.  Now if they could just figure out what to do with Laurel, and her constant damsel in distress ways….

Nashville (ABC): The show I can’t quit, not matter how ridiculous it becomes. The weirdest combination doing just exactly what I think it will do and also not at all what I think, but somehow annoying me at least 70% of the time. There are good story lines in there, and well Mrs. Coach, but I resent characters completing changing when  it fits the storyline. I don’t like nice guys, becoming “Nice Guys,” and I don’t really understand why Teddy still exists.

Parks & Recreation (NBC): Oh Parks & Recreation, you wonderful show, even Jerry (or is it Garry? Nah, let’s call him Larry)  keeps coming back for more. If this is the last year I get to enjoy Leslie & Co., I plan on taking full advantage of it. All #bossbitch of it.   After all it is a show that I like that is on television.

The Returned (Sundance): The most recent addition to my list, you might call it a show about french zombies. And while people coming back from the dead is the factor that pulls you in, the quiet way it handles this is why you should stay. It is very French, but with a beautiful setting in the French Alps, and good balance between plot and character development, I am  completely hooked.  Check it out, and I promise you will be happy you said oui  à Les Revenants.

What I’m Watching, Summer Edition

summer tv

The temperatures have finally started heating up, the summer solstice as come and gone, and the summer tv season is in swing. Since we have longed moved past total re-run summers, there are always new shows to watch, but because there are less shows for me to watch, I have time to catch up on series that have ended and show that have become tenants in my DVR. A successful summer is a good mix of new and old shows, and I am hopeful I have found the formula!

Original Series
You all know my undying (but not unreasonable!) love of ABC Family’s Switched at Birth, which returns for the back half of its second season. This half seems more understated than the previous few chunks, and hopefully will curtail the triangle drama between the girls.  The show is finally exploring the Bay/Regina relationship in depth, and appears to be gearing itself for more examinations of race, class, and culture.  The Fosters, another ABC Family show (for reals) is about two Moms raising a brood of biological, adopted, and foster kids. Three episodes in, I am mostly pleased with the show, especially in the portrayal of Lena and Steph, the two Moms. They feel like a real couple, and so far the show hasn’t descended into after-school special territory. Moving on from ABC Family, I am enjoying USA’s Graceland. 80% of this enjoyment is likely due to Daniel Sunjata and Aaron Tveit looking attractive all of the time. It’s about a group of undercover agents (in a world where the FBI, DEA, and Border Patrol all live in harmony) that live in a house in LA; a.k.a.what starts happening when people stop being polite and go undercover. I can’t imagine it is very realistic, but it certainly is how I would like my undercover agents to be.  Rounding out my summer shows list are the second seasons of Copper on BBC America and HBO’s The Newsroom (because I can’t quit Sorkin, no matter how bad he writes women. I know I am part of the problem.).

Catching Up
My number one catch up this summer is Mad Men-and yes I know I have been saying this for at least a year. I really do like the show, but I can’t multi-task during it, so it takes some time for me to get through. I am nearly done with the second season though, so I hope this is the last time I have to write this.  I have the same inability to multi-task with Game of Thrones,  but I am nearly through season one.   I have actually managed to stay spoiler-free on the recent Red Wedding episode, but I know if I am playing with fire. I am also going to try and zip through Girls, which I have heard should be easy-peasy. That way I can decide for myself how racist the whole thing is.

I am also going to work through the last two episodes of Top of the Lake, watch the first season of Hannibal, and catch up on Defiance.

That’s a full schedule designed to get caught up on current shows before their new seasons whilst having some good summer fun. If the show watching schedule goes according to plan (and who knows, I have books I want to read too!) The Wire is my next project (and I will finally be able to hold my head high) and then Breaking Bad.

I will report on my progress!

 

The Bluths are Back!

Arrested Development ranks as (at least) my co-favorite television show. (Sports Night puts up a good fight). I will admit it took a couple of episodes for me to fall in love, but once I fell, I fell hard. A combination of pop culture references, witty one liners, and jokes that pay off several episodes later, Arrested Development literally never gets old.

So, obviously I am very excited about premiere of 15 new episodes that drop on Netflix tomorrow at 2am, Central Time. There has been lots of hand wringing and worry going on around the internets about this “season” of A.D. Will it be funny? Does it make sense to revisit the Bluths right now? Honestly, I am not worried. I am still so giddy that I get to see the whole Bluth (and friends!) clan again that I am not sure it could disappoint. My hope is that the new episodes reward longtime viewers, but also bring in new ones.

I will likely be live tweeting as I watch (@ilovethebluths), though I make no promises on the quality of 2 am tweets. I will be back for thoughts once I have digested all the eps, so for now I will say that despite exclamations of “getting rid of the Seaward”, “I will leave when I am good and ready!”

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Fringe Farewell

fringe

(edit: I fixed my hanging asterisks!)

When Fringe debuted in 2008, it wasn’t love at first sight. I liked it okay, but honestly it all felt a little predictable. Yes there was this weird sci-fi component, and it was from J.J. Abrams, and Pacey* looked cute, but despite it being right up my alley, I wasn’t super enthusiastic.I was watching from London, where it was not actually airing (we won’t go into how I watched it) and I remember not staying on top of it too much at first. It wasn’t Battlestar Galactica or Lost, and I am honestly surprised sometimes that I ever kept watching.  I think I was bored, and I could watch it in my room on the computer, and it was enjoyable enough.  Well after five seasons, I am so glad I stayed.  Fringe signs off Friday night (here in America), and here is my farewell love letter to the show.

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Mid-Season Review

ReviewIn October I made a (somewhat late) list of the television shows I planned to watch this season. A mix of old and new shows made the list, and after half a season, I thought a mid-season review seemed like a good idea.  Not surprisingly there are several shows that have dropped off the radar, due to time, or my lack of interest beyond the premise, or poor execution, or my lack of patience in the show. Here is a quick rundown of where  I am this season, and the why beyond why I’m still watching, what I am watching.

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It’s Back! What I’m Watching, Told Through Colo(u)r.

The new season of television is upon us here in the United States, and I have a little tradition that I must uphold. I know I am a little bit tardy in this, as many shows have premiered, so for those  worried it might not make an appearance this year, never fear, the colo(ur) coded schedule is here!

I create this calendar to organise the new shows that I want to check out each fall and to keep track of the returning shows.  There are always shows that I check out once or twice that just fade away from my schedule, and I am sure this year won’t be different. This is either because they get cancelled, or they just don’t keep my interest.

A couple interesting (to me at least) things to note about this year.  My schedule feels very sparse this year, with only a few conflicts and even some open time slots.  I am not sure if this is because I have learned to live with less television in my life or for other reasons.   I have a pretty busy work schedule this semester and I know I won’t be able to keep up with a jam-packed slate. Or, it could be that it is simply a weak year for new shows.  I expect that it is a mixture of all three, but I have to say, there were very few shows I felt really excited about.

This schedule doesn’t reflect the many returning shows that I want to be watching (such as Boardwalk Empire or Homeland) that I have fallen behind on. As you may guess (or know) I have a difficult time not starting at the beginning . I am still working my way through Mad Men (and I will finish it so I can watch the next season live), so I am wary of taking on too much. So, I know there are good shows I am missing, but I can’t watch them all this year.

Here a quick rundown of the shows this one girl is watching this fall, after the break.

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The Olympics, NBC Style or How to be Thoroughly Annoyed When Watching the Olympics

(Note: I have a post on The Newsroom that I am finishing up, but it is the Olympics, and I can’t let a chance to write about the Olympics pass me by!)

Four years ago, the Olympics were in Beijing, I was in London, and I experienced my first viewing experience away from the US.  I wrote about it back then just as I was tentatively getting used to the coverage of the event on the BBC. That year 98% of my Olympics was viewed on my computer as I lived in a residential hall without a television, with very little trouble. In 2010, I watched the Winter Olympics on a television, but still on the BBC. I thoroughly enjoyed both of those viewing experiences, and I had hoped to watching the 2012 Olympics in London. But as the best laid plans tend to go, I am back in the US watching these Olympics on NBC.

Because of this, it is hard to say how much watching the past two Olympics on the BBC has shaped my feelings about how I want to watch the games, or how much my disappointment of not actually being in London clouds my judgment on these games. Perhaps, I was always going to be critical of anything but BBC coverage. All I know is that almost every primetime viewing of this Olympics starting from the Opening Ceremonies has made my blood boil with NBC’s programing choices.
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What I’m watching: Summer Television 2012

“And well, time slips away, you know.”
“I know very well”

This quote from the new ABC Family Series show Bunheads perfectly sums up the reasons why I haven’t written on this blog in a few months.  Life happened, time got away, etc.  No excuse other than I was busy, and some stuff got in the way, and the effort to make time to write was too much for a little while.  So, with summer time on my hands, you’ll find me, jumping back in the saddle, after the jump.

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In Defense of Leslie Knope

One of my favourite shows on television these days is Parks & Recreation. It is a comedy with a heart, a show that when it is on, literally makes you laugh and cry. With a good episode, it can almost hang with the big dog (the big dog being, of course the one and only, Arrested Development) when it comes to memorable quotes.  He is f*&*king Ron Swanson, after all.

Although I could go on and on about Parks & Recreation as a whole (and I will someday soon, don’t you worry), I’m here today in defense of my girl Leslie Knope.  Played by Amy Poehler, Leslie Knope has been a bright spot for female characters since at least the penultimate episode of the first season. She’s smart, funny, loyal, flawed, and a feminist.

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“Awake”

This is probably cheating, but I am counting this as an official post. So that’s one down and one to go in February, and that’s me keeping my New Year’s Resolutions. (Thank goodness it’s a Leap Year).

Anyway, I am super-excited for the premiere of Lucius Malfoy’s Jason Isaacs’ new tv show, Awake, which premiers on Thursday, March 1. Isaacs plays detective Michael Britten, who gets into car accident with his wife and son. He awakes to find that his wife has died, although his son has made it through. But what happens when he goes asleep is where it gets exciting. When he wakes up again, he is now in a world where his son has died, but his wife lived.

Clearly this is a show made for me.

I haven’t had time to watch the preview  of the first episode on NBC, although I wish I had if for no other reason than I could pretend to be like a real critic.  However, I watched a preview way back in July for this, and have been waiting for it to show up ever since. It seems to be getting some decent reviews, and has a good cast. In addition to Isacc’s, B.D. Wong and Cherry Jones play therapists in each of the respective ‘worlds,’ and he has a different partner in each ‘world’ as well. And honestly, with this premise, plus the opportunity to stare at Jason Isaacs (playing a Yank, btw) for an hour each week, you know I am all in.

I’ll check back in after I’ve actually seen the episode and let you know what I think. Here is the current preview: