Fall TV Picks

I can’t pretend that I have done much research on fall TV beyond skimming the Fall TV Preview issue of Entertainment Weekly while half watching Big Brother one night this week and obsessing about whether I might have contracted lyme disease from a possible tick bite on my leg that I acquired on the east end of Long Island. But the Fall TV season is starting and  I feel that it is my obligation to point out the very few things that caught my attention during the EW skim, before its too late.

These are Entertainment Weekly’s six can’t miss shows (I will be missing some of them)

  1. How to Get Away With Murder – Thu 10pm ABC (Starts Sept 25) – Shonda Rhimes’ lastest show (Scandal and Grays Anatomy) bringing mystery, drama, surprises, and Viola Davis. Not to be missed, clearly.
  2. The Affair – Sun 10pm Showtime (Starts Oct 12) – I have been watching the trailer for this all summer before Masters of Sex and Ray Donovan. Looks awesome. Two people who had (or are having?) and affair tell the story from their perspectives in the two halves of the pilot and there seems to be something going on (involving a detective) that will apparently suck us in.  Another must watch.
  3. Marry Me – Tues 9pm NBC (Starts Oct 14) – from the creator of Happy Endings which I only learned to appreciate at the very end as a hilarious show. Also starring one of the actresses from Happy Endings who is married to the creator. A Rom-Com with razor-blade sharp opposites attract chemistry.  Looks good!
  4. Red Band Society – Wed 9pm Fox – this one premiered last week (sorry!) and it sitting on my TiVo. I don’t need any more teen dramas in my life. Inventive, big-hearted, quirky with Octavia Spencer.  Worth a look…
  5. Transparent – Amazon streaming – yes, streaming.  Now that I have a Chromecast, I could actually stream this to my TV from my computer via Amazon Prime (and a Google extension). The world is so insane, right? (Of course my much younger and more savvy brother in law taught me how to do this.) Anyway, anyone with a laptop and Amazon Prime can watch this show (created by someone from Six Feet Under) about a transgender man who has not told his kids he is living as a woman.  I probably won’t have time for this, but is is getting a lot of attention.
  6. Flash – Tues 8pm The CW (Starts Oct 7) – something about tights and superhero fun. Not for me, but if you like this sort of thing.

Then these few of other things caught my eye..

Gotham – Mon 8pm Fox (Starts Sept 22) – this looks like a semi-interesting super hero show. More “dark and twisted” than “tights and fun.”

Madam Secretary – Sunday 8pm CBS (Starts Sept 21..in 8 minutes!) -Tea Leoni is tapped for Secretary of State. OK, I did a little bit more research to ge a second opinion and the Washington Post gave this show its highest score (A-) for new shows this fall. (If interested in their opinion..read more here)

American Horror Story – Freak Show – Wed 10pm Fox (Starts Oct 8) – This is technically a returning show but every season completely different, so its never too late to start watching.  This season looks even creepier than ever with conjoined twins, a woman with three breasts, and Kathy Bates as a bearded lady. It looks insane.

As a reminder, here is where I go to get a calendar view of what starts when so I don’t miss anything! TVGuide Fall TV Preview Calendar

 

 

Advertisements

So Much Television….

I have been thinking about writing this post for a while. When I started thinking about it, there was a lot more television going on. Now, I suppose,  it is more of a reflection on the highlights of the past six months of television. Now that we have straightened that out, here we go…

Orphan Black – my best new find of 2014 (which is really from 2013.) I missed season one but am now all caught up to season 2.  The most amazing thing about this show is the lead actress who plays at least five cloned versions of herself so well that you forget they are all the same person. Then of course you have mystery and drama and mostly likable characters (including that guy Max Headroom who is not so likable but a cult classic, Sarah’s half brother  who is hilarious and you totally want to be friends with, and the hottie from Nashville and Game of Thrones who I would love to be more than friends with.) Definitely worth watching. Go back and catch up.

The second show I added to my list was Penny Dreadful. I can’t say you should definitely watch this, but the premise is interesting and if you love creepy, monster stuff like I do, you might like it. It is a mish mosh of characters from Irish and British fiction all together in one story…werewolves, vampires, Frankenstein, Dorian Gray… There was a bit more devil possession going on that I would have liked but there was enough drama to keep me sucked in.

The Walking Dead and Louie were especially awesome this season. It has been so long since The Walking Dead that I can’t remember the details, but I remember being back in to it after not loving it so much last season. That Pamela is a piece of work, but I like her for Louie. The flashback to Louie’s teenage spiral in to the drugs and how he didn’t have the perfect answer to keep his daughter from going down the same path, except a hug. Hugs are awesome. The world could use more hugs.

The Americans had a stellar second season. Being a spy is very complicated. Being a spy in a time of typewriters and land lines is quite a challenge. Being a Russian spy with American children..phew! What will happen to Paige next season? Will she be forced to give up her newly found Christian community to join her parents as a next generation Russian spy?

The Bachelorette – I have given up on pretending I am not going to watch this show.  As ridiculous as it is, I always get sucked in. Every season I wonder..what if I were the Bachelorette? Could I actually pretend to be super excited about all of those dates? Wouldn’t it be cool to have wardrobe and makeup 24×7 for three months? Could I really make out with so many different guys in the same week? How did she not know on Day 1 who she would end up with? What the heck would I do for my hometown date? How does she remember what she is going to say at every rose ceremony? Right now I am wondering….Josh or Nick?

Big Brother – just like the Bachelorette I am once again hooked on this insanity. I am equally fascinated by observing these people’s behaviors as I am about the editing decisions made to tell the story. I think my dream job would be to work on this show. I just want to see how it all works! I could do with fewer competitions though. As creative as they can be, they are ridiculously stupid. Clearly I am not the key demographic for this show. Middle America must love these competitions, because they added a third weekly competition this year. Right now, I am rooting for Frankie, the smartest and most entertaining house guest this year (brother of Ariana Grande but this man stands on his own.)

Mad Med was its usual awesome self.  Parenthood tugged at my heartstrings most weeks. This is one of my absolutely favorite shows that I don’t list on OK Cupid as a fav because its just not as cool as saying, say, Game of Thrones.

Speaking of Game of Thrones, wouldn’t it be fun to see Jamie, Cersie, Tyrion, Arya Stark, Daenerys,Margery, Sansa, Lord Varys, Brienne of Tarth, John Snow, Lord Baelish all in the Big Brother House? Who would be able to build the longest word out of wooden letters shaped like lice (in the Miami Lice competition) that they have to fish through a pool to find? I can say that none of them would have trouble being a “have not” which requires eating an oatmealish food called slop for a week, sleeping in uncomfortable beds, and taking cold showers.

I did not love American Horror Story this season. Jessica Lange was awesome as always but the witch thing just didn’t do it for me. That show tends to go just a little bit too far sometimes, even for me. I got sucked in to 24 Live Another Day (because I loved 24), and initially, I was totally in to it..now it is dragging on and I am ready for it to be over, for good.  Scandal was fun as always with lots of twists and turns.  Definitely a must watch.

Finally watching True Detective. I clearly should have watched this instead of 24: Live Another Day, but sometimes, I make stupid entertainment decisions. I am back on track now, and loving it.

I also finally watched The Normal Heart this weekend on HBO (the story of the start of the AIDS epidemic in NYC and the founding of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis). Amazing. Watch it if you get the chance.

I had a lot to catch up on. Hopefully you stuck with me. Before I go, I will mention that I just started watching The Leftovers (right up my alley, mysterious, troubled, sad characters, sci fi element to it. If that’s your thing set your DVR.). Masters of Sex, Ray Donovan, and The Bridge will be back soon….but I will try to get out of the house this summer. Really, I will.

Initial Thoughts: Once Upon a Time in Wonderland

Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is only one week out the gate and TV by the Numbers already has it on the cancellation bubble! If you like Once Upon a Time, you will like this show (I actually think this one is better.) The question is, how many hours of fantasy, fairy tale drama TV can a person watch? Sunday night feels like the right night to watch something Disney-ish (because, as I have mentioned before, The Wonderful World of Disney used to be on Sunday nights.)  Thursday night is more like a Vampire Diaries, Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal kind of night (in my TV world.)  People are getting ready for the weekend and want to watch drama and scandal and pretend their weekend will be full of the same. (None of this applies to me of course, because I record everything and watch it when I feel like it, but apparently, lots of people still watch things real time!)

That being said, I liked it. The story is told by bouncing around from present day to past (different times in the past, even) so you have to stay on your toes to follow the story. I like some intellectual challenge in my TV. What is the story? Let me tell you..(spoiler alert)

The whole things starts AFTER Alice’s adventures in Wonderland. When she returned from Wonderland, she had apparently been gone for a long time (not just like a nap) so everyone thought she was dead. No one believed her story so they institutionalized her. At some point (we don’t know the details exactly), as a young woman Alice escaped and went back to Wonderland to get proof that it exists. On this return journey, she fell in love with a genie. The genie was supposedly killed by the evil Red Queen (we don’t really know why) and Alice was devastated. When she returned to the “real world” from Wonderland, she was despondent. She told her doctors she did make it all up and then she agreed to electroshock therapy to forget everything (we are now in the present day that is not really the present day, because they still do electroshock therapy. Its a vague time period.)

BUT..before she goes in for the procedure, the Knave of Hearts and the White Rabbit (remember that people and animals can travel between worlds) tell her that her genie love (Cyrus) is alive and that she should go back to Wonderland to find him. BUT..when she gets there, we learn that the evil Red Queen made up the whole story of Cyrus being alive to get her back to Wonderland. BUT…then we learn that Cyrus really IS still alive and being held prisoner by the evil genie Jafar (we don’t know why) who is working with the Red Queen (at the moment. He also wants to kill her.)

So there you have it. Many mysteries to unravel and a romantic quest to find lost love in a fantasy land where there are lots of mushrooms and things can grow big and be made small. The dialog is actually smart and witty and the visuals are appealing. And Alice kicks ass, literally, with swords and karate moves.

Watching this show made me give some thought to what is is about Alice in Wonderland that appealed to me as a small child. I think it was because Alice was brave and curious and spoke her mind. She made her way, on her own, through this strange land and she wasn’t scared, she just rolled with it. She was nice to those who were nice to her but didn’t put up with any shit. She did get upset once and cry a river of tears, but she pulled herself together and got out of her predicament. No one came to save her, she just figured it out. She was smart.

Maybe Alice was my first feminist heroine!

Initial Thoughts: Masters of Sex and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

A good television show just feels different than a not so good one. A good television show has texture and feels thick and dense, full of quality. It holds your interest. You want to watch all the way to the end to see what will happen in the next episode. It might make you laugh out loud or think or cry. You want to know more about the characters and what they are thinking and how they feel. Entertainment is art. Everyone has their own opinions about what is good art, but I think most would agree that if you think art is good, it makes you feel something. A good television show makes you feel something (besides annoyed or bored.)

It may seem strange to include Masters of Sex and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. in the same blog post, but I watched them back to back and they are both good television. Different, but both good.

Masters of Sex is based on a fascinating topic. Who doesn’t want to know more about sex? The characters are rich and full (and developed at an appropriate pace). It’s fascinating to me to see the sexual attitudes of the time and the impact those had on people. I am not sure how much this show will get in to all of the psychology behind sex or just focus on the physiological and societal perspectives. That would make it much more interesting to me, but we will have to see where it goes. Interesting that the guy with the biggest sexual hang ups so far appears to be Masters. Perhaps that is the whole point! And that Johnson had chutzpah! The story of Masters and Johnson themselves makes for good TV. (The did end up marrying..and divorcing eventually. Sorry for the spoiler but its in Wikipedia.) The topic is clearly interesting, but it is also well done. I don’t break down all of the technical stuff (I am a VERY novice TV reviewer) but it felt like good TV to me and I am looking forward to more.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is completely different. The premise of this show is completely ridiculous but fun. I was able to pick up the context pretty quickly (I am pretty smart and I know how to use the internet.) The show is a spin off of this summer’s movie The Avengers where something called “The Battle of New York” happened and aliens from another dimension attacked earth and the superhumans (like Thor and Ironman) saved the world. The purpose of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) is to “shield” the world from all of the super humans and aliens and this crazy stuff going on. They are hot and smart and they have that dry sarcastic wit that I love. I could date this show.

I did get a tiny bit bored during the action/chase scenes and this subject matter is not the most interesting to me, but it is good television. You care about the story and the characters and there is cool technology stuff going on. It is also an interesting companion to the movies (which will continue) because it references them, but (I read in EW) that they are sticking with the smaller stories and heroes for budgetary and artistic reasons.  TV is smaller and you have an hour every week so it has to have a different formula. Makes sense! Joss Whedon makes good TV. I may not watch it because I can’t watch everything, but I think it will be a huge success and if you are in to these Marvel heroes, you will love it.

Two good shows that made me feel something. Thumbs up to Masters of Sex and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Initial Thoughts: The Crazy Ones

I am not a fan of this show. A lot of people are watching it, but I don’t know why and I wonder how long that will last. There is not a lot of competition in its time slot for adults who don’t want to watch Glee or Gray’s Anatomy (yes, that show is still on). That might explain it. Here are my quick thoughts after two episodes:

  • Robin Williams is just too much. He delivers fast one liners as his complete dialog. He doesn’t have regular conversations. It’s like he is doing a comedy routine in every scene. As I was watching I just wanted to go watch him in Good Will Hunting to remind myself that he can be awesome. Not in this.
  • Sarah Michelle Gellar is annoying. Now that I am thinking about it, I am not sure I ever really liked her. I liked Buffy, the show, but I think she has always annoyed me a bit. He hair is horrible. I don’t get the damaged, dyed hair look.
  • James Wolk is awesome. I have loved him in everything I have seen him in (Lone Star, Political Animals, Mad Men). He is as cute as a button, first of all. He pulls off both cute and hot, actually. And apparently, he is funny too! I have never seen him do comedy, but he rocks it. The only scene I really liked of two whole episodes is one in the pilot where Robin Williams and James Wolk improv a sexy McDonald’s song (“Drive Through Lovin”) for Kelly Clarkson. It was hilarious. Worth watching the pilot.
  • Not Hamish Linklater‘s fault, but when I see him, I can only think that he was the guy who got all of my favorite people on The Newsroom in trouble.  So, I don’t like him. Sorry dude.

Like Hostages, this show feels forced to me (btw – “TV By The Numbers” predicts Hostages will get cancelled. Don’t waste your time on it.) The best part, after cute as a button James Wolk, was Kelly Clarkson in the pilot.  LOVE Kelly. She did good!

Initial Thoughts: Hostages and The Blacklist

I had an idea how this would go before I watched these two pilots.  From reading the reviews, I was pretty sure The Blacklist would be better. It was.

Hostages is not great TV. The show tried to set up the backstory of every character before the first commercial break. It just feels very forced. When Dillon McDermott’s character (the FBI agent) is introduced, he turns around slowly to reveal himself in response to the question, “who gave this order?” (or something) and predictably says “I did.” He then proceeds to take one of those huge TV risks to capture the bad guy, is successful and cocky about it, and this cheesy music plays while he walks away.  I had to re-play it to see if he walked away in slow motion because I remembered it being so ridiculous. He walked away normal speed, apparently, I just remembered it in slow motion.

Hostages was explained by one of its creators as Downton Abbey meets 24. I guess the Downton Abbey part comes from the fact that everyone in this family being held hostage had a secret. Maybe some more interesting stuff is coming, but we found out half way through in the first episode what everyone’s secret was and they weren’t that interesting. (spoiler alert!) One kid is dealing drugs, one is pregnant, and the dad is having an affair. Who cares? Something bigger is going on the with FBI agent. We don’t know what it is yet, but it seems to be slightly more interesting. This is no Downton Abbey. Where is the smart humor and the over the top, kind of making fun of itself but also being serious, drama?

The 24 part, I assume, is because the time span of the actual events will not be very long (more than 24 hours though) and will be spread out over many episodes. So far, there is not enough action for me to compare Hostages to 24 and our hero is no Jack Bauer. (I am not even sure who the hero is.)

The first episode ends with a cheesy statement from the surgeon mom, Toni Collette. The episode started and ended with major cheese.

The Blacklist, is much better. It may not be completely original, but it is better TV than Hostages. It is compelling, has unexpected twists and turns in the pilot, and we care about the characters. We also have a lot of mysteries that we actually want to know the answers too! Why is James Spader working with the FBI? Why does he ONLY want to work with this rookie FBI agent? How does he know all of these details about her life? (Is he her father? Is that possible?)  Is the actress playing the rookie FBI agent wearing a wig? (her hair looks very strange to me, but I may be the only person who had that question). Why does the guy in this show who was also on Homeland seem like a much worst actor on this show? (and did he change his hair color?)

I don’t want to give anything away about The Blacklist because you should watch it and it will be more fun if I don’t say any more. It’s no Homeland but it’s decent.

Thumbs down for Hostages. Thumbs up for The Blacklist. 

Emmy Minutia 2013

It’s time for my annual Emmy post! Here are my running thoughts from the red carpet and the show (as if I were live tweeting them, but I wasn’t, they were collecting, here, in bullet points). I have no idea if my random train of thought is interesting to anyone, but it has become a tradition.

  • Not a fan of Heidi Klum’s pomegranate dress although I am sure it will make the best dressed lists. She has an unusually long neck.
  • Love Amanda Peet’s messy pony tail. That is my dream hair do.
  • Taylor Schilling (Orange is the New Black) looks beautiful. (Lots of side boob and she could use better nipple covers, but it works) – (Not a huge fan of that show, however.  I might be the only non-fan.)
  • Claire Danes and Lena Dunham..I want to hang out with them!!!
  • A lot of dresses I don’t like. I don’t even know where to start.
  • I am confused about Julie Bowen’s (Modern Family) pale pink mermaid bow dress. I simultaneously love it and hate it.
  • I thought I hated Connie Britton’s dress, until I saw her on stage in it. It’s beautiful. (still confused by the Emmy nomination, though. Nashville is not that good.)
  • John Hamm is sporting a beard. Love beards.
  • This intro montage of clips from various shows is weird and not funny (but I still love NPH)
  • The House of Cards monologue by Kevin Spacey in the intro…hilarious. Makes up for horrible montage.
  • Al Pacino is looking particularly orange, right? Actually, a lot of people are looking orange. I am glad I don’t have go to award shows and pick pale or orange. In real life, I pick pale, pretty much always.
  • Tony Hale holding Julia Louis Dreyfus’s bag while she accepts her Emmy? This is why these people win awards. Well deserved to both of them. Veep grew on me in Season #2. Super funny.
  • I like these presenter bits. They are making me chuckle. I also like how they are not trying to make not funny people say funny things (for the most part)
  • Best half time show….EVER! NPH!!!! Sarah Silverman!! Guy from Castle??!!!
  • Dianne Carroll was an unexpected comedic pleasure. (I don’t need my reading glasses either…I don’t have them on right now.)
  • (I had no commentary for quite a while here…)
  • What a GREAT idea to have the choreographers do a dance number. And they danced! I wish I could dance like that…
  • James Cromwell was the only actor to ever say the words “Star Trek” on “Star Trek”? Very random trivia.
  • I am over Modern Family but it keeps winning!  Really? Better than Veep? Better than Girls?
  • Breaking Baaaad!!!!!  Yay!!!!!
  • I love television.

It’s past my bed time. My work here is done…