Tuesday, April 29, 2014

End of Spring/ Beginning of Summer bingewatch/new show update

Ok... spring/summer bingewatch/new show update.

This year, out of the necessity of circumstance, we have become cord cutters. As such we consume all of our television programming off the internet, either streaming (netflix, hulu, amazon prime), or downloaded.

Mostly, we batched up episodes and bingewatched them a few hours at a time, which is how I now GREATLY prefer to watch TV shows.

This isn't everything we watched, just the stuff I had something to say about that popped into my head.

First, the new full season shows that just wrapped for the season (or will shortly), in no particular order:

  1. The Black List: James Spader getting to be 100% James Spader... The 80's movie creepy sociopathic badguy that we all love, 30 years later, and a spy... It's a damn good show, frankly better than I thought the major networks could do these days.
  2. Trophy wife: We liked it, it's cute and sweet, and it's got good performances from a cast we really like. The writing is spotty though. Worth watching.
  3. The Millers: Everybody loves Raymond with the "nasty" dial turned WAY up (and that's not a bad thing); except Raymond is Devon Banks, and Marie is Mags Bennet. That's not a bad thing either. Again interesting performances from an interesting cast... but the writing can at times be crude and clunky. Worth watching.
  4. The Crazy Ones: We LOVE this show. I'm generally not a sitcom lover, but this show is really great... At least when it lets Robin Williams go for a bit... but not TOO far (as he is wont to do). A lot of the show is improvised on the set, and it shows, usually in a good way, sometimes in a great way, occasionally not so good. He is well balanced by the supporting cast, including Sarah Michelle Gellar... Pretty much playing herself... which is a good thing (Williams is also pretty much playing himself).
  5. Mom: Another new show we love. The cast is incredible (Allison Janney, Anna Farris, Kevin Pollack, Nate Corddry, French Stewart), the performances are great, and the writing is great (it can be somewhat overly goofy at times, but it balances out). Were it not for "The Crazy Ones" this would be our favorite new comedy.
  6. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: I made this one last in the section because it's going to take more than a couple lines for this one...

    So... I want to love it... at times it's great, at times it's not good at all... Overall I think it's worth watching, and I like it.


    You have to understand what it is and especially what it is NOT.

    It is NOT a superhero show. If you go in expecting a superhero show, you will be disappointed and unhappy.

    It IS a mission impossible/spooks/covert affairs/alias/dollhouse procedural espionage and adventure show set in a universe with superheros.

    Personally, I think that's kind of an awesome premise, and there are times it really lives up to that premise. There are unfortunately times where it very much does not. It's worth watching, but I really wish they'd improve the consistency of the writing. 

The new spring/summer/mid/end-season replacement shows:

  1. True Detective: Oh my god... one of the best things I've ever watched. McConaughey is, unrecognizable, and amazing. The writing is spectacular. It's as good in it's genre as Breaking Bad, The Wire, The Sopranos, or The Shield.
  2. House of Cards seasons 1 and 2: I'm including both here, since they were both single day releases, and you should watch them back to back if you can. I watched the first season in 13 continuous hours that's how good it was. This season I broke it up in two blocks of 6 and 7 hours. It's that good... and again, as good in it's genre as those I mentioned above. This is probably Kevin Spaceys best work ever, and it's certainly Robin Wright's.
  3. Silicon Valley: Holy christ this is funny. Of course I'm a bit biased because... well... If I were a much bigger asshole, I would be one of these characters; I have lived, worked with, and been friends with ALL of these characters, for much of my working life. And man... Finally someone is tapping the rich comedy vein that is the particular breed of bullshit unique to the alternate universe that is silicon valley. Four shows in, they've already got a two season commitment (the sad part being though, one of the actors playing one of the more interesting and important characters died a few weeks ago), so we are really looking forward to seeing more of this.
  4. Surviving Jack: Someone combined "Clueless" and "my so called life", but from the dad and sons point of view...

    The dad (Christopher Meloni) here being a competent, decent, conservative but strict high achiever (and that's a very good thing), and the son is the awkward and neurotic one (as opposed to the daughter being the awkward neurotic POV character, and the dad being a bumbling but good hearted asshole etc... etc...).

    And when I say combined those two other works, I do so advisedly, because the show is set in 1991, and definitely embraces the early 90s aesthetic and culture (though picking through the best parts of the music of the previous decade... a very good choice).

    The obvious comparison would be to "that 70s show", and there are superficial similarities (high school, awkward son, strict and sarcastic dad, retro setting 20 years later etc...), but that's all they are is superficial. Otherwise, the shows are nothing alike.

    Christopher Meloni is PERFECT here, playing a retired marine, now a doctor; with his wife going back to law school now that the kids are in high school. It's from the creator of "shit my dad says" so dad is... Well, let's just say he is familiar to me.

    So far, the series only has an 8 show order, and it's in a death slot, with no promotion around it... I really hope it finds an audience because it's great. 

In the queue:

  1. Penny Dreadful (summer show, first episode online now, looks REALLY interesting)
  2. Blackbox (summer show, just started)
  3. Friends with Better Lives (summer show, we've got 4 episodes queued up)
  4. Orphan Black season 1 and 2 (2 just started)
  5. Orange is the New Black Season 1 and 2 (I watched the first few episodes myself, then stopped so I could start over with Mel, because it's really very good and I think she'll like it. Season 2 starts in a couple months).