So now that we’ve talked about some of the good tv of the last year, there are a few shows that are on my own personal chopping block. I have to admit I’m often kind of relieved when a show I watch gets canceled. Every year there are new shows, plus the shows I’m already watching, it’s just impossible to keep up. But since the networks don’t always put shows out of their misery, or mine, I sometimes have to leave shows that aren’t quite what they used to be. Here are a few in contention:
- The Blacklist (NBC) – So James Spader has always been what’s worth watching on this show, the problem is that the girl he and everyone else devote so much time to is not only not as good, she’s downright annoying and I can only hold out for so long.
- The Grinder (Fox) – This show has a pretty interesting and amusing arc where Rob Lowe’s character has had enough movement that at first I thought it had surpassed the initial conflict but while I still think the dynamic between the two brothers has potential I am starting to get weary of the beloved idiocy vs. schmucky straight arrow.
- Sleepy Hollow (Fox) – The first season was so campy and action packed it was a blast, but since then the show has struggled to find the right plots keeping the characters that we enjoy together and fighting an evil that we can get behind vanquishing.
- Gotham/SHIELD (Fox/ABC) – These shows have both been off on hiatus for so long that I’m not really remembering where they were at, and though there are things about these both that I enjoy the fact that I wouldn’t notice if they never came back isn’t a good sign.
- Elementary (CBS) – I still dig the main characters on this and their relationship (no will they or won’t they action here) but find that I’m less engaged with the overarching plots and I’m less impressed by the specific crime solving skills, but maybe because that’s because I’m paying less attention, I guess this is turning into a mindless procedural for me which maybe isn’t so bad.
- Madam Secretary (CBS) – This show has always been a poor man’s Good Wife/West Wing but since I like the idea of both those shows it’s kept on the roster, but when I start thinking House of Cards is doing a better job portraying politics something is wrong.
- Mysteries of Laura/Rizzoli & Isles (NBC/TNT) – Ok these shows were never ‘good’, but they typically fill the need that I have for something more mindless, is it bad that I seek out palatable shows that I don’t have to pay attention to, fortunately I think R&I is wrapping its run this season.
- The 100 (CW) – I know I just put this show on my best list, but there are two story lines that are bugging me this season, though I continue to love the hard choices that people are having to make and I have hopes that things will bring enough of the right kinds of drama.
Anything in your queue that’s at risk of being cut?
This week caught up on a bit of backlog plus diving back into my Netflix rotation, kicking off new series Love which is growing on me.
- Prey (BBCA) Series Premiere, Thursday, 10pm – It’s apparently two three-part stories with yet another flawed detective leading the charge.
- Fuller House (Net) Series Premiere, Friday, 3am – I was apparently not the right age to have watched Full House and this revisit has apparently a lot of nostalgia but not much to speak of if you’re not revisiting old friends (minus the Olsens of course).
- Independent Spirit Awards (IFC) Saturday, 5pm – As a nice warm up awards show.
- The Oscars (ABC) Sunday, 5:30pm – The most important award is who wins the pool.
- Rough Draft (Ova) Sunday, 8:30pm – Talk show hosted by Reza Aslan puts its focus on writers a la Actors Studio.
A friend of mine and I were talking recently and wondering whether tv had just gotten better or if movies had also gotten worse. When I heard a critic say that there were a bunch of second best movies this year but not a best movie I thought that sounded appropriate. I was supposed to do my best movies list last week (or the week before, or the week before that…) but I just kept trying to watch movies to see if I was missing anything. Well I’ve seen my final addition to the list so here goes, order as always is somewhat arbitrary:
- Room/The Big Short – Together I think these might make up my favorite movie, the first I caught early before I knew anything about it or what anyone had to say (which for me almost always helps) and the performances by these two actors in a story that went beyond what you normally see on a kidnapped life was so moving, but what it had in small film amazing it might have lacked in big pic spectacle which I thought Big Short had in spades, a great ensemble cast bringing a big American moment to the screen in a way that was suspenseful and quite funny as it educated us on the crappy credit/housing market and I always love weird Christian Bale.
- Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – I’m a sucker for a well done small coming of age story and this poignant story won me over as we look at friendship, cancer, and movies.
- Spotlight – I’m not typically a huge fan of historical based films but this look at the specific time and the way the story was uncovered as well as the set of circumstances that held it back from surfacing earlier, with a cast that brought the intensity, drew me in.
- Sicario – Emily Blunt as the idealistic FBI agent getting in way over her head on a task force in the war on drugs was tension filled from start to finish, and not that I’d thought about it before but don’t mess with Benicio Del Toro.
- Ex Machina – Programmer Domhnall Gleeson gets the opportunity of a lifetime but he has no idea what he’s getting into but can you really believe what you see or hear when you’re talking to Artificial Intelligence, or its creator for that matter, captivating.
- Ant-Man – I generally enjoy the bringings from the Marvel universe as well as an origin story, and the comedic take lead by Paul Rudd in what was basically a sci fi heist flick of fun, who knew tiny ant powers could be so powerful.
- Carol – From the moment Rooney Mara sees Cate Blanchett we fell for her and watching them fall in love in a time and situation that aren’t going to allow it makes you want to follow them on their journey.
- The Martian – I was dreading seeing another Gravity but the tension on this was mixed with not only humor (and no this was not a comedy regardless of what the Golden Globes decided) and some space MacGyvering made Matt Damon pretty entertaining to watch.
- Anomalisa – This is a movie worth watching just because Charlie Kaufman doesn’t disappoint in creating yet another super odd flick and not just because it’s stop motion,
For a look at a bit of an overview of what I’ve seen about check out the critics’ list. What were your fave movies of the year?
I went on a miniseries binge to clear some TiVo backlog, catching Wolf Hall and Tut, both entertaining though different in tone, similar in theme on those silly royals and their need to birth heirs. I’m still not paying for Hulu or Prime but will check out Love when it becomes available.
- 11.23.63 (Hulu) Series Premiere, Monday, 3am – The Stephen King book gets adapted.
- Grammys (CBS) Monday, 8pm – Songs and singers and stuff.
- The New Yorker Presents (Am) Series Premiere, Tuesday, 3am – This dabbling of items might like the magazine sit in my backlog.
- Gonzaga (HBO) Series Premiere, Tuesday, 10pm – They turn to take a look at college basketball.
- Join or Die with Craig Ferguson (Hist) Series Premiere, Thursday, 11pm – Craig sits down to chat with folks, he says it’s more discussion style than interview.
- Cooked/Love (Net) Series Premiere, Friday, 3am – A four part docufood series with Michael Pollen and a new romantic comedy from Judd Apatow.
- The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60/Journey to the Oscars (ABC) Sunday, 8/9pm – A look at the parks with some tributes and some of the actors that are on their way to gold.
- An All-Star Tribute to James Burrows (NBC) Sunday, 9pm – I think this is the friends reunion they keep talking about.
I’m almost done trying to watch the best movies of last year and can start to turn my attention back to my tv backlog. Trying to finish rewatching X Files before I started watching the new season was probably a mistake.
- Full Frontal with Samantha Bee (TBS) Series Premiere, Monday, 10:30pm – The Daily Show correspondent gets her own gig.
- Not Safe with Nikki Glaser (Com) Series Premiere, Tuesday, 10:30pm – An Inside Amy Schumer gal gets her own gig too.
- Project Runway All Stars (Life) Season Premiere, Thursday, 9pm – Caught up to being only a season behind.
- Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown (ABC) Sunday, 8pm – The kids are up to some comedic and heartwarming things.
- The Bachelor at 20 (ABC) – Sunday, 8pm – A look at how they all found love.
- Tonight Show Valentine’s Day Special (NBC) – Sunday, 9pm – Because when I think Valentine’s Day…
- Vinyl (HBO) – Series Premiere, Sunday, 9pm – With Jagger and Scorsese behind this dramatic look at Bobby Canavale as a 70’s record exec it’s gotta be worth a watch.
You’ll note that I didn’t say best books, turns out I am continuing my literary decline. I even cheated by including a couple of items started but not finished in 2015. But still a couple gems to be found, here’s what I read.
- Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon – I’d note this as the best book that I read last year, a journey into the small world in the summer of 2004, I fell for this pair of music lovers and their extended family of far from perfect people, he never fails to create unique characters and balance great language with readable page turning stories.
- The Stories of John Cheever by John Cheever – I’ve been reading this book for a couple years now, a few stories between novels and although I might have appreciated a less 700 page ‘best of’ I was impressed by the breadth of pivots of stories within his clearly defined style.
- Dark Places by Gillian Flynn – This kept me engaged while we followed a personal family mystery, though maybe not as compelling as Sharp Objects or Gone Girl, also soon to be a major motion picture.
- Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen – Another irregular Florida crime drama, though these still keep me entertained they’re not exactly ground breaking fiction.
- A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante – How can the wives not be suspects when it turns out there is more than one current, the close stories of each wife and the young detective looking into them is more revealing than the actual mystery.
- How It Ended by Jay McInerney – Another collection of short stories in a clearly defined style and subject matter I’m always a fan of his vibe though also best for me with some time between them.
- Saturday by by Ian McEwan – I picked this book up years ago and just couldn’t get into it, but with a little more time I was able to let the small and large moments sweep me in as we spend a day with our main protagonist where things take some odd turns.
- Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng – A poignant tale of a family revealing itself as we learn about the death of their daughter that starts the book, their own personal struggles looking at aspects of race and identity are both personal and universal.
- Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill – I can barely remember this apparent tale of marriage as the disjointed sections failed to capture me with its language and story.
A good start to this year so we’ll see what happens. Always looking forward to best book recommendations, please let us know your picks in the comments.
I sort of enjoyed the abbreviated list from last week so going to try out the new format. Mostly this means limiting a lot of season premieres (if you watch it assumption is you’ve got it) and a lot of the reality series premieres (I mean really…).
- Lost Girl (Syfy) – Winter Premiere, Monday 10pm – I still enjoy this campy show and so tuning into the final run (my TiVo doesn’t always pick these up as new because of some sort of pre-airing)
- The People vs. OJ Simpson (Fx) – Series Premiere, Tuesday 10pm – When I first heard about this I couldn’t imaging wanting to watch but rumors are it’s actually good.
- Madoff (ABC) – Miniseries Premiere, Wednesday 8pm – Two parter this week with Richard Dreyfuss as Bernie, probably a skip on my list.
- Animals (HBO) – Series Premiere, Friday 11:30pm – A new animated for adults by the Duplass Brothers looks at the likes of rats, pigeons, bedbugs and their issues, potential to be amusing.
- Super Bowl (CBS) – Sunday 3:30pm – Go sports teams!
- Puppy Bowl (AnPl) – Sunday – Pregame seems to start at noon with official play at 3pm.
I tend to internally mock critics who say they can’t narrow it down to 10, but seriously too much out there, it’s impossible. I kept it to ten but I did cop out this year and put them in alphabetical order. My caveats as usual, these probably aren’t the best shows out but ones that I personally enjoyed, and I can’t completely rate on just an individual season. Also my usual clarification that I don’t get high end cable so those shows might be on my to do list but they won’t be here, plus shows that I’m behind on like Mad Men and Rectify (which I love).
- The 100 (CW) – The dynamics amongst all the factions in this post-apocalyptic world have increased in quantity and in stakes and it’s moved beyond the pretty young things CW slant, though certainly maintained the pretty people.
- The Americans (Fx) – Spy mom and dad and great spy wigs sure keep getting in and mostly out of fixes, and the relationships with others keep getting more complicated, what are the chances that bringing in spy kids will go smoothly?
- The Good Wife (CBS) – I didn’t love running for office Alicia but starting over yet again Alicia brought yet another new spin on this rich cast of characters that just keeps me entertained with the cases and the personal lives where there’s not always a real right.
- Humans (AMC) – Lots of riffs out there on the androids taking over but this truly human look at a group of unanticipated aware and feeling synths and their interactions with each other, the humans around them, society as a whole and of course some ‘evil’ corporation kept me all in.
- Jessica Jones (Net) – A new crop of great series on Netflix but this less Marvel-ish Marvel is the one that truly made me want to binge as I enjoyed the tough damaged lead and her fight against uber creepy villian with the help and hindrance of some good supports.
- Justified (Fx) – The last season brought back much of what I loved about the series, Raylan was someone we all fell in love with as he fought the good fight in sometimes the wrong ways to hunt down folks as only a Marshall near his own Harlan, Kentucky hometown can do.
- Mr. Robot (USA) – This is the show that put USA on the map this year and it was quite a big swing, the lead Rami Malek really should get much of the credit for carrying this peculiar character in a psychotic split between computer hacking, and well hacking, tempted to go back and watch again.
- Orphan Black (BBCA) – This admittedly wasn’t my favorite season of this show but I love it so much even a dip in the distractions to the clone club from the boy clones couldn’t dampen my love for the performances of Tatiana Maslany and her band of supporters.
- UnREAL (Life) – My fave new campy show this look behind the scenes of a Bacheloresque show had so many layers as we follow Producer Rachel trying to come back from her own personal drama while the manipulations on and off camera reach new highs, or should I say lows, and I’m not a Bachelor watcher.
- You’re the Worst (Fxx) – The first season of this show won me over with a new twist on the rom com by playing into and out of the stereotypes as the characters were all a mess, and the second season delved into Gretchen’s mess/depression in a way that was able to include some truly funny moments in what was a dramatic and sensitive, amazing work by Aya Cash.
My honorable mentions were giving me too much stress so I’ve even eliminated those. What were some of your favorites from last year?
Technical difficulties led to an abbreviated list but here are some new options:
- Lucifer – Monday at 9pm (Fox) – The devil as crime fighter sidekick, not too promising
- Magicians – Monday at 9pm (Syfy) – Based on some books, this series reportedly has some promise
- Recovery Road – Monday at 9pm (Free) – The latest from no longer ABCFamily looks at a high schooler in rehab, will probably be more poignant than Valley of the Dolls
- Outsiders – Tuesday at 9pm (WGN) – The clans at working fighting for something reportedly has some sparks of quality
- You, Me, and the Apocalypse – Thursday at 8pm (NBC) – Jenna Fischer, Megan Mullally, and Rob Lowe and world destruction of course worth checking out
The procrastinator lists items that may not be on your regular season pass, though notation does not imply recommendation. Times noted are typically PST.
Would watching War & Peace get me out of the guilt of having never read it? Legends looks to mix a lot of items but may need some time to be successful but will def watch before one of my returning faves 100. Baskets with Galifianakas and from Louis CK promises to be oddball comedy which may not work for everyone but is def worth a look. Reports are that the new ‘season’ of X-Files starts out a bit of a mess but toward ep 3 or 4 hits a nice note. Plus a couple more Netflix shows, I know someone who has been missing Chelsea. And of course more Australian Open tennis!
- Monday – Just for Laughs (CW, 8pm), Hit the Floor, Season Premiere (VH1, 9pm), War & Peace, Mini-series Premiere (Hist/A&E/Life, 9pm), Almost Royal, Season Premiere (BBCA, 10pm)
- Tuesday – Marvel’s Captain America/Agent Carter, Season Premiere (ABC, 8/9pm), The Prancing Elites Project, Season Premiere (Oxy, 8pm), DC’s Legends of Tomorrow/Dawn of the Justice League (CW, 9/9:30pm), Gangsters: America’s Most Evil, Season Premiere (Reelz, 9pm), Total Divas/Just Jillian, Season/Series Premieres (E!, 9/10pm), Fit to Fat to Fit, Series Premiere (A&E, 10pm)
- Thursday – Portlandia, Season Premiere (IFC, 7pm), DC’s Legends of Tomorrow/The 100, Series/Season Premieres (CW, 8/9pm), Baskets, Series Premiere (Fx, 10pm), London Spy, Series Premiere (BBCA, 10pm), Recipe for Deception, Series Premiere (Brav, 10pm), Dark Net, Series Premiere (Show, 11pm)
- Friday – Mad Dogs, Series Premiere (Net, 3am), Childrens Hospital, Season Premiere (AdSw, 11pm)
- Saturday – Chelsea Does, Series Premiere (Net, 3am), The Artful Detective, Season Premiere (Ova, 7pm), Black Sails, Season Premiere (Starz, 9pm), Forensic Justice, Series Premiere (Spike, 9pm), It’s Not You, It’s Men/Where Are They Now, Series/Season Premieres (OWN, 9pm), Beowulf, Series Premiere (Esq, 10pm)
- Sunday – The X-Files, Season Premiere (Fox, 7pm), Hollywood Medium, Series Premiere (E!, 10pm)
The procrastinator lists items that may not be on your regular season pass, though notation does not imply recommendation other than those underlined. Times noted are typically PST.