Monday, June 2, 2014

Inexplicable TV Review: The Guide – June 2, 2014

Click for the full thing. yikes.
In the past, apparently, I would blog about all of the shows I was watching on TV – First in September 2009, and then again in October 2009. I had two main takeaways from re-reading these entries: “Wow, it seems so long ago that Community and Parks and Recreation were debuting, and Lost was finishing up, and holyshit I’ve been doing this crap for almost four years???”

Yikes. But anyway, as near as I can tell, I haven’t updated anyone on my television progress since that October 2009 entry, except for entries on individual shows. (Hint: You can find those by clicking here.) I actually keep track of my shows somewhat obsessively, like when they start and end each season. The image at the time is legit from an Excel spreadsheet I keep tracking their progress. As we’re only four short months away from the start of a new TV season, let me pontificate about the shows keeping my attention, the shows that have lost it, and the announced pilots that have piqued my fancy enough to be included on this document.


- Silicon Valley. It’s the latest comedy from Mike Judge, it’s on HBO, and it’s fantastic. If you liked Office Space but thought, “This would be even better if they were even more socially awkward,” then you’re in luck! And I do mean that as high praise. I mean, just look at that GIF!

- Veep. Hands down, this is probably the best comedy on television right now, and the only negative is that it’s only 10 episodes per season. It forms a pretty good power hour with Silicon Valley. Also, that Julia Louis-Dreyfus is still a pistol, and she seems to get more attractive as she ages. She’s aging in reverse. It’s a strong ensemble cast though, with her, Tony Hale (a.k.a. Buster Bluth) and Anna Chlumsky.

- Hotel Impossible. For obvious and previously touched upon reasons. This is also another one of those shows that I can leave on in the background while doing work and relaxing, which is always appreciated. Basically, shows that don’t require a lot of mental energy to watch or follow. Other shows in this category: Hell’s Kitchen, MasterChef, Franklin and Bash, Antiques Roadshow, Bar Rescue, Kitchen Nightmares.

- Robot Chicken. Unlike some of the other animated shows in this list, I find it to be breezy enough to stick with, despite some gross-out scenes from time to time. I think the (intentionally) lower quality animation and the 13-minute episode length help. For similar reasons, I’ll watch Aqua Teen Hunger Force whenever it comes back.

- Orphan Black. Through the first 3/4 of its debut season, this was probably my favorite show on television. It fell off justttt a bit as it neared the finish line, but it was still good. It’s gone off in a different direction as the second season has started, with Sarah on the run, but it’s one of the few dramas I feel compelled to stick with on a week to week basis, as opposed to letting the episodes queue up.

- The Soup. Yes, this is still on, and it’s still wonderful. Even if Joel McHale leaves for something else, I’m hoping the show goes on, since it’s invaluable to me just for all of the brief snippets of crazy, nutty and insane reality shows. I don’t have to watch The Bachelor because I know Joel’s got my back if anything noteworthy and silly happens.

- Nathan For You. The second season starts up June 24. While I sometimes find the humor a bit too cringe-y and I have to fast forward as a result, the show on balance is so wickedly clever that I stuck with its first season. The concept? Nathan uses his business acumen to pitch unusual ideas to desperate owners, and by the way, it’s a documentary. Highlights included the poo-flavored frozen yogurt and faking a viral video of a pig rescuing a baby goat.

Meghan Markle, oh la and LA.
- Suits. The whatever-th season begins on June 11. (USA is somewhat ambiguous with the season numbering and releases, as I feel like the show has taken a bunch of two month breaks, but seldom run more than six in a row.) This is a mostly by the books legal procedural, with super memory dude Mike Ross faking his way into a law firm. The show’s better when it focuses on individual cases as opposed to the “will someone find out Mike’s secret?” crap, which unfortunately, most of the past season was about. However, it’s still worth checking out. Also, between Sarah Rafferty (Donna), Meghan Markle (Rachel) and Abigail Spencer (one of my previously mentioned crushes), it’s a murderer’s row.

- Late night shows, in order of watching preference: The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson, Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, Late Night with Seth Meyers. The first two are about as perfect as you can get, and TDS gets a slight edge because the correspondents give it more of a varied feel. Ferguson’s show is so bizarre as compared to everything else, with the 15 minutes of improve each night with his robot skeleton, that I’m always intrigued. I thought this was a good rebound year for SNL, with the female performers forming an especially strong core. Fallon has been shockingly good – Yes, he’s a suck-up, but who cares as long as it’s funny? And Seth Meyers has been off-beat enough that I’m sticking with him for now.

- Falling Skies. Options are always limited for new shows in the summer, and this one always premiers in July, when I’m finally running out of stuff to watch. It’s nothing special.

- It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The gang is kind of limping along for me at this point, since a bit too many episodes rely on the “let’s shit on Sweet Dee for 22 minutes!” format. I can only take so much of this, and the same thing goes for Charlie’s pursuit of The Waitress. I’d like them to just do more weird episodes, like when the gang bought a boat, or put on a wrestling show for the troops.

- The Wrong Mans. A six-episode British comedy that’s available on BBC and/or Hulu. It kind of twists the usual tropes of the caper buddy comedy show in interesting ways. The second season is being written, with no real release date on the horizon yet, it seems.

The completely normal Belcher family.
- South Park and Bob’s Burgers. Of the animated shows I watch, these two are clearly the best. South Park manages to combine witty social commentary with humor, kind of like an animated and filthier Daily Show at its best. Bob’s Burgers is doing to the animated sitcom what The Simpsons did in the early 1990s, in showing that a semi-clean family-centered show can work. (Although, barely, since the ratings aren’t doing well.) American Dad also tends to be solid, when it’s not succumbing to Macfarlane “gross out” humor influences. And speaking of The Simpsons – I have a future entry planned on that show, but I still watch and enjoy it more than another animated show that’ll be further down this list.

- Archer is still enjoyable, but I felt like the promise of Archer Vice this year was a bit unfulfilled. I’m glad that they’re going to be going back to the spy theme for the next season. (Expected premiere date: January 2015.) It also reminded me at times of the worst traits of the previous shows by the same creator, Frisky Dingo and Sealab 2021, which sometimes went off the rails a bit too much recover.

- True Detective. For some people, this show ended up a sour note, but I was fine with it just being a really, really well-made police procedural, as opposed to some LOST-style mind screw. Pretty much everyone had strong, memorable moments, whether we’re talking the two male leads, the interrogating detectives or Michelle Monaghan. Season two is still yet to be announced, in terms of a start date, but it might look at the seedy underbelly of the L.A. transportation system, which I love the sounds of.

- The Venture Bros. As I previously wrote about in June 2013, it’s hard to really get behind the show when it’s produced so slowly. The last news about the show came out in roughly September 2013, and they announced a season six premiere date for Fall 2014 or Early 2015. Since then, nothing, and they’re notorious for getting behind schedule, so I’m worried.

- Sherlock. This is probably the best drama on television right now, with the caveat that it’s really more like three mini-movies per season. Each episode is 90 minutes long, and each season is three episodes. While episodes can be watched on their own and still enjoyed, they do link up, especially in the recently-concluded third season.

- Brooklyn Nine-Nine was my favorite new comedy of the Fall 2013 season, edging out Mom, the only other serious contender. And yes, Mom is by Chuck Lorre, but it’s surprisingly emotional and poignant at certain times. It’s kind of like what 2 Broke Girls could have been, if they tapered down the moist opening jokes.

- Parks and Recreation probably had its weakest season since the first, but this is like complaining about the weather in San Diego. It was still fantastic, and the season finale was a masterpiece. Next season is going to be the last, which feels about right, given that they were stretching for plotlines at times this year. Modern Family is not finishing up, and will probably run 10 to 15 seasons, but it also had a bit of a “we’ve seen this before” vibe to it.

- Hannibal had a blood and brutal second season that I binge-watched last weekend. Assuming I have time this week or this weekend, my viewing project will be The Americans, which I heard similar great reviews for. I enjoyed the first seasons of both shows.


- Last Week Tonight. This is the HBO show hosted by John Oliver, who is probably kicking himself that he left The Daily Show when he did. His HBO show isn’t bad, but it’s only once a week, which prohibits it from getting into the groove that TDS and Colbert can get into. For somewhat similar saturation reasons, Conan and Jimmy Kimmel Live have slipped off my regular viewing grid, mostly because they’re too Internet savvy. That seems odd to say, but I know if they do anything really cool, it’ll end up shared on Facebook. (For example, Kimmel’s “Celebrities Reading Mean Tweets.”)

- Storage Wars. Dave Hester has been off the show for about two years now, which is when it first started to fall off. While some considered him the villain, I liked him because he was the only one who seemed to really do research on items, and to run a successful business. His exit was followed a year later by Barry, and he took a lot of levity with him. Now the show is relying on Daryl, Brandi and Jarrod, and of those three, I find Daryl and Jarrod insufferable. Both of them just seem to guess on the lockers. The editing also does its best to portray Brandi as a shrew, except it can’t really go all the way with it because she’s ALWAYS friggin’ right when it comes to Jarrod’s idiocy.

- Glee. I will write more extensively on this show at a future date, like I’ve done in the past. However, as gracefully as Parks and Recreation is handling its endgame, that’s how badly Glee is muffing both its College Years and The Replacements Back Home storylines. The only minor miracle this season is that they didn’t manage to completely screw up the Cory Monteith tribute shows.

- Family Guy is just getting too gross for me. An entire episode’s B-plot revolved around Brian getting herpes, with close-ups. Before, Family Guy would at least kind of pretend to be about said family members, but now it just seems to relish in seeing how far it can go in any given episode.

- Thankfully, Bones only has one season left, because it’s also limping to the finish line. The genius computer hacker storyline of the recently concluded season took all the fun out of the show’s first few episodes, and it was just tiring to me that they went back to it at the very end. Bones isn’t meant to be a “STAKES ARE HIGH!” emotional drama; it plays better as a light-hearted, Psych-like procedural. Unfortunately, both of those shows seemed to stray away from that as they got near the finish line.


- Cosmos, Fargo, Halt and Catch Fire, The Returned. All of these are queued up, and I’ll probably watch at some point when I have free time. Then again, I said the same thing about Breaking Bad and The Sopranos, and they’re both sitting on my “to watch” list.

- New shows in Fall 2014, or later, that I’m interested to try out: Marry Me, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Gotham, Gracepoint, Mulaney, The Last Man on Earth, Selfie, Black-ish, Battle Creek. The one I'm most excited about? The Last Man on Earth. Watch the trailer below.

The awesome Orphan Black image comes from here. The GIF of Silicon Valley comes from here. The photo of Suits’ Meghan Markle is from her Wikipedia page. John Oliver’s photo is from this Guardian article.

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