Top Ten Tuesday: TV talk

Top 10 Tuesday Since the fall TV season is coming up, this week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about television! As someone who watches more than her fair share of TV, I had no problem coming up with a list of ten TV shows I’ll be watching this fall. I’ve even limited my list to shows that will be airing new content in the fall, not old shows that I plan to binge-watch on DVD or Netflix!

1. Conviction (season 1), September 19, ABC — To be honest, the trailer doesn’t do a lot for me, and I’m kind of over case-of-the-week procedurals in general. On the other hand, I loved Hayley Atwell so much in Agent Carter that I’ll give the benefit of the doubt to any show she’s starring in!

2. The Good Place (season 1), September 19, NBC — I’m super excited for this new half-hour comedy, and my reasons are threefold. First, it’s created by Mike Schur, who worked on The Office and co-created Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (ahem, see below!). Second, it stars Kristen Bell, who was Veronica Mars, nuff said. And third, one of the writers is Demi Adejuyigbe, who co-hosts the brilliant Gilmore Guys podcast. A show with this many awesome people involved is a show I need to watch!

3. Brooklyn Nine-Nine (season 4), September 20, FOX — I mean, for this alone.

4. New Girl (season 6), September 20, FOX — I love the specific weirdness of the characters on this show. The individual episode plots are very hit-or-miss, and poor Winston is basically a grab bag full of crazy at this point…and yet, Nick Miller ranting will never not be funny.

5. This Is Us (season 1), September 20, NBC — I don’t really know what this one is about, but it stars Milo Ventimiglia, and I have a lot of Gilmore Girls nostalgia right now, so I’ll give it a try!

6. Pitch (season 1), September 22, FOX — The premise of this one caught my eye: the protagonist is the first female pitcher in major league baseball. I don’t care about sports, but I tend to love sports-related movies and TV shows (hello, Friday Night Lights!).

7. Poldark (season 2), September 25, PBS — I love a good costume drama, and the gorgeous footage of Cornwall makes Poldark especially pleasant to watch.

8. The Durrells in Corfu (season 1), October 16, PBS — Yup, I sure do love a good costume drama! 🙂 And this one looks quite funny and charming.

9. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (season 2), October 21, CW — I was skeptical of this show at first, but I’m so glad I decided to give it a try because it is BRILLIANT! I can never decide which musical number is my favorite: this boy band homage, this Fred-and-Ginger routine, or this up-tempo number about a…personal ailment.

10. Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, November 25, Netflix — YOU GUYS, THE GILMORE GIRLS REVIVAL IS COMING!!! Gilmore is my all-time favorite show, despite some rocky episodes (okay, seasons) near the end. I’m really excited that it’s coming back–helmed, as it should be, by Amy Sherman-Palladino–and can’t wait to see what all my beloved characters have been up to!

Farewell, “Parks and Recreation”

Parks and RecreationTonight one of my favorite shows of all time, “Parks and Recreation,” will air its series finale. I was a relative latecomer to the show, binge-watching the first few seasons on Netflix to catch up, but I quickly fell in love with the show’s quirky characters, talented cast, and hilarious jokes. But I think my favorite thing about “Parks” is its irrepressible optimism about human nature. In a TV landscape that seems to be getting more and more cynical, this show stands out as a beacon of joy and hope. Even though Leslie and her friends frequently make mistakes, they’re almost always motivated by the best intentions. The show celebrates love, friendship, chasing your dreams, and working together for a common goal — even with people who are your ideological opposite, as Ron is for Leslie. So, to pay tribute to this fantastic show, I’ve decided to list some of my favorite episodes from the series. Here they are, in the order in which they aired:

“The Stakeout” (2×02) — Leslie discovers that someone planted marijuana in a community garden, so she and Tom go on a stakeout to catch the perpetrator. While that scenario leads to some fun moments (including Leslie mistakenly assuming that Tom is from Libya), the real gold of this episode is the B story, in which Ron is immobilized by a hernia. Watching him and April interact as expressionlessly as possible is a hilarious delight.

“Hunting Trip” (2×10) — The parks department goes hunting at a cabin in the woods, where Leslie awkwardly attempts to be “one of the guys,” but events take a mysterious turn when Ron is shot by one of the gang. I love the jump-cut where Leslie is confessing her guilt to the park ranger, all while expressing her disapproval of his sexism: “All I want to do is have babies!” Also, this is the first episode that shows a glimpse of the April/Andy romance, as they are stuck in the office while everyone else is on the trip.

“Telethon” (2×22) — Leslie signs up the entire department for the 2:00-6:00 a.m. shift of a telethon. I love that this episode served the entire cast and provided some wonderful character details, like Jerry’s talented (yet mercilessly mocked) piano playing and Ron’s ability to cane a chair. My favorite line in the episode is this gem delivered by Ron Swanson: “What the f*** are you doing, Perd Hapley?”

“Flu Season” (3×02) — Several characters come down with the flu, including Leslie, who nevertheless refuses to stop working on plans for the Harvest Festival. First of all, Amy Poehler pretending to be high on flu medicine is a gift that keeps on giving. Then there’s Chris Traeger’s spiral into despair, as he tries to avoid catching the flu (“My body is a microchip!”) but ends up telling his reflection in the mirror to “Stop. Pooping!” This was also the real start of the Ben/Leslie romance, of which I am an unapologetic shipper.

“Media Blitz” (3×05) — Leslie, Tom, and Ben use Pawnee’s media channels to promote the Harvest Festival, but everyone is more concerned about Ben’s past as a failed mayor. Everything Adam Scott does in this episode is pure brilliance. The meltdown of Ben Wyatt, Human Disaster, on Crazy Ira and The Douche’s radio show (and then on “Ya’ Heard? with Perd” and “Pawnee Today” with Joan Calamezzo) is one of the funniest performances on this show. Also, Andy and April finally get back together!

“Andy and April’s Fancy Party” (3×09) — Andy and April throw a dinner party and surprise everyone by spontaneously getting married. This is one of the sweetest episodes of the series, but it’s also filled with funny moments, from Leslie’s horrified reaction (“Why are you doing this? Why is this…great thing happening?”) to April’s creepy friend Orin to Jean-Ralphio’s advice about the best man speech. But honestly, every time I watch this episode, especially when Simon and Garfunkel’s “April Come She Will” starts playing, I well up a little bit. April and Andy are polar opposites, but somehow her apathetic cynicism is the perfect complement to his puppy-dog enthusiasm. Putting those crazy kids together was one of the show’s smartest decisions.

“The Fight” (3×13) — Leslie pressures Ann to apply for a job at city hall, which leads to their first fight; Tom tries to promote an alcoholic beverage he’s invented. My favorite thing about this episode is the hilarious jump-cut in which every character talks to the camera while wasted on Snake Juice. Ron Swanson’s 3-second dance wearing April’s hat is just the greatest thing in the universe. I also loved the role-playing between Janet Snakehole and Burt Macklin, FBI. Macklin, you sonuvabitch.

So, who else is sorry to say goodbye to “Parks”? What are your favorite episodes, characters, moments? And if you never watched the show, what are you waiting for? Seasons 1-6 are available on Netflix streaming, so get going! 🙂

Top Ten Tuesday, Part Two: Favorite TV Shows

Top 10 TuesdaySo as I just mentioned, I couldn’t stop myself from doing two Top Ten Tuesdays this week! I already listed my ten favorite movies, so here is a list of my favorite TV shows (once again in alphabetical order):

1. “The Americans” — Strangely enough, this is one of the only shows on my list that’s still on the air (season 3 will be premiering this fall). Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell are phenomenal as Philip and Elizabeth Jennings, two Soviet spies posing as a normal American couple in the early 1980s. It’s very dark and very compelling, and I really think everyone should be watching it!

2. “Chuck” — I loved this action comedy about a regular guy who accidentally downloads a government computer into his brain and becomes one of the CIA’s most valuable (and dangerous) assets. The show definitely had its ups and downs, as well as several plot holes you could drive a truck through, but overall it struck a great balance between humor and heart. Adam Baldwin also did a stellar turn as buttoned-up NSA agent John Casey (he loves guns!).

3. “Daria” — Daria was basically the voice in my head during my teen years. This darkly funny cartoon poked vicious fun at the shallow lives of America’s youth, as personified by Daria’s classmates. I especially enjoyed her vapid sister Quinn and the other members of the Fashion Club (not to brag, but I do a pretty awesome impression of Sandy!).

4. “Firefly” — “Sci-fi Western” is not really a genre I’m naturally attracted to, but somehow this show made it work in spectacular fashion. You can’t watch this show and not come out loving every single character, from noble-ish captain Mal to simpleminded thug Jayne (also Adam Baldwin!) to perpetually cheerful Kaylee. The only flaw in this show is that it was canceled way before its time. At least we have “Serenity,” which ties up the major plot lines…but there was still so much more this show could have been. Alas!

5. “Gilmore Girls” — If I had to pick just one show to be my absolute favorite, this would be it. I absolutely fell in love with the relationship between fast-talking Lorelai and her smart, book-loving daughter Rory. The rapid-fire dialogue and obscure pop culture references made the show a fun puzzle to solve, and there was a wonderful mix of comedy and drama as the girls faced various life challenges. To be fair, I felt the show started to decline in season 5 (largely because I HATED Logan), but at its best, this show was really something special.

6. “The Office” (U.S.) — This is another show that really dropped off in quality over the last few seasons, but it gave us the utter brilliance of Steve Carell as Michael Scott, not to mention one of the sweetest TV romances of all time in Jim and Pam. Sometimes the humor is so awkward that it’s almost unwatchable, but I also don’t think I’ve ever laughed harder in my life.

7. “Parks and Recreation” — This show started out very similar in style to “The Office,” and a lot of people dismissed Leslie Knope as the female version of Michael Scott. But the show really came into its own in Season 2 and is now one of the warmest, funniest shows on TV. Every member of the large ensemble cast contributes something amazing, from the hostile deadpan of Aubrey Plaza (April) to the borderline-douchebag enthusiasm of Aziz Ansari as Tom Haverford, would-be mogul. But really, my strongest argument in favor of this show is three simple words: Ron Effing Swanson.

8. “Sherlock” — This show just has everything: compelling mysteries, literary allusions, and an absolutely perfect cast. Benedict Cumberbatch gets most of the glory (and fangirlish swooning), and it’s absolutely well-deserved; but let’s not forget Martin Freeman’s perfectly understated performance as John Watson! That scene at the end of “The Reichenbach Fall,” where he talks to his (supposedly) dead best friend, was just unspeakably good. I’m so glad we’re going to get at least one more season!

9. “Ugly Betty” — Every time I think about this show, I can’t help smiling and chuckling. Yes, it was completely ridiculous and over-the-top, but it was always aware of its own silliness and just provided tons of fun. I especially loved Vanessa Williams as the scheming Wilhelmina Slater, who tried everything from bribery to sperm-stealing to gain power!

10. “Veronica Mars” — I love this teen drama with a film noir twist. I wish I were as cool as Veronica Mars, though I certainly don’t envy her troubled past! I enjoyed the season-long mysteries in seasons one and two, and even the somewhat rocky third season has a lot of good episodes. I also quite liked the recent movie, although it still leaves the door open for a lot more stories in the future!

How I hated the finale of “How I Met Your Mother”

For this post, I was trying to find an image that featured the entire cast — the one including Cristin Milioti, the lovely and talented actress who played Tracy McConnell, a.k.a. the Mother. The fact that I couldn’t find one speaks to only one of the many problems I had with the series finale of “How I Met Your Mother.” My thoughts on this issue — as well as the series as a whole — are long, ranting, and very spoiler-laden, so read more at your own risk!

Continue reading

“Be a better man than your father:” My thoughts on the end of “Fringe”

Despite appearances, this is still primarily a book blog, I promise! I’ve just been reading the same book for a while, so I haven’t had any new reviews to post. And in the meantime, a TV show that I really like just aired its series finale. So I’d like to take a few minutes and talk about “Fringe,” the sci-fi show that surprised everyone by hanging on for 100 episodes.

Confession time: I started watching this show because I have an absurd celebrity crush on Joshua Jackson. (The ear-splitting grin? The easygoing charm? The constant five-o’clock shadow? I swoon.) But while I came for the eye candy, I stayed for the original storytelling (which spans multiple universes and timelines), fascinating mythology, and complex relationships between the three core characters, Olivia, Walter, and Peter.

Since I don’t want to spoil people who haven’t seen the whole show yet — or bore people who couldn’t care less — I’ll post my thoughts on the series under the jump. (Warning: they are very long and full of spoilers!) Would love to hear from anyone else who watched the show!

Continue reading