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2012- a year in terrible shows

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Happy New Year! My resolution is to not ignore my blog for months. Sorry about that! I hope I haven’t lost too many readers.

Well, it is 2013. It’s a good a time as any to reflect on what I watched during 2012 (year 3 of being cable free). My husband suggested that I do a sort of round-up of all the terrible and guilty pleasure shows that I watched. I think I’ll take him up on that. There were some spectacularly bad shows that were on TV.

Let’s start off with the shows that I used to watch that just turned bad.

Raising Hope. I used to be a fan. I thought it was silly, but clever. It had good characters and hilarious plots. But, with the newest season starting this past fall I just couldn’t do it anymore. I got one episode in and gave up. Honestly, I haven’t even thought about this show in so long that I can’t remember what it was that made me remove it from the HuluPlus queue. I don’t miss it at all.

Fringe. Oh, Fringe, you were such a fantastic show for 2 seasons. Then the 3rd season came and shit just got off track. I’ll watch the 4th and final season at some point, but now isn’t the time. I have too much other stuff to watch to put up with your bizarreness right now. But, you are a JJ Abrams show after all. I should have known better.

The guilty pleasures are up next.

Hoarding doesn’t really offer much aside from voyeuristic television watching. It’s a way for us to sit comfortably on our couches judging other people’s lives. The show isn’t making a statement (unlike a show like Ru Paul’s Drag Race). Even if it began by making the mental illness of hoarding more widely known, it’s moved beyond that. It’s pure guilty pleasure watching. I’ll add Animal Hoarding and Freaky Eaters in with this as well.


*sigh* Toddlers and Tiaras. Another vehicle to judge the mentally ill. Speaking of judging people, feel free to judge me for actually paying money to watch Here Comes Honey Boo Boo. I make no excuses. That shit is hilarious.

There are two shows that I’ll throw in here that I don’t actually believe are terrible, but they are certainly guilty pleasures. I’m talking about Pretty Little Liars and Gossip Girl. For me, Pretty Little Liars is still going strong, and I can’t wait for the next season to be thrown up on Netflix. Gossip Girl was a great watch for about 4 seasons. I caught up in time to watch the last few episodes, and I’m glad it ended. It went stale – although not as quickly as it could have.

And we’ll end with the truly terrible.
Netflix offers a lot of Korean imports. One of those is the adaptation of the manga Boys Over Flowers. My husband may disagree with me, but I thought it was terrible. Granted, I’ve never read the manga, but the tv adaptation was bizarre (and not in a good way).

New Normal. Ugh. Insulting and derivative. I can’t believe it’s still on the air.

My husband actually seemed to enjoy Animal Practice on a certain level. I enjoyed it on no level. Not even the cute monkey could save that show for me.

I debated about including Go On here. It’s not the worst, and it’s certainly not on a level with Animal Practice or New Normal. But, we stopped watching it for a reason; it just didn’t live up to our comedy expectations. I know many people would disagree and say that Matthew Perry is hilarious, but I bet those same people get a kick out of Two and a Half Men. No thanks. I’ll just be over here waiting for Community to return.

I gave Bridalplasty a try on Netflix. I watched about 10 minutes and then fast forwarded to the end to see who the “winner” was and what she looked like now. I feel sad for society that this show even happened.

See, even the kid from that show I gave up in 2011 is weeping for our souls.

And I’ll end this section with two anime I tried giving a try to last night: Kaze No Stigma was straight up boring for something that was supposed to be action packed and Rosario + Vampire seemed derivative in a weird way of Inuyasha but with too much fan service and a boring story.

Honorable mentions include: Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (the last season or two has made this once interesting and fun show into a disaster), Extreme Couponing (belongs shelved somewhere near Hoarding), and Sister Wives (not included above because I think the show actually has something to say about society).

Here’s to another year of good and bad television for me to deem worthy or not.

Watch this on Hulu: Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope

If you’re a geek, nerd, otaku, or whatever then you definitely know about San Diego Comic Con. Scratch that, even if you’re not into comics or consider yourself a geek then you STILL probably know about Comic Con. It’s become a pop cultural mecca.

People from all over the country (and probably the world) congregate in San Diego for this convention to celebrate the entertainment that they love. Movies and TV shows are previewed, limited release toys are available, and people work for months on costumes to showcase.

It’s nerdvana for a lot of fanboy and girls. But what is now a huge convention for over 100,000 people, used to be a much smaller affair strictly for people interested in comics as an art form.

Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope has some pretty big names that helped put this documentary together. Two of those names are Morgan Spurlock and Joss Whedon. There’s lots of commentary from the likes of Kevin Smith, Brian Michael Bendis, Grant Morrison, Robert Kirkman, and so many more.

I highly recommend it even if you’re not into documentaries. It’s well done and entertaining.

Unfortunately it looks like you have to have Hulu Plus to view it.

Summer re-watching

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First I want to share that I have caved and started a Twitter account. I’m hoping to use it to post entertainment related things (and to enter giveaways). Don’t expect personal info from me. Anyway find me @shanbear216

This summer I’ve taken the chance to rewatch several shows. About a month ago I finished Grey’s Anatomy up to the season 8 finale. Some people say that the show jumped the shark with the unexploded bomb in the chest cavity or when Meredith drowns and has a miraculous recovery. Those two storylines were pretty ridiculous. I, however, agree with the most people that the show really jumped the shark with Izzy and her weird cancer. One of the best things about this show is relationships. When Izzy and George’s relationship took a weird turn only to fall into a place where we barely saw them interacting on screen the dynamics of the show shifted. Izzy and Alex having a shotgun wedding – I’m OK with that. But the Izzy hallucinating because of the weird cancer thing was just too much. Season six helped to restore balance in the show, but from there on out it was a little off. By the end of the 8th season it looks almost completely different. The end of the 8th season managed to capture my interest again. After the BIG season finale I’m definitely hooked. I want to see where everyone ends up (and if Mark Sloane is going to die as well…). Anyway, you can catch up with Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix with the latest season on Hulu Plus.

Now I’ve moved on to Doctor Who. I haven’t watched the early seasons in about 2 years when I introduced my husband to the series. I first discovered this series back in 2008. I was living with my grandparents for a few months. While they have a pretty nice TV and a digital cable subscription I still found myself with my laptop in “my” bedroom most times (especially because I felt bad watching TV past their very early bedtime). I saw the new series as a watch instantly and thought I’d give it a shot. I’m so glad I did! I was introduced to a fun, interesting, well acted, and sometimes cheesy show full of adrenaline and adventure. I moved out and into a new house just as I was finishing Season One (with Christopher Eccleston). I had no knowledge about “Classic Who” or regeneration. Yes, I was completely ignorant about what was to come. I thought David Tennant was going to be added as a new regular or something.

Cut to me with my jaw practically on the floor from shock at seeing Christopher Eccleston turn into David Tennant. I’m no where near being a young child, but I think the surprise regeneration is just as shocking. And I think it played a huge part in my deciding that the Ninth Doctor is “my” Doctor. I felt very much like Rose did when getting to know the Tenth Doctor. Ultimately I grew to love him in the role and was sad to see him go. But because I know how the show works now, and because it’s become so mainstream of a show, knowing when a regeneration is coming and knowing who the next Doctor will be has taken the surprise out of it. I’ll never get that feeling of “OMG I DIDN’T KNOW THAT WOULD HAPPEN!!!”  again. Sad face. But as always with the Doctor there are bigger and more exciting adventures ahead.

I’m in the middle of rewatching Season Three right now. I remember liking Marth on my first watch. I thought she was cool, and would be like someone I could be friends with. But I never really loved her the way I loved Rose or Amy Pond; even Donna for that matter. Why is this? And why is it that this is very common in the Whodom. I’ve come to some conclusions of my own. The Doctor originally is taken with Martha because she’s smart. In “Smith and Jones” she shows true intelligence and resourcefulness. I love her for that. Despite how much I like Rose, she never really became clever until the end of Season Two, and that was so that the audience would be all the more heartbroken when she left the show (that’s right! I see right through you Russell T. Davies!). Season Three also showcases some absolutely brilliant episodes. “Human Nature/The Family of Blood” and “Blink” are constantly cited as some of the best episodes that the series has to offer. On the downside of this season is it’s somewhat lackluster beginning – “Shakespeare Code”, “Daleks in Manhattan/ Evolution of the Daleks” are pretty lame. Plus there’s almost a rehash of Season 2 – The Doctor takes Martha to New New York (granted, that’s supposed to highlight how much he misses Rose), and a space station episode in “42”. It’s an uneven season which doesn’t help us fall in love with the newest companion.

This isn’t the only reason though. I think that the biggest reason the audience never connected with Martha is because the Doctor doesn’t love her. Respect her, yes. Care about her well being, yes. But he’s more reserved with her and seems a bit more moody. There’s even a joke among some about “emo Doctor” and how his emotional state is reflected in how much his hair is sticking up. When it lays flatter to his head the more emo he is. The Doctor is more of a dick to Martha than he ever was to Rose. I’m certainly not the first to notice this. Check out the book Chick Digs Timelords for more info. So it becomes really difficult as the audience to get attached to a character that the main character doesn’t completely share himself with (although it’s debatable as to whether the main character of the series is the Doctor or his companion(s)). Doctor Who can be watched on Netflix watch instantly (even after all these years!). You can even catch a lot of “Classic Who” through watch instantly as well.

 

 

 

 

Amazon Instant Video comes to PS3 – and it is AWESOME!

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My home TV and movie watching experience came even closer to being perfect yesterday (now if only HBO Go would allow people to pay to subscribe without having to have cable).

Amazon.com very quietly added their widget to the PS3 to keep Netflix and Hulu Plus company. It’s awesome because now I can supplement the shows I can’t get through Hulu and don’t want to wait until it’s available on Netflix by purchasing season passes for shows I can’t live without. I’ve actually been doing this ever since my husband and I bought an internet ready TV, but there were a couple drawback. The major one was that the Amazon Instant Videos were only watchable through a weird Yahoo! widget on a weird and random Yahoo! menu – separate from the rest of the Internet ready content Samsung provides. The second is an issue that was totally central to my house; our TV isn’t hooked up to the surround sound – the PS3, however, is. 

From the little that I played around with the new app it looks like the picture quality is improved, and for me the sound will definitely improve. 

I don’t always like what Amazon does (as a Librarian I have issues with the way they let Libraries lend their Kindle books), but this is really awesome. 

Again…now if only HBO would realize where a lot of their viewing base is….

The ratings game

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NBC’s Entertainment Chair gave a speech to TV Critics the other day. In it he said the following:

“Did you see the ratings?,” he asked about the show, which was often pulling a mere 1.0 rating in the adult demo on Friday night. “That rapid fanbase going crazy on the net didn’t come to the show. Chuck‘s time had come. Chuck is over, let’s alert the masses.”

Note: I copied this from Entertainment Weekly. I believe that “rapid” might actually be “rabid,” but I don’t know.

While Robert Greenblatt did give the awesome news that “Community” will finish out the season in the spring (yayyy!), but isn’t promising a renewal for a 4th season, I’m still annoyed that Executives aren’t looking at the other places their fans are viewing their shows.

So “Chuck” fans didn’t show up to watch the end of the show. Number one: you aired it over the holidays. If you expect viewers to watch it during it’s first airing then they may not be around to do it. Holidays = shopping, parties, and generally doing other stuff than watching TV. And number two: maybe those fans all watched on your website. Or maybe they purchased it through iTunes, Amazon, or somewhere else. Maybe they DVR’d it (although sometimes those numbers get included into the ratings).

Look, I get that “Chuck” was probably costing more money to produce than it was bringing it. It clearly hasn’t been a runaway hit that I’m sure the network wanted. But, how much longer do we have to wait for Executives like Greenblatt to take notice of the other places their viewers are.

I refuse to feel guilty for not contributing to watching “Community” as it airs if it’s lack of viewership that cancels the show. NBC was still getting my money (first through Amazon and now through HuluPlus).

Best Episodes from the shows I’ve watched this year

Salon is putting up their best episodes of 2011 so that got me to thinking about what the best TV I’ve watched this year has been. I’ll do my own top 15 list! I’m only counting shows that were new to me (sorry, Buffy). I am going to exclude reality shows because as I looked at each I would think “yeah, I like that show, but nothing really stands out to me as a fantastic episode that made great TV” (sorry “Jersey Shore”). Oh, and for the sake of simplicity, I’m only going to count shows where I watched at least a full season.

Here’s what I’ll be choosing from (and not everything will make the list):

Skins: Season 3
Damages: Season 1
Survivors: Season 2
Life after People: Season 1
Pulling: Season 2
Downton Abbey
Life on Mars (the US version)
10 Things I Hate About You
Sherlock
The Pillars of the Earth
Star Trek: the next generation:  Seasons 1-3 (and part of 4)
Ghost Whisperer: Seasons 1
Home Movies Seasons: 2-4
Portlandia Season: 1
Fringe: Season 1
Being Human (UK): Season 3
Leverage: Season 2-current
Community: Season 2-current
Parenthood: Season 1-current
Modern Family: Season 1-current
30 Rock: Season 4
Bones: Season 6-current
Family Guy: Season 9-current
Glee: Season 2-3
Grey’s Anatomy: Season 7-current
Parks and Recreation: Season 3-current
Terra Nova: Season 1
Revenge: Season 1(current)
Grimm: Season 1(current)
How I Met Your Mother: Season 6-current
The Walking Dead: Season 2
Doctor Who: Season 6
The Office:

Combine that with reality tv programming and shows started but not finished…yeah, I’d say I watch a lot of TV. What was the best?

15. Fringe: “In Which We Meet Mr. Jones”
I seriously need to see more of this show because it is just smart SciFi. Not every story is gripping, but it’s always based on some sort of reality. I chose this episode as a favorite because we meet a reoccurring villain. It’s also a tense and exciting episode that highlights what this show does best. Not a watch instantly, but you can catch up via disk through Netflix and watch more recent stuff on Hulu.

14. Leverage: “The Rashomon Job”
This is one of those before they all met episodes crossed with a they’ve crossed paths before story. But in pure “Leverage” fashion it’s funny, interesting, and fun to watch. This episode really won’t hold with anyone that doesn’t know the characters because, really, this show is about them as people and how they interact with each other. It reinforces why each person plays the role they do in the group (or, you know, you could watch the intro credits to see who does what…but this is a more interesting way). I was recently very thrilled to discover that Amazon has recent eps online, so I pay per episode for this show.

13. Home Movies: “Renaissance”
Go watch this show right now. It will make your day. Especially if you’re a nerd and you get to the episode “Renaissance.” SciFi nerds and Fantasy nerds face off. It’s hilarious. It may be my most favorite animated show of all time.  Watch on Netflix!

12. Downton Abbey: “Episode 6”
I can’t wait to watch Season 2 of this show, and it’s hard to pick just one favorite episode. But what is it about penultimate episodes in British series? “Episode 6” was probably my favorite of the series. Political events of the times come to a head as well as two characters finally admitting their love. There’s all sorts of good drama in this episode of a fantastic show. Watch it on Netflix!

11. Sherlock: “The Great Game”
Ok, I don’t mean to litter this list with all British shows, but this is another great one. And again, I can’t wait for season 2. The first season is only 3 episodes long, but my favorite was the third, “The Great Game.” We learn more about both Sherlock and Watson and about their arch rival. It ends in a cliffhanger too! Available to watch instantly on netflix.

10. Community “Paradigms of Human Memory”
If ever there was a hard show to pick a favorite from it would be “Community.” I couldn’t fill this entire list with their episodes so I narrowed it down to two. The first is this one. Or maybe I should have picked “Critical Film Studies”? ARGH too hard! Human Memory is so great because it’s made up of a ton of flashbacks that never actually happened. That’s the genius of this show. And in the end the group comes together-which is what I like best. Hulu it now (yes, I just turned Hulu into a verb).

9. Grey’s Anatomy “Song Beneath the Song”
Aka the musical episode. Not every song is a hit, but Sara Ramirez’s rendition of “The Song” by Brandi Carlile moved me so much I asked my husband if we could include it as a reading at our wedding. We did. Any episode that can touch me personally is a good one in my book. This episode in particular is haunting and moving like the best Grey’s episodes are. I believe this is on Netflix, but it’s also a Hulu show.

8. Modern Family “Dude Ranch”
This is one of those shows where I say that I like it, but it’s hard to point to any one episode that really does it for me. Yet, there is “Dude Ranch” which opens up the 4th season. It’s kind of like the epitome of a “Modern Family” ep. Cameron is a drama queen, Mitchell is awkward, Phil just wants recognition from Jay, and Clare is a control freak. Yet they all come together as a family at the end…after an episode full of pithy one liners and tons of wit! Older seasons are available through disk via Netflix, but new stuff is on Hulu.

7. Parks and Recreation “Citizen Knope”
I’m not sure if I picked this episode because it is the freshest in my memory or not, but it’s still a great one. It’s the latest episode to have aired and in perfect Christmas spirit it’s incredibly sweet and shows all the Parks and Rec crew coming together to honor Leslie. It, of course, displays the same brand of humour the show always brings. I watch it on Hulu.

6. How I Met Your Mother: “Disaster Averted”
I think that this episode does what HIMYM does best. It utilizes the flashbacks in a smart way and also recalls past actions by the characters (2 slaps in this ep!). Kevin seems like a natural addition to the show which helps, and we get to see how Baby Eriksen came to be. Like I’ve mentioned before, I have to pay per episode on Amazon for this show.

5. Doctor Who: “The Doctor’s Wife”
Penned by Niel Gaiman, it’s a sun in a season full of stars. I can’t think of an ep that I hated this season, but this one is definitely one of the best. The TARDIS takes human shape! How cool is that? It was a weird and wacky episode with the Doctor being very Doctor like. Amy and Rory are there which is cool too. In fact their scenes are really kind of creepy. Such a good example of what this show does best! I get my in-laws to DVR this for me, but now I own the 6th season on DVD and will definitely give it a re-watch!!

4. The Office: “Goodbye Michael”
Ok, I cried during this episode; the one where Steve Carell leaves the show. How touching was it to see everyone sing for him? And his farewell with Pam when he says (although we can’t hear  it because his mic has been given back) “that’s what she said.” The previous couple of seasons leading up to this weren’t exactly stellar, but it’s like I had a history with these people and the emotional impact of Michael Scott leaving was pretty great. You can catch up on Netflix or watch via Hulu. Your choice!

3. Doctor Who: “The Wedding of River Song”
I love getting the answers to questions that a show has set up all season long, and this episode answers a lot of them (not all, because that wouldn’t be fun). I also love how they bring back a lot of familiar faces. I can’t go into too much detail of the plot because that would take a ton of space, but I do like how everyone comes together in the end and things seem to work out.

2. Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Best of Both Worlds Parts I and II”
Oh man, what can I say about the season 3 cliffhanger and season 4 opener? I’m sure this episode tops a lot of lists for best TNG eps. I knew Picard’s transformation was coming, I just didn’t know how it would go down. There have been other episodes that feature the fine acting by Patrick Stewart, but this one really does a great job at highlighting his skills. Aside from the acting (which, really, was great all around) the story was pretty intense, smart, and compelling. It’s everything I look for not only in good SciFi, but in good television. All of Star Trek (classic to current) is on Netflix watch instantly.

1. Community “Regional Holiday Musical”
From Troy and Abed rapping to Annie subtly (?) mocking sexy Santa songs the last episode to air (for a long time) not so subtly pokes fun at “Glee.” It’s really a great example of their usual storytelling. It combines aspects from Human Memory by planting fake flashbacks and really shows how these characters all have an effect on each other. Also, completely hilarious! I think this episode really got me to laugh the most during this season. Go watch it right now on Hulu!

This was wicked hard to do! I had more than 15 but couldn’t quite make it to 20 so I had to pare it down. But I want to give an honorable mention to “Portlandia” for that song in the first episode. I also cut “Survivors” but that deserves a mention too.

Joel McHale knows what’s up

JOEL McHALE: Our ratings jump when you see the TiVo numbers, but the problem is that our audience is very young, and nobody views television [live] anymore. They watch online. There is no way to monetize that yet, other than iTunes. And you can watch [Community] on Hulu. Our catch-22 is that we know we have a lot of fans, because they’re all over the Internet. But young people don’t go, “Oh, my show’s on, see you!” No one runs home to watch television. Just keep the chatter going.

He was quoted saying this at the SAG Foundation Actor’s Center last Sunday. The article posted on EW is well worth a read for some of the “Community” stars relating disastrous auditions from the past.

He’s right on the money though. Younger people don’t work their schedules around their shows anymore. They’re far too accessible in other ways including TiVo for those with cable subscriptions and Hulu for anyone that can’t TiVo. Several actors agree that watching the show on Hulu may help show that people are watching. Maybe even go out and buy the DVD for yourself or as a gift this holiday season! We own the two seasons that are on DVD in our house and we’ll buy season 3 when it comes out even though we’ll also have a digital copy available via Amazon.

Yes, I love the show THAT much.