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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.

Fall TV Premiere Week Round 3

And so it continues and ends (for now…I’m still waiting for a few new shows to pop up). A lot of comedy in this block! Except for Whitney. Who knows what that was supposed to be.Whitney

I had heard that this show really wasn’t worth the time. The advertising campaign didn’t do much to win me over either. But, at the end of a long night of TV watching my husband and I decided to see just how terrible it was. In the end, we agree with Hulu’s The Morning After in how they rank NBC’s Thursday comedy block in terms of which episodes this week were the best. “Whitney” falls squarely at the bottom.Part of the problem is that it is filmed in front of a live audience. This prevents the show from doing anything creative with its storytelling. It’s all linear, no cutaways, nothing unique. For example, when Whitney goes to go find something sexy to go put on for her boyfriend instead of a cut to seeing her coming out of the bathroom in another outfit or something we have to watch and listen to her paw through her terrible underwear drawer. I felt like I was watching a terrible sitcom from the 80s or 90s.

The other problem is that the jokes all fall flat. Seriously, nothing is funny in this show. The characters aren’t funny, and the actors aren’t making me laugh. The writing is just atrocious. I kept hearing, prior to the show’s premier, that Whitney is known for being such a cutting edge comic; she’s so real and dirty. She makes jokes about vaginas and doesn’t hold back. I know this is network TV, but there wasn’t even a hint of that! Even if some of that was brought to the show I don’t think it would help.

There are all sorts of issues with this show, but the one that caused me to have a real pained expression on my face came when the topic of marriage came up at the end of the episode. Here are two characters who pretty much say that they really love each other and are definitely committed to each other. They don’t want to be with anyone else and don’t foresee wanting to be with anyone else. Whitney has an epiphany that she loves her boyfriend so much after he has an accident that puts him in the hospital that she really does want to spend the rest of her life with him. Yet they won’t get married because Whitney is “scared” of marriage! Look, I get it’s a personal choice for everyone and that a lot of couples are choosing these days not to do it. But in this show Whitney is prevented from going in to see her boyfriend in the hospital. She has seen firsthand one of the many benefits to being married. They admit that they love each other and are committed enough to be married. Yet marriage is too “scary.” WTF. I do not understand.

But then again I’m speaking from the perspective of someone who is 4 months into marriage. I chose it because yes, it is scary, but also wonderful.

Prediction: Cancelled by mid-season. No one is liking this show and I see why. I don’t think this show can be saved unless they change up the style and I’m pretty sure it’s too late to do that. Unless I’m in the mood to lambaste something I doubt I’ll give this show a second chance.

Community
Last season Pierce was pretty much a d-bag most of the time. And then he redeemed himself at the end of the paintball match (game? war?). Or at least the show has presented Pierce as being redeemed. I don’t have the warm and fuzzies for him yet. I think that he was too much of a jerk to be forgiven so easily. But the group seems to have welcomed him back more easily than I have.Musical number! Just go watch it. Because it’s pretty funny. And it sets the theme for this episode: trying to be normal.

Biology 101 is the new class everyone is taking. Well, until Jeff got himself kicked out for some shenanigans with his phone (oh Jeff and his phone). He winds up creating a feud between himself and the professor (who is pretty intimidating). Jeff also freaks out and has a mild psychotic break in the study room. But who hasn’t by this point? Abed has yet another little mental thing go on during this episode as well. He found out “Cougar Town” was a mid-season replacement so Britta tries to find other shows for him to like. She finds a British show similar to “Cougar Town” called “Cougartown Abbey” (I guess it’s similar? I know nothing about that show) but because the Brits are so good at closure it ends after 6 episodes. Cue Abed retreating back into his semi-comatose state.

And then comes “INSPECTOR SPACETIME”

It looks suspiciously like “Doctor Who.” I loved it. LOVED IT!

And Abed loved it. This parody was the best thing about this episode for me. I want to say that the fact that Abed falling in love with the pseudo-”Doctor Who” makes him normal because DW has become so mainstream now. Or maybe becoming a fanboy is the opposite of normal which is par for the course for this group.

Also, we got to see a bit of John Goodman. We’ll be seeing more of him. He’s a good foil to the Dean which is great. It saves us from the same Dean/study group interactions over and over again.

I’ll also mention that Hulu+/NBC sucks because I pay for a Hulu+ subscription and this show isn’t included! I then pay extra to Amazon to be able to keep up with this show. Ridiculous!Prediction: Things are getting mixed up a bit this season. I feel a little shaken up and not quite settled yet when it comes to “Community.” I don’t know if it’s because a lot of other shows did 1 hour premiers or if I’m just not sure yet where we’re going this season. But I really love this show and I have faith in the creators.

Parks and Recreation
I don’t think I can adequately sum up this episode and fully express how funny it really is. They did a fine job picking up literally seconds from where last season left off. Leslie Knope is going to run for City Council. Her dream of running for office is going to come true! Sadly that means her relationship with Ben (which still had to stay under wraps) really needs to end now. The episode traces her avoiding telling Ben this news and ends with him knowing all along. He presents her with a present of a personalized Knope 2012 campaign button – awwwww! So sweet. But he breaks it off by making himself the bad guy- again awwww.Ron is in hiding from Tammy 1, but when he comes back (after Leslie tracks him down for some advice) he announces her big news to the department and says she’s going to get a new assistant. April then volunteers Andy for the job. This saves him from having to work for Tom whose company Entertainment 720 has done jack all so far except make lame swag (that they don’t even make themselves).

There was another subplot involving Anne and Chris and penises, but it really doesn’t need explaining; it was hardly the best part of the episode. Unless this leads them getting back together?

Prediction: Not the strongest or funniest of Parks and Rec eps I’ve seen, but it set up for where this season is going. We’ll follow Leslie on the campaign trail. I’m glad we’re going someplace new! Not that the show was getting stale, but mixing it up is always good. I’m thinking it’ll be a solid season.

The Office
Michael Scott, you are missed. Let’s not forget the large Michael sized hole that he left in that show. But, you know what? The season premiere was so awesome that I actually forgot about it pretty easily. The ensemble cast works so well together (as they should by now) that everything flowed and clicked. James Spader made an (as predicted) excellent addition to the cast.Just like it was mentioned over the summer, his character is actually now CEO. The big surprise is that Andy is the branch manager! Good for him! Of course his biggest challenge will be finding the strength to standing up to the crowd when it’s needed. We’ve already seen this happen in this first episode.

Robert California has branded half the office as “winners” and half as “losers.” I surmised that it’s all a mind game; something to get them all to work harder. And I was right. When he left his notebook behind “on accident” and was confronted about the list he was pretty honest. He said that the winners need to prove that they are winners and the losers need to become winners. I’d hate to be in that office, but it’s kind of genius. And it worked on Andy. Something about Robert got Andy all fired up and angry and ballsy enough to charge in and tell him just how much everyone in the office was a winner (except Gabe – he’s still a loser). Oh, and they get to leave at 3 the Friday before Columbus day.

There was some seriously good writing in this episode. Great jokes and great execution of those jokes. The planking was taken a bit far. It was funny for a minute or two and then I was bored.

Prediction: They seem to be making Andy into a mini-Michael in a way. So I’m not expecting drastic changes which can be good and bad. Good because “The Office” is a good show. Bad because I don’t want to be bored. We may get an uneven episode here and there, but that’s kind of how it’s been the past couple of years. I’ve been excited about James Spader joining the cast since it was only a possibility. I think he’s got chemistry with the ensemble will only continue to grow.

Modern Family
“Dude Ranch” and “When Kids Go Bad” are the two episodes that “Modern Family” opened the season with this past week. Both were pretty good. The first made great use of the entire cast as they visited a dude ranch. Phil, once again, tried to prove himself to his father-in-law. But Jay was too busy keeping his eyes on Hank (their host) who had eyes for Gloria. Mostly everybody got a hilarious cowboy nickname: Manny is Hollywood, Jay is Old-Timer, and Claire is Bossy. Phil waits almost all episode to get his moniker Buffalo Phil. “Worth the wait.”Mitchell is hung up on whether he can do guy stuff or not because he and Cam are going to try and adopt a boy. In the end he blows up a bird house with his nephew and figures he’ll learn along the way.

In the second episode we hear more of the suddenly older Lily speak. Unfortunately she’s saying stuff like “I hate the baby” and “I wanna make the baby dead.” Mitchell and Cam figure this stems from the way Cam coddles her – flash to a montage of ridiculous scenes of Cam taking Lily places you normally wouldn’t have a toddler….like holding her hand while she waits for you outside the shower. Turns out it may be Mitchell’s fault. But that’s discovered later in the episode.

In the meantime we have other story lines going on, like Manny stealing a locket and Gloria helps him cover up his crime, and Phil pushing Clare into a pile of cans at the supermarket (which Phil denies). Clare is so determined she’s right she just can’t let it go just like Jay can’t let go proving that Gloria helped Manny cover up his crime. Ultimately the point of this episode was that we get our bad habits from our family members. This episode works because 1. that statement is so true and 2. we know these characters so well now that their bad habits are funny to us.

Prediction: The second season was a really great one. I’m so afraid that, with multiple Emmy wins under their belts, things are going to get stale. I hope I’m proven wrong. I don’t want to see the “30 Rock” effect where things are great until a few Emmy wins makes everything go south. I’d love another consistent and great season like before. But, you know, leave room in the Emmy categories for some other shows this time ok?

Robbed

Steve Carell, you were robbed! It sucks, but Jim Parsons from the “Big Bang Theory” won for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series.

UGH! I do not understand the fascination with that show. I really don’t. I guess a lot of people can say the same thing for “The Office” and a lot of it comes down to personal preference, but out of the handful of episodes I’ve watched of BBT I just don’t get it. And I don’t understand why Jim Parsons deserves an Emmy. His character seems to never change.

You may think that Carell played Michael Scott over the top, but there were so many moments on “The Office” that were nuanced, soft, and really emotional. A lot of those moments were in this past season. Steve Carell really brought out a different side of Michael along with the zaney comedian that we love.

Robbed I say! Especially compared to the rest of the competition in the same category! Alec Baldwin! Louis C.K.!

I did mention how unbalanced the Emmys were this year when it came to “Modern Family” in an earlier post.  Both Ty Burrell and Julie Bowen won from that show. I think Julie was definitely my pick for her category, but maybe I would have gone with Eric Stonestreet in his. I just find him funnier. Anyway, I still think looking to award shows like the Emmys as some sort of benchmark might be a mistake. What do awards like these tell us anyway? That “Modern Family” is a great comedy and “Downton Abbey” is a worthwhile miniseries? Already known! What about the shows that aren’t nominated is that like saying they aren’t award worthy? That “Community” isn’t an outstanding comedy? Because I really disagree. It has far better writing than “30 Rock” especially when compared to last season.

I know I’m far from the first person to say this, and I won’t be the last. So, I’ll leave you with Jane Lynch’s funny opening from last night’s awards. It’s the only bit of the ceremony that I’ve watched. No cable means I don’t watch shows like this. I thought I would miss the awards show season, but once we cut the cord I found out that all I really cared about was finding out who the statues go to…and then giving in to my righteous anger about who inevitably was snubbed.

Fall TV Thus Far

Let the games begin! This week saw the beginning of Fall TV premiers. Some new shows and some returning shows.New Girl

Hulu had Zooey Deschanel’s new show “New Girl” a week early. I like Zooey Deschanel. She’s got a charming vibe about her. She’s indy hip and girly. I love her beautiful singing voice and if I had 3 hours each morning, I would try and pull off her look.

So this is a Fox show. The same channel her sister, Emily ( “Bones”), is on. The tag line is “Boys will be boys, and Jess will be Jess.” It’s not entirely catchy nor entirely informative. Basically Jess (Zooey) has this horrible breakup after her boyfriend cheats on her and she decides to room with three strange guys. These guys all fit into one stereotype or another. There’s the coach/jock, the douchebag, and the sensitive one (I think that’s what he is). So naturally they’re all very different from emotional, girly, spur of the moment singing, positive thinking Jess. Oh and she watches “Dirty Dancing” continuously when she’s depressed which annoys her roomies to no end. But by the end of the ep they’re all practically besties and these guys are ready to protect their girl and do anything to lift her spirits. Because she’s just that gosh darn cute.

The first few minutes weren’t that terrible of this show. And then the opening theme song happened. It was AWFUL. It was like a mockery of itself. I kept trying to like this show for the sake of Zooey. I wanted to get into her positive upbeat cuteness, but I couldn’t. I think it was the guys on the show. They’re not likeable enough. The writing isn’t funny, and the style isn’t good enough to get me hooked. The flashback style that is reminiscent of “How I Met Your Mother” has been done by much better shows.

Prediction: Cancelled by episode 3. It’s a Fox show. They have no qualms about cancelling their shows. I don’t think this will find an audience at all.

Up All Night

Christina Applegate and Will Arnett are the frontrunners of this new show. Maya Rudolph is plays a supporting role. It’s produced by Lorne Michaels, but it has a different vibe than 30 Rock. “Up All Night” is on NBC (shocker, I know). And before you think Will Arnett is playing the same character you’ve seen him be on “Arrested Development” and “Running Wilde” just wait. He’s way more subtle here.“Up All Night”is about a couple in their 30’s who suddenly find themselves with a baby. Suddenly they have to deal with balancing work (and in this relationship it’s the mom who works and dad stays home) and home life and changing diapers while hungover. Because not only does life change when you have a baby, but when you’re so set in your ways and comfortable with the way your life is a baby can really throw you for a loop.

This was a pilot episode and it had a few chuckles in it. I see potential so I added it to the Hulu queue. It was certainly better than Arnett’s last disaster. Maya Rudolph’s character definitely rounds out the cast in a nice way and I look forward to seeing more of her on the show.

Prediction: This show is opposite “Modern Family”. Not a problem for me since I don’t watch it when it actually airs, but it’s ratings might suffer. I think it will definitely last a season, but NBC will definitely want to change it’s time slot if it wants it to survive it’s second season.

Ringer

How annoying is this? The CW still hasn’t put the full episode of this show up on their website for people to view! I had to purchase it for $1.99 on Amazon to view. I mean, viewing wise it’s nicer because I have a Samsung TV and there is a widget on there that allows me to watch digital TV shows and movies that I purchase on Amazon. But, logically it doesn’t make sense of The CW to not put a show they are premiering on their website as soon as possible. I really was hesitant to buy a show that I had never seen before and didn’t know much about. When I bought “The Walking Dead” last year my husband was a huge fan of the graphic novel and there was sooooo much hype and coverage of the show that it felt like a safe bet. For “Ringer” I was less sure. Sara Michelle Gellar has done a considerable amount of press for the show, but I still didn’t know if it was for me. It’s not my typical genre that I go for. How many other people felt the same way as me, saw that it wasn’t available on the network’s website and gave up?

First observation straight out of the box regarding this show is the production value. It sure is a CW show. Rumor is that it was originally supposed to be a CBS show and I wonder how that would have changed things. I think that would have probably made it a better quality show to look at. One scene in particular (I think it will forever live on the Internet as “the boat scene”) was just awful. Unfortunately it’s also a major turning point in the pilot episode. Production value aside, the acting was decent. It’s nice to see that SMG didn’t let her skills slide. I think she’ll get into the grove a bit more as the show goes on. It really all depends on what the writers give her. And I’m pretty half and half on the skills of the writers.So what’s the story all about? SMG plays twins. One twin, Bridget is a Federal witness. She’s a 6 months sober ex stripper. She escapes her Federal protectors before the big trial to go visit her uber rich twin, Sioban (pronounced Chovan). Siobhan seems really unhappy with her life and on a boating trip together, Siobhan seemingly disappears at sea. Bridget then takes over her sister’s identity. Except her sister’s life is far from uncomplicated. She lives in a loveless marriage and is cheating on her husband. The plot thickens when it turns out that Siobhan didn’t actually die.Some of the dialog is snappy. And hey, surprise cameo by Blossom! There’s action and intrigue. But I’m not sure if it’s enough to keep me interested. So I’ll give it another episode to see if I’m hooked.Prediction: It’s the CW so they may not cancel it right away. It may get a whole season’s worth of shows out, but it’s not going to top any ratings charts.

Parenthood

Yay “Parenthood” is back! Boo Amber’s hair! It was the first returning show of the new season that I watched. It was like being wrapped in a warm blanket. The AV Clubgave this episode a B+ and I’m inclined to agree. I also agree that this season premier did a nice job of providing a nice stepping off point for new viewers and picking up where we left off for those of us who have watched since the beginning (or went back to the beginning and marathoned it over the summer like I did).So Adam is still out of work, but we’ve jumped ahead to the end of Kristina’s pregnancy (yay! no scenes of morning sickness and doctor’s visits and all that stuff that TV makes us watch their characters go through normally). Kristina has gone back to work and that seems to chafe Adam a little. That in turn chafes me a little bit. Stop being a dick! Your wife seems to like working and actually seems like being the one to provide for her family for a change. My husband (many times during an episode) will refer to this show as “white people’s problems” and it’s so true. Not that he and I really know much different. But being unemployed and blowing through savings, not having a job on the horizon and feeling like doom is around the corner is kind of a feeling that a lot of people are well acquainted with these days. I give props to “Parenthood” for bringing that into their storyline. Of course then Adam is presented with the quandary of take a safe but boring job or go into business with his flaky brother and fulfill a dream.The other Bravermans are facing dilemmas of their own Sarah is letting go of Amber (who is acting like a dick in her own right. I mean, really. I get asserting your independence, but stay for your mom’s 40th’ birthday!!! It only happens once. You can sacrifice some of your time for your mom. Especially when she’s done so much for you and she is being cool enough to let you go off and do your own hipster thing. My mom was never that cool. And I still showed up for all of her birthdays. Woman up already, Amber! If you want to be treated like and adult, act like one). Julia wants a coffee girl’s baby or something, but she’s also going to help Haddie’s boyfriend with his new shiny legal problems after he got arrested trying to help her drunk ass. Haddie is selfish at heart I’m realizing. I don’t think her relationship will last much longer.Now that we’ve gotten reacquainted with what’s up with the Braverman clan and some groundwork has been laid for the season, I’m interested to see where it goes. I’m still invested in the show.

Prediction: Good season. Good show. More seasons to come!

A new opinion on Modern Family

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Ok so now that I’ve watched all four disks of Modern Family, I get it. It’s actually pretty funny. The characters grow on you and the humor, for me, really shows up on the second disk (about 6 episodes in). I’m still not a fan of the documentary style. It’s been done. Can we move on now?

The acting is good. Ed O’Neill and Eric Stonestreet are definite stand outs. The show is nominated for a total of 7 Emmys this year. 6 are for the actors. 4 of those actors are male. FOUR! I feel like these nominations might not be entirely deserved in a couple of cases. Especially when compared to someone like Joel McHale who wasn’t nominated this year. I mean, just watch him on Community. The place in my heart for that show is bigger than for Modern Family.

Ok, Ok I haven’t watched Season 2 (for which these actors are nominated) so maybe compared to Season 2 of Community it really outshines.

 

Cage Match Part 2: Modern Family

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Thanks for coming back to read part 2 of the cage match. And again, to clarify, I’ve only seen a handful of episodes of Modern Family. So I’m not completely versed in the Modern Family ‘verse. Maybe I haven’t seen enough to fully get a huge sense of what the show is about yet, and so I’m giving myself permission to revisit the idea of reviewing this show at a later date. But NBC did try to market Parenthood as a Modern Family type show and I was able to clearly see that it was not. So what type of show is Modern Family?

Modern Family

Yeah, it’s a straight up comedy. It certainly has heart too, but in a different way than Parenthood. How can you not occasionally hit a soft spot when your main topic involves something we all have; loved ones. Modern Family, however, delves into the ridiculous side of life. They present us with the dad who wants to be cool so he tries to speak the “cool kid” lingo. The grandpa of the group is also remarried and is father to a young kid and needs to be more modern so he has to embrace dressing like a younger guy so that he doesn’t look like a mall walker. And one half of the gay couple is so stereotypically gay he presents their adopted daughter to the family to the Lion King theme. Over-the-top is the word that comes to mind.

Another show that employed this tactic was Arrested Development. I loooooved Arrested Development (another family-centric show!). Modern Family really recalls this show for me. It’s almost as if they’re trying to emulate this show, but somehow they miss the mark a little bit. They’ve got a hint of the flavor, but the taste is off a bit for me and I can’t figure out why. Is it the characters? When AD did gay they did gay in both the Tobias is he/isn’t he way or the  gay sailor way. Uptight/old mannish child in the family? Look no further than George Michael.

I’m not saying Modern Family is a bad comedy. I think I’m just not warming to the characters immediately. I also haven’t finished an entire season yet. Or maybe I just miss Arrested Development too much.

So I’ll just enjoy this clip from Arrested Development for now:

Modern Family first season we watched via disks through Netflix. Second season is on Hulu.

Cage match

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Cage match: Parenthood vs. Modern Family. But to be fair, I’ve watched both seasons to air so far of Parenthood and only one disk of Modern Family. So I’m not fully versed in Modern Family.

There seem to be more family-centric shows surfacing these days. If the 90’s – 00’s were all about singletons and urban families then this decade is all about families. Maybe that’s because the people writing these shows see that their audience/target demographics are growing up. Me and my husband are part of their target audience. In the last decade it was all Sex and the City and Friends. And while I’m not quite at the Parenthood stage of my life yet, I am married and finding myself settled and living at the more “boring adult” stuff in life (I put it in quotes because I’m far from bored).

Part 1 (Parenthood) will be posted today. Tomorrow will be Part 2 (Modern Family)

Parenthood

I first added Parenthood to the Netflix queue for two reasons. 1. Because Hulu Plus doesn’t have first first season in their catalog (boo and hiss) and 2. I confused it with Modern Family. An easy mistake to make just as Entertainment Weekly pointed out. They did try to squeeze the two shows into the same genre. But Parenthood has a lot of heart. I find it impossible to watch this show and not care about these characters as if they were actual people. I think this comes down to the dialog and the acting. Lauren Graham, Craig T. Nelson, Peter Krause, Mae Whitman, and sure…I’ll even throw Dax Shepard in there because he really proves himself in this show. The dialog really flows and sounds natural. It sort of reminds me a bit of Gilmore Girls, but with less coffee. You know when you’re talking to someone and your having a conversation how you sometimes talk over each other’s sentences? That’s how dialog goes sometimes on this show – natural. They even argue like real people.

However, as my husband is fond of saying about this show, the alternate name could easily be #whitepeopleproblems. I mean, they live in Berkely, California. All the kids have money. In the first season the grandfather (Craig T. Nelson) has money problems (from a bad investment which probably took a lot of money in the first place!) and a lot of references are made to the bad economy, but it’s still white collar problems. And in fact I don’t even remember a resolution to that story line.

Now, I’m not saying every show needs to be gritty and “real”. This family represents tons of families that exist. In fact I can relate to many members of this family; particularly Haddie the teenage daughter of Adam and Kristina. She reminds me of me as a teenager. Everything was a battle between me and my parents despite feeling like I had everything under control and being a generally pretty responsible kid. And now as an adult and married person I get some of what goes on between the other married couples on the show.

After watching two seasons of the show I don’t feel like anything has gotten stale or boring like some of these shows. Sometimes plot resolutions are too quick for my taste, but it’s preferable to dragging on. The drama isn’t too heavy and the comedic moments are true gems.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s review of Modern Family!
(Parenthood’s second season is available on Hulu)