This sign is posted in the parking lot outside my work. Why “NO TV’s”? A while ago someone left an old TV next to what they thought was a dumpster for trash but is actually a dumpster for paper recycling. But only people who had seen the TV there before it got picked up will understand the odd specificity of the sign.
As a patriotic American, I am against the British monarchy on principle. That hasn’t stopped me from loving Netflix’s The Crown. I’m here to echo all the good things you’ve heard about it, specifically the performances of Claire Foy as the Queen and Matt Smith as Phillip. That said, I think swapping in a new cast for the next two seasons is a great idea. Much better than trying to falsely age younger actors with makeup.
There’s been some debate recently about whether binge-watching a TV show on DVD or online is good or bad. While I must confess I have gone on a few TV benders, usually with the intention of catching up on a series before its most recent season premiered, there’s something about watching a show live on TV, weekly wait and all, that is simultaneously frustrating and exciting.
For instance, watching the fifth season of Mad Men as it unfolded during this summer allowed me to engage in the speculative water cooler talk with my fellow Mad Hatters after each episode and during the following week that makes watching live television communal and fun. This approach fit conveniently with the series slow-burning style itself, so I didn’t feel like I needed to rush through it (even though that’s exactly what I did with seasons one through three on DVD two years ago).
Conversely, I plowed through all five seasons of The Wire in about three weeks on DVD – a common occurrence, I’d bet, given the series’ relative unpopularity during its run (and HBO’s prices). I couldn’t just watch one episode at a time, which is why watching TV on DVD can be so hazardous: find a gripping, well-written show like The Wire on DVD and then say goodbye to sleep, exercise, and any semblance of productivity. In high school the first two seasons of Lost consumed my nights so thoroughly it’s a wonder I passed classes that semester (good thing I was a second-semester senior).
So, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how I consume television as long as the show itself is good. James Poniewozik of Time magazine says as much in his pro-binge post:
[A good story is] resilient. It will take whatever viewing (or reading, or listening) conditions you throw at it. And if its effect depends on ‘maintaining a timeline,’ or waiting a year to find out how Jack and Kate go back, or even reading morning-after reviews by idiots like me—it was probably never worth bingeing on to begin with.
So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go rent Deadwood on DVD and then watch the season premiere of Breaking Bad on TV.
Late Night with Conan O’Brien is the only late-night talk show I watch consistently. I watch The Daily Show and The Colbert Report for the political satire, but I watch Late Night for the utter wackiness. Besides Triumph the Insult Comic Dog, my favorite reoccuring segment is “Small Talk Moment with Max and Conan.” I laugh every time they do it.
They “discuss” many different topics, but the best part is always the end of the skit when Conan says “It sure is, Max!” will a ridiculous smile and half-laugh and then they exchange dead-pan stares. Now that’s must-see TV.
It’s good to see the Office back again. Here are my favorite parts of the season 5 premiere (possible spoilers ahead!):
–Another classic Psychopath Jan moment: Jan: “Remember last week when that girl went missing? Guess whose candles they used for the vigil.” Kevin: “Yeah, thank God they found her.” Jan: “They found her?”
–When Holly discovers Kevin is not mentally-challenged is a classic painfully awkward Office moment. Angela’s response was hilarious too.
–Andy’s four non-refundable deposits on wedding locations, one of which is Epcot.
–Ryan is back. I can’t say I ever liked Ryan as a character. I realize he’s supposed to be sort of unlikeable, but whatever. The fact that he now has a list of people who wronged him, and how he “never really processed 9/11” is hilarious though.
–Phyllis is now the head of the Party Planning Committee. And the best line of the episode belonged to her: “I wonder what people like about me. Probably my jugs.”
–Pam is an RA! Rockin’ sockin’. I love Jim got kicked out because Pam had to deal with roommate issues. So true.
–Toby just can’t catch a break. Apparently what happened to Toby actually happened to one of the Office writers.
–Is it just me, or is there some conflict brewing between Jim and Pam? Their phone conversation that eventually switched to instant messanger had a smack of disappointment from Pam. Who knows. We have a whole season ahead of us.
Also, I totally predicted after last season’s finale that Jim would propose in the first episode, or at least within the first two. Called it.
I’m always annoyed when people say Saturday Night Live isn’t as good as it used to be. It’s unfair to judge a group of relatively unknown performers against their much more famous predecessors. Especially when their predecessors and their funniest skits have had time to become more popular and time-tested.
That said, these first two episodes of SNL, with the exception of their two opening skits, have been sub-par. And I’m one of those people who can appreciate the more farcical and ridiculous skits that don’t make it on air until 11:45 (Central time).
But what has stood out to me for a few years now is Kristen Wiig. She is freaking hilarious. With Amy Poehler leaving the show after the election to give birth and star in her own sitcom (which is also freaking awesome), I’m glad there will be a strong female character with weirdo characters and the complete lack of inhibition when it comes to performing. She’ll also probably have to take over Amy Poehler’s brilliant, Emmy-nominated Hillary Clinton impersonation when Amy leaves.
A few years ago, I wouldn’t have said such a thing. I thought the cheeseball factor rivaled that of Full House. But in the last year or two, I’ve been catching the re-runs on cable randomly during the day, and it has really grown on me.
The show was a ratings powerhouse in the 90s. I remember watching it back then, but sometimes what you watch as a kid doesn’t age as well as you do. Still, with nothing better on at 1 p.m. on weekdays, I’ve reentered the world of the Taylor family and their hilarious hijinks and found that it is genuinely funny, if still forced from time to time.
The standard “sitcom” jokes are there: Al’s mom is fat, Tim hits his head on the pipe in the basement, everyone has the perfect witty comeback in every conversation. But I’ve also come to appreciate how non-dysfunctional the family is. Conflicts arise amongst the boys in their own contrived sitcom-y way, but Tim and Jill are still models of good parenting. Tim grills Al incessantly, but he can still be a good and caring friend when needed. There is heart in everything–something a lot of sitcoms forget to remember.
I got the chance to meet the show’s executive producer David McFadzean when he spoke at my sister’s first school, Calvin College. He said the concept was to create a show where the family was functional and loving, an idea foreign to a lot of television shows. The concept worked, as the show’s success demonstrated.
And while Tim Allen’s comedy is largely limited to grunting and mock-stupidity, he’s still darn funny, especially when he can work off of the solid supporting characters like Al and Wilson.
Anyway, that’s my two cents. If you’re channel-surfing one day and happen upon another hilarious episode of “Tool Time”, don’t change the channel. Stay there and enjoy it.