I watch a lot of TV. I’m not sure how that happened, as I went about ten years without watching much at all. Which isn’t to say that I didn’t watch things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, and things like that when they came out on DVD but prior to about three years ago, I rarely watched anything while it was actually airing. I have a Netflix account but, like many others, I was frustrated when they separated their streaming and mailing systems and it’s severely cramped my viewing style. Fortunately, I get nearly every channel offered, so I get to watch a lot of programming anyway. And with a DVR, I can still watch things on my own time. Current shows, even! Suck it, Netflix!
Finally, a reason to keep the DVD aspect of the service.
I’ve already lamented on the not-quite-but-basically-it’s-being-cancelled brilliant show of Community and have discussed the amazingness of Once Upon A Time but they’re definitely not the only things I watch. As the winter/spring season of television is upon us, I figured I’d give a run down of the things I do watch and why I watch. I’ll also dish on the things that I’ve given up on and will not be watching when they return to the air. This is in no particular order.
Pan Am: The basic premise of the show is the rise of the Pan Am airline in the 60s. And while that wouldn’t seem exciting to most (I mean, it’s about an airline), there are certain factors that make it appealing. First, I love shows that take place in different eras. Some of my favorite shows, such as That 70s Show, The Wonder Years, Playboy Club (even though it got cancelled), and Mad Men all were about bygone eras. Second, there are spies! The show takes place during the Cold War and a Pan Am stewardess has access to people and places that few others do. Third, and perhaps most important, are the stewardesses themselves. This is a gorgeous cast (except for Christina Ricci… is there ANYTHING that can be done about those crazy eyes?) and they are all very interesting in their own ways. The French woman has flashbacks to being a child during World War II, the runaway heiress struggles with her desire to be her own woman but still be accepted by her family, Christina Ricci is some kind of hippie liberal… and, of course, there’s a spy! The writing is pretty good, if a little hokey in some places, but all in all, it’s very entertaining and I’m so glad that it got picked up for the rest of the season.
Can you guess which one's the spy?
Once Upon A Time: There are those that say this show is too obvious or cheesy and, while that may be true, it’s one of the reasons that I love it. I think it appeals to the child in me, that wants a fairytale. Fairytales are obvious. You know the wicked witch is going to get it in the end. You know the prince and the princess are going to live happily ever after. You know that Rumplestiltskin has power in a name. But the telling of the story is unique enough that, even though you know what the outcome is going to be, you’re intrigued enough to see how it all plays out. I think the three primary female leads (Jennifer Morrison, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Lana Parrilla) are all fantastically different characters, though bordering on stereotypical, and their real-life/fairytale stories are compelling. I may already know how the story is going to end but the ride to get there is pretty fun.
Hawaii Five-O: While I don’t usually like cop dramas, I started watching this show simply so that I can hear the theme song once a week. Who doesn’t immediately recognize the original show’s iconic theme music? I was interested to see a reboot of what I had considered a very cheesy show when it originally aired. I expected Hawaii Five-O to be ridiculous, over the top, and just like every other cop show out there. It is ridiculous and over the top but it is definitely not like every other cop show out there. The bright colors, the beaches, the interesting locals make for a very different kind of crime drama. Steve McGarrett is a former Navy Seal who now leads the Five-O task force with the blessing of the governor and many of their cases weave in and out of the main story, where McGarrett is tracking down the man who killed his father. It’s a bit of a cliché, but the story takes us to the mainland of the US, to Japan, to every island on Hawaii and it’s an exciting journey. Scott Caan is hysterical as Danny Williams and the happiest moment of every episode is when McGarrett gets to say “Book ‘em, Danno.”
Oh, and Kono's a lady. A very foxy lady.
Up All Night: This new show took me completely by surprise. Starring Christina Applegate, Will Arnett, and Maya Rudolph, it tells the story of a young successful couple who is adjusting to life as new parents. Reagan and Chris (Applegate and Arnett) are hilarious parents, trying to balance being cool parents with good parents to their infant/toddler daughter who is too young to care about whether her parents are cool while Ava (Rudolph) is Reagan’s boss/best friend who was once a 90s pop star but now has her own daytime talk show. The parents swear in front of their baby but feel terrible about it and Ava feels jealous of her lesser role to baby Amy. The result is a show that pulls no punches about how funny it can be to be new parents in a world that doesn’t exactly prepare you for how to cope with career and family.
Whitney: This is another show that I was surprised to like as much as I do. Featuring Whitney Cummings, who gained fame as part of Chelsea Handler’s crew of comedians for Chelsea Lately, the show is about a couple who has been together for three years but is unmarried by choice. Their life is riddled with the same kinds of problems most young couples face- their friends are in the processes of getting married or returning to the dating scene after having been divorced and they have no idea where they stand compared to all of that. It’s a funnier dynamic than I can describe.
Archer: This might be the funniest animated series on the air right now. Seriously, I don’t laugh half as hard at anything else as I do Archer. It’s the continuing adventures of Sterling Archer, a secret agent under the employ of ISIS, which is run by his mother. His co-workers include his ex-girlfriend and superior secret agent, Lana, and the support staff- Cyril the accountant, Pam the HR representative, and Cheryl the secretary. Many of Archer’s exploits result in him finding out more clues about his missing father and everyone pretty much getting up to wildly hilarious hijinks.
They never show Pam in the promos!
I’ll also be watching Are You There, Chelsea? which will star Laura Prepon (of That 70s Show fame) as Chelsea and Chelsea Handler as her older sister. I love both of them, so I’m willing to give it a chance, even though it seems to be kind of a wacky concept. If anyone has ever read the book Are You There, Vodka? It’s me, Chelsea, you’ll have an idea of what the show might be about (if you haven’t read the book, it’s basically about Chelsea getting drunk and having lots of sex). It’s on network TV, so we’ll see how it goes.
Other mentions but not worth talking about are The Biggest Loser, Saturday Night Live, The Bachelor, and Pitbulls & Parolees. Mostly just junk TV but it’s entertaining.
Oh, are you all here for me? You can leave your man servant outside. We won't be needing him.
Now for the breakdown of shows I will not be watching, though I used to.
American Idol: This is junk TV to the max and, while I’ll readily admit to having watched it, it’s gotten to the point that I can’t even watch it anymore (and that’s saying something, since I watch The Bachelor). The talent has been lackluster in recent years and the loss of Simon Cowell and Paula Abdul have made the only other interesting part of the show non-existent. If I have to hear Randy Jackson call another contestant “dawg” one more time, I will lose my ever-loving mind. Steven Tyler was great during the auditions but turned into a babbling idiot on the live shows and Jennifer Lopez didn’t bring anything to the show at all. It was a waste of a season and I won’t be going back for more.
"Did I do something, dawg?"
Glee: This is the most painful declaration for me. I loved Glee. And when Glee started to get bad, I loved Glee anyway. I thought that the concept could save the writing and, sadly, the plucky gang of misfits who just want to sing got beaten to death by bad writing and crazed fan speculation. The lack of continuity was one thing and one thing I could get over (I read comic books, after all; retcon is the name of the game there) but the worst thing of all was that every episode was turning into sappy fan fiction. It was as though the writing staff went to the message boards after each episode so that they could plan the next episode. It’s horrific. The music is still good but the effort to tie it into some celebrity tribute and still make sure that whatever fan favorite relationship made sense was a losing battle and the cost was my viewership. I just can’t do it anymore. Good-bye, Glee. I can’t say it’s been a little slice of heaven… because it hasn’t.
I stopped believing, guys, even after you sang/begged me not to.
The only thing I wish for this winter/spring season would be a brilliantly written sci-fi/fantasy show. I need another Firefly or Battlestar Galactica. I’ve got my comedy, I’ve got my drama, I’ve got my reality TV. I just need something outlandish (and Glee just doesn’t cut it). Maybe someone smart should come up with a show about the rebooted Star Trek franchise’s Star Fleet Academy. I would watch that.