Television

2015 List of Awesome: Television

You know we've been doing our annual "List of Awesome" every year and it's always been books, but since I'm tinkering with the focus of CEFS moving forward (more on that later), I thought I'd highlight some of the things I really enjoyed this year that aren't books in these lists.

Also, I really like lists. If you've missed previous years' installments, they're all archived here. 

For the first 2015 List of Awesome, I wanted to spotlight some of the fabulous television that I've enjoyed this year. It goes without saying that we're spoiled for television these days--so much so, it sometimes seems overwhelming.

2015 List of Awesome: Television

Stream-It Saturday: Mr. Robot

Laura was harassing me to watch Mr. Robot--USA Network's new show--so aggressively that she was basically interrogating me about whether or not I'd watched the first episode every time we talked or texted. Then another friend (Hi, Jennifer!) also started raving about it. And my father-in-law started talking about it, too.

Obviously, Laura was right. Which is additional evidence that you should just listen to Laura the first time. Mr. Robot is one of the most interesting shows I've watched in a long time, and one of the hardest to talk about. Because, you see, it's a show ostensibly about hackers. But it's also about a whole lot more. It's about mental health and perception and corruption and corporate greed and a whole bunch of other things. 

Stream-It Saturday: Mr. Robot

Stream-It Saturday: Bloodline (Netflix)

In my continuing selfless service to the world (ahem), I'm always looking for the next awesome thing to stream. And, of course, I must share my finds with you fabulous folks. Hence, Stream-It Saturday.

Check out all my previous recommendations over here. 

Have you binge-watched Bloodline on Netflix yet? No?! What is wrong with you? Isn't your life missing dysfunctional family fun voiced-over by Kyle Chandler?

Stream-It Saturday: Bloodline (Netflix)

Stream It Saturday: Manhattan (TV)

In my continuing selfless service to the world (ahem), I'm always looking for the next awesome thing to stream. And, of course, I must share my finds with you fabulous folks. Hence, Stream-It Saturday.

Check out all my previous recommendations over here. 

Manhattan is the little show no one heard of when it debuted last year on WGN. The drama is set in 1940s Los Alamos, New Mexico and focuses on both family life in this weird little outpost and the professional drama among the scientists working on the Manhattan Project. 

Stream It Saturday: Manhattan (TV)

Gift Guide: Fantastic DVD Box Sets

As promised last week, I have another gift guide for you!

Maybe I'm old school, but I love DVDs (despite that I effectively burned up my last Roku player). I adore the bonus features and the swag and all that. Plus, some have some pretty rad packaging to boot. 

Furthermore, a gift of a DVD box set is perfect for your introvert family members and friends, who'd much rather hole up with their television than ski or whatever other nonsense normal people do in the winter. (Winter: I'm not a fan.)

Gift Guide: Fantastic DVD Box Sets

What I'm Watching: Fall 2014

Am I the only person who's pretty disappointed with the new television this year? Aside from a couple notable exceptions, I haven't been excited about much of the new stuff on the tube. (Ugh, I just realized that loads of people these days probably don't even know why it's called "the tube.")

Now that we're fully into the fall television season, I thought I'd continue my tradition of sharing what I'm watching--and a few I'm not. 

What I'm Watching: Fall 2014

Stream-It Saturday: The Fosters (TV)

In my continuing selfless service to the world (ahem), I'm always looking for the next awesome thing to stream. And, of course, I must share my finds with you fabulous folks. Hence, Stream-It Saturday.

Check out all my previous recommendations over here. 

Apparently, I am the target demographic for ABC Family--who knew? Between the show I'm spotlighting today, The Fosters, and my new binge-watching addition, Switched at Birth, I am a fan of the network, apparently. 

Stream-It Saturday: The Fosters (TV)

Stream-It Saturday: Undeclared (TV)

In my continuing selfless service to the world (ahem), I'm always looking for the next awesome thing to stream. And, of course, I must share my finds with you fabulous folks. Hence, Stream-It Saturday.

Check out all my previous recommendations over here. 

At this point, everyone has watched Freaks & Geeks (is it bragging to say that I watched it when it aired?), but have you watched Judd Apatow's follow-up college-set comedy Undeclared? 

Stream-It Saturday: Undeclared (TV)

Stream-It Saturday: Deadwood (TV)

In my continuing selfless service to the world (ahem), I'm always looking for the next awesome thing to stream. And, of course, I must share my finds with you fabulous folks. Hence, Stream-It Saturday.

Check out all my previous recommendations over here. 

One of the great television travesties of the modern era is that HBO's foul-mouthed western, Deadwood, was canceled after a mere three seasons. The series was supposed to conclude with two movie-length episodes, but that never happened for reasons that remain unexplained.

Stream-It Saturday: Deadwood (TV)

Stream-It Saturday: The Fall (TV)

In my continuing selfless service to the world (ahem), I'm always looking for the next awesome thing to stream. And, of course, I must share my finds with you fabulous folks. Hence, Stream-It Saturday. 

This week, I'd like to introduce you to a fantastic thriller which originally aired on BBC and was a BBC-Northern Ireland production, The Fall. Starring the always-fascinating Gillian Anderson, with a fabulously-understated performance in a supporting role from Archie Panjabi, of The Good Wife fame, this is a great one for fans of stellar U.K. crime dramas like Luther. 

Stream-It Saturday: The Fall (TV)

Stream-It Saturday: Terriers (TV)

In my continuing selfless service to the world (ahem), I'm always looking for the next awesome thing to stream. And, of course, I must share my finds with you fabulous folks. Hence, Stream-It Saturday.

Check out all my previous recommendations over here. 

Once upon a time, there was a weird and wonderful show on FX that no one watched called Terriers. It had a loyal following of approximately ten people. Sadly, television networks expect a slightly larger audience than that, and Terriers was canceled after a single season. 

Stream-It Saturday: Terriers (TV)

Stream-It Saturday: Dance Academy (TV)

In my continuing selfless service to the world (ahem), I'm always looking for the next awesome thing to stream. And, of course, I must share my finds with you fabulous folks. Hence, Stream-It Saturday. Check out all my previous recommendations over here. 

This week's recommendation was pretty much inevitable: ABC Australia's charming half-hour teen ballet drama, Dance Academy. 

Here's the deal: Dance Academy is set in Sydney, Australia at an elite school for aspiring dancers. Just getting into the school is intensely competitive, and it's a feeder for the National Ballet Company. Over three years, the students train in hopes of being one of two or three students selected to join the Company. It's intense and brutal, physically. Amidst all that competition and training, these are still teenagers dealing with all the stuff that teenagers deal with. And, it's also a boarding school story, since they live at the school at which they train. 

 

Stream-It Saturday: Dance Academy (TV)

Stream-It Saturday: Moone Boy (TV)

In my continuing selfless service to the world (ahem), I'm always looking for the next awesome thing to stream. And, of course, I must share my finds with you fabulous folks. Hence, Stream-It Saturday. 

This week's streaming choice is my beloved Moone Boy, shown in the U.S. exclusively via streaming on Hulu and broadcast in the U.K. on Sky. 

Here's the deal. Moone Boy is a bit... bonkers.

But in the cutest, most endearing way. I swear!

It's loosely based on Irish cutie-pie Chris O'Dowd's childhood in a small town of Boyle, in Ireland. The main characters are 12-year old Martin Moone and his imaginary friend, played by O'Dowd, Sean Murphy. The two get in all sorts of capers and scrapes while Martin deals with life in his charmingly crazy family.

Moone Boy was one of my favorite new shows last year (along with The Mindy Project and Orange is the New Black) and it's back for another season on Hulu in about a week. If you haven't watched it, you've missed out on something special. 

15 Reasons You Should Stream Moone Boy Immediately

Stream-It Saturday: Moone Boy (TV)

Stream-It Saturday: Jericho (TV)

I am so enjoying this "stream-it" series. All I want to do it post about things you can stream, but I am exercising restraint and just doing so once a week.

You can check out the rest of this ongoing series here. 

When Hulu first became a thing, I became completely addicted. There wasn't a ton of content on there, but there was some show called Jericho. I've always been a survivalist/post-apocalyptic story junkie (which is amusing, given how ill-equipped I am for such a scenario), so I queued up the first episode and proceeded to give up sleep in favor of watching the two seasons in an embarrassingly short period of time. (For the record, I'm fairly certain that I watched a few episodes on CBS' Innertube service. Does anyone else remember that?)

Stream-It Saturday: Jericho (TV)

Stream-It Saturday: Rectify

I'm always digging around Netflix looking for shows that my husband and I will enjoy watching together. I know it's hard to believe, but he's really not up for yet another re-watch of Friday Night Lights. (I know, I know...)

One of our recent finds is the unusual and captivating Rectify, a six-episode show on the Sundance Channel, now streaming on Netflix. 

Rectify follows Daniel Holden, who's been released from prison after 19 years on death row, for six days following his return to his Georgia hometown. His conviction was vacated due to DNA evidence--which is a critical distinction from exoneration. His conviction wasn't overturned, instead, it was dismissed, meaning that he could theoretically be tried for rape and murder again.

However, guilt or innocence isn't the focus of Rectify.

 

Stream-It Saturday: Rectify

What I'm Watching: Television Edition

Since cutting our cable, well satellite, cord back in the spring, the only thing I’ve missed is the DVR. I’ve pretty much found enough on Hulu Plus/Netflix/Amazon Instant Video to keep my eyeballs glued to the television to my little heart’s content. It’s remarkable how few shows I’ve been watching on the regular for any length of time (Justified and Mad Men are about it at this point). 

Orange is the New Black - Netflix

I could have sworn I wrote about OINTB previously, but I couldn’t find the post. I absolutely loved this smart, funny, unique dramedy featuring an awesome ensemble cast of nearly all women. So spectacularly good.

What I'm Watching: Television Edition

Today in Ridiculous B.S.: "The Julie Taylor Test"

Today, Laura tweeted a post from Salon's entertainment section, to which I reacted quite viscerally.

This (somewhat link-bait-y) piece is called "The Julie Taylor Test," referencing the daughter fo Eric and Tami Taylor on Friday Night Lights, and it's absolutely dripping with sexism. The author, Willa Paskin, asserts that bad acting can be identified by comparing the performer suspected of bad acting to Julie Taylor on Friday Night Lights, portrayed by Aimee Teegarden.

She argues, 

Enter the Julie Taylor Test, an easy way to identify bad TV acting: Ask yourself, is it  to imagine the inner life of this character? If no, is it possible to imagine the inner life of the characters surrounding him or her? It was all too possible to imagine the inner lives of every character on “Friday Night Lights” but Julie.

The thing is, using Paskin's own example, Julie Taylor has an immense inner life (watch The Giving Tree, S3E10, if you don't believe me).

However, her "inner life" is that of a teenage girl, so there are two strikes against Julie the character and Aimee the actress.

Today in Ridiculous B.S.: "The Julie Taylor Test"

55 Thoughts After Watching (Nearly) 4 Seasons of Parenthood

Welcome to another episode of Sarah's Netflix Binges! Up next: Jason Katim's post-Friday Night Lights vehicle, Parenthood. 

I fought watching this show for, well, the entire time it's been on. Then, I got really bored in December because I wasn't teaching and didn't have any work projects lined up, so I did what any red-blooded America would do and watched a ton of television. Finally, I'd run out of options, realizing that I really had a problem if I was thinking watching season three of Friday NIght Lights for the tenth time was a viable option, and queued up Parenthood on the Roku.

(Unpaid endorsement: I ♥ our Roku so much--it's up their with our SodaStream on my Official List of Things More Awesome Than They Seem Like They Should Be.)

Naturally, I have some thoughts...

55 Thoughts After Watching (Nearly) 4 Seasons of Parenthood

66 Thoughts After Watching 66 Episodes of The Vampire Diaries

As has been well-documented, I love television. 

And I work out of my house. And I need background noise. Silence distracts me. While I love Pandora for background noise in short bursts, I love putting on some Netflix Instant in the background while I crank out a bunch of CSS coding or plan a class or write a communications plan.

Now, I know you’re thinking, 

But, Sarah, how can you watch television and concentrate? That is not at all normal!

Good question!

First off, I never, ever claimed to be “normal.” Secondly, I have no idea, but this dates way back to fights I would have with my mother over watching television while doing my homework. I can actually concentrate better if I have something else to concentrate on too. It’s all part of my genius. Ahem. 

The thing is, I’d kind of run out of new-to-me televisions shows to watch and was resorting to rewatching some of my old favorites. 

Last month, I found myself inexplicably drawn to hitting the “watch now” on The Vampire Diaries. And watched all 66 episodes of the first three seasons over the course of an embarrassingly short period of time.

And I have some thoughts on The Vampire Diaries. Sixty-six of them, to be precise. 

1-2) The first few episodes are essentially Dawson’s Creek with Vampires. I almost didn’t keep watching. So much angst and silly dialogue

3-6) I have many concerns about Stefan’s hair.

Stefan The Vampire Diaries

First of all, he’s supposed to be from the Civil War Era, but his hair is straight out of 1955. And I wonder how much time Stefan spends on his hair—certainly more than Elena. This should have been a warning sign. And since the TVD vamps are vulnerable to fire, wouldn’t all the product pose a risk, given all the candles used around the Salvatore mansion?

66 Thoughts After Watching 66 Episodes of The Vampire Diaries

List-O-Rama: 4 New Fall Television Shows That Might Not Suck

You may have noticed that we kind of love television around here. And, no, there’s nothing incongruous in liking both books and television—I swear. Stories are awesome in any medium.

I was perusing my beloved Entertainment Weekly on Friday (yay! my mailman didn’t “borrow it” this week) and while most everything looks atrocious (I’m looking at you New Matthew Perry “Comedy”), a few of the shows piqued my interest.

image via EW via ABC

Nashville - ABC, Wednesday at 10:00p.m.

I’ll be honest, I didn’t really even understand what this show was about before I added it to this list, but it’s starring Tami Taylor, so I’ll watch it regardless. But, it’s gotten really good buzz and sounds like it’ll be a pretty interesting show. Whatshername from Heroes plays an evil Taylor Swift-type, so what could go wrong? 

 

List-O-Rama: 4 New Fall Television Shows That Might Not Suck

True Blood Snark-Cap - Season Five Finale/Season Wrap-Up

Dear True Blood, 

I’m sorry, but I think we need to break up.

You see, it’s not me—it’s you.

I just wasted an entire summer of Sunday evenings watching and—oh, horror!—recapping the suckfest of your fifth season. All of that for only one awesome thing.

Pam’s hair.

And as fabulous as Pam’s hair is, it’s not enough to carry an entire television show. 

True Blood Snark-Cap - Season Five Finale/Season Wrap-Up

True Blood Snark-Cap - Episode 5.10: Gone, Gone, Gone

Guys… I am so sorry! I literally (literally literally, not figuratively literally) forgot to watch True Blood this week. So, this snark-cap is late.

You know what makes True Blood seem particularly stupid? If you watch three episodes of Friday Night Lights after watching this week’s episode of True Blood. That’s exactly what I did—and, boy, that was a mistake. It hit me: there is absolutely no character development on True Blood anymore. I mean, there was never a ton, since it’s a soapy smutfest, but at least in the first few seasons Sookie & Co changed and were kind of interesting. 

So, I thought I’d recap this week’s show in pictures…

Some dude in Bon Temps got turned into a vampire and Sookie staked him with chopsticks, in possibly her most resourceful moment on the show.

And, like all vampire chopstick-slayings, it was messy.

Very messy.

Bill’s still staking people with the handy-dandy iStake App. (Available in the App Store, I’m sure.) 

True Blood Snark-Cap - Episode 5.10: Gone, Gone, Gone

True Blood Snark-Cap - Episode 5.9: Everyone Wants to Rule the World

BREAKING: This week’s True Blood didn’t suck (ha!) as much as the last few weeks’ episodes at least. 

We finally got resolution to the smoke monster WTFery, we said goodbye to Noel and it looks like maybe the hate group story is winding down. We’ve finally got some good ol’ fashioned True Blood double-crossery happening and the vampire war with humans is heating up.

However, there are only a few episodes left and we’ve spent all season waiting for something—anything—to happen. 

Obviously, the following “analysis” contains spoilers for Sunday’s episode of True Blood. If you haven’t seen it and want to remain free from spoilage, please don’t continue reading. Instead, I suggest checking out Rebeca’s review of Sarah Mayberry’s latest novel, which sounds really wonderful.

Thoughts & Reaction

  • Why do I subscribe to HBO again? 

Gratuitous Eric profile screencap.

  • Oh… right…  Hi, Eric.
True Blood Snark-Cap - Episode 5.9: Everyone Wants to Rule the World