PARKS AND REC UPDATE: RENEWED IN THE LEAST EXCITING WAY POSSIBLE

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Here at YBTV we love Parks and Rec.  So, we are beyond excited for actual confirmation that the show will be getting another season.  The network had previously indicated that Parks and Rec would be getting a seventh season back in January, but now I believe it can be considered officially confirmed.  The announcement came in a press release about the renewals of Grimm, Chicago Fire, and Chicago P.D.  Oh well, we don’t necessarily care how the news got to us, we are just looking forward to spending more time in Pawnee with Leslie Knope and company.

Other NBC renewals that have been announced include:  The Blacklist, The Voice, and Celebrity Apprentice.  There are still many NBC shows out there that we are still waiting for news on though (of particular importance to us, namely Community and Hannibal).

-LJ & CJ

RIP BREAKING BAD: LJ’S 2013 TV FAVORITES

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CJ has been bugging me to do my own “best of” television list for 2013.  I had been resisting in order to stop inundating y’all with list after list.  But, since CJ has clearly gotten his list so incorrectly organized, I feel that it is my duty to comment.  This isn’t an attempt to tell you what the best shows of 2013 were (although arguably all of these should be included on this list); this is simply my favorite shows of 2013.

*Side Note – While CJ and I do watch a lot of the same TV shows, he undoubtedly watches more.  So, for instance, Luther or Justified aren’t on my list because I simply don’t watch them.  At the bottom I will include a list of shows I considered, but ultimately did not include.

11.  House of Cards (Netflix) – Ok, so this started out as a top 10 list.  But, at the end of the day, I could only get down to my favorite 11 shows.  Sue me.  House of Cards was my first experience at alternative-TV shows (i.e., ones not found on the networks, cable, or HBO, etc.) and it did not disappoint.  I am generally not a huge Kevin Spacey fan, but he was incredible as the power-hungry, crafty, and often times, super creepy Congressman.  The supporting cast was also exceptional, especially Corey Stoll as Russo (and who doesn’t love Kata Mara).  This show was entertaining, suspenseful and simply well-written.  I cannot wait until February 14, 2014 for season 2.

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10.  The Americans (FX) – Keri Russell as a spy.  I really shouldn’t have to say more.  You have Cold War spy tactics intermixed with family and personal drama.  It’s a great recipe for a show.  Keri Russell is as awesome as she ever has been, as are her castmates (Matthew Rhys, Noah Emmerich, Annet Mahendru, etc.), and as much as I hate to say it, she makes me want to support the Russians.

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9.  Rectify (Sundance) – I like prison.  I know what you are thinking, and yes it sounds weird.  But, here is what I mean, I like almost everything that has to do with prison or prisoners, whether it is a book, a movie, or a TV show.  What do I like more than prison? (well a lot of things, but what I mean is…)  Stories about someone that may be wrongly accused of a crime.  And, that is what you have here with Rectify.  You have a story of a man, Daniel, who has been on death row for 19 years when some DNA evidence allows him to be released.  The first season of Rectify showed us what it is like for Daniel to try and reintegrate into a “normal” life as well as how his release from prison is affecting his family, his friends, and everyone in the small town of Georgia.  On top of all that, we get some clues as to who actually committed the murder/rape of the girl, which sent Daniel to prison in the first place (heck, it might even have been him).

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8.  Broadchurch (BBC America) – Not a show about prison, but a show about the murder of a young boy in a small town in Britain and the following investigation that ensues.  The show doesn’t entirely focus on the investigation of Danny’s murder, but also shows the impact that such an event can have on a family, on friends, and on the community as a whole.  I can honestly say that I had no clue who the killer was until the very end–that is how well written the show was.  Apparently there is going to be an American version of this show, but I still believe that the original is a must-see.

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7.  Arrow (CW) – You assumed this would be on my list, didn’t you?  Last winter/spring we got season 1 of Arrow and this fall we have been watching the first half of season 2.  This show is only getting better and better.  Oliver’s crime fighting escapades aren’t what keep me loving this show though.  In between those adventures, the viewer is given glimpses into Oliver’s past on the island, which is what really intrigues me.  Seriously, I have to know what happened there!  Additionally, you can’t help but realize that Oliver’s compadres both on the island and in present day Starling City add depth to this superhero show.

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6.  Veep (HBO) – 2013 was apparently the year of the drama (at least for me), but Veep stood out as the best comedy (I don’t count Orange as the New Black as a comedy) and one of the best shows of the year.  The cast and the story I felt got stronger in season 2 of Veep and I could seriously watch the Veep crew berate Jonah all day.

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5.  Masters of Sex (Showtime) – Masters of Sex was without argument the best new show of the fall and was definitely a saving grace on Sunday nights (after suffering through Homeland).  Lizzie Caplan is captivating, plain and simple.  But, what is also captivating, is the complicated relationships that develop between the characters as the season progresses.  Virginia and Bill are the two main characters, and obviously their relationship takes center stage, but Masters of Sex has proved that it is also capable of showing the struggles and relationships of the supporting characters with just as much depth and intricacy.

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4.  Shameless (Showtime) – Shameless starts each January and is such a perfect way to start of each new year.  Unfortunately though, since it is so early in the year, I feel like it gets overlooked so much of the time.  I am here to tell you that Shameless is one of the best and most underrated shows on TV currently.  Emmy Rossum is simply amazing as Fiona, a girl who is willing to do whatever it takes to provide for and care for her brothers and sister (since their dead-beat-dad is clearly incapable and one of the worst human beings to walk the Earth).  This show is funny, it’s dramatic, and features a fair amount of nudity.  What’s not to love?

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3.  Game of Thrones (HBO) – Big changes happened in season 3 of GoT.  Most obvious is, of course, the massacre of the Stark family.  And, while the Red Wedding was certainly the highlight of the season in a light of people’s minds, I was most happy that season 3 saw a lot more of Dany kicking-ass and pretty much being the coolest chick ever.  I haven’t read the books so I have no clue what is going to happen next, but I hope that season 4 is just as epic.

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2.  Orange is the New Black (Netflix) – As good as I thought House of Cards was, Orange is the New Black turned out to be even better.  Yes, it focused predominately on the life of Piper, but we also got a look at many of her prison roommates as well.  We saw flashbacks to these women’s prior lives, which gave insight into how all these women ended up being locked up.  And, we got to watch everyone trying to do their best and cope with their life in prison.  It will be interesting to see what happens in season 2 since Piper’s girlfriend won’t be appearing in many episodes and also since Piper probably killed someone at the end of season 1.

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1.  Breaking Bad (AMC) – Now, I know you saw this coming.  But, let’s be real, was there anything as good as the final 8 episodes of Breaking Bad on TV this year?  No, there wasn’t.  Period.

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Other shows that could have been considered – Top of the Lake, The Walking Dead, Family Tree, Mad Men, Scandal, The Returned (only 2 episodes in), Bob’s Burgers, Raising Hope, Parks and Rec, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Ground Floor, New Girl, The Goldbergs, Trophy Wife, The Blacklist, Girls, Nashville, The Carrie Diaries, Downton Abbey, Rookie Blue, The Fosters. (I, of course, left off shows that I watch that could never be considered for such a list…like X Factor).

-LJ

2013 TERRIERS MEMORIAL LIST: PART I

First, an explanation for the title of this post. Back in 2010, FX premiered a little show called Terriers, starring Donal Logue, Michael Raymond James, and Rockmond Dunbar, amongst other amazing character actors. For a show run by Shawn Ryan (The Shield and The Chicago Code) and created by Ted Griffin (Ocean’s trilogy), it was embarrassingly under watched and cancelled after only a single, nearly perfect season. Terriers was my top show of 2010, and I made a promise to myself that from that point on my year-end list for TV would be called the “Terriers Memorial List.” Just my little way of keeping Terriers in the mind of the 6 people who read this blog.

For 2013, the Terriers Memorial List will run in three parts. Today, Part I, will be honorable mentions and my shows 20-11. Part II, running in the coming days, will be my shows 10-6, and Part III, running days after that, will be my shows 5-1. So let’s get started with the 2013 Terriers Memorial List, shall we?

Starting with shows that would likely have been considered for this list that I have not been able to get to yet (but I will, I promise):

  • The Fall
  • The Returned
  • Orphan Black
  • Top of the Lake (I’m through the first few hours, and it’s amazing)
  • Black Mirror

Next, a few shows that demonstrate just how hard it is to come up with a list like this. My honorable mentions for 2013 are shows that I greatly enjoy, and in some cases love. But, because of the time we are in, with so much amazing TV, it’s simply not possible to fit everything in, even with a list of 20 shows.

  • Girls – A slight let down from season 1 perhaps, but still a solid season with great moments of humor, sadness, and lots and lots of awkwardness.
  • Sons of Anarchy – Season 6 was the best season of Sons since the high of season 2.  The show is finally being honest with itself about the characters that have outlived their useful life, which is setting up a fascinating seventh and final season.
  • Cougar Town – PENNY CAN!
  • The Americans – As seems to be a trend on FX shows, The Americans had a first season that did nothing but get stronger as it went along. This is a show that I fully expect will make my main list as the seasons progress.
  • The Walking Dead – I’m a little bit surprised TWD didn’t make the full list, but as I sat down and thought through my list, part one of season 4 was destroyed by the return of The Governor. The year (season 3 part two and season 4 part one) included many great episodes, but as an overarching story, was at times disappointing.

I’m sure there are a dozen other shows I’m leaving off, but I have to draw a line somewhere, right? It’s now time to move on to the full list, and as I mentioned above, Part I will discuss shows 20-11. Along with each show listed below, I’ll include what I believe is the strongest episode of the show that appeared in 2013.

20. The Bridge (Episode 111: Take the Ride, Pay the Toll)

Just as I was surprised that The Walking Dead didn’t make the full list, I was surprised The Bridge did actually make the full Top 20 list. But the thing is, The Bridge was a show that just got stronger as the season went along, and by the end of the season, it became a show I couldn’t wait to watch each Wednesday night. The performances by Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir are among the best on TV, with a partnership/friendship that is unlike most of the cop relationships seen on TV. With a change in show runners (Meredith Stiehm heading back to Homeland), I expect the show to take a creative leap forward, focusing more on the gritty, real world drama taking place on the US/Mexico border, and I can’t wait for season 2 next summer.

19. House of Cards (Episode 112: Chapter 12)

There is a great line from David O. Russell’s American Hustle in which Christian Bale says that you should always take a favor over money. That’s a great way to summarize the theme of House of Cards. Favors are the ultimate power. Money is short-sighted and ego driven. Having someone owe you is the ability to control them. That’s all Frank Underwood wants. Control. Amazing performances by Corey Stoll, Kristen Connolly, Robin Wright, and Kevin Spacey are what make this show well worth the $7.99 Netflix subscription.

18. Raising Hope (Episode 407: Murder, She Hoped)

As charming and beautiful as Shannon Woodward is, and as good as Lucas Neff often is on Raising Hope, this is a show that is dominated by Martha Plimpton and Garrett Dillahunt. Up until last weekend, I had a different episode (Burt Mitzvah) as my favorite of the year, but the hilarious Rear Window episode was too good to pass up. The wacky hijinks of this group always make for great laughs, but the show, like most Greg Garcia shows (My Name is Earl), give you so much heart and family warmth. This is a show that always makes you feel good about watching.  So, while this is a show likely on its last legs, let’s enjoy it while we’ve got it.

17. Game of Thrones (Episode 309: The Rains of Castemere)

Season 3 of Game of Thrones was such a strong step up from season 2 and probably even an improvement on the great, great season 1. The fact that this show is this low on the list is so surprising to me, and again, shows just how great a year of TV 2013 was. This is one of the shows I look forward to most each year, and the Sunday night combination of Mad Men and Game of Thrones is my favorite night of TV. Though I’m disappointed that we aren’t going to get the spin-off on the travels of Jamie Lannister and Brienne of Tarth, I couldn’t have been happier with how that, and all of the other stories (save for stupid Theon of course) played out over season 3.  I can’t wait for its return in the spring.

16. Veep (Episode 204: The Vic Allen Dinner)

There are not many comedies on my list this year (the lack of Community is a great sadness for me), but amongst the few that are on the list, Veep is without a doubt the funniest. Veep doesn’t go for the heart of Raising Hope, Cougar Town or Parks and Rec. It is just a 100% profanity laced, mean-spirited laugh riot. Julia Louis-Dreyfus had a great year on both TV and film, and is there a better/more annoying character on TV than Jonah (aka “Jolly Green Jizz-Face”)?

15. Broadchurch (Episode 107)

I wrote earlier this summer about all the police shows involving the death of young children, but despite the high volume of shows, some clearly stood above the others. Broadchurch was one such show. Broadchurch focused so much less on the crime itself, than on the effects of such a terrible tragedy (here, the death of an 8-year-old boy in a small British beach town). How would such a death impact a mother, a father, a sister, friends, family friends, and the town as a whole when it appears that there are no answers to this awfulness? And making it worse, there is a realization that no matter who killed young Danny, it’s someone close, it’s someone we all know…How does that change the landscape of a town forever, knowing a murderer is right next door?

14. Hannibal (Episode 113: Savoureux)

Even more so than Breaking Bad, Mad Men or Game of Thrones, Hannibal is without a doubt the best looking show on TV. It’s also masterfully written by Bryan Fuller and expertly acted by Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen. Hannibal is a dark and disturbing look into the world of the human mind and the evil that lurks inside. It looks at the beauty and art that an expert serial killer (and in this case, cannibal) brings to his crimes. For a show that is on network TV (NBC), it is disturbingly violent and beautifully graphic. But, unlike so many violent shows on TV today, there is a purpose and a vision behind every scene of violence portrayed. I couldn’t be happier to spend more time in this world, with NBC renewing it for a second season, despite it’s very NBC-like ratings.

13. Bob’s Burgers (Episode 315: OT: The Outside Toilet)

I feel like I don’t really need to say anything about Bob’s Burgers other than the fact that the show did an ET episode that had Jon Hamm as a talking toilet…I mean, what could I really say that would be more of an incentive to watch than that?

12. Masters of Sex (Episode 105: Catherine)

Without a doubt the highlight of the fall season, Masters of Sex is a new show that feels like it’s been around forever. It started with so much confidence and with so much assuredness of what it was and what it wanted to be. Michael Sheen and Lizzy Kaplan are the obvious stand outs here, but it is the smaller turns by Allison Janney and Caitlin Fitzgerald that are my personal favorite here. Maybe that’s unfair because Allison Janney is one of the very best at what she does, but I don’t care. It is always such a treat to see her appear on-screen, and she never, ever disappoints. The comparisons to Mad Men are not only unfair, but also unnecessary. Masters of Sex may be set in a period near Mad Men (50s as opposed to Mad Men’s 60s setting), but the fact that it handles the “look” of its time is where the comparisons need to stop. Masters of Sex stands just fine on its own two feet and was definitely the best new show this fall.

11. Parks and Recreation (Episode 514: Leslie and Ben)

The clip above is the perfect personification of why Parks and Rec, even six seasons in, remains one of the very best things on TV. In a 22 minute episode, Parks and Rec can give you so much. It is a common occurrence for this show to be able, in a single episode, to have you laughing, crying, and laughing so hard that you cry. The fact that Nick Offerman has never won ANY award, let alone even been nominated, is one of the bigger crimes of the Golden Age of Television. We need to cherish our Parks while we have it, because I suspect we are approaching the end of what will go down as an all time great TV sitcom.

So there we have it. That’s it for Part I of the 2013 Terriers Memorial List. Please be sure to check back in soon for Part II, where we will count down shows 10-6 of 2013.

-CJ

What to Watch: September 2013

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Each month here on YBTV, I am going to try to provide a list of things to watch out for (be it premieres, notable episodes, special events, whatever) in the month ahead. Now, September is obviously a very busy month because of the upcoming beginning of the Fall TV season, so this list is going to be tougher to narrow down to 10 than others (I also plan on writing up a list of the new shows I’m looking forward to in the next week or 2), but alas, I shall try. Counting down from 10 to 1, here we go:

10. Master’s of Sex (Showtime, Sunday, September 29 at 9 PM) — Showtime and I don’t necessarily have the greatest track record (see Homeland and Ray Donavan), but that is not to say they get everything wrong. Shameless is without a doubt one of my favorite shows, and like it’s lead Emmy Rossum, I expect much out of Lizzy Caplan here. But, she doesn’t have to do it all alone, throw in some Michael Sheen, and a intriguing story, and we hopefully have the makings of a solid show.

9. Parks and Recreation (NBC, Thursday, September 26 at 7 PM) — Though season 5 may not have ended on the high note we’ve come to expect for this show (it’s tough writing multiple finales in the same season, and the Ben/Leslie wedding episode was a perfect finale), that does not take away for the excitement of another year back in the Pawnee Parks and Rec department with these people who we love to watch.

8. S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC, Tuesday, September 24 at 7 PM) — How in the world is Agent Coulson still alive? That’s really all I want to know. Also, it’s Wheedon. So people like me are contractually obligated to watch (how I miss thee Firefly).

7. The 65th Annual Primetime Television Emmy Awards (CBS, Sunday, September 22 at 7 PM) — See, CBS made my list this month! Is this the year that Jon Hamm finally breaks through and wins that elusive Emmy?!?! No, probably not. But it’s possible. Season 5A of Breaking Bad was not as strong as the previous seasons with which Bryan Cranston has won and beat Mr. Hamm.

6. New Girl (FOX, Tuesday, September 17 at 8 PM) — Season 2 of New Girl was definitely not as popular ratings wise, but the show took a significant step forward creatively. The expansion of the focus of the show from Jess, to Jess, Nick and Schmidt (and Wintson, occasionally) was such a strong move for the show. It makes it a must watch on a weekly basis.

5. Sons of Anarchy (FX, Tuesday, September 10 at 9 PM) — I have a troubled history with this particular FX show. That history is mostly due to the occasionally frustrating writing decisions of Kurt Sutter and Co. (i.e., making implausible leaps of reality just because you enjoy working with your real life wife or you like the performance of Ron Pearlman) that are so often an annoyance with this show. But, the always solid performances of Charlie Hunnam, Mark Boone Junior, Kim Coates and Theo Rossi have kept me coming back season after season.

4. The League (FXX, Wednesday, September 4 at 930 PM) — Is there anything insightful to actually say about The League? I don’t think there is. I just enjoy watching the people on this show say and do really mean things to one another while discussing their fantasy football league (we also really need to do something about their 8 team league, that’s a joke).

3. Luther (BBC America, Tuesday, September 3 through Friday, September 6) — This 4 part series is going to run over 4 consecutive nights this week, which is just fine by me. Luther (like Sherlock) is best in small doses. But, here is all you really need to know is: Idris Elba. Ruth Wilson. John Luther. Alice Morgan.  The end.

2. Boardwalk Empire (HBO, Sunday, September 8 at  8 PM) — The season 4 premiere brings us some new additions which have had me excited since I heard the rumors. I’m a crazy big fan of the completely and totally underrated Jeffrey Wright, and always enjoy Ron Livingston (just saw him in “Drinking Buddies,” where he was excellent). For an HBO show with lots of “prestige” behind it (Scorcese as an exec producer and brought by a team from The Sopranos), this has always been an under watched and under appreciated show for HBO.  I will never understand why. It could be the slow burn of the first half of each season, but each and every time, it pays off so magically with some of the best closing stretches of episodes on TV. More people should watch and love this show.

1. Breaking Bad series finale (AMC, Sunday, September 29 at 8 PM) — This blog is named after Breaking Bad, and so far pretty much all we have been talking about is Breaking Bad. So I don’t feel like I need to explain how exciting this is for LJ and myself. It’s the series finale of one of the 5 or 6 greatest shows in television history. It needs to be watched and dissected by all.

-CJ