WHAT TO WATCH: MARCH 2014

ImageSo we are already a week and a half into March and I’m just now getting around to writing this post. That’s for various reasons. One of which includes the fact that there is simply not that much worth talking about in March. While April will bring us HBO comedies, Game of Thrones, and most importantly Mad Men, March has very little to offer in way of new content worth watching. But alas, the show must go on, so here’s a few things you might want to look for this month:

7. March Madness (CBS, TBS, TNT and TruTV, March 20): I don’t think I’ve watched a single second of NCAA basketball this season, but that doesn’t mean the tournament isn’t a worthwhile TV event. Mainly because, you know, when else can you see Duke basketball on TV?

6. Believe (NBC, March 10): Let’s just be totally honest here. This is a show I’m probably not going to watch. But there is some logic to it being included on this list. Executive Producer and Director of the pilot episode is none other than Academy Award winning director Alfonso Cuaron. The pilot is actually airing right now, as I sit here to write this, but I’m watching highlights from the Wizards/Heat game, so yeah, I’m not going to watch this show. But maybe I’ll just go watch Gravity again?

5. Crisis (NBC, March 16): Another NBC midseason show, and this one, I may actually watch (the pilot at least). The show has been described as being basically the same premise as Hostages (the incredibly short-lived CBS fall show) starring Dylan McDermott and Toni Collette, replacing those actors with the confusingly similar Durmot Mulroney and Gillian Anderson (I really wish Anderson would just stick around on Hannibal, where she is amazing). I have very low expectations for this show, but suspect I will at least watch the pilot, and likely nothing more.

4. Whose Line Is It Anyway (The CW, March 21): Aisha Tyler (Lana on Archer) replaced Drew Carey last fall on the return of Whose Line, and the show barely skipped a beat. I grew up watching the Drew Carey’s Whose Line (though I missed the British original), and was so happy to see it back. The CW ordering more episodes of Whose Line was great news, and if you weren’t watching last fall, I highly recommend taking 22 minutes every week to enjoy this fun, funny escape.

3. Bates Motel (A&E, March 9): I’m still working my way through season 1 of Bates Motel on Netflix. It’s a show I started watching live last spring, but got so far behind, I just gave up. I did hear (and now have seen some myself) that the show improved as it went along, so when it showed up on Netflix, I thought it might be a fun idea to try to catch up. And regardless of the storylines, and if it might bother you to see Psycho: The Prequel, the performances of Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore are as good as any on TV and show an incredibly strange look at the mother/son relationship. Interesting, creepy as hell, funny at times and appropriately scary, Bates Motel and the two lead performers in particular, are worth your time.

2. Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey (Just about every network on your TV, March 9): An update of the Carl Sagan PBS special from a couple decades ago, this version of Cosmos is hosted by current internet hero Neil deGrasse Tyson. I am a little too young to have a lot of exposure to the Carl Sagan original, but I couldn’t be more excited for this version. I am so intrigued by the science of our universe, but feel so under-educated about it. So take that subject which I am horribly interested in, and put it on my TV, something I am very educated in…What could be better?!

1. Psych Series Finale (USA, March 26): Eight seasons, more fun than you can shake a pineapple at. What is there to even say about bidding farewell to Psych? It’s never been the most important show of my TV calendar, but it’s always been one I’ve looked forward to, because of it’s fun, funny, often sweet and charming. The duo of Shawn and Gus is as good as any, it’s like a younger version of the Hank/Brit duo from Terriers. These last few episodes of Psych are something I’ll cherish, and I’ll be so sad to say goodbye. Thanks for the great fun Steve Franks and James Roday. It’s been a treat.

-CJ

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WHAT TO WATCH: JANUARY 2014

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After taking a couple of months off from this particular post, we are back, and with a vengeance. January is probably the highest quality month of premiering TV since the Mrs. and I started this little blog. It may not be as busy a month, by sheer number of shows premiering, as September, but boy, does it run deep with high, high quality programming. January includes 4 shows that have been discussed (or will be) in the 2013 Terriers Memorial List (look for Part III this weekend), and at least 2 other shows that have appeared on previous years lists (including a former number 1). Also included in January is a show that many people such as myself are prognosticating will be on our 2014 lists, as well as a network sitcom that critics who have seen the pilot, are actually quite enthusiastic about. This is all a very long winded way of saying I hope you enjoyed your holidays, because January does not mess around when it comes to TV watching.  It’s back to business people.

On to the list (which I couldn’t even get down to 10, I tried, I really did, but it’s just not possible this month):

11. Banshee (Cinemax–Jan. 10, 9 PM): Much like Strike Back, Banshee is a show that has no business being as good as it is. Hopefully there will come a time when people like me stop using that statement about Cinemax shows, and that time is probably now. I wouldn’t say Banshee is quite as good as Strike Back (mostly because it lacks the “fun” of Strike Back), but it’s pretty close. Cinemax did a couple new shows in 2013, Banshee and Hunted (also good, but because of a dispute with the UK co-producer, it will not be back in 2014), in an aim to keep the momentum of Strike Back going. Banshee is the story of a master thief who gets out of jail and goes looking for his former girlfriend and partner in a sleepy Pennsylvania, Amish-country town, where he actually takes the identity of the new sheriff (who conveniently, no one had met). Strong acting, sufficient story-telling, intriguing characters, solid acting and all the violence and gratuitous nudity you would expect from Cinemax.

10. Downton Abbey (PBS–Jan. 5, 8 PM): If there was one show I considered leaving off of this list, it would likely be Downton, but I found just enough room for it, and it is still a show I watch and occasionally enjoy, so here we are. Let me actually explain my reservations on Downton though. While it’s a beautifully crafted and expertly acted show, Julian Fellows too often relies on true soap opera tactics to create drama. Too much conflict on Downton is the end result of miscommunications, or eavesdropping, simply put, the right people not having the right information. Fellows hides behind the period for much of this. Think about the episode from season 3 when Lady Sybill died, and the disagreement between the doctors on the proper course of treatment. That was a miscommunication issue that led to the death of a major character. Too much of that goes on in Downton. That said, I’ll be watching come Sunday night.

9. Enlisted (FOX–Jan. 10, 830 PM): Enlisted is the only new network show on this list. As it is a brand new network show, I’ve not seen any of it and I know very little about it. What I do know is that many professional TV critics whose opinions I value have been at least fairly enthusiastic about this show since they first saw the pilot last summer. Enlisted was supposed to premiere in the fall, but FOX pushed it, and then threw it on Friday nights after Raising Hope. I may not be in the TV business, but even I know that’s not good. That doesn’t tell me the show isn’t good (or even great) though, it just tells me FOX doesn’t know how to sell it (much like Raising Hope or Ben and Kate). The general premise of the show is three very different brothers, all in the Army, are stationed at the same base, and presumably hijinks ensue! It most notably stars Piz from Veronica Mars (Chris Lowell), and I’m looking forward to seeing what FOX has here.

8. Psych (USA–Jan. 8, 8 PM): I don’t think Psych will ever be confused as an all time classic TV show, but not every show has to be. Some shows just need to be fun and funny, and Psych has that down cold. With an incredible cast with maybe the best chemistry on all of TV (including the greats), Psych just continues to make me laugh and provide so much joy.  In fact, Psych: The Musical, which aired in December, was simply one of the most fun experiences I had watching TV all year. That’s what Psych is here for. To give us fun, quirky comedy with hilarious nicknames and pop culture references, and I welcome it back to my TV. I suppose my only hope is, with her ABC sitcom failing, Maggie Lawson will come back on board if there are any more episodes.

7. Cougar Town (TBS–Jan. 7, 9 PM): The good people at Turner broadcasting know good network TV when they see it. After saving Southland many years ago, last year the 4th season of Cougar Town premiered on TBS after 3 seasons on ABC. The most telling thing about the first season on TBS was that nothing seemed to change. Cougar Town still felt like Cougar Town. That’s doubly impressive, because not only was there a network change, but creator/show runner Bill Lawernce also left prior to that 4th season. Smartly, TBS is bring the cul-de-sac crew for a season 5, and letting us spend more time with our favorite winos who refuse to work!

6. Girls (HBO–Jan. 12, 9 PM): The second season of Girls had some very impressive highs (One Man’s Trash), but also was a small let down in other areas. It felt sometimes that Lena Dunham was trying to do her very best Louis CK impression, having episodes ands story lines that didn’t fit with the over all narrative. But the reason that works for Louis CK is that he goes all in on it. There is no over all narrative. Ms. Dunham sometimes tried to have it both ways in season 2, which sometimes resulted in great success, but other times not. But whatever the show was, it was always interesting, thoughtful, beautifully written and well acted (and funny when it was trying to be, which was not all the time), so I’ll always be looking forward to more episodes of Girls. After all, Hannah Horvath is the voice of my generation.

5. Sherlock (PBS–Jan. 19, 9 PM): Welcome back to the Batch and Martin Freeman. After taking 2013 off, Sherlock is back on PBS with 3 new episodes. Without a doubt my favorite incarnation of the Sherlock Holmes story, and for my money, the best Sherlock and Watson ever. Everything is right about it. Cumberbatch nails the prickly demeanor of Sherlock Holmes, making him just the right amount of jerk, while giving us enough to understand the connection that Watson feels towards him. And, along those lines, this incarnation of Sherlock perfectly captures the homoeroticism of the friendship between Holmes and Watson. The chemistry between the actors is top notch. Any episodes we get of Sherlock (much like Luther) are a gift we should be thankful for!

4. Shameless (Showtime–Jan. 12, 8 PM): Sunday nights in January are going to be really tricky to manage! I spent a lot of words in the Terriers Memorial List explaining why you should be watching Shameless, so I won’t go on for too long here. What I will say is that I’m so happy to have Emmy Rossum back on my TV, and can’t wait to see what sort of hilarious and heartbreaking disasters the Gallagher family gets into this season. Please watch this show!

3. True Detective (HBO–Jan. 12, 8 PM): See what I mean about Sunday nights? I guess I should tell you what True Detective is first…Starring Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey (along with Michelle Monoghan), True Detective is a cop story set in New Orleans, and follows a 17 year murder investigation. From what I have heard from those who have seen episodes, it is about as good as it gets, and with that cast, is anyone surprised? I think this show also presents an interesting glimpse into what the future of TV may be. If this show goes on after this season, it will be with a whole new cast, and a whole new story, providing an opportunity for actors as impressive as the ones here to come in and do a season of TV. That’s something worth being excited about.

2. Justified (FX–Jan. 7, 9 PM): Simply one of the best things on TV, period. Olyphant, Goggins and crew have captured an environment and a world that is second to none. There are many that would argue the show has never hit the heights it did in the Margo Martindale centric season 2, but I am not including among those. While Mags Bennett was definitely the best “big bad” of a season Justified has done, the show has continued to impress with the work of Olyphant and Goggins. And, I can’t think of a single reason why that wouldn’t continue going into season 5. For a show that is as serious as Justified, it’s amazing just how much fun it so often is, and that is a tribute to Mr. Elmore Leonard, who created the character of Raylan Givens, and Graham Yost, creator and show runner. Performances that astound, dialogue that crackles and tension you can often cut with a knife, Justified is the most underrated show in the Golden Age of TV.

1. Community (NBC–Jan. 2, 8 PM): Welcome back Dan Harmon. After an interesting and strange 4th season, the show gets to return to its roots, with its creator and central voice, Mr Harmon, back in as show runner. Community has often been so great not because it was funny (which it often is), but because of everything else it does. Community is thoughtful, it’s often sad, and always contemplative. Harmon has something to say, and he uses these characters (specifically Danny Pudi’s, Abed) to show us his weird, little world. I cut season 4 and it’s substitute show runners more slack than most, because I recognized how difficult of a job they had. But that said, it’s so good to have Harmon back. I’m hearing that the early episodes return us to Harmon’s weird, little world in amazing fashion.

So there you have it. Happy New Year! I hope you got a shiny, new TV for Christmas, because you’re gonna need it!

-CJ

WHAT TO WATCH: FALL 2013 (LJ EDITION)

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So CJ claims each month he will be posting a list of “things to watch.”  I like his idea, but am going to put my own twist on it.  Below you will find a list of shows that I am most excited about watching this fall.  In other words, if you are exactly like me (which clearly everyone is), these are the shows you should be watching.  As you can tell, I possess a certain loyalty for returning shows, so unfortunately, my list is skewed a little against the new shows we will be seeing this fall.  This shouldn’t be taken to mean that I will not be watching any new programming over the next couple months.  If I am being honest, it just takes me a bit of time to jump onboard with anything new (consider this a character flaw).  Here we go:

10.  The X Factor (FOX, Wednesday, September 11 8:00PM) – I can already see CJ’s eyes rolling when he sees that The X Factor made my top 10 list.  Admittedly, I did not make it through Season 1 of The X Factor, but I vowed last year to give B. Spears my support and stuck it out.  And, you know what, I still find Mr. Simon Cowell amusing.  Plus, I have a huge girl crush on Demi Lovato (also, I should probably mention that my musical tastes match those of a 12 year old girl).  Now, unfortunately, Brittney is gone this year, but Demi and Simon remain.  I watch this show for the judges and not for the talent that is “discovered,” and I am excited to see what is in store with Kelly Rowland added to the panel.  I am cautiously optimistic. [Full disclosure, I watched last night’s premiere and I didn’t hate it.  I actually liked a lot.  Second episode is on tonight.  Set your DVRs.]

9.  Psych:  The Musical (USA, Sunday, December 15 9:00PM) – I know what you are thinking, what the heck is this?  Unfortunately, that means that you have not been watching the past seven seasons of Psych.  Let me tell you, you have been missing out.  This comedy is very clever and very witty.  Yes, it is pretty crazy at times, but it’s characters are incredibly loveable.  And, Dule Hill is, as always, amazing.  You have until December to get caught up.  Trust me, you will want to.

8.  Raising Hope (FOX, Friday, November 8 9:00PM) – We are now on Season 4 of Raising Hope and it has a new time slot.  I sincerely hope this is not the beginning of the end.  I feel like this show does not get enough credit.  Admittedly, I have been a skeptic.  But the fact of the matter is, this show is hilarious.  Yes, the characters are somewhat ridiculous, but this show has a lot of heart and I can guarantee that you will enjoy each and every episode.  Plus, Hope is so dang cute, how can you not love it??

7.  The Carrie Diaries (CW, Friday, October 25 8:00PM) – I will fully disclose that I was and am a huge Sex & The City fan.  I mean, I don’t have any t-shirts, but I will watch reruns pretty much anytime they are on.  Initially, I was skeptical about this show and it did take me until May to finish watching Season 1 on my DVR.  But, you know what, this show turned out pretty good.  AnnaSophia Robb is great and I am now a huge fan.  (Did you see her in The Way Way Back this summer??).  This is obviously a light-hearted show, but it is certainly entertaining and I am looking forward to Season 2 this fall.

6. Bob’s Burgers (FOX, Sunday, September 29 8:30PM) – If you haven’t ever watched Bob’s Burgers, then your life is a sad, sad place.  True statement.  And, this is coming from someone who doesn’t really like cartoons.  It is probably worth it to watch each episode just so that you can see the clever burger pun Bob has put on his restaurant chalkboard.  This show is clever and witty and undeniably funny.  Heck, Jon Hamm guest starred as a talking toilet last season.  That should be enough to convince you right there.

5.  Nashville (ABC, Wednesday, September 25 10:00PM) – As much as I didn’t want to like this show last year, I got roped in hard.  The beginning of the first season admittedly started out shaky, but mid-way through I was hooked. Yes, it is definitely soapy, but just accept the show for what it is and jump on board.  What became of Rayna and Deacon (we ended with the in a horrible car crash), is Peggy having Teddy’s baby, what will Scarlett’s answer be, will Jonathan Jackson’s hair still be most excellent?  All questions I need answers to.

4. New Girl (FOX, Tuesday, September 19 9:00PM) – Last season New Girl proved that even a “happy” couple can be funny.  This, of course, is no easy thing to accomplish and I hope that New Girl keeps it up this season.  We left last season with Nick and Jess agreeing to give couplehood a shot, while Schmidt was asked to chose between Cece and Elizabeth.  I can’t wait to see what this season has in store.  Also, extremely excited for Damon Waynes Jr. to return as Coach.

3. Arrow (CW, Wednesday, October 9 8:00PM) – Ranking my top three shows, was extremely difficult.  The amount of time I have spent thinking about it, is embarrassing.  Arrow’s first season was incredibly solid.  And, the finale was action packed.  I will not say how the season ended because that is how much I want you to watch the first season before October 9.  I am not kidding, DO IT.

2. Scandal (ABC, Thursday, October 3 8:00PM) – Kerry Washington, Scott Foley, and Joshua Malina.  That should be enough for you right there.  But, just in case it’s not, Olivia’s affair is now public and we know that Jake has been taking orders from Olivia’s dad.  What is going to happen next?  There is no way to predict.

1. The Walking Dead (AMC, Sunday, October 13 9:00PM) – Season 3 of this show was fantastic, especially the first half.  It fully solidified the fact that I love zombies.  I do.  Granted, I am actually afraid that the zombie apocalypse will happen (I know, I wish I was kidding…but it really could happen!) after watching this show, but that is just how good it is.  We left off with Rick and his gang admitting a bunch of Woodbury residents at the Prison, but the Governor is still out there.  And, I am very concerned about Daryl after all that happened with Merle at the end of last season.

What are y’all excited to watch?

-LJ

*Other shows considered:  The Blacklist, Parks & Recreation, Grey’s Anatomy, Homeland, 30 for 30, The Michael J. Fox Show, The Talking Dead, S.H.I.E.L.D., the 65th Annual Emmys.

**Times listed are for the East Coast.