WHAT TO WATCH: JULY 2014

<p>The Bridge</p>

I suppose we have to start out with a bit of an apology. There was no June post. Partly because of laziness, Partly because my wife and I are forced to have real jobs. Unfortunately, there was quite a bit of good stuff in June, some of which, I will touch on briefly at the top of this list.

July is a summer month, with not necessarily a ton going on. However, many of the things that are coming, are among some of the shows I’ve been looking forward to most this year. That said, let’s go ahead and get on to the list:

10. True Blood (HBO, June 22) — Here we have one of the shows that kicked off in June that I missed. And look, here’s the thing, I’m not here to argue that True Blood is, or necessarily ever was, great television. But it’s the final season. And I’ve held on this long, so I might as well finish it out. If the show was all about Jessica, Eric and Pam, throwing in some occasional Jason Stackhouse, it would be one of the greatest of all time. Alas, it does not do so. Instead, it is one of the most ridiculously confusing and overly large casts and over plotted shows in the history of the world. But we do still have some Jessica, Eric and Pam. And that makes it all worth it.

9. The Leftovers (HBO, June 29) — Having seen the premiere of The Leftovers, my excitement has been totally confirmed. It has all the best of Lindelof, and hopefully, far fewer idiot fans than LOST had. This show is set around a central mystery, but with a twist. From the start, it is made clear that there will never be an answer to the mystery. Maybe that’s what LOST should have done. Maybe that’s what it would have taken to convince people it was a show about character, not mystery.

8. Rectify (Sundance, June 19) — One of YBTV’s top shows from last year returns this summer. We’ve not watched either of the episodes that have aired yet. This feels to us generally like a show that is best taken in chunks (also, we were on vacation when it started, so that didn’t help). The continuation of the story of Daniel Holden and his view of freedom is something I’ve been looking forward to all year long, and I’m so happy to have it back.

7. Penn & Teller: Fool Us (The CW, July 30) — Everyone’s favorite magicians have a reality show or two, and this is one of them. The duo sets out to have people amaze and confound them, and since the show has already aired in other parts of the world, we have the buzz that the show winds up doing just that to the viewer. I’m a big fan of this duo, and can’t wait to look in on the surprises they have in store.

6. Manhattan (WGN, July 27) — WGN’s second attempt at original programming. The first one came and went with little fanfare. Honestly, I can’t even remember what it was about. I want to say there were vampires involved? That could be wrong. Witches maybe? This one, centered around the development of the nuclear bomb in 1950s New Mexico, I’ve actually heard positive feedback about. Also, the trailer does it’s job of making the show at least seem worth giving a shot. So, it being the summer and all, why not, right? Maybe…

5. The Honorable Woman (Sundance, July 31) — Maggie Gyllenhaal does TV for the network that has given us Rectify, Top of the Lake and The Returned. I don’t really know what the show is about, but the description I just provided is more than enough for me to give it a look.

4. Married (FX, July 27) — Again, a show I don’t necessarily know a ton about, other than the fact that I’ve seen endless promotion for it on other FX programs. But this one stars two of my personal favorites, Academy Award Winner Nat Faxon and Judy Greer as a married couple. I’m guessing hijinks ensue…Let’s do it!

3. The Strain (FX, July 13) — Finally…We get to see the Carlton Cuse project based on the novels by Guillermo del Toro. Any dork such as myself needs no more information than that. Just none. It’s another post apocalyptic show of sorts. But with the talent involved here, there’s no reason not to think it will rise above much of the other similar fare on TV and in film.

2. The Bridge (FX, July 9) — Seriously, FX is just crushing it this summer. The return for season 2 of a show that made the end of year list for YBTV last year, starring Diane Kruger and Demian Bichir, The Bridge started out promising, but with flaws, but by the close of the season, had found a great groove. Like many people who enjoyed season 1, my hope is that season 2 gets stronger by accepting that it is a “weird” show, and moving beyond typical police storylines. There’s a great story to be told here about the US/Mexico border, and The Bridge is just that show to do it.

1. Master’s of Sex (Showtime, July 13) — Sunday nights this summer are going to be as good as almost any Sunday nights in recent memory. You would hope that during the summer, you would get a break from the stressful Sunday nights which include Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Boardwalk, Game of Thrones, Veep, Girls, etc, etc…But not this summer. We have Master’s of Sex, The Leftovers and The Strain. That sounds pretty great to me. Master’s returns for its second season with as much confidence as any show on TV, both in front of and behind the camera. Sheen and Caplan are dynamic and the supporting cast is as good as almost any on TV. We are truly being spoiled on Sunday nights this summer.

-CJ

RECTIFY UPDATE: BACK IN JUNE

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One of the best shows in 2013 was without a doubt Rectify (Sundance channel).  It made it into the top 10 of both CJ’s and my best of 2013 lists.  We have known that Rectify would comeback for a second season, but Sundance TV just announced that Rectify will return on Thursday, June 19th at 9 p.m.

Rectify (at least the first season) focuses on the life of former death row inmate Daniel Holden (Aden Young–who had one of the best performances in all of TV last year).  Daniel is newly released from prison and is attempting to reintegrate back into life after being gone for almost 20 years.  However, both his community and parts of his family aren’t necessarily welcoming Daniel back with open arms.

In addition to watching Daniel trying to find his way and his place, there is an underlying story about the crime Daniel was sent to prison for (namely, the murder and rape of a fellow teenage girl).  It’s entirely possible that Daniel did commit the crime, but there are also clues that Daniel may have been a scapegoat for some other bad dudes.

Personally, we can’t wait!  Watch season 1 and get caught up before June!

-LJ & CJ

*It looks like you can purchase the first season through Amazon.  Sundance is pretty good about getting their stuff up on Netflix though, so season 1 may become available at some point.

Update:  Season 1 is available on Netflix now.  Start watching.  You have until June.  Also, it looks like we are getting a 10 episode season 2 (season 1 was only 6 episodes).

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.

Broadchurch

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.

Darkness on the Edge of Town

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.

Veep

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.

Episode 101

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 II

As promised, here is Part II of the 2013 Terriers Memorial list, where we will look at my top 10-6 shows of 2013. This year has been oddly defined by new shows. Sure, the likes of Breaking Bad and Mad Men remain here to set the bar high, but unlike most years, there was a surprising number of new, great shows. My guess is that this has to do with the sheer number of outlets for storytellers. Even as recently as 10 years ago, the options were so limited. You either had to come up with 22 hours of story for a network, or you had to convince HBO that you belonged. That’s simply no longer the case. The outlets available are basically infinite. Not only that, but we are also no longer limited by geographical borders. We are getting shows from the UK, from France, New Zealand, all over, only making the TV experience that much greater!

Moving on to the list, and coincidentally enough, we start with an import from the UK.

10. Luther (Episode #3.4)

Picking a favorite episode of the 4 episodes series 3 of Luther was very challenging. As I watched the third entry of this 3rd series, I was astonished with how good the episode was. It was probably my favorite episode of the show to date. But, one thing kept creeping in the back of my mind. As much as I loved that episode, and has heartbroken as I was watching it, I still knew that Alice Morgan was coming back, and there was only one episode left. The genius of Luther has never been the crimes Luther has been working to solve. It’s always been completely and totally dominated by Idris Elba and Ruth Wilson (BTW – I just saw Ruth Wilson in “Saving Mr. Banks,” where she was also exceptional). The complicated relationship between John Luther and Alice Morgan was what made this show pop back in the beginning, and the absence of Ruth Wilson was always so obvious. Luther and Alice are two sides of the same coin. Both broken, both willing to do whatever it takes, but one as an officer of the law, and the other as a murderer. However, their connection was always undeniable, and the resolution of their story in this 3rd series did not disappoint. I really hope we get more Luther in the future.

9. Orange is the New Black (Episode 105: The Chickening)

The second Netflix original show to make the 2013 Terriers Memorial list, Orange is the New Black was one of the best new shows this year. What makes it so wonderful is a truly diverse and well used cast of characters, with no one being wasted. OitNB was a show that started out and appeared as if it would just the Piper Chapman story. A story about a 30 something, hipster, white woman from Brooklyn who was being taken out of her comfortable, happy life, to serve prison time for a crime she committed a decade ago. Had that remained the show, it likely would have been good, but certainly not this great. The show took that step up to greatness just a few episodes in where the show became a true ensemble, telling individual stories in a LOST-like flashback way about the group Piper was encountering in prison. But while doing so, telling an overall story arc about life in this medium security prison. At times the show was hysterically funny, at others, it could have you in tears, OitNB is without a doubt the strongest of the Netflix lineup and will get plenty of recognition come awards time!

8. Shameless (Episode 307: A Long Way From Home)

Emmy Rossum is simply the most overlooked actor on TV today. There is nothing she can’t do, and every time she is on screen (which, on Shameless, is almost always), she lights it on fire. Fiona fights tooth and nail, every day, to support her siblings in every way she can. There is really no more telling example than the video above. Fiona does what she has to do to make sure her younger brothers and sister not have to deal with the terrifying upbringing from their father that she did. She gets them off to school every day, knowing that they, unlike her, must graduate high school and move on to better things, and get themselves out of the terrible south side of Chicago existence they live in. To do so, she works whatever jobs she can get to pay the bills, always, always putting her siblings first, and never once thinking of herself. It’s a tour de force performance, that will hopefully one day be recognized, because she is as deserving as anyone, and certainly more than most.

7. Rectify (Episode 105: Drip, Drip)

Rectify is the only Sundance show on to make my list this year, but it is far from the only one worth recognition. Sundance jumped into the original programming scene this year in grand fashion, with Top of the Lake, Rectify and The Returned. Rectify is the story of a man who has spent the last 18 years on death row for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. After some new evidence comes to light, he is released into a world he doesn’t know or understand. He comes home to a family who is not quite sure what to think of him and has no real place in it. He finds that, after 18 years, life has to go on for his family and friends. There would have been so many ways for this show to go wrong, none more so than in the lead performance. Had someone other than Aden Young been chosen for this role, there is such a large chance that it would have been a “big” performance. Instead, Young (as well as his sister, played by Abigail Spencer, and particularly his step-sister-in-law played by Adelaide Clemens) gives an amazingly quiet, nuanced, subtle performance that provides far more questions than answers. Daniel Holden likely does not even know the answers to many of those questions. Can he survive in this world? Can he be redeemed for his acts? Does he even deserve redemption? Those are some of the questions we began to look into in this first season, and hopefully we will continue to explore them going forward.

6. Southland (Episode 510: Reckoning)

TNT’s Southland finished up its final season in grand fashion. A show that was never supposed to make it passed season 1, somehow found new life on TNT, and wound up lasting for 5 incredible seasons. As a matter of fact, it was likely the move to TNT that made it a great show. It forced the show to tighten its view point, and shrink its cast to focus on its very best characters. The relationship between Ben and Cooper, and then later Ben and Sammy are what made Southland great. This final season focused a great deal on Officer John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz), his personal life and his future. The wear and tear being a beat cop has put on Cooper is starting to catch up with him, and seeing what this life has done to his mentor (played by Gerald McRaney) makes him fear what is to come. The final 5 minutes of Southland (included in the link above) are among the most haunting and depressing that you will find on TV. But, that is always what made Southland great. It was a show that was never afraid to do the realistic thing, no matter how dark it might be. Southland, you will be missed.

So there you have it, my shows 10-6. Stay tuned for the epic conclusion of the 2013 Terriers Memorial List, where we will count down shows 5-1 for 2013!

-CJ