A Cornucopia of TV Thanks

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In the spirit of giving thanks to all we are grateful for this weekend, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank television. That big black box that is always just a click away from filling the room with light, happiness and the comfort of all my favorite characters. It would be impossible to capture all the reasons I am thankful for TV so I narrowed it down to some moments I’m thankful for this week.

First, I am thankful for season 5 of Homeland. After slogging through seasons 3 and 4 I had almost given up on my onetime favorite show. The first two episodes of the 5th season of Homeland are not perfect, but they are promising. Homeland is at it’s best when it blows everything up (plot-wise) that came before it and starts fresh. Carrie is now a security consultant for a firm in Berlin who is looking to leak secret information from the CIA. Saul (conveniently) is assigned to stop this. While the first two episodes find amazing ways to add suspense and tension what really thrilled me is the relationship between Carrie and Saul. Where their relationship seemed contrived to fit the plot in season 4, Season 5 shows promise at bringing this relationship back to it’s foundation. The familiar look of love that flashes in Carries eyes when she sees Saul after desperately trying to “accidentally” run into him instantly brings us back to the bond that the show beautifully created for these two characters. Saul’s return impenetrable stare cuts down Carrie in an instant and watching Claire Danes work to gain composure back in Carrie’s face is breathtaking. I’m excited to see where this season and this relationship goes from here.

Project Runway is another show I’m thankful for. I’d argue it is the only reality show on television that leans 100% on the talent of its contestants. This week the designers were challenged to design an outfit for a member of the television crew that films the show. The drama comes when Tim Gun (the contestants mentor) erupts at Swapnil for his poorly designed garment. He expects more from Swapnil and more for the crew member wearing an unflattering smock of neoprene.

The first episode of season 5 of The Walking Dead was problematic for me. But since this is a blog of thanks I want to give a shout out to the return of Morgan! Morgan’s steady confidence is the perfect counterbalance to Rick’s growl-y messiah complex. The show seems to have no idea what to do with wannabee anti-hero Rick but paints Morgan with many fine strokes. Lennie James who plays Morgan should also be commended for his lived-in, nuanced portrayal.  The feigned bewilderment that Morgan gives Michonne when he asks if Michonne stole his energy bar made me cackle with laughter while being tense for Michonne’s safety. I’d follow Morgan over Rick into a Zombie Apocalypse any day!

Because Thanksgiving is a time for sharing I asked some others to weigh in on what they are thankful for on television. . .

Curtis Brown: 
At the risk of sounding like a troglodyte that doesn’t appreciate good storytelling and strong characters in scripted programs, I will say that I am most thankful for all of the sports on television around Thanksgiving. October is the best sports month! The NFL is in full swing, which means Sundays and Monday nights (and now Thursday nights too!) are spent binge-watching hour upon hour of football. Plus there is college football on Saturdays and the three-down CFL to give me my televised football fix. The baseball playoffs are also underway. Only insane people watch all 162 baseball games during the regular season, so the playoffs are the perfect time to get into America’s past time. And hockey! The NHL season got underway last week, which means it’s time to get reacquainted with Messrs. Ladd, Little, Schiefele, Byfuglien and the rest of the Winnipeg Jets after a three-month hiatus. And if three types of football, baseball and hockey isn’t enough, you can also get your fix from UEFA Champions League soccer (and domestic European leagues on Saturday and Sunday mornings) and the Rugby World Cup that’s currently underway in Wales.

If professional sports are truly the new opiate of the masses, October is overdose month!

Mike Bell:
I am thankful for TV because it makes me feel like I’m on the Starship Enterprise (metaphorically, not literally – let me be clear).  It helps me explore strange new worlds and seek out new life and civilizations. And most of all, it takes me to places where I’ve never gone before. I will always be thankful to TV for giving me this gift of “space travel”.

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