Ball’s a Droppin’

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Christmas specials get all the ballyhoo. I do appreciate the modern ‘hipster” Xmas specials; Annie’s sexual infantalization on Community,  for example. But, for the most part Christmas specials are garbage. The holiday made for TV movie is an assault on its viewer. Featuring a sad parade of former starts – Corky from Murphy Brown, Ed from Ed, lower tier Duff sisters, and Dean Cain. Poor George Wendt who has played Santa more times than Michael Sheen has been Tony Blair. I will go so far as to say every Christmas themed movie since Elf has been a hackneyed, maudlin, ornament of blech. I probably chose that timeline as it parallels the death of my own Christmas spirit. I’m sure to some impressionable tween, Jenny McCarthy as Santa’s daughter in Santa Baby, and of course Santa Baby 2: Christmas Maybe fills them with holiday cheer as much as Bert and Ernie’s serenade of Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed in the rain. Continue reading

Channel Surfing #4: My Week in TV – Gravity Falls, Sharon Van Etten, Reign

A quick collection of things that I’m finding fascinating, frustrating and fun on TV this past week. 

What’s happening on Gravity Falls?

Normally, when I do a round of Channel Surfing, I start by bemoaning that a once loved show has started showing signs of decay. This time I’m going to start by celebrating an already delightful show for steadily improving from its first season to its second. Gravity Falls is an animated series created by Alex Hirsch that airs on the Disney Channel (or Disney XD – the Disney conglomerate has a weird way of airing TV shows, sometimes months will go by without new episodes airing at all and sometimes an episode airs on one channel and then the next episode airs on the other – but I digress). Yes, it’s a kid’s show but it’s a kid’s show that has been heavily inspired by adult material: The Simpsons (most notably and obviously), Twin Peaks, The X-Files, old B-movies, among others. The show surrounds the Pines twins, Dipper and Mabel, who have come to stay with their old, bitter great-uncle, Grunkle Stan. Grunkle Stan owns and operates a tourist destination/hall of oddities called The Mystery Shack. You see, lots of very strange things happen in the town of Gravity Falls and Grunkle Stan intends to make a few bucks off of all the weirdness. The twins get thrown right into the thick of it, living and working at the Mystery Shack, solving mysteries, happening upon gnomes and monsters and clues and cyphers on an daily basis. The strangeness of Gravity Falls becomes a kind of new normal for the kids and they grow to love the town as much as they grow to love Stan. At the end of season one, they decide to stick around.

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The Truth is Not In Here: Memory on Serial and The Affair

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What if memory is a prison? When we think back, we are constantly tripping over our own perception of the truth and circling around what was. What if we are constantly trying to unlock a door that did not exist in the first place? The truth and memory are on two parallel roads. If they intersect it is a miracle. And maybe we don’t want them to.

(A note here about what’s below. I know this is a TV blog but you’ll forgive me for a moment while I discuss a podcast).

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Channel Surfing 3 – My Week in TV : Justified, Comedy Central’s Review, Music Videos and other odds and ends

A quick collection of things that I’m finding fascinating, frustrating and fun on TV this past week. 

What the heck happened to Justified?

When I think about Justified in its prime I think fondly back to season 2 when a shrewd Mags Bennett and her bumbling sons tried to expand their marijuana business with Raylan Givens breathing down their necks. Season 2 expanded on the world of Harlan County while also creating a central, overarching storyline that all but did away with the more standalone cases of Season 1. Season 2 felt fresh, exciting and created characters as rich and complicated as the central ones. By establishing a criminal family that had a history in the area as well as a past that crossed Raylan’s own, the show found a groove that it hasn’t found since.

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Sunday Boozy Sunday

I do miss it so. It was a weekly ritual. With appetites growing every week. I fully bought in. I would watch with a hearty high calorie meal. A dark whiskey to wash it all down. Mad Men in my bachelor apartment is not just a show but more of an event. We are making a meatloaf – that’s 2 hours towards the cause right there. Viewing the elite TV blogs they would have it be known that Mad Men has been on the slide for the past few years. Not to me. No siree jim bob dixie. Although to be fair to those with that opinion, I have fully bought into the sizzle. The style, the babes, the casual decadence of constant liquor and nicotine is pretty much all I need. They are like a sports team. Am I going to boo or not follow my teams just because they lose or play boring? Nuh uh. Go Joan Go! Sally Draper (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap-clap). So it really doesn’t matter much to me if the scripts are trite. I’m pretty pumped for Sunday’s season premiere. There will be a meal with gravy, there will be booing and hissing when Pete comes on-screen, and there will be bawdy locker room wisecracks when the lovely (and perhaps talented) Christina Hendricks bounces about as only her and perhaps the dark-haired Broke Girl can. Continue reading

Channel Surfing 2 – My Week in TV

Remote_Control,_Television_-_TV-controllerWhat the heck is happening on Homeland?

I am a fickle and high maintenance beast when it comes to television shows, it seems. When something is exciting and new I am all over it but when it gets a little stale I almost immediately stop caring. I demand my entertainment to be ever entertaining and constantly shifting. I never want a show to become predictable comfort food. But, at the same time, I rarely want a show I have come to love to become something altogether different from what it was when that love-affair began. I want the shiny new boyfriend and the husband that cooks and cleans all at the same time. And so, I am in a really, really weird spot with Homeland. I’m not receiving anything exciting and new from the show and it also isn’t, fundamentally, the show that I used to love anymore. Continue reading

Email Roundtable #24 – Corn on the Cob Edition

Corn_on_the_cobWelcome back to our weekly Roundtable, friends! We have been a bit slackerly over the  past few months with these Roundtables (it is summertime with vacations, the lake and other wonderful distractions that aren’t TV related, after all) but here we are, back at it.

Kerri: Katie thought it would be a good time to discuss summer TV past and present. So, I suppose we should start by discussing what some of our favorite summer shows have been over the years and what makes for a good summer show.

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Stuff to watch on Netflix this summer

Hot hot daySometimes it’s too darn hot to do stuff outside. On those occasions, there’s Netflix. Here are five of my recommendations if you find yourself ready and willing to plow through a season or two of TV this summer. All of these shows are available on Netflix Canada.

Justified

1. Justified
Availability: seasons 1 & 2 of 4
Type of show: Drama
Mood you should be in: Cheering for the good guy

Justified is a story about Federal Marshall Raylan Givens (played by Timothy Olyphant) and all the crooks and baddies that he has to chase and put away. It’s a fun, fast paced show with interesting characters, complex relationships and a lot (A LOT) of shooting. It is such fun summer watching because the plot is complicated enough to be interesting and light enough to not get to worked up about it. How does Raylan shoot so many people and get away with it? It’s all part of the fun of the show.

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