Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Test Pattern #1

For over a year, I have been writing my brief weekly reviews of the films I have watched in the previous week. Admittedly, I am a film junkie, but sometimes my film-watching habits get derailed by another related pastime: TV. After this week, I will probably return to my usual format, but every once in a while, I would like to share my other viewing activities.

There are a couple shows that I watch as the episodes air on television, but many others that are consumed in giant chunks via DVD. I really don't think that I actually got a chance to watch a real film this past week, and I primarily chalk that up to my Mad Men obsession (my roommate and I watched 7 episodes on Sunday). Here are the series that I have enjoyed in the past months:

Breaking Bad (Season 1) - A high school chemistry teacher realizes that he has cancer and potentially has only a couple more years to live. He is worried about leaving his family with enough money to survive and begins to look for an easy way to make some more cash. The answer: making meth with one of his former students.

Flight of the Conchords (Season 2) - Honestly, the first half of the first season of this show will probably always be the best, but I enjoy watching Bret and Jemaine be hipsters around New York. Supporting actors get to contribute a lot more to the songs this time around (to mixed success). I think the episode about Bret buying a new cup is a highlight. Silly and at 20 minutes a sitting, why not give in?

Friday Night Lights (Season 3) - This is the show that I am probably most embarrassed to admit watching to other people. However, I will easily stand by the opinion that the first season is really good. A football game probably does happen every episode, but takes up 5 minutes out of 45. And yes, the actors playing the high school students are all in their 20s and ridiculously attractive. That being said, production-wise, this show looks great. Story wise, it's more about life in a small town--regular drama, racism, sexism, community, etc. The second season took some unbelievable/cheesy turns, but I cannot say the same for this third season; if anything it is a return to form. By now, I have quite a bit invested in these characters and it was hard to hold back the tears some episodes...it is a show that I wish some people would give a chance.

Mad Men (Season 2) - Still continuing the stylish loose storylines of the first season... I love the clothes, I love the characters, and I even love how the show makes drinking and smoking look so appealing. As the audience, we still don't know much about Don Draper's secret life, and things are shaking up in the office. Peggy is learning how to deal with the boys' club and we see a less bitchy side of Joan on the occasion (all though I love her sass). I think if people have any complaints about this show, it's that it can seem like not much happens plot wise...I think it's deliberately paced and enough to grab onto, and really, such a great piece of television.

the Office (Season 5) - A popular favorite, and one of the only shows I watch when it airs. Season 5 has its moments, but ever since Jim and Pam have gotten together, I think a lot of the tension this show thrives on is missing. The side plot around Michael Scott's Paper Company made for some laughs, but ultimately seemed a bit like filler. I like what's (not) going on with Holly, and I appreciated the presence of Charles Minor for his brief tenure as the straight-man. I'm still looking forward to watching season 6, but I think it's possible that the show has already passed its peak.

30 Rock (Seasons 1,2, & 3) - I just started watching 30 Rock this year, originally because it comes on directly after the Office, but now it makes me laugh more consistently than the other show. I caught up with the first two seasons online. There is really no point in summarizing the plot or storylines of this show...really, you just need to see how Kenneth views the world in Muppets. If that doesn't make you crack up, then there probably isn't much here for you.

Transgeneration - This was a Sundance channel documentary series that aired a few years ago. It follows four college students that are identified as transgendered, and observes their process of taking hormones, or prepping for sex reassignment surgery, and probably most fascinating--coping with being in college, dealing with family, making friends in a society still mostly afraid or hostile to their presence.

True Blood (Season 1) - Vampires are now a part of society, fighting for their rights, and living mixed in among humans. Sookie Stackhouse is a waitress who falls in love with Bill, a 200+ year -old vampire. Not all vampires are interested in conforming, and many are scapegoated for murders and violent crimes. During the first season, a series of murders takes place in Bon Temps, Louisiana. I love the campiness of this show, and the Southern Gothic element. The magical stuff, and the feeling that nearly every one in this town has supernatural powers, at times puts me off, but ultimately I couldn't watch this season fast enough. I'm in the middle of the second season now, and while I still enjoy it, something seems off, but I'm reserving complete judgment until the end.

Twin Peaks (Season 1 & 2) - Classic David Lynch creepiness combined with humor, visual dreamlike sequences, characters to attach to, and a decent murder mystery that jumps the rails sometime during the first season. Laura Palmer was a 17 year-old homecoming queen, murdered at the outset of the show. Special Agent Dale Cooper is brought in to solve her case, as the local police department might have 3 employees. Even though it's clear that the show gets super weird while David Lynch was away filming Wild at Heart during the second season, it shouldn't feel like an abrupt change considering how bizarro this show gets on a regular basis...you just have to go with it. I loved it, but could not stop being amazed that this ever actually aired on prime time network television.


Pete said...

um what about chopped hello

nora said...

i'm so jealous you get to watch season 2 of true blood...
and I am foaming for season 3 of mad men...

Yinger Yanger said...

I love that you reviewing TV now. I heard a lot of great things about Mad Men, definitely feeling True Blood. Keep up the posts.