TV and Me: Where I'm At and Where I'm Going

TV and Me: Where I'm At and Where I'm GoingMy brother Ryan watches a lot of television. He'll frequently write me emails telling me which series he's digging and urging me to check out shows like Sons of Anarchy, The Walking Dead, Luther and Game of Thrones. If there's a critically acclaimed new show out there, he's watching...

I made a decision earlier in the year to stop starting television shows that are still in production. I broke that rule by watching Orange is the New Black, but I didn't like that show enough to continue. That means I'm just grandfathering in Mad Men and Breaking Bad, a couple of shows I'm up to date with and still thoroughly enjoying.

I sometimes think The Wire ruined me for television. I've started shows like The Walking Dead and Sons of Anarchy, but abandoned them early because I wasn't feeling it. I sometimes think I'm completely satisfied by live sports and good documentaries and films. I'm more than happy to supplement that with re-viewings of shows I adore. I'm currently making my way through Arrested Development for the fourth time and recently finished my third viewing of Curb Your Enthusiasm.

Right now the television world is crazy for Breaking Bad's final two episodes, and I'm right there with ya on Sunday nights. But eventually there will be huge buzz for the conclusion of shows I never bothered to pick up, like Homeland, Boardwalk Empire, The Americans or Shameless, and I'm well aware I'll be on the outside looking in. I'm okay with that.

Just give me my Leaf games, a good doc and the final episodes of Mad Men and I'm happy. When I want something rich and compelling, I'll watch The Wire again.


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Corey

You just described my television viewing to a tee. Right down to the shows. It's almost eerie. I watched The Wire based on your glowing reviews, and loved it. I'm working my way through Breaking Bad (just started Season 3), and rewatched Seasons 1-3 of Arrested Development as a refresher before watching the new Season 4. Beyond that it's MLB (occasionally) CFL, NHL and docs. I will admit to one diversion that I surprised myself by watching: Amazing Race Canada. I couldn't imagine how they were going to pull off an entire series in just Canada, but they did. I'd either forgotten about, or hadn't fully appreciated the speculation and diverse geography this country has to offer. Wife and I really enjoyed watching it together.

Mike, how'd you like Season 4 of Arrested Development? I'm only 3 episodes in, but something feels "off" about it. I haven't expierienxed a single LOL moment like I did with some of the earlier episodes.

September 19, 2013 @ 6:22 PM

Corey

Whoops. Previous comment: speculation = spectacular. Autocorrect I guess.

September 19, 2013 @ 6:24 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Corey

Still on season two making my way through 3 before diving into the new season 4 of Arrested Development... had to help my wife catch up first!

September 19, 2013 @ 6:57 PM

Rosie

Homeland and Boardwalk Empire are excellent. Get on board. One of your fave Wire actors is absolutely amazing in Boardwalk.

September 19, 2013 @ 6:58 PM

CQ

I wish that I could find anyone else who watches the completely different TV programs that I avidly follow.
Like Sea Hunt. In this morning's episode, the hero in swimming trunks is standing next to a lookalike crook (the same actor in a split-screen effect). The woman then embraces him, kisses him, and then states that their IS a difference between the two identical men. Who expects "a package joke" out of a 1959 series?
Or take yesterday as I channel surfed across Betty White's Life with Elizabeth sketch-com series. It was from approximately 1952. (She was a slender dark-haired cutie, btw.) Her and the other main character are lightly bickering and then start discussing 'when she is 95...'.
There was also that 1963 Toronto episode of Route 66 during Sunday overnight. Jessica Walter of Arrested Development, btw, was the guest starring lead amongst the five young women.

Great old TV is even more lousy for sharing as is classic mystery fiction. As if I'd found anyone else who's read material from Eric Ambler and Cornell Woolrich (my last two reads).

September 19, 2013 @ 6:58 PM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Rosie

Let me know when Boardwalk Empire wraps up for good and I might dive in.

September 19, 2013 @ 6:59 PM

Rosie

Chalky White. Michael K. Williams. Soooo good. And who doesn't love Steve Buscemi.

I will try to let you know. In the meantime I can't promise I won't spoil anything.

September 19, 2013 @ 7:02 PM

Anon&on

I hadn't experienced any series tv for many years until I got Netflix (ditched cable many years ago, ditched my tv a year ago). Now I've been sucked into a bunch of series, but nothing seems to sustain past 3 seasons. Breaking Bad, Walking Dead, Lost, Weeds, Dexter- all fell off after 2-3.5 seasons. Walking Dead was terrible last season, the zombie angle died 1.5 seasons ago. Breaking Bad got silly in the later 3rd season, as did Weeds. Can't believe I was sucked in.

The one series I did enjoy completely was The Killing. 2 seasons, all on Netflix for a binge, and the story ended. Since I have not seen a detective drama for many years, it was very fresh and original to me. I don't know how it stacks up against the best of them but 2 seasons was just right.

September 19, 2013 @ 7:51 PM

Rosie

Anon&on I felt the same about Weeds. I was so into it, then it lost me after the third season I think. And I was obsessed with Lost, but by the end it was ridiculous!

The second season of the Newsroom was incredible. Jane Fonda is magic! It had such a feeling of a series finale, everything was tied up. I kind of hope it is finished, because what a way to go out on a high note.

September 19, 2013 @ 7:59 PM

Corey

@Anon&on,

Totally agree with you re: Dexter. I'm hoping I won't agree with you about Breaking Bad.

The most egregious example of a series plummeting in my books has to be "The Following" with Kevin Bacon. Looked really promising, and then descended so fast into ridiculous, near farce. I don't think I lasted through 6 episodes.

September 19, 2013 @ 8:07 PM

McNulty

There's not much broadcast TV I like.

Sons of Anarchy is good but I'm behind on it.

Dexter got boring. Boardwalk Empire doesn't do it for me. Haven't seen Homeland. House of Cards is entertaining.

Once Breaking Bad is gone. I'll feel empty. Everything pales in comparison. It is right up beside The Wire.

September 19, 2013 @ 11:11 PM

Rosie

I have to finish watching House of Lies. Was quite into it but then it disappeared from on demand and I forgot about it. Also a really well written comedy worth checking out is Episodes. Great actors, quick pace and so funny. If you worked in production or just find that kind of stuff entertaining you will enjoy it. The fact that Matt LeBlanc plays himself really makes it, and he is great in this, perfect comic timing.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1582350/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl

September 19, 2013 @ 11:24 PM

Douglas

I've been blitz-watching "Homeland" for the past couple of weeks. I'll finish season two tonight or tomorrow. I doubt I would be enjoying the show as much if I had to watch it in broadcast schedule form. The forced breaks between episodes, given how fast-paced and plot-twisted some of them can be, would drive me nuts - or away from the show. Next up for me is the British series "Broadchurch".

September 20, 2013 @ 8:36 AM

Ben Vidal

@ Rosie: Episodes is terrible. It's unfunny and not even remotely captivating. What's his face from Friends ruins it, I don't know how you find him funny. I normally have a wide open mind to all sorts of humor and Episodes doesn't even pass the sniff test. It's so overrated; to the point where I would liken it's overrated level to that of MAD MEN(which is god awful).

Newsroom was amazing this season. I agree the way it ended it felt like a series finale. The last episode left me feeling good about things in life. I don't know whether it was the last song they played over top of what was happening or the routes all the characters took. Jeff Daniels is superb.

Weeds. First season amazing. 2nd season great. 3rd season good. Then everything after that was a complete let down.

Boardwalk empire. Is phenomenal. Unfortunately I watched the first two seasons and felt like mike does about most shows. That I would wait till more seasons are done and then watch it back to back.

September 20, 2013 @ 8:47 AM

Ryan G

It is amazing how we have the ability to adapt to vastly different TV universes. When a few of my faves are on back to back, say on Sunday nights, I find I need time to acclimatize to each one by re-watching a previous episode or just doing a mental warm up prior to watching. Game of Thrones in particular is dizzying.

Generally I'll pvr shows, particularly Breaking Bad since there are commercials on AMC. So, my Sunday evening is prime-effin-time, usually starting with GOT, followed by BB and then Boardwalk Empire. Initially I wasn't a huge fan of Boardwalk, and thought Buscemi's acting was quite weak, but it grew on me, especially last season with that psycho Gyp Rosetti character. And episode 1 of this season was unbelievably good.

And like many of you, I do not watch network television, save for sports and SNL here and there. Discovery is usually good, but I recently noticed even they are programming staged reality shite now too.

Overall I do notice how my consumption of news and entertainment is shifting. I used to wake up in the morning on put on cp24 or BT to get headlines, weather,etc, but I can't take the inane morning show hosts. A couple of times I found myself yelling at the TV..that's when I knew it was time to turn it off. So now when I wake up, I quickly check Reddit which often has breaking news faster than so called traditional media. But i'll also glance thestar.com and cnn.com.

The times..they are a changin..

September 20, 2013 @ 9:08 AM

Speysidephil

@Anon&on
Totally agree with you re:The Killing. Just starting on season 2.
I understand that Season 3 is being shot now due to overwhelming demand.

September 20, 2013 @ 9:27 AM

Alison in Ottawa

Season 3 of the Killng has already aired on AMC...not sure when it will show up on Netflix.

I have stuck with Dexter even though I think it has gone downhill..I am curious to see how they will end it. BB is right up there with The Wire for me, I maybe even like it better than The Wire (don't hate me Mike).

I would like to add that I love Downton Abbey, but I'm sure that I may be alone on this blog in my love of that show...

The only network show that is can't miss for me is The Good Wife. The season finale of Newsroom was great, could easily be a series finale but I am hoping for more. I thought I had heard it is coming back foir a 3rd season...

Chalky White is my favourite character on Boardwalk Empire, I thinks its a really good show but not great...

I think I watch too much TV based on this comment, yikes!

September 20, 2013 @ 10:01 AM

Rosie

Ben. I felt exactly the same watching the final episode of the Newsroom. The song DEFINITELY had something to do with it. made my stomach flip. He uses music brilliantly. Jeff Daniels deserves the Emmy for this role hands down, although it will probably go to Jon Hamm.

I am surprised you didn't like Episodes! It actually made me laugh out loud. It was the first time a 'Friend' funny, I never watched Friends. This is what happened to me with Extras, I thought it was hysterical and everyone kept telling me, mmm, not so much.

Am going to attack Downton Abbey in its entirety. It is completely my type of show but haven't had the time. Also storing Broadchurch on the PVR.

September 20, 2013 @ 10:37 AM

Toronto Mike Verified as the defacto Toronto Mike

@Rosie

Jeff Daniels and Jon Hamm deserve to lose to Bryan Cranston, IMHO.

September 20, 2013 @ 10:42 AM

Rosie

Sorry meant to say, first time I found a 'Friend' funny.

Also, Bobby Cannavale was genius as Gyp Rosetti. I have loved that actor since he was Will's boyfriend on Will & Grace! So unique. He was also amazing in Nurse Jackie, another show I LOVE although also starting to weaken as the seasons progress.

I also don't watch TV in the mornings anymore. It is awful. I get my news from the web, and I still subscribe to an actual paper, because I love the ritual of opening the door and picking it up.

September 20, 2013 @ 10:42 AM

Argie

I hate to publicly admit this but here it goes: I like Downton Abbey. As an aside, I always find it amusing when people refer to it as "Downtown Abbey" but yes, its terrific. Great acting, well written gripping. All good!

September 20, 2013 @ 10:46 AM

Rosie

actually probably Damian Lewis. He is really advanced in Homeland. He is also a gorgeous man. All men should try to look like him :)

September 20, 2013 @ 10:46 AM

Anon&on

@all
Weeds was great for music and music discovery, I got so much out of the soundtrack ( for the first 3-4 seasons) and added a lot of tunes/artists to my regular listening. I can't think of another tv series that used music so smartly. Orange Is The New Black has a bit of that same appeal with well placed music.

The 3rd season of The Killing is on iTunes too. It tries to be... but it isn't quite the same. I think I cut it some slack because I liked the 1&2 series so much. I'm disappointed in the subject matter they went with.

My theory is that new show concepts probably have enough initial idea and inspiration to last 2 seasons. After that, they are building onto the original concept, trying to recreate and recapture the original inspiration.

September 20, 2013 @ 8:54 PM

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