Wednesday, 1 January 2014

On the 8th Day of Christmas...

...this blogger gave to thee...
...eight reels of telly...
...seven shoes to choose from...
...six party dresses...
...five gold rings!..
...four fancy fish...
...three granulations...
...two bits of wood...
...and a calendar made of tea.


Happy New Year everyone! It's 2014 and still no hover boards.

So normally on the eighth day of Christmas, I would share with you eight New Years Resolutions/Wishes, none of which I ever really manage to get to work and are more or less the same every year. Every year they're based on trying to get myself happier, trying to get back in touch with friends and try and get myself working creatively again.

Those resolutions are still there, I still want all of those things, but saying them aloud and hoping three hundred and sixty-five days from now I'll be in a better situation, is generally fool hardy. If I am, great. If I'm not, well, life will still go on.

Therefore, instead of silly resolutions, I'm giving you TV. Everyone loves TV. I do. Way too much. But I have a bad habit of mainlining whole series in the space of days/weeks instead of watching the reality twaddle that's on at the time. For example, I have a yearly ritual, towards the end of the year, where I watch The West Wing, in its entirety. Seven series of brilliance, which I never get tired of watching. It's a comforting old friend which still breaks my heart, makes me laugh and reveals new things to me.

I know people frown upon telly watching. But I don't. So here are eight TV series I love, some which are still on air, some which ran their course and other cut short by the networks, and all of which, if you're looking for a new series to try I would recommend, starting with Aaron Sorkins latest offering...

 After The West Wing, Aaron Sorkin produced a series called Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip, it starred Matthew Perry, Bradley Whitford and Amanda Peet and focused on the backstage antics of a live comedy show. It was cancelled after one series. Five years almost to the day, The Newsroom was released, starring Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer, and focuses this time on the backstage antics of a newsroom. Sounds almost too familiar, however, Daniels' acerbic reporter and his discomfort at his ex-girlfriend Mortimer coming in to shake up the dwindling show as they are faced with the death of Osama Bin Laden, the B.P. Oil Spill and phone hacking, has all the hallmarks of Sorkin. Funny, idealistic, romantic, political, fast paced and now cemented its place in my annual Sorkin-fest.
Community is a Dan Harmon comedy based around the students of a community college, who are thrown together as a Spanish study group because ex-lawyer Jeff (who has returned to college having been disbarred for faking his bachelors degree) wants to get into activist Britta's knickers. Instead Jeff (Joel McHale) is stuck with a religious-housewife (Yvette Nicole Brown), a compulsive-perfectionist (Alison Brie), an ex-jock (Donald Glover), a failed activist (Gillian Jacobs), a robotic film maker (Dani Purdi) and offensive heir to a wet wipe dynasty (Chevy Chase). The reason this show is great, is it's complete acceptance and ability to poke fun at the traditional clich├ęs of television and film. Whole episodes are meta, characters breaking the fourth wall and has gained cult following. I was hooks immediately but the paint ball episodes made it stick.
Space, cowboys and Joss Whedon, isn't that enough? 
Not for Fox, who cancelled Firefly after one fourteen episode season. Unfortunately for the space western when it was originally aired, ratings were so low that the salvage vessel, fire-fly class, Serenity, commanded by Mal (Captain Malcolm Reynolds played by Nathan Fillion, who shall forever be known as Captain Tight-pants) was abandoned - as was Whedon's next offering Dollhouse. Serenity takes place in 2517, after earth-that-was has long been abandoned, terraforming of other planets has established and civil war has been won and lost. Mal and his crew are in many respects criminals, in the best Robin Hood respect, but when they take aboard the Tam siblings they become fugitives dodging the Alliance. Firefly, should never have been cancelled, it should have been given a chance, and while it was later reincarnated as the film Serenity, which allowed for some closure, a lot of ass-kicking and the usual Whedon heart wrenching, it has become a huge cult series, which is frequently mentioned in other comedy series such as The Big Bang Theory and Community...and pretty much any opportunity Nathan Fillion can get it in. Ignore all the others on my list, but watch Firefly and Serenity.
 More science fiction! Yay! I'm also not ashamed that I love Sci-fi. Orphan Black is about the moral and ethical implications of cloning. Sarah, a con-artist from the UK, witnesses as suicide of Beth, a woman she doesn't know but is her double. Trying to escape her criminal past and provide a secure life for her daughter without the help of her foster mother, Sarah steals Beth's identity and tries to assume her life long enough to empty her bank accounts. Trapped in Beth's life, Sarah becomes aware of her hunt for other clones, who we are introduced to throughout the series and nothing goes to plan as .
Tatiana Maslany, who plays all the various clones, is phenomenal, becoming English, Canadian (Maslany true homeland), American, Ukrainian and German personalities and varying levels of psychosis as she switches between characters. She even manages to keep each distinctly different to the point where one impersonates another and you still know it's a fake. It's mind-boggling and definitely worth watching.
Series two hopefully this year sometime.
Starring Edie Falco, this particular series is a dark comedy about Nurse Jackie, an emergency nurse who juggles her hospital life, marriage, children, affair and drug addiction whilst remaining the first person everyone goes too in the hospital for anything and everything despite her express instructions not too. It is currently on it's sixth season and it is funny, dark, acerbic and I've only seen to the second season, though the third is in my little sisters room!
 I will be so sad when Bones finally ends. We're on series nine now - though eight in DVD terms for me - and every September I find myself buying the next box set. The truth is, Bones has a formula to their episodes, Dr Brennan 'Bones' (Emily Deschanel) and Agent Booth (David Boreanaz) are called out to a crime scene where the victim is in varying degree of decomposition, there's always a chase, always a fight, a flirt, an initial wrongly accused character and always a eureka moment which would make House (where every ailment might be lupus) proud. If you like comedy and forensic dramas and don't mind a bit of silliness, Bones remains good after nine (eight) series.
Don't for the love of telly take Fringe by its first series. It's sci-fi and it's most ridiculous, full of monsters and genetically altered people who are all the result of Dr. Walter Bishop's (John Noble) drug induced meddling in the seventies. After years in a mental institution Agent Olivia Dunham (Anna Torv) enlists Walters estranged son Peter (Joshua Jackson) to get him released to help with the increasingly more insane occurrences. I wasn't grabbed by the series until the last few episodes, when we are introduced to the main theme of the show, parallel universes and the idea that Peter is not Walter's real Peter. If you want a comparison to another show, think a cross between The X-FilesCSI and another J.J. Abrams offering Heroes, with a healthy dose of humour. The show came to an end in 2012 after it's fifth series but if worth watching if only for how lovely Joshua Jackson looks.
  I fear my sister may punch me if I don't include Sherlock, and no spoilers for the first episode of the third series please, we elected not to put my dad through the pain of watching it or Dr. Who this year and so it's sitting on the recorder waiting for a quiet moment when we can watch it. We all know about Sherlock so I will refrain from whittering, other than saying that this revamped version relies mostly on the chemistry between the actors and how happy I am that Freeman has dropped some of his acting ticks by playing the curmudgeonly army medic.

So these are my favourites, the shows I revisit as old friends.

But you'd be genuinely ashamed of me if you saw the length of initial list for today, I'd started with new shows like Game of Thrones, Masters of Sex, Peaky Blinders, Ripper Street, New Girl, The Mindy Project, VEEP, Case Histories and Death Comes to Pemberley, but as soon as I started including my old favourites I was in trouble and added The West Wing, Studio 60, Dollhouse, Dexter, Black Books, Spaced, Greenwing, The Mighty Boosh, 30 Rock, Teachers, No Angels...an impossible choice, so I've picked old favourites and a few new favourites.

Seriously, as I check for typos I'm thinking of more to add!

This is a sickness.

Link | The Newsroom on IMDB (Image Link)
Link | Firefly on IMDB (Image Link)
Link | Orphan Black on IMDB (Image Link)
Link | Nurse Jackie on IMDB (Image Link)
Link | Bones on IMDB (Image Link)
Link | Fringe on IMDB (Image Link)
Link | Sherlock on IMDB (Image Link)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Part nine tomorrow...
..................................................................................
Listening: New Year - Death Cab for Cutie

3 comments:

Louise said...

For the love of telly! Bahaha.

Nurse Jackie and Dexter are waiting patiently for your greedy tv mitts to be laid upon them.


Ps. Hurt the cardboard jackets and i'll maim you.

Emily Boyd said...

You're as big a telly addict as I am titch.

How about this, you keep the jackets and I'll give you the 4th season of Community, Much Ado and Admission?

Fair deal me thinks!

:-D

Louise said...

Gimme gimme gimme!
...
Please.

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