The best time for me to review things is really when I’m in a drunken stupor because I am at my most straightforward. So to cut to the chase, here’s the shows I’ve been watching, new and old, and what I think of them.
As you know, I watch a lot of TV because I enjoy being a hermit and like to indulge in all manner of escapism (that isn’t drug-related). Even after I’ve cut lots of shows from my viewing list (see: shitty ass How I Met Your Mother), there’s always a bunch more that manage to intrigue me enough with their pilots to really reel me in. Some of them follow up with a solid season, others have cheated me of my time.
Here are those shows.
About: A whodunnit surrounding the death of a young girl. Werewolves have just moved in to a powerful vampire family’s backyard not knowing jackshit about anything except their gypsy rituals.
Opinion: Disappointing pilot, but I am watching because there is great comic timing in Bill Skarsgard (who plays Roman the vampire). His blank-yet-pointed stare is too funny to miss. It generally feels like I’m not supposed to laugh at the things I’m laughing at. Do I take it seriously? Hell no. I’m about three quarts through the book and it seems darker and more gothic in the source material.
Bill looked kind of strange to me at first but the more I watch him the more attractive he seems. I’m feeling lots of homoerotic vibes from him towards Peter Rumancek (the gypsy werewolf guy), whose looks I find way overrated.
That aside the story isn’t anything mindblowing yet. I’m only halfway through the series and nothing is really happening other than everyone having nightmares, sex, and giving snide looks.
Warnings: Blood, intestines, sex, drinking, lots of hoyay! and mutilation
Watch?: This is like True Blood without sexy swampiness, Twin Peaks without the crazy surrealistic mindfucks, Hostel stylized violence but lite. If you want so-bad-that-it’s-good, watch. Really cheesy but still entertaining. Don’t expect too much of a story you can think about.
About: 33 years from now, aliens are all up in humans’ space again, and we live together and eventually have to face a greater threat. The settlement is called Defiance.
Opinion: This show looks like it belongs in 2001 in the WB. Has a Mass Effect vibe, but on a smaller scale. Because of Julie Benz and the corny makeup of the aliens, I get Babylon 5, Fifth Element, and season 1 Angel feels. B-Grade production.
Most of the aliens are just throwing shade on humans and being untrustworthy sarcastic bitches in their own weird language. It has some sort of politicking going on, but it will never be a BSG. It’s a little embarrassing, really. In fact, I sense a bit of Terra Nova here, because of that whole “our town is protected by a barrier” thing. Could be just my hatred for the acting of every person on set.
Except for Julie Benz. I’m in love with her.
Warnings: Alien sex, terrorist stuff, actual racism
Watch?: I think I’m going to find this boring fairly quickly. Maybe catch the 1.5 hour pilot and leave it as that.
Game of Thrones
About: This season, nobody knows what the heck is going on, but we know that a lot of people from the Night’s Watch die, appendages are lost, and Tyrion’s squire Podrick Payne is a stud for a virgin.
Opinion: I love the hell out of this show, but I feel like the editing should be improved. Not all the different character’s stories have to be in an episode. Take Dany’s story in Astapor, for example. That was just chopped up and sprinkled, placed too far apart from one development to the next. And somehow, it felt way too short for me to feel like her conquering that Ghiscari asshole was a real victory over everything. Too many different things are happening that we don’t really have time to invest.
They probably had better grips on this in the first two seasons because the stories weren’t so spread across Westeros, but I’m not into watching 10 character’s plotlines squeezed into 50 minutes. The back and forth is jarring and it’s hard to emotionally invest when you’re just at the cusp of feeling something, and then suddenly you’re forced to go through the fifth different journey of the night.
This kind of thing makes me glad that I read the books first. But you know what, it’s still freaking exciting. I’m loving every bit of it because I can’t get the same richness elsewhere.
Warnings: Same stuff that you haven’t already experienced, boobs, butts, almost rape, lots of bad outcomes with blades
Watch?: Yes yes yes but now you need a notebook now more than ever.
About: Hannibal Lecter totally messing with this dude’s mind while serial crimes are being committed. Said dude shares too much feels with serial killers and has an awesome surround sound David Fincher-style imagination. Hannibal cooks gourmet things, people unsuspectingly eat everything on the plate. Yes, it’s human meat.
Opinion: I know I already did a mini-pressions post on this but I can gladly say that this is one of the finest shows on air right now. It’s got a strong vision, things are moving along, the pacing is good, and all of it is as vivid as ever. PRETTY. I greatly enjoy seeing Hugh Dancy slowly go crazy. He’s very good looking. And I really like how Hannibal’s preying on him.
Oh yeah, I love Hannibal’s ties, and every piece of furniture in his office. I get the shivers thinking about them. If polygamy weren’t a thing and all the furniture somehow combined to forma man with the same sense of style, I would marry him and not do anything else but sit and stare. Um…
Warnings: Blood, people eating people, Hannibal’s fabulousness (may be too fabulous for some)
Watch?: You would be stupid not to
About: Favourite community college people in their final year, doing things that most American colleges don’t allow
Opinion: Community started off terrible this season, but it picked up fast. They found their rhythm and are going with it. Dan Harmon left the building guys, and you can put the guy up on a pedestal, but the writers are trying, and right now they seem to be hitting a sweet spot that can’t be denied. May not have the same feeling but still can make you happy.
Warnings: Extra douchecanoe Jeff, this idiotic thing called Changnesia
Watch?: Yes, you can skip the first 2 episodes
About: Other than the usual stuff, Castle and Beckett are living together and actively doing it.
Opinion: The show has one or two arcs that are extraordinarily exciting. Like when Alexis is kidnapped and no one knows where the hell she is. Man, I watch this series just to catch that level of intrigue, even for two episodes out of 22. And I was totally crying on the inside with Nathan Fillion’s acting. The rest of the 20 episodes are okay, not magical, but since I gave up on Bones long ago, I’m still glad that this isn’t at that level of dismal yet.
Warnings: Criminal of the week can get pretty repetitive
Watch?: Out of this whole list, you have better things to watch, I reckon
About: Sherlock is an ex-addict, socially inept and very clever. Watson is a woman and helps Sherlock in every way she can (except in a sex way) and learns a thing or two about being clever by solving some crimes by herself.
Opinion: I know everyone thinks Sherlock BBC is some untouchable pinnacle of all Arthur Conan Doyle works, but Elementary has come into its own. I think that BBC’s version misses out on a lot by cutting out most of the relationship between Watson and Sherlock. Yes Sherlock is an asshole to regular members of the public but to paint him that way 80% of the time is a little one note. It has it’s merits, no doubt, but to discount Elementary based on the success of BBC Sherlock makes you a moron.
The cases themselves are quite interesting, and though you may get the killer right 60% of the time, how they come to that conclusion is far more interesting than any procedural I’ve watched. The writers have done pretty well on constructing their mysteries. You don’t care that you know who the killer is, you’re in full appreciation of the journey that leads up to that moment of discovery.
And I love Lucy Liu, so if you love her too, her acting is good in Elementary. Obviously this review blurb is biased because I have an irrational attraction to this woman.
Warnings: Fast manner of talking, unaddressed sexual tension
About: An advertising agency and every level of worker is pulling through the 60’s with style coming out of their nostrils and scandals coming out of their pants
Opinion: Don Draper is being his usual womanizer self, and I’m not sure why they would recycle his story patterns. I actually only really love Mad Men for Peggy Olsen and Joan Harris. Seriously. I think through this whole article I sound like some lunatic feminist lesbian but there are a lot of shows that are giving female characters the stories and importance that they deserve.
This is really especially the case now where Peggy and Joan have real power in their respective positions, and life is still eating them up bit by bit. Of course, the bungling mess of the other guys in the office are great fun too, but the women’s stories are the most interesting. Even Alison Brie is kicking ass in this with her tiny part.
Warnings: Sex, excessive smoking and drinking, fashion so tasty it hurts
Watch?: Only if you are interested in the personal drama of people who would have hung out with your grandparents when they were working adults
About: Popular starlet versus fading country star have a dislike-hate relationship, while everyone else sings country music and maybe sleeps together occasionally
Opinion: I really like Hayden Panettiere as the spoilt young celeb who’s forced to grow up. Most of the time I find that as much as I love Connie Britton, Panettiere’s Juliet is easier to get behind because Rayna is just, at core, a big bully to someone that she should be a role model to. Juliet’s just trying and failing because of bad circumstances. All the side stuff with Deacon, Rayna’s old flame, and Scarlet, Deacon’s niece, is frilly, but you know what? They all sing well.
Three years ago I would have told you that country music was my most hated genre, but this show makes it catchy and oftentimes, more emotional than I’d dare to admit. Musically, this is probably a hundred times better than Glee because it’s not just about randomly bursting into song after some melodrama.There are great instrumentals and original compositions. It’s about going through shit, writing a song about that shit, and performing it in front of thousands of people ready to judge the hell out of your life and your work. How Juliet (Panettiere) handles it may be damn messy, but it’s entertaining. And there’s a lot of heart in it.
Warnings: Country accents left, right and centre. Other than that, PG-13 smoochies.
Watch?: I would say yes, especially if you’re into small town/big dream stuff. But not if you are an extreme music elitist and hate semi-young adult drama.
About: A kooky girl and her 3 weird roomates that do weird things on a daily basis.
Opinion: I thought the thing between Nick and Jess was a little early for the series, but what they’re doing with them is so adorable. Plus the chemistry is all kinds of incredible. I love that this show is still keeping its small cast size and that there’s always something stupid going on, and it doesn’t include too much of Jess’ annoying quirk-singing. Once in awhile is good, but not every episode.
Don’t care much for Ceci getting married, but all the other idiotic things the team gets up to are always funny. More Schmidt + Winston stuff!
Warnings: None, seriously
The Mindy Project
About: Mindy Lahiri indulges in making her personal life a living romantic comedy. She’s a gyno with two other gynos and spends most of her time talking about dating.
Opinion: I have a high opinion of Mindy Kaling, and it shouldn’t be the only reason I watch this show, but it is. Her onscreen time with Chris Messina is one of the best things about TMP because of the whole, will-they-won’t-they/Jack-Liz Lemon type of relationship and honestly, the rest of the comedy can range from corny slapstick to extreme awkwardness (totally reminiscent of early The Office humour), which isn’t necessarily bad but doesn’t exactly punch me in the stomach with laughter. It’s got very good moments and other times it falls flat.
Mindy is, however, very cute and every week seems to get better than the last so I am sticking with this.
Warnings: Chick Flick Extra in serialized TV form
Watch?: Takes a bit of time to warm up to in terms of laughs but if you’re still watching by episode 5 this show will have already acquired your tastebuds in a most ninja-like fashion.
About: The bunch of people working in a paper company finally getting to see what the whole documentary thing they’ve been filming for the past decade is about.
Opinion: There is no doubt that I have a soft spot for The Office, but last season was very painful to watch. So was the start of this season, with all the Pam/Jim drama and Andy’s irritating, unfunny attitude. But you know, the best thing about this is still Kevin and Dwight. Especially Dwight.
I miss Michael Scott a lot and I don’t really think that it can ever be mended, so I’m glad that this is going to be the final lap.
Warnings: Characters you once liked becoming characters you can’t wait to punch in the face, bad humor more than good humor
Watch?: I think only 4 episodes out of what they’ve shown so far are genuinely funny. Watch the coming finale in a couple of weeks.
About: An uber-dysfunctional, low-income family of a drunk father and his 5 kids struggle to get through life without killing each other. Well, just Fiona and Frank, the rest of them are just being naughty kids.
Opinion: I love this show but I don’t know anyone else who watches it. Maybe people dismiss it the moment they hear “dysfunctional family”. But this is the Showtime network’s version of that. So it HAS to be amazing. I’m not sure why it’s so un-watched because the drama and the characters are so incredibly emotional and raw when they interact, especially for this season. As usual, there’s all the outlandish semi-white trash hijinks they get into that you could ever stomach,(which are far more amusing than anything you’ll see on The Big Bang Theory or 2 Broke Girls combined) but at the heart of everything, this show can really stomp the hell out of your heart and rip the tears from your eyes.
Some of the family moments are particularly powerful, like when Fiona takes the kids under her wing legally, or when Carl and Debbie show unflinching love for their asshole father. Writing-wise, it’s surprisingly smart. It marries situational comedy with tragedy expertly, and I can’t think of another show that can do it as well as this one does.
The acting in this is so good, people. I’m not even joking when I say that this pulls more violent reactions from me than the most exciting episode of The Walking Dead. It’s probably Game of Thrones level of bed-jumping, arm flailing madness. Then I curl up into a ball and pretend I’m not crying like I do when Joss Whedon kills off my favourite characters.
Warnings: Swearing kids, bigotry, every-gender sex, a titty here and there. Also, lots of heartbreak
Watch?: YES. Stop procrastinating guys. Watch it.
About: Two rising stars compete to make it big in Broadway. Enter divisive fanbase!
Opinion: You know, Smash’s story sucks ass. I used to root for the underdog because I thought Karen Cartwright to be a sweet one, but now she’s a total brat. The rivalries are tiresome and shallow. I will admit that Megan Hilty is mad talented but Ivy isn’t my cup of anything. I think the onscreen chemistry between Karen and big shot director Derek was off the charts, but I’m not really here for the melodrama; the biggest thing about Smash is its music, and I swear to you that the team behind the music must be lavishly awarded. I love their compositions.
I totally understand if people hate on the show and its story, but man, the music. There are some real gems that I’m glad was made, and they deserve to actually be pieced together to form the full productions of Bombshell. Hit List I’m not crazy about, but they have good numbers.
Warnings: Bad acting, terrible romances
Watch?: Be the person who compiles all the musical performances to form a chopped up version of Bombshell. Otherwise there should be a Kickstarter for the actual Bombshell story. Please?
About: Olivia Pope, professional fixer of public images no matter how scandalous, is in a torrid, sexy affair with the POTUS for a second season in a row and everything is crashing down.
Opinion: For anyone who hasn’t watched Scandal yet, you have to know that this is first and foremost about forbidden love. Romance will always be at centre stage because it’s done by Shonda Rhimes, queen of Grey’s Anatomy. While not one fibre of my being can’t stand Grey’s, Scandal is pretty good, thanks to the amazing Kerry Washington. That woman is fabulous. Out of this entire list, the couple that probably has the most killer sexual tension is undoubtedly, hands down Olivia and the POTUS Fitz. Mind you, this is an ongoing adulterous affair, and it’s so freaking hot that it kind of shocks you how much you want to ship this morally skewed union.
All the other sideline stuff with the other characters happen to be just frilly content – I don’t have much interest in any of it if it doesn’t directly involve Kerry Washington on my screen. She’s really that marvelous.
Warnings: Lots of political things, mentions of terrorism, torture, people speaking extremely quickly in run-on sentences, condones extramarital affairs
Watch?: Only if you, like me, love to watch an empowered woman own it on TV
About: Brothers Winchester seek the Word of God for secrets that will help them seal the gates of hell forever. They’re still at it?
Opinion: Nowadays I don’t watch Supernatural because I have feels, it’s because I’m too used to having Winchesters in my schedule. To be honest, I really hated seasons 6 and 7, so I watch it when I want to multi-task other things. But there are some interesting things going on with the Trials. Finally there’s a set of goals that we can work towards. I’ve lost a lot of love for SPN because it doesn’t give me the same sadness I have when I think back to when Sam died, then Dean ended up in hell. The journey wasn’t the same anymore.
For this season, it seems to be crawling back to the space in my heart again mainly because of the fact that Sam is suffering from the Trials and Dean can’t do anything about it. It’s that kind of conflict that gets me. Too bad there are still those painful meta, high levels of ridiculous episodes that I guess other fans seem to enjoy for the humour, but I find that it tarnishes the soul of what SPN used to be and distracts way too much from the core storyline. The brothers don’t feel like brothers anymore. Considering how far this show has travelled and where it is now, getting 10 seasons to finish it up is more than generous.
Warnings: Still some lameness with the filler episodes, boring/recycled character interactions
Watch?: Tell you again when I encounter something that’s worth watching in this show.
About: Philip and Elizabeth Jennings are actually Russian spies living the American life during the 80’s.
Opinion: Holy shit. It’s too good. It’s TOO GOOD. The Americans really brings on some hardcore romance that hurts like a shot to the chest. I have so much heartache shipping these two. I did a glowing mini-pression of this and I stand by it, only now I’m adding that it’s still damn good because you want them to be together with every fibre of your being.
Romantic tensions aside, seeing old school espionage in action is more interesting than any other super-technology-ridden venture I’ve ever seen – so that’s how spywork was done back in the day. Disguises, lies, multiple identities… Dealing with defecting and loyalty to your homeland seemed a lot tougher back then, which I think spy shows don’t show enough of, because not everyone’s a spangled banner-eating patriot. In fact this is the first show I’ve seen to feature an all-American militant (from the streets of Philadelphia) unflinchingly betray their country for the other team. Homeland, Perr! I hear you say, but Brody is wildly conflicted about it, and it’s vendetta-based. In The Americans, the guy saw what was offered on both sides, and unprovoked, chose to serve the KGB. It could be because of his love for Elizabeth, but he isn’t irrational about it.
In the show people switch sides all the time, which makes it delightfully unpredictable. And man, when the FBI gets close to uncovering Phil and Liz’s work… So exciting.
Warnings: Violence, sex, torture, brings your emotions out for a rollercoaster, slow burn development
Watch?: If anything you should see Keri Russell makes mashed potatoes out of her handler’s face with her fists. WATCH THIS SHOW EVERYONE
About: A murdering nutter obsessed with Poe’s work suddenly escapes prison and the retired agent who put him there in the first place is now called back to action so there are no more bodies. But boy, there are a lot of bodies.
Opinion: So I totally tuned out of this in the third quarter, but towards the end it surprised me with the overall outcome. In fact, it makes up for a lot of the boring bits I had to endure before I felt the level of interest I once felt when I saw the pilot. I thought it would have some shocks but there were many predictable twists that they peppered throughout their episodal arcs. The only good thing about predictable twists is that you feel smart for being right. Other than that, I’m a little disappointed that Joe Carroll is human and kind of a whiny bastard when he isn’t getting his way. I would’ve preferred if he stuck with being the all-powerful, quite invincible kingpin the show started him off as.
Warnings: Blood, suicide, murders-in-progress, homosexuality
Watch?: First 2, last 2, that’s all you need, I think. Well, people get beat up and killed every episode, so if you’re into that…
The Vampire Diaries
About: A golden now-vampire vagina that everyone worships – oh, okay, you want the non-fandom description. A bunch of vampires spend their whole season looking for an elusive cure for vampirism, and try not to wake the big bad guarding it.
Opinion: Guys, I have so much frustration over this show. Nothing drives me crazier than this one. It’s like I loved it so much with all my heart and then it suddenly bitchslapped my loyalty in the face by destroying their great characterizations, launching a show-wide worship of Elena Gilbert, and pumping idiotic plot devices into storylines that make little to no sense.
There are some saving graces in this show – characters like Caroline and Sassy!Stefan, who share a very real and tender friendship that remind me of what this show was delivering on a weekly basis. Damon and Alaric was my favourite. But because their showrunner Julie Plec can’t write proper arcs without screwing it up.
And that Original backdoor pilot? Awful. I can’t believe they would feature one of the most hated characters in any fictional universe simply because they liked the actress. That’s not thinking for your show. That’s just being an idiot.
Now that we can expect a trimmed down cast and with its destructive show runner migrating to another show, hopefully it can be restored to its former glory of being a heartfelt teen soap. No more of this cure bullshit please, thanks.
Warnings: Supreme mishandling on plot points, lots of things that don’t make sense, annoying main character, triangle of doom
Watch?: This season should not have existed. I don’t know why I subject myself to all this hurt. And no, it’s from face-palming, don’t get your hopes up.
Hart of Dixie
About: Fancy doctor surgeon person moves from NY to the countryland of Blue Bell, where they have the weirdest town-wide themed celebrations.
Opinion: This show has featured the best breakup scene I’ve seen on TV. You knew why it had to happen and it was maturely handled. Very interesting, I think. And for that, I’ll keep watching. It has heart. It’s not deep, but I miss having a fun drama in my watchlist.
Warnings: Cheesiness, country music if you abhor it, some small-town stereotyping
Watch?: This is better than 90210 or other teen angst-ridden drama crap Josh Schwartz has pulled out of his ass. Good if you need to lighten up your TV list and don’t mind chick flick type of programs.
About: A special state task force runs around Hawaii chasing down baddies, solving murders and keeping people safe from terrorism.
Opinion: I like Hawaii Five-0 because it’s so brainless and action packed. Danny and Steve arguing like they’re married is classic to the buddy cop trope. Daniel Dae Kim is my eye candy. Grace Park is my even greater eye candy. Ok, the only reason I watch this show is because I miss BSG and Lost and I just want to see these people never retire from acting.
Is there an overarching story to H50? Sometimes, but the villain of the week format is prevalent. Surprisingly, I’m not entirely bored yet. Maybe I just like the sensational feel of Hawaii and want to be there and live vicariously through these badasses. Who knows?
Warnings: Lots of explosions. Skin deep stories.
Watch?: I wouldn’t enthusiastically recommend this to anyone, but this is one of my guilty pleasures.
House of Lies
About: A management consultancy team relies on charm and snake-like tactics to secure big name clients.
Opinion: I like all the characters, even if I know that they’re supposed to be unlikable. I have a deep attraction to sarcasm and snark, and sometimes it’s so over the top that it’s entertaining. Lots of people screwing over each other. And screwing each other, really. Perhaps the greatest thing I like about this show is the way it shows how Marty’s team executes a plan and outsmarts the competition. And even cheats the client into paying more than they really need to.
Now that at season’s end, Marty’s team imploding should make for a very interesting journey for the third season. I mean, how long can a team of douchebags last before they start tearing each other apart? This was bound to happen. Bring it!
Warnings: Sex, language, misogyny
Watch?: Like Entourage? I think you’ll like House of Lies just fine.
About: Obnoxious but sweet comedian Jim Jeffries has an unlikely friendship with a disabled guy. They both have ridiculous adventures together.
Opinion: I think Legit is one of my biggest surprises for the TV season. Billy is probably the best thing about the show and his relationship with Jim makes Jim more bearable as a human being. The show is very crass, frank, and politically incorrect, which makes for honest, real viewing that’s just so incredibly funny (and cute). I would’ve never imagined that I would let myself laugh when a handicapped person is involved. And now I can, guilt-free, because you can be equally sassy even without the use of your legs.
Warnings: Language, lewdness
About: A guy who bluffed his way into a job at a top law firm tries to do his mentor proud by doing some legit lawyering.
Opinion: Honestly, I’m only at the first season and the pilot was extremely boring. But it did pick up a little towards the middle. And I love me some Gina Torres. So I stuck with it and realised that Gabriel Macht is getting increasingly attractive with each episode I see him in. This is not my favourite, but I guess it means something when I shamelessly, almost neutrally, crackship Jessica and Harvey. There’s just something about powerful people coming together that strikes me. Ahem. Figuratively speaking.
Warnings: None. Slow pick up?
Watch?: Everyone told me to watch it, so I did. I’m not as enthused as the people who introduced it to me, but it’s not too bad, so it’s better to pick up from somewhere in the middle.