Sunday Nights: An Embarrassment Of TV Riches

Man, you guys, when did Sundays become such great TV nights? I remember back in the day the dearth of weekend program would result in me watching syndicated shows like Renegade, MANTIS or that futuristic Knight Rider thing. Now it’s one of the nights most packed with shows my wife and I want to watch, especially right now with Discovery coming out hot and heavy with news shows. I’ll put this out there right now: we don’t have DVR because the wiring in our building is too old, so we have to watch what’s on. I started thinking about all this a few weeks back when AMC’s Comic Book Men premiered. I’m a fan of Kevin Smith and his friends featured on the show, plus I covered some of the PR events for CBR. But, something else was on at 10PM, Sunday nights. I can’t remember what it was when the show first premiered, but a couple weeks back it wound up being A&E’s Breakout Kings, which is also on at 10PM. CBM wrapped up last week, so I’m hoping I can catch a marathon at some point, but we do enjoy Breakout Kings quite a bit, especially thanks to the fact that this season has more of an overarching story with the remaining Kings trying to track down the guy that killed SPOILER Charlie. I also like what they’re doing with Erica and the dude who works downstairs. Can we get an updated title sequence, too, by the way? It just looks silly with one character edited out. But, Mad Men‘s back tonight, which really throws a wrench in our schedule, especially because the premiere is two hours long. It’s really no question between whether we watch Mad Men or Breakout Kings, even though we both like the latter, it’s nowhere near as good as the former. Mad Men feels more like an event anyway, one that I like keeping up on. I think I’ll be able to watch BK at 11PM, but my wife goes to bed by then, so she’ll probably miss out. The 10PM slot also now has the brand new Rube Goldberg-inspired show by the Mythbusters called Unchained Reaction. The concept behind the series it that two teams are tasked with making a Chained Reaction machine with a particular theme. As longtime readers will remember, I love me some Goldbergian machines, so this show could not be more interesting to me. I thought this show was premiering tonight, but I am watching the Heavy vs. Light episode as I type, so it either already debuted or this is kind of a sneaky way to show it off early. I’m already digging this show and would love to watch it on a regular basis. Thankfully, Discovery has a good track record of showing reruns, so I’m sure I’ll catch up.

Discovery also has a show in the 9:00PM spot that we love watching, Mythbusters. Again, I know these shows get rerun on a pretty regular basis, but the premiere–which is tonight for sure–features Jamie and Adam stranded on a desert island with nothing but duct tape to survive on. That’s pretty awesome and I’d like to watch, but the extended Mad Men premiere will be keeping us away, but after that, I think we’ll be all set. We’re also a bit conflicted in the 8:00PM slot. Usually we just watch Amazing Race, which can sometimes be pushed back thanks to sports, which is a bit of a bummer. But, right now Discovery also has Frozen Planet on at the same time which looks gorgeous in HD (yes, our HD channels started working again).

So that’s where we’re at. Like I said in the title, it’s an embarrassment of riches. I’d always rather have too many shows I want to watch than not enough. Well, actually, if there were fewer shows on that I wanted to watch, I’d probably get more reading done…

Last Night’s Shows Today: Eureka, The Amazing Race Finale & Breakout Kings

I’m toying around with the idea of “Last Night’s Shows Today” being a recurring theme. Maybe not an every day thing, but I do enjoy writing about TV without going super in-depth. Plus, hopefully we’ll get some conversations going on in the comments. So, it’s Monday, time to talk about Sunday’s shows.

EUREKA (Syfy)Okay, we didn’t technically watch Eureka last night, but we did catch a few of the season four episodes we hadn’t seen Sunday afternoon thanks to a Syfy marathon. We didn’t get too deep, but I am very impressed with the fact that they’re dealing with an alternate reality in more detail than probably any other series I’ve ever watched (mind you, I’m not well versed in the ways of sci-fi tv series, so I’m sure there have been others I don’t know about). If you’re not familiar, basically, five characters–Sheriff Carter, Allison, Jo, Fargo and Henry–got sent to the past and their return to the present, along with a scientist from back then, sent some ripples throughout time that have changed things in the present. Maybe it’s because we watched all three Back To The Future movies this weekend and I’m on a time travel/alternate reality kick, but I really dig how they’ve explored these ideas so far. Again, we only saw the first four, maybe five, episodes from the fourth season but I like what I’ve seen so far. For some reason, they split the season up into halves, so we’re hoping to get caught all the way up by the time the second half kicks off this summer. I’m really curious to see how these new elements roll out.

THE AMAZING RACE (8:00-10:00PM, CBS)A few seasons back, the missus and I stumbled into watching The Amazing Race because, frankly, nothing else was on. Since then, it’s become a show we really enjoy and quite look forward to every week when it’s on. This season of The Amazing Race went with the old reality show staple of bringing back past contestants to compete again. I’m a sucker for this kind of stuff and we seemed to have started watching just in time because we recognized most of the teams that came back if not all of them. What I like about TAR is that, for the most part, everyone on the show seems like a pretty good person just wanting to play the game and also make some money along the way. As such, I wasn’t super excited that SPOILER Kisha and Jen won this season. They were pretty nice and played a good game this season, but in their initial one, there was some static between them and Margie and Luke, a mother and son team that also returned for this season but didn’t last long. Margie and Luke were favorites in our house, so we didn’t like Kisha and Jen starting trouble with them, but you add in that Luke is deaf and it just looked worse. Like I said, they played a good clean game this time and won fair and square. I was hoping for Zev and Justin or Gary and Mallory to take home the win, but what are you gonna do? Check out the full, two hour season finale on CBS’s website if you’re so inclined.

BREAKOUT KINGS “One For The Money” (10:00-11:00PM, A&E)I like Breakout Kings quite a bit, but I’ve got this nagging worry in the back of my head. The show’s basically a procedural with three incarcerated felons getting a month off their sentences for every case they work for some US Marshals. I’m all good with that, especially with what I think is stellar casting on all levels (the show was created by the Prison Break folks who might have shared the same casting agent as whoever did Lost–I could really look that up, but just haven’t yet). Anyway, the problem I’m worried about having is that I’m just not sure if I buy that there are this many prison escapes. With other procedurals you’re dealing with murders, missing people and other things that seem to happen all the time (though hopefully not as much as my television would have be believe), but this one has such a specific premise that I worry that it will thin out over multiple seasons and eventually break. Maybe they could ease my fears (again, they’re just tiny because, as I said, I do really enjoy watching these characters do their thing) by doing a few multi-part episodes here and there or by having a few overarching cases to work on.

Anyway, last night’s episode featured the gang going after an escaped hitman played by Mark Pellegrino who Lost fans will obviously know as Jacob and Prison Break fans will remember as Vikan (another dumb problem I have is them casting actors who had stints on PB as other characters, I know most people won’t catch these things or even remember that Pellegrino was on two measly episodes of the show, but it’s a geeky thing I do, especially because I just finished watching the whole series and need to blog about it). Anyway, while they’re trying to figure that out, Shea starts asking questions about whether Ray is actually a Marshal (technically he isn’t anymore) which casts doubt on whether they’re really going to knock the time off their sentences. In a pretty heated moment, Ray admits to what he did to get kicked out and also blows up the cons’ spots by saying what they got arrested for. Of course, during that speech, our little darling decided to test out her less than a week old lungs so I missed some chunks, but I did catch that Lloyd is in prison for writing a prescription to a girl that died. The key to all procedurals, aside from coming up with weird things for your characters to look into (hence why you see episodes about things seen on Dateline a few weeks/months later) is making sure those characters are strong, dimensional and interesting. I think there’s plenty of that to go around and considering how the Prison Break MO got flipped each season and then a few times in the final one, I’ve got hopes that Breakout Kings will stay solid. Also, next week’s episode makes it look like they’re going up against a slasher, so that’s pretty awesome.

Watch it here if you’re interested.

What We’re Watching Friday Through Sunday

I’ve covered Monday and Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and now here’s the rest of the week. Our weekend viewing isn’t nearly as regular as the rest of the week, but I figured there’s no problem in being complete.

FRIDAY10:00pm – THE SOUP (E)
I absolutely love The Soup and have for years now, even back in the Talk Soup days. No one one television is more honest than Joel McHale, though Joan Rivers on Fashion Police which follows the soup at 10:30pm is doing her fair share of celebrity skewering nowadays. The pair actually make for a pretty damn refreshing hour of television and more laughs than whole blocks on other networks.

SATURDAYSaturday’s a football day. I’m a big Notre Dame fan and luckily their games are usually played on NBC or one of the other major networks so I don’t miss too many games. One of the strange things about living in New York is that, since there’s no real big college teams around here, they show games from all over, which is great. I’ll get to the negative side of this coin in Sunday’s section. 11:30pm – SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (NBC)
I am a long time and die-hard SNL fan, so I watch whenever I can. Consider our social lives have slowed down lately, we’ve been able to catch most of this season’s episodes, though we did miss Emma Stone and John Hamm’s recent ones. I think the episodes have been pretty damn funny lately and think the series is on a significant upswing so it’s a good time to watch.

SUNDAYWhile the area I live in offers a bevy of college football options, you’re stuck with basically two teams when it comes to the NFL, the damn Jets and Giants. Blech. Being a Steelers fan, none of that interests me. Even though Pittsburgh is just a few hours’ drive from where I live, I’ve only been able to watch two or three games all season. You’d think the local TV networks which service the biggest city in the world along with people from the outlying areas and also happen to stretch into New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Connecticut would have a little bit more varied viewing options. I know there’s a problems with NFL Network and licensing and all that, but come on, I’ve seen more tennis and yachting competitions advertised on certain days than football games. 8:00pm – AMAZING RACE (CBS)
The missus and I kind of stumbled onto Amazing Race because there wasn’t a whole lot else to watch on Sundays. We have fun watching the couples/pairs trying to work together while running all over the world. Fun stuff. I don’t really have a problem with The Simpsons, but can’t get into any of the other shows around it, which puts us at kind of a weird places as far as having something to watch. With football, Amazing Race generally gets pushed back which, now that baseball season is over, will allow us to watch both. Win win!10:00pm – WALKING DEAD (AMC)
Though I didn’t really like the first episode, I’ll come back for at least a few more of the first season’s six episodes. I’m hoping the next few episodes are a little tighter and more interesting, but we’ll see. If not, I’m sure there’s some movies coming up I’ll want to watch.

So that’s about it for our regular viewing. Sometimes I watch Jimmy Fallon’s show, though watching two horror movies a day during October got me out of that habit. I’m really looking forward to Conan coming back on Monday and will give that show a look on a fairly regular basis.

TV Time 4/20-4/26

You guys know I love TV, so I figured I’d write about it in one big post (unless something really knocks my socks off). So here’s a quick rundown of what I watched this week on the idiot box.

Unfortunately both Big Bang Theory and How I Met Your Mother were re-runs last week. Still had fun watching these episodes again, though.

Castle is really growing on me. It’s the one procedural in our weekly line-up, but damnitall of Nathan Fillion isn’t super-charming. His partner is even growing on me (she kind of scared me the first few episodes). What started out as a show we’d watch because nothing else is on has turned into a new weekly favorite.

I’m really glad Fringe is back. I actually missed it while it was on hiatus, plus, it’s really the only thing we watch on Tuesdays. This episode was interesting enough on its own, but also offered a deeper level of mystery and connection that will hopefully explode with craziness as the first season wraps.

I caught about 20 minutes of The Unusuals. I really liked what I saw, but wanted to watch Josie and the Pussycats without falling asleep, so it lost out. I’m still rooting for the show’s success.

As all the Losties know, there wasn’t a new episode last week, but a clip show. This one looked at the Oceanic 6 and showed all the flashforwards and flashbacks in chronological order. It wasn’t necessary to watch, but it reminded me of a few things I had forgotten. I’m still not clear on the time frame of Locke visiting Jack, Locke getting killed, Jack flying around with a scruffy beard and Jack running into Ben at Locke’s showing. It seems like there’s too much time there for all these events to happen in a realistic fashion. I’m not saying they don’t have everything figured out, it’s just nagging at me a bit. I’m sure there’s an explanation.

The Duel 2 continues to offer up a level of conspiracy that is always hilarious. I’d really love someone who has studied game theory to either analyze the show or, better yet, make it onto the show. I myself did not take the game theory class my college offered (too much math and science for this English major), but it sounded fascinating when friends would talk about it. Without getting into spoilers, the guy duel was pretty intense. Unfortunately, the guy we were rooting for didn’t win, and thus the status quo continues.

I don’t talk about My Name Is Earl a lot, but it’s a consistently good show that I enjoy every week. I’m impressed that they’ve been able to keep such a solid show going with what seemed like an easily exhausted premise, but I’m always happy to see Jason Lee, Ethan Suplee, Jaime Pressly (anyone else remember Poison Ivy 3?), Nadine Velazquez (Catalina) and Eddie Steeples (Crabman)every week.

Last week’s Parks and Recreation was the best episode yet. But that’s not really saying much. To be completely honest, we’re only still watching this show because it’s between two other shows we like and I’m pretty sure nothing else is on. I wish they would keep the cast, scrap this concept and just start over because watching Poehler act like a Michael Scott clone for 22 minutes is just painful.

We finally get a resolution to the doomed-from-the-start Michael Scott Paper Company and it was a lot more fist pumping than I thought it would be. That being said, I was totally worried that Michael would screw things up in the meeting.

30 Rock is awesome. As much as I love the plots and larger jokes, it’s really the smaller jokes that get me. Like when Kenneth is passing out and says something like “My name is Dick Whitman.” Awesome. Or a few weeks back after seeing the world through Kenneth’s eyes and then seeing the real Liz walk-running like a Muppet. I am a bit worried that Tracey and Jenna are turning into cartoon characters instead of actual real characters. Oh, I’m also sad to see Salma Hayek leaving the show, both because she was really funny and hot.

I totally meant to watch all of Harper’s Island last week. After all, it’s essentially a show about a slasher killing wedding guests off one by one on an island. I was all into last week’s episode (the second of the season I believe), but I fell asleep in the last 10 minutes and completely missed the ending. Luckily, this week, I didn’t fall asleep. I’m not sure yet how I feel about Harper’s Island. I’ve given up watching my favorite Girl Next Door Bridget on her new bikini-filled show Bridget’s Sexiest Beaches to check it out. I did have a hard time keeping track of the characters (lots have the same hair color and look too similar). But I think I’ll stick with it for now.

After sloshing through the first 20 minutes of The Spirit (more on that later), we gave up and watched some Cartoon Network. Saw a Batman: Brave and the Bold episode that focused on the Blue Beetle legacy (even showing Dan Garret, the Golden Age BB!). As always, it was a rad episode. Then I checked out an episode of the Clone Wars CGI show that was kinda cool and made me want to check the show out on DVD. After that The Soup was awesome.

Later that Night…
We watched the end of the Red Sox/Yankees game. Being from New England, Em is, of course, a Red Sox fan and hates the Yankees. Being something of a Tiger’s fan and initially not being all that happy about moving to New York, I hated most NY sports teams (and still do, really). So, even though I don’t particularly like the Sox, I like watching the Yankees lose. And lose they did. In overtime. This reminded me of college when Em would come over and we’d watch from inning 8 or 9 on of the Sox World Series. Now, that’s baseball.

While hanging out in Nyack we kept an eye on the game. Didn’t see the end, but the Sox took it.

Em and I have become pretty big fans of the Amazing Race. We stumbled upon it when The Simpsons was in reruns last season, but this is the first season we’ve watching, mostly, from beginning to the soon-to-be end. Better than every reality show game except Real World/Road Rules.

More Baseball
Em fell asleep watching the game, but I was in it till the end. A dude freaking stole home! I’ve never seen that before. It was awesome. See for yourself:

The Yankees play the Tigers next, so hopefully I can see them get beat up on Detroit style (but without guns and knives).