My Favorite Book Reading Experiences Of 2018 Part 3

Alright folks, we’re hitting the home stretch here with the last post about books I read in 2018. Hopefully, I’ll keep up on writing about the novels and non-fiction works as I read them, so these year-enders (or beginners at this point) don’t become so unwieldy, but we’ll see about that. Check out parts one and two here and here then hit the jump for the last entry.

Continue reading My Favorite Book Reading Experiences Of 2018 Part 3

Last Night’s Shows, Today: The Office, Parks & Rec Season Premieres

Earlier this week I took a few minutes and actually created a schedule of shows we want to watch this TV season. Yes, that’s lame, I know this, but I also have a bad memory and wasn’t sure when a lot of the new shows were on. For the most part, we’re well set without many new shows clashing with old faves. The only big problem area is that two returning shows that I really, really dug, Happy Endings and New Girl are on at the same exact time. Someone needs to fix that. Anyway, I realized as I have for the past few seasons that I’m most looking forward to watching existing shows over new ones.

Last night’s a great example of this as the only two shows we really watched were The Office and Parks & Rec on NBC (at 9:00 and 9:30 PM respectively). As you probably know by this point — at least I do because I’ve been writing about it all summer for Spinoff Online — this will be the very last season of the show. The series creator Greg Daniels, who went on to do Parks & Rec has come back to end it and he says they’re going to wrap things up well. The first few minutes of the series showed a lot of this, showing Kelly and Ryan’s exit from the show and FINALLY some of the documentary behind the scenes stuff (which I’ve been wondering about since the series began). After all that, we got to see Andy return from an outward bound experience that had him gain confidence and get a little further away from the Michael Scott mold he filled so clearly last season. His stuff with Nellie was really fantastic.

Overall, I really liked this episode. It definitely feels like they’ve got their feet back under them now that there’s a real focus to the show with its upcoming finale. While I liked the past few seasons, it deed feel like they maybe didn’t have the same focus as the old days, even with larger, overarching stories going on. I’m actually really excited to see how these characters end up and finally find out why they’ve been filmed for so long. I’m not mourning the end of the series, I’m anxiously awaiting the end to see how it all wraps up as I love a good ending.

Ten minutes into watching the first episode of the fifth season of Parks & Rec, I turned to my wife and said, “That part before the theme song was better than the first season put together.” When this show first premiered I was bored to tears, but after the first, shorter season, it really came into its own and has rocked my world since. It’s rare that I give a show a second chance after being disappointed by the first season, but P&R benefited from not really having anything opposite it that I wanted to watch. I’m glad for that now, because this is easily up there on my favorite shows and unlike a lot of other faves, it seems to be getting better as it ages instead of feeling stale or like a rehash.

The first ep kicked off with Leslie and Andy visiting April and Wyatt who are working in DC. Leslie, who won a seat on Pawnee’s city council at the end of last season, finds herself dealing with feelings of insignificance and disappointment which are both real and funny, a tough mix to nail. I wasn’t as involved in the second story which saw Ron taking charge of the department appreciation picnic and focusing solely on the meat portion of the BBQ. There were funny bits for sure, but I think Ron’s character works better when he’s not outwardly being a dick to so many people. It’s funny when it’s Rob Lowe’s Chris because they’re direct opposites, but less interesting when he’s so clearly in the wrong and mistreating the people who work for him. Sure, he learned his lesson, but I think we all saw where they were going about 2 minutes into that story. However, the scene with Ron driving away with the barbecue still attached to his car was worth the price of admission alone. So, all in all, a somewhat uneven episode, but I still had a ton of fun and am jazzed to see where the season goes.

Last Week’s Shows, Today! Season Premiere Edition

As I might have mentioned–or you’ve seen over on The Monkee Diaries–we went on vacation last week. It was a great time, but we missed a few shows here and there like the season premiere of How I Met Your Mother, though I was able to check a few things out on On Demand which I really enjoyed. Unfortunately, our building has super old cable wiring, so we can’t have anything digital. It makes me sad, but new TV makes me happy! There’s a lot here, so hit the jump to see it all! Continue reading Last Week’s Shows, Today! Season Premiere Edition

Digging Double Oh Seven: Threat Level Midnight

In my zeal to enjoy my re-found health and the nice weather, I lost track of time and will not have enough time to watch a James Bond flick tonight (also because of NBC comedies and Jersey Shore, of course). I thought that meant there’d be no Bondy goodness today, but then I remembered that we were finally getting the chance to see Michael Scott’s Threat Level: Midnight starring Michael Scarn on tonight’s episode of The Office (funny I forgot about it after calling the show out on my Maxim TV column). The episode featured a secret agent whose nemesis has a gold face and killed his wife. Doesn’t sound too far off from a Bond movie, right? Well, he’s also got a robot butler, a mystical hockey teacher and his own signature dance which you can check out here. I was thinking about this earlier today, but I love it when movies or parodies of movies don’t just go with the genre they’ve chosen to tackle but also add in a few others. In this case, Michael Scott didn’t just want to make a secret agent movie, but also one with a robot AND a sports mentor/training montage. Fun stuff. I know this is a bit of a cop out entry, but at this point, I’m thinking the DDOS posts will be going on past the end of the month unless I can watch a bunch of movies back to back next week (we’re heading to Ohio this weekend). Don’t worry though, you’ve got a weekend full of James Bond Jr. posts!

What We’re Watching: Wednesday & Thursday

Last week I went through what the missus and I watch on Monday and Tuesday. I intended to write them throughout last week, but with all the work I had on my plate and the Halloween Scene double features to write about, it fell to the wayside until today! Here’s what we’re watching in the middle of the week.

WEDNESDAY
9:00pm – MODERN FAMILY (ABC)
During the 8 o’clock slot on Wednesdays the missus watched America’s Next Top Model. Seeing as how I hate Tyra Banks, I can’t be in the same room as that show. I watched the first few episodes of Undercovers, but the show didn’t really capture my attention, so I usually spend this time reading books or blog posts. Anyway, after that we watch Modern Family, a show I’d heard a lot of good things about but didn’t watch last season thanks to a scheduling conflict (Lost, I think? How soon I forget…). For once in a long time, all the hype was right and I completely see why people love this show. I laugh so hard at this well written comedy that it hurts sometimes. MF is up there with my favorite comedies and might be the best written one on TV right now. 9:30pm – COUGAR TOWN (ABC)
Whereas I instantly fell in love with Modern Family, it took a little while for Cougar Town to suck me in. I think the problem with the show is that it’s not immediately obvious who these characters are and how they’re related. After looking a few things up on Wiki, I had a much better grasp of what was going on, which made it easier to laugh at. Basically Courtney Cox is a real estate agent with a son who’s just gone off to college. She’s dating one of the guys from Swingtown, her assistant is Busy Phillips, her ex husband/father of her kid hangs around and then Christa Miller and her husband hang out. They do a lot of drinking and jamming, which is awesome. It’s well written, though maybe a little too insidery, but once you get the relationships down, you’re good to go. 10:00pm – REAL WORLD/ROAD RULES CHALLENGE CUTTHROAT (MTV)
It’s pretty well documented that I like The Challenge. To me, a lot of these people are like the comic book characters of my youth. I spent a lot of time with them and still like seeing them carted out every now and then for my amusement. They’re just way worse at puzzles than Batman.

THURSDAY8:00pm – BIG BANG THEORY (CBS)
Still digging this show as anyone who reads my live blogs knows. I miss Penny dearly and there seem to be a lot fewer point-outable geek moments in the episodes, but that’s cool by me. Not looking forward to Eliza Dushku’s appearance because I’m not a fan of hers, but if she can be good on anything (I’m doubtful), it should be BBT! I’m still bummed that CBS moved this one against Community, which I also miss. 8:30pm – THE OFFICE (NBC)
I’m digging this season of The Office more than last season. I think they’re pulling out some of the stops because it’s Steve Carell’s last season. We’ll see how things play out. I’ve often said that the show could survive without Carell, that the secondary characters have been beefed up enough to support the show (one of the beauties of setting a show in a place is that you can stay with the place when people leave, just ask ER). Even with that, I wouldn’t be surprised if the show bowed out at the end of the season. Either way, it’s good with me. 9:00pm – 30 ROCK (NBC)
Hmmm, I’m not sure what to say about 30 Rock. I still dig the show, but I don’t get excited about it anymore. I dug the live episode and still have a lot of fun watching all the twisted relationships continue on in the weird hyper-real world the show is set. It’s still a solidly written and incredibly funny show, I just don’t know where it’s going, if anywhere. Ah well, I’m still along for the ride. 9:30pm – OUTSOURCED (NBC)
Outsourced didn’t really impress me right away with it’s premise of an American guy getting transferred to India to head up the call center that has been relocated to that now customer service friendly picture, but I’ve been having a pretty good time with it since then. Part of the reason I like the show so much is that I had a lot of friends who were from India in college, in fact, my first week at school I knew International students almost exclusively and there’s lots of bits in the show I experienced. Todd (the American) does need to tone down his ignorance when it comes to Indian culture a little to make the show more palatable, but I’m digging this one otherwise.

10:00pm – ?
With Jersey Shore ending last week, I’m not sure what we’ll me watching on Thursdays at 10pm. Anyone got any suggestions?

Season Premieres: SNL Update, Parks & Recreation, The Office & Community

Well, I have to say that NBC certainly brought it as the kids say today with their four big comedy season premiers. The Saturday Night Live Weekend Update on Thursday thing was fun even though I don’t pay much attention to the news so I was a little lost on some things. I did happen to listen to Madonna’s weird MTV Video Awards eulogy for Michael Jackson and am glad someone called her on it.

Moving right along, Park & Recreation was the surprise of the night for me. I was ROLLING. And anyone who’s a regular reader of the blog knows that I’ve definitely had my problems with that show. But this episode with Leslie becoming a minor gay icon in her small Indiana town. Maybe I’m just more used to the characters or maybe the writers finally are, but everything seemed a lot funnier and on point as opposed to the stumbles and fumbles that plagued this mid-season replacement last season. If you fell off the P&R wagon last year, I recommend hitting the bottle again.

The Office, one of my favorite shows, also didn’t disappoint. I like how Michael handled things with crazier and crazier lies. Who wouldn’t watch a spin-off about Kevin and the man driving him from the inside? I sure would. There’s not much else to say, but it feels like this show is still going strong and I think Jim and Pam might be my favorite TV couple.

And finally, my most anticipated show of the season, Community starring The Soup’s Joel McHale and Chevy Chase was pretty rad too. I really appreciated that they didn’t start the show on day one, but actually half a week in. That would have felt boring, which would not have served the comedy or story very well. Sure, we’re not given all the details right away, but we get the important stuff and everything else will just come along. It’s weird seeing Joel act because he seems so normal and actual on The Soup and Chase killed it. The entire cast really seemed to gel and I can’t wait to see where the show goes.

Like I said, it was a great night for comedy. I will miss My Name Is Earl and even Kath & Kim, but this line-up will do until 30 Rock comes back to rock my face off as per usual.

Series Finales: Thursday Comedy

As you all know, I’m a big fan of NBC’s Thursday comedy line-up (well, everything but Parks and Recreation). Well, I was pretty happy with the season finales for My Name Is Earl, The Office, Parks and Recreation and 30 Rock.

My Name Is Earl had some pretty obvious twists when it came to the end of the episode (Em called both of them), but I freaking love Norm MacDonald so that was awesome. It even makes up for the fact that they pulled MONKEEa Lost and are making us wait the summer to find out who’s kid is whose.

Parks and Recreation was okay. There was some stuff with Leslie and Mark, but it ended up just being weird. I do like seeing her let loose, go the club and try to break a bottle in the pit, but I’m hoping that it carries over into next season (if there is one). As it is, I think I like Kath and Kim better on a week-to-week basis, but I don’t necessarily want to see either show get canceled.

The Office was epic on all kinds of levels. When you start off with Dwight making that horse doctor joke, then follow up with reuniting Michael and Holly, THEN kick things up with a pretty hardcore volleyball game and THEN end with SPOILER Pam being preggo! Oh snap. Plus, you’ve got Dwight’s friend giving Angela shit for being a cheater, Charles vs. Jim on the court and Dwight and Jim actually hugging! Oh and the super awkward moments between Michael and Holly on and off the stage, all of which culminates in Michael’s heartbreaking view of his relationship with her through the lens of When Harry Met Sally. Ugh, awesome.

And of course, 30 Rock kicked ass. Again. As always. There were too many awesome moments for me to actually make note of them all, but I LOVED all the musician references. We got Liz being selfish, another good Kenneth and Tracy story and Jack being Jack. Here are the high point notes I took:

*”Fruit Blindness!”

*Tracy watching fake rain, awesome.

*”Suburban 7th graders have more sexual experience than you.” – Jack.

*”What do you think this is, Wings?” – Jack.

*Elvis vs. Clay.

*MJB is hilarious, Loch Ness Monster Charity!

*Clay is Kenneth’s cousin, awesome!

*”7th hour of the today show.” – Cerie.

*”S that D, Shut it Down.” – Liz, my favorite recurring quote.

*Tracey’s speech is awesome.

*”Okay but I’m allergic to horses.” – Tracy

*”Sit down Quiznos in Midtown?” – Liz

*The Beastie Boys are jerks.

*Oh man, I want to see the spin off of Tracy, Kenneth, Dot Com and Grizz in college!

*5 seconds in and the song is awesome.

*”We sure had quite a year.” – Liz “What are you talking about, it’s May.” – Jack. Great ending. Great song. Great show.