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
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.
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
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!
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.
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?
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.
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:
*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.
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.
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).
Yup, I said it. In my opinion, The Office (the original BBC series) is the best TV series of all time and it only lasted 12 episodes with a two hour special capping things off.
The series started in 2001, dropped 6 episodes, then came back the next year for another 6 and then left fans hanging for a little over a year until they released the two hour Christmas special. The concept is similar to the American version in which a reality TV crew follows a group of officemates, focusing specifically on David, the obnoxious boss, Tim the everyman, Dawn the secretary and Gareth the office weirdo. David’s the kind of guy who doesn’t realize how out of touch he really is, while making uncomfortable jokes bordering on racism and sexism at various times. He also fancies himself a comedian, but his timing is awful.
Tim has a crush on Dawn who’s engaged to a brute of a fellow called Lee. Lee sucks, but then again he’s supposed to as you’re constantly rooting for Tim and Dawn to get together (he even asks her out twice with disastrous results). They’re really the big draw to the show, but it wouldn’t be what it is without Gareth who they often tag team to wind up.
At it’s heart The Office is a love story, though often of the unrequited sort as you root for Dawn to realize she’s making a huge mistake with Lee and run off with Tim so they can both go onto their dream jobs (Dawn wants to be an artist, Tim…well he doesn’t want to work at a paper company). Which brings up another soul-punching aspect of the show: growing up and what that can mean to your dreams. Both Dawn and Tim mention that they started their jobs at Wernham Hog to make some money and get a job while working on other things. Now it’s a few years later and they’re all still doing jobs that were supposed to be temporary. As someone in my 20s, I can really relate to the subject and I’m sure it’ll mean something completely different to me when I watch it again in 5 and 10 years.
I have to thank my good friend Rickey Purdin for turning me onto this version of The Office. When I moved out to NY and we moved in together I was watching the US version and he asked if I had seen the original (and not even in that pretentious way that a lot of people ask, even though he wasn’t a big fan of the US show at the time). I said I hadn’t even heard of it, but I was interested and within a few days we watched the whole thing in 2-3 days. It’s so funny on a moment to moment level that you get absorbed and the late hours don’t seem to matter as you move on to the next episode.
To fans of the UK version who got turned off by the US version’s first season, I have to say give it another shot. The first season of the US series was made up mostly of remakes of the original series, so it seems a little played out if you’ve seen the original. I hadn’t at the time, but its taken on such a life of its own (especially with the background characters) that it’s a completely different animal right now.
I’m not sure if this convinced anyone to really go out and rent or buy The Office box set (which I highly recommend), but I can’t recommend this show enough to anyone. I don’t think there’s anyone reading this blog that wouldn’t love The Office and very few people in the world who wouldn’t like it. In addition to the US version, there’s also Office TV series’ in Germany, France, Chile and Quebec, so it’s got a universal appeal. Also, if you’ve ever worked with other people, you can relate to some of the things on the show and Tim actually plays the pranks on his office nemesis that you want to (like putting his or her stapler in Jello or moving all of his possessions out of the office). Great stuff. Seriously, just go check it out.
One thing I recently realized is that there aren’t a whole lot of new shows coming out that I’m looking forward to. The new Christian Slater show looks pretty cool, so does Life on Mars, but they don’t start for a while. Mostly I’m excited for all the shows I dug last season to be back on.
MY NAME IS EARL (NBC)
Earl started off the season with an hour long episode (just like The Office) and it was a good one. Earl ended up helping Seth Green, who, a few years ago was on the Make a Wish program. Earl stole the horse he was supposed to ride in a parade. Thinking Seth’s character had died, he tries to make it up to his mom, but she reveals that Seth is still alive. So, to cross Seth off his list, Seth asks if Earl will help him film his awesome action movie, to which Earl agrees and everyone in town does too. There’s a great scene where Randy (Ethan Suplee) does a number of different impressions, including a dead-on Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs. Great stuff. There’s a lot of fun, on the fly super low-budget filmmaking and Seth Green was fantastic as the excited filmmaker. There’s a pretty sad ending (which you can probably guess if you think about it, though I didn’t see it coming until about 2 seconds before). But man, what a great episode to a great show.
THE OFFICE (NBC)
The Office is probably my favorite comedy on right now and definitely up there in my all time favorites (though the original is up there as well). As far as I’m concerned they’re pretty much separate animals by now. If you’re a fan, check out the deleted scenes on the DVDs for even more interviews with your favorite background characters (mine is Creed). The season premier had a lot of excellent moments. Spoilers ahead. The through story is that corporate offered the branch that loses the most weight three extra vacation days, so everyone’s trying to loose weight in different ways. So, unlike most episodes, this one takes place over a month instead of a day or two. Also during this time, Pam’s in New York for the summer for art school and Angela (who got engaged to Andy and caught banging Dwight in the season finale last year) continually gives Andy trouble in planning the wedding (though he’s so in love with her that he doesn’t care) and pages Dwight for secret trysts in a room in the warehouse. And the final, fist pumping super-spoiler is that Jim asks Pam to meet him halfway at a rest stop for lunch and proposes to her. I get giddy when stuff like this happens, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the rest of the season plays out.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE (NBC)
As I mentioned before, I missed the previous two SNL episodes, but I was in last night and got to check it out. Anna Faris hosted and Duffy was the musical guest. As can be expected there were a number of political sketches, but I was impressed with the debate sketch because it didn’t seem to lean too much one way or the other. I think my favorite sketch involved Anna Faris and Keenan Thompson in a rowboat. I would link to it on Hulu, but it’s not on there unfortunately. I will say that there is singing, which I always enjoy.
I picked up Duffy’s record soon after it came out based solely on her first single “Mercy” which has been played to death on the radio (which is why I don’t listen to the radio anymore). Her performance was kind of weird. Her singing and her band were right on, but she had these weird sorta doo wop dance moves that came off as kind of robotic. Not sure what the deal was, if she was nervous or something, but it reminded me of when I saw Black Sabbath on their first reunion tour and Ozzy would do the same three or four things on stage over and over again.
I think this has been a pretty good period for SNL. The last few years have seen a bit of a shift in the kind of comedy they’re going for (thanks in large part, I think to Seth Meyers, Bill Hader, Jason Sudeikis, Andy Sandberg and plenty of writers I don’t really know about), so I’m looking forward to seeing what else they’ve got planned this year.