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Completist destiny: Shows I’ve watched beginning to end

By on Jul 3, 2014 in Inner Monologues | 0 comments

Completist Destiny, as defined by Wikipedia, is the belief that a television addict such as myself is destined—nay, divinely ordained—to watch a series completely and completely chronologically. Fine, I admit: that might just be a dogma of my own creation. But I stick to it. (This is where you, in solidarity, shout, “Leave no episode behind!”) Of course, I have to compromise sometimes, like when networks boneheadedly air episodes out of order, or when I’m watching TV with someone who’s not as obsessive-compulsive devoted to the intended chronology as I am. Anyway, I was thinking today about the series I’ve watched in their entireties—i.e. series for which I’ve seen every episode made available. Here they all are, from the most prolific to the shortest-lived… and even the ones I’m not so proud I watched! The X-Files (205 episodes) Dawson’s Creek (128 episodes) Alias (105 episodes) Battlestar Galactica (78 episodes) Veronica Mars (64 episodes) Roswell (61 episodes) Samantha Who? (35 episodes) Eli Stone (26 episodes) Summerland (26 episodes) Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (22 episodes) Aliens in America (18 episodes) Worst Week (16 episodes) The Office (U.K. version, 14 episodes) Kings (13 episodes) Miss/Guided (7 episodes) Any show that I’ve watched that is not included on this list is a show that I’m still in the middle of, a show that I’ve given up on, or one of the (few) shows that I only watch occasionally. The sad truth is that very few of these shows ended of the producers’ own accord; far too many were axed. And some of them aren’t even available on DVD for future enjoyment. I’ll update this list periodically as I polish off more shows, starting with my dearly-beloved Pushing Daisies, for which I only have one more episode. (And parting is hardly ever such sweet sorrow.) Edits: Pushing Daisies (22 episodes, finished 9/12/09) Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (31 episodes, finished 9/16/09) Dollhouse (26 episodes, finished 1/29/10) Nip/Tuck (100 episodes, finished 3/30/10) Ugly Betty (85 episodes, finished 4/15/10) Lost (121 episodes, finished 5/23/10) 24 (193 episodes, finished 5/24/10) FlashForward (22 episodes, finished 6/12/10) Big Love (53 episodes, finished 7/4/12) The L Word (70 episodes, finished 9/13/12) Damages (59 episodes, finished 9/14/12) Gossip Girl (121 episodes, finished 12/18/12) 30 Rock (138 episodes, finished 1/31/13) The United States of Tara (36 episodes, finished 3/10/13) The Big C (40 episodes, finished 5/21/13) Dexter (96 episodes, finished 9/22/13) Breaking Bad (62 episodes, finished 9/29/13) GCB (10 episodes, finished 11/13/13) Private Practice (111 episodes, finished 6/4/14) The Office (201 episodes, finished 6/23/14) Californication (84 episodes, finished...

Web TV: The Scripted Shows of Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix

By on May 13, 2014 in Previews | 0 comments

With Amazon, Hulu, and Netflix establishing themselves as 21st-century television networks, a certain someone in my life thought it might be wise for me to make a guide to the programming available on those services. I’m only listing shows that are scripted, geared toward adults, presumably still in production, and produced (at least in part) by the service in question. (Hulu has a silly habit of labelling content produced by networks overseas as “Hulu Originals.”) AMAZON The After — A mysterious apocalypse unites eight strangers in this drama from X-Files mastermind Chris Carter. Starring Aldis Hodge, Andrew Howard, Arielle Kebbel, Jamie Kennedy, Sharon Lawrence, Sam Littlefield, Louise Monot, Jaina Lee Ortiz, and Adrian Pasdar. Alpha House — In this political satire from Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, four senators share a house in Washington, D.C. Starring John Goodman, Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy, Mark Consuelos, Yara Martinez, Alicia Sable, and Julie White. Betas — Young developers of a dating app called BRB search for investors by crashing parties. Starring Joe Dinicol, Karan Soni, Jon Daly, Charlie Saxton, and Maya Erskine. Bosch — Based on the Michael Connelly character, this drama follows an LAPD detective as he tracks the killer of a 13-year-old boy — while standing trial for his alleged murder of a suspected serial killer. Starring Titus Welliver, Jamie Hector, Annie Wersching, Amy Aquino, Amy Price-Francis, Scott Wilson, and Lance Reddick. Mozart in the Jungle — Classical musicians are just as debaucherous as rock stars in this comedy based on New York Philharmonic oboist’s Blair Tindall’s 2005 memoir. Starring Gael García Bernal, Malcolm McDonnell, Saffron Burrows, Lola Kirke, and Bernadette Peters. Ripper Street — In this continuation of the cancelled BBC series, the police of the Whitechapel H Division try to normalize the streets of East London in the wake of the Jack the Ripper killings. Starring Matthew Macfadyen, Jerome Flynn, and Andrew Rothenberg. Transparent — A Los Angeles family is shocked when the patriarch informs his children that he is a transgender woman. Starring Jeffrey Tambor, Gaby Hoffman, Jay Duplass, Amy Landecker, and Judith Light. NETFLIX Arrested Development — Picking up where it left off when it was canceled by FOX seven years ago, this offbeat comedy follows the dysfunctional Bluth family — held together only by the tireless effort of the one well-adjusted son. Starring Jason Bateman, Portia de Rossi, Will Arnett, Michael Cera, Alia Shawkat, Tony Hale, David Cross, Jeffrey Tambor, and Jessica Walter. House of Cards — Frank Underwood’s political ambition, vengeful scheming, and ruthless ascent to power is matched only by that of his wife — who’s less of a romantic partner than a partner-in-crime — in this adaptation of a BBC miniseries. Starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright. Hemlock Grove — In this visceral horror saga, a teenaged girl’s grisly murder sets off an investigation into a small Pennsylvania steel town — and a realization that not all of its residents are human. Starring Famke Janssen, Bill Skårsgard, Landon Liboiron, Penelope Mitchell, Dougray Scott, Frey Tingley, Madeleine Martin, and Michael Andreae. Lilyhammer — On the run from the Mafia boss he betrayed, New York City gangster Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano tries to establish a new life and a new identity in Norway, only to realize he can’t escape his criminal tendencies. Starring Steven Van Zandt, Trond Fausa Aurvåg, Marian Saastad OTtesen, Sven Nordin, Kyrre Hellum, and Anne Krigsvoll. Orange Is the New Black — One drug run for her now-ex-girlfriend lands Piper Chapman behind bars in a women’s prison, where she finds friends and rivals alike among the penitentiary’s diverse group of inmates in this comedic drama based on the memoir by Piper Kerman. Starring Taylor Schilling, Laura Prepon, Michael J. Harney, MIchelle Hurst, Kate Mulgrew, and Jason Biggs. HULU The Awesomes — In this comedy, all the cool members of a superhero league ditch the group, leaving behind a ragtag team of less-than-super heroes. Starring Seth Meyers, Ike Barinholtz, Taran Killam, Paula Pell, Kenan Thompson, Bobby Lee, Rashida Jones, Steve Higgins, Josh Meyers, Emily Spivey, Bill Hader, and Rachel Dratch. Deadbeat — A non-starter of a medium tries to provide closure to ghosts unable to rest in peace. Starring Tyler Labine and Brandon T. Jackson. East Los High — Love triangles and teenage dramatics abound in this all-Latino drama set in an East Los Angeles high school. Starring Janine Larina, Gabriel Chavarria, and Alicia Sixtos. The Hotwives of Orlando — Six women bond over shopping and clash over almost everything else in this send-up of the Real Housewives franchise. Starring Casey Wilson, Danielle Schneider, Tymberlee Hill, Andrea Savage, Angela Kinsey, Kristen Schaal, and Paul Scheer. Quick Draw — In 1875, Harvard grad John Henry Doyle becomes the sheriff of Great Bend, Kansas, and tries to restore order to the town in this improvised comedy. Starring John Lehr, Nick Brown, Allison Dunbar, Alexia Dox, and Bob Clendenin. The Wrong Mans — Two ordinary joes find themselves embroiled in a deadly conspiracy when one of them makes the mistake of answering a ringing phone at a car crash in this comedic drama. Starring Matthew Baynton and James...

TV’s Weirdest Family is in Kohler’s “Two Kids, One Toilet” Commercial

By on Apr 5, 2014 in Inanities | 0 comments

No offense to Kohler — a company whose products I genuinely respect — but its commercial entitled “Tresham” shows the strangest ostensibly-“cute” family dynamics on TV. It’s more a PSA for lockable bathroom doors than it is an ad for bathroom plumbing. Imagined logline: Two kids urinate simultaneously in a Kohler toilet while nude Mom enjoys a soak in a Kohler bathtub mere feet away. As the commercial starts, the two boys open the door just wide enough to scope out the situation and their mother inside, who is luxuriating in a bubble bath — perhaps contemplating the mystery of that odd latch mechanism on the door. (“There must be a way to ensure my privacy! Is there something else one should do to a bathroom door after closing it?”) And as the rugrats breach Mommy’s Spa Weeknight, the woman doesn’t even check to make sure her bobbly bits are properly covered by the bubbles. Worse, she actually sits up in the tub — the suds struggling to maintain their grasp on each boob like Leo holding on to that wood plank at the end of Titanic. Unfazed by the nudity of their mother, the lil’ cherubs run over to the Kohler toilet, jockeying for prime position, and start peeing, actually booty-bumping each other mid-urination — as the mother cranes her neck for a better look. (“Are those yellow streams reaching their intended target?”) Yes, dear NCIS viewers, you are watching two little kids peeing. But hey, check out that toilet bowl! Are those lines not elegant? Then, after watching how the toilet lid closes itself ever so gracefully, the kids run over to the sink for an impromptu water fight. Why not, after all? It’s only then that Dear Old Dad comes in and beckons the miscreants out. The kids dutifully vacate the room; and Dad smiles at his wife, turns the lights down, and leaves her to her now-tepid bath. You know, tepid like the love between these two completely unflirty spouses. Uh, dude, your wife is disrobed before you, and you can’t afford at least one lecherous stare? Well, the upside is that the plumbing looks just fabulous. And better yet, Peeing Kid #1 and Peeing Kid #2 now have great footage for their acting reels. The company’s motto is “The Bold Look of Kohler,” but I’m not sure America was ready for this particular bold...

Phil Robertson Is a Ducking Bigot

By on Mar 23, 2014 in Rants | 0 comments

I won’t mince my words: Duck Dynasty‘s Phil Robertson is a bigot — a “forgiving” and “tolerant” one or not — and A&E is reprehensible for not taking his offenses more seriously and for kowtowing to its Phil-supporting viewership. I know this issue is months old at this point, but it seems to have washed out of the news cycle — and every day that Phil remains gainfully employed by A&E only adds to the injustice. Then again, Phil would likely surmise that I’m only commenting now because I’ve been too busy with acts of terror, hostility, and murder. Before continuing my “rage spiral,” I’ll back up and provide a little context. In an article published in the January 2014 issue of GQ, Phil defined sin: “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men … Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right … We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus — whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?” Drunks and terrorists — into such fine company he groups us! Then he comments on how “desirable” certain naughty bits are  — on the basis of sheer speculation, mind you. “It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.” By doing so, Phil reduces the wide-reaching and complex span of sex and sexuality into a narrow-minded binary choice between anatomical parts. Then again, perhaps the dude is only with his wife because of her vagina and not because of any other aspects of her womanhood or personality. Oh, and he also claimed that black people were “godly” and “happy” before the Civil Rights Movement. “No one was singing the blues.” Soon after the GQ article, the Internet lit upon a video, purportedly from Berean Bible Church’s Wild Game Supper in 2010, in which Phil says, “Women with women, men with men — they committed indecent acts with one another, and they received in themselves the due penalty for their perversions. They’re full of murder, envy, strife, hatred. They are insolent, arrogant, God-haters. They are heartless, they are faithless, they are senseless, they are ruthless. They invent ways of doing evil.” A&E initially suspended Phil from the show, writing, “His personal views in no way reflect those of A+E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely” But after a deluge of petitions and criticisms, A&E reversed its decision about a week later, releasing this statement: “While Phil’s comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the ‘coarse language’ he used and the misinterpretation of his core beliefs based only on the article. He also made it clear he would ‘never incite or encourage hate.'” The statement continues: “But Duck Dynasty is not a show about one man’s views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family … a family that America has come to love. As you might have seen in many episodes, they come together to reflect and pray for unity, tolerance, and forgiveness. These are three values that we at A+E Networks also feel strongly about.” Oh, no, you di’nt, girlfriend. How exactly are we misinterpreting Phil’s beliefs? And are we supposed to believe he’s forgiving and tolerant? I believe that he thinks he believes in forgiveness and tolerance. But what have we done that needs his forgiveness? And in what warped world does calling us murderous, heartless, and evil qualify as “tolerance”? And speaking of which, “tolerance” is such a low bar to clear — it’s the bare minimum. “Tolerance” implies bearing with something unpleasant. I tolerate security checkpoints at airports. I tolerate cramped subway cars. I tolerate ads for ABC’s Resurrection. We could shoot for “co-existence,” which surely has the same meaning as “tolerance,” but at least it doesn’t imply that judgment or disapproval is happening. Also, “tolerance” implies that we gays have a choice — that we’re choosing to be gay instead of simply choosing to be. It’s assuming a lifestyle and not an identity. All of that said, I’m not blaming Phil’s entire family just for his actions. Unlike Phil, I don’t generalize. The rest of the fam seems nice enough — they’re probably hard-working people who deserve their success and happiness — and who hopefully don’t share the beliefs of the family patriarch. Yes, Phil has the freedom of speech. But A&E has the freedom to take Phil off its payroll — to let him “speak freely” as a layperson and not as a celebrated and richly-compensated TV star. He has been and continues to be an ambassador for its brand. I’m no TV executive, but if I were, I would...

The Great TV Show Title Jumble

By on Sep 17, 2013 in Inanities | 0 comments

Today in Hypothetical Alternate Realities: What would happen if two totally different shows exchanged words in their titles? Behold. Drag Notice — HR representatives are replaced by drag queens, who then put delinquent employees on notice. “Gurl, you betta werk!” RuPaul’s Burn Race — RuPaul trades her loving “shade” for appallingly cruel barbs (punctuated, of course, by her trademark cackle). Pretty Little Anarchy — Four teenage fashionistas live to regret having overthrown the government of Rosewood. Sons of Liars — Four grown sons of formerly-teenage fashionistas form a motorcycle gang… and dish about small-town secrets over nonfat lattes. The Good Stars — An inventory of all the celebrities in Hollywood who haven’t been arrested for DUI, become a Scientologist, flashed their nether regions, or made anti-Semitic remarks. Dancing with the Wife — Octogenarian gents gently sway back and forth with their white-haired spouses. Orange Is The New Model — Beautiful and super-skinny women are judged by their spray-tans. Tan Mom and Snooki co-host. America’s Next Top Black — An affirmative action-packed hour! White people: Watch this to make your privilege magically disappear! America’s Got Runway — A picturesque travelogue showcasing the most magnificent of the nation’s landing strips. Project Talent — A search for a reality show that can actually generate legitimate stars. The X Factor, America’s Got Talent, and The Voice need not apply. Once Upon a Theory — A magical journey through a fantastical world filled with fabled physicians. The Big Bang Time — Two dweebs and their hot roommate get down and dirty. (To be aired only at 3 AM on pay-cable channels.) Top Demons — Padma Lakshmi appraises the culinary efforts of 16 cheftestants… in Hell! Da Vinci’s Chef — Sweetly oafish cook prepares meals for misanthropic inventor. (Terrible Italian accent: “Signore, your a-pasta is-a ready!”) United States of Love — A reverse-elimination show in which hippies just add more and more contestants to their commune. Big Tara — Toni Collette not only has multiple-personality disorder… She also keeps getting larger! The C Word — Women gleefully zoom up the corporate ladder past their pathetic and misogynist male counterparts. The Big L — The plus-size version of The L Word. Californialess — A drama imagining a dystopian future in which California detaches from the rest of the Continental 48, just like so many conservative pundits have hoped for. Shamecation — Honeymooners retreat to an exotic tropical isle… filled with harshly-critical strangers. (“Who do you think you are?” “You can’t do that!” “You can’t put that there!” “You’re doing it wrong!”) Arrested Town — Emily Thorne of Revenge decides that the focus of her vendetta is too small and instead goes after all of East Hampton, NY… regardless of whether each inhabitant is innocent or not. Cougar Development — Barely-legal young men transform women of a certain age from milquetoast to to MILF! The Walking Anatomy — Body parts reanimate and detach themselves from corpses. TV-MA episodes feature zombie genitals. Grey’s Dead — Ellen Pompeo is the only living (and loving) being in a hospital full of the undead. Such drama! Such romance! Special thanks to Jasel and fiancé Alex for their creative...

2013 Emmys: And the nominees are…

By on Jul 28, 2013 in Tinseltown | 0 comments

After poring over the 2013 Emmy nominations, I have a just a few observations, objections, musings, congratulations, speculations, and ramblings. American Horror Story has quickly become one of my all-time favorites, so I’m gratified that Emmy voters share my love for it and awarded it 17 nominations this year, more than any other program. Game of Thrones leads the dramas with 16 nods, and 30 Rock reigns over the comedies one last time with 13. Saturday Night Live holds the record for having the highest total of nominations for a variety show — or any show — with its 171 nods. But considering it’s been Emmy-eligible for 38 years now and has thus received average of 4.5 nominations per year, its longevity is more impressive than its nomination history. That said, SNL earned 15 nominations this year, more than thrice its average. This is the show’s second most-nominated year, second only to 2011’s 16 noms. That should silence the haters! 30 Rock, meanwhile, gained 103 nominations over its seven seasons — an average of nearly 15 nominations per year. Mad Men has reaped 97 nods over the six years it’s aired so far, resulting in an average of just over 16 noms per year. The West Wing holds two records from 2000: the show with the most Emmy wins for a single season, and the show with the most Emmy wins for its first season. No series this year stands to break that record, but House of Cards could tie it. HBO remains the most-recognized TV network with 108 nominations, which is 27 more than last year, over two times as many as its closest competitors (CBS and NBC, which both have 53), and over three times as many as its closest cable competitor (Showtime, which landed 31). And welcome to the Emmy-verse, Netflix! 14 nominations in your first year is nothing to scoff at. The Big Bang Theory is the only nominated veteran comedy to receive a successively greater number of nominations each year, which suggests that the show — which I admittedly don’t watch — simply gets better and better. On the drama side, Breaking Bad can make the same claim, save for 2011, when it wasn’t nominated only because it hadn’t aired during the eligible timeframe. And on the reality side, The Amazing Race just this year gave up that upward trend, having dropped from 7 last year to 5 this year. That’s alright — I still think you’re Amazing! Congrats to the first-time nominees in the acting categories: Morena Baccarin (Homeland), Linda Cardellini (Mad Men), Anna Chlumsky (Veep), Emilia Clarke (Game of Thrones), Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom), Adam Driver (Girls), Vera Farmiga (Bates Motel), Rupert Friend (Homeland), Tony Hale (Veep), Harry Hamlin (Mad Men), John Benjamin Hickey (The Big C: Hereafter), Toby Jones (The Girl), Peter Mullan (Top of the Lake), Carrie Preston (The Good Wife), Zachary Quinto (American Horror Story: Asylum), Charlotte Rampling (Restless), Imelda Staunton (The Girl), Kerry Washington (Scandal), and Robin Wright (House of Cards). Connie Britton is a flawless human being, so it’s only fitting that she get all the nominations in the world, including this year’s nod for her work on Nashville. (If there were an award for Outstanding Legs Nearing 50 Years Old, she’d be a shoo-in.) If Emilia Clarke of Game of Thrones wins over Connie, I’d object mightily. I love Daenerys, and I do think Emilia does do an “outstanding” job, but I can’t remember any particularly Emmy-worthy moments this year. Much as I bow to the Bryan Cranston throne every time I watching Breaking Bad, I am starting to feel a little bad for Jon Hamm, who’s been nominated ten times — six of which for his work on Mad Men — and hasn’t yet won once. Kudos to his co-star Elisabeth Moss, who is double-nominated in “lead” categories: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Mad Men and Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie for Top of the Lake. I’m also delighted to see Breaking Bad‘s Jonathan Banks recognized for his performance as the prickly (and often prick-ish) fixer Mike Ehrmantraut. Carrie Preston recently said that she’s game for a Good Wife spin-off of her character, Elsbeth Tascioni, who disarms legal opponents with her quirky charm before eviscerating them. I’m in full support of an off-shoot, as I am of her Emmy nom. It’s no surprise that the infamous Red Wedding episode of Game of Thrones, “The Rains of Castamere,” was recognized for its writing, but I am surprised the same installment wasn’t recognized for its directing. Girls‘ Adam Driver certainly deserves his Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series nomination, though I would argue that his best work is the show’s dramatic moments. Last year, the entire adult cast of Modern Family was nominated; this year, the voters nominated all of them except for Eric Stonestreet, which seems a bit unfair since he took home an Emmy for his performance last year. I’m so gratified to see John Benjamin Hickey finally recognized for his work alongside Laura Linney on The Big C: Hereafter. Both actors are superb — as are all the actors on that show, for that matter. Weirdly, a song from Nashville seems to have actually lost its nomination between when I first started writing this article and today. “Nothing in This World Will Ever Break My Heart...