New Fall Shows 2015: What Are You Watching?

It’s getting closer to a new season of television! It’s always an exciting time of year to discover new shows and fall back in love with some old ones too. We’re still nearly two months out, so if you need something to fill your time, check out my most recent batch of show recommendations. If you’re looking to plan your viewing schedule, I recommend TVLine’s day-by-day grid or something like EpisodeCalendar or TraktTV. If all you want to know is the premiere dates of the new network shows, then this is the post for you. I’ve listed all of the new shows below with links to the trailer and a description if you haven’t had the time to check them out yet. This post will be stickied until we get midseason/spring premiere dates and will be updated with links to pilot episodes and reviews from me as they become available. Happy planning!
Continue reading New Fall Shows 2015: What Are You Watching?

What is Television?

If you haven’t been following along, NPR’s Linda Holmes has been writing a wonderful series about the current state of television today. As is typical for me, it’s inspired a lot of my own thoughts about the state of television today and how it’s evolving as a medium. I’ll be exploring some of those thoughts over the next month before we are all deluged with more TV than is easily kept up with.

As I’ve been reading the comments on her posts, I’ve been struck by a question that hadn’t occurred to me before. What do people associate with the term “television”? Is is the physical machine that sits in a living room or bedroom that one watches various programs on? Is it the programs themselves, but only during their first run when they could be conceivably watched via the aforementioned machine? Is it any series that started its life through that machine but has now found a second chance to be seen via streaming services like Netflix? Do Netflix (or Amazon/Hulu/Yahoo) shows also count as television, despite only living online?

In my opinion, it is all of the above. The machine with which we often watch shows is referred to as a television so the answer to that question is technically yes, but when someone says that they are a television fan, they aren’t here to argue about the relative benefits of a Samsung vs. a Vizio branded machine. They are here to talk about the relative merits of a style of audio visual storytelling in which content is broken down into smaller segments that historically have come out on a weekly basis over some segment of a year. Sounds exciting when you put it that way, doesn’t it?

Regardless of whether you are watching a show live on the piece of electronic equipment known as a television, the next day on your computer through a service like Hulu or your cable/satellite providers On Demand service, or years later on a service like Netflix, or if you combine the two methods and watch something on your television after it airs live through something like a Roku, you’re watching television. It doesn’t matter if the show originated on NBC, HBO, or Netflix, it’s all television.

So why is this even a question? Why are we confusing the concept of television as a medium and distribution methods? Why is the statement “I don’t watch television, I watch Netflix” meaningful to some people, as ridiculous as it sounds to me?

My best answer for this comes from the history of television and its interaction with American society.

While such views are becoming less common, there is still a knee-jerk reaction to television as a whole. I understand that in the past, it has been a signifier of class and intelligence to distance oneself from television. We’ve all heard the arguments. It is mass marketing and caters to the lowest common denominator. It rots our brains. It’s a passive media used by people who are too lazy to pick up a book. It’s all a ploy to get us to buy products and feed into our consumerist mentality. Some of these complaints may be legitimate, if not a little overblown. But largely, these concerns were a way of signifying your social distance from the people who enjoy it.

That mentality is slowly disappearance with the rise of (this iteration) of the Golden Age of TV and shows such as The Sopranos, Mad Men, Breaking Bad and season one of True Detective. Television has become cool to watch and its artistic merit is becoming more recognized. There is no longer a need to look down your nose and dismiss an entire method of storytelling as garbage because you heard about a show that didn’t suit your preferences because there is an abundance of options that cater to all tastes. It’s time to admit and embrace your love of television, no matter how you choose to watch.

Shows to Get You Through the Summer Hiatus

We are about two months away from the start of the fall season of TV and while there are some great options for summer viewing, one of my favorite things to do in the summer is to start a new show. I’ve already written one piece on short-lived shows that are well worth a watch, but in case you have already seen those or are simply looking for more recommendations, I present to you 15 different shows to get you through the remainder of the summer hiatus along with the approximate length of time it will take you to complete them.

Galavant (3 hours)
Episodes: 8
If all you want is something fun and short to watch, look no further than Galavant. It is a musical comedy with catchy songs and an incredibly fun cast of characters. I’m predisposed to like all shows with a musical element but this was one of my most enjoyed shows of the 14-15 TV season.

Selfie (4.75 hours)
Episodes: 13
If you’re willing to overlook a shaky pilot before watching two people who thought they knew who they were and wanted to be before the other came along to show them another way, then join me in my love for Selfie. Karen Gillan and John Cho are wonderful together as Eliza and Henry and sell every moment of their development as a team and as individuals. While Selfie was canceled far too soon, this show came so far and is one I’d recommend wholeheartedly.

Agent Carter (6 hours)
Episode: 8
If you’re a Marvel fan or just need more intelligent spy ladies in your life, it’s time to watch Agent Carter. Hayley Atwell reprises her role as Peggy Carter from the Captain America movies and shows us what it meant to work in the man’s profession of Intelligence in the 1940s. Watch her help a Howard Stark clear his name with the help of his butler Jarvis and her friend Angie Martinelli all while mourning the loss of Steve Rogers. Atwell is wonderful here as are James D’Arcy and Lyndsy Fonseca as they all show that you don’t need superpowers to be a hero.

Broad City (7.5 hours)
Episodes: 20
If you like friendships between female characters, you really need to be watching Broad City. Abbi and Ilana are in their 20s and living in New York City. Their lives are kind of a disaster but their friendship is solid and unshakeable. Ilana may be selfish and self-absorbed most of the time but her love for Abbi and desire for to experience all that life has to offer is incredibly endearing and will have you rooting for her. Add in some fun recurring characters in Lincoln, Jaime, and Jeremy and you have two seasons of friendship, weed and adventure.

Noah’s Arc (8.25 hours)
Episodes: 17 + a wrap-up movie
If you are looking for a show that features gay men of color, this is the little-known show for you. The characters on this show are so easy to love and root for as they navigate life, love, and challenges specific to their sexuality and race. I’m personally not a fan of the movie that followed the show’s cancellation but 17 episodes was simply not enough with these characters. It aired on LOGO and never seemed to achieve mainstream popularity, but it deserves to be seen.

Continue reading Shows to Get You Through the Summer Hiatus

Episode Spotlight: Five Years Gone (Heroes)

Plot: Hiro and Ando teleport 5 years into the future into a world where the bomb they’ve been working to prevent went off and those with powers became hunted and feared as a result.

Significance: With some changes to accommodate the remaining 3 seasons of the original Heroes, “5 Years Gone” is the rough setting for Heroes Reborn. There will be differences, of course, but the general concept of those with powers being hunted and feared along with some noted differences to Hiro’s character and appearance are straight out of this episode.

In the original show’s canon, this episode presents the future they are working to avoid and gives Hiro the information he needs to stop that future. It also explains why future!Hiro visited Peter on the subway to set him down his path

Lasting Impressions: I have always loved this episode and it makes me really excited to watch a whole show based in basically the same universe. I’m curious about which elements they will keep and which have had to be adapted based on original actor availability and the events that followed this episode in canon.

It’s not just the events that have changed the world, it’s the falling out and coming together of new relationships. There are glimpses of who these people were and how they related to each other but there isn’t a single person who was untouched. As a fan primarily of the characters and relationships rather than the plot, this is still the element of the episode I am most drawn to.

Continue reading Episode Spotlight: Five Years Gone (Heroes)

Episode Spotlight: Hush (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

It’s been too long since I last visited the world of Buffy the Vampire Slayer so I took the first of what will be many trips back there for this week’s Episode Spotlight.

Plot: The Gentleman come to Sunnydale and steal everyone’s voice.

Significance: This episode largely works as a stand-alone episode, but a few things happen in relation to the season arc and a few relationships.

As far as the arc goes, this is the episode Riley and Buffy find out that the other is keeping some fairly significant information from them. They don’t reveal what the secret is until the next episode, but they see that the other isn’t who they thought they were.

This episode also moves things along with all three of the romantic relationships going on. Buffy and Riley share their first kiss, Anya begins to trust in Xander’s feelings for her, and Willow and Tara perform magic together for the first time.

Lasting Impressions: This really is a fantastic episode. I really could just end this post here and you’d have all the information you needed to know. It’s just a really good episode of television that stands up to both time and rewatches.

First, this episode is extremely enjoyable to watch strictly for pleasure. Anya being Anya and horrifying Giles with her bluntness will always make me smile. Willow writing “hi Giles” on her dry erase board and the hug that follows it is heartwarming. Xander and Spike have a wonderfully antagonistic relationship and their bickering is often welcome.

Second, it’s brilliantly constructed. Nearly ⅔ of the episode takes place without any spoken communication but it doesn’t feel like an obtrusive gimmick. Whedon is so known for his dialogue and use of language in this show but even without it, everything about the episode works for me.

In many ways, it reminds me a lot of Once More With Feeling. Both deal with difficulties with communication, whether it is the physically inability to communicate or keeping things bottled up because speaking them aloud would be too difficult. Both are unusually structured episodes without sacrificing plot movement or character development. And both are fan favorites for those reasons, I suspect.

Continue reading Episode Spotlight: Hush (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Episode Spotlight: Luke Can See Her Face (Gilmore Girls)

This week I come back to another older favorite. Gilmore Girls will always be one of my favorite shows and this episode is a classic and one of my favorites.

The Plot: Lorelai, Sookie, and Michel prepare for the opening of their new Inn as Luke realizes his feelings for Lorelai with the help of an unusual source. Meanwhile, Rory comforts Paris after Asher winds up in the hospital.

Significance: This episode is the episode that had been building for nearly 4 seasons. Luke finally realizes that he wants to be with Lorelai. Their chemistry had been undeniable from the beginning and by this point, they’ve been through engagements, marriages, returns from former partners, fights, holidays, Rory’s graduation and so much more.

While not the most important episode in the “Lorelai opens an inn” story, it is one of the most memorable. The magical zucchini patch was not only magical for the characters who slept it in but also for the viewers in the way it summed up all that was good about the inn and Lorelai’s work life. It has always been a story about finding your own way and creating a new family around you who loves and understands you and I can’t think of a better episode to sum up that feeling than this one.

I never remember what is going on with Rory in this episode and she’s largely a background player here. It’s not a very significant episode but her reaction to Lorelai’s gossip about Dean and Lindsey’s marriage lays the groundwork for the plot development that occurs by the end of this three-episode arc.

Lasting Impressions: It’s been awhile since I’ve watched a Gilmore Girls episode and returning to Stars Hollow is always a nice treat. This was the first time since I started watching the show that I realized how much faster the dialogue is delivered. I know it’s what the show is known for and they even made it into a tagline that I adore, but since I talk pretty quickly myself, I had never noticed until now.

I had also forgotten how much happens in this episode. I remembered Lorelai stressing over the inn’s opening and Luke and the tape, of course, but I didn’t remember many of the scenes that were related but not directly part of those two stories. I had forgotten that the cats on the porch opened this episode, about Shel’s existence, and most surprisingly, Jess’s presence. It may just be that I was trying to block out his hair, which is not Milo’s most flattering look, but I had thought all the Jess scenes were in the next episode because that’s where I assume all things related to Liz’s wedding are.

Continue reading Episode Spotlight: Luke Can See Her Face (Gilmore Girls)

Episode Spotlight: Chasing the Bus (CSI)

I have been terribly delinquent at supplying new content for this blog, but since it’s the start of a new fiscal year, I’m going to treat it like a second new year and a fresh start. I want to get back to writing more frequently and that means a new feature! Every week, I am going to rewatch one of my favorite episodes and celebrate all that made them good or memorable. Some of these will be widely regarded as great episodes, others will just be ones that are close to my heart. Even if you aren’t familiar with the episode featured in any given week, that doesn’t mean you can’t join in on the fun. Feel free to rewatch one of your own favorites and tell me about it in the comments or join in with the discussion question at the end. There can never be too much discussion about the shows we individually love.

To kick off this new feature, I revisited an old favorite. “Chasing the Bus” aired in March 2002 and is the first episode of CSI that I remember watching. It may not have been the very first, but it was the one that inspired me to buy the first season on DVD and a 7 year love was born. It’s also one of my most-watched episodes of the show, though it had probably been 8 years since I last saw it.

The Plot: The CSIs investigate a bus crash outside of Las Vegas.

Significance: Especially in its early seasons, CSI was an episodic procedural. A case was introduced at the beginning of the episode and a suspect was arrested by the end in the majority of cases. The show was about the science behind the crime, so even character interactions were minimal and mostly contained to work-related discussions. There are hints at character relationships or at least general affection for the others, but nothing like what viewers are used to today in the world of Bones, Castle, and Elementary.

Continue reading Episode Spotlight: Chasing the Bus (CSI)

Why You Should Start Watching The 100

It would be fair to say at this point in time that The 100 is my favorite TV show on the air right now. Since I started it back in February (and even more so since I watched episode 2×05 in May), it has excited me and reignited all of my crazy fan tendencies in a big way. It’s a long wait until season three and I would love for more people to catch up during the wait, so if post-apocalyptic sci-fi is in any way your thing or if you just love great TV, regardless of genre, here are some reasons to start The 100 (first season available on Netflix)

The first reason to watch is the existence of Clarke Griffin as a character. From the very beginning, she was a leader. Not because she needed to be in charge, but because she felt the responsibility of taking care of the other kids. It made her the boring stick-in-the-mud compared to Bellamy’s leading style of “whatever the hell we want” but it also caught the attention of some like Monty who would have followed her to the end of the earth after only knowing her for a day. She draws people to her because they recognize her desire to help them survive and her ability to get things done. She’s the kind of character that other characters and viewers alike can be inspired by and the further into the series you get, the more you feel for her as she grows and adapts and is forced to make impossible decisions.

Even if you don’t love Clarke as much as I do, it’s not a problem because there are so many other fantastic characters. My own list of favorite characters is six people deep and I’d be hard-pressed to choose between them to pick an actual favorite. If you love character growth, this is a show for you. These characters grow and change in ways that are sometimes very dramatic and sudden but always consistent with what we know about them and what they’ve been through. Their opinions and actions change because that’s what a fight for survival calls for. It’s amazing to watch and occasionally heartbreaking and continues to enhance the journey we are taking with these characters.

Continue reading Why You Should Start Watching The 100

Dream Emmy Nominees

We’re just a couple weeks away from the announcement of the 2015 Emmy nominees and I predict I will be disappointed, as usual, with the people left out. So I’m making my own list of ideal nominees and hope you’ll join me. These aren’t the people I expect to be nominated and I fully recognize that there are many people who will (and should) be nominated from shows that I don’t watch and therefore didn’t include. These are just the people and shows I would love to see recognized that I have enjoyed over the past year.

When you’re done reading, head to the comments to share your dream nominees or talk about any of my picks!

Outstanding Comedy Series

  • Broad City
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine
  • Jane the Virgin
  • Looking
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Transparent

Outstanding Drama Series

  • The Americans
  • The 100
  • Masters of Sex
  • Orange is the New Black
  • Orphan Black
  • Rectify

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

  • Jonathan Groff as Patrick (Looking)
  • Chris Messina as Danny Castellano (The Mindy Project)
  • Jim Parsons as Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory)
  • Andy Samberg as Jake Peralta (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
  • Adam Scott as Ben Wyatt (Parks and Recreation)
  • Jeffrey Tambor as Maura Pfefferman (Transparent)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

  • Ilana Glazer as Ilana Wexler (Broad City)
  • Mindy Kaling as Mindy Lahiri (The Mindy Project)
  • Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope (Parks and Recreation)
  • Gina Rodriguez as Jane Villanueva (Jane the Virgin)
  • Tracie Ellis Ross as Rainbow Johnson (Black-ish)
  • Constance Wu as Jessica Huang (Fresh off the Boat)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

  • Josh Hartnett as Ethan Chandler (Penny Dreadful)
  • Terrence Howard as Lucious Lyon (Empire)
  • Sam Heughan as Jamie Fraser (Outlander)
  • Matthew Rhys as Philip Jennings (The Americans)
  • Michael Sheen as Bill Masters (Masters of Sex)
  • Adan Young as Daniel Holden (Rectify)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

  • Catriona Balfe as Claire Fraser (Outlander)
  • Viola Davis as Annalise Keating (How to Get Away with Murder)
  • Eva Green as Vanessa Ives (Penny Dreadful)
  • Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon (Empire)
  • Tatiana Maslany as Sarah, Helena, Cosima, Alison, Rachel, and Krystal (Orphan Black)
  • Keri Russell as Elizabeth Jennings (The Americans)
  • Abigail Spencer as Amantha Holden (Rectify)

Continue reading Dream Emmy Nominees

Upfronts 2015: NBC

Welcome to upfronts week 2015! By now, nearly all currently airing scripted shows have been either renewed or canceled and all that’s left is for the networks to show off their new offerings and release their fall scheduling. As always, NBC starts the week and it will conclude on Thursday with The CW. Below you’ll find a summary of the renewals and cancellations along with my analysis of the season on the network, a listing of new fall shows with their trailers and my initial reactions to them, and a list of new shows that will be held for midseason or summer if the schedule fills up. It’s a fun week to be a TV fan and I hope among these new offerings, we all find a new show to fall in love with.

Current Shows

Renewed: The Blacklist, Chicago Fire, Chicago P.D., Grimm, Law and Order: SVU, The Mysteries of Laura, The Night Shift, Undateable

Canceled: A to Z, Allegiance, Bad Judge

Awaiting News: A.D. American Odessey

Ended: Parks and Recreation, Parenthood

Analysis: After a couple years of improved performance with new shows, this was not a good year for NBC. Only one new show was granted a renewal (The Mysteries of Laura) and ratings for that are already nothing impressive. However, once again, NBC had ordered plenty of new shows for next season in the hopes that something sticks. Their Dick Wolf franchise of Chicago Fire/P.D. and SVU continue to be stable performers for the network, with crossovers that typically saw an increase of viewers across shows. The Backlist is down in the ratings after its move to Thursday but it still improves on the numbers for that night, giving the network some much needed stabilization on that night.

New Fall Shows

Dramas

BlindspotTrailer

If this wasn’t a Greg Berlanti show, I would have my doubts. Like so many shows in recent years, it seems like a better fit for a movie or maybe even a mini-series. As a sustainable show for a broadcast network, I’m not entirely convinced it will work but the trailer looks interesting enough that I’ll probably be checking out the first episode or at the very least, looking forward to hearing first reactions from critics.

HeartbreakerTrailer

I don’t know what to think about this show. On the one hand, I’m a sucker for medical dramas and enjoy watching them. On the other, for reasons that have nothing to do with her skill, I have a hard time watching Melissa George in things. Apparently the Alias fan in me will forever see her as Lauren and immediately distrust any character she plays, which is probably going to be a problem with her as the lead. On the other hand, I’ve gotten over similarly strong associations before, so maybe this will be the show that does it for me. It’s a little heavy on the Grey’s Anatomy vibe but I hope that in time, it will be able to carve out its own identity.

The PlayerTrailer

This one is not catching my interest at all. There are some slight shades of Person of Interest baked into the premise but with a focus on action rather than the sci-fi aspects of this sort of technology. However, despite my lack of interest, I think it will pair well with The Blacklist and maybe those two shows can give NBC slightly improved ratings on Thursdays this fall.

Heroes Reborn

There isn’t a proper trailer for this show yet, but I’ve tentatively been in since this project was announced. Despite everything, I have a lot of love for the original show and with Jack Coleman back, it’s worth at least a couple episodes of my time. I also really like Zachary Levi and Robbie Kay and it’ll be nice to see them in another show.

Comedies

People Are TalkingTrailer

Comedy trailers are admittedly hard to judge but this one looks a little rough. Once everyone settles into their characters, it could get better, but everything feels so forced right now. I’m skeptical when the best material they could use for this trailer focuses on the idea that their hot babysitter is also a porn star and it makes me suspect this won’t be a show for me. I did appreciate the wives were unbothered and not at all jealous of having an attractive babysitter without the concerns that she’d try to steal their husbands away. I’m less impressed that the lack of jealousy was out of disbelief that their husbands would have any success with the babysitter rather than just trusting them, but I guess we can’t have it all in network comedy yet.

Currently Unscheduled New Shows

Dramas: Chicago Med, Game of Silence, Shades of Blue

Comedies: Coach, Crowded, Hot & Bothered, Superstore, You, Me and the End of the World

What are your thoughts on NBC’s renewals and cancellations? Are there any of the new shows that get your attention?