Tag Archives: enlisted

Best of 2014: Shows

Of all the year-end lists, this one is by far the hardest for me. There are fewer choices when compared to my lists of characters, episodes, or actors but it’s also the least defined. I don’t even entirely know what I mean when I say these are the best shows of 2014. I watch and love so much television that it’s hard to know what the “best” is. Are they the shows I loved the most? Sometimes. I do love all the shows on this list but different ways. Are they the best, most popular shows I watch as determined by the wide variety of television critics online? Again, sometimes. There does seem to be a consensus that many of these shows are good-quality television. So what I’m left with is a combination of the shows that I feel consistently did things well over the past year and the ones I have loved the most. I’ve left off many of the “big” shows of the year that may have been technically good but failed to emotionally engage me in the same way. I’ve probably overrepresented comedies or comedy-adjacent shows but apparently that’s what I most wanted to watch this year because this list just feels right to me. As always, this is a list that says more about me than it does about the state of television in 2014. Head to the comments to tell me what you think makes a show worthy of a place on a “Best of” list and let me know your choices for 2014!

The Good Wife (CBS) Since the start of season 5, The Good Wife has proven itself to be a show that doesn’t shy away from the unexpected. It continues to reinvent itself and head in new directions. This year saw some changes for the show – Will’s death being the most notable. Diane left Lockhart Gardner, Cary was arrested, and Alicia started a run for state’s attorney. None of these characters are in the same place they were a year ago and the show is better for it. It’s allowed characters to interact in new ways and in combinations that had been previously lacking. With a continued use of fantastic guest and recurring stars, it remains one of the best-acted and most compelling dramas on TV.

Enlisted (FOX) You know a show must be something special when it touches the hearts of so many people. Enlisted’s fanbase may have been small but like many other comedies that have come before it, fans were passionate about this show and what it meant to them. It gave the focus to a set of duties that is little-known to civilians and it provided a look into just how hard the transition from war to peace can be. There was a lot this show did right. It thoughtfully examined the effects of PTSD, provided a wonderfully empathetic male character in Randy, and did it all by being genuinely funny. Perhaps the thing it did the best though was the focus on the relationship between the Hill brothers. All so very different, especially in the way they expressed their emotions, but the bond was always there. “Hands on head” moments were a surefire way to make me tear up because it felt so real. The chemistry between Geoff Stults, Parker Young and Chris Lowell was perfect. I wish we could have seen more of this amazing show but the 13 episodes we did get were well worth the time and emotional investment.

Transparent (Amazon) I knew this was a show for me very early on in the first episode. The Pfeffermans may not be the most likeable family on TV but they feel achingly real. The kids are selfish and self-absorbed in a way that a lot of us are without necessarily realizing it but they have moments of incredible kindness and compassion. They make big, life-altering decisions on a whim. They mess up and fight with each other and hurt each other but they forgive and accept each other as they are. The acting is wonderful and it is a beautiful look at becoming who you are. Maura’s transformation is the heart of the show. Flashbacks speak to her struggles and process of discovering who she is and the present time shows the lightness that comes with embracing yourself. This show is about people in all their beauty and ugliness and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Jane the Virgin (CW) I’ve already written up why I think this is a show more people need to be watching, but since I wrote that piece I’ve only fallen more in love with the show. In a TV landscape often filled with unhappiness or unrelenting drama and angst, Jane the Virgin feels remarkably grounded for a show about a girl who was accidentally artificially inseminated and whose roots are a telenovela. The plot may be extraordinary and soapy but the characters are full and emotionally rich. It’s hard not to love Jane, Xo, and Alba and want happiness for all of them. Rogelio is a true joy to watch. His personality is large and over-the-top but he remains real by his love for his newly-found daughter and his affection for Xo. It’s a show that makes me happy to watch every week because no matter what is happening (and it’s often a lot), my connection to these characters will draw me in to this heightened world.

In The Flesh (BBC America) What a beautiful gem of a show this is. At only 9 episodes between two seasons (with the fate of more seasons still up in the air), In The Flesh is a twist on the popular zombie stories of late. It’s not a story of human survival after a zombie apocalypse but rather a story of how medicated zombies are reintegrated into the society on which they wreaked havoc. The cinematography is beautiful, the characters will break your heart and make you love them, and and it examines issues like bigotry, the way religion is used to create zealous movements, the effects of PTSD and other mental illnesses on both individuals and their loved ones, and accepting who you are and the person you’d like to be.

Continue reading Best of 2014: Shows

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Best of 2014: Characters

When I look back at this year in television, what I most want to remember is how it affected me. I want to know what I loved or what impressed me and why and that’s exactly what this list and the ones that will be coming out over the next couple weeks set out to document. There is no formula for choosing what went on the list. Nothing here is objective, nor would I want it to be even it were somehow possible to objectively quantify an opinion. It will not look like anyone else’s list, though there will undoubtedly be similarities, and that’s a good thing. So enjoy my picks for my favorite/the best in television of 2014 according to me and please share yours in the comments below.

In any given year, there are a lot of characters I love. I admittedly have a tendency to love the emotionally guarded woman who is learning how to open herself up to love and happiness and this is the year many of those women did that in amazing ways. It was great year for so many of my favorites and the actors who brought them to life. There may have been better, more interesting, or more original characters on TV (if one can quantify characters in that way) but these are the 10 who touched my heart the most.

Kelly Severide (Chicago Fire) Kelly has always been one of my favorite characters but this year (this fall, in particular) has made me love him even more. Thanks to my years of TV watching, I had a horrible suspicion that both Severide and Shay wouldn’t make it out of the events of the s2 finale alive. Their friendship has been one of my favorite things about the show since it started and I was devastated to learn that my suspicions were correct. I watched him grieve for his best friend and turn into kind of a disaster for a few weeks only to wind up marrying a girl in Vegas who he barely knew and managing to turn it into something positive. He’s hurt and grown and has come out stronger. He and Casey have finally gotten their friendship back to where it should be and I have a feeling he’ll continue to be Casey’s support system through his problems with Dawson. If I can’t have his friendship was Shay on the show, I’ll take his friendship with Casey as a backup.

Abbie Mills (Sleepy Hollow) Sleepy Hollow may have fallen apart a bit in season 2 but Abbie Mills is still the best part of the show. She remains fiercely dedicated to her role as Witness, whatever that may entail. Need someone to stay behind in Purgatory so Katrina can do the magic needed to stop an Apocalypse? Abbie volunteers. Katrina needs a second person to help her do magic? Abbie steps up. Sheriff Corbin’s son needs saving? Abbie never gives up on him. She is loyal and true and a fighter and that’s why I love her. The episode where she and Jenny were briefly reunited with their mother and able to learn more about their family’s history was easily the best of the season because the focus was where it should be – on this incredible character and her role in fighting this war.

Emma Swan (Once Upon a Time) What a year it has been for her as a character and all of us as fans. We got more backstory about her heartbreaking past, we saw her be afraid and fall back on her instinct to run away and survive on her own, we saw her open herself up and find not only a home with her son and parents, but a dashing pirate who loves her, and a new friend who understands her. She’s growing and trying to be her best self and letting people help her along the way. It has been so incredibly rewarding to watch her allow herself to be vulnerable, especially as someone who struggles with that herself, and I can’t wait to see her continued growth and relationships with everyone in her life in 2015.

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My Top 5 Currently Airing or Recently Ended Under-watched Shows

In a world with so many different shows to watch, both old and new, shows inevitably get lost in the shuffle and never get talked about (whether it’s with your friends or critics) as much as you wish they would. So for day 2 of the Month of Love, I thought I would give some love to 5 shows that I adore that I wish more people were watching. Many of these get a lot of positive attention from critics, but aren’t necessarily being watched by a large audience. Most are niche shows that may never have a huge appeal but I have connected with them all and hope that through sharing them, one of them can connect with someone new.

Rectify  This show is beautifully melancholic with just enough hope and goodness to keep it from being overwhelmingly sad. In every moment, you feel the weight of Daniel’s previous sentence and the crime he may or may not have committed and the way it affects his life and the lives of those around him. But in so many of those moments, there’s also a sense of wonder, goodness, and the hope of redemption. It can be exhausting to watch because it makes you feel deeply but it’s also incredibly emotionally rewarding. The writing and direction of the show is only enhanced by the talent of the cast. Aden Young, Abigail Spencer, and Adelaide Clemmons in particular have all delivered truly stunning performances in this slow and contemplative drama.

Looking   This is a little gem of an HBO comedy. It feels very grounded and natural so even if it doesn’t necessarily make me laugh, I can still enjoy it. Jonathan Groff is charming as always but the real highlights of the show for me are Raúl Castillo as Richie and Murray Bartlett as Dom. Raúl Castillo and Jonathan Groff have a very easy chemistry with each other which makes episodes like “Looking for the Future” really shine because of it’s intense focus on their characters getting to know one another. Having watched “Queer as Folk” and “Noah’s Arc” in the past 5 years, one of the things that feels most remarkable to me is the fact that none of these characters are made to fit into a stereotypical box. They are all complex and can stand on their own.

Continue reading My Top 5 Currently Airing or Recently Ended Under-watched Shows

Episode of the Week: January 12th-18th

This week in television, Emily blackmailed Daniel into staying married to her on Revenge, concerns about vote rigging arose on The Good Wife, Castle learned that blood doesn’t make you family on Castle, Barney got slapped on How I Met Your Mother, the Mills sisters were awesome on Sleepy Hollow, Jude blamed himself for Callie running away and broke everyone’s heart on The Fosters, Jake and Amy went on the worst date on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Jess tried to bond with Coach on New Girl, Danny called his father on The Mindy Project, Kate learns how to punish kids from Diane on Trophy Wife, Casey continued to struggle from the aftermath of his injury on Chicago Fire, Antonio’s son was brought home safely on Chicago PD, Suburgatory returned and the Altman’s decided to stay in Chatswin, Pierce wants Troy to sail around the world then inherit Pierce’s fortune on Community, Ben was horrible at pranks on Parks and Recreation, Carrie found her killer instinct and learned Sebastian didn’t have one on The Carrie Diaries, and Enlisted showed us that empathy is not a negative trait for men.

This week, two sitcoms really stood out in my mind and I think both are deserving of the title of Episode of the Week. First, Enlisted really demonstrated how much potential this show has by the way it deals with the character of Randy. Randy loves being a soldier but he is terrible at it. He has a hard time turning his empathy off and it makes things like target practice difficult when your target has a family and backstory. I was sad when his brother Derrick broke that part of him in order to pass the marksmanship test until the show made Derrick regret what he had done. Randy is an enthusiastic, deeply caring character and the show doesn’t judge him negatively for that. His commanding officer instead commends him for that and tells Derrick that the Army needs more people like Randy to help the families left behind when someone is deployed. It was a beautiful message to send and made me really wish this show had better ratings.

This was also the week of the best Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode to date. Coming off its Golden Globe win, this episode (which would have been the last one had the episode order not been extended) provided a nice callback to Peralta and Santiago’s bet from the pilot and gave us some hilarious moments from Boyle and Captain Holt.

I love that a potential romance between Peralta and Santiago hasn’t been the focus of the series but I enjoyed seeing what that potential romance could look like if it happened in the future. The worst fake date was so detailed and I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see more of it because Santiago’s reactions would have been hilarious but I loved the scene on the roof that we did get even more. There’s a possibility of something interesting happening with these two characters. Their fake break-up leading to the arrest was so well done and showed how well these two characters can work together. I wouldn’t want them to date any time soon but I would like more interactions like the ones in this episode in the future.

All that being said, however, this episode was made by Captain Holt with an assist from Boyle. Holt faking a text message to get away from Sergeant Jefford’s wife was the funniest thing I saw on TV this week. It wouldn’t have worked nearly as well if Boyle hadn’t tried the same thing earlier in the episode and it just had me cracking up.

Midseason Pilot Review: Enlisted

Airs: Fridays on FOX at 9:30 EST

Timeslot Competition: Shark Tank (ABC), Hawaii Five-0 (CBS), Grimm (NBC), Reruns/Hart of Dixie (CW)

Premise: Three brothers end up stationed on the same military base, giving them an opportunity to work together and strengthen their bonds.

Pre-show Thoughts: Thanks to a lot of positive hype from various critics, I was really looking forward to this show. I enjoyed Alan Sepinwall’s interview with the creators and felt like they had a clear vision of what they wanted this show to be.

Post-show Thoughts: I really enjoyed this. Pilot episodes of comedies are not known for making me tear up but I loved the scene where the unit chose a motto. It was warm while still being funny.

I’m looking forward to seeing more of the brothers interacting with each other as well as the unit interacting and growing in abilities. The casting of Pete, Randy, and Derrick was excellent – they really feel like brothers. I love Randy’s enthusiasm for everything even if he’s not a great soldier. They balance each other out and that’s what makes them so enjoyable to watch.

I wish that FOX had given it a better timeslot because it’s current one is awful but I am going to enjoy watching this show for however long it airs.