Thursday, February 23, 2017

Shows We're Watching (and Not Watching) Part 2

In Part 2 of our series, we'll cover the currently running or recently ended shows that we hung with for a season or more but then eventually dropped like an unused gym membership. In most cases, I'm the one who consciously or subconsciously ended the relationships with these shows. Not because the FGW doesn't have equal say because she does, however, she tends to forget what we we've been watching as recently as yesterday. Probably because she's a mom and a therapist* which means that she has the needs and problems of no less than ten people consuming her thoughts at all times. I don't want to say I intentionally take advantage of this but let's just say that if I "forget" about a show, it magically disappears from our radar like a fishing boat in the Bermuda Triangle.

To spice-up this section, I've added grades because who doesn't love grades when you're on the dispensing side of them? I even went so far as to get the FGW's opinion so we'd have the benefit of the male/female perspective. You'll notice that she's an easier grader but, for the most part, we rate these shows about the same. I would attribute this to a couple of things: 

(1) The FGW plays the part of the woman extremely well (mom, wife, daughter, etc.) but make no mistake, she is basically a dude at heart** so she enjoys watching Liev Schreiber take batting practice on some poor bastard's ribs just as much as she enjoys watching Giuliana Rancic working the red carpet*** at the Oscars; and

We'll get to this maniac in Part 3.
(2) We've been together so damn long that our tastes have almost fully merged which is great for picking shows to watch but a pain in the ass when she's constantly asking to share my dinner at a restaurant or worse, ordering the same thing. Seriously, who spends fifteen minutes waffling between the salmon and the sea bass only to order the prime rib at the last minute? I already ordered the prime rib! I don't want the other person at the table eating the same damn thing as me. Then it's just like eating at home and, let's be honest, once you hit a certain age, eating at home sucks (unless it's alone in front of the TV with a killer sandwich, potato chips and a Coke).

So without further tossing of this introductory word salad, here is a list of quality shows to which we handed a nice pen and said . . .


Orange is the New Black (FGR: B- . . . FGW: B)

I can't remember exactly when we checked-out on OITNB. I guess it was earlier than I thought because I just scrolled through a few episodes from the second season and don't remember any of them (not a good sign). It's a clever show. Well written and acted with a deft touch on the dark comedy but, from the minute Piper walked into jail for what was supposed to be a somewhat brief stay, she started doing stupid shit that would only serve to make that stay last longer. Maybe the point of the show is that jail does that to you but all I saw was an irrational fool repeatedly acting against her own self-interests. Also, nearly every non-incarcerated character is written as a bottom dwelling piece of shit to make the inmates (who are almost all victims of circumstance) more likeable. That gets old as does the fact that the main characters are in prison day after day and season after season. I don't do well with confinement and don't really want to watch a show about it. There's a reason most prison movies end with an escape.

Silicon Valley (FGR: B . . . FGW: B)

I kept expecting this show to make me laugh more and laugh harder. Especially every scene with T.J. Miller who is a really funny mutherfucker and essentially plays a version of himself. It definitely had its moments but too often I was trying to convince myself that it was funnier than I actually thought it was. It also turns-out that I'm just not that interested in the whole tech start-up venture capitalist world. Probably because I'm too simple to understand it. It didn't help that this show didn't seem to register one iota with the FGW (who gave it a "B" anyway) and I think she was just watching it because she thought I liked it. (I hope she never expects me to return the favor).

Masters of Sex (FGR: B . . . FGW: B+)

Caplan is also great and,
as we learned from True
, she isn't exactly modest.
I'd highly recommend the first season and, since it's historical fiction, you can pretty much check-out after you get the gist without the fear of missing something later (as far as I know). I'll give Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan credit because I'm not sure this show makes it to a second season without them. In fact, there may not be a better actor than Sheen currently doing a regular T.V. gig (he's awesome in The Queen, Frost/Nixon and especially The Damned United). At some point after you get past all of the 1950's sexual taboos and shenanigans, Masters of Sex seems to just keep turning in smaller and smaller circles like a zamboni with a passed-out driver.

Episodes (FGR: B . . . FGW: B)

Matt LeBlanc finally found his post-Friends footing by playing himself in a comedy that's funnier than you would expect. In fact, I'd go so far as to call the first season laugh out loud funny as two sophisticated British writers are forced to craft a Hollywood sitcom around Joey in his later years. Unfortunately, that shtick kind of wears-off leaving LeBlanc to carry the show which he does well for awhile but then that wears-off too.

House of Cards (FGR: B+ . . . FGW: B)

We're still soldiering through House of Cards . . . but barely. We hit it once every two months only to be reminded of how dark, hollow and pessimistic it's become. Almost as if it was trying to predict some kind of political apocalypse. I was kind of surprised when I saw that it's only had four seasons because I was getting ready to write that they should've wrapped it up after Season 5 because I was sure we were on like Season 7. When you start counting down seasons of a show like they're hours left on a temple pounding flight home from a three day bender in Vegas, it's time to stop watching.

Orphan Black (FGR: B+ . . . FGW: A-)

Like so many shows on this list, Orphan Black crushed season one. It also had a couple of other things going for it. Namely that it (a) was about modern cloning which was uniquely cool and (b) stars Tatiany Maslany who plays about a half dozen different versions of her cloned self and is really damn good at it. The problem with a show so clearly conceived by guys on acid is that, when the trip is over and they look at the crazy story they created, they think "holy shit where am I supposed to go from here?" The answer in Orphan Black was to just keep adding characters, conspiracy theories and more clones until you stopped asking "which one is that?" because you didn't care anymore.

Mr. Robot (FGR: A- . . . FGW: B+)

"Step into my office . . .
 cause you're fuckin' fired!"
We haven't given-up on Mr. Robot because it's main fault was getting caught-up in the jet wash of some of the preferred shows we'll discuss in Part 3. In fact, forget we mentioned it in Part 2 when it belongs in Part 3. Shit. Part 3's the key number here. Think about it. 3 little pigs. 3 times a lady. 3, man, that's the number. 3 chipmunks twirlin' on a branch, eatin' lots of sunflowers on my uncle's ranch. You know that old children's tale from the sea. It's like we're dreamin' about Gorgonzola cheese when it's clearly brie time baby. (I couldn't come up with a real ending).


* Yes I am married to a therapist. I know right?  

** I mean this as a compliment so hopefully it will be taken that way. One of my favorite things about my wife is when she calls-out other women for being overly emotional, catty and/or generally full of crap. She has that rare gift of being able to call people on their bullshit in such a way that they seem to like her more after she does it. I seem to have the opposite gift.

*** "Working the red carpet" is what we in the writing business like to call a double entendre and that's as far as I'm going with that. 

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