Saturday, September 30, 2017

Football Counter-Programming 2017: Week 5

On Thursday night I decided to watch the last hour or so of You've Got Mail. I was likely influenced by recent listens to "The Rewatchables" podcast and so I was in the mood for some previously enjoyed films of recent years.

ANYWAY . . . as I was watching Tom Hanks manipulate and deceive Meg Ryan-and then inexplicably watch Meg Ryan forgive and love the man that ran her out of business and reawoke the pain of her mothers death . . . I got to wondering--which Meg Ryan movie is the best movie?

NOTE that I am leaving aside all of the movies that she made after You've Got Mail. Well, honestly, my question boils down to this: Which  of these Meg Ryan romantic comedies is the best: When Harry Met Sally, Joe Versus the Volcano, Sleepless in Seattle, and You've Got Mail.

And when you ask the question like that, you are really asking two separate questions;

Question 1: Which Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks movie is best?

This means you have to decide between Joe, Sleepless, and Mail. As much as I am a fan of Joe Versus the Volcano, it can't hold itself up against the higher quality efforts of the latter two films. Maybe that makes me a New York-lovin' snob. (Remember that Meg Ryan's character spends her time in Sleepless in Seattle in New York while Hanks is raising his widowed son in the J. Crew earnestness of the Pacific northwest.)

So, I'm left to decide which Ryan/Hanks couple is better. And maybe you can tell from my sentiments a few paragraphs above that I'm very much against the plot and resolution of You've Got Mail?  Seriously, go back up five paragraphs and read that again. THINK about what Tom Hank's Joe Fox character did to Ryan's Kathleen Kelly. He catfished her before there was such a term. He emotionally manipulated her--especially in the last hour, past the point where he KNEW who he was corresponding with . . . and she did not. He purposefully set up scenarios in their casual afternoon meetings--AFTER he put her out of business--to subtlely turn her towards him. It's just NOT OKAY.

So . . . I'm going to say that Sleepless in Seattle is the best Ryan/Hanks film. Who's gonna dispute that? If you don't like it . . . come at me in the comments.

But then--we've got to confront

Question 2: Is Billy Crystal better than Tom Hanks?

Because . . . we've still got to figure out which Meg Ryan romantic comedy is best. And so we've got to decide if Sleepless in Seattle is better than When Harry Met Sally. And if we are going to do that we have to decide if Tom Hanks is better than Billy Crystal.

Maybe you disagree? Because . . . well, as much as I like When Harry Met Sally (and I really, really do), I can't say that Billy Crystal is the same caliber of actor as Tom Hanks. Can anyone make that a credible argument? Tom Hanks has two Academy Awards! Billy Crystal made Mr. Saturday Night. Their acting Venn Diagram doesn't do much intersecting at all.

But . . . leaving that aside--(can you?) --I guess we can concede that When Harry Met Sally is a stronger movie that Sleepless in Seattle. Do we agree on that? The overall cast of WHMS is better than SiS. And the plot of WHMS is stronger than SiS also. The question of whether or not men and women can be platonic friends is a more compelling one than whether or not two people can randomly fall in love because of talk radio and a replay of the plot to An Affair to Remember.

But! Billy Crystal is NOT better than Tom Hanks!

What if Tom Hanks has been cast as Harry. What might that have been like? Would it be a better movie? And what if Billy Crystal had been cast as Sam Baldwin? Would he have made SiS a better movie?

Making a movie is a complex mix of chemicals and egos and writers and timing. And the fact is that Sleepless in Seattle hit the Tom Hanks timing at the right moment. He was the male romantic lead that the nation wanted. And so everyone wants to think that SiS is the better movie because everyone loves Tom Hanks. But you can't let that cloud your judgment of the movies. And you can't let you opinion of the movies sway you into thinking that Billy Crystal is better than Tom Hanks.

So . . . have I confused you enough? Are you now prepared to determine which Meg Ryan romantic comedy is the best one? Are you ready to admit that her romantic comedy career peaked all the way back in 1989 when she played Sally Albright in When Harry Met Sally? Because that IS the answer to that particular question.

And remember . . . until next time--f your alma mater's Right Tackle has a wrong opinion about Billy Crystal, just bench him until next week. You are still in the cupcake portion of the football schedule anyway. He can afford to rethink things until the more important October games hit the schedule.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Football Counter-Programming 2017: Week 4 Bye Week


During every football season, there is a week with no game. It's called a bye week.

Since I am travelling this weekend, this is going to be my bye week..

So . . . that's it for this week.

Remember . . . no one cares--well, you can make up the rest. It's my bye week.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Fall TV Preview 2017: What I'm Likely to Watch

We've already covered how I feel about the new shows (or at least some of the new shows) coming out this Fall. So, now it is time to get real. What am I actually going to watch this year?

The easiest way to figure that out? Let's browse my DVR queue and see what we can find.

The Good Place (NBC, returns Sep. 20, at 10 pm) Last year I was skeptical of this show at first. But--for once, I listened to Dean early on and gave this show a try. And I found that I liked it. Don't be fooled by its candy-coated exterior (especially if you are catching up and watching season 1 at this point). It's (a bit . . . ) deeper than it seems. Not tons deeper or anything, no matter how often Chidi talks about Emmanuel Kant. But it's a fun watch.

iZombie (The CW, returns sometime this winter?) I admit that I struggle with this show. I started watching it because Lynda seemed interested and I've played along. I don't love it by any means. Its the sort of show that I listen to and watch with one eye while I'm checking out Twitter. The plot has gotten twistier as the seasons have gone on. But I can't honestly say that I keep up with every new development. If you wish Veronica Mars was still on TV and you don't want to watch Kristen Bell on The Good Place, you might find enjoyment here.

Mr. Robot (USA, returns in 2018?) Dean already noted how confusing season 2 was. But I'll hope that season 3 pares down the plot and gets back to the mystery of what is going on inside Elliot's head.

The Flash (The CW, returns Oct. 10) This has always been the most consistent and reliably fun-to-watch superhero show on the Arrowverse network. Last season, however, spent too much time on the importance of Iris--the least charismatic and least interesting person on the show. We need more Tom Foley so that I can continue to infuriate Grace with lots and lots of Draco Malfoy jokes.

The Magicians (SyFy??, returns in 2018?) I still haven't read the book(s?). But I like the show, which says Sucks to you Harry Potter fans and gives you fun.

You're the Worst (FX, returned Sep. 6 at 10 pm) Not the sort of show you can watch with your kids. But I like how terrible the characters are. Sort of like Seinfeld on crack, maybe. But like that show, nobody is learning any lessons and they are convinced that they are better than everyone else.

Supergirl (The CW, returns Oct. 9) Grace and I fought a bit this past season about the progress of Supergirl. She was frustrated that the show was leaning far too heavily on romance--and especially the wrong sorts of romances. I was used to this sort of plot turn. But we were both glad to see the return of Calista Flockhart at the end of last season. I hope they find a way to get her to stick around again.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (ABC, returns maybe in 2018 when Inhumans is quickly yanked?) At this point I think the acronym stands for Should Have Investigated alternative Life Decisions. But I'm still watching . . . and was surprised to enjoy big swaths of last season. But that was because they twisted everything up with an alternate universe plot that gave every character time to be something other than the boring selves they had become in previous seasons.

Silicon Valley (HBO, returns . . . who knows?) Dean didn't talk about this in his post because it isn't coming back soon. But we both agree that it is fun. I'm sad to see T.J. Miller off the show (and shaking my head that it was his own personal decision). Erlich Bachman was a fun character and I loved Miller's line delivery.

Game of Thrones (HBO, returns 2019?! What, why? Maybe?) I don't need to talk about the most talked-about show since the demise of Breaking Bad and Mad Men. I am very sorry that there are less than ten episodes remaining. And that it won't return until my oldest daughter is in college?

Gotham (FOX, returns Sep. 21) That is TONIGHT!! Yeah! Such a stupid show! And I'm all IN. I've got Stockholm Syndrome and I guess I don't care. And Bruce is gonna start wearing a funky costume and punching criminals in rain-soaked alleys this season.

blackish (ABC, returns Oct. 3) Still funny. And gotta have lots of topical stories coming up this year, I'm quite sure.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (The CW, returns October 13) The tonal quality of this show is all over the place and I don't love every single episode (or every song). But when it is good, there is nothing quite like it on television. Admittedly, that bar is not too high to get across.

Arrow (The CW, returns October 12) I have a problem. I'm not on drugs or anything serious. But I clearly have a very distinct problem in my life.

Atlanta (FX, returns in 2018) Congratulations Emmy winner Donald Glover! You definitely deserved it. This show is really good. But now that we've gotten an entire gift third season of Twin Peaks itself, will the occasional oddities within Atlanta episodes pack less punch?

Drunk History (Comedy Central, returns  2018?) This is always fun. And occasionally informative.

New Girl (FOX, returns sometime this fall?) One more season to enjoy. One more chance to laugh at Schmidt, Winston, and Nick.

Archer (FX, returns 2018?) Last season wasn't as great as all the previous seasons that I binged in preparation for its return. I'm hoping that when it comes back again, I enjoy the "Danger Island" plot they are hanging the episodes around.

Search Party (TBS, returns Nov. 19) Quirky is the wrong word to describe this show. But it has a smallish, bespoke feel to it. I want this show to be good.

Riverdale (The CW, returns Oct. 11) I watch this show almost entirely to laugh at it with my older kids. It is ridiculous in many TV, teen drama ways.

Doctor Who (BBC America, returns at Christmas and then ???) One last Christmas trip in the TARDIS for Peter Capaldi and then the first female Doctor arrives in the guise of Josie Whittaker. I didn't love Capaldi much. (I'm very much in the Matt Smith camp.) And I have no knowledge or preconceptions about Whittaker. We'll see how it goes?

Legion (FX, returns 2018) Season one was almost perfect. You should really give this show a try.

The Americans (FX, returns March 7, 2018) This past season was really bad. But you should still give this show a try. (Just don't watch it late at night like I always do--or the minutes of silence will guarantee that you will fall asleep mid episode.)

Better Call Saul (AMC, returns 2018?) I like watching Jimmy (more quickly) turn into don't-give-a-shit Saul Goodman. But I have two requests. I  also  want to see more of post-BB Saul working at the Cinnabon in Omaha. AND when we're watching Jimmy break bad, I want to see friends from the original Breaking Bad doing stuff in the background.

American Gods (Starz, returns summer 2018--I think?) I loved the first season of this show and then I was equally flummoxed when it seemingly stopped broadcasting and went dark. I thought my DVR had stopped working. But I am now confident that the show will pick up again and I'll continue to enjoy Shadow and Mr. Wednesday's road trip toward Rock City and Lookout Mountain.

Fargo (FX, returns ???) I still believe that season 2 was the best season. Or maybe that is just my continual love of Kristen Dunst as Mary Jane Watson in the Spiderman movies? But season 4 was fine, I guess. I really did like Mary Elizabeth Winstead's character.

12 Monkeys (SyFy, returns May 2018) This show, like some others on this list, is pretty convoluted in its plot. But I'm still trying to hang in there and get some resolution. The next season will be the last one. I thought season 3 was a pretty nice one and the romance plot between Cole and Cassie felt earned this season. Let's hope it comes to a strong, satisfying end.

Frankly, I'm surprised at the number of FX shows that I watch. And I wish I didn't watch that many shows on The CW. and I also wish that most of the shows listed here aren't even coming back until after the Fall season and into 2018. But if I don't mention them now and wait until next Fall, most of these will have already returned and gone again.

Happy viewing everyone!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Football Counter-Programming 2017: Week 3

Did you notice that I posted last week--even if I didn't promote it? Well, it's true. I did write a Week 2 post. And now I'm opening the draft of this week's post and looking at the bare sentence that I put there and having no idea how to go forward with it. So, I guess I"m going to start with a new idea.

Okay . . . so, here is this.

What do you do on a Saturday in the fall? (Other than game plan how you are going to get your ingredients together for that halftime grilling extravaganza that I'm desperately trying to distract you from.) Do you take the day to simply relax and do nothing? Do you have a long, predictable list of chores that you have to complete each weekend? Do you prefer no schedule and simply take the day as it comes to you? Or do you have to work?

Typically on an autumn Saturday, I really want to do nothing at all. But that lazy desire is prevented  by the need to mow the grass. (Each week I'm thinking it is the Last.Time.For.The.Season. But by the following Thursday, it is always clear that I need to do it One.More.Time.) And once the lawn is mowed, it is usually almost noon. So, then I've got to figure out what comes after that. The floors always need to be vacuumed and God knows that there is plenty to dust that I ignore lots of the time. And then of course there is laundry and this and that and whatever.

But wouldn't it be nice to take a break and head off to the zoo? Or some other fun thing with the kids? But can I convince them to do it? (If they are not already doing something of their own?) I do like to go to the zoo whenever I can get away with it.

That is the tension between fun and need. How badly do I need to clean stuff and make the house ship shape? (If you ask Lynda, then I both do need it and and apparently don't need it.) But what I really want to do--when the time comes . . . is nothing at all.

But then the question of what about the kids comes into play. Can I let them just sit around and do nothing? Or am I responsible to make sure that they are doing fun and enriching stuff all the time?

And, well . . . that is it.

Not my best post. But head back up to the top and click on last week's entry. It is more engaging than this one.

And, no matter how disappointing my post might be, remember--the most disappointing result of all on a Saturday is spending your own precious weekend watching your beloved football team lose to a team they should never lose to.

Until nest week!

Sunday, September 10, 2017


Lynda and her dad Bill, July 8, 1995
I first met Bill Thompson in December 1991, only a few months after I met his daughter Lynda. I was a sophomore at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, and Lynda was a freshman. We started dating during her first few months of college. By then I knew that she grew up in Valdosta, only 45 miles from my hometown of Tifton.

During that first Christmas break that Lynda and I were getting to know each other, I agreed to come help out at her parents house when they were hosting a Christmas holiday "drop-in" style party in Valdosta. Bill was the pastor at the Valdosta First Christian Church. The Thompsons were hoping that I could help serve to help with drinks, plates . . . that sort of thing, during the Christmas party. Since Lynda was also going to be helping, maybe we could do it together? I said yes, took a night out from my Christmas break in Tifton, put on a white shirt, tied a too-long red tie around my neck and drove down to Valdosta.

It was a fun night, just wandering around the house with Lynda and occasionally asking people if they needed refills on punch. Lynda appreciated my willingness to step in and the Thompsons were thankful as well. It was a small kindness, but one that they have paid back to me many times over.

Bill performed our marriage ceremony, keeping it together when he simultaneously "gave away" his daughter and sanctified our marriage. He waited with me in his church office, down the hallway, behind the altar sanctuary at the Patterson Street church. As I am sure he had done in countless marriage ceremonies , to many other grooms before me--as we waited in his office to take out positions at the head of the aisle--he pointed out his office entrance to a nearby exit and said, calmly "There's the door. Last chance?" Of course I wasn't going anywhere. And if I had twitched in the chair, I'm dead certain he'd have stopped me before I got two steps away from his desk. But it was a special moment the two of us shared alone--away from the rest of the wedding day events. He trusted me with his daughter and I have done my best to multiply that gift and make his generosity expand beyond me, beyond the two of us, into our family, and beyond.

In all the years since 1991, Bill has counseled Lynda and I when we needed advice. He has helped us financially when we asked and many other times when we did not. He always tried to make sure that we were secure, protected, and advised in the complicated business of being an adult--something he was extremely good at being. Bill loved understanding and manipulating finances, making it work to his benefit. And while I could not share the details of that love with him, I benefited from that knowledge--even if I could not always tell him what the gas mileage I was getting on my car.

In college and when we lived in Georgia, I often enjoyed a holiday meal with Bill, Cheri, Lynda, and Matt. Once we moved to Ohio, Lynda and I were happy to repay that hospitality with annual Thanksgiving meals for Bill and Cheri to enjoy with us and their grandchildren. Coming all the way to Ohio isn't the most convenient thing to do, but I was glad that we could host holidays for them as they were always willing to do for us.

At the births of our girls, they were always ready to arrive and help as soon as everyone was able. I learned during Sarah's birth that I needed to be quicker about sending them word of the labor and birth. The first time around, I left them in the dark a bit too long and was told they were a bit anxious, waiting to hear how things had moved along. (Don't worry! I did better the next two times around.)

Bill always had a strong opinion about politics and justice--a deep reflection of his strong Christian faith, and his life's work of teaching the Gospel. He passed those values on to his daughter and reinforced them in me and demonstrated them to his grandchildren. He touched many lives in his time in the faith communities in Guyton, Valdosta, and Lawrenceville, Georgia as well as his retirement church in Cherry Log, Georgia. By extension, the lives touched through Lynda's own ministry and faith widens that circle further and further.

"May he gaze upon you, Lord, face to face, and taste the  blessedness of perfect rest."

Thank you, Bill for all that you have given to me. Your presence among us will be missed, though I will see you within Lynda every day to come.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Football Counter-Programming 2017: Week 2

Thursday evening, as Sarah and I were driving back from a college visit to Bowling Green, she reminded me of an incident in the past that I thought would be a good subject of this week's Football Counter-Programming post. So, buckle up; turn off that television; put down your depth chart; and let's think about something other than college football--at least for a few minutes.

This happened about four years ago . . .

One evening in the autumn, perhaps about this time of year, when I should have been devising ways to distract you from the overwhelming presence of academic gridiron, I was instead sitting on the couch in our front room, with the television to my right and the houses big front windows directly in front of me.

Dinner was finished, the kitchen was clean, and the kids were taking baths, finishing homework, and whatnot. Lynda was probably opening up her laptop to begin another evening of work. The sun was down and the streetlights were turning on. Windows in the homes of the neighborhood were turned on. It was a normal weeknight. Nothing to see here.

Except . . . directly across the street from me, as I sat look out the window, I could see the neighbor's home looking back at me. And up in the left front window of the second story, a bedroom light was flashing on and off with a familiar rhythm.

flash-flash-flash      flaaaash . . . flaaaash . . . flaaaash     flash-flash-flash

Wait, what?

Look again.

flash-flash-flash      flaaaash . . . flaaaash . . . flaaaash     flash-flash-flash

Yep. That is definitely what I think it is. Check again.

flash-flash-flash      flaaaash . . . flaaaash . . . flaaaash     flash-flash-flash

.Wow. I am absolutely seeing this. But I'd better get someone else's opinion.

"Hey Lynda, come 'ere!"

Lynda comes into the room and asks me what is going on.

"Take a look out the window. What do you see?"

"The neighbor's house. And the windows are on. So?"

"Look again."

"Okay. There is a room light flashing upstairs."

"How is the light flashing?"

flash-flash-flash      flaaaash . . . flaaaash . . . flaaaash     flash-flash-flash

"Oooh. Yeah."

"That IS the SOS flashes, right? dot dot dot     dash  dash  dash   dot dot dot. Right?"

"Yeah. It does look like that. So?"

"So . . . what does it mean? Why would the light in that room be flashing exactly like that? Over and over again? Doesn't that worry you?"

"Well, David, we don't really know those people. They haven't lived there very long and we've never talked to them much at all. I have no idea what it means."

flash-flash-flash      flaaaash . . . flaaaash . . . flaaaash     flash-flash-flash

"Yes, but. That is SO specific and SO obvious. What if someone is actually hurt over there? What if they are actually signalling for help? What should I do?"


After another moment of brief discussion, I decided to call the police. It seems so clear and unusual an event. And I knew that I sat in that exact position on the couch looking out that window night after night. I had never EVER seen this before. If it was typical, I know I would have noticed it. 

This was not typical.

So, abandoning all normality, I called the police. (Remember, as noted above, we're the people that hardly know the neighbors across the street. We aren't the kind of neighbors that are going to get into your business. For good and for bad--live and let live. Sorry.)

I looked up the department number and called. When I was connected, I apologetically explained what I had seen and bent over backwards to say that I had no actual idea if anything was at all wrong. But it seems so odd, and so clear. I would have felt bad if I had done nothing and ignored a real problem. So, sorry again . . . but I thought the police ought to know?

I was thanked for my call. I hung up and waited to see if anything might come of it?


A few minutes later, I saw a police cruiser drive up the street and park in front of the neighbors curb, directly across from my front window. I determinedly stayed in my house and watched from the back of the front room. (Don't want to be standing in the middle of the window, dontcha know?)

I saw the officer walk to the front of the house and knock on the door, maybe ring the bell? His partner walked across the front yard and looked at the side yard. The officer by the door waited. Maybe thirty seconds went by? But the door opened and the officer talked to the neighbor for . . . I don't know how long? It was over pretty quick and then the squad car left.

A few minutes after that, our home phone rang again. The police were calling with a follow up. I was told that when the police inquired, they were told that the flashing light was an automated warning signal on a indoor lamp that flashed when the lamp's bulb was burning out. The indoor lamp was used by the homeowners to grow indoor tomatoes.

!!! ???

Indoor grow lights? For tomatoes? Umm. I'm not the most sophisticated or experienced person you'll ever meet. But even THAT story sounded suspicious to me. But it didn't constitute probably cause for the police, I guess. Because no one was arrested and nothing happened that night.

I've never seen the light flash like that again. And I've sat in that same spot many a night since. Maybe the indoor garden was moved to a different room? Maybe they got on a better schedule with their bulb maintenance? Or maybe everything was exactly as they said and there was absolutely nothing to see there.

But, I wonder?

Until next week, remember . . . no one cares if your star running back was suspended for the first three games of the season for violating the team's drug policy. The first month of the season is always cupcake city anyway.

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Fall TV Preview 2017: New Shows on Big Box Broadcast

Each year that I begin a new series of posts on the Fall TV season, I pause to consider how to present the information. By day? By network? By some other arbitrary theme? I've tried them all over the years. And no one is better than the rest.

This year? Well, as I sit here typing this on a Wednesday evening I don't know for sure. Last year's traffic light theme helped me cut down the sheer volume of entries. But I didn't love it. And if I follow Dean's straightforward (and always enjoyable) pattern, then there are simply too many entries for me to cover.

So . . . no answer yet.

Let's start by simply doing some research and see what I'm struck with.

[flips open some tabs and starts clicking around]

Okay . . . here is some inspiration. Let's broaden out and try to go with some big themes that can capture lots of stuff at once.

Returning Stars
(This category is for people whom you first liked in some other--likely more successful show of the past. It's my job to judge whether or not this new spin on your old tube-mate is worth your time. Think Matt LeBlanc in Joey.)

911 (Fox) Angela Bassett is a emergency-call operator. Basically, its just another procedural, dressed up in a new suit. This all comes down to the writing. Most likely the overall effect of the show is ordinary. And in a world of Peak TV and prestige, big bucks . . . why bother?
She was better in . . . ? I'm gonna say E.R.

Alex, Inc. (ABC) Zach Braff is back in TV, but in a new show based on a real podcast called "Start Up." It's very meta feeling and very of the now. But Braff is neither of those things--at least I don't think so.
He was better in . . . ? Scrubs, of course. But I liked Garden State as well, though that is outside the confines of this tv-centric post.

Dynasty (The CW--Wednesday, October 11) True that none of the character actors in this show fit the category. But . . . the entire show fits the category since it is a retread of one of the most infamous prime time soaps of the 1980s. If any episode of Dynasty even approaches one-tenth of the influence of "Who Shot J.R.? then everyone working on this show should get a raise.
It was better when . . . ? The original was awful. But most people didn't have cable and we had nothing better to do. So it was better than this pale retread will be. (And I'm wondering how much the election of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous President Trump had to do with getting this made?)

Ghosted (Fox--Sunday, October 1) Starring those guys you loved from NBC shows--Craig Robinson and Adam Scott. A true believer and a skeptic are tasked with investigating paranormal and extranormal happenings in dank and dingy parts of . . . Los Angeles?
They were better in . . . ? I didn't watch The Office, so I can't definitively say Robinson was better there. But I will say that I loved Scott on Parks and Recreation. Heck, his 20 minutes of screen time on The Good Place might be better than whatever happens on this show.

Good Girls (NBC--waiting in the wings as a midseason replacement?) Three suburban housewives "break bad" as it were to get their lives back on track. I would have put this one a few categories below in the "Inspired by Something Else" bucket if not for the presence of Mae Whitman as one of the housewives.
She was better in . . . ? I will always love her as the voice of Katara on Avatar: The Last Airbender. But she also took advantage of every chance she got as Anne (Egg?) on Arrested Development.

Rise (NBC--waiting in the wings as a midseason replacement?) I don't know what this is about and I'm not spending time to figure it out. It has Josh Radnor in it and unless the TV show is actually about Ted Moseby, Sex Architect, it can't possibly be better than How I Met Your Mother of which Radnor was definitely better in.

(Every network has them. They are vital to all entertainment programming. Some of them are worth watching even. But they are very hit & miss.)

Black Lightning (Do I even need to tell you what network? If you didn't already guess The CW, why are you even reading this post? But--please, don't leave!) It's not quite the DC version of Black Panther. But the creators of this show will probably happily let you make that mistake as many times as you want.

The Gifted (Fox--Monday, October 2) Mutants might not necessarily be the same as superheroes. But this fits best in this category. Don't watch this show, however, if it is going to take time away from what is certainly the far superior Legion. But, since Legion won't be back for a while, I guess you can watch this. They are built on the same X-Men bones. But this feels a bit like Fox was trying to ride the wave of Stranger Things.

Marvel's Inhumans (Fox--Friday, September 29) The actor that plays Ramsey Bolton (Game of Thrones) is definitely Better in . . . ? Game of Thrones than he will be in this show. The only reason I'd watch this is if they turned it into a televised version of the excellent comic Ms. Marvel. (Kamala sometimes works with the Inhumans. Sorry! I meant Marvel's Inhumans.)

Things That Feel Like They're Inspired By Something Else
(Kind of like what I described above with Black Lightning.)

Deception (ABC) A magician who's career is ruined starts working with the FBI as the only outlet for his mind, skills, deceptive personality. 
Comps: This feels like it was dreamed up after someone watched Catch Me If You Can and then cried about the fact that Limitless is no longer on TV.

The Good Doctor (ABC--Monday, September 25) A gifted young doctor with Savant syndrome is hired to work at a pediatrics hospital. Can his detached manner be allowed purely because of his brilliance?
Comps: Equal parts House MD and Elementary. It must be hard to come up with yet another way to justify a medical drama. But here is my first suggestion . . . has anyone ever considered casting the brilliant acerbic doctor as a female?!

The Orville (Fox--Sunday, September 10) Inspired by Star Trek, but as twisted through the parody movie Galaxy Quest. I have a visceral rejection of this show because it won't be better than even the worst Star Trek and it is entirely built by Seth McFarlane. Set phasers on kill . . . and either point them at me or at this show's future.

Roseanne (ABC) Inspired by Roseanne Barr and John Goodman's original star vehicle . . . because it IS that same show with as much of the same cast as can be convinced to show up again for an eight-episode revival.

Will & Grace (NBC--Thursday, September 28) see above. But make it twelve episodes instead of eight. (And increase the changes that more of the cast will return.)

Wisdom of the Crowd (CBS--Sunday, October 1) Jeremy Piven on a CBS show?! I guess everyone gets old some day. But I put it in this category because the premise (tech genius/bereaved father creates crowd-source app to help solve his daughter's death) feels like it was inspired by Person of Interest.

(Show premises that defy logic and expectation--either good or bad. But most likely bad.)

LA to Vegas (Fox--waiting in the wings as a midseason replacement?) Why would anyone choose to set a comedy on a there-and-back airline flight between LA and Las Vegas? I guess it will cut down on sets that are needed, since the majority of the episodes are just rowed seating? But still. Are people going to want to watch a TV show about an experience that is a.) universally hated--commercial airlines, but also b.) unrelatable--gambling in Vegas? This premise can only last four episodes without becoming insanely predictable. But it will never even last that long.

Young Sheldon (CBS--Monday, September 25, later moving to regular Thursday night) Just gross. Please reject this show.

Untitled Gray's Anatomy Firefighter Spin-off (ABC- I just hope that they a.) make this show and b.) never actually come up with a title. This is the best.

Monday, September 04, 2017

Fall TV Preview 2017: Dean's Opinions on Cable & Streaming

Welcome one, welcome all to the 2017 edition of my Fall Cable TV Preview that David is kind enough to let me write up every year. If you’re looking for Broadcast TV you will find none of that here. This is only cable and streaming. If I miss a show you’re looking forward to I’m not sorry. There’s a lot of TV out there.
To make the preview more helpful I’ve added how much I’m looking forward to each show. I think it’ll really help you decide!
[I have to question your ratings system, Dean. It only helped me marginally, and I am almost a big a Peak TVer as you are.]

The Deuce HBO (Premieres September 10th) I presume this is Rob Schneider’s new show following up on his smash hit Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. Should be pretty funny!
*Actually does 5 seconds of google research*
OK I have been informed that this is a David Simon show so it’s really quite unlikely that this is funny and is probably really dark. David Simon is always worth watching so even if you don’t really like James Franco (he plays a twin so there will be a lot of him) you should still check it out. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: The Wire Season 3
[I likely wont' watch it and then later regret it. Somehow, I've entirely missed the Simonverse.]

Fear the Walking Dead AMC (Returns September 10th): Pros: It has Kim Dickens who I love forever and always. Cons: I’m told it’s not really very good and I don’t care about zombies. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Gotham Season 2
[Boy . . . you are REALLY looking forward to this!]

Top of the Lake: China Girl Sundance (Returns September 10th) Do you like Elizabeth Moss? Perhaps you like her so much you search out everything she does? That is a very reasonable opinion to have and I have good news! She is in this show and is very good in it! She solves crimes and it is devastating! Gwendoline Christie is in this season as well, so now you truly have no reason not to watch it. It also has Nicole Kidman and Holly Hunter in it, so it’s just gilding the lily now. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Mad Men Season 7B
[The name of the show is annoying. Don't CSI everything Sundance Channel.]

Vice Principals HBO (Returns September 17th) I like Walton Goggins and hate Danny McBride and so far my hate for Danny McBride has kept me from this show. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Eastbound and Down
[I tried watching a few episodes of this. But I think watching the commercials for it provides all the humor I need from this show. It feels like the sort of thing I could burn through on HBO GO anytime I felt like it. Definitely NOT appointment viewing.]

Star Trek: Discovery CBS All Access (Premieres September 24th) HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. 10 people are going to sign up for this Web site. It is going to fail so badly. I’m sorry that CBS only understands old people Star Trek fans and is going to bungle your beloved franchise so badly. The good news is you should be used to it by now (Scott Bakula was the best captain.) 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Star Trek: Nemesis
[I have no criticism of this review on any level, from the sentiment to the rating. Oh . . . wait . . . your opinion of Scott Bakula is bullshit. Other than that, you are 100% correct. And I now qualify as "old person Star Trek fan!"]

Curb Your Enthusiasm HBO (Returns October 1st) Some people like Larry David. I am not one of those people. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Seinfeld, any season

The Walking Dead AMC (Returns October 22nd) I presume you are watching this and therefore know more about it than I do. Make up your own mind, I can’t do everything for you. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Gotham Season 3
[Turning away from all things TWD has made my life better. Maybe not by much. But definitely better.]

SMILF Showtime (Premieres November 5th) This is truly the Cougar Town of titles and I’m not going to bother looking up what it’s about. I’m definitely going to judge this book only on its title and not watch it. (This is an easy call since I don’t have Showtime.) 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Real Housewives of Atlanta

Search Party TBS (Returns November 19th) I did not like this show but David did. Ask him about it. I don’t even know why you’re asking me about this. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Love Season 1
[Search Party was fun. My Georgia roots demand that I find something to watch on TBS. Why not this?]

The Opposition with Jordan Klemmer Comedy Central (Premieres September 25th) Jon Stewart was wrong that Crossfire was hurting America. The rise of The Daily Show and the smug style in American late-night comedies are actually the things hurting America. Anyway, this is yet another The Daily Show clone by a The Daily Show alum. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Full Frontal w/Samantha Bee
[Based on your rating, I assume you are also one of those dudes who hates all-female Ghostbusters? Don't be threatened Dean! (I know you don't really feel this way.) And I agree that there is too much of these shows. Just give Chris Hardwick a whole hour-and-a-half for a mega-sized @Midnight block from 11:30 to 1 am.]

American Horror Story: Cult FX (Returns September 5th) I don’t like horror or Ryan Murphy but if you do here is this show that was designed just for you.
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: American Horror Story: Hotel

The Mindy Project Hulu (Returns September 12th) The finale season of this show that I used to really like but stopped watching when it moved to Hulu because Hulu is an unusable nightmare of a Web site. I’m not paying for a subscription service with commercials, Hulu! Amazon doesn’t have commercials *and* it gives me free shipping. At least try! 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: The Mindy Project Season 5

The Last O.G. Series Premiere TBS (Premieres October 22nd) All I know about this show  is that it was created by Jordan Peele and stars Tracy Morgan. I don’t need to know anything else. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Get Out
[Have you watched Get Our or are you surreptitiously racially profiling your rating here? Either way, I interpret this as you are in support of this show.]

Marvel’s Runaways Hulu (Premieres November 21st) If we’re making Brian K. Vaughan comics into TV Shows I’d rather have Y: The Last Man than The Runaways and Hulu remains a garbage dump of a streaming site. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Iron Fist
[Oh. My. God. Brutal rating by Dean.]

You’re The Worst FXX (Returns September 6th) Despite what David would have you believe--I am not the worst. Jimmy is the worst. Also this show is good and you should watch it.
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Baskets Season 2
[I would have given this a rating of LOST Season 2. That means I am looking forward to this!]

South Park Comedy Central (Returns September 13th) This show has been on for 21 seasons. Giving details about this show is about as helpful as describing The Simpsons. You’ll either watch it or you won’t and I can’t sway your decision, I’m sure. I am pretty happy they’re not doing any Trump stuff though. Trump is un-parody-able. It’s never funny or clever and people should just accept that. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: The Simpsons Season 7

Broad City Comedy Central (Returns September 13th) I don’t know what to say about this show. I like it? I liked it a little less last year than the year before? Both those things are true. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Kroll Show Season 2

Mr. Robot USA (Returns October 11th) David, were you as exhausted by Season 2 as I was? I still have not decided if I will check out season 3. (Who are we kidding, the only show I’ve ever successfully quit is Gotham.
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Sleepy Hollow Season 3
[I definitely was exhausted by last season. Style an inscrutability overwhelmed clear storytelling. But I am willing to continue.]

Stan Against Evil IFC (Returns November 1st) John C. McGinley fights demons from Hell. Your reaction to that log line tells you if you should watch it or not. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Scrubs Season 6

Better Things FX (Returns September 14th) Pamela Adlon always freaks me out a little bit because Bobby Hill should not be a middle-aged mom. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Louie Season 2
[Please clarify your rating here. Is this Louie Season 2 BEFORE the season began or AFTER? That makes a lot of difference.]

She’s Gotta Have It Netflix (Premieres November 23rd) I’ve never seen the original Spike Lee film, but here it is in TV form now--for some reason. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Do the Right Thing

One Mississippi Amazon (Returns September 8th) John Rothman’s portrayal of Bill on this show was the best thing I saw last year (rivaled only by Louis Anderson as Mama Baskets on Baskets). Tig Notaro has created an incredible world that is funny and heartbreaking and I really cannot wait to dive back in. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Red Oaks Season 1

Bojack Horseman Netflix (Returns September 8th) It’s everyone’s favorite cartoon about existential despair! 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: F is For Family Season 2

Transparent Amazon (Returns September 22nd) I found every person in this show deeply unlikable so I’m not watching it, but I know some people really like it so here’s when it comes back.
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Dexter Season 5

Fuller House Netflix (Returns September 22nd) RIP Alan Thicke. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper

Tin Star Amazon (Premieres September 29th) Tim Roth was also in Twin Peaks so he is very busy this year. Good for Tim Roth! I really liked Legend of 1900. That was a good Tim Roth film. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: The Bridge, Season 1
[I would not say that his work on Twin Peaks: The Return constitutes busy. He was on screen for a total of ten minutes. Now, for all I know, Lynch made him stay in an apartment for three months so he could call him on set for any random reason at any moment. But I don't think that put lots of burdens on his schedule?]

Mindhunter Netflix (Premiers October 13th) Everyone loves serial killers and this show will have lots of them. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Hannibal, Season 1

Stranger Things Netflix (Returns October 27th) Everyone’s favorite kids go back to the Upside Down in this, the only horror show I will watch. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Shaun of the Dead

Alias Grace Netflix (Premieres November 3rd) Netflix cashes in on the Handmaid’s craze with a Margaret Atwood show of their own. I’m going to go out on a limb and say we won’t have people dressing up in Irish maid outfits to protest Congress. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Peaky Blinders


Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency BBC America (Returns October 14th) As those who listened to my stunningdefense of Elijah Wood on The Sleeper Hit podcast (I’m sure this is all of you. I am very good and funny and have a great voice so you should listen to me.) know I like this show quite a bit. This show’s version of Dirk Gently is not how I would have done it, but Elijah Wood nicely grounds the weirdness and you should watch it. Look, it’s the only show that I have listed for Saturday so it’s not even competing with anything. 
How Much Dean is looking forward to it: Wilfred, Season 2
[I enjoyed this show as well--and even your podcast--but it got a bit confusing at times. I am interested in what comes next, however.]

And . . . that’s it. 
Every show on cable that might be good except the SyFy shows because I have no idea which SyFy shows are good or bad.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Football Counter-Programming 2017: Week 1

It's BACK! Your favorite weekly distraction from the hegemony of college football Saturdays is back once more to try and divert you from alma maters, mascots, fight songs on endless loops, and commentary, commentary, commentary.

RELIVING THE PAST: (Click this link to see the entries from past seasons.)

And what will will I offer in its place? Whatever I manage to think of when I sit down to write, most likely.

That was proven this morning when, while drinking coffee and scrolling through my Facebook memories, I was confronted with the fact that oh yeah, I wrote stuff like like last year. And last year is, in fact, NOW. It then dawned on me that I had let week one of the college football season arrive with no remembrance that I have pledged (like a member of the Night's Watch) to fight the endless fight against the overwhelming power of college football. I am the keyboard that guards the realms of men.

But I wasnt' prepared and so I don't know what I should write about!

Then . . . then I remembered that I actually went to a live (high school) football game last night, for the first time in almost 27 years. So I could talk about that? But . . . you can't counter-program football by talking about football.

Luckily, I was there (almost entirely) in support of Grace, new freshman bass drum in the Westerville North marching band (are they called the Marching Warriors? do they have a "name"?).

So, that was fun and Grace did a good job. I do look forward to watching the show improve over the coming weeks and I really enjoy watching Grace grow into this social experience. Band was a good outlet and a wonderful collection of people and experiences for me growing up and I hope that it will be similar for her in this and the coming years.

BUT . . . enough about football and football-adjacent activities.

If it is football season then it is the end of #HatofSummer season. And it was a pretty good few months. #OfficialHat2017 has hung waiting beside the garage door all summer long, waiting to be called into duty. I will be said to see this one go. But time marches on, so I can't worry about it too much.

Speaking of moving on . . .what do you want to see in these weekend posts for the next thirteen-ish weeks? Give me some feedback in the comments and suggest some topics to cover as a distraction from the football. I will do my best to give the people what they want.

And . . . finally, if Fall is here, then you know the other big blog commitment of the season can't be far behind. Get ready for upcoming Fall TV Preview posts! (I know that Dean is already working on his contribution, so I am officially behind on all of the rest of it. But I know that it will get done in due time.)

Come back next Saturday for another entry. But in the meantime, remember, no one cares if your senior quarterback is finally ready to live up to all of that potential. He's gonna graduate, just like everyone else.

See you next time!