Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fall TV Preview--Dean's Cable Review

 [My buddy and coworker Dean submitted his opinions on Cable TV, so here is his take on the non-network (mostly far superior) offering of shows. Take it away, Dean!]


OK, so some of these shows are already airing. Very few of these shows are actually new. Cable is a
weird beast, but I was given this opportunity and as a TV aficionado, I must give you the opportunity to
watch as much good TV as possible.


Sunday is premium cable’s night to shine. This fall HBO is bringing back Boardwalk Empire and Treme.
  • Boardwalk Empire (HBO): This is a fine show, but somewhat of a slow burn. It’s easy to get frustrated at the pacing, so maybe save a couple of episodes and burn them off all at once.
  • Treme (HBO): This is also a slow burn, but a brilliant one. Watch it and get lost in the music and people of post-Katrina New Orleans. Also: David Simon is one of the two TV creators who I would watch whatever they produce (the other is David Milch, who I sincerely hope comes back to TV after the unfortunate events that caused Luck to be canceled).
  • Dexter (Showtime): Stop watching Dexter people! It was a good show for two seasons and now is a shuffling zombie of mediocrity. My wife still likes it though.
  • The Thick of It (Hulu): I really like Armando Iannucci. It’s gotten a lot of awards from the Brits for comedy. If you watched Veep and liked it, you’ll probably find this just as good.
  • Hell On Wheels (AMC): Confederate soldier builds railroads in the west while hunting for the Northerners who killed his wife. I’ve heard good things about it, but I’d rather just rewatch Deadwood. 
  • The Walking Dead (AMC): It’s about Zombies. Do you like things about Zombies? What about shows with horrible pacing problems? This show might be for you.
  • Copper (BBC America): A cop show set in turn of the century New York brought to you by BBC America. This show has some problems, but is reasonably enjoyable. Watch it while waiting for the better shows to come back.
  • Homeland (Showtime): I don’t have Showtime but if I did, I would watch this. Everything I’ve read says it’s great. Plus: Mandy Patinkin is on it and that would give me the opportunity to quote The Princess Bride at length.
  • Leverage (TNT): A caper show about a group of criminals doing good deeds against bad guys. It’s ridiculous and cheesy and great.


  • Adventure Time (Cartoon Network): A human boy and his shapeshifting dog go on adventures in what appears to be Earth after some sort of apocalypse. I have been unsuccessful in my exhortations in getting people to watch this show, but really--it is your loss. I refuse to waste any more breath on this (but seriously: I know good TV and I know what to recommend to who. You should listen to me.) [Hey Dean, shhh . . . don't tell my wife, but I'm slowly cracking and might start watching this when she's not around.] 
  • Regular Show (Cartoon Network): A raccoon and a blue jay work in a park. Weird stuff happens. Mark Hamil is an immortal Yeti named Skips. You want to skip this show? As you wish.
  • RuPaul’s Drag Race (Logo): I would be remiss if I did not mention everyone’s favorite show about Drag Queens competing to be the best. I don’t actually watch it, but I know everything about it thanks to Brie.
  • The Inbetweeners (MTV): I haven’t seen the BBC version and I won’t be watching this version. Watch the original, MTV is a mess.
  • Alphas (Syfy): My research on this show involved going through the grades on the AV Club. They were mostly Bs. So: A B quality science fiction show about “A group of people with special powers complete missions for the government.” My friend Sam [and me!] insists its good, so it’s got that going for it.


  • 30 For 30 (ESPN): ESPN presents a series of films by accomplished directors on a variety of sports topics. There are now well over 30 films, but they keep using that number. I do not think it means what they think it means.
  • Sons of Anarchy (FX): Kurt Sutter was one of the main writers on The Shield (which has the best series finale out of any show I’ve ever seen. I implore you to watch it) and for that I will always love him. But…this show, you guys. It’s good, but it’s frustrating. So . . . so . . . frustrating. The Shield would put itself in a corner and then blow up the corner and everyone in it. Sons will write itself into a corner and then shrug and pretend the corner never existed. So watch it, the first two seasons are as good as anything on TV right now. It’s better than Dexter.


  • American Horror Story (FX): This is a whole new story from last year. Now it takes place in an Asylum. I hope there is a Sicilian in the Asylum. Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line. [Should I count that as the first or the second Princess Bride joke of this post?] 
  • The Hour (BBC America): I tried to get into this because McNulty from The Wire is on it. It didn’t grab my attention but it might hold yours.
  • South Park (Comedy Central): If I have to explain the plot of this show to you, you’ve been living under a rock for quite some time. If you’ve been living under a rock might I advise catching up on other aspects of the world instead of watching TV? Maybe write a book about your time living under said rock? I would read it.


If Sunday is the day for premium dramas, Thursday is the day for cable comedy. Louie and Wilfred (FX)
are finishing up their seasons soon. Children's Hospital and NTSF:SD:SUV:: (Cartoon Network) are both
good spoofs of network genres.

  • It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia (FX): This show is getting older, but the gang still knows how to keep things fresh. Not for the easily offended.
  • The League (FX): Do you like fantasy football? No? This show is hilarious regardless. Watch it. Shivakamini Somakandarkram! (You would get that if you watched the show.)
  • Project Runway (Lifetime) is also on. It is not a comedy, at least not intentionally. This show is also getting old. It has not aged gracefully. Every night Lifetime comes into Project Runway's room and tells it “Good night, I will probably kill you in the morning.” Every morning it spares it. This is not a mercy. [All right. I'm going to count that as joke #3.]


David will say this for the Network review, but watch Community (NBC). Even though its creator and the
driving force behind the show is no longer affiliated with it, the cast is so talented that I have faith in the
future direction of the show. Besides. NBC gets such low ratings it could easily be confused as a cable
channel anyways.

  • Gravity Falls (Disney): A cartoon Twilight Zone/Eerie Indiana-ish style show that uses monsters as a metaphor for growing up. It’s really good. If you have kids they might like it. You might like it too, it’s really good.
  • Hunted (Cinemax): Cinemax is trying to get into the HBO, Showtime, axis of good premium cable shows, but doing it on Friday instead of Sunday. It could work. I don’t know what this show is. Watch it or not. Whatever.
  • Strike Back (Cinemax): Sex and Violence and a good story. Inconceivable!? It’s Cinemax, what did you think you were going to get? [You tried to sneak joke #4 past me, but I saw what you did there.] 
  • Boss (Starz): Kelsey Grammer runs the city of Chicago. How you feel about that determines if you should watch this show.


  • College Football (ESPN, BTN, others): Do you like college football? If you do you probably didn’t need to be reminded of this. If you don’t, then this blurb holds no interest to you. Why am I typing this then? Because I know something you don’t know: I’m not left-handed. (switches typing hands). [I actually saw that one coming as I read the sentence.] 
  • Doctor Who (BBC America): Note this is not Dr. Who, it is Doctor Who. Never abbreviate Doctor Who or the Weeping Angels will come for you. If you have any interest in Science Fiction TV shows you need to watch Doctor Who. Don’t start on this season though. Start with the 9th Doctor. [I am a new convert to this show . . . finally. I'm starting the second season of the 10th Doctor and I agree with Dean wholeheartedly on this one. If you like science fiction at all and can't find something to like about this show, you're probably mostly dead. That's #1 for me.]
Saturday is a wasteland otherwise. Go outside and hang out with your family.

[Excellent and nicely comprehensive work Dean. You can come back and guest blog for me anytime.]


David said...

Clearly I can't properly count or pay attention as I missed the two most obvious Princess Bride jokes in Dean's post.
I apologize to my friends and family.

David said...

Clearly I can't properly count or pay attention as I missed the two most obvious Princess Bride jokes in Dean's post.
I apologize to my friends and family.

Paula said...

Dean is one funny guy, and I’d like to read some of his input when Spring TV starts back up! I thought Luck was a splendid show, and I was so saddened by the events that did take place and the eventual demise of what was on its way to be a very good series. I’m happy to see Adventure Time on here! I was out getting mani’s and pedi’s with a few of the girls I work with at DISH, and they had this showing on one of the TVs. We were all amazed at how clever and funny this children’s show is, and a few of us started watching it even after that day. There are shows listed here that I follow, and there are several not listed here that I’m going to start following. I don’t think any of it would be possible if my Hopper wasn’t able to record up to six different things during primetime. In the past I always had to choose one show over the others because they all fell in the same time slot, so I’m actually relieved that I don’t have to hinder the number of shows I watch with old technology.