Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Dean & David's 2015 Top 10 (Dean's version)

[DAVID: Last night I published my Top 10 Television shows of 2015. And so today, I am letting Dean spend more time telling me where I went wrong and why I'm missing most of #PeakTV. (But don't worry. I won't let his opinions go completely unchallenged.]

As always I will lead off this top ten list by naming a bunch of shows that I can’t justify to myself putting in my actual top ten, but want to note anyways. I had to leave off a LOT OF SHOWS. I wrote down 38 shows that could conceivably had made my top 10. This makes me unhappy. If I left off a show you love just assume it narrowly missed the cut and is one of my other 28.

The Grinder showed me how much I missed having Fred Savage on my TV screen and it is a pleasure to have him back each week.

The Chris Gethard Show helped me cope with depression and anxiety when it was pretty bad earlier this year by letting me hang out with a bunch of weirdos each week.

Nathan For You is doing something so deeply strange and unsettling every week that it’s a shame to leave it off.

Gravity Falls: This show is breaking my heart by ending after only two seasons. There’s something to be said for going out on top, but JUST LIMP ALONG UNTIL I NO LONGER REMEMBER WHY I LOVED YOU IN THE FIRST PLACE! IT’S FINE! EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING IT! I mean, Linda Cardellini and Jason Ritter have got to eat after all. (So does Kristen Schall, but she’s everywhere right now. She’ll be fine.)

And finally, if I could find a way to justify it, Going Deep with David Rees would be my number one show based on how much joy he brings me week to week. I reference one of the things he shows you how to do at least twice a week! But *sigh* this is a serious list for serious people. I cannot be so frivolous as to put Mr. Rees’s show at number one.
[DAVID: Was that a shot at my placing Limitless at Number 2? That was a shot, wasn't it? Well . . . I regret nothing.]

10. Man Seeking Woman: Surprisingly, this crowds out Broad City for the title of 10th favorite show. I hated the first episode so much I wanted to quit, but Rachael convinced me to watch the second episode, and it was so delightfully weird that it won me over. If you like Jay Baruchel this could be the show for you.
[DAVID: How could it be any good if I also disliked it and then abandoned it as well? We were both on the same page here, Dean? Why did you value your wife's opinion over mine?]

9. Deutschland 83: Deutschland 83 is Germany’s answer to the Americans. Instead of Soviet spies in America it’s about an East German spy in West Germany. Also it’s entirely in German! Is it actually better than the Americans? Probably not, but the tensions between East and West Germany were less familiar to me than what happened with American and the Soviet Union (Did you know Carlos the Jackal was likely an East German agent? I didn’t!) Also I find foreign language shows force me to pay attention instead of zoning out on my phone, so it gets extra credit for that as well.
[DAVID: Oh, man. WHAT?! If I wanted lots and lots of German, I'd go back to grad school. No . .  wait, that's a terrible idea. And these Germans probably didn't even have PacMan in 1983, so what was the point of even living. More Paige, less grim Communism!]

8. Silicon Valley: Kumail Nanjiani makes me laugh in everything. Andy Daly makes me laugh in everything. Martin Starr makes me laugh in everything. Zach Woods makes me eternally uncomfortable. This show is great and better than Veep. There. I said it and I don’t regret it. (Veep is also good and made my top 38.  I know.  Top 38 Lists aren’t a thing.)
[DAVID: If you're going to watch a show about computers, why not make it the new and improved second season of Halt and Catch Fire? I've finally started watching some of the episodes on my DVR and I'm liking it much more than my aborted attempt at season 1. And I KNOW you can't say no to Lee Pace, Dean.]

7. Rick and Morty: Hey, this show got real dark. Also I guarantee David will say this show is fake and doesn’t exist, but it does and it’s great.
[DAVID: Hey, I've heard you and Casey talk about this enough at lunch that I have come to trust Casey's views and can't call the show fake. Frankly, I'm surprised that I am recognizing almost all of these shows on your list so far. I thought all that time you spend watching stuff on Amazon Prime would make everything here incomprehensible.]

6. South Park: As the Simpsons slowly circles the drain into being completely unwatchable, the only show even remotely close to matching its longevity somehow put in one of its best seasons in a long
time. Also I finally got to see the Book of Mormon and it was great.

5. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend: I’m a sucker for musical episodes of TV. The only Buffy episode I’ve seen is the musical episode. I love the glorious mess that is Galavant! Somehow Crazy-Ex Girlfriend manages to put out three perfect songs on a weekly basis. Please watch it because its ratings are not great (even for The CW) and I don’t want it to be canceled ever. Just go watch the “Sexy Getting Ready Song” and if that doesn’t hook you we can’t be friends.
[DAVID: I also enjoy Crazy Ex-Girlfriend! (Just not as much as Limitless.) Unfortunately, your opinions are now rendered irrelevant, Dean, because you positively mentioned Galavant. You can leave your guest blogger credentials on my desk. 
Also, I thought about linking to a video of the "Sexy Getting Ready Song"--because it is great and I wanted to help the readers out. BUT, I chose NOT to do so. Now go set your DVRs to record new and rerun episodes. Go! Do it now. We'll wait.]

4. Better Call Saul: I love watching Bob Odenkirk. How can the guy from Mr. Show be this good of a dramatic actor? Vince Gilligan is my favorite showrunner.

3. Review: Every episode I think that Forrest MacNeil couldn’t have things get any worse and every
week I am proven wrong. And now he and Grant are dead and that…that will be hard to top.
[JON SNOW: Been there; done that; you know nothing.]

2. Justified: It managed to bounce back from what ailed it last season and ended strong. I thought that I would be devastated that it’s no longer on the air, but between the fact that there were 38 shows I realistically could have had in my top ten and the fact that I liked one show even better than Justified this year I think I’ll be OK.

1. Fargo: The reason I loved Justified so much was its blend of humor and drama that I haven’t found in most other shows. While Fargo’s first season did this a little, the tonal shifts didn’t always work that well. Somehow this season made it work perfectly and I am happy to have this show be my replacement for Raylan Givens and company. Especially now that Timothy Oliphant has is new gig as The Grinder: New Orleans.
[DAVID: Unsurprising agreement on number one. A great choice.]

Because David did it I also present shows I dropped this year:

Gotham: Ugh.
[DAVID: My Stockholm Syndrome prevents me from trying to explain . . .]

Heroes Reborn: I should have known better.
[DAVID: Fifteen minutes and I was out.]

Bastard Executioner: I dropped Sons of Anarchy and I dropped this too. So did everyone else though, it’s dead now. Just like every other character in a Kurt Sutter show.

Mad Men: I dropped this three episodes before the end and then saw the finale. I regret nothing.

Daredevil: So gritty and grim. Exactly what I don’t want in a show any more.

Girls: I’m pretty over Lena Dunham’s whole shtick. We have better female showrunners and actresses now so I don’t need to put up with Tom Brokaw’s daughter’s wooden acting (I still love Zosia Mamet though).
[DAVID: I wanted to get into this show, but lack of continuous HBO has made it hard. And you're probably right about all that you said. Except for the Brokaw bit. That was supposed to be a joke, right?]

Halt and Catch Fire: These people are miserable and need to get over themselves. Watching people be miserable isn’t entertaining any more. It’s been done too much and isn’t fun.
[DAVID: Nooooo!]

Probably a zillion other shows that I only watched one episode of because there are so many shows
on TV now. Shows like Manhattan which I liked but I only have so much time.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

David & Dean's 2015 Top 10 (David's version)

Okay. Here is the methodology that I used this year. (As opposed to last year when I used no methodology at all and simply threw some words up on the screen. But don't worry, this year's plan is not much more complicated.)

First, Dean reminded me/asked me if I wanted to put together another end-of-year Top Ten list. And I immediately said yes. So, I turned to my computer and switched over to Blogger and dug out the old logo I used last year. Luckily, I had the foresight NOT to brand it with a year, so it's all ready for reuse.

Then I put the numbers 1-10 on the screen and started listing the titles of my favorite shows for this ending year. And I stopped at ten and wondered . . . what did I forget? So, I typed "Top Ten TV shows 2015" into Google and saw the list of professional critics stories that have already been writtten. But I didn't read them because I wanted my list to be pure and only from me. But luckily, Google's search screen also have a graphic showing new shows broadcast in 2015. So, I double checked that list to see if I had missed a few things and forgotten others. And the answer was yes.

So, I modified my list and let things at the bottom get bumped. I am going to recategorize a few of those at the end of the post. So, more to come on that later.

And then I quit when I got the ten I liked the most and in the ranking that I thought best. Here it is:

1. FARGO!!! The second season of this FX show was TREMENDOUS! So much better than season 1, which was good in its own right. But the acting by Kristen Dunst, Jeffrey Donovan, Bokeem Woodbine, and Jesse Plemons has been so excellent. The tension of each episode leading up the the Sioux Falls Massacre and the confusingly recurring UFO story thread and the creative split screen visualizations combines to make a well-written and well-crafted show into something really special.
[DEAN: Come on man, we’ve talked about this. Top 10 lists go from 10 to 1. This is like reading the last page of a murder mystery right out of the gate. People are in it for the suspense and you’ve killed it. Also I’m a little put off I can’t criticize this ranking because it is definitely correct in most every way.]

2. Limitless This probably surprises you. It's a procedural/crime-of-the-week show on Tuesday night CBS. But, really--this show is clever and well acted and well written and has a very strong visual style and a really committed sense of humor. It has the thankless task of spinning itself off of a forgotten Bradley Cooper movie (of the same name). But it takes the idea of a brain-boosting pill being used by the FBI to solve crimes and has so much more fun with it than it should. (Heck, there was an entire episode riff on Ferris Bueller's Day Off that was some sort of secret gitt people watching the show.) If you realize that the production company is K/O Paper Products, found by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (who stretch backwards from Fringe to LOST, then you may not be surprised that I like the style of this show. Please give it a try in 2016.
[DEAN: And you had to spoil things by making your number two show a CBS procedural. What’s next on the list: The Big Bang Theory?]

3. Jessica Jones I just finished up watching this first season on Netflix, and  really, really enjoyed it. It is grim, gritty, and psychologically disturbing. If I wasn't worried about being attacked by #GamerGaters, I'd say this show comes with a definite trigger warning. The best actor in this cast is definitely David Tennant, who plays the villain Killgrave. And yes, this is yet another superhero drama and yes, it does live in the same Hells Kitchen as Netflix's Daredevil. But the story is good. The drama is very good and the acting is good as well.
[DEAN: Hey another show I quite liked! I was a little disappointed by the direction they took Killgrave. By the end he was more pathetic than the super scary villain at the start, but I was still overall satisfied.]

4. The Americans This show has always been quality and well done throughout all phases. But the past season was my favorite one yet. The drama of telling daughter Paige the truth about what Elizabeth and Philip do for a living really amped up the emotions to a new level. And mix into that Philip's season-long effort to win over the daughter of a highly-connected government official? It was a slow burn of a plot line with enough ick factor to make me (and Philip) squeamish. Really well done.
[DEAN: More Paige please.]

5. Better Call Saul While BCS is not as much a meticulous puzzle piece as Breaking Bad was . . . this spinoff takes advantage of Bob Odenkirk's many years of comedy to have fun with Saul Goodman before he became (in)famous and met Walter White. At first, I was watching the show because I missed our nefarious friends in Albuquerque. But now I just enjoy Jimmy (the prenatal Saul) and his friends.
[DEAN: I am irritated that you keep picking good shows. Remember Limitless at number 2? Those were good times.]

6. Daredevil And I flip back over to Netflix for another superhero drama. This show, starring Charlie Cox as the blind lawyer/hero Matt Murdoch was Marvel's first move into the streaming world and it was a strong success. Even if every episode wasn't great (according to some . . . but not necessarily according to me), it was sufficiently different from the ever-expanding MCU to justify the streaming/binge commitment. I guess the biggest example of how much I liked it (and Jessica Jones, mentioned above) is that I am motivated to read some of the more famous storylines of the Daredevil/Alias comic books to learn more about the source history of these season 1 shows.
[DEAN: The pilot for this show was so visually dark that I gave up on it. Just because the protagonist is blind, doesn’t mean that I am. Give me some color and light and I’ll come back.]

7. You're the Worst (True story--I forgot to include one of this year's best shows until Monday night. I wrote the draft of this post over the weekend. Not until I was driving home from work, listening to The Watch podcast, did I realize my error.)
And a good thing too, that I corrected my error because this season of You're the Worst was challengingly good--not because it was as funny as season 1 but because it stretched itself to tell the story of Gretchen's depression. It widened the range of Gretchen and Jimmy--making them less than caricatures of awful people.
(I will admit though, that since the end of the initial season, when the show began committing itself toward the relationship of Gretchen and Jimmy, I worried that the show would deviate too far from the original idea that these people are just awful jerks. And so far, I think that fear is justified. BUT . . . the other side characters are plenty awful enough to deliver that tone which was so strong in season 1,)
[DEAN: Paul is making a huge mistake but hopefully that means more Paul next year. This is also a good show.]

8. Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Yes, here is another show on Netflix . . . but it is a far cry from the story and tone of Jessica Jones or Daredevil. Much as I wanted to watch Better Call Saul because I missed Breaking Bad, I started watching Kimmy Schmidt because I missed 30 Rock. This show, a comedy about a young woman who was kidnapped and kept underground for over a decade by a religious cultist won me over quick. It has the same quick-fire joke count as 30 Rock. And Kimmy's me-against-the-world optimism reminded me of Liz Lemon's never-say-die attitude.
[DEAN: John Hamm was the third worst part of this show. Kimmy’s dad was the 2nd worst. Tina Fey and her co-lawyer were the worst. If Tina Fey is the worst part of something it’s probably pretty good.]

9. black-ish I really look forward to this show each week because it is almost guaranteed to make me laugh and tries (at least a tiny bit) to teach me something too. But really, it is definitely interested in making me laugh. I am worried though . . . that the last episode's plot of saying goodbye to Dre's coworker Charlie might signal something. Because I really liked Charlie. Don't be gone long, please!
[DEAN: My DVR died so I don’t know what this means. But Charlie is great so I too hope he is not gone.]

10. Master of None Speaking of laughter and trying to teach lessons . . . Aziz Ansari's newest creative output was another Netflix standout in the last few months. Ansari's Dev character is an Indian actor who hangs out with his friends, enjoys life in New York, and occasionally confronts racial assumptions. It's a sort of 21st century Seinfeld with more of a conscience.
[DEAN: Argh, I liked this show too! Stop having discerning taste so I can make fun of you. This show was great and this list was good. Nice work.]

Bumped Out of the List:
a. Game of Thrones It was on the list but it kept getting shoved down by other items. It is always a fun show to watch. And I wanted to not ignore it altogether because the series really reinventing itself at the most dreadful point in the book saga plot. The showrunners and writers sidestepped most of the bad plotting, invented new things and new paths to keep things moving and make it interesting.
[DEAN: They sidestepped bad plotting and added more of their own bad plotting. Still a visually arresting show that I like watching.]

b. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend It was also on the initial list, but became a casualty of higher-quality shows. On the face of it, the hook of the show sounds bad--and doomed to be ridiculous. But (for some reason), it works just well enough to be enjoyable.

c. Supergirl Just when you thought I couldn't bring in another superhero show . . . This CBS effort stars Melissa Benoist as our Gal from Krypton. And the show is developed by the same creative team that oversees Arrow and The Flash on The CW (which I also enjoy). I secretly hope they will all team up at some point to battle some spinoff villain that survives the aftermath of the Batman vs. Superman movie. But that would probably get way too bloated and weird. My quibbles with Supergirl are: 1. they refuse to mention Superman by name, but they can't stop talking about him anyway and 2. the first five to six episodes were much too focused on the fact that Kara was female and that was the reason that she screwed up time and again.
[DEAN: I hate Kara and hope her Aunt wins. She was right about Krypton and Kara is wrong about everything and I kind of hate her. Martian Manhunter is cool though.]

Will Watch Someday: The Leftovers, Mr. Robot
[DEAN: I would rather try to read Infinite Jest again than every try to watch The Leftovers. I am sad I watched Humans instead of Mr. Robot. Well I’m sad I watched the first episode of Humans instead of any of Mr. Robot.]
[DAVID: Hey, you stop that. Mr. Robot sounded good and I'm sorry I missed it too. BUT . . . Humans was pretty good as well. Just not top 10 good I guess.]

Dead to Me:
The Walking Dead The creative team insulted the viewers in the way they treated Glen's disappearance and reappearance. I'm officially out on this show.
[DEAN: Now how will I be able to be part of the cultural zeitgeist? I rely on you David. I rely on you.]

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Football Counter-Programming 2015: Week 13

The end of the regular football season is almost over for another year. And I've done my best to distract you from the gridiron struggles. But I know that I haven't really succeeded. So, many I've been going about this all wrong?

So, in an effort to be more distracting, I'm going to--this holiday weekend--rely on the two most distracting things I can think of on the Internet. (Sorry Log Lady, but you get the weekend off.)

So . . .

Yeah, that's right!

The unholy alliance of Star Wars and cats! The two things that can break the Internet!

(Calm down Luke, it will be over soon! Just a bit more distractions.)


Until next week, remember . . . no one cares if your fieldgoal kicker can bullseye womp rats in his T16 back home. What matters is can he kick a 45-yarder with the wind in his face!?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Football Counter-Programming 2015: Week 12

The football season is slowly winding to a close. (Really, the end is within theoretical sight, I promise.) But it hasn't gone away yet and so the FC-P continues, strong in its mission to distract you from your pigskin-related pursuits for another week. No matter if your team is throwing down against a cupcake opponent (I'm looking at YOU Southeastern Conference) or whether your team is finally facing down against significant opposition that might determine your season. (You know who you are, tOSU.)

But . . . as usual, this is the end of such football talkery for this post. Now, on to the Counter-Programming!

Hit me up Log Lady!

 Do you ever write letters anymore? I lived in a time when letter writing was already becoming a thing of the past--and that was even before the overwhelming rise of the Internet and e-mail. I once had a pen pal, but that was pretty short-lived. (I don't even remember now where he lived.)

I wrote some letters when I went to summer camp and when I was in college, I wrote an occasional letter back home. But my main method of communication has always been face-to-face. (As anyone who knows me can tell you, I don't like communicating on the telephone and generally try to avoid that.)

Of course, these days, I communicate a lot in words--but I type them in this blog or on Twitter or on Facebook. And the words are not directed to anyone specific. They are just composed and put out into the world for general consumption. That is nice, because it gives a creative outlet and some (informal, to be sure) practice in the writing process. Does it weaken the overall use of language, however, when I'm not specifically targeting a person?

These days when I write something directly at someone, it is a note of specific goals. Telling Lynda that I've gone for a walk. Or leaving lists of chores for the kids to do when I'm out of the house.

Speaking of that . . . my mom used to write chore lists for me every summer morning. When she was off working and when I was home without school, she would hang a note on the refrigerator door with tasks to accomplish by the time she got home: vacuum the floors, wash and fold laundry, clean my room, wash dishes. What sort of chores did you do as a kid?

And how do you communicate? Do you write letters? When was the last time you received a letter from someone? When was the last time you got something in the mail that wasn't a bill, junk, or an annual Christmas card? Do you think it is a diminishment of our historical record that we don't write anymore? Have you even considered what future historians and anthropologists will use to determine how we lived our lives?

Or maybe it won't be so bad? Will all of our digital records more than suffice? Will it only be paper receipts from Walmart and Best Buy that tells our history? Or will future civilizations judge us by our random blog posts, our DVDs of Breaking Bad and whatever retro-tech they devise to watch our Netflix files of Friends?

(On further reflection . . . that might be our most accurate depiction. It's not all State Department communiques, after all.)

So . . . welcome future archaeologists!

My name is David and I lived in Ohio most of the time. It was a state located in what we called the Midwest. We valued corn, football, butter, and wholesomeness. Our summers were hot and our winters were cold.
We--unlike you--were able to go outside when the weather was nice. But . . . during my adulthood, we chose to stay indoors and entertain ourselves with digital communications and filmed stories on our portable computer devices. (These were the progenitors of our cortical digi-implants.)
We made movies predicting the robot enslavement, but we never took it very seriously.

Sorry about not preparing for that like we should have.

And remember (as you from the future already know) . . . no one cares if your team didn't take that Division I-AA team seriously during the late season cupcake week. A loss is a loss is a loss . . .

. . . unless that loss is actually robot enslavement. Then--well, its a paradigm shift for the whole civilization.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Football Counter-Programming 2015: Week 11

Welp. What do I talk about today?

The events in Paris have already provided plenty of counter-programming to balance against any football-related activity that might be discussed on Facebook today. I even considered not writing anything today, just in case it seemed too false or dumb against the real suffering going on over there.

But, the football games continue today, so I guess I will counter-program as usual.

Here's hoping that the Log Lady has some helpful wisdom today. (But if you are paying attention, you might already guess from the image above that things are stranger than normal this week.)

I've said before in this space that going to extremes is a dangerous path to take. True believers on any side of a two-sided argument are not interested in seeing the viewpoints of their opposite opponent. The world's complex problems are not so simple as to only have two sides. So, I try to steer my stance more to the middle, hoping to accommodate the issues somewhere in the compromise zone.

(I didn't know what else to write . . . and so I went down to the basement to sort through dirty clothes and start some laundry.)

And I am confronted again with how privileged I am in so many ways. It is no surprise that I want to sit in the middle of arguments, because I do not suffer hardships. I am not oppressed or threatened. So, I do not see the conflict from the point of view of the true believers who are willing to go to extremes to achieve their social/political/economic/religious/theoretical goals.

We can't operate exclusively from extremes though. There has to be someone willing to compromise? And I'm not saying it is ME. But there needs to be more people in the middle, trying to understand and carve out a path toward acceptance and cooperation. Otherwise, we live in chaos.

And I think that is it for me today.

Stay safe. Enjoy your time with family and friends. Try to determine what creamed corn has to do with anything other than making good cornbread.

And remember. . .

. . . no one else cares if your team is undefeated and stuck at number 7 in the College Football Playoff rankings.

Saturday, November 07, 2015

Football Counter-Programming 2015: Week 10

It's week number 10 of trying not to let football control our lives. How has it gone so far for you? Have you realized yet that leaves are changing and that there is an autumnal bite in the air? (Of course you have, because your parking space at the tailgate is near those pretty trees and last Saturday you had to get our the ole alma mater scarf you bought back in '92.)

Clearly, we have more work to do. On to the Log Lady introduction!

Don't you love the Log Lady's directness? Who starts a conversation by asking if you can see through a human's skin?
But, I guess it is a good question. We cannot see through people. So we should not assume that we can understand everyone in their fullest sense. We all have pockets of mystery. 

Let's take a look at me, for instance, I use this space every weekend to tell you not to watch football and to not let these allegiances define who you are. And yet, I do spend some time each Saturday watching some football games. 

That makes me hypocritical, sure. But it also makes me complex, you know? 

I use the construct of football to motivate me towards more blogging. But does this admission weaken my points and the things I write about? No. It simply says that people are more complicated than we allow them to be. We want the world simple and easily understood. But the world doesn't work just the way we want it to. 

The Log Lady demonstrates her wisdom in this longer-than-normal Intro. As is often her style, she counsels that the world is complicated and that many things are happening that are not simple to understand at face value. This knowledge that she has comes from her life in the Woods. Living in nature, Log Lady has learned to find a balance in the middle, in between extremes. She finds a median path, much like how she only chews the type of pitch gum that is in the middle, between too soft and too hard. 

In her own strange way, the Log Lady has a bit of Zen about her. 

Now . . . on to other things. 

What sort of gum do you like to chew? These days, I favor basic flavor Dentyne. I chew it at work almost every day, after lunch or when I have consumed too much coffee. It's a breath freshener and a way to convince my mouth that I don't need to buy candy from the vending machine in the mid-afternoon. My friend BS calls this The Gum Method. It works with varying success, I must admit. 

When I was young, I favored either Juicy Fruit gum or Fruit Stripe gum. These days, I find Juicy Fruit waaaaay to sweet for my palate. And I wouldn't chew Fruit Stripe gum on a dare.  Occasionally, I will chew some cinnamon flavored gum, but that is a definite rarity.

What sort of gum do you like the best? Do you chew often or not at all? Surely you have opinions, strongly felt that you need to share? (This is the Internet, after all.) So, go ahead and let it out. Tell me the things that must be said and that you have held inside for far too long. The comments await, at your pleasure. 

And . . . until next week, please remember that no one cares if your coach has brought in the nation's best recruiting class for the last three off-seasons.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Football Counter-Programming 2015--Week 9


Welcome back again, my friends! Have you had a good week? Mine has been pretty good, overall. Work has been fine and home life has been smooth. Everyone ate, drank, slept, and did everything they needed to do. And what more is there to life sometimes than making it through? As Autumn shifts to winter, as the weather gets colder and things intensify . . . occasionally, you just have to make it through. So, pat yourself on the back for making it through another week. If you weren't satisfied with how things went over the past seven days, congratulations for holding up high standards. And cheer up. There is another week right around the corner. You'll do better this next time, I am sure.

But now . . . it's time for everyone's favorite weekend digital diversion. It's another entry in WWYG?!'s Football Counter-Programming! Did your team win last weekend? Did your team "cover the spread"? Did your team slowly choke the athletic life out of that mid-major conference cupcake opponent that you had no business playing?

Who cares! No one around here cares. Because that is the point of the FC-P. It's a safe space to admit that football is NOT the most important thing that happens to you all week. Here is the place where we can talk about how we spent two hours enjoying the leaves change color while on a walk with our kids. Here is the place where we can plan that trip to make apple cider with our girlfriend. Here is the place where you can tell me about how much you enjoy candle-making in the cute shop downtown next to the furniture store.

I want to here all about it in the comments. Show your diversity. Admit about what you love. There is no judgment here.

And, now that we've gotten the rules out of the way, let's see what the Log Lady has to tell us. What cryptic advice or strange thoughts could she have to guide me through what I'll type for the subject matter this week?


It is true that we all have a way about us. That alchemical combination of stances, steps, body movements, and actions that define us--especially to those who know us best. We spend our lifetime learning more about ourselves and defining and refining who we are, as well as how we present ourselves to the world. 

And once we have a handle on that version of our self, it is distinctive and unique. Even, in this season of costumes and momentary personality shifts, our true self can shine through for those who are looking beyond the superficial.

And you should not be upset when this happens. I happen to think that discovering who *I* am is one of my great life achievements. (And I'll let you know when I'm finished making that discovery.)

Going through life is such an exercise in self-discovery and changing self-definition. And I hope I can and do change as I age. Because that means that I am being confronted with difference and challenge. And those challenges are opportunities for me to rethink something I thought I knew or to consider what I do believe in a new set of circumstances. I am not suggesting that I easily change what I think at every opportunity. But I hope that I can find ways to embrace the world outside of myself and still remain true to the core norms and expectations that define who I am. 

The world is complicated. And it gets more complicated all the time. I do not understand all of it either--because I can't experience all of that complexity in my limited slice of the Earth that I inhabit. I want to be open to the possibility of change. I don't want to be closed off and afraid.

No matter what costume I happen to be wearing, I would like my way of acceptance to "shine through." Allow me to dance through my own song, adjusting to the sharp drumbeats as needed to keep the dance going and keep my own definition intact.

Until next week, remember . . .

. . . no one cares if your team's defensive line hasn't been living up to its potential for the last month.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Watching Star Wars: The Abrams Influence

Over the weekend, we decided to introduce Hannah to the Star Wars movie franchise. (Well, to be honest, I wanted to watch the movies again, as prep for this December's newest episode VII installment. And so we decided that it was time to introduce Hannah to the Star Wars franchise.)

But . . . how should we do it?

This is a very relevant question for now and for the future. Obviously, when I was a kid, there was only one option--Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, and then Return of the Jedi. They came out in the theaters and then we were introduced to the idea of rewatchability via VCRs/DVDs. But there was no question about in what order the story should be experienced.

My Original Experience

But now? Well, my first  two children were born and introduced to the franchise when the Prequel movies (Episode I: The Phantom Menace, Episode II: The Clone Wars, Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith) were being introduced and at the height of their influence. So . . . for better (and probably for worse--as you will see later), I chose to show the six movies in chronological order to Sarah and Grace, from Episode I to Episode VI: the Prequels and then the Originals.

Sarah and Grace's Experience

But . . . well, we all know that the prequels weren't the BEST additions to the Star Wars franchise that we all hoped for. The Jake Lloyd Anakin Baby. The revelation of midichlorians. The horrible stilted dialogue between Padme and Anakin at the Lakes of Naboo. Jar Jar Effing Binks. The struggles of watching Hayden Christiansen try desperately to emote and simply landing on confused. The High Ground.

Yeah . . . it was suboptimal. But . . . for better and for worse, it is part of the official Star Wars canon. and so, we're back to the original question that we faced for Hannah. How should she watch the movies? What is the best way for her to get the complete story, but not hand such weight on the weakness of Episodes I-III so early on. I mean, if individuals got TOO disenchanted with the ham-handedness of the Prequels, they might never persevere enough to get to the more decent movies beyond.

And then . . . I figured out the way that I think works best for me. And, as fate would have it, it is heavily influenced by the director of the newest movie: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (coming to dominate the world this December).

I, as you may know by now, am a big fan of J.J. Abrams work. I loved the TV show Alias. I adored the TV show LOST. I liked almost all of the TV show Fringe. I've watched his Star Trek reboot movies with much satisfaction. I enjoyed his other movies--Super 8, Cloverfield,and even some of the efforts he has made in Tom Cruise's Mission: Impossible franchise.

And, if there is one thing that I know about Abrams is his strong love of the flashback. He utilizes the technique in lots of his creative storytelling. And so, why not give a strong homage to Abrams when trying to sequence the most optimal way to tell the Star Wars story?

So, I propose that we work the Prequel Episodes I-III as flashbacks within The Empire Strikes back.

The Abrams Influence Method
Think of it. We are introduced to Luke Skywalker, a young nobody raised as an orphan on the planet Tatooine. We see him learn some of the truth about who his father was: a talented space pilot and even . . . a Jedi--a master of the old religious order that once maintained peace in the galaxy. Luke begins to learn something of the Jedi ways from old Ben (nee Obi-Wan) Kenobi. But then Kenobi is cut down by Darth Vader during the Rebel Alliance's efforts to destroy the Death Star super weapon. We cheer as Luke and the Rebels triumph in destroying the Death Star and then buckle in to follow our heroes on their journey to fight the Empire.

In Episode V, we see the strengthened Rebel Alliance continue their efforts to destroy the Empire. Luke fully commits to his Jedi training with Master Yoda . . . but something goes wrong in the swamps of Dagobah. Luke sees strange visions connecting him to Darth Vader. What does it mean? When he rushes to Bespin the save his friends, he confronts Vader face-to-face . .. and Vader drops the bombshell. 

Vader is Luke's father?

(What do you think about THAT, Master Skywalker?)

Now . . .


Pull out The Empire Strikes Back at this point and begin telling the sad tale of Anakin Skywalker's downfall. Begin with The Phantom Menace, then run through The Clone Wars, and then Finish with The Revenge of the Sith. See how Anakin's power was corrupted and twisted by his love for Padme and his fear of losing her.

Then . . . pick up Episode V right where Vader tells Luke the truth and stretches out his glove. Watch Luke recoil in horror and give in to his own despair, letting go of the tower and falling into the airshaft. Watch the end of Empire and then move into Return of the Jedi. Now, you can watch as a PTSD Luke Skywalker, last of the Jedi Masters tries his hardest to believe that there is a glimmer of goodness left in the shell of Anakin Skywalker within the armor of Darth Vader. You've seen how Anakin fell and you are left to wonder if Luke is right.

So . . . what do you think?

(Truthfully, I'm probably NOT the first person to think of this. But I'm not bothering to research and find out what others before me have already said. It is what I'm trying with Hannah and we'll see how it works.)

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Football Counter-Programming 2015--Week 8

Did you miss me last weekend? (Did you even notice that I was gone?)

Well, I was. I was with my family at the Procter Camp and Conference Center down south of Columbus and we were enjoying a family weekend with some of the members of my church. We carved pumpkins, enjoyed the bright (if colder than I wanted) weather, ate good food, and found as much time as we could to relax.

Some of that time was spent watching some of the key college football games of the weekend--but only if you wanted to participate. And I tried to do very little of that. Because I've got a standard of avoiding college games to uphold. And you expect nothing less of me.

But that was last week and now is this week. And you need to keep on avoiding college football for another day. And Football Counter-Programming is here to help you with that effort.

So, let's see what cryptic nonsense the Log Lady has to offer me this week. Will I be in a better mood than two weeks ago?


Well . . .


How is this going to help me? What sort of theme can I dig out of this quote? Do I write about eyes? Or should I try to write something about the nature of the soul? (Or maybe um . . . soul food?) Or, maybe darkness? Or something about beauty?


Hmm. Well . . . let's try beauty.

What do YOU think is beautiful? When you are seeking out a beautiful thing, maybe to help calm you down when you are upset. Or maybe to recenter yourself after a tough week of work. When you need something to soothe . . . what is beautiful to you?

For me . . . I enjoy nature. One of my fondest memories of growing up was a random weekend trip that I took with my parents to a camp ground an hour of so from our home--Lake Blackshear. My siblings were all grown, out of the house, in college . . . just elsewhere that weekend. So I was camping with Mom and Dad on my own. And the memory is not so much about what we did. Because we didn't do that much. And the beauty wasn't overwhelming. We weren't in the North Georgia campgrounds where all of the trees and waterfalls can be found, where the hiking trails help you step away from daily life. We were just as a camp ground, beside the lake that is often squishy with mud and plant fronds.

No . . . what I liked about that trip was the simple act of getting up in the morning, when the sun was low on the horizon, making the lake water shimmer, a slight chill in the morning breeze. I was up and everything was quiet. I poured myself a hot cup of coffee, sat in a folding chair outside the camper, and enjoyed the sunrise.

It's a memory of simplicity and quietness. It's not stunning or dramatic or filled with the insights of other people. It was just me with my thoughts and a moment of burgeoning adulthood and independence. I was opening myself up to the world just a little bit, with the help of a still natural moment.

Blendon Woods metro park
I've had other encounters with nature--walking in the Columbus-area metro parks surrounded by autumn's golden leaves, enjoying some solitude and the distant hum of cars on roads. Or hiking with family along trails on the way to this fall or that spot, chatting with siblings or spouses, listening to nieces and nephew. I've even had some quiet moments while catching my breath during a driveway snow shoveling session in the dark hours before taking kids to school and heading off to work.

Do you have moments of natural appreciation that mean something to you? Or have you found beauty in a piece of art handing in a gallery? Or maybe a photograph of your kids or a particularly nice flower in your yard? Or something you have seen in travels that made you stop and enjoy?

Leave a comment and tell me what is beautiful to you.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Football Counter-Programming 2015--Bye Week

Every football season has one week off. It is called a bye week.


I don't know.

But this is my FC-P bye week.

Until I try to distract you next week, remember . . . no one cares if your team successfully pulled off that late-game 2-point conversion.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Football Counter-Programming 2015--Week 6

Hooo boy. What a week of non-football related stuff it has been for me. And so, why should YOU be allowed to think about football when I most definitely cannot?

So . . . its another week of everyone's favorite Fall event that doesn't include the letters P, S, or L.

It's Football Counter-Programming!

Come on Log Lady. I really need some help shaping the topic this week. What have you got for me?

From episode 5 "Cooper's Dreams"
As fate or the cosmos would have it . . . the Log Lady's words this week are extremely prophetic to my state of mind right now. I definitely feel like I am playing a part on a stage that everyone is looking at. A spotlight is an uncomfortable place to be and I am living my (very small) part of it in a very hot, very uncomfortable space.

I would LOVE to form the perfect answer to try and explain this spotlight away. But it is so very true that the "answer cannot come before all are ready to hear" (or when the corporate rules disallow).

In today's social media world (and of which I am definitely a part) people never show a willingness or a readiness to hear others and to listen. That is simply not how we use the Internet. Will it every be a place where reason and logic can play any part? Or will it simply be an echo chamber in which anger is shouted? A place in which only supporting views are propped up? Human nature being what it is, the answer to those questions is . . . probably not.

So, I guess blaming the Internet culture won't get me anywhere.

My "anger at the fire" is extremely evident right now. And I know that it is both childish and disingenuous to complain about the nature of the Internet . . . now that Ï* am within its glare. People tend to whinge when things don't go their way. Will that stop them when the spotlight shifts to become someone else's problem? Or will they deserve it?

I hope that I am honest when I say that I have tried (especially since the 2012 election cycle) NOT to contribute to this Internet culture of the Five-Minute Hate. As this series of posts demonstrates, I try to keep it light and fun as often as not. There is enough anger in the world (and online) that I don't need to be contributing to it any further. And, as the events of this week have amply proven, anger only fuels more anger. It is not an environment where reason and persuasion lives comfortably.

So . . . how am I supposed to respond to all of this?

First and foremost, I try my best to maintain civility in my online discourse. Remember to try and imagine the other people on the other side of my screen as complex human beings with their own problems and dreams. I can't lash out in anger and narrow-mindedness just because they have. That doesn't make it better or widen the rules of acceptability.



I just don't know how to go forward with this. I've been struggling on how to think about it all week long. As usual, I put the blame on myself for not being intellectual enough, for not taking things as seriously as they need to be taken and for diverting myself too much.

So . . . what will come? I don't know. I guess I'll just continue to stew in my vagueness until things change and the spotlight moves somewhere else.


(The next day . . .)

As I sit editing this (yes, I do edit and think about these posts a bit), trying to figure out my thoughts, I am also listening to this week's Dear Hank & John podcast.
They are coincidentally talking about the struggles of seeing both sides of a political argument--(at the 19:07 mark).This made me think a bit more about my situation. It reinforces the fact that we don't have to live in a yes or no world--no matter how badly the Internet wishes it were so.

I encourage you to listen to this episode and to all of their episodes. In between the fun and jokes are moments of good advice (really, there is some).

So, that is going to be it for this week. Lots of vague hanky waving.

But . . . until next week . . . don't forget that no one else cares whether your team successfully employed the no-huddle offense to tie the game before halftime last week.

* I in the corporate sense. If I, alone, myself, was in this predicament, I would be curled in a ball in my bedroom and certainly not typing about this or anything else at all.

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Football Counter-Programming 2015--Week 5

Welcome back and welcome in everybody! I hope that you have had a good week and that all of your two-point conversions worked in your favor. But that is the LAST time in this post that you'll hear me mention football tactics. . . because this is another week of Football Counter-Programming!

So . . . week 5. And what shall we cover as the topic this week? Last week, you might remember (if you read) we looked at sadness. And I am sad to report that the actress that played the Log Lady in Twin Peaks died in this past week. So, I have only good thoughts for Catherine Coulson.

As always, we honor her by using her episode introductions to look for a theme for the FC-P posts. This week's introduction comes from episode 4 "The One-Armed Man."

Do you dream? Well . . . I guess everyone dreams, but do you remember your dreams on a consistent basis? 

I don't--though I have sometimes written about dreams that I can remember here on WWYG?!

How about this question--Do you laugh?

How often do you laugh? Is it often enough?

I bet it is not as often as you would like it to be. So now you need to ask yourself: why is that? Why don't we all try to maximize the time that we laugh every day? Even though we need to be serious and successful in our careers and we need to provide for our families and for ourselves (that ole Protestant Work Ethic). . . but are we missing out on chances to see the humor in the world? Are we being so serious that we can't find moments to laugh every day?

I try to present myself as a funny guy. [I'll pause here for your abrupt fit of laughter to subside into stunned silence. Okay, ready now?]

Yeah, I know that I'm not always funny. But I do try to see the humor in things. And sure, there are times when I have rethought that strategy and wondered if I make too many jokes and I wonder if I am perceived as a jokey guy without deep thought or substance. But then I try to get over that concern. Because . . . as the bumper sticker says, YOLO and all that stuff. Seize the day, right? If you take life too seriously, you're pondering glistening wheelbarrows and apologizing for eating your roommates plums.

I guess, in the long run, I'd rather be remembered for making someone laugh because I had some humorous insight on something. Let other people be impressed by their in-depth understanding of the difference between macroeconomics and microeconomics. I'll try to make you chuckle by comparing macroeconomics to whether or not your wallet and waistline can afford more Stouffers Macaroni and Cheese dinners.

(Clearly, I've got more studying to do.)

But that's it for this week. Until next weekend, remember . . . no one else cares if the third running back on your team's depth chart could start for any other team in the Big Ten.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Football Counter-Programming 2015--Week 4


Welcome back again everyone--to another attempt at Football Counter-Programming!

How much time did you spend between last Saturday and now thinking about football? Be honest! I'm assuming you thought about it on Sunday . . . and again on Monday night . . . and probably once more on Thursday night. Isn't that enough time devoted to football thoughts? Can't we all get together for a bit right now and think about something else?

But what shall we think about today? Let's see what the Log Lady has to say and maybe we can go from there?

Hmmm. I think we will tackle the topic of sadness today, since that is what the Log Lady seems to be focusing on. And so I chose the image of Urban Meyer eating Sad Pizza a few years ago.

The Log Lady is giving a grim warning that the sadness will end at our time of death. And she is certainly right about that--struggle against that truth though we might. But that is a very pessimistic view of the world. (A view that is entirely within character on a show such as Twin Peaks.)

But I don't want to promote such a depressing weltanschaung. I want people to think and act more positively, rejecting the belief that this world is only about sadness. We can see so many wonderful things around us. But we have to try to see it.

This state of mind and this set of beliefs is rooted in my Christian faith--and it is something that I aim for . . . and something I fail to achieve quite often. But I was recently encouraged by listening to the Fresh Air interview between Terri Gross and Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber.

Her approach towards the Lutheran Christian faith was filled with humor and humility, long on hope and effort and short on definitive authoritative answers. Instead, she focused strongly on a confidence in God's unwavering love for us--regardless of how we fall short.

How can we feel sad if this is the message we hold?

But many of us do feel sad. And the sadness is rooted in a personal dissatisfaction that seems hard to shake. And this dissatisfaction comes from our culture. We are told to do more, to be more, to see how others do and be and measure our own understanding of success against others--to see that success and grab it.

It is a result of the freedoms and the affluence that we are blessed with in the United States. We believe that good enough is never enough. If you think Good Enough is  okay, then you are a slacker and you are not living up to your potential. If you are content, then you are lazy.

But . . . don't we see people who seem content amid the turmoil and wonder what do they know? Aren't we envious of those who are calm and seem to know themselves? Don't we want to reach a place where we know our edges and we stay within them? And when we don't . . . doesn't that bring sadness?

So much of today's bickering and political fighting comes from well-meaning (some of them, I assume) people who are trying--in their own spiritually-interpreted way--to draw some boundaries. For many, the freedoms and opportunities of this country seem like dangerous zones of confusion. They want to put a wall around what is understood and stay secure within those definitions of right, wrong, good, bad. They want to eliminate the unfamiliar, because they don't want to live there.

Those that are calm and secure . .  . I think they are willing to live in their areas . . . and they are willing to let others live in their areas. That security within oneself is the key to calm. You center YOURSELF. You know where YOU are. And you don't worry so much about everyone else. That gives you peace and diminishes sadness.

So . . . those are my thoughts on that. What do you think? Leave me some feedback in the comments. Am I full of shit? Tell me.

Until next Saturday . . . remember: no one cares if your team's kicker can't consistently make field goals beyond 35 yards.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fall TV Preview 2015--Fox

Hey and welcome back in to another in my slowly-developing Fall TV Preview for 2015.

I'm sorry that I haven't gotten all of these posts done and live before the official launching of the shows--at least for all of the mainstream networks. BUT, I hope that you are enjoying my other Fall-related offerings over in the Football Counter-Programming area.

On to Fox!


Oh boy . . . the calendar looks daunting on this first night of the TV week! So many half-hour shows!

I'll never get all of these posts written if I have to give thoughts on everything or try to come up a joke or whatever it is that you guys are expecting me to come up with. (Oh, hey . . . what ARE you guys expecting me to come up with? If you want something changed, leave me suggestions in the comments below.)

But anyhow, what is Fox giving us to enjoy on Sunday night? The good news--for me--is that none of these programs are brand new. Bob's Burgers [returns 9/27 @ 7:30], The Simpsons [returns 9/27 @ 8], and Family Guy [returns 9/27 @ 9] are all part of the animation block. But there is also Brooklyn Nine-Nine [returns 9/27 @ 8:30] and The Last Man on Earth [returns 9/27 @ 9:30] to round out the night. I've never been a consistent watcher of The Simpsons or Family Guy and I haven't let my kids (or Dean) talk me into liking Bob's Burgers. The biggest challenge for me on Sunday is Last Man on Earth. I watched more than half of last year's premiere season, but the complete unlikeability of Will Forte's Phil Miller character drove me away from watching any more of the last month of the show. And that is too bad, because I liked Will Forte and Kristen Schall and even January Jones. And I liked the idea of the show. But the writers were determined to make me so uncomfortable that I just couldn't sit through it anymore.


Okay, but now . . . here on Monday are some choices! First, there is Gotham [returned 9/21 @ 8] and then there is the new show, Minority Report [premiered 9/21 @ 9]. And I really am conflicted about what to do with Gotham. As you already know, I'm a fan of the superhero genre. And I think--in general--that the DC-based characters have fared better on television than they have in movies. BUT . . . Batman is the very big exception to that rule. Now, it is true that I am basing this on the very successful Christopher Nolan Batman movie trilogy rather than the shambling mess of Batman sequels that originally followed Tim Burton's 1989 original Michael Keaton blockbuster. But, you want Batman to do well, right? He's a cornerstone of the genre. He's someone that everyone knows at least something about. He's more approachable than Aquaman or even Wolverine.

But Gotham--in all of Fox's and DC's wisdom--is NOT ABOUT Batman. It's about Muppet Baby Bruce Wayne and the Gotham Police Department and the proto villains that we'll one day get to know more. But is that what we want? Smallville tried to tell the story of Clark Kent before he was wearing the big blue underwear. But teenage Clark still had Kryptonian powers! The problem with young Bruce Wayne is that he's got nothing but anger and confusion and money. He's a depressive Ritchie Rich when we want him to be doing crime fighting or learning how to train or deciding he won't use a gun or whatever. The journey towards Batman is so far away that the show seems unfulfilled.

All of this could be overcome if the staff had done a better job of writing dialogue and story last year. And maybe this season will be improved? I'm going to keep watching and I hope to report better things.


All new shows. On the same night. Three of them!

Grandfathered [premieres 9/29 @ 8] is the return of John Stamos. He's a guy (that I sort of equate to Neil Patrick Harris' Barney Stinson on HIMYM) who gets his life thrown out of whack by the sudden discovery of a child and that child's child (hense the name of the show).

If that sounds sort of typical, then maybe The Grinder [premieres 9/29 @ 8:30] would be better? It is different from Grandfathered because it is the return to TV of NOT John Stamos but rather Fred Savage . . . with the inclusion of a different version of Rob Lowe from the dude you liked a lot on Parks & Rec. What is The Grinder, though? It's about a successful lawyer that comes home to run the family law firm and finds himself in competition with his younger brother . . . also a lawyer. (I'd rather you take the interest in that concept and apply it to the MUCH better Better Call Saul [returns _____? 2016 over on AMC].

But . . . if you want something truly different--but also sort of familiar, then maybe you should give Scream Queens [premiered 9/22 @ 8] a try. It's different because it is a horror show about murder and victims and bad people. It's familiar in that it is by Ryan Murphy, who is the guy behind Glee and American Horror Story and its derivatives. So you see lots of that stable of actors and you can probably guess the style and feel of the show you'll be getting. (Kind of like when you decide to watch a Wes Anderson movie.)


One of the biggest hits in last year's TV schedule was Empire [returned 9/23 @ 9], a show about a family running a record label and filled with lots of drama and excitement. Truthfully, I didn't watch the show and while I know from headlines on social media that the show was a hit, I didn't click through the headlines to learn why it was a hit. But surely Fox hopes that success continues in its sophomore season. Did you watch? If so, what was good about it? Enlighten me in the comments.

The new show on Wednesday is Rosewood [premiered 9/23 @ 8], a show described thusly: "Private pathologist Beaumont Rosewood helps the Miami police department solve its toughest cases, whether they want his input or not, and teams up with maverick detective Annalise Villa to find clues where no one else can." Am I nuts or is this pretty much exactly how you might have described Rainn Wilson's Backstrom show last year? (Nobody watched that show either.)


If you are a fan of Bones you don't need me to prod you to keep watching the show or even to tell you when it comes back on [returns 10/1 @ 8]. And I suppose the same can be said for one of last year's most hit-and-miss efforts, Sleepy Hollow [returns 10/1 @ 9]. I am almost as conflicted with Sleepy Hollow as I was above with Gotham--with the crucial exception that I am much more ready to dump Sleepy Hollow from my DVR. (Actually, I think I already have.)

I guess I just don't care anymore? Will I be able to simply drop it and walk away? True . . . the show is pleasantly bonkers and very unpredictable. But sometimes it feels like I'm rubbernecking at the location of a car crash. I really want to look away, but if I do I might miss seeing something memorable.

Ugh. Typing that just made me feel dirty.


Ahh Friday. The day of castoffs, rejects, and reality.

But hold on, that is a pretty negative view of things. And MasterChef Junior [returns 11/6 @ 8] is one of the more positive reality shows. Because it is about cooking competition and it features kids. Who doesn't like to watch kids cook? Who doesn't want to root them on as they saute and whip up remoulade? (Yeah, I spelled that correctly on the first try!) Who can't smile when they try to fancy up something depressingly kid friendly, like hot dogs? And the judges tend to be nicer as well.

But what about World's Funniest Fails [returns 11/6 @ 9]? I don't remember this show from past years. But it feels like a show that falls on the Reality Mean Spectrum to the right of America's Funniest Home Videos and to the left of Jackass.

You get the idea . . .


And, well, mercifully that is it for Fox this Fall. On this weekend night you've got Fox Sports Saturday which could mean anything but it most likely means nothing.

Overall? Not too many shows that I'll definitely be watching. I think I'll give Minority Report a try. And I guess I'm going to grit my teeth and keep watching Gotham for a while longer. And I'll probably shame watch Sleepy Hollow a few times and see if there is anything there anymore. But that may be it.

Maybe that gif above represents more than just one of the world's funniest fails. Maybe it also represents Fox's attempt to entice me.

Better luck next time, Fox.

And to you, reader? Next time, we'll tackle NBC.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Fall TV Preview 2015--The CW

Here we are once again for another entry in the 2015 Fall TV Preview. If you need to catch up on the last few entries, click on the Page link at the top of the blog . . . the one labeled TV Preview Posts. It will give you access to all of the Fall TV posts I've written since WWYG?! went live in 2004. The most recent years are down at the bottom of the page.

And now, let's look at The CW.

In past years, I've written The CW late in my list of previews, because it usually provided a shorter list of shows. It is the "fifth"network, with the least amount of money and national coverage, it can't afford to offer a full slate of shows every single night. And that doesn't appear to be different this year either.


Case in point. On Sunday night, The CW gives us "Local Programming."
What's that, you wonder? I can't begin to guess.

Well, truthfully, I could go sit down in front of the TV right now and verify what local programming might be--since I'm drafting this on a Sunday night. But I think it is more fun to imagine what it might mean in your locality.

Maybe in the southwest, local programming is lots of Clint Eastwood western movies. And maybe in the Deep South it consists of reruns of The Andy Griffith Show? (Presumably, it is based on lots of regional stereotypes?) Why don't you weigh in down below in the comments and tell me what local programming looks like where you live and watch TV?


Two shows are provided by The CW on Monday. Returning is last year's successful show Jane the Virgin [returns 10/19 @ 9]. And the new show is called Crazy Ex Girlfriend [premieres 10/19 @ 8]. This new show is described as "A woman gives up her prestigious job and upscale Manhattan apartment to search for love in California."

And with that simple sentence, I'm immediately turned off and tired of the entire concept. Why don't you ever see a show about a crazy ex-boyfriend who gave up everything to chase after the girl that got away? How many shows have tried to tell that story? I mean, I guess parts of How I Met Your Mother showed some of that, but very few shows have been honest about the emotional problems that men have faced in the world of dating. It is always expected that women carry the burden of emotion and caring. Guys are shown as actually caring less about it all. Just give them a beer and a football game and they should be just fine, right?


All right. Here we go with some interesting programming!

First, we got season two of The Flash [returns 10/6 @ 8]. As you know from my post on CBS and the new show Supergirl, I'm a fan of the superhero TV genre. And I enjoyed the first season of The Flash quite a bit. I didn't know much about the mythology of the comics character before I started watching, but the good news is that you don't really need any prior knowledge. As long as you can accept the possibility that a weird combination of super-colliding atoms and some other weird "weather stuff" can alter someone's atoms and body enough to give him super speed, then . . . well, you are in. Just enjoy watching Barry The Flash Allen adjust to his new powers and hope that he can use those powers to simultaneously help the innocent while also trying to solve the mystery of his mother's death (when he was a boy, naturally) and also try to hide the truth with those that he loves (to keep them safe). It's all standard superhero stuff. But it's done well. And most importantly, the costume doesn't look awful. (Always an important consideration . . . really!)

Credit:; Just LOOK at this image. Wouldn't YOU want to know what is going on in a show with this sort of imagery?

What is the other show on Tuesday? iZombie [returns 10/6 @ 9]. I admit that I didn't watch the premiere season of this last year. But Lynda gave it a few watches and was favorably impressed with it. So I set my DVR to catch me up and I am ready for the second season to start. Since I am currently watching the unrelenting sadness that is both The Walking Dead and Fear the Walking Dead, this show is a welcome antidote to that  sort of zombie show. iZombie has a good mix of the humor of Veronica Mars, twisted through the zombie angle and dusted with a bit of Dollhouse (the zombie main character taking on a bit of the characteristics of a new crime victim each week). If you like these sort of genre-heavy shows, you might want to give this returning show a try in its second season.


And here is the final wheel of my superhero tricycle--Supergirl, The Flash, and Arrow [returns 10/7 @ 8]. As I mentioned in my earlier post, Arrow can tend to get too broody and mopey--especially all of the second half of last season, when Oliver Queen (the Green Arrow of the comics) debated replacing Rás al Ghul. It was pretty overwhelming in its sadness and pretentiousness and I never really believed that it was going to happen. So, it was hard sledding to sit through so many episodes focused on something that I had little investment in.

 I promise you that you will NEVER see the actors on Arrow this happy during an episode.
It will be much, much more like this.
But Arrow can be a good show at times, when it lets go a bit of the world-saving pressure that Oliver puts on himself. When it focuses down on the relationships between the characters--which just happens to be occurring during a time of crime fighting and costumes--it can be fun to  watch. (As long as there is not THAT much time devoted to Laurel Lance. I really don't like that actress very much. either before or after she became the Black Canary.) I could definitely use more of Stephen Amell (Oliver) and Emily Bett Rickards (Felicity).

Other than more superheroes, The CW on Wednesday night also gives you Supernatural [returns 10/7 @ 9].


Have you watched The Vampire Diaries [returns 10/8 @ 8] or The Originals [returns 10/8 @ 9]? I have not. And I am someone who watched every episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer PLUS Angel and I even tried to watch The Tomorrow People a few seasons back. Who does watch these shows? Maybe people who are tired of rereading Twilight novels or can't quite figure out how to combine their Anne Rice vampire fan fiction with that great idea for Speed Racer 2015?


And speaking of returning CW shows, how about Reign [returns 10/9 @ 8] and America's Next Top Model [returned 8/5] . . . so I guess I'm sorry that I didn't let you know in time for you to watch the most recent "cycle" of ANTM. My bad . . .

 I think that the best thing to be done with these shows is to combine them into a single program demanding that the fashion models only be photographed in medieval garb while the photo shoots center on things like winching up a drawbridge and putting a castle under siege.

Look, Game of Thrones handles medieval situations in sexy ways, so don't' tell me that it can't be done.


Do I even need to tell you what is featured on this day? Well, just in case you wondered, it isn't football, football, football.

Instead it is . . .

(Video courtesy of Hayward Fowler, proprietor of Tifton's own The Fun Channel.)

Next time? Let's take a look at Fox. See you then.