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Top TV Shows of 2014

17 Dec

bestof

It’s time for my entry into the flood of year-end best-of lists!

I had a hell of a time narrowing my list down to just 11 shows (I couldn’t cut it to just 10! And you’ll see a bunch of honorable mentions at the end), there’s just so much terrific TV out there now. These are presented in alphabetical order because trying to rank them would have been damn near impossible.

 

Agents of SHIELD

I don’t think anyone would try to argue Agents of SHIELD was anything but decently entertaining TV in the early parts of 2014. And then, Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out, and it was a whole different ballgame. Since the release of that movie (and the destruction of SHIELD as we knew it), the show has operated on an entirely different level. The stakes are higher, the focus on a serialized story stronger, and the character development better. The new characters added in Season 2 (particularly Adrianne Palicki’s Bobbi Morse) helped give the team some new, interesting layers as well. It drives me crazy that the series doesn’t have a bigger audience because so many people gave up during the early episodes.

Broad City

I spoke about my love of Broad City in one of my vlogs this summer, and it’s one of my most anticipated returning shows in 2015. I love everything about this show. It’s hilarious, quirky, and the perfect showcase for two brilliant young female comedians in Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson. They completely nail what it’s like to be young and living in New York City (in a somewhat heightened way, of course), and their friendship is a delight to watch.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

I have written and vlogged about Brooklyn Nine-Nine a ton this year, so it’s appearance on this list shouldn’t be a huge surprise. It’s been my favorite comedy on the air for the bulk of the year. The ensemble is terrific – throw any combination of characters together and the show still works and gets laughs (it is very reminiscent of Michael Schur’s other show, Parks and Recreation in that way). Andre Braugher’s deadpan is a thing of beauty (his loud exclamation of HOT DAMN! was one of my favorite moments on TV all year). The show has also handled the Amy/Jake will-they-or-won’t they – which I was initially terrified would be an awful idea – in a really great way. They’re not leaning too heavily on it but are letting it exist in a way that feels right for both characters.

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Top 10 Shows of 2012

27 Dec

It’s Top 10 list season, so I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring and write a quick list of my favorite shows for the year. They’re in “order”, although if you asked me again tomorrow that order would probably change. I included some other notable shows from the year after the list as well. There’s also a few “dishonorable” mentions – shows I watched regularly that I thought had a particularly bad year (and in a few cases, gave up on them).

On to the list!

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Top 5 Favorite TV Episodes

31 Aug

To the outside observer, it probably looked like I’ve been a huge slacker about posting anything but my weekly roundup posts lately. That’s only partially true. The reality is, I got so caught up in making this list of my favorite episodes of TV, EVER, that I agonized over choosing the right episodes for way way longer than I should have, considering even as I’m writing this I’m actively trying not to change my mind. In any case, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the TV episodes that have stuck with me over the years, the ones that I find to be a cut above everything else out there. I’ve made no effort to hide my Whedon fandom around here – I mean, this blog’s title is a Firefly reference – so it should come as no surprise to you that this list is fairly Whedonverse-heavy. 😛

As usual, in no particular order:

Firefly – “Out of Gas”

This episode was the easiest selection on the list, as I consider it my favorite episode of anything, ever. To me, this is about as close to perfect as an episode of TV gets. Not only is the main story great, but the use of flashbacks to finally show us a glimpse of the beginnings of the crew of the Serenity ties the whole thing together beautifully. I’ve always thought of this episode as basically being the audience’s glimpse at just how much Mal cares for the ship and his crew – and it reads like a love letter by the end of the episode.

This episode aired (or at least, was intended to air) as the 8th in the series unfortunately short run of 14 episodes. By this point, we’ve gotten fairly invested in Malcolm Reynolds and his crew of misfits aboard Serenity. So when the episode begins with a look at the ship floating in space with no power, apparently abandoned except for an injured Mal, it hooks you in right away – you just have to know what happened to the ship and her crew. I know I’ve complained about this framing device recently, but when it’s done well – as it is here – it can be an extremely effective storytelling tool.

And so we find our heroes trapped on a ship with a busted port compression coil – and no working engines or life support as a result. Zoe, in an attempt to save Kaylee from the explosion, has been left badly injured. As time runs out on their remaining air, Mal ships everyone off on the shuttles and decides to stay in case someone answers their distress call. As he’s left to himself, he begins to reminisce about meeting each of his crew members. Part of what makes the flashbacks so effective is that they lighten up the episode – things are looking pretty bleak – and the moments of levity provided  are a perfectly timed reprieve from the growing tension aboard Serenity. I mean, what better way to lighten the mood than to watch Mal outsmart Jayne and trick him into joining his crew? Or finding out that Zoe didn’t like Wash when they first met him? In addition to providing some laughs, these glimpses of the past also raise the stakes of the current situation, making the idea of the ship and crew being lost more real and painful to consider.

In my opinion, this episode showcases Nathan Fillion at his finest as well. He did a lot of great work as Mal, getting the opportunity to show off both his dramatic and comedic chops, but this episode is a particularly great episode for him. We see all sides of Mal – his protective side, his stubbornness, his determination to save his ship, and a bit of his wit as well via flashbacks. But my favorite scene comes at the end of the episode, after the crew has returned to save Mal’s life – thanks to Zoe’s insistence that Wash go back for him. Groggy from the drugs, Mal starts to fall asleep, only to jerk awake again. “You’re all gonna be here when I wake up?” he asks with concern. The crew assures him they will be, and Mal smiles, saying “Good, that’s good” as he falls asleep. It’s perhaps the only moment we see Mal as vulnerable in the whole run of the series, but it speaks volumes to how much these people mean to him.

I could ramble about this episode forever. It’s just that good. If you haven’t watched it or Firefly yet (and seriously, what are you waiting for if you haven’t?!) I highly recommend checking it out.

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Web Series Worth Watching

2 Aug

I thought I’d write about something a little bit different this week. The internet is full of great web series, with more popping up all the time, and I thought I’d take a look at some of my favorites. As usual, in no particular order:

The Guild

Felicia Day’s series about gamers, heading into it’s sixth season (coming in the fall to her YouTube channel, which I’ll expand on below), is among the most popular series on the web. The series is focused on a group of gaming enthusiasts and their exploits both in-game (a World of Warcraft-type game) and in real-life. I’ve never been much of a gamer, and I’m definitely not into MMORPG, but the series is enjoyable even beyond the gaming references. The characters are really fun to watch, the writing is great, and the show is super funny.

The series has come a long way from being shot in Day’s house in season 1, and it’s also been a ton of fun watching the show grow and change as they’ve gotten a bigger fan base, outside funding, etc. Last season (by far my favorite) took the Guildies to MegaGame-O-RamaCon. It was SO entertaining to watch the group outside of their usual element a bit, plus there were a whole boatload of fun cameos – Nathan Fillion, Zachary Levi, Stan Lee, Grant Imahara, and Neil Gaiman just to name a few! I am SO excited to see what happens in season 6!
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Top 5 Most Disliked TV Characters

25 Jul

A few weeks ago, I posted about my favorite TV characters ever. I thought it would be fun to also post about my LEAST favorite characters ever. Not the kind of characters I love to hate – like Gus Fring (Breaking Bad), Glory (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), or Gaius Baltar (Battlestar Galactica) – but characters whose mere presence on-screen made me mad. In no particular order:

Connor, Angel

I am a huge fan of Angel. I think season 5, especially the second half, is some of the best work Joss Whedon has ever done. On the flip side, however, is the travesty that is season 4 (with the exception of the Angelus arc which was excellent), and the majority of my issues with that season stem from the presence of Connor. The character was, I’m sure, meant to be sympathetic – I spent my life in a hell dimension! I have major daddy issues! – but mostly came across as whiny. It didn’t help that he spurned all attempts at help or friendship from Angel and company. I could understand him rejecting Angel, but to have Gunn, Fred, and the lovable Lorne reaching out to him as well – he has no reason to dislike or mistreat those people. And then, of course, there was the Cordelia debacle. Cordy’s storyline in season 4 is a issue worthy of entirely separate post worth of ranting, but the creepy relationship Connor developed with her was just GROSS. He was also, in my opinion, a total dumbass in not noticing that Cordelia was clearly not herself during her pregnancy. I’m sure that was perhaps the point, but it didn’t make it any less frustrating to watch since I was already totally grossed out by the whole thing anyway.

I will say this – they have done some great things with Connor in the Buffy and Angel comic books that have made me appreciate the character a bit more, but I still cringe whenever I watch those episodes of Angel. And it took me almost a full season’s worth of Mad Men episodes to stop associating Vincent Kartheiser with the character and wanting to punch him every time he came on screen. Now I just want to punch him because he’s Pete Campbell, at least. 😉
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My Favorite TV Characters

11 Jul

I’m not at San Diego Comic-Con right now, as is probably pretty obvious since I’m blogging and not out having fun. I’m bummed about it. But I’ll have my own convention-going fun to report on in October (New York Comic Con, woohoo!), so in the meantime, I’m distracting myself by bringing you the first in what I’m planning on making a summer-ish series of lists of some of my favorite (and not-so-favorite) TV-related things. Today’s list: my favorite characters. This was hard. There are a lot of honorable mentions because I cheat. I probably could have listed at least 5 more people, but I didn’t. You should be proud of me. 😉

Malcolm Reynolds, Firefly

I could easily have just listed pretty much the entire crew of Serenity, but I decided that would be a boring list. So of course, my Firefly love fell to the captain, Malcolm Reynolds. You’ll notice a trend in this list – that I like somewhat flawed characters – and Mal is no different. He’s got a past that haunts him and can’t stay out of his own way a lot of the time (he does basically commit crimes for a living). But he’s fiercely loyal to his crew, and he loves his ship. I love the layers of his character – he comes off rough at first, but once you’re on his crew, you are on his crew, and he’ll do anything for you. Watching him struggle to protect those his cares about (and avoid those out to do him harm) is a fascinating journey.

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Top 6 TV Episodes This Season

27 Jun

I’ve been intending to write this post for weeks, but I’m just finally getting around to it now. Now that the 2011-2012 TV season is over, I thought it would be fun to take a look at a few of my favorite episodes from this year. I was initially going to make it a top 5 but couldn’t narrow it down, so it’s a top 6. In no particular order:

Fringe – “Worlds Apart” (4.20)

I’m just going to come right out and say it – this was not the best season of Fringe. The show struggled a bit early on, not sure how to function with a major character (Peter) entirely removed from existence. From about “Welcome to Westfield” on, though, the show felt like it had found its groove again, and this late-season episode in particular struck a chord with me.

The destruction of both universes is imminent, as David Robert Jones (or so we believed at the time) is attempting to collapse both worlds. The episode opened on a conference table – with both versions of our Fringe team sitting around it. It was so striking to me to, for the first time, have all of our universe’s versions of our favorite characters, and their alternates, all in one place at the same time for the first time. As I watched the discussion unfold, I realized again how amazing the acting on this show is, as I sometimes have to remind myself that Fauxlivia and Walternate are played by the same people. They’ve become completely separate characters that I am attached to in their own right.

Ultimately, despite attempting to use Cortexiphan subjects to help stop Jones, they realize the only way they can save both universes is to close the bridge between them. This leads to an emotional few scenes in which the alternates say goodbye – one particularly poignant scene between Walter and Walternate was one of my favorite moments of the series so far. I was, and am, so sad to see the alt-verse (and with it, Lincoln Lee) go. I wrote some more about this episode here.

Were there better episodes of Fringe this year? Maybe. But this one really stayed with me, and to me that makes it one of my favorites of the year.
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Top 6 Actors I Wish Had Regular TV Roles

6 Mar

Pilot season is in full gear, as all the major networks have started to order pilot episodes of the shows they think have potential to be ordered to series for next season. A huge part of the entertainment news cycle this time of year is casting news for all of these projects. This always gets me thinking about the actors I wish were back on my TV screen on a weekly basis. A couple of them have landed pilot roles already this year (Lizzy Caplan, Michael Raymond James, Dichen Lachman), but there’s a still a bunch of people out there that I’m hoping will find themselves with juicy new roles on awesome shows come the fall. Here’s a top 6 (because I couldn’t narrow it down to 5) that would probably change tomorrow if you asked me again. Yes, I know, the list is very heavy on Whedonverse alum. 😛
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