The Late Guy’s Mini-Treatise on Twin Peaks

We’re back!  I swear this time.  No more posting and then disappearing for months at a time.  I know I said that last time, but I meant it then too.  Why do you keep looking at me like that?  I said I was sorry.  You know, maybe we should spend some more time apart.  I just think we’re at different places in our lives right now.  It’s just this work thing, and football is over, and I don’t know.  God!  I just wish things could be like they used to be.

I’ve come to realize that when it comes to watching one-hour dramas on TV, I’m a bad person.  Some people would say that I’m a bad person most of the time, but definitely when it comes to watching new shows.  I’m rarely on board from the beginning.  As someone that claims to be an early adopter for most stuff (tech, movies, puppies), I am always woefully tardy when it comes to watching good dramas.  I didn’t start The Wire until long after it ended.  I jumped in with Breaking Bad and Mad Men midway through season three.  The Shield?  Season 4.  I haven’t even started Downton Abbey.  The only reason I jumped in with Justified during season one was because it was carrying some serious Walton Goggins cred.  Gredit if you will.  I tend to rely on the recommendation of a select few before I’ll take the time to watch a new drama.  Much like a dyslexic third grader, I want that shit spelled out for me.  Why don’t I give new shows a chance you might ask?  Because shut up, that’s why.  It’s my time and I’ll spend it however the shit I please.  But I will admit that I need to be more willing to jump on board with new shows.  However, if I’m investing an hour of my day to watch a new show, it damn well better bring its “A” game. 

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Here’s another one I haven’t seen…yet. Thanks HBO GO

Through the power of Netflix, I’ve been trying to sate my hunger for all things TV drama.  I normally only watch these shows while playing games.  Or I watch when it’s 3:30 a.m. and rest of the world feels that irritating need to sleep, but I can’t sleep ‘cause I’ve been drinking for several hours and I have to max out my weekend fun because society isn’t going to tell me when to go to bed!  That was kinda my way of saying that my dedication and attention paid to these shows (as with most things) is questionable at best.  But hey, I’m trying. 

One particular drama that’s been sitting forlornly in my Netflix queue for a couple of years now is Twin Peaks.  Netflix claims I’ll love it.  No 4-and-a-half star rating here.  We’re talking five effin’ stars.  That should be a lock right?  Trusted TV watchers have also pitched me this show, but always with the disclaimer that I might not “get it”.  Hearing that I might not “get it” has always made me wonder if the person I’m talking to thinks I’m just really slow.  And I might be.  Would I know if I was?  For the sake of this post, let’s assume that I’m of at least average intelligence.  Stop looking at me like that.  I don’t need your goddamn pity.  So with disclaimer in hand and a determination to “get it”, I ventured into the magical town of Twin Peaks, Washington.  And I didn’t “get it”.  Of course I didn’t.  Not at first.

TSDTWPE EC024

What’s not to get? She’s obviously a pirate of some sort.

  

I remember watching the opening credits of that first episode and hearing that guitar play its slow, lonely chords.  Oh that’s cool, they’re showing a lumber mill.  Now I know that this is a logging town and I’ll likely be seeing more of that mill.  Man these credits are dragging on a bit long.  Oh well, it was the 90’s.  My God, how big is this cast?  There will definitely be plenty of names to remember.  Hey I didn’t know Lara Flynn Boyle was in this.  Ugh, this opening theme song is still playing.  More shots of the mill?  I get it!  Oh good, it’s starting.  I remember thinking from word one of the first episode that this show was very different.  But I wasn’t sure that it was a good kind of different. 

A good kind of different

A good kind of different

Here’s what I mean by maybe not a good kind of different.  I recall watching the murdered girl’s mom (can’t remember her name, I think she’s credited as hysterical woman) cry for an overly long time.  Like five straight minutes of crying.  Loud, shrieking crying.  I just sat there waiting for scene to end so that we could move on to a character that doesn’t communicate through dolphin screeches.  But no, she just kept on wailing like a goddamn banshee.  Then I tried to get really introspective about the whole thing.  Maybe David Lynch is refusing to let me off the hook.  I have to sit here and feel this poor woman’s pain.  Or maybe he’s just trying to figure out how to fill an hour.  Also, the ambient music just never seemed to fit the scene in which it was playing. And do I really need a slow dramatic close up of every character?  I dunno, maybe I do.  Why must every character get five minutes of precious screen time?  I don’t care that you hired a deputy with Down syndrome and I don’t need to see you demonstrating it repeatedly!  So around the time that the mourning mom-banshee halted her squealing, my WI-FI went out.  I decided to obey the omen and go to bed rather than fix the connection and continue with what was an all-together strange experience.

Whole lot of ugly crying in that first episode.

Whole lot of ugly crying in that first episode.

 I awoke the next morning in a cold sweat. My faith in my friends was shaken and now at an all time low.  How could so many people recommend a strange show that had the pacing of a quadriplegic tree sloth?  Why did that crazy lady have an eye patch?  Also, why was she being such a bitch to the bad guy from Under Seige 2: DarkTerritory?  Why was everyone overacting so hard?  Was there a talent scout on set that day?  And my God the hair.  So very early 90’s. What was I missing?  Why didn’t I “get it”?   How could my friends and Netflix be so wrong?  Why am I here right now?  Is there a God?  Why did the Pope just quit?  Was it because there’s no God?  Was he going to be on the next Scandal Makers?  I’m just so scared right now and Twin Peaks is the cause of it all. 

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Determined to at least get through one episode, I dragged my emotionally drained husk out of bed and finished Season 1: Episode 1.  And I still didn’t much care for it.  Don’t get me wrong, Twin Peaks had some merit.  There were several “hey, I recognize him/her!” moments.  Kyle Maclachlan’s oddball genius Agent Cooper is a great character and he deadpans perfectly.  The setting is pitch-perfect.  I grew up in a small, dying town and I can identify with the feeling of living in an isolated place that never reached its potential and never really had a prime.  A show revolving around a murder mystery in a place where everyone is a suspect and everyone has a secret is a rock solid idea.  But was all that enough to offset the pacing and just plain weirdness of Twin Peaks?  I wasn’t sure.  But pilot episodes are rarely great.  I figured that I’d give it at least one more shot.  Later though…way later.

confused_dog

What is this? Do I like this? I don’t think I like this. Also, awww puppy!

A week later to be exact.  I found myself drunkenly playing a game and decided I should play a movie in the background.  Maybe some Karate Kid music would improve my performance.  So up pops Netflix, and there’s Twin Peaks staring me in the face like a sad puppy in a shopping mall pet store.  After episode two, I still thought it was all super strange.  But I didn’t close the browser window.  That damn theme song revved up again and I was back on board the crazy train for episode three.  I couldn’t stop watching.  Did I even like this show?  If not, why didn’t I just turn it off?  I couldn’t figure it out.  But I kept coming back for more.  Now I’m about eight episodes into the second season.  I catch an epsiode here and there, but I keep finding myself drawn back to Twin Peaks.  In my time watching this show, I have been witness to overly longing mirror stares, alien visitations, extended dance scenes, extended singing performances, menacing glares, diner twirling, cross-dressing disguises, demonic possession, one-armed soothsayers, dancing little-people dream sequences, doppelgangers, maniacal laughter, and teen angst.  Despite all of that, I somehow don’t think this show has jumped the shark.  I think Twin Peaks exists in a perpetual shark-jump.  Every time it seems like it’s descending from one shark-jump there’s a big springboard launching it over yet another shark.  I can’t get enough.  The best way to categorize Twin Peaks is as a sci-fi/detective noir murder mystery/prime-time soap opera/comedy.  That seems like a pretty apt description.

And the Emmy for Best Supporting Actor go to…

 I think the main reason that I’ve come to love Twin Peaks is because it’s not trying to be any one thing.  It’s trying to be everything.  And goddammit, it’s going to go for it.  Sure it’s sloppy, and waits forever to pay things off, but it’s pretty damn entertaining.  Twin Peaks is utter chaos squeezed into a one-hour format.  David Lynch had the courage to create whatever he saw in that LSD trip and followed through without pause.  You have to respect that.  It’s too easy to say that this show is just another product of 90’s television.  Twin Peaks was a creative, fearless show.  I can only imagine what the studio notes looked like before Lynch urinated on them and then made the show he wanted to make.  You say you have a problem with watching a random lounge singer perform a terrible song while the main cast sits and watches for a good four minutes?  Tough shit.  You’re gonna sit there and watch with them.  Don’t really care about that irritating receptionist’s baby-daddy drama?  Fuck off.  For better or worse, you’re taking a peek into her life too.  Why is the wholesome high school girl suddenly smoking and trying to seduce the agoraphobic?  I dunno, but I’m gonna keep watching to find out.  And maybe that’s one of the big reasons that I’m addicted to this show.  It throws you right in and doesn’t explain a thing.  You arrived in town at the same time as Agent Cooper and it’s up to you to figure it all out. 

scrooged

Explanation forthcoming

Well I’m tired of typing so it’s time to wrap this up.  Let’s just say that I “get it” now!  I feel like Bill Murray at the end of Scrooged.  I kinda understand how the show garnered such a strong cult following.  Maybe I even understand how all of those Firefly fans feel.  Yeah, that’s still an overrated show.  If you haven’t checked out Twin Peaks yet and you don’t mind being twenty years late to the party like me, I’d recommend giving it a chance.  It’s strange, ridiculous, overacted, and wonderful.  I will say this though.  Twin Peaks isn’t for everyone.  You might not “get it”. 

– Josh

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Rant Time: This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Happy holidays everybody!  It’s almost X-Mas time!  That special time of year when a fully bearded diaper-wearing baby Jesus flies his rocket ship to Earth to deliver presents to all of the little girls and boys.  But only the Christian ones because the rest will burn in eternal hell fire.  Also, I think we hang stockings to prevent our daughters from becoming prostitutes.  Think I’m making that part up?  Google that shit.  It gets dark.  As we enter the holiday season, we must all take a moment to realize that now is a time for giving.  Or in the case of major TV networks, cruelly taking away the things we love.  And by things, I of course mean some of the best and most creative shows on TV.  Sweeps season moves in like a chill winter wind to blow away all of the shows not bloated enough with ratings to be anchored down.  It’s usually right about now when we start to find out if we’ll be seeing our favorite characters coming back next year to fill our hearts with springtime joy.  And as usual, the major networks are killing off every show that seems to have something going for it on the creative side.  Let’s take a look at some of the fan favorite shows that may soon be unjustly cancelled so networks can air a new reality show called Morbidly Obese Fuckin Hoarder Sister Wives of Little People County.  We’ll see why we should treasure the time we have left with them before the plug gets pulled.

obese-woman

She hoards food in her colon. That’s nature’s hiding place.

    

First things first, Community.  This show has been on life support since season one.  Easily the most creative (and probably funniest) major network show to drop since Arrested Development, Community is the greatest show on TV that no one is watching.  No one…at all.  The rock solid cast features the best group of rising stars I’ve ever seen.  Joel McHale will soon be a major Hollywood player.  Count on that.  Between Community and Mad Men, Allison Brie will be a leading lady on TV or film.  Donald Glover is turning into a renaissance man with his TV, standup, and music careers.  And those are just the top three!  Jim Rash won an Oscar last year and he’s not even one of the main cast!  This show made Chevy Chase relevant again.  Need I say more?  He’s getting Old Navy commercials!  That’s the big time.  You remember Chevy Chase right?  He had his own talk show.  You probably didn’t see it.  

chevy

Chevy’s show was just like The Magic Johnson show, but with much less HIV

In Community, Dan Harmon created a self aware show that features the best use of pop culture references in ever.  They’ve had the Zombie episode, Call of Duty episode, Glee episode, Breakfast Club episode, and Super Dark Christmas Special just to name a few.  Omar from The Wire is a faculty member!  But the show isn’t just about being clever for the sake of being clever.  Community actually makes you give a damn about its characters.  You can relate to and understand people that aren’t limited by their archetypes.  You don’t get to that with sub-par writing.  Almost every episode is strong and all of them featured at least a few laugh out loud moments.  Dan Harmon invested himself in the writing of every episode and it definitely shows.  And now he’s fired.  Thanks NBC.  The show also got moved to Friday nights.  Thanks again.  The season four premier has been delayed indefinitely and now there’s new leadership at NBC.  Doesn’t look good for our heroes, does it?  Do I sound bitter?  Of course I’m bitter.  This is the funniest show on TV, but ‘Murica would rather watch the same ole’ recycled comedy crap on CBS instead.  Let’s move on before my eyes start bleeding.  Thanks for the memories Community.  May the DVD sales be with you.

Do yourself a favor and watch this show.  It'll make Danny Pudi happy.

Do yourself a favor and watch this show. It’ll make Danny Pudi happy.

Next show? Parks and Rec.  This is another show that’s been dodging the chopping block since day one.  If I had to choose one show that could be better than Community, it would be this one.  Amy Poehler leads another rock star cast in an “Office style” docu-comedy that out performs The Office in every way imaginable.  I don’t get the ratings on this one.  Did everyone just assume it was an Office knockoff and skip it?  I’m about to drop some knowledge on you.  The Office is a knock off of The Office and people seemed to like that.  I will admit that Parks took a season to find its footing.  However, starting with season two, there isn’t another show that I would recommend that everyone would be able to “get”.  I can understand how Community wouldn’t be someone’s cup of tea, but there are no excuses for not giving Parks and Rec. a shot.  It’s just plain great TV.  Nothing has been confirmed about a cancellation, but TV buzz indicates that this season could be the last due to the executive shake up at NBC.  Another one may be biting the dust.

NBC's new head of programming.  He thinks the spring lineup will be simply ghoulish.

NBC’s new head of programming. He thinks the spring lineup will be simply ghoulish.

The last great show that may be meeting its maker is Happy Endings.  I’ll admit that I’m pretty new to the Happy Endings party.  I’d heard good things here and there but I could never be bothered to watch.  I suppose I’m as much to blame as anyone for not checking it out sooner.  This season is the first that I’ve actually committed to watching and now I’m hooked.  The cast has noticeable on-screen chemistry and there’s not a weak character in the bunch.  I want to know and hang out with these people.  They’re so much more fun than most of my real friends.  You know who you are.  Happy Endings is like the chick you meet at a party one night and the two of you just completely hit it off.  You like all the same bands and you both laughed at the guy that fell off the porch and wound up going to the hospital.  You just plain get each other.  And then you find out that she’s moving to Canada soon and you’ll never see her again.  ABC is moving your dream girl to Canada against her will.  Bummer.  And lest my wife think that I actually met Canada girl, I assure you that she’s about as real as my sobriety.  So…not.  I will say that Happy Endings has enjoyed a ratings boost as of late so I may still have a chance with this chick. 

They're just like your friends.  Except way way hotter.

They’re just like your friends. Except way way hotter…even the dude at the bottom.

So who do we have to thank for taking away all of our favorite shows?  That would be the good people at the Nielsen company and their magical rating system.  Here’s a brief summary of that whole situation.  In the 1920’s, some guy came up with a rating system for radios.  Then in the 50’s, they put the same system in place for TV’s.  Every year, a miniscule number of people are selected to determine whether or not shows will stay on the air.  Seriously, it’s like .02% of the population.  How many of those people do you think have the ability to form a coherent thought?  I’m going to go ahead and say half of that number.  The selection process is determined by drawing random names out of a really, really big hat.  Whatever these silly bastards choose to write down that they liked watching is what gets to stay on the air.  And that’s how Two and a Half Men keeps making Chuck Lorre big hat’s full of money. 

This fine fellow represents 10,000 viewers.  You are one of them.

This fine fellow represents 10,000 viewers. You are one of them.

Some of you may be saying to yourselves, “Hey, this is the internet age.  Why don’t we just develop a new, more accurate ratings system that measures online streaming numbers or something like that?”  Because fuck you, that’s why.  They don’t wanna change the system.  And now my ears are ringing and my nose just started bleeding.  Time for my aneurism.  To quote a wise man during this Christmas season, “Hallelujah!  Holy Shit!  Where’s the Tylenol?

– Josh

Becoming a Pro: A TV Slacker’s Guide to Learning to Watch Golf

The ability to play professional sports isn’t for everyone.  I get that.  However, everyone has enough talent to watch and understand sports on TV.  But you can’t just run in all willy nilly and watch while expecting to know exactly what’s going on.  Try that and you’re liable to pull an eye-muscle.  Even worse, you could embarrass yourself in front of your friends/cats by demonstrating an abhorrent lack of sports knowledge.  To combat the risk of injury and/or public shaming, I’ve decided to create a series of guides for learning to watching sports on TV like a pro.  You may be asking why I would do such a thing.  To that I say, “Shut up.  This is the internet and I can do whatever the damn I want.”  Besides, if you live in real ‘Murica, you need to know how to talk sports.  Sports are what you talk about to someone you really don’t know but still don’t mind talking to.  And ladies, you want to demonstrate value to a guy you just met?  Know what you’re talking about when it comes to sports.  Swear to God, being able to explain the infield fly rule is the equivalent of telling a guy that you want to invite one of your lady friends into the bedroom.  And guys, know your sports.  I shouldn’t have to explain this shit to you.  First sport?  The greatest game ever played.  Golf.

Truly this is the sport of kings.

Let me start by saying that most people I know don’t like watching golf…ever.  They claim it’s slow and not entertaining enough.  Well I say that they’re wrong.  And you’re wrong for agreeing with them.  Golf is great.  And watching golf is great.  And you’re still wrong.  So very, very wrong.  And I’m going to show you how to like it.  Or at least how to feign interest long enough to get through a conversation at a bar.  Golf is mos def a talking sport now.  Thanks to Tiger Woods and Nike, golf is growing into one of the biggest sports in the world and it’s not slowing down.  The common people understand it now and so should you.  Let’s get to the basics of playing so you kinda know what the hell is going on.

Soon we will buy you as well.

The Mission: Your objective is to use various clubs to hit a ball into a small hole located a few hundred yards away in as few strokes (hits) as possible.  You normally do this 18 times and add up your total at the end.  The lower the total, the better you did.  Still with me?  Didn’t think so.  Let’s move on and maybe you’ll pick up more as we go.

 

The Equipment: You get a set of sticks that are usually made of metal.  For our purposes, we’ll refer to these sticks as “golf clubs”.  Additionally, you get a little ball made of rubber that’s wrapped in a magical shell of plastic.  We’ll call that a “golf ball”.  That’s all you need.  There rest is fluff. 

The Fluff:  There are hundreds of things that fall in this category.  Some of them are vital to the enjoyment of golf.  Some aren’t.  However, all experts agree that the most important addition to any round of golf is booze.  Yes my friend.  Drinking is not only allowed while playing golf, it’s encouraged.  In fact, hot girls will drive around in carts and bring you booze while you’re playing and pretend to like you so you’ll pay them more money like it’s a damn mobile Hooters.  Some would say that those girls have an easy profession.  Others would say they have the oldest profession.  But if you’re a guy and what I just said didn’t make you want to start playing golf right the damn now, I’m sure we can find you a cart guy too. Either way, start drinking.

I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t done the same thing once.

 The basics of golf sound easy enough right?  It’s really easy to learn.  Of course it’s very hard to be good at playing golf. But we’re not worried about being good.  We’re worried about watching people that are good on TV.  Let’s keep this party train movin.

If you don’t already have an appreciation for golf, it can be hard to start watching it right away.  The common man may find it boring.  And that’s why golf has spiced that shit up.  If you’re going to start watching golf on television, you absolutely must start with the Ryder Cup.  What is the Ryder cup you say?  It’s only the most entertaining sporting event this side of the Super Bowl.  The Ryder cup pits American and European golfers against each other in a scene of xenophobic glory.  Every two years, the best golfers in the world put aside there differences and unite to hate everyone that lives on the other side of the ocean.  It’s beautiful really.  And the networks know it.  Every time the Ryder Cup nears its return, NBC stirs up enough patriotic hate to reignite the Revolutionary War.  It’s that awesome.  The crowds are into it.  The announcers are into it.  You’ll be into it….two years from now…when the next one is held.  This post is nothing if not timely.  But if you’re going to talk golf with someone, always bring up the Ryder Cup.  And tell them you cheered for the U.S.  Or be a dick and say that you rooted for the Euros.  I don’t really care.

I cheer for Merica, cause I’m Mercan.

The other key part of learning to watch golf on TV is to pick a favorite golfer.  Golf isn’t just a sport full of stuffy white guys that all look the same anymore.  That’s only like 60% of them now.  A really important part of looking like you know what you’re talking about is to pick a favorite golfer and learn some cool details about them.  “Did you hear about golfer’s – rape/drunk driving/hate crime acquittal?  Man that was crazy!  I wonder if he’ll play this weekend.”  To save you some time, here’s a list of some of the more popular golfers and the type of person that might like them.  Feel free to mix and match your favorites based on the person you’re speaking to/ethnic makeup of the room.

Tiger Woods – The Easy Pick – Liking Tiger Woods is really the same as liking the New York Yankees.  Nobody will argue that you shouldn’t like them.  It’s a generic pick sure.  But it’s a solid pick too.  Without Tiger, most people are going to tune out on Sundays.  He’s probably the single biggest reason golf is where it is today and he’ll stay the big draw until he retires.  Tiger is the choice for front runners everywhere.  If Tiger is your pick, your other favorite teams likely include the 90’s Cowboys, Lakers, Yankees, Heat, and Red Wings.  Sure they’re good, but unless you liked them before they were huge, most people think that you’re probably a poser.  But now Tiger has developed a bit of an edge.  A massively publicized affair followed by a messy divorce can do that.  Tiger is now the comeback kid for the PGA and is in the middle of his redemption phase.  Hop on the bandwagon before it’s too late. 

Bitch you already get half my stuff

 Rory McIlroy – The Up & Comer – Rory is quickly becoming the heir apparent to the golf throne.  This young Irish upstart has been picking up wins left and right this year and is the proud owner of the highest paid endorsement contract in Nike’s history.  Sports networks are hard at work creating a massive rivalry for him with Tiger Woods.  Don’t expect Rory to fade from the scene any time soon.  By taking McIlroy as your fav, you’re telling the world that you refuse to conform and go with the big crowd.  You’re going with the slightly smaller crowd instead in the hopes that it eventually turns into the big crowd.  Fans of Rory will probably also like the Red Sox, Knicks, or Patriots.  He’s not the most popular player in the sport, but you’re not exactly taking a risk by picking him as your #1.  Caution:  Being an Irishman, some “America only” fans may get bitter when you side with Rory.  Girls have been known to swoon over his accent.

Why yes, I was in Billy Elliot

Phil Mickelson – The Wild Card – Phil Mickelson is never a bad choice for your top golfer.  He’s kind of a member of the old guard of golf.  Pick him and people will nod their head like they understand exactly why he’s your fav.  You don’t even have to give a reason.  Just say that you’ve always been a Phil fan.  Mickelson has always been kind of a dick.  However, growing a bit older seems to have mellowed him out some.  Now he’s a really likeable dick.  Now he’s a fan favorite known for his risk taking and fearless play.  But it’s still golf, so it can’t be all that fearless.  He’s a high risk/reward type of player that you can almost always count on to melt down at some point.  White people love him because he’s not so threatening like that dark skinned fellow but still an American.  Fans of Phil tend to like to root for the underdog.  They also probably really like the Cubs.  I’m telling you, this is their year!

Awww fuck! At least I still have millions of dollars.

John Daly – The Drinkin Buddy – John Daly is a bit of an outlier these days.  He’s still around, but never really a threat to win it big.  If you’re new to golf, chances are you’ve never heard of him.  But in his day, Daly was the car wreck that you slowly drove past while hoping to see a head laying on the ground  A fat alcoholic cokehead with a batshit crazy wife and all the talent in the world, this Arkansas Razorback took ‘Murica by storm in the 90’s.  Not many guys could go on a coke binge, get in a fight with his wife, call the cops, and then make it to your tour event the next day with deep scratches all over his face.  Daly could.  If you play golf and have a problem with substance abuse, you have probably liked Daly at some point as well.  Die hard fans of John Daly like football and NASCAR…in that order…no exceptions.

Stay classy John

Bubba Watson – The Psycho – Bubba Watson is the new Kentucky Fried Golfer.  This Georgia native made it big this year by winning the Masters.  He’s so hot right now.  Bubba is currently the longest driver on the tour. (he can hit the ball real far)  He’s also a risk taker that loves to act lest his brain get in the way.  When Watson melts down, this fan favorite melts down big.  And really, when was the last time you met a Bubba that wasn’t changing your tire or raping kayakers that accidentally rowed into his neck o’ the woods.  Bubba is probably my favorite golfer on the tour.  Fans of Watson probably don’t mind a little crazy in their sports heroes.  Did I mention he’s crazy?  Yeah he’s crazy.  And he bought the General Lee from The Dukes of Hazard at an auction.

Bought this bitch straight cash!

There’s your golf watching starter kit.  If you like sports, go in with an open mind and I’m sure you’ll get hooked.  You gotta trust me on this one.  It’s worth it.  And since this is the internets, here’s your obligatory cat pic.

 

– Josh

Do I only like Boardwalk Empire because it’s on HBO?

Season three of Boardwalk Empire is up and running and I’ve been trying to convince myself to jump back on the B.E. bandwagon.  The problem that I’m facing is that I’m a season behind and I can’t bring myself to get caught up.  I don’t know why.  I like this show.  I really do.  I mean, it’s a great show right?  Everybody says so.  I think I like it.  Of course I like it.  What’s not to like?  Yeah, I like it.  So why does it feel like such hard work to get through almost every episode?  I sit down at my computer or pick up the iPad and I can’t do it.  I’m logged into HBO GO and the episode list is right there.  But I can’t hit play.  Why won’t I watch it?  I tell myself that maybe I’m just tired.  Maybe that ancient episode of Tenacious D just sounds like more fun.  Could it be that facing the prospect of watching so many hour long episodes just so I can say I caught up is too daunting of a task?  That can’t be right.  I could sit through a marathon of The Wire or Game of Thrones without batting an eye.  Something occurred to me recently though.  Is Boardwalk Empire as good as those two shows?  Is it really even a good show?  Do I only like B.E. because it’s a show on HBO and I’m automatically giving it a pass?  Would I watch this show if it was exactly the same but featured on AMC instead?  How about Showtime? I dunno.  I’ve heard Homeland is a really good show, but I haven’t seen an episode yet.  Why?  Because it’s not on HBO godammit.  So now I want to break down Boardwalk Empire and see if it’s really the show that I want it to be, or just the average show that I fear it really is.

HBO. We don’t only show softcore porn anymore!

Let’s first take a look at the star power that’s featured on this show shall we?  That’s what initially roped me in when HBO first started running promos for Boardwalk.  And yes I know, liking a show should be about more than just the actors that are featured.  I get it.  But there’s a reason I still haven’t seen the Soprano’s.  And the reason is that loud-breathing ogre Tony played by James Gandolfini.  He bears a striking resemblance to a moblin from The Legend of Zelda.  Yeah it’s a good show, but I can’t watch it because I keep expecting Tony to kidnap a princess and slowly shuffle around the screen. 

Family is everything. Also burning villages *loud inhale and exhale*

Steve Buscemi is different.  He’s not a huffing ogre.  He’s one of my favorite actors in ever.  My first memory of the best Steve ever was from watching Reservoir Dogs as a kid.  How can Mr. Pink not be the best part of that movie?  He was all business and knew there was a rat in the house before anyone else.  Buscemi is nothing short of brilliant in everything else he’s worked on.  But he’s almost always been part of the supporting cast.  I guess looking like a large fleshy gecko doesn’t get you top billing very often.  When I first heard that Buscemi had been cast as Nucky Thompson, I immediately said, “Who the shit is Nucky Thompson?”  Then I got excited anyway because Steve’s finally getting a chance to be the star of the show and prove his acting brilliance on a network that makes you a headliner.  Would he be able to play a believable gangster in an early 20th century period piece?  This was Buscemi’s chance to shine and prove that he’s got what it takes to be a leading (still hideous) man.  And does he?  Of course he does!  He’s Steve Fucking Buscemi!  Second billing went to Michael Pitt.  He plays a WWI vet trying to break into the world of politics under Nucky’s tutelage.  You may remember Pitt from his role as the creepy albino guy in every movie he’s ever acted.  You may also remember that he’s the best actor in pretty much all of those movies.  Pitt does more of the same as a burgeoning gangster on Boardwalk.  The other big name actor tied to the show is Gretchen Moll.  To say I have an unhealthy attraction to her is an understatement.  It’s not a wear-your-skin type of attraction, but I’ve had a crush on her for a long time.  When I saw that she’d be playing Jimmy’s mom, I was a bit thrown since she’s really not that old.  Then I started watching the show and understood.  And yes I know what happens at the end of season two so….gross.  The two big breakout performances come from Stephen Graham as a young Al Capone and Michael Stuhlbarg as Arnold Rothstein.  Both of these guys steal every scene.  And if you’d seen Snatch, you’d already know that Tommy was the best character in the history of film.

O.G.

Now if only we could get them for more than two minutes at a time.  The rest of the cast is pretty rock solid.  We get a good assortment of character actors and Omar from The Wire.  Oh indeed.  One of the big sellers HBO used when promoting Boardwalk was throwing around Martin Scorsese’s name like that sad guy at the party that really wants you to like him based on who he knows.  But you don’t have to do that HBO. We like you for who you are.  And really, Scorcese only directed the first episode.  That’s like getting to heaven and Jesus is there to greet you but then he passes you off to Bill to show you around.  Jesus tells you that Bill’s a great guy and he’s gonna take really good care of you.  Then Jesus hops in his chariot and drives off to another appointment.  Sure Bill is nice and all, but he’s not Jesus.  Am I not good enough to get a tour from the Lord?  That’s kind of how it happened on Boardwalk.  Director situation aside, I’m really high on the cast.  They can’t possibly be the problem. 

Jesus and Bill at the Springtime Mixer

So if the cast and acting isn’t the reason I can’t sit through this show, it must be the show itself right?  That’s gotta be it.  How about the setting?  We start at the inception of prohibition and the most crooked city treasurer in ever is starting the biggest bootlegging operation in ever.  Sounds good to me.  That’s must see goddamn tv.  Or MSGDTV for short.  Atlantic City is nice and all, but doesn’t it seem like the more interesting story lines are in Chicago or New York?  (see Al Capone and Arnold Rothstein)  Rothstein fixed the World Series!  I smell spin-off!  The show is filled with gratuitous amounts of violence, sex, and substance abuse.  Like I said, it’s on HBO.  Setting and atmosphere are great.  Was I really into the Roarin 20’s and bootlegging before Boardwalk Empire?  Of course not.  But it’s still an interesting time and HBO has done a great job recreating the atmosphere.  I never thought I’d be interested in a show about Baltimore, but now I think it’s a magical land inhabited by Clay Davis. 

A true wonderland!

Maybe it’s the slow burn style plot development that really kills the mood for me.  I caught a part of season 3 a few weeks ago and Nucky sat in a basement for an hour.  Yeah that’s a pretty slow hour of television.  Then I have to deal with Nucky’s wife handing out flyers on the boardwalk….bored.  But holy shit Capone just beat a dude to death with his bare hands in front of a crowd!  Oh my god then he throws money on him!  That was awesome!  Oh, now I have watch Eli drink for a while.  Whoa, Nucky just shot that kid in head!  And now Van Alden has baby momma drama!  Oh we’re going show more flyers being handed out?  Okay I guess.  Maybe next we’ll get to see Chalky call somebody a mother fucker and go after them with some farm equipment.  No?  Oh, yeah I guess I’ll watch the Schroeder kid go to his first communion.  Ugh.  Eli just killed that dude with a wrench!  And now Jimmy’s wife is crying for no reason.  And roll credits.  I think that’s really the key to the whole thing.  There are just too many characters that I don’t give two shits about.  Their presence lessens the experience for me and really kills the flow of the show.  Who cares that Margaret Schroeder is fantasizing about the Irish guy that’s boning the average looking maid?  I don’t think Boardwalk has too many characters. (are you listening Game of Thrones?) I just think it has too many characters that aren’t doing anything interesting. 

3/4 of you are killing this show for me.

So there you have it.  We just need to kill off the right people and Boardwalk Empire will be perfect.  Or maybe I should just stop being a nitpicky bitch and enjoy the show for what is.  It has won like 20 Emmys after all.  And we all know they don’t hand those out to every crappy show on tv.

Oh. Nevermind.

  

P.S.  Today is election day so go vote!  Or don’t.  I really don’t give a shit.

– Josh

Adventures in Food Poisoning

Last Thursday evening, I was fortunate enough to catch a case of food poisoning that lasted in the late hours of Friday night.  It was a 24 hour yack-a-thon starring yours truly.  The highlight of this time would have to have been when I almost tagged a coworker with the vomit of shame.  I’m not here to blame anyone for my infirmity.  Surely this was complete happenstance and not an act of treachery.  However, I couldn’t help but notice that my lovely wife was not puking alongside me at any point.  In fact, she seemed downright healthy even though we ate the same food.  I’m not saying that she put eye drops in my sammich.  I wouldn’t dream of saying that she maliciously and deliberately poisoned me as revenge for some unknown transgression.  I would never say anything to implicate my infallible spouse in some type of plot aimed at methodically ending my existence.  However, if I do happen to expire at some point within the next few months, I believe that the authorities will do the right thing and Christine will be featured in her own Lifetime movie before the year is out.  I’m sure it’ll be called Venom: The Christine M. Story:  One woman’s desperate plan to escape an abusive husband.  For realism, I think I’m going to have to start beating her.  I don’t make the rules here.  If we want this thing to be big, we’re going to need some bruises.  Sorry babe.

 

I bet the secret is murder. Or rape. I bet it’s both.

 

As a result of this ruthless attack upon my person, I spent a fair amount of time last week sitting on or laying beside the toilet.   In that time, I was able to do some reflecting.  And in that reflection, I thought about what shows I would watch once I escaped my porcelain dungeon.  All I could come up with was a plan to drag myself under the covers, pulling up Netflix, and start a Justified marathon while trying not to poop the bed.  I think I made it 15 minutes before falling asleep for the next 4 hours.  I call that a win.  But the whole event got me thinking.  What ever happened to all the daytime shows that I used to love watching when I stayed home from school?

Boyd Crowder’s hair has proven the ability to cure most illnesses

 

I was a pretty sickly kid, so I had several opportunities to stay at home and watch TV while I should have been in school.  Everybody has their favorite sick day shows.  I want to go over some of the major shows from my childhood that got me through every sick day without fail.

 

So many school absences, so much time to watch Nickelodeon.  Like any kid growing up in the 80’s and 90’s, I thought Nickelodeon was the greatest network in ever.  Sick day mornings would usually start off with some ancient Mr. Wizard reruns.  Next up was You Can’t Do That on Television.  Holy damn!  Did you know that Alanis Morissette was on 7 episodes of that?  And did you also know that it ran for 10 seasons?  10 fucking seasons!  Community has been on life support since season one!  Hey, do you remember the time when that guy Barth was making burgers and then…yeah I don’t either.  I just read that on IMDB.  I don’t even remember anyone named Barth, but apparently he was pretty popular.  Seriously, I used to watch every episode of this show and I can’t remember a thing about it.  I do recall people getting slimed a lot and some guy walking around in a suit of armor once.  This is probably the first skit show that I was exposed to outside of SCTV and SNL.  I remember characters from both of those shows but not this one.  Ed Grimley, Count Vlad, and “Crazy Legs’ Herschman shaped my sense of humor and are probably the biggest reason I can’t laugh at generic comedy now.  Also, generic comedy blows ass.  But YCDTOT (I guess this is the abbreviation?) is like this black hole in my head.  Maybe it’s cause the show was terrible and there really wasn’t anything worth remembering.  Or maybe it’s just because I drink…a lot….all the time.  I watched it all the time, so I guess it couldn’t have been all that bad.

 

http://www.theonion.com/articles/exnickelodeon-stars-relate-horrors-of-green-slime,1174/

 

Late morning brought Pinwheel and Today’s special.  Both show names may sound vaguely familiar, but I bet you don’t really remember anything about them.  Today’s special had the guy Jeff that was actually a mannequin, but turned into a person when he wore a magic hat.  That’s some Inception level stuff.  There was even a muppet security guard.  Naturally, it was one of my favorite shows.  All I remember about Pinwheel was the song.  And now that’s stuck in my head.  Fanfuckintastic.  Throw in some Fraggle Rock awesomeness and my morning was just about wrapped up.  Now this is a show I remember!  The Doozers, Wembley, and the Great Trash Heap were the strars of the show for me.  I never really cared for the pragmatic Fraggle enough to remember his name.  Fraggles and Muppets may have been my favorite part about being a kid.  A close second was snow cones after little league games.  I’m still pretty disappointed that I didn’t get to grow up to be either Gonzo or a pro ballplayer.

O.G.

 

I also always wanted to steal a Doozer and make him build me stuff.  They always have the coolest little bikes and erector set ramps.  Together we would have constructed a mighty empire indeed.  It’s not like Jim Henson ever granted them any rights.  I heard they couldn’t unionize either.

Jim Henson actually died of Doozer Flu. Very rare. Very, very deadly.

 

I capped off every sick day morning with a 30 minute morality lesson in the form of David the Gnome.  If you don’t know who he is, then this conversation is over.  In every episode this badass lil’ doctor taught me that stealing was wrong, humans are essentially evil creatures, and that trolls will turn into stone if I can just hold out until morning.

 

Naturally, no one’s sick day morning was complete without witnessing the greatness of The Price is Right.  If you never deliberately stayed home from school to see Bob and his fine-ass ladies giving shit away every day at 10 a.m., then I hate you.  And I’ll always hate you because you never had a true American childhood.  What was not to like about The Price is Right?  This kind old man played mind games with people every day while incredibly hot women walked around in really short skirts.  That’s a recipe for success my friend.  Like most people, I was partial to Plinko and the game with the yodeling hiker that falls off the conveyor belt.  If you don’t know what those are, ask a real American. 

 

Bitch better not bid $1

 

Sick day afternoons in the late 80’s and early 90’s were all about the game show. I crammed as much game show time into my young brain as I possibly could.  After the Price is Right, Press Your Luck blew my goddamn mind.  Those contestants were almost always terrible.  The show literally measured your greed level.  And if your greed got the best of you, that little Whammy bastard moon-walked across the screen and I would just about shit myself in delight.  Add some Scrabble and 100k Pyramid and my lunch hour was over.  100k Pyramid was great, but I never knew who any of the celebrities were.  After lunch came the prime time sick day game shows.  The big boys always rolled out when all the old viewers were waking up from their post lunch naps.  My power hour kicked off with some Win, Lose, Or Draw.  I’m almost, but not at all, ashamed that I was addicted to this show.  I remember begging my parents to get the board game version but never having as much fun as it looked on TV.  Maybe we should have ordered the host too. 

 

The answer was Berlin you damn moron!

The best game show of the day was easily Hollywood Squares.  Its wonderfulness was immeasurable.  Two contestants played a giant game of trivia-based Tic, Tac, Toe.  The celebrities on the giant grid would make the cheesiest jokes that I thought were television gold.  Did Shadoe Stevens even have another job or was it just to be the center square?  I didn’t give a shit.  The TV told me he was famous and it was so.  I can still picture his feathered blond hair today.  And if you picked the secret square, shit got real.  My life has gone steadily downhill since the time ALF hosted the show.  Circle got the mother fuckin square that day.  Afternoon game show time always ended with a bit of a let down.  And I name that let down Supermarket Sweep.  I watched it.  And I remember hating it.  And now I hate it even more because I just found out this abortion of a show ran for over 1,100 episodes!  This show was literally a 23 minute grocery commercial.  I praise and despise the geniuses that churned out this show.  Now that we’ve established that God in fact does not exist, lets move on to late afternoon TV.

More like Hollyweird Squares. Amiright? Tip your waitress.

 

I remember always winding down my sick day with the good people of WGN.  Why WGN you say?  That why is Night Court.  It’s still one of the funniest shows from my childhood.  I refuse to go back and watch lest I somehow lower my opinion of it.  You had the comic genius of John Larroquette as Dan Fielding.  The rest of the cast was rock solid, but Dan really brought the room together.  There were 193 episodes of courtroom greatness.  And what guy my age didn’t fall in love with Markie Post?  Without Markie, there is no Ally McBeal.  She’s aged well too.  I still would.  You had everything on this show you could ever want.  The “will they or won’t they” couple, the wildcard, the lecherous a-hole, the calm voice of reason, and of course the sassy black woman.  Apparently they had to kill of a couple of cast members to get the exact right amount of sassification though.

 

In Soviet Russia, Night Courts you! Come see my show in Branson!

 

By the time Night Court ended, school was usually letting out and I had to plot to destroy my older brother yet again.  With the help of whatever fever, migraine, or imagined sickness I had, I managed to bail on school and buy some valuable TV time.  I know I wasn’t the only kid to ever do this.  What were some of your favorite sick time shows?  Josh out. *drops mic*

 

– Josh

No TV or Internet Makes Josh Something Something…

Not long ago in an apartment complex a few miles away, my U-Verse service decided to die on me.  For over three days, I lived the life of the tv-less savage.  Without television or internet to light my path, I stumbled blindly through the chaos of quiet, simple living. The following is not merely a recording of my three day harrowing journey.  Nay, it is a parable for which all the world shall bear witness.  If the recounting of my struggle may help one reader through such an ordeal, then my time here will not have been wasted.  Enjoy.

 

Wednesday September 19, 2012 – Day 1

5:30 p.m. – That’s weird, I just tried to turn the tv on and it says no signal.  I’m pretty sure it was working this morning before I left for work.  I guess that happens sometimes, I haven’t had U-Verse for long.  Hmmm. I need to go run anyway so no big deal.  I’m sure it’ll be working by the time I get back.

6:15 p.m. – The tv still isn’t working.  Something’s gone wrong.  Is the signal out all over the complex?  I’ll go out on the balcony and see if anyone else is in panic mode.  Nope.  Okay, I’ll just get on the website to see if there’s an outage in my area.

6:17 p.m. – OH MY GOD THE INTERNET IS DOWN TOO! WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!?  This can’t be happening!

6:19 p.m. – The “service” light on the modem is blinking red.  Deep breaths…stay calm.  Ha! I’ll just reset the modem and everything should start back up again.  Problem solved.

6:25 p.m. – That goddamn red light is still blinking!  Why won’t you reset?  Have I angered you in some way?  It’s because we’re recording too much wasn’t it?  Look. I’ll make you a deal. I’ll delete everything that Christine records if you just work!  No more Amish Housewives of Teen Pregnancy County!  Please don’t do this to me!

6:37 p.m. – Okay, stop panicking.  I think I saw the AT&T van parked outside.  Maybe they’re just working on something for the entire complex.  Yup, I can see the van is still out there.  Once the guy finishes what he’s doing we’ll be good to go.

7:22 p.m. – That bastard just drove off!  That mother fucker didn’t finish fixing anything! I have no TV and no internet!  Christine is telling me to calm down because maybe he just couldn’t finish today and will fix it tomorrow.  He has to go home sometime.  I can’t hear her over the deafening quiet of our apartment.  What she’s saying kinda makes sense though.  I’ll just start reading a book.  I can make it through one night with no tv or internet, right?  I’ll just read….yeah.  I’m only halfway finished withSex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs anyway.

9:15 p.m. – Aaaand bored.  I should watch Netflix , that’ll get me through the night.

9:16 p.m. – Can’t connect to Playstation Network.  Oh yeah…internet.  Time to play my Vita.

  

 

Thursday September 20, 2012 Day 2

12:45 a.m. – From the bedI can see that red light flashing from across the room.  It’s taunting me.  I’m sure of it.  I certainly can’t sleep with that going on.

7:15 a.m. – Maybe the U-verse fairy came in during the night and fixed everything.  Let’s just check…nope.  Gotta call U-verse people now and have them tell me to unplug the modem for 10 seconds.  I already did that!  If I couldn’t have figured that much out on my own, I wouldn’t have been able to dial your number ‘cause my brain doesn’t function properly!

12:15 p.m. – Hey the AT&T van is parked outside again!  Maybe Christine was right and they just had to come back and fix it today!

5:15 p.m. – Bastards fixed nothing!

6:00 p.m. – Christine just got off the phone with AT&T.  After unplugging the modem a couple times with no results, the support person was dumbfounded…naturally.  A technician is coming out on Saturday.  Saturday!  Do they not realize the Parks and Rec. season premiere is tonight?  I have many important things to read on the internets and I don’t want to do it all on my phone!  The Rangers are in a playoff race!  A playoff race!

8:30 p.m. – I bet Parks and Rec. was hilarious.  That’s a shame.  I would Hulu it but…you know.

9:00 p.m. – I’m not mad at you U-Verse, I’m just disappointed.  So very, very, disappointed.

11:30 p.m. – I’ve realized something.  When you sit in a completely quiet room, the silence almost hurts your ears.  Also there’s that voice that just keeps repeating, “Kill!” I thought I got rid of that guy.  How’d he find me here? 

 

No internet makes me a saaad panda

 

Friday September 21, 2012 Day 3

12:15 a.m. – And now I can’t sleep.  Time to chug some NyQuil.

7:20 a.m. – TV working? Nope.

5:30 p.m. – Fuck off U-Verse.  I don’t really need you anyway.  I have my Arrested Development dvd’s to keep me company.  I could watch those forever if I had to.

11:30 p.m. – Okay tired of AD.  The cable guy is coming tomorrow morning so I should get some sleep.

 

 

Saturday September 29, 2012 Day 4

1:30 a.m. – I wonder how long it’ll take for the cable and internet to get fixed once he gets here.  I promise I’ll make the most of every minute I have with tv now.  No more wasted time surfing the net either.

8:30 a.m. – Cable people aren’t here yet.  You know what?  I’m okay with that.  I’ve let tv and internet take up too much of my life.  I should go take the dog for a walk or something and make the most of this great Saturday!  It’s a new Josh today!  Maybe I’ll try to write a book.  Yeah, I could do that.

10:15 a.m. – Oh my god it’s fixed!  Time to watch College Gameday and watch a video of ferrets playing simultaneously!  Life has meaning again!

This isn’t creepy. She’s just happy that she won’t miss another episode of Parks.

 

– Josh

American vs. British TV or USA! USA! USA!

By Josh

Look, I know it’s been a while since we talked.  I’m sorry.  I’m just in this weird place right now.  I got this work thing and summer has so little to watch.  I don’t want you to start seeing other blogs.  No I’m not writing for someone else!  How could you ask me that?  I promise, I’ll start writing for you again.  Just give me another chance.  No don’t come over, it’s not a good time.  No that’s not me typing in the background, that’s just the tv.  I already told you I’m not writing for anyone else!  Why don’t you trust me?  You always do this! Look…I gotta go. I’ll call you okay?

I’ve been trying to get started on this post for a while now, but I’m caught up in baseball pennant chase fever (STD), and there really hasn’t been a whole lot that I’ve wanted to watch outside of Breaking Bad.  Also, it’s been a good summer for video games.  If I even think about Borderlands for more than 10 seconds, I find myself trying to create a disease that I could use to get out of work for a while.  That isn’t a joke.  I’ve got cultures growing as we speak.  This is all my way of saying that I’ve been procrastinating and that this post has turned into my Chinese Democracy.  It’s much talked about and highly overrated.  And if you don’t get that reference, then I don’t think we have anything left to talk about.  Enjoy.

Sweet pie o’ mine!

The new greatest pop culture medium in ever is television.  I think we can all agree on that.  TV is now the creative entertainment frontier.  Screw movies, they are all terrible now.  Also, I don’t know what hyperbole is.  But seriously forks, amidst the chaff of reality tv garbage, we’re seeing some pretty brilliantly original programming.  Shows like Mad Men, Justified, and Downton Abbey are killing it right now.  TV has never shaped culture in this way!  If you disagree then you can eat my shorts.  I know it’s cliché to call this the Golden Age of Television, but it’s the damn Golden Age of Television.  We’re getting superb plot and production value from cable shows that are making major networks shit themselves.  In the 90’s, I’d have taken a movie over watching TV any day of the week.  But try to drag me to the theater when Breaking Bad is showing and I swear to God you’ll lose an eye.

So now we have our new platform, but who does it better?  The U.S. or the G.B.?  It’s really hip (kids still say hip right?) in America to automatically assume that any British pop culture is better than its American counterpart.  Music. (Agreed) Movies. (The Brits didn’t make Transformers so I guess they win there) Comedy. (That’s debatable)  And tv. (NO!)  British tv is great.  If you had asked me 10 years ago which was better, I would have said, “Fuck off bro, I’m in college.  Now watch me yack on that car cause it’s Tuesday morning and I have an ethics test in 20 minutes.” True story.  Then I would have slurringly explained that Kids in the Hall is really the only show I watch because Comedy Central shows it 7 times a day and so what if I skipped that test to watch the episode where Bruce McCulloch sings These Are the Daves I know.  And that Ben Affleck movie is about to start where he gets ‘roided up beats up his mom and girlfriend.  I miss college.  After that I would have agreed that yes, the Brits are probably making better shows.  But this isn’t then, this is now.  And American shows are really starting to come into their own on the quality front.  I’m not here to disparage one country or start a holy war because both are doing wonderful things for television.  But here’s why the U.S. is much better at tv than Great Britain.

Why was I in Reindeer Games?!?

 

Since it took me so long to get around to the real point of this post, and because I think the dividing line between American and British TV is razor thin, I’m going to base my entire argument on the one huge thing that I really care about when watching a show.  Series length.  British shows typically have a much shorter run than shows in the U.S.  They usually film six episodes per season and most never make it past one or two seasons.  That’s not enough time!  My entire argument boils down to a hugely negative human trait.  I’m a very greedy person.  You may be sitting there saying, “But Josh, if a show is great, it shouldn’t matter how long it actually lasts.  British shows just get more done in a six episode arc and it’s about quality over quantity and I prefer shorter series…blah blah.” Well I name you liar sir and/or madam.  You also speak in run-on sentences.  Punctuate please.  

Look, I’m not saying British shows are bad because they’re short lived.  Season one of Luther has six episodes and that show rocks the shit.  If you haven’t done so, go watch it on Netflix.  I can’t because my internets is down.  Thanks U-Verse.  Thankfully the BBC brought it back for another round of Stringer Bell being awesome and a third may be on the horizon.  But that second series was just four episodes.  I need so much more crazy detective and crazier hot killer lady.  Longer seasons open so many doors for a show to expand and develop its characters and story.  Goddammit, I want to see Luther take back those corners from Marlow Stanfield!  Time for a mash-up.  I want to get attached to colorful characters and see them gradually evolve over time.  That just can’t happen with such a truncated series.  Walt White couldn’t have become the power hungry mastermind we know and love in just twelve episodes.  It’s not possible and wouldn’t have been in any way believable.  A slow-burn type of series like Breaking Bad is the perfect example of gradually growing a character while having an end-game in mind that prevents staleness.  If a great American show can develop and sustain its greatness over five seasons, then of course it’s going to be better than its British equivalent. 

100 problems

Some argue that in the UK writers make shows shorter due to having more integrity or not wanting their creation to grow stale.  The staleness argument holds some water but that’s not the reason for a shorter season.  As with all things, it’s about cash money.  And if Damon Wayans has taught me anything, it’s that we need mo’ of it.  That’s sound economic theory that the BBC seems to be having problems with.  British networks just don’t get the ad revenue that American companies can generate.  As a result, they don’t have the cash to throw at a show to order thirty-six more episodes after a strong debut.  You get one season, and if everything goes extremely well, they may order a new set.  Maybe.  We’ll get back to you on that.  In two years.  Sorry Todd Margeret.  While shows are rarely cancelled mid-season in the UK, the promise of renewal is a pretty bleak prospect.  As far as the integrity argument goes, if I threw the kind of money at the writers of Downton Abbey that American shows see, you’d have cgi Ewoks all over the goddamn screen for five syndicated seasons.  And I just got a show idea.

Google image result for Victorian Ewok. I love the fuckin internet. I also love the genius that created this.

I get the stale show argument.  I really do.  When a show has run well past its prime, it feels like you’re being forced to sit at the dinner table while Great Aunt Freda chokes down apple sauce and that colostomy bag slowly fills to the top.  She’s your responsibility this week and that thing ain’t gonna empty itself.  Of course you can’t just kill Aunt Freda.  Remember how much fun she used to be and everybody used to talk about how it wasn’t a party if Aunt Freda wasn’t there?  Well we have to keep watching her.  We can’t just stop because she isn’t as much fun as she used to be.  Maybe we should just ride this Freda rough patch out and hope she has a few more moments of zaniness before the end.  I don’t know, maybe we should have just put Dwight in charge of Aunt Freda and it wouldn’t have been so bad.  The doctors think she has one more season left in her, so let’s just wait and see.  Maybe Michael will come back to see her before she passes…probably not though.

Who the shit are you? Aunt Freda hates you.

If you’re still reading this post then congrats to you my friend.  You have a bigger attention span than most of the internets.  You will be rewarded with a picture of a kitten wearing a hoodie at the end of this post.

I’m not saying a show should run indefinitely.  Every show needs to lead somewhere.  Maybe it slowly chronicles a character’s rise and fall like Walt White or the long sought redemption of Jesse Pinkman.  Maybe it just shows that even though we can eventually change who we are like Jimmy McNulty, our actions can’t really change the world.  If you have no end-game planned, you’re destined to write yourself into a corner and then you’re on the no-fly list with the writers of Lost.  The other problem with most American shows is that studios love be “hands on” rather than letting creative people do their thing and do it well.  The Brits handle that part extremely well and I commend them for it.  In the end, I don’t want to be left wanting more (Brit tv) and certainly don’t want to see a show become a shadow of its former self (USA tv).  Since the US is finally starting to hit that happy medium, I’ve got to give the gold medal to ‘Merica.  So what’s the perfect amount of time for a show to be on the air?  In the immortal words of Abed Nadir, “Six seasons and a movie!”  Here’s your cat.

Admit it, you stopped reading the paragraph to look at this pic.

 

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