Sunday, September 19, 2010

Around The Dial

(Before I begin I just wanted to say that I am watching Red Dawn as I write this. Did I just incept your mind!?)

By the way, is there a more original title for a post about television than "Around The Dial". I doubt it.

So, for me, the new television officially started this past Thursday. I am excited for the return of shows I like and, of course, to discover some new ones. To wit, here is what I am watching and what I am thinking about watching. Because, you know, thats fascinating. I suppose things got kicked off on Thursday for me, but I think I will start with Sunday and move forward in the week so:


Mad Men

So, I have actually been watching this since almost the beginning. And, quite honestly, not only is it one of the best shows on television, it always looks amazing too. Its one of the shows that people bring up, with good reason, to point how some shows currently on television that are better than a good portion of whats in the cinema. So complex and so crazy good.

Eastbound and Down

This is going to be starting its second season next Sunday night (see poster). I might have to catch it on On Demand since it seems like it will conflict with my Mad Men watching (I know, life is hard) but that's okay. I know I sound like a 70 year old man with a pocketful of Werther's when I say this: but technology has pretty much made it so nothing is appointment television anymore. You can pretty much catch anything even if you are a little late to it. Which means someday I will catch up on Deadwood, Breaking Bad, and Battlestar Galactica. Anyway, Eastbound & Down,  was one of the funniest shows on air last year and hopefully will remain so this year. One could argue that the end of last season, 6 episodes, which was basically like one long movie was perfect, with him  (SPOILER) driving away and leaving his high school sweetheart at the gas station, and should have been left alone. I can see that. Then I saw the "trailer" for this season and he gets a job playing in a Mexican baseball league, and he seems to be the only returning character-well it still looks pretty amazing. Danny McBride is so great. I can't wait.

Boardwalk Empire

This actually starts tonight and was sort of the impetus for this post. This looks like this could be yet another HBO classic show. Atlantic City. Prohibition era. Steve Buscemi, Michael Pitt, Michael Shannon, Michael K. Williams (a lot of Michaels) a lot of guys who are actually British but are playing Americans. First show directed by Martin Scorcese, and the rest produced by him. It looks so amazing.

The Walking Dead

Even though I still haven't seen Breaking Bad AMC has a pretty good track record as far as original programming goes. This miniseries starting on Halloween, of course, is about a zombie outbreak (uprising). And might be only interesting to me because I have read a good deal of the graphic novels that its based on. Also it is being produced by (and possibly the first episode is directed by) Frank Darabont who directed The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, and The Mist. So I am excited for this.


Here's two shows that are just starting this year that are definite maybes right now for me. I am intrigued, but who knows if they are going to stay on the regular rotation. They might be awful, they might be good timewasters. Here's to taking a chance and coming up with something good:

The Event

Ever since the success of Lost (Still kinda sad you're gone, buddy) every network, including ABC, has been trying to come up with another serialized drama/mystery whatever show that captured that sort of, shall we say, magic. But most have really missed the mark. And The Event just might as well. I have to admit that I might have been clubbed into submission by the advertising. When I first saw a commercial for this every other piece of dialogue was someone talking about "The Event", i.e., "What's the event", "Tell me about The Event", "Wanna speak about the Event" etc. etc. And it was extremely annoying. But at some point they changed up the advertising, and made it so I might tune to find out about this "event". We'll see it might be another Flash Forward where I can only take it for a few episodes before tuning it out. We'll see I guess.

Hawaii 5-0

Now, this could potentially be ridiculous, but its been far too long since there has been a cop show bases in Hawaii. It might as well be a remake of the original Hawaii 5-0, I guess. The first show is directed by Len Wiseman who directed Live Free or Die Hard so he knows his way around a ridiculous action show, so this might be entertaining. I also like how Daniel Dae Kim was able to extend his time living and working in Hawaii for just a little while more. Hey, he owns a restaurant there, something has to pay the bills.



Thanks to the magic of DVD, a few years back my Dad started buying DVD sets of some of his favorite shows. One being the old school detective show starring James Garner, called The Rockford Files.  I started watching too since he was so into This show, Terriers, has actually started already, and it reminds me of The Rockford Files, in that it features two almost down-an-out dudes, instead of one, living close to the beach and solving a different crime and working for different people each episode. It's pretty straight forward, but the two leads have an easy chemistry and its pretty fun. FX has emerged as another place for quality programming, this is a nice amiable cop show. Justified, is another good, pulpy cop show, and Louie  pretty much rewrote the rules of what can can't be presented as comedy on television, an ostensible comedy show thats so challenging, even after its first season, which is now over, is still being dissected and argued about. Anyway, it might not be rewriting the rules of television, but as far as detective shows go, you could do worse it seems than Terriers. Donal Logue put in a lot of effort to lose weight for this, so I figured I owed it to him (no I didn't.)


The ol' Thursday Night Laugh Factory. I just made that up too. Feel free to use it.

Thursday nights, for me, pretty much belong to comedy and to NBC and FX. Which to me, have the best comedies on the air right now, besides Eastbound & Down. 

The Best:

30 Rock

There's a contingent of people that have turned on this show. But, honestly, I still don't see why. Maybe I have lost my critical eye, I guess but I still think this is one of the funniest shows on television. I do think it takes an episode or two each season to really get rolling, but when it does, it really does. Hopefully this season will be more of the same.

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia

Fun Fact: Wait, does Matt Fullmer even read this because this is the second time he is going to be mentioned in under a week? Anyway our friend Matt Fullmer went to high school with one of the creators of this show,  Rob McElhenny (all the way to right up there in the green tie). It is described by said creators as being "Seinfeld on crack" which is a pretty apt description. On the plus side, the first episode this season was already hitting on all cylinders. The only thing odd is that they are clearly trying to to shoehorn things in for their sponsors which sometimes is a little too obvious (breakfast at Subway!?) It doesn't detract from things too much but it is...obvious. Listen I know, we are all adults, and people making shows need to get paid somehow. Shit, 30 Rock did the same with McDonalds, among others, and it didn't detract that much. I guess in my naive mind I just wish they didn't have to. Which, of course, goes without saying. Now, I have to say too, It's Always Sunny... isn't for everybody, breaking it down its about assholes being assholes to eachother and, at times, it can get pretty uncomfortable. Some people aren't into that sort of thing, just saying.

The League

Honestly, this show shouldn't have worked. When I saw this was coming out and was a show based around a fantasy football league. I was like "ugh" there's no way this would work. But it worked for a few (obvious) reasons: it's funny and well written, and the actors in it are also funny and likable. The fantasy league basically is the framework of the show which allows these men to hang out with eachother and, well, not to put too fine a point on it, be terrible assholes to one another. But in a more friendly way, if that makes sense, that guys tend to do. Now, I have heard the complaint that only people that are actually in fantasy football leagues would enjoy this. I'm not sure I agree, although I am in a football league and one of the guys, Taco, all the way to the left up there, who has no idea what he is doing in the league, I was like it's just like me! Anyway, so I am looking at it through those eyes, but the only other eyes I have are my wife's who isn't in a fantasy league but still loves the show. (She likes football too, I don't know if thats a factor, I'll ask her) But the fact of the matter is is its super funny and well-written, and so it transcends what I originally thought it was going to be. Even in the opener, from this past Thursday, Chad Ochocinco guest stars and he is really funny in it too. But thats sort of no surprise.

The rest:

The Office

At some point I wouldn't have imagined The Office  falling into the Thursday night "rest of" category. I seem to be watching this show nowadays out of obligation more than anything else. That has been supplanted this year by being curious how they write Michael Scott (Steve Carell) out of the show. And I will admit that if they do come back for another season, which they shouldn't, if Danny McBride or Rhys Darby from Flight of the Conchords are brought in it might just keep me watching. Hey, I'm easy. Also Amy Ryan and Timothy Olyphant might be around this season so I am intrigued. So I am divided, really, it needs an infusion of...something. Something new, I guess, or it needs to be mercy killed, because a lot last year it just seemed sort of tired. Which is super sad because it was really great once.


This one I actually find pretty funny, but I don't know, I'm just not over the moon about it like some other people are. And for the life of me, I'm just not sure why. But I will stick with it because for the most part I find it enjoyable. Which, I know, isn't exactly a ringing endorsement, but its a good enough timewaster, and you never know it might be even better than that so maybe I will be rewarded. I actually liked Parks and Recreation better but NBC saw fit to use that as a mid-season replacement and instead decided to put what looks like a racist nightmare, Outsourced on the air. Way to hit the zeitgeist, NBC.



  1. Nice write-up, Kev. I too have started watching "Terriers" and have been enjoying it so far. I mainly got into it because one of its creators, Shawn Ryan, was also behind "The Shield" which if you haven't seen yet, I highly recommend you do.

    I know a lot of people felt shunned by "The Office" last season, but I find myself in the minority who still really liked it. The characters are so good that it almost doesn't matter what the story line is for me. They just keep me laughing.

    And I think I really need to get HBO. There are just so many good things on there, and that Steve Buscemi show looks cool. And I've yet to see Treme or that Danny McBride show either. There's just so much out there: Dexter, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Tudors - I've never seen any of them. I'm too busy plowing through "NYPD Blue" on Netflix which might warrant a future post.

    But I can also recommend that you do finish Deadwood and Battlestar Galactica, because they're both great. Having said all this, TV is certainly much better than it used to be and with the onset of the likes of FX, AMC, HBO, and Showtime taking on their own series, it's nice to have shows that take risks.

    Oh, and what do you mean about that Outsourced show being racist? I haven't seen/read much about it but isn't J.J. Abrams responsible? Last I checked, he's awesome.


  2. Oops, wait. "Outsourced" is not the J.J. Abrams show I was thinking of. That's actually "Undercovers". Any thoughts on that?


  3. I haven't even started "Deadwood", "Battlestar Galactica", "The Shield", or pretty much anything else you mentioned. I am woefully behind. Maybe I can catch up one of these days (this WInter!?) Hopefully I will one of these days.

    "Undercovers" was not even on my radar. And its on Wednesdays! And J.J. Abrams is involved. So yeah, I think that might be worth a look at the very least.

    I dunno, with "The Office, I used to LOVE this show, but it all seems so tired now. It either needs something or someone new. I'll keep watching like said, but its really a shadow of its former self to me now.