It’s bleak, baby

Ah, Sunday. Relaxing before the work week with these cheery programs.

Sunday is supposed to be a restful day. The last bastion of a carefree weekend, in which you recoup for the work week ahead.

So why is there so much heavy (albeit good) TV on this night? My lineup for Sunday consists of The Walking Dead, Dexter and Boardwalk Empire. Does this sound like a restful evening?

To preserve my glass-half-full outlook on life, I spread these three shows out and watch them on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from my DVR. Otherwise, I lie awake Sunday night, with dreams of gangsters scalping cronies, religious zealots dismembering runners, and nice people getting torn apart by walkers, dancing in my head.

It’s bleak baby. Does anyone else watch all of these shows? If so, do you have the stones to watch all three on Sunday night?

99% full

If you have a DVR, you know what I mean.

Right now, there is simply too much good TV. My problem is this: I started watching The Mentalist re-runs on TNT this summer, and am recording two of those every Wednesday. But, I am also recording the new episodes of The Mentalist to watch when I get caught up.And then there’s Sons of Anarchy (SOA). I am caught up on SOA through the second season, which is available on Netflix instant watch. But the third season isn’t available yet, so I am recording the new episodes while waiting on that release.

And then, there’s Burn Notice, which I love, but didn’t have time to watch this summer. So I have six episodes of that on my DVR.

What this means is that I barely have enough room to tape the shows I watch weekly (Tosh.0, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, American Horror Story, Raising Hope, New Girl, Ringer, Vampire Diaries, The Office, Parks and Recreation, Dexter, Boardwalk Empire, The Walking Dead, Fringe, and the aforementioned Mentalist reruns). Add to that the return of Beavis and Butthead, and next week’s return of Bones, and I’ve got a real problem.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m somewhat of an expert in solving recording conflicts, but the real issue here is space. Anyone else having these issues? How do you manage? I guess it’s a sign of good TV that there is so much to watch.

Three shows that you simply must watch

  1. Dexter, Showtime, 9 p.m.
  2. Boardwalk Empire, HBO, 9 p.m.
  3. The Walking Dead, AMC, 10 p.m.

I’ve blogged of my admiration for Dexter and Boardwalk Empire before, so I won’t belabor the point with a long review of each one, but if you aren’t already, you should definitely be watching. And yes, I realize that they are on premium channels (not a recession-proof commodity, to be sure) but I would argue that they are well worth the money. One way to look at it – for about the price of two movie tickets, you can get a month of both Showtime and HBO, and hours of excellent original programming, documentaries and blockbuster movies. This is starting to sound like a commercial.

Rick, played by Andrew Lincoln, is a true hero. While anti-heroes abound on other networks, he’s a breath of fresh, honest-to-goodness air.

I haven’t devoted any blog space to AMC’s The Walking Dead. Trust me it’s not for lack of interest. The show is completely amazing. I think I’ve mentioned before that the husband and I are avid horror fans, so I was prepared for disappointment. What I got was quite surprise. Here are some reasons why I like The Walking Dead.

  • The zombies are slow. Thank the gods – in recent years zombies have been fast and fierce, with super strength, and people have had little to no chance of escape. Boring rubbish if you ask me. These zombies are dead, rotting, walking corpses – slow and dumb but deadly in packs. Just like I like them.
  • Andrew Lincoln, who plays the lead character, Rick Grimes. What’s not to love in this protagonist? If you’re tired of anti-heroes, look no further for a bona-fide good guy. Rick is a nice guy, family man, good cop – you get the picture. He’s the type of guy you want to mow your lawn and then come in the house for a nice, cool lemonade.
  • It’s not all CGI. Kudos to the make-up team. The zombies look better than most of those that have graced the silver screen in the last decade.
  • It’s gory. Human entrails? Check. Horse guts? Check. Splattered brains? Check.  Even on the premium channels, you won’t find a gorier show.
  • The tragedy hits home. This is what I like the most about the show, and it’s really a culmination of all the preceding points. Zombie films of recent years lost this sense of deep melancholy in their hurried edits, metal soundtracks and CGI effects. Because of the slow pace, the superior effects, the excellent characters and stark realism, this show does something remarkable – it makes you feel.

Gasp! A TV-free weekend (almost)

L to R: Me, my husband's brother, and my husband, in costume.
On Friday after work, I met my husband and his colleagues for drinks. Before I knew it, the night was nearly over, and I was headed home in a food coma, induced by a ½ pound Louie’s burger and Guinness (fellow Akronites, you’ve been there). I had every intention of settling down in front of the TV to watch Jersey Shore and It’s Always Sunny on DVR, but I fell into a deep slumber.

The next morning, I ate my standard breakfast of yogurt and All Bran, and hit the gym for my daily 3.5 mile run and 30 minutes of cross training. From there, it was on to the grocery store, and home to make chocolate chip cookies for a bonfire on Saturday night. I promised myself, “I’ll get home early so I can relax and watch a little TV.” That didn’t happen.

Enter Sunday morning, and preparations for Sunday supper (pot roast, in case you were wondering) with my parents, grandparents, and in-laws. After everyone left at 5:30, the husband and I donned our costumes (mad scientists) and passed out candy for trick-or-treat, which lasted until 8 p.m.

After two completely TV-free days, I hardly knew what to do with myself on Sunday at 9 p.m., when I finally had a chance to plop down in front of the boob tube.  

What luck! I was rewarded with the first solid Dexter episode of the season. In addition to some exciting developments in Lumen’s storyline, Dexter finally gave fans a bite-sized, one-off kill. Albeit a sloppy kill, the episode was a winner – a perfect blend of Dexter’s sardonic humor, dark passenger and sincere effort to be a loving father.

After Dexter, I tuned into Boardwalk Empire on my DVR, and was treated to a stellar installment of this series. The writers peeled back another layer of Nucky’s character — revealing a childhood tainted by an abusive father. As Nucky and Margaret wrestle his demons and try to find a comfortable level of intimacy, on the Chicago front, Jimmy becomes friends with a disfigured war veteran and exacts final revenge on the man who cut Pearl. This is TV at its best.

This morning, I realized I forgot to watch the premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC. After such a busy weekend of friends, family and food, topped off by two great shows, I can’t say I’m too disappointed.

Come on, Dexter, pick up the pace

I’d like a little less of this…

Dear, patient readers – has it really been 12 days since my last post? Where did the time go? Possibly to fall festivities, a few movies, a steady streak of going to the gym, dinners with my charming husband and a seriously busy week at work. So here’s a long overdue post-Sunday night post.

I didn’t have time to watch Boardwalk Empire yesterday, but I did tune in for Dexter (a reversal of my pledge to start watch Boardwalk Empire during the Sunday 9 p.m. time slot).

I’ve mentioned it before, but it’s been a slow start this year for Dexter. Not a lot of killing going on (unless you count the case that Deb’s working on). And since that’s the major draw of this show, it’s struggled to captivate.

Last week’s, and this week’s installments have been better. The introduction of Julia Stiles, while uncharacteristically sloppy for the meticulous Dexter Morgan, has added some intrigue to the show, which was starting to feel like a rated R version of Daddy Daycare. Also, I am enjoying Dexter’s obvious dislike of Quinn, and Deb’s newfound self-assurance. As of late, her relationship with Quinn has been rather humorous as well.

…And a little more of this, please.

While I appreciate a good, long story arc, what needs to happen next is more one-off kills from Dexter. At the beginning of the series, he killed a killer almost every week (even as the longer plots, such as the ice truck killer and Dexter’s biological family, took place). This season, Dexter had one random, rage-fueled kill in a rest stop bathroom, and the murder of Boyd last week. Five episodes into the fifth season, fans of this show expect more. Sure, it was bad what happened to Rita, and it’s tough being a single dad, but a little multi-tasking is in order. Particularly now that super-nanny (who is clearly not all that she seems) is on board, there should be more time for Dexter’s extracurricular activities.

Dexter vs. Boardwalk Empire

                 Let me start out by saying that I love Dexter. In fact, it was one of the reasons I got cable last year and I consistently rate it among the highest quality shows on TV right now. In the past, Dexter hasn’t had much competition for the fall, 9 p.m. Sunday slot.

Enter Boardwalk Empire, the new show helmed by Terrence Winter (creator of The Sopranos) and Martin Scorcese. In three words: I love it. Why?

It’s stylish. Set in Prohibition Era New Jersey, the sets are rich tapestries of Americana. The costumes are beautiful – wing tips, three-piece suits, flapper dresses, I could go on and on. Its visual decadence is unmatched.

It’s smart. This cast of characters is intriguing. Played by Steve Buscemi, Nucky Thompson is a savvy politician who walks the line between good and evil. He is supported by a host of excellent actors – Michael Pitt as the up-and-coming gangster Jimmy, Kelly Macdonald as the charming Mrs. Schroeder, Michael Shannon as the intense FBI Agent Van Alden, and so many more. Three episodes in, it’s easy to see the skill of the actors and writers that goes into the making of each episode.

It’s all about the stories. Each week, a new layer of this world is revealed. The politics of the time – including prohibition, women’s suffrage, early civil rights – are fascinating. But the personal stories are just as riveting – the growing interest Nucky shows in Mrs. Schroeder, Jimmy’s friendship with Al Capone, Jimmy’s relationship with the mother of his son, Jimmy’s relationship with his showgirl mother – I could go on and on.

With Dexter off to a slow start (I know, I know the last episode was better than previous weeks), Boardwalk Empire has firmly jumped to the lead for best show on Sunday at 9 p.m.

I’m not lovin’ it

After a long wait, the second season premiere of Eastbound and Down fell flat.

                                                                             There’s a lot to love about TV this fall (see Monday’s post if you want specifics). On Thursday’s alone, I am watching or recording six shows. Sundays are also good, with Dexter and Boardwalk Empire competing for best show in the 9 o’clock hour. With all of these positive reviews, you might be wondering, “Is there any TV show she doesn’t like?” The answer is yes.

In general, I’m not a fan of procedural cop dramas (aside from my recently professed, out-of-the-closet devotion to Mark Harmon and NCIS). However, there are times when I might try one of these out of respect for and actor, writer or director. Case in point, Detroit 1-8-7 (ABC, Tuesday, 10 p.m.). You might remember that I recently watched and thoroughly enjoyed The Sopranos (see my full review). One of my favorite actors on this show was Michael Imperioli, who played Christopher. So, I tuned in for Detroit 1-8-7. For about 10 minutes. The show evoked this one word review: generic.

The other big disappointment this year is Eastbound and Down, which had a hilarious first season. Although it could progress and become funnier, the premiere was downright dull. Taking Kenny away from all the regular cast members is a mistake. Danny McBride is very funny, but the show only works when his shenanigans are accented by John Hawkes (who plays his brother, Dustin), Steve Little (who plays Stevie), and Katy Mixon (who plays April). The change of scenery to Mexico leaves much to be desired, with most of the jokes in the premiere revolving around his misadventures in cock fighting with two rapscallions. It just didn’t work for me. Let’s hope things get better, or I’ll be cutting this out of my Sunday line-up pretty quickly.

What new shows have you tried and disliked? What returning shows have disappointed you?

Mea culpa and fall TV

Fringe is back for another great season, along with a host of other shows.

It’s been a long time, and I have to apologize for my absence from Remotely Entertaining. With a full lineup of fall TV, a tidal wave of work and more than a few social calls, it’s been tough to find time to write in the last couple weeks. Kudos to my co-blogger, Mark, for keeping things fresh.

Wow! What a fall lineup we have. Here’s what I’m loving:

  • Fringe – Every season seems better than the last. Last week’s premiere delved into Olivia’s predicament on the other side, and set the stage for another very interesting season. In interviews, I’ve heard the show’s writers say that they intend to fully develop the alternate characters, rather than simply setting them up as ne’er do well dopplegangers. Next week, I’m hoping for a good monster of the week, as this show does mythology and one-off episodes equally good.
  • 30 Rock – You’re my pube shirt. Enough said.
  • Boardwalk Empire – We all knew this would be great, and guess what? It is. From the excellent cast (particularly Steve Buscemi) to the directing and writing to the costumes and sets, this show is nothing short of enthralling. It’s no surprise that after one episode, it was picked up for a second season.
  • Dexter – To be sure, it was a depressing first hour of Dexter on Sunday. With Rita gone, Dexter is definitely off his game. Deb is trying to pick up the pieces whilst sleeping with Quinn (who is quite nice, I might add), and the kids are a wreck. From week to week, I can never predict where this show is going, but I’m on the edge of my seat the entire time I’m watching.
  • Vampire Diaries – This show hit the ground running, and the twist of Caroline becoming a vampire is a great one. Also, I love that Damon continues to be a bad guy and I was genuinely shocked when he snapped Jeremy’s neck in episode one. The werewolf element is also promising, and the show has a unique mythology related to its supernatural elements.

Like I said, there’s lot to watch right now. I also have a few new and returning shows that I’m not loving as much, but I’ll save that commentary for another post.

Top 10 moments from True Blood season 3 season finale

We’ll miss you until next season, Sook.

Even with a full line-up of fall TV shows about to start, I am mourning the passing of True Blood season three. Unlike past top 10 lists, I have left my comments brief, as I have a few concluding remarks on this season. As I move on to Vampire Diaries (what a great first episode that was last week!), here’s what I’ll remember from the True Blood finale.

  1. Maniacal laughter from Sookie as she disposed of Talbot’s remains
  2. Russell Edgington, extra crispy recipe – Kudos to the makeup team.
  3. Russell Edgington, encased in cement for at least 100 years
  4. Bill vs. Sophie Ann – She’s old, but he has nothing to lose.
  5. Bill vs. Eric – I didn’t see that one coming.
  6. Sookie vs. Bill – Invitation revoked.
  7. Jesus is a man-witch.
  8. Tara’s new haircut is super cute, even if she is still annoying.
  9. Sookie’s close encounters of the Fae kind
  10. Alcide is still gorgeous, dreams of Sookie, and is quite eligible now that Debbie is missing.

Before I move on to other remotely entertaining shows, I have a few thoughts on season three. Even for devoted Truebies such as myself, there were times during last season when my interest in Marianne waned. And, truth be told, the season finale was lacking – it felt more like a prelude to season three than a wrap up of season two.

Despite some less than thrilling sub-plots (ahem, Sam’s dog-fighting biological family), this year’s story arc was awesome, and Russell stole the show as the primary villain. A quick look back at my top 10 lists reveals so many great moments that it’s hard to believe this wasn’t a network show with 22 episodes.

What’s a girl to do over the next few months without True Blood? Well, there should be a new book in Charlaine Harris’s series. And there is no shortage of good TV – I’ll be watching Vampire Diaries, Boardwalk Empire, Eastbound and Down, Big Love, Dexter, Fringe, 30 Rock, The Office, as well as trying a few other shows including Detroit 1-8-7, Blue Bloods, and The Walking Dead. So stay tuned, dear readers, as we deal with this nine-month fangover.

Everyone, including me, is watching

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. Has anyone seen the new HBO teaser trailer?

I watched it today, on the lookout for anything related to the next season of True Blood, which I am absolutely addicted to. As a matter of fact, I didn’t have cable until True Blood came to HBO – I had been a long-time fan of the Charlaine Harris books, and was thrilled when she announced the show. And, true to form, HBO delivered. The first and second seasons were great – and I can hardly wait until June when season three begins.

Needless to say, this short trailer is not giving too much away. But, we do see Jessica at the very end dragging a body into what looks like Bill’s house. So we can assume she’s a girl gone wild (which seemed evident in the last episode of season 2). I just hope it’s not poor Hoyt she’s dragging in – they make such a sweet couple on the show. Nice shot of Eric in there, by the way.

Other items to note about the trailer:

  • Ricky Gervais Show: I’ve been watching this season and it’s pretty hilarious. Karl Pilkington, Monkey News – it’s all good and definitely makes me chuckle. Is anybody else watching this?
  • Funny or Die Presents: Thus far, I have been disappointed in this latest effort from Will Ferrell and Adam McKay. Aside from a few funny bits (Drunk History and Snakes come to mind) the show is just plain silly – and not always in a good way. Its saving grace is that it has about a 26-minute run time. Sometime’s I’m astounded that HBO actually went for this.
  • Boardwalk Empire: I’m going to give this show a try when it comes on. It looks to be a hard-edge drama, along the lines of the Sopranos (which I never watched, but have been thinking about checking out on DVD). I’m a fan of Steve Buscemi, so I have high hopes for this one. Is anyone else going to tune in?
  • Where is Kenny-effing Powers? I really hope HBO isn’t going to abandon Eastbound and Down.