Stuff to Watch

Because you demanded it (and by “you” demanding it, I mean because I felt like writing it), my nightly television schedule!

I watch maybe six hours of television per day; probably more on the weekends. People are sometimes surprised to hear that, and there are other grownups / parents who seem horrified to hear that. However the fact is I stay up working most nights… Either working on my blog or other Magic-related projects (or just playing Magic Online); and of course I wrote a real live book last year.

My wife is much more reasonable than I am and goes to bed at a halfway reasonable time. But for me? I just like having the television on while I am up.

Anyway, I was inspired by Facebook posts by Ken Krouner and then Osyp Lebedowicz recently and decided to do something that Zvi Mowshowitz does on an (at least) annual basis; and post my general tv schedule. Of course I am not 100% married to any given time of day (thanks to DVR), but for the most part, this schedule will adhere to the regular times or nights that these shows appear.

DVR and On Demand:
There are some shows that I never watch live; I just watch them on Prime Time On Demand; these shows include veteran comedy Parks and Recreation and Justified. Who even knows when they are on?

Sunday:

In other circumstances I would list shows like Entourage (incidentally coming off a blah season but absolutely five star season finale) or Dexter (ditto to the season finale; was not blah), but I wanted to concentrate on what I am watching right now.

60 Minutes
I don’t watch 60 Minutes slavishly, but I enjoy it and watch it most Sundays; partly based on the fact that it comes on right before…

The Amazing Race
Another show I don’t watch slavishly; back in the day I was an immovable fan of Fox’s Sunday night lineup (The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle, Arrested Development, etc.); now we watch The Amazing Race partly as compromise, having moved over the years between Law and Order: Criminal Intent, Alias and the various masterful HBO Sunday lineups including The Sopranos, Deadwood, Rome, and so on. Katherine got me into Survivor and Big Brother very early in our relationship but it took years for us to tag onto The Amazing Race, which is (critically at least) considered the best of the competition reality lot. I would rate it as pretty gripping / pretty good; but if there were a strong HBO option at this time of the year, I would probably be taking it.

Breaking Bad
The amazing thing about Cranston is that he was on what was on (pre-Arrested Development) the best comedy on Fox [and probably on television] but never really got the attention for his comedic or physical work (largely overshadowed by Jane Kaczmarek who was of course fabulous); but now that he is playing the exact opposite character on the exact opposite show, he’s rocked the back-to-back Emmy Awards. I know that Breaking Bad is generally marketed as “the best show on television”. I don’t know I would rate it there; it is very good, though. It is like Weeds in that it follows the formula of The Breakout Novel (starting the characters in the shit, then putting them increasingly deeper in it), which ensures its gripping-ness. Gripping it is, and challenging like nothing else on television.

Monday:

Monday is a heavy television night for me. Because I watch two “simultaneous” teevee shows on Monday, it is consequently a heavy DVR night. Here goes:

How I Met Your Mother
Zvi rates this as the best comedy on television. I don’t know that I would have it as top 3 even, but I love How I Met Your Mother anyway.

Like much of the initial audience, I started watching because of the Doogie Howser, M.D.-meets-Willow Rosenberg casting… and never stopped. They aren’t even the main characters!

House
I adore this show (which most of you remember was initially just drafting on American Idol‘s popularity); it has sustained a strong level of quality for years. It somehow features not just great writing but the hottest woman on earth (which is a not uncommon joke on the show), and a cast of truly lovable misfits and geniuses.

Gossip Girl
Longtime Top 8 Magic podcast listeners know that I long called Blake Lively as “the next it girl” two years before the premiere of Gossip Girl. That’s how good michaelj is at calling an it girl 🙂

Gossip Girl is a lot less interesting than it was in, say, the first two seasons when we were still trying to figure out who Gossip Girl was / is; I must admit that despite the acquisition of Kristen Bell (who is the voice of Gossip Girl), I was initially embittered at the fact that Gossip Girl supplanted my all-time favorite television show Veronica Mars on the CW. What, they couldn’t have two shows set in an environment of mystery and rich teenagers? I still like Gossip Girl enough to follow it closely, based on an adoration of Blake Lively (versus Serena) and Chuck Bass, though I am kind of annoyed by every other character but Nate Archibald (who is the unsung baller of the show, having tagged basically every major character-ette despite being poor for about half a season) and Little J (us something-Js have to stick together).

24
This last season is easily the worst season ever. However the show has not gotten less gripping, and being the worst season of one of the best shows of all time does not remove it from the must-view list. The way they are scripting 24 right now, I am tired just watching. Poor Renee. Poor Jack.

Tuesday:

Glee
They had me with the pilot-closer “Don’t Stop” and haven’t let go. This show features so many people I love (Kristen Chenoweth being the best example) and such great performances of such great music… If you don’t watch Glee (and twice-plus), you’re dumb basically.

Lost
Is the final one the best season ever of one of the best shows ever (like a mirror to 24, kind of)? I don’t know. But I can’t look away. If you aren’t deeply into Lost yet, you are in for a treat. I am going to re-watch my DVDs from season one starting this summer. There are so many details that even though I know the macro story, I bet I will love making small connections for myself all along the way; I can’t imagine how great it will be for first time viewers.

A lot of the criticism of Lost comes from a position of ignorance. Zvi actually makes the best analogy when he talks about the complexity of Magic (you know, the best game of all time); yes, it’s complex. Lost is a complex show. Both are necessarily complex and difficult for new devotees. But if they weren’t so complex, they wouldn’t be so unassailable. And they both are. When was the last time a president moved the State of the Union for a television show. TDG.

That.

Damn.

Good.

V
It took me a while to get into V because it was originally on Wednesday nights, when I have Movie Klub… But it ended up being the first show I bought to watch on my iPod. V is so surprising and scary it made me jump while watching it on a little three inch screen.

I am not unique but probably still a little bit unusual in that I am a current fan who was also an original 1980s V fan. However I have some additional crossover in that Elizabeth Mitchell’s character Juliet was my favorite character on Lost, and she is the lead on V now. Anyway, a very watchable show that I don’t like to miss. Full of alums from Firefly and other SF geek stuff you might like.

Wednesday:

Earlier this week, KK was lamenting the lack of good television on Wednesday nights. Wednesdays are actually a special case for me; I have Movie Klub, hosted by the incomparable Lan D. Ho at casa Jon Finkel and try to hit that every week. I don’t have any real / regular Wednesday night viewing, but I really should catch up with Top Chef Masters and possibly The Ultimate Fighter. But right now, I am behind on both.

Thursday:

Survivor
Arguably the first great competition reality show, Survivor is now in its 20th (?) season… and this is probably the best season ever. Survivor: Heroes v. Villains is an All-Star season that brought back all of my favorite players (Tom, Boston Rob, and Russell H.) along with a host of other popular players (Rupert, JT). The game play has been amazing. The best players have been putting on a clinic and the players who were supposed to be some of the best are all gone now. Russell made a move that looked to me like the best move ever on his way to ousting the dominant Boston Rob (early favorite for “best ever”) and just last week Parvati (Russell’s chief ally) made a move that required a truly inspired read on the enemy — the perfect marriage of information and opportunity.

Like much of the Survivor audience I fell in love with Russell’s hardcore game play last year, and he took the #1 spot in my opinion from Tom, despite finishing only second. This year I was afraid that Russell might not have been able to play his balls-out swing-for-the-fences style, but he has been as aggressive as ever, and a dominating player from the social side, making plays that cracked Boston Rob’s numbers advantage and eliminating JT (with JT never seeing the blindside coming). However it might be Parvati (seductive winner of the last All-Star season) who emerges as the best player of all time. KK (Survivor superfan) and I are separately rooting for our favorites between these two allies, against one another.

The Office
By the second season, I had The Office as the funniest show of all time. While I think that it has dipped in quality somewhat, I still have it as the #2 comedy on television.

30 Rock
Arguably the best show on television, probably the best written, and certainly the best comedy.

So obviously it will lose its Emmy lock to Glee later in the year (but I’d be fine with that). One half an hour I try to hit every week, and without fail.

Friday:

Ben 10 Alien Force / Ben 10 Ultimate Alien, Batman the Brave and the Bold, Star Wars – The Clone Wars

These are all Bella’s shows; we watch them on Saturday morning before the rest of the family gets up, typically; however they all get DVR’d on Friday night.

Batman the Brave and the Bold is charming; it has more of a reverence — even fanboy quality — for the superhero mythos than any Batman cartoon in recent memory. I will not soon forget the Christmas episode when [robot] Red Tornado gets Batman a mug that reads “World’s Greatest Detective” for a gift. It is probably not a better show overall than the early 1990s Bruce Timm / Paul Dini Batman: The Animated Series that spawned the Superman and Justice League franchises, but I like Batman the Brave and the Bold more than the 2000s The Batman.

Star Wars – The Clone Wars really hit its stride this season; much better than the first. I love a lightsaber fight.

Saturday:

Doctor Who

Without a doubt the high point of my television week is my favorite show, Doctor Who.

Back when Battlestar Galactica was on Friday nights on The SciFi Channel, I secretly looked forward to Doctor Who even more.

I have been a Doctor Who fan since the age of four. I used to dream about his companions as a kindergartner and after a fair sized gap based on living in the wilds of western Pennsylvania (I don’t think our PBS affiliate had Doctor Who), I came back to Cleveland, eyes stuck on Peter, Colin, and Sylvester (Doctors five, six, and seven) until the show’s cancellation at the end of — if I recall — my Seventh Grade year. I saw the made for tv movie as a freshman in college, but like everyone else I didn’t like it. Today, Doctor Who I find better than ever.

Peter Davidson was “my” Doctor growing up (Doctor #10 David Tennant has said the same thing), but Tennant ended up my favorite Doctor of all time. He wound up his run just earlier this year.

The show has re-started a bit with Matt Smith as the eleventh man [in continuity] to play The Doctor, with Stephen Moffat taking over as head writer with this season. My sister and I have been positively giddy, because Moffat wrote all the best eps the past several seasons anyway (typically creepy one-ofs).

If you don’t know what I am talking about, here are the basics:

  • The Doctor is / started out basically the smartest man in the universe. He is a Time Lord, a member of a race who can travel through all space and time. In fact he was chief among the Time Lords. In the early 1960s he quit his job as Lord President of the Time Lords to run around all of time and space adventuring. Yes, he is a bit mad.
  • The original actor who played the Doctor was quite old but the show had to go on; the writers conceived of an idea where — by nature of their immortal alien backgrounds — Time Lords can change their faces and regenerate bodies that have been ravaged by age or ravaged by bullets (as in the case of #7)… Really just opening the show up to a separate actor. The Doctor is in a sense the same person (same genius, same madness, same sense of justice), but each actor puts a very different personality on that framework. They are all different men as well, act differently, and so on.
  • In the current continuity, The Doctor is the last of the Time Lords and has basically declared himself God. While 99% of the time he exudes a foppish, fun-loving, outward persona, he harbors a darkness that did not exist before the 2005 reboot. You see it was the Doctor who was responsible for the destruction of all his own people — and these are a people who could theoretically travel through time and space — in order to end a great war. My favorite element of the current series (that was not really present when I was a kid) is when the Doctor goes all Alpha Male on the enemy. He can beat a conquering alien in a swordfight, stop an entire invasioni single-handedly with no weapons, or get really nasty; for example a family of aliens who tried to steal the Doctor’s immortality… he made them immortal, but basically locked them in unending hell-like punishments for crossing him.
  • The Doctor has always travelled in his adventures with designated Companions (usually beautiful British women), though apparently there is no sex. My favorite companion was Dr. Martha Jones (an actual medical doctor); my second favorite Companion is Matt Smith’s current one, Amy Pool, a scottish redhead who was the victim of the Doctor’s absent minded time meddling starting at the age of seven. She is also a superbabe in that pasty redheaded Scottish way that we Americans only see on foreign television shows.

If that seems SF-nerdy, oh well. Doctor Who is the epitome of SF nerd television. Doesn’t matter. Favorite show. Et cetera.

As with Figure of Destiny, I am embedding a YouTube video of my favorite Doctor Who episode of all time, “Blink” at the end of this blog post. “Blink” won the short form Hugo Award in 2008 (Moffat’s third consecutive win for a Doctor Who episode, beating out Battlestar Galactica‘s best ever episode, “Pegasus” in 2006). The Companion is Martha Jones (my favorite), and the Doctor is David Tennant (my favorite); however most of the screen time goes to Carey Mulligan, who in the last two years has become an international celebrity via her roles in Public Enemies, An Education, and the upcoming Wall Street sequel.

I hope you like “Blink” … As I said it’s my favorite ep ever, and I find it genuinely creeptacular; if you do, there is hope you might like the rest of the show, and thereby adopt it as your favorite as well.

Peace out,

LOVE
MIKE

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13 comments ↓

#1 Dochetwas on 04.24.10 at 10:29 pm

Blink was actually the first episode of Doctor Who I had ever seen. I was converted to the fandom pretty much on the strength of that episode. “This is my Timey-Wimey Detector. It goes ‘ding’ when there’s stuff.”

I haven’t yet seen Glee or Lost, actually. Lost, I’m waiting until it’s all over to start watching, because I hate not being able to just sit down & watch something like that straight through. Glee…I have no real reason. Many people have suggested I watch it; I’m just lazy, I suppose.

How I Met Your Mother is much better than 30 Rock, in my opinion. I’m fairly easily amused, though, so that might be a mitigating factor. Still, slap bet? Crazy awesome.

#2 Alfrebaut on 04.24.10 at 10:36 pm

Well, this is kind of a mixed bag for me. Some stuff I agree with and some stuff I don’t. First of all, Parks and Recreations? I love Rashida Jones, but I couldn’t make it past like 4 episodes of that crap. People tell me it gets better, and I know I’ve been wrong after more episodes, (damnit, Dollhouse!) but it was so awkwardly unfunny to me that I don’t think I could make it to those supposedly good episodes.

I don’t watch any Sunday shows, but I haven’t started to try Breaking Bad yet, so maybe I’ll give that a shot. Monday’s House and HIMYM are good, but I gave up on 24 and Gossip Girl some time ago already. I know it’s already a packed night, but Chuck is a good show. Season 1 and most of season 2 may only be turn-off-your-brain fun, but towards the end of season 2 it gets turbo awesome. Season 3 has been hit or miss, but some of the hits are real good. Also, Castle is pretty decent turn-off-your-brain fun.

Tuesday I agree with, except V is only alright so far. Wednesday’s got Top Chef Masters right now and Mythbusters is awesome. As far as Thursday, I don’t watch any of those shows. The Office is funny, but I did a catch up marathon and everything seems so similar that serialized, I feel like it’s not going to vary that much week to week, so I figure I’ll just do another catch up some time… as far as 30 Rock, I was so turned off by Tracy Morgan in the pilot I just couldn’t bare to watch another episode. I may have to reevaluate next time there’s a hiatus. Trust me, though… there’s good stuff on Thursdays. Supernatural has some filler weeks along the way, but the past couple of seasons are super intense and awesome for it. Community may be the second best comedy on TV after HIMYM. It’s got some off weeks, but generally, it’s very good.

Fridays, there’s not much… I’ve been watching Stargate Universe, but I’m not sure how that’ll pan out. I’ve never watched Dr. Who and so I don’t know if I’ll ever get it like some other people do. But, you never know.

#3 MTGBattlefield on 04.24.10 at 11:11 pm

Stuff to Watch…

Your story has been summoned to the battlefield – Trackback from MTGBattlefield…

#4 rockbard on 04.25.10 at 2:19 am

Agree with a lot of your choices, especially the best show ever, HIMYM. Lost, House and 24 are great too. Disagree with Glee, it just plain sucks. 30 Rock and The Office are also fine choices.

#5 ascensionblade on 04.25.10 at 5:56 pm

That episode was pretty good. Thanks for sharing.

Lost this week felt like a season finale, and Flashforward and Fringe were just as awesome. You should be watching both of them from the beginning. Totally worth it.

#6 ProdigalT on 04.25.10 at 6:46 pm

Agree with everything scripted (I generally hate reality TV aside from Jeopardy). I moved in with a Brit last year, and have subsequently been hooked on Doctor Who. Fringe and FlashForward are definitely worth a look.

#7 KKrouner on 04.26.10 at 7:15 am

We have shockingly similar movie schedules. I take Friday and Saturday off/catch up on DVR. I have been really liking this season of Celebrity Apprentice. Also Deadliest Warrior just started season 2 on Spike on Tuesdays which is a little goofy, but really fun and pretty interesting.

I think Lost is crap, but I know I am in the minority. And not to further bog down your Thursdays, but I rather like Flash Forward. I’m not sure it’s going to get renewed, but it’s very good.

You are just robbing yourself by not watching Nurse Jackie. You’d also love United States of Tara.

I just watched seasons 1 and 2 of Damages, and just started 3. That show is so good I can’t even explain.

#8 KKrouner on 04.26.10 at 7:47 am

ProdigaT: Survivor is Jeopardy for gamers 🙂

Also I forgot about Fringe, it keeps getting better.

#9 admin on 04.26.10 at 11:55 am

@KKrouner
I watch all the Deadliest Warrior in a row, like on the Interweb. Big fan.

I watch Nurse Jackie and Tara both; they are on my On Demand loop, though… I watch them around other stuff (don’t even know what night they come on). I am a fair sized Diablo Cody fan (just read Candy Girl), etc. You’ll notice that the above schedule doesn’t add up to anywhere near the number of hours of television I claimed; a lot of that is jumping around DVR, On Demand, and DVD catchup without scheduling.

I’ll try Damages for sure, when I have a minute.

#10 Sean McKeown on 04.26.10 at 6:50 pm

I have many of the same shows on my queue (though I was late to the party on Lost, so I expect I will be Netflixing it over the summer… I figured I’d wait for it to finish, after I didn’t get to it after the first two seasons). You would probably enjoy the two shows I most appreciate that aren’t on your list: Chuck (NBC, Monday night, opposite House) and Human Target (Fox, Wednesday night where Glee used to be).

#11 Aten on 04.27.10 at 8:31 am

You guys watch an awful lot of TV.

#12 TinderWall on 04.27.10 at 1:07 pm

You should check out Archer. Animated half-hour comedy, very funny I think.

#13 removablefriend on 04.27.10 at 1:33 pm

Coincidentally, I just started watching Dr Who. Loving it so far!
Also, it sounds like you’d really enjoy Community. It’s on NBC right before the more well-known comedies (30 Rock, Office, etc.).

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