Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Top 10 Things I've Been Watching This Summer

Anybody else remember when nothing was on TV in the summer? Seasons all aired at the same time starting in the fall and didn't take a break halfway through. Everything is different now. For one thing we have more than 3 networks. The load is lighter during summer, but there are plenty of programs to choose from on the myriads of channels available to keep TV junkies like me satisfied. The summer is also a time to catch up on missed episodes and old favorites. Don't go thinking that watching TV is all I've done, but what I've been reading, writing and listening to are for other posts.

So here, in no particular order, are the top ten things I've been watching this summer.

1 DOCTOR WHO - It's pretty much a given that this would be on the list, and given my propensity to talk about this show I'll refrain from any details I'm bound to repeat in future posts, or have in past ones. I am anxiously awaiting the new season's beginning around the end of this month on BBC America. In anticipation of this, I spent the summer watching the entire show again from its return in 2005.

2 CHARLIE'S ANGELS - I almost put this in a post I'm writing about TV guilty pleasures. This is pure nostalgia for me. I wanted to be an angel. The kid up the street had the dolls, the original ones with Farrah. My Matchbox cars were angels on a big case. But Universal channel's weekday airings make me feel like a kid again, as well as providing many laughs. Apparently they never let the actresses do even the simplest of stunts, and the wigs were ridiculous in their attempt to match. And people must have been so stupid in the 70's. I was a kid so I wouldn't know, but many scenarios were either really being done by idiotic cops and businessmen and even the general public, or the audience was ignorantly buying into it as plausible. They do the worst surveillance work and tail a car from 10 feet behind. One of my favorite things is Sabrina's undercover disguise, which is usually chewing gum and speaking with an accent. And Christ were our standards in leading men low back then or what? Regardless, it's a silly, fun time they weren't able to reproduce in the 2011 remake.

3 Master Chef / Hell's Kitchen - Admittedly I would never have watched these if not for my partner. He is a chef and together we get a kick out of the mistakes made by people who supposedly have what it takes. I've come to really like these two, as different as they are. One with the contestants being screamed at by Gordon Ramsey as they make amateur bungles under high stress situations in a competition for a head chef position, and the other with creative challenges being taken on by home cooks who have dreams of stardom. It's really changed the way I think about cooking.

4 Rupaul's Drag U -  Not as exciting as Drag Race, Rupaul's drag queen competition show, Drag U has more heart as it helps 3 real women get in touch with the feminine side they've lost touch with. The one thing I don't like is that at no point does Rupaul appear in drag, but on the plus side you can't get through an episode without multiple laughs at the smack talk of the drag queen "professors" in charge of guiding the women.

5 Dallas - In its original form, Dallas would certainly come under guilty pleasures, along with Falcon Crest and Knots Landing. But this summer's reboot, little more than a miniseries, is to the original show as the new Doctor Who is to the old version. Like Who, Dallas picked up from the end of the original, albeit years later, and has a complete history of loves and hates and battles and bottles to build on. I've tried to think if I would like the show the same as I would if I hadn't watched the original, and I'm not quite sure I would. I'm still thinking of it as a show about Bobby and J.R., when it truly is about the new generation. I think I'm finally seeing that now that we are at the end of the (mini)season. Thankfully it's coming back for a second season. For me all the wheeling and dealing backstabbing twists are back in 21st century form.

6 True Blood - If ever there was anyone who was dragged kicking into True Blood fandom it was me. First off, I abhor bandwagons and tend to resist them until I see if they have any merit. The show has had ups and downs. I didn't care much for season 2, with Maryann, but it has steadily gotten better in my opinion. It must be my religious upbringing that makes the religious mythology we are discovering appealing. It's a very interesting idea that God was a vampire, creating vampire in His image first, then humans for food. They only have 3 episodes left, so it should really get revved up now, one hopes.

7 Chelsea Lately - I could never work for Chelsea Handler, I'd be too afraid, given what she "makes" her staff do on camera. Hanging out with her is a different story. I have read her books and watched her shows for years now and I think she is one of the funniest women on TV today, and all in a natural way that doesn't feel forced or scripted. If you watch her show you see what I mean. The casual banter and remarks on whatever "news" topics came up that day is the crux of what makes this show work. Add to that a funny, sometimes quirky, staff and no punches being pulled and wrap it up in Chelsea's honest and unapologetic attitude and you've got entertainment gold (occasionally silver) Monday through Thursday.

8 So You Think You Can Dance - This also falls under the category "would've never watched but for my partner." I genuinely enjoy this show, but to be quite frank, I don't usually "get it." I enjoy the show but have never been emotionally effected by it. All I see during a routine is moves. I understand creating moves being used to represent actions, but I don't see a routine and think "I really saw that journey they took from tremulous waif being bullied in school to a modern mature woman taking on the corporate advertising world", they're just dance moves chained together. Pretty, yes. Moving? Sorry, no. Maybe they're thinking of "So You Think You Can Mime."

9 Peep Show - Where do I start with Peep Show? It's fucking brilliant. One of the best sitcoms ever. British. Not for the kids, you'll probably end up hearing every naughty word ever. Roomates, Jeremy, slack musician, Mark corporate muckity muck whose at least a bit OCD and carries Jeremy who has been his mate since school. Mark is obsessed with Hitler's Germany and Sophie from work, Jeremy is obsessed with himself, his shit music and every female simultaneously. Jeremy's "bandmate" Super Hans is a functioning crackhead as self-obsessed as Jeremy. Like Seinfeld it's practically about nothing but what happens to be going on, except we are privy to the inner dialog and occasional point of view of both Mark and Jeremy exposing amazingly ridiculous thought processes and deep dark sides to each ones personality. Check it out on Netflix streaming.

10 Saturday Britcoms - When I was a kid, Saturday night was for Love Boat, Fantasy Island and Doctor Who. Who came on PBS, and while I remember watching the britcoms (British sitcoms) I can't remember when. Now they come on Saturday nights. They are not shows currently airing, but they are among some of the best in British comedy. Right now we are seeing Keeping up Appearances, which is quite silly. Are You Being Served? which is 'and you thought it couldn't get sillier'. But then comes the smart, mature comedy of As Time Goes By with the incredible Dame Judi Dench, who is joined by one of the best ensemble casts ever. There's no way I have space to cover the cast of The Vicar of Dibley, but they are clever and quirky and in a sense simple. But if you haven't seen it you have got to check out Dawn French as Vicar Geraldine Granger. Lastly, not really a Britcom, is The Graham Norton show on BBC America. This is my favorite talk show. It's hilarious and a bit unorthodox. You can always tell his guests are having a good time. As do you.

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